Whenever I think back to those simple times, when life was just a run from one sunup to the next sundown or so, I try to recall whatever joy attends those memories. I remember pain, hurt, aching embarrassment, fear, scars aborning, loneliness, longing and mourning. And I’m put in mind of the Inuit People, who supposedly have maybe fifty different words for the concept of Snow, whether it’s falling, used to make water, if it’s just lying there on the ground or if it’s the kind you sink into. I suppose I can come up with maybe fifty words for those days and they don’t mean Snow, but have a passing resemblance to No. But that’s all. Nothing like the Scots, who have more than 400 words for what falls and befalls them during their long dark wintertime. Compared to that, my view of my younger days show practically paradise. Maybe one of their light-snow flindrikins. I can at least see some sun through the flimsy of woe I let cast a haze over those days. Somewhere along the way, my life turned a feefle, swirling around a corner to where I can see another brighter sunup on the horizon. Poem for Day 1 of Poem-a-Day April 2022. An F-title poem. Oh, yes, my friend, I was so tempted...
The tracks they all leave criss-cross and follow, stretch and tangle and some just up and disappear as if their signatories ascended in some great leap to that better place. And so with us on our journey between unknown and known, confused and understood, apathy and love, love and some other kind of love. Maybe the tracks form at the corners of our eyes, where tears can pool or joy marks its trail so as not to get lost again. Or perhaps they step one into the other’s so that it looks like we’re walking alone again. But that would mean one following the other and wouldn’t it be better if, for at least the part before one set finally disappears, our steps walk side by side?
Among the papers that I’ve kept to remind me of who I was, I found a story, and almost wept. Not that it was sad, just…because. Because it stirred a time so bright when this was like respiration, autonomic, just sit down and write, instead of wheezing desperation. The open vein has run its course, I can find nothing left to bleed. When you were my art's driving force, of these banal rhymes I had no need. Perhaps the old I shouldn’t see if all they did is bring more pain. Maybe I should just reinvent me, and tap some imaginary vein. No, you could tell it wasn’t real, and more fraud than ever I’d be. So I’ll just tap the scars I feel, a roadmap to my heart, maybe. I’m not that same man, no longer, but a poet of love and light still. I cheated his death, now I’m stronger. Just need time, my life to refill. If I recall, a sorta-kinda translation of the French phrase “tromp la mort” is something like “cheating death” or someone who does. And it looks like I might’ve done just that.
What do they see when they look at me? I’m not sure that’s who I really am. And if it’s not, who then could it be? I’d like to settle this today, ma’am. I think the structure of this guy, Me, and I’ll betcha likely even you, was built of stuff folks wanted to see and I guess we wanted for them, too. So what we have are these fine facades, callouses made by heat and friction. We hardly said No, mostly Yes and nods, to feel loved, but that kind’s pure fiction. Whenever we stepped outside our shields and tried thinking of ourselves a little, chaos or blame would become our yields, so we’d jump from fire back to griddle. I’ve grown tired of toting their good boy, hands too full of an image to play. The love we sought might have brought us joy, though probably not enough, I say. I’m calling out, so come see the real. Just for a mo, world, but I’m trying. I’m warm just like you, come on, just feel. What? Must be dust. Why’d I be crying? (Count the beats per line. ~ JH)
When the lights go out, will it be like all those nights I spent in the dark wondering? Only not wondering anymore? When all is revealed, will it not have been worth my asking over all these years? Though I finally guessed the answer. When the time comes, will you mourn the days, the hours, the minutes we could have, probably should have? Don’t answer that until then. When I’m not there to reply, will you ask yourself why you couldn't answer the question never asked? Probably as afraid of it as I was. And when the words finally stop, will anyone but you notice the echo in the empty spaces between the lines? It was the wonder, the revelation, the answer, the syllables surpassing all others when the sun shone upon us, the candle would dim and flicker between us… and the lights finally went out for good before we were ready.
This morning, I found myself standing atop that old hill, that long expanse of the Sisters’ yard between me and something they never offered. The old penguins would give me prayers and this scar where my index finger made a run for it. While I never did. <Big inhale> I’m soaring down the hill now, shadowy trees behind me, as I race gravity toward the flat-world surety of the Faithful. My youthful stride’s so long I feel I’m flying down as I fall up, youthfully sure my other foot will beat my face in the race to the ground. And in this competition between the Devil and the details of a life spent looking uphill, I think I may have reached that place, where you stand, ready to catch me before I pass by, if I’m lucky enough to keep one foot in the present, while the other hides somewhere between the past and future. My heart pounds. Lungs beg. We reach out. I open my eyes as I touch the window, realizing haven’t made it. I fill my lungs again with possibility, close my eyes and wonder what it would finally take to reach escape velocity. Just once.
Wishes are the foundation of my life, so many, like grains of sand on a beach. The truth of this story cuts like a knife, they never came true, ever out of reach. Anything you build on a bed of sand will always topple in the wind or surf. Don’t matter if your life's wish-castle’s grand, it’ll fall as if built on clouds above earth. So I stopped wishing when you went away, and my sturdy life became earthbound. I never figured you’d be back one day, but now here you are and here’s what I found. Those wishes like sand made by younger me didn’t really fit when I got older. Except this one that's mostly come true, you see -- the wish-castle I built on this boulder.
I suppose you’ve imagined a world without you. One of those “It’s a Wonderful Life” scenarios that so many of us posit when the world bashes what may actually be our reality. I’ve done it, too, in those moments when midnight’s darkness or tears blinded me to the George Bailey-ness of such an exercise in self absorption. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without you, even if I didn’t know what I was missing without you there and there and there and here in the timeline of my life. How would you feel if I never shined my light or cast my shadow across your path? Because it could’ve happened if I listened to that teary darkness’ logical alternative to what I thought I was suffering. And so, my angel, you’ve saved me from a world without. Without you, without me, without us. But we’ve brought each other a world with a special light and someone to dry our tears when we need to see this is such a better place because you’re there, I’m here, and we’re together to hear our bells when they finally ring.
I don’t wish to be dark, since all I want from life is to bring you light. Light to shine like joy upon you and me. But I know I can’t hand you a ray of sunshine, like a celestial flower, just as you can’t chase away my dark ennui. And I don’t know if you’d even accept it if I offered. Maybe because you know what I know about life and light. How whenever each has shone upon us, neither of them has come cheaply. And nothing’s ever come to us without a fight. So while I don’t want to bring you more darkness, we both know shadow’s the price we pay for the gift of light from above. The shadow light casts when something or someone stands between us and some someday’s bright shining love. So I will never stand in the way of the light you need and deserve. Just as I hope you’ll never block mine. For that we must stand side by side, letting the light have us full, and leaving our lives’ shadows behind.
If I was to write you a story, I don’t think it’d be very happy, because happy’s hard to find, like the tilde on this keyboard of mine. If I tried to write you a poem, I don’t believe it’d very pretty, since the pretty words left home just after Christmas this year. If I did write you something, though, it’d be from a heart blind to what you believe isn’t pretty — but is so. That’s because you’ve touched me and I’ve felt you in a way senses cannot. I hope that’d make you feel happy ~ ~ ~ even if I can’t. Hi, remember me? The usual struggle for words got worse over the past month or so. Then I sensed I wasn’t being myself in what I was trying to say. So I went as basic as I could, letting my blind heart lead me here, where you’re beautiful and I’m just the me you don’t need to see ~ you just need. Simple.