1. Heavy Heart 2. Cliché Fruit Pit 3. Sweet 4. Chalk Lies
1. Heavy Heart
If all the love I had for you could be converted to gold
I should be the richest man to live
But the cliché truth remains
That in my youth
I shall never be able to love you
If I could collect the stars
And give them on a sting to you
Would it be enough to make up
For all of the galaxies and star dust filing your eyes
Would you be surprised?
If I could empty the sea
And give you every ounce
Would it be enough my dearest
And would it make up for all I am not
And all that I am?
If I could collect all the light
And shine it on you
Then supposed it be enough
To compensate for my morbid fate?
Would that be enough for you my beloved
Would that make up for all the tears I have made you weep
From when I scream in my sleep
From when my eyes are sunken so deep
Would that make up for it all?
2. Cliché Fruit Pit
Cheesy and classic, I understand why eating the fruit of Eden curses man
Ignorance is bliss and the truth cuts deep
Tasting something so sweet is the most painful thing I have ever endured
Cavities I cry I have cavities from this peach
I sunk my teeth deep into the fruit and bit right down to the pit
My my how does my jaw ache
Grinding though cyanide and core of a stone fruit
I'm drowning in sweet nectar and I can't breathe but I still don't have enough
I need more now the sweet taste has touched my lips
Rose and jasmine will forever permeate my senses
It burns my throat
All three still sting but it was drawn from my lips
Drowning in sweet sweet honey I gurgle out a cry
They bubble up to the surface and pop on the feathers of angel wings as a terrible chorus of my voice lift into the clear night air
Overused and powerless in the wrong context I save it for the very last as every breath I draw is wasted on these words
I try to bite more off the fruit but I cannot tear any more flesh from the pit
My yearning is more true than any fantastical nights
I have found the dangers of starting the gods in the face
So hot it give you chills
Amber and sweet like honey
It burns your throat
It's potent like cloves and rose
Everything is golden
Sap roles down your face
Roles down to you lap
Sweat pores into the glistening pool
You'll start to drool
Your heart pounds blood through your sweating hands
Can't gab into it
The fire is dim
Soft like a pillow yet jagged are the bones jutting from you
Blood sweet like wine
You are the divine
Your horns crack glass as you soon pass
You're truly here for a good time
Sex and sweet blood
The pools he sips from dark like his eyes
Black like the night
His smile says hello but his eyes make you want to go
The flame is bright
And phantoms haunt you tonight
4. Chalk Lies
I said to him "I want to grip you tighter desperately but I'm afraid you are made of chalk."
He said to me, "I promise I'm not made of chalk as long as you promise to not grip any tighter."
And then he asked me to grip tighter, he told me it was fine despite my promise.
But when my hands curled around him and gasped on, he crumbled to chalk dust.
"You promised me you weren't made from chalk!" I shrieked.
"You promised to not grip tighter!" His powdered remains shouted back to me.
"But! You told me to grip tighter!" I cried back to him.
"I never said anything like that! Look what YOU did to me!"
Finger pointing, playing the victim, it's all my fault because I did what you said...
But that's just how you are.
Dream Sequence Poem from Ego Death (2020)
When you wake up slipping into the deep pool you will discover three eyes on the back of your head and three broken clocks in my nightmares. In a drunken haze from the bags that drag my eyes down heavy with the second hand of a clock. When you are awake you feel like you’re wandering through a night terror, seeing old dreams while you sit awake in the illumination.
Life only exists in its purest form when you are asleep. Fighting falling deep into the dark haze of ghost images kept at bay by caffeine. These dreams have been feeling like gladiatorial coliseums, with a pounding heart and organs that hurt from acidic erosion. Sit here and play at the grim reapers slot machine like the human snowflake, you are forever living out self fulfilling prophecies in the white static.
Maybe it is too old for you to remember foolish magic things. “Why should you bring me around humans who will only hunt my gold? They will only eat it as all humans do” said the glinting blue dragon, angry in his smoke. “Look... I’m magnificent, no human should attempt to fight me for my forfeits.” You agree with him.
The monorail theater is what you must chase down when you are late for class. Vultures won’t let you go? Won’t let me go? This theater is haunted but keeps running along its track. You drive a semi truck to get back to a place you once knew in San Francisco. Jettison out to space to die and you wonder if you were tricked. Conjure up some blue flames to avoid the impending flood levels, the ditch far too deep to protect you now.
Poverty festers in a mansion with its untrustworthy medicine. Everything is broken, your brother is trying to stay positive, how can you be positive when you are in agony? Can’t they just anesthetize you? Blind and vampiric in the basement, sipping on soup made from lilacs. You see your old self, you wish to peel your skin off. The lilac soup is lovely compared to the fear and gout. A street full of great, cancerous maple trees, all this rain causes the trees to bleed into the wall paper. Too much suffering you can’t feel anything when the dark figure hunts you down in this house, if you don't look it cannot find you, do not look.
I saw a golden angle in a cage on a street corner and he was in pain. In Italy you will terrify your enemies for pleasuring your pain. Strangers kindness brings you home with a full belly and a head full of familiar wonder. Sunset will show you who you really love, then there will be nightmares about separation anxiety. Don’t let them die before you see them again. Blood poisoning, veins are turning dark blue while green lighting goes through them. You’re dying, why are they laughing at you? Now the electrical storm drowns you and Chicago floods with blood through the train grates, showers, and the eyes of friends. You see it all sitting in a colorful library as you try to eat with relatives using customers you don’t know sitting across from a lost love. Nothing tastes real alone now in this library of shame. They are posed by the old gods, like trusting people you’ve forgotten. If you eat the fruit, pomegranates will fill your blood with the gods, you belong to them.
Everywhere you look faces in mirrors and knives being thrown when you try to look. We are truthful but as long as you don’t look at the demons, they won’t hurt you. When the sun goes down you scream when you see yourself in the reflective screens. Then an uninvited brass band crashes an upscale garden party you did not want to be invited to. A church is now burning as you carelessly sleep inside. Like an angry score scorching you never settled. He’s wronged you, left you with die much anger for yourself, for others, and for him and who he could have been.
Held captive to manufacture continuity in a place you’ve never been before. Oh so very tired. Not yourself anymore. And you don’t know where you are anymore, existing in no place and no time. You have so much to do but you are so very tired on A clear November day where the ground has grown red with fallen leaves, trees freshly bare. You feel like you are being watched.
Could this be hell?
The boy with butterflies and broken ribs
Somewhere there is a boy with butterflies hatching in his ribs.
It hurts him, chokes him, no beauty will escape. There’s nothing inside, again he pulls the weeds but this time the sunflowers won’t grow back. Just decomposing compost, turning to dirt and stone weighing him down to the bottom of the lake.
And how I hate these scars, I’m feeling them a lot more these days. Every line aches and thirsts for blood and wine. It doesn’t matter if you don’t mind them, their grotesque persistence is not what makes me worry, it’s the aching.
I want to remember what I was waking up for, but sometimes all I see is corporal static as the TV stations of disappointment are flipped through. I want to remember holy places untainted by a cruel spirit. But they lack funding from the station provider.
Ribs hurt now, laying on the floor, I can’t sleep through the pain. Dose it make me cry or is this just a physical manifestation of rotting blood, marbling like purple lighting. Thirst for forgetting when I’m gripping to try to remember the good.
Why do you look for some one to kick your ribs in, maybe that’s why they hurt so much. Or maybe they hurt form the crushing guilt of searching for love in empty wells. Oh these brittle bones, they ache to be softly wrapped in silk.
If I’m dropped again from this height my frail bird bones will just snap. Breathing in this cage feels like drowning sometimes when I’m alone.
And the flowers can’t fight the fear that grow though the stones. But if it can be pulled from the stones maybe there will be an end.
An ending is not always somber. Perhaps the death of fear will allow for a new beginning. And let us suppose that decomposed ribs will no longer ache from braking. And maybe at the bottom of this lake we will all sink through the soft sand floor. Find a grave to be held in, and start again.
Artists burnout on the internet age: How censorship and the state of visual media sharing is killing artists with burnout.
Originally posted July 9th 2019
2019 seems to have been one of the worst years yet to be a creator in the digital age. Why is this? There are many different factors to consider what is bringing about this widespread notion of burnout and hopelessness among artists and content creators.
A few things I should note before going into my essay. This is purely a personal opinion piece and is in no way meant to be taken as fact or science. All the statements I make are merely options and are not meant to disrespect anyone's hard work or insult anyone. Also my opinions will be focusing mainly on visual media such as illustrations, paintings, and digital art but can also apply to film, wiring, sculpture, music, etc. Before I take you down the rabbit hole I highly recommend reading THIS article to help situate yourself in a timeline of the decline of digital art sharing. I should also note I myself am a young but fairly experienced artist who is feeling the heat with failing at building a community and following in this digital age.
With that out of the way let's jump into the meat of the issue here, burn out. Burn out is when you essentially run your creative juices to their very limit and find that creating no longer brings the catharsis that you are used to. It is something of art block and exhaustion caused from over working and can mean different things to different people. However it is anonymous that this feeling is harmful to one's mental health and well being. So how is it that so many artists seem to be suffering from this? I began to wonder why I myself was feeling sluggish like a worn down workhorse who was worthless when I no longer was able to produce. At first I thought I merely had just pushed myself too far. However this perspective changed as I began to talk to fellow friends who were creators and saw numerous amounts of people online talking about these feelings. After about the 50th tweet I saw about an artist feeling “burnt out” I began to try to inspect the elements of our climate for creation that might have been a factor in this awful widespread feeling.
A huge contributing factor is the climate change of the platforms we have available to us to share our work with communities. Over the years of the internet (but particularly in the 2010’s) there has become a wide spread change of the way in which we consume and communicate digital media (see mentioned article). The once robust landscape of art platforms to choose form and ways of building communities has become squeezed into a few big name social media platforms. The days of deviantArt and friends have since left use and now art fights for the limelight in a sea of unrelated information. As of 2019 there are no public platforms that allow for NSFW or mildly controversial artwork to be shared amongst an audience with fair game. Though things that pass the bill also tend to not have that much of a fighting chance either. When you boil it down what is causing this kind of mental distress it comes down to what I call the three C’s - Censorship, Capitalism, Competition.
Let us begin with the route of the problem, money. As much as we all don't want to admit it, the number obsession of these social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube) comes from the unfortunate tie between success and money. Now this sentiment may not go for everyone, I’m sure it doesn't. However for many younger beginning artists the internet has become a way for us to turn what we love into a mildly profitable life choice without falling into the starving artist box. But in order to achieve this one needs some surmountable level of success. I'm sure you've seen plenty of things that say “you just need to build an audience” which is true for all art but it swiftly turns into the number obsessions and addictions associated with social media. Ranging from follower counts to the amount of interactions with pieces online. There is a strangely awful and unique feeling of seeing a piece of work you felt was wonderful just flat out flop. Because so many artists are forced into such a small variety of social media platforms there becomes less room for a sharing community and more of a competition mosh pit. This is not to say that making friends and building community is impossible. That said, it is definitely not as streamlined or easy as it used to be when there were more options for people to build communities on other corners of the web. It has gone from small communities widely spread out to what feels like competing with everyone in the entire world, which is not really how things have worked for art until this century. All of this to say that the greed of capitalism forcing corporations to conglomerate and force artists to compete in order to make a profitable living has driven making art on social media to be exhausting, especially for those who do not or cannot produce like hound dogs.
Unfortunately because of the way our media has been filtered it has created an unfair amount of competition amongst people. It is not just the lack of variety of sharing options however, there is also the dreaded “algorithm.” This is a really loose term that gets blamed a lot but it basically refers to the way in which websites have changed out of linear based post viewing in favor of “relevance” or “popularity” viewing. Unless you are constantly creating many platforms such as Instagram or Twitter will stop showing your followers your work. In order to get any kind of engagement on these platforms you need to be at best posting multiple times a day just to be slapped on your followers’ dash pages. This way of breaking down post sharing might be more profitable or sound better to the companies that host social media but it leaves artists to be forced into an insane work ethic. In order to build community and gain relevance one has to constantly produce work at an inhuman rate, no wonder people are burnt out! It slowly zaps all the fun out of being a creator as you are forced to either fall into irrelevance in this computerized haze or work yourself mad to stay afloat. And this demand for constant production is just unrealistic for many, including people who might have other jobs, attend school, or have a disability/ illness.
The algorithm is not the only roadblock that artists have to work against in this minimized digital sharing landscape. Censorship is rampant and has effectively destroyed the way in which we are able to share our media. A perfect example of this was the great purge of Tumblr back in December of 2018. The reason so many people were doesn’t (beside the blatant destruction of a huge sex work community) was the fact that many artists who livelihood resides with making NSFW content were instantly removed from their main source of income and communication. It was not just NSFW artists but those too who made things that were deemed inappropriate for the platform's content. This same censorship carries over if not more severely onto Instagram (a platform owned by Facebook) and Twitter (which is slowly moving the way of Tumblr with its treatment of NSFW content). Not only is censorship an artist’s biggest enemy but because only real sharing platforms are so strict, many people cannot make what they want, or have to lock their work behind a paywall through places like Patreon (who still shadow bans NSFW content by the way). Not only that but with these changes to policies it's essentially impossible to gain a footing at a NSFW artist or someone who makes things that aren't “family friendly”. Like YouTube blocking sponsorship on videos containing curse words and LGBT+ content (which is a bigger beast to deal with yet) or people being shadow banned on places like Instagram or Twitter.
Alright so what? What can we do to “fight” all these different beasts. Is there hope for burnout among artists? Unfortunately I think burnout for content creators is only going to get worse if this continues to be the only way we can communicate and reach out beyond our own small communities in real life. We might very well be better off and more successful without these platforms in the long run (again this might not go for everyone but it is an idea to consider). Until there is a complete overhaul on social media and art sharing I'm not sure if people will be able to fight burnout on a mass scale. But for yourself it might be time to log off. I think many people need to take a wellness break, a vacation from creation. Log off, put your tools down, go read something, watch something, visit a museum if you can, plan a day out with friends or a vacation if you have the means. Spend time researching your next work of art instead of continuing to grind yourself down in the cogs of this rat race. Your human life is worth a lot more than how many likes your art gets on Instagram.