Posted in Inspiration, Poems

How to be a Person

Poetry explains the unexplainable.

My father, Peter Ryder

First week of my second semester of senior year, and my english class is assigned to write a poem. I’m not a hater of poetry, in fact, I admire it and encourage my friends to trust in its mending of the mind. However, analyzing and writing it holds a bit of a challenge for me.

I have a bit more of a psychoanalytic affinity for the sciences of the mind, which is why I love to write directly on the subject rather than creating an obscure (mind you, brilliant) extended metaphor or palace of symbolism. Of course, I enjoy reading it, but I struggle to create the ideas of such gifted literary elements to incorporate in a poem.

However, my english teacher, being a passionate advocate for open minds, inspired our class toward a more approachable template of poetry: she presented poet Shane Koyczan that wrote and videoed a ten step poem titled “How to be a person.” In it, he elaborates on his moral values and their importance toward humanity. As a result, she encouraged us to artistically express the morals and important objects of humanity that are meaningful to each of us, personally.

We were required to write three stanzas, each starting with a directive and incorporate eleven lines of poetry emphasizing the values that we believe guide us toward a happier and healthier life. Like Koyczan, she had us record our voices reading our work while including the text as we read it, and additionally include an artistic element (music, art, etc).

I appreciated the way Koyczan carried out his art utilizing a solid colored background and a simple text font, so I did the same. I’d like to share my work here to showcase just some of the elements of humanity that I find to be most valuable. Of course, I have many other thoughts in regards to morality but I expounded on these three for certain reasons: clarity, mindfulness, and above all, perspective.

How to be a person.

For reference: here is the original, “How to be a person” poem by Shane Koyczan.

Posted in Poems

Shipwreck’s Cove

I thought I would think about something positive and heartwarming for a change. I wrote this poem about a place in Santa Barbara that I used to visit every year – hope you enjoy!

We travelled five hours by car every month just to get there.                                                     
And when we moved, we would travel another for another four                                                  
Hours and drive another three hours just to stay at a house                                                        
Smaller in size but a great deal larger in heart, 
Even if the scenery wasn’t as picturesque as last year’s…
 What I’ve learned throughout my sixteen years on earth                                                             
Is that the identity of a town changes in pursuit of catching up with the times.
 Mornings were for baking bread                                                                                                        
Late mornings were for sandy runs.                                                                                                   
Dad and I made the five minute walk to the beach to walk along                                              
The high tides and aquatic portraits that marked a                                                                      
Past and generation never forgotten.    
 Hardly anyone ever appreciated such a scenery now. 
 Walks on the beach turn into drives to the mall.                                                                     
Locally bought fish turn into corporate chain fast food.                                                              
The weekly flea market fades into office building construction.  
 It takes a special kind of place to feel the mourning this brings. 
 The family next door and my family decided to take a walk                                                   
Longer than usual that day.                                                                                                                   
We threw sticks for the dogs.                                                                                                               
The dogs barked at the seagulls and the seagulls chased the dogs.                                                
It was all so subtly correct.                                                                                                                     
We didn’t know we were among an unfamiliar shore until we saw it.  
 At first, we thought we were hallucinating a sunken ship.                                                            
But there it was: a rock so defined,                                                                                                         
It was almost destined to burn a hole in our minds. 
 It had to have been there for years if not decades, but how had we never seen it?               
One tends to forget a place’s roots when other fascinations come into play            
“A ship!” I cried, immediately climbing the rocky steps of the eight foot structure.             
“Wow, I- ” My father began.                                                                                                            
“Nature is a powerful force.” My mother filled his unspoken shock. 
 My neighbor and I climbed the rock, touching every sea anemone we could                       
Find while watching them mistake our touch for sustenance.                                               
Nature truly was another dimension. 
 Sea water crashed into the rock’s foundation and splashed all over our                               
Brand new, retail-bought sundresses.                                                                                                
Did we care?                                                                                                                                           
How could we?                                                                                                                                         
We were somewhere else. 
 Closing my eyes, I felt the wind as an energy source. I tasted the salty air, believing it  
Could sustain me forever.                                                                                                                             
I walked along the edges of the geologically composed ship, trusting it to hold me up 
as I watched the sun set on a malleable society.                                                                                       
We had been there an unforgettable twelve hours. 
 Not a single store downtown could measure up to the joy and freedom I felt that day.         
Even as corporate greed blinds the city of my innocence,                                                
Shipwreck’s cove, as vulnerable as the ocean is to human detriment, maintains the          
God-given nature it so breathtakingly deserves. 
 I do feel its presence when I return every year, but what sounds                                            
Crazy is that I think it’s waiting for me.                                                                                        
Maybe that’s wishful thinking,                                                                                                             
But at times when wishful thinking is the only safety net we have,
 We’ll take what we can get.