Lets occupy space, lets pick up this body with these legs and dance from chair into thin air, tumbling through unoccupied space. I listen to my footsteps fall, this is the sound of me falling through time. I circle your orbit, eternal victims of one another’s gravity. Every step a choice leading me from here to there——- a journey fating me back to you
It’s like the sound of my voice in a large empty church, the words take on a hollow character of their own. They boom and echo forming meaning out of vibrations that break the fertile silence. We’re all lost and orphaned, calling out for someone to fill our sacred spaces. Its like hearing my secret thoughts spoken aloud, like someone reading my poems to a deaf congregation—cause nobody really cares that much about what anyone has to say, except for the words they whisper to themselves,——the best poetry is never committed to paper nor given breath———their resonance evaporates like hushed prayers pressed against midnight pillows.
All this empty space waiting to be filled. Fill it with life, with love——with you——-with me. I fill my space feeling you. Cause that’s all there is, you and me with all this infinite empty space erupting between us.
King of pain, the queen of sadness Broken hearted poet, the lonely troubadour With a smile, the key that unlocked your castle gate
Your ancient kingdom has crumbled The dragons fire takes our breath away Innocence lost to another defeated yesterday
The Sorcerer casts his spell Love awaits a truer destiny And once again, I”m tired of you, without me
My bridges have all been burned My ships all lost at sea I pray a storm will bring you back to me
And we’ll fly far from here We’ll share your winged mare A sword pierces the providence, buried within us
Autumn isn’t a season, not so much as it’s a mood, culling me in, breaking my spirit with its pockets of regrets—–with its naked trees and flocks of blustering leaves. I put on my favorite flannel shirt and make my way through a biting northern wind——All to soon this town will be covered with a blanket of white snow——-The smell of pine smoke comforts me…….Somewhere there’s a fire waiting to be shared……A warmer space to fill——
There’s a finality to the end of a summer season, and once again I’m reminded that there’s no turning back, such is the nature of life. Yet, there’s a longing for something familiar, a desire to hold on to someone or something. I spend my life reassembling memories only to find that at the end I’m several pieces short of a complete picture. All the traffic-lights have conspired to greet me red. The road that threads its way down west cliff is gray, the sky is gray, the sea is gray—— it’s a world of gray on gray——I’m making my way from here to anywhere——I’m driving just to be driving, just to give me that sensation of getting somewhere—-that I’m moving on and past this grayness. The sun spins, the earth circles, the universe exhales——summer turns her face away from me——the cold breath of winter is on my neck——yesterday is irretrievable—-and such is the sadness of time elapsing, of age whispering in my ear———like an impressionist watercolor, another season blurs and fades—— into another. I feel myself creeping closer to nowhere——
I’d call you, but I no longer know what city you call home. What would I say if I met you again in a windy park? I imagine you dressed in a lose fitting sweater, your hair tousled by the wind. You’ve readied yourself for the birth of autumn. And me, I’m still dressed in shorts and flip flops, clinging to a dying summer. Once again, we find ourselves falling out of one another’s season. Does “true” love have an expiration date? I don’t even know what’s“true” anymore. My life has been a series of let downs without you in it. I hoped you could be replaced, and god knows I’ve tried———.
Rain, now on my windshield like little diamonds in the exaggerated light of oncoming traffic. Chris Botti’s melancholy trumpet plays like a soundtrack that accompanies my reverie. Inside, you occupy the warmer rooms of my being, you haunt the quieter spaces of my soul. Outside, I irrationally scan crowds of strangers searching for your face—-failed love makes fools of us all.
If I knew then, what I know now, it would not matter where the road led us, as long as we were together. But the past leaves no room for marooned passengers. I pay my fare in silent movies that I replay over and over in my head. I see you in vignettes———visions of us walking mountain trails, the beaches we laid on, the dark drives through shiny cities, the sensation of you giving yourself to me, the smell of your hair, the taste of your skin, the electricity in your touch, the soft sound of your sighs. With you, making love was always so comfortable, so easy, so natural. I’d come to know your body better than my own.
Good poetry makes you believe that each word written was composed personally for you. Like someone reached between the bones of your rib cage and pulled out your heart and spilled out all of its quivering secrets . And for you my love, this is true, for you, I bent and stretched my words into a net so I might catch you.
Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.
I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.
Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!
But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.
Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.
I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different. Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..
Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.
Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.
It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.
We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.
In my humblest attempts to write something that sounds Twain-ish, I came up with the following.
“If you wanna know a man, meet his dog first.” You can unpack that quote several ways, but I’ll leave it up to you to deconstruct as you see fit.
For Chasey——-my Pal….
I don’t walk my dog, he walks with me. We go to fun places together, not stores, restaurants and malls, I think that’s stupid and weird. That’s as absurd as taking a cat to church. Cats don’t believe in god, they think they are god.
We prefer walks around our neighborhood or hikes in the woods. Being a Lab, he loves his swims down by the lake. He tips the scale at over a hundred pounds. That’s twenty pounds of sweetness, thirty pounds of slobber and fur and fifty pound of love. He shakes his wet coat all over me, drools water across my freshly shined hardwood floors and steps on my bare feet with his heavy sharp paws—–Ouch!!!—–If he wasn’t so damn cute he’d get a lot more scoldings.
There’s a quiet calm about him. He’s at peace with himself and the world, minus the mailman, garbageman and the neighbor’s cat. The cat sits smugly behind her window as Chase is pulled back to his yard by his collar. I’ve never been at peace with myself, the world, or anybody or anything. I’m more the restless type who’s easily tangled up in my own expectations. I anxiously cling to desired outcomes that are out of my control. He stares up at me with his eyes that seem to say “Don’t worry bro, it’s all good man, everything is as it should be”. Chase is Zen; he’s simple, honest, loyal, kind and empathetic——-he expects nothing. He lives in the moment, joyfully running in circles, never mired in selfish conclustions. He doesn’t even care when he misplaces his favorite tennis ball. He naps when he’s tired, eats when he’s hungry and walks around with a big contented Zen smile on his doggie face. In his serene mind he wags his tail in time to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.
He doesn’t much care for fighting, but if provoked he can be vicious——-he has a highly developed “bullshit detector”. Lying and cheating must give off a subtle scent, because his keen sense of smell can detect those qualities from miles away. His intense listening skills alert him when someones words don’t match their voice inflection. He’ll piss on the lawns of those who are deserving of his mark….
People fall out of love. They change, they lose touch, they move on, They’ll selfishly take more than they give, until one day they wake up and find themselves friendless and loveless. Little by little they wear out others with their chafing annoyances. I think you know what I mean, like the petty cruelty of repeatedly leaving the cap off the proverbial tube of toothpaste. It becomes a process of slowly wringing out their partners patience like a stiff old dish rag until they’ve squeezed out every last drop of civility. All that remains is bitterness and lawyer fee’s.
Dogs don’t know how to keep score. They only have two emotions, love and forgiveness. Unlike humans, dogs make great listeners. Most folks don’t listen, they just yammer on with all the eloquence and articulation of a squawking Stellar Jay…….Chase cocks his head sideways, props up his floppy ears and offers up a sigh of acknowledgment.
There’s a fine line between love and hate. Most people don’t know when they’ve crossed that line until it’s to late. They refuse to learn or change, they prefer casting blame rather than trying to become a better person. It’s hard to teach old humans new tricks. They always want to know, “What’s in it for me?”
Old dogs don’t learn new tricks just for a treat, they learn new tricks to please you. Some folks will say “I love you” every chance they get, but they never take the time to show it through their actions.
My dog is ten years old. They say a dog ages seven dog years for every human year. My dog at ten knows more about life and love than I ever will—–and I’m middle aged—– I’m being conservative in regards to defining my age.
Chase and I are growing old together. He’s slowed down a bit, but he still has the heart of a pup. He barks a jet airplanes, gets excited when I put on my shoes for a walk and would follow me to hell and back agin. I wish my dog would never grow old, because when he’s gone I’ll be lonely here without him……..
So ya wanna be a writer. Writing takes enormous courage, at least for those who dare to stand in the center-ring and call themselves the master of ceremonies. When I say master of ceremonies, I mean standing in the center-ring with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other—–cracking that whip as you attempt to tame language, coaxing those unruly words to jump through rings of fire. It’s being honest and pure——it’s as insufferable as siphoning ink from an anemic soul. To go to such places you must first face down who you are or who you thought you were–you must be prepared to shine a light on your blind spots and shake hands with your darkest shadows. What’s in there? What’s way deep down inside me, that thing I’ve carried with me from the womb, that shameless thing that’s a part of me like a birth mark in the shape of original sin. If you can go that far down then you’ve earned the privilege to call yourself the zoo keeper of words. You have fed the lion, but you have not tamed him. Beauty, danger and fear are the bars that cage our confessions. A long lost friend once told me “Where the beauty of the soul is, there’s always danger.”
The next step is to put your head in that lions mouth. Choose honesty over insecurity. Allow space for venerability, don’t be anonymous——be outrageous, be original not a trend chaser, be forthright rather than pious and vain——take no-ones word other than your own, search everywhere for yourself and then let it all go, unleash your restrained emotions and when all the stiff mannequins misunderstand you, tell them to fuck off———it’ll be scary, but it’ll make you feel awake and alive—–trust that it will be worth it. Your words are your weapons, surrender is your shield. Make shit happen, even if you have to make shit up as you go along, walk the high-wire, be a fire eater, play the clown, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you’ll learn to orchestrate your circus. Be persistent, have tenacity, be a seeker. Be good to yourself, be kind to others, smile, even when you don’t feel like it—-take the body and the mind will follow. .
Life is a beautiful thing——-people like you make this so.
Some people know your secrets before you let them slip, before ya allow them to spill out during one of those beer riddled drunken nights. They can see through you, as if they’ve known you before this brief life stint. There’s no pretending, they draw out the best in you, like a spike struck to the heart, or the rude awakening that accompanies a stiff slap across the face——Boy, she sure shook me up, she took me back to a life I’d forgotten. I knew from that first glance, she belonged to me…..She’s a part of me, always had been, and always would be—-there are few who can make one feel less alone in such an indifferent world, maybe that’s the definition of love? She was partial to me, like the sound of a familiar melody, she could play me by heart…..
I’m gonna take off every piece of your clothing till all that lies between us is freckled skin, damp breath and sloppy wet kisses, we’ll go around and around, then back round again, peeling off our tawdry disguises one layer at a time, till we’re naked, till we’re almost perfect, except for fresh blue bruises and old stubborn scares. Here, take my wallet, my car keys, my cigarettes, along with all the other bad habits I’ve used to hide myself—cause I belong to you like a bad habit. All I need right now is to be wrapped up in your arms, let me tear down those walls that protect your secret garden—now come over here—-yeah, just like that. Let us for now be silent and we’ll speak to one another with our eyes closed. I don’t need to know your name, your age or the name of your hometown, all that stuff is ordinary, frivolous and unimportant to me. You my love, are anything but ordinary——I cut my dreams on the teeth of her diamond shaped heart——
We’d been more than friends but less than lovers, we offered one another awkward goodbyes with tenuous hugs——only our eyes kissed farewell. She’s my little wing, “When I’m sad she comes to me with a thousand smiles she give to me free.”
I’m in a Walmart state of mind. The fluorescent lighting gives the vast yet cluttered place a harsh two dimensional appearance. It’s a landscape crowded with cartoonish characters wearing thousand yard stares. I’m staggering my way through this cathedral of capitalism, a place where everything has its price, but negligible value. It required the consumption of two tall boys and a shot of Jameson in order for me to enter these doors——I’ve come here to hopefully find an old friend of mine.
I do my best daydreaming while wandering through these isles of meaningless shit. There’s something about the endless isles of blurred colors and the monochromatic shopping muzak that puts me in a walking meditation. I peruse my way through the shameless drooping bra display, past the old ladies laid out in the pedicure highchairs, the in-house McDonalds with ketchup smeared tables, the strange optometrist alcove next to the restrooms and then past the immaculately arranged shiny fruit and vegetables, through the wall of HD TV’s, housewares, hardware, sporting goods and the disheveled toy department. I feel myself being swept away into a Fellini plot with its array of bizarre looking zombies. It’s a nightmarish funhouse of warped mirrors, insane laughing clowns and Andy Warhol’s stacks of Campbell soup cans. The deeper I’m pulled into the bowels of the store, the more surreal my thoughts become——— Maybe I’ll find her in the shoe department.——
Why is there no three quarter life crises? It’s a misunderstood age ignored by a world consumed by youth culture and the next “big thing”. At this stage of my life, it’s no longer what I’m becoming, or who “I’m supposed to be” I know these things. Today, it’s more about “What have I done”. Or, “What haven’t I done?” If you’ve aged well, you no longer give a damn what other people think, you are——–(good, bad or indifferent) uncompromisingly “you”. Time strips away vanities, insecurities and pretentiousness. There’s comes a forced introspection knowing there are more days behind me than in front of me——-
The mirror has become a contemptuous tool of fucking deceit. My internal mirror has me forever young. When I smile at pretty young girls they offer up blank stares,—–Just for kicks, I give a sly wink====”Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back.” Adam Smith
From the corner of my eye I catch the blur of something flittering amongst the exposed heating ducts, light fixtures and skylights. I scan the upper regions of the massive ceiling. I hear a sound reminiscent of a bird chirping. I follow the sound into the infant department. Could she be here?
My children are now grown and on their own. I carry their old memories frozen in time, but as I’ve grown older they’ve begun to thaw and slowly drip into my consciousness. Out of nowhere an old memory will surface and I will suddenly be consumed by a sense of nostalgia—- I’m taken back in time to cartoon gibberish, ski trips on snowy days, nervously letting go of the handlebars as she wobbles off without me, contentious teenage arguments with my son, teaching them how to swim, drawing the line “because I said so”, sleepless nights listening for the sound of the car returning in the driveway, holidays, family get togethers, loud parties——-tears and laughter——-I wonder, did I do it right? Did I do the right things for the right reasons? Did I tell them how much I love them? Did I say it enough? Did I show it enough? The past is malleable, I wonder about the memories they now carry of me???? Those were the best of times…….irreplaceable, irretrievable, irreparable, pressed like rose pedals within the pages of my heart——-
Perhaps she is by the water fountain near the layaway counter. Haughty shoppers offer up smirks as they jockey past me. They’re in a hurry to fill a hole left on their shopping list. The hunter gatherer gene lingering in their DNA causes them to stalk the shelves with a competitive killer instinct. For some, enough is never enough——hoarders of
“things” forget that everything they purchase comes with an expiration date…….
Have I failed god? Is he mute or am I deaf? Why are we born, why does everyone we love have to die? When I was young I was reckless, such things didn’t matter, back then I was unbreakable, irreverent—— There was always more time, time to say the things I needed to say, time to make up for the things I did wrong, time to apologize to those I’d wronged. I never looked at my watch or a calendar as a fuel gauge, or as an alarm to go off as time grows shorter.
I use to think I had control over my destiny, but not so much anymore. My grand designs flip flopped so many times that I’ve forgotten where my ego ends and my destiny begins. Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, two way mirrors, dead ends, trap doors and enigmatic mysteries. I use to take credit for my successes and make excuses for my failures, but time has humbled me. Someone must have been looking out for me, a higher power, God, grace———Thank goodness that the divine takes pity on little children and fools….
Such a beautiful disaster, filled with prophetic accidents and comical mistakes, the art of life, falling apart and coming back together, riding the wave of brief eternal moments……recollecting all the people I’ve found and lost along the way. There’s always been more room for love. I should’ve hugged more, forgave quicker and been slower to anger——-
I follow the sound through the doors leading to the Yard and Garden Center. I know that she likes it out here where there is sun and fresh air. It’s an atrium of sorts, here I’m surrounded by chain linked fencing and a netted ceiling. I whistle hoping to coax a response from my shy friend.
Did I make them proud. After all their sacrifices and compromises had I come up short? Did I become a better part of their dream. It makes me wonder how others perceive me and what are the blind spots I fail to perceive in myself. Unconditional love, like the air I breathe, has always been there, taken for granted, worse yet——-expected.
Youthful enthusiasm kept me running in scribbled circles, impatient, forgetful———memories of sitting on my folks couch, with the evening news in the background, they leaned into me, listening as I explained my scrambled schemes and how I was going to have things my way. It must have taken monumental patience on their part to allow me my fanciful indulgences. In spite of all my false starts and wrong turns, they were behind me, no matter how cocksure I must have appeared. I hadn’t counted on all the fractured relationship, career stumbles, strange lonely towns, sucker punched failures, bad days, night terrors, faltering steps and stumbles——-but I always carried with me the knowledge that there was a place I could still call home, someone who would answer their phone no matter what hour of the day or night, they’d see me through—what a beautiful complete love——
In the corner of the atrium there’s a nest behind a flood light fixture. And there she is, sitting above the rows of patio chairs, barbecues and artificial plants. Her nest is constructed of candy wrappers, recipes and colorful strings gathered from the clothing departments. I’m reminded that to adapt doesn’t always mean to evolve……
I’d first noticed her several months ago perched upon an exposed vent. She must have accidentally flown in the store when the electric doors were open. I’ve continued to make occasional visits to see if she was still making this place home. I’m not sure if she is trapped, or if she has found this way of life to be more predictable then what lies beyond these walls—-Life without surprises leads to complacency, and complacency compromises ones soul.
She must subside on the fruits and vegetables and other tidbits tossed into the trash cans. The water dispenser has become her birdbath and drinking fountain.
This Walmart will be her chicks only world, all that they will ever know. It seems cruel and unfair that this sterile box-store will be the extent of their universe. But, if this is all they’ll ever know, then I suppose it makes no difference. They don’t know—-that they don’t know——-that they’re captive birds.
Toknow that you don’t know, is where wonder collides with wisdom. I reach in my pocket and pull out a handful of birdseed and place it in the plastic rubber plant.
Leaving the store I’m filled with a sense of freedom. I inhale a deep breath and look up at the sky above me and wonder what doors may be hidden up there. I suppose we are all captive in one way or another ——-insnared by gravity, stiched to space and time, enslaved by our beliefs, stalked by our memories—-and ultimately, entrapped by the limited time we are here and alive………..