Poetry. The language of the universe.
Almost 13 years ago, I began putting together my very first book. Fueled by all of the perceived “injustice” of the world around me, I felt as if I was a walking cliche for the longest time. Just another troubled, lovesick young man; looking for anything to grip to, and begin my own misadventures in… Poetry. Of ALL genres, right? I know.
All joking aside, I honestly can’t explain how it all came to be. The best I can say is that I felt compelled, involuntarily shoved, to make sure the story began in rhyme and song. I was gifted with inspiration daily by every little moment I spent hovering over the pages of my notebooks. It was during these prime years when the message was being pushed through me that I discovered my passion for words. I knew I could mold the way people understood things; realizing I possessed quite a superpower.
And you know what they said about great power in Spider-Man… So, I had to be extra careful. At that young age, I really wasn’t.
I went through many name changes throughout the years. Just before I became “The Rogue Scribe”, I wrote under the name “Sword&Ink”. That's the name you'll find if you search for it. Many people wondered what it meant and it was about finding balance. It was an ode to "the pen is mightier than the sword". The more I think about it, the more truth I'm finding in that.
I took my persona so far, I even started to wear masks to match the poems and stories that I put together. (See above.) Creepy, I know.
To be fair, not all of it came from me. Sometimes, I took conversations I heard in passing and bound it to the pages of my tale; which I sprinkled with personal bits. The masks? Made to mirror the experience, not always meant to represent what was inside. The world I criticized so much became a buffet of verbal ammunition. In turn, words just seemed to pour out of me, as if there was no end in sight. Poems, puzzles, spells, and curses all became one… The magnum opus was in motion. It took years to complete and very few people got to experience the work in its rawest form.
As an artist, it was a great achievement to disappear into the woods of my imagination and make some sense out of all of this. I knew many people wouldn’t like it or even relate to it. But this is when I recognized that these were the kind of messages that should be told with no filter. No barriers. The fire couldn’t be contained. The more I wrote, the deeper and deeper I sank into the confines of my own little creative prison.
I know, I know… Typical. But I promise you, this had a lot more to offer. It was somewhat scary but also enjoyable sometimes.
At that time, I spoke words that no one else had the courage to speak. I told the stories not everyone wanted to hear. I wrote songs to the people in the back of the crowds because I wanted them to know they were not alone. Others dared not venture into the darkest pits of their own soul to bring something of value back. Many people spend a lifetime searching for a guiding light, and sometimes fail to look inward.
The thing is, I didn’t just look inward… I happened to fall all the way in. And that’s how “Heartless” was born.
“Why did you title it Heartless?” A question I would hear often just before people criticized the content of the pages.
Well firstly, to draw attention. Black and white cover. No words besides those on the spine. Serene image. It was a combination of everything I had experienced throughout my years up to that point. A lifetime told through the language of the universe so that it may be freely interpreted, adapted, and integrated into anyone and anything. But most importantly, it was a challenge to the reader. A big hearty laugh at our situations. A lesson to demonstrate that you cannot have one thing without the other.
In other words, Heartless, to me, was the ultimate display that we live in a dream where balance is key. That there are two sides to every coin. Black and white. Light and dark. Ying and Yang. Call it whatever you want. As far as I know, there’s nothing that can stand on its own without the existence of an opposite.
To be “Heartless” implied that there must be people with a “heart”. In this case, the world I used to live in was always highlighting hatred, suffering, and pain. Wars, instability, and punishment. All I did was take all of that negativity and used it to show others that there is, in fact, love everywhere you look.
The theme of “less” was prominent, but that was the whole point. I purposely wanted to let the readers dive into ‘absence’ so that they may understand ‘abundance’. I thought I was doing something good in the grand scheme of things, but as it turns out, it wasn’t so well received by the greater collective.
I imagine because “Heartless” symbolized falling into the abyss to find the torch. And no one I’ve ever met wanted to do that. It was the wrong theme at the wrong time. In retrospect, I’m glad it helped at least a handful of people. I think it helped me more than anyone else.
But that was only a battle… The war was just beginning.
When I wrote “Heartless”, I wanted people to understand that you couldn’t have one without another. This inspired the unofficial sequel “Slaying Demons In A Burning Castle”. The meaning behind that one? It was to show you can’t live in the extremes. Sooner or later, you had to escape the traps set before you instead of studying them so closely.
By the time “Slaying Demons” came out, I was in the process of turning my life around. I had spent so much time trying to understand the ugliest parts of people in search of the beautiful ones, that I was becoming dangerously attached to them. “Slaying Demons” was more of a fictional take on a very personal hell - like Dante’s Inferno, but backward.
Simply put, whereas “Heartless” made the reader dive in, “Slaying Demons” would help the reader crawl back out.
I feel like the theme of the second one was far more aggressive and far more violent, from a mythical point of view. Likewise, it wasn’t written to “worship demons” or “glorify Satan” or whatever other “opinion” I got on it soon after its completion… The point of “Slaying Demons” was to show, once more, that at the end of every and any hell that someone goes through, there is a heaven. Not in some sort of religious sense, although it’s easy to see how others made that connection.
It was a more fantastical take on the classic story of ALL of our lives: we live an incredible adventure, friends.
Our stories carry a lot of weight and meaning, and I believe they deserved to be told as they are. They’re yours and yours only… The world may not ever understand them, especially from an artistic standpoint.
But whether you’re a teenager wanting to express your thoughts and emotions or a seasoned veteran battling every demon in the book, I encourage you to share your tales.
They don’t have to be poetic, even artistic. You don’t have to write books about it but I’ll say, always speak your truths; kindly if possible. It may bring us closer to one another… It may even bring you closer to a version of you who needs it.
Looking back 13 years ago when it all started, after everything I lived through to be able to share my story, I wouldn’t change a single thing about them. It’s fun to revisit the sounds and rhymes from time to time.
I sealed most of them away, only 7 or so copies are floating around now. The masks are gone, and the words don’t appear as easily anymore. The stories I work on now are completely different and maybe this is a good thing.
Maybe my poetic mission is finally complete… Or maybe someone else is meant to carry the torch for me now.