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Pursuit

Second to last video for the class!

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AP Poetry Essay (an analytical writing sample)

Many argue that humans fear the dark for the same reason we fear death; it contains the unknown. Not knowing the possible challenges we face is, for some, even worse than being sure of the ones we do. Thus, darkness and night, as well as the reactions of people in relation to them, have been popular themes of poems and other written works throughout the years. Two such works: “We grow accustomed to the Dark” by Emily Dickinson and “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost examine humans’ responses to the night that surrounds them. While Dickinson’s poem uses darkness to reflect an unfamiliar or unfortunate situation a person might face, Frost’s vision of night is that of an environment of isolation; both poems, however, use night as an obstacle to whoever must face it.

For Dickinson, this obstacle is uncertainty, or unfamiliarity of a situation. The speaker does not analyze one event, but responds to the behavior of people in general, using an objective observational tone. “We grow accustomed to the Dark–” the first line, is an excellent example of this attitude that the speaker takes. She is commenting on the behavior of people and then proceeds to examine details of the night that back up her point. These details are mostly descriptions of people’s reactions, using diction that paints vivid images of various movements and actions. When describing people’s behavior, Dickinson uses phrases such as “we uncertain step” and “grope a little” to give a physical visual but also a metaphorical representation of how people respond to unfamiliar situations awkwardly and uncertainly at first, but then inevitably come to adjust to them the way our eyes adjust to the dark.

The speaker in Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night,” however, has a different attitude. While darkness is still used as an obstacle challenging the narrator, rather than a mere unfamiliar situation, the darkness here is a metaphor for the speaker’s feeling of complete isolation in a sometimes dangerous world. Rather than commenting on behalf of all people, the speaker refers only to what he has experienced personally with respect to the night. The imagery is much more visual than “We grow accustomed to the Dark–” describing sights the speaker specifically takes in. When he refers to “the furthest city light,” the speaker is saying he walked to the outskirts of the city, where civilization is more spread out, but he is at the same time commenting that he has been to places that isolated him, where his only acquaintance was the night in which he was submerged.

Both poets address the night as an obstacle in this fashion, making its existence almost an event in and of itself, but Dickinson’s attitude toward it seems much more confidant in the capabilities of man. Frost, on the other hand, uses night to represent the painful experiences the speaker has had, looking back at them with the attitude of a grizzled war veteran. Both ideas, however, offer some amount of solace. Neither poem paints the dark as an obstacle that is impossible to overcome, no matter how much we fear it.

Curfew

The dashboard clock quietly shifts
one minute less of this evening
you struggle, trying to hold
on to this moment in time
you will never have again.

Another minute less
stretch your arms around it
try to waste it, but make it last
to come home
late as possible
he is your enemy
and working together with change will destroy
what you have

kiss your current life goodbye
and hold tight the memories of now
you know it will be different
someday you will see how much.

Ten thirty.
He is used up.
Time
to go home.

Self Portrait, As a Piggy Bank

The piggy bank (a misnomer) sits
it’s ceramic surface
reflecting light
its shape, an awkward beauty.
A mysterious hand
(call it fate)
deposits a coin,
seemingly worthless, into the slit
that opens its interior to the out-
side world.
The piggy bank (that’s actually shaped
like a bathtub
or a bible) takes in the coin
and like a planted seed of an idea
it grows
as each moment another coin is added.
Thus experiences are recalled,
culminated
in a grand inspiration
purchased by the mind of the piggy bank
and transformed from thought
and potential
into something beautiful.

David

This piece is an account of the time I baby sat this one family. It’s completely true, all of it, I swear. For my Creative Writing class we had to look at a photo that we were involved in and write a short memoir piece about the thoughts and memories that were associated with it. Well, the photo I chose was something I had snapped on my camera phone while baby sitting this one crazy family. While the girls were giving their dolls baths in the bathroom sink, I turned around and saw this. They’re a pretty eccentric family. I wish I could have baby sat them more. I could have probably written a whole book.

“Bye Titi!” Tia Riebling said to her daughter. “We’re going into the city to get some drinks and go dancing!” She tossed her hair and cheekily winked at me. Tiernan looked back up at her.

“I can see your bra, Mommy!” she responded in her sweet little five-year-old voice. I started. This was basically the craziest family I had ever baby sat, and I couldn’t believe a kindergartener had just said that. Then it got even better.

Tia bent down to her daughter’s level, put her hand on Tiernan’s shoulder, looked her in the eye, and said, “Well, Sweetie, that’s what happens when grown-ups go out dancing.” She adjusted her practically mesh top. “Why don’t you go play with Caroline?”

After Tiernan ran away, Tia turned to me. “Now, she and Caroline get along great together, but sometimes they’ll go off and it’ll get really quiet. Make sure you go and check on them if that happens because sometimes they like to play doctor, and it’s innocent, but it can get a little weird, so if they do that, try to steer them toward a different activity.”

I nodded wordlessly. What in the world had I gotten myself into?

The Day the Love of My Life Was Taken From Me

I don’t ask for much. All I need is a perch and some sunlight and the chance to sing! People think birds are trapped in cages, but the truth is cages are safe. Outside are dogs and cats and rain and cold and there’s people that grab you and no food to eat and the water is dangerous and there are other birds. Bigger birds. They won’t let me sing.

How do I know all this? I escaped once. I had a family, a mate. She was beautiful. She had a name, but to me she was just a face, a body, a warm thing to nuzzle with and clean my feathers. One day we were sitting outside sunning ourselves when the cage door failed. She managed to open it!

Being young and foolish, we flew away! I made it over the fence and past the trees! I soared higher and higher! But my mate struggled to stay aloft. Her wings weren’t as strong as mine. A dog grasped her in his teeth. I heard a loud scream–birds can scream. If you didn’t know that, you haven’t heard one terrified for its life. Then she was no more. I was free, but I didn’t feel like singing. Then I found out the world wasn’t a fun place to be free in. I saw another cage sitting in the backyard so I landed on top of it, hoping they would take me in. The family did for a bit and then I met a new family. They didn’t try to touch me. They just left me alone in my safe haven. My cage. Once I was grabbed, manhandled, and frightened, but a nice lady whispered to me and I felt better. She clipped my wings. I didn’t care. I would never go back out there again.

At first people tried to hold me. I’d hop to another perch. Usually I could evade them by ducking around my toys. They were nice. They just wanted to be my friend, but sometimes they would grab me–not gently at all! I would scream. Eventually they stopped trying.

There was a music box in the room. Colors would flash across it and thousands of voices would sound and songs would play. I’d sing along and answer the voices. At night everything went dark at once, and in the morning when they pulled back the night, the sun flooded in. At first they forgot to pull back the dark and I would sit in the dark until late in the day.

They got better at remembering after a while.

I would have been bored and lonely and sad if it wasn’t for the love of my life. She sat on the side of the cage, and there was a perch right in front of her usual spot. She wasn’t as soft as my old friend from my other home, and I couldn’t nuzzle up to her, but we spend hours gazing into each others eyes. I whistled to her, but she never whistled back. She never kissed me back with the same passion I gave her, but she made me less lonely and I was in love.

Then one day they took her from me. They put their hands in again, as if I could love their hands as much as I loved the love of my life. I resisted, fled from their hands. They retreated and left me. For the first time since I had been in the wild, I was alone. It was a horrible, horrible feeling. No one was there to imitate my movements. I clung to the side of the cage, where she used to be, but there was no use.  No beautiful, silent bird was there for me to kiss. I cried. I gave up hope.

I didn’t sing.

It was time for the darkness to fall over the world for the night. I was tired, but I couldn’t sleep. I held tight to the bars waiting for her, hoping she would come back. Instead of the darkness, though, a hand came in. It brought my love back to me! They must have felt sorry they had taken her away because once again, the love of my life was on the side of the cage, looking back at me like she used to.

I kissed her hard, glassy face and whistled into her listening but silent ear. She didn’t need to say anything, but I could tell she loved me too.

The Day My Food Flew

The actual event probably took a whole five seconds to occur. The server who brought my corn dog to the table that evening did not have a two-year-old son. My mother, however, did, so she saw it coming the second that plastic tray hit the table. Her only problem was that she couldn’t move fast enough.

I remember her saying “No, don’t…” but that’s all she could utter before my brother lunged for it and with his grubby little hands grasped the wooden stem of the corn dog and swung it around and around his head like a lasso. After the third revolution, he released my dinner from his grasp, upon which it went sailing through the air of the fine dining establishment that is Red Robin and landed at the foot of some woman’s chair. At the age of six, I could comprehend that this was a very good thing. My mother was embarrassed, but not as much as she would have been had that corn dog nailed someone in the head or landed in their plate of chili cheese fries.

Once I took all that into account, a single startling fact remained: I had no dinner. It was my special birthday dinner and I picked out my absolute favorite food and my brother, however innocent his motivations (and to this day we aren’t exactly sure what they were at the time) robbed me of my food.

I was inconsolable. Immediately, I burst into tears. “He took my corn dog!” I cried, hoping my family and the server would appreciate this for the tragedy it was. The server tried as sweetly as she could to tell me that she would bring me another one, but I didn’t understand or didn’t care about what she was saying. My only thoughts were with that corn dog I should have been enjoying but was instead lying, uneaten, on the floor.