Nothing Left To Lose | Poem

“Nothing left to Lose.”

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Polarized and demoralized, a once powerful nation
divides it’s law abiding citizens into bits and pieces.
Sewing ceaseless violence into the folds & creases of a worn
out reprint of the American flag.
Toe tags and body bags set the stage
for a new wave of the American dream,
where people from far and wide come to
to reside in a land of lost toys; a generation of disenfranchised
youth with an axe to grind, a purpose to find,
and a truth to unwind.

Weary travellers gather at the end of a long road
and look for a place to rest their heads
but when laying in bed
are instead met with the hum
of a thousand ghosts and counting.
The pressure’s mounting to pick a side,
but with only two choices there’s no room for the voices
caught in the middle of in-between.
It’s presents itself as riddle for
those of a different breed.
A rational mind might wonder why
we can’t break or bend or compromise.
but the TV’s just repeat, repeat, repeat…

It’s the same thing week to week,
the earth rising up to meet the feet
of mental mariners as they reach for the stars.
Steal bars and concrete
and young minds springing leaks,
glued to the edge of their seats by
the twisted realization that
blood flows in the classroom
just the same in the streets.

Plaques spawn in memorial
but like the ones before don’t do much to catch the eyes
as they pass by, locked to the floor.
Awake but searching for more than
just another day to ignore.
The libraries; silent still
but now for other reasons,
only serving to suture
the missing futures and
the empty space of urban sprawl.

It’s a shame that news is never really new
but always finds a way to monetize the pain.
Instant fame for monsters all the same,
breaking bread on the backs of the dead,
raising toast from coast to coast,
and inside your head.
A toxic tonic; sweet as summer rain.
Infiltrating brains and
staining innocence with the unmistakable stench
of identity politics and hatred.
Giving rise to a society
where you’re just as likely to be a victim,
as you are incarcerated.
And this prison we created,
this statement of the times,
spreads far beyond the walls we designed.
The monsters aren’t dead,
just inside our minds,
multiplying the divide between us.

Death has become industry
just like everything else.
One that preys on the nervous tissues of your brain
that say “kill or be killed” is the only way.
Our sense of self has become tied to the products
we pick from the shelves and guided by the reckless few
so fortunate to not have to choose between a roof and food.
But despite these troubled times
I reject the notion that my truth betrays.
Are we are dead already
and just have yet to decay?

The echo within begins as fear spread thin;
it’s the devil you know, just under your skin.
an anxious smile, a toothless grin
Whispering chaos to the home there-in.
Silence is a hollow-point in the making
and it’s yours for the taking if you if you choose
So make your voice heard
before there’s nothing left to lose.

By Devin Ott

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Stewards of Memory.

“Stewards of Memory.”

Nothing can prepare you for something like this. At times, I feel like I’m floating above the world in a vacuum. Looking down at myself in utter silence, the clock stuck at 12:45am and the moment everything changed. The veil of ignorant bliss shattered, in no uncertain terms, by the wave crashing through the phone and into my ear. Why did I answer, I never answer that late at night. As if somehow that would make a difference.

On the other end of the line was a familiar voice, a dear friend, a brother. My mind ran a million simulations of what a call at this hour could be about but none even came close to the answer. The news hit me like a wall but didn’t stick at first. The sheer force of the impact knocked me from myself and into another state of being. One without volume, without substance, without sense at all.

My mind began spinning and slipped the bonds of whatever gravity I had in my life. I grasped for something to say but words, in that moment, had lost meaning altogether. This is not how things were supposed to happen. Not to you. Not to one of us. You were so full of life and love with a spirit like no other. A role model. A friend. A brother. A son. The essence of all we could aspire to be.

Now I scour the deepest parts of my brain for answers to simple questions, where do we go from here? How do we pick up the pieces? I don’t even know where to start. We went through so much together, grew up side by side, shared in so many unforgettable experiences, and now you are gone. I still can’t believe it. You managed to fit so much living into your 29 years that at times it was hard to keep up but somehow, it never felt rushed. You truly lived in the moment and simply by existing, your wild and unique character had a positive impact on everyone around you. Your smile and spirit will be greatly missed. I hope you know that.

All things that have a beginning must have an end, I just wish it wasn’t so soon. We never had a chance to say goodbye. Never got to say “I love you brother” one last time. Your passing has left a hole in my heart, in all of our hearts, that can never be filled. But it’s not because you took a piece of us with you, it’s because you gave a piece of yourself to each and everyone of us. And If by some miracle you can hear this, I hope you know how much you meant to us, how much we loved you, and how much we still do. Your unbreakable spirit will forever serve as a guiding light for all of us left here to follow; as stewards of your memory, together.

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Love & Quiet Service.

“Love & Quiet Service.”

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It’s the winding down of time on my mind of late. The transience of all things. My heart feels both heavy and lifted with each breath you take, asleep and dreaming, resting from a hard days you. I hope you are happy. I hope you are comfortable. I hope you know how much you are loved. I wish with every fabric of my soul that I could make you whole and keep you safe in my arms from the churning decay of time.

You’ve lived a whole life in parallel to mine before we met and although I wish we had more time, everyday you are here is a gift that I will always cherish. You are the embodiment of all that I love in this world. So peaceful, so loving, so unique. Your little eyes, so sweet and filled with curiosity, reflect an image of my younger self and remind me to be who I am and that I am enough. Despite how I feel about myself some days. The tragedy of mortality seems an especially bitter pill to swallow, knowing what I know. I try not to let it get to me but some days it’s hard.

Everything else in my life seems out of focus and it is strange to think that, somehow everything has changed, even though nothing has. This truth existed before we knew it and I can’t help but to long for the comfort of ignorance, despite what that means. Foresight seems more of a burden than a gift but in reality, I know the opposite is true. We will have more time this way, it’s just hard to bear the weight of it sometimes. I am grateful that you won’t ever know and that by our knowing, you may live out the rest of your days in peace & comfort. Blissfully unaware and cared for to the very best of our abilities.

As I wade through emotions as deep as my heart I scramble to make sense of my surroundings. I feel I’ve lost all sense of direction in the wake of this new information. It’s so unfair that a little being, so deserving of life and love, should have to suffer the same fate as the rest of us. I hope that when that day comes, I may have the courage to accept the unchangeable and see the softer side in all of it. If there is any. To receive the passing of the torch and find the strength to comfort her, in love and quiet service as you have, for all these long years.

The vestigial mind seems to find it’s voice in times like these. Frantically reaching out into the darkness, desperately trying to find some permanent anchor to this world for us to cling to. But after a while, the fear and utter desperation gives way to reason and I realize that I have but to open my eyes to escape the echo’s of my anxious mind. When I do, I see you there, asleep and dreaming, in beautiful serenity. I can’t help but to break a smile. You are here with us for now, and that’s OK. Because we live here, forever in these moments together, and that is all that matters.

Now as I watch the fur on your little chest rise and fall with life, I can’t help but to feel so fortunate to have met you at all. Though the ache still lies just below the surface, my heart sings for the time we have left. All things that come must go, and in a way, that’s part of what makes it special. A chance meeting between friends, in love and in loss, that lasts for a lifetime and beyond. You’ve taught us so much, about love and life, and what it truly means to be a part of it all, and for that we are forever grateful. And when you find your place among the stars, we will carry you in our hearts, safe and sound, until the end of our days.

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Poem – “Masters of Distraction.”

“Masters of Distraction.”

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Here’s to a new year of skewed points of view
and people posting pictures of alcohol & food,
One of a kind minds designing script for your mood,
and new brand of social network
primed for solitude.
These contraptions are crude but
they get they job done,
in a society overrun with trending fads
and targeted ads for products to
satisfy all your desires but none of your needs,
sowing the seeds of greed & excess
into very fabric of the shirt on your back
and the dirt beneath your knees.
It’s a fate not of our choosing;
A prophecy of bruising that
jumps to conclusions fusing
minds and illusions.
It’s a war we are losing to faith in delusion
because the devices we’re using
don’t code for the value of humans.

We are hostages of consciousness
desperate for an audience,
for anyone to hear to our story about
how we suffer from the consequence of general lack
of confidence but don’t quite know why.
How we hate ourselves for being flawed
cause it pales by comparison
to the arrogance that treats our minds
like rats in an experiment.
And how we are never really missing cause we’re
never really there just
masters of distraction apprenticing despair.
There’s no time to be a victim
because no one really cares if there’s
a sale on happiness
when it’s sold out everywhere.
So just grit your teeth
and owners beware
Your misery is a masterpiece
in case you weren’t aware.

Because the gravity that’s tailor made
to fit inside your chest says it
doesn’t matter if you’re better
you have to be the best
and you’ll endeavor forever
just to relieve all the stress
of having a mind full of knowledge
about how to take a test.
So don’t tell me it’s progress,
don’t call it success,
when we parent our children
with screens and neglect.
Instill in them heartache
and teach them regret,
disinfect their emotions
and hide their defects.
It’s a wide range of symptoms you can collect
when you have all the tech
but you still can’t connect.

It’s coercion well rehearsed
immersed in hunger feeding thirst
but you know what’s worse?
The fact that somewhere along the line
we monetized the hurt
and the news became just another way
to sell a logo on a shirt.
Time is a commodity
but no one knows what it’s worth.
So we spend our days locked away
watching live feeds of the earth
and the monotonous & bottomless
display of spotlessness the internet provides.
It’s in the business of bending minds
and spreading lies to sway opinion.
So believe what you believe
but listen when I tell you
no one can achieve what they show on TV
but we hope & we dream
as the cycle repeats
and we spend our whole lives
on the shores of the sea
searching for the land beneath our feet.

-Devin Ott
February 20th/ 2018

 

 

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A Place of Dreams.

“A Place of Dreams.”

It’s 6am and I’m awake. I don’t remember hearing my alarm but somehow I managed to shut it off. Today is the same but different. Just like yesterday. Just like tomorrow. I go to work, I come home, I sleep and I repeat. Save for the little gifts of time I have in between, where I build maps no one can see. Monotony for those who don’t know; bliss for those who do. I am somewhere in between, here on my ship in the sea.

I dream a future unencumbered but wonder what it means. Most nights, I walk the deck end to end making small talk memories but tonight my feet carry me to the edge. I set my hands down on the railing and look over. The waves break without a sound. There is only darkness and the wind. A deep hum, almost inaudible, rises up to greet me from the dark. This must be the place; the place of dreams.

I stare into the dark and feel it staring back. My mind is flooded with memories I don’t quite recognize and thoughts I’ll soon forget, but right now it doesn’t seem to matter. There is a gravity here, drawing me ever closer as the water below calls my name. I can’t find the courage to answer. Not yet anyway. There is something about this place, something magical, but it plays tricks on the mind. So close you can feel it lift the hairs gently from your skin, but still just out of reach.

I would be a fool to miss this opportunity but I am not sure I have what it takes to see it through. The real war is in here, not out there, and it always has been. We just talk a big game. The whirlpool in my head drains in to the sea and again I hear my name, only this time a little louder. Drowning in curiosity, I still resist the urge to respond, but without knowing why.

The moments multiply as I scour my heart for courage, watching the waves pass like clouds amidst the dark. All paths have led to this but somehow I’m still afraid. Afraid to know but equally afraid not to. Endless outcomes spin tires inside my head and I wonder if it will all work out as I planned; as I wanted, or if I am really the best to judge that in the first place.

Suddenly my attention is pulled away and my mind lands with a lone bird atop the lookout. I wonder what she is doing here? So far from home and way out to sea. What long journey brought her here? What drove her from home? These questions and more appear and disappear like passing signs; to fast to read, and I watch as she drops from her perch to join me at the railing.

She watches as I turn my gaze toward the waves, stewing amidst the apprehension running rampant in my mind. The hum rising from below drives my train of thought to a moment of clarity and suddenly I realize… She came here for me. All this way….for me. It must be fate, that we should meet adrift at sea, here on the precipice of dreams.

She gifts me courage as I climb the railing and stand balanced upon the edge of a blade. There are different lives on either side but which one do I choose? I extend my hand and she flies to meet it, grasping tight around my finger. Time stops with us inside and for a moment the world stands still. I lift my hand to my heart and feel her head against my chest. She looks up at me to reassure as we take a breath and jump.

 

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Swimming in Circles.

“Swimming in circles.”

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I am a fish in warming water. Enjoying the perks of this free energy that surrounds my body, I don’t feel the need to ask questions. It would only serve to complicate things. Surely, if the waters were to warm further still, I would have the presence of mind to escape before I fell victim to the buoyancy of ignorant comfort. Maybe, I’m not so certain anymore.

It’s been too long since we’ve talked and it’s not because I didn’t want to, I just didn’t know what to say. I was so fixated on the music that eventually, I couldn’t hear the notes anymore. I mean that both figuratively and literally. I’ve poured so much of myself into this that it has practically consumed my every moment free. And here we are, these many months later, and I find myself in the strangest state of mind.

I feel like my life has been playing like a drive-in movie. Sitting behind my windows, I see all these beautiful images passing by, but can’t for the life of me, find the right frequency to hear anything; there is only static. A global hum of unguided televisions trying to find their way through the ringing in my ears. It’s as if the heart of the world has skipped a beat and now I’m out of place; Syncopated. Antiquated. Isolated.

The earth moves beneath me and outside my little bowl but here I am, just swimming in circles. Stopping occasionally to revisit these feelings of self-doubt and obsolescence, before continuing on despite them. I dream of the river and where it might take me but also wonder if what I’m doing is stupid. If anyone outside my bowl will care. I wonder why it matters to me. Were I resolved to watch the world pass and not wish to join it, would I wonder where it’s going?

Maybe I’m afraid. Afraid that I’m not who I think I am or that this identity is not as potent as I thought. Maybe it never was. Maybe these years underwater have dulled my senses; diluted my reality. What if these feelings are just symptoms masquerading as thoughts? One can never know for sure. Maybe I’m afraid that beneath these scales, lies a destiny unfit for a fish. Maybe this is temporary; an aftershock. Maybe everyone feels like this from time to time.

All of them, swimming in their little bowls, fully grown and hungry for a cause. Do their voices deserve to be heard over the symphony resonating through the glass from the outside. Does mine? Countless voices mining time for opportunity and a part of me feels like I am just singing into the static. Trying to break free from a causal loop of perpetual auditory feedback, have I forgotten why I started in the first place? If time is common currency, how do you convince someone to invest in you? How do you know if you’re worth investing in?

These questions keep me company as I loop around my bowl, hoping that one day the frequency of my broadcast will match the dial of the world. Maybe it never will, but I have to try. For some reason, I have to try, and maybe that’s the point. Maybe the destination that drives us is just a catalyst to start the journey; a spark to start the fire, and once the road’s beneath us, only then can we find our way. Only then can we find ourselves.

I don’t know what lies beyond the glass. For now, I am just a fish in a bowl, singing into the static. Swimming along with all my hopes and dreams and the belief that one day, my voice will grow so loud as to shatter the glass around me and drain me with the water. If I could make my way to the river from there, what might I find? Or who? Who am I, if not a fish?

SWIMMING IN CIRCLES THUMBNAIL

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Poem – “Gentle Hectic.”

“Gentle Hectic.”

The stars live and breathe
in the cuff of my sleeve.
It’s not enough to believe,
you must feel the fatigue.
Deceived;
the beleaguered mind state levitates,
a sporadic heart rate elevates
and I pace back and forth
debating what direction to choose.
Any will do.
but if I stand still I lose.
Words begging to be heard.
A man begging to be cured.
They resonate within me,
perhaps more than I know.
Fate calls from the seams
and the walls in between,
but I can’t will an answer.
It’s just the caffeine,
laughing at all the cars passing, asking:
Who are you?

Behind closed doors,
I fear I’m more and I’m less
riding the coat tails of spent cigarettes.
Where success seems an endless hallway
out of reach
unless the mind, made a mess
by this un-named distress,
has some lesson to yet to teach.
It calls out from the vale,
disconnected and stale,
but master of misdirection none-the-less.
A perfect reflection of imperfection
and me, just me.
A cold, gentle hectic
reckless collective.
Craving acceptance
of a mind resurrected,
and I’m left wanting.
Haunting the very halls
erected to protect me.

With age comes perspective
and mine is defective;
but when I stop and reflect,
I find it perfect,
just in other ways.
It’s the puzzle, I’m the pieces
but all these bends and these creases,
don’t know what relief is,
don’t know what peace is.
Cause this mind never sleeps
and these dreams?
Never cease.
The fearful unknown; I’m surrounded alone.
This multi-tasking mentality masking
a restless cascade amassing,
grasping at straws and reality
and all the while asking:
Who are you?
Who are you?

By Devin Ott
July 19th/ 2017

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