A Body For A Soul

 

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All I wanted was to be understood, to once again lose myself in someone’s eyes, rather than being sucker punched in the heart. She said it’s hard to be understood when you don’t even understand yourself.   I thought to myself “Yeah right, you never even took the time to try and know me, you were too busy trying to prove how you were right——-and how I was wrong.”  One thing for certain, I was right about her being wrong for me. Love with all its inherent bad descions makes fools of us all. The more I tried to reach out the harder she pulled away. Maybe blindness is what love is. Maybe it’s tracing with my fingers what I can’t see with my eyes. She shoved my hand away, “Stop, you’re gonna smudge my make up”. Damn, she had all the romance of a cactus.

I’m a fool for girls with sexy eyes in lose fitting see through sundresses. I’ve bumped into a lot of people, but we collided and burst into an awkward erratic orbit—-pulling together then pulling apart. When I peered closer, I realize that I was never really in her eyes. But god, I remember how the sun shown through her cotton dress and how I mistook a body for a soul.

During the day it’s easy to believe in god, clocks and getting to work on time.  When the sun is up I can find purpose in simple walks down by the river.  I’m not shaken by the absurdity of remaining stopped at stale deserted red lights.  But at night, the enormity and emptiness of the universe fills me with an uneasy feeling of insignificance.  I toss and turn in my bed and then get up and stumble into the kitchen for my fourth glass of water.  I’m stuck in a midnight cycle of drinking water to ease my dry mouth and then having to get back up and take a piss.  She hollers from the bedroom.  “What’s wrong with you? Why are you up.”  I reply, “I can’t sleep, I’m worried about stuff.”  Her voice is tired and cracks as she speaks, “Worried?  Worried about what?”

“I’m worried about life and the inevitability of death and what’s it all for.  I’m worried about things I should’ve said and done.  I’m worried about pretending to be something or someone I’m not. I’m worried about my insecurities, my false intentions and my need to be validated——–by people I don’t give a shit about.  I’m worried about our sun and how someday it’ll become a super nova and explode vaporizing our solar system and turn our planet into ash along with all it’s history, paintings, music, books and everything that makes up me and you.  I’m worried about sick kids lying in hospital beds, scared and praying under their starched and stiff hospital sheets.  I’m worried about lonely old people in rest-homes with nothing to do but watch gameshows and play bingo. I’m worried about never being able to write with the truthfulness and rawness as Bukowski, Steinbeck or Kerouac.  I’m worried about roads not taken. I’m worried about why I no longer have friends who I can trust with my secrets.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I’m a hypochondriac so I worry about every phantom ache and pain. I’m worried and wonder where’s god in all this mess?” She gasps,”What the hell’s wrong with you?  You make Woody Allen seem normal.  Come back to bed.”  I gulp down another huge swig of water and head to the bathroom to relieve myself——I swear, how is it possible to pee more liquid than I drink? I’ve grown weary of waiting on another tardy sun.

When I go back to my hometown I drive down my old street and park near my childhood house with it’s yellow nightlight burning on the porch.  It’s just me and a moonless sky dipped in ink.  Tonight I’m filled with melancholy as I creep along in the shadows of haunted streets. Maybe we all leave little pieces of ourselves in the places we once called home. I’ve come snooping for clues that will put “then and now” back together.

When I grew up I was in a hurry to get out of my hometown and escape this puny street that once comprised my world.  But now I’m ironically drawn back to this tired old house on a dead end street. After everyone has gone to bed I buy myself a tallboy and park by the field that’s adjacent to the Catholic church and my childhood house. The cold air with its silent stars brings back the loneliness I knew as a child.  Even then under that misty Milky Way galaxy I’d lose myself in the majesty and unreal-ness of it all.  I think about my old friends and my family, I listen for voices and keep an eye out for falling stars or maybe a UFO. I haven’t come here to repeat the past nor exhume old ghosts, I’m in search of a lost innocence. Right now, all over town it’s autumn and the wind is creating mini tornados of yellow, red and purple leaves. The air is filled with the scent of burning wood streaming from brick chimneys. November is breathing its chill into the coming night.

This was the place where my father would come home wearing his weary work-face.  I think back on all the sacrifices my folks made for me and my sisters. For my dad, everyday must’ve felt the same except for paydays.  On paydays he’d come home late for dinner with beer on his breath and the smell of tobacco clinging to his work shirt. I remember how he’d wrap mom up in his arms and foxtrot her around the living room singing “I don’t get around much anymore”.  Is that what life is, brief moments of joy surrounded by days of nihilistic sleepwalking? In spite of all the hardships we were a family fortified by love who found ways to share our tears and exploit life’s humor. Our house was filled with loud voices and much laughter. My folks did a good job making us a home and they were always there for me. There is still something calming about this funny little house with it’s sagging fence and unkempt gardens——it still defines home.  Memories are my eternal path back home.

This is where my mother cooked our dinners and neatly ironed our clothes. Maybe I’m guided back here to try find pieces of me that I’d forgotten, or that I’d left behind. I can hear the voices and see the ghosts as I sit in my car with the heater on and the radio tuned to jazz. I sip off my beer and let the smell of fresh laundry and pot roast cooking in the oven bring me back to a simpler time.  

I know now, that you can’t go back in time and fix things or make good on delinquent thank you’s.  Things break, mistakes are made, we all say things we regret.  And then there are those missed opportunities where kindness and patience would have played better than selfishness and unrealistic demands.  I watch as we all age.  There’s a feeling of solace that’s found in marching together through the passage of time.  I search for myself with the eyes of days gone by. Buddha would say that attachments to the past is the cause of suffering, but for me there is such a sweet sorrow in these nocturnal sojourns. I feel a sense of belonging under these frigid autumn skies. We may all just be passing through, but my life is held together by the continuum of shared memories. 

Victor

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Soundtrack “If I Go, I’m Going” by Gregory Alan Isakov.

 

raindrops falling and disturbing still water
she smelled like fresh laundry and the newness of a morning sun
this ole heart is wearing worn and cracked work-boots
It’s the miles not the years

You fell in love with me

like a frozen statue

like a fallen hero
Mistaking love for things that never change

even our sun
will someday die
put on a sun dress
and I’ll wear flip flops
and we’ll get sunburns
while drinking beer at the beach

Internal wallpaper is how we decorate our lives
You were my star in this darkened theater

There is no poetry in Los Angeles, it’s got chicken scratch graffiti on concrete, where tattoos are mistaken for art, its train like cities that have no beginning or ending, just endless strip malls, fast-food joints—-with its smog hallowed sun. How can there be so much loneliness in these crowded places, we have become citizens of cloned hometowns, we’re generation X, or Y, or millennials,—–held together with Facebook velcro.

Nobody really knows what’s going on or what it’s all about. We’re all just running around trying to figure out what we should do, where we should go next, whom do we dare pretend to be. The clock is always ticking, all is uncertain. Before it’s all over we are desperate to discover our part in it all. Occasionally you’ll touch something and it will shock you, like the unforeseen bite of static electricity, or glimpsing a dead falling star. And for that instance your puny life takes on a speck of meaning—–one random piece of the puzzle falls into place.

Her love was like wisteria. At first it brought a subtle beauty to everything it attached itself to. But in time its clinging nature enveloped and entangled what had once been a free-swinging garden gate. Over time there was no way to gracefully enter or exist, the overgrown gate was forever intwined and frozen. It clawed over, across and on top of what once gave the garden its structure and form. In time its need to control and twist all it touched would cause the lattice to sag, to crack under the weight and finally give way. Such beauty strangles the life out all it once embellished. She was my weed strewn garden, she was everything I wanted, but the last thing I needed.

I’ve heard it said that writing is the loneliest of pursuits. It’s just you, a blank piece of paper and your thoughts. I don’t know how writers of pulp fiction feel about their craft, but I suspect that the poet is much more of a desperate soul. His ankle is tied to a huge rusty anchor and it is plunging him to the bottom of the sea. He’s headed to a place where there is no light, no sound, an inhospitable cold region. Poets aren’t depressed—-—no—they’re truth scavengers trapped in a world of forgers. If they were afflicted by depression they might find relief in a drug or in a support group. There is no clinical diagnoses or magic cure for being a poet. Please don’t be afraid, its not contagious.

My father and I share a common name—“Victor”. My dad was called Vic by his friends but I prefer Victor. As I’ve grown older I’ve seen parts of him rise to the surface in me. I was his only son and we tried to reach one another, but we were separate boats being pushed by opposing winds.

I went through a period when I was an adolescent where I’d have night terrors—-I was a sleepwalker pacing the floor in sheer terror, crying and screaming out at things no one could see but me. My dad would shake me, pat my cheek in an attempt to wake me, but I’d carry on in my neither world of monsters, demons and madness. This would go on for hours. He would ask me at breakfast if I remembered these fits. I never remembered these night events. But I’d have a faint memory of something that filled me with terror.

My dad use to say “You’ll find out someday”. And what he meant by that was, someday I’ll learn that life is cruel and bitter and hard and full of frustration and let downs. He would almost say it with a sense of glee. Like he couldn’t wait until this life beat every ounce of idealism and romanticism out of me. He’d just look at me after making this repetitive proclamation, shaking his head and giving me a snide little snicker.

I don’t know how, why or where, but somewhere along the way he surrendered his personal power. It’s always easier to give in, give up and throw your hands up and concede, but that just isn’t me. I take my name seriously, I’m a Victor, I’m born to take on all comers—bring it on—–I’ll go down swinging.

Don’t fear the inevitable, such as death. But rather, fear not taking action on the things you have the power to change, such is your life.

Be a Victor———–Do something!