Things I Wish I’d Said

There are words I wish I’d said. But I always told myself there’d be time for words, 26 letters assembled into some future confession of love.  But tomorrow is never guaranteed——-the future is a theory, an algebra problem where x doesn’t always equal y——a law of physics that can’t explain the speed of loneliness. But it takes courage to say what’s often left out because it’s so much easier to comment on the weather. Why is “I love you” a secret tattoo hidden beneath your long sleeved heart. I tell myself, “Oh it’s obvious, they already know how I feel.” But that’s bullshit I feed myself. Do you ever check to see if your emotional Fitbit has reached your quota of kind words required in a day? Why is it that anger and petty complaints come so much easier than kindness and compassion? These emotions are stuck on mute in a movie with no subtitles. It’s easy to mistake a deep kiss for a vampires siphon, like that feeling you get from someone who’s always taking, but never giving back. But then, without warning, there are those who’s humanity walks me back from the edge. Things I wished I’d said, “Jackie Gleason was right, baby you’re the greatest.” “I’m so fortunate to have you in my life”. “You make me laugh, cause you’re the only other person I know who’s favorite movie is ‘Herold and Maude’”. “Thanks for ‘getting me’.”  “You make ‘goodbye’ the saddest of all words.” “Thank you, thank you, thank you for being you.”

Don’t let anyone tell you that poetry is ‘nice’, because it’s not, it’s a clumsy coping mechanism to escape the chains of depression. It storms the tower and breaches the walls of isolation. It doesn’t make everything okay, but it makes the darkest hours of the soul tolerable. Tolerable?—–Thinking too hard, feeling too deeply, is a road leading to a cliff just beyond the horizon. I put my thumb over your wrist until I feel your pulse match mine, we gradually fall into a comfortable rhythm. The heart is a muscle because it takes so much strength to reach out to another.  Things I wish I’d said, “I choose you.” “If I had to be quarantined for the rest of my life, I’d want to spend it with you.”  “You make me wish I were a piano, cause your touch makes me feel like music.” “You make me believe everything is gonna be okay, one moment at a time”. “You’ve always been there for me and I’ll always be there for you.”  “You stood up for me when the ones who I thought would give a shit just couldn’t be bothered.” “My heart will always be your 7-11, a bit shabby but open day or night for you.”

Love isn’t like a pair of flip flops that claims one size fits all. I’ve tried on the wrong size only to be left with painful blisters. Sometimes love is something you struggle to squeeze into because it no longer fits comfortably.  Sometimes it’s all false bravado and make believe——it takes trust to be allowed inside another’s world——-Be careful who you share you world with, it may leave you with painful blisters and a bad case of athletes foot—-one size doesn’t fit all. I know this because, I have small feet and a big heart. In all this chaos that makes up a life, finding a true friend is a rare and beautiful thing. Things I wish I’d said,“ ”You and I are a good fit”. “I desire you”. “In this world of 7 billion people, I’d always choose you to be my partner”. ”After all the meanness this world can dish out, you somehow make it worthwhile.”.  “When my day has been shitty, you have a way of making me feel better”.  You taste like spicy chili on a snowy January night, you’re my comfort food.” “You smell like a July afternoon at the beach, a blend of Sea and Ski suntan lotion and a salty sea breeze—-you’re the sun on my face”. “I won’t let anyone hurt you.” “You make me laugh in a world constructed of bullshit and lost promises”. 

There are those who will tell you that you have all the time in the world, but that’s a lie. Time is a Salvador Dali clock slowly sliding off the shelf of your life. But we pretend we are immortals, that we can transcend life and death with a foreverness, but forever is like trying to comprehend a blackhole where at its center time stands still. If I could, I’d pull you in beyond the event horizon and give you a forever kiss. And who say’s “Theoretical Physics” can’t be romantic? When I think of these impossible thoughts for too long, I scare myself. My emotions are like the lone hitchhiker on a dark stretch of a deserted highway.  Should I stop and pick this stranger up or just keep moving on? You can never be sure who or what you’re letting in.  It might be a stranded depression, a deserted memory, or an abandoned truth.  Or, perhaps emotions are more like Jenga?  You just never know what will happen by pulling out a single block from the tower of teetering blocks. And, if it all comes down, do I have the time to put it all back together? It takes a lot longer to build something than it is to tear it down. Time is a rogue wave, you never see it coming until its crashed on you and swept you out to sea. Things I wish I’d said, “If you were drowning, I’d dive in and save you.” “I feel better just knowing you are out there”. “Thanks for listening.” “Thanks for making me feel like I belong.”  “Lets you and I take a walk in the woods.” “When I was ready to take the ten count——When everyone was screaming for me to just stay down, you gave me the strength to get back up, you are my second wind.”

In Spite Of Our Selves

Scene 1

Michael behind the wheel driving back home for the holidays.  HIs wife Lyne is in the passenger seat.  The radio is playing “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas”.

Michael, “Why do they have to start playing Christmas music two days before Thanksgiving?  Can’t we just enjoy each holiday and celebration before the next one is being shoved down our throats.”

Lyne, “It’s what they call a business plan. Some people like to get their Christmas shopping done before August. Maybe it’s an Amazon or Walmart conspiracy.”

Michael, “Christmas suppose to be a sacred holiday. I swear, I think it’s a capitalist conspiracy to keep us in a constant state of unfulfilled desire.  Always wanting the next thing, the new iPhone, that new gadget or gizmo that’s gonna make you complete. (Spoken with sarcasm) Its gonna make life easier. I swear, Alexa and Siri know more about me than god does. Everyone’s chasing trends and the next big thing. Definitely not living in the present.” 

Lyne, “I didn’t know that you felt Christmas was such a spiritual celebration.  You use to tell me how you and your buddies would play poker and get drunk on Christmas eve and then all head off to midnight mass.  (Sarcasm) How Catholic of you and the boys. Now that does’t sound so holy or Christian like.”

Michael, “Maybe it wasn’t the mass as much as a tradition. I miss having traditions. I remember after mass walking across the frozen field back to my mom’s house.  The December air was crisp and the stars seemed to be burning brighter than normal.  The Milky Way Galaxy making me feel small, yet alive and grateful. Just glad for no particular reason. That’s the best kind of happiness, nothing attached to it. Me and my buddies just goofing and laughing. It was a god-felt moment in time.” (Shakes his head). Traditions, good times.”

Lyne, “Maybe we can start our own traditions.”

Michael, “I’m a middle age white guy. I don’t belong to a shared culture with ancient traditions and heroic struggles.  Black guys have that whole slavery thing to bond over.  And the Mexicans, well they invented taco’s. The Irish got their drunken pub songs, while drinking Genies and Jameson. I tried that “ancestory.com” thing in the hopes of finding my roots.  I was hoping to discover a proud heritage, maybe I was a distant relative of President Lincoln.  Fat chance, it turns out that my ancestors were potato farmers——-share croppers who lost everything in the great dust bowl. They were Okies, desperate dreamers who believed California would be their promised land.”

Lyne, “They must have been tough, a proud clan of hard workers.”

Michael, “I didn’t get the hard worker gene, I got their dreamer gene.  I was thinking about last Christmas.  I can’t even remember one gift I received. It’s kind of ridiculous.  We run around in a mad frenzy buying gifts no-one needs, wants, or will even remember. I definitely think it’s a capitalist conspiracy. They, the man, the one percenters, they keep us working at jobs we hate so we have money to buy shiny distractions we don’t need. QVC, Amazon, consume, consume. What kind of tradition is that?”

Lyne, “We can start whatever tradition we like. We can bake fruitcakes, take turns making toasts at the dinner table, create unreasonable new years-eve resolutions.”

Michael, “I got to find my tribe, something to belong too.”

Lyne, “Well, we’re headed back to your hometown, you’ll be seeing old friends and family. That’s your tribe, your people——-right?”

Michael, “I have mixed feelings about going back home. I get this weird nostalgic feeling, a kind of dream like melancholy. It’s like visiting places and things I can never get back.  When I drive by the old ballfields, the high school or a house I once lived in, it’s like visiting an old friend who’s now a stranger.  It’s like I left little pieces of me in these once familiar placers. As I drive by these old haunts I pick up younger version of myself. I end up with a carload of ‘use to be’s’ and ‘what might have beens’.” 

Lyne, “You’re sure being awfully depressing. Maybe you ought to see a therapist, get an antidepressant prescription.  You can never enjoy yourself, you’re constantly over thinking stuff.” 

Michael, “Nobody wants to be melancholy or sad, or sentimental anymore.  They equate it as being weak and treat it as if it’s some kind of sickness, or an illness.  Here, take a pill and feel better. I want to feel melancholy sometimes, even sad sometimes. I’m not depressed, I’m just old fashioned sad. Life can be sad and also happy, you can’t have one without the other. Yen and the Yang, sweet and sour. I hate phony smiles and all that ‘happy happy’ bullshit. (Sarcastic) ‘Have nice day’. I’ll have whatever kind of  freakin day I want.”

Lyne, “You’re too sensitive. Get over it, move on with life.”

Michael, “Yeah right, fuck it. Sorry I told you how I feel. Why do you always have to say I’m sensitive and shit like that. I swear, after all these years, you don’t really know me.”

Lyne, (Uncomfortable silence). You don’t ‘get me’ either. Let’s just get through the holidays. It’s stressful enough as it is. (Spoken with an irritable tone) You’re driving awfully fast. And, did you turn down the heater before leaving the house? (She absent-mindfully rattles on) I should have made a hair appointment.  Does my hair look okay? Don’t drink too much tonight at the party. You aren’t listening to me are you?”

Michael, “Yes I am. (Pause) I’m sorry, what did you say again?”

Lyne, (Takes a deep breath). “Whatever.” (Turns up ‘Silent Night’ playing on the radio).

Scene II

Setting: 

Living room with eight people chatting while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and drinks. There is a knock at the door.  Michael’s sister Matty answers the door.

Matty, “Hey, look who we have here.  Come on in, let me take  your coats. Get yourselves a drink and have something to eat.”

(Michael makes his way to the buffet table and fixes himself a drink. Shawn walks up behind Michael and pats him on the shoulder).

Shawn, “Look what the cat drug in.” ( They give each other a hug).  “It’s been a few years.  How the hell are you doing?”

Michael, “Doing good, doing just fine.  How bout you?”

Shawn, “Yeah, life is good here too. Time is going by too fast.”

Michael, “I’m fixing a Jameson Ginger ale, can I make you one?”

Shawn, “Thanks but I had to give it up. Traded my garage beer fridge in for a treadmill and a set of weights.”

Michael, “Good for you. As for me, I’ve been drinking more but enjoying it less. If you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to give it up?”

Shawn, “I use to drink as a kind of coping mechanism, but then it went from stress relief to a way to cover up all the shit building up inside me. I could only stuff my anger and frustration down so much before it started to back up and come out in unhealthy ways.  Alcohol was only making things worse.”

Michael, “It’s easier to be mad rather than honest.”

Shawn, (Laughs) “Got to the age where I realized I wasn’t going to get that promotion I’d been waiting on and working for. I started getting passed over by younger guys. Me and the wife had lost any sense of intimacy. I kind of found myself in a dark place. All the things that once mattered or made me happy was gone. My life was getting harder to manage, and the hangovers seem to get worse.  The pain out weighed the pleasure.  It doesn’t hardly seem fair, you only got one life to get it right.  When I was young I thought I had forever, but you start getting older and the options seem to close in on you.” 

Michael, “Getting old is hard. You end up with fewer options, fewer folks you can hangout with or count on. You have more to lose but less it matters. I guess alcohol is like a lot of things, It works until it stops working. Fuck it!  I’m gonna go out on the back deck and smoke a bowl. Do you still smoke a little weed?”

Shawn, “Well, not really, but I think tonight I can make an exception. Did you see Marlena?  Man, she’s still hot. Didn’t you and her once have a thing?”

Michael,  (Lights his pipe and takes a big hit) “Yeah, we did, a long time ago. It’s funny, When you’re younger you go chasing the next shiny thing. You always think you can do better. Then you wake up one day and you’re middle aged and realize that all the things you were running from were probably the best things you ever had. Yeah, it’s true, It don’t hardly seem fair.  You only got one life to get it this shit right.”

Shawn, (Takes a hit off the pipe) “So much of life is boring details; minutia. You wake up one day and you’re old.  Where the fuck did the time go.  Did I make the right decisions, right choices? Maybe I should have stayed at that job teaching scuba diving at the resort. Can you imagine spending all day with hot chicks in skimpy bikinis——drinking beer and getting laid left and right. But, I went off to college and got my MBA and became a financial adviser. A fucking financial advisor.  My job consists of making old fat white guys, richer and fatter. I should have stayed being a scuba instructor. I’m a tie dye guy wearing a suite and tie every day. And that neck tie gets a little bit tighter every day. (Hands the pipe to Michael) That’s some good shit. How are you and Lyne doing?”

Michael, (Takes a hit) “I guess fair. Probably as good as any couple who’ve been together for what feels like eternity. Marital bliss——-now that’s a fucking oxymoron. (Shakes his head). Sometimes before we hang up on the phone she’ll say ‘I love you’——- I swear it takes every once of strength to respond with ‘Love you too’.”  I know that sounds shitty and pathetic, but I can’t help it. Marriage counseling, now that was a waste of time and money. Paying a stranger sixty bucks an hour to try and fix something that’s beyond repair. Her fault, my fault? It doesn’t matter. I swear, sometimes I can’t breathe.”

Shawn, “Hell, it’s a lot easier to un-love someone than it is to re-love them. All it takes is a small hole below the waterline to sink a luxury liner.”

Michael, “Do you think it’s ever too late to love someone again?”

Shawn, “It’s like this.  This is my curdled milk theory. You wake up one morning and go to the fridge and pour yourself a glass of ice cold milk, right?  You take a big swig and immediately spit it out cause it’s gone sour.  The very next day you go back to the fridge and pour yourself another glass of milk——guess what, It’s still fucking sour.  Maybe love has an expiration date. Some loves may last a month while another may last fifty years. But once that shit begins to curdle, well you better try churning it and hope it can be transformed into butter.” (Laughs)  “Did you ever consider divorce?”

Michael, “Yeah, I did the math and it ain’t a pleasant scenario. We’d have to split up all of our shit, sell the house and cash in our 401k’s.  She’d get half of my pension. I’d end up like one of those poor old fuckers having to go back to work. Probably end up swabbing down tables at Starbucks and taking coffee orders from spoiled-ass ‘twenty somethings’. Kids these days don’t even have the courtesy to look up  and say ‘thank you’. Instead, they’re be incessantly scrolling through their goddamn cell phones or laptops. Then there’d be the proverbial pimply faced shift supervisor who’s prodding me to pick up the pace and smile more.” (Takes another hit).  “Trade one hell for another hell.”

Shawn, “Yep, if I were your financial advisor I’d probably tell you to stay married, adopt a rescue dog for companionship and find a pro for sex, ya know, a skilled call girl. It’s cheaper than the alternative. Well, while we’re swopping confessions, I’ve been having my own struggles. Penny and I don’t really argue anymore, we avoid that, we share meals and a house but we kind of live like roommates. We’ve become courteous strangers, polite acquaintances. I never thought we’d end up like those old couples you see at restaurants eating entire meals without saying a word to one another.  Everything that needs to be said, I suppose has already been said. We’ve learned to avoid pressing each others buttons—- it only lead to the same stupid arguments and hard feelings.”   

Michael, “I suppose if it works, at least it’s better than arguing and saying mean shit you can’t take back.  I mean, after all these years you still don’t want to hurt each other.”

Shawn, “Is anger deferred better than just being honest? (Snickers) Man, I’m getting some of those cool stoned thoughts.”

Michael, “I guess sometimes it’s easier to stay silently mad rather than come out and admit you’re wrong. Remember how when we were in high school and we’d get high and go down to the park at night and talk about life, dreams, god, girls and aliens . Anything and everything was on the table. As for girls, I still don’t understand them.” (Laughter).

Shawn, “I don’t have anyone to talk this shit over with anymore. Do you mind if I keep talking about love or lovelessness, cause another stoned weird thought just popped into my head?”

Michael, (Getting excited) Yeah, yeah—-tell me, go ahead man.”

Shawn, “There’s this chick at work who’s got this thing that I can’t explain. She’s in her early thirties, not what I’d call classically beautiful, but there’s something really hot and sexy about her. Just watching her put a scrunchy in her hair is sexy—-When she looks me directly in the eye I’m overcome with this uncontrollable magnetism. I feel electricity shooting through my body. I don’t know if it’s love or pure animalistic sexual arousal. Man, sometimes I just want to lean over and kiss her sweet mouth.”

Michael, “So, what are you going to do?”

Shawn, “Fuck, I don’t know, but at this stage of the game, this might be my last chance to have something special in my life. She has sex appeal and she knows how to use it. It’s dirty, it’s nasty, she can turn the mundane into magic.”

Michael, (Fires up the pipe). “Dude, you got it bad, but that’s good. Or, you got it good and that’s bad—-man I’m high. My advice, don’t marry a woman cause she’s pretty.  Get a woman who knows how to flirt, knows how to be a freak in bed. Someone who’s fun, smart, has a good sense of humor.  It’s all an illusion anyway.  Only a few women know how to sustain the illusion, know how to make you do crazy shit.  I’ve only been in love one time.  I mean real love.  The kind that makes you wanna do stupid shit, like write poetry, or hold her hand when walking down the street.”

Shawn, “I suppose that one time wasn’t with Lyne?”

Michael, “Nope. She’s practical. No nonsense. She still does’t appreciate my humor——she thinks anything other than missionary position is kinky. I need someone to turn my my mundane into magic.”

Shawn, “You ought to go say hello to Malena. Maybe there’s still a little magic hidden there.”

Michael, “What am I gonna say?”

Shawn, “What do I got to lose, that I haven’t already lost.” 

Scene III

Michael, (He heads back into the house. He stares directly at Melina. She responds with a flirtatious wink. He points to his drink and nods for her to meet him at the liquor table).

Melina, (They hug). “You smell good, you smell familiar.”

Michael, “Your hug feels familiar. Somethings I suppose never change. I was hoping you’d show up here.” 

Malena, “Part of me wanted to not come, but something or someone drew me back.” (Offers a heartfelt smile). I see the whole gangs here.”

Michael, “I’m sorry to hear about Jesse. He was a great guy. He was a hell of a guitar player too. We use have a blast playing all those little bars and coffee houses.”

Melina, “He made a killing in the stock market, but I think he would have traded all the money, cars and fancy trips to just be a guy who played gigs at the pizza parlor. Happiness and success are hard things to measure. Circumstances may change, but at some level we are who we are. Jesse was unique, in a world where everyone is trying to follow trends and be the same, he was brave and unafraid to be different. I loved him for that.”

Michael, “Yeah, and if you try and be something you’re not, it will eat you alive. The best kind of friends are the ones that let you be yourself. Some people want to put you in a box and that is stifling.”

Melina, “I miss Jesse.  What I really miss is the Jesse I knew when we were younger and not constrained by all the bullshit that comes with growing up. You trade little pieces of yourself away for security and possessions. Instead of you owning them, they end up owning you.  You think you’re buying security, but what you’re really doing is bargaining away your passion, your freedom, your sense of wonder. I must sound like some old hippy chick.” (They both laugh).

Michael, “Here, let me get you a glass of chardonnay.” (Pours a glass of wine and hands it to Melina).

Melina, “Time goes by fast and it’s easy to lose the people and things that matter the most to you. (Pauses) When Jesse and I first met, travel was our thing.  We’d be in a strange country and all we had was each other. It brought us together, made us closer.  We went to Europe, China, Brazil, and it was exciting and fun.  But something happened. I don’t even know how and or when it happened. Our traveling felt more like a search for something we lost, rather than sharing a new adventure. It was if we could find that special vacation place again, it would bring us back to that feeling of closeness.  But it wasn’t the place or time, it was something dreadful that followed us wherever we traveled. We’d lost our connection. We became strangers in strange lands.  And knowing what real love felt like, made it even harder when we tried to fake it or manufacture it.” 

Michael, “I know that feeling. There’s no faking love. It’s either there or it’s not. And to watch it slowly slip away is excruciating. It’s hard to try and love someone——cause love isn’t a thing you have to try to do.”  

Melina, “Jesse didn’t do anything wrong, it was (Pause) I don’t exactly know what it was. I think as he got older he became more cautious. Ironically, the thing that attracted me to him was his risk taking, his carefreeness. I think he regretted having to grow up and become a responsible adult, but his minister father ingrained in him that scarfing ones self is next to godliness. He started delaying gratification, putting money away in 401K’s, working long hours. It was like he was trying to earn his way into heaven, or at least please his folks. We were always making plans to go to Italy and rent a little house in Tuscany. I don’t know if once that feeling is gone if there’s  anyway to rekindle it. Maybe that’s why we never went, maybe it wouldn’t turn out the way we hoped it would. Maybe it would confirm what we already knew. Maybe the chasm had grown too wide, the distance between us was too far to reach one another.  And then after all the putting off of pleasure he gets cancer and fucking dies. Maybe cancer was only a symptom of a worse disease, losing faith, losing your self.  Life can be fucking cruel”

Michael, “Yeah, a lasting love is illusive. Sorry about Jesse, (Pause) sorry about (Pause) the death of a love too.”

Melina, (Put her hand on Michaels shoulder) “Oh, wait. I almost forgot. I brought something special for you. It’s in my car, come on.”

Scene IV

Melina, (Melina is the the drivers seat and Michael in the passenger seat.) “Close your eyes.”  (She reaches into the backseat). “Okay, open your eyes.” (She hands him a guitar).

Michael, “What the (Pause). This is Jesse’s Martin guitar. This was like a part of his body. I have so many great memories of him playing this guitar at parties, jam sessions and in dark living rooms  On Sunday afternoons we’d hangout at San Brannon Park drinking Ripple and playing music. Are you sure you want to give me this? This is a huge part of his legacy.”

Melina, “He’d want you to have it. He wouldn’t want anyone else to play it but you. He always said that guitars were shaped like a woman’s body. And, that’s what made him want to hold his guitar in his arms and caress it. He was romantic that way. I use to keep it on a stand in my living room, but (Pause) but it was like holding on to something or someone that was never coming back. I finally put it in its case and slid it under my bed. It was like sleeping with a ghost. Go ahead and exercise those old ghosts, give it light, give it life again, hold it, love it——let it make beautiful music.” 

Michael, “I was pissed at Jesse for a long time. I blamed him for taking you away from me.”

Melina, “He didn’t take me away from you. You left me to go to LA and become a rockstar. You said you had a record deal and you’d probably be going on the road and you needed some space so you could get your music career going.”

Michael, (Shakes his head as he reflexes on the past).“I never got a record deal. The Record company said I’d have to go on the road and build up a following before they’d risk putting money into me.  I ended up doing gigs in shitty little bars from Southern California to nowheres-ville Arkansas. I thought touring would be glamorous and exciting. There’s nothing further from the truth. You can only play ‘Johnny Be Good’ so many times and put your heart and soul into it.  The last gig I played was at a Veterans of Foreign War hall for a bunch of drunk bikers. A big fight broke out with some opposing biker club. I heard a gun go off so I picked up my gear and ran for the door.  That was it, I was through with my rock and roll dream.  After that, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was lost. I probably wrote you a dozen letters, but I couldn’t find the right words to say. I tried calling but I guess your number had changed. I messed up.  And what hurt the most is knowing it was my ego that cost me my future with you.”

Melina, “I’ve often wondered what life would be like if things had turned out differently.  But, I guess things worked out alright for you. You have Lyne and you have a good life.”

Michael, “Like I said, when I came back home I didn’t really know what to do with myself.  I got a job framing houses for Lyne’s dad and he kind of took me under his wing. He introduced me to his daughter and we started dating. I got my contractors license and the next logical step was marriage. Love and logic are two opposing ways of approaching life. Logic is using your brain, love is following your heart.  I think I should have followed my heart.”

Melina, “I wasn’t sure if I should give this back to you.” (She reaches back into the backseat). “You left this flannel shirt at my apartment a million years ago.”

Michael, “I use to call that my lucky shirt. I was wearing it when I first met you.”

Melina, “This is kind of weird to say, but when you first left,  I use to wear it to bed. It was soft and warm and it smelled like you.”

Michael, “And what do I smell like?”

Melinda, “You smell like the woods, like a forest. It’s a scent of pine needles, a tad bit of desert sagebrush and fresh rain on earthy mud.”

Michael, “Hum, I smell like earthy mud? That doesn’t sound too appealing.  I suppose it’s better than sweat and grime.” (Both laugh).

Melina, “Well having a piece of someones clothing is kind of an intimate thing. It’s holding something that was once against their skin. Their body movements leave wrinkles imprinted on the cloth, the fabric still carries their scent. Sorry if that sounds crazy to you.”

Michael, “It’s a funny thing, I came back home after all these years and everything and everyone seems strange and different.  The only thing that feels familiar to me is you. (There’s a reflective pause) I think I’ve always loved you and alway will. You’ve had a hold on me. Through the years I’ve fantasized about you a thousand times.  Sorry if that sounds weird or creepy.————.”

Melina, (Puts on a devilish smile). “I guess I’ll take that as a complement.”

Michael, “I suppose, once you distance yourself from a place, a time or a person you realize a lot of things. Sometimes the long way is the only way home.———(Silence) Do you have the case I can put the guitar in?” (They both reach back at the same time and their heads slightly bump into one another’s).

Melina, (They both laugh at the awkwardness of the situation. There’s an emotionally charged silence.) “You can touch me if you want.”

Michael, (Slowly leans into Melina to give her a kiss. Theres an abrupt tapping on the fogged window). 

Lyne, “What are you guys doing out here? It’s freezing out here.”

Michael, (Shakes his head in frustration as he rolls down the window). “Melina and I were sharing some old memories. She wants to give me Jesse’s Martin.”

Lyne, “Why don’t you bring it in the house and everyone can jam.”

Michael, “Yeah, sure.” 

Scene V

They come back in the house. Michael sits down and starts to tune the guitar.  Everyone is feeling buzzed. The guests begin to clammer, “Play something, come on, play something for us.” 

Michael, (Smiles) “Shawn, give me a beat on that cajon.” (Shawn sits on the cajon and starts playing a medium groove. Michael starts playing the guitar and singing ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. The guests sing along. Michael can feel Melina’s eyes on him. Song ends, everyone applauds while hooting and hollering). 

Michael, “Let me get a drink and then we’ll do another one.” (Makes his way over to the liquor table where Shawn is standing).

Shawn, “Nice jam bro. Isn’t that Jesse’s old Martin?”

Michael, “ Yeah, Melina gave it to me. She said Jesse would have wanted it that way. It’s almost like I can feel him when I play it. There’s worn marks on the fretboard where his fingers once played.  It has a few nicks and scratches, but don’t all old things have a few scars.”

Shawn, “For sure.”

Michael, “You won’t believe what almost happened. Melina took me out to her car to get the guitar and we started talking and stuff. Something just happened.  It wasn’t planned or like some kind of drunken hookup. I felt this thing I haven’t felt for a long time. I haven’t felt it sense I was with Melina all those years ago. It a feeling I forgot even exists. We were almost gonna kiss and Lyne came wrapping on the car window. It’s as if she knew something was up. I swear she has some kind of radar that tracks my every freakin move.”

Shawn, (Smiles and shakes his head). “Dude, that kind of soulmate energy permeates a room. Everyone’s buzzed and having a good time, no ones gonna say anything. But, I think everyone can kind of pick up on that thing between you two; even Lyne.”

Michael, “Man, I’m so sick of pretending and doing without. It’s fucking exhausting. I just want to feel that feeling again.  I want to fucking feel alive again, to feel understood, loved——-to have real sex with someone who enjoys it. Is that fucking asking too much?”

Shawn, “I don’t know man. I think most of the dudes I know would love to have a ‘do over’.  Life without compromises is a young man’s game. Ya gotta ask yourself, when does the hug become a choke hold.”

Lyne, (Approaches Shawn and Michael). “We need to leave soon, I have a nail appointment first thing in the morning.”

Michael, “Hey, we’re having some fun for once.  Let’s just hangout for a little while longer.”

Lyne, (Looks over towards Melina).  Yeah ‘we’re’——- or should I say you, are having a lot of fun.  In a half hour I’m leaving. If you don’t want to come home, then get a ride with one of your (Spoken with sarcasm) friends.”  (She turns and walks away).

Michael, “Goddamn ultimatums.  It’s taking every single fiber of my being to not just say fuck it, fine——I’m going home with Melina.”

Shawn, “Loves a powerful drug bro. It’s done in many a good man. Like you said, It’s really not fair that you only get one chance to get this life right. What are you gonna do?”

Michael, “I don’t know man. But I know one thing, true love never dies. It’s a hard thing to explain. There’s something about the way she talks——the tone of her voice sets me at ease. I could listen to her voice for hours. I would never be afraid to tell her anything, cause I know she’d understand. There’s something familiar in her laugh. I like how her body moves through space. Graceful, like a dancer who needs no music.”  

Shawn, “Regrets a hard thing to have to live with. Lookout bro, here she comes.”

Melina, “I’m gonna be leaving. It was really great to see you again. (She gives Michael a hug). “Oh, I left the guitar case in the back bedroom where they put everyone’s coats. I miss you.”

Michael, “I miss you too.”

Lyne, (She’s wearing a stern look on her face). “Get our coats and let’s go. I’m cold, I’m tired and I’ve got a headache.”

Michael, “You’re always cold, tired and have a headache.”

(He heads to the back bedroom. He opens the guitar case to put up the guitar. He picks up a note that was left in the case). ‘Michael, I left you a little something to remember me by. Something that’s been close to my body and against my skin. I hope I smell like the things I know you love, peppermint ice cream, Jameson Irish whiskey and second chances. P.S. Damn, it’s gonna be a bit cold driving home commando style, Ha Ha.”

(Michael retrieves a pair of red panties from the guitar case. He puts them to his face and inhales deeply. He shakes his head in disbelief and starts to laugh. He then says out loud). “Second Chances?”

The song “In Spite Of Ourselves” by John Prine begins to play.

God And The Coronavirus

You’ve been asking for it, so I’m going to give it to you.  Call it Karma, universal reciprocity, poetic justice, what goes around comes around———So, here ya go sucker; you ought to have been more careful with what you asked for, because now you’re getting it! So much, for your dime store prayers.

Look at what you’ve done to one another. You’ve let your anger, hatred and bad intentions rule your actions. You’re extremely adept at finding reasons to justify hurting, wounding, maiming and killing one another.  I don’t know if it’s your anger, fear or ignorance that’s made you become so unkind and dispassionate towards one another. Deep down in your psyche you despise those different than you. You’ve turned your world into an “us against them proposition”——simplifying everything down to the self righteous creed, “We’re right—–you’re wrong”. When others think, look, act or believe in things different than you, then you are against them. You’ve defined those from a different country than yours as being “aliens”. Even though it’s just an arbitrary line drawn on a map separating “you” from “them”. You declare, “This is our country not your’s!” If someone worships a different god than you, then you call them a heathen. You define those that speak a different language, or march beneath a different flag, or have a different color skin as being inferior. You demand that they subjugate to your superiority. So much for wars and your prayers for victory over others.

You’re an ungrateful bunch of hooligans. You’ve fouled the air and polluted the oceans, turning your beautiful blue planet into a dying cesspool.  The animals I’d given you dominion over you’ve abused and mistreated. It’s no wonder you’ve been evicted from the garden of Eden.   So much, for your stewardship over nature.  

I’ve watched you drop bombs on each other, gas one another, incinerate one another, slaughter one another, kill each other in senseless and endless wars. In the streets you’ve robbed, raped, beat, shot, strangled, kidnapped and murdered one another. When I created you I had such great hopes for your kind. But your god has become greed, addiction, lust, jealousy, fear, hate, anger, power, materialism, self righteousness and self centeredness. And so much, for breaking my heart.

Turn on your big screen TV’s and watch the the 24 hour news cycle as a pretty newscaster blandly reports that days dose of carnage and cruel brutality. When will it ever end?  Insanity has become normalcy. Violence has replaced civility. Power has been substituted for empathy. Complacency and apathy has replaced compassion. Turn your fucking TV off, stop the madness, it’s poisoning your soul.

As I originally said, you’ve been asking for it, so as your creator I’m giving it to you. I’m bestowing upon your crazy ass race of people the Corona Virus. You’ve chosen to put wedges between one another, so I’ll make where you can no longer touch one another without fear of dying. You’ll no longer be able to breathe the same air in the fear that you might become infected. Hand shakes, hugs and togetherness will be outlawed. You’ll need to keep a distance between you and all other humans. Kissing will be banned. Because you’ve chosen angry words and sneers over cooperations and unity, you’ll now be forced to wear a mask to cover your spiteful mouths. Where there once was love there will now be loneliness, where there once was unity there will be solitude and where there once was hope there will only be despair. Between your rage and fear of self and others, there lies opportunity——opportunities to either nudge the human race towards good or evil.

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was no longer good. And on the eighth day God shook his head and let out a sigh as he muttered, “Back to the drawing board, back to the drawing board.” And so much, for the human race……..

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb. Isaiah 11:6: A call for revolution

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Soundtrack, “Get Up Stand Up” by Bob Marley

“The answer my friend is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.” I could’ve sworn that I heard that wobbly melody playing in my head the other day. The original vagabond and singer of protest song is now the Noble Prize winner in literature. And it leaves me wondering, how much change has really taken place since 1962 when that song was first released. Even Dylan doesn’t sing protest songs any longer, instead he mumbles songs from the Great American Song Book. It was never his singing voice, guitar or harmonica playing that made him a legend; he once was angry and had something to say——-“Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Where’s the rage and the contempt for the established authority? Where’s the cadre of enraged youth demanding that the old guard move aside so that they can fix the mess they’ve been left by their parents? There’s a pervasive complacency in the world today that frightens me. There’s nihilism where idealism once reinvented itself with each new generation. When did the power of music, investigative journalism and critical thinking fall out of vogue? When did taking to the streets in protest get replaced by insipid tweets, trendy FB posts, and lame blogs——-insert angry emoji here.

It’s not as if the world has evolved into a kinder and gentler place. To the contrary, if you take a good look around you’ll see that we’ve begun to de-evolve. We’ve elected a president who’s a racist, sexist and a xenophobe. For over a decade we’ve remained mired in wars in the middle east. A conflict that was initially predicated on a lie regarding WMD. We have the “one percenters” who’s resources and wealth continue to grow as the middle class evaporates. Earnings and benefits for workers continue to shrink as the rich blatantly pay no taxes. Mr Trump hasn’t paid federal income tax for twenty years. He proudly defended this conduct by stating “Because I’m smart. “Smart” should be replaced with “greedy”. Scientist warn that global warming is destroying our environment, while leaders of industry choose short term profit over the long term effects of climate change. We have a system of government that allows billionaires to buy the outcome of elections. We have a “democracy” where a candidate can be elected president even though the majority of voters voted for the challenger. There’s mass shootings occurring on a daily basis, yet NRA refuses to indorse a ban on AR-15 “assault-type weapon,” or support thorough background checks. Every day children unnecessarily die of starvation and preventable deseases. The cost of medical care and college education has spiraled out of control. Can someone please tell me where the answer is to these travesties. Oh yes, I forgot, “The answer is blowing in the wind”.

The twenty four hour, seven day a week news cycle has diminished our capacity to feel empathy or comprehend compassion. We’ve become passive observers watching the news as a form of entertainment. We’re a society of rubber necker’s gawking at the daily mayhem. It’s reminiscent of the spectacle of blood and guts that the masses once cheered for at the Roman Coliseum. We’ve become anesthetized, desensitized and numb to the suffering of others. As the masses are fed a daily diet of misery, they’ve become consumed by a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. We’ve become a “fuck it” society. It’s a culture that’s lost faith in the system, in democracy—–in integrity. The greatest threat to our freedom and liberty isn’t the power vested in the elite but rather in the apathy of the masses.

Imagine a mythical island that’s comprised of 100 acres of land. The island has only coconuts, bananas and goats as its form of currency. There are 100 inhabitants living on this island. An individual who calls himself the Lord Of The Land has ownership of 99 of those 100 acres of land. He also has ownership of 99% of the coconuts, bananas and goats. All the inhabitance of this island depend on this man to secure their housing and food. He picks a man to be a candidate for the position of Island chief. He gives this candidate 2 coconuts, 2 bananas and some goat cheese. This island is a “democracy” so in order for this man to become the chief he must have the majority of the 100 islanders vote for him in order to become the island chief. He divides the gifts given to him by Lord Of The Land into smaller pieces. He offers these small gifts to islanders to entice them to vote for him (trickle down economics). He promises the islanders that he will represent their rights and liberties. These promises are in conflict with the Lord Of The Lands goal to maintain ownership of 99% of the land and its resources. The new chief is indebted to the Lord Of The Land because he provided him with the coconuts, bananas and goat cheese. Once he’s elected chief he is obliged to repay the Lord Of The Land by creating laws that protect his dominion over the islands resources. Can you imagine a land such as this? Can you extrapolate how this metaphor relates to our system of governance?

The word revolution hasn’t been uttered since the writing of The Declaration of Independence or the call for equality and change echoed in the 1960’s. The only way we will be able to restore equality, fairness and justice is by organizing and utilizing our power of civil disobedience and non violent resistance. It’s always been the kings and queens, the land barons, captains of industry and the ultra rich who’ve suppressed, manipulated and taken advantage of the masses. From the beginning of time, the redistribution of wealth, resources and power is something that the majority has had to rip from the greedy hands of the powerful minority. It’s through the union of the majority (Unions) that we’ve been able to demand our fair share of the pie. Leaders that preach divisiveness are manipulating the majority into splinter groups to fight amongst themselves.  It’s a diversionary tactic that’s used to keep the majority from unifying and challenging the elites control and hold on power.

Ironically it isn’t the youth of this nation that’s risen up and demanded freedom, liberty and justice for all. No, it’s a seventy five year old Jewish man who’s attempting to mobilize a revolution. His bold message is captured in the following quote “With your support and the support of millions of people throughout this country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally.” ~ Sen. Bernie Sanders.

It will take a revolution to right this sinking ship. It will take people organizing and standing up for the rights of all citizens. We need a new Declaration of Independence. With that in mind I’ve drafted the following document. This is a working document open to input, additions and omissions. It’s an evolving document.

The goal of the following document isn’t to provide all of the answers to our political issues, but rather to start a dialogue that gets people to utilize their critical thinking skills rather than irrational emotional responses to issues. It’s a document that requires input and inclusion from all its citizens.  Please feel free to provide input and insights into the following document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness——-regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, age, heritage, disability or any other individual differences.

Taxes shall be levied fairly and equitably. This entails implementing a flat tax that offers no deductions or write offs for individuals, cooperations or organizations. Those individuals possessing resources and earnings in the top one percent will be taxed at a flat rate of fifty percent of their earnings and resources. Those that are reaping excessive rewards must be held accountable for paying their fair share towards the good of the community.

A living wage will be paid to individuals. Any person working full time shall be able to afford their living expenses. This will negate the need to provide food stamps to individuals working for companies that do not adequately compensate their employee’s. This is a subsidy that tax payers are currently paying to support such profit rich companies as Walmart.

Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to one vote.
Each citizen of the United States of America will be limited to no more than a $100.00 contribution per candidate. Companies, organizations, lobbyist and special interest groups are not allowed to contribute to a candidates election. This is to prevent undue influence of such entities over politicians with whom they have financially supported.

Gerrymandering will not be manipulated to provide a political party advantage over other such parties. The process is to support a system that determines a winner of political office by a majority vote, not by biased voting jurisdictions.  The Electoral College is to be abolished. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to medical care. Tax revenues are to be prioritize for this purpose.  Health Care is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. 

As a citizen of the United States of America each tax paying citizen is entitled free access to college or technological school. Tax revenues are to be prioritized for this purpose.  Education is not a commodity that only the rich can afford and access. Motivated students should not be saddled with huge college debt upon their graduation.  

Social Security and Medi Care are guaranteed to all tax paying citizens. These programs shall reflect the cost of living and not be privatized. Taxes are to be prioritized for this purpose. A nation is judged by how it respects and treats it most vulnerable individuals; the young, the old and those populations and individuals who possess limited resources and power.

Politicians will be limited to a maximum of two terms. This is to prevent politicians from using their power to stay in office rather than serve those who voted them into office.

Just like a vehicle, all guns must be registered and licensed. Automatic weapons are outlawed, thorough background checks are mandatory.

All vehicles, factories and related industries must meet strict environmental standards to counter the affects of global warming and pollution. Failure to comply will result in stiff penalties.

All candidates running for public office must disclose their tax returns. This is to prevent conflict of interests.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is protected and guaranteed.

Individuals or business that hire undocumented immigrants will suffer a stiff fine. The fine will progressively increase by the number of illegal employee’s and the frequency of infractions. The number of work visas will be increased in accordance with need and demand by employers.  These employees will be compensated at an equitable rate.  

Freaks Of Nature And Poets

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Soundtrack “Everglow” by Coldplay.

This life is a shallow grave I’ve been digging with a dull shovel and a shot glass. Slowly burying myself beneath December snows, camouflaged smiles and broken pledges. Time doesn’t stand still, it’s a freight train carrying away everything and everyone; it leaves me with these stillborn dreams——— tattered memories, fleeting victories and mounting troubles. This life doesn’t easily fill in an inside straight. One day you’re gonna lose someone too———it’s a matter of time and how the cards fall…….

They say that time marches on, but when my mother became ill and bedridden, I saw the parade become a stumble, a fall and then a crawl. And yet she held on by her fingernails, she held on for us. Love wrestles with time. Neither of the two compromise nor offers up apologies or excuses, they sever the strings on the most beautiful bouquet of balloons.

This life is a shallow dug grave. I lie sleepless, entombed In the emptiness that fills this darkest of nights. I’ve been fooled by counterfeit kisses and the charade of wilted romance. I never knew love until I found you.——-I should’ve never let you go or told you that I’d given up on us. This regret keeps me awake at night, it’s a blunt dagger plunged into destinies back.

It’s always cold here. I can feel winter creeping in, chilling me to the bone with its impassive wind. You once gave me a perfume scented photo. On the backside was the lipstick imprint of a scarlet colored kiss. I’d close my eyes and put my lips to it. I couldn’t stand to look at it any longer, so I tore it up. I lit the scraps of paper on fire and watched them burn yellow and red.

For the first time in my life I’d felt understood——-I’d always been a social catastrophe, saying the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person.  And things were no different when we first met. In a feeble attempt to impress you I mumbled “I’m a writer”. —-You mockingly asked me to write you a poem—- so I did. As you read my words there flashed a nakedness in your eyes—I could see a quiver in your lip.  Everything before and after that moment has been nullified. Vulnerability is a free fall few loves endure.

Our bodies naturally fit together——-we moved in perfect rhythm———like siamese twins, we shared a common heartbeat. I miss that inseparable closeness, like the finale pieces of a puzzle miraculously finding their intended resting place.

You and I were drawn to one another like two awkward kids on the first day of school. One misfit can always recognize a fellow misfit, like how an addict recognizes a fellow addict. It’s in that hollow look the homeless street beggar carries in his eyes. Only the bullied know that helpless feeling of being singled out for the most grievous of reasons, for being different. You made it okay for me to be a renegade, to be unusual———to be what you once called me——“Your poet“. You understood these things, because you’ve hitchhiked that same lonely road only to be passed over by a world that wants nothing to do with freaks of nature and poets. And such banishment only brought us closer together.

Close your eyes and see me still inside you. I’ve been saving all my receipts because one day I’m gonna return all this shit I never needed. You and I burned it all down, until all that was left was snuffed candles and fine white ash. You left your blue flame smoldering inside me. I dreamt you walked through the fire, and once again I watched it burn yellow and red——-and it warmed me?