The Feel Me Poem


City lights neon clatter

Fucking type what I said

We both speak as we listen

On the other side of the partition

These conversations are always best undressed, free of arbitrary thoughts

Who’s to say what is and what’s naught 

Who’s to guess and who’s to dream

If you leave again, I’ll scream

Into the wind,

Apart the flame. Into the kite 

A run from it’s string. 

A cry into the night is all I’ll bring

What makes you think you’ll cry?

Stringing me along, can you even try? I want to die. 

I’ll resuscitate you

And I’ll kick you til I’m blue…can’t say it isn’t true

Fuck it all, undo

Like the cries in the night? Her eyes filled with fright

She’s confused, it’s the light

As she burns in the bright rays, her skin tight

Taught, wrist bound but soul not

She pulls and tugs, but her blood does not clot

But touch can repair all that is not

Touch repairs her wounds, but not what’s in her heart
By Rev. Brenna Carnevale & Richard Huggins, RN

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Love Endures


I see so many people posting memes and saying things like “I want this”, “why can’t this be us”, and “my boo doesn’t do this for me” and it irritates the fuck outta me. I spent an entire marriage, a pretty good marriage, wishing for my husband to be like other guys. What I should have been doing was appreciating MY husband for what he did for me. 

The grass is always greener. If you’re looking at other couples and being jealous, it’s probably because you’re too blind to see that you have exactly what you want right in front of you. What you’re too ignorant to realize is that your love looks different than others, because you’re different people than those who you’re jealous of. 

Their story is different. Their love is different. Their personalities are different. They have different lifestyles. 

None of that means that you don’t have the same kind of love as they do. So stop and think about YOUR love. Stop and think about how YOUR love is awesome. Stop and think about how YOUR love is loyal to the end. Stop and think about how YOUR love is everything you want and need. Then embrace it for what it is and never let that shit go. 

If you don’t open your eyes and pay attention to what’s in front of you, then you’re going to miss out on something beautiful. Love isn’t peaches & roses when you’re first starting out. Love is hard. Love will test you in ways you never imagined. Love will push you to your limits…and then push you some more. Love is a choice you make every single day. Love takes hard work. Love takes honest & open communication. Love takes trust. Love takes time. 

It takes time to build up to those extravagant proposals you see posted online. It takes time to build up to the comfort level you desire. It takes time to earn everything you want *right now*. 

Most of all…love endures. 

Love the person who is right in front of you, NOT the person you want them to be. If you want that person to change this and that about them, then you’re better off loving them without you. Don’t try to change the person, because that’s not TRUE love. True love doesn’t try to change anyone. True love says “I love you as you are.”

Happy Ending


The following is a play I wrote for my Introduction to Theatre class. It is a little graphic and there is profanity, so if you’re not comfortable with it then I suggest you don’t read it. It is a sensitive topic for some, so read with caution. However, I assure you…it’s not the worst thing you’ll ever read, and those who have read it and seen it performed enjoyed it.

The scene is set in modern day Vale, Colorado. It’s mid-summer, later in the evening on a Saturday, so the weather is perfect for being outside without a jacket or long sleeves. The city is full of people, but not too crowded, and the air is crisp with a touch of humidity. It is the perfect summer night.
The curtain opens to a couple who have just left a restaurant where they intended to have dinner, but the female (Sylvia) was feeling rather drained and didn’t have much of an appetite. She and her date (Austin) agreed to go to his place to watch some movies and drink some wine. The valet brings the car around, and Sylvia is ushered into the car by Austin, who then tips the valet and gets in the car.

Sylvia
Thank you for being so understanding.

Austin
Really, it’s no trouble. As long as I get to be with you, I’m happy.
(He takes her hand, kisses it, then rests their hands on her leg.)

Sylvia
I feel the same way. I enjoy our time together and I look forward to the time we share.
(He glances at her, smiling.)
I know we haven’t known each other very long, but I feel a connection with you that I’ve never felt before.

Austin
(He slips his hand onto her thigh, and gently squeezes it.)
Mmm, I do too. It’s like we were meant to be together, do you agree?

Sylvia
Perhaps, but why don’t we just see where this goes, okay?

Austin
Sounds good to me.
(He turned the radio on to a channel that played slow, smooth jazzy music. It was the kind he used to entice woman to sleep with him.)
Do you like jazz?

Sylvia
It’s not my favorite, but I don’t hate it either. Although, this does sound pretty nice…relaxing and smooth.

Austin
That’s the idea. It’s to help you get in the mood, ya know?

Sylvia
(Sounding slightly annoyed)
Oh? And what mood would that be?

Austin
The mood for comfort, relaxation and pleasure.
(His hand began to slide up her thigh, under her skirt.)

Sylvia
(Squirming at the feel of his hand)
I’m not sure we’re there yet. I mean, this is only our second date.

Austin
Yeah, so. We both want it, so why wait?

Sylvia
Well, I’d like to know a bit more about you and I need to feel the chemistry…I don’t feel it yet.

Austin
What do you mean? You said you felt a connection like you’ve never felt before.

Sylvia
Well yeah, but I just don’t feel that yet.

Austin
Oh, okay, then. Well, what do you want to know?

They stopped at a red light and he looked into her eyes. She could feel her insides begin to melt and suddenly his hand was at the very top of her thigh…barely touching the edge of her panties.

Sylvia
Well, what do your parents do for a living?

He turned to face the light again and took off as soon as it turned green. The thought of his parents angered him.

Austin
They’re dead.

Sylvia
I’m so sorry to hear that.
(She turned to look at him and saw the anger in his eyes.)

Austin
Don’t be sorry, you didn’t kill them. They did it to themselves and left me to clean up the mess.
(The car fell silent except for the sounds of a cool jazzy saxophone heard over the radio. Sylvia slowly reached over to turn up the volume in an attempt to help him relax. After a few moments, the tension seemingly began to dissipate.)
Ya know, I never did ask what you do for a living.

Sylvia
Well, actually, I’m a writer.

Austin
What do you write?
(His hand squeezed her thigh and he began rubbing his pinky finger along the edge of her panties.)

Sylvia
Fiction.
(She didn’t want to say any more, because she didn’t want to lead him on. He already had the wrong idea of how this night would go, and she was determined to change that…she just wasn’t sure how.)

Austin
What kind of fiction?

Sylvia
Well, I’m working on a novel about a girl who kills the man who attempts to rape her, but I’m having a hard time with the ending.
(His hand slides back down to her knee.)

Austin
Sounds like some story.

Sylvia
Yeah, it is, and the research keeps getting more and more interesting as I write.

Austin
Am I research?

Sylvia
No, you’re fun…for now anyway.
(She winked at him to ease the tension that had begun to surface again and his hand went back up her thigh.)
Where did you say you live again?

Austin
On the outskirts of town. It’s got a nice yard and about twenty acres of land surrounding the house.

Sylvia
Sounds nice. Any neighbors?

Austin
No, not really.

Sylvia
How far is it?

Austin
Only about fifteen minutes or so. It’s really nice, you’ll like it. I promise.

Sylvia
How do you know I’ll like it?

Austin
Trust me, you’ll love it.
(He glanced at her and winked, making her feel a bit more at ease.)

Sylvia
If you say so.
(She took his hand in hers, because she needed to think without his hand so close to a place that made her lose her mind.)

Austin
Are you okay?

Sylvia
I’m fine, why?

Austin
Just making sure. Were you uncomfortable with my hand there?

Sylvia
I don’t know, I just couldn’t think with it there.

Austin
What’s there to think about? This is a no-brainer if you ask me.

Sylvia
That’s the problem though. This has never happened to me before—getting a hot, rich guy to even glance my way, let alone take me to his house. It’s a bit nerve-wracking if you ask me.

Austin
(He pulled their hands to his lips and he sweetly caressed the back of her hand and fingers with his lips.)
Trust me, my dear, you have nothing to worry about.

Sylvia
What do you do for a living? I mean, how are you only twenty-eight years old, and so fucking rich? This car costs more than I’ve made int he past three years alone.

Austin
Ha ha, well, let’s just say that I’ve made some smart investments, saved a bunch, and found a profession that supports my lifestyle while paying me a large amount of money, and gives me some time off.

Sylvia
Wow, that’s vague. For all I know, you could be part of the mafia or some other illegal profession.

Austin
I assure you, everything I do is one hundred percent legal.

Sylvia
Then why can’t you tell me what you do?

Austin
Honestly, because very few people know. My job is highly confidential, and only those who I trust know what I do…and that’s only because my job can get dangerous.

Sylvia
Oh. Military?

Austin
No.
(He put his hand back on her thigh and began caressing the edge of her panties—his finger creeping in and out, here and there, hoping for a reaction.)

Sylvia
If all you want is sex, you could have just said so right off the bat.

Austin
Is that what you want?

Sylvia
I…I don’t know yet. This is kind of a lot to take in, ya know?

Austin
Well, how about you just sit back and relax. We’re almost there, and then we can see where the night takes us.

Sylvia
Will you keep your hand out of my panties in the mean time?

Austin
Hmm, I can’t promise you that. You see, your body is doing things to me that I can’t control, and touching you is the only way I can remain calm enough to drive.

Sylvia
That’s a load of bull.

Austin
You think I’m lying? See for yourself. He has been standing at attention since I picked you up this evening.

Sylvia
No, I’m not going to do that, you’re driving.
(Taking his hand off of her thigh, he grabbed her left hand and placed it on his erection.)

Austin
See, not lying…unless you think it works like Pinocchio’s nose.

Sylvia
(Excited by what she felt, she was hesitant to remove her hand. She was still unsure where she wanted the night to go and this wasn’t helping.)
Ha ha, well, I did feel some growth.

Austin
I told you I wasn’t lying.
(He returned his hand to where it came from, this time a bit more brazenly by entering his fingers further into her panties.)

Sylvia
What are you doing? I told you I wasn’t sure what I wanted.

Austin
Well, you haven’t removed your hand from my cock, so I assume what we’re doing now is okay.

Sylvia
How about you go back to what you were doing before. You’re a bit too close to my vagina for my comfort.

Austin
Okay, but I guarantee you’ll want it as soon as it’s gone.

Sylvia
No, I won’t. I don’t want you to think that something more is going to happen. I can assure you, it’s not.
(She removed her hand from his erection and moved his hand closer to her knee.)

Austin
Why did you do that?

Sylvia
Because I’m not comfortable anymore. Take me home please.

He pulled over to the side of the road, took his seatbelt off and turned to face her.

Austin
I promise you, we’ll only go as far as you want, but I assure you, you’ll want to go all the way.

Sylvia
No, I don’t. Take me home, now, please.

Austin
Ah, that’s where you’re wrong. Your little pussy got wet as soon as you touched me, and you know it. You want me, you’re just nervous…there’s nothing to be nervous about.

Sylvia
I’m not nervous, now take me home, please.

Austin
I’m going to take you somewhere, but it won’t be home.

He quickly reached over and grabbed her by the arms. Swiftly, he pushed her into the back seat. It happened so fast, that she didn’t really know what was going on and didn’t really have much time to react or try to stop him.

Sylvia
What are you doing? Get off of me!

Austin
I’m giving you what you want, baby. Now, open your legs like a good girl, so I can get it in.

Sylvia
GET OFF OF ME!!!
She struggled to break out of his grip, but he was too strong. His left hand held both of her wrists, while his right hand worked his pants. His body weight and the tight confines of the backseat fave her little room to move.

Austin
You’re not going anywhere, bitch. No one says no to me.

Sylvia
Like hell!
(She spat in his face which only angered him even more. She could feel his legs between hers, pushing them apart. He ripped her panties off and in that moment, she found her strength.)
Get the fuck off of me you coward!
(She saw and felt that her resistance only excited him more, so she decided to change her tactic.)

Austin
Not until you give me what I want.

Sylvia
Okay, I’ll give you what you want.

Austin
Yeah?

Sylvia
Yes, you’re right. Why fight it? I want you. Right here, right now.

Austin
See, I knew you’d come to your senses.

Sylvia
Only I’d like to do something first.

Austin
Oh, yeah? What’s that?

Sylvia
Well, you’ve been so nice to me, I thought I’d take care of you first.

Austin
Now we’re talking.
(He let go of her hands and they rearranged themselves to accommodate her servicing him.)
Yeah, that feels good, baby.

Sylvia
Shall I keep going?

Austin
Yeah, don’t stop. Mmmm…

Sylvia
Oh, I won’t.

The screams could have been heard for miles, and blood covered her face and the while leather interior of the car. She sat there, and watched as the blood poured out—his face changing color, first red with anger and pain, then white with shock and fear, until all of the color left him and he stopped moving.

Sylvia
Huh, I guess I just figured out the ending to my book.

Then she wiped her mouth with her arm, got in the driver’s seat, and drove away.

Jeremy
Sylvia, wake up…wake up, you’re dreaming.

He shakes her vigorously, in an attempt to wake her up.

Sylvia
(Sweating and breathing hard, she wakes from her dream, and sits up in a panic)
What? What? Wh-where am I?

Jeremy
Sylvia, you’re here, with me, at home. You’re trembling. What were you dreaming about?

Sylvia
(Slowly, she turned her head to look at her husband, then looks at her hands and begins wiping her face—checking for blood.)
What…oh thank God! It’s not real. It didn’t happen.

Jeremy
What? What didn’t happen?

Sylvia
(Tears begin to form, and her face went pale.)
Austin…he…he tried to…but, I…I bit…

Jeremy
Oh, Sylvia.

The scene closes on Sylvia crying on Jeremy’s shoulder as he holds her close to his chest, petting her head, reassuring her that she’s okay, and he won’t let anything happen to her.

“Enveloping”


This past fall semester, I had to write a play for a Dramatic Literature course I took.  It was our final exam, so it was a huge grade.  The first few paragraphs sort of explain the premise of the play, this was required before actually beginning the writing process.  The professor wanted to make sure we knew what we were writing about, and that it was something we could accomplish with minimal difficulty…after all, it was an introductory course.

 

The play will take place at an Irish Pub in modern day New York City, and the characters will be Clytaemestra, Cassandra, Antigone, Lysistrata, and perhaps Everyman.  There may be some additions of characters with small parts or one line.  The idea is that the main characters are all friends, with the exception of Everyman-he’s more of an acquaintance.  Clytaemestra, Antigone and Lysistrata know each other from their college days, and Everyman is the bartender at the bar they frequent.  Cassandra was brought to the group by Antigone, after they met on the subway a few years ago and started chatting.  The play will take place BEFORE the stories that we’ve read in class take place, assuming they were to happen around the same time.  However, the elements of the makings of the stories can/will be brought about through either dialogue, Cassandra’s foresight, or hidden meaning/insinuations.  

 

Clytaemestra is suffering from loneliness due to the loss of her daughter, her husband off at war, and the disappearance of her son.  She is having a hard time dealing with it all and calls for a girls’ night at their favorite bar.  She seeks solace in her friends, even if they can sometimes drive her mad due to their bit of immaturity.  Lysistrata is also feeling lonely due to her husband being off at war, but she tends to put a more comical spin on the whole situation since she knows there’s nothing she can do about it.  She finds humor in her good friend Clytaemestra’s moaning and groaning about the absence of her husband and her jealousy of her sister Helena.  Antigone felt a likeness towards Cassandra, because most people either don’t listen to them or brush them off, so this made them kindred spirits.  Once Cassandra is introduced to the group, she immediately forms a bond with the other girls and earns their trust.      

 

For Antigone, I’m sort of changing her character up a bit.  The play we read in class will be used as a script for Antigone.  In my play, she is an actress at a local film making company and there has been talk throughout the company about her character being killed off.  The way the company hands out the script for each new scene only 12 hours before they are to begin shooting.  With all the talk about her character being killed off, she is in a panic when she is handed her new script.

 

                                                                                           “Enveloping”

At the table sits Cassandra, Clytaemestra, and Lysistrata.  Antigone walks in, holding a yellow manilla envelope, similar to the ones messengers or school teachers use.  She stops at the bar, orders her drink, and greets the bartender, Everyman.  She takes her drink, joins her friends, looking especially anxious.  When she sits, she gently tosses the envelope on the table in front of her.  Lysistrata, sitting across from Antigone, accidentally puts her beer glass down on the envelope.

 

Lysistrata ~ Oh dear, I’m sorry, Anti!  (She wipes the water ring off with her napkin.)

Antigone ~ Eh, don’t worry about it.  It’s my script and I’m terrified to open it.  I wish it would get destroyed.

Cassandra ~ (Recognizing Antigone’s feelings of panic and knowing full well what is in store for her friend.)  Oh Anti, I wish you could find the positive side of this.  If the talk is true, then maybe it means you’re not meant for this role or company for that matter.  Maybe you’re meant for another role.

Antigone ~ (Looking up from her glass.)  Oh yeah, like what?  The only thing I’ve wanted more is to find a good husband to raise a family with.

Lysistrata ~ What do you want a husband for?  Please, it’s much more of a headache to be married and sleep alone because he’s off to war somewhere, than it is to be single and live your life the way you want to.

Clytaemestra ~ Yeah, there’s no one to make a mess right after you clean, no one to tell you dinner tastes gross, and no one to leave you dirty clothes with muddy pants and skid marks in their underwear.

Antigone, Lysistrata, Cassandra ~ Eww gross!

Cassandra ~ Yeah, that’s definitely too much information.

Lysistrata ~ Geez, tell your man to use toilet paper.  Will ya?

Antigone ~ That doesn’t help me feel any better.

Lysistrata ~ Better yet, throw out all of his underwear!

Clytaemestra ~ So he can have skid marks on his pants?  No thanks.

They all laugh, except for Antigone, who is seen by Cassandra staring at the envelope.  Lysistrata puts her beer glass down on the envelope again, this time she doesn’t realize she’s done it.

Clytaemestra ~ Well, girls, you really do know how to lift my spirits.  How about we do a shot to loosen up?

Antigone ~ (Breaking from her daze.)  Great!  I’ll buy!

Lysistrata ~ How about some Petrone?  The way I’m feeling tonight, I don’t want to feel anything at all.

Clytaemestra ~ I agree, and the best part about it is you can all crash at my place since it’s right upstairs.

They all happily agree, and Antigone walks over to the bar where she is greeted by Everyman.  Meanwhile, the girls begin messing with the envelope.  Lysistrata decides to hide it from Antigone in her purse, but doesn’t do a very good job of it.

Everyman ~ Hey, Antigone, how’s it going?

Antigone ~ Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to know something but didn’t have the guts to find out?  The thing that you don’t know, but want to know could change your life, and you’re just not sure if you are ready for your life to change.

Everyman ~ Yeah, that’s how I felt when I applied for the loan to buy this bar.  I was so full of doubt that I could do it, be successful, that it would thrive, I almost prayed the bank would deny the loan. (He chuckles as he thinks back.)

Antigone ~ Really?

Everyman~ Yeah, and when it was approved I almost died.  

Antigone ~ (Relating to the feelings, she looks at her friends a moment.)  Yeah, I know what you mean.  How did you work through it, though?  I mean, you’re obviously doing well, right?

Everyman ~ Yes, I am.  I just took a deep breath, and went with it.  I took each day as it came, and tried not to worry about the little things.  Once things started progressing, I hardly even had time to think about what was going on.  Before I knew it, I had been open for over a year, and things were going great.  Besides, can you imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t gone through with it?

Antigone ~ No, what?

Everyman ~ Well, for one thing, I wouldn’t have met you.  (They share an awkward look into each other’s eyes.)  I’ll tell you what, since you and the girls are regulars and you all seem to be having a rough day, your shots are on me.

Antigone ~ You don’t have to do…

Everyman ~ I insist.  (He pours the shots as Antigone walks away.  A moment later he arrives at the table with the shots.)

Lysistrata ~ Woo hoo!  Let’s get this done!

Everyman and Antigone share a look, then smile at each other, and Everyman passes them out to each girl.

Cassandra ~ (Noticing the look they shared.)  Ooh, looks like someone has a crush on Antigone.

Lysistrata ~ (Surprised she missed it)  Who does?

Clytaemestra ~ Yup, I saw it too.  (Smiling at Cassandra in agreement.)

Cassandra ~ It looks like Everyman has a crush on our Antigone.

Lysistrata ~ You little harlet, I knew you two would get together eventually.  I just didn’t realize it would be so soon.

Antigone ~ Lysie, you’re crazy.  There’s nothing going on between me and Everyman.

Cassandra ~ Maybe not now, but…

Antigone ~ No! (Realizing she does have feelings for Everyman, but doesn’t want to admit it.)  Now, can we just do our shots?  I’d like to forget about the…  Where’s the envelope?  (Lysistrata looks at Cassandra who is sitting next to Antigone.  Antigone notices the look on Lysistrata’s face and immediately knows what’s going on.)  Lysistrata, you give me that envelope right now or I’ll (she grabs Lysistrata’s shot) do your shot for you!

Lysistrata ~ You have to work in the morning, remember?  If you do two shots, you’ll never even be able to read your script!

Antigone ~ (Realizing how right she is, she begins to laugh.  Then she laughs even harder when she sees the envelope sticking out of Lysistrata’s purse – plain as day.)  You’re right, Lysie, now can you please put that on the table?

Lysistrata ~ (Putting the script on the table.)  It’s about time you laughed.  Geesh, I was beginning to think we were all going to be a bunch of depressed bitches tonight.

Clytaemestra ~ Lysie!  Must you use that kind of language?

Lysistrata ~ I’m sorry, Mother. (She looks down, mockingly in shame, as if to poke fun at Clytaemestra for acting too motherly.)

Clytaemestra ~ No, I’m sorry.  I just miss my children so much.  What will I do without my darling daughter, and wonderful son?  (Tears begin to fall) What if my husband doesn’t come home from the war?  (Wiping the tears from her cheeks.)

Lysistrata puts her arm around Clytaemestra and Antigone and Cassandra reach across the table to hold her hand.

Not being able to take the mushiness anymore, and for fear of crying herself, Lysistrata is the first to break off the comforting moment.

Lysistrata ~ (Picking up her shot and putting the bent envelope back on the table.)  A toast, to my best friends.  May our husbands return from war unharmed, and filled with love, may Clytaemestra’s son come home, may Antigone’s fate be something she never could have imagined, and may Cassandra find the man she is meant to be with.

They all clink their glasses, and suck down their shots.

Lysistrata ~ (Feeling a bit daring)  Hey, Anti, open the envelope.

Antigone ~ No, not yet.  I’m really not ready.  (She glances over to Everyman, who nods at her to open it.)

Cassandra ~ Come on, you’ve got to open it eventually.

Clytaemestra ~ She’s right, you can’t sit there and stare at it forever.

Lysistrata ~ (Begins chanting) Open it, open it, open it, (the other girls join in) open it, open it.

Antigone ~ Fine, I’ll open it.  (She nervously looks over at Everyman who is watching her with anticipation.  Then she picks up the envelope with shaking hands.  She unwinds the string, lifts the flap, and pulls out the script.  She scans the words, and flips the pages as she looks for the words.  Suddenly she stops.  She looks up at Everyman, then her friends.  Everyone is looking at her in anticipation…waiting for her to say something.

 

The End

Man in the Long Black Coat response…


In a previous post, I mentioned a Poetry class I took last semester and a paper we had to write about a poet and his/her poem.  Well, we also had to write our own poem in response to the poem we chose.  This is my response to Bob Dylan’s “Man in the Long Black Coat.”

 

Cricket are chirpin’, the water is high

I could leave now and not say goodbye

You say it’s warm, you say it’s hot

I can assure you it’s not

 

Bad enough to leave without

leaving a note just because he’s in a coat

I wouldn’t leave a note

I wouldn’t go with a man in a long black coat

 

I’ve been down and I’ve been out

I assure you, he doesn’t have the clout

To take me away from what I know

God is what makes my heart glow

 

God has a plan

and I proudly hold his hand

Bad things happen daily, this I know

I won’t be caught dead with the man in the long black coat

 

Those who choose not to live

will, in the end, have nothing to give

I’ve danced with the Devil

I’ve condoned evil

 

However, he didn’t win my heart

God is the only one who plays that part

Man in the Long Black Coat


Last semester, I took an Intro. to Poetry class, and we had to write a paper about the author of a poem.  The professor had a list of poems, and we were to choose one poem from the list.  I chose Bob Dylan’s “Man in the Long Black Coat,” because I wanted to learn more about Bob Dylan as a person.  This is what I wrote…

 

“Man in the Long Black Coat” by Bob Dylan

I chose the poem “Man in the Long Black Coat” by Bob Dylan because I have always been a fan of the music from the days when he was more popular, and I wanted to learn more about him as an artist. Although I never listened to more than one of his albums, I have always found him interesting and seen a sort of mysticism in his artistry. When you read this poem aloud to the class, I knew that I had to dig into it. I like his use of symbolism, and the way the story is told. When you initially read the poem, without giving it much thought, you read a short story about a girl who gives in to temptation. However, when you begin to look at it on a deeper level, you see that its about the incessant battle between good and evil, or God versus the Devil and humans are constantly battling themselves to decide which side to choose. This is intriguing, because so many people are afraid of reading or hearing about things that have any kind of religious or spiritual motif these days, yet Dylan presents this story in a way that doesn’t exude religion in an obvious way. This is what makes this poem more likable by those who may not believe, or might be at a crossroads in their lives.

Robert Zimmerman was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and began his musical career during his high school years at Hibbing High, in Hibbing, Minnesota. He formed several bands while in High School and performed for the first time publicly when he entered a school talent show with some classmates. Their performance was so loud, that the principle had to cut off the microphone. Perhaps that was the beginning of Dylan’s musical career, and a tell-tale sign that he was made for performing. Throughout the remaining years of the 50’s, Zimmerman performed with other artists doing various back-ups under the pseudonym, Elston Gunn. Zimmerman moved to Minneapolis to attend the University of Minneapolis in September of 1959. It was here that, while studying rock ’n’ roll, he discovered an affinity for folk music. While in college, Zimmerman performed at a coffee house just a few blocks away from the school. It was during that time that he began to introduce himself as we know him, Bob Dylan, after his poetic influence, Dylan Thomas. Thus inspiring his name change, and perhaps giving him the first step into the artist he is today. Although, he didn’t legally change his name until 1962, after he moved to New York City and performed folk music in Greenwich Village at various clubs.

His interest in folk music and continuous performances was a gateway to further spiritual exploration. Dylan was born Jewish, but converted to Christianity in the late 1970’s. This religious affirmation caused some conflict during performances when he’d preach or “evangelize” to the crowd or whoever he was on tour with. He produced two gospel albums just after his conversion to Christianity, neither of them being as successful as those produced previously. After his conversion and the two gospel albums, most of his music reflected some sort of religious motif or tone, and for a period of about twenty years, he seemed to go through a drought of success. Meaning, any albums that were produced weren’t doing as well as they had before he became “born again.” In 1989, Dylan produced the album “Oh Mercy,” which contains the song “Man in the Long Black Coat.” In his book “Chronicles: Volume 1,” he briefly mentions the album and the song, reaffirming it’s religious tones.

The first time I read the poem “Man in the Long Black Coat,” I got the immediate impression that this had something to do with good versus evil, or man versus temptation. The repetition of the of the phrase “man in the long black coat,” and its use in the title tells me that this image is significant in the meaning of this work. The overall context of the poem reminded me of Star Wars, when the inner conflict began with Anakin Skywalker trying to decipher if he should follow Chancellor Palpetine to the dark side. Anakin would be the girl in the poem, and Chancellor Palpetine would be the man in the long black coat.

There is a sequence of events, a definite beginning, middle, and end. The beginning alludes to a slight possibility that she will stay home, in a place that is familiar with those who know and care for her. The turn around is in the line “It ain’t easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat/ She gave her heart to the man in the long black coat.” This is where her decision is solidified, and it is made known to everyone around her that her mind is made up, and she is leaving her life as she knows it.

The setting and voice is an onlooker or acquaintance who sees a woman who, over time, gives in to temptation due to unfortunate circumstances. This, again, made me think of Anakin’s decision to become a Sith lord, or a kid with a troubled childhood who turns to drugs, or someone who turns their back on God. There are always loved ones surrounding the troubled person who can see the mistake that is about to be made, and no matter what they do, they can’t change the decision that has been made.

The only thing I felt needed clarification was the line “[t]here’s smoke on the water, it’s been there since June.” I immediately got the impression that Dylan was referring to the song by Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water,” so I did some digging. He did, in fact, reference the song, but it brings deeper meaning to this poem. The song is about a fire that destroyed a casino complex and the fire spread over Lake Geneva as the members of Deep Purple watched from their hotel room on the other side of the lake. The fire took place at a Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention concert the night before Deep Purple was set to record in a mobile recording studio rented from the Rolling Stones. The speaker of the poem is seeing someone’s life be destroyed right before his eyes, much like the members of Deep Purple watched the casino be destroyed by the fire. The fire was caused by a concertgoer who decided it would be a good idea to light a flare inside the casino. That was a bad decision that ended in disaster, like the girl in the poem who went with the man in the long black coat. The speaker of the poem sees disaster coming from her decision, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

There is a low and deep intonation, with a sort of good versus evil/right versus wrong/ God versus Devil nuance. Dylan used very easy language with a touch of “old school” lingo (“preacher was a’talkin’). There is the imagery of darkness in “the man in the long black coat,” eerie contentment in the environment “crickets are chirpin’,” and “soft cotton dress on the line hangin’ dry.” The line, “[s]omebody said from the Bible he’d quote,” gives a sense of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

When I read the poem aloud, the darkness became more clear through the repetition of “the man in the long black coat.” This wouldn’t have had the same effect if Dylan had used different words. For instance, if he said, “the tall man in a long coat,” that would have given off a different view from the reader. It would have seemed more like the man was pressuring the girl into doing something, and that would have sent a completely different message throughout the story. The use of a stale type of environment also helps to create the imagery of danger or an eeriness to the poem. If there had been green grass and birds chirping, then that would have created the illusion of pleasantness, and brightness. The crickets show that it’s night time, which gives the vision of darkness which symbolizes the evil that happens under the cover of darkness.

Reading this poem again, gives me a different impression. If you’ve ever read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare or “Miss Julie” by August Strindberg, then you’ll understand what I mean. The very first stanza gives the setting, it’s very hot, it’s night time, and it’s sort of a lazy night because the dress is still hanging on the line. The plays referenced take place on midsummer’s night, a time when strange things happened because the people were somewhat temporarily crazy due to the intense heat. Sometimes they did things they normally wouldn’t do, especially at night when they had the cover of darkness. This first stanza, perhaps, alludes to a similar situation between the girl and the man in the long black coat. He comes to her like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, talks nicely to her using quotes from the Bible, and the girl uncharacteristically goes along with what he’s saying, because she’s not in her right mind, perhaps due to the intense African heat. This is definitely not what I saw the first time I read this, but this new perspective definitely shows that a poem can have multiple meanings each time you read it.

From the reader response lens, the first stanza paints the scene like the beginning of a story. The crickets chirping gives the illusion of darkness and the single dress on the line in the breeze makes me feel like this is an eery and ominous scene. Couple the first stanza with the second one and it made me think the girl slipped out of town under the cover of darkness because she knew that she was doing something wrong. The first thing that came to my mind in the third stanza was the “Phantom of the Opera” and how the cast members would catch glimpses of the Phantom as he moved about the opera house. Christine called to the phantom, and asked what the phantom had planned for her, similar to the girl in the poem asking the man in the long black coat to dance. The man having a face like a mask further drew me to that illusion. The fourth stanza, “[s]omebody said, from the Bible he’d quote/[t]here was dust on the man in the long black coat” reminded me of the book of Romans when Jesus and Satan argue using quotes from the Bible. It’s like saying that if she tried to resist him, he’d use the Bible or other positive/ encouraging words to manipulate the woman. “There was dust on the man in the long black coat” insinuates that the man comes from the ground or our perception that Hell in beneath us and the man in the long black coat is from Hell—or is Satan.

The fifth stanza tells me that we are all sinners and even though we may have bad/evil thoughts, it is up to us to know what thoughts we should act on. We need to always be aware of what is a temptation of the devil and what is going to lead you down God’s path. It was, also, apparent to me that Dylan was a Christian due to the bible references and symbolism.

Coming from an observer or acquaintance of the girl, it’s hard to see this woman make this bad decision, knowing that there are better options for her. The line, “[I]t ain’t easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat,” makes it clear that this is from the perspective of someone who knows the girl, either because he is a friend or family member, or because he’s someone who has lived in the same town/neighborhood for a long time and has, perhaps, seen her grow up.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, and the line “[t]here are no mistakes in life, some people say,” says just that. However, we never know what that reason is until all is said and done. At that point, retrospectively, we see why our life went the way it did. Like the saying, “hindsight is always 20/20,” we always see the error of our ways down the road, but not usually in the moment. “But people don’t live or die, people just float,” says that no matter how hard you try to make the right decision, there is a higher power that dictates how your life goes. Or, perhaps, that we are all just mindlessly wandering this earth without really thinking about how we live our lives.

“There’s smoke on the water, it’s been there since June,” gave me the feeling of something heavy lingering and the visual of a heavy fog over a wooded lake. The trees surrounding the lake have fallen down at the roots and not only do the words paint a dark scene, but the suggestion of the moon helps paint the picture of darkness with a glimpse of light. This also suggests that someone told the woman repeatedly not to go with the man, but she never listened. “She never said nothin’, there was nothin’ she wrote,” tells me that she’s rebellious, and the seemingly incessant nagging from a significant person in her life is exactly what caused her to give in to the temptation impulsively and go along with the man in the long black coat.

Reading this poem, and researching Bob Dylan has definitely taught me numerous things. I learned that not only was Dylan a singer/songwriter, but he was also an artist and writer. He was born Jewish and later converted to Christianity, resenting those who referred to him as “born again.” He has deep ancestry from the Russian Empire on his father’s side, and his mother’s parents were Lithuanian Jews who emigrated to the US in 1902. He is a free spirit, is deeply connected to spirituality, and he shows it freely in his lyrics. Dylan’s beliefs and connection to the universe heavily influence his lyrics, and his creativity allow him to tell stories that leave the reader looking deeper into him/herself.

I honestly can say that I don’t think I’ve learned anything specific about poetry that I didn’t already know. I’ve been writing poetry for about twenty years now, so I’m familiar with what goes into writing a poem. However, I see art differently than some people. I don’t like to pick apart other’s work, because I feel like I’m tearing apart their soul. I understand that comes with the path I’ve chosen academically, so I do what is asked of me, and I give it my all when doing so. However, when I read a poem, I always feel as though it is meant to be taken however the reader perceives it. Poetry is art, and all art is open to its own interpretation. 

A reflection on “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad


I took a class this past semester called “Readings in the Short Story,” and we were asked to read “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, then write a reflection about it.  My professor is pretty liberal with our writing, and only gives us some ideas to write about.  We’re never confined to stay strictly with the ideas he has given us, unless he wants us to answer a specific question.  If he does ask a specific question, we have the freedom to answer it in any way we choose…as long as it’s written and stays on topic.  In fact, his only request is that we write about whatever story we recently read, and it has to be at least one page…you know, to ensure some actual thought went into the writing.  The following paragraphs are my thoughts…my reflection on Conrad’s story.

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Heart of Darkness reflection

I’m not exactly sure where to begin with this story.  I had to read it a second time, because I kept falling asleep and losing track of where I was with the story.  However, once I figured out a good strategy for digesting the material, I was hooked.  The story doesn’t start off in a way that will grab your attention and suck you in…it does take some time to get there.  Once I got there, I was good with the story and the flow of it.  I also began to glean a deeper meaning, or another way to look at the story.  When I began to think about what Conrad’s message was, I began to realize that this story can be considered an allegory.  This story shows how the human mind can be effected by its surroundings, and by experiencing trauma.

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, you first see Marlowe as the man who was changed by his experiences.  During his storytelling, he explains how he felt and his perspective, which helps you to see who he was before going to the Congo.  We watch the transformation, we watch him go from Marlowe the proper Englishman to Marlowe the guy who was transformed by life in the Congo.  This story telling, or transformation, can be adapted to just about anyone on the planet.  At one point or another, we all experience some sort of trauma—be it tragic or jubilant.

Those who are imprisoned experience a transformation.  Some are transformed into a better person during their time behind bars, while others become worse.  Some inmates allow their surroundings to take them over and make them become the hell that is the prison system.  However, there are some who are strong enough to resist that type of change.  There are some who can learn to adapt to their daily schedule without allowing the environment to become who they are.  They will go through some sort of change, who wouldn’t in that type of environment?  The difference is how each person allows the environment to effect them.  Some  continue their bad behaviors once released, while few others are able to maintain a stable life and do not return to prison.  

Another comparison is a woman before, during, and after childbirth.  Not all women go through a change or transformation, but I know many who have.  Before pregnancy, a woman may drink more or be a little bit more of a risk taker.  Why not?  She doesn’t have any responsibilities, right?  Then, the pregnancy begins the change of her perception—she begins to think about her decisions and how she lives her life.  She’ll think about her actions and if they are unbecoming of a good mother, and if she’d be happy about how she lived her life before having a child.  The physical act of giving birth, however, is traumatic for a woman.  All of the changes her body goes through during the nine months of carrying the child, then the length of time that the birthing process takes place, and at the end it all just suddenly stops.  That’s a lot for a woman to process, and it can be extremely taxing on her mentality, just like Marlowe’s experience in the Congo.

The Congo symbolizes any traumatic or tragic experience that a person can/will experience in his or her lifetime.  Marlowe symbolizes the person who is effected by the tragedy, but hasn’t been sucked in to it.  Kurtz symbolizes the person who is changed and succumbs to the tragedy, or the environment where the tragedy took place.  Marlowe’s audience symbolizes those who will come along in your life that will benefit from your story in one way or another.  

An interesting element that Conrad used is the three characters who have no names, but are referred to by their occupation.  The Director of Companies, or the captain, symbolizes trust, as stated in the text, “He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified.”  The Lawyer symbolizes wisdom, while the accountant symbolizes the good in any situation.  

I’m not exactly sure if it was Conrad’s intention to make this story allegorical.  However, that’s not the point, because he crafted an intricate story so wonderfully that no matter how many times you read it, you’ll get something different out of it every time.  I can definitely see this story being read for at least another hundred years, if not for the story itself, but for the fine craftsmanship and appreciation of an incredible read.

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