"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Crayons In The Wind

Every now and then, there's a stiff wind...the kind that can measure rooms with its cavernous roar. It knocks you senseless sometimes, even though you have both feet dug in, and your hands are firmly anchored to the railing of your stone wall.

I had some crayons once. So many beautiful colors, and with them I drew love that birthed rosy cheeked children walking bushy tailed dogs. I drew a life line that traveled down my plump young hand and into a crepe paper version of itself with an arthritic knuckle.

I thought I had the tools.

My fingers are cold. They make a play for pockets that are full of snotty tissues and fumble there with the tattered remnants of a memory seam or two. The surface of my skin ripples like the sea and I can only guess where time has gone. The wind. The wind took it. You see I forget that there is a breezeway as big around as the mighty oak that once held a tire swing. I forget that the creaking isn't the sweet melody of child's play, but the rattle of space inside my soul. There are things that are missing. Things that have always been missing. Things as fundamental as a mother, and a father. It takes a while to realize why there's always a breeze.

Every now and then, there's a stiff wind...the kind that throws up a mirror to your parlor tricks and illustrates the backstitch of an illusion. My crayons had no box, no structured frame with a cylindrical opening to whittle them into fine points. They just wore down with my scribbles and kept on going.

I have a sense now, of what I might have done if only I could have sharpened my tools and filled in the hollow where air escapes.

I might have caught my breath.

Every now and then, something howls through a void you forgot you had, maybe didn't even know you had, and it rocks you with legitimacy. I'm not placing blame. I'm just giving a structure of compassion to the wind.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tight at the Throat

To hold that boulder between your teeth
to talk around it...work, jog
kiss with it between your lips
the ache growing
porcelain chipping away
silence chiseling into an insurmountable resolve.

What physical weight could you hold this long?
Why do you feel your heart stronger than your exoskeleton?

And when you finally released that mountain
let it flow downhill
picking up the steam you've imagined will render us
cartoon flat
it wasn't a boulder at all
that postured at the foot of us.
It was just a truth rising up like bile,
like childbirth
it could not be held back
else the child stillborn
and the mother dead also.

It ached for breath and faith
so that when it rolled to the base of us expelled
we would overshadow it.
this thing you feared say for so long
while building its walls and pouring its foundations,
hunkering down inside that fort
claiming safety.

It wasn't safe.
It was just self preservation
eating you alive

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And The Reality Is

it will be a day like any other.
The sun will rise
and the clock will tick one moment into the next
with the smallest of sounds in the emptiest place.

Your bad knee will ache no more, no less
than the day preceding, or the day next.
The garden flowers will still have color
so incrementally fading that unconscious denial is an easy mask
over the fact they are dying along with you.
In fact it feels like everything outside is vibrantly alive
and loud
and big.

People will say "hello"
and you'll fight being incredulous.
Don't they know?
Isn't it obvious to everyone
that the ground is about to open beneath your small, unsteady feet
and you down into the mouth of it
with nothing left on the curb of the earth
but a belch to this monumental thing...
this un-doing.

But you are not un-done
simply unraveled more, and spun
down to the spool
the barest of things
the end of yourself,
and there is nothing wrong with that dear.
From the quiet and stillness of you will grow a sound
and the sound will build note by note
discordant at first
but none the less musical.

Oh that magical day
when you break out into song again.
Sing loud love.
Those notes were hard to come by
and well out of your range

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Of Dark Wings

I came home full of hope...
that stuff  that dreams create,
gauzy remnants of realism
as if all baggage were on the carousel
and the plane had left the terminal

But the black butterfly was flitting about my door
relentlessly battering its night wings against my dark wood
and neither of us seemed to know where the light was anymore.
My delicacies were abraded
from the desire to be infused with brightness...
and the work. The WORK required to be so.
I begged that insect to fly far away,
with no return flight.

I am not of that darkness

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Jaded Twinkie

Disappointment feels so lengthy
like the shelf life of Twinkies...
never half price
always buy one get one,
whether you want it or not.

I say this, with the sincerest wish it were a lie,
Moving too quickly through grief
will land you back at the start,
with the finish line looking more and more
like Hank Aaron's 756th home run.

I mourn my losses hard
with the level of difficulty I assign to most things.
I give them the sadness they are due,
holding funeral to dreams while still hoping
they rise from the ashes...
peeking shyly at their memory
from somewhere between an incubating belief
and a dying breath.

You just never know.

I was never a fan of Twinkies.
I like my desserts dense, like the weight of a castle
a monument...solid and dependable like that.
I don't understand anything light, or airy, or easy.
Tough feels familiar,
and too good to be true
usually is.

So I surrender for a season,
not black, not white, not all, not nothing
and there is some relief in that.
Even while sounding resigned and jaded
I am scanning for hope to light another fire
that doesn't easily expire.
A solid vision, a weighted dream
that won't escape.

(Dreams. I remember some dreams dying on the push-push of my son's effort, and others that seemed born of the sky...falling like gifts in a way that no one could ever predict. I thought my heart would break when his baseball dream took it's last breath, but to look at him now...his success and happiness? One has to wonder. I believe God has his hand in everything, and sometimes it all gets mixed up like scrabble tiles. But there still exists...the d, r, e, a, m....and the h, o, p, e, that one day the dream will reassemble in such a way that it can only be called a miracle.)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Word Cracking

I crack the world open
each morning
with a chiseled space formed
when my lips part.

It is a sign for you to enter
with curses or kisses...
my only preference
that either one, taste red.

I've grown chapped
forcing moisture in and out like a tide
my tongue fishing around
with no bait
yet expecting dinner...

this parched tongue
having forgotten the feel
of laying brick, building damns
that would hold the waters close
and the sharks at bay.

I am hearing new lessons
resounding with ancient proverbs.
You cannot reel a heart in
if you never cast fear upon a line of words.

I heard her holler "HENRY!!!"
the name flapping wildly,
intermittently soaring with longing,
mired in disappointment.

He smiled at her.
I envied her lips.

They were not dry at all.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Underside

I chased the sun down
on my way
to what would never be a good idea.

But we tend to race towards the most inevitable collisions
wearing the colors of our last regret.

We've not yet learned
to be the docile companion of our own lessons.
Instead we hold court
and debate the details
while the big picture goes missing.

I chased the sun down
knowing full well it always wins.
I cannot catch it in my cupped hands -
delay the moment it hides
on the underside of the world.
Yet, when the moon recants the darkness
into a new beauty I wish to hold,
mistakes just seem as stars
that light the way.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What I'm Looking For

What I'm looking for
must not be right, or the timing of it off...
like a mysterious noise from under the hood.
I've craned my ear, but it is as alien as it ever was.

What I'm looking for comes to visit.
We sit on the porch in awkward summary of each other,
while random insects circle
looking for a place to land.
I'm circling too
but the chairs are occupied with our human shapes
leaving no room for the enormity of spirit.

What I'm looking for
moves towards me haltingly
a nervous hand expecting something unpleasant
from the very thing it aches for.
There is so often the hasty retreat
fueled by fear and young pain.
Pain that has an age is by far the hardest to survive.
If the pain is age 2, or 5
only the very brave can look at the full length of it
so the running is completely understandable
ending things like a chord resolved.
It's rather expected, and peaceful
though I wish it weren't an end.

What I'm looking for
seems to find me with a degree of regularity
but stays just long enough for my own growth to disrobe
and stand in that heady space
between complete vulnerability and abject purpose.
There, I allow myself to be the stepping stone
not the landing
watching with an almost parental pride
as what I want
crosses over to what I cannot have.

There are nomads.
There are drifters.
What I'm looking for
seems to have joined a band of wanderers
keeping step with other prodigals on the healing path.

Prodigals return
What we want gives birth to what we need
and I've heard tales, that what we look for
looks back.