22 October 2013

Bastard

Stopping time is as easy as remembering.

Let's say you have a father. You have a relationship with him,
one that changes with your perception of him, one that changes
with his perception of you. You grow up, you do
things on your own, you listen to your own heart--
fuck him
and his nonsense about adulthood and responsibility--
and then you discover
you are responsible for your actions, and he
can't bail you out and you see his wisdom and you see his love
that only seems to match what you and he are.

And then he goes and dies.

You try to hang on to every memory you ever had, even memories
he doesn't belong in and you see his influence and his presence
and is it any wonder that God is a father? You see he was there,
always there, guiding you as a model and you clung onto every memory,
like a man sweeping the ocean towards him, trying to embrace
everything in front of him and pull it around him like a coat or a wall.

You rail and you gnash and you cry because
it wants to be forgotten, it wants to get loose
but you're trying to hug water

and you can't remember.                   And the fact you can't remember
is suddenly comforting. Maybe it wasn't him that made you this way,
maybe it was you alone and so you allow yourself to forget

how a man died without a word to you,
because he couldn't breathe enough to say anything to you,
and how you cried until your marriage broke, how you let it all disintegrate
into his ashes, how angry you were, not at him, but at your loss, at his absence.

And "your absence has gone through me," the poet wrote...

And you remember words you never expected
to attach to a memory of your father and then
time
stands
still.

"like thread through a needle:" the poet wrote...and your eyes mist up and
your saliva pools between your teeth and it's everything everything
everything...the poet wrote, "everything I do is stitched with its color."
The world stops moving.
The traffic outside stops playing in your ears.
The voices of humanity silence themselves.
The oxygen pauses

in your lungs to acknowledge absence...

and then rushes ahead to catch up and the blood in your heart
pumps hard and the tears and the saliva are released in a flood:
not a memory
of event, but a memory
of emotion,
a memory of absence, and then a stitching of your life.

And you grimace: "you stopped time, you son of a bitch,
you figured out how to get underneath the laws of physics and steal
pieces of the universe back from it, you sneaky           little           
 

12 September 2013

Morning

~for my wife~

The universe woke up today
and decided, fuck it all, I'm gonna make THAT one
cry.

The universe put on its dark silvery robe,
strolled on down to the Fate Machine and hit
"brew."

The red light whispering into the darkness,
the hum of stars and planets churning, someone on Earth
stops.

This person looks into the sky, or into the air between atoms,
and feels the overflow of heat and tears permeate their being:
Nothing

will ever be the same; I am having a realization
that I am not the best me, that I am flawed, that I am
lost,

that I have been forgotten, that I am shit on God's shoe,
that I have no motion but to finish my dinner, wipe my chin, and
diminish.

Mmm, the universe thinks, good enough to the last drop.
Waaah, the person weeps, never ever good enough.
Lonely,

the universe is so lonely, with only itself,
and, with so many of us, we are so
powerless.

We have but each other and the universe has its power.
I give us, the universe and all of us in it, a new name:
Mourning.

What is it that we keep losing, that it keeps hurting?
What is it that keeps hurting, that we can't give
up?

Why don't we wake up before the universe does
and say, fuck it all, we're gonna make our own god damn
cup?

05 September 2013

Taken Toys

When I was a child,
I would pocket my friend's toys:
a marble here, a fading GI Joe there;
a half-used eraser, a Yahtzee die,
the army guy with the bazooka,

or pieces: the plastic plug from a watergun,
Barbie's shoe, the Play-Doh knife,
a Hot Wheels car missing wheels,
a jack, the Transformer missile
that wouldn't fire from the launcher.

It wasn't the stealing, it wasn't the toy,
but the need to have a memento,
a reminder of my time with them, a reminder
of how happy a child could be.
            LITTLE DID I KNOW,

that they weren't thrown away or returned or lost
in the cushions or down the grates or retaken by other children:
the other day in a dream I opened a room
and found it filled with all my taken toys.
Growing up, I'd forgotten them anyway.

29 August 2013

The Suit of Armor

The Suit of Armor

Over the shirt and tie, I've been wearing an everyday suit of armor
to protect me from the anger, the manipulation, the habits
that gave me the power to act without consequence.

It is a heavy, but blessed suit of armor,
kissed by an angel of redemption, forged
by the devils of regret. And I do not begrudge

wearing it. For now. But I hope for the day,
that my skin oxidizes and takes on the blessing,
but not the weight of this armor, its soft, fleshy

vulnerability encased in the patina
of a goodly man, able to defend himself
against the encroaching host.

AND WHEN I AM GREEN WITH PATINA,
my blood will no longer boil or foment beneath my crust,
but shall shine like light and pour forth like poultice.

01 July 2013

The Poem In Which I Bleed

It has been a while since I wrote.

I don't miss it. I don't even feel guilty. I think I'm happier lately than I have been and I'm not writing anything.

I keep going back to this thing my lovely, adoring wife said, "You bleed when you write." I think we were discussing me going back to school to get my PhD and I told her that I probably wasn't writing deeply enough, that I couldn't reach the level of intensity that I usually reach when I'm writing and she remarked , "You bleed when you write."

And I think I've been thinking about that because with what I've been through, I'm tired of making myself bleed for words. I deserve a happier, successful life. How long can the junkie continue his addiction before the thing that makes him feel so alive nearly kills him? How long can an artist bear the pain of creation before all he knows is pain?

To what purpose do I cut myself open and why don't I just stop and start putting love into the world?

And I think that's the answer: I started this blog so that I could ask myself how a writer can view and experience a world that does not reward him for being a writer.

I'm not going to torture myself because I can't write what I think I should be writing, or can't live the way I think I should be living, or can't see what I want to be seeing.

I'm not going to torture myself at all and if it hurts, I'm not going to indulge in that pain. I'm not going to twist and turn it and gnaw on its rusted edges and make my mouth bleed on it anymore.

I'm going to do this life up with my own special breed of quiet, awkward, elegant joy, and if it comes out as a poem then, lucky me. If it comes out of a series of good and noble acts or conversations at dinner or favors I pay forward, then lucky me too.

This life is not meant for suffering, not meant for bleeding out. This life is meant for enrichment, for fleshing out and there is a limit to poetry. And I have reached it. There remains little meaning in the act of writing for me but I am not sad about it.

There is more in the heavens and earth than I've dreamt of in my philosophy. There is more magic to be played. There is more that I can do and that which I do will not be with my words alone on a page.

They will rise, they will be born, they will live as their own and I will smile as a father and as a grandfather and as a great grandfather and my kinsmen are poets and artists and good husbands and great men and sailors and doctors and teachers.

The poem in which I bleed is no longer the poem I write. The poem in which I blossom is the life I write.

05 December 2012

The Voice in Your Heart is Not Your Own


Try.

That’s what my heart said.

It kept saying it for so many years; after so many

disappointments, it still said it: Try.

But after the last one, after he passed, it stopped.

The heart stopped saying it, as if the reason it had been saying it

was that it was his heart, not mine. All those years,

he was telling me to keep trying.

 

The voice in your heart is not your own.

Another’s heart, instead, speaks to you,

and when it goes silent, you tear at your universe,

just to hear something speak again.

 

Your heart speaks to another, do not forget.

What does it say? What does it say, my darling?

What does my heart say to you?

24 October 2012

Self-Confrontation

I've recently had the opportunity to allow myself to stand outside of myself and gaze out at the edge of a smoldering world, the smoldering world of my history of trauma.

It is nothing unique, nothing more or less than anyone else's, I'm sure, and I think that may have been my first mistake in thinking that I could handle all of it. I've been so busy dealing with it all, day in and day out, fighting the symptoms but not the disease, that I forgot to step back and remind myself that this is mine and only mine. It is my responsibility to own it, my responsibility to learn about it, my responsibility to take care of it so I can live my life.

It begins with the coma, with that initial disconnection from my brain and a concerted attempt by myself and my doctors to reconnect it, but my emotional landscape was set ablaze by the dual natures of my parents own emotional landscapes: my father, unable to connect because growing up love wasn't safe and in order to prevent himself from becoming the monster his father was, he stayed at arm's length from me, still loving me but still distant, as if his heart might explode by getting too close. My mother, struggling with bipolar disorder most of her life, the emphasis always remained on her emotional safety, on her emotional landscape and mine was sort of left at my own devices.

And I ran into dark corners, into corners that hadn't burned yet and I laid the foundations of my friendships and relationships there, until they burned. I was like the Road Warrior, alone, just looking for that next oasis in a post-apocalyptic mess. Only I wasn't a bad ass, I wasn't a hero, I couldn't even save myself.

A few years ago, I ran out of places to run to...and then my dad died...and then my marriage began to collapse because of an infidelity, an infidelity I allowed because all around me there was no comfort in the love of friends and family and this burning city of my emotions made everyday feel like a crisis. I hid inside fake emotions, inside emotions that I thought people wanted me to feel. I even manipulated them in order to give creedence to those fake emotions so they felt all the more real to me. That caused more pain to myself and loved ones that I didn't count on.

And now I'm outside of myself, policing every manipulative or potentially dangerous impulse I have, still unsafe in myself, but safe from the burning of the past, and now I have to build up a new city of my emotions. And I have to lay foundations on top of the rubble, foundations in emotions I've never known: self-trust, self-respect, self-forgiveness, self-discipline, and self-confidence. I know that I can feel these and that it will finally be, it must be, a genuine feeling, but the question is how to do it while preventing the inferno that engulfed my life over the past two years from rising up again and taking my tiny successes and turning them into ashes.

It is all I can do some days to get out of bed. It is all I can do to pay a bill, or do a chore, or remind myself that I like to play Magic: The Gathering. I reach deep for each fraction of each friendly smile.

I think this slow, ever-present plodding along is where all that self-whatever is going to come from. I hope it is.

I seriously hope it is. Because I don't want to be the Road Warrior in my own head anymore.