Long Lost Letter

I wrote this letter 7 months ago and had forgotten it existed until now. I’m sharing it because there’s a lot in here that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared. Those that know me will likely know who this was written to but the name has been redacted anyway.

I don’t know if this is something I’ll ever shake completely.

Home is Where You Should Fit in Your Skin

I grew up in a family that grew into Jesus
At around the same time I did.
In a lot of ways, they are probably
The strongest Christians I know
Though we all have our faults
And we would be the first to admit that
Our faults:
They’re the things that make us human
And show our real skin
We are the church not in the
Formed from a mold off the assembly line
Kind of way

Our convictions were not mass-produced
You can see it in the way the don’t fit
Quite friendly into the seats
In the church I was baptized in
That I baptized my brother in
That my sister was baptized in

And we’ve seen this response
From people before
In other buildings, in other
Worship centers
With coffee cups and
The same unbearable
Contemporary music that all sounds the same

Words cannot describe how much
I want to punch David Crowder in the throat.

The Bible tells us
The church was built on outcasts
And every day, normal people
So, maybe if my experiences
Had been a little difference I might be willing
To cut some people a little slack

Believe me
We’ve all tried to show some grace
To the people who have said mean,
Offensive, bigoted things
Behind the back and to the face
And my parents come to me
For words of wisdom on how to handle
Not feeling comfortable in their own skin
In the place where all should be welcome
And we are all gracious around sin

God, damn those people
Who make my mother feel small,
My father apathetic,
You didn’t make them this way
So what gives your followers
The right to do it?

You, in your wisdom have adjusted me
With a very high-strung sense of right or wrong
Think trip-wire, or claymore mine
Add to the tension,
Hope you live to regret it
And I can’t be kind anymore.

I refuse to swallow one more bitter pill
In the attitude of “truth with love”
Because that is a set of bald tires
With a nail in the wall
It’s easier to overwhelm and sabotage
Then listen to anything at all
That might mean you’re espousing hate
And you’ve put my family deeply centered in the crosshair

Church, I have grown tired of your abuse
You’re a whore, I know this
And I’m supposed to love you
Which is hard
For someone who has never really
Understood love fully
And lost the only person who could really
Explain it in a way that made sense

You wonder why I’m angry.
Call it hate, call it intolerance,
I don’t really give a flying fuck anymore.
Thought I lacked a filter?
Well, the censors are out
Of the office for a while until my nerves settle

“Oh, but we need unity in the church,”
Then start being more like real Jesus
And less like the one you get from talking heads
Because blessed are those who
Don’t put people’a lives on chopping blocks
For gender, race, socioeconomic status,

You are your brother’s keeper
That’s what I believe and that’s
What drives me every day
While others declare war on culture
They haven’t even taken the time to understand

My parents are braver and bigger than I
At least they’re willing to go back
Because I’m the one who reaps the whirlwind
On purpose; I stand for them of my own accord.
I haven’t been with you, church,
Longer than I can remember
But there’s no baby with that bath water

My struggle is in finding the answer to the question:
Is it possible to ever go home again

On the Church

Today I grieve beyond measure as I see the horrors unfold within my country. I have been asking myself, “Have I been asleep this whole time? Am I only now awakening to the evil and hate people are willing to inflict on others in the name of an assumed superiority based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and gender? I thought myself fairly well-educated about the hatred people were capable of but I look at the reported acts of violence, the racial slurs, and the rhetoric being spewed forth by people who are supposed to be the salt and light, the hands and feet of their savior and I am appalled, distraught, and dismayed at the reports of their actions.

To the church: you have made it very hard for me to love you. You have proliferated so much of what is now a national phenomenon of hate, discrimination, and contention that I have been content to stay in my apartment and just ponder how anyone who believes the Bible, the teachings of Jesus and the Saints, can be capable of ripping off a Muslim woman’s hajib and telling her to put it around her neck and hang her with it or leaving a note for someone in the LGBTQ community that they’re going to burn in hell. The spirit of God is not in you. Don’t hide behind God as justifications for your actions or your hate.

It’s hard to know where to belong now. I have felt a great alienation from the church because of the unfortunate ties to conservatism which, to me, is a tradition that needs to be broken and fast. Conservatism in a lot of respects is regressive to the message of Christ because, in my experience, it drives people to policy and platforms that serve individualistic purposes. I die a little inside every time I hear someone say, “Why should I have to pay for X with my tax money.” To me that is tantamount to Cain asking, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In case you weren’t aware, I’m a registered Independent, Progressive Liberal with bent towards Socialism. I know absolutely no one in the church who would agree with my stances and that’s fine. This has also made me a target for the contingent of conservatives in my home church on more than one occasion and I do not take my stances on anything with a grain of salt or without thorough research.

It’s heartbreaking to love someone who can’t accept you for who you are. It’s impossible when it’s somewhere you should belong.

I’ve tried. I’ve tried so hard not to give up on the church but recent events have seriously made me rethink my stance on this. Is this the straw that broke thee camel’s back? I don’t know yet. I need more time to think. For every act of hatred, for every bit of invective released from the mouths and hearts of people who call themselves followers of Christ, my willingness to engage and be part of the body corporate becomes less and less. We all know the church is a whore but now she has turned to a whore who sold herself for the lowest bid and the highest risk: hate. The church has become a pack of murderers in their hearts and I don’t know what to do despite not wanting to just stand back and watch the whole show as our country is setting itself up to burn.

My shoulders are heavy with sorrow. I am all raw, exposed nerve and I’m doing my best to find a way to heal this. It’s not supposed to be like this.

It’s not supposed to be like this.

The Game of [Loss of] Life


I do not like to play games
Sometimes it’s a distaste for the rules
Or I’m immune to feeling
The wings of levity that comes with
A round table discussion about nothing
But mostly
I don’t like to lose
And I don’t like to give up
Because to give ground to either option
Is to give ground to defeat
And the feat of that I might concede
Is more than I’m willing to allow to proceed
Beyond the guarding gates of my ribcage

But I’ve
Lost so much it feels, so many times
That I have to pretend I’m made of matter
Just to prove I exist when I look to the mirror
So I can feel like I, y’know… matter.

And I will fight until the very last note
Tangled in my vocal cords to avoid it
Like the time I showed up at a friend’s apartment
Red-eyed and tear-cheeked
Trying to imagine that he was still alive

A bottle of this and a broken blister pack of that
Double double toil and  trouble
You should never chase death
With a bottle of No-Doz
Because he calls you in your sleep
So when expelled the contents of his stomach
You could hear the reaper unhook his scythe
From under those ribs
Where it was written, the name of the girl
Who had taken his heart
On his ribs which resonated empty
When his heart kept beating.
Dark room and dim lights painted ghosts
on his high cheekbones in the wake.
Loss of the will to survive
Is to hollow out your chest
And surrender its contents to the sun.
Cursing God for your dilemmas
Son, God grieves with you when you lose at losing, too.

And there’s the piece of me I lost
The I hope I never find again
And that’s the naïveté of thinking
Everything’s gonna be alright again.

You can learn to lose, or
better phrased
Learn what it feels like to lose
So you can sense it in every movement
Of every person you’ve ever
Wrapped your heart string around like a last
Ruffled the secrets woven
In the strands of your hair for
Made copies of keys to your hopes and dreams
But when things start bursting at the seams
You will feel its clarion call
Your balance will become shifted
And you will always let the words
“It’s all my fault” rest heavy across your shoulders
Even if you’ve written fiction
And the ghost you thought had crossed over
Is merely obstructed from view
If only everyone knew
How heavy the cross
Is to lose.

Like when I lost the person
Who taught me the literal meaning of the word
She inscribed it upon my sleeve
With my broken heart they day she was gone
And now I can’t erase the three words
She’d force me to say
In her voice
And I can’t lose them. I can never lose them.

And then there are those who are still alive
Who chose to step away into a dusty country sunset
And left me pondering loss
The meaning, the weight, and the taste of it
The iron in the blood, the grit of sand
Wind tumbling lightly against my face
In painted stone valleys that burn red in the sun
I have lost you somewhere and I don’t know
But I’m trying

And if I gain nothing
I’ll still count it all as loss.

The Goodbye at Union Station

I can recall watching ER when it was being broadcast. Of course, I was too young to care about certain facets of stories. Love, relationships… All this was lost on me then. The science and medicine were more important to me then.

Now, I’m 29. Enough time has passed that I’ve developed a love for story and character. I recently started to revisit this show from my youth and was reminded fondly of the love story that never quite was. It seems, now, so perfectly orchestrated. 

I won’t go into details because it’s meant to be seen, experienced. See how you feel when the train pulls away. 

Gunshot for an Alarm Clock


Born as a son of a waitress and a railroad worker
who rode the rails out of here
and left her doing her best to serve me
when she married the a truck driving son of a truck driver.
Hard to persist against the blowback of that.
It stunted growth and twisted new wrinkles
programmed with pattern recognition.
It sees when the past is about to hit
point B from point A to loop back to the front again,
reincarnating the past into different forms of
ways to incur battle wounds that bloom into scars.

Trust exists outside a cage
and, so, I know why the bird flies against the wires;
it wants to believe the outside is embracing
while I embrace my perch and linger within my bars.
I am filled to the brim
my cup is full of anxiety
and it rattles, shakes, and spills all over
Truth be told,
I’m afraid of almost everything.
My forays into leaning into the wind
has left me sprawled across the dirt
and when I dust myself off
I’m ankle-deep in salt water;
it must have fallen out of my pocket
when gravity grasped my collar and pulled.

The pills are meant to keep me gripping
the lighter side but I still sink deep
and in the abyss I sit and wait and watch
life pass me by, year by year.

I’m terrified of you. Whoever you are.
Because ‘you’ have stepped into and out of this cage
and slammed the door in my face because I
was enamored by the glitter in your tail feathers,
the impossible beauty in your plumage,
And ‘you’ turned out to be someone I knew
So, I don’t know the you that is yet to come
or if you’re even on your way.
It’s just getting harder to burn down the world
when everyone has had an easier time than I.
I still feel like the child that grew into
the live wire of anxiety and the cold water of depression.
The door to the cage is almost too much to overcome these days.

Everyday strikes me like the same tuning fork;
the vibration igniting my nerves.
I’ve got a gunshot for an alarm clock
And the pills are easier to swallow
than the rest of my day.
I’m okay with being alone.
Loneliness is another story.

Piece of My Mind


I want to give you a piece of my mind, to tell you about how I reached inside my ear and clip the electric pathways I’ve tried to ignore and interrupt the current those wires have been firing. So, this piece of mind could have peace of mind. So I could find solace in the arms of those who still hold a piece of my heart. You know, the one stamped “FRAGILE” and “THIS END UP” but was upended and shattered like a light bulb; no light was left to shine and I waited for over a year for the bottom of my feet to heal from the pieces left over, the pieces I walked over to try to get passed the shards of shattered dreams I had for you and me, all the while thinking I somehow deserved to bleed.

And a piece of my mind registered the message from my nerves and kept it locked up tight. It said, “Keep your heart under lock, chain, and key. There’s no one to protect you from this ache except you.”

So, I did just that. I forgot what it felt like to feel and I kept my arms out at all times to measure the acceptable distance between me and the world. It’s an unhealthy practice, I know, but it keeps me from having that gnawing feeling in that piece of my my mind tell me everybody will someday leave. I learned that a long time ago like I learned how to speak and read people are going to do what’s best for them and forget I exist like my father did. So I haunt my apartment like a ghost with so much unfinished business I find the strength to grip a pen and carve the messages my hearts been trying to send for nobody to read; the page is the only one who knows how to listen sometimes.

And the anxiety is crushing like sinking into too deep of water and I wait for the time when I crumble in on myself and lose the space in my lungs to breathe like bellows squeezed closed with the handles held too tight. It is then I realize I must force myself to breathe in and out and remember, under the stress of every day, this too will fade away like my feelings for everything else.

But let me also tell you this piece of my mind:

So much became too much, so I escaped the everything of my every day’s clutch and sped out of town to shake its chains, to break the bonds of everything I hated about my life and to try and heal the pain of a year’s only a year’s worth of reliving the funeral for lost love relived day in and day out can orchestrate on my nerve endings as they were stripped from their sheaths and exposed to the toxicity of my breath laced with the smoke of a cigarette.

My car was my home as I chased the sun to the horizon and back, sleeping in cheap hotels as I wandered the loneliest places on the map; they found me, not the other way around, believe it or not. I wandered through canyons and mountains with nothing but me and the soul of the poets playing on my stereo, praying for God to show me the piece of myself that was missing, to show me how to be close to whole again. This is something I’ve asked for a million times in a million ways with what felt like no response and every time it hurt I felt like saying GOD, WHY CAN’T YOU REACH DOWN INTO MY HEART AND FIX THIS PIECE THAT’S BROKEN?

He answered.

Not in an audible way, at least not through his voice as I made my way West through the Cajón pass, watching the rain come down and lightning dance like streamers on the tops of the foothills.

So, when I reached back into a connection almost two decades past after my tire went flat and I wanted nothing more than to leave the town I was in, after eating food that made me sick, and almost passing out from the heat I headed into uncertain territory. That is, I headed into a friend and/or family I had not seen since junior high without really knowing what I was getting into or why. I just knew I had to be there.

It’s a funny thing, family. I rang the door bell which seemed to ring forever and was greeted by the squeal of a mother and an old friend as she met me in the doorway with an embrace. My heart was suddenly full again as if I had stepped back into my own home, forgetting the past and the pain at the door. Over the span of three days I had never felt more love or so embraced since I lived in my childhood home and I realized this was what life was supposed to feel like all the time and that piece of my mind stopped.

I remember all the things I ached from radiating out of me like the water hitting the hot rocks of the desert for the first time in a long time and I breathed deep again, filling my lungs to the top and exhaling the last of the smoke I inhaled from you as you seemed to patronize me. I realized the most important thing was, on a moment’s notice, someone whom I hadn’t seen in since I was a child was willing to invited me into her home and treat me like family and the beauty of God’s grace for those moments we had; I was part of their family. I belonged.

When I left I realized that’s how things should be, how I should be. And that is something you cannot be or will not be. That’s okay. It’s your life. I have felt disrespected and patronized; I know you well enough to see it in the way you write but that’s okay. You don’t know what to do with me and that’s fine. I don’t expect anything from you but goodbyes. You can’t love like I’ve experienced and that’s something you live with and I don’t know how it doesn’t eat you up inside. You may know happiness now but I wonder if you’ll ever feel joy. It’s hard for me to fathom for myself but I’ve been there recently and I’ve got this little index card with the signatures of my California family to remind me.

And I have no way to thank them.

So, the piece of my mind I give to you is the piece of my mind that’s been agonizing over for more than a year. It’s the piece that wondered if I would ever feel wanted or cared for again because you decided I was not what you wanted. That’s fine. I understand that. I’ve realized you would not have been able to give me what I needed in the end either, what I reach for and strive for; finding joy is like trying to catch a falling star. You burned so brightly in my eyes but now I realize, like the stars in the sky, your light is an illusion, a reflection of the bright burning body of a star already in the sky. I have found that light inside myself and it radiates, burning bright white and blinding like I time I can’t remember.

So, I give you this piece of my mind
to tell you
without certainty
i have found my
peace of mind.