Treason

We found each other with a smile

that stirred the primal and divine.

Because your insipid—

choice was in me, I’m on cloud nine.

The breath of love is a fog

that shrouds all rhyme and reason.

I know not yet the origin

of this love that committed treason.

I left my mind cowed and betrayed

and kindled my fire within.

My heart is the drum that I beat

To the sound of our love herein.

Surgery

Our suckled wants
lay exposed on metal,
where surgeons’ tools
reveal their bleeding truth
 
Synthetic light
glares upon open breasts
Her ersatz smile,
pierced by love’s incision
 
Through stagnant days
I see you watching and
waiting for my fear
to end this surgery.
 
Your skin I cut through while
I search for proof.
Will I dig deep
enough to find your heart?
 

Transience

Dusk was settling in and the fireflies began illuminating our vista with intermittent rhythm. I grasp tightly to the aged, shriveled hand nestled in mine and project our souls into the surrounding dance of light. Mindless, unconcerned, and only existent in a reverie of love, we dance; my Miriam and I. Hearts colliding and minds twirling, our projected essences mingle into one. Our earthly shackles have fallen away: the world weariness and diminishing life that constitutes old age. I look into my beloved’s eyes and find, in this moment, recognition. Recognition and Love.

The receding light of day is a reminder of life’s transitory nature. Our bodies wither, ambition dulls, and eventually our minds fade, similarly to the waning strength of the sun. Returning to earth and the wooden rocker on my front patio, I glance over at Miriam’s flower bed nestled against an old magnolia. The forget-me-nots have been invaded by weeds and neglected by their normally devout caretaker. They were her children, the product of her love and nurturing. Now they had been forgotten, wilting and choked with crabgrass.

My thoughts linger on death, the unavoidable destination people shy away from. When a loved one exits this reality and begins the great adventure, why do we mourn? Is it love? Attachment? We can reason and say that dying is a process of nature and something we should cherish as a facet of life itself. But why do we feel a heartache and grief that keeps us awake at night? Why do our hands shake with sadness when we lift a pencil to write? My darling Miriam is physically sound. Her bodily strength ebbs just as surely as mine, however the degradation of her memories—her heart— is a painful realization greater than death itself.

Twilight deepens and the fiery insects emerge in abundance. Long shadows adorn the lawn, stretching to the front steps like fingers probing for a thing almost lost. The day was over, and the sun diminished. Knowing it was time to retire for the night, I clamber to my feet. I offer my hand to Miriam, our eyes meeting in the twinkling light of fireflies. In that moment, I realize some part of her has finally passed on. Confusion and bewilderment replace the recognition I searched for earlier. A lone tear trails down my old face as I understand. Even love can die.

Note: Researchers have discovered that emotions outlast memories. Victims of severe Alzheimer’s are still capable of increased happiness when meeting friends or family. If you are loved one of such individuals, please know that you DO have an effect. Your affection WILL make a difference. And most importantly, love CAN transcend impermanence.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

There are times when the tumultuous emotion of a novel hinders an honest opinion. There are even times when the unexpected twists of an author’s imagining leave the reader with a quiet sense of baffled awe. Combined, these factors may result in a truly interesting review. Being only the second novel by Hemingway I have had the chance to read, A Farewell to Arms has left a powerful, albeit mournful impression.

The story of a troubled ambulance driver during World War I, coupled with a thoroughly depressing conclusion, is classic Hemingway. Various themes including the morbid nature of war, the relationship between love and hurt, and the patterns of human nature can be found in this novel and even recurring in much of Hemingway’s literature. The unemotional male protagonist, Henry, is the the product of these themes, a victim of life’s suffering and its many complexities.

There are aspects of A Farewell to Arms that require a slow mental digestion to appreciate the soul of the novel. Overall, I found the direct and terse prose of the writing a very accommodating feature to Hemingway’s themes. Henry’s mental dialogue quickly gives insight into the persona of the character. He is constantly besotted with various internal conflicts, all of which could lead to a certain self-understanding, but fail to do so as the book draws to a closure. The reader is left unpleasantly perplexed, in an unsatisfying way. This was obviously Hemingway’s intention as an artist; he was a crafting a portion of his spirit into words. The ending of the novel could be likened to the author’s state of mind itself.

One of the most poignant themes or messages of A Farewell to Arms is the terrible price of war. Throughout the plot, readers will notice that Henry is progressively distancing himself from the harsh realities of blood and warfare. With his highly direct method of writing, Hemingway uses powerful imagery in a casual way to provoke understanding within his readers. The pain, brutality, and at times utter chaos of Henry’s situation is seen as a character building (or possibly degrading) force in his life.

A Farewell to Arms was by no means written by someone who fully condemned war, but rather embraced the inevitability of it. Throughout the novel, Hemingway expresses his sentiment that war is merely the product of an already dark and tyrannous world. He accurately portrays the fickle nature of humanity; at times we can be cruel, and at times we can be murderers. However, we are also capable of compassion, integrity, and even nobility, despite society’s frequent attempts to forget or dispel true love. Yes, in a nutshell, A Farewell to Arms can be said to condemn war. However, I believe this sentiment is deeper and much more faceted in the mind of Hemingway.

A second theme prevalent in the novel, and also one of Henry’s chief struggles, is the often correlating relationship between love and hurt. In the beginning of A Farewell to Arms, Henry and Catherine (his newfound lover) find comfort in each other. They find solace from their own mournings and inner demons. This relationship evolves dramatically throughout the course of the book, and soon becomes a driving force in either’s life. Henry becomes torn between this unprecedented love for a woman, and his drive to get back to the front as soon as possible.

Henry understand the importance of his love for Catherine and how meaningful this type of bond can be in times of war. He realizes the emptiness of concepts such as honor and duty in the face of true love. This realization results in a terrific internal struggle. Henry repeatedly must come to terms with the “numb” mentality he adopted during war in order to open his heart for the woman he loves. Henry struggles with openness and sincerity but always manages to make a connection with Catherine.

I believe Hemingway was expressing one of the great morals of life: love in the face of fear, destruction, and tyranny can compel the inner compassion of a person to manifest. There is no force as powerful as love, save possibly fear. Henry is besotted by both, an onslaught of emotional turmoil that rips apart his conviction and decimates his previously held superficial values. The genius of Hemingway is his tendency to be completely realistic. He has the remarkable ability to capture the true essence of human nature.

All in all, A Farewell to Arms is a powerful symbol of the relationship between love and war in a man’s heart. It is an accurate description of the havoc a relationship can wreak on a man’s mentality. This novel is an incredible sentiment to what it means to be human, and the subtle intricacies of the human psyche are portrayed with striking accuracy. Hemingway captured the mutual destruction of both love and war. I could recommend this timeless classic to any reader, just for its invigorating if depressing breath of reality. However, some may dislike the harsh honesty in the authors word’s and cold precision in which he utterly nails human nature. I for one, appreciate this sincerity, this side of the story that only a few of the great classics sometimes expound upon. A Farewell to Arms is truly one of the most powerful pieces of literature when it comes to the effects of war on humanity. Readers should look for the connections and cause & effect relationships in this destructive, yet powerfully insightful novel.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”

Relationships are often the focus of emotional speculation and sometimes, unfortunately, derogatory criticism. It it my opinion that this outlook stems from a misunderstanding of the mysterious phenomenon called love and an often one-sided view of relationships in general.

In order to develop the correct understanding of love, one must first dissolve any preconceived notion they might have developed from a worldly source, namely the media and the cultural leaders we call celebrities. Secondly, one must understand the three fundamental components of any true relationship. They are also relevant in the context of friendships.

The most vital component of any relationship is sincerity. One must e completely honest to their partner, but to an even greater extent, themselves. Truth of heart, truth of mind, and truth of character comprise the fundamental pillars of this concept.

Integrity is an often overlooked attribute in the development of relationships. Everyone follows their own moral code; a set of ethical standards. Admittedly, this code can vary drastically depending on the individual, however it is there, all the same. Integrity is the willingness of one to adhere to their own conscience.

The final aspect of an enduring relationship is compassion, an almost indescribable force that seems completely at odds with human nature. Love is founded in the deepest compassion. It is the understanding and caring tenderness that occurs in those completely speechless moments of devotion and spiritual attraction, regardless of superficial factors including personal identity.

You can sum up these components in a simple commandment: Be true. You deserve your honesty as much as anyone else, whether applied to friendships, or a deeper relationship. Cultivating your inner characteristics results in a more powerful outward experience. Too many times have I witnessed individuals falling away from each other because of superficial discrepancies, which are only existent as an effect of inner turbulence and misunderstanding. I have come to the realization that ignorance of the true nature of love often predates the collapse of relationships. My message to anyone, whatever form of relationship you may in, is to find a cure for your ignorance. Take those necessary steps to understand. And most importantly, Be true.

Heroic Humanity

Looking at humanity from a detached point of view can be enlightening, yet quite frankly, confusing. At first glance, we seem to be a selfish and fairly materialistic folk. Consider our vain treatment of appearance and the standards of society we deem so important to adhere to. How about our ineptitude in liking someone for who they are, rather than how they compare to us? Some would consider this human nature, with anything greater being a true anomaly. While I am still a dreamer, one who hopes and believes in a better future, it can be difficult to ignore the grim aspects of humanity.

Despite our seemingly inherent egotistical tendencies, there is a deeper character in most humans. This character finds expression in the facets of life that often go unmentioned or undiscussed. This is heroism, an utterly selfless act of compassion that defies our normal self-preservationist mind frame. It is completely voluntary, often involving a particular risk, and is carried out without need for material gain or recompense. Being a hero is more than doing your duty, or following through with something you have been charged to do. Being a hero is about acting without hesitation or fear for your own safety.

The very basis of heroic humanity is founded in altruism. This principle can become a belief or practice, one of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others. Coupled with courage and decisiveness, heroism becomes a true possibility. My goal in life is to be a hero, both in the official and unofficial senses. My goal is to inspire, love, and protect those I care about, as well as to do something truly remarkable for a complete stranger on a daily basis.

Humans are capable of suffering, both enduring and inflicting. We are capable of truly horrendous wars, murder, genocide, and hurt. We are unforgiving when it comes to defending belief and tradition. Despite our total lack of appreciation for our shared humanity, we are always in some form of conflict, either internal or external.

Yet, we are also capable of so much more. We can coexist if we find common ground. We can discover what it means to be a hero, and live our lives in betterment of our brothers and sisters around us. It stands evident that there is something within our hearts, something nameless and profound, that has the potential of uniting us in a brotherhood of humanity. This phenomenon is called love; the very clay of creation. From the words of John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope some day you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”

Be a hero.

The (Un) Discovered Country

There was once a Mother and her many children. Together, they lived and coexisted in a large and frightening world. In the beginning, there was only love and appreciation in their relationship. The Mother provided for her children by growing crops and raising animals. In turn, the children were charged with harvesting the crops, domesticating the animals, and above all, loving their Mother. Throughout many great epochs, this system worked and flourished. The children toiled happily to build a life and the Mother provided everything she could give.

Eventually a time came when some of the children wanted more from their Mother. They worked harder in order to prove their worth, and the Mother provided even more. However, She told them, “I am growing old, my children, and I must have your care in order to keep providing. I must have your love, cooperation, and peaceful intentions.”

For a time, the children heeded Her wish. They cared for their Mother’s well-being and reaped the fruits of their labor. However, this system couldn’t last forever. Several of the children wished they could have even more, at the expense of their siblings. They wished to grow strong and powerful. The Mother did not approve.

And so the time came when these few children asked their gracious Mother for more, once again, in order to fuel a war against their brothers and sisters. As sad as She was, the Mother could not deny Her children what they needed. She provided resources such as iron, steel, and uranium. What could these harsh materials ever be used for? The Mother labored at the coercion of her many children and slowly grew weak with each newly unearthed resource.

And so the war began. The children, for all of their self-justified reasons, were killing each other. The Mother weeped for Her losses, and struggled to keep providing. The children were intent on destroying each other, and She was slowly beginning to grow tired of watching the madness. Her faculties were becoming old and worn out. But still, She continued to love. When the war ended, and the remaining children were few and far between, they appealed to their Mother once again. The bloodshed had left them in far worse shape than they ever could have imagined. This time, they wanted food, water, and peace.

The Mother knew that She could provide little in Her terrible state, and least of all peace. This last request was one that the children must discover on their own. And so She whispered again, deep in Her throes of agony, “Even though I am ravaged, torn, and abused, I will always provide for my children. There is a country where you can find sustenance and joy. No matter how destroyed I have become, this country will always exist. It lies not in front of your eyes, my children, but in your hearts. The voyage to this place requires facing your inner fears and imperfections. It is the true voyage of self-discovery. It is a microcosm of greater possibilities.”

The children weeped for their Mother and regretted their foolish behavior. They watched as She slowly withered and could only provide less and less. They were to blame, the children who failed to provide love and nurturing. Distraught, they ceased any standing quarrels and made a vow. They would no longer wage meaningless wars against each other. They would dedicate themselves to their Mother and to finding this undiscovered country of hope and peace.

Why do we live in such madness?

The Greater Man

A cascade of leaves erratically flies in a gust of wind. Competing forces pull to and fro, sending them in wayward directions. Unplanned, spontaneous, and totally free. Traveling somewhere we can never guess, they present a paradigm of life. In essence, we are all merely leaves, being carried throughout existence by an unseen and greater hand. We all ride the wind, and we all are traversing the same path, with only minor deviations. This force is powerful enough to carry the multitude of our spirits. There is always a breeze somewhere in the world, and this gives insight into the persistency of life itself.

An old man once told me that life is both more and less than we can possibly imagine. We carry out our existence, seemingly with a plethora of complications. Thinking, analyzing, judging, and toiling our minds away. We create an identity for ourselves, a mass of labels and materialistic stickers, and decide we are only going to view the world through a biased lens. We are preconditioned from childhood with a sense of “self” that allows us to judge situations and people on a personal level, and react in the best means of promoting self-preservation. This way of going about life can be useful as a tool, but not as the perfect means of understanding reality.

Sometimes, humans are capable of losing touch with the fundamental aspects of life. Sometimes, we fail to grasp the true essence of what it means to be living, breathing, and experiencing the awe of simple existence. Remember, we are all embodiments of impermanence, such as the leaves the fly together in a gust of wind. Sometimes we place too much emphasis on the time we are alive and forget that the universe still persists after we are long gone. Death before death is the true purpose of our existence. To abolish our simple and flawed perception of a personal life, and to realize the much greater picture is the ultimate goal.

In a sense, the Eastern sages were correct; we are all interconnected, we are One. Even if humanity is not linked by some cosmic, mystical force, we are linked by the everyday moments of life.  Everything we do and everything we say has an impact on countless individuals around us. Our words and actions have an altering effect on the proceedings to come, and our future can change drastically because of it. This broader outlook of cause and effect relationships is vital if we are to transcend egotism and experience reality in its true, unfiltered state.

Our goal in life is to live with integrity. To walk, talk, breathe, and create in utter honesty of our true being. Understanding the greater relationships in life allow one to be true to themselves, and the people they care about. We all have a greater man inside, and he has never abandoned us, regardless of the insanity we are capable of. This man is not your identity, but your state of being, for identity is an exterior construct. Through this state, we are capable of reveling in the awe of riding the wind. We are capable of appreciating the unsolved mysteries of the universe and knowing what true love really means. My final question: have you found YOUR greater man?

The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier

The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier

The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier

Publisher: Epicality Books
Release: 2012
Image Source: The Author

Synopsis: THE STORM HAS COME. 

The homosexuals, once an ostracized social minority, have taken over the world. They understand the angers of an overpopulated planet, usurped government power, and created a culture of perfectly engineered families. But Grace Jarvis and Dex Wheelock are heterosexuals—part of the government’s highly controlled backup plan for reproduction—and they have a problem.

Grace is pregnant. Dex is the father. It is a crime that has only one consequence: banishment to the Antarctic Sanctuary, an isolated biological reserve where reproductive criminals are allowed to exist in peace, without disrupting the rest of civilization. Yet there are rumors that genocide has already begun and that the homosexuals are finally setting natural breeders on a path to extinction. This leaves Grace and Dex with only two choices: to succumb to the tyrannical regime, or run. 

THEY CHOOSE TO RUN.

Review: The Breeders by Matthew J. Beier is a heart wrenching story of love and hope. The author manages to weave an intimate tale of lovers while making a vast foray into controversial social issues and life values. Published in 2012, The Breeders has the potential to become a modern classic. Within its pages lies discovery and realization on an unprecedented level, one that could strongly impact culture and make one think twice about the fundamental values of being human.

As a dystopian thriller, The Breeders takes place in the late twenty-third century. Technology has advanced, if not quite as extremely as one would expect. Society has shifted dramatically and not necessarily for the better. The world has finally recovered from the “Bio Wars,” which almost brought about the total extinction of humanity. The remaining population is considerably smaller and dictated by a highly conservative regime of sexual politics. A world government retains almost absolute control, even placing restrictions on the natural birthing process. Even more shocking is the fact that homosexuality is the new norm. Heterosexuals have become a minority and are in a constant and accelerating state of degradation.

Matthew J. Beier has concocted a tale of masterful proportions. His goal in writing The Breeders was to provide a different perspective to the intense debate over gay marriage. What is generally considered normal in our society has been reversed, only to provide insight for issues our nation is currently undergoing. Beier found inspiration in the 2008 ad campaign for the National Organization for Marriage, which likened gay marriage to “a coming storm.” His vision is to give people the opportunity to “step into the shoes of those they are speaking out against.”

The Breeders has captured the beauty of two individuals trying to find value in a world where their kind must endure the condemnation of society. Solace cannot even be found with friends or family who struggle to hide their blatant disapproval. The mere act of producing a child via unplanned and natural reproduction has become taboo in this backwards world. The protagonists must face their own insecurities if they ever hope to find peace at the end of the road. The storyline was one of those that actually made you stop thinking and feel your way through the novel. Understanding the motives behind Beier’s characters can only be done by stepping into their very shoes and feeling for yourself why they made certain decisions and chose particular paths. The humanity in his words was refreshing, almost reminiscent of Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games. While reading, I felt the pain of Dex Wheelock as he struggled with the fear of taking responsibility for his own child, and I could almost taste the tears of Grace Jarvis when she realized she may never see her beloved father again. This is the kind of book that makes one realize how wonderful and terrible it is to be human. This is the kind of book that bridges the gap between sorrow and joy.

Throughout the novel, readers will began to recognize the plot as an exaggerated reverse-scenario of our own society. In the world of The Breeders, intolerance toward heterosexuals is rampant. In our own world, the exact opposite is occurring. Hate crimes against gays and lesbians happen every day. The LGBT community is constantly under attack for being ‘unnatural’ and ‘sinful.’ This ideology is based on the literal interpretation of scripture, dogma, and an outdated viewpoint of humanity. It’s a simple and sad fact that people are willing to condemn others for falling in love with someone of the same gender. I question any authority that justifies limiting the definition of love. This is a fundamental gift all humans can partake in, one that is all-inclusive. Gender and other worldly characteristics cannot inhibit the pure and relentless power of affection. I am confident that Matthew Beier will share this wisdom with the populace and stand by his dream to help people see that humanity is “only as strong as it is united and as weak as it is divided.”

While reading, I also stepped into the shoes of its author and began to understand the impact his life experiences have had on his integrity. Living in a society where being honest about yourself leads to prejudice and disdain is a carving experience. It whittles out a character like no other. Something truly remarkable about a book is its ability the capture the soul of the author. The Breeders has done this and more. The character of Beier is evident in every sentence: his passion, hope, and even a bit of fear. Matthew Beier is truly an exceptional individual, one who understands the difficulties of living in a largely intolerant society. I sympathize with him and know from what direction he speaks from. To find the willingness to reconcile with those who are opposed to his orientation is a courageous action. I can only hope to channel this courage when facing life difficulties of my own.

Even though The Breeders ended (spoiler alert) on an incredibly dismal note, Beier was able to implement a sense of hope into the reader’s experience. As the protagonists Dex and Grace were deceived by the very people they thought were helping them, the novel begins to show its true spiritual colors. Left to die in the frozen and apparently uninhabited wasteland of Antarctica, the couple with their infant child realize how futile their efforts have been to evade government. Everything the reader hoped for seems to be lost, and one may even end up hating the novel because of it. The author intended to write the end as emotionally honest as possible, which proves his persevering integrity. This was his intention, yet Beier could also not devise the ending to be entirely hopeless. By the fleeting glimpse of a rainbow, Dex departed life with God’s promise that life would go on. The story ended with a sobering and eye opening enlightenment. The empowering and stunning realization of The Breeders is revealed, and readers are instilled with hope that even the “worst of life may merely be a prelude for what is to come.” It was the perfect ending, one that speaks of life’s gift and the great mystery afterwards.

The Breeders is one of the most heartfelt books I have read. There is sincere passion and inspiration between its covers. It’s one of those incredible works of literature everybody should read once in their lifetime, even if they disagree with what the author advocates. It definitely provides an enlightening perspective, and together with refreshing characters, a strong storyline, and superb writing, grants for a truly gripping read. It is my strong desire to see literary works like The Breeders impact society for the better. Intolerance only breeds conflict and creates a rift in our nation. If humanity is to rise above and meet new, more problematic difficulties head-on, we must realize how impeding our petty quarrels truly are. Denying rights for homosexual couples, including marriage, is a mindset that causes harm and threatens to derail any sort of political compromise. Personally, I can say that it hurts. Being unable to express your feelings for someone you love is heartbreaking and depressing. I severely hope that ‘traditional marriage’ advocates will someday understand the pain they inflict upon homosexuals who are otherwise no different from themselves.

There is a bigger picture to life than trying to oppose the suffering we all endure. We can let it tear our hearts and minds apart, but we can also realize that it is a gift in itself: the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, grow because of our hardships, and appreciate the occasional moments of awe that comprise the foundation of spiritual experience. When death finally rolls along, we can depart reveling in the knowledge that life goes on, and what lies ahead is the ultimate mystery. I thank Matthew J. Beier for making this review possible and for unknowingly handing me the answer to a long-standing dilemma. All in all, I recommend this novel to readers who are not afraid to open their eyes. I recommend The Breeders to the ones who need it most: the hopeless, the inhibited, and the downtrodden. For all of those who need to hear it, this book has a message that rings loud and clear: It gets better.

Beier, Matthew J. (2012) The Breeders. United States: Epicality Books