Baby, give me gasping galaxies of infernal heat to warm the vacuum where once I lay. Cut dusted fragments of the stars from my body and my mind–it think find its soul which till remembers the last whisper and caress out there where we made our nests in nebulae, powdered our faces in fractal fission and wept at the insane beauty that stretched to the unknowable ends. Give me whetstone tones of tenderness to grind on down these rough edges, I know you will. Fine tune my harmony to match the orchestra, I know you will. Love me gentle and love me brutal, I’ll do same. But, on the nights I go to bathe in the shimmer and glimmer of dead Giants birthing monstrous infinities while listening to shadows hum their lonesome shaded songs….on those nights, I am forever free.
I know a man who threw away 10g of meth. Down a toilet. Intentionally, during a moment of lucidity. He woke up from his dream. He didn’t do it for the posturing or the bragging, he did it because he had a fucking moment and things added up.
He saw his future was his past and all that was going to come again. The regrets. The broken relationships. The self-hatred. The loneliness and the pain. The body count and the desperation. The stagnation. The missed joy and thrill of life. The empty smile and the personal failings. The prayer for death unanswered.
It hit that water in the toilet and didn’t even stain the water with some indication of all the soil and grime that its brand had left over the years. All the marks on his morals. His appreciation of life. His awareness and understanding of the world and himself. His inability to connect and always be “other” – not in a way he was proud of, but in a way that left him sullied and greasy where it would always be felt most.
He wasn’t going to revisit and replay what had come before. He was learning gratitude for all the experiences, painful or pleasant, and that meant realizing that the pain had only needed to happen once. He didn’t need to put his hand back into the fire like always. it was still fucking hot and he was worth more than scorched flesh. He wanted to, could, and will become more. He’ll evolve, be seen in the mirror as true to himself, a good friend, an honest and genuine man, and as a survivor not an unchanging Peter Pan chemical fiend. Wreckage for decades as his only gift to the world, a Lost Boy playing pirate to his own loot.
He had learned, was learning, would continue to learn. He would grow.
I know a man that threw away 10g of meth. Finally took a dive and emptied a bag, got back on the horse, and welcomed in a change for once.
Stay that road fucker, I miss you.
So often I would sit and wail about "why"?
The frustration unending,
the obsession ongoing,
a gut wrenching demand to understand
that in itself
kept me from the knowledge,
the peace I sought.
Sick in the head druggie,
crazy as a shit house rat,
"something's wrong with that kid" -
I tried to own those labels
make them something to be proud of.
I tried doing that,
by doing all the things
I imagined people with those labels would do.
I followed that up,
by demanding that I not be persecuted,
not be judged,
not be looked at differently,
though I had just behaved in a way that demanded all those things happen.
Now I come to terms,
sit with the idea of peace,
find pride not in my actions
but in the understanding
that awareness and acceptance bring.
To know that I am not an actor playing out roles,
that I lost myself,
but I am a survivor,
no longer needing to play the role
of victim or perpetrator anymore.
It's a small thing,
Which means so much to me.
To be able to introduce myself,
engage in a conversation,
Know that I accept who I am as a being,
that I no longer let labels
define who I choose to see myself as,
act as a script for my identity,
or be my scapegoats when I screw up.
That like so many others,
I am the hero
and the villain,
of my own story.
That my abnormal mental states,
all the resulting experiences,
are gifts to allow me opportunities,
to shine my brightest
against the backdrop of adversity,
and decide just how much of it there would be.
To know that there are others out there gleaming,
and if we encounter each other
it could be in the form of respect and love,
admiration for the battles fought,
no matter whether they were felt won or lost,
an opportunity to compare notes and grow.
I'm not ashamed of who I am,
or where I am today,
I am disappointed in many of my choices
but they have been mine to make,
and they were made.
I used to have a vision of the perfect person,
someone that I would measure myself to
and inevitably fall short.
Today I am me,
released on the world
gifted with challenge and capacity for growth.
All of it,
so that I have a chance to become
an oh so slowly evolving,
Spacious and widely set are these woven walls
stinging nettles wrapped firmly around whipcord center
a promise of pliable willow branches,
carefully soaked switches
cut green, bound in beautifully colored leaves thick with thorns.
Laced with the fabric of breath, desire, mystique,
keeping the luminescent beyond–
However, in those laced moments that the air stirs first languorously,
then rising to delight in how it can twist and whirl
a joyful movement of shifting scents
breeze spraying aside the curtains
they, no heavier than dreams.
Rolling across the stones laid intricate with care
drifting to cross the lone pond.
Glassine and undisturbed as puddled silver
thickly magick and deeper than deep can be known–
–as the air quenches and remakes.
Where tendrilled branches cast ripples,
serpentine gashes play at being rivulets of liquid
cutting once pristine layers
on which reflections lay.
Alive and shedding mirrored skin,
sloshing possibility and promise
as ancient hearts cast aromas in the air,
only as decayed wood left to rot can.
Dust and brittle powdering husks
broken down from their heights to furnish food and fuel
that the next generation might cast ramparts of growth
riding high on the bones of the Old.
Silently they sit.
Gazing down at the scarred and skittering pool,
beaming hope in darkly radiant intensity
from behind eyes set deep with focus.
Reflecting, and wishing fitfully,
that as it calms,
they will find relief from their personal tempests
peace through the restoration of waters
returning to their unblemished state.
A cauldron of insight,
slickly metallic and alluring
where they might at last catch sight of their foes,
drag them into the shaded glen,
bleed them onto the stones,
leave their corpses ragged and torn,
that they can be reborn with the changing days.
Blissfully drift into their thoughts unfettered by care,
smile indulgently at the colorful cacophony
as it unfolds behind their drooping lids,
Oh!–what flowers Spring would surely bring.
I’ve found playful meaning
in the sharpest strands of daylight
while they bleached my night tan
into a wholesome red and brown.
been stripped clean of the unwholesome.
The rasping, the choking, the decaying
scent of another moon laced night
spent chasing dragons down the streets.
In the silver kissed necklace of shadows
that roll menacingly beneath the stars
as a slipshod grasp on tenuous reality
falls away, fast as a bat, never to be caught.
Crawled out dusty and beaten by self
into the unwelcome openness of daytime
Where people have jobs and families
go do things and have fun of their choosing.
There’s always a sick, nasty bitterness
surrounding the way I’d look at the crowds.
In those moments when shame carries
the day and bitterness over the injustice,
of wounds septic and worsening, a brain
melting beneath the heat of inquisition.
A Cadillac of contempt would sit, shining
In the corneas of each purple smudged eye.
Letting the self-loathing and concern go awry,
masking envy as hate and desire as disgust,
riding panic and fear out as arrogance and disdain.
Patronizing seconds as the world creaks,
moans its way out of the decadence of night,
quickens into the tittering joy of form alive.
There’s no surface to touch and manipulate
no interface that allows for a connection across
to that other world imbued with shiny smiles
and unbroken teeth not doing unspeakable acts.
In those moments when the sickness begins,
wafting out of your skin to notify and alert
anyone caring to notice of your diseased being,
your lesser than status, your unworthiness.
Those are the defining moments that show
the defying strength and fortitude you want,
when you have the opportunity tell the world
“get fucked, piss off, I make the next choice.”
or reaffirm the skepticism pandering to your
apathetic acceptance of what life has become.
Those are the moments when the shear grit
required to simply gut out the next series
of bad decisions, knowing how much it will hurt
but owning it, owning that the deeper down
you crawl the higher it will feel at baseline.
When you finally disconnect from the grime
Long enough to breathe untainted air
Purified in the radiance of sunbeams
And the wealth of happiness that soaks
Summer days beneath the blue painted sky,
there is a startling awareness, an epiphany,
a closure to doubt and a recognition,
that sobering up is just getting high in a new way.
When I show up and use a prepaid debit card with borrowed funds and a big grin while spouting the sweetest “thank you” ever heard to the check-in lady–ignore the fact my clothes are second hand. Ignore that from a material standpoint, virtually everything I’m wearing is from homeless shelters, the YWCA, and the generosity of strangers and family. One of the necklaces I have on is from a cellmate when I was in jail, the other is a gift from my wife, neither ever comes off. A reminder of what awaits when my control slips, the other a reminder to be grateful for the people in my life who mean more than things–something I’ve consistently been terrible at remembering.
The suitcase I have has traveled more than 42 residence moves, endless hotels, the streets, and being encased in the coffin of my truck bed while filled with the only non-destroyed dress pairs of shoes I own. In point, the ones I’ll be wearing which are from a Goodwill purchased on my wedding day, another pair came from the local 7th Day Adventist thrift store on our bi-monthly free clothing visit. I once owned a brown, $700 pair of Italian handcrafted leather wingtips that fit around the cedar shoe trees as perfectly as my feet and sat in shoe bags so as not to be scuffed. These days, you’re more likely to see me wearing absurd Size 13 flip flops I accidentally purchased and for some reason couldn’t part with. I’m a size 10.5.
My bracelet was the first item I bought for myself when I moved to Oregon. It came at the same time as a pair of beautiful green earrings for my then new girlfriend. When I sued her for the return of my stuff it came to light that her mother had stolen them along with the cell phone I tried to return. That same woman kept my dress clothes and shoes I had put into storage, changed the lock, and had me trespassed from the property. That was a year ago and just like every other time I’d lost everything, I’ve gotten used to not having as much. The bracelet is banged up, missing insets and can be generally uncomfortable, but it’s mine and there are a host of memories attached to the feel of it’s rougher edges cutting into my wrist while I type on the computer.
That’s what it boils down to: memories–items, trinkets, keepsakes, notebooks, letters, a pair of socks, a favored t-shirt, a picture–everything is a memory unto itself in some sense. Those are what I miss more than anything as I find my recall to be less then lucid owing to the PTSD and schizoaffective bipolar. Like I’m fishtailing through a swimming pool of ideas more than memories in any sort of recognizable pattern. Concrete items help lock down specifics in a tactile fashion as though a smell conjuring up the taste of grandma’s sugar cookies.
Just like the suitcase I’ll drag to the elevator has the mental odor of a hundred hotels I stayed in with it when I was last a corporate man traveling the country by plane, train, and automobile. It remembers the blackout drinking, the shakes in the morning, desperate preparations in strange towns trying to banish the heebie-jeebies from my body in time to present rationally to the next client. New York City, Philadelphia, D.C., San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh, Baltimore, Rochester, Binghampton, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver, and every damn city in New England to boot. My bag remembers a time when we stayed at nice hotels and flew 1st class because we were Gold Elite or Platinum mileage members and had a reason to be going from point A to B that didn’t involve simply surviving for another day.
It remembers being filled with the stuffed pig I would take pictures of in all those cities to send home to my son and ex-wife to let them know I was thinking of them. Being crammed with apology gifts for when I hit it too hard and forgot to call home because I was passed out or indisposed with a drinks meeting that night.
I’m sure it remembers being stuffed in with everything I was allowed to salvage from the house when the divorce started. That was the storage unit, 10’10’ space packed full, that I used to sleep in some days when I was too beat. I would lay my head on it like a pillow and bungie cord the door shut since there was no lock on the inside.
Because it remembers those things, holds them in the toughened fabric sewn to it’s exterior and it’s still rolling wheels, I can still feel those moments as vibrant as they were when they happened.
When I get to the room, you won’t see the mixed look of shock and delight on my face when I lay down in a normal bed, or take a shower with hot water and comfortably dry off rather than contort in the space available at home or the local truck stop. You won’t see the delight when I shave, appreciating the joys of a full mirror and a counter to lay things on. The last sigh as I close my eyes in a fully darkened room without dogs barking, goats bleating, and crazy midnight dazed roosters crowing away convinced the stars must just be confused suns needing to be warned away.
Next time you’ll see me is catching the 6:45am shuttle to the training center. You won’t know this backstory either, this is my life story and while I’ll share it with the world proudly, I know when to keep certain things under wraps. After all, I’m back to being regarded as a competent adult male who knows his shit, and you know what, I do. For every moment of doubt that might materialize, or second of uncertainty edge its way through to rut against the fundamental sense of confidence I have to nurture daily–for every one of those moments I can recover with a sense of gratitude and awareness I once lacked. I do know my shit. I’m grateful to be able to say that comfortably, though I will always remain open to learning more.
This time I’m not going to feel like I shouldn’t be where I am. That the world was just messing with me, getting my goat by pretending that I was a real boy and letting me play dress up as an adult. I’ve paid my dues, and I know my intentions. I’m going into this with knowledge of myself, the good and the bad. I have a partner/wife who is behind me and supportive as I have never experienced. She deserves my undivided time and attention, I will not slip into the mentality of unappreciative disdain for others in lieu of burying myself in the job. I will maintain the vicious degree of honesty by which I live my life and the understated fact that I don’t change who I am for anybody–take me or leave me, I am enthusiastic, creative, weird as hell, and 100% genuine. Let’s see how that shakes out this time as I step back into the corporate sales world.
You will see a big smile, teeth perfectly aligned and shockingly intact despite decades of drug abuse, hair combed, suit jacket fitted precisely, shirt pressed, bracelet and watch sparkling, shoes polished and clean shaven with eyes glittering a million laughs and adventures into the air between us.
I’m happy to be there, I’m thrilled to meet you, and I’m actually excited for this challenge. Let’s get this show on the road, because I have a wife and dog who deserve to not be crammed into a broken down RV missing it’s ceiling where the water damage was worst, someone who never asks for much but has earned the right to be supported as she pursues her own dreams in education and life. People who believed in me and lent hands to repay, child-support to pay and an ex-wife to sue for access to my children so I can try to set things right with the ones who never did anything wrong or asked for anything more than to be loved. Friends to show that anything is possible, that it can be achieved, you can change your direction in life no matter how low down the ladder you have gone.
I might even buy a pair of size 10.5 flip flops if things go really well. But I would never get rid of the old clown shoes–after all, they have some stories to tell.
Sardonic reserves of time kept patience
blending outward in rippling shades of hatred.
Baby, you’ve got that heart shaped gaping wound
says you’re bathed in longing for now not soon.
Nothing moves faster than a synapse firing off kilter
blistering brain waves melting downwind all splintered.
If the days were longer and I could taste your fears
all that we’d share could be understanding made clear.
So if you’ll touch your enthusiastic distaste to mine
lets go passe with anticipation and the cheapest wine.
Show me your ugly that I might gag and spew
my own redolent virus of loving life all over you.
A personal inspiration/muse of mine is Old Punk with RamJet Poetry and an editor at Sudden Denouement. His work is often raw as hell with a clear demand for the words to be spewed, there’s emotion behind them. I’d encourage you to check his work out and give him some richly deserved love.
Heighten your aspirations,
Get ‘em up where they see the sun,
Float like something lighter than desperation,
Blood soaked to the tarnished beat of your life,
But succeeding despite.
Just get the fuck up and move.
Even the schoolwork,
Even the homework,
You’ve had the harder lessons,
The ones that left the scars,
Now put some time into the paper ones,
The ones that will lift you to the stars.
Frivolous waste of time you once said,
Now absorb and baptize in the act of learning,
Walk onto a campus,
Where you can be something and never look back.
Putting pieces back together in a maze made of glass,
Seeing clear the future goals to move beyond the past.
These walls that edge without blotting out my vision,
They feel so tight yet loosely fit and lie about position.
I thought myself to be far in, so buried deep indeed,
Nearly neglected thought and action calls to change for want not need.