End of Semester Musings…

reading pic blog

“To allow the powers that be to govern one’s sexuality is to remove something from the private sphere and make it public” (Me, 2015).

Revisiting an old research project this morning has me thinking really intensely about our current social climate and the ways we perceive the world and people around us. I am also thinking about the interesting (though often maddening) ways that History seems to be in a perpetual state of reincarnation. Yes. I just personified History. It is a bold endeavor I embark upon.

I once argued that Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century translations of Ovid’s pre-Christian era Amores directly influences his undermining of epic poetry in favor of erotic verse, particularly in his version of Hero and Leander. I argued that Marlowe challenges Elizabethan traditions of the period, regarding Petrarchan style courtship; The strict Christian moral climate, and social constructs thereof, contradicted and exposed the base human instincts of men and women. Marlowe’s rendering of the poem, Hero and Leander, suggests that allowing the “powers that be” to govern one’s sexuality removes the intensely personal component of love and sexuality from the private sphere, and makes it public.

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I still stand beside the claims that I made. I still believe that Renaissance humanists were always attempting to better understand the constucts of human nature. And looking to the past offered a vehicle for doing so.

Sometimes, I think we live in a society that is quick to render judgment. In our world, the private and public have become so intertwined, and often mutually exclusive, that we have convinced ourselves we have the right to render judgment because we are invited to do so when others make public their private lives. I cannot argue against this claim. We are an intelligent species. If we don’t want people’s criticism then perhaps we should refrain from sharing so much of ourselves. Of course, someday there will be textual critics like me that deconstruct and rip apart each and every syllable of the words we write now, in order to “better understand” who we are/were as a society…but at least we will be dead when that happens and won’t have to face our critics.

Still, I often wonder less about what people have the “right” to do or feel and more about how we can be the best human beings possible. Just because we have certain rights does not mean we have to exercise them. Why aren’t people more inclined to look for the good in others? Why do we focus on the flaws when making our judgments of a person, their character, goodness? Are we not an inherently good species? Flawed, yes. Shouldn’t we try harder to see good in those around us? To believe that a person’s mistakes are a result of a particular context and moment, and not necessarily definitive? Must I determine a person’s worth based upon their clothing choices, career choices, love interests, hobbies? And a long list of other qualities that people are judged for that are too nonsensical to even warrant debate. Does a moment make the man?

The deconstruction of human desire. The social construction of good v. bad and moral v. immoral. That is what Ovid seemed to enjoy writing about more than two-thousand years ago. Marlowe seemingly enjoyed the conversation as well more than four-hundred years ago. There are many others, of course. And today, we continue this trend. Some people use their interpretation of their religion to make such judgment calls regarding their fellow man (and/or woman). Some stand behind their “right” to say and think and believe what they want regarding another person’s life choices. Others tell themselves they are entitled to their “opinion.” I cannot call these people wrong, in most situations. Though there are times I am certain WRONG should be shouted from the rooftops. Regardless, I do believe there is much to learn from our friend History. And I do believe that we are better people when we try to find the good in others, first. I believe that we don’t need religion to be good people, though I also believe that for some it is a comfort that cannot be measured. And therefore, I will not undermine the value therein, when wielded with care and precision and good intention. Ultimately, I feel that the more I seek to understand others, refrain from judgment, and seek goodness, the better I feel about my place in this world. This way of thinking does not come without disappointment, sometimes heartache, sometimes anger. But I think it is worth it.

The universe is a big place. Sometimes lonely. And very few of us that inhabit this space are perfect. We don’t have to be perfect. I just hope to see a time come when I am more surrounded by people that are trying to empathize and find good…than criticize and condemn.

This old desk. And me.

Another sleepless night.

I wonder why my mind won’t let my body get some rest.

So here I sit.

Thomas Tallis Scholars playing in the background.

My first cup of coffee.

Books.

Paper.

Pens.

This old desk.

And me.

I bought this desk ten years ago.

I thought I was so grown-up.

Twenty-three years old.

I knew so little about the world, then.

But the sheets of paper that have been strewn across this wood are countless.

And the stories they have told are mine.

And the books that lay about are full of memories.

Stains and markings from the moving and the coffee and the wine.

Getting lost in the pages of Hemingway…

Finding myself again in a lost paradise.

Words.

Words have always been my friends.

And this old desk has been eavesdropping for quite some time.

Wrapped up in rhymes and prose and stories.

The ones that make you laugh and cry and scream at empty spaces.

The ones that make you love and hope and dream of distant places.

The ones that make you look harder and deeper and longer at others’ faces.

Words that consume. That devour. That tear you apart from the inside out.

Lines that wrap themselves around you to the tune of lullabies.

Books, paper, pens, and words.

My old midnight friends.

Oh, how you soothe me.

And oh, how I enjoy the conversations….

Between this old desk. And me.

08 February 2018

Holding On…And Letting Go

You came to me once in a dream, and it was so real that I could feel the warmth of your body when I woke. My chest ached from the ragged breathing, my lip tender from the biting. And I could feel you all around me. As I laid in my bed in the early morning hours, I could taste you. I could smell your scent on my pillow. I could see the way you look with my sheets draped across your body. I replayed your voice and the countless hours of shared conversation. The way your eyes move when you laugh. The way my heartbeat changes at the memory of your smile. And for the longest time I was wrapped up in that dream, although I was awake. And feeling you near, if only for a moment, made all the hours without you more bearable. And I was happy. And the world made sense. But then the sun came shining through my window. And the sounds of daylight woke me from the spell your memory had me under. And I was back in the real world, once again. And in the real world…our souls, though they are made of the same stuff, are far apart right now. And that ache in my chest turned to pain. And that space all around me felt empty. The warmth turned cold. My pillow turned damp from a sad stream of tears. And I wondered if wherever you are…for just a moment…you could feel me reaching for you. Because I could swear that I could feel you trying to stay. I swear that I could feel you grasping at the air. And I could hear you telling me to hold on……

……As if I have a choice. Because though I try to let you go…I can’t escape you when I sleep.

–LJB

A Poem: This Old Heart

brave-is-the-man-pic

There is something in her eyes that drives this old heart wild

Something in her voice that makes this old heart sing

Something in her touch that holds me captive

Something in her soul that’s paralyzing.

She touches me in ways that I never knew existed

Causing me to feel things that have no name

Causing my world to shake without a warning

Causing me to participate in cupid’s game.

But oh you should see her in the midnight hour….

And know the way she feels in the early morning light…

And know the taste of her lips after a bottle of wine…

And know that you will never win this fight.

Because that thing that drives this old heart wild

And that thing that makes this old heart sing

It’s beyond any form of rhyme or reason

Beyond any means of understanding.

I can’t say that I’m in love…but I know it’s something real.

And that is more than this old heart ever thought that it could feel.

–LJB

A Poem: Goodbye

She walked into the bar

And sat down next to me.

There was a tattoo on her thigh

That I pretended not to see.

She glossed her lips, lit a cigarette,

Finally ordered a beer.

And without an introduction

She whispered, “let’s get out of here.”

The night was young, the air was crisp,

Her mouth was “kiss me” red.

And when I asked where we should go

She said, “You tell me, instead.”

The sheets ended up on the floor.

The talking ended with a sigh.

She ended up re-glossing those lips.

And I ended up with goodbye.

–L.B. Conrad

A Poem: Witchy Lover

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*I do not own the rights for this image

The way she walked into the room and laughed her wicked laugh…

I knew almost at once that girl was witchcraft.

The air was full of magic like some ancient melody,

And that girl was quick to cast her spell on me.

She batted her eyes, bit her lips, bent her head to the side,

And I knew that she would take me on a wild, wild ride.

There was no way to escape as she backed me against the wall,

And with one taste of her lips, she made me fall.

Oh the games of cat and mouse that girl and I would play;

Until without a warning she said, “Adieu,” and walked away.

And somehow after all these years and all our time apart…

That crazy girl still beats inside my heart.

From that spell she cast, I’m sure I can never recover.

So heed caution, my friends, every time…that you take a witchy lover.

LJB

A Poem: Everywhere

mexico

She was light when I needed light. She was darkness when I needed dark.

And she came to me in dreams even when I was awake.

There was fire in her touch. There was music in her laughter.

And the moonlight in her veins was more than this old wolf’s heart could take.

She was the ink in books of poetry. She was the quill in the hands of bards.

And no matter how far I wandered, I felt her everywhere.

She was consistently inconsistent…like the young Donne and the old.

But every time she held me it rocked me to the core.

There was fire in her kiss. There was music in her smile.

And when she turned to walk away from me she always left me wanting more.

She was somewhere between Heaven and unfallen Paradise.

And no matter how hard I fought it, I felt her everywhere.

I don’t know how long I’ll love her. Or if it’s really love at all.

But the piece of me that me she holds prisoner is in no hurry to escape.

Oh but the fire in her madness. And the music in her goodbye.

And the broken things that girl’s storm left lying in its wake.

And no matter how many empty bottles laid beside me on the floor.

I felt her everywhere.

L.B. Conrad

A Poem: Anymore

reflective

I recall her lying there, all broken on the bed,

And oh how my heart ached at the thought of our goodbye.

She looked at me and murmured the saddest words ever said,

But in my heart I knew to go on would be a lie.

I tried to find the words but just stood there silently,

And my heart ached at the thought of walking out that door.

She sat crying for a while and stared right back at me…

I found the strength to say, “I don’t love you anymore.”

And as I held her in my arms that one final time,

I memorized her scent, touch, her teardrops on my face.

And the way that girl once held this beat up heart of mine…

It still haunts me from an old, but not forgotten place.

I curse this thing called love and its wicked, wicked ways.

I know that its to blame for my darkest, darkest days

–Lamanda Beesley Conrad

Hell: A Visible Darkness

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*I do not own the rights to this image

There is a dark place that exists…deep inside of us: perhaps in the heart, perhaps in the mind, perhaps in the soul. But it is a dark space that is a certain kind of hell. When something is weak, or broken, the darkness from that hell seems to find its way into the spaces in between that which is whole and that which is not.

Often in life, things are taken from us when we least expect it. Something like that warrants a particular kind of sadness, and the dark place that such a deep sadness can take us is a certain kind of hell. Many fear the hell that threatens when this life is at its end…but perhaps we should fear the one that lives inside of us, while our hearts still beat. Once you have been there you can never be the same. Hell does that to you. Just like the deep sadness that opens the gates, hell itself is transformative by its very definition. It is truly a ‘visible darkness.’ It is a prison that incarcerates a person from the inside out.

I have been to hell. And I have escaped hell. And every once in a while…I think about going back.

L.B. Conrad

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