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Quiet Desperation

It’s more than just a writer’s block that has stopped me.

This malaise has reached into every aspect of my life,

Work, hobbies, relationships

All halted for the time.

What is left is a narration

to describe where I am without artifice.

 

Artifice, malaise, labored word choices

Hiding the frustration.

Used to mask the transition from mid-life to…

Change in hair styles, earring, trip to a place of my youth,

Hitchhiking, climbing mountains, performing again.

 

All of these things cannot hide the fact

that my life

to this point

has been unexceptional.

 

I wanted to be so much more

by this time

in my life.

 

Friends would say,

You have done a lot

You are teaching and helping to mold future generations,

You have a good job, a car, a dog

You’re contributing to society.

You have great kids

You’re a wonderful, caring father.

Consider yourself lucky!

 

And I thank them for their kind

And generally truthful words

But is that what I really wanted

Or are these situations that I have fallen into

And did well because I do things well?

 

Is it time to make a break?

But what do I break from?

What do I break to?

 

I stop myself.

There’s fifteen years left on my mortgage.

And three years of car payments.

 

I sit at the coffee shop,

Quietly, desperately drinking my

Iced coffee, no sugar syrup, soy milk,

Watching the other patrons

Fiercely living their unexceptional lives.

 

Teenage girls debating whose parent is worse.

The business person conducting deals while surfing the internet.

The gym junkie with Yahweh tattooed on his arm.

Did he even read the bible?

The old testament forbids tattoos.

Is he taunting the god of the ancient Hebrews or praising him?

Why is this even a question that I am concerned with?

 

I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs,

“Wake up people, time is fleeting, and your days have almost passed.

If you do not hurry, you will soon find yourself,

Rudderless,

Drifting on the angry sea with no hope of salvation!”

 

I stop myself. The words sound stupid.

My thoughts sound stupid as soon as they are formed.

Besides those words seem more for me than them.

 

My head hurts.

Face falling hopelessly into my hands.

Good catch, again and again.

 

I rub my temples

I close my eyes.

But my helplessness does not go away.

It remains although I cannot see the people.

I still hear them.

Hearing the music that is supposed to be hip.

The clamor of the too, too caffeinated child not much out of diapers

But who is frequently offered too much sugar,

As a bribe for his silence,

By overweight caregivers

Who consume too much sugar and too much caffeine.

 

But who am I to disparage these people?

Maybe somewhere is this confusion

There are the seeds of exceptionality.

Maybe thirty, forty years ago

I was sitting in a bar, or restaurant, or park,

And I was given the magic beans.

I did not see the value of them.

And I tossed them away.

Tossed them away without a moment’s thought.

Which in an instant condemned me to this coffee shop.

 

How many seeds did I throw away?

How many chances have I missed?

How many chances do I have left?

 

The shop has quieted down.

The preacher trying to save

The Yahweh boy sits quietly

As his student uses the bathroom.

An old woman waits for her husband to bring their tea

Lost in a bitter sweet moment that they once shared.

The barista stares at a syrup dispenser.

The rush has ended and his mind is drifting

Only for a moment

Before his shift comes from the back

And he snaps to attention again.

 

My headache has receded for the moment

The voices have grown softer.

They never go away.

They are the ghosts of the dreams

I once had.

Reminding me of the greats things

I planned to accomplish.

Reminding, chiding, taunting.

Never letting me forget.

I have more things to do.

I get up to go

Walk over to the condiment bar

To throw away my cup.

 

I stop

On the counter

Are three coffee beans

Three seeds.

 

I smile

Maybe there is still time.

Maybe.

I pick them up and put them in my pocket.

 


The Leprechaun II 070517

We don’t believe in leprechauns anymore,

And that is sad for them.

We all need to be believed in.

 

No one to bother them as they ply their trade,

Cobbling their shoes for fairies feet.

But every once in a while,

I bet they look over their shoulder,

Thinking that they heard a person,

Creeping, sneaking up to catch them,

And demand their treasure.

After a moment,

The feeling passes.

They let out a mournful sigh,

Continuing their lonely work,

Undesired and unloved.

 

We don’t believe in leprechauns anymore,

And that is sad for us.

We all need something magical to believe in.

 

Instead, we Google our magic away,

Replacing hope and desire,

With meaningless symbols,

On lighted screens.

We have leprechauns dancing

On our souvenir shot glasses,

Which we fill to forget,

The magic we once believed in.

 

Was there a time

When we ventured

Into the dark forest alone

To capture the elusive sprite

And bring back the pot of gold

To our unbelieving parents?

 

There must have been a time

When the world was full of enchantments.

And every tree, and every leaf, and every stone

Was filled with wonder,

Waiting to be picked up

And studied as they slowly reveal

Their mysteries to us.

 

We don’t believe in leprechauns anymore,

And that is sad, so sad.

Without these lessons in

Faith and Hope and Desire,

Is it possible to truly love?


Cafe Americano

She asked me if I found what I was looking for on those lonely green hills of Ireland. I smiled one of those sad smiles I’ve grown accustomed to wearing in recent years.

No, I said, it was never there to be found.

I looked into her kind face that used to smile more freely.  She turned away.

I turned away as well, directing my attention to my Cafe Americano, a thin band of foam clinging desperately to the rim of the now empty cup.

So you didn’t find yourself? She asked smiling, sensing it was safe to return, gently chiding my empty reasons for returning to the emerald isles.

I was never there either, not completely.  An empty shell, wandering, looking, hoping.  Eventually disappointed in my quest and in myself.  Returning to the old ways without epiphany.

Epiphanies usually take longer than a week.

The build up, yes. The preparation could take a lifetime.  The actual moment, instantaneous. Like seeing your true love’s face, her smile.

She turned away from me again.  Her smile no longer mine. And I turned back to my Cafe Americano.  The thin band of foam, now dried, encrusted, fossilized in its desire to return to a happier past, a completion no longer its own, a warm, creamy, bitter cup of coffee.


Ingrid Thanks 4/9/17

All the broken hearts in the world still beat.

 

A stunning lyric

In a pop song

For a man

In his fifties

Searching, searching

His whole life

To be home

In the arms of another.

 

Renting, only renting

For a few years

Or less

But not anymore.

Drifting, drifting

Never stopping

No interest,

Either direction on that two-way street

Thinking he’ll never find his picket fence.

 

All the broken hearts in the world still beat.

 

But he still lives

His heart still beats

Sadly beating,

Weakly beating,

But beating still.

 

Shakespeare, Milton, Byron

Not for them.

Their voices silent.

Their poems completed.

Life is too short.

It was for them.

It was for others

Whom I miss so much.

Whom I’ll never see again.

 

But I can smell the coffee.

And it is time to wake up and do so!

I can taste a ripe, ripe summer’s peach,

Juices drip as I break the skin

Feel the sweet liquid run

Down my chin

Until I wipe it

With the back of my hand.

The stickiness remains,

That joyous, beautiful stickiness.

 

 

All the broken hearts in the world still beat.

 

Find Beauty.

Find Peace.

Find Love

And Forgiveness.

Listen to the laughter of children, unspoiled, uncynical.

Rejoice in the stories of the old as they tell of victories and disasters from long ago.

They won’t be able to tell those stories much longer.

Their voices less clear.

And softer as the past rushes from us.

And soon like them,

Our passing fancies will all have passed.

 

All the broken hearts in the world still beat.

 

Even in our darkest times,

We are still alive.

We have only a moment.

This moment.

To live and love.

To be happy.


Old Song 3/11/17

 

I heard an old song,

One that I used to listen to a long, long time ago.

I sung along softly to that familiar rhythm.

And then I sang, “I love you.”

 

It has been a while since I said that to someone.

Oh, I have said it to my children and my dog.

But the last time I whispered it softly to a lover…

 

Those three words made me happy

Not attached to any person,

Not attached to anything.

The words themselves have power.

I love you.

 

I believe I once was capable of love.

That overpowering emotion,

Which makes us forget our differences

And see only a shared future.

 

The last time I said it to her,

She did not respond

She cleaned the counter to cover the silence.

But the silence lingered.

 

It lingers still.

And I wait

For those gentle three words

To come back to me

And protect me from the anguish

I have found

In this empty silence.


Cinderella’s End – My eighth book

Cinderella’s End: The Revenge of the Witch

By A.F. Winter
 
List Price: $12.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
268 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1514656181 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1514656183
BISAC: Fiction / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

What happens to the characters in a fairy tale after “happily ever after?” Many cultures have a version of Cinderella because it is the ultimate underdog story of a bullied young girl in rags beating the odds and rising to the top. Cinderella’s End is about what happens after the ball and the marriage and asks the question, did Cinderella actually find true love?

Cinderella and Prince John marry but neither is particularly well-suited for marriage. Everyone important to Cinderella has died. She is an emotional wasteland. Prince John was raised to be a leader of the kingdom, not to be emotionally available. When their daughter is abducted by an evil witch, John goes on a quest to bring her home. Cinderella, left at the castle, is forced to play a role she was never comfortable in, a symbol to placate the peasants. After years of being alone, she develops an emotional attachment to a kitchen servant. The remaining royals do not approve of this friendship, accuse him of spying and throw him in the dungeon. The novel explores whether love can survive through distance and time.


inauguration day 1/20/2017

President Trump
Still can’t get my mind around it.
Get over it. Sour grapes. What is done is done.
Driving home from work.
Turning into my neighborhood.
I have been living here for three years.
Usually I wave to the African-American kid playing basketball.
Sinking baskets in his temporary hoop set up in the road.
He was not there today.
Two white kids riding their bikes,
Look suspiciously as they pass me.
Dressed in camouflage gear,
Plastic AK’s slung over their shoulders,
A taste of things to come.