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A poem starring forced alliteration, excessive prepositions, and Super Smash Brothers: Melee

I don’t know what exactly our teacher could have possibly said to inspire me to write this poem. Seriously, here is what must have happened that day:

Teacher: Okay class, you all have to write a poem today, the subject of which must be something you are passionate about.
Me: Does that include video games?
Teacher: Why yes, Cody, it certainly does! And be sure to include at least one writing technique, such as alliteration, in the poem.
Me: How about I include alliteration, but instead of giving it any context whatsoever, I just write a bunch of words in a row that start with the same letter but lack any coherent or logical flow?
Teacher: That sounds splendid! Please also do that with a part of speech as well, such as prepositions or linking verbs.
Me: I will do so happily, and then gallivant into the sunset!
Teacher: You didn’t even use that word correctly, but who cares? Go write your terrible poem!

That basically is what must have happened, because Science®. Anyway, here’s the result of this conversation:

A poem featuring forced alliteration, excessive prepositions, and Super Smash Brothers: Melee

A poem featuring forced alliteration, excessive prepositions, and Super Smash Brothers: Melee

Transcript:

Characters all around
25 all around,
Colorful characters quite abound
Every few and every pair
Have some sort of reason to be fighting there
Cartoonish they seem, yet I don’t quite care
It keeps things clean—for the Kids.
Contacts cascading, namecalling renaming
The therapeutic Theremin of Thespian thinking
A thing-in-itself
Which no-one seems to be seeing
Smelling the sweat, the substance of strife
Illiterate critics, illegitimate gimmicks,
Sucking the life out of
Into out of around near far abound
Train of thought
Derailed to hell
Away from the housetop,
Away from the roof
Now dash away, dash away…
Dash away all.

Ten years after writing this poem, I can explain almost every thought that went through my head. I have no specific recollection of writing it, but here’s how each part of this happened:

  1. I started writing about Smash Brothers. “25 characters” are in Smash Brothers: Melee, and the violence in the game is irrefutably “cartoonish” to maintain a K-A rating (Kids to Adult), which is the video game equivalent of being rated PG.
  2. I must have heard the word “theremin” somewhere and couldn’t think of anything else to write in Line 9, so I just grabbed a Thesaurus (or used any “th” words I could recall) and stuck them together incoherently, very likely thinking “I can get away with anything, it’s poetry” at the time.
  3. Line 13, “Illiterate critics, illegitimate gimmicks” undoubtedly refers to video game critics who invent facts to further their own political agendas (i.e. Jack Thompson, who at the time was sadly receiving media coverage) as I start to “zoom out” from Smash Brothers itself and start to examine the overall perception of it, and gaming.
  4. After writing Line 14, “Sucking the life out of,” I couldn’t think of what to write, so I just wrote a chain of prepositions, which were HUGE in the Latin class I was also taking at the time. I directly admit this in Line 16 when I say “Train of thought,” and concede that I couldn’t think of a coherent follow-up in Line 17: “Derailed to hell.”
  5. Lines 18 through the end are self-explanatory.

Is it frightening that I can deconstruct my own ten-year-old poem as specifically as I did? Honestly, you tell me. I like to think that some things never change, and that I don’t think that’s a bad thing. My writing was also pretty transparent, at least at the time, and at least to me.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this completely ridiculous poem! Looking ahead, it appears that I won’t have a great deal of notes/poems/stories for the next 10 days, but please stay tuned and there will be plenty more for you to analyze, criticize, or ignore soon!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

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A Poem: “Bad Poetry Gone Worse”

AN ASSIGNMENT! Looks like we had homework in my creative writing class. And this also looks like a semi-serious attempt at a semi-serious poem. I’m going to post the transcript first, and THEN an image of the poem, so that you can read it (if you’d like) without my teacher’s commentary first.

Just as before, I’m reluctant to post one of my actual serious attempts at poetry, because who wants to feel vulnerable ever? And yet I must, not only to grow as an artist, but because I wrote this ten years ago and really have no business feeling self-conscious about it in the first place. So here you go:

Bad Poetry Gone Worse

Warmth and safety –
Temporary, not contemporary –
Brought about by softly stroking,
Holding close who means the most,
To feel warmth and safety.

A delicate caress, and a moment trapped in time
Forever – an eternity – can never last that long
The feeling held, the moment constant,
Infinity within a single embrace
Yet no time, no numbers, no measurements
Can quantify my Happiness.

Supporting Me, supporting You
Like two, like one; like one, like two;
Together at last, together forever
Together forever… but only for a moment.

One last look one last sigh
One last hug at the end of the night
One last peck – unless we’re just Friends –
One last grin as if keeping things quiet
One last touch to ensure that She’s there
One last heartbeat—
The everlasting hug… Gone.

Don't let the title fool you: it's not actually that bad. Maybe.

Don’t let the title fool you; it’s not actually that bad. Maybe.

A few things:

  • We studied Emily Dickinson quite extensively in English class; this led to a substantial use of “random” capitalization in my poetry, often somewhat mockingly. In this case, however, it looks like my teacher (and I, ten years later) was pleased with how I used it.
  • I can’t decide whether I agree with my inclusion the line “Temporary, not contemporary” that my teacher circled. It kind of doesn’t fit, but I feel like there’s a case for it. Thoughts?
  • This poem doesn’t suck, so that’s kinda cool, right?

I wasn’t what you would call “good” at things like “turning in assignments on time,” so I’m sure the check with “-20%” at the top of the page means that I turned in my assignment late. Oh well, I still graduated!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Poetry about hell… and Roy from Smash Brothers

I’m not sure how or why this happened, but apparently I penned a few poems about hell. The first poem is my “main” hell poem, followed by a poem that is about both hell and Roy from Super Smash Brothers: Melee, equally. Let’s see how dark my high school mind could get:

A poem about hell, followed by two poems about hell and Roy from Super Smash Brothers: Brawl

A poem about hell, followed by a poem about hell and Roy from Super Smash Brothers: Melee

Transcript:
The descent.
Through the cloud;
Off a cliff;
Into the needles
—Of a blackberry bush.
The voice of death
Whirring in your head
The descent into hell—
You know that you’re dead.
The same from all places
The distance of the journey is
For central the location be
Of Auburn’s room 296.

Wow… talk about anticlimax. I’m guessing that my creative writing class met in room 296. Anyway, that poem is followed by a rough draft of the next poem. Moving along, here is that second poem:

Gripping, masculine, muscular hands
In hell, no-one can hear you—
Play Smash Brothers—
I guess Roy really IS flaming!

A few things:

  • Roy is a character from Super Smash Brothers: Melee (originally from the Fire Emblem video game series), and I never liked him. His sword often bursts into the flame in the game, so I liked to call him things like “flaming idiot” and “flaming loser.” At the time, “to flame” someone meant “to insult” someone; I often had “flame wars” with my friend Captain, who of course LOVED Roy.
  • The imagery of tightly gripped hands could apply to Roy’s very heavy in-game sword, but it ends up implying the grip used to hold a controller. This gives the Smash Brothers poem actual poetic validity, which both annoys and pleases me.
  • I wonder why I specified “blackberry bush” in my first poem?

I like that my seemingly serious attempt at a poem about death/hell devolved into a stupid comment about my high school creative writing classroom, but my stupid anecdotal poem about a character I hated in Smash Brothers resulted in the creation of some actual legitimate poetry.

I’ve always been told that the best material comes from your passions. I was VERY passionate about Smash Brothers in high school (and college… and now), so I guess it makes sense that some semblance of creativity would have come out of me when writing about Roy.

…still feels totally ridiculous, though.

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Aphorisms!

In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, an aphorism is kind of like a proverb. You know, stuff like “patience is a virtue,” “stupid is as stupid does,” and others like that. Here is a list of aphorisms that I wrote:

Can you spot the not-so-famous one I included?

Can you spot the not-so-famous one I included?

I didn’t invent any of these, but here are my favorites:
“Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.”
“Condoms don’t protect the heart.”
“Candy is dandy – liquor is quicker.”

And, of course, the one I slipped in from Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. But I’ll leave that one up to YOU to identify (if you can read my high school handwriting, of course).

So if I didn’t create anything original, then why am I posting this? As a precursor to tomorrow’s poetry, of course! Stay tuned.

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Greek philosophy and a poem about semicolons

Whether or not you like my (10-year-old) poetry, you will likely find something you enjoy in this post! That’s because the top half of my page of notes contains timeless quotes about life from Greek philosophers, transcribed here:

“Actions always planned are never completed.” -Democritus
“Old men were once young, but it is uncertain if young men will reach old age.” -Democritus
“The path up and down is one and the same.” -Heraclitus
“Nature likes to hide itself.” -Heraclitus
“The world is change; life is opinion.” -Democritus
“Theraclitus said that a man’s character is his fate.” -Stabeus (?)
“[Parmenides] speaks of perceiving and thinking as the same thing.” -Theophrastus
“All things were together. The mind came and arranged them.” -Anaxagoras
“Worlds are altered rather than destroyed.” -Democritus
“Dark and light, bad and good, are not different, but are one and the same.” -Heraclitus

Whoa, we’re starting to get deep, aren’t we? I have no clue how these quotes tied in with the poem I wrote below them (if at all); nonetheless, here it is, transcription following the image:

Top half: the ideas of great philosophers. Bottom half: my poem about semicolons.

Top half: the ideas of great philosophers. Bottom half: my poem about semicolons.

Transcript:
Poor, deprived semicolon
There isn’t even punctuation in Latin
So then, why, Anaxagoras?
The mind came,
Arranged everything
So then, why?
Punctuation, arranged for granted?
Taken for granted?
Taken at all?
The mind needs a mean
By which it can arrange;
How, then,
Is the semicolon neglected?
Rejected?
Disrespected?
Why, Anaxagoras? Why?
…why?

A few things:

  • Did Anaxagoras invent written language? No[t that I can find using Google]. Does my poem suggest this? Yes. Do I know what to make of this discrepancy? Hell no.
  • For the uninitiated, Anaxagoras was a Greek philosopher best known for having a totally badass name.
  • I took a Latin class my senior year of high school, and that is directly responsible for my use of the phrase “by which,” as we used a LOT of prepositions in that class. As a result, we learned to write by means of many prepositions (see what I did there?).

I used to LOVE writing semicolons in high school and college, but lately I’ve become a huge fan of using colons. Not just to introduce lists, mind you; my use of colons is much more advanced than that. Of course, right now I can’t think of how I could purposely write a sentence to utilize a semicolon, but that just means you’ll have to keep checking my web site for more updates so you can spot ’em when I write them!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Writing exercise: writing similes and completing sentences, 2003 vs. 2013

Yay, a writing exercise! My creative writing teacher provided phrases ending with “is/are like…” or “as if…” and we had to finish the sentence, thus forming a simile (although it looks like some of these are just sentences needing completion, but close enough). We were giving this exercise on February 4, but I’m posting it on February 2 because we then used these similes as inspiration to write a poem, and I plan to post the poem on February 4.

I’m going to actually do this exercise, meaning that I will type all of her “set-up” phrases and complete them on my own. Then, I will supply my original 2003 answer, and then we can all compare. And please note that no, not all of these will end up being “similes” strictly by definition. Let’s do it:

A writing exercise for writing similes. Try it out!

A writing exercise for writing similes. Try it out!

Similes:

A spider on an old man’s beard is like…
2013: a scorpion in a tumbleweed.
2003: a woman in an older man’s bed.

The oars on a boat rowed as if…
2013: they had no other purpose.
2003: pushing away an annoying little brat.

Nothing was the same now that it was…
2013: Friday.
2003: Halloween.

The Wino took to coma like…
2013: a Russian going to bed.
2003: a student after school.

The dice rolled out of the cup toward Len like…
2013: an avalanche of rocks spewing from the peak of a mountain.
2003: his mother’s fist did last night.

A child in _____ is like a _____ in _____
2013: A child in peril is like a princess in the dungeon.
2003: A child in need is like a stripper in jail.

Puffy clouds in your glass of wine are like…
2013: balls of lava in a lava lamp.
2003: jagged clouds in your bag of cocaine.

A _____ is like muscles stretched taut over bone
2013: canvas
2003: hug

The fog plumed through the gunshot holes in the train windows like…
2013: a creepy pedophile sneaking into an elementary school.
2003: water pours out of Daffy Duck after Elmer Fudd shoots him.

The grey honor (honor?) walked up the satin plank as if…
2013: he were going to receive a medal for exceptional swordsmanship.
2003: on his way to the ring for a shot at the WWE Undisputed Championship.

Cancelled checks in the abandoned boat seemed…
2013: like an impractical waste of space.
2003: almost as confusing as this awful analogy.

If I should wake before I die…
2013: then I should celebrate life.
2003: put me back to sleep with your warmth.

Illanah poured coffee down her throat as if…
2013: she were a robot that needed oil to continue to function.
2003: she hadn’t had a drink since last night.

Up is like down when…
2013: you’re in Dante’s Inferno.
2003: you’re completely insane.

You mine rocks from a quarry. What you get from a quandary is…
2013: a lot more difficult to understand.
2003: able to rock your mineshaft. (lol)

Marlene dangled the Parson from the question as if…
2013: I have any idea what a Parson is. (and yes, I know I ended that with a preposition)
2003: she actually made sense.

She held her life in her own hands as if it were…
2013: a chip on a roulette table, optimistically willing to let its value be determined by the arbitrary spin of a wheel.
2003: a feather on a windy day.

“No, no, a thousand times no!” he said, his hand…
2013: balling into a fist and preparing to strike.
2003: wrapping more tightly around her waist to keep her close.

The solution was hydrochloric acid; the problem was, therefore…
2013: finding a plastic container that could contain it without dissolving. (Thanks, Breaking Bad)
2003: zombies.

Love is to open sky as loathing is to…
2013: being tightly bound and unable to move, barely able to breathe.
2003: cuddly rabbits and teddy bears.

A few things:

  • Why so many drug and alcohol references? I was in high school!
  • Here’s your homework: please explain to me how a child in need is like a stripper in jail.
  • I actually really like the Elmer Fudd / Daffy Duck line… frankly, it’s completely appropriate. Well done, 17-year-old me!

I was struck by the similarity in my responses for She held her life in her own hands as if it were…; in both of my responses, “she” left her life completely open to chance, leaving fate to decide its outcome. Conversely, my responses to the very next entry, “No, no, a thousand times no!” he said, his hand…, were polar opposites, one ending in a fist and the other ending in an embrace.

It appears that over time, people are capable of changing in some ways, but not others. Or perhaps as a writer, inspiration strikes differently at different times? Perhaps some writers have killed off characters in some drafts, but saved them in others. I guess there’s only one way for me to further explore this theory: write more!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” project, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

Uh oh… a serious poem?

Well, this is going to be challenging.

In a culture over-saturated with irony, it’s hard to say something serious and leave yourself vulnerable to criticism, judgment, or even simple interpretation. That’s why I’m at least a bit reluctant to post this poem, because although I did indeed write it ten years ago, it’s strikingly devoid of the irreverence typical of the rest of my work. Was my teacher somehow successful in motivating me to actually attempt a serious poem?

Fortunately, the fact that I wrote this poem ten years ago is akin to a famous actor posting a video of the commercial he did for a local insurance company in Kansas when he was 16, so let’s face it: I can’t be too sensitive about any feedback I receive from anyone. So without further ado, let’s see if I was able to muster any poetic talent after my first couple weeks of a creative writing class (note that my actual poem attempt appears at the bottom half of the page):

 

The top half is either a rough draft, or random notes... there's really no way to tell.

The top half is either a rough draft, or random notes… there’s really no way to tell. Either way, feel free to ignore it!

Transcript:
Darkness, stars, shattered dreams
Golden Idol among blindfolded denial
Cry of the Lifestream
Bloodshed of war
Fall of the epic hero
Hardcore
Body falling endlessly
Fallable, Falling, Failing
Hopeless destruction
Ultimate end
Hopeless failure
Goodbye to a friend.

A few things:

  • “Lifestream” is a Final Fantasy VII reference, and knowing me, I used “Hardcore” in the context of professional wrestling. So I guess I did go a LITTLE “inside” with this poem.
  • I feel like this poem would be awesome at a beat poetry open mic, probably because it doesn’t have an obnoxiously generic rhyming scheme.
  • Is this perhaps some kind of analogy for the life of a video game character?

You know what’s weird? I wanted to write some commentary on the poem, so I scrolled up to read it. And seeing it written on a blank white screen in sans serif, Italicized font… well, it made it un-readable to me. Am I totally crazy or what? But seriously, I feel like I can only read this in its original hand-written form, or I’m not able to really “get into it.”

Anyway, what do you think? Is this any “good” or is it just mindless high school drivel? I took the creative writing class to learn how to be more poetic (whatever that means), but I think that at the conclusion of the class, I never really learned whether I was any good at it or if I just got better at feeling like I knew what I was doing. Does that even make sense? Probably not. But I’m going with it anyway.

Clearly, I need to practice writing some more… good thing I’ve got this web site! Thanks for joining me for the ride. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share my project with anyone you think may be interested. More posts to come soon!

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This post is part of Cody’s “10-Year Idea Reunion” series, in which Cody revisits his creative writing class assignments exactly 10 years after writing them. Learn more about Cody’s Idea Reunion and follow him on WordPress to follow along!

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