Monday, December 21, 2009

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I feel homeless, lost in the haze of empty words. Why must a muse be a woman? I have found love, but with it, didn't come my muse.

Let's start with my biting obsession with words, obviously of the English origin. It's a recent thing. Since I started actually reading to be specific. Until about four, maybe five months ago, I hadn't actually read a piece of fiction, front to back. Hard to believe? It is for me as well. Sure I fought through Bill Shakespear in high school in an out-loud class setting, and before that, even lied through many a book report in elementary school. I would read the first page, and the back cover. Then I would pick a few lucky pages from the middle, and with them, I would formulate the most asinine, but seemingly believable essay. After high school I would read a few self help books, which did little but manufacture a raging inferiority complex. Long after, I would fall into the blind oblivion of creative commitment and the art of story telling. So, I went right to the source. The Novel.

I picked up "Barbary Shore", Norman Mailer's second and relentlessly critically panned novel. I hadn't read "The Naked And The Dead", which separated me from the majority of those who had read Mailer. And thus, I had nothing to compare too. So, as a result of that naivety, I quite enjoyed "Barbary Shore". But, not for reasons one might imagine. In point of fact, I didn't even really comprehend the story, partly due to my limited knowledge of world politics, past and present. But, what I did enjoy were the words. I'll repeat; I enjoyed the words. The way he used words to explain things in such an eloquent, poetic and descriptive fashion. The way he manipulated the English language, as if it didn't own him, he owned it.

Since, I have been through other Mailer books, even read Faulkner and Dostoevsky. And let me tell you, I will never, ever, turn back. At this point, it isn't simply the words of authors that bite at my mind. It's everything. A traffic sign signaling construction, a salon advertising services, a radio personality pitching a new single or even the man behind the counter at the gas bar. Why did they choose the words they did? What drove them to do so? How did those words find themselves in their vocabulary. Do I know these words? Should I know these words? Could I use them better?

Most of the time, when this obsession with vowels and syllables strikes, it's due to, if not Mailer, a film. And not just crazy elusive works of John-Luc Godard or Andy Kaufman. It can be while watching pop like "Definitely Maybe" or "Enchanted". The words they use. It makes me want to use them too. It makes me want to create. I want to have the same fun and the same liberty with the English language that they had. I boil with desire.

And like many artists, I need a consistent vehicle to translate those very desires into works. Or do I? Do I really need a muse? Would Woody Allen survive with Scarlet Johanson? Would Lennon have written the things he did without the presence of Yoko? I have often yearned for a muse and never been given one. Often they are women but such is not the case for myself. I have found the love of my life, she is everything a man could want in this world, but perhaps not everything a writer could want. This has left me searching for a muse. And, in fact, I am infinitely relieved my love is not my muse, because as I migrate further and further down the rabbit hole, she would soon become more a muse than a love.

But, I am left with a sort of disconnect. Every minute of every day I am compelled to write. Not a dream of mine. In fact, I was always a very poor reader and writer, and, in my opinion, still am. I had tutors, special education and even extra curricular 'English-as-a-second-language' courses. But, it's a force I can't ignore, and until it leaves me, I will accept it. The disconnect being, a constant influx of inspiration and content but with no muse to transport it to the fleeting masses. Obsession is the gasoline to which I have no vehicle.

Forgive the grammar and spelling, I am into a few.

writing under the influence,


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

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"From The Mekong and On"

NOTE* Written over the course of a three month journey through Southeast Asia in the late summer of 2009, primarily while sailing on the slow churning muddy waters of the Mekong Delta.

We are driftwood floating in a never stopping,
inconsiderate river of water translucent
with time and mud.

The water is old, the water is new and no matter
how much we kick and push we remain debris
in a subtle flood.

We float to the surface and we dip down below,
the tide rises, we kick, we push, the river swells
with tears and fears and blood.

The flora, the fauna it all seems plain as I search
around in vain. There I realize, floating in the mud,
she is the flower, pedal, stem and bud.

We swam rivers of time and chased tomorrow
down the current. We built rafts out of promises
and it's sails our of fear.

We laughed sorrow and cried joy and with every
sob the river grew as if we carried a storm in
every tear.

Our world grew and shrunk at the same time,
we lived in mansions of glory and shacks of wine,
year after year after year.

Our love crawled like wild flowers on the wild
sandy plains. Our knowledge the food that fed
those flowers far and near.

Our relationship was a work of art. The world
was our infinite canvas and our love was the

We got lost in each other and found our way.
Together we walked the path of reward and
not of complaint.

We raced forward and swore we'd never look
back. We ran towards a golden tomorrow, with
every stride our past grew faint.

It was perfect. We were a silent scream.
A freshwater lake of freedom.
A rebellious saint.

written under the influence by

Monday, December 14, 2009

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'Real men drive stick' - the reader will presume I am making an analogy, and the reader will be correct. But to make more sense of this analogy some base definitions must be agreed upon. For a train that travels on crooked rails can't hope to travel straight.

There are two types of cars as far as your author is concerned; manual and automatic. The reader may interject and say that I should rather state that there are two types of transmissions, but, when buying any car, the very first option you have, right out of the gate, is whether your car will be manually or automatically controlled - so I will maintain my previous expression. Now, of course there are different types of manual transmissions; there are 4-speeds, 5-speeds and 6-speeds, old sliding-gears and new cross-mesh builds - but in all cases, the driver is still in complete control. Likewise - there are different types of automatic transmissions; old constant variable transmissions, triptronic or sensonic, pre-selector, semi's and full automatics - but in all cases, the driver's control is limited as compared to any type of manual transmission.

There are two types of men in this world - those in control and those who are not. If a loved one is insulted or attacked there are men who stand with their tail between their legs and whimper like a whipped terrier and there are men who stand up and fight right back. There are men who battle for all they have and all they want on this take-no-prisoners, fast-spinning shit nugget of a planet and there are men who take whatever they are given and cower in a shadow wishing they had just a little bit more. Remember swagger? That almost undefinable spirit that the Paul Newmans, Steve Mcqueens, Marlon Brandos and Pierre Trudeaus exuded from every pore in the days gone by? Well, those types of men are as endangered as a hawksbill turtle - the only difference is no one seems to notice or care.

Men, stand up for what you believe in and fight for those you love. Respect he who deserves respect and fear he who warrants fear. Command the same respect and instill the same fear yourself. Speak to women with honor and kiss them with your eyes shut. Know how to tie a double-windsor knot and don't be afraid to be overdressed at a bar and underdressed at a ball. Don't shave everyday. Make goals and stand by them. Read. Take all of life's punishments, stand them like a man and give some right back. Wear the same shirt tomorrow. Write a poem. Drink rye straight. Be in control of your life and your car, and know how to drive stick.

writing under the influence,

Monday, December 7, 2009

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"Ballad Of A Heart So Full"

Some men fear the thing they love,

By each let this be heard.

Not all know what they're scared of,

To know would be absurd.

But those men still do fear the same,

When fear itself says it's name.

Of those men some are kind,

And some men are too rash.

Of those rash all are blind,

And those blind will turn to ash.

For each man loves that thing he fears,

And for it spill the blood of tears.

The soldier loves war and fame,

The priest loves prayer and faith.

Yet each's heart feels the same,

Sure as ninth follows eighth.

And as sure as waves flow to the shore,

These things both would die for.

A man will spill blood and tears,

And not think twice or thrice,

And will not change through the years,

No matter payment's price.

And whether he does pray or not,

Won't the slow wheels of fate stop.

No man loved or ignored

Is safe from such fate as this,

Sometimes sealed with a sword,

And sometimes with true love's kiss.

But both the love and the hate,

Produce the seeds grown by fate.

Sealed are my lips, as with my fate,

As I now feel true love's kiss.

And as my love replaces hate,

There is no sweeter sound then this.

For each man fears what they adore,

For fear it will be one day no more.

Some love to dark, some to light,

Some love the person wrong.

But each falls for one that 's right

If they let time sing it's song.

I have fallen and would die for,

Whom it is that I adore.

When love shows it's ancient face,

Be it with a smile or frown,

It's time to forfeit time's ol' chase.

For a pleasure so renowned.

It's face is old, it's face is new,

In all cases, it's face it true.

Love is to be nurtured by all,

But is botched more times that not.

It's for one not to rise, but to fall.

For true love writes it's own plot.

The author to which all must bow,

And the bow by which all must vow.

Love makes hate but not reversed,

Behold the spot of our fruit;

By this hand the world is cursed,

And is rotted to the root.

You can cut the spot off the fruit,

But it won't stop hate's pursuit.

That hate is a wild dog at hunt,

It bounds with strides so wide,

It must be said, soft or blunt,

With shame or with pride,

That hate burns like a flame,

And like the dog, cannot be tamed.

Some men fear the thing they love,

By each let this be heard.

Even if of this they feel above,

Or digest every second word.

Half the words will serve the cause,

Of avoiding the dog's bloody jaws.

Not one man enjoys full control,

Or can say they have that power.

For when each man hits that pricy toll,

Each man's clock strikes the hour.

And when that hand hits that time,

The bells of fate do so chime.

Those bells did chime aloud for me,

And that toll my path did cross.

And to this day I must agree,

What I paid was not a loss.

If I had to pay more to keep that love,

Of fame and fortune it'd be above.

Love makes fame wilt in awe,

And fortune scour with shame.

Love the perfect picture does draw,

And us the perfect frame.

Hang that art with love and pride,

For all you need, love does provide.

I will also mention how love scorns,

And leaves some men behind.

They must wear that crown of thorns,

Until that bitter kiss dost rewind.

Just like the thorns beget the rose,

When love strikes again no-one knows.

I do not believe in Heaven nor God,

Instead I have faith in man's heart.

I shalt not praise a holy facade,

When what I feel in Love dost impart,

A sense of reason not to doubt,

That 'tis a warmth to live not without.

A mother's love is as strong as steel,

A lover's as tough as stone.

A father's love brings him to kneel,

Before love's golden throne.

All strive to be forever true,

And true love's pleasure they pursue.

A poet loves words, a painter his paint,

The writer his plot, the priest his saint.

A pet loves his master, a runner the track,

A general loves his plans for attack.

For each man loves that thing he fears

And for it will spill blood and tears.

Tears love fear and joy the same,

The way blood loves to be craved.

And like a moth loves his flame,

The helpless loved to be saved.

For each man fears what they adore,

For fear it will be soon no more.

If I could share with you one thing,

It would be to follow suit.

Hark! the music of love does ring,

Heed it's savory flute.

Feel it's churn, it's turn, it's mill.

Submit to it's every will.

Love is something to be feared,

And something to be craved.

Love is something to be cheered,

And something to be saved.

Love will seal all men's fate,

When man finds his true soul mate.

written under the influence by jeff campagna

Thursday, December 3, 2009

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His ink-name is J.R. Vassallo but I know him simply as Jon. "The Kingstonians" is his first book and is a collection of short stories dealing with the human condition. I have had the good fortune of reading a few of these gems, but I'm waiting for the book to be delivered to my door step via so I can read it in all its paperback glory.

The nine stories are all easy reads, understated and bereft of any self-indulgent over-writing (for that tripe, you can keep logging into my blog) and are perfect leisure reads that peer deep into the human soul and social landscapes.

Click the image to be whisked away to the literary palace of and lay down a few shillings to add this debut to your otherwise dusty book shelf.

writing under the influence,