Poetry On Odyssey: Just A Cigarette

Poetry On Odyssey: Just A Cigarette

Every action has an equal or opposite reaction.

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Just A Cigarette

Every action has an equal or opposite reaction

You throw a ball at a wall, it bounces back

You kiss a girl, and her lips wrap around yours

When you flick a lighter, it produces a flame

You light the tobacco, it will burn

The world is full of reactions, but what if they are not all the same?

When you kiss the girl, her lips wrap around yours, seems nice right?

But what's the reaction of your jaw when her boyfriends fist slams into it?

You can break and fall to the floor, or you get back up and throw one back.

Or what happens when a girl breaks your heart and makes you feel like you caught a razor scooter straight to the ankle.

Do your memories of them burn up and fade away like smoke in the atmosphere?

Maybe, or maybe you get a little bent, but with a couple pulls, you're back to normal.

Sometimes I wish I was like a cigarette

Even if people know I'm bad for them, they'd take me anyways.

I wouldn't be in someone's life for very long, but they'd love me while I was theirs.

I'd be the comfort after a breakup

A conversation starter at a bar

A relaxer after a tough day at work

The post-sex celebration

I like the idea of being someone's boost

My family hid the belts and knives when I told them I didn't feel like I was going to be around for very long.

But I wasn't saying I was suicidal, just that I felt that my life was meant to be beautiful, not necessarily long

Maybe that wouldn't be so bad, maybe people would call me a rainbow, beautiful while it lasted.

At the end of the day, I want to be the thing that brings people comfort.

Something that they can look forward to at the end of the day.

Some people are like heroin, they give you a false sense of security, and then when they're gone, you feel the floor fell out from underneath you.

I don't want to be like Motley Crue

Having to run away high so I don't come home low

I want to be the high someone gets when they come home low.

At the end of the day, people take more than they give.

And maybe I'll just end up crumpled up on the curb

In the gutter, another forgotten litter

Or maybe I'm the catalyst for someone amazing story.

But what about my amazing story?

What about the countless symphonies of my life could be?

I don't want people having to be dependant on me

Like a smoker's craving when they crave their nicotine

I want my descendants to look back at me and see a dream

Someone they admire, who they aspire to be

I hope I'm not like Hamilton, cramming in so much while running out of time

I want to plant seeds in a garden and see what it grows to be

I want people to love me... for me

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Tempe Artists Are In The Vicious Cycle Of 'Create Art, Go Unnoticed, Become Discouraged'

An enterprise solutions piece on the inner workings of the Tempe art scene.

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Tempe artists often find themselves in the vicious cycle of "create art, go unnoticed, become discouraged."

The struggle to gain little, if any, recognition for their contributions to the creative community is causing artists to stray from their passions.

Tempe is one of the only Arizona cities that does not offer an award to recognize local artists. The Tempe Arts Committee is in the process of changing that by introducing an award that will celebrate a variety of artistic contributions in a community where art appreciation is scarce.

The new award will honor Tempe artists, educators, performers, art businesses, public arts, art events, and cultural arts. It is an award to celebrate those who have continued to create and inspire many in a city that does not flourish on their art scene.

Tara Shultz and Lauren Hernandez

Anthony Johnson, a subcommittee commissioner, is disappointed with the lack of representation of the arts in his community.

"I like to paint walls, right? Nowhere in my community does anyone support it. My daughter shares the same interest. Let's face it, we are a generation that does not encourage arts for our children. How do our children get that interaction of painting big and large if it's frowned upon in your community?" Johnson said.

Cities around the Valley honor and encourage their neighborhood artists. Phoenix has presented an arts award since 2012; and Yuma since 2001.

Flagstaff is exposing its community to the arts by annually honoring an artist with the Viola Award, which pays tribute to artists, performers, and educators. The Tempe Arts Commissioner Board is pushing to mirror the Viola Awards by shining light on the local art and culture scene.

Lauren Hernandez and Tara Shultz

Local students and citizens view art as self-expression and exposure to new cultures. Brenda Abney, a Tempe Arts and Culture manager, said art gives students and the community a sense of belonging.

"I always try to provide opportunities for young people to be involved because not everyone has the same thought patterns and talents. By exploring arts and culture, they open themselves up to another world. And if they have a creative mind they can use it in a different way," Abney said.

Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is home to more than 4,700 students. The Institute offers majors, minors, certificates, and electives in the arts including film, music, art, art museum, film, dance, and theatre, design, arts, media, and engineering.

Lauren Hernandez and Tara Shultz

The lack of exposure to the arts in Tempe is frightening to students pursuing careers in many different forms of art and culture at ASU. Jordan Litzinger, a senior arts major, is surprised by the lack of exposure she has gotten outside of school.

"Students at Arizona State University are given multiple opportunities to succeed unless they are a part of the arts," Litzinger said. "Those emails they send with jobs and internships never include the arts. I am a senior drawing major at the Herberger school and have only been able to have one of my pieces featured in a local museum. This is always expected with the arts, but it's even harder to succeed in Tempe."

In comparison to schools such as the University of Colorado at Boulder, ASU is ranked higher and offers more programs. ASU is ranked No. 20; CU is ranked No. 59. The difference in the programs is that the city of Boulder is providing more opportunities for their students outside of school.

In 2019, Boulder will generate $675,000 in grant funds, that will be offered to community projects, general operating support, arts education projects, professional development, venue rental assistance, and much more.

Lauren Hernandez and Tara Shultz

"Boulder respects arts in the sense that diverse communities create a positive environment and support and encourage CU to provide arts and sciences degrees," said Olivia Kleespies, a sophomore at CU studying architecture.

The Tempe Center for the Arts, a crucial element to the arts scene in Tempe, will need long-term assistance regardless of the passing of Proposition 417. Prop. 417 is a tax set to build, operate, and maintain arts and culture programs. The tax was first approved by voters in 2000 and will now be renewed in 2021, which will permanently extend it.

After the bonds are paid off, the tax generates $8 million annually, $600,000 of which will be moved into a Captial Improvement Plan each year.

Robin Arredondo-Savage, a Tempe city council member, pointed out the importance of the arts tax and how the city already celebrates local artists.

"One of the coolest things we are able to do is events like Arts in the Park. Giving more exposure to the murals around the city and providing more education in the schools is what the art tax will allow us to expand on. Ultimately, it will give us more exposure to the arts in our community," Arredondo-Savage said.

Lauren Hernandez and Tara Shultz

The Tempe Arts Committee members agree that artists do not feel encouraged to express themselves within the community. This is why Tempe is taking things into their own hands. The committee strives to become advocates and allies of the Tempe art scene.

Local singer-songwriter Jill Naffziger said she thinks the arts are well represented within ASU, but not as much outside of the school.

"Singers are well represented as there are so many choirs and clubs to join, whether it be at ASU or around town," Naffziger said. "I can see where it would be hard for a student or resident pursuing drawing or painting as there is no coverage of this in Tempe."

The purpose of the award is to celebrate the excellence of creators and organizations in the arts and culture of Tempe that have made significant contributions to the area. It will cover a broad range of art demonstrations, such as paintings, drawings, musical talents, literary works, and dance expressions. The creation of this award will bring more exposure to the ASU and Tempe artists, as well as residents.

Lauren Hernandez and Tara Shultz

The committee said it hopes to have the award presented in April 2019. Along with committee members being able to nominate artists, they will also open the nomination process to the public, to ensure everyone has a voice.

Because of the immense field it covers, the commissioners will choose categories to award based on the types of nominations they receive. The commissioners will also have the responsibility of choosing the awardees.

If all goes to plan, the subcommittee will be able to provide examples of potential nominations and award winners to the public and to assist them in the process.

The subcommittee is uncertain about a dollar amount for the award, or if there will be. They want to give recognition to local artists, whether it takes the form of a certificate or prize.

Lauren Hernandez and Tara Shultz

The Tempe Arts Committee stands behind the theory that students perform better on standardized tests when they are given the opportunity to be involved with art programs and this is why it is crucial for a city like Tempe to have more arts exposure.

According to the Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America's Future Through Creative Schools report, "school-wide achievement gains have been observed when arts integration has been applied as a school reform and improvement strategy."

The board said it hopes its award will enlighten Tempe schools and encourage aspiring young artists to embrace their talents.

"By exploring arts and culture, young people open themselves up to a different world beyond academics or sports. They can put their mind to use in a different way and it can create a sense of belonging in the community," Abney said. "Art allows people to have a creative outlet, especially when you are putting so much time and energy in finding out where you belong in life. It's a place where you are free to be creative and relax."

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Hemlock: A Short Story

You finally took back control.

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You decide to bake it into brownies as if it was weed. You think about how much harder it was to get than weed is, and about how it will be the perfect dessert to top off your last meal. Brownies always were your favorite, after all. Ever since your aunt Patty had made you a batch for your fifth birthday, the kind with chunks of semi-sweet chocolate in them and a chocolate buttercream frosting swirled on top, you have been in love with the decadent treat.

You start mixing the ingredients together, stirring everything by hand with a whisk because you know that if you use an electric mixer the brownies will become tough. After all, you want the last thing you ever eat to be perfect. You laugh to yourself as you start to sprinkle it in. You think about how this really will bring new meaning to the phrase "death by chocolate."

Baking always was a comfort to you. That and self-harm were the only ways you ever felt like you had any control over anything. When you baked, you could manipulate everything about your creation. You could change the taste, the texture, the smell, and so much else with just a flick of the wrist or the addition of a little more or less of an ingredient.

When you self-harmed, you finally felt in control of yourself for a change. You were able to control how you felt, even if what you felt was pain, and you were able to manipulate your own body and decide what happens to it. Now you're preparing to combine the two, to take total control back from your AWOL mind once and for all.

You remember the first time you felt like you weren't in control of yourself. You just couldn't stop shaking, no matter how hard you tried. Your hands were rattles and your arms were snakes, begging to be skinned. They tried to give you medicine to fix it, but it seemed more like poison to you. It made you tired all the time, made you stay in bed even more than you already did. It didn't help, either. You seemed to have all the side effects and none of the relief that was supposed to come with them.

They tried having you talk to someone. He didn't seem to tell you anything you didn't already know, though. He mostly just sat there, shook his head, said "mhm" a few times, and occasionally repeated back what you had just said in an affirming tone. He didn't actually help at all despite the astronomical amount you were paying out of pocket to see him because, of course, he didn't accept insurance.

Nobody left seems like they would miss you and you have nowhere else to turn. Your family members don't even call anymore and always seem too busy to talk. So you eventually come up with this plan. Now, nearly a month later, you sit on the floor of your apartment finishing the last bite of your dinner. You sigh as you look around your apartment one last time, taking in all the family photos and old fake smiles you wore in them. Cutting yourself a brownie, you close your eyes and stuff the entire awkwardly cut square into your mouth.

It bursts with flavor. Before long, you can feel your mouth starting to water for more. Or maybe that's just the foaming. Either way, your eyes roll back in pure ecstasy as it hits your stomach. It sends chills, shakes, convulsions through your body as a smile forms across your face.

You did it. You finally took back control. You finally feel free from the confines of your sickened mind. Then, nothing.

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