Body On the Tracks

Howling into a dog’s ear,

the wasted days          unraveling spirals into the curls atop a head of hair.

The only curls to hold their shape for the duration of infinity.

Time s t r e t c h e d                thin                  across              the salty plains,

dotted with coarse hairs,                                             rained on by sweat,

licked clean by soap afterwards.

 

The mountains and valleys detail horizons of the body,

immaculate,                                                                                        immersing,

drowning desire in a pool filled with liquid conquest.

Yet under the porous soil is nothing interesting.

The surface is too alluring.

No one is interested in looking deep.

 

Train wheels               r ic o chet        off the tracks,

slipping on wet planks

                                    pulverized by gravity’s

sick                                          heavy                                       tug.

Amongst interruptions by the sweeping sands of Saharan homicide

the train rumbles through the deluge.

The brainwashed trailer is leaning                                                      on its side

trapping the unaware,

                                    inducing involuntary segues into ragtime.

 

The piano immolates and sets the pianist       alight   with pumpkins and telephone boxes,

melting plastic reeking of Thanksgiving.

The call cannot be made

when all you have in your pocket is

a paper clip                                                     3 pennies                                             and applause.

 

The diva croons in the lounge car,

whiskey           slo shes out its tumbler

onto formica while the water trickles

down the window pane, changing course

with every       jump   in the track.

 

Scratching the surface makes you bleed.

Exposes vulnerable corpuscles to outer elements of deception.

Take your heart out;                                                    it will shrivel and dissolve,

A beating raisin

({({(suffocated)})})

by the smog.

The black market specializes in naïve hearts.

The more helpless

the better paired with steamed broccoli

and a gallon of vodka.

 

We drink from our arteries the thick wine of life,

forcing us to experience sensation, feeling.

When the artery runs dry……                                    ….we continue to feel.

We are gliding into the cement park,

surrounded by a dingy moat

dotted with body parts colliding.

The clapping drowns out the rain.

 

Intense burning melts the skin,

                                                dripping off muscles

onto the concrete road map

chasing us in manmade circles.

A trail is formed that you can follow……………………………………………………………….                                                             .……..back to your former lives.

Soon that will decay, too.

It will join the grandfathers,

            the Nazis,

and the sense of community at the bottom of the bin.

 

There will come a day

when each of us are at the bottom.

There will come a day

 when we tumble out.

On another day

we will bind atomic forces together,

forming a new existence, another chance.

 

Another full moon shining insanity down from up there.

Did everybody forget to listen?

Two tiny words manage to pass through trembling lips

only to be replaced by another voice.

one reason why I don’t talk much

 

Shouldn’t we know better by now?

Are these mistakes somehow more heinous than others?

Stable stances are being swept                                                                                   to the side

by the scraping sparks of the plow

coming to clear me away.

I’m standing in the way of self-destruction.

Don’t mind me. I’ll move.

 

The storm just had to come on the one day I felt valiant enough

to leave the past behind.

The city council robbed me of my integrity.

The state impounded my heart,

charging storage fees for the past 5 years

ever since that flooded evening

when I trapped it under a tennis racket

and walked away.

A Liquid Balance (For Jack Collom)

This post is dedicated to the memory of the great poet Jack Collom, who sadly past away yesterday morning at the age of 85. He was a fantastic writer and a profound teacher. I was lucky enough to be in one of the last of his famous Eco Lit classes he taught at Naropa University in Boulder. To honor him, here is a poem that I wrote in that class.

A LIQUID BALANCE

Whirlpools swirl over rock.

Minerals suffocate underwater,

fish drowning on the shore.

Water, the clearest elixir,

source of life, both good and bad,

cleanse me, replenish me,

inundate me in your liquid sinews

Too much of anything can kill.

Too much fire can burn.

Water can extinguish my burns,

but too much and I wash away.

Spring to stream, snow to sewage,

water, you are shaping me.

I can float away with you

I can ride your waves, crash with them.

Take me where I need to be.

Wet rivulet coursing down

to the creek, to the river,

expanding greater and greater

towards the unfolding ocean.

Heavy liquid weighing me down,

droplets carry me to

the blackness below

my own body of water

returns to where it all began.

Rest in peace and poetry, Jack. You were a shining light in this dark world, and though I only spent a little time learning from and working with you, you have left a great mark on my life. Thank you, sir.

Murder at Zero Degrees

There always seems to be a drink in my hand. Why that is, I’m not quite sure. Every time I look down my fingers are clutched around a rocks glass or daintily hoisting a champagne flute. It’s like my hands have a mind of their own. They are always raising up the contents of some glass up to my lips, and then against my will I swallow the tasty burning liquid. Then things get wobbly. I don’t have any control over what my hands do to me.

            I swear I am not a drunk. I used to be a drunk, but I don’t think I am anymore. Though maybe I still am. I’m not sure. Moments ago, there was whiskey in this tumbler I am holding. It has since been replaced with melting ice and air. I’m not sure what happened to the whiskey. Maybe it sloshed onto my boots and ran down the grimy barstool to the floor. But I think, judging from my clouded vision and this wavering motion of mine at the moment, it probably went inside me. Now I just have air to drink from this glass. I get drunk on air from time to time. I can get drunk on just about anything if I put my mind to it. I suppose I am a drunk.

            I used to get drunk on murder. Still do, now that I think of it.

            Not committing murder, per se. Not your typical guns, poisons, bloody fingerprints on a dead body kind of murder. No. I get drunk on murdering other people’s chances of getting away with murder. That’s my livelihood. Detective Liam Parsons-Doyle, at your service. I solve murders. And I always get the job done.

            Interestingly enough, I always seem to do this job with a drink in my hand. I can remember what drink was in my hand with every murder I have solved. Sparkling brut champagne at Binley Hall the night I caught Nigel Everett, killer of the Hinkley twins. A half-empty pint of lager when I figured out Marie Shipton was the Boscombe Park Butcher (even I didn’t see that one coming). Gin and tonic that fateful evening five spoiled socialites each snuffed out their worst enemy at a dinner party in Bishop’s Stortford. Thank God I had no enemies before that night.

            There is one murder, though, now that I’m thinking of it, that I couldn’t solve. Strangely enough, I don’t even remember the drink I had the night of that murder. I was nearby. Very nearby, in fact. There was an early winter snow cascading down and covering the city in white. Just barely freezing out. Zero degrees Celsius at Zero degrees Longitude. How curious. A young girl was found dead in the alley just behind this pub. I was here, on my normal barstool. No one heard her scream or anything.

            She was found by some drunken bum who came bursting through the door, screaming, “Murderer! Murderer!” He was pointing a finger wildly at just about everyone in the pub. We all thought he did it at first, but careful deduction from yours truly proved he was too distraught upon finding the poor girl in a pool of her own blood that he couldn’t have done it.

            I wish I could solve that one. I wish I could remember what I was drinking, too. Perhaps the barman might remember what I had consumed that night.

            “Oh, barkeep.”

            “Yes, sir, detective?” There was a sigh in there. Interesting.

            “Remember the night that beautiful girl was found dead behind the pub?”

            “Of course, sir. How could anyone forget a night like that?”

            “Quite. Do you by any chance remember what I was drinking that night?”

            “Yes, I certainly do, sir. You were drinking Singapore Slings. I remember it distinctly as I thought it was such an odd drink for you to be having. Very out of the ordinary.”

            “Singapore Sling, eh? That sounds very good right now. Could you make me one now?”

            “Uh, certainly, sir.”

            What a magnificent drink, the Singapore Sling. Delicious London gin, cherry brandy, fruit juices. It’s simply tantalizing on the taste buds. Sipping on one right now might help me solve this baffling and all too familiar case. Maybe because it’s a drink I don’t normally have is the reason why I am clueless about this whole thing. There were very few clues, except some staggering footprints in the snow leading into the back door of the pub. Everyone inside was questioned but they were all either too drunk or too inside themselves to have noticed or recalled anything suspicious. I couldn’t even locate a home or family for the poor thing.

            “I thank you kindly, barman.”

            “Sir, you are in here every night, and I keep telling you to call me Colin. That is my name, you know. A little decency toward your fellow man would do you some good.”

            “Quite right, barkeep. Colin. Sorry. You know how formal I am.”

            “I know, sir. It takes away from your courtesy.”

            “I have no time for courtesy tonight. I am trying to solve this murder. What do you remember from that night?”

            Colin the barkeep has always been sort of a grimace, especially since that night. His typical frump of a frown has now turned into a scowl. He’s gone awfully silent. He knows something about that night. I can feel it.

            “Are you sure you want to know, sir? Wouldn’t you rather take a sip of your drink? You know how miraculous your deducing skills can be when soused.”

            “Quite right! You know me all too well!” A smile and a compliment can always make a barman more cordial to you. Most of them, anyways.

            A few quick glugs of the fruity elixir have already gone past my lips. My hands were forcing the drink down my throat leaving me unawares yet again. Those tricky devils.

            “You know something, I had quite a few of these that night. Candy in liquid form as I recall. My, my, several of these can certainly spell danger, wouldn’t you say?”

            “That’s all they can spell, sir.” Colin always had such a dry sort of humorless jest about him. He could so be capable of murder with that sort of demeanor.

            My glass is suddenly empty. “Well, look at that. I didn’t even realize. Kindly make me another, please, Colin?”

            “I don’t think so, sir. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”

            “Oh quite. Uh, what do you mean, last time?”

            “Are you starting to remember more of that evening, sir?” Colin’s face is twisting into a sinister grin. You never saw his teeth, but now he is smiling so wide I swear I can almost see tiny fangs in there. More importantly, the fog in my memory is starting to lift.

            “Yes, I do remember something now. I was outside in the snow. I was holding hands with a beautiful woman whose acquaintance I just met here at the bar. Then…then I staggered back in here and sat back down. Then that poor, crazed bum burst in here with the cold and the snow and all that shrieking.”

            “Is that all you can remember, sir?” A toothy grin, now. My, Colin, those definitely are some fangs.

            “Uh…yes I suppose that’s it. I wonder what happened to that woman. I must have her telephone number around here somewhere.”

            “It wouldn’t do you much good, sir.”

            “Why not, Colin? Has she been disconnected?”

            “She’s dead, sir.”

            “Dead? Surely you joke. She can’t possibly be dead. Unless she was—“

            Colin, you evil demon. What else was in this Singapore Sling besides my beloved alcohol? There must be some fabrication agent or something in here. Or maybe, that’s truly what happened. I do remember a knife in my hand, dripping blood onto the snow. I slipped it into the storm grate and heard it clatter in the sewers below where no one would find it. I killed that girl. Yes, it’s clear to me now. I suppose I must turn myself in, now. Let it be known that no matter how much of a scoundrel I could be, I have always done things by the book.

            A fog is falling over me again. I’m feeling a bit ill. Colin is just staring at me now with fire in his eyes and flames are jutting out of his face. This can’t be good. The fruit juices must not be agreeing with me. Suppose I should go to hospital. The legs don’t want to work. I need help, Colin. Why aren’t you helping me? I finally remember your name you bastard and you go ahead and poison me? You must have known all along. You’re the devil, Colin. If I ever open my eyes and make it off this floor again, you’ll be sorry!

Wings Melting

the borders cease
state of emergency
to the left
to the right
waterfalls
an awkward loss

what is a face?
I see only dark holes
redness benign
billions of cells
bleeding life
the nanosphere army

prosperous atoms
the touch lost
stardustings explode
adrift in spiral conquest
souls freed
from golden cages

sparks
turned to desert
seas drained
mechanical elimination
the shrinking laser
told to feel help

wires snapping
supports tumbling
shapes of ash
still hanging on
two old friends
down different superhighways

the moment surpassed
always here
the moment is everything
the moment
all there is to know
the moment

when we sink
into bodies
swim inside cages
boundaries cut off
this world
sights sounds feelings

I taste existence
universes filling ears
only this
lost
gone
always

The Wound and Will Always

GAPES

Pulling at threads of organic elastic, an unraveling scab winces inside nerves. A pulsating superhighway blocks traffic of valuable information. A molten cascade floods brainwaves, electric scales fermenting putrid cranes drowning with jellyfish sticking to tiled mouths. Stinging and bursting in red rivulets, ribcages unlocked in negligence, setting tethered hearts free into a billion shattering tissues. An imminent vivisection.

Watching your heart pluck itself apart and split at stitched seams is like blackening fingers with unskilled labor, breaking open scabs once again. A repeat upon a repeat based upon a prequel that hasn’t happened yet. Cyclical immolation feeding its own fire while arteries freeze and shatter, red clotted mosaic on a laminate floor. Hijacked, carted across state lines, no wound ever asks for this. A few glutinous molecules staving off infectious human interaction are all that separates a nuclear family from a nuclear winter. Bandaging is cosmetic.

No one desires to see any sort of indentation in your soul. It’s a festering reminder of another indentation that has been chiseled into every waking moment since its inception. A crater of minds. An obvious abscess breeding siblings with no direct lineage. A fetid spring eternally regenerating a mood of soft disturbance. This is your lack.

Some missing tools absconded by missing children are still trying to find a road map directing a way out of broken bones. No direct route exists wherein muscles can separate and unfold, releasing a tension long held since infancy. Something will break, and it is not what should be breaking. A red mouth agape with horror, frozen in time as lumpy tissue exposed to cancerous light.

 

 

REMAIN

          Only one piece of human remains from your inferno dying inside. It is not permitted to survive. Embers fade to black in one final installment of destruction, editing out humid horrors to save sanguine and delicate systems. Systems of those spending decades trying to hide from reality. Reality is a horcrux evading red eyes being split down the middle coalescing into a distorted representation of what actually is, but cannot be. This is all that is left behind.

No one will notice it. But there it stays, smoldering, still seeing what it can. Festering bubbles of pus leaking from a shoddy temporary structure. It is a reminder, a tight knot around a purple finger, screaming for clarity. There is a sense that nothing has been explained right, but no amount of explanation will ever open that portal enough for anybody else to peer inside and gain some level of understanding.

Once a soul has climbed in, lacey threads sew themselves back up. A prison of platelets is formed. Banging and sawing at such a tinted window will only lead to drowning. A slurry of genetic mutation cuts off already poor circulation, sending lungs to sleep in a deflated cradle, where they will suffocate themselves. Thin plastic covering over your only point of replenishment. All connections above have been severed.

 

HEALING

Not enough time has passed. Your clock has shattered into a series of concentric uselessness. Yet time is still going. Scabs still fall off; blood still evaporates in high desert air. Stale, inedible clouds are still breathing infections into rain, and a scar never does appear. It has not been allowed to reveal itself. Your wound is still being picked at.

A good heart will begin to repair itself once rusted nails stop picking and lifting. Windows won’t stop breaking. Underneath are still too many souls aching for escape from your heavily-guarded and unlocked ribcage. No one dares to leave for fear of a hunt across several dimensions of thought. A lead bullet pierces your fibbing eye, splinters irises into flowers, pupils no longer sitting in neat well-groomed rows. Circles burst in southern constellations. Fornax looks down and grins sinister impulses that cannot be seen but can be lied about. There is no chance. The organ is still under constant threat. The gouging will commence when the eye has come clean.

The Decent Descent

The stars

are beginning to

rip

my pancreas apart.

The tarmac heard

thundering

synthetic earthquakes.

Mimicked murmurs of frequencies beamed from billions of years away.

We live on as light.

Intestinal galaxies

swirling amid the bile

and the gas

and the pus

and the arsenic.

Poisons deregulating digestion.

            The stories can’t be swallowed anymore.

            They are only words.

            Multiple layers of dead trees.

            Too many trees perished for tabloids

            propaganda posters for a regime long obsolete.

            Don’t let the people know.

Brute force disguised in tiger skin

salivating for salvation.

Sticks collapsing

around muffled highlights

in a faint television glow.

            A backdrop of shadows

            stabbing and strangling each other.

            Minimalist mimes in smeared chalk pieces on the sidewalk.

            A cemented rise in gurgled mistakes

            again and again.

A universe draining into bulbous corrosion.

Acid stings the surface, eating every layer of microscope,

every freckled element,

every sentimental firmament.

            A clash of two points,

            the most direct route between destruction and assuring the world that this             all could have been avoided if the tape had been turned over.

            The decision maker decides that this is the best decision.

            And we all tumble back down onto the compost pile.

What Does a Plagiarizer Write About?

What do I write? Do I even write at all?
Of course I do. I write all the time.
Rarely the day passes when the pen is absent from my hand
or my fingers forgo their meditative hammering.
I am constantly constructing characters,
forming words to attempt communication
with fellow lords in my species.

I write words stolen from a dictionary
that stole them from the mystics.
I recklessly imitate and plagiarize the ancient linguists,
copying their shapes and squiggly lines
and sequencing them exactly as they already have.
Anyone willing to communicate with others
must also be willing to steal shamelessly.

I write checks to keep a roof over my head.
Tiny slips of paper digitized with numbers
meant to represent other slips of paper.
These miraculously keep the walls from coming down.
Ripping off the lords of language,
transferring numbers back and forth every month,
allows me to sleep warm and dry.

[I write what I can’t say.]

I write addresses on envelopes,
dates on papers, my name on the X.
I sign my name over and over and over
until I can’t even recognize it as my own.
There is no longer any identity with that specific sequence of letters
my parents bestowed on me upon birth.
I have been reduced to a series of symbols.

I draw bumps and intersect straight lines
and people can look at them and find hidden meanings.
They discover love and grief among the lines,
hatred and joy draped over each stanza.
My poems of nonsense, the mindless chatter
emerging from my brain and exiting through my fingertips,
awaken souls that on some level understand them.

I blog vulnerable glimpses of my soul,
fragile, glimmering shards
I’m never sure are ready to be exposed.
They tell chaotic stories about life, love, lust,
links, lawns, and the laundry.
Sometimes they talk about my procrastination,
when I get around to it.

[I wrote for those who no longer can.]

I illustrate the gray area,
adding color with black type.
Starkly contrasting the tints of existence,
I can paint life back into the scenery.
Every stroke of the key invigorates,
breathes resurrection into my lungs,
keeping me alive at least until the next moment.

I text short messages that would
make the English language roll over in its grave.
Desecrating how I conveyed my thoughts
rid me of plagiarism and compromised my communication.
No one understands me anymore.
They think they do, but now it’s just an illusion,
a concept of an experience they are never likely to have.

I scrawl lists on random scraps for any occasion:
groceries, the daily to-dos, things to burn.
Modern life can easily be broken down into lists;
compartments that can be managed better
while ignoring the cohesive whole.
I suppose life is a list because we can’t cope.
The loom of the big picture sure is frightening to bear.

[I write to understand and survive.]

I write questions and comments,
sentences, phrases and made-up words.
It’s how I’ve decided to present myself outwardly.
Better than clicks and whistles; I tried.
I also write love letters,
suicide notes, and business memos,
but only for contractual reasons.

I draft my opinions of our wretched society
atop an imagined moral pedestal,
ranting about the antonyms.
The struggles fuel suffering fire.
Must focus; write what needs to be said.
I scribble down frustration and despair so illegibly
I barely remember the pain when I read it later.

I compose eulogies for the suppressed mind,
elegies for the maligned soul.
Whatever for? Why? Tell me why not!
Why not for the invalid ancestors,
their sodden prints melted, buried in the brush?
For future moments and forgotten times?
For nothing whatsoever! For the light and the truth!

[I write to search for my lost sanctuary.]

I write because
my hand keeps making the same motions,
drawing a calligraphy of tidy and clever scribbles.
Unconsciously printing the same blocks
neatly and in a straight line,
for everyone to read clearly.
I must make sure it’s legible or else it is useless.

I record somber psychotic episodes.
Maybe if I keep track of my thoughts,
a pattern will emerge,
then something will make sense.
I must record them but no one can see them.
My naked papers tell the truth,
something no one can seem to handle.

I must write because it saves my life.
The best of me goes into it.
Hopefully it can save other lives.
My words and their own pens fused,
compounded, blasted into orbit
exploding light in all directions,
healing us all at once.

[I write to try and save the world.]

Terrapin Spin

SpiralThis is concrete manifestation.
Harrowing statures are reflecting their towering statistics
in the drones of outdoor lawn equipment.
The turtle asks you for a dime and you have no answer for him.
Nobody has ever paid attention to the floral patterns
encrypted in the layout of this city.
It all points north towards the greater lakes of the western sun,
embedded in the lost races of time
that flash across the sullen skies.

There can be no bang inside the turtle’s mind
if he never believed that a bang could have existed in the first place.
This has kept him underneath the smoldering shelter of the pavement.
He keeps warm during the great extrapolation
of the city’s secret underground industries.
He has survived building plans
worthy of the fairer kings of Egypt.
This being is our idyllic surface
pointing outside the boundaries of our own boxes.

We don’t know our true heroes.
The mud has welcomed the pavement’s stable shell, but it won’t last forever.

{Soon the textbook analysis of the present day will be the only thing we can remember and connect to this time.}

Dissection has been placed on the menu
and is the special which will embarrass the dining car
as we slowly reach our next scheduled stop.
The cards have been inserted in the proper slots
it’s showing a full house that won’t beat the royal flush next door.
We let it happen.
The resources are drowning under their own demands yet,
miraculously,
profit is still a magic word to some.
Only the truly sinister of all individuals could relinquish such devils.

The statistics have never looked as grim and scientific
as they do underneath a garbage can in the Capitol Square.
The trick is finding out which garbage can is the right one.
An optical illusion makes you think
the square has evolved into equilibrium over time,
when it has only crested and fallen back into its own glandular problems.
There is no more room for homeland.
We are distancing ourselves from the center epoch
that defined our connection to the ground.
The rock is cracking
and not a single extension cord in this city will be long enough
to fix the damage.
(We need wireless power lines.)
One more electrocution will surely cause a permanent blackout.
And we’re running low on batteries, too.
They are powering the white minivans
that everyone seems to be driving in the middle of the night
while sirens blare from every direction,
charging towards an anonymous location
translated via satellite to a different, undisclosed location,
right under our noses.
I feel like there is no further we can go without starting over again.
Push the spacebar a couple more times it won’t make a difference.
The gutters will always have leaves in them
and you can never find the perfection of ghosts.

If you can’t find it, it doesn’t mean anything.
If it finds you, it means everything we could ever recreate for ourselves in this chapter of the universe.

The Benefits of Failure

It is hilarious the way things turn out sometimes. We are always told never to fail our classes, but what if there was a very good reason why you failed? I’m not talking about vain reasons like the teacher didn’t like me or I didn’t understand the homework. My reason for failing was something far more fantastic. It took me years before I could finally look at it a different way and realize how valuable it was to fail and retake the class. It gave me a chance to examine my life up to that point and gain some perspective; something desperately needed by a manically depressed teenager at the dawn of the 21st century.

To put it bluntly, my sophomore year of high school was utter dogshit. Most of the reasons why I honestly can’t remember at this point, but I’m sure most of them were forgettable foibles thanks to adolescence. As a result of my selfish descent into depression, my grades started to slip, naturally. By the end of the school year I had failed my English (or what my high school called “Humanities”) class. The reasons for the actual act of failing are twofold: my personal difficulties dealing with my own identity and juvenility at the time, and the 80-something-year-old Skeletor teacher on one final doddering education spree before retirement. Whatever it was I was going through (I swear, it seemed like a big deal at the time), it simply did not conform to the teacher’s disjointedly lethargic and senile style.

For some strange reason, there was a haze over me every time I was in that class. Half the time I didn’t even know if there was any homework. At the time I remember attributing it to the teacher simply not caring anymore, something I recall accusing many people of doing back then. Now I realize it was more than that. There was some outer force tying my hands behind my back and gluing my eyelids shut whilst covering my ears. I felt cornered, powerless to help the situation, kind of how I felt about everything in those days. Succumbing to the spell, I failed English. When the final grade came down from the rafters there was not an iota of shame or guilt about it. There was a time when grades were my life and a failure would have prophesied certain doom, but I had reached a point where I knew they weren’t that important, anymore. Getting an F was like overdrawing your bank account for the first time; now that it’s happened, you know it’s not the end of the world. I simply looked at it and let it go. All that needed to be said was, “Well, let’s do it again.”

The summer had waxed and was beginning to wane when school resumed. I then had to confront the stigma of being a junior in a sophomore English class, which really didn’t bother me. I was already perceived as a hopeless case by many of my peers anyway, why would I care if they spread another layer on top? I was just going to show up every day and do what needed to done so I could get the fuck out of that place before it killed me. Distractions and cute boys in class made it difficult at times, but Huck Finn is much easier to tolerate the second time around, anyways.

About halfway through the semester, the class was given a writing assignment that had not been assigned to me the year before. Write the story of your life up to now in no less than eight pages. That’s an ambitious request for a group of teenagers in a college town somewhere out on the Illinois prairie. These kids are 15, going on 16; what is there to write about? How are they going fill eight pages with tidbits of their lives? Failing that, how am I going to fill eight pages with my own tidbits? It’s not like I had an interesting upbringing. I certainly didn’t want to dispel some ugly truths about the past. Sitting in class holding the assignment in my hands, I suddenly wished the paper would grow until it was big enough to pull over my head and hide me. I felt extremely vulnerable at the mere thought of having to expose the details of why I am the way I am. No one else needed to know. I was not about to put my life under the public microscope to be analyzed by 3rd rate psychology professors from the community college.

In the couple days that followed, my mind involuntarily drifted to past memories. Feelings long thought lost suddenly shuddered me, flooding my thoughts with quick glimpses of my own history. I reminisced about the family trip to Canada, the only true vacation we ever took. I relived the frightening wonder I felt staring at the Hale-Bopp comet as it silently streaked across the carbon paper sky. The pain from having my head slammed in a sliding van door thumped back into my brain. I started to think about how these various experiences have affected me. Maybe there was something interesting in my personal archives, something I could learn from. Plus it would be nice to write an actual story for a change, instead of the unhinged, abstract, stream-of-consciousness nonsense I usually write. I resolved to take a good look inside and behind me, confident that writing down some of the calamity would help the healing.

I reached as far back in my memory as I could. It’s daunting looking back and seeing so many locked doors and there’s only a couple keys that you’ve kept. My first memory ended up being one I technically don’t remember; it has been told to me so many times I have simply constructed the memory in my head. I was 2 or 3 and liked to suck on the index and middle fingers of my right hand. One day I’m out in the backyard and mom is mowing the yard. She finishes and walks away, explicitly telling me not to touch the lawnmower. It’s really freaking hot. I know, because I touched it with the two fingers I sucked on. Never sucked those fingers again after that.

The more I perused the dusty microfilm reels tucked away in my temporal lobe, it became very apparent that my most distinct memories are ones involving pain or embarrassment. Some negative action or emotion is always depicted in some form. The most traumatizing ones are under lock and key, of course, and are being reserved for my analyst. But I realized how much I focus on the negative and unpleasant things in life, consciously and unconsciously. I always seem to see what is wrong with the picture, instead of enjoying what is there to see. Since that was how I apparently saw the world, that had to be what I wrote about.

I proceeded to pour out a series of lamenting anecdotes portraying my struggles with depression, alienation, self-injury, and self-identity. Horrifying school days with children teasing and ostracizing, torturous nights watching blood trickle from a freshly cut wound, the miracle that I let myself survive to tell the tale. Leaving little room for analysis and merely presenting the cold truth, I conveniently omitted certain events I found too shameful or psychotic. I didn’t want a high school paper to land me in the booby hatch. The story simply depicted a teenager’s reflection of his journey through the minefield of life. There was some reflection done for the sake of the grade; it was supposed to be an autobiography, not an encyclopedia entry.

After some introspection and mad hammering of computer keys, I had composed a nine-page confession. It felt like a confession to me, printing it out neatly on letter paper in green ink since the black cartridge was empty. Reading it over in reality instead of the fiction of a computer screen, a sense of pride started seeping into me. After revisiting all the events I experienced and realizing that I am still here to tell the tale, it became clear how lucky I am to be alive. An unbiased third party reading my story may think my struggles have been tame and self-centered, that things could have been much worse. And they are absolutely right. But I am still here. I am a survivor, in one form or another. We are all survivors. Each one of us have endured hardship and weathered the storm. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be alive to talk about it.

When it came time to turn in the story, there was a part of me that wanted to read it in front of the class. Putting it down on paper was good therapy and closure, reading it aloud could have released even more demons from their corked bottle stowed away deep inside, next to my pancreas. Another part of me worried about how I would be perceived after disclosing my story. My ego was adamant that it was all too disturbing for these wise fools and they wouldn’t be able to handle it. I know now that thinking of it that way was very self-absorbed. If I, merely a year older than these kids, had gone through what I considered to be warfare, then I’m sure they had also gone down the wrong fork on their own paths. These people didn’t magically appear in class every day at the simple flip of a switch. They are just like me: imperfect, vulnerable, clueless. Still trying to make sense of this interconnected complexity, trying like hell to find ourselves.

By giving into my own self-centered cycloptic woes, I was forced to learn from my mistakes. Having to retake English gave me the opportunity to take a long look at myself. I didn’t like what I saw, as was per usual at the time. But instead of seeing what I didn’t like and dissolving into a despairing vortex of my own creation, I had resolved to do something productive about it. I no longer had as big an egocentric view of the world. I started taking my life a little less seriously, at least tried to. Through it all, I learned there are consequences to my mistakes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most mistakes are made because there was something missed the first time through. Failure is not contemptible. It gives us the chance to do things over again and learn what we didn’t know before. As long as you have survived, you have another chance to succeed.

Radio Blast

NOTE: This is by no means a new poem. It was written sometime in 2008 but I stumbled across it recently and was dumbfounded at the correlations it speaks of to the recent changes in my life. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately and want to share it with you all.

 

Radio Blast

This truly is a beautiful sight to listen to.

Here in this room
is the greatest melding of plastic chains
ever meant for humans to lay eyes on.
This is where we can cultivate the tiny stretch of potential mastery.
Alternating squares are curving around
as caustic howls beg for tertiary advice
looking for their eyesight.
They tell me you cannot write pictures
yet the warnings drastically change under the circumstances.
NO relevant questions are being asked.
These howls are attached to scattered ridges that cannot calm the souls
caught in a dim light scenario.

My radio shows me a picture
worthy enough to show the privileged elite
hiding somewhere among the sound barrier populace.
It could be used to put everyone under surveillance.
With this proponent of new energy we can put microchips in our own brains
and be easily visible for 5 minutes among a spray of stars.
It is a logical radioactive source.

I can make a live studio audience run for the exits during the last hour of the program. You can either move over or slow down. It’s the law.
Violent extravaganzas really can flourish with the right frequency ratio.
All you have to do is seek out the suffering.
A hunger for something better can burn pits
in the stainless steel stomachs of past generations…
Pipes would burst under such extreme pressure.
Hissing telephone wires would sever their ties one simultaneous instant at a time.

All I really wanted was to rebuild the fractal images before my own two eyes,
and now we are exploring further dimensional representation.
What started as a routine traffic stop unraveled
into an unlimited number of calculations
shielding themselves in the hills.
The main argument is we are humbled by it.
Somewhere out there
our view of reality is being isolated from the outside world.
We don’t know how it happened,
but somehow, it no longer fits the environment…it’s losing its meaning.

Your body doesn’t have to break down. That goes against common sense.
Nothing could topple pattern recognition at that rate.
It’s all because the brain is not sensitive to touch.
There is no need to go to that level.

Make more use of reality…
Take a picture for me to listen to…something between the sun and the sky that is fair and balanced…where strangers feel like family and we are the agents of our own destiny.

From here, I can see for miles.