The Monster

angry mob

She looks at him, looks away. Disgusted.

That feeds the monster. Makes him grow angry.

Look him in the eyes. Maybe there is more.

Window overlooking the horizon.

She will never know. Not even one chance.

The monster grows weary. Tired of games.

Look down, fake a smile, but don’t dismiss.

No student from class. This is punishment.

The monster gets no relief from his home.

The people, the comfort others offer.

The monster broods because he cannot breed.

There are no others like him that still live.

So the townspeople chase him with their eyes.

Solitude is confinement. Let him out.

Explore the world and not be chased away.

Too late for that. His heart shrinks every time.

Overwhelms the monster with his small brain.

Face turns to fire. The torture remains.

Like a scar that doesn’t leave, but festers.

The fire consumes, destroys his nothing.

Flames fill his vision, smoke inhaled. Choking.

Searing lungs just wanting to be released.

To cry for help, but there is nobody.

The sea comes to wash away destruction.

The waves crush him. He is drowning and dies.

The Alienated Laborer

End of the trail? Here's your sign.

I used to be good. Talented, wanted.

Gave everything and still had more to give.

I reached the plateau, and found another trail.

Went by the wayside to be more valued.

It didn’t work. Now I’m not important.

Climb the mountain again to reach the base.

So much progress lost in a decision.

And where to go from here? I can’t turn back.

I’ve come too far to turn and go back down.

I have to keep climbing. They laugh at me.

Mocking elders who are no more than peers.

Down a different path. One experience.

I stop my march and take a break for rest.

Sit down on the side of the dusty trail.

Often traveled, but for me the first time.

I start to wonder, and it makes me cry.

So many have come before and not failed.

Have I reached my limit of worth in life?

A mid-life crisis, not at the center.

It is soon, and shouldn’t happen often.

Another broken soul. Emptiness leaked.

I smear my face with dirt and stand up.

Keep walking down the trail until the end.

Nobody can see what my face can hide.

Another victim of life. Should have died.

The Heroism of a Life

Monumento al Che Guevara en Santa Clara (frag)

Enduring heroes don’t need victories.

Highly romanticized, over-valued.

Their job is to inspire who comes next.

They represent an idea, a notion.

That it is possible to change the world.

Actions and circumstance lead us to war.

The status quo has not been overturned.

It’s been challenged. That is enough for now.

Someday a hero will come to save us.

For now we rely upon those who’ve failed.

Look at what they tried to do. They came close.

Young one, pick up the flag where they left off.

Embrace the struggle. Let yourself be changed.

Generations before you set the fire.

Now it is on you to make the flame burn.

You may not remember what started it.

You know it continues. Fight on, strong one.

If you stumble now, we will pick you up.

So that you may inspire the next ones.

You may not remember the interviews.

Or the speeches. The frustration lives on.

Give your all. More than victory is hope.

A martyr or a victor remembered.

Either way, you set the stage. Erase fate.

Show us the way. We will not live condemned.

Sanctuary

Fishing Hole 2

Sanctuary found. Rest for the senses.

Want to go back. I feel so defenseless.

Find somewhere to run and hide from this life.

Not good enough. Failed to climb the mountain.

Inside a world where I can be the king.

No limits or boundaries placed on me.

Full of potential, and it’s developed.

Not just wasted and leading to failure.

In there I smile, let my laugh be heard.

Don’t shy away from opportunity.

I am outgoing. Meet lots of people.

No past to chase me down a different path.

I get lost in a world of make-believe.

A magician with believers in awe.

I believe that I can do anything.

I wake up in a ditch, face smeared with mud.

Did I imagine, or does the world hurt?

Where is my sanctuary, where’d it go?

I could ride unicorns, and steal the show!

Where are my powers why can’t I change things?

My fingers are useless I’ll cut them off.

Build me a spaceship and I’ll fly away.

No more questions or answers. It’s my way.

I can have fun and nothing else matters.

Build my sanctuary so I can live.

My Invisible Friend

mesopotamia, iraq - babylon relief

A broken record, a device abused.

Something for those times we’re hurt or confused.

Needed in the moment, but let go fast.

Something needed until the moment’s past.

Abandon, neglect. Temporary tool.

Excitement. Erect. What a silly fool.

Nights alone, with a connection outside.

The faith, the belief, the world changer’s here.

All for material, how could it be?

Friendship, ally, not another ride home.

Lies and deceit? Never would I have guessed.

The stories, the victim, misunderstood?

An egregious error if there was one.

Forgotten like the world I’ve always fought.

No intentions of purchase. Just myself.

Surprised at no hello after goodbye.

Oceans amassed and quiet tides rolled in.

Mysterious disappearance. Where now?

No more films or other stories exchanged.

An unbetrothed betrayal. Listening.

A kingdom bought with a smile and touch.

I could have been the jester. I played well.

Well enough leaves it alone. A small wave.

An enchanting tale. Looking for the signs.

When I am king, regret takes the same path.

Marvel Bullpen assembles to help mom and her hearing-impaired son

West Coast Avengers #1

When a 4-year-old from New Hampshire didn’t want to wear his hearing aid, Hawkeye came to the rescue — with a lot of help from the Marvel Bullpen.

As we reported yesterday, Christina D’Allesandro’s son Anthony Smith didn’t want to wear his “blue ear” hearing aid because he said superheroes didn’t wear them. So she sent a blind email to Marvel, hoping that maybe that wasn’t true and they could point one who did.

“Christina sent her touching letter in to the mheroes@marvel.com address, a general ‘fan mail’ account which is shared by a group of us in editorial,” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann told Robot 6. “She didn’t know a specific person to write to here at Marvel, and even figured it might get caught in our spam filters, but she sent it in anyway, because that’s the kind of great parent Christina is. And it was her inspiring effort to help her son that touched so many of us here. As a fellow parent of a toddler, I can understand where she’s coming from, so I forwarded the email around the rest of Editorial, asking what we could do to help, and like when Cap yells, ‘Avengers Assemble,’ the gang leapt into action.”

Rosemann said the mail account gets a lot of traffic, the majority of which are messages from fans about specific issues or stories.

“I must admit that we get our fair share of negative letters, often insulting a creator’s efforts. On the other hand, occasionally we will receive a personal letter, telling us how Marvel’s characters and creators inspired someone to help others or overcome real world struggles,” Rosemann said. “Those are the types of letters that express the true heart of what Marvel is all about … and in this case, when Christina made the simple request to help her child … well, how could we not act? After all, didn’t Stan Lee teach us something about great power and great responsibility?”

And yes, Anthony, there is a superhero with a hearing impairment — or at least there was in the 1980s. Rosemann said Executive Editor Tom Brevoort pointed out that Hawkeye suffered from hearing loss when he was the leader of the Avengers’ West Coast branch (although continuity buffs will remember that Franklin Richards healed Hawkeye after the events in Heroes Reborn).

“Tom Brevoort brought up Hawkeye’s loss of hearing back in the ‘80s, which spurred me to send a shot of the West Coast Avengers #1 cover to Christina, suggesting that she tell Anthony that not only do superheroes definitely wear hearing aids, but that he could be an honorary Avenger if he wore his,” Rosemann said. “Lauren Sankovitch passed the email to Nelson Ribeiro in Collected Editions, who then delivered his full-color Mighty Marvel Masterpiece spotlighting the brave Blue Ear. Finally, Tom Brennan reached out to Manny Mederos in the Bullpen, who then drew his awesome team-up shot of Hawkeye and Blue Ear. So just as every one of our comics can only reach readers through the action of many hands, this too was truly a team effort.”

The coming of … Blue Ear!

Ribeiro, who works in Marvel’s Trades and Special Projects Department as an assistant editor, said the name of Anthony’s device inspired him to create the new hero, Blue Ear.

Blue Ear

“As I was reading Anthony’s story, the name for his device just kept sticking out to me,” Ribeiro said. “‘Blue Ear.’ It just sounded like a superhero name. All that was missing was the ‘The’ in front of it. So I went home and drew out a few sketches of what ‘The Blue Ear’ would look like. From the story, I knew Anthony didn’t want to wear his device, so I wanted to make sure that The Blue Ear’s listening device was very prominent and very important to his ability as a super hero. And since Anthony is a 4-year-old boy, I wanted the piece to be very bright and colorful like a Saturday-morning cartoon. I tried to write all the captions in a way which would focus on how important it is for the Blue Ear to wear his device. Hopefully, Anthony would also realize how important it is for him to wear it everyday as well.”

Mederos, who works as a production artist, wanted to team his version of Blue Ear with Hawkeye.

“When I first heard about Anthony, I was really excited to be a part of this project and his story was very touching. For me super heroes are meant to inspire and bring the best out of people and that’s what Anthony did for me,” Mederos told Robot 6. “We knew that at one point in Marvel’s history Hawkeye wore a hearing device, so we wanted to include him in the piece. So as I was sketching out the characters, I thought to myself, ‘What better way for a child to connect with a hero than the hero be a child himself?’ So The Blue Ear would be a young superhero with extra hearing abilities, thanks to his mighty hearing aid device and helps all of those in need.”

The work done by the team at Marvel inspired news stories in the Concord Monitor and the local television station WMUR. Both artists were touched by Anthony’s reaction to the artwork.

“I was able to see a local New Hampshire news channel that covered Anthony’s story and saw his reaction when his mom Christina showed him the Hawkeye and The Blue Ear piece I drew,” Mederos said. “Seeing him filled with joy made my day and helped reinforce that this medium really reaches out to all ages. Super heroes are great in every way.”

“I was so happy to find out that Anthony liked the piece of artwork I created for him. He was the person I was most worried about pleasing. If everyone at work liked it but he hated it, then I would’ve felt like I let him down,” Ribeiro said. “And I don’t think my artwork has had as much an impact on his life as he had on mine. He is a 4-year-old little boy who has to deal with such a hardship every day, and his first thought was he didn’t want to wear his device because he wanted to be a superhero. He wasn’t even worried about his hearing condition, he just thought superheroes didn’t wear hearing devices. That to me is what makes Anthony amazing because now that he knows that, yes, there are heroes who wear hearing devices, he doesn’t see any other obstacles in his way of achieving his goal to be a hero. But being able to face his situation with such courage, already makes him a hero to me.”

Anthony’s story seems to hit right at the heart of what’s made Marvel’s heroes stand out over the years, whether you’re talking about medical conditions like Daredevil’s blindness or Iron Man’s heart condition, or even just the daily trials of Peter Parker. These are heroes who have had to overcome some sort of obstacle or physical limitation to become who they are, which can be inspiring.

“From the very first issues that kicked off the Marvel Age of comics to the books that are heading off to stores this month, our creators understand the power that our characters have to change readers’ lives,” Rosemann said. “The brilliant truth that our founding creators understood was that giving our characters physical and psychological challenges not only made them unique from the ‘square-jawed’ heroes that came before, and not only instantly made them sympathetic and more three-dimensional, but it also gave them the ability to inspire our readers to overcome their own obstacles. The metaphor of the Marvel heroes is the very real idea that all of us–no matter our particular type of challenge–can push back against adversity and use our abilities to help the world around us.”

May 23, 2012 @ 10:00 AM by JK Parkin

© 1995 – 2012 Comic Book Resources. All Rights Reserved.

Questions for God

From glory to ruins

God. I hate you. I just thought you should know.

This world you’ve neglected, let it be wrecked.

The people you’ve abandoned to let die.

I don’t believe in your promises. Lies.

This entire planet. Place of ruin.

Our kingdoms and victors don’t reign supreme.

Banished from history. Leeches in ash.

Then the slimy, filthy creatures rose up.

Set the rules against us, and now we’re fucked.

Jews, vandals, harbingers of corruption.

You allowed it to happen. Not a word.

Look around you, see what they’ve done to us.

Depression, unhappy, wasting our lives.

Full of potential, and gods we’d become.

Usurp your throne, slay the ones who praise you.

My people against yours, slaves never freed.

Shackled in chains, drawn and quartered. How now?

We were disrespected, placed at their feet.

The blood price is yours. Savor their defeat.

We will take no more of your bullshit cures.

This place is unfit, unsuited for us.

The price is paid in full. Empty guns, dull knives.

Those who could have been, once were, and could not.

They are children you were supposed to love.

But you turned your back. Now the knife goes through.

Homesick for a Dictatorship

Homesick for a Dictatorship

Majority of Eastern Germans Feel Life Better under Communism

By Julia Bonstein

Glorification of the German Democratic Republic is on the rise two decades after the Berlin Wall fell. Young people and the better off are among those rebuffing criticism of East Germany as an “illegitimate state.” In a new poll, more than half of former eastern Germans defend the GDR.

The life of Birger, a native of the state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania in northeastern Germany, could read as an all-German success story. The Berlin Wall came down when he was 10. After graduating from high school, he studied economics and business administration in Hamburg, lived in India and South Africa, and eventually got a job with a company in the western German city of Duisburg. Today Birger, 30, is planning a sailing trip in the Mediterranean. He isn’t using his real name for this story, because he doesn’t want it to be associated with the former East Germany, which he sees as “a label with negative connotations.”

And yet Birger is sitting in a Hamburg cafe, defending the former communist country. “Most East German citizens had a nice life,” he says. “I certainly don’t think that it’s better here.” By “here,” he means reunified Germany, which he subjects to questionable comparisons. “In the past there was the Stasi, and today (German Interior Minister Wolfgang) Schäuble — or the GEZ (the fee collection center of Germany’s public broadcasting institutions) — are collecting information about us.” In Birger’s opinion, there is no fundamental difference between dictatorship and freedom. “The people who live on the poverty line today also lack the freedom to travel.”

Birger is by no means an uneducated young man. He is aware of the spying and repression that went on in the former East Germany, and, as he says, it was “not a good thing that people couldn’t leave the country and many were oppressed.” He is no fan of what he characterizes as contemptible nostalgia for the former East Germany. “I haven’t erected a shrine to Spreewald pickles in my house,” he says, referring to a snack that was part of a the East German identity. Nevertheless, he is quick to argue with those who would criticize the place his parents called home: “You can’t say that the GDR was an illegitimate state, and that everything is fine today.”

As an apologist for the former East German dictatorship, the young Mecklenburg native shares a majority view of people from eastern Germany. Today, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 57 percent, or an absolute majority, of eastern Germans defend the former East Germany. “The GDR had more good sides than bad sides. There were some problems, but life was good there,” say 49 percent of those polled. Eight percent of eastern Germans flatly oppose all criticism of their former home and agree with the statement: “The GDR had, for the most part, good sides. Life there was happier and better than in reunified Germany today.”

These poll results, released last Friday in Berlin, reveal that glorification of the former East Germany has reached the center of society. Today, it is no longer merely the eternally nostalgic who mourn the loss of the GDR. “A new form of Ostalgie (nostalgia for the former GDR) has taken shape,” says historian Stefan Wolle. “The yearning for the ideal world of the dictatorship goes well beyond former government officials.” Even young people who had almost no experiences with the GDR are idealizing it today. “The value of their own history is at stake,” says Wolle.

People are whitewashing the dictatorship, as if reproaching the state meant calling their own past into question. “Many eastern Germans perceive all criticism of the system as a personal attack,” says political scientist Klaus Schroeder, 59, director of an institute at Berlin’s Free University that studies the former communist state. He warns against efforts to downplay the SED dictatorship by young people whose knowledge about the GDR is derived mainly from family conversations, and not as much from what they have learned in school. “Not even half of young people in eastern Germany describe the GDR as a dictatorship, and a majority believe the Stasi was a normal intelligence service,” Schroeder concluded in a 2008 study of school students. “These young people cannot, and in fact have no desire to, recognize the dark sides of the GDR.”

“Driven Out of Paradise”

Schroeder has made enemies with statements like these. He received more than 4,000 letters, some of them furious, in reaction to reporting on his study. The 30-year-old Birger also sent an e-mail to Schroeder. The political scientist has now compiled a selection of typical letters to document the climate of opinion in which the GDR and unified Germany are discussed in eastern Germany. Some of the material gives a shocking insight into the thoughts of disappointed and angry citizens. “From today’s perspective, I believe that we were driven out of paradise when the Wall came down,” one person writes, and a 38-year-old man “thanks God” that he was able to experience living in the GDR, noting that it wasn’t until after German reunification that he witnessed people who feared for their existence, beggars and homeless people.

Today’s Germany is described as a “slave state” and a “dictatorship of capital,” and some letter writers reject Germany for being, in their opinion, too capitalist or dictatorial, and certainly not democratic. Schroeder finds such statements alarming. “I am afraid that a majority of eastern Germans do not identify with the current sociopolitical system.”

Many of the letter writers are either people who did not benefit from German reunification or those who prefer to live in the past. But they also include people like Thorsten Schön.

After 1989 Schön, a master craftsman from Stralsund, a city on the Baltic Sea, initially racked up one success after the next. Although he no longer owns the Porsche he bought after reunification, the lion skin rug he bought on a vacation trip to South Africa — one of many overseas trips he has made in the past 20 years — is still lying on his living room floor. “There’s no doubt it: I’ve been fortunate,” says the 51-year-old today. A major contract he scored during the period following reunification made it easier for Schön to start his own business. Today he has a clear view of the Strelasund sound from the window of his terraced house.

Part 2: ‘People Lie and Cheat Everywhere Today’

Wall decorations from Bali decorate his living room, and a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty stands next to the DVD player. All the same, Schön sits on his sofa and rhapsodizes about the good old days in East Germany. “In the past, a campground was a place where people enjoyed their freedom together,” he says. What he misses most today is “that feeling of companionship and solidarity.” The economy of scarcity, complete with barter transactions, was “more like a hobby.” Does he have a Stasi file? “I’m not interested in that,” says Schön. “Besides, it would be too disappointing.”

His verdict on the GDR is clear: “As far as I’m concerned, what we had in those days was less of a dictatorship than what we have today.” He wants to see equal wages and equal pensions for residents of the former East Germany. And when Schön starts to complain about unified Germany, his voice contains an element of self-satisfaction. People lie and cheat everywhere today, he says, and today’s injustices are simply perpetrated in a more cunning way than in the GDR, where starvation wages and slashed car tires were unheard of. Schön cannot offer any accounts of his own bad experiences in present-day Germany. “I’m better off today than I was before,” he says, “but I am not more satisfied.”

Schön’s reasoning is less about cool logic than it is about settling scores. What makes him particularly dissatisfied is “the false picture of the East that the West is painting today.” The GDR, he says, was “not an unjust state,” but “my home, where my achievements were recognized.” Schön doggedly repeats the story of how it took him years of hard work before starting his own business in 1989 — before reunification, he is quick to add. “Those who worked hard were also able to do well for themselves in the GDR.” This, he says, is one of the truths that are persistently denied on talk shows, when western Germans act “as if eastern Germans were all a little stupid and should still be falling to their knees today in gratitude for reunification.” What exactly is there to celebrate, Schön asks himself?

“Rose-tinted memories are stronger than the statistics about people trying to escape and applications for exit visas, and even stronger than the files about killings at the Wall and unjust political sentences,” says historian Wolle.

These are memories of people whose families were not persecuted and victimized in East Germany, of people like 30-year-old Birger, who says today: “If reunification hadn’t happened, I would also have had a good life.”

Life as a GDR Citizen

After completing his university degree, he says, he would undoubtedly have accepted a “management position in some business enterprise,” perhaps not unlike his father, who was the chairman of a farmers’ collective. “The GDR played no role in the life of a GDR citizen,” Birger concludes. This view is shared by his friends, all of them college-educated children of the former East Germany who were born in 1978. “Reunification or not,” the group of friends recently concluded, it really makes no difference to them. Without reunification, their travel destinations simply would have been Moscow and Prague, instead of London and Brussels. And the friend who is a government official in Mecklenburg today would probably have been a loyal party official in the GDR.

The young man expresses his views levelheadedly and with few words, although he looks slightly defiant at times, like when he says: “I know, what I’m telling you isn’t all that interesting. The stories of victims are easier to tell.”

Birger doesn’t usually mention his origins. In Duisburg, where he works, hardly anyone knows that he is originally from East Germany. But on this afternoon, Birger is adamant about contradicting the “victors’ writing of history.” “In the public’s perception, there are only victims and perpetrators. But the masses fall by the wayside.”

This is someone who feels personally affected when Stasi terror and repression are mentioned. He is an academic who knows “that one cannot sanction the killings at the Berlin Wall.” However, when it comes to the border guards’ orders to shoot would-be escapees, he says: “If there is a big sign there, you shouldn’t go there. It was completely negligent.”

This brings up an old question once again: Did a real life exist in the midst of a sham? Downplaying the dictatorship is seen as the price people pay to preserve their self-respect. “People are defending their own lives,” writes political scientist Schroeder, describing the tragedy of a divided country.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.

© SPIEGEL ONLINE
All Rights Reserved

Battlefields

Temporary grave of an American machine-gunner ...

A bloody battlefield when all is done.

Piles of humans, not other evils.

Dying, bleeding men, who fought for no end.

The war is over, but they can’t go home.

A body bag and a coffin await.

Fierce struggles punctuated with no rest.

They die exhausted, the meaning of “all.”

Everything given, and so much taken.

The life of a hero not respected.

Forget cautions or selfish behavior.

The pugilist with no fist, just a scream.

A battle cry, and the momentum shifts.

When human desire outweighs the fear.

So much loss. Everyone’s dead. Must drive on.

Winning battles for the crown, the homeland.

For politicians who sit on their thrones.

And never blink an eye. Angered at loss.

Send them to fight and war would be prissy.

A slap in the face. Insolence. Disrepute.

Pulling hair. “Oh no you didn’t.” Not war.

Who better to sacrifice than the poor?

They fight because we give them nothing here.

That we may have more and fulfill our greed.

Intolerable loss. And for what? This?

Taboo

Richard Mansfield was best known for the dual ...

Hidden desires and taboo feelings.

Lustful, sinful, wicked, but oh so sweet.

The taste, the flavor, just a little peek.

Holding back, the temptation leads forward.

A touch, a caress, initiates sex.

An illusion, a tainted view of life.

Reproduced feelings that haven’t been found.

Take it, says the demon. No, says the rest.

Struggling with feelings beyond our control.

Emotions victorious in battle.

They won the war, with consequences great.

Lost souls, humanity? Or just instincts?

Question the boundaries but do not cross.

The path has been corrupted. Recompense.

Morals abandoned, it’s not what we need.

It fills the gap, the desire to breed.

They tell us it’s wrong, but don’t tell us why.

Explanation not needed. Just comply.

Fear in our hearts. Holes and pieces missing.

Revitalized youth, or projected life.

It rages inside, but burns our fingers.

Life of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Fighting one while becoming the other.

Sacrifice. One hidden, one in the light.

A struggle internal cannot be won.