A Self-Perpetuating Cycle of Self-Perpetuation
Billy Joel got at least one thing right about when you wake up in the morning with your head on fire and your eyes too bloody to see and you go on and cry in your coffee & you wake up late for school, and man you don’t want to go and you ask your mom please, but she still says no. It’s not that you want to steal their thoughts, so much as they’re in your bedroom & murmuring—conversations are being had & you want to participate in, not co-opt those conversations, beastly cacophony, but you don’t know how to break into those closed-off circles of friends & acquaintances as when the fenced-off circles of the Venn diagram no longer overlap but instead separate & move to the extreme reaches of the enormous room & so you search the vast & empty space between those tight circles & your social awkwardness has never helped anything. Exactly what kind of soirée is this supposed to be anyway, Boys? And so, when you wake up at night, you wake up anxious. When you’re awake, seemingly more awake than you’ve ever been, you think about how walking outside barefoot often helps, but I live in Ohio and the weather’s only part-time, just barely conducive, conductive as if I’m a generic grocery store version of Nikola Tesla, trying to gather Earth’s electrical impulses to calm soothe his brain as part of his morning ablutions. He was the first to receive & administer electrical stimulus as therapy, even if he was his own grocery store generic version of a psychotherapist, imagining in 1899 from Pike’s Peak that in the future world most humans would have handheld wireless writing journals we’d charge by inserting, plugging into the earth almost anywhere & we could share our pages our thoughts on the tides of radio waves, ebb & flow, wirelessly, across the globe. But Tesla never lived in godforsaken Ohio, where walking around barefoot outside isn’t always possible because of the weather because even daffodils have to wrestle April snow stiff winds again. Heads bowed, but not in self-reflection, admiration, or supplication, but in just-trying-to-make-it-through-top-heavy circadian rhythms or because it’s 3am again & all the neighbors already think I’m weird & their care for me couldn’t be less—or maybe it could be less, because we’re always deluding ourselves about the bottom limit of how much we could care about anything & almost always misspeaking could & couldn’t. When those Pikes Peak anxious moments arrive again at 3am, I picture my brain as a phosphorescent & glowing smartphone screen with all the pinging red bubble notifications on the corners of all my worry applications, & I try to slide them closed. Flick flick flick. They alert alert alert & why won’t this bleeping thing smoothly slide off the bleeping screen, off the mind, like or as others seem capable of doing because they’ve all seemingly easily learned how not to care less—or not at all—& all I want to do is rest & wake up refreshed, ready to control the tides more than they—like a fast-moving tsunami—
Inspired by “Big Shot” by Billy Joel (1978), “Fight For Your Right” by Beastie Boys (1986), Wizard: the Life and Times of Nikola Tesla by Marc Seifer (1996), & Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean by Jonathan White (2017).
I’m a Little Late to It, but Here’s a Review of James Cameron’s Humongous, Gigantic Blockbuster, Avatar: the Way of Water (2022)
Our young male protagonist struggles to find acceptance in a time & place where he’d like to be king of the world, but the socially stratified society that only thinly disguises the ravages & imperialism & misogyny stand in the way of his own self-importance. There’s a lot of water. Some dancing. It gets loud. Sometimes enormously cinematic camerawork for the sake of being cinematic. Prudishness battles sexual liberation. Lovemaking is inferred. Lights, like magic, play tricks in the nighttime. Bioluminescence would be an unappreciated but still cool superpower. Handprints & majestic rituals, wealth beyond comprehension, are tangled in the symbolism. In the climactic scene, a big ship sinks, & some passengers are literally handcuffed to the crumbling behemoth in an effort to heighten the tension. Duplicity ensnarls. Communication stalls. Children are props. In loco parentis isn’t understood. Not everyone gets out. Permeable lines include the ones between championing the marginalized & refueling the powerful. Empathy versus contempt for. Eco-conservation versus shameless profiteering. We’re told hearts will go on, but man’s hubris likely won’t allow it. Little’s changed since the Greek Tragedies. Then again, as a species, we’ve only been writing words for 3,000 years. Again, it’s a big movie. Almost as if it’s obliviously compensating for something while trying to be subtle about being more than just a remake. What’s not derivative but still worth seeing? There was room, Rose. There was room.
Bob King is an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University at Stark. His recent poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Don’t Submit!, Full House Literary, Curio Cabinet Magazine, Olney Magazine, Moot Point Magazine, The Gorko Gazette, Drunk Monkeys, JAKE, Paddler Press, Aôthen Magazine, The Purposeful Mayonnaise, Spare Parts Literary Magazine, The Viridian Door, Ink Sweat & Tears, Bullshit Lit, The Red Ogre Review, The Dillydoun Review, Emergence Literary Journal, Narrative Magazine, Muleskinner, & Allium: a Journal of Poetry & Prose. He lives on the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife & daughters.