Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

My Special Boy: Poetry and A True Story

Last year, I wrote this poem for my son. If you don't know his amazing story, search through my blog for Gryphon, you'll find it all. I had originally submitted this poem to publishers across the country, but none of them wanted it, so I decided to post it here on my blog so that it could be read and remembered forever.

The incubator is empty now, 
but still the relics, 
pictures of Gods wrapped in hospital bags, 
and taped to the windows of the crib, 
now rest in our temple's treasury, 
a link to both our past and present. 
But it would sometimes be a fallacy to romanticize our family, 
for there was little poetry about the C-Section, 
the constant and daily fear of finding an empty bed, 
the dark struggles through the labyrinths of a premature birth, 
and a life of obstacles ahead, 
but you, my little Theseus, braved the Minotaur always.

With each passing day, the terrors of goodbye faded into heaven's brightening light.
Only a few drops of milk, they said, but you drank the whole bottle.
You would need help breathing, they predicted, but you threw off the ventilator.
Not even a brain bleed could outdo the Gods,
or shake the resilience of a boy determined to live.
The worst chances the doctors gave you,
but the Gods overruled.
You were not simply another newborn, 
for your life has defined and changed those of everyone around you.

We were so happy when we were able to take you home.
Then, a new set of hardships.
I had to learn to be an exceptional father for a special needs son,
it was a new set of Labours all their own.
Each day I gave all my strength to support you,
strapping your oxygen tank and heart monitor to my back,
and hanging you and your car seat over my arm,
as I took you to the doctor on a regular basis,
to give you the best possible chances of growing stronger.
Something few fathers will endure,
but my love for you, 
and the Gods' love for us,
was the muscle of my heart,
and of mind and body, 
that made me determined to never ever give up on you.

By the year, you excelled,
you did everything the doctors said you wouldn't,
you let nothing stand in your way, 
the strongest person I have ever known,
my trust in a bright future for our family,
and all the proof I need of Higher Powers.

I saw you from the beginning,
a tiny, 24-week baby flailing about,
now I attend your rites of puberty,
as you laugh at the sun on your face,
run and play with your dogs and classmates,
and dive into the banquet tables. 

You may not talk a lot,
or read the books that most children do in school,
your disabilities may be evident,
yet, they are not defining.
Even after your surgery on both legs,
you stood up out of the wheelchair the next day and climbed the stairs.
You have nothing but strength and an undying love for life,
though you could find so many reasons to hate it.
You are a lesson to all the world.

How could I not be overprotective of you, as so many accuse?
You're my little boy who I could have once lost,
and now I can make sure never again.
The world does not get you down,
and yet, I will protect you from it.
You're my first choice for a friend at breakfast, lunch or dinner,
the one I like to travel with and talk about my day to.
I know you love me so much,
for you walk the halls, calling my name when I'm not there.

I held you first when you came out of the hospital,
we spent each day on the couch, getting to know one another,
and yet, the more time that passed, the more we realized we are alike.
You once wore a very tiny shirt that read, "Daddy Is My Hero,"
and yet it now hangs on my office wall, too small for you.
But there was always one thing I could never save us all from,
and that is the unyielding passing of time.

There will come a day when daddy ages, passes, and can't come for you anymore.
I won't be there for kisses, cuddles, and playtime.
You will have to go without your favorite person in the world.
But the relics will still be in the treasury to remind you of your destiny,
and that you are never alone.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Massachusetts School Bans Odyssey Because Of "Sexism and Hate," Proving How Little They Actually Know About It

The declining intellect of some members of the human race never surprises me in this day and age. A Massachusetts school has actually banned The Odyssey because it teaches "sexism, racism, ableism, antisemitism, and violence." Good Gods, I don't even know where to start, but I'll try, because I'm a Hellenist of 10 years who has actually read the works of Homer and studies ancient Greek religion and civilization. The first thing these historically illiterate people need to understand is that Homer was not merely a Poet to the ancients, He was history. To them, He was simply reciting things that had happened long ago, not advocating a political or social position. It would be like accusing someone who writes a US history book of being sexist, racist, or whatever it may be. 

Claim 1: The Odyssey is sexist. 

False. The Odyssey holds Goddesses and mortal women to some of the highest levels of honor, power, virtue, wisdom and nobility. Without Athena, Odysseus and His son would not have been safe from the suitors. In the beginning, Athena even makes a plea for Odysseus to Zeus, showing how valuable it was to have the favor of female Divinity. If it hadn't been for Penelope's persistence and dedication, Ithaca might have been lost. Without Nausicca, Odysseus may have died before even reaching home. Or perhaps you might think the story is somehow sexist because men at times encounter female opponents or villains. But this is a huge fallacy, especially considering that there are many female Heroes, and male villains as well such as the Cyclops and the suitors who are depicted with great disgrace. At this point, you're finding sexism only because you desire to.

Claim 2: The Odyssey is racist.

Have you ever even read the first book? At the beginning of the story, Poseidon is away delighting with the Ethiopians, a race different than that of the Greeks. So let's put this into perspective. One of the greatest Gods of the caucasian Greeks leaves Greece to go feast and celebrate with the black Ethiopians, and this is supposed to signal racism. In what reality? Odysseus travels to many foreign lands of people different than the Greeks, where He often receives their aid and protection. Sometimes, people in The Odyssey even sacrifice to foreign Gods when they are in foreign lands to gain divine favor outside of their own culture.

Claim 3: The Odyssey supports ableism. 

What shall we say of the idea that abled people are more favored than disabled people in The Odyssey? I would imagine it thinks disabled people can be very capable, since at the end, Odysseus, in the form of an elderly wobbling man, outdid and defeated the younger, stronger suitors in the bow contest, and then killed them all. So the allegation that The Odyssey "doesn't like disabled people," is an invention at worst, and out of context at best.

Claim 4: The Odyssey is Antisemitic. 

The largest culture closest to the Jewish people in The Odyssey would be the Phoenicians, who were a semitic speaking people. While they resided in Israeli territory, they in fact had trade and influence all over the Mediterranean. Hardly something you would expect from people who were allegedly hated by the Mediterranean at the time, but there is something vastly important to consider. They were not enemies of Odysseus. They were friendly, helpful and essential to Odysseus completing His journey. In fact, in Book 8, Odysseus blesses them by saying, "The Gods shower down their grace upon these people, so that no evil dwell among them forever."  Odysseus bears no ill will toward the Phoenicians, but in fact is grateful for their presence. Some might even argue that the Phoenicians would not qualify as Jewish people, since their king Alcinous prayed to a Greek God after the blessing of Odysseus was given and encouraged his people to do the same: "Herald, stir the mixing bowl and carry drink to the entire hall, that our dispatching the stranger to his land may be with prayer to Zeus the Father."

The antisemitism that's allegedly in the story was, in fact, pulled out of someone's butt in the year 2020 and placed there. If anyone can locate a section in The Odyssey that is blatantly antisemitic, please post it in the comment section and we will examine it. 

Claim 5: The Odyssey is violent.

Violence is part of the nature of the universe, and part of human nature when necessary. Get over it. Sometimes violence is needed to create, build and preserve. You think the Earth came into being peacefully? You think there were no violent events? What of the United States that gives you the freedom to speak against literature you dislike? You think we maintained our way of life through campfire songs? Get real. Teaching children that there's no such thing as violence is to make them ill-prepared for the real world. It may be unfortunate, but sometimes violence is necessary. On a side note, you know other books and stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, that are violent? Harry Potter, but even with the immense violence and the clear transphobic attitude of JK Rowling, I bet they are still on the shelves of every public school library. 

In conclusion, yes, it is true that in parts of ancient Greece (not all), women were not equal to men. Although they were highly revered and privileged in Sparta, a kingdom which also appears in The Odyssey. But it's also true that women were not equal to men for most of American history as well. So are you going to ban US history books? And what of the violence? You'll have to ban US history for that as well. 

Disabled people in ancient Greece, unlike in other parts of the known world, could become valuable members of society, such as Seers. Some cultures, notably the Abrahamics, wouldn't even let disabled or deformed people sacrifice in their temples or at their altars because of their disabilites or deformities. The Greeks weren't that ignorant. And as said before, the Greeks routinely interacted with the many races and cultures around them. They traded with them, learned from them, and made friendships and alliances. This is not the conduct of racism or antisemitism. 

There is not, nor ever will be, such a thing as a perfect history, culture or people. You're going to end up banning every book known to humankind. The point of history is to learn, but this is the blatant erasing of it.

Update - Apparently the book hasn't actually been banned, there has simply been discussion of it, but nonetheless, it was strong enough to create news headlines, and accusations that should be addressed. 1/5/2021.

In the Goodness of the Gods,

Chris Aldridge.

Work Cited: The Odyssey, translated by Laurence of Arabia aka T.E. Shaw.