Poem: My Moment

Far into the night of my childhood,

There waited the daylight of my wisdom.

As I stumbled, crawled, and cried,

A pillar of strength waited to become me.

I had no objective when I arrived,

And neither did you.

We landed.

We paused.

We stayed.

Far into the nights of my womanhood,

The crone in me awaits my arrival.

With creases of a life lived on her face,

She plays the piano with painful bones.

She has no intention to leave,

And neither do I.

Neither do you.

But, we will.

And when my moment arrives,

I will have lived a life fulfilled.

-Princess Yvonne Dumas – January 13, 2023

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The Oxford comma – yes, yes, and yes

About ten to fifteen years ago, another writer posted online about their dismay when editing writers and realizing they had not caught onto the anti-Oxford comma update. This is someone I grew up with in Jersey City and he was very intelligent. I had seen the trend happen on a few sites, and I had a few freelancing assignments that required the fateful comma drop. I almost always disagreed and made an editor do it for me. Maybe my youthful lack of wisdom was taking a stand. It felt as if people heard a new rule and did not process any logic while obeying it.

Most of my writing includes the Oxford comma. Every once in a while, you’ll find something from me that lacks it, and it’s a result of the debate described in the above paragraph. For a long time, I did not know what to do – use it or not use it. One time, I had an editor get upset when they had to correct my Oxford commas for the third time. It was not long before I left that specific assignment. I do not do well with entities that disrespect language and clarity in communication.

I am “flowery” and wordy enough in my writing. I’m a poet. English already has many words with double entendre and confusing translations into other languages. This battle against a simple punctuation annoyed me then and annoys me now. Maybe it bothers me more since so many people who are anti-Oxford will get super condescending against those of us who still use it. It’s really become the dinosaur-tracking tool of the literary world!

What is the Oxford comma?

The Oxford comma is simply a comma – the punctuation that separates items in a list or adds clarity within a complex sentence. The Oxford comma often serves an itemizing function. I’ll give you a few examples below:

The car is big, new, and blue.

The second comma is the Oxford comma.

My family loves music from The Doors, The Police, and the Beatles.

Jane, Bob, and I are going to the fair, restaurant, and home tonight.

Those who prefer a lack of Oxford comma insist that the meaning of the sentence does not change – that the Oxford interrupts the flow of the voice. They would want the above sentences to look more like this:

The car is big, new and blue. My family loves music from The Doors, The Police and The Beatles. Jane, Bob and I are going to the fair, restaurant and home tonight.

When it comes to simple sentences, they are right. Not much changes with or without the Oxford comma. However, I would argue that a tiny tidbit of confusion has entered the conversation when we revisit the meaning of our second sentence.

My family loves music from The Doors, The Police and The Beatles. If you and I did not have common knowledge understanding about these band names, we would see this sentence and note that the “and” is missing before “The Police,” and we would conclude that there was a band going around by the name of The Police and The Beatles. This is why I use the Oxford comma. I don’t want to assume the reader’s understanding, and I definitely don’t want to create an expiration date in my writing. What do I mean by an expiration date? Well, in years to come, will it still be common knowledge to understand I meant three separate bands? Maybe. Maybe not. Punctuation adds clarity.

The part that gets me is that in proper writing – published books, fixed website pages, and other types of content platforms – we don’t usually write in simple sentences. Once you get a complex thought going, the Oxford comma can make or break the clarity of that point.

Example:

I love to eat international cuisine at home, such as, Coq au vin, Carbonara, Bandeja Paisa and Sushi with Fresh Ginger.

Without the Oxford comma, we just ruined Colombian and Japanese food while simultaneously getting a horrible tummy ache. For as long as sentences like the one above exist and can border on the ridiculous, I will always use the Oxford comma. There’s no practical purpose to enable confusion in written communication.

Use that comma! 😉

Music Monday: Meatloaf

I remember thinking I had just discovered something new and really cool when I first began playing Meatloaf’s 1993 Bat Out Of Hell II: Back into Hell album. MTV and VH1 were playing his epic music videos with all of their gothic drama and I thought myself unique. As it turned out his music was mostly a reprise from two decades prior, and my mom was quick to note I had no clue who he really was.

Between Jim Steinman’s amazing songwriting and piano-based rock, along with Meatloaf’s passionate performances, I really loved his work for a number of years in my youth. Michael Lee Aday, the man known as Meatloaf, really inspired who I became as a musician. He passed away January 20, 2022. In an oddly mystical and gothic way, I hope he’s joined Jim (died April 19, 2021) again in the afterlife and they’re making lots of great music again.

I’ll close with sharing one of my favorite Meatloaf hits (Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through) and an early acting feature by Angelina Jolie! 🙂

Sunday Night Thoughts: Labeling People

For my Sunday night thoughts, I’ve been wondering why so many people seem obsessed with labeling people on the internet. From race to religion and lifestyle choices, it seems this younger generation has influenced the popular social narratives into a state of compartmentalization. No sharing, no appreciating, no learning from one another – everything is a problem, and others have a right to tell you who and what you are without knowing anything about you. This is unstable thinking.

As someone with a very racially, ethnically, and culturally mixed background, I find myself feeling defensive from so many online arguments. I tend not to participate, but every now and then, I find myself making a statement about human anthropology or trying to find the common ground. Labeling people into categories, invented by social expectations, is weird. It’s divisive. It’s ignorant. And yet, for some reason, very educated internet users are promoting this labeling habit as if it were an act of something positive.

Anything that pushes you to reject any aspect of yourself, your ancestry, and your living remnant of human history is wrong. Stop letting people tell you or others how to identify. Nothing good is going to come from long-term labeling and compartmentalizing of human beings.

Poem: Cactus Circus

Cactus Circus by Princess Yvonne Dumas

One, two, three, you go,

Grow across the surface –

With a scorched tip nose

And a juggler’s dream come true.

Do you know the way from here?

Is it straight to the water or my fear?

Looks like you’re missing an act.

Right there, do you see it?

Surrounded by spectators,

Standing on their feet –

I see them. Do you?

Colorless clowns all looking the same,

With no form,

With no name,

Not of their own…

Sycophants of everlasting green,

Never thinking twice to be mean.

You need a splash of color,

Starting to get pale on the cheek.

Is it me you need?

I can fit just as well for the ride.

I’ll grab onto you,

And your entourage of standing lovers,

Add my crimson blood to your mask,

And you’ll say I’m part of your act.

Cactus

New Blog for 2022!

There’s a new blog for 2022 coming your way! It’ll be all things poetry, prose, random thoughts, reviews, and more! While I have been busy with The Calm Principles website and expanding the content, tools, and blog on that site, I want to keep a nice home for my regular writing to nestle cozily. While I had to put a pause on my travel writing plans before Covid began, I am happy to start talking about the things I do for recreation and relaxation, alone and with family. All of it is poetry, I guess. Ha!

If you like poetry, come back soon! I have plans to be releasing more poetry books in the upcoming years and I’m working on a short story compilation for late 2022 or early 2023!

I know I keep busy with my music projects, but there’s always room for jello, as they say!!