Category Archives: writing

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.


the door         3/12/17

just one more step

just one more step

to see the door

those ten short feet seem like a hundred

through a lurking alligator

snapping snapping filled swamp

 

just one more step

one more step to be a little closer

just one more step

the floor, hot coals

feet, bare

every step burns

smell my burning flesh

just in the mind

that’s truth, that’s true

 

the door, so solid

hearing the street beyond

sounds of clutter

sounds of confusion

so many locks to keep the confusion out

so safe and warm inside

fingers touch the handle but recoils

so cold

weakness overcomes

can’t go on

can’t

 

a minute  passes then another

the bolted locks impassable

the icy handle painful to the touch

 

death is cold

imagined death to be cold

lying on a street in winter

at night all alone

the last image

a streetlight with passing drizzle

will not die today, not today

although it is winter

will not be out long

just to the store

just to the store and back

 

no food

found some beans the other day

but they are gone

and they are gone

 

and so the door

one deep breath to lift the hand

it is so heavy

it doesn’t feel like mine

need concentration and encouragement

can do it

just get to the lock

to the lock

 

finally it is there

does it turn to the right or to the left

what if that is wrong

a wrong decision will double confusion

with each wrong decision

until the gods themselves will wreak havoc

to the left

it must be to the left

oh god why do you torment

why call to him

his back eternally turned to this world

 

a leap of faith

a leap no faith

turn it left

it unlocks

 

panic

only one more lock and the outside will come rushing in

won’t be able to stop the pain and suffering

of the running rushing people

too busy with their distractions

to notice death approaching

 

forehead touches the door

strength has abandoned

close eyes and breathe

just one more lock

one more lock

 

open eyes

and push away from the door

with all the strength left

staring at the bottom lock

to the right or to the left

was it the same or opposite

close eyes

 

can’t go on

must go on

am the unnamable

the hidden ones

behind doors

not wanted

not needed

will not be missed

buried along with my name

 

to the right, to the right

the locks are opposite

yin yang

light dark

good evil

another lock opens

relief

 

then panic

cannot do this

there are crackers

can eat crackers for a day or two

damn it damn it damn it

turns the handle

the cold icy handle

burning burning

the tightly gripping hand

the door opens and abruptly stops

the clank of the unreleased door chain

and the jolt the hand feels as the handle rips free

courage dissipates

 

what is he doing

what is he doing

what was he thinking

tears explode from his eyes

breath has left him

cannot breathe

cannot breathe

sink to the floor

tears continue

they will not stop

they will not ever stop

hear his cries

like from a distant hillside

too far away to be my own

but closer and closer it flies

until it strikes

knocking him over

with the force of a gunshot

 

the floor is safe

the floor is safe

cannot fall any further

will not fall any more

 

bleeding tears until the eyes can bleed no more

and the unheard cries fade into whimpers

as they often do

stay on the protected floor forever

but the door is still open

a little crack for vermin to enter

cannot move

paralyzed with fear and exhaustion

staring at the small ray of daylight coming through the door

waiting for the end

the end does not come

not yet

condemned to suffer longer

just a little longer

and that gives hope

the end will soon come

soon the pain will end

 

an hour quickly passes

before movement is possible

pushing  up

then on to hands and knees

reaching up to the handle of the door

for balance

pulling upright

one foot then the other

uneasy being upright

too high for my shaky legs

 

just balance

just balance a moment more

locks to the left

locks to the right

leaning against the door

no more strength

 

need to get back to bed

covered with warmth and safety

under blanket and blanket and blanket

in that darkened room

it is so far away

down the hall

and to the right

 

a journey of a thousand miles

begins with a single step

a single step

just one more step

just one more step.

 


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.


Where I was 2/18/17

I was a better person with you.

 

A better person than I am now.

In solitude, I dwell in dark places

I’ve constructed with shattered pieces

Of withered memories twisted by distrust

And ancient photos hidden away in boxes never opened.

 

I used to be happier

And less suspicious

And less angry.

Now I am sadder, and more suspicious, and angrier.

 

And the world reflects my feelings back at me,

Magnifying and multiplying

Two mirrors reflecting each other

In an amusement park fun house

As hollow laughter accompanies carnival music,

In a never ending loop.

 

I see conspiracies in passing conversations.

I see anger in the youth,

I see surrender in the old,

I see frustration in my peers,

 

But I do not see that,

They are reflections,

All reflections of myself.

 

And I will never be happy,

Never, ever be happy,

Until I once again see

That joy exists,

Still exists,

When pain and sorrow

Are released

From the prison

I’ve confined them in,

Deep in my bitter heart.