I am both a toothbrush and a bicycle tire. Most often I am the tooth brush, determined to love and remove the not so pleasant moments from life, yet unintentionally dirtying myself in the process. Symbolism isn't always a sure thing, and having a universally recognizable symbol is tough to portray in depth, however Sarah Kay does just that. Regardless of your culture, race, or religion, regardless of your language, gender, or sexuality, if you are human, you are a toothbrush or a tire. Both titles up for your interpretation, neither specified as being superior or inferior to the other.
Kay starts this piece by introducing the tooth brush (I related the tooth brush to myself as a typical high school female with ambition). The tooth brush is stated to be "meant for a cleaner life-," a reference that most teens have most likely heard when being told to be good and "keep their head on straight, as most middle age fathers would say. "-That you would drag me through the mud," is the line when "you" or the bicycle tire is introduced already with a bad reputation. This piece follows a similar cliche as the good girl, bad boy high school star crossed lovers, and all of the lines with in it are stereotypical references uniquely coded as the inner dialogue of a toothbrush to its tire lover. Kays formatting is genius because without the title, this poem would read as any other over told love story, however the literal reading of this poem reads comically and shows a comical resemblance between the two very different realities. The imagery used, for example "they could see right through you and that you were full of hot air" could mean figuratively the subject was shallow and dim witted, or literally meaning it was a tire which is a tube..filled with hot air. Because of the passages dual meaning, the symbolism draws the situational irony to the forefront of the readers mind. I know that I reached a conclusion towards the middle of this piece and thought, "Wow I am a toothbrush," something I would have been institutionalize for in the 1800s if said out loud.
So why is the toothbrush so gosh darn #relatable? Funny you ask, its because we all crave to love, to give affections sometimes without the hope of ever being on the receiving end. We chase and chase, and try cleaning what is dirty, holding onto hope that maybe one day we'll catch what we've been chasing, maybe someday everything will be clean, maybe everything will be perfect. If the tire would just let the toothbrush love it, then he wouldn't always have to run away. Well guess what? Every toothbrush is somebodies bicycle tire. Which means that right now while you are chasing after someone, someone else is begging you to stay put and stop settle down. The piece is told from the toothbrushes perspective because in our heads we are always the ones yearning, always hoping, when in reality even the author references "the cruel cycle" we find ourselves in. Always the toothbrush, sometimes the Bicycle Tire.
Sister, you and me both. Pleasure, by Katie Peterson, is a, down to the bone, to-the-tee, bucket of ice cold water to the face, wake-up call to those of us stuck clinging to the skeleton of a more pleasant time. It's so easy to use memories as crutches the moment we begin to limp through life. Laying awake at night, pretending you're back in bed, the sun's cracking though the window, you role over and ask "Breakfast?", because it is so much easier than consciously and constantly reminding yourself you are alone, and they are not worth loving anymore. But that's just it, those moments that were once the present are no more than a faded film to be viewed by your sub conscience as a coping mechanism. There is no more appealing thing to a broken heart than the idea of reliving the past.
"I remembered what it was like, knowing what you wanted to eat and then making it-"
It was this line that got me interested in this piece. Having my own recent loss to cope with, this seemingly ordinary statement took the emotions that had been lodged in my throat, struggling to escape, and put words in an order that described the void I am feeling. This approach to the introduction of 'Pleasure' is enlightening for the reader. It doesn't necessarily have to be your carnal knowledge of your loved one's food preferences, the point behind this phrase is to show just how deeply something so small and routine can offset your ability to function on an emotional level in its absence. We satisfy our cravings to care for and to be cared about by integrating our life with someone else's. We so routinely care for anyone but ourselves that we forget what its like to not busy our hands in the service of others.
"-forgetting about the ending in the middle, looking at the ocean for a long time without restlessness, or with restlessness not inhabiting the joints-"
It is here that we see the how aware the author is of her previous position. The phrase "forgetting about the ending in the middle,-" puts you right in that moment. the enticing feeling of reliving the good times again, just wanting to sink into the bliss and forget that this story doesn't end so sunshine and rainbows. This is Peterson's subtle acknowledgment that this behavior is destructive, because the reality of the situation is that there is no more routine, no more providing, and no more love. All that is left is a ghost of what was, and reliving it, even in memory, is just like burying an empty coffin over, and over, and over again, just to dig it back up. Peterson describes a calm, tranquil, setting that is "smooth like good cake frosting". You don't have to have had an awe-shocking, great love to understand the author's reference to a soothing memory. We all have memories that keep us grounded, but sometimes an anchor can cause a ship to sink just like some comforting memories are simply false hope. "And then I experienced it, falling so deeply into the storyline-", this being the switchback in the work (for those unaware: a switchback is a sharp turn that completely changes the direction of a piece and/or road), is when the author acknowledges her outsider point of view in her own body. She is allowing herself to relive her story line because there is comfort in recognizing that for those moments, when she was ignorant to the future, life was like a romantic comedy. "I laughed as soon as my character entered the picture, humming the theme music even when I’d told myself I wanted to be quiet by some freezing river and never talk to anyone again". It is this line that shows just how the author feels about these memories, she doesn't want to live in the past, she doesn't want to be stuck, stuck in love, stuck in a routine, stuck in the past, and most definitely stuck in a romantic joke where she is the punch line. Peterson is ready to move forward, despite the comfort and ease of slipping into a dream like state of ignorance, the past is the past and ashes will alway remain ashes. So in the concluding line of "Pleasure", Peterson states "And I thought, now is the right time to cut up your shirt". She finally becomes unstuck and is symbolically letting go of what she has left of the past. This is the viking funeral of lost love, and is in my opinion Peterson's objective in writing this piece. Stop seeking peace in things that have been long dead. Stop reliving, start living again.
Kaveh Akbar animates sadness, turning this emotion into a feral beast constantly ready to be provoked. Akbar describes a quiet scene, much like the sky he says. Now the sky is quiet but there is a storm brewing inside the subject. The author uses one of the most basic descriptive tools, metaphorical reference, in attempting to build a bridge of understanding to the reader. That bridge is on fire. Because the author can not describe such a sadness with out creating a tone of indifference towards empathetic human behavior. When the line “ A month ago they dragged up a drowned tourist his bloatwhite belly was filled with radishes and lamb shank his entire digestive system was a tiny museum of pleasure” is presented, it’s haunting imagery has cold effect. This being that the blunt description lacks empathy and spooks the reader beacause A) dead decomposing body and B) lack of typical human reaction to dead body tends to lead towards psychopathy. I believe this was the authors purpose after all. Akbar did not want people to understand the sadness he wanted them to understand how not understandable sadness truely was. A monochromatic mood has been set, blank face to the outside world, and a projection of coldness, coldness he carried around “like a diamond” until he became that coldness, cold like a unbreathing body, coldness the reader can feel.
“And here I am dying at an average pace envy is the only deadly sin is no fun for the sinner”
Akbar is, in a cleaverly crafted statement, eluding to the fact that he is envious of the sudden death of the above mentioned tourist. This plays on the idea that the subject is tired of living and breathing on a daily basis. One foot in front of the other but he does not wish to walk, unless off of a short cliff.
The author does not throw relatability out the window just yet however.
“I am less horrible than I could be I have not set a house on fire never thrown a first born off a bridge.”
And like one singular stream of light breaks through a wall of tall, dark, ugly cumulonimbus clouds. I know I have sat and pondered if I was a bad person, people would tell me how they believed me to be a horrible person for doing or saying things I could control but chose not to. In my mind, in the grand scheme of things, I was no more than human, and no less. And at the end of the day, the clovers were purple, the spider was yellow, and We are all just less horrible than we could be. I feel as if it is at this switchback in the poem that the mood shifts. The author eludes to a lack of purpose in life through the phrase “Still my whole life I’ve answered every cry for help with the pour with a turning away”. We see a gradual change towards a longing to be different.
“I’ve given this coldness many names thinking if it had a name it would have a solution thinking if I called a wolf a wolf I might dull its fangs”
The mere mention of a possible solution gives away a sadness whithin a sadness. Meaning the author is unhappy with his impossible situation. Alas the poem ends with an excepting of the inevitable. He is cold, he is sad, and he is crushed. Akbar describes a wide, and fridgid, sea of sadness. There is no light house or sailboat in this poem. Only the illusion of one. You are simply the sea.
Habits of our youth. A mother can be the most influencial figure in a Childs life. Small actions turn into deeper, primal habits. I can remember growing up, my own mother had routines in place for an 8 year old me. I would clean up my play area, do my school work, clean up my school work, precisly lay out my outfit for the next day, and repeat. 10 agonizing years of precision and order later, the small rituals are just more mature habits. I now itch if my pencils aren't in line on my desk at work, and the thought of an unfinished checklist is nauseating. Blame it on a messy childhood. I watched my family struggle to keep order and my mom, a stay at home wife and mother of three, lag behind in keeping up with 2 kids who only knew destruction. I was the cleaner of the family in both senses. Always a step behind, quiet and observant. Proactively picking up so that my mother might feel less of a burden. I, however, never understood why she was so stressed or why she couldn't just check off her list. Interesting how Saturday morning routines turn into everyday habits.
"Mom poured the flour straight from the bag, milk straight from the carton.", Clint Smith, author of "Counting decent", opens in his poem "Saturday morning routine". This line is what first caught my eye, having had a mother who, like the speaker, did not value the sanctity of a perfect recipe. It seems to be either a cultural oddity or point of common interest to the reader. And no, not the idea of following exact measurements. More like the relation to whichever side of the line they stand on, those sides being the messy or the clean. "My job was to clean up after, wipe everything away and leave." It was at this point that the tone shifts from routine to what would later form a habit. Is this shift, not just a personal shift in behavior, but maybe a shift between the care taker and the taken care of? Typically a mother and/or mother figure is the nurturing and structured presence in a Childs life. This poem challenges the role between mother and son, the son being the symbol of responsibility and duty to clean up the mess. with this responsibility comes a lack of understanding. Why even make a mess?
"I still have a habit of trying to make up for things that I can't understand by removing all of the evidence". There are two fronts that the author comes full circle on in this text. First being the relationship between routine and habits. Small routines are often forgotten in the sense that they are turned into habits the moment you do forget that they are measurable and scheduled things. Habits become part of you and affect what you choose as a routine. Second, the relationship between alternating responsibilities. "Saturday morning routine" addresses that it is not always the mother that is put together. With this, it shows the continuous cycle of stressed relationships. Clean v. mess. Responsibility v. carelessness. The collected v. the scattered. The poem's last line speaks to the deeper, metaphorical meaning of the previous line's reference to cleaning and lack of understanding for cooking. It explains how a routine as simple as cleaning up a mess can turn into a destructive habit of dismissing things we don't understand and avoiding confronting them.
Carolina Rineheart hails from Spring Mills, West Virginia, where she attends High school. However, she started her FFA journey during 7th grade at Oakleaf Middle School, located in Orange Park, Florida. While in Florida, she started her love for Dairy Management and would go on to continue her passion for Dairy in West Virginia. This early start and her Floridian Advisor, Mrs. Roger, motivated her to continue her FFA career and even started her on a path towards the State level. FFA gave Carolina a place to feel at home when she was far from it, and now allows her to serve a greater purpose.
Carolina’s is heavily involved in Agricultural Education, as well as beef production. She loves coaching her highschool’s public speakers, as well as assisting her advisor in creating lesson plans and teaching Introduction to Agriculture during first period. Carolina plans to one day own her own beef production operation and will continue to support the Dairy industry tirelessly. Some of Carolina’s favorite contests are the freshman Creed, and Extemporaneous speaking contests, as well as Dairy evaluation and the Mechanics competition. She has served as her Chapter President, Vice President, and Regional Vice President at Large. She will be representing the great state of West Virginia at National Convention in October for Extemporaneous speaking.
Out of the Jacket, Carolina plays Varsity soccer and softball. She also is a member of the National Science Honor society, Student Government, as well as the National Honor society. Shealso is a Volunteer at her local volunteer fire station. Carolina’s love for her state is unparalleled, if she isn't front row at Milan Puskar Stadium, you can bet she’s at home watching theMountaineers play. Carolina plans to attend West Virginia University next fall, majoring in Agriculture and Extension Education. She plans to stay in her home state to teach #TeachAG.
This year as the State’s North East Region Vice President, Carolina hopes to assist our Association in highlighting the diversity and individuality of each member.
Further more, as a student in Mrs. Hilliard's AP Literature class, Carolina hopes to gain a better understanding of culture in writing as well as improve her scope and awareness.