Lady, you were not meant to be the bird’s breakfast
Elegy at the Bird Bath
Lady, who told you you could swim?
You were meant to fly;
Not to float upon your own reflection
Waiting for a clever robin,
Or a hungry, ill-tempered jay
To pluck you from the placid pool –
Cool on a bright, June morning –
To pick you, all blushing red
For their breakfast appetizer.
Lady, you were meant to bring me luck.
To dine, yourself, on sweet little aphids.
Oh, how they rejoice at your downfall!
But Heaven helps those who pray for their prey –
“Better Late than Never,” they said, but they had never met the Inner Editor.
That’s what the sign said. YOU’RE LATE. Above that, someone had written the word “IN” in red Sharpie marker, complete with proofreader’s marks to show that the word ought to appear between “YOU’RE and LATE.” Someone else had written, in flowing purple script, the word “always,” crossing out the inserted “IN”. Below that was a Post-It Note: “Better LATE than NEVER!” to which someone had replied with a graphic depiction of a person sipping a tropical drink on the beach while flipping off the…
The sleepiest of sleepy little towns that time forgot.
I’m pretty sure that I was pushed, but I managed to catch myself as I tumbled out of the train and onto the Maybe Station platform in the town of Some Day.
Where was everybody? I went into the station to look for a map. A bored teen sat behind a windowed enclosure. “C’aye help you?” she slurred.
“Maybe…” Hah. “Do you have a map of the area?” I asked.
“Don’t you have GPS on your phone? Like, everyone around here just uses Google Maps.”
Beats laying your head on the track, waiting for the vibrations to clue you in.
The air inside the train was no fresher than the stagnant and oppressive atmosphere of the station platform. I found an empty seat — they were all empty, but some were less dilapidated than others, and a few had upholstery that had rotted through, with flecks of bonded Naugahyde dotting the metal floor like faded confetti.
A thin film on the glass, and a spiderweb of cracks radiating from what looked like an old bullet hole, made the view more interesting as the train slowly…
I looked back, over my shoulder, at the town of Middling. You see things differently: The shabby soot on the train station’s siding. The sagging roof over the bar. Cracks in the pavement. The town’s Poet Laureate, sleeping it off in an alley.
When I’d stepped off the train, six months — maybe a year ago — my eyes seemed to focus differently; I’d seen “quaint” and “charming.” I’d seen delicate wildflowers shoving aside glistening asphalt, widening the cracks in their determination. …
Poets love untimely deaths of beautiful women -
Love imagining a choir of angels, singing
“Hallelujah!” at Death’s eventual reunion of young
(And foolish) lovers, one of whom
(No doubt) has pined his life away,
Steadfast in unrequited love for her —
That figment of memory, ideal.
No one writes poetry for the ordinary mama,
Tummy-rolls slick with kitchen grease and sweat,
Drenched in mopped up tears and child-snot,
Stray hairs — hers, the cats’, the kids’ —
Woven into the tapestry of graying strands.
Where are the poems for her embrace,
Warm, ample arms and soft fragrant curves?
I have not vanished, nor been “disappeared.”
Buried, briefly; blanketed in the warm earth,
I am not dead. I have dreamed of dead things;
I am not one of them. They sustain me,
Push me, whispering, “Rise. Awake.”
Sunlight touches, warms me, draws me up,
Solitude, the exhalation of a pent-up breath,
Released to birdsong, squirrel-scoldings,
And the breezy buzz of honeybees
In clover. Purple sage, pink lavender —
Old, lazy bones clatter —
But I am not dead. Not yet. I open
My lips, drink deep of the rain.
Remembering the intoxicating scent
Of petrichor in summer…
…lapping for each other’s stories and writing self-congratulatory articles, tagging each other, etc. Newbies are then encouraged to participate in off-Medium social media channels where they get coached up in the dark arts of churning views in non-writing ways.
There are a few "off-Medium social media channels" where such things are actively discussed and discouraged, but it would be great if Medium, itself, offered a forum for serious writers to openly discuss ethical ways to use the platform and promote themselves and one another.
It's sad to see the new writers fall prey to unscrupulous practices, and it will be sadder still to watch Medium implode like so many of its predecessors (Themestream comes to mind, and Red Paper - glorious experiments that ended up exploited and gamed to death, through the same sorts of practices you mention here).
After I wrote my previous story, I realized that I had glossed over an important point, and the question started coming in: “Yes, but how do we find these thieves? How can we even know when our content has been stolen?”
I’d addressed only the “what can I do to stop them?” but not “how do I even know they’re out there?” part of the equation. I was responding to the frustration of writers who already knew who was ripping them off.
So, today’s story deals with how to find the copyright infringers in the first place.
First, bookmark this…
Bookmark this story, and stop letting thieves profit more from your writing than you do
Scrapers, article spinners, and willful plagiarists are the sworn enemies of all serious writers. Yes, sometimes the fight feels futile and time-wasting; it is tempting to simply let it go.
There is some wisdom in that — by ignoring them, they may well fall into an abyss of anonymity and disappear into the sucking black hole of abandoned websites, while giving them more visits (in order to determine what’s been stolen from us) may encourage them to keep doing it.
It’s the principle of the…