when the night comes

Some days

I can fool myself into thinking

I’m alright.

A walk outside,

A giggle or a conversation,

Pleasant distractions.

Two or three moments

Strung together

That do not wound me.

False confidence, as I think

Perhaps it’s not so bad,

This new life.

Maybe I can live it.

When

Suddenly, quietly,

Like a fox slipping through

The fence at dusk

It comes…

Creeping into me,

Cyphening the light from

My chest and the love

From my bones

I am destroyed

As

Ever so slowly

(Yet somehow all at once)

I die, I die, I die.

 

DFW

That story –

The one about David Foster Wallace

Winning a prestigious award months after

Stepping into the abyss,

Believing he and his life and his work

Were worthless…

I don’t know if it’s true but

It comes to mind a lot.

I started reading him after I heard that story.

Talented, raw, stunningly gifted.

I am full of rage today

White-hot flame that accompanies

Grief of this magnitude

I’m pissed that my life hasn’t gone anywhere

Embarrassed that you probably

Aren’t proud

And I am ready to be done with

All this bullshit

So. Much. Bullshit.

Maybe I’ll never amount to anything?

That’s where it seems to be headed

All these talented people around me

Some are horrible, liars and cheats who

Got ahead

Some are authentic and totally

Deserve success.

They are my peers.

Am I the exception that proves this rule?

I work and wait and hope and believe

And nothing happens.

I feel stuck here, unloved, ordinary.

And I’m angry you are gone

Angry at life

Angry at death

Angry.

I’m no David Foster Wallace but

I think about him a lot these days.

Eulogy [prologue]

It was one of the most intimate moments we’d ever shared.

I forget what I was in line for.  I guess I had tuned out all the other people.  I do that sometimes – the noise and the buzzing feeling I get in social situations lead me to focus on something else, something smaller, less loud.  Staring at a penny that looked like it might be glued to the ground by my foot, hands in my pockets, I waited in the line.

All of a sudden someone brushed up against me.  Not like when a stranger passes by and grazes an elbow, more like when you back yourself into a wall.  Only this time the wall had backed into me.  Someone was behind me, someone big.  I could feel them, their warmth covered me like a blanket.  Hands – rougher than mine and calloused – slid into my pockets behind my own.  A head rested itself on my shoulder.  I could feel a bit of stubble on the side of my face, hot breath next to my cheek.

It was sweet, not salacious.  It was familiar, and I knew it was you without having to turn around.  What I didn’t know was why it was you.  Why were you there, standing in line with me – with me and in the middle of all these other people?  It didn’t make any sense, and I thought about questioning it but stopped myself.  It didn’t need to make sense.  I’d ask questions later.  For now, I just wanted to stand here staring at a glued-down penny, your big rough hands nestled behind mine in the deep pockets of my overalls, your head on my shoulder.

We didn’t talk. The line didn’t move.  The wind didn’t blow, the birds didn’t sing.  Nothing happened and at the same time, everything happened. We stood there together, me with you and you with me, hands in pockets.

A millisecond later I was startled awake by the loud creaking of my bedroom windowsill.  These windows get to complaining whenever there’s a thunderstorm like the one tonight. It’s hot and raining heavy and the wood is moving around under the pressure.

I smiled at the absurdity of that moment.

A finger-snap ago I had been happy, in a sunny place feeling warm and secure, and just as I’d begun to thank my lucky stars or guardian angels or whoever was in charge of this sort of thing, I had been jerked back.  Back to a cold lonely bedroom on a rainy night, back to lonely insecure darkness. Back to what was real.

It was one of the most intimate moments we’d ever shared, and it was a dream.

This is the nature of us.

 

Conditioned

Lady and the Tramp

Is the first time

I remember being told

That the guy

(From the wrong side of the tracks)

Has a heart of Gold.

 

Next was Johnny Castle –

(A classic example)

of

The nobility of blind love.

And I think about them and

I wonder:

If this is why my mom went under

So many times?

 

The guy who would drink

And pull her around

(by her hair)

With all his affairs –

He nearly broke her.

 

And the man she married (twice)

He played so nice,

Smiling, and smiling,

Snorted our inheritance.

(At least he never hit us.)

 

We moved so much,

New schools, new houses

(Mouses)

That big wooden mansion

The creaky door

Frigid nights lying on a cold floor

Crying.

 

Is this love or is this dying?

Why do they feel the same?

 

I write about love so much,

(And inside me it’s all twisted)

An abstract, a theory

Sewn together with earthworms

And memories that feel like

Delusions.

 

What I have learned,

What I have earned

Is at least the certainty

That

 

Love does not mean pain,

It doesn’t scream or steal or lie

And many times

You can love someone and

Still walk away

Because it’s wrong –

(The side of the tracks you’re on,)

And no one is singing

There is no happy ending,

So you go.

 

(So I go.)

 

Protected: Warren Beatty

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Inked

If you got a tattoo

For me

What would it be?

My eyes? My nose?

A beautiful rose?

No…

I think it must be

A star, or better

A whole constellation

Yes that’s what it will be

A constellation on fire!

More permanent

Than ink

Than a supernova

Than me or you,

Ancient

Ignited

Eternal

Within, without,

Above, below

Primal, ethereal

True.

So would you?

Echo

Sending little notes

Emotional bread crumbs

Into the ether

Straining eyes and ears

For the slightest response

As if a ghost –

A vapor –

Might take the bait

And, hearing my words,

Whisper them back.

Weep Not for the Memories

Driving today with my elder son in the back seat, a Sarah McLachlan song came on the radio.  I smiled and sang along.

I will remember you/Will you remember me?

Don’t let your life pass you by/Weep not for the memories.

There’s a surface meaning to the song, as with any song, and at first I was only thinking surface thoughts.  Swiftly transported to a simpler time in my life – high school and early college days – when love was messy and dramatic and fascinating and painful and I wanted every part of it.  I also thought about my brother, (who is probably Sarah McLachlan’s number one fan), because he used to burn me CDs and make me notes on what to listen for.  He’s an audiophile, I can’t hear the things he does, but I still loved getting CDs from him, and I listened to them dutifully and repeatedly.

As the song went on I started thinking about the lyrics having a deeper and more profound context. I imagined a conversation with my Grandaddy Curtis. He’s been on my mind the past few days.  I see him standing in front of me, smiling.  He was always smiling.

“I will remember you”, I say.  “Will you remember me?” He nods at me silently. It’s like a verbal handshake – a pact – we make.  “Weep not for the memories,” I say to myself.  I miss him, but I am not sad.  I have been loved more earnestly and well than some people will ever dream, and I can only be grateful for it. Sarah kept singing:

You gave me everything you had, you gave me light.

I leave the imaginary scene and focus my attention on the road ahead.  The sky looks a shade or two grayer than it did this morning.  I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.  So in my imagination, Grandaddy and I made a deal to keep the other alive, through love and conversation.

You know that age old question – “If a tree falls in the woods…”?  Well, let me put it to you another way.  If a person exists – if a human life is lived – and there is no one to bear witness – is it truly lived?  What proof is there to point to that person, what certainty can we have about them?  I suppose the answer depends on how much you think existence has to do with things like community, connection, love, family, and legacy.

Isn’t that what every person wants?  To be remembered?  To have mattered?

Existential crises are a part of the Human Condition.  We all, whether we realize it or not, whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, yearn to matter.   I believe with all my heart that this is why we are driven to create.  Most of us (maybe all of us), usually from a young age, feel a compulsion to make.  Writers, painters, singers, dancers, even people who create in different ways, like businessmen and inventors, all respond to the familiar call to make something of their lives – and by extension, of themselves, of their time here.

To be honest I think this is (at least in part) why some of us have children.  We want to leave behind something of significance, and we want someone to bear witness to our lives. We want some assurance that the stories we grew up with – the recipes, the traditions, the places and people we love, even the dimples passed down on our father’s side – don’t cease to exist when we are laid to rest in the damp, dark earth.  We hope that the generation we raise will be better than us, we hope they aspire to greater heights, we pray they will work as hard as we have to make some kind of mark on the world, to give their contribution to the collective.

We want it all to mean something.

It’s futile.  It’s absurd.  It’s romantic and brave.

And isn’t it a lot like writing a manifesto in the sand?  We toil and sweat and bleed and give of ourselves, mining the depths of our hearts to produce something raw and true and worthy.   The tides of time will likely wash it all away eventually.  We know.  In the back of our minds, we have always known. Yet we can’t seem to help ourselves.

Stranger still, there is inherent value in the markings left on the beach, even if they aren’t seen or acknowledged on a global scale and even if they only last a fraction of a second.  Ironically, the value isn’t as much in the words as it is in heart and motivation of the person desperately scrawling them; not as much in the thing created as in the creating.

Sounds like one big, terrific, cosmic joke.

Perhaps the punchline is this: Love is what lasts.  Love is what transcends. Only love.  Real love is eternal.  It exists here and it exists in the after, and it is the only thing that does.  So really, all this creating is nonsense, and all our sleepless nights and working lunches and grand projects are useless, except for the loving.  Who we love, how well we love them, whether and how we express it, where we allow it to take us, how much of that love we pour into others and into the universe is what bleeds over into the cosmos and echoes in the night sky after we are gone.

I’ve heard it said that for as long as you are remembered and loved by someone you never die, not really.  Your love becomes your legacy.

I will remember you.  Will you remember me?

 

 

 

 

contrarywise

Sometimes time runs backwards

And sometimes beggars do choose

Sometimes silence is deafening

And sometimes to win is to lose.

Rainbows aren’t always colorful

Stars don’t always shine

Sometimes lies are the only truth

The sourest grapes make the sweetest wine.

Sometimes the day feels like night time,

And sometimes we sow what we reap

Sometimes the hymn is not sung in church

Sometimes the wolf is a sheep.

Sometimes insanity grounds us

And sometimes darkness is light

Sometimes love doesn’t conquer all

Our blindness allows us clear sight.

 

 

 

is it still a limerick if it’s sad?

you promised that you wouldn’t hurt me

you said it and i’m a fool, i believed

i’m sitting here burned down to ashes

reminiscing on life as a tree

 

i already gave you my happy

i don’t want to give you my sad

how can i mourn losing an abstract –

a lover i’ve never actually had?

 

maybe nothing i believed in was real

an illusion, a ghost, a mirage

maybe you’re scared and you’re running

and this cruelty is your camouflage

 

the day will come i’ll be alright again

i’ll remember you fondly and well

and hope that maybe, a decade on

you’ll show up and unring the bell