The aching blue mountain sky rips out my heart and wraps me in a cold cocoon of despair that cleanses the palate of platitudes and uncomfortably warm enclosed spaces because I loved you and I left you.

I left you in the orange sunset of a fall Sunday when your pain hard as plaque in my veins moved me to remove the source of your pain.

You surprised me.  You moved in circles, you searched for yourself.  You found yourself.

I am distantly happy that you found your place.  As for me, I will move along like a lone pinball, ringing some bells and causing upheaval. I gave away my compass, my true north. I rejected the notion that love conquers all to find a misplaced noble sacrifice.  Perhaps it was a coward that set you free.  Perhaps it was not a martyr.

The veneer of adulthood wears thin after a few decades. There’s a pause that sounds like a hiccup in the middle of a weather forecast.  It resets thoughts.  It rearranges beliefs.

Maybe it’s overwhelming, contemplating the vastness of life and realizing that my significance has no more weight than the dot at the end of this sentence.  Maybe I shrink at some visceral level to keep claim to “me”.

I am a stranger who may or may not exist without the largesse of other strangers who believe that I, in fact, am here, in all my crazy, continually failing glory.

A terrible sadness overwhelms me at times when reverence and serene solitude are the expected emotional states.  That muddy and dark grief is a lonely blacktop that unrolls as far as my eye comprehends. It always appears like a faithful mourner that shows up to every funeral because it’s supposed to show up.

Where it comes from–who knows?  I have determined that I must make friends with it, hold it close to my heart and no longer treat it as an adversary to be conquered but a worthy opponent deserving of vigilant respect.

 

 

Writing is easy–when you’re not doing any

Ideas come out of nowhere like hitchhikers that materialize on a shimmering highway, trudging along, waiting to be transported to new places

I pass them by because hey, I’m going somewhere, but I’ll swing back by in a couple of hours.

Damn.  Gone, the whole lot of them.

Must have been a mirage.  Maybe someone else picked them up and carried them to an exotic destination

I’ll see some more.  I’ll keep watching.  Next time, I will stop wherever I’m going and give them all the respect and attention they deserve.

Where is the middle ground between my loving altogether in the whole sense

and walking an ascetic life?

It’s no accident gurus and crones are long in the tooth

It takes decades to learn anything in this life

Anything that is worth a damn, anyway

Those of us who claim to be forever youthful and therefore excused from

learning lessons and little grievings of maturity, mortality

whistle through the day with a jaunty tip of the cap and a nod in toasting

We, the orphaned children of Pan, we winking curmudgeons,

for us, there is no middle ground for anything

and I’m fucking grateful for that

If I were to tell you that my heart was putty in your hands

would you mold it to fit yours?

Or would you mash it flat, pound it into the table

drop it on the ground to pick up all the detritus

you walked through before?

If I were to tell you that I don’t know if I can get close

would you live and let live, trusting that I  will find my way home?

Or would you get angry that you cannot possess all of me at once

On your terms?

This depression spreads more like a slough or a valley of barren dusty bowls of tinny wind chimes and

wind that whistles through a crevice or two in trusting minds that all will be fine if one just keeps on

through just one more day and one more night

Really?  Another day of this muddy cloud?  Another hour of active, yearning boredom for comfortable satisfaction?

The arid sunset promises another day of static from mortality

that whispers in that bare murmur of voices that grow louder

with every death of a past lover, a beloved relative

The tongue of grief is sharp, lashing out wildly while

soft righteous regret smells like burning natural gas from

an iron stove that used to bake biscuits and boil stock pots

of beans flavored with tasty bacon grease

Hang on just one more day, I say

slog through one more hour

chew just one more kernel of popcorn

that tastes of tears and stereotypes

 

In between here and there lies a place of quiet

a place of no longer yearning for others’ attention

or affection or respect

It’s a place fully alive to absolutely everything in the universe that exists

to know the mysterious workings of things

It does not love or hate or boast of arrogance

nor bow in humility

to be fully alive and quiet in the now

In the flow of a silent eternal rhythm

 not watching

clocks or calendars or seasons changing

The essence of unbottling this quiet

belongs to nothing and everything

but exists on fairy wings, those mythical sprites

that flit in the gloaming of life that possesses

more yesterdays than tomorrows

This is the third piece in the series “The Columbus Chronicles”

 

The guy on my left a couple of stools away smells like

aftershave, the strong and cheap kind that comes

in a pickle bucket.  He apparently bathes in it.

Not as bad as what I imagine the little guy on his left smells like

that dude looks like he was put through a wire winder

his hair isn’t curly, isn’t kinky, isn’t anything but

black springs that have been stretched beyond their capacity

and they are just. . . there  His muscles are thin and visible under

his rayon knit polo,  a topo map of hard living

He drinks whiskey with water on the side

he sips and talks and his voice rumbles like a diesel

truck, one of the ones that rattle over the potholes outside in the not-empty

not-busy street

My sour draft is cold, at least

but the taste is perfectly hideous

I consider quitting drinking for the hundredth time

Don’t mind me–it’s just another day to avoid

reflection, to engage in deflection

not answer the phone or check the mail, because

it’s just another day of the same questions over and over

from the same faceless drone in an office

200 miles away, getting cocky with impatience

It’s not my fault you don’t know how to frame a question so that

it can be answered correctly

But I swallow all those elegant curses that would pour

so eloquently from my lips in order to

maybe, just maybe

get that pittance you withhold with apparent glee

I hang up and feel the flush start on my neck and my arms

get prickly from repressed rage

Is it too early to start drinking??  Is it too much to ask

that you just stop with the “i” dotting and the “t” crossing

for the tenth fucking time?

This week has had more twists than a Dairy Queen soft cone made by some high school nerd with a penchant for culinary flair.  Annoyances include two, count ’em, two back to back instances of crappy customer service.  I mean, really.  I’m not much to look at, but I don’t make dogs bark or small children cry and hide behind their mothers.  To be crappy at customer service, one must be an active asshole, and by that, I mean, this must be one’s goal in life–to make others as miserable as possible without actually taking a crap in someone’s pocket and smashing it against their skin.  That annoys me to no end and I won’t let them get away with it.  I don’t say anything when it happens because after all, this is an open carry state.  I write emails.  I am very polite, of course.  It’s easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.  As I’ve gotten older and less apt to let things like that slide, my writing is more fun than ever.  I enjoy crafting a witty little nastygram about Miss X treating me like I just kicked her dog and insulted her mama’s biscuits.

That being said, I am flummoxed by recalcitrant bureaucracy and the petty little autocrats intent on running their little fiefdoms as they see fit.  Those people . . . I got nothing.  Today, I received a letter dated March 6th, saying that my case was closed because my information was never received.  How can this be?  I sent it via certified mail, by fax, and called to follow up.  But I received a call on March 9th from the office to let me know that I had until March 14th to submit any more paperwork.  That call was actually informative and very positive.  My temple started throbbing when I read the letter.  Lord Baby Jesus in the cradle.  Those people.

I was raised to not challenge authority, because, well, authority.  My rebellion has always been directed inward.  My liver hates me, my pancreas is no longer speaking, and my back took a hike years ago.  My motto has been, ‘Screw you, I’m gonna hit myself in the head with this hammer and then, you’ll know something!’  Insert eye roll here. It’s not a motto to live by.  Not going to go off on a tangent about this particular quirk.  I’m almost sure it involves Southern Baptist guilt, and neurotic guilt like that is a tooth numbing dissertation.  But it sure does make some purty poetry, so I will keep it around a while longer.