Of Appearance

For how many years have you been told the old adage, “The clothes make the man”? This week, appearances are the topic for our little dose of wisdom. Brought about by seeing several poignant examples over the course of the past week of truly small-minded people treating others cruelly for things inherently shallow.

Certainly, it would not be sensible of me to say that appearance plays no part in how most people interact with the world – it is no less than the nature of man that what we see does have input on how we react to a person. It affects it. Yet it should not dominate our reaction. What makes us human should be our ability to rise above first impressions, shallow inferences, to see what lies within before we make our judgments. After all, the clothes may change, but that doesn’t change the person.

To demonstrate this, our latest quote of the week comes from an old favorite of mine: Neil Gaiman. Many among you may be familiar with his “Sandman” series, among his many works, and if so, you’ll probably recognize this one:

“It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor.” ~Neil Gaiman, “Sandman”

To demonstrate, I give you the many faces of Chris, that is to say, me…a lot of different mes there, in some strange, some normal forms…but do I really change? Outwardly, perhaps, but the silly little writer has always remained…

A Winter’s Walk down the Lansing River Trail

In Lansing, the capitol of Michigan, lies a trail for bikers and hikers alike. The Lansing River Trail is an approximately 13-mile trail through urban and rural stretches alike, lying in the shadows of Lansing’s bustling streets, twisting through masses of deep-rooted forests, rising up in boardwalks or smoothed out in easy footpaths, and all the while trailing the river for which it is named, providing a scenic route for anyone looking for a little exercise. Not as much of that in the Winter, of course, but even in the midst of this most frigid season, it remains a popular destination. It helps, of course, that the trail stretches all the way to East Lansing, and to the MSU campus.

Saturday, I decided to take a walk down the trail in spite of the frosty weather, and investigate the sights I had been denied since the summer, when a long jog was often a morning’s routine. These are a few of the results of my walk. Enjoy.

Observe the breaks. Just a few seconds prior, I had been standing there, on what I thought was solid ground.

Part of the trail runs under the highway, and where there are bridges, there is graffiti.

Several sections of railroad also run over the trail, and the river.

One of the numerous boardwalk bridges that are a part of the trail.

A Winter Checklist, for Michigan

The Red Cedar River, MSU. By Chris Galford.

Checklist for a Michigan Winter:

1.       Thick coat. Get your dang Northface out of here.

2.       Boots. Preferably fluffy. Leather also good. Steel-toed = best.

3.       Thermal socks. Because your normal whities just aren’t gonna cut it, sweetheart.

4.       Scarf. Because that floppy little hood you’re wearing is just the wind’s plaything.

5.       Hot Cocoa. For the kid inside. And also that numb sensation you seem to be experiencing.

6.       A car that isn’t a Ford Taurus. Snow makes them go into concrete poles, you know. Er, or so I hear…

7.       Salt. Take a step outside after the first winter rain and you’ll understand why. “Boy the ground sure is shiny to—hell!”

8.       A heater. In your home if nowhere else. Don’t got one? Ignore all aforementioned then, cause you’re probably as stiff as Frosty the bloody snow man by now anyway.

9.       Purple fingers. Because hell, even with all the above, you’re still going to get them after any real time outside. It’s a real Michigan color.

Just came back from a 2 and a half hour jaunt through a frozen Michigan State University and a snowy Lansing River Trail. Cocoa now firmly in hand, I have begun the appropriate after-ritual of sitting in a corner with a space heated on and a sweat shirt pulled snug until the feeling returns to hands and feet. Fingers crossed that it’ll be soon.

We've been spending a lot of time together, these books and I.

Productive day though – a good end to an equally productive week. Poems have been sent to four publishers now, with two more publishers picked out with poetry waiting to be sent to them as soon as they begin receiving again come February. Two more publishers will be getting the e-mails tomorrow, and then, it’s time to move on to short stories. Keep an eye out, you may see some on here soon as well (and yes, I know I’ve said that before. I mean it this time…I’ve got dozens).

The last of my editors just sent in their notes about my novel, so I’m all but ready to go on that as well. One last look through, comparing notes and checking final edits…and then it’s off to another, more intricate publisher hunt, and all the stress that’ll bring. But I look forward to it, anxiously.

As for the job front…well…Michigan is Michigan.

Photos will come tomorrow, along with next week’s quotes of the week (no, I haven’t forgotten. I know you’re all watching and waiting for me to so you can say I told you so).

Winter-White Haiku

Winter in Rockford, MI. By Chris Galford.

Cold…so cold. High of 14 today. Inside writing, doing my best to hide from the chill. Not as much snow as in the photo – the picture’s from back in 2009 – but the wind and the ice don’t make things any better. On the bright side, a little cocoa and some tiny marshmallows do lead to the occasional Winter-ku…

White sea enfold me

All is silence in the rough

Hands ache summer’s cry.

Haiku

Beaumont Tower, MSU; by Chris Galford.

Woke this morning with thoughts of Winter playing in my head – and a sheen of ice outside my window that stretched from home to street and all the roads beyond. Reflecting on the beauty of the colorful Spring past, this little thing popped into my head:

Waiting to dream life

Color sleeps beneath the snow;

Wilts, but never dies.

Midnight Mountain Ride

Midnight ring

nightingale screech of metal grind

vestiges of slumber—

in silent Chaos writhe

the World all sheltered black,

this Veil, it doth descend

betwixt the Heavens and the Earth

no more Fire, no more Song

yet Dappled Emeralds gleam

throughout the Haze of Waking

this World rise, Higher and Higher

tilting back, breathing in

the clouds, circling pull

Dream yet from Reality

and Everything of this Canvas,

rides Higher still into the Night

Destination: World

set it all below, and looking down

bask within the Golden River Shadow

of History shaped and cast

into the Towers of Majesty

Beyond Imagination—

the Stars and the Sea,

no King might ever rise

so High as thee.

* Another poem for the wonderful Monday Poetry Potluck, as hosted by Jingle Poetry, and those lovely poets Amanda and Kavita! The theme this week was mountains and beaches, and I couldn’t help but think back to my most recent venture in Colorado. This one was inspired by my time there in the summer–I hope you enjoy! Hope you don’t mind that I also took the opportunity to throw in some more of my pictures from that trip, even if they don’t match up quite specifically with the poem itself.

Sunset

Golden Twilight

sinks into the final gasp,

a flame too bright for any sight,

fades not in thunder, but a rasp.

Ink etches yet into the sketch

no more the streets,

long shadows stretch,

fading color, sinking beats.

* My latest contribution to the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays! Once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well– they’re a skilled bunch of poets, looking to form a community and support one another.  Enjoy!

I Still Have a Voice

Just because I cannot hear

Does not mean I have no voice.

My hands are my words

Flowing out like rivers

And these eyes,

They see

Though you look at me as a man blind—

Blind enough to see

Your hands in motion

Signing off my rights

Signing off the hope

That brought me here today.

I am not silent

But you silence me

Bury me in paperwork

Another numerical nonentity

Less a face than a dollar sign—

Black ink rain down

And you break my world

With a pen for a sword—

How can you look at us this way

Hear our pleas, hear our cries

And still sit, as statues

Unmoved, unbroken

Drowning us

With care.

This Wednesday’s post has several dedications. It is first and foremost dedicated to the Deaf Education and American Sign Language students at MSU, who this year, as part of budget cuts, had their programs completely cut from the academia here. I also dedicate this to the deaf community at large, who all have felt the pain of this loss. Eastern Michigan University is the only other University in Michigan to offer such programs to the community.

As usual, it is also for the wonderful One Shot Poetry Wednesdays–once you’ve had a look, check out some of the other One Shot Poets as well– they’re a skilled bunch of poets, looking to form a community and support one another.  Enjoy!

Photos by myself, Chris Galford, from the final MSU Board of Trustees meeting last school year. The alphabet presented below is the alphabet of American Sign Language–a language certain board members previously claimed was “not a real language.”

Decaying in Orbit

We are drifting

You and I

I can see it in your eye

This sifting

Chasm lengthens

And the shadowed fens

Are growing.

That smile you once held for me

My smile

Is now a vacant stare

We look to one another

But there’s nothing there

Just silence

In the space

That once beheld our laughter.

Older, wiser

Colder

The child slithers from us

And so do we

These shadows lengthen

As we pull apart.

Still we look

Captive to memory

Unable to let go

But unable to remain

We are gripped and we are broken

And I am decaying in orbit

Around the very stars

That made my

Universe.

Beneath the Waves

Photo by Chris Galford

White water rush,

cool crystal commence

the crashing of my flesh

subverted in the waves

of vigorous caress,

still on, this mountain roar–

a silent stillness, in the drink.