Keeping My Head Above

Just thought I’d write today. No theme, no depth of subject or consideration of how it might affect my life and life in general. Just write. So…

My life’s a mess, but so is human life overall. The length and breadth of it is a litany of sloppy, awkward, falling-down trial, error, failure and maybe the occasional tie. There don’t seem to be any wins. And if we think there are such Me-versus-the-Universe faux-comebacks, that’s just the House sucking you in with a blast of endorphin to keep you at the gaming table.

I guess the best times are the trials, those times where I’ve messed in the mess and have yet to fall on my face in the slop of it all. There are few times where the mess isn’t within and arm’s length of me (or you). I dance on the edge of it, splash in it, wade through it, throughout the Sphinx’s four legs in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night quiz answer for Oedipus. His prize was the keys to “a NEW Thebes!”

And we all know how that turned out, right? 

Yes, life is messy, from its hormone-drenched origin, to its splatter-flick, camel-through-a-needle’s-eye (so I’m told and have observed) delivery, over its boot-sucking traverse of the day to day swamp, until its icky finale and ultimate disposal.

I am up to my chin in it all, with the once-distant solid ground of my evermore within sight, which sometimes feels more appealing than yet another swallow of life’s wallow. I’ve taken on a lot of its turbid wash over the past few years, sometimes nearly going under, occasionally dreaming of scuttling this leaky vessel altogether.

But here I am, taking the gamble one more day, reaching my foot into the stark paper-white unseen in hope there’s a there there to support me until tomorrow when I hold my nose and take another sodden step. That’s the risk I take. Maybe you do, as well. I’ve taken many a messy misstep, sunk into it over my head and somehow sputtered like flotsam to the surface. I’m an expert at treading, though I’m more exhausted every day.

Maybe you’ve been lucky enough (or made your own luck) to find a map to the stars’ homes, isles of dryland dreams to keep your feet unsullied at least for awhile. I applaud you, but won’t allow myself envy. That’s just more heavy ballast I don’t need. I carry enough of my own. 

So here on this page I have smeared the results of my latest fall in the marsh of human existence. I’ve wiped from my eyes the detritus I observed upon the silty bottom. Exhaled more of the miasma floating above the surface like a diaphanous warning of days to come. And I’ve spit out some of my latest gulps of failure. 

Another mess. Another chance to tread on. Another tie.

My Soul to Keep

You think you know
who I’m talking about,
but I doubt you’re right.
You’ll say, “He’s going on
about me/her/us again.”
But you may be wrong.
I can’t say for sure myself.

I know you’ve been here somewhere,
since you left such a distinct mark
on my visceral poetic parts.
Bruise, scar, tattoo,
or something only I imagine?
Yes, no, probably. Who knows?
The question is, do you want these
to be about you? Do I?

Do you want to remain attached
to whatever it is containing
the emotion I never show?
Would you like to be the one opening
that little valve and releasing
the drips and gushes
with which I paint fantasies
too real to bear and realities
that can never be.

So if you don’t wish me
to write about you, don’t worry.
I’m not. But if you desire to be
remembered in a way so few are,
I’ll always hold a warm place
for your memory, my soul to keep.

I so wished to write a story today. Failed. So I just turned loose what remains of my scraggly creative wolf and he howled out this moonlit song. It’s not melancholy, at least. In fact, I think it might even be a little hopeful, Lord help me.

Something About This

We need to do something about this.

I know. If this goes on much longer, I doubt he’ll ever be able to – you know – again…

Don’t even think that. If he stops for good he’ll just lose the will to go on…with anything.

Then we need to do something.

He’s tried almost everything, walks, music, reading. God, look how he just sits there. A blink, blink, a sigh.

I caught him crying the other night.

No you didn’t!

Yeah, in bed, alone, staring, like he was expecting someone to come to him from out of the ceiling. Or past. You know how he likes the room totally dark and cool.

So how do you know he was crying?

Heard him. Like a stage whisper. Said her name and then…well, a sobbing sound. Like he couldn’t catch his breath.

No kidding! Maybe we should suggest he reach out to her. And yeah, we both know she’ll eventually make him more damn paralyzed with misery than he is now. Humming away in his chair one minute and then…

I know. But he can’t go on like this. I’m afraid he might just…you know, POOF, gone. And what about us?

Okay, you go to his right and I’ll go left.

Wait. Listen. The laptop. Is he writing her? Think she’ll answer? I mean kindly? What’s he say?

Let me check. Oh… Well at least he’s trying.

Okay, but what’s he written?

It says, “We need to do something about this.”

(This is pretty much the only way I can write fiction these days. I imagine two characters speaking and then my imagination follows their conversations. But I’m miles ahead of where I’ve been for months.  In this case, I’ll let your imagination discern who – or what – these two speakers are.)

Pyrrhus’s Desk

It looks, from this warrior’s level,
as if the battle finally has ended.
Upon this field, once-sustaining empty vessels,
as well as worn, broken and crumpled weapons
lie strewn from edge to edge,
foreground to horizon.
More still have fallen out of his sight.
Dreams, hopes, plans, idle inspiration,
they hover above the expanse
like a morbid miasma, like the fog of war,
like the spirits of the dead.
Over there he seee the pictures
of the warrior’s children, forever young,
He thinks, “This is what defeat looks like.”
And yet, as you can see, he’s won the battle.
This time.

The bottles can be returned,
the cups, pencils, paper replenished
and with them this warrior’s resolve.
Pyrrhus will live to fight another day.
He is Homer, he is Herodotus.
Or perhaps he is Caesar, writing
his own history of battles joined,
won, lost, best forgotten.
He knows the end could come tomorrow,
but that same tomorrow he’ll engage
the enemy once more, fighting
with himself on this 4′ x 2′ battlefield
for what makes him feel most alive
and keeps one day’s words forever young.

Leaving It All Behind

Within, the emptiness rules, cold and dark.
It’s been this way how long I just can’t say.
Probably long as I’ve not raised a spark,
in here to warm and light another day.

I’ve given up groping my way around,
gave up about almost all I once did
once upon a time, like new stories sound.
Now new stories have run away and hid.

You’d think I’d hear old echoes in this space
where once so many voices talked to me.
I can’t bear to listen, in any case,
lest your voice I hear and dreamed-up you see.

It’s new dreams I need, to fill up my mind,
not blank memories of this life left behind.

If Not for Yin …

I look up to see
the rain come down,
and look down to see
its drops splash toward sky.
I look through the light
to see the shadow,
and through the dark
for any light to catch my eye.

I must be warm in order to
best feel the cold
and feel relatively cooler
to sense the warm.
And so it goes,
living in a world
where we compare and contrast
to judge this life’s form.

There would be no bad
if not for good;
and no silence
without the sound.
Just like I’d not be here
except for you, and you’d
never grace this place if not
for the me to you I’m bound.

Just a little something I tossed at the page to kid myself I’m still writing.  
Nah, I think I’m just flipping verbal spaghetti at this virtual refrigerator door.

Five Minutes to August

“Just the bare necessities
that’s all I need,” I used to think.
I could hear the wind blowing
and leaves rustling and imagine
the walnut trees bobbing and heaving
like some portly prizefighters
as invisible hands rained body shots
and tickles on their flabby greenery.
Now I see them move left and right,
back and forth and think about
raking all those leaves come October.

It’s only five minutes to August
and I’m concerning myself with
half past Autumn.
Unless you’re Emily Dickinson,
a poet should never use
a roof and four walls as sunblock.
Sure, windows make fine frames,
but horizons gird much bigger pictures.
And you know what? Everything
encompassed beneath
the dome of the sky can be found
in one raindrop.

Two bird-shaped pieces of night
just crossed the sunny length
of the shed roof. I’ve gotta
get out there. You might say
it’s a necessity.

I’ve been stuck, stuck, stuck for weeks. Maybe months. And today I just gave up, though not like I have been giving up. I grabbed the first book of fiction I could find in that bookcase to my right, turned to page 8, transcribed the eighth sentence, and then started writing from there. It ain’t perfect, but it was a subconscious lesson I needed. And I just realized something about this book. It’s “Kafka on the Shore,” by Haruki Murakami, the first book of fiction I bought myself a decade ago to restart my reading life. And that, my friends, is what’s so magical and spooky about this writing thing. Get out. Get out of your own way. Get it out of your system. Get something close to happy.