Planes

As a boy, I would look up to the clear, blue skies
mesmerized
by the screaming white lines and triangle silhouettes.
Miniature and mysterious.
White and grey.

Crawling through the abyss
in slow motion
at blistering speeds
they march,
at altitudes as high as my ungrounded dreams.

 

My head in the clouds.
The pristine cerulean brilliance, once arrogant in its own awe
is now cyan. Tainted by envy.
I longed to pierce the heights, to damn Nature’s law.

 

My head in the clouds.
Someday I would be there.
I would be on one.

One turned to two.
Two became three.
Three.

And many more.

Daydreams of worldly travel died with long, sleepless nights and Oriental Mix.
An international hub of shysters, sore feet and dicks.
A bustling city of the dead. No one stops, no one lives. No one rests.
Creativity thrives amongst thieves and franchises,
demanding inconvenience as the price for the convenience.
Tired, hungry, and drained
forced to fight a war
versus an army of employees
who need to get laid.

BE THERE TWO HOURS EARLY!

They say,

To be two hours delayed.

 

Despite the delays,
the maze,
the twelve hour days
and the employees who need a lay.

Despite it all,
Tell the child in me that I made it,
that the beauty of the flight is worth endurance of the locusts.
I now look down at the billowing, majestic clouds.
Light as a feather,
moving anciently, as if woken from a millennia old slumber.
Flexing, lumbering, and blustering like the authority of the Earth that they are.

Respect is found in my heart,
my true size revealed in this wild tube ride.
Mesmerized
by the yawning white behemoths below,
and their black silhouettes.
Majestic and mysterious.
White and grey.

 

The Birthday Poem

The skeleton dances ’round the sun again.
It dances with the sword, the mat, and the pen.

“Happy Birthday” creeps me the fuck out.
Standing loved ones surround me,
my heart resounds with anxiety.
Delusions of immortality fade into doubt.
I look around, it’s too uncomfortable to stare at the smiling people.
They sing off-harmony, they sing off-key.
They sing from the heart, they sing with glee.

“What an archaic tradition,” I mutter to myself.
A great, white ball of fire is before me,
ready to be extinguished,
ready to reveal a singular prophecy.

The loved laugh.
My love is by my side.
“What an archaic tradition,” I mutter. “But I guess it’s not that bad.”
Annual lifetimes have brought change, sorrow, toil, and laughter.
Twenty-seven trips- some were triumphs and some were disasters.
I laugh, I think, and I shed a tear.
“What an archaic tradition,” I mutter.

“But I do hope to do it all again next year.”

The Casino

A glorified bingo palace,
same indignant smell.
Saps sitting silently,
counting contently,
offering obediently.

Saps sitting silently,
planted in place.
Pacing in place- preparing for self-promised pipe dreams.

Tax dodgers, collections dodgers, draft dodgers, wife dodgers, and coffin dodgers alike
flock as moths to the warm glow of the pharaoh,
as disciples they listen
to the soothing reassurances from bets high and low,
that their grass may grow greener.
Reality goes on strike.

Down the dated carpet I walk,
I see the young and old fixed on cards and screens,
sarificing precious time and superficial dollars
to legal criminals, to cheats in blue collars.
The wolves who have ditched wool for Armani cackle,
friends of the fallen feed the fiends.

This is not meant to provide fame nor fortune, this vice.
How can these people be so gullible, so docile, as well trained pets?
So I shake my head, and I buy a beer.
I hum and I haw, I light a cigarette.
I take a drink,
I take a puff,
I curl my lips in contempt at the saps,
I sneer,

“What a waste of life.”

Soapbox Stories Presents: The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind- A Book Review

“The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind”
by Vanessa Farnsworth
Published by Thistledown Press
Review by Ben Charles
C$19.95
ISBN:
9781771871570

“The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind”, a collection of short stories written by Vanessa Farnsworth and published by Thistledown Press, is a riveting adventure of both the zany and the ordinary shown through the lens of interesting and realistic female protagonists. In our age of insipid, lazy, and cliché literature and filmography I found it truly refreshing to live the experiences of women with actual depth and character that extend further than either hopeless romantics who just need a man or vapid arm candy. Farnsworth crafts her characters with such care and insight that it was impossible for me to not to crack smiles as I read these misadventures. In each story I found myself relating with her characters, laughing with them or at them, and sincerely resonating with their emotions and struggles. I do acknowledge that from reading this as a male I may not have the correct perspective to fully appreciate this work, but did gain valuable insight from it that I hope readers of all genders can also reap.

After reading stories such as “The Canoe” and “Ten Reasons I Won’t Be Going To Heaven”, I continued forward with a secret hope that there would be sequels or continuations of these stories further on. The famous saying goes, “always leave them wanting more”, and Farnsworth certainly delivers on this front in the best way possible, and I still do hope that Farnsworth elaborates on these brilliant stories in her future work. All of that being said, each story was perfect in length and leaves the reader wanting more, yet satisfied with a complete story every time.

Although the stories are consistently high in quality and all have Farnsworth’s undeniably charming style, each story is also completely different. I never felt that I was reading the same story twice. Farnsworth’s range is beautifully demonstrated in this collection as her stories effortlessly jump from the relatively mundane to the extraordinarily bizarre. “The Beaver” is one of my personal favourites of this collection and the best example of how Farnsworth’s writing straddles these two ends of the spectrum with delightfully witty delivery. The story follows a crackpot scheme of two dysfunctional suburbanite drinking-buddies as they sip cocktails and discuss their plans to wreak havoc on those who have wronged them with a stray beaver who has made a home of one of their backyard pools. The story unfolds as the two lushes go from the best of friends to bickering over the slightest of perceived insults, and ends with one of the women hatching a new plan of betrayal.            

In conclusion, I would highly recommend “The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind” to those seeking well-written, charismatic, and realistic female protagonists in literature, or to those who are simply fans of strong storytelling. I found the greatest charm in how realistic these stories can be. They detail the struggles, fears, and insecurities that women actually experience and showcase them to the reader through an entertaining adventure.   

THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL BOOK STORE OR FROM WWW.SKBOOKS.COM

The Written Struggle, The Unwritten Rules

My struggle as a writer is that I only have two thoughts when I write. The Yin and Yang pull and push forever. The Yang says, “You are the greatest fucking writer ever! Emily Dickenson’s work seems as the work of a drunken mongoloid. The audacity astounds me that real people live on Earth and don’t realize my genius.”

The Yin is less forgiving. The Yang tugs to the Yin’s war. The Yang says, “What in the name of sweet, salty fuck are doing? The fact that you even consider writing your meaningless, narcissistic, and shallow trite. Every word that you put on paper is an assault on human intelligence. Even worse, you publish it for others to read!? You need to be stopped before you commit further atrocities on human literature.”

The Ying and Yang constantly battle. There is no room for grey in a mind of black and white. But, peace is found when I remember that I can never think in grey, let alone writing 50 Shades of it.

B.D. Charles

Sour Leaf Prelude and Thank You

Hello Reader,

I wanted to write a short but warm thank-you to all of my readers as a prelude to the poem “Sour Leaf”, which will be posted shortly. Sincerely, thank you to everyone who follows me so far, likes my work, or even just stumbled on me for the first time. I write and post because I love doing so, but it is humbling to think that my work may brighten up someone else’s day. Even more so when “someone else” happen to be writers far better than me! Even though my following is small, I appreciate the Hell out of it and out of anyone reading.

As I have started this writing project only about a month and a half ago, all of this is still incredibly new to me. I am still learning and experimenting with different approaches, writing styles, post engagement, etc. I have learnt that when it comes to my poetry, I often do not provide a lot of context and dive right into it. I intend to keep that consistent as I believe any media in which the imagination creates the context and fills in the blanks is by far the most rewarding. I know that I also keep saying that more short stories are coming, and I promise, they are!

Anyway, to break up my status quo and give a little context of the poem to be posted, “Sour Leaf” is a poem that details my relationship with weed (or marijuana for the squares in the crowd) and my thoughts on the grass. I decided to write this poem as I live in Canada, and we are to fully legalize and decriminalize it this October. I have mixed feelings about this as weed brought a lot of negativity into my life when I used to smoke it (I have not smoked in 4 years now give-or-take), but at the same time understand that my experiences do not speak for everyone else’s. I am a firm believer in bodily autonomy, but also believe that weed is not as safe and chill as many people make it out to be. As you can see, my thoughts on it are not simply black-and-white.

Complex thoughts and arguments of the self are not best expressed via clunky essays, however. We all know that they are best expressed with poetry and written emotion. I hope that you enjoy reading this poem as much as I did writing it. Again, thank you all so much.

Sincerely,

B. D. Charles

P.S. Thank you to my lovely girlfriend who designed my website. It would not look even half as good if not for her.

The Time

My, oh, my
look at the time.
How did the once small and curious
become so tired and furious?
Crushed by the weight of the world but forced to grow up,
told to be an individual, to make a wolf of a pup.
Told to follow their own path, told to never stray from the herd,
Told to follow unwritten rules- no matter how asinine, no matter how absurd.

Question nothing and work hard,
that is guaranteed to get you far.
Climb the ladder, don’t chew the fat.
Don’t bitch, don’t complain, don’t spit or spat.
Don’t raise a scene, don’t choose for yourself- no one would like that.
Keep your head down, be a good boy.
Follow the rules, do not dwell on the beliefs you employ.
Thoughts leads to challenge, challenge leads to change.
A spark and a question, and the neighbours will talk of you as strange.

Murmurs and whispers,
whispers and hushes,
Hushes and hums.

My, oh, my
look at the time.
The tired and the furious,
is now grey and delirious.
A hard worker, a busy bee.
Two admirable qualities
misplaced.
Pushing, pulling, bending and turning
is how he spent his days.
Head down, never nothin’ he needed to ask, never needed a say.
Knew the path he had to follow, knew not to ruffle feathers.
He fell in line for acceptance, to make the days bearable to weather.
His prize for all of that, in the end
was the admiration of the dead.

Hidden

A surprise you will never find
is a discarded cigarette pack with one left inside,
nor the last swallow
of a suffering man’s bottle.

Always on the defence, building a wall.
Always on the fence, to love or to maul?
Parrying and fencing, the dance must abide.
Parrying and fencing the questions, the love, the attacks!

An “I’m Ok” reprised,
another empty promise compromised.
Love drowns.
Clawing, gnashing, thrashing
desperately through the ice.
It does not sink silently into a frozen goodnight.
Echoes escape, corroded and hoarse.
Love battles through unfathomable fathoms
through a sunken, bloated corpse.

Monkey on the back, something on the chest.
Cackling black hounds tear flesh asunder.
Tears too precious to fall, the damned dam them under.
No life, no rest.

Guilt-ridden, heavy becomes light as feathers.
Bottled, trapped like rats, as thieves hidden.

Modern knights awake all night, safe as houses.
Baring teeth bore in armour.
Invulnerable, impregnable.
Safe and sound in steel, brick and leather.
Yet clinging to the sword and the shield.
They live as statues, slower and sleepy.
Invulnerable, and unable to see past the mask they wear,
unable to strip the heavy armour they bear.

Silent screams swallowed.
Bottled battles are eaten as broken glass.
Scars, scorn, frozen disdain.
Once a rich vessel, now a shell husked and hollow.
Fire, ice, water and the serpent clash.
Black hounds lick their lips, gnash teeth.
The soundtrack of sleepless nights
becomes a cacophony of their perverted laughs.

Parrying and fencing the questions, the love, the attacks!
The body gives, cold steel cleaves the back.
One hand outstretched, a finger seeks who is to blame.
The other clutches his hilt, unaware of where the blade resides.
Like an impatient Damocles, the knight chooses not to see, chooses pain.
Invulnerable, hidden.
Struck. Stuck.
Not by the dagger in the back.
Not by the questions, the love, the attacks!
Imagined enemies draw closer, they fester and seethe.
As his own sword remains in his foot, he is frozen and bleeds.
Here the blade resides, black hounds cackle and chide.
Frozen and bleeding, yet the dance must abide.

The Immigrant Poem

THEY’RE TRYIN’ TO TAKE AWAY OUR CULTURE!
Says the man whose grandfather came to Canada, and was given an English name
Who does not know his original last name
Who does not speak French
And has no desire to learn
Who had no desire to speak it with his father
English is the best language anyway, why should he bother?
It’s all he needs to watch American television
He knows it all about his culture. He loves Bud Light and supports the troops.
Our culture is the best culture,
But he probably couldn’t tell you much
About the Sixties Scoop

THEY’RE TRYIN’ TO FORCE THEIR RELIGION ON US!
Says the woman who goes to church twice per year on Christmas and Easter
Says the woman who worships her reflection
Who never takes time to truly reflect
Who would never take the tired, the poor, the huddled masses
Those people are on their own, I’m not giving them a handout
Handouts include my important time,
That I will not volunteer
But when tragedy strikes far or near
She takes the matter very dear
She knows the cross is hers to bear
And gets on Facebook with a “Thoughts and Prayers”

THEY’RE TAKIN’ OUR JOBS!
Says the man, not at all meek.
Even though he came to work hungover
The third time this week
The man who lost that job
Not because of his lacklustre habits, or his love of the wine
He lost that job so that the board of directors
Could protect their bottom line

THEY’RE A HATEFUL PEOPLE!
Says the woman, so full of vitriol
The woman who has not talked to her own son in 10 years
The woman who will not hear a word he has to say
For Jesus despises him, and God’s ears are deaf when he prays
For he made the fatal choice, of living as a gay