There’s not a dictionary in the world
With a definition for the word, “love”
Noun, verb, and sometimes expletive.
There are just too many uses
Explanations and excuses
For this semantic domain
That scrapes the the rock surface
Of my heart
The reason the busker sings a sad refrain
I try to stay away from staring
At the television screens
That teaches us all that
For every single guy there’s a bevy
Of swans that that were never ugly ducklings
With roses in their teeth
I need to find a little reprieve
From this cultural obsession
That we’re meant for indiscretion
It twists me up and forces my retreat
Remembering days going by
With the dismissing wave
Of the clock hands
Nevertheless, I try to understand
That time is just a countdown
And we’re never going to cut its pace
Construct to deduct life
Attached to dollar amounts
Useless things we spend
What we earn, how we live
I’m just reaching for
A lover or a friend
Yesterday is here again
You’re teaching me how to inhale
And exhale the emotions
I can’t calculate
Mirror or reciprocate
It’s clear as the cloudy sky
Outside my windows now
I can only see so far
But not the end.
I dropped a raft into a sea
Of salty tears and sweat
Rolling rapids of my regrets
Avoiding rocks left to run me aground
My heart still pounds everyday
At the thought of the sound
I don’t believe in fairly tales
But I watch a lot of movies
Where the weird guy
Gets the girl and she upturns his world
I thought I had that once
But I flipped only to land
On my chivalry with shivering hands
My skull is a glass case
Where you can see the jumbled
Chains and cables
Wrapped around crystal balls
That only see the past
And some of them still show your face
I thought I loved but
Upon reflection in the mirror
I realized I despised
The man that I had become
My goal is to leave a smoking gun
In case you return for evidence
Of your past crimes
Burn it to the ground like a barn
Gather the children for the ugly swan song
We’re just livestock in a small pen
And I don’t think I’ll feel that way again
The theory of evolution states
Those unfavorable traits we carry in our genes
Will be eradicated by means of selective
Extinction by a very slow process
Of making those genes unavailable
If it doesn’t help the species flourish
It eventually dies.
I know I have a lot of unfavorable genes
Depression, anxiety, Asperger’s, and bad joints
Meds, therapists, and psychiatrists
All sort of make me feel like
My soul went shopping for its chassis and engine
And came out of the lot with a certified
I’ve had relationships.
I’ve come close to relationships, too.
They all end in similar fashions
With the girl doing the dashing
Whether I did grabbed the heart
And did the smashing
Like a football against the turf
(Even though you get a penalty
For unsportsmanlike conduct
When you spike the ball
If it ain’t yours, who cares?)
Or she tied every heart string
Around her finger like a she wanted a reminder
And when the tension got to be too much
She clenched her fist and rushed out
So fast, it took only that part of me with her
But left me living to survive with that pain.
Listen, I wonder sometimes if I
Was meant to die lonely while I watch
Everyone around me find out what it means
To at least be momentarily overjoyed
With the rings on their fingers and
Kids popping out every which woman
I am not, nor have I ever been built
To know what that is like in a sense
Other than one that is unique to me.
And if that means facing Darwin’s
Stoic perception of how traits die out
In this world then I will fight him to
Every last hair in his beard
Because as much as we agree
On certain things I don’t think
He’ll come out of this fight breathing
He is not the master of my destiny
And evolution was just a small picture
In this great landscape painting
Long before he described
The evolution of the species
Truth is, I don’t know what I’m doing
Don’t know where I’m going
Right now it seems prudent just to do
What is required to survive.
That’s hard enough most of the time.
Besides, if I had stopped my life
Every time I’d fallen in love
I’d feel even farther behind.
I only did that once
And it was the biggest waste
Of three years of my life
But sometimes, I ask God,
He being greater than Darwin
What it is I’m supposed to be doing
I don’t have a concrete answer yet
But like I learned driving from
Nebraska to Wyoming to Utah
To Nevada to California to Arizona (Fuck you)
To Kansas and back home
When you’re surrounded by open road
It’s way easier to go forward than back
Or to wait on the shoulder
For someone to save you
Fill up that tank,
Replace that tire and put miles behind you
And thank God Darwin can’t drive.
Grab your ghost and follow me
but I am no great leader
you were the best from the umbrage
but I was not the best darkness
but you walked alongside me
and the pavement gave applause
with each step of my boots.
In some situations there are no good options. There are no solutions readily available to move you forward in any sort of meaningful way and so you must sit with the ramifications of the decisions that have been made. In this situation I had no other choice but to go through everything with the help of some friends and having to grit my teeth through the pain as I tried with all my might to move on with my life all because of the decision of someone else.
Having absolutely no control over what happens to you in a situation like this is by its very nature one of the most painful things I have ever had to sit and accept in my life. You aren’t the only one who has left me in the dust to accept my fate with no real explanation. Experience, in this case, doesn’t make things any easier to understand or to try and get past. In fact, knowing what it feels like only made things hurt even more.
I’ve come to understand that people are going to do what they feel like, regardless of how it affects anyone else because it’s much easier to look out for number one than any other number you might think of. It’s a lot easier to feed someone nothing but lies than to tell the truth because the truth hurts both parties involved.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is a process. This pain, this heartache only disappears with time and there is no set paradigm or set of steps that will tell me when I have finally passed through the blaze and the downpour to the other side of all of this. I will continue to see you in my dreams where my subconscious tells me you still have control over a good portion of my thought process and all of it is an aching melancholy that I can’t quite escape yet.
Understanding now is the fact that I have not cleansed myself of you completely and that affects me in too many ways. I don’t like it because you don’t deserve the space in my heart and in my head that you still occupy because you obviously didn’t care enough about that in the first place. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here outlining my experiences in hopes of some sort of catharsis.
I’m not looking for a reaction.
I’m just looking for a peace of mind
Something that will make it all stop.
Knowing what I know, I will likely weave my way in and out of everything I’ve already described more than once, over and again. Eventually, it will go away like you did and I’ll be free and unafraid to feel again. But for now, I’ll continue to live my life without a destination in hopes that I’ll truly accept what happened and it will disappear from my thoughts like a dream upon waking.
After what seemed like millions of long days, hours spent at the helm of a ship with a broken rudder he called a job he finally closed the door of his apartment behind him. He slipped his boots off by the door and dropped his bag in its usual place: on the floor leaning up against the wall. He stopped and leaned with it for a moment and rubbed the aching muscles in his neck and wondered how much more he could take before he walked out. How long before the monotony got to him and the customers became belligerent enough that he just gave up, threw his keyboard and walked out the door never to be seen again.
He thought these same thoughts every night, as if it was part of his circadian rhythm and he hated it. He prayed for contentment.
Then it hit him, as it always did, that he was alone again. The people around him as well as his work kept him from realizing this fact and so he remained imbued with that feeling until he looked up from his reverie and saw the emptiness of his studio apartment. Sure, there was stuff there but stuff, he realized, only kept him so distracted. Eventually his mind would wander to places and things, not always bad until they collided with the force of a fist into a brick wall with the memories he was trying so hard to forget. Or, at least, assign them a state of analgesia so his heart wouldn’t sink like an anchor in still waters every time they surfaced.
“You’re only as strong as you are when you are alone and in the dark,” he told himself as he turned on the TV and sat on his bed. He knew he needed sleep if he was to survive another hellacious day at the hands of his employer and its clientele. Though it used to be a problem for him to fall asleep after it all went down, his body and brain eventually fell back into the pattern of somewhat regular rest. He liked sleep because it often offered him a reprieve from the thoughts that still haunted him and the memories of her as she was; the good times, the sweet saccharine drops that dripped into his mind, now turned bitter as saltwater. Some nights it was his only reprieve and he was thankful for the peace.
He crawled into bed and laid there, waiting for his brain to shut him down for the evening. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, the rise and fall of his own chest and the force of inhaling and exhaling. As he fell into a steady rhythm of respiration he began to feel his mind wind down like a toy as the battery begins to drain. He could never tell when sleep was coming, so he just maintained his soft focus on his breath.
Everything was dark for a moment. Then his eyes were open and he was on his bed, laying on his side near the edge with his left hand resting up near his face. Everything seemed fuzzy and dark, disoriented and slightly out of focus. While he was trying to understand it all he felt a hand slide up to his side. Soft hands on his skin where his shirt had ridden up and revealed the pale space between his ribs and his hips. This was all too familiar and he knew whose hand he felt; he was reliving a memory. Their chastity was a beautiful thing to him but when the view panned up he could see her lying on the other side of the bed, smiling sleepily. He was no longer seeing through his own eyes but the eyes of what he realized then to be a dream.
He felt the knife stab him in the heart again but from behind, between the ribs.
Without a thought, he reached to his back and pulled it out. There was no physical pain and no blood on the knife. He turned back to her and she just smiled and gently waived but her hands were black and dripping with it in the darkness. He held the knife blade down and shifted glances back and forth from the knife to her.
She never stopped smiling and waiving, like a programmed automaton. This infuriated him for some reason and he brought the knife crashing down through the fabric of his subconscious creation with the intent of plunging it into her heart. The rage in his eyes didn’t affect her one bit in that moment–
His eyes opened wide and he sat up. He looked to his left where the bed was empty and laid back down. He took a deep breath and rolled to his side, heart throbbing for a moment as he tried to bring himself back to the present and to reality.
“I’m fine. I’m OK,” he told himself as he drifted back to sleep. He found himself, just as he drifted off to sleep, a little disappointed that he didn’t get to make that violent strike into her chest. Not because he wanted her dead but because he wanted to find out wether or not her heart was truly made of stone.
He threw his phone to his right and onto his bed with his thumb and forefinger, putting it into a flat spin. His eyes were closed as he bowed his head and ran his left hand through his hair and let his right follow suit. He let them both stop at the base of his skull and clinch his hair tight as he pulled it. He couldn’t believe her. He couldn’t believe she would do this to him after everything he did for her, all the good times and wonderful memories they had together. He could feel the heat of sickening saline streak down his cheek as his arms began to shake from the tension, his grip sending earthquakes up his arms and into his shoulders. His nostrils flared as he tried to control the intake of oxygen into his lungs, but knowing that his respiration rate was increasing with every second along with his heart beat.
She had conjured the ghost of his greater fears and let him go.
The best she could do was a text message. But it didn’t matter. The reaction was the same as he saw her face painted as a portrait in his head on a wall where she had sat for over a year. He tried to keep his grip on her but the picture was slowly taken off its hook and washed down river with the tears he was trying (and failing) to hold back. He remembered every other time this had happened. He remembered what it was like to be replaced, to be put on the podium as second place while someone else held the trophy, his arm around the girl and then both of them disappearing in a cloud of smoke. He felt like he would forever receive the consolation prize.
He started to fume. Smoke started unfurling from his eyes and nostrils. He kept his eyes shut.
She said she knew abandonment. What did she really know? He was never the guy to one-up another person but he always remembered a story his father told him and it sounded like silence, an empty palm and pockets full of nothing. The man who was part in his creation packed his bags and never came back which left only the question, “why?” and therapy bills. She couldn’t match that and could never understand why, when he smelled the signs he panicked and actually blamed him for it despite his best efforts to explain. But all she did was blame him. It was his fault. All his fault and this new guy was going to be the answer to all her problems and they could still be friends…
There were women who wrote a similar story with him with subtle variations and it only served to hone his senses to a finer point. So, his gut saw this coming before he did but the message didn’t make it to his brain before she cut the ties and he was left trying not to rip his hair out from the roots while violent sobs rattled him rating unknown levels on the Richter scale. There was a time when he just let it go and hit his knees, wailing and feeling so pathetic in the process because he thought he was stronger than this, so much stronger than this. But, obviously, there were still things that had the ability to revert him back 12 years old when this wound was first fresh. He pounded his fists into the ground to put the pain somewhere else besides inside where it smoldered.
And then his eyes caught fire and flames shot from his brain and through his muscles. Where there was smoke there was now fire licking the air around him like hands slapping faces and everything around him, for a moment, burned.
He picked up a baseball bat he kept for protection and swung it through the screen of his TV. He ravaged the walls and windows, giving no regard to his own possessions or his security deposit. He just wanted it all to burn. He spat lighter fluid and gasoline on the walls, coating everything that reminded him of her. Then he swept everything that she ever gave him and poured lighter fluid from his tear ducts into a box. With the tip of his finger, he ignited the contents of the box and watched pictures and jewelry and shirts turn brown and then blacken. He hurled her, burning in effigy in the form of now worthless shit in a box, towards the wall and watched it ignite with the sound of a roaring devil’s howl and the flames rolled like great, glowing tidal waves spreading to every surface. Smoke roiled and rolled across the ceiling as the heat intensified.
He felt nothing but this rage rattling his rib cage and spine. A crook of a sick smile eased its way up his face as he created his new world, one of fire and flame. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
“Just like us,” he said to himself.
Suddenly, the fire blew out like it would with a breath at the wick of a candle and the smoke disappeared. Reality set back in and he was alone with his sadness and rage once again. He had nowhere to put it and no one to confide in now since she had become his whole world. The one mistake he knew he had made in that moment because he was now all by himself. He let his hands finally drop from his hair and land at his sides as his head remained pointed down. He breathed in deep once and then wondered what he was going to do with himself now that she was gone.