With Comfort and Ease (Poem)

By Christos Floratos

Website Version Here

 

How can you tell a gymnast to be careful?

Why, anything but danger would be a little dull.

Scamper up the rope, dribble the pole.

 

Feet ahead; toes curled ready for embrace

              (against the dirt blue).

Performance is our virtue; love is what they grimace.

 

What other purpose is the thrill than to be

Higher than God.

Mt. Olympus has dazed us with aromatherapy.

Oracles scatter seizing our souls.

 

We only commune with the Deadly Seven.

I do not expect the proletariat to understand.

What you share is a pillow,

My offering is more than a simple piggy-bank.

Our stake is within the riptide, wherever it may take us.

 

Perhaps through the vast oceans where the unknown lies;

 we lie.

Though we may ask above, what is below we may never know.

Throw away deaf ears for those bona fide will confide.

 

 

Don’t be afraid to gleam into the light above.

The water is our bed so scream into the pillow.

Vulnerability is our right swipe, fitting as a glove.

 

Though we are frightened of how it leaks,

I trust whatever agenda we both hide,

is so we can dance along the strings of mystiques,

for our skin may be as tough as hide,

and I do not fear the nails of Dominique.

 

Expectation is their gospel verse.

 

We won’t follow their structures laid before.

Abandon the billboards! Dust off their seeds.

A tight hand is laxer than an open casket.

Where we can laugh at our demise,

Sing obtusely and while impulse drives you up.

Sweet Fervour.

Why be afraid of daises, watch me grab them.

© Christos Floratos 2019

Toast Update – WHRA Blog Posts, Pen to Paper Poems Update and Other Things!

Being on a university break has oddly produced the same amount of business than being on placement for four days a week, who would have figured. Recently I have completed a secret project that I am not yet allowed to talk about, to literally like anyone! In the coming weeks I will be finishing and sending off the Pen to Paper poetry collection to donors. As a result of this, my author’s comments sections and What The Heck Am I Rambling About (WHRA) blog posts may have some changes.

Later this week I will be posting the 11th Poem of the ‘Autumn, That Bastard’ Poetry Collection. Also some updates concerning the end of July.

What The Heck Am I Rambling About Blog Posts!

I will continue to do these and the Author’s comment sections. For ‘In Honour of Summer’, ‘With Comfort and Ease’, ‘The Apocalypse Cometh’ and ‘Stagnation’ these will be released after the last poem (Stagnation) is released. There are two pretty interesting reasons for this. Three of these poems are very interpretative and I love my readers to pull what meaning they desire out of these poems. Also, with my time limitations due to things I’ve been working on, after the collection is released will give me the time to fully write up these sections to write about these poems.

Pen to Paper Poems

The PDFs are on track to completion by Mid-July, where everyone who contributed to the Pen to Paper fundraiser towards my goal shall receive a copy! Those who contributed $50 or more will be getting a physical bound copy. I will be uploading these poems to my site at the start of August for everyone to share, with a link to Story Factory in case you missed out and would like to donate to their wonderful organisation!

Other Things and New Plans

There will be a blog post about some insights from the recent Supanova Convention I attended this last weekend. Also, I find out soon about the fellowship which as gotten me hyped. The end of July will bring the start of a new semester of uni, where I will revert to one blog post a week. I anticipate I will be covering things that have interested me from the units/subjects I am doing.

After August, I will be starting a new exciting fiction project, which will be different from the poetry of the first half of this year! At the end of July, I am also starting an Honours program that I will complete co-currently with my Social Work Degree! I am super excited for what’s coming in the next bit and to share my journey along the way!

In Honour of Summer (Poem)

By Christos Floratos

Website Version Here


After a day or two, it will be gone.

Catch it by the collar while you still can,

or it will wag it’s tail never ending at the thought…

 

The walk that will last forever.

We march on-

So far that you may choose to rest on a bench

-gaze at the incoming storm from the fire afore.

Volcanic ash permits the thunderstorm.

 

Smile, smile.

Remember that smile as

The lightening damsels in the cloud

Closing and closing in. It branches

-All reacting more of the same-

But as dreadful as ash in winter

 

Stand here watching, so it won’t be much of a shock.

Smile, for the road behind was worth it.

Gleam for your childhood and

be joyful for your sins.

 

They have no matter now

as the trees are shaken down

to the core, the root, the soil.

 

From green to blue,

as white as ash.

All colours matter to the sound of grief.

Silence is your virtue in the open as you

cower from the storm.

 

Still, you have marched all this way.

Enjoy the rolling thunder that rocks the dirt.

Aren’t you thankful for what summers brought?

This lighting circling you, appreciate the sky’s glamour!

Why, any other response would kill a god! Maybe two.

 

You’ve marched away from the fire,

Ordained in blacken char carpets are preachers, pillars and podiums.

For a life that once was.

A grotto that wasn’t just dust.

 

Ode to a memory of pollen filled forests.

 © Christos Floratos 2019

‘In Honour Of Summer’ – Poetry Sneak Peek (Autumn, That Bastard)

In Honour of Summer, the 10th poem of the ‘Autumn, That Bastard’ poetry collection, will be out Saturday this week!

Next week I find out if I have made it into the Write It Fellowship! I also have an article coming up for the Writing Community Newsletter!

Stay tuned for more!

Crispy Bacon – The Thought That Prompted an Hour-long Conversation

Recently, I worked with a Muslim child to develop a prescription poem in a creative writing workshop. This was one of the things I did in as a part of my social work placement. Prescription poetry similar to what a medical doctor does, prescribes something (medicine usually) to make a person feel better. The kids were tasked with writing lists of things that made them feel good, and you bet there was a lot of fortnite on their lists.

An example list of some eye-catching feel-good every day joys included the sensations linked with smell, spending time with someone they loved and my favorite, sleeping.

On this example list of the class’ feel-goods, was the listing of ‘Crispy Bacon’.

The Muslim child instantly reacted when he saw that listed, citing that he thinks it is disgusting and he’s not supposed to like that. This interaction made me think about whether or not such a workshop, which was presented to a pretty multicultural group of kids, should have had named Crispy Bacon. I sympathised with the kid by saying “Yeah, I can see how you wouldn’t like that. Don’t worry, this isn’t personally for you but rather something anther student wrote.”

This brought up a few interesting ideas, on one hand I thought this listing could be omitted so that cultural safety for the kid could be ensured in case there was offence. On the other hand however, the child will undoubtedly be exposed to this idea in multiple avenues in their life and will need to learn that other people life differently from their own culture. This also touches on issues of censorship within practice.

I came to the conclusion in a school that had a higher percentage of Muslim students, omitting Bacon would probably make a more relatable list. However, omitting it from a group of student’s might make assumptions on their cultural practices. While I myself am not Muslim, I know some aspects about Islamic beliefs and cultural practices. With that said, I am no expert and would always treat whoever I am working with in a social work/human services space as the expert, and I simply the facilitator of their knowledge.

This goes with a workshop like this, which specifically focuses on what the children most enjoy in their lives. This inherently is subjective and even though not eating bacon is a collective cultural practice, it still occurs on that individual level that I should not ever assume. But if they didn’t take part, knowing that others do is a powerful tool to help show diversity of cultural practices in small, every day ways. Since my supervision session and after the workshop in particular, I think it ultimately helped showed a different way of living life, although briefly.

Yes, that supervision session was an hour-long. As a social worker, I feel like being able to unpack micro-interactions like that are a powerful tool in critical reflection. Focusing on a whole interview in reflection is just too much, but focusing on one particularly moment in a client interview helps inform the rest of the interactions and shows how little mirco-skills inform client dynamics. This is something I wish to further explore, how to really think critically for potential other social workers reading.

If you’re interested in more, you can subscribe below and check out some other posts!

Grey House – What the Heck am I Rambling About? #9

‘Grey House’ takes on the persona of a young child who eagerly goes into a new home, an apartment complex, with their mother. Rather quickly, the child becomes exposed to harsh realities and becomes disillusioned with the excitement of moving to a new place, and the conditions that led them there.

What the Heck am I Rambling About is a series of blog posts where I breakdown a work I have created and shared. You can read the poem here if you aren’t caught up!

Someone has commented that these series of blog posts and the Author’s comments section are going to be useful tools for HSC students in the future. A very flattering comment and I think when I did the HSC I would have loved it if the people I was writing about how done a blog series like that. Alas, the prescribed texts were all mostly dead white men.

Set out – almost barefoot. Along my journey

on the cigarette path, I met Crystal, Molly,

was tracked by a Dragon and became BFs with Mary Jane.

Stanza 5

There is only two stanzas that have the optimistic tone, perhaps misguiding the reader due to the child’s curiosity. When the child’s life starts to break down, she becomes systematically disempowered, first starting with the bare necessities such as electricity and then at school by teachers who punish them for being late, not at the fault of the child. Those who the child meets on the way aren’t people but the code names for different drugs. The child being Best Friends with Mary Jane (Marijuana) is a comment of how this unregulated use for people in such fragile states can act as a gateway drug. The reader can take away what that type of relationship would be for a young person. Is Best Friend also someone for life in this instance, denoting a pessimistic point of view that they cannot escape? Or, like a fleeting childhood friendship, will the child escape it eventually?

I had to leave that woman when I came of age.

For she said we’d be home by autumn’s end.

Stanza 6

When I Came of Age” is subjective. Does she mean when she became an adult? Or when the child could legally move on from her mother at the age of 16 (in many western countries)? Or perhaps when she realised when her mother wasn’t good for her. The term Autumn’s end is meant to symbolise that this move was supposed to be a grace period in the mind of the child. The excitement of a new place perhaps shadowed the permanency of such a living situation the child was not ready for. The line also shows that there was a desire to return to the past life, before the Grey House. However, like a great number of cases, this return isn’t always as conceptualised. Referring to her here as that woman is the last time she is given a gendered identity. When the mother becomes labelled as parent at the end, it is revealed that the child still conceptualises somewhat of a caretaker role, but not in the typical narrative of the maternal bonds.

She was neither the executioner nor the criminal

but the wife of the bread-thief.

Stanza 7

Throughout the poem, there’s no direct attack against the mother, just comments about the unruly life. As the child ‘grows up’ they become more aware of her mother’s context. The child expresses sympathy for her mother, which is captured in this line. The metaphor of the bread-thief alludes to their situation, which suggests that her previous father did petty crime to support their family, which has led to the current life. The mother was responsible for the situation or the person who created the situation. In the same way, the child is linked to her mother as they are not responsible. Although neither are deserving of the ‘Grey House’, they both end up in that life, a sad common tragedy experienced by people with similar hardships.

This poem has been heavily inspired by my social work experience. This is perhaps the most tangible of the ‘Autumn, That Bastard’ collection. To leave you with some thoughts think:

  • What happens now to the girl? What happens to the mother?
  • Is this a cyclical life-event, like the season of Autumn? Or has the child realised their predicament and overcome it?

I hope you enjoyed this rambling and you can find some more ramblings below.

Pride Month in Creative Writing, Academia and Social Work!

Pride Month is upon as, the seasons of the gays, is upon us. In the spirit of pride, I will be dedicating a few more blog posts this month to queer creators!

Today I just wanted to focus on three Professional Areas of my life and how being showing pride in the queer community in these sectors has resonated and affected the networks I am a part of!

For those unaware, I identify as Bisexual as hinted at in the pride flag on this post. I will just mention as an aside, the I didn’t particularly enjoy the colours of the flag but they have grown on me

Creative Writing

So recently I have been shortlisted for the Penguin Random House Write It Fellowship which has been an awesome writing confidence boost. It has also been an exemplar for my pride in my writing themes and identity, as it was designed for under-represented writers. Still waiting to hear if I am a finalist but regardless, it has been an exciting time that I feel could have only be accomplished if I expelled pride in my day to day life, and my own writing craft.

Academia

Cass’ Model of Homosexuality Development neatly outlines the stages of realising gay identity (which has been further refined by others).

The Six Stages are:

  1. Identity Confusion
  2. Identity Comparison
  3. Identity Tolerance
  4. Identity Acceptance
  5. Identity Pride
  6. Identity Synthesis

These stages I would argue are fluid and don’t need to be strictly followed, as it is just a way of understanding. I feel I have synthesised this identity for a while now. Although, promoting Bi-synthesis probably sounds more like plant science experiment.

In Academia, I am starting an honours next semester in the area of same-sex marriage and social work. Showing pride in this area prideful will help get out a more considered and tailored approach when researching and writing up this honours. As Bisexual minority, I imagine there will be some reference to bisexual in same-sex marriage as well.

Social Work

Recently in my last placement, I initiated, developed and facilitated a Professional Development about working the queer community in the context of the agency I was at for Staff and Volunteers. Having pride in being helped reevaluate how information was handled and helped open conversations about homophobia within the context of their client base. It was great experience which again, only happened when I could take pride in a part of my identity. However, this will affect their client base much more and in so many positive ways, that I feel thrilled to have led some impact.

This is just a taste of what promoting pride has contributed in my life. I should mention, I have the social conditions that have allowed this to happen, not everyone has this opportunity. But if you have the opportunity to express this in one of the avenues of your life, I say Take It!

You never know who you might help!

Grey House (Poem)

Website Version

Christos Floratos

 

Mommy asked me what I thought

of the Grey House.

So tall. Was all ours. Spring was a few seconds away.

Earth to sky. You could even see the clouds pass on by.

Mommy smiled when I jumped in glee.

 

Mommy asked me where the sky ended.

Why, at the top of our Grey House, of course!

And that’s where we went.

Right to the top, gazing where fans swirled, and birds lost all their feathers.

Mommy laughed when I said mine was what the light touched.

 

But the darkness was Mom’s own.

She had raged warfare before but nothing as

the campaign she waged on the phone.

There were many battles lost and Mom neither

 

won that war. The damned operators she wrestled.

The grey hut was starting to shamble

and the darkness of Mom’s words transfixed

themselves with the light bulbs,

and those showers thereafter returned the childhood achoos.

 

I was reprimanded for being late at school,

But mother was bedridden. What was I to do?

Set out – almost barefoot. Along my journey

on the cigarette path, I met Crystal, Molly,

was tracked by a Dragon and became BFs with Mary Jane.

 

I had to leave that woman when I came of age.

For she said we’d be home by autumn’s end.

But there I sat in

an apartment that made squalor shiver,

and a boyfriend here, and over there.

 

She cried when my departure loomed overhead.

She was neither the executioner nor the criminal

but the wife of the bread-thief.

I was the void between Venus and Mars,

Water and a pot-plant balcony garden constituted my celestial body.

 

That woman, her promise of a time yonder our

dilapidated apartment…

was a dream of hollow mines and sore minds.

Maybe I will return to her; she was my parent, after all.

This was an exodus much sooner than expected.

 

© Christos Floratos 2019

Pen to Paper Fundraiser- Theme Revealed!

Pen2Paper is officially a go! Thank you to all my donors so far! You still have time to get in on the action and donate at this link: https://give.everydayhero.com/au/christoast

I am currently sitting at $200, just 1/3rd left to go until I reach my $300 dollar goal.

As a thank you for your wonderful contribution, if you’ve donated over $15 AUS, I will provide you with a PDF copy of the poems once complete! Those who live in Australia who contribute $50 or more will get a physical copy! And, anyone who donates will be acknowledged both on my website and in the PDF version!

The Pen2Paper Theme is…

Bubbles!

Pen to Paper

I have so many ideas of what to do with this theme and now starts the weekend long journey of creating 6 poems!

https://give.everydayhero.com/au/christoast

You can follow me for updates on my social media here:

https://www.facebook.com/christoastthoughts/

https://twitter.com/SeductiveTaco?lang=en

Toast’s Update – Shortlisted, Fundraiser and Articles!

Hi Friends, a few cool new things happening in the next month or so!

  • I’ve just been shortlisted for Penguin Random House Write It fellowship!!! I am submitting the full manuscript on the 20th of May! A big few weeks of writing and editing ahead. I am so excited and grateful for this opportunity!
  • From 23rd to the 26th of May, I will be doing a fundraiser called ‘Pen2Paper’ for Story factory where I will be raising $300 to help students gain access to the agency’s creative writing workshops! Support me here!
    I also have been interviewed by Arnold B. Spencer. It was great time and he asked some really interesting question. I talk about my poetry, Dungeons and Dragons and why I drink water while I write!
  • Autumn, That Bastard is almost complete! However, due to the intense editing I am doing both for the manuscript and university, I will be delaying the next few poems until end of May/beginning of April. Grey House will be released next week with an updated release schedule.
  • I have contributed and created an article about Writing Queer characters in the Writing Community Newsletter! Check it out here and subscribe to it!
  • I have just finished and sent off my article for D.I.R.G.Ezine. The zine will be ready for publication in the coming months so stay tuned!

Thank you to all of those who have kept up and been engaged with me throughout this time! May will be a slower month for content in terms of blog posts, but many big things are happening!

Stay awesome!