Johnny Rocket

Spoken Word Artist

Poem: I Ethiopia

I, Ethiopia

When time caught up to your car-
burgundy red like drenched in cheap wine-
it rubbed up on the bumper, first,
wiping clean the valentine
and leaving only direct connection, at 7507 miles gone,
between you and home.
I (breath) Ethiopia
I          Ethiopia.
You asked me to write a love letter to us
so I etched sun symbols onto the skin of my cave walls
asked you to be a better philosopher than me and the Greek
and help me cast away the shadows
s we can look at the light directly.
I took bamboo stalks, tied them into bundles
and waved them around like kindergarten chalk
in attempts to write sonic sky words,
audio cloud memos
because love like yours makes me fly.
Maybe a rickety old crop duster
blustering plenty and skimming trees
but still
I’m airborne, floating,
chasing the star you placed
on the center of my constellation
so suddenly I can navigate storms,
chase lightning and half erased bumper stickers
on the tail end of a wine stained jalopy
that read Freudian slips of origin…
I         Ethiopia
I         Ethiopia.

I took beer bottles and stacked them in patterns
braced them against cliff walls in a drunk sway
made them stay with algae mortar and bouy bombed storm waves
so they wouldn’t wash away the sea glass salt washed bottle mural
saying all the poems I forget to write down, for you,
when I’m drunk on your light
as you rise up on the horizon.

The red sand dirt riding across the ocean
to rub up against your bumper in the summer
to disconnect the well intentioned middle man
and bring you closer to your beginnings.
I         Ethiopia. Only a breath between the two.
Every time you drive away I see a coastline
and a hippo
and a childhood constructed by contradictions and culture shocks
and anecdotes if antidotes to disappointments
love found in suns drawn on beach washed wood.

And when you asked me to etch my fingerprints
onto the walls of the bedroom as chronicle of love,
I stuck my bumper stickers onto the everything
and ripped off the end word
in hopes to communicate all the words I swallow
I Heart…
I Heart…
I Heart…
Stuck on the bumper sticker of my jalopy chest
rubbed raw and beautiful by red sand dirt,
7507 miles,
I      Ethiopia
I      Ethiopia.

August 2010

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Morning Thoughts…

I’m still trying to figure out what this blog should be about. People generally make their blogs about specific topics, because generally no one really thinks that anyone wants to hear their pre-coffee 630am thoughts (because no one does). I’ll take suggestions. So far, all this is about is this incessant drive I have to write. I can’t help it. So then this morning I’ve been browsing other blogs to see what other people are writing about. I came across this one about a woman, post 40, who’s getting back in shape. And there’s a pic of her running down this beautiful orange leaf strewn mountain wood path, all NC Autumn and ridiculously gorgeous. And I thought “oo, I want that. I want to be one of those people who runs down autumn gorgeous wood paths for exercise” instead of humid, mosquito-ridden, 90 degrees in near October Florida sidewalks. The immediate following thought, tho, was a big “duh.” Yes? Anyone out there who actually likes the latter? (there’s meds for that…)

And then there’s the story about Tyler Clementine, who killed himself after his roommate broadcast his “intimate encounter” with another young chap. And how Rutgers, their mutual school, is holding a college wide lesson on civility. That’s not civility, mate, that’s basic decency. That’s ‘there’s something wrong with your mental makeup that you’d think that’s ok.’ But then-and this is a testament to how f’d up this society/something is (meaning, this is the exact opposite of ‘ok’/excuse)-can’t you see some college kid, like this, genuinely thinking doing that, videotaping his roommate like this and broadcasting it, would be funny? I dunno if he did this with malice, but I think that it’s sad that it’s not out of the question that it wouldn’t occur to him, this secret-videotaping roommate-that this would be a bad idea.

I think maybe the problem is that there’s too much to write about.

And here we go!!!

At the end of the 2nd year first quarter in my graphic design degree (a two year program), learning to do video, working on several websites for clients, with three video projects assigned due next week (re: goin’ loco) that each, when done normally, by a normal person take a LOT of time to do each….

luckily, or unluckily, I am not such a normal person. I choose to have an epiphany for the coolest idea since mac n cheese for my project, which would take so much more time to do it’s silly. Just silly.

Siiiiiigh. Ah, but what an idea. Once it’s done, it will be a short little movie of awesomeness, which I’ll share here. Now that I’m back. Not pretending to do any kind of amazing blog here, for now just thoughts.

Oh, and as a note to anyone thinking of spare changing by going up to someone’s door(point one), pretending ya’ll have met already, unsuccessfully trying to play on their sympathies, and SITTING IN THEIR PORCH CHAIRS while looking at you disapprovingly(f’serious?), here’s a tip: don’t repeatedly harangue/badger/manipulate/stare faux-morally at this person if they are, against all good common sense, not calling you mean things at this point and kindly pointing to their empty wallet and status as a student(the no trust fund kind). Generally, it’s not good PR. I get it, you’re desperate, but you’re scaring my dog, not taking no as an answer, and dealing with the most stupidly nice person here. My dad would’ve prolly emptied his spanish insult bag by now. Just sayin’.

In the Works

Cheers and Happy Blisteringly Hot Summer!
In the works now in Rocket-land these days:
The next collection of poems, which will incarnate in spring 2011, hopefully, theoretically, as an audio CD of 14 tracks, with (on the CD) 5 short movies based on 5 of my poems, with an accompanying book of about 30 poems which will have drawings in it as well, based on the poems. It’s in production now. I just finished recording all the tracks with the amazing Maria Carter in her studio a couple of weeks ago and I’m waiting with baited breath to see what music she might come up with to back them up. If anyone wants updates regarding the project, let me know here, in the comment section, or send me an email to jrocketibanez@gmail.com, or check out the contact page on my website jrocketibanez.com.
Also, a new web design business. Need or want a website done? Don’t want to pay a company an arm and a leg? Talk to me! Personalized service, and even a few jokes thrown in to keep things lively. Same contact info.
And school. I’m going to learn to make movies now. I’m excited. Aaalll the possibilities.

Poem-The Ward and the Warded

The Ward and the Warded

They are inscribing the bible on bullets
because sermons were not enough
to fill the heathen hordes with god.
They are pulling out of the rubble
people they care more about bleeding
than they do starving
because natural disasters fill the caring quota
in a way poverty just doesn’t.
And just to ensure the perpetuation of the poor
just to make sure they don’t do something silly like feed themselves
we have gone to the trouble
of sucking the seas dry of fish
because the only thing we want swimming in them
are submarines bombing their house of cards’ basement
the wame way we’ve attacked their attic.

Things are no more dire than they’ve ever been.
This is not good news.

Sometimes at night you can forget
in the dimlit play of dreams,
in the moonlit spray of leftover road rain,
that there is any kind of wanting.
The shadows cover the distances
so that all you have is a radius of light
and an upside down sea of stars-
Orion the only one fighting
and every breath enough to fill a belly.

There is nothing we can do but lift rocks.
There is nothing we can do but lift spoons.
There is nothing we can do but lift eyes from toes
where they watch street engraved stars
with the names of substitute idols
lined with all the glores and the stories we hang on them.
There is nothing we can do but reach.
The distance between our navals
and the hand trapped in the rubble
is a stratosphere.
The stars in it tell the stories the rubbled still hope to tell
and that we are so afraid to.
There is nothing we can do but stop bantering back and forth
the joke that we’ve made of ourselves,
punchlines of politics and slapstick senates,
the comedy routine turned to rut
dig deeper every time we stay put
with hands stuck at our sides
gripping the ground but never the bodies buried in it
reaching for the stars
but never for the desperate hands
the world is not a stage it is a fallen ruin
crumbled around us as we’re buried in the revel
you want to make it personal?
you want to grab the hearts
trapped in layers of pop culture pop guns
popping pills and reality TV
and the ever loving culture of Nike-
there are still people drowning from a 4 year old storm,
people still picking up the pieces of their home
there are still people swimming in from where they’d been washed aside
no turned to mermaid in an atlantic we’ve turned to myth.

And in the aftermath of the storm we’ve made of ourselves,
in the rubble of the wake of our march to progress,
no matter what you plant in your garden
it will still come out half nourished
the colors of dreams half diminished
because we’ve sucked out what’s rich from the ground.
And the half dreampt dreams hang limp on the stalks…
how much hope we have to hold onto…

And so at night these dreams walk with a limp
from escapades too fast paced for their thinned blood.
The shadows trip along themselves at dawn
tired and half drunk and ready for sleep,
wishes chasing the sun in search of mercy
tired of the rack stretching them across the day.
And so they contract and pool their recourses.
Gather in the corners
and soak up the darkest part, calm before the dawn.

1/21/10

© Rebeca Ibanez dePaz

1/21/10

Dreams

Sometimes dreams are realized not because one has the gumption, but because they have no alternative, other than, say, extreme poverty. Case in point: current economic times. The reality is that even the most skilled people are willing to settle for bagging groceries at Publix or frying fries at McDonalds. The unemployment problem is that big, and not really looking to improve.

So take someone in the situation where they make about 100 dollars less than they need to make it by. They need a second job, and can’t really see one to be had. What’s the options? Get creative. Not that it’s any likelier to reach your dreams than it was before, but since the likelihood for standardly reached income is so much lower, suddenly the field is a little more even. Suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a wild prospect to try your hand at Photography, or writing for money, or whatever your juice is. Different field. Interesting way to look at it, no?

I mean, when you have no alternative, not even McDonalds, then what do you have to lose for trying your hand at what you’ve shunned as ridiculously out of reach till now? Not much. Not much at all, really. So, why not? What’s your dream?

Dancing and Running, watch your step

So I’ve taken up running. I have an Ipod, and an app that’s available and free is Couch to 5K, which basically trains you over a 9 week period to run a 5K, even, and especially, if you’ve never run before, like me. I however, haven’t before not because of being a couch potato, but because of asthma that once landed me in the hospital for a week as a kid. So, running for any length of time or distance is a fairly ambitious prospect for me, in my mind anyways. It’s a great little app that lets you make a playlist of songs from your Itunes, and gives you audio signals at timed intervals so you know when to run and when to walk without having to keep checking your ipod or watch. That way you can concentrate on, say, not coughing or spitting up one or both of your lungs, like me. I’ve included some links at the bottom of the post.

All I can say, however, is that you’d be amazed at what the body and the person and the spirit is capable of when push comes to shove.  I sure am. It’s all about figuring out your limit, and dancing on that line like you’re on broadway, and never leaving that line, even when it moves father and farther and farther. Live on that line, and do the chacha just beyond it when you’re feeling sassy. It makes for a fantastic dance partner, let me tell you. Know, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go spit up my lung. Happy dancing.

http://www.c25k.com/

and http://www.felttip.com/c25k/ for the app as well as in the Apple store.

Happy New Years!!

People love new beginnings, and any opportunity to create them. Regardless of whether or not it’s arbitrary or as natural and ancient as a galaxy, a chance to do a new beginning, like celebrating the beginning of a new year, and ending an old year is usually welcome with open arms. Sometimes desperately needed. And this time around, the spirit of new beginnings seems to be multi-fold, as today we not only begin a new year, but a new decade, and essentially, around these days, the down slope of a moon that was full last night. New beginnings indeed.

So, in the spirit of new beginnings, what are you going to use this opportunity for? With such a lovely chance at starting fresh as this just laid out on a banquet table like it is, it’d be a shame to not take advantage of it, yes? Resolutions and all aside, it’s more about taking the opportunity to start living better than to set your sights on a set of goals you make and drop every year.

It’s not about taking today to start focusing on how much better tomorrow will be, but to take today to start making today better, as cheesy as that sounds. That seems to be the ultimate resolution, and one that’s both easy and hard as heck to meet. Like it was said the other day, it’s not about focusing on when you’ll drop those 30 pounds, but about eating and acting more healthy today. Yes? That seems much more conducive to happiness and inner peace, which, let’s be honest, is really the ultimate goal here, all in all.

So, take a deep breath, but aside, for a hot second, those goals you’re making, and just meditate for today on living better right now. Living, right now, as if you are currently living the life of your dreams. Because, why not, right? In a way, you are. Not to go into physics and all, but this is literally all a dream you’re creating. Anyways, this is what I’m going to do. Also something I’m going to do is deliver the poem I promised.

The Ae Freisleigh is an old Celtic form. A quatrain stanza of 7 syllable lines, which looks something like this, as far as structure:

xxxx(xxa)                    with the parantheticals being one word. so, three syllable words, where the last syllable rhymes, etc.

xxxxx(xb)                    furthermore, the poem (not the stanza) needs to end with the word or phrase it began with. heh.

xxxx(xxa)                   those kooky Celts, yeah? Onward!!

in the morning, meditate

in the loose moorings entrenched

in the storm wind, hesitate

at the feet of thirst unquenched-

open mouth, eat tornados,

breath the clean of the thunder

that washes the inferno

and soaks the ground and embers.

the rain comes with intentions

to wash off the dust cover

from the day, the ascention

of stale air that has hovered,

under rain weight disperses

and leaves new stories forming,

new air as it traverses

fresh landscapes in the morning.

Now, I’m not saying it’s the best poem I’ve ever done. You’d be amazed at how much of a pain three syllable rhymes can be, when you’re not used to rhyming. But, Poem 1 of 365, Ae Freisleigh. Cheers.

New Years Eve

Did you know that, traditionally, the Roman New Year, whose culture is the root basis for ours in so many ways including calendar, government and ludicrous over-indulgent self-destruction, used to originally be on March 1? That’s when their calendar started. There calendar was originally 10 months, which, it’s thought, explains some of the month names, since September-December are named for the Roman names for 7-10. Anyways,this was until, through a series of consuls and leaders which, in order, were Julius Ceasar (Julian calendar), Marc Antony and Augustus Ceasar, changed and tweaked the thing until Pope Gregory XIII came along and created the final tweak to make the Gregorian calendar. That’s what we use today, and celebrate New Years based on that. I mean, why not, right?

After all, it’s all rather arbitrary. It’s because both that it’s a Pope who decided this, and that he decided that it coincided with the circumcision of Christ (8 days after birth ya’ll) that it was given religious significance during the Middle Ages and onwards. Ahem. Because Jesus’s birthday wasn’t moved from Spring to Winter to coincide with the Winter holidays of those pesky pagans. No problem, boss.

Arbitrary. Spring makes much more sense for a new start, which is why it was observed that way for millennia until ol’ Greg came along. Rebirth, new plants, etc and so on. That pesky Pope. There are, however, several currently celebrated New Years and calendars. The Chinese New Year is celebrated on the new moon of the first lunar month, usually somewhere between January 21 and February 21. The Iranian New Year, called Nowruz, contains the exact moment of the vernal equinox and falls on either the 20 or 21 of March. The Jewish New Years, called Rosh Hashanah, is observed on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. And that’s just a few of many.

All this to say that while all the ways we humans find to organize our reality are rather arbitrary they are good enough reasons to celebrate as any, as long as there’s a grain-of-salt understanding. However, as a bonus, this New Years in particular, on Gregorian 1 of January, the first blue moon to fall on new years in 19 years will be in full effect. So, have fun, be safe, make good wishes, and howl a little at the full moon. And Happy New Years.

New Years

It’s funny. When this time of the year comes around, with New Years eve and all, two things can generally be found in abundance: talk about resolutions, and talk about the talk about resolutions, like this right here. Now, I can respect goals, and having goals, as much as the next person, but it seems to me that it might not be the approach to have, for everyone.

A friend of mine once asked me, not long ago, what my ‘bliss’ was. What my perfect life was. And then she suggested that I write it down. That way, whenever I had a decision to make, I can just put it up against that life, and see if the choices bring me closer to, or farther away from, it. That way, you’re both making your way towards that life, and, in a way, living it already. This goes with the many times I’ve heard it said that when you want something in your life, live like you already have it, and it’s just sorta…somewhere else for now. With limits. Don’t go around acknowleging an imaginary friend on the streets or anything. Ahem.

So, that’s a different approach: lifestyle changes, rather than goals to attain. Instead of having a goal to lose 30 pounds, for example, you decide to have a lifestyle that’s as healthy and active as you in your life can possibly be (which is usually higher than people are comfortable with. Ahem.)

I think, upon reflection, that the goal thing may work more into that Western, achievement driven, puritan work ethic style. Which has it’s place. Far be it for me to alienate my readers. Ahem. Only, regardless of what our culture sells, as ideas, it’s not the only option for happiness. Sometimes, that lifestyle you’re choosing is, in it’s own way, the path of least resistance in that it’s the path that goes with the flow better, in terms of what your body, soul and heart want (even if your mind is a gullible so and so that thinks it wants a burger. Ahem.) Also, it’s a possibility to combine the two. Personally, I’m a fan of choosing and picking what works out of every system, regardless of whether those systems (re: institutionalized religions) say that they are not co-existant.

Just an idea.

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