At dusk when the city is quiet and the sun fades, and as the city lights gradually begin to come on, I get this empty feeling inside. Being empty is better than being consumed by the nothingness that comes with unfulfilled desire.. I’m better than all the bullshit that comes along with trying to be something or someone I’m not. I’ve grown tired of playing parts that no longer suit me. Those that fail to change or evolve become fossils, emotional and intellectual mummies—-soul sucking zombies. Their conversations are archeological digs into a dead past. That may sound petulant, but it’s the truth.
There’s always been this distant between me and what’s passed off as reality. Where does your reality end and my illusion begin? Is it faith, not gravity that holds this universe together? Is it hope that becomes the step child of mercy? The music is already there, you just need to let go and find it——listen…
I don’t really know anyone anymore. My wife, my children, my friends, everyone seems so unreachable. Is it me or is it them? Do others ever feel this stoic ache? Maybe it’s the cliche that we all grow apart? Is there an expiration date that comes with relationships from the factory?
I remember her giving me a hug, but it felt different. She was no longer giving herself to me, it felt like she was pulling away from me—–it wasn’t a good to see you embrace, it was a cradledfarewell.
She let go and we stood there looking at one another as if we were strangers——-it felt awkward. There was a timeless silence weighting the moment down. I believe in love at first sight…….Conversely, I believe that growing apart happens imperceptibly slow——it happens so gradual that it’s almost undetectable.
I’m beside myself as I watch my-self experience life. I sometimes get lost in the bathroom mirror.——-At times I forget which side of the mirror is me and which is an empty reflection. Am I real? What’s this whole thing about? Where’s it all leading? How did it get started? I feel myself falling through time and space on a little blue ball——Are we alone? Am I alone? I take these thoughts apart and reassemble them.
Did I mention that I over think everything? I’m neurotic, NO, I’m a writer——one and the same!
You’d think after unfurling through a million rejections I would have lost my self confidence. You’d think after all those polite, dismissive comments I’d throw up my hands and fade into the background. I thought those closest to me might toss me a bone, cause friends should understand what needs to be said—-even if it’s a lie—-but mister——-I refuse to beg.
I suppose others have their own moments of undoing——a silent desire for whispered condolences that go unspoken, until it’s far to late in the game, until it’s written for them in a Hallmark Card—–sincerity stained by obligation and too often regret—–that overwhelming feeling of regret that comes when awakening to the finality of it all.
The universe loves a fighter, at least that’s what I tell myself. I find few like me, swimming against the tide, a comfortable misfit, a beautiful pariah, a practiced oddball. I’m at home with the weary, with the ugly, the wandering ones wearing a lost look in their eyes. Cause, to be truly alive is to be totally lost, living in the gray areas, at odds with convention. Seekers must always go it alone. The cost of adventure is the possibility of coming out the other end changed, some for the better, others for the worse.
Pay attention to those in your circle, give them thunderous words of respect, cause if not from a friend———then whom?
You think you’ve grown up
but there’s still an eight year old inside you
still a 14 year old, an eighteen year old
A twenty something, thirty something
and so on and so forth
All these remnants are still
pieces buried within
Even after surviving all these life milestones
of age and time
The specter of these past characters
still rumble about
within you, they inhabit your
subconscious, slipping out
when least expected
Reach back and find
the little pieces of yourself
that live behind
the mirror, beneath the veneer of adulthood
Cry like a baby
stomp your feet
Scream “no” to everyone who
wants you to obey their rules
Play like its the last day of summer
Make love as if it’s the first time you’ve
ever felt the breath or skin of another
Lie, call in sick, sleep in
and then go to the beach
Take the long way home
because the radio is
playing a string of songs that
fit like a perfect soundtrack
to the swirling scenery passing
by your window
And it’s good to be alive
and you know it, as it’s
Keep on driving, miss your turn off
go to the woods and build a bonfire
sing songs, Skinny dip
hike unmarked trails
Call someone you miss
and will always miss
call and let them know
you’re thinking of them
Shove her up against the wall
and watch her look of surprise turn to desire
all that uncontrolled passion
that ache to be touched
melting between thighs and sighs
and muffled screams
Skip dinner and eat
chocolate cake with your hands
foster your imagination
All of life is a fantasy
make it up
as you go along
Never surrender your incurable curiosity
want everything, at once
all the time
Ah, yes—-to be alive
Many years ago I did my college internship at a Suicide Prevention Hot Line. I went through a basic orientation and a training session prior to beginning my first all night solo shift. I was young, confident and fresh out of the gate—-Talking someone out of suicide ought to be a breeze. I quickly learned (after my first 3:00 am phone call) that I was in over my head. I immediately realized that the voice on the other end of the line belonged to a living breathing person who was suffering. Their pain was beyond my life experience. To this day, I’m not sure if I really helped anyone. I tried my best to be an empathetic and patient listener. I bore witness to unrestrained sobbing and screams of horror cried out into the phone’s receiver. There were stories of godless depression and anxiety beyond ones ability to remain fortified.
I had no rehearsed script, no prescription pad or the luxury of providing a client with a series of on going counseling sessions. I had just that moment to “try and reach” the person on the other end of the line. I did my best to listen attentively and to interject support. When appropriate, I’d provide input or referrals to community services. In spite of my lack of training and limited life experience, there we were, in the middle of the night fumbling with ideas of why it’s worth holding on for one more moment or for one more day.
And sometimes, by holding on for one moment longer than you’d think is possible, the suffering would pass——at least for a while or until the sun would rise once again.
I run my hand along the rough red brick wall. If you could touch truth, this is what it would feel like, if you could wear yesterday, it would fit like this. Brick buildings never age, unlike most things, they never grow old, they are the silent sentinels keeping watch at eternities gate. Time is in the raindrop that erodes away the mightiest of mountains one patient drop at a time—-We never seem to notice the passage of time until one day the mountain is gone.
Brick and mortar merges man’s creative life-force with natures unfaltering power to endure. ——Such walls keep some things out and other things in——-it all depends on what side of the wall you find yourself falling or standing——
I envision all of those perfect rust colored bricks meticulously hand laid, so even, so artfully composed——-the craftsman’s sweat droplets mixed in the slurry and forever embedded within the cured cement—–blood, sweat and tears, like long lost fossils hidden between the layers of time.
Long after another generation’s life-story has been told and then consigned to oblivion, these edifices remain as statues to a forgotten past—— bricks like memories, one stacked upon the other—— one timeless moment entombed within a dying eternity.————-Tell me this? Why the brevity of life, we’re here then gone, everything and everyone just passing through, my grip on the ephemeral is slipping, the impermanence of it all has me chasing tomorrows horizon on this lonely highway.
Skyscrapers are impressive because of their hight. But there is no romance in their architecture. Their birth pushed out into loveless cement forms and fitted together with the support of I-beams. The spaces we live in define our culture. Our cities are gray, cold and crowded with despair, boxes within boxes, where men while away their lives in cubicles, sucking recirculated air, no songbirds cooing outside the tinted windows, only the ever present monotonous hum of air conditioners—–there’s no place to hide from those harsh florissant lights, the computer screen is our window to the world, the feel of cool damp grass no longer beneath our feet——it’s a landscape of migraines, mind-games and lost virtues. All the symmetrical lines make the few remaining trees and plants seem out of place.
All the old buildings in my hometown are constructed of stubborn bricks. There is grandeur in those old buildings, the church with its pious stained-glass windows, the honorable courthouse and contemplative library. These buildings of stone reminds us of our need for safety, shelter and community. I feel holy when standing in the ancient brick church with it’s towering steeple—-it pierces the heavens like a hypodermic needle, injecting god’s blue sky with silent prayers.
The first time I saw rain, I asked my mother what it was, this water falling from the sky. And she said it’s rain. I thought a child’s thought, how wondrous, this thing called rain, water falling from the sky cleansing the streets and sweetly scenting the world. Who’d of thought up such a phenomenal thing?
The rain made all the old red bricks appear new again. Everyone was in a hurry to escape the rain, but I stayed outside to enjoy this spectacle of water falling from the sky. I stood there with hands outstretched, head tilted back, mouth open, tasting rain, feeling rain.
I once asked my mother about the tiny specks of light twinkling in the night sky. She said they are stars and that there are billions and billions of them—- they are like our sun, but millions of light years away. She said some of these stars have already burned themselves out and we are looking at light from their past. I thought a child’s thought, these things called stars are even more mysterious than rain. I sat on the porch staring up at the Milky Way galaxy—–Rain and stars, how unbelievable yet beautiful.
Maybe this is what Buddha contemplated while meditating under his Bodie Tree. At peace with oneself and the universe, walking the middle path of love between the yen and the yang——intertwined with everything yet separate…….Insignificant and small, yet omnipotent and omniscient———wandering between the birth and death of each moment———Nirvana——-
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.