Posts Tagged ‘death’

Final Days in Chicago

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

My final full day in Chicago was a blur of car horns, books, helicopter noise, cracks in the pavement, and good food. I dedicated my day to simply walking everywhere in the city. The only way to know the heart of a city is to walk the streets that pulse with people like the lifeblood pumping through the veins of this vast entity. Before putting my feet to the pavement and letting the sole of my shoes meld with the soul of this city I visited a place that brings my heart great joy, a library. The day was long and the journey longer to get to the center of the city.

I woke up early in the morning to grab the train only to learn that they were not running at the moment. Helicopters swooped over the train line towards the cityscape of towering skyscrapers. Apparently a man tried to end his life by throwing himself in front of the train. It was horrible to hear and I felt the sadness drift upon me as I realized that when I did not know the reason for the delay, found myself angry about the traffic and the non-functioning train. For a moment I had felt that this man’s death, his misery, his trapped and hurting heart and mind where simply an obstacle to my forward movement. That is a horrible thing to think but I hadn’t even realized I had felt it; when I realized my own unconscious thinking it felt like a punch to the gut. A man’s death, his suffering, to a stranger trying to get to work or a tourist trying to tour the city only felt the delay of his actions, not the truth or pain behind them. It was a hard morning and I hope his family has some peace in this. I had lost sight, in my mania of exploration, of the people around me as real people. I felt like I had woken up when I heard over the cab radio what had happened. This road trip in many ways is a very selfish endeavor, it is for me and me alone, maybe to be enjoyed by others in the stories to come, but as a result I had forgotten to actually look into the eyes of the people around me as real humans with personal agendas and personal pains. It was a contemplative morning for me to say the least and I walked away hoping to never forget to value each person on the street as someone who deeply mattered in their own special way.

I took a cab to the Newberry (the rare books and archive library I planned on visiting) instead of the train but was further waylaid when my cab got hit by another cab. The accident wasn’t bad, the two cars simply slid alongside each other and took off the side view mirror with a loud bang. I sat with wide eyes in the back of the cab as my driver got out and started to yell at the other driver. It was a very strange incident, I was just happy to get out of the car and rely on my own two feet for the rest of the day.

The Newberry was impressive and I felt pretty special getting my visiting scholar badge and my own little personal desk where they spread out the books I had requested in little pillow displays. I spent the majority of the morning pouring over old Milton books and William Blake paintings. It was enough to make my little english major heart implode.

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I emerged from the library with a mind full of poetry and paintings onto the urban streets of Chicago, ready to get lost in between the towering buildings.

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After getting some coffee at Bowtruss, I wandered all over the place but the riverwalk was definitely my favorite. The different bridges and the sun reflecting off of the glass buildings like the scales of some enormous fish onto the grey streets below. The noise of this city is somewhat overwhelming, yet beautiful. The clinking of change in a cup, the thudding of tires on the slates of the bridges, the horns of passing tour boats, and the chittering of people all around me. Chicago truly is a beautiful city, there is so much for the eyes to feast upon everywhere you look. Everything vibrates with energetic life.

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I took a break at Do-Rite Donuts where I got a delicious maple bacon donut. It blew my mind. I had never had a donut like this before and I sat down by the river to enjoy the view and the food.

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I also had to see the iconic sights like Cloud Gate or as it is commonly called The Bean.

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My obligatory Bean selfie.

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After my touristy stops, I wandered back down the Magnificent Mile or Michigan Ave shopping streets where I stumbled upon a food truck. Right in from of the NBC building was this bright yellow truck with a long line. Long lines usually equal good food so I decided it must be worth while. It was Pierogi Streets, a pierogi food truck serving up tasty dumplings with some amazing toppings. The food was unbelievable; I had braised beef and spinach/feta pierogis topped with spicy grilled onions, sauerkraut, and bacon. It was heavenly.

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It was a great day of wandering, but by the end my feet were tired and the sun had set on the city. The shadows cast by the tall buildings created a canopy of darkness only broken apart of slivers of light high above. In this artificial shade I left the city behind to go pack my belongings for the road ahead.

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I left Chicago that next afternoon after a morning at the Ferrara Bakery, a visit to my aunt’s studio, and a fantastic final lunch at the Art Institute.

I am so grateful for my family that has helped me along the way, none of this would be possible without them. My lovely aunt and uncle and my beautiful cousin were so kind to me. Their welcoming love, even after so long since my last visit with them, made me feel like I was home despite being far from it. I love that I get to see so much of my family, but it is so hard constantly leaving everyone behind after just finally getting to see them after so long. I have never said goodbye so many times before in such a short period of time. Every person I see along the way makes it harder to say goodbye the next time; I am more reluctant to leave yet also more excited for what comes next. This trip is one of the most challenging things I have ever done but also one of the most rewarding. I will carry these memories and these special moments with me forever, even when I have returned home to California. But after Chicago I headed even farther East. I drove that day from Chicago to Pittsburgh across Indiana and Ohio. It felt inconceivable to be moving farther away from the world I knew and loved, but the East Coast was on my mind and I meant to reach it as soon as possible. The other end of the country was within reach and with it the goal of my solo road trip was within sight.

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Graveside

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Day Four.

I dreamed today you died.
the hollowed out belly of the earth
was not a great enough grave for you.
Tulips with streaks of unknown hues
planted in every corner of the world
just so every time I saw them
I knew it was a part of you.

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Posted in Poetry |

Canary Whisper

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Day Two.

cage confined and cradled tight
the canary couldn’t find the voice to sing
as the woman wrapped in wrinkles
kicked the cage again
sucking in on violent air
that ends a voice before it begins.
ashes tapped into the maw of a porcelain tray
brought to lips again
a kiss of death placed upon your own lips
with a falsified promise to be made new.
the canary lost its voice
in the labyrinth of the woman’s smoke
so even when the cave comes crashing down
the canary could only let out a smoky whisper
to lead their ghosts down the tunnel’s solitary way
where once was solid, returns to the unformed void.

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Petrichor

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Rain drops danced on the window sill, running their fingers gently against the glass with longing sighs as they settled into seas of water only to be disturbed again by the next drop. The tulips wilting on the inside of the window breathed in the warm air of the house, yet still could not bloom as they watched with drooping faces the disturbance on the window sill. All was quiet in the house except for the gentle tapping of the rain on the window pane like a young lover throwing rocks to awaken his sleeping beauty. Across the white walls of the small apartment lay splashes of life that were too wild and untamed to be contained to a single wall let alone one skinny apartment space. The solitary apartment stood isolated on the ground floor of a building centered in New York’s sprawling system of roads, where it alone seemed vibrant and alive. Roads like the pathways of a body filled with the ever awake but seemingly never living people of the city that never sleeps. Separated by thin capillary walls from the bustle of the dark and dirty streets lay the hidden white walls of her home. The macabre symphony of art was pinned to the walls in a random yet insistently purposeful manner that blossomed from a young and wild heart. The Van Gogh imitations to the typography, and the old photographs of people she had never known filled the spaces of the white wall with color and life that she mastered and owned but still was not her own. The very walls jittered with a peaceful happiness where her fingers had traced along the walls as she had run through the tight hallways and rooms. Every window, every space had been filled by her loving hands so no spot would feel alone or empty. She was kind.

Curled in a sea of billowy white comforters, she lay like a goddess who held the fiery force of life in her chest. Silent and still but very much alive. Her red wavy hair lay around her head like a sunset framing her face. Gnarled and twisted it lay like the warriors of fallen battles, stained by their own blood and those of their enemies. She breathed peacefully with her eyes gently closed. Her eyelashes fluttered like butterfly wings and opened. Noses almost touching she gazed into his eyes and he right back. He hadn’t stopped looking. He reached out with a hand and ran it along her cheek, tracing the contours of her face with his thumb until he reached her ear and ran his fingers through her wild hair. She smiled and scrunched her face, twisting her nose to the side slightly as she always did. He laughed. She smiled. They lay there in the sea of clouds built by human hands facing each other, watching each other, listening to the rain as it danced outside.

“We should probably move at some point.” He whispered playfully

She smiled and looked at him with green eyes and watched as the rain danced in his blue eyes. He smiled slightly, the way he always did, as if he was afraid to laugh out loud or widen his face with a smile.

“Why would we move, when we could stay right here and listen to the rain until it stops. We can’t let the rain outlast us can we now?” she smiled as she propped herself up on an elbow to look at him from above.

“Oh ok, I guess we don’t have to move. I was just going to say I would make breakfast… or lunch I guess,” he said looking down at his watch and the hours, which had been thrown to the wind. “Suit yourself then, I am good here.”

He rolled onto his back with his hands clasped behind his head, smiling playfully and closing his eyes. She pounced on him, throwing herself across his stomach. He let out a grunt and a laugh that made his eyes crinkle at the corners.

“You can’t do that!” she howled with mock tragedy.

“It was your choice, not mine.” He shrugged as he grabbed her arms, which assaulted his chest. Holding both of her wrists in one of his large palms he held her tight and she struggled even though she didn’t care if she never escaped.

“Well I changed my mind” she whispered right in his face as she leaned in only inches from his face. It escaped her almost as a snarl as her hair hung in front of her determined fiery eyes.

Just like that she sprang away, dancing out of his reach like a whirlwind of red hair and laughter. Her feet carried her across the wooden floor to the window where the tulips sat sadly waning against the glass. She frowned for a faint moment but it was chased across her face by the noise of the pattering rain. She threw open the window with a surge of motion that shook the tulips and the puddles on the windowsill. She leaned on the windowsill over her flowers staring into the rain. She felt her face so close to it, but it was just beyond her, beyond the window, beyond the tulips, but almost there. She breathed in deeply. Petrichor.

Propped up on his elbows, he surveyed her in the window’s soft light, which cast her hair like fire down her back. He smiled softly to himself watching her as she busied herself among her flowers and things. He shook his head with a soft chuckle, “Every time I get you flowers they just wilt and die, you have to learn to share some of that life that you have or else no one else will get any.”

“That’s not fair, I share everything I have, most of all with my flowers.” She cast him a glance and a wayward smile without turning to face him. With only that sideways glance she let out a less than phased grunt and cast herself down the hallway with a ballerina’s grace away from the billowy comforters and into another room cast with light. Again, he shook his head incredulously at the sprite that flitted around the house.

“Oh! Shoot, I am sorry I totally forgot to tell you, you got some mail yesterday. I didn’t recognize who it was from, I think it was a bank or something. ”

She bent backwards into his view from the room down the hall so he could barely see her outline in the soft light split against the shadow of the hallway. “Really?” there was a note of some sort of expression in her voice he did not recognize. He sat up fully to try and see her face but she was too far. With his head slightly cocked he waited for her to say something else, but nothing else came.

“You alright?” he asked warily.

Her silhouette had disappeared from the hallway now, he leaned in to try and spot her but she was curiously absent.

“Everything is fine, I will be right back.” He watched as he figure passed across the hallway as she went towards the back door where their mailman of five years now still did not understand that that was not their front door. Every day he left their mail at the wrong door for them to discover in a small but haphazard pile.

She walked with lithe and light footsteps a smile on her face and a suppressed shriek of joy that she hid in fear of ruining her surprise. She tried to be normal, she tried to remain calm but she knew that the wedding invitations along with a surprise trip for them to take before they finally got married after almost six years of being together. Her chest felt full to bursting with a joy that could almost not be contained. She picked up the mail that she had disguised as a bank note so he wouldn’t look into it and ripped it open with savage excitement. Two tickets for Paris for their honeymoon six months from now.

Peaking down the hallway to make sure he wasn’t looking she retreated into the corner of the back room and danced wildly in a circle her red hair flying around her as she bit her knuckle to keep from screaming in excitement. She was about to empty the vase of flowers to hide the tickets under the red roses from their date last week when she noticed the other letter. Pausing for an unsure moment she contemplated her next course of action. Holding the flower vase in the crook of her arm still she picked up the remaining letter which must have just arrived and wondered if she should leave it for later and go display the wedding invites. After a brief moment she tore open the new letter without even looking at the return address.

Tapping his foot against the hard wood floor as his bare feet hung over the edge of the mattress of comforters they had built on the floor, he waited. Humming a soft song he had known his entire life he watched from his seated position as the rain fell into the house from the open window above the flower, which gently swayed in the wind. Shaking his head with a chuckle and that little smile of his he pushed himself to his feet shaking off the clouds of comforter to go close the window. She had such life but because of it she seemed to underestimate the fragility of the life of the things around her. That was why her flowers died, it wasn’t a lack of love or life, it was an abundance of it. She was his warrior with her wild hair and fiery eyes. He smiled as he thought of her leaning on the open windowsill as she had done. He wondered what it was like to be her, to be invincible to the world. He placed his hands on the windowsill where hers had rested pushing his face out towards the rain. But he saw nothing, nothing of what she saw even in her place. He tried, he really did try to live more like her but no matter how hard he tried to stop and live a life of carefree joy he would always be the shy boy with too much reservation for his own good. He was a quiet man.

He started to shut the window when the loud crash of the clay vase shattering on the hard wood floor startled him enough to make him jump. That loud crack shattered the tranquility of the house in a matter of seconds, the uninterrupted serenity of their house had never before been disturbed as it was now and it shook his entire being. Then the terrible silence. A silence never before heard or seen. Frozen, the house and its inhabitants, human and plant alike, even the art seemed to leer from the walls, waited on the edge of that vast chasm of silence as the sound of that terrifying silence grew and grew filling every corner of the house until it rang in all of their ears even louder than a scream. The sound that interrupted it was not a bang but the feather soft sound of paper gently floating to the ground to settle as a dandelion on the wind comes to rest on the blade of a serene grass meadow where no human foot has ever graced. That soft but perceivably sound ended the terrible silence but not the horror. With perked ears he listened with a mute tongue but frantic eyes as he heard her soft footsteps coming down the hallway. She was not walking but running very lightly down the hallway, her silhouetted figure eventually blotting out the backlight until she stood before him. She paused for only one moment as they both looked at each other across the room from each other.

“Honey, what-“

He opened his arms for her as he had done so many times before when something was wrong welcoming her into the sheltered harbor of his arms but even as he did so he could see this was different. He never got to finish that question in that moment as she eyed him as if she was a hunted animal and he the vicious predator. That guarded and hurt look in her eyes shut his mouth in one moment. She had never looked at him like that and he felt it like a stake in his heart. He moved in to try to embrace her but in one deft movement she leapt out of his reach towards the bathroom where she slammed and locked the door.

“What are you doing?” he yelled not out of anger but a fear that was slowly welling in his chest. “Please open the door and talk to me! Tell me what is wrong!” He banged on the door with his huge open faced palm. There was no reply. He pressed his ear against the door and listened. All he could hear was the soft rustling of her movements. “Please” he whispered into the door with his eyes closed. The fear had grown inside of him filling every part of his body like a terrible poison feasting on his veins burning them while his blood still pumped. The sickening feeling that something was horribly wrong drew down the corners of his mouth bringing back the lines of frowns that he had almost forgotten and resurfacing the unsure and reserved fear within him.

The rustling stopped for a brief moment and he heard the soft and barely audible sound of a moan that sounded too wounded to be entirely human. That pitiful noise ripped his heart apart and he pounded on the door anew, yelling for her to open the door.

She sat in the bathtub hugging her knees to her chest as she rocked back and forth. She had madly thrown on new clothing and shoes but then lost the strength and seemingly the ability to move at all. So she lay curled in the tub with her knees hugged and one fist held against her horribly contorted mouth as she held back the sobs of a dying animal. Her wild red hair lay wilted against her face, wetted by her tears and fallen in its glory. A dull ringing in her ears muted the sound of the banging on the door and the screams of the man that loved her and she him. Her whole being was numb, that numbness spread like a poison throughout her body until she felt absolutely nothing. The rocking ceased and she lay there in the tub, listless and empty. With the numbness came resolution, not bothering to wipe her face she slowly stood and faced the door.

“Please, just leave me alone. I don’t love you.”

The knocking stopped and the second terrible silence struck like a clap of thunder. Stumbling back a few steps, he stared with wide eyes at the bathroom door. The soft voice which had whispered I love you so many times was now hollowed and coarse. He blinked in shock as he replayed that voice in his mind, the hollow voice with nothing in it at all, no joy, no love, and no life. Looking over his shoulder he took in every moment they had ever shared in this house together, five years of experiences, of life in every ounce of the house that screamed to be remembered.

“I don’t believe you.” He whispered in a voice weak and drained.

The bathroom door flung open and she burst forth like a fire behind closed doors running for the front door. He jumped and intersected her, engulfing her in his broad arms. Grabbing onto her as if he would never let her go she fought like a caged animal. Viciously she kicked and squirmed against him, trying desperately to be free of his grasp.

“Please stop, just talk to me!” He yelled spinning her in his arms until her tear stained face looked right into his just inches apart. He looked into her fiery eyes that had been extinguished with tears and her face sunken not from a few moments of horror but a life time of them.

“Please just let me go.” She whispered in a desperate and heartbreaking voice as she breathlessly beat her hands against his chest. She fought like a rabid animal and refused to stop. “Let me go!” she howled in a voice filled with the pain of a dying animal. The shock of her scream shattered his resolution; he had never heard her raise her soft voice before. She landed a solid hit on his chest and with a loud pained grunt he released her and she fell onto the ground in a distraught heap. She sprang back to her feet and raced to the front door, throwing it open as the rain poured behind her she stopped for one moment. He looked at her with eyes that swam with pain and saw in her nothing.

“Please, don’t ever follow me, and don’t ever look for me.” She whispered as she looked at him, her fiery eyes glinting in the house’s light. Her wild red hair blowing in the stormy wind which gusted in from the noisy street outside, filling the house with noise and chaos.

And she was gone, she ran out of the house, down the steps and out into the middle of the street. He rushed to the door just in time to see her dart across the street to the sound of screaming taxi horns and the yells of motorists as she ran without a care of being hit across the road and away. Her red hair being tossed carelessly by the wind, her shoelaces untied and scrambled around her feet and her shirt left carelessly untucked and wild in the breeze. She disappeared down the street into the thick throng of black umbrellas covering blank faces, swallowed by the throngs of people bustling to nowhere but always hungry for another life to drag into its clutches and never be released. Standing in the doorway, in the rain he stood with his heart in his hand and its slowing beat.

The shattered flower vase lay in pieces on the floor of the back room, the water running from its broken contents like blood. Its path only interrupted by the letter laying on the floor that slowly absorbed the liquid, blurring and spreading the ink of the words into an incoherent chaos never to be deciphered by another humans’ eyes. The last sentence to be swallowed by the blood water of the vase as the ink spread like a plague on its surface: terminal cancer, 4 months to live. He would never see the letter, and its damning words as he walked numbly back into the empty house devoid of life and love. He fell to his knees on the sea of comforters, gathering them into his arms to fill the hole in his heart, curling into a ball in the sea of white, he was left alone with no explanation just the devastating hole in his chest and the rain drifting through the open window and door, and the smell of petrichor.

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Deliver

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The post of the mailbox shook, reverberating the metal mailbox with a steady but anxious beat. Like a drum struck with hesitant but impatient strokes of a hand not quite large enough to have a melody or harmony of its own, the mailbox sang its steady tune. The hand struck the mailbox post absentmindedly, not even aware of the affect that enabled the mailbox to sing. Hanging listless and open the small hand swung like a pendulum back forward and down again, encountering the slowly splintering wood that was breaking apart under the stress that had not yet cracked the young boy. The pendulum of this grandfather clock belonged to a young boy and each swing of his short but sinewy arm kept the beat of a clock counting out the seconds, then minutes, and eventually hours of the day with all the consistency of the human heart and its resounding drumbeat.

The mailbox faced forward but the boy faced the side, looking down the long stretching road all the way until it terminated at a bend. Even as the wind blew around him shaking the trees and causing the little red upright flag to hum gently into his ear, the little boy stood upright with all the attentiveness of a sentry on duty, watching the road that remained unchanged save for the few leaves which had been torn from their branches and cast into the sea of asphalt. Every once and a while his eyes would briefly wander to follow the leaves as they tumbled without grace or passion across the road, desperately trying to grab onto a crack in the road so as not to be blown away. At the slightest noise he would snap his attention back to the bend in the road, righting himself and mentally berating himself for his lack of discipline. But still, every so often, his eyes would wander. Blue and determined they focused on the end of the road, waiting. The only thing in his way was himself. His sandy yellow hair kept being blown into his face by a playful gust of wind, blocking his perfect view. But he was in no mood to play, he was on duty. So he would purse his lips with displeasure just as he had watched his mother do time and time again and with a huff of breath blew the strands of hair from his eyes, enabling him to return to his watch. But still the wind tousled his hair like an affectionate hand being run through his light shaggy hair. A small smile cracked his reserved exterior as he felt the wind’s fingers run through and play with his hair-

The smile was torn from his face with a sudden and sharp pinch from the abused wooden mailbox post. With a loud yelp of pain the little boy hunched over slightly to shelter his hand and observed his battle wound with pouting lips. The little splinter sticking out from the side of his hand stung with the pain of a knife from the vindictive mailbox post. With shaky but practiced fingers the little boy used his fingernails to carefully remove the splinter leaving only a small angry red dot of blood behind. Sucking on the side of his hand to get rid of the sting and the blood, the boy eyed the mailbox post with malice burning in his hurt eyes. Pricked with pain he felt his anger build in his chest like a bad cough. Suddenly he lashed out and kicked the post. The metal mailbox let out a shriek but otherwise remained unmoved. The pain built in him until his eyes burned and brimmed with tears. Pain more than a splinter could supply. With all the might in his small frame he kicked the post again, and again, and again until the splintered wood creaked and groaned. The upright red flag shook and quaked under the pent up pain of the little boy. Crying out in his rage he gave a final desperate kick to the mailbox post, unearthing it from its sentry spot sending it crashing to the ground in one violent movement. The metal mailbox crashed to the ground, unhinging its jaw on an unfriendly rock where it had fallen, spilling its contents onto the street: one lonely letter.

Blinking back his sudden outburst of rage, the little boy surveyed the damage he had done. The casualty of war lay on the ground before him, slain by his own hands and feet. Seeing the letter lying there he felt a regret and a guilt burn inside of him that was greater than any anger could have been. The tears that had come to his eyes out of anger, now spilled out of regret. He flung himself to the concrete ground trying to grab the letter as the wind picked it up and blew it farther away. “No please, I’m sorry,” he screamed as he chased it down the street. The wind tore the letter across the jagged road tearing it until it caught desperately in a crack in the road. The little boy leapt and grabbed the letter in his small fists, letting out a triumphant laugh as he held it in his hands. Scratched from the road and bleeding, he slowly returned to the fallen mailbox. Tucking the crumpled and slightly torn letter into his pocket he tenderly picked up the mailbox returning it to its rightful place. The only noticeable sign of the battle was a slight tilt left behind by an act of rage that could not be fixed entirely. He worked carefully and tenderly to place the hinge of the mailbox door back into its place and rub off the dirt from its shiny metal surface which the ground had tainted. When it looked almost right he took out the letter from his pocket, simply addressed with one word, smoothed out as many wrinkles as he could, and gently placed it back into its sheltered cove inside the mailbox’s mouth. Then he turned with tracks of tears running down his dirt smudged face to face the bend in the road which was now blocked by a square white van.

The old mail truck pulled up to house number 187 as it did every single day, as it had always done and would always do. In front of the sole house out in the deserted wooded area that had slowly but surely lost its population as the military base had moved out to another location, stood the little boy who had stood there now for everyday of the last year and a half. Charlie let out a sigh, put the truck into park and slowly got out of the truck to look down at the little boy. Charlie let out a sigh as he stood over the little boy who had normally been so patient and put together but now stood before him a scuffed up mess. His jeans where ripped, his white shirt stained with dirt and possibly a little blood, and his sandy head of hair sat as a disheveled mess on his head. The little boy didn’t say anything but smiled a little as he sniffled and wiped the tears from his face. He looked up at Charlie with a newborn excitement, which was actually never new, it had been that same look for the last year and a half as the little boy did as he always did. He rushed to the mailbox, opened its bruised jaw, which squeaked now as he pried it open, removed the letter, and reverently handed it to the mailman.

Charlie heaved another sigh, his cheeks filling with air like sails in the wind, he removed his hat and slowly rubbed his quickly thinning hair as he watched the little boy hold up the letter with a big smile across his tear stained face. Kneeling down he placed a large calloused hand on the boys shoulder. It lay there heavy and solid, it made the little boy frown under its weight.

“You know kid, it’s been over a year and a half now-“

“578.300148 days”

“… Yeah. I know that is hard to hear, but little man, he’s gone.”

The little boy slowly looked away, back down the road that he had watched for so long. The smile slipped from his cheeks, which were still plump with innocence and eyes that still burned to believe.

“I know. Just one last time.”

The little boy held out the letter again this time not with the usual smile but a smile filled with pain and hope. Charlie looked with pity in his heart at the young boy, forced a smile on his face, and took the crumpled letter from the boy. They didn’t exchange another word, just looked into each other’s eyes knowing that that letter would never be received, but both hoping that it would be. Charlie laid a hand on the boy’s head and ruffled his hair. He nodded towards the little boy’s home and turned back to his mail truck, which bent and swayed as he stepped back inside and started the it with a great protest of sound. The little boy smiled, waved, and turned away. He ran down the gravel path that cut through the dark woods where just beyond sight, a woman stood on a porch with her thin arms wrapped around a column as she stood just as silent, just as determined, watching the path as she did everyday for her little boy to come home. As soon as she heard him coming home she would wipe the tears from her face and go about the house as if she had not abandoned everything to wait for her son. AS if she had not been waiting every minute of every day just as her son down at the edge of the road.

Charlie shook his head as the truck lurched back into motion down the long lonely road. He placed the letter on the seat next to him in a pile of others, all neat and crisp except the newest addition which was crumpled and torn. Five hundred and seventy nine letters sat on the old passenger seat cushion entitled with only one word; Dad.

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Dis

Monday, May 21st, 2012

This is not the way I thought it would be
The light at the end of the tunnel
Is not as bright as the stories said
It is barely visible from the Unreal City
The path is dusty and the doors lie
On rusted hinges swaying in the wind
The wind funnels down this dark corridor
Screaming through the cracks under the doors
Breathing life into those who are stuck behind its bars
Who didn’t or couldn’t quite make it there
Trapped with iron grips on cold prison walls
Clinging with the fervor of rage
Embittered to the roots of their soul
Screaming back at the wind
With tortured shrieks of terrors unknown
As the breeze whispers into their ears
Taunting melodies of the songs sung
At the end, behind that backlit door
That will remain just faints murmurs
Of a world hidden from them
By the darks gates of the city they built around them
As they watch with sunken and darkened eyes
From the prisons that they sealed themselves in
Watching the slow progression of shadows
Drawn like moths to the light
That seems to grow dimmer at every passing moment
Monsters pace in these dark rooms
Consuming the light at every moment that door is opened
Leaving no light for those who need it
To guide their passage down this dark corridor
The way is lost but we find ourselves not in a dark wood
But a desolate earth
Where the monsters roam not behind closed doors
But in the light for all to see
The light is gone and we must find the way back
There is no Virgil here, no Beatrice to lend a hand
Just the blind hands that reach out for light
Not knowing what it looks like or how it feels
We are lost, I am lost
Listening to the screams in the wind
Trying to sift out the song that may not be for me
But is so close I can taste it
The door is left unlocked
And this unreal city is not home to me
I promise
This dust will not be all that is left of me

0

Violinist Versus Time

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Weathered hands patiently adjust clothing
that hangs looser everyday
as time slowly wears away the very flesh of life
Whittling away with an ever persistent knife
That has had its blade at us since the beginning
molding us from this shapeless lump of clay
into something beautiful
only to continue cutting away
past the point of beauty
into the world of obsession and tradition
where we cut not because we must
but just because we know nothing else.

Just as she knows nothing else
than what she has done her entire life
Waking to leave a bed that has molded to fit her shape
to stare into a mirror stained with time
leaving it hard to distinguish her figure
from the dull glass reflecting into aging eyes
Dressing in all her best clothes
to greet each day with dignity
Leaving the house with a moment’s hesitation
at the door that divides her world
Looking back in to see if anything had changed
it never does.

Out on the streets she returns to the spot
where she always stands
a corner between a bakery and a restaurant
facing a street that never ceases to move
like the pumping of blood
the people are thrown forth to be dashed about
and clatter from one place to the next
Searching, Searching
but never finding because they seek
with closed eyes and blind hands
She shuffles slowly across this chaos
to recover her normal spot
holding with delicate the child of her life
The fruit of her labor
She sets it down on the cobbled street floor gently
opening it and delicately withdrawing
The weathered red violin

Nestled against her neck, safe and secure
she hovers the bow over the strings
just centimeters away from contact
Savoring the silence before sound
Lovingly she lets the bow embrace the strings
letting them sing together in harmony
as young lovers who never grow old
She closes her eyes and hears the symphonies of her time
hears the grand sounds of order being made from chaos
listens to the fading cacophony of the street
and is drawn away into her violin
like the guiding hand of her husband
at their very first dance

But the burden of age causes her to quake
shaking the once steady hands of a musician
transforming them into brittle bones
that bow close to breaking on the weight of time
the violin screams out uneven notes
without melody or harmony
just noise
noise like the busy streets
or the baker yelling out the window
or a waiter being scolded for dropped dishes
the chaos of the world
imprinted on each string
that wails as each note of the world is drawn upon
She hears it, she knows it
yet she continues to play
because in her mind the sound of symphonies
lost are almost regained

With shaking hands she persists
she knows nothing else than the feeling of the strings
vibrating with life under her touch
so she continues everyday
on her little corner
dressed in her best
never knowing which day will be her last
but still she plays
because like Time
she doesn’t know how to give up

3

Sepia Glow (Stoplight)

Friday, April 13th, 2012

A stoplight blinks, shifting through the spectrum of color on its own accord. Bathing the street with red, yellow, green, with no cars coming or going. Empty streets filled with the sound of an old newspaper blowing across fence posts. Catching and flying away again only to be ensnared soon after on another. The front page hits an obstacle undiscovered, the skinny leg of a human. She doesn’t move, doesn’t remove it, remains still and stoic. Her eyes turned upon the light, which changes without purpose. The sepia streetlight casts dark shadows across her gaunt upturned face. Her mouth hangs slack and her hair hangs listless against her face. She shivers, her body quaking under the force of her rail thin body.

A broad faced hand rubs her back, as if searching to draw out the the warmth that had fled her body. Instead, it only encounters the mountainous bones that jut from her back in place of flesh. He reaches over across her body and pulls her ragged coat tighter around her body to keep her warm. He says nothing as he does this, just watching her face with devotion in his own melancholy eyes. He pulls her coat tight around her frame only to watch it fall away as soon as he lets go. Her hands do not even flinch to close her jacket, hanging limply by her sides. Her eyes blinking like a fish as the green turns to yellow.

Blinks to red. He lets out a soft sigh and buttoned her jacket for her with slow patient fingers. Skipping the third because the button was lost a long time ago. He hesitated for a moment over the empty socket, wondering as he always did, where it had gone. When had they lost it? He moved again to her side like a faithful dog. He reached down and gently grasped her hanging hand. He held it, cradling it like a baby bird in his broad palms. It hung lose and unmoving but still he gently grasped it.

A tear fell down her sallow cheeks without a movement or change in her appearance. The only difference was the drop of water, which rolled down her face. Her makeup had been smeared down her face like a harlequin mask. With his other hand he reached up slowly and with the sleeve of his coat he wiped it away. The trail of the tear that had journeyed down her face was etched deep in the stain of her makeup and even he could not rub that away.

Blink. Red. A twitch of a finger so close to closing around his. He turned his drawn down face to hers with a spark of something close to hope in his tired eyes. But there was nothing. She stared still with her upturned face watching in the sepia glow the turning of the purposeless light. He turned away again; his face turned towards the sidewalk, as the street lamp cast their shadows right under their feet. He shifted them slightly but no matter where he went he stood upon his own shadow and it below him.

They stood together under the sepia glow, one hand grasping another but hope had left long ago. Lost under a couch with a button unfound, unilluminated by the street lamps shine. But still he held her hand as the stoplights changed and no cars came.

The newspaper, which had wrapped itself around her bone thin leg like a hungry child begging to be fed, flapped against her raw skin in the wind. The persistent tug of a child on a mother’s skirt on a soft summer day, it rustled against her. The crinkle of its skin deafening, like the drumbeat of sin. Her hand tightened around his as she began to scream. Her empty and changeless eyes reflecting the lights of change as her mouth contorted with pain. The wail of a banshee burst from her empty lungs, pushing outward with the force of a raging waterfall. Gushing forth with the agony of a childless mother and a motherless child, she screamed.

He held her hand with eyes t unchanging turned on the disappearing sidewalk that wound away like a snake into the darkness of the night. He gently pet her hand like a baby bird that had fallen from its nest. But he did nothing as he stood next to his wife except stroke her hand rhythmically and dutifully. His heart had nothing left to give. A gust of wind ripped the newspaper from her shaking legs and cast it into the street to begin its dance a new.

Blink. Swallowing the scream, which still burned like acid in her lungs, her face eased as if nothing had ever changed. Her fingers loosened and fell slack in his; he never let go even as she slipped away and red turned into yellow, yellow into green, and green into red.

1

Half Heartedly

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I fret back and forth,
Bite my fingers for a moment
Hide it by tilting my face away
Look, look away
Tilt my head this way and that
Frame my face with worried fingers
Supporting my chin on my hand
Purse my lips, bite my lip
Look back again
Mom!
Like a thunder clap
It brings me back again
The clouds over my face part
I smile half-heartedly
I have to go
She looks up at me with an odd look
Lurking in her stormy grey eyes
They are her father’s
So much like her father
I begin to bite my nails again
Flick my eyes off towards the window
Throwing my attention across the room
So I don’t have to look at her
Question looming in those haunting eyes
A light but insistent tug on my dress
Brings me back
I look down and smile
Half heartedly
You are going to have so much fun
I place my shaking hand on the top of her head
Feeling her feathery hair
Trace my finger along the red ribbon twisted
Among the feathers of her hair
So soft and smooth
So much fun
I mutter to myself as my attention drifts away again
–the bus
the honk hits me like a slap to the face
I wince slightly
Clawing to bring me back to her to here
I really have to go now
She reaches up with her little hands and turns
The door knob slowly and with effort
I place my hand over hers
Helping her open the door that is too big for her
I feel the softness of her unmarred hands
I wonder if she feels the bones of my fingers
The sadness etched lines of my hands
It swings open
She runs out the door
Like a clumsy fawn
Her back pack shifting back and forth
The monster in front of the house waits
Taking her away from me
I hover at the doorway
Unwilling to leave the threshold
But unwilling to let her go
–Wait!
A desperate yell
Bursts from my breaking heart
She stops and looks back at me
That question still hiding in her eyes
I hesitate for only a moment
And depart from the sanctuary
Running down the little walkway
On legs atrophied with sorrow
I stop before her
She says nothing
Just looks up at me with stormy eyes
Innocent and curious
I grab the end of the red ribbon
Which had come undone on her escape from the house
I kneel in front of her
And tie the ribbon with foolish hands
That shake even as I smile
Half-heartedly
And look into her eyes
I smooth her hair when I am finished
Put my hands whittled away with grief
On her small shoulders
Let out a sigh
That wanted to be a scream
And watch
As she faintly smiles and turns away
The monster honks again
Taking her away from me
I slowly stand as the bus drives away
Leaving me on the shores of my sorrow
Alone
With half a heart.

0

Determination

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

The dust is the shroud wrapped tightly around her shoulders
A death shroud veiling her from the world she is simply passing through
Transparent eyes look at nothing but the horizon of the world
With feet that drag as her invisible chains burden her steps
She moves on, deliberately, persistently with no goal in mind
She must move, she must not stop or else she will be found
You see, her shadow is chasing her but cannot find her in the dust storm
She is the lost, she is the invisible left to wander when the storm is over
Determination is her name
But what good is determination when there is no objective
Simply the will to keep going, keep moving when all has imploded around you
She knows all about failure, pain, and the bottom of the hole
The grave she has dug herself into yet seems to continually evade
She dances around death with the practicality of a mathematician
Life is a calculation to her, the only components that exist
Are her obstacles and her ability to push onward
So she finds herself walking down this road again
Chased by her shadow and the inevitably of death
But this time as it always has been Lady Luck has swept her away
In the arms of a storm that is all consuming and all knowing
Maybe Luck knows just how it feels to be out of luck
So she took pity on a poor girl down on fortune who was betrayed by her shadow
But in the end luck has nothing to do with it
Her shadow will eclipse her in the end as all are and no storm can save her then
But for now she continues her dance, her game of Cat and Mouse
With those who cannot be tricked or avoided
With bare feet she continues forward, pulling the cowl of a dust storm close
To hide her face from eyes that can see all and know all
How long she wonders, how much longer can this game continue
For even now she grows weary, even now her soul
Just as the soles of her feet grow bloodied and bruised
From a fight she knows she cannot win
Yet she continues to fight because it is simply who she is
She is determination and does not know what it means to give up
So she doesn’t

1