Fields of Destiny – Debut Pop/Folk/Rock Album Released!

Fields of Destiny-1

I am so excited to announce the release of my debut album, Fields of Destiny! After many long hours spend working on it, it’s finally finished, and I couldn’t be happier with it! It’s a combination of pop, folk, and rock, three of my favorite genres, and I wrote and recorded all of the songs here.

Here’s the track listing:

1. Great Day (3:16)

2. Shooting Star (3:14)

3. The Strength of Hope (3:26)

4. You’ll Never Own Me (3:50)

5. I Tried in the Night (5:32)

6. I Know You Can Make It (4:23)

7. I’m Going Out to Be Free (8:14)

8. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (5:03)

9. Great Day (Reprise) (1:23)

 

Reasonably soon, my album will be available on Amazon MP3 for download, but until then, you can hear it on Soundcloud and YouTube.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy it! Have a fantastic day!

Ashlee-Craft copy

Shipwrecked by Ashlee Craft – Sample Chapter

Shipwrecked

 

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The day began simply, as every other morning of my life had began, but something was different today. A certain sense of adventure hung in the air, for I was about to achieve my biggest dream.

It wouldn’t be until hours later that I realized just how great of an adventure I was about to embark upon, and just how much I would learn in the process.

I was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.

I awoke and saw the sunlight streaming through the prism hanging near my window, casting rainbows across the avocado colored rug near my bed. I stretched and basked in the light coming through my blinds before putting my feet onto the rug and kicking my slippers out from under my bed. The smell of French toast, which my parents were cooking in the kitchen, wafted into my room, and I noticed how hungry I was.

My faithful golden retriever, Sammy, lay on the rug at the foot of my bed. He wagged his tail happily when I walked across the floor and patted him on the head before I left my room.

If I had known the fate which I would meet later that very day, my morning ritual would have been a little different.

I smiled to myself as I peered out my window. I could hardly contain my excitement, for later that day, I was going to go on a boat and travel to an island in the middle of the ocean! It would be the first time I’d ever spent a night away from home, and I could hardly wait for this freedom! Initially, my parents had been apprehensive about this idea, but I knew I could handle it. I was sixteen years old and I needed some freedom – something my parents had never really given me, being as straight-laced and uptight as they were. They finally gave in, giving me permission to travel to the island alone on a boat captained by one of their best friends, who probably played large in persuading them that I should go.

For a long time, I’d wanted to visit the nearby island chain, which was about a hundred miles from shore. I had saved my money for this trip for so long, and thankfully, my parent’s friend, Captain Holden, had offered a discount, saying that he had never been to the islands either and was looking for an excuse to go.

Why did I want to go to this island? Well, when I was twelve years old, I read Treasure Island for the first time, and immediately felt a connection with the main character, Jim Hawkins. The further I got into the book, the stronger my desire became to camp out on an island, even if it was only overnight. It just sounded so magical, so adventurous, so fun! Being on an island, practically alone, watching the stars overhead, trying to survive and keep yourself safe – I could hardly imagine anything better or more amazing than that.

But after experiencing the real thing, I would think differently.

That morning, I walked into the kitchen and greeted Mom and Dad. They were both at the table, dipping pieces of bread in an egg mixture and then cooking the bread on our griddle. A stick of butter and a bottle of maple syrup sat on the table near a glass of orange juice.

Good morning, honey! We decided to make you your favorite breakfast before your trip!” Dad said with a smile.

Make sure you eat healthy food while you’re staying on the island.” Mom told me.

Mom, I’m just going to be gone for a few days! If I did eat junk food or something, it’s not like it would really make a difference.”

The look Mom replied with said a million things, most of all, the traditional ‘I’m your mother and I care about you, so don’t get on my case about what I remind you to do’.

After eating the French toast, which was delicious, I hurried upstairs to get ready to go and to add a few more things to the duffel bag I’d packed the prior night.

Inside the worn blue duffel, I had packed a rope, two notebooks, a new pack of pens, a canteen, socks, a spare pair of clothing, a toothbrush and toothpaste, my hairbrush, bug repellent, and a few other items.

In addition to the duffel bag, I also packed a sleeping bag and tent in a separate bag. Captain Holden would be bringing the food and water for us, and Mom had made some sandwiches, so I didn’t have to worry about those two necessities.

I raced down the staircase, eager to be off on my adventure. My parents were going to drive me to the docks, which were only a few miles from our house. I had spent many happy afternoons there, watching the waves and the ships coming and going, thinking of all the wonderful places they’d traveled. I could have easily ridden my bike to the docks that day, but my parents wanted to see me off safely on my adventure and insisted on coming.

The car ride was brief, and at the time, I was thankful for this. I wanted to get to the docks as soon as possible, mostly because I was excited, but also because my parents nagged me the entire car trip about what I had to do.

Don’t swim at night. Sharks attack most commonly at night.” Dad warned.

Don’t fall down any holes in the ground! You could break a bone.” Mom said, sounding overly paranoid.

Behave for Captain Holden. Don’t be stubborn.” Dad continued.

Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want us to know about.” Mom lectured.

Believe me, the ride there was by no means pleasant, but if I had known that I would not see my parents again for quite some time, I would not have rolled my eyes at their comments and sat silently in the corner, insisting that I was already aware of everything they were telling me.

We arrived at the docks and Dad pulled into a parking space between a bright red speedboat on a trailer and a convertible. I remember thinking how gaudy the red boat was as I grabbed my duffel bag from the back seat. I handed the sleeping bag and tent over the front seat, where Dad picked them up and carried them from the car.

I was wearing an old pair of tennis shoes, jean shorts, and a bright yellow t-shirt. It was a bright, humid July morning, and the Florida sun beat down hard upon my back. I was glad that I’d brought as much sunscreen as I did, although thankfully, my skin doesn’t burn easily.

My mousy brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail, the most practical style for it to be in for this adventure. I figured that if my hair was put up, it wouldn’t get in my face and bother me while I was hunting for shells or climbing trees or pretending I was Jim Hawkins.

I walked down the docks far ahead of my parents, a little embarrassed that they were here with me. After all, I was sixteen, and I didn’t see any reason for them to treat me like a baby by having to come everywhere with me. I wanted to show them that I was independent and could do things on my own.

We neared Captain Holden’s ship, an older boat named The Hula. The Hula had just gotten a new coat of paint, making her shimmer brightly in the sun and reflect the glittering waves of the water upon her hull, making it look as though the metal of the boat was alive, like a wild animal in motion.

Captain Holden, a middle aged man with slightly graying blond hair and bright blue eyes that shone like sunlight, smiled brightly when he saw me approaching.

Well, hello there, Tami! It’s a fine day for sailing, isn’t it?”

I was grinning from ear to ear, so excited to finally be going on the adventure I had dreamed of for so long.

Definitely!” I exclaimed.

I hurried towards the edge of the dock and grabbed the railing of the boat, pulling myself onto the boat and over the crevice between the boat and the dock. From here, I climbed over the railing and onto the deck. As I walked across the top deck of the ship, I squinted my eyes against the glare of the sun, and, remembering that I’d brought my sunglasses, I put them on. I could feel the gentle rocking motion of the boat beneath my feet.

A minute or two later, my parents caught up with me and smiled at Captain Holden, who was testing a few controls on his ship in preparation for our trip.

The Hula was fairly small boat and contained a several small cabins below deck, kitchen, and a bathroom. On top the deck was a covered area where Captain Holden captained the boat, and outside of this area were some white vinyl seats Several life jackets stood out starkly against the crisp clean white of the boat.

Captain Holden strode over towards the edge of the boat and put down the ramp so that we could enter the boat. His forehead was covered in sweat and his skin was browned by the sun, a hue which contrasted his white captain’s outfit.

My parents stepped onto the boat.

Thanks again for deciding to take Tami on this trip.” Dad said.

Captain Holden smiled and replied,

I’ve been waiting to see the island for such a long time myself, and when Tami mentioned that she wanted to go and explore it, I couldn’t help but accept.” He looked over at me. “You bring your camera, Tami?”

Yes! I put it in a plastic bag to protect it from water.” I announced happily.

Captain Holden, Mom, and Dad all smiled at me.

I was absolutely elated. I was about to go on the biggest adventure of my life.

On the top deck was a long, coiled rope, which was attached to the anchor. I entered the wheelhouse and saw the large steering wheel and a variety of controls. I immediately thought that captaining a boat must be a difficult job, because you probably had to pay attention to all of these dials and things all at the same time.

I walked back out into the sunlight and saw my parents talking to Captain Holden. Almost as soon as I reached them, Captain Holden looked at his watch and said,

Well, it’s nearly time for us to be off. Tami, say your goodbyes to your parents now.” Looking at Mom and Dad, he added, “And remember, be here at the same time in two days to pick Tami up. I have more clients scheduled for that day, and if you’re not early enough, your daughter will have to walk home.”

Mom and Dad nodded, seeming saddened by my departure. I smiled at them reassuringly. I wasn’t at all afraid of spending a few nights away from them, despite the fact that I had never spent the night away from them once, not even for a sleepover when I was growing up.

I was happy to finally be embracing freedom.

On my adventure, I planned on exploring the island, pretending I was a castaway, and taking pictures and make notes about everything. When school started back up again, I would write my summer report about this trip.

Little did I know I’d have so much to tell.

My parents stood there in the sun, smiling at me as we embraced and said our goodbyes.

I love you, sweetie!” Dad said, his voice filled with emotion.

Have a great time and be careful!” Mom said, sounding a little like she was holding back tears. “I love you.”

I love you guys too. Now, have a good time! I don’t want you sitting around the house being all boring and stuff, crying about the fact that I’m on an adventure. I’ll have a great time, I can assure you! And be sure to play with Sammy, or he’ll get lonely.”

My parents and I hugged once again, and they walked down the ramp and back onto the dock. Captain Holden untied the boat from the dock. Then he walked into the wheelhouse and started the boat’s motor. We slowly began to pull away from the dock, leaving my parents smiling and crying and waving at me.

We love you!” They shouted.

I love you guys too!” I shouted back over the roaring of the engines.

The boat slowly got farther and farther away from the shore, and in no time at all, we were cruising at an average speed.

The wind whipped my hair around, and I was thankful for my sunglasses, or else the wind would have stung my eyes as well. It was a little harder to breathe with all the air rushing into my nostrils, so I turned to the side a little a looked over the edge of the boat, grinning from ear to ear.

I was finally free! After sixteen years of being confined by my parents, of only dreaming of adventure, of having to listen to everything they told me, I was finally on my own, and I was sure I was going to have a marvelous time.

The ocean was a crisp, clear, sparkling blue, and the sky was nearly cloudless. The sun beat down warm against my skin, but the breeze was contrastingly cooler.

I glanced back at Captain Holden, who smiled at me from the wheelhouse.

At this point, I thought back on when I first conceived this dream of mine.

At twelve, being an avid reader, I had heard of the book Treasure Island and decided to give it a try. It was a classic, and I loved adventure stories, so I was sure that I would enjoy it.

Well, I did more than enjoy it. I loved it so much that all I wanted to do was to live and breathe it. For a while, it was all I thought about, all I dreamed about. Everything I did during the day was somehow preparation for a similar adventure that I vowed I would go on. I started swimming in the neighborhood pool almost daily, in case while I was on an adventure, I had to swim a long distance. I climbed trees, in case it was a skill I would need to be an expert at sometime on an adventure. I ran laps in the neighborhood to build up my strength and stamina. I read every book in the library about treasure, pirates, adventures, survival, camping, sailing, and basically every other subject that would be useful for someone on an adventure. I watched as many adventure films as possible – Indiana Jones, Robinson Crusoe, Pirates of the Caribbean – you name it, and I watched it, eagerly taking tips from my heroes about what to do, and more importantly, what not to do.

Anyways, by the time I’d finished reading Treasure Island, I had made a vow to myself that I would do something similar. I mean, obviously, I didn’t want to go through the whole pirate war thing and all like Jim Hawkins had to do in Treasure Island. But still, the freedom of being on an island, the freedom of being who you were and doing exactly as you pleased looked especially wonderful to someone like me. I pictured long days spent basking in the sun on the beach, climbing trees, swimming in the ocean, finding food on the island, and hopefully, finding buried treasure.

I told my parents about my idea soon after I finished the book, and they passed it off as a mere childhood fantasy. But I was sure of what I wanted, despite the fact that my parents thought I was just a little too inspired by a book I had read.

I was more than inspired; I was obsessed.

Staying on an island, even if it was only overnight, became my primary dream. As four years passed, my interest in this idea remained was just as strong, if not stronger, than it was the day I’d conceived it.

When my 16th birthday came along, my parents asked me what I wanted.

I want to spend a night on an island.” I replied, which was the same response I had given them every year since I was twelve.

There was a difference that year though. Now that I was sixteen, they had to acknowledge that I was growing up. After all, I was now old enough to drive a car by myself, which meant more freedom for me. But my parents didn’t like the idea of me driving, as they thought that I was still too young to drive and therefore, had refused to teach me how to drive until I was the ripe age of seventeen. I was angry at them for this, thinking they were holding me back and were trying to keep freedom from me. It seemed as though they wanted to keep me close because they were afraid of letting me spread my wings, make my own decisions, and go out in the world.

When I announced to them that I still wanted to spend a night on an island, I was met with disapproving looks. Because I knew how strongly they opposed the idea of me driving, I added,

Either that, or you teach me how to drive.”

It wasn’t as much a wish as it was a threat. It was, in my opinion, a surefire way to convince them to let me get what I truly wanted. If they thought spending the night on an island was dangerous, it was nothing in comparison to what they thought of me driving.

My parents talked about my idea for a long, long time, and I waited outside their bedroom door, listening as hard as I could to hear what they were saying, but their words were muffled and I only heard some of it.

Responsible…not sure….dangerous…adventure…I was her age…she can’t…”

But when they left their room (and by this time, I had gone back to my room, not wanting them to know that I’d been eavesdropping), they told me they had come to the conclusion that I could spend one night on an island, to which I’d be taken to by our longtime family friend, Captain Holden.

I was so excited that I immediately started packing, although it was nearly two months before I was actually scheduled to go on the trip.

A few weeks prior to my departure date, Mom and I had gone to Target and bought me a nice one-piece bathing suit, which was shiny and blue like the ocean.

Now, the boat tore through the water, and I was filled with a childlike sense of wonder that all of this was finally happening. With every minute that passed out there in the big blue ocean, the happiness inside of me only increased, as did the full realism that I was on my way to achieving my dream. I had made it happen, and this pleased me more than I could describe.

The ocean zoomed past us so quickly that it felt like we were flying, which was one of the most exhilarating sensations I’d ever experienced.

We cruised like this for some time, crashing through the waves and heading towards the island, and the entire time, I stood near the side of the ship. My happiness was so overwhelming that I could do little but stand there and soak it all in.

Captain Holden and I would spend that night on the boat and reach the island the day after. Then we’d stay on the island overnight, leave the next day, and return home the day after that. I looked forward to sleeping in my sleeping bag under the stars, basking in the sacredness of the moonlight and inhaling the sweet island breezes.

For three days, I’d be living my dream.

How are you enjoying your trip?” Captain Holden asked me when he stopped the boat around lunchtime.

Today is the best day of my life!” I exclaimed, smiling at him.

The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully. I saw a pod of dolphins jumping from the waves, and although it wasn’t the first time I’d seen dolphins in the wild, it was incredibly thrilling.

As the day neared its end, the sky began to glow orange and yellow, and the sun sank down upon the horizon like a pat of butter melting on mashed potatoes.

Captain Holden slowed the boat to a complete stop and went down into the kitchen, which is called a galley on the boat, to get out the sandwiches my parents had made us.

I sat cross legged on the deck, looking at the stars that were just beginning to appear in the darkening sky. The boat rocked gently, and peace filled every bit of me. Is this what true perfection was? I wondered this as I sat there, breathing deeply, fully immersed in the moment.

A minute later, Captain Holden returned to the deck with the sandwiches. I removed my canteen from my duffel and sat down near the edge of the boat to eat my toasted cheese sandwich. The sandwich was cold by this time, which was actually nice because I had spent all day in the heat.

Your parents are good chefs.” Captain Holden said, taking a bite of his toasted cheese sandwich.

I shrugged and took a bite of mine.

I guess so.” The reluctance in voice was blatant.

You seem a little angry every time I mention them.” He observed.

I looked out at the ocean and nodded.

I am.”

Why?”

Well, my entire life, they’ve never let me have any independence. I mean, I’m not mad at them, just annoyed. Anyways, my whole life, they’ve always told me what to do, and I’ve always had to do it. Anything that I wanted to do had to be scrutinized by them. If I befriended someone, they wanted to meet them immediately. Several times, they told me I couldn’t be friends with a certain person because they feared they’d be a bad influence.”

They were probably right in their judgment.”

Yeah right! They just want to control every aspect of my life. They don’t let me chose anything for myself. If I see something I want at the store, even if it’s just a shirt, usually they try to convince me to get something different. I’m lucky I can even ride my bike anywhere. And that’s one of the reasons I’m so happy to be on this cruise – for the first time in my life, they’re not right behind me, telling me what’s wrong and right. For the first time in my life, I actually get to make my own choices.”

Captain Holden nodded his head.

I remember what it was like to be sixteen.” He said. “Everyone in the world seems to be against you, especially your own parents. You want to get out in the world, change things, have a good time, and make your own choices. You want to decide for yourself what’s right and wrong, and live your life the way you want to. But everyone seems like they’re trying to stop you. Everyone’s just getting in your way, stopping you from doing the things you need to do. Nobody seems to understand how you feel, and you can’t explain it even if you wanted to. You just want your life to begin; you want to discover who you are. And it’s a struggle to find your way. But I want to tell you the two greatest things that I wished I’d known at your age. First, often times, your parents are right, even if you don’t think so at the time. Sometimes they’re not, but a lot of times, they are right. All of us adults were sixteen once; all of us know what it’s like. The only reason your parents act like they do is because they love you.”

I rolled my eyes, not wanting to hear someone preach to me about what I should think about my parents and making excuses for why they were so paranoid.

Second, you know a lot more than you think you do. A wise person once said that ‘life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself’. Trust in yourself, believe in your abilities, and everything will be okay. You can always find your way if you look in the right places and do what you know you need to do. You’ve got to follow your heart. Because when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”

His last words really struck a chord with me, and I finished my sandwich in silence, mulling over them. For the first time in my life, an adult had told me that I needed to believe in myself and do the things I needed to do – not the things they wanted me to do, but the things I wanted and needed to do.

And this – this adventure – was something I needed to do. I realized that I needed to go on this adventure just to stretch my wings; I needed to get away from what I’d known and make my own decisions for once. I needed to be free. But most of all, I needed to go on this adventure for me, just to prove to myself just what I was capable of. I needed to get away from my parents so I could discover who I was and define myself for myself, not define myself by who my parents thought I should be.

I had made something amazing happen, I had made my dream come true. I’d had the power within me to make this happen. Although my parents hadn’t supported it at first, I finally convinced them that I was right and they should let me do it.

Here I was, living my dream, and that was a good bit of proof to me that what Captain Holden said was true. I could make amazing things happen when I believed in myself.

The sky was now completely dark, and we sat there in silence looking at the stars for a while. The ocean waves lapped gently against the hull of the ship.

Little did we know that at this time, a tiny crack in the hull caused by floating debris was beginning to leak. There was, at this point, around an inch of water in the engine room.

Captain Holden stretched and stood up.

Well, we should probably be going to bed now. We’ve got to get an early start tomorrow.”

At this point, Captain Holden and I said goodnight, and he went downstairs to go to his bed. As Captain Holden frequently took charter customers on overnight cruises, there were several other cabins below deck besides his, but I had elected to sleep out under the stars rather than in a cabin.

I stood up and went down into the spare cabin where Captain Holden had put my sleeping bag and pillow. While I was below deck, I also refilled my canteen.

I brought these items up onto the deck and undid the strap on my sleeping bag, unrolling it onto the deck. I put my pillow at the top of my sleeping bag and put my canteen in my duffel, which was to my left.

Still wearing the clothes I’d worn that day, l laid down on the cool nylon of the sleeping bag and got inside of it, leaving it unzipped, as it was still around seventy degrees out. The sky seemed to be a beautiful, endless abyss, just like the ocean was. The stars twinkled above me, reminding me of fish swimming in the sea, and it was the perfect vision of peace. I just felt so happy inside that I couldn’t describe it.

Exhausted from the excitement from the day, I closed my eyes and fell asleep almost immediately.

It seemed like only minutes later, but was really around an hour later, when I heard a shout and bolted upright in bed.

Captain Holden burst from the cabin of the ship and onto the deck.

Tami, the ship is sinking! The hull is filling with water, and we’re going down fast!”

Fear coursed through me, and immediately, I was fully awake.

I jumped up, grabbing the handle of my duffel bag and slinging it over my shoulder.

Here, put this life jacket on. Quickly!” He shouted, panic filling his usually calm voice.

I put the life jacket on in a rush, my brain barely comprehending exactly what was happening. Everything that was happening was so abrupt and shocking that it all seemed like a dream.

Suddenly, the force of his words truly hit me.

We were sinking. We were far from shore, and in a matter of minutes, this boat would be completely submerged.

A chill ran down my spine, and I began to panic. I tried to breathe deeply, tried to remember what a person is supposed to do in the case of a shipwreck, but my mind was a mess, and I couldn’t seem to think straight. Fear was engulfing me too deeply to do any rational thinking.

Captain Holden rushed around the boat, hurrying towards the wheelhouse to radio for help, but he was too late.

The boat’s hull had filled with so much water that it simply couldn’t stay afloat any longer. I was near the edge of the boat and Captain Holden was in the wheelhouse when the boat lurched violently to the side.

Jump! Jump down! Jump clear of it!” Captain Holden screamed. Even from where I stood, I could see the look of utter terror in his eyes.

Blindly following his instructions, I jumped over the side of the boat, still clutching my duffel bag.

I hit the water harder than I thought I would, and this knocked the wind out of me and stung my skin. All I could hear was the sound of my heart pounding in my ears and the bubbles rushing through the waves around me. All I could feel was the ocean surrounding me like a suffocating abyss.

 

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Ashlee Craft – Dancing in the Sunlight – Poetry Book Sample

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Suddenly

suddenly it all seems so clear

how to face the things I’ve feared

how to understand that life

is about happiness

not misery & strife

& any of us can live in the light

if it is the sky we seek to kiss

suddenly it all makes sense

how to break down the binding fence

climbing it is a street we must cross

how to understand that freedom

is not something that has a cost

but without it, we’re lost

free is something you must become

suddenly I see & understand

the shooting stars of dreams in my hand

free yourself if you’re confined

learn to break the iron bars

& I’ll always be here to remind

you that nothing can ever define you

you must soar amongst the stars

Epiphany / Sudden Understanding

eleven thirty one & nine fourteen / night time & darkness & the familiar comforts of music caressing of a soft hand in my own & looking around at the darkened room with the purple glow surrounding all of it / looking looking looking around & suddenly the understanding I’ve sought for years hits me right then & there

I had stood with my back to the wind & my face to the sun, basked in the light on decks of ships & hid amongst paperwork in the office / I’d painted the silver canvases & played the golden harps & stood & tried to make friends (not succeeding yet but still trying, there just doesn’t seem to be many opportunities in this field) & tried to find love & realizing a variety of things & discovering what I truly needed / I thought I needed certain people for certain things but when I looked around I didn’t see any that fit / I thought I needed a job / but then I looked around at the metaphorical hamster wheels with rat-race runners dancing upon them & gazed into their monotonous monotonous monosyllabic eyes & watched them numbly completing their work with their dead dreams & wasted wasted time & I knew I could never be happy there / I thought I needed transportation to find these people & these monotones but I soon realized that wasn’t for me either / I tried all the glory & everything but no matter how far I ran, it seemed like I was always standing in the same place

but suddenly it occurred to me what I needed

what I truly wanted

I wanted to be big

I wanted to do something big

something above & beyond what everyone else I knew was doing

in their daily monotone routines

in their simplistic boundaries

I wanted to do something amazing

above & beyond that

above & beyond what others expected I’d do

above & beyond my own expectations for myself

I wanted to prove to the world

& to myself

just what I could do if I tried

Simple / Dance on the Triangle

maniacal magistrates striking midnight beneath the mottled cover of mistaken streetlamps & the forbidden alleyways & itching for the plastic click clack keyboards & gesturing towards the aisles of seaweed wrought with the irons of tomorrow / the speaker stands on the beat box podium & speaks into the opinionated ministrations & the clocks going backwards in shock & showing me the darkness & the lightness of the past & looking into the yarn stories of old apartment tenements & the tenants of new & different illustrations embossed in gold ink with the silver suppleness of the sparkling cloth mango & peach & lime tree slips of paper & plastic numbers blinking & flashing / the car street lights reflecting on greasy pavement & photos in newspapers protesting the use of copy written sonatas & serenading the text box smiles & the flimsy paper masks & marks of pride worn deep upon their breasts bearing the sign signifying that they too have fallen into monochromatic tones & they’ve been absorbed by airplane annoyances & angry flashes of fire & flames meeting & illuminated by the conference calling the trespassers that will soon be arrested for carrying gallon jugs of water of pastures of gold & the fastest & the obsessive points fraternizing with the dancers upon the floor & being thrown into the cold snow false realities & machine marginal camera stand photocopies of stereographic lexicon metropolis palindrome metamorphosis of the metaphorical butterflies golden & yellow & shining landing on top of the majestic purple mountains & rows of sunflower tents, arrowhead dancers drinking up the silver silence & returning returning returning safely home

You’ll Never Change the Way I Feel

for so long I hid away & never said all the things I wanted to say / things would come to my mind but I’d fear if I let them out thru the iron gates you’d only say something that would make me regret it / I just feared that you’d disagree or say something that would embarrass me, like asking how could I like such a thing or how you always disliked it / & I’d feel bad about it / my instant reaction to any opinion formed in my mind was thick scrutiny of what others would think / what would everyone I know think about it / what would the world think / what would I think / & I just couldn’t accept the fact that I liked what I liked & believed what I believed / so I lived a lie & tried to convince myself that I thought otherwise

you’ll like it once you try it, you claim / once you learn, once you get out there & start doing it / but I knew otherwise / it’ll be fun / you said / I wanted to say no but instead I kept to myself & just agreed with you & pretended that I wanted to & that I agreed with their disillusions of reality they’d planned for me

but one day it occurred to me that I didn’t want all those things / I just wanted to like what I liked & feel how I felt & believe what I believed / I didn’t want to worry about what you’d think / no / I wasn’t going to worry about what you thought or what another person thought or they or them or anyone else / why should I let other’s opinions define my own?

& with that sudden burst of freedom it occurred to me that I was my own person & I would no longer be defined by others / I would define myself

The Small Things

I realized / while sitting in the sunlight feeling it warming my back & feeling the warmth of it on my face & the breeze blowing thru my hair & watching my dog roll around in pure happiness / that perhaps there was something more / something I had been missing / sometimes I’d see a glimpse or a ghost shadow of it but I never truly saw it

I was too busy looking straight ahead, looking towards the big picture that I didn’t see that the big picture was made up of tiny dots of color painted by fairy bristles, didn’t see that the big joys were all made up of little joys

I could sit there looking at the big picture & seeing what I wanted to be & seeing the big things that I was really looking forwards to, or I could look at the little things – the little joys / & realize that I was successful / & realize that I’d always had everything I thought I lacked

I could open my eyes / & see all the little beautiful things / I could open my eyes / & see myself reflecting back in the green triangle / the smallest things / make up the bigger things / each moment / completes up my dreams

Never Give Up

never give up

you never know just how close

you may be

to your dreams

once I read a story

about a man

who hunted for treasure

so he went out

& found a treasure map

& an island where gold was said to be found

he searched & searched

& dug & dug

& still he couldn’t find the gold

so he gave up

& moved on, declaring the island a failure

& gave his treasure map up

well, the next man who ended up with the map

continued on the search

& three feet from where the first man stopped

digging

& gave up

the gold was found

lots of gold

more than he could ever have imagined

& I remind myself of this story

whenever I fear that nothing is happening

& that nothing will happen

or that my dreams won’t work out

I think about this man

& know I must never give up

for I know that if I ever quit

ever said goodbye to my dreams

my dreams may have been only feet away

I could have been that close

my dreams could be that close right now

& so I will always persevere

I will never give up

Desert Rose

pink & gold & orange & red like a sunset & holding onto the sun as it sets & swirls round the world for another go tomorrow & the last glow of the moon remaining in the early morning skies & wondering why as we drive thru the countrysides & deserts & over rickety bridges & under canyons of golden poetry & words struck by the flint of lightning & sparking into the skies & lighting the stars at night & flashing flares into the foaming form of desert desirous designs / designated by the floatation furnishing of fern-leaf formations, flooding out into the floodgate tapestries / trying / trying / & blooming despite the lack of rain

blooming blooming blooming blooming

oh, rose of the desert

how you shine

(c) 2012 Ashlee Craft

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Poetry Review – wafting towards heaven by Alx Uttermann

wafting towards heaven by Alx Uttermann is one of the finest poetry books I have ever read, and I think it is simply lovely, illuminating, and highly profound. I thoroughly enjoyed every single poem in this book. It’s the kind of poetry book that gives you many great insights and ideas, and the kind that you want to read over and over again because it is so beautiful. The poems are odes to spirituality, to the small and beautiful things in life, and to life itself. While I love all the poems in this book, my two very favorites are the first and last poems, “one day, say everything” and “it’s simple”, respectively. “one day, say everything” reminds me of what it is like to be a writer, and the last lines of “it’s simple” give me chills because they are perfect. If you’re looking for beautiful and amazing poetry, this book is for you.

 wafting toward heaven on Amazon Kindle

Octopus (Wonderful Wildlife, #4) – New Book Released!

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Genre: Juvenile Non-Fiction
Paperback: 28 Pages
Series: Wonderful Wildlife

The octopus is an invertebrate (animal without a spine) and mollusk that has eight arms and large eyes. They are closely related to cuttlefish, squid, and the nautilus. If you are talking about more than one octopus, you can say octopi, octopuses, or octopodes. Octopodes have blue blood and breathe underwater through gills. Learn more about octopuses with this fun book for children ages seven and up.

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A Thousand Cranes – Volume 5 by Ashlee Craft – New Poetry Book Released

A Thousand Cranes 5

 

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A Euphoric Hope

a tiny kindling fire inside the glass jar
a tiny star just being more in this lost universe
a tiny spark illuminating the embers left behind
a tiny seedling dreaming of becoming a redwood tree
a tiny raindrop falling down to nurture the earth
a tiny bumblebee flying even though people say it can’t
a tiny song of hope calling out thru the hills
a tiny act of kindness curing the world’s sorrow
a tiny spark setting alight the embers in my heart
& a tiny euphoric hope
that comes Alive

A Thousand Cranes – Volume 5 is a collection of 100 poems.

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Blossom the Elephant Makes a Friend

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Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Subjects: Friendship, Kindness, Virtues, Treat others the way you want to be treated
Paperback: 34 Pages
Age: 4 – 10

When a young elephant moves in next door to Blossom, she is excited and thinks the two of them are going to become friends. But when the new elephant, whose name is Susan, is mean and becomes Blossom’s enemy, Blossom learns that the best way to turn an enemy into a friend is to treat them the way you want to be treated.

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Now Offering Drawing Commissions!

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I am so excited to announce that I am now going to be offering drawing commissions! Here is how it will work.

* You contact me in my ask box with what you want me to draw for you. Be sure to include your email address so I can send you a scanned copy of the completed drawing. Be as specific as possible when describing the commissioned drawing (describe the color, size, style of drawing, whether you want it to be black & white or color, & whether you want it to be a pencil sketch, painting, comic, watercolor, etc). I can also add words & letting to the picture if you want. If you don’t want to use my ask box, you can email me at artbyashleecraft@gmail.com.

* I will reply back to you saying that I am going to do your commission. The charge per simple drawing (the second two examples above are simple drawings) is USD $3, & the cost per advanced drawing (like the first example) is USD $5 per drawing. Very detailed drawings will cost USD $10. You’ll need to send me this money via PayPal. My PayPal address is artbyashleecraft@gmail.com.

* Once I have received your payment, I will draw your commission within 3 business days, then scan a copy of this drawing and email the jpeg version of the file to you.

I will draw things in the following categories. Requests involving sex/nudity, violence, or discriminatory slurs/words/themes will not be filled and will be ignored. I have the right to refuse any request if it is not something I want to draw.

Subjects I will draw:

*Animals

*Nature/Landscape

*Anything Kawaii

*Food

*People

*Abstracts

*Patterns

 

Thank you so much! I look forward to receiving your commissions!

 

Ashlee-Craft copy

Radiant – Ashlee Craft’s New Young Adult Novel Released

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Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Paperback: 300 Pages
For Ages 13+

 

They’re all radiant 
Radiant like the sun 
Radiant like the moon that shines above the sea 
Radiant like the stars twinkling light-years away 
Radiant 
Radiant 
But I’m not one of them 
Maybe someday I will be 

I read the poem from the page of my notebook and sigh. How many times before have I read those words? The words are part of a poem from a book I’d read a long time ago, a poem I’d liked so much that I’d copied the words down in the notebook where I saved things that made me feel just a little bit better. I don’t remember how the poem ends because I didn’t like it at the time, so I didn’t write it down.
Sometimes, I wonder how it’s all going to end for me.
This notebook of mine is black and has a worn cover on it. Inside, it is filled with quotes, thoughts that I had, and song lyrics. Anything that cheers me up, even if it is only a little bit. Because that little bit matters. That little bit is sometimes the only thing that keeps me from completely falling down.
Sometimes, that little bit is all that keeps me from breaking.
I cling to that notebook like a lifeline, because in a way, it is.
Those words, those words from that poem written by some poet I could no longer remember the name of, those words make me feel better. Because when I hear words like that, I know I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only one that feels that way.
I am not radiant.
I am not beautiful.
I am not special.
I am not important.
I do not matter.
And I never would be anything different than that.
I am ugly, and stupid, and fat. I don’t deserve to be liked, or cared about; I don’t deserve to matter. Everyone I know hates me, and they think that I am nothing.
But they can’t hate me more than I hate myself.
No one could hate me more than that.
Despite this, despite all these feelings that are bottled up inside of me, feelings that I could tell no one, that poem still gives me a sliver of hope. The hope that maybe someday, some far off day in my unforeseeable and frightening future, maybe I could feel radiant. Maybe I could feel beautiful. Maybe I could be happy.
I laugh at this ridiculous idea. I know it’s never going to happen. An impossible dream. A dream so impossible that it isn’t even worth my time to try and imagine it, and yet, I do. My whole life, I have watched as those around me, those who are prettier, smarter, and better than me, have succeeded in life. I watch as I remain behind, forgotten about, hurting. But no one sees me. They’re all to busy with their own beautiful lives to notice me at all.
Because I am a failure, and I always will be.
Yes, that poem makes me feel a little better, but at the same time, reading it hurts. Hurts me deep inside. The poem reminds me of all the things that I never could be. It reminds me that there are so many people who are better than me, people who are or will be happy. People who actually have a chance.
When I read that poem, I am reminded that I will never be like them.
To be honest, I don’t really understand why I like that poem so much. I mean, if I read it for hope, why am I kidding myself? Why do I still believe that things can work out for me, that things are going to get better? Why do I keep lying to myself, lying that maybe someday things could get better?
Despite the fact that the poem cheers me up, it also makes me feel confused and obligated, like I am supposed to feel radiant, and beautiful, and important, just like most other people around me feel.
So, why do I like that poem if it cannot provide me with hope?
Because it shows me that I am not alone, and for the time being, that is enough.

 

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