Thursday, May 20, 2010

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

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Judgment Cometh To Ye
A Poem by Jeff Campagna

The eve of judgment cometh, men of men, women of women, all ye be judged in death as ye judged in life.

Two men sit astride in blue,
..One with a cane and one who,
Has a hat that rests atop,
..His homely face which cant' stop,
Spying the cane in the hand,
..Of the man who starts to stand.
In this room which little fits,
..One now stands and one still sits.

The man who stands reflects his past,
..And how long he hath come to last,
In a world where evil and good,
..Are by all men misunderstood.
A fortune made, A child lost,
..Both by his hand, but at what cost?
The same hand which now rests atop,
..His golden cane, his body's prop.

Ay! This man cared little for few,
..And thought he above all ado.
But those for which he did so care,
..He did so with a silence ere,
He could tell them he did so feel,
..Those emotions he did conceal.
For this man wasn't bad straight thru,
..But things good aren't all that accrue.

The hatted man now stands as well,
..And his modest past he dost tell,
With tear in eye and heavy heart,
..He claims to be a man apart.
Nary a fortune did he make,
..Nor a life did he ever take.
Though one life he did throw away,
..And let his own life go astray.

A friend or family he had not,
..But to love himself he forgot.
So idly through life he went
..With self lament, and did resent,
A God who didn't seem to care,
..Or listen to a poor man's prayer.
His life stood between right and wrong,
..To neither camp did he belong.

Like pillars of stone they stood,
..Pondering which of them would,
Be called through judgment's door,
..To see their life's final score.
Both men were in life not wise,
..And thought soon all their lies,
Would be buried in the fine,
..Sand that sprawls deserts of time.

Much to both the men's surprise,
..There was no God in the skies.
Just an office stark and plain,
..With a clerk who did explain;
That religion mattered not,
..And any God should be forgot.
But no man escapes the day,
..When those who judge have their say.

Two men stand before a judge,
..Both overcome by begrudge.
One whose life was up and down,
..One who wore a poor man's crown.
The first pleasure and strife knew,
..And failed not to throw askew.
The second knew depths and thrift,
..And did squander life's true gift.

This the judge did declare;
.."Both of you are now aware,
God is not the judge of you,
..But a board that does review,
In living what you did show,
..And in death where you must go.
Both of you can rest assured,
..The worst of it ye have endured."

written under the influence by
jeff campagna

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

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What is a movie? What are they supposed to do and what sort of effect are they meant to have on those who view them? I suppose these are questions whose answers reside in the province of opinion, and so, I mean to have no authority on the subject, instead, I will merely wax poetic.

As I see it, movies are something of a magic show, a cinematic presentation of a feature length magic trick which has no magician but those who constructed the trick before the show began. They are supposed to whisk us away to some foreign local we can't, for the majority, ever hope to visit in this life. They are meant to leave us euphoric and questioning the reality behind the show.

In 1959, theaters saw record crowds lining up for a new William Wyler picture that had been hyped, promoted and marketing without mercy. "Ben Hur" was one of, if not the biggest, movie that had been released and they made no attempt at hiding it. Back in the 50's there were still remnants of 'movie magic' where viewers would be 'wowed' or 'amazed' by what they were witnessing, and although they had no idea how it was happening, or if it was happening, they enjoyed, whooped and hollered, laughed and cried as if the chariot race was kicking up dust for them to choke on forthwith. It was a magic trick and it blew peoples mind's.

Modern audiences, through no fault of their own, have grown desensitized to the power of a movie. If we see space ships sailing across the screens we think nothing of it; just another night at the movies. If we see a man shot and killed on screen do we feel as if a man has really been murdered? No. Imaginations ran wild in the days of old and to go see a picture was an escape, not from their day, but from the world. Today, movies have the same quotient of enchantment as game of lawn bowling. They exist merely to pass the time.

51 years since, the world has been given another 'Ben Hur'. A man had a vision that movies could once again be a magical experience, one where the viewers knew no time or space, no race or religion, they simply watched in awe. We were shown a world that not only was foreign to us, as movies have continued to do through the years, but revealed a world that the audience yearned to visit, and some would have gladly stayed. Animals we had learnt not of, languages our ears had never heard and people we knew not, all fused and fed our dormant, not dead, but dormant imaginations. "Avatar" is not only an achievement, it's a gift.
writing under the influence,

Monday, March 1, 2010

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"I Love U2 Brother"
An old diddy I wrote back while I was backpacking Europe when I was 20. My brother was, and still is, a huge U2 fan so I wrote this for him. If you know some U2 songs, you may even like this poem.

I have a Brother,
As he has one too.
I shouldn't complain,
But sometimes I still do.

Sometimes our fights,
Are more than I can bear.
We sew it up,
But you can still see the tear.

We are one yet,
So little's the same.
I'm running away,
And he's glad I came.

I seek refuge,
In my dark holes.
Where as my Brother,
Has soul sweet soul.

We've had our ups,
We've had our downs.
But when he calls,
I come around.

And sometimes I miss him,
I don't see him for days.
What I fail to realize is,
Brotherhood moves in mysterious ways.

All in all,
What I'm trying to say,
Is when you're around,
It's a beautiful day.

written under the influence by

Friday, February 26, 2010

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I will let Sir Ken Robinson due the speaking. All I will say is; I couldn't agree more, Ken!

listening under the influence,

Thursday, February 25, 2010

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Have you seen HBO's "Temple Grandin" starring Claire Danes? Well, I am not, as you know, fond of critics and their reviews, so this post really isn't about the movie as much as it is about what the movie proved to me.

I believe, though I may not be skilled enough to practice it yet, that all art requires a certain amount of invisibility of the artist. When one listens to music, as they do, they shouldn't be constantly reminded that there is a musician behind the notes. When one reads a book, they should notice the story and not the writer behind it's words. And when one watches a film they should not be shelled with evident camera movements, over acting, one liners and strange production design that could risk taking the viewer out of the story and into the film. After all, a film, or a novel, is simply the telling of a story. A tradition that dates back beyond recorded history, where one person, or many, would stand before their listeners and, simply, tell a story.

I digress. "Temple Grandin", though no big stars grace it's credits and no famous art house director was calling it's shots and no Kaufman was behind it's words, was, I dare say, one of the best film I have ever seen. And I claim this for one reason and one reason only. Yes it had spectacular and poignant acting, yes it was a very technically competent film, but neither of these are the reason I speak of. The reason is the film's unparalleled achievement in, what I think is the most important aspect of a film, the suspension of disbelief. It wasn't about the directing, writing or acting. It was about the story. The visible edge of filmmaking was nowhere to be seen or felt.

If you are having trouble grasping my point, compare my thoughts to say, "Smoking Aces". A wonderful film that I enjoyed very much, but while watching, was constantly reminded of how cool the film actually was. It wasn't about the story, it was about the film.

I know a lot of screenwriters, but not as many storytellers and the spread is ever widening. As an artist there is a desire to show yourself in your work, I know for I am guilty of just this, but perhaps an artist will appear in their work whether they try to or not, and when one tries, they compromise that elusive and sweet suspension of disbelief, the story.

writing under the influence,

Friday, February 19, 2010

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So, beginning in 2009, I will be publishing an annual paperback series containing the year's worth of poems, blog entries and short stories found here on 'A Writer Under The Influence'.

Plus, I will be adding a few additional entries and pieces in the paperback version that can't be found here online just to egotistically reward those who still actively enjoy the tactile feel of bound paper.
Please help support. (I have removed my profit from the price to lower the book cost, but you purchasing will surely support my will to live)

There are two ways to purchase 'A Writer Under The Influence - Volume #1'
(Click the icon to be whisked away to the purchase page)
Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Friday, February 12, 2010

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P.F. Sloan penned "Eve Of Destruction" in 1965 and soon after Barry McGuire laid down a legendary one take recording of it off of a wrinkled cocktail napkin. It would be his only hit song. Poignant, provoking and holding back no punches, it delivered a hard but honest message; our world is messed up and if we don't do anything to fix it, we will destroy it. And, 50 years later, not only have we done nothing to fix it, but it has only gotten worse.

Can humans not change? The Eastern world still explodes, the bullets are still loading, rivers still have bodies floating in them. What fears existed then still exist today. The button still lies in shadow on the finger which wants to push it. The world is still bound to scare a boy. Still we contemplate, still we watch senators corrupt systems and marches fail to have any effect all the while human respect disintegrates. Hate still thrives. We still bury our dead and eat our neighbors and still we hide the traces and say the graces. Can humans not change? If you're not building your castle, you're tearing in down and we are tearing down, brick by brick, the world around us. It's the same old place. There will be no one to save with the world in a grave.

Sometimes, it's promising when things written 50 years ago still apply today; this isn't one of them...

writing under the influence,

Thursday, February 11, 2010

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I think myself an artist, and, in so doing, hold my head steady, and with a subconscious commitment, thrust it so far up my ass that I no longer know myself different from an unripe melon. Now, I don't mean to say that I have nary a notion of who I believe I am. What I am implying is that who I believe I am can in no way be accurate. As I plummet further and further down into the rabbit hole of shadows, where creating feels realer than living, my own opinion of myself can no longer be trusted. Those around me, my family and peers, have an opinion of me, be it good or not, that could possibly be more precise than that of my own. And in this state of mind, I look to those around me for their perspectives of who I am, because they have better an idea than I.

You see, as an artist, there is a certain self-abandon present in all my decisions. My art is far more important to the world than I am, and because of that, my priorities are reflected accordingly, and when you have been creating art for a number of years, and abandoning ones self in proportion, what can you truly know about yourself beyond the art which you produced? Like the tumbling snow ball or the rippling water, with each passing moment and each decision made, the effect compounds itself in such a way that for the snow ball to become smaller it has to stop and melt, likewise for the water, ripples only cease when the action causing them does so to. So to continue creating art furnishes the continuance of my fading self-awareness.

If one's opinion of me is that I get ahead of myself and fail to finish things which I start; they are probably correct. If someone thinks that I am selfish, caring, responsible or unaccountable for my actions, well, who am I to argue? So you can understand, or hope to at least, the mental state I am in as I continue, in this life, to paint the self portrait of a man I do not know.

writing under the influence,

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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If you have not read "Part I" of this poem, please do now by clicking here. One wouldn't want to digest the entree prior to the appetizer so carefully plated.


Adieu, adieu! to history's winds do we,
Bid farewell to history's sprawling tree.
For a new tree grows now called The Present,
One you'll find was scarce more pleasant,
Than the past our hero was sore victim to,
Nay, this present was but a present to few.
Like a true soldier's faith did he march on,
And still from social circles was withdrawn,
To the point where awkward silence lied,
In every council and tête-à-tête he tried.
For the past had no mercy, nor the future would,
Have such charity for but a boy misunderstood.
Leaving school early he soon became,
Nothing more than a tradesmen of pity and shame,

The seasons of life so soon changed for,
The best of our subject's time spent yore.
For he fell in love for a time first and last,
From which time he forgot his entire past.
His childhood was a memory vague at best,
To recall a fond memory he was pressed.
But when love knocks on one's iron door,
And that fist belongs to one they adore,
One's past becomes nothing but idle fiction,
To be condemned to a novel crucifixion.
And one's future then dost become,
A fountain of dreams that dost flow from,
A spring of imagination so long ago sprung,
When our subject was so innocent and young.

Here an internal conflict did boil and brew,
And there his resentment grew and grew,
For the life for himself he had so actively built,
So the loathing and spirits doused his guilt.
But when he would peer into his true love's eye,
He saw a faith and solace if he were to defy,
Would haunt and linger each and every thought,
That he thought when he should have fought,
Against his disdain and against his fears,
That would up till now rule his years.
On one hand; submission. The other; dreams.
He grew to tolerate a life of extremes.
To the horizon he searched for a way out,
To his dreams, to his wants; he craved route.

The course became clear, the direction ahead,
Was to be one of a path often tread,
By those with minds and bodies strong,
So to this group our subject did not belong.
With his reckless abandon and parent's pride,
Nay! only in his true love could he confide,
That his one true passion was far from trade,
Ay! it was a passion in which most often played,
Those with money and power and idle of both,
Both of which our subject hadn't the growth,
So from a different launching pad must he,
Sculpt the shape of the newfangled tree.
He took a step back and thought once and for all,
That nothing could stop him, storm nor squall.

Now his relationships were on the mend,
With his father, brother, foe and friend.
And his mother continued to show support,
And with his true love did he so cavort.
But as all youths learn when of age they grow,
That there is more to life's ebb and flow,
Like jobs, cars, money earned and spent
No matter where the spender says it went.
The fog of reality crept in more each dawn,
Like the due of fidelity on one's lawn.
This well orchestrated dance did he so view,
But something told him that he knew,
A healthier alternative to the status-quo,
One where creativity could freely flow.

After reading the classics, books upon books,
Of mad scientists and buccaneer crooks,
Our subject took to the pen and to the write,
And in taking to such indulgence ignite,
A second true love that he'd give his all,
So many poems and fictions he did scrawl.
With each poem and each fiction penned,
He would less, and even less, comprehend,
The way the world worked outside his doors,
The riots, the politics, the future and wars.
His writing, his woman. His booze by his side,
This man, still young, tried to in vain divide,
His imagination that was so early sprung,
From the fellow inhabitants he was among.

Part III will soon follow, if you are interested, in my mind's hollow...

Monday, February 8, 2010

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Adieu, Adieu! yon silver night sky,
For 'tis tonight that I dare to ask why,
It is that I only now say a fair hello,
To the man I am and do not know.
A self portrait of sorts must all artists do,
Whether or not they know exactly who,
They are inside when the brush dips in,
The paint of life from wither all begin.
Yet here shall rest a medley of rhymes,
That act as a portrait detailing my crimes,
Against my self for which I do so revel,
While reveling beside me sits the Devil.
For I have little idea of the man I am,
So through this poem I shalt try to exam.


He was born to a Mother and Father proud,
And so a cloud of pride did enshroud,
This outcast, this pariah as he grew,
Into the child who so little knew.
As a boy born of freedom so oft' does,
He had nary a sense what struggle was.
At the year four, his parents so split,
From the vows to which they did commit.
And so this boy would know a broken home.
As a childhood home that was his own.
Too young to know what to make thereof,
This apparent abandonment of true love,
He would float throughout spans of time,
In his imagination so sublime.

His Brother who was his senior two years,
Would so feed off his younger's fears,
In response to the lack of figure Father,
The older would take upon himself the bother,
Of teaching and guiding our poem's subject,
Through youth in hopes of being correct,
When it came to the life he knew nothing of,
Nay, he was but two years in age above,
Our boy, so what could he possibly know,
About the knowledge he tried to bestow.
For now our boy was without two things;
The Brother of Princes. the Father of Kings.
Now to his mother he looked and prayed,
And to her side he loyally stayed.

In this pattern he sailed through youth,
Not knowing the fiction from the truth.
Out of many schools he was wretched,
Due to how his Mother's dollar stretched.
So friends were a pleasure not to be had,
By this child whose thoughts were sad.
When his age into double digits crashed,
His awareness of life left him abashed.
Within a few years a girl showed to the boy,
That after all this still to be had was joy,
From relations with people besides those,
That live with he and that he knows.
T'was a new era for our tortured subject,
That in the part following we will upon reflect.

For the next few years and years beyond,
A new style of life of which he grew fond,
Was that of one he should have known before,
And to make up time he began to explore,
At a pace perhaps some would deem risky,
That involved vodka, gin and whiskey.
Before reaching twenty years of age,
Against the machine he deemed fair to rage,
And so his few friends began to wane,
Leaving him to roam his own domain,
Within a psyche diseased from the start,
That should have taken notes from his heart.
Ay! 'Tis here our child became a man detached,
From his future ahead and his past snatched.

No stranger to lust but one to new love,
He grew fast into a being devoid of,
Social skills that would be needed soon,
In his broken life's quarter life swoon.
Caught in a web of anxiety and hate,
He found it increasingly hard to relate,
To those around him in school and play,
That seemed to effortlessly show and display,
The skills that were needed from one his age,
To preform on the unforgiving adolescent stage.
There wasn't a woman he failed to want,
But all he wanted seemed to flaunt,
The fact that other men clearly waived,
What these women so clearly craved.

After knowing many women abound,
And drinking many spirits around,
He began to wonder what the purpose was,
To this life. A thought he thought because,
Nary an answer had been proposed to he,
Who was never given a guarantee,
That life would give those who longed,
A reason to forgive those who wronged,
He when he was to young and did wonder
If man was held criminal for every blunder.
Through many a phase our man sped through,
And many an experience he did accrue.
Tis time that we bid fair adieu,
To the past we have fallen into.

PART II, coming soon.... if you so care, to follow through...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

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This was written over the course of a few hours during which I posed for a photo shoot as an 1800's Absinth endorsing writer and muser. I hammered away on a 1894 Underwood typewriter, which turned out to have a rather steep learning curve when the typist is accustomed to 'delete' buttons and 'edit undo' functions. Never the less, I powered through and managed to hunt and peck out the following stanzas. Now, it must be said, being a lover of authenticity, and a enthusiast of all things spirited, I did, whilst in the middle of the photo shoot, enjoy a glass or more of the traditional one part spirit, two parts water with a burnt sugar cube rendering a cloudy yet potent transport for the green fairy; Absinthe. When I came to the next day this is what I found on the tea stained paper which was wretched out of the cold dead hands of the Underwood at the end of the shoot. (unaltered)

"Never Titled" or "The Sugar Cube"

There goes all my money like dust in the wind,
Up in the air.
Left shoulder down, right shoulder up,
It's just not fair.
A man summons a cab, a singer summons a note,
A skier the snow, the sea captain his boat.
A date summons his train and a child his toy,
A soldier the action and a priest ever joy.
Deserts summon rain as it's crosser his water,
The farmer his crop, the mother her daughter.
The dog companionship, the debater the contrary,
But Alas! The writer, above all, The Green Fairy.

That was a poem you may like it or not,
If you don't, then well join the lot.
Nay, I have never claimed nor have stated,
With a large fan base my thoughts are related.
High numbers aren't the best offer,
Don't believe me? Go ask the golfer.
Tis better to have a devoted few,
Than it is to watch fandom undue.
Ay! For peoples admiration is so soon,
Harkened back to face it's doom.

written under the influence of 'La Fee Verte' by,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

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It may be short, but E.M Forester's science fiction tale "The Machine Stops" is no less relevant or, dare I say, clairvoyant. Written in 1909 when there were still more horse drawn carriages on the road than automobiles, Lincoln was still President and the concept of the radio was still a castle in air, the predictive E.M. Forester was taken more for a nut than a visionary. However, over 100 years down the bumpy road of technology, "The Machine Stops" reads more like a modern day cautionary tale than it does a sci-fi classic. Here are a few excerpts from the 1909 text. Read 'em and weep (for the future that is).

"The clumsy system of public gatherings had been long since abandoned; neither Vashti nor her audience stirred from their rooms. Seated in her armchair she spoke, while they in their armchairs heard her, fairly well, and saw her, fairly well."

(YES, 100 years ago, before a computer had even been discussed or thought about, E.M. was inventing SKYPE in the pages of his novelette)

"And of course she had studied the civilization that had immediately preceded her own - the civilization that had mistaken the functions of the system, and had used it for bringing people to things, instead of for bringing things to people. Those funny old days, when men went for change of air instead of changing the air in their rooms!"

"Few travelled in these days, for, thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over."

"People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine."

"Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed. Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live; he would never have been happy in that state of life to which the Machine had called him; he would have yearned for trees to climb, rivers to bathe in, meadows and hills against which he might measure his body. Man must be adapted to his surroundings, must he not?"

"It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here."

"Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it...and if it could work without us, it would let us die."

"Those who still wanted to know what the earth was like had after all only to listen to some gramophone, or to look into some cinematophone."

"No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence. The better a man knew his own duties upon it, the less he understood the duties of his neighbour, and in all the world there was not one who understood the monster as a whole."

"It was otherwise with the failure of the sleeping apparatus. That was a more serious stoppage. There came a day when over the whole world the beds, when summoned by their tired owners, failed to appear. It may seem a ludicrous matter, but from it we may date the collapse of humanity."

"But there came a day when, without the slightest warning, without any previous hint of feebleness, the entire communication-system broke down, all over the world, and the world, as they understood it, ended."

'She crawled over the bodies of the dead. His blood spurted over her hands.'
"Oh, tomorrow - some fool will start the Machine again, tomorrow."
"Never," said Kuno, "never. Humanity has learnt its lesson."

Nostradamus; eat your precognitive heart out.

writing, in fear of the machine and under the influence,

Monday, January 4, 2010

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"Dum Vivis Ama"
a poem by jeff campagna

Man hath achieved a great many things,
Empires fallen he hath built for kings.
He hath trod the earth and sail'd it's skies,
And his every mistake achieves reprise.

Prithee, Man hath not an angel’s wings,
Nay, he is tied down with material things.
He shalt wax and wane 'till the day he dies,
About his achievements, truths and lies.

Man hath scaled to a great many heights,
Mountains of iron and oceans of lights.
Methinks he got lost upon his quest,
‘Ere he would have found some godly rest.

Man hath wrought a symphony of fights,
While the philosopher thinks and writer writes.
Sure as the wind dost blow west,
There must be an achievement that is best.

My greatest achievement one may guess,
Is some form of material gain or success.
Nay, it's not a thing that can be taken or sold,
Nor can this thing ever grow old.

It is something that if thee possessed,
The meaning of life would be egressed.
Ay! Tis' worth more than fields of gold,
My greatest achievement is the love I hold.