Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Maybe it was the wine.
He didn’t drink much and a little wine went right to his head. Whatever it was he was humming songs and shedding soft, self-serving tears, and seeing Technicolor things that touched his weary heart.
Jessica Lange, shimmering in waves of luminescent white, was smiling patiently, alluringly, inscrutably. Emmylou Harris, gloriously angelic and thankfully earthbound, was singing sad songs that didn’t make him cry.
And there was dancing…lots of dancing…and sex and laughter, sweet life and sweet death, lasting truth and lingering lies…visions of the future, the past, and all that jazz.
Maybe it was a dream bleeding into the waking world, mixing the magical and mundane in the fevered imagination of a poor mortal fool.
Maybe it was it just a movie, an artful mix of fiction and reality carefully crafted to stimulate the senses and draw emotion out of playacting.
Maybe it was the wine.
It felt like rain on the next to the last day of the end of time. That was cool with Victor…he liked the rain and the grayness, he really liked the grayness because it made him appreciate the sunshine that much more when it came back.
The wind was heavy and moist as Victor wandered the avenues on that gray day but he barely felt it. Despite the fact that he hadn’t bothered to take a coat or a hat none of the blustery, storm-heralding weather made him the least bit uncomfortable. Why would it? The next day was one that he had been looking forward to for a long time and the utter finality of it warmed him, admittedly in a strange and sad way, to his very core.
The sun shone brightly on the last day of the end of time. It was an almost perfectly blue, gently blustery day. And that too was cool with Victor. The threat of rain the previous day had made this day more sparkling and though it was a shame that there would be no more it was still a glorious backdrop for the end of time to play out on. Victor drank wine and smoked cigars and let the rays of the sun caress him and all of it chilled him, in a strange and sad, way to his very core.
It felt like rain on the next to last day of the end of time. It felt like spring, bountiful and welcoming, on the last day. It felt…right…and that was cool with Victor…he liked feeling, at least once in his life, right.
The sun set and the evening shadows gathered. And darkness held Victor close…it was the last day of the end of time and he was going…well, Victor didn’t really know where he was going but he was going just the same…and that was cool with Victor.
Monday, May 09, 2011
The bus was quiet in the early morning and we heard him. We all heard him. But we pretended, as people do, that we did not hear him at all.
He sat, by himself, all the way in the back, staring out the window at the cars and the sad eyed people shuffling along the avenues. He sat, murmuring in a voice that cut through the masculine hum of the bus engine.
He sat murmuring…we all heard him…murmuring that children’s prayer. ”…now I lay me down to sleep…”
But we pretended, as people do, that we did not hear him at all.
He got off the bus, at the edge of downtown, still murmuring. ”…if I die before I wake….” He disappeared around a shadowed corner and was gone, that prayer still murmuring…sighing musically…in his wake.
But we pretended, as people do, that we did not hear him at all.
Friday, May 06, 2011
Sometimes he thought he saw the boundaries of heaven. Sometimes he thought he knew something about the meaning of life. Sometimes…well, sometimes, he thought he knew.
But most times he knew that he didn’t really know anything of significance. But that was okay with him…it was the way of the world after all…the way it was and the way it would ever be…and it really didn’t make him sleep any better or any worse knowing that.
Sometimes he tasted the sweetest wine…on the lips of lovers, on the tiny fingers of guileless babies, in the spray of the mighty ocean crashing against foolish, helpless rocks, in the way the sky felt on his tongue after lingering autumn rains. And sometimes it made him feel so intoxicated, so utterly free, that he couldn’t imagine anything else could possibly ever taste so wonderful. Sometimes he tasted the wine…and sometimes he liked to imagine that the wine would flow freely for all of the rest of his days.
But most times he knew that it wouldn’t. He knew that it just couldn’t. And that was okay with him…the sweetest things should always be taken in careful moderation lest they lose their honeyed luster and come to seem mundane. This too, he knew, was the way of the world….the way the world was…the way world had ever been…the way the world would ever be…and it didn’t make him feel any better or any worse about his place in the universe.
And sometimes he thought everybody in the world could feel his secret thoughts, read all of his unwritten words, sing all the songs that he had deliberately forgotten how to sing…sometimes he imagined and sometimes it made him feel naked and exposed. And sometimes it made him feel special, the guardian of secret knowledge entrusted to him by the knowing universe, the seeming fool who strode the world an unknown, but blessed, shaman and scholar.
But sometimes…most times, in fact…he knew that was hubris too arrogant and too fantastic to be taken very seriously at all. This bothered him, in his heart of hearts, but as long as it remained true in his dreaming times…and it most certainly did…he was okay with the real truth of the matter. It was the way of the world after all…the way it absolutely should be no matter how much he might wish it to be otherwise…and so it didn’t really trouble his mind…except in the quiet moments of whispering and wishing that everybody has but nobody admits to.
Sometimes he thought he knew…knew the hidden places…the secret, sacred hearts…the perfectly peaceful vistas and the eternally calm and calming hideaways…all of the gentler, more grace-filled truths of the infinite…sometimes…just sometimes…he thought he knew.
And sometimes he did know. But most times he knew that he didn’t know much of anything and he was, only a bit reluctantly, okay with that. It was, after all, the way of the world…the way it was and would ever be…the way it was for him, for everyone he knew, for everyone he had known at one time, for everyone he would never ever know….and it really didn’t play games with heart or make sport of his head. Well at least not too much…sometimes…at least not too much…
Thursday, May 05, 2011
I saw God in the wee hours of a particularly warm spring morning. He was sitting in the corner of my room watching over me while I had slept.
“Good morning,” God said in my grandfather’s resonant voice.
“Good morning,” I said, sitting up in bed. “How long have you been there?”
God smiled…inscrutably, of course…and made no reply. Yeah, I thought, that was a stupid question.
“I know what you’re thinking,” God said as light slowly suffused the room.
“I’m sure you do,” I said, just a bit sarcastically, rising from bed and not realizing in the moment how utterly unselfconscious I was about being naked.
God chuckled…my grandfather’s chuckle. “Ever the skeptic,” he said warmly. He looked at me with my father’s mother’s piercing eyes. “That’s okay, I have always believed in you just the same.”
God cocked his head slightly, his mouth crinkled into Rose’s patiently impatient frown. Another stupid question, I realized, but I felt no impulse to feel shame about it.
God reached out…with my maternal grandmother’s welcoming grace, with Simon’s strong, gentle arms…and I folded into his embrace. God smelled like honey and scotch, like chocolate and cigars…God smelled like Papa. “Of course I do,” God said with Alan’s affectionate, slightly shy grin. “You’re pretty calm about all this.”
I closed my eyes, my head against God’s chest…his heartbeat sounded like the best song I never heard…his heartbeat sounded like Annie laughing…his heartbeat sounded like Michael singing…his heartbeat sounded like Eli sighing softly…and I smiled contentedly. “I’m going to wake up soon,” I said, “so why fight the dream?”
God chuckled again…my brother’s happy laugh…and kissed the top of my head. “As you say, son,” he said. “I love you just the same.”
“Thank you, sir,” I said, not opening my eyes. I breathed easily, lingering in God’s embrace as the first rays of the morning sun slipped softly through the open window.
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
The spring day felt like summer. Warm Santa Ana winds came rolling in…playful but insistent…off the desert and any lingering clouds fled out to the Pacific. Under powder blue skies heat spread…insistent but no oppressive…over the city…over the neighborhood…over the Circle.
D, across the street, was the first to leave for the day as usual. A soft roar into the waning darkness of the morning, taking the red SUV instead of the powerful white truck he most often favors.
Shy, enigmatic C was next, waving as she passed, her headlights illuminating me fleetingly as I paced the Circle, tea in hand.
And then the Marine on the corner, coughing and smoking…smoking and coughing…as his truck warmed up for the short jaunt off the mesa down to the sprawling base.
The sun was rising and the birds were awake and already happily gossiping. The winds were already gathering and the trees were dancing, their spring foliage singing songs to the new day and to the grace of the infinite.
The Earth turned and met the sun. I dressed appropriately for the weather…baggy blue shorts, muted red shirt…and proceeded with my previously planned chore of finishing the spring cleaning of the garage while the morning was still relatively cool. The screened doors and windows open to the gathering, warming breezes, music…Van Morrison, Ray Charles…spread from my stereo in the family room and out through the house and into the garage, and into the street.
A, across the street, climbed into the family’s white SUV, the warm breeze carrying a whiff…vague but insistent…of cigarette smoke around the Circle before taking it off towards the sea…and slipped off into the day. It occurs to me that I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen A smile.
L, two doors down, leaves next, her red hair shimmering in the morning sun, while her husband J sets to work in their garage before the day becomes too oppressive for such endeavors.
The reclusive young couple who live in what old-timers on the Circle still call “George and Ginger’s house” go their ways…he in his jeep, she, with the toddler she gave birth to not too long after they moved onto the block, in her gleaming black SUV.
P…fair skinned, porcelain, warily affable…comes over to retrieve the mail she had asked me to collect while she and her older daughter were off spending a few days in Idaho with her younger daughter and the grandchildren. We made small talk about the weather and she, having taken a day off after her trip, went to tend to her plants and flowers and I went back to work in my garage.
I filled the trash and recycling bins and rolled them out to the street for pickup the next day; I rolled C’s bins out to the street because I do that every week as well. The garage as done as it was going to be, I closed it up and went to finish an assignment on the computer. The day was getting warmer and the cats had already staked out territory under ceiling fans of their choosing.
Noontime under the big tree in the front yard, the Santa Ana winds (yeah, that Steely Dan song kept playing in my head and I'm looking over my shoulder for Babylon sisters to be shaking it) really kicking up an impish ruckus, the warmth continued to rise, and the day on the Circle continued to slow down.
Mid-afternoon, D, early to work, early home, is riding around the Circle on a bike he apparently rediscovered in his garage. The lithe D, who walks in both boyish whimsy and…vague but insistent…melancholy, goes shirtless whenever he can and as he delights in making circles on the Circle, his little gold nipple ring glints in the sun every once in a while casting tiny sparks of light here and there.
Someone visits J, the wind carrying the pungent aroma of his cigar around the Circle.
Early evening, the air is still thick and sweaty, doors and windows are still open all around the Circle, soft music (from my house) is gliding on top of the heated air as our part of the world started to slowly move away the mother sun. I spend sundown in the yard…on my bench…luxuriating in the gathering coolness.
The spring day…the spring evening…felt like summer. And, they tell me, this “summer” wasn’t ending just yet.
Monday, May 02, 2011
He imagines himself a hero. He imagines himself a victim. He imagines himself a lover consummate tenderness and empathy. He imagines himself a martyr…sacrificing himself…bravely enduring terrible pain and grinding humiliation…for people who see, too late, how wonderful he is.
He imagines…he dreams and ruminates…because he is forgetting how to live.
His coward’s mouth finds no words when the object of his lust is nearby…his coward’s heart refuses to soar when the wide blue vista beckons…his coward’s spirit flags when it should stalwart enough to take him into another day on the mother world.
He imagines himself a tortured soul. He imagines himself a misunderstood visionary. He imagines himself taken in by grace and kept safe by abiding love and passion. He imagines himself in a state of true happiness that blooms radiantly with no effort on his part.
He imagines…he fantasizes and daydreams…because he has forgotten how to live.
“The nights go on forever,” she said with a rueful little smile that I found enormously endearing. “It’s the days that are never long enough.”
I nodded, pretending she was giving some hidden wisdom that had somehow escaped my notice. It hadn’t. I was a friend…no, not a friend…an acquaintance…I was an acquaintance of shadows and whispers; of cold mornings on chilly sheets, alone in the dark, languidly pawing at indifferent erections and wondering why the nights…like this long forever night…hadn’t swallowed me at last and set me free once and for all.
‘You’re such a little boy,” she said, just a bit unkindly, as if she knew what I was thinking. “You lie to me but I don’t care…you have sad brown eyes and hungry brown lips…you’re a beautiful liar and I would lay with you…I would make you moan my name and breathe carnal whispers to the infinite…if you really knew what love was. But you don’t.”
I wanted to slap her. But I didn’t…you don’t hit someone for the truth…it’s not proper. And I always try to be proper.
“You make angels out of cigarette smoke…saviors out of chilled wine bottles…you think navel gazing singers pirate your diaries…and you pride yourself that the head on your shoulders, not the one at the tip of your dick, calls the shots when nothing could be further from the truth…you dream even while you’re ‘awake’, why the hell would you want more daytime?”
She laughed, a brittle, decidedly unkind laugh, and shook her head. “I love you.” She looked me in the eyes. “Or maybe I just think I love you.” She paused, her cool eyes mocking me. “Or maybe I don’t love you at all but say it anyway because you want to believe it.” She paused again. “Do you understand that?”
I nodded. Yes.
“Does it make any difference?”
Hot tears welled up in my sad brown eyes. I shook my head. No.
She frowned, sadly, and pulled me close. She kissed my hungry brown lips. She put my head on her breasts and rocked me slowly. “Silly little boy,” she cooed, stroking my head and rocking me gently to a song only she could hear.
And the night, of course, went on forever.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
There will always be one more book to be read. Always be one more song to be sung and one more dance to be shared in the strong, sheltering arms of somebody who cares. There’s nothing remarkable about that…and yet it’s one of the most remarkable things about this sweet old world of ours.
Time and history and memory flow on taking scant heed of our brief turns yet, at the same time, holding our being…our fleeting, eternal being…forever safe even after the energy that was us had found new purchase and the shell that was us has returned to Gaea’s tender embrace.
There will always be one smile to feel. And there will always be one more tear to be shed and one more passionate whisper to be breathed into the heart and the sheltering soul of somebody who cares, somebody you care about. There will always be one more kiss…carnal and chaste…one more healing sigh born of passion, sweat, and orgasm.
There will always be one more baby smiling, one more hand to hold, one more mountain to climb, one more nightmare to be overcome, one more dream…however improbable…to reach out for with all of the might in our fragile, indomitable bodies and souls.
The universe flows…as it ever has, as it ever will…and dust goes back to dust, light goes back to light. And there will always…always…be one more book to read.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I believe in the light everlasting…in the universe unbounded and ever-changing. I believe in the glory of music and magic, the power of dreams and imagination, the necessity of tears and heartache, and the redemption of passion and compassion.
I believe in the truth of the moment and the fluidity of the past and the certainty of the sprawling future. I believe moments are precious…minutes are eternal…days are short…years are quicksilver…I believe that time is the healer, the destroyer, the cradle of human existence.
I believe in love when my heart seems filled beyond capacity…I believe in love when my heart seems empty beyond despair. I believe in love…and in hate. I believe in joy…and in anger. I believe in justice…and in forgiveness.
I believe in faith…and wondering. I believe in the existence of foolish war…and the certainly of reborn peace. I believe in the divinity of mortality and the humanity of the divine.
I believe that I am God…and you are God…and we are God…and God is all of us living, all of us who have died, all of us who are yet to be born. I believe that God, however simply or complexly you conceive of that universal balance, is.
I believe that we are fleeting in the ken of the universe. I believe that we are eternal in the tapestry of the universe.
I believe…in the light everlasting.
I believe…in love and being.
Friday, April 15, 2011
The beautiful woman next door didn’t seem to know that she was beautiful. He found that sad…and endearing. Sad because every beautiful woman…beautiful in all the wondrous, myriad ways that beauty touches in and radiates from women…should never have a doubt about that fact. And endearing…gloriously, achingly endearing…because there was nothing quite as lovely as a beautiful woman lacking the vanity that would make her fret about being a beautiful woman.
Even in his numb shadows he saw her…she made his dark heart skip beats he thought he would never feel again; the shy enigma of her Mona Lisa smile made him see light that he would never see again; the tender mystery in her soft dark eyes made him dream dreams he thought he’d given up once and for all.
He wondered what it would be like to be her confidant…someone she felt comfortable enough to share secrets and hidden smiles and shy tears with…to be her strong shoulder…when her own strength waned and she needed someone take up the slack; he wondered what it would be like to be her friend…someone to stroke her hair, someone to give safe harbor, someone who could trust her with his secrets; he wondered what it would be like to be her lover…someone allowed to kiss her tender lips, someone blessed enough to hold her tight and feel her heart beating in time with his own.
He wondered…and then he smiled at his foolish hubris…she was so close and yet so far away, safe in a cocoon of reticence and mystery and, yes, beauty…gentle, endearing, seemingly untouchable beauty.
The beautiful woman next door didn’t seem to know that she was beautiful. But he did. And he gloried in that. And he cherished that. And sometimes…just sometimes…he coveted that. Because there’s nothing quite as wondrous as an angel shimmering in mortal form….because there was nothing quite as lovely as a beautiful woman lacking the vanity to fret about...to even truly realize...that she was indeed a very beautiful woman.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Nobody seemed to see how sad the Pretender was. He presumed that nobody really cared…though part of him remained hopefully enough…arrogant enough…to presume that it really wasn’t completely so.
The Pretender, resplendent in blue and black, thought of himself as a hero…a super-hero, in fact….and sometimes…just sometimes…he was just that.
And sometimes…too often for comfort…he was not. Sometimes he was a charlatan…a deluded charlatan in a silly costume. And he knew it…though he didn’t always consciously acknowledge that fact.
It was often hard to know when the one…the self-sacrificing hero…left off and the other…the sad, vainglorious charlatan…began. Most times the Pretender, living a life that wasn’t half as real as he liked to believe it was, didn’t want to know.
The Pretender, wearing a mask that seemingly worked better than he really wanted it to, stayed invisible in plain sight…swooping down to save the day and then disappearing into the shadows lingering long enough to try to hear some of the impassioned cheers he thought his heroism was supposed to give birth to.
Nobody seemed to know how sad…how lonely and how angry and how defeated…the Pretender was. But that was okay, most days the Pretender didn’t really know either. He got up each day, put on his mask and his cape, and, disguised in blue and black, pretended to be part of the world.
He was who he was. A hero…even if only in his own mind; a charlatan…even if he only occasionally accepted that fact; he was, in his costume and his too-effective mask, the Pretender.
“Slow down…take a deep breath. If you rush through life, life rushes through you.”
His friend frowned. “What the hell is that?”
He smiled mischievously. “It’s an ancient Chinese proverb…that I just made up…”
His friend sighed, shaking his head. “Aren’t you clever? If I don’t get this project done, my boss is gonna rush me right out the door.”
“But you’re running around like a chicken with his head cut off, what exactly are you getting done?”
His friend glared. “I hate you.”
He chuckled warmly. “I have that effect on people sometimes. But you know that I’m right.”
His friend grinned wryly. “Please enlighten me further, Master.”
He brushed off the sarcasm. “A stitch in time saves nine.”
“Go to hell.”
“A watched pot never boils.”
“I’m not listening to you…”
“May you live in interesting times…”
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
“The early bird catches…”
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
I am a slave…a slave to memory…real and imagined.
I am a thrall to bittersweet realities that I lived, subtly and overtly rewritten the way memories always are over the course of time, and a fool for the more golden remembrances of things which I know never happened but plaintively wished had.
I am a freeman and a slave just the same…a slave to my passions, as fickle and unfocused as they are so often…a slave to wanting the world…no, that’s not true…a slave to wanting MY world to make better sense…to cast me as the sage…the seeker…the lover…the blissful dreamer…the contented soul that I like to imagine myself to be when the moon is low and my scrupulously erected barriers have begun to crumble a little.
I am a slave to dreams…a slave to sorrow and bitterness…a slave to hope and laughter…a slave to the notion that all lost love was the healing love recognized just a heartbeat after it had vanished into the mist of the ever present past…a slave to recrimination, fair and too often unfair, that lingers long after it should have faded into the ether.
I am a child of fleeting light…a child of abiding shadows that I long ago stopped expecting anyone else to truly understand.
I am a child…I am a man…a freeman of color living in a cool, sometimes cold gray world…dreaming in a warm, always welcoming world of soft, flowing color…blue and gold, red and green, burnt orange and royal violet…black and white…
I am a freeman. I am a fool. I am a dreamer. I am an illusionist. I am a master of all I imagine.
I am a thinker. I am an idiot. I am a hero. I am a coward. I am special. I am not special at all.
I am a slave.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Every morning, a little bird…hidden in the pre-dawn shadows of the big tree across the Circle…sings the first song of morning, calling…hopefully, plaintively, unabashedly…until, eventually, a distant, sleepy reply comes. Until, eventually, more distant, sleepy responses sing out in the cool morning air and the conversation, musical and gossipy, begins in earnest.
Every morning, an old man, bundled against the chill before sunrise, comes down New Salem Street walking his happy little dog. The old man’s pace is brisk and sure; the little dog, his tail wagging, his head held high, effortless keeps pace. The old man cuts through the darkness with a tiny white light shining from his cap.
Every morning, the trees sway in the lazy breeze…every morning, the stars seem to fade away as the sun’s first tentative fingers of light turn the indigo horizon to a softer shade of darker blue. Every morning, one neighbor…holding her robe securely…comes out to see where the newspaper guy has casually tossed her copy of the Union-Tribune that day.
Every morning…every weekday morning…my next door neighbor, walking briskly, gets into her car for the journey to her job. She smiles shyly (I can’t see her face in the shadows but she always smiles shyly) and offers a soft greeting…”Good morning, Michael”…before she backs out of the driveway and, with a little wave, drives off into her day.
Every morning…every weekday morning…my neighbor directly across the Circle yawns as he clambers into his big white truck, waves and nods in the way men do, and roars off towards his own day; the neighbor next to him does likewise with a black truck that growls even deeper than the first one.
Every morning, life slowly rouses itself on Whitehall Circle…slowly rouses itself all around the city…singing and yawning, waving and smiling shyly…while the softly rising sun, slowly but surely, turns the sky from black towards blue. Every morning…
Friday, April 01, 2011
The butterfly danced with the sailor for a brief, eternal season. He cherished her…the strong, delicate, luminously beautiful butterfly…but not nearly as much as he should have (ever and always the fool he.)
The sailor tried to keep her close while, fear and foolishness ever his dour companions, also keeping her at arm’s length…he watched her shimmering soft and blue, a sailor on celestial wing, in the bright sun of sweet summer and the sparkling stars of quiet autumn.
The butterfly danced, leaving kisses and perfume on his cheeks, and waited as patiently as she could. And then, of course, she couldn’t wait any longer…time passed by, seas led to other, more golden shores…and she flew away…leaving music in her wake and sad sweet light in his heart.
He was sad and happy when she found a place that truly cherished her…sad and happy when the butterfly nestled into the garden she always deserved…sad and happy that she was with many even though none of them were him.
And the sailor whispered…on the wandering wind…”I loved you more than I ever said.”
And the sailor whispered…on the wayward wind…”I’m so happy that you’re safe and happy.”
And the sailor whispered…on the wondrous, wondering wind…”Please forgive my coward’s heart. Please forgive me for not cherishing you as much I should have.”
And the sailor whispered…on the wafting, whispering wind…and prayed that the butterfly, dancing contentedly in her garden, heard…and knew…and sometimes, just sometimes, saved a fond prayer for him.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Nicole Kidman is pretending to be Virginia Woolf. She’s pretending to sink slowly beneath the healing waters of a gently unforgiving stream. She’s pretending to choose darkness because the light is, all things considered, just a little too much to bear.
Nicole Kidman is sinking…slipping, disguised as Virginia Woolf, away from the sky and down to the bottom of a gently non-judgmental stream.
I am watching and I am pretending that I do not understand. I am crying, hot reluctant tears. I am mocking myself…it’s only a movie.
Nicole Kidman is sinking below the water. I am pretending that I do not understand.
Virginia Woolf is slipping down and the hours are passing…the hours are ending but not ending at all. Nicole Kidman is pretending to be Virginia Woolf. Ed Harris is falling to eternity. Meryl Streep is choosing life.
I am crying and pretending that I do not understand.
Friday, March 25, 2011
I imagine your eyes will save me….your mysterious eyes that speak of passion and romance even in their shyest, most shielded moments…it’s a fool’s errand (it always is) but I am foolish enough to indulge the fantasy just the same.
Your eyes…your tender eyes…will save me. Will save me from my shadows…will save me from the fire…will save me from myself. And I will be whole again. And I will be happy again. And I will light a fire in your eyes and spend the rest of my days working tirelessly to keep it there. I imagine your eyes…they will save me.
I imagine your touch…your gentle arms, your tender kiss, your sweet bosom, your delicate but strong hands…I imagine your touch will save me. It is, again, a fool’s errand (nobody can save us if we can’t save ourselves) but, again, I am foolish enough to reach for the dream just the same.
Your touch….your tender touch…will save me. Will save me from my books and my poetry…will save me from the cold, lonely nights….will save me from myself and my missteps. And I will be whole again. And I will be whole for the first time. And I will be happy again. And I will be really happy for the first time. And I will take you into my arms and shelter you from the world while you shelter me from the world. I imagine your touch…your touch will save me.
I imagine your heart…your mighty heart that I know without really knowing it all…I imagine that your heart will save me. It is, of course, a fool’s errand (a bittersweet and eternal journey) but I am foolish enough to wonder what the world would look like with your heart in my corner.
Your heart…your mighty, guarded, shimmering heart…will save me. Will save me from the sad songs and happy feints…will save from the heartache of memory true and memory false…will save me from starry eyed self and let my make believe heart float gently down to real earth. And I will be whole. And I will be happy. And I will save a place for your heart in mine and spend the whole of eternity trying to make myself worthy of that trust.
I imagine…I imagine your eyes will save me…
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
He often railed against gravity. He always laughed at the hubris of it afterward but he did it, too often, just the same.
Gravity weighed him down, kept him from just floating up into the azure sky, and he knew that was gravity’s job…but sometimes…just sometimes…he railed against it just the same.
Gravity held him still while his lovers flew away…but, he was realist enough to realize, that was on him…always on him and his stubborn hubris…and not really on gravity…but it was easier to blame gravity so sometimes…just sometimes…that’s what he did.
Gravity kept him grounded when his heart was ready to burst each time his wife gave birth to one of their children…gravity held him close while he held his wide-eyed, open-hearted daughters and sons close to his heart, while he held his guileless and trusting children up high to the moonlit, starry expansive of the sky and let them know that nothing other than that celestial majesty was greater than who they were, who they would be.
He often railed against gravity. And gravity, for its part, gave wing to his heart and gently brought his tears back down to the welcoming, nurturing earth. He always laughed at the hubris of it…of railing against gravity…but he did it, much too often, just the same.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Gabriel smiled ruefully as looked out over the precarious edge of the precipice. He was, as usual, afraid…but he was also resolved. At long last he’d understood what he should have known all along…trying to learn to fly meant accepting that you would sometimes have to fall.
And fall hard…maybe to unyielding earth, accepting the pain and trying to find the courage to climb up and try again.
Fall, perhaps, into the arms of earthbound angels there to cushion the impact, to wipe his brow and kiss his cheek; to hold him tight and beg him not to try to fly again or to stroke his hair and tell me to try again, tell him that they’ll be there as long as it takes.
Or fall, if such is the will of fate and foolishness, into oblivion, into the darkness that waits…waits patiently, inevitably…to welcome us, the fliers and the fallers, back into the endless arms of a merciful and merciless Universe.
Gabriel smiled, his heart racing, the verdant fields, winding paths, and fragrant bittersweet rosebushes stretched out so far below him that his eye couldn’t possibly take it all in; he smiled, the unbounded expanse of creation stretched out so far above him that even his wildest imaginings were too mortal to ever truly appreciate the scope and grandeur of its promises and possibilities.
Gabriel smiled, his coward’s heart…his hero’s heart…racing and urging him on…he took a deep breath…ready to learn to fly…ready to learn to fall…he looked inside his fool’s being, his immortal soul and…too late…too soon…just when he was supposed to…he stepped off the edge…
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Darkness lingers later in the morning again…stars twinkling in the waning hours before sunrise due to our hubris in attempting to manipulate time to suit our mortal whims…and the moon, the bright yellow moon, smiles patiently down doubtlessly amused at our illusion of mastery over time and space.
And me, I’m being followed by a moonshadow…in the wee hours, into the bright hours as our stately old world sails the cosmic sea and turns its face to the radiant star that warms and protects us as the journey continues.
I’m being followed by a moonshadow…I’m being warmed by a sunshower…but, of course, I’m not unique, moonshadows and sunshowers keep us all in our journey back towards the light eternal.
Darkness lingers…we “save daylight” without irony and the Universe, ever patient, allows us our illusion of mastery over time and space…and I’m being followed, we’re all being followed by moonshadows…moonshadows...moonshadows…
Friday, March 11, 2011
Elvis smiled and threw open the garden gate welcoming me home. It was bigger and less golden than I had imagined but I felt right at home just the same.
I found some of my friends in a courtyard filled to overflowing with light and music and we danced…danced to Motown 45’s and Bach sonatas, danced to the blues and the Beatles, danced to Joni and Bruce, Billie and Coltrane.
I found my smile in a small bright corner of a warm dark hall and I put it in my pocket for safekeeping.
I found my love drinking wine and nodding next to a blazing fire in the great room while Miles played melodies for songs he thought he was never going to write. Miles slipped into a shadow and my love and I made love on the floor by the fireplace while the music from the courtyard swept in and carried us away.
I found myself, saved by time, un-moored from the harbor, redeemed by faith. And it was all bigger and less golden than I had imagined…but it was okay…I was at home just the same. I was home…just the same…at long last.
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Sometimes…late at night…when the moon was cool and the air was still…I thought I could hear my mother crying…or praying…or singing…or doing all three at once. And sometimes…just sometimes…I thought I heard her, as the song says, “laughing the way some ladies do…when it’s late in the evening…and the music is seeping through…”
I guess I never forgave my father for not loving my mother the way she needed to be…deserved to be…loved.
I know I never forgave my brother for being so needful that he drained her energy and tried my patience and never seemed to get enough.
And I certainly never forgave myself for being resentful for being taken for granted (in my heart I know that I wasn’t but it felt that way so often that the little boy in me didn’t have enough strength to ever truly let it go) or for not being able to give my mother room to find some solace and happiness outside of her care for me and my brother.
And sometimes…late at night…lying in the shadows of my bed down the hall…I thought I could hear my mother crying…or praying…or singing. I thought I heard her laughing…surrounded by soft ballads and dancing swirls of menthol smoke…the way some ladies do…I thought I heard her dancing to her own song…the private song she indulged when it was late in the evening…and the music was seeping through.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
We listen but we do not hear. It is the way of being human. It is the way of being separate. It is the way of the world.
(Don’t ask if you can’t deal with “no”. Don’t leap if you’re not as prepared to fall as you are prepared to soar. Don’t expect anybody to know what you yourself are not at all sure of. Do ask somebody to hear when all they can do is listen.)
We speak but we do not say what we really mean. It is the way of shadows. It is the way of precipices. It is the way of fear of falling. It is the way of being human. It is the way of the world.
We listen…sometimes we really listen…but too often we do not hear. It is the way of being close but forever apart. It is the way of the world.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
I don’t suppose this day will ever pass without reflection…without remembering…without tears stubbornly held back and bittersweet smiles arriving unbidden…without the ghost of the friend who shared the end of his journey in the soothing moonlight and the healing sunshine…the ghost of the brother I loved, the brother who loved me…reaching out of the memory of my heart and soul and soothing my brow yet again.
I don’t suppose that will ever happen again…that this day will ever pass without reflection, welcome and wounding…without remembering…without knowing the darkness…without believing in the light…without cursing the Universe for the loss…without blessing the Universe for the brief season forever cherished.
I don’t suppose this day will ever pass without reflection…without remembering. It can’t be the case…not today, not ever, not as long as breath sustains me…and I don’t suppose I would…and I know that I wouldn’t allow it to be any other way.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
He shifted uncomfortably in the chair. He knew this was coming and yet he still wasn’t ready for it. He looked up into the eyes of the other one and, finding only wounding compassion and patience, he quickly looked back down.
If you could go back and change anything, what would you change?
Straight to the heart of the matter…he sighed the way he did when he wanted people to think that he was holding the weight of the world on his shoulders and measured his words carefully before allowing them to become his truth in the cool morning air. “Everything,” he said in a tiny, self-conscious voice.
“Well…almost everything…” He waited for response until he realized that one was not yet forthcoming. “It feels like every decision I made…every avenue I chose to turn onto…every choice…was wrong. It would be a…blessing…to be able to go back…to know what I know now and let it inform my life in ways that would make it better…”
You think that would have made a difference? You think that the person you think you would have been would be a happier person?
He grimaced, hot tears crowding the corners of his eyes. “God, I hope so.”
What specifically would you change?
The question had so many answers he wasn’t exactly sure where to begin. He looked up for guidance but all he found was patient attention. “I would zig when before I zagged,” he said, allowing himself a mirthless laugh. “I would keep my feet on the ground instead of letting myself drift among so many foolish, unrealistic dreams. I would apply myself to making life what I needed it to be instead of just passively letting it happen to me.”
The words tumbled out with a will of their own and his breathing got tight but he didn’t stop. “I would tell my mother I love her every day of my life and tell my father I forgive him even though he probably wouldn’t understand what I was forgiving him for. I would hold my brother tight and do whatever I needed to do to save him from himself.”
He took a breath and the hot tears seized the moment and rolled down his face. “I would tell the people I loved that I did and leave those I didn’t love by the side of the road. I would kiss the people I wanted to but didn’t…and I wouldn’t kiss the ones I shouldn’t have but did.”
He closed his eyes and wiped his face. “I would really be as strong as I always pretended to be…” He opened his eyes and looked up. “I wouldn’t be so afraid.”
He sat back, spent, and waited. The silence danced around them.
You know that it doesn’t work that way.
He laughed again, ruefully but with some mirth this time. “Yes, sir, I know it doesn’t work that way.” He felt a strong, warm hand rest on his shoulder.
Most things aren’t good or bad…black or white…they just are…and they are in innumerable shades of gray. The same is true for your journey, of course.
“That doesn’t make me feel better.” The other one laughed warmly and leaned over and kissed the man’s cheek.
It will when it’s supposed to.
Somehow knowing it was time to move on, he stood up. The other one pointed to one of the many doors in the room and he walked towards it. He looked back and started to say something…
It will when it’s supposed to.
He nodded. “Thank you.” And he opened the door.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
“What are you doing?”
She unbuttoned her blouse and moved closer. Her breasts…not too large as to distract from the rest of her enticing body, not too small as to disappoint the primal male libido…were sheltered in playful black lace; they were certainly still pert enough to command attention. She’d let him touch them once…an awkwardly endearing moment on a cool, moonlit night that he both treasured and regretted…and he wanted to touch them again.
“I know what you want, baby,” she said in that voice…the one that was an absurdly intoxicating blend of coquettish girl and humid woman…that she knew worked on men all too well. “I know what you need.”
His breathing quickened and he felt an urge to press her against the wall…to kiss her mouth ruthlessly…to press his crotch against hers pinning her helplessly…to hold her fast with one hand while allowing the other to take proprietary hold of playful black lace.
But his eyes narrowed instead. “What the hell are you doing?” He took a half step back even though part of him was screaming to take an irrevocable step forward.
She paused, looking both confused and slightly insulted. “I can help you. I know you’ve been sad. I know you’ve been angry. I know what you need…what you’ve always wanted. Let me help you.” She took a half step forward putting her tiny, warm hand on his shirt. She leaned up until her face was almost, but not quite, touching his. “Let me help you, baby boy.”
She smelled like strawberries. Strawberries and cream; strawberries and cream, imported beer and domestic cigarettes…and sex…she smelled like libidinous, raucous, bittersweet sex. Many a time he’d wanted to get lost in her dark eyes…get tangled in the soft expanse of her dark hair…touch the sweet curves of her woman’s body…kiss the rosy pout of her forbidden lips. His breathing got shallow and his unthinking penis rose to expectant attention.
But, gently, his pushed a half step back. “I don’t want to have sex with you.” It was half a lie but he was resolute. His penis pouted and let some blood flow back into regular circulation.
She looked more confused, more insulted, disappointed and relieved. “Yes you do,” she insisted. “I’ve seen the way you look at me sometimes…I’ve heard the jealousy that creeps into your voice when I tell you about my lovers…you’ve always wanted to touch me…to kiss me…to fuck me…”
He wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince him or herself. It didn’t matter. It was true, of course, he had wanted her…sometimes he still wanted her. She was one of those women that men couldn’t help but want…when her inner light was shining she was smart and funny, beautiful and sexy, laughing and approachable, alluring and energetic, strong and vulnerable, slightly mysterious and seemingly waiting to be swept away and ravaged passionately. He’d seen that the moment he met her.
“Yes,” he admitted, “I have wanted to.” He took a deep breath. “But I’m not supposed to.”
She frowned and looked up into his dark eyes. “Why not?”
That was the question, he thought. “It’s not who I’m supposed to be with you.”
They’d known each other for what seemed like all their lives…known each intimately from the very first moment they met. They’d known each other through magical, musical nights…through moments of heart-breakingly intimate vulnerabilities, feints and truths…through doomed unions with other people…through life and death, laughter and tears, sweet dreams and bitter reality. They’d known each other in light and in the persistent darkness that colored their souls in ways most people didn’t care to try to recognize.
“Who are you ‘supposed’ to be then?”
He reached up and touched her face; she nuzzled into his touch, her eyes liquid and hopeful. “I’m your friend, sweetheart,” he said, whispering huskily. “I’m your friend…your brother…your confidant…your baby and your daddy. I have been your platonic husband…filling in the emotional spaces that your real husband couldn’t…or wouldn’t…fill…”
She started to say something…to protest perhaps…but she didn’t.
“I love you, girl,” he said, “and I know you.”
“What do you know?” she said, pouting and just a bit defiant.
“I know that you need me not to be another man looking to feed off your light while ignoring your darkness because he doesn't want to deal with it,” he said. “I know you need me to be a man…to be the one man…who loves you but who isn’t trying to fuck you in one way or another…”
Her lip trembled and her eyes started to tear. She buried her face against his chest and he held her close, stroking her hair and murmuring gentle endearments. “I hate you,” she said into his chest.
He laughed softly and moved her head back from his chest. “No you don’t,” he said bending down to kiss her forehead.
She smiled shyly. “No I don’t,” she said pressing her head back against his chest, listening to his heartbeat while he held her close.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
So close, so very far away…streaking across the dark sky, coming and going in the same fleeting moment…angels watching over me, angels watching over all of us…reflections of the ever-changing, unfathomably eternal nature of the Universe extant…reflections of the ever-changing, heartbreakingly ephemeral reality of our brief sojourn on this fragile mortal coil…reflections of my brief, bittersweet sojourn on this mortal coil.
The dark sky spreads out, a tapestry of amazing wonder, and I feel a part of it…an incredibly tiny part of it but part of it just the same…and I smile…and I cry…and I sing my songs that no one hears…and I sing my songs that the universe understands.
And I look up and I whisper hello…and I whisper goodbye…(Bob said it and he got it right…seen a shooting star tonight and I thought of me)…angels watching over us, watching over me…always so close, always so very far away.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I looked for my father in the cold nights when the shadows scared me and the moon was of no mind to provide any comfort. I looked for him in the crowds of Dads scooping up their boys, giving their girls rides on their broad, powerful shoulders. I looked for my father coming down the avenue, coming home to me and my brother and my mother because that was the only place in the world he really wanted to be. I looked for my father. They told me that he wasn’t lost…but I couldn’t find him.
I looked for my father in the fragile hearts of my uncles, in the hopeful eyes of my mother’s lovers and would-be lovers, in the smiles of other fathers who stood by their boys and kept safe their girls, I looked for my father in the glances of strangers and the attentions of wise men who sometimes became mentors. I looked for my father. They told me wasn’t really lost…but I really couldn’t find him.
I looked for my father…in the guise of being the husband he wouldn’t be, in the love of being father to children I didn’t create, in the bittersweet joy of holding the children of the children I didn’t create. I even looked for my father in the eyes of my father…but I didn’t find him.