What Makes You Live

Update: Apex Book Company revised their website, and my winning poem is no longer posted there, so I’m including it below.

Update the Second: On July 11, 2015, Tom Piccirilli lost his battle with brain cancer. I’m happy to say that his treatment did give him another couple of years to be with us.

What Makes You Die

(for Pic)

Back in the day, death was binary
Alive or dead, on or off, one or zero
Now, there is no zero state
Hit by a car?
Pick a new body. We’ll restore “you” from backup
Brain cancer?
No worries! We’ll grow another one
It’s not about whether you live any more,
It’s about what you create while you live

Art is the new yardstick
Content is the new blood
The more you bleed, the less you die, so
Open a vein and try to keep up

Whatever you do, don’t keep it to yourself;
That is what makes you die.

— Stace Johnson


Original post below:

I got some great news today! Lesley Conner at Apex Publications notified me that I won a poetry contest that they sponsored as a way to promote Tom Piccirilli‘s upcoming book, What Makes You Die, due out on March 19th, 2013. The prize is an advance reader copy (ARC) of Pic’s book, which I will attempt to get signed the next time I’m in the same room with him. I’ve met Tom a couple of times before at readings here in Denver, and I can say from those brief encounters that he’s a good guy. I know he’s been inspirational to several of my writer friends, so I’m glad to be able to pay tribute to him in some small way by participating in the contest and dedicating the poem to him.

Tom has had a rough time of it recently, dealing with brain cancer, chemo, and surgery, and I’m astounded at how well he has been able to recover. He wrote about the experience in an essay called “Meeting the Black”, which you can purchase and download here. All of the proceeds from that modest purchase, as well as all of Pic’s titles at Crossroads Press, go to help offset his staggering medical bills. Go. Purchase and download it now. I’ll wait.

I have a few other poetry irons in the fire right now, and I hope to make some more announcements soon if all goes well. I’m thrilled to have some momentum behind my writing again, and I hope I can build on this opportunity. After all, I firmly believe that creativity is what makes you live.

Connections (Vorticism 2010)

This is a poem I wrote for a poetry panel at MileHiCon 42.  It’s the third in my series of Vorticism poems (which are not really about Vorticism as much as they are about embracing technology in general.)  Like most technology-related creative writing, it’s already outdated (Google+, anyone?), but it’s an interesting snapshot of where technology and my mind were at the time.

 

Connections (Vorticism 2010)

iPhones and Androids and tablets, oh my!
Twitter, Facebook, and SMS in the
Palm of your hand
Instant availability
Instant accessibility
Instant interruptions
Disconnected communication
Never before have we been so
Connected, yet so fragmented.

These are not the ‘droids we were
Looking for.

— Stace Johnson
© 2010

The Survivor

for Lannette

 

The reflecting pool stands still

Against the backdrop of empty chairs.

The Gates of Time measure off the minute

When everything changed. Golden

Cranes soar above the museum floor,

Elder brethren to the one above her bed.

 

“But she’s not a survivor; she wasn’t in the building.”

 

In her ears, the blast still rings

Plate glass shards impale like arrows,

Smoke still swirls

Whenever people disbelieve.

Every doubt another piece of rubble

Raining

Down.

 

But like the grand American Elm,

She stands tall, a survivor.

The_Survivor

Image ©2004, Poem ©2010 by Stace Johnson

Tune

Tune
(For Phil Sudo)

Earthly tones, with pitch
Ascending, stairsteps to
Divinity.  Silver strings,
Gossamer wings, carry us
Beyond this world to ride
Ethereal melodies.

Expectations fall away,
Allowing soul to soar
Drifting upward in a
Gyre, each cycle higher than
Before.  Tune up!  And
Elevate your consciousness.

— Stace Johnson, 2006

Three Hipster Haiku

Three Hipster Haiku

SWM
Tall, fit, curls, soul patch, Vespa
You … me … my scooter

SWF
5’6″, blonde, blue
Seeking … anyone

Razr phone, iPod,
MySpace, Converse tennis shoes.
Why’s she still lonely?

— Stace Johnson, 2006