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Cyril Blythe May 2015
Growing up in Northern Alabama means you know that WalMart sells crickets and those crickets are on sale Sunday afternoons. The art of wetting a line was mine to claim from, a young age. Dad and I would spend weekends on various simplistically named bodies of water (Gunterville, Goose Pond, the Elk, the Flint) equipped with an alarming amount of crickets, ZOOM bait, honeywheat bread and cheap ham. Riptide Rush Gatorade and Michelob Ultra were the choice drinks to ensure proper hydration. The days we filled with a simple formula: cast, reel, catch, release. Bass love lake-**** and Crappie muddy banks. Catfish are not worth the effort involved with avoiding their poisonous whiskers when unhooking even though they look like Dinosaurs. After a lunch of sweaty ham and blue-bag doritos a quick swim in the water is absolutely crucial to cool down and finally get rid of the weariness sitting on a rocking boat gives you.  The big fish bite during dusk and dawn. Some only after the sun goes down. Sleep came when the green and white light rods on the boat become too bright for tired eyes. Finding a random small island in the water, tying the boat to an Hardwood Oak, and rolling out the sleeping bags on the red-clay will always provide the best sleep of your life-just don't think about snakes. The stars are always brightest and the cricket and cicada harmony the most melodic on this little Alabamian islands.

With each year the opportunity for these ventures dissipated. The fishing never stopped-the creeks in the neighborhood, pond beside our family home, and lakes on the Robert Trent Jones golf course (the 18th hole on the River Course was the best) provided ample opportunity to cure the itchy thumb syndrome.

I remember in high-school my father would fish alone by the lake with our dog by his side and an Ultra in his cup-holder almost every night. It was his time to unwind and process. I always appreciated his dedication to the art and the mastery of skills he passed on to me, but I never understood why he fished every single evening.

Until now.

I have been in the so called real world for a mere two year since college graduation. I have completed a post-graduate program, dated and broken up with various women, obtained a full time position doing honest and difficult work for those in need, and recently became a Dad to a hound of my own.

There in a river that flows through my city, but it is to far to venture to every night. The rivers surface in most places reflects bright lights. On weekends you will find kayak enthusiasts paddling against the current like wasps in the wind. The river, here, is a place of fast motion and has forgotten the beauty of a restful yellow bobber downing crickets.

Fishing equates opportunity for breathing. I still wet my line most weekends, but at 24 there is not enough time to recapture the dreams only found on red clay riverbanks. The river remembers and the fish still look like dinosaurs to me.
Cyril Blythe May 2015
24 is an age of paradox. A type of 'adulthood puberty' full of change, hair in strange places or colors, and a continual battering of unprecedented demands and expectations.

Conversations evolve. Your phone calls with parents and family become more frequent and important than ever before. They also consist of bites "Your mother and I were married at 21" "How are your savings going?" "Taxes are due on Tuesday" Something involving grandchildren rears its head weekly. How you talk to friends changes as well. The college friends no longer talk about hilarious nights at the bars-your conversations center on reminiscing, planning trips to the mountains, and genuine encouragement. Scotch and Gin have replaced well drinks and Evan Williams-thanks be to God. If you are blessed to have good friends from high school and eras prior the conversations are a combination of dreaming about the far future, checking in on aging family, and an underlying theme of ******* about work.

Making new friends is ******* exhausting. You are all lonely, craving to be known deeply. Liz Lemon screams the mantra of 24, "Yes to staying in more! Yes to Netflix and night cheese! Yes to drinking a beer alone!" Even the most extravagant of extroverts start to value solitude. This is not bad. This is a sign of growth. Herein enters the necessity of balance; commit to investing in those around you and to investing in yourself.

Parents told us "You can be the president! Fly to the moon! Cure cancer!" Those time-stamped conversations are over a decade old. We settled for status on campus via greek life, leadership positions, or achieving a 4.0 GPA. Post-grad none of us are president of anything nor have we walked the lunar surface. For most, a 5 digit salary without benefits equates our level of success. Some have babies or marriage bands, some have masters degrees. The awakening of 24 is sharp. After two decades of being promised we will all achieve the best, we walk in a daze of wondering if we have failed. We have not. Yet we feel the weight of failure. There is much ahead.

At 24 we learn that the promise of the "much ahead" is not guaranteed. Death becomes terrifyingly more constant. Friends, grandparents, teachers, even ones younger than us seem to be dying at a more rapid rate. This is new and it is terrifying. It teaches the importance of community, conversations, and creating.

We may not yet, or ever, be president of the USA. But we have lived enough to know what skills we enjoy and what talents we harbor. The importance of using them rings deeper than ever before-it resonates in our bones. The joy of a well prepared dinner, a thirty-minute watercolor creation, or a blog post your three followers may or may not read in its entirety is a joy worth the effort.

At 24, we are in transition. We are beginning to admit certain unalienable truths about this world and ourselves. We are beginning to really become.
Cyril Blythe Apr 2015
Cicada shells and sunshine a southern summer brings.
Mason jars intended for storing crops through winter
line a porch filled with tea candles and hemp cords twined up
through the lids to the ceiling of a porch. Birds fly over

a view of the graveyard across the road where May is
buried year round. The grass, green now, is crisp as gin
and sharp as black umbrellas and hushes at a wet grave
he saw through a cracked window. Once pearls and suits were wet

by bubble bath romping, perfume, and drunken wine stains
in the corpse's own home. It happened in November
over a swirl of cream in black coffee-the cracking
of the glass. A sparrow's body on the porch outside

and the fearful pottery shattered on the white floor
around bare feet. Cicada shells were long buried but
night gin was still crisp in the face of new death and old
truths: death and taxes, morning breath and sharp hangovers

            are a part of the unraveling of becoming.
death, loss, south, southern, grave, graveside, green, crisp, mason jars, summer, ***, wine, sparrow, shatter, cicada, becoming, adulthood, goodbye, rip, spilled ink, in memorandum
Cyril Blythe May 2014
There is a fire in the boughs of oaks
in the parking lot of my office complex tonight
at 10:05pm. I see it outside the window and I laugh
because I know it yields not heat; the flame
is a reflection of street lights and summer rain
left on leaves.

This year I have learned what it means to be aflame
with doubt, love, hope, and fear. Adulthood
is solitude. I have seen the truth of sovereignty
and the truth of friendship and I know it
to be painful and plentiful. A contradiction
seen in false laughs, false light, false love.

To be twenty-three is to be broken and free,
open and deeply constrained. A contradiction
of hope and fear, identity and longing.

"I refuse
to be nothing."
Cyril Blythe May 2014
Cinco de Mayo is a historical celebration with tequila worms, banjos, and dance.
A year ago today my father handed me money for the bar because I graduated college. I bought shots and beer and a velvet blanket of joy to conclude college for my beloved community that night. We danced drunken in the bass and unknown, fearless and strong as marble.
Tonight, one year forth, I have never felt so alone. I am unknown. I am known by some and the some know me deeper than my mother. I love them and tonight I accept that that love is selfless and if I wish it to continue I can expect nothing. They know my sin, my lust, my drubken mistakes, they know my prayers, my hopes, my future aspirations. But on cinco de mayo, no ***** are given. We only talk on Tuesdays.
A walk in the woods, two cigarettes and two hours of spoken silence. Drawing shallow ditches in North Carolina soil, searching for red clay. The ditches are more real than our friendship, today or have I mistaken words for action? Laughable, "brotherhood" today. And you say you know me, I can't believe you think I'm your best friend.
Feliz cinco.
You claim to love me but you put my eulogies in your bathroom trash can? I hope the toothpaste rots my notes fatser than my trust. I am done. I am spent. You have lost.
Cinco de mayo.
I sit in the parking lot of the apartment beside my home. A bud light and camel my only companions. If I even thought to ask for friendship or a bit of your time, commitments to others would come first. Inevitability, you have to do a because b expects c because we have two hours on Tuesday and that equals brotherhood. *******.
But if another asked, you are gloriously free.
**** me for knowing what love is. **** me for knowing my worth.
I am ready for change.
I hope you don't follow my trail-you see my worth and drag me down.
I can not remember the last time you encouraged me out of any reason other than guilt.
**** that and *******.
I am done with sharing marbles, what a ******* stupid metaphor for love.
I am praying.
Strength, honor, and joy.
I hope you find what you've been seeking with the others.
I am strong enough to stand alone with God.
******* for turning my marbles to your own platform.
Feliz cinco.
Que Dios te bendigo.
Cyril Blythe Feb 2014
"It will be like learning to eat without pepper, but slowly. As pepper adds flavor to each dish, so does love to each moment. In marriage, the love will inevitably become a forsaken understood; an uncommon commonality that, through the years, loses it's luster. But, if I cut pepper wholly out of my diet I would notice. Each dish I tasted it in would revel in splendor, no matter the meat or vegetable on which it dances. So, I vow to never cut out love because of the commonality of love that marriage will ensue. I will never give in to taking it, her, for granted. Spontaneous mountain getaway weekends with lots of Merlot and unashamed whiskeys and even the occasional smokes on our porch out our bedroom window, celebrating my wife with little poems and sunny side up eggs on an idle Tuesday morning, dancing and getting drunk in the living room at 2am when the kids are asleep. This is how I will keep love biting, burning, peppered.
Cyril Blythe Feb 2014
Around December 14th I realize the worth of a callous because of the shedding that inevitably ensues, starting late November. My feet, less commonly bare or clad in Chacos in the winter months as an adult, shed the opaque layers of time that Alabama red-clay and North Carolina pine needles form. Vivid, is the time needed to create a callous and vivid is the sting of a February pinecone on a bare foot, innocent, though learned, yearning for warmer days.
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