The Barbarian Bard

Tales and Musings by Michael A. Espinoza

Archive for the tag “independence”

The Gem Stone’s Folly

Hail readers,
As many of you likely already know, this month is Pride Month. A while ago, I wrote this poem—a darkly-themed fairy tale-esque piece—but I wasn’t sure if or when I’d share it. I’m not entirely sure what the poem is specifically about, and it’s certainly far from uplifting. I guess I just want to share it and say please embrace the diverse array of wonderful people in the world. Don’t discourage a person from being who they are just because it clashes with your concept of who they ought to be. We all shine in our own unique ways, and whether it’s orientation, presentation, or identification, the world has enough love for each and every one of us, but we have to choose to share that love. Don’t just talk tolerance, take actions of acceptance.

In a family of rocks, a stone was born,
of like-body, and like-mind.
Of dark and solid flesh was he,
in each way alike in kind.
“Sturdy and strong,” their friends would say,
“a worthy rock you’ve sired.”
And the new stone beamed with every word
of praise that he inspired.
A life of stone was a good life;
stalwart, day and night.
He gave no ground, he felt no fear,
he let shine no light.

But a reckless sunbeam struck the stone,
angled perfectly,
and a dazzling light reflected from
his face for all to see.
The young stone smiled and spread his light,
amazed at his own glow.
Glittering, glinting in the sun,
an unprecedented show.
“Oh parents,” thought the joyous stone,
knowing they’d be proud of him,
“what great news I bring to you:
your stone son is a gem.”

A gem, of all things; glorious!
He could not contain his pride.
He’d never known of his own form,
that a glow was sealed inside.
Stones and gems were of equal worth,
for each could be of use.
But so rare was it, a young rock’s fate
to be free for them to choose.
And so he sought his family out,
gathering them all ’round
to see his light. “But what is this?
Why must you glow?” they frowned.

“A gem,” they wept, “Oh son, but why
have you delivered us this curse?
All gems are stones, but never should
this order be reversed.”
“We raised you,” his parents sobbed,
“to know your rightful place.
By your choice, you shun your folk,
and spit into our face.”
“But parents,” the young gemstone pled,
“I can be both bright and strong.”
“You can,” they said with somber eyes,
“but such a life is wrong.”

Bereft, the gemstone left from home,
uncertain now of life.
He’d thought his glow would bring delight,
not familial strife.
“A gem is no less hard,” he thought,
“no less able to be
a thing of strength and beauty.
This glow is part of me.”
He was not corrupted, nor defiled,
not deviant or “bad.”
But it seemed that all his light could do
was make his forebears sad.

There was no joy in a gemstone’s life,
if it shone on only pain.
He could not hurt his loved ones so,
he was not so vile and vain.
If being what he’d grown to be
was a curse unto his kind,
he resolved to be a stone,
and leave his glow behind.
But how could he eschew the light
that sparkled on his skin?
How could he take the gleam without,
and bury it within?

First he tried a layer of earth
and hoped one coat would do,
but no matter how he layered it
his radiance shone through.
Next he tried a staining dye,
that soaked in every pore,
but rain washed clean this new disguise,
and he shined brighter than before.
At last, the truth he realized,
the only answer there could be:
light cannot reflect upon
that which it cannot see.

So he delved down to the depths
of the dark and sheltering Earth,
and surrounded himself with the stones
so alike him at his birth.
There no light could ever chance
upon the facets of his face.
There no eyes could see his glow,
and know of his disgrace.
He stood still, and he stood strong;
he made his loved ones proud.
But less proud were they of his self,
and more so of his shroud,
for he’d found a way to lose their shame,
to hide his grievous sin.
And now the gemstone’s only light
was but a memory within.

Independence for a Blind Man: Crowd-Funding Accessibility

Hail readers!
I am writing this post from my iPhone. Why, you might ask? Well, as some of you may know, I am blind in both eyes, due to a condition called LCA. I have been blind since birth, and rely on a device called a BrailleNote to read, write, interact with the internet, and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, the company that makes BrailleNotes (HumanWare) has a powerful hold on their niche market, and can thus make a device that is equal parts expensive and prone to breaking down. This is how I now find myself relying on my phone’s screenreader, which is useable, but not a long-term solution when it comes to my career as an English tutor. To that end, a dear friend of mine has started a crowd-funding campaign, which we are sharing along with the hashtag #Braille4ME. (My initials are ME, and I find this hashtag delightfully catchy. Kudos to my friend Kelsey for creating it!) We are over halfway to our goal, and now need less than 2,000 to help me get a new braille computer and retain my job, my blog, and my independence. If you can’t donate, it would still be a huge help if you’d share the link to the campaign page. Every share and every donation helps! Thank you all.

http://www.YouCaring.com/Braille4ME

Spectator Sport

My ticket bought, I stand in line,
on the empty, teeming street.
Alone I fight the silent crowd
and am ushered to my seat.
The lights go down, I shield my eyes,
the curtain’s fall away.
I join the roar of no applause;
it’s time to see the play.

In this show I see a man,
born as all others are.
In the first act he sets his sights
on vistas wide and far.
His dreams are vast, ambition high,
his wings have come unfurled.
He’ll grow into a mighty man
and spread those pinions across the world.

The crowd and I watch others join
this young man in his cause.
They help shape his words and build his thoughts
so none will give them pause.
His greatest friends, they turn this man’s
dream into reality.
Yet for all the agents in his life,
it’s lived with no agency.

His dreams now shaped to worthy form,
his wings clipped so they appeal
to those beloved guardians of his will,
who traded dreams for constructs real.
The successful man finds brief delight
in stepping briefly from his cage,
so he may be an audience of one,
and see his life acted on the stage.

He buys his ticket and stands alone
an empty face on an empty street.
He joins and is himself the crowd.
He takes the only seat.
The lights go down and he shields his eyes
to hide the tears that start,
for he knows when this play reaches its end,
his own act again must start.

———

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