Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Sometimes He Remembers He Loves the Sea

The morning is foggy, shrouded in the marine layer the sea creeps in. He lives on this island as his family has lived on this island their whole lives down the generations, as a fisherman. The shore, ever changing and ever the same bumps up against his calloused feet as he was absentmindedly down the path to the water. No matter how many times he walks the path, there is always a new stone in the moss and sand jabbing into his foot; there is no clear footing in the fog. The sea is placid, and almost always is. It is the peace of the water that holds the fog to the pathway, grows moss upon the sharp rocks, and milder in the sand. It is this peace that holds him here.

He carries the empty nets across his back, slung from shoulder to shoulder. They are heavy on his shoulder, but they remind him of his strength, so he carries them not just for his livelihood but also for his memory. He feels the sand turning icy and mucky, sucking around his feet, feels the stones beneath his feet slowly becoming round and the fog thickens around him. He absently notes that he is getting close to the water and his heart lights with the hope at the splash beckoning him.

He thinks back to those few days when he was a child and the sun drew the fog up from the earth and warmed the sea. The sweet kiss of an open sky's freedom and the wonders of the water's pregnant depths lighten his mind for a moment before he sees his father calling to him from the cottage to pull the nets to the shore. The sea that clashes against his skin is cold and he opens his eyes to see the gray liquid surround him, the distant splashing of fish in the waves. Now, just as then, he feels his duty to his lineage, to himself for survival. This is what his father taught him, and his father, and his father down the family line: to take from the sea what they can.

Few fish live here now. Generations had fed and gorged themselves on the plenty of the sea yet ever kept fishing, never satisfied by what the sea had offered up to them. As life drained from the sea, so the sea stilled and so the fog crept in upon them, covering their eyes and muting the music what little life left played in the wind.

He walks along in the shallow water, mirroring the shoreline while his eyes scan the water for the drop-off. The water darkens a few feet in front of him and he wonders where the fish have gone as he ties and coils the hand line around his wrist. Then he hears the water moving, sees ripples coming toward him. He grabs the net half an arm's length down and checks for tangles as he divides it in half and rolls the top portion over his thumb.

He stands there mid-motion; every muscle memory paused as his thoughts slowly move about as a school of fish in winter waters. Perhaps there is life beyond the fog. If he leaves maybe he will find a sun above warm waters where fish are plentiful. His hand slides down from thumb to the net's lag line as other men might slide their hands over a woman. But he has not known a woman. He is a fisherman on an island deserted by the others as the fog remained and thickened. All he knows is fishing. His father had refused to leave and so now he refuses to leave there is none left to refute.

His fingers feel for the lag line again and grasp the midpoint between the net halves, bringing it to his lips as his fingers follow the edges down again and grab hold of the net's top half along the lag line. He watches for the ripples as a distant splash whispers hope in his ear through the fog. The net is salty in him ought but he is used to it, has been seasoned with the salt through and through. Holding the lag line and half of the net in one hand with the handline and net in the other, he curves his body around and swings them all out over the darker ocean. He stands in the icy water, hand line still about his wrist, and gazes over the ocean wondering when life will return, where the sun had gone to, and why nothing can permeate the fog.

The water turns mucky as the day progresses and the water shifts away from the shore. He braces himself against the rough, moss-covered edges of rock at his feet and begins hauling in the net. But the net is light and it is easy to pull in, which makes his heart heavy with disappointment. Seaweed and slimy ocean much cover the net, only two fish lie in the net, brilliant colored scales flashing sharp light into his eyes. He sighs, it will be another meager day of meals, but perhaps tomorrow the fishing will be better. He empties the net of the garbage it has dragged up from the ocean floor. He hears a splash out in the fog, yes, he thinks, life is returning.

There is no life here. She waits. She watches. The fisherman has grown from boy to man, no longer free to fancy the unknown. He has bound himself with blood ties to the shore. When he was a boy he would swim out with her and they would swim together in the sea, wondrous with life. But those waters were far, very far, from his cottage home. The older he grew the closer to the shore he stayed, not even boating while he fished now. She weeps in the sea while she waits for him in the morning.

She sees him walking down to the shore empty nets across his back like lash marks of hurts past. She calls to him in her sing-song way. He does not even look up. Her voice is lost in the fog. She pushes herself out of the water, splashing and waiving, beckoning him out to her. She sings of warmer waters where the sun shines deep into the waters and winds tickle the waves, but he is deaf to her.

She pleads over dead waters, recalling the times they had played as children in the sea. "Escape the island," she offers, "swim the depths with me again, let us find life together." He stares out over the sea, unseeing, un-hearing, an ocean creature himself who has been beached on the shore too long.

The sea is as lifeless as his eyes and it breaks her heart for him.

He walks along the shallow water and she swims closer to him, a satchel over her shoulder bearing gifts. For a moment, it seems he senses her and she smiles despite herself and the warning in the back of her mind. Perhaps, she thinks, he will see today. But he is readying his nets, his eyes unfocused. She says his name and he pauses. She is so close to him if only he would come back to the sea. Be with me, she beguiles, and come see where the life has gone. And it seems as if he hears her offer. Please, oh please return to me, she begs over the swamp like shallows.

But his hands are at work with the net again. She flings her satchel into the water, disturbing the glassy surface. Fury pulses through her, for his blindness, for his entrapment by those who raised him, by her inability to break him from himself. She dives under the waters and clutches the satchel to her, immediately repentant and heartbroken. Her tears mix with the sea as the net hits the surface above her. She panics and swims a short distance away, fearful of being caught in those terrible lines.

She returns to the surface, peaking out above the waters, hopeless with another attempt failed. She watches him from the sea until the tide begins to ebb. She returns to the net as he begins pulling it up. She carefully empties her satchel into it as it closes. Two fish from her homeland, and a pearl from her garden, and scales from her tail. The water is turning foul as the muck condenses. The foul waters weaken her, they sicken her a little more each day, but she continues to return for him, hoping. She swims to deeper waters and watches as he picks out the fish and disposes of her treasures, hidden by the muck. Anguished, she flings herself back into the sea and begins the long journey home.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Because I Love You

I know it hurts.
I’m sorry.
I can fix it.
I can make you better.
Why won’t you let me make it better?
You’re pretending.
You’re pretending, aren’t you?
Why are you pretending?
Stop it.
It doesn’t hurt.
It still hurts?
I’ll fix it.
I’ll make it stop.
I’ll make it stop for us both.
I can’t do this anymore.
I’ll make it stop.
I know it hurts.
But now it won’t anymore.
Now it won’t hurt either of us.
Not anymore.
Never again.
I know it hurts.
I’m sorry.
I can fix it.
Why won’t you let fix it?
Stop fighting.
Let me fix it.
It won’t hurt anymore.
Not anyone.

Friday, April 21, 2017

From Tethered to Tattered

Souls were meant to travel
To permeate each other 
ebb and flow
to soothe into one another
and withdraw like the dew

Yet they are constrained
pushed into this world
caged inside flesh
Tortured by glimpses
of infinity in a moment
and eternity beyond touch

So, what happens
to the soul that escapes
Who shredded its tethers
and flows in and out
of itself and others

What of the body
left behind soulless
during dream time
with connections awry
the cage splayed open
Empty with soul absent

Or of the reunion
And the soul returns
and the body reawakens
when the soul no longer fits
and the cage is weakened

How long can a soul stay
in a cage it hates
when it’s felt freedom
and the touch of life
true as from the source

The shell never fit
A body ever left wanting
Captive of in-between
on staying or leaving

So it leaves just once more
and then returns
Searches again for clarity
Tearing the strands
of body and soul
ever more
and more
Forever more

one last time

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Edge of Art

The palette knife was nothing special to anyone but the painter. The palette was covered with globs and smears and swirls as the painter worked. There was something calming about mixing the colors before the application. He took his time, slicing a bit of color from this shade and that, mixing them together slowly and gently till it matched his mind's eye just so.

The ingredients with this particular medium were tricky, there were so many variables to consider when cultivating it. Event the best of colors could go bad. You had to work quickly and with strong strokes before it dried or died. Living mediums were like that.

This latest piece was a sunset. His own life was coming to a close soon. It was a hazard of this line of work. Life his father before him, and his grandmother before that, he worked to perfect his craft, to uphold his family's legacy. They had all been artists and with each generation they tried to improve upon the last.

He had been the first to truly utilize the resources at his disposal, making and mixing more than one color for a piece of work. This had been commissioned by the grand museum in town. It had to be perfect. He didn't know how much longer he would be able to work once his work was publicized to that extent. It was a risk, but one worth taking.

He walked to one of the steel slabs, Table A, examine the blue veins of color. He took his knife and pressed its tip against an azure line. The liquid needed to the surface, a lighter red then he was looking for. He turned to the next table and traced the veins on a younger limb. He took the palette knife to it, revealing a darker, richer blend. That was better.

He made a mental note to add more iron to the lines for Table A. There must be a nutritionally deficiency forming.

He worked with the knife, forming the sea cliffs, sharp jagged, and dark against the fading light of the sun. He had to work quickly, slanting with the thinnest part of the blade. This pigment was younger and clotted faster.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fly Away

They keep telling me what I can't do. They keep telling me I have to be careful. To be safe. I'm sick. I'm fragile. I can't be like other kids. I can't jump and run. My teacher says to be patient, that maybe I'll be stronger when I get to first grade.

I'm mad.

It's not fair.

I've been swinging as high as I can go, the wind helps me feel better...

But the tears still hurt.

I need to get higher, even as the swing hiccups and snaps, I want to go higher. I want to get away.

Maybe... if I get higher enough... I can let go... and jump into the sky... Or... they could be right...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Standing at my door
Throwing pebbles at my window
There and gone
Come back
Stay away
Remind me
Make me forget

Only in the dark
Peak at me from the past
Whisper to me you're still here
Tell me you're not gone
Things I wonder or know
That I feel kisses in the breeze
During nights I'm alone
In my own company

You are my lights
My beautiful night sky
The patterns of chaos
Panning out into order
As understanding dawns
Upon the small and blind
We are immeasurably alone
Yet, somehow, connected
As we shine upon each other.

The Shattered Iris

Gardens are so mercurial, temperamental; even in the winters... and it was always winter here. It was a blessed sort of hell for the research my team and I were trying to accomplish.

We were supposed to create a flower that could survive the cold, the snow, the ice.We were failing. Had failed. The garden I kept was my only comfort in this desolation.

I had kept it in my room, at first, an Iris. She was a beautiful sort of flower. Delicate in her beauty and resilient in her strength. She had been my inspiration through all the frustrations.a

When worse came to worse I converted the hydroponics works into a sort of open air greenhouse. Safe from the wind but frozen like outside.

No one understood. One by one, they left us. I was so close, I knew it. I had to keep trying, keep testing. My beauties weren't ready for the winds yet... but... they were withstanding the cold without shattering.

I only had one chance left before I was out of test subjects.

I walked slowly back to my room. There is a price for science and I cried while I paid it; bagging my beautiful Iris, filling the bag with a warmed gas to keep her petals supple while I wheeled her down to the test area.

An eternity later I gazed at my specimen's test results. All readings looked hopeful. I had done it. We had done it. My beautiful Iris lay living, not dormant, beneath the layers of ice. Nothing had cracked, nothing had shattered. She lived and could move, could bend when the winds caught her.

My Iris swayed on the table as I touched her, my gloved hands trembling. Beauty, finally frozen in time, alive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

My Limerick

There was a deep, wheezing voice floating over the crowd as our eyes adjusted to the darkness inside the door. Poet's Den was the oddest bar I think I'd ever dragged my man into. The incense, coffees, and teas mixed in the air, giving each table it's own aromatic aurora. I felt like I"d crawled out of my skin and into my soul with so many kindred spirits about, my poor date just looked like he was suffocating on all thick vernaculars in the air.

He took up residence in my normal haunt, a corner in the back of the room, pretty much out of sight. I was the social butterfly here, an inversion of our roles beyond these walls. It had been so long since I'd spoken with other writers. We read each other's pieces, listened to the poets on stage, the musicians wove melodies, discussed what we really meant by what we said. It was thrilling... in a calm, sipping warm spices kind of way.

Then a sort of raucous rose up from the back. There he was, obviously enjoying something a bit bolder than my tea in his glass and being the loud, fun loving sailor I'd fallen in love with.

Excusing myself I walked over to him and whispered an appropriate encouragement to get us out the door without too much disruption. While we were walking out a heard a few sneers and distasteful remarks, a classic case of" who do you think you are to be in our clique" kind of nonsense that drove me mad.

I paid the cashier and said, a little loudly and maybe with a wink, "You'll have to excuse us for the night. My limerick needs its muse.".

It was cheesy and silly, but what can I say, my sailor's rubbed off on me.