Bullets, Busted Glass, and Stones Thrown Dot the Question Mark.

48479-Broken-Glass

We have these questions we ask each other
Which should often have meaning
but have been relegated to nothing more than
Sympathy cards with signatures
A cause for which we don’t expect the effect
As almost on instinct we vomit niceties
And polite inquiries like,
“How are you?”
“How are things?”
“How have you been?”
Never really expecting an answer
beyond the mask of sincerity
Where our tongues tap
The polite hair trigger
Of insincere sincere questions
Never expecting that banal projectile
To strike a wound
Like we’re all bulletproof
With social norms and expectations
To keep aches and pains
staked to the ground and chained
Connected to the guard dog-eared pages
Of our heart-felt yearning for honesty

We all long for honesty
But it’s too difficult to put the phrase
“I’m fine,” or “I’m good”
under the microscope to see all the
Captured thoughts and injuries used
to draw up the letters
And strike up the percussion of
the lips, teeth, tip of the tongue
that construct the truth behind those
crammed into those loaded words, “I’m fine”.

The truth.
None of us is fine.
The crooks of our mouths
Illustrate the lie of levity fabricated
But our brows bend like bows
The kind that fire arrows
And so the question is begged from the corner
Where I’m standing watching your spirit
Fall crooked, face in hands
Buckle under the question
that I just gotta ask

“Are you happy?”
Answer me honestly.
Tell me why that face succumbs to gravity
When you think nobody’s looking?
Like you push so hard against the rocks
In that glass you’ve pressed to your lips
Kissing goodnight inhibition
So you can behave like the same animals
Who talk like humans with liquid giggles
Like bubbles floating to the surface
To barricade the way for your heartbeat
to make an exit.
Instead only letting the pulse of two words.
“I’M-fine… I’M-fine… I’M-fine… I’M-fine.”

This infrequency of transparency is a sin
Even I’m guilty of
So I understand better than most the reticence
To tell the truth in lieu of a two word lie
The inconvenience of laying yourself out on the table
Is someone will take a part and break it to shards
Like we were never made from anything other than glass.
So, I understand.
But I can’t watch this dance you do without sinking.

Time alters even the most solid of stone
I just happen to be most resistant to erosion
So, when I see pieces of people chipped away
When I don’t see them and then see them again
That distance creates an irreversible change
But then again I wonder if that’s true.
I once could say to someone, “Yes I knew you”
And perhaps that hasn’t changed entirely
But I wish I knew.
“Are you happy?”

I don’t know.

Light the Match, Ignite the Torch, Burn it Down, Walk Away.

HouseFire

I carried around a burning coal in my chest for longer than I choose to remember as my memory currently will not allow me to recall the time. My face showed scorn with a curled up lip and furrowed brows when I thought about what you’d done, what you were doing, what I didn’t do to deserve this. I didn’t deserve this, I don’t deserve this, I will never deserve to be treated like this. And I carried around that open flame with me to work, to church, and to my friends who were kind enough to listen to me when I related the newest revelations I had gleaned from the fire burning the layers of paper wrapped around this issue.

I was the burning man
with burning steps
scorching the earth
wherever I roamed
You lit the fire
You ignited the flame
But I had to carry the torch
inside me, not you
And there was no one to put it out but me
No one but me.

I ran over and over in my head scenes of violence where I put my fist through the face of the guy you ran away with. I hold him responsible too, even though it was mostly your fault. And it was your fault, not mine. No matter how angry I got I could never hit a woman and so he would pay the price and you would have to suffer as he suffered my wrath, the consequences be damned. I wanted to rip your whole world to shreds as you had mine. I wanted you to suffer the way I did and sometimes still do when my memory or subconscious allows you to creep up on me. The visions I had of you and him, having come true, were replaced with scenes of violence and vengeance that kept me awake some nights; the adrenaline from the thought became too much for me to control and would not allow me to rest.

I gave you everything and more. I told you everything and more. I don’t trust easy and I don’t take abandonment well and you knew that, you knew that better than anyone and you went ahead and kicked me to the curb without having the common fucking courage to say it to my face or at least over the phone. Distance was your shield and you hid behind it and fired an arrow with a note and a flame attached to it and you incinerated my world, you coward. And rather than own up to the garbage you backed into a corner and attacked like a wounded animal when I was the wounded one. After all that, I hoped everything in you hurt. I wanted to know you were unhappy and know you deserved it.

I wanted to set fire to the pictures I saw of you and him. Not out of jealousy but out of sheer malice and rage. I wanted to crumple up the photographs of your faces and have you feel it in your skulls. I wanted to take a lighter to it and watch the smiles curl slowly into a black nothing because that’s what you deserved.

Your whole world in flames; I wanted to see your world burn to the ground around you.

The River Flows North to the Delta

RiverStones

I may have lied about sleeping that night but only marginally. After curling up on the floor most pathetically and keening like a dog that’d been kicked too many times, bawling harder than I thought possible, I crawled into bed having nothing left and drifted off for a few hours. Knowing that I had church in the morning and the ache that pervaded my body, I was ambivalent about waking up.

But I slept like a stone
and the rest washed over me like a river
eroding the dirt
and my eyes woke to the morning
and my eyes woke to the morning
and my eyes woke to the mourning
of something that had been murdered
only hours before
And I pulled myself from the river
weightless and smiling
as if I was not made of stone
floating
I was taken by the currents

And one by one I told those that mattered the story of what you’d said to me and the decisions you’d made. The trade up you made, you see. And, while I said it with a smile on my face because it felt like a weight had been lifted, the sorrow in the eyes of the people who knew me and knew you was difficult to swallow. But I did my best to keep grinning because part of me was relieved. I didn’t have to worry about the stress of something I saw play out a million times in my head over the span of a few weeks that you could have cared less about. I should have seen it coming long before it did. But I guess I should have felt like I was in good company because nobody else understood it either.

Shame on me for being blinded by the light of the feelings I had for you. I never believed you’d do something like that.

I sat down on the couch
with the wonderful friend
one that I often refer to as “my other mom”
and I felt bulletproof
because the grief wasn’t there
But I wanted the story known
Because I know how I am with pain
Ignore it until it becomes too much to handle
The pain.
And as the story unfurled from my mouth
there was something I didn’t expect
There were tears in her eyes
Drops of saline, careening down her cheeks
creating reflections of the tears
I was somehow finding in mine.
Somehow, it hurt more than I’d registered
It was not okay.
Nothing was fine.

Prolegomenon

Hands-BW-Photo

Hands
we both have hands
No.
We both had hands
when pressed palm to palm
my fingers extended over yours
and we marveled at the extension,
the explosion of heartbeats
against sternums
and felt against the pulse of our wrists
close enough to make contact,
live wires arcing current
to the pressure of pressed lips
to the grazing of bony hips.
Yeah.
We had hands.
Until we interlaced fingers
as you departed for your last flight.
Exchanging, “I’ll miss you”‘s
as our fingers slipped
from palm to tip
and unlocking.

I still wonder sometimes
if I had told you how I felt
if I could have avoided all this
Now I’m fairly certain
I don’t want to know the answer.

Our arms reached distances
for a short time.
And for a while still,
I could still feel your touch against mine
Until we locked our fingers this time,
intertwined like romance.
The distance in your eyes
pointed towards the ground
and with a quick twitch
a flick of the wrists
You upended my palms,
offered up my wrists to the sky
and pushed away.
In my agony, I climbed to my tip toes
and begged the word, “mercy”
But there was none
as you refused to look at me
while I screamed over and over
in submission
Wondering why you’d hurt me.
(I still ask the question to this day)

Then, quickly, you let go
turned
walked away
And in the wake I was left
with the task of assembling the pieces
and nursing my over-torqued shoulders and wrists.
That’s when I looked at my hands
and across each thumb and finger
was written in scorched-skin black,
a word written on the underside
of each digit
they read, left to right (starting with the thumb):
DENIAL
ANGER
BARGAINING
DEPRESSION
ACCEPTANCE
ACCEPTANCE
DEPRESSION
BARGAINING
ANGER
DENIAL

I studied these intently for a moment
trying to find their purpose or meaning
and why they had been
burned so deeply into my skin.
And then it hit me like a fist to a wall
that I was staring at the countdown clock
of my life after you
Where my journey would start and hopefully end
as I tried to cleanse myself
of the aching hole you left in my chest
when you unlaced your hands from mine
and immediately locked them into the hands
of someone else.

This is the beginning of the open hands
that desired to become fists
to grip the pen and write the lines
about who I don’t want to write about
anymore.
to raise themselves in victory
over the damage you’d done.

[This is only the beginning.]

Nothing From Nowhere…

I’m no one at all…

I am invisible. Today. I phased in and out of social interactions today like I could see but was unseen. I was passing pool games and stupid and inane conversation because today that just isn’t me. I don’t want to die, I just wanted to cease to be seen. As the song goes, “I never wanted to cease to exist, just disappear.”
All I could see was purpose as I attempted to shut out the noise and just move. When you strip away everything but pure purpose from your thoughts, the constant hum of voices, TV’s and water pipes get their vocal chords cut an there is only pure thought. I don’t consider this healthy as a consistent frame of mind but, for whatever reason, this frame of mind was tacked around my brain like a life preserver.
My moment was shattered by someone saying my name as I was walking away. This has been happening a lot lately; people asking me how someone else is doing, that is. My earth was slightly shattered when she asked how I was doing. I was taken aback and my laser-beam focus was interrupted and the blank scowl I wore melted into a small grin. I said I was good. I supposed I was but it’s hard telling these days. I seem to have obtained some peace and then my mood slips. I’m on a low right now but nothing I’ve not fought through before.
It’s been strange having so many people asking about you. I don’t mind telling a few people that you seem like you’re doing better than last I saw you. I’m just meant to be a messenger and I’m not bitter about that at all. But part of me wishes they’d ask me how I’m doing with all of this. It sounds selfish to me and strange because I only really trust a few with my true feelings but no one really seems to care about how I’m surviving all of this and maybe they don’t need do. It’s just a peculiar social nicety that is somewhat backwards when you think about it. It’s impersonal, basically using someone for information then walking away. I’ve been used before, I’ve been disregarded a good portion of my life. Why should now be any different?
I tried something today. It stems from being around too many people who talk because they can’t stand silence or are seeking acceptance or just want attention. These people have no regard for the use of language or other peoples’ reverence for the seldom-found silence. I do not want to be one who talks too much or any of the things I listed above. So, I tried an experiment. I sat at the end of a table near a few of my professors, but had just enough space between us that I wasn’t associating with them. And then I listened; just listened. Not eavesdropping, just picking up on their conversation and then fought any urge to speak or ask questions. It was a test and I passed. I am growing more acquainted with silence then before and sometimes it makes things easier to bear.
Last night was interesting. In youth group we talked about lust. In small groups we covered a lot of scripture. I had prayed beforehand that God would not just send his Holy Spirit on us all but that he would throw it down on us. I didn’t want it to seem like a majestic dusting but a violent downward pitch. I cannot claim the idea fully but I take the words from a Demon Hunter song, “The Latest & the Last” where Ryan Clark screams, “Throw it down on me.” I’ve never been sure what he was referring to but I got a mental image one day of God just taking his hand and slamming the Spirit down. I think he did just that last night. I humbly accepted that control was beyond me and went with what came to me. I think I can say the same for the other sponsors, maybe the kids too.
This may be dangerous. Something came up last night. It’s a feeling I have come to love and hate. It’s so confusing sometimes. She’s been gone for a month with a couple of conversations in there. And every day I think about her and I miss her. So, you can imagine my stagger when I was introduced to someone last night and I got hit with that shot in the gut, tangled up nerve bundles, head swimming reaction. I am not and have not been seeking anyone lately at all. My heart has been occupied and too focused on her for me to be able to see this new person and for that feeling to come up. In her absence, I think I’ve been left bare and so I must be discerning. What I came up with was that it was caused by the mystery of this new person.
By mystery I mean my lack of knowledge of the person so my mind is not allowed to focus. I found myself looking and wondering again and then reality hit. I have just been dragged through the mud of a painful separation between me and her. I shouldn’t be thinking about dragging someone anywhere near those flames. And reality sobered me but another thought occurred to me: How long will I be left to my own devices? How long will she stay away? Our feelings were shared and strong, mutual. But another voice says, “You cannot wait forever, can you?” I curse that voice.
I realize this is ridiculous and not a lot of time has passed but these questions still remain. It would have seemed there was an unspoken promise between us. Am I just looking for excuses to be selfish or am I being honest with myself when I say that I don’t know if I have the strength to wait as long as it may take? My heart is not sure of itself anymore. My soul has been yanked every conceivable direction and yet I still have that feeling; that kind of crush/interest because I don’t know her and I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty face kind of thing. I think her leaving has only left unanswered questions and more ambiguity between us. I don’t know what to do but I know a few things.
I know I don’t know this person and I should probably get to know her so I can get past this mystery. I know I’m not really seeking, jut lonely again… still. And all I have is my family and friends and no words from her, the one who ran away to save her soul and probably her sanity but not really because of me. I need to grow up. I’m not in high school and this stupid flash-crush stuff needs to be over with. I know I’m hopeless.
I have been very blessed to have the friends I do and the ones I’ve made just this semester. I’ve been spending more time with guys around my age and that’s been helpful. It’s also been nice to not be the only one that’s in Bible college and single. How very strange that I used to have a lot of female friends but now all my friends are dudes. But the dudes I hang out with were probably the same way when they were in high school. We’re all a bunch of geeks. At least I’ve found somewhere I belong. I’ve never really consistently had that before.
I guess what it boils down to is that I’m still growing in a lot of ways. There are a lot of things I don’t know yet. There is a large amount I just don’t understand. I’ve been finding myself in prayer more often that I used to and am still waiting for a ton of things to be revealed. I have patience. I’m doing what I can to keep moving, but I know it’s not me but Him who gives me strength, peace and wisdom. I’m surviving.

The empty end of the hourglass

A random, unrelated thought before I go into the real topic:

It has been impressed on my heart to be very caring and I have started caring more and being more interested in peoples’ stories.  So, when I ask you how you’re doing I’m not just being polite.  I honestly want to know.

I hit a wall today.  Not literally, but emotionally.  Everything spiraled down, down, down and I couldn’t see out of it.  So, in a fit, I grabbed a pad of paper and a pen and I went.  No thought, just gut and this is the end result.  But not the end.

That these dark feelings

would pass…

Turn on the light and

drape it over me.

Hear me scream into

the microphone in my head

that amplifies nothing

but silence.

And I can taste it

like the bitter pills I

swallow daily, not just

the ones from a prescription pad,

not just the ones designed to

heal me, no…

But the grim realizations,

the let-downs…

every ache of my soul

unremedied

because of this impure heart

and these broken, useless hands.

I am useless.

But with the guidance

of Your hand

I find joy among the dead

and I see Eden again

though from off in the East.

And wandering.

Ambling

Lost.

But out of this dust

I cry for help, vocal

and this time

more than just these

dumbfounded rocks reply.

You are the thread

of golden light amidst this darkness.

All that I have

All that I am

is written across the

scrolls of the unrolling heavens

And the wind cloaks me in

its voice:

“You are not alone here.

You are not alone anywhere.”

Of all the things to battle,

I’ve chosen myself

over and over and

again and again.

But there’s someone here

now. And there always will be.

And I am sick of fighting

so remove those gloves and

hang ’em up for now.

And let the sands of time

on this season run out.

And stay there,

sitting on the empty end

of the hourglass.