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.

 

Novel

I just completed my 10th book of the year.  I’m really just writing this post to remember some things that “stabbed me in the front”, like a true friend does. [That’s Oscar Wilde]

The book is Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  These are only excerpts from the last 130 pages or so, as only today did I have the presence of mind to mark things that struck me as exceptional or true or painful or noteworthy.

daisyvintage

Daisy: Here’s a lesson for everybody, take it from me.  Handsome men who tell you what you want to hear are almost always liars.

Graham: But music is never about music.  If it was, we’d be writing songs about guitars.  But we don’t. We write songs about women.  Women will crush you, you know?  I suppose everybody hurts everybody, but women always seem to get back up, you ever notice that?  Women are always still standing.

Billy: …and I’m trying to put the morning out of my head. But I’m losing my mind because… well it was complicated, obviously.  And then, you know what I realized? It wasn’t very important. How I felt about Daisy.  History is what you did, [emphasis mine] not what you almost did, not what you thought about doing.

Daisy: Songs are about how it felt, not the facts. Did he do anything wrong? Who cares! Who cares! I hurt. So I wrote about it.

Billy: …and I stood there next to him and my brain went, “I could push him in”.  And that terrified the hell out of me.  I didn’t want to push him in, I would never push him in but… it scared me that the only thing between this moment of calm and the biggest tragedy of my life was me choosing not to do it.  That really tripped me out, that everyone’s life was that precarious. … That’s something that has always scared me. And that’s how it felt being around Daisy Jones.

Daisy: I wish someone had told me that love isn’t torture.  Because I thought love was this thing that was supposed to tear you in two and leave you heartbroken and make your heart race in the worst way. I thought love was bombs and tears and blood. … I thought love was war. … I didn’t know it was supposed to be peace.

Billy: Some people will never stop being themselves. And you think that drives you crazy but it is the very thing you will think about when they are gone.  When you don’t have them in your life anymore.

Billy:  We were two halves. We were the same. In that way that you’re only the same with a few other people.

Daisy: I can’t think of any two things that make you quite as self-absorbed as addiction and heartbreak. I had a selfish heart.

Billy: It became so perfectly clear to me that I had been holding on tightly to the possibility. The possibility of Daisy.  And suddenly, I was having a very hard time with the idea of letting that go.  Of saying, “Never.”

Camilla: You know what I decided a long time ago?  I decided I don’t need perfect love and I don’t need a perfect husband … I want mine. I want my love, my husband, my kids, my life. … Things don’t have to be perfect to be strong.

Graham: It’s the ones who never loved you enough who come to you when you can’t sleep.

Why Aren’t There More Love Poems

Why aren’t there more love poems

About Grandmothers?

Epic hero’s journey tales recounting

Their fantastic feats?

My Bonmama is nearly 93.

Once she was of noble blood, a beauty queen

Raven hair, dark eyes, sharp wit.

She is trilingual, a WWII military translator

An immigrant, a mother of 5, an entrepreneur

In short,

She moved mountains with her bare hands

(Usually before breakfast.)

Later in her life,

After raising all her children

Building a business

Assimilating into a foreign culture

Earning retirement,

She raised two more kids.

Not half-heartedly, not begrudgingly

But with love, enthusiasm, and candor.

My grandmother is my mother.

She is my very best girlfriend.

She is extraordinary.

Every time I talk to her I feel home

(In the way that only her home has ever felt)

She gave me culture, humor, and grit

She is my beacon and my true North.

And I’m sitting here after a long late chat

Wondering why no one writes love poems

About Grandmothers

My Bonmama has loved me more honestly

More enduringly, more enthusiastically

Than any other, and in return I have

Tried to treasure her, honor and humor her

Though nothing could repay her for

Her heart

Which I know I hold in my hands

Perhaps the challenge is in articulating

The greatness of a woman unprecedented

Unparalleled

There are no sufficient words to express

All that she has been and continues to be

For me.

And so no poems are written here,

No songs are sung

She is otherworldly.

Too dear for this kind of thing

I’ll keep it to myself, then.

I’ll keep it between us –

Where it has always been.

Instagram

I am losing hope.

I feel disfigured

Disgusting

Unsuccessful

Untalented

Betrayed

Stupid

Sad

Tired

Mostly tired.

Hashtag: good vibes only.

Maybe I Am

If I was a voodoo priestess

(Maybe I am, maybe I am)

I’d keep your tongue in a jar

Your eyes on a shelf

Your heart buried in the yard

Behind my house.

A Toast.

To the ones we’ve lost

To the ones we’ve loved

To the ones who left us

And a nod to all the rest.

To the one with deep sea eyes

And thunderstorm laugh

Whose bloody red heart

Is inside my chest:

Happy New Year.

Don’t fuck it up.

xo

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?

Still Life [version 1]

She grew up here, in this garden.

Rooted in the soil, watered by the rain and heated by the sun.  Not nourished by the sun, exactly, as she had never been brave enough to expose herself to its light.  Not refreshed by the rain, exactly, since she never let it touch her face. But this was fine.  This was life.

She was a tightly closed bud with delicate yellow petals, and even shut into herself like this, she was a wonder to behold. Every day people walked by the garden on their way to – she didn’t know where – and sometimes they’d stop and look at all the flowers and plants.  Their eyes were always drawn to her, because she was tall and graceful and otherworldly.  Still, they could not truly see her, as she remained tightly shut, afraid to let in the light.

One day, a man stopped on the sidewalk to peruse the flowers, as people often did.  He noticed her like all the rest before him, for she was tall and graceful and otherworldly.  But he didn’t just look at her and walk away.  Curious and inspired, he knelt gracefully beside the garden, leaned his face over her, and began to whisper in a voice so low that only she could hear.

He told her she was lovely – a treasure, if truth be told.  He told her she was a gift too precious to stay so tightly shut.  He told her she was unique, and he had never known another like her.  He told her it was safe to look upon the sunlight – that even though it might seem scary to expose her true self, the risk would be worth it.

When he was satisfied with all he had said, the man stood up, brushed the dirt off his hands, and walked away.

She – the tightly closed bud with delicate yellow petals – stood tall and motionless, but the man and his remarks touched her deeply.  His words echoed in the raindrops that fell heavy and loud over the garden that night.

The next morning, she decided to face her fears, and she began to stretch out her long, lovely petals. For the first time she felt a bit of the sun’s warmth inside her and she knew she could never be shut again.

Over the course of the day the beautiful yellow flower opened herself completely to the bright sun above.  She allowed herself to be vulnerable.  She allowed herself to be brave.  In doing so, she revealed her nearly indescribable beauty to the world around her, and she made it a better place.  People now stopped to photograph the garden and several of them gasped at the ethereal, glittering light that seemed to radiate out from the tips of her petals.  She was happier than she had ever been.

She had bloomed.

A few more days went by and the once tightly closed bud, who was now a fully realized golden garden goddess, began to notice some changes in herself.  Her leaves were drooping a bit, her petals sagging and falling off.  She knew what was happening, but she hadn’t expected it to happen so quickly.  Just as she was pondering her newly wilting countenance, she felt the cool of a shadow over her.  It was the kind stranger who had awakened her days earlier, come to whisper to her once more.

Ever so gently he leaned down and again spoke in a voice that only she could perceive.

He told her she was lovely, but more than that, she was brave.  He told her that her courage had transformed the world.  He pointed out that ladybugs, bees, and butterflies had been attracted to her radiant aura, her honey-like scent.  He told her about the crowds of people who had come to see her.  He told her he had painted a most incredible portrait of her and he thanked her for her gift.

When he was satisfied with all he had said, the man stood up, brushed off his hands, and walked away again.

By nightfall, the beautiful flower had wilted completely to the ground.  She lay there, cool in the dirt, and pondered her long life shut away from the sun – and her short but glorious time under its rays.  It was worth it, she knew.

She had been closed off for so long, until a magnanimous stranger simultaneously enlivened and doomed her.  His near-silent, secret whispers had provoked her to the edge of her greatest fears.  He had introduced her to the sun.  Oh! – the hot, beaming, delicious sunlight – and how it playfully danced and glided over her magnificent petals.  That was her favorite part.

She prepared herself for the slow and peaceful fading back down into the earth that had born her, and she considered the irony that in destroying herself she had finally learned what it was to live.

Her life had not been the garden, or the breeze, or the people walking by or even in how long she stood there, afraid and tightly shut.  No, all of that was simply existing.  For the tightly closed bud with the beautiful yellow petals, the meaning of life – and the measure of it, too – was in the blossoming.