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Forever have I feared the lashing,
the deep cut of criticism,
a stroke from the heart of man,
afraid of his own shadow,
observations cut from the cloth of reflective lack of sight.

Man speaks from behind a thin veneer of authority,
a broken vessel,
water spilling from the spaces between his teeth,
lies pressed tight against cheek,
silver tongue writhing against insecurities,
ignorance and misguided intentions.

Like a crown of thorns,
the oppression of shame,
of mistakes,
and obscenities from out of the mouth of babes,
a magnet to muddied words,
wrought of sovereignty,
guided by prints and yardsticks,
lines drawn with precision,
written with a pencil shaped sweetly,
with razor blades,
points at each end.

a note from the reed of Christianity,
righteous indignation,
against riotous insinuations,
he is a good Christian,
well intentioned,
but lacking in charity,
though child of God still,
be it in name or idea,
abstraction or guiding hand,
and he would have others feel shame,
for misery so loves his company,
despite never wishing to feel the same,
seething with fear at his own visage,
afraid of his reflection.

I have no objections to his words,
no bulwark against the sting,
the sharp ring of truth,
half or full,
in my stomach up to the guard,
I have nothing to say on moral relativity,
I have only this to say to your inquiry:

I will apologize for my actions,
but I will not apologize for who I am,
for I am a friend to agency,
and have no lack of ambition.
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
I am as I am,
my thoughts are nebulous and coherent,
I am the reluctant believer,
I am the optimistic skeptic,
I prepare for the worst,
and pray for the best,
I am a product of my environment,
but I also hope that I am more.

I scoff at those who say that they know,
be it the singularity that is deity,
or the absence of divinity,
his finite and plural nature,
or the limitations of the father,
as such I am a heretic,
and so I blaspheme,
relishing the jealousy of knowledge.

As I stare into the eyes of the unknown,
a canvas casting light on the firmament,
I realize that the futility of thought is artifice,
the cords wrapped tight around my sleeves,
exist only in what I live,
and what I choose to accept.

I accept.

And with this thought in mind,
I reject the null,
for I cannot accept the reality that I am given,
for a world without end has no meaning if not for progress,
if gain is finite and the continuity infinite,
there is no point,
the blade of Christianity is dull,
and so too the endless strains of antagonists,
horribly over-educated and overwrought.

I reject.

What separates God from man?

Maybe it is the ability to arrange matter,
it might simply be an issue of innate power,
but it might also be the sustainability of material,
the ability to see,
for we may as well be blind,
or perhaps it is simply a matter of punctuation.

I accept, but so too do I reject,
and gladly will I play the fool,
if it will place the odds in my favor.
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
I find myself alone on a Friday night,
one part choice and two parts frailty,
an inexplicable inability to cope with personalities,
a story as old as the concept of the dreamer,
unfortunate kids who can't do anything but grasp at stars,
and shrink away from shadows,
played on the white-wash walls of our youth,
I know what I must do to change things,
I have the tools,
and yet here I am.

I sit alone drinking hot chocolate,
the kind my mother made for me as a child,
sipping nostalgia,
and thinking of things,
which in some sense are (not necessarily) necessary,
and staring out into lampposts along the parkway,
their light reflecting in my eyes,
and all at once I can be whatever I want,
and achieve whatever my heart desires,
I am thrown back into the restful sleep of the past.

At times like these I can see everything that I need to,
I can see the path ahead of me,
the trail behind,
and the stars stitched to the lights below,
or perhaps it is the opposite,
and thus vertigo sets in the mind of the dreamer,
and tomorrow I will forget it all,
I will no longer believe in love,
or the optimism I have lost,
the forgiveness I freely gave,
and the power to see past what is placed before me.

I am alone,
I am here,
I exist,
(at least I think I do)
I am lonely and I am also at peace,
at peace in the darkness of my choosing,
preferring flecks of hope,
over the blaring noise around me.
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
The most striking of flowers bloom far out of sight,
blooming softly and with fractal beauty,
they contain the sweetest of nectar,
and the most insidious of poisons,
barbs flush against scaled leaves,
dripping with toxicity.

It is not the pigment that makes a flower beautiful,
but its shape and form,
its tragic and fearsome nature,
it is a lack of color that paints this flower,
guardian of fallen men,
splattered with life,
sanguine as the night.

Forever lonesome,
invisible in the darkness,
seeds aloft on eastern winds,
blooming without reproach,
and from decay it glitters,
and lets out a scream in its solitude.
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
My thoughts persist with the onset of sleep,
a swirling mist,
an ashen awareness of the futility of my hopes,
the dull ache of faltering inertia,
hidden between silver folds of liquid ego,
and in my dreams,
circumstance is as I wish it to be,
I am therefore I think,
painting my heart on my sleeve,
using abstractions familiar only to me,
fractal entities subsisting on synecdoche,
the mundane shattered in streets of my own memory,
the monotony brushed aside if only for awhile,
it is in this avenue that I thrive,
silver lined and gilded ideals,
a place where guile and truth intermix,
and it is reason and aesthetic rhythms that guide,
set in motion by the desires of my heart and mind,
in the calm embrace of the nether I am proud,
devoid of fear or avarice,
and all at once I am awake,
I am alone,
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
I find myself alone in my room,
just as I always seem to do,
I thought to myself,
just as you all likely do at one time or another,
why can't people just get along?

I realized that the problem may be one of timing,
at some point in our life we're stupid idealists,
and as we age we stratify ourselves,
what if we were to understand just a little less?

What if everyone had the same youthful epiphany at the same time?

What if it isn't a matter of greed,
but a lack of synchronization?

What if we internalized the lessons of our youth,
shared our toys and kept our hands to ourselves,
what if we somehow decided that it is better to be kind,
than it is to be right?

But then I realized,
perhaps I'm just tired,
people say crazy things when they are not in our right mind.
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
What is an American?

Is it decided by the timber of our voice,
the strength in our limbs,
the blood in our veins,
or the color of our skin?

Tell me,
for I do not understand,
unfold your thesis,
inundate my mind with statistics,
be it quantum blood measures,
origin or sociological constructs of the creature in question.

Tell me,
what it is to be an American?
This umbrella term,
I just do not understand,
is it to be a thief?
A country founded on stolen land,
and stolen labor,
sage bushed bills,
backed by gilded structures and systems of debate and seizure,
is being an American drowning in leisure?

What does this term mean?
I find myself confused,
it is difficult to quantify the qualitative,
and breath life into lifeless chiseled forms,
found in squares and plazas throughout,
a country split by hard wired ferocity,
quicksand laden dividing lines,
the vocal deciding what it is to be,
and what it isn't.

Careful lad,
there is such a thing as too much,
too much individuality,
so put up your hair,
put away the paint,
put away that sign,
sheath your weapon,
old boy,
this isn't your fight,
and besides,
what can you do with a toy?

I don't know what America is,
land of the free,
where is that?
I see only industry,
a dying morality,
drowned in ethics,
a protestant-core built on overt inequality.

What does it mean to be an American?
I can't tell you what it means to you,
only what it means to me,
and so I say dust off the document upon which this term was built,
and realize that the past is not what you should use,
just as anything else of import,
use judgement,
the ability to choose,
uphold the  freedom that suffocates in the back of your mind,
to the flame inside your chest,
to the weakness in your legs,
down against the sole of your shoes.

America is a country founded on rebellion,
a little man,
underdog all grown up,
and now he's the one throwing punches,
a story paralleled by Davidic tales,
and though he may not be perfect,
and is often reviled,
I love him still,
his rough edges,
for we are still part of the experiment,
the American dream.

Though the gates may be weighed down,
the hinges rusted,
a country of sojourners,
soon a country of minorities,
cultural pluralism,
though flawed,
I like it better this way,
a techni-colored mirage of what once was,
and if we must meet our end,
so be it,
guide me home,
for is it not true that all roads eventually wind home?
A.P. Beckstead (2014)
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