Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Fruits of a Broken Family Tree

The room was filled with the raucous thundering of too many converging conversations. It wasn't a place for children but it was where everyone said they needed to be. Despite all of the elbow bumping of the cramped little living room, the children sat in a space of their own, devoid of the adults' attention while still being subjected to the comments and stories of how the black-garbed group had come to see it all coming and had done nothing to help.

It was her fault. It was his fault. It was their fault. It was no one's fault.

It was stress. It was depression. It was anxiety. It was rage.

The children sat in the humid bubble of too many voices while seemingly untouched by it at all.
It was enough, more than enough, it was too much, and the still calm of the children dissolved; the boy into tears and the girl into fury. He flew himself into a corner and sobbed. She climbed atop a table and pummeled it with her heel to quiet the crowd.

In the silence that followed, she announced "It's okay. I asked him if he still loved her and he said yes."

The crowd's angry faces had gone blank, and then confused, and then unsure as she stood atop her impromptu pedestal beaming with as she stood in the glory that her knowledge had just saved them all.

Then, the whispers began...
"Doesn't she know?"
"Someone has to tell her."
"It's not my place to tell her."
"How could she not know?"

And from a corner in the back, the little boy stepped up into the light as his tears streamed down his face.

"It's not going to be okay. She's dead." He wailed.

"But Daddy said he still loved her." The girl insisted.
No!" Was the answering word, torn from the seized throat of an anguished little soul.

And the rift between the two children grew as the crowd stood in it, mumbling and muttering and fumbling about in their emotional incompetence.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

We Are Light

We all come into this world as perfect points of light.
As we grow, the darkness of the world encroaches, and we harden the walls of our hearts around our light to protect ourselves from that darkness. What we often fail to realize until years down the road is that, not only are we light, but our light is magnified by the light of those we surround ourselves by.
The walls of a hardened heart may protect but they also confine, they may hold the darkness without at bay but they strangle the life within.
Then, regardless of our best efforts, we are broken. From without or within our walls crack from the years of scoring, they shear down to the soul, through all of that suffocating protection down to what little light we have left… and it hurts.
From those cracks, other’s lights are given the chance to shine back in, and then our light has the chance to grow and shine back out. The walls begin crumbling as the light burns brighter and hotter through healing. There may always be dark clouds floating along our surface from the lives we have lived, but the shadows they cast will grow fainter and fainter as our light grows.
A heart that had been nothing but a lump of rock begins its journey back to a beautiful heavenly body by cracking and breaking and healing.
Who we are is not just a history of how we were treated but also a narrative of how we have treated ourselves and a prediction of how we will treat others.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Heart racing and stopping and thrumming in the chest
While electricity sings along the nerves
a silent, screeching kind of tickling
And then muscles seize and shrink and pull you in
With organs quivering and trumbling
Making the world shake from the inside
But no one else can feel
Not even see

Everything's tight enough to pluck
Yet curled up into a ball
every sound pounds into your bones
The light sheers your eyes
Burning patterns inside your skull
With thoughts jumbled together
In a panic, too loud to be heard
Sloshing from one topsy-turvey
Just to crash against another

Dear Old Soul

Dear Old Soul
who was just growing into their youth
Forgive me, forgive us
As you face a war not your own

There are no rules, though many laws,
No glory, no honor,
just dashed promises of tomorrows
And loud shadowy exits

I would have painted you a home
Warm and cheery like Christmas
With summer fun and autumn feasts
And all the hopes of spring

But there is ice only ice creeping in
And angry storm fronts
The heat burns
And hope has shriveled to a shadow

You face this, as young and old
With bold strength
Quietly seething for justice
Of a youth and a future dashed

All those things I tried to keep
To hold so close they wouldn’t touch you
That I hid behind closed doors
That were too loud not to hear

All those things you face and more
In living memory and fading dreams
My Old Soul, my Guardian King,
My brave, leading  dawn

It reads my heart to see you rise
On a field of bloodied hearts
Of yours and mine, and his and theirs
No one is left untouched

I bear the blame for holding it all
For you and him and all our scars
I tried to be better, to never give up
But I trapped us all when I should have fled

Now here we are, us all and you,
My wise old warrior of infinity blessed
There are universes in your eyes
And red threads within your chest

Face judgment with innocence
Show guilt’s dark disgrace
Speak truth and life and memory

To free you from this past

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.