Parallels of Elmer’s Glue and Mortar

BrickLayer

Look and you will find.
What a lie.
Look for what you want
and you will find
an orchestrated assembly
of pinball machine parts
and others’ broken hearts
held together by the spit and dirt
They were dug up from.

Why is it so difficult for me to breathe?
Like when people think they’ve found the answer
they’re, somehow speaking for me,
Shuddering shoulder shrugs is all I see
when I look ’em through crosshair-covered pupils
And ask ’em what I look like
As one individual brain among these
All looking the bullet in the face
And me with my shattered teeth grin
from the collision of life
the smile I left behind with the shards of my teeth.

Sometimes the pieces are easy to find
And maybe broken things can be put on the mend
Maybe they can.

It doesn’t take reaching out far and wide
to open spaces, new places, new faces
with indecipherable tongues, or maybe just
patterns spit out thick enough to mortar
the bricks they’ve kicked against their own existence.
It doesn’t take a building collapse
to rip the breath from my lungs
It doesn’t take a ton of bricks to crush my chest
and shatter me into bone-dust and confetti

So, when I say self discovery is not always
a long distance journey
I mean it.
All it takes is a laser-guided strike to a vulnerability
to render you to so many pieces and fragments
And being reassembled by the turning hands of time.
And when that time is up, when the alarm
richter scales the walls
I hold my breath to see if the glue and pieces still hold
Sometimes it shakes loose pieces I forgot existed,
Struggling to find that one spot in the expanse
of my existence where it fits,
or doesn’t,
and I look at burning it down and tossing it to the wind
Over my right shoulder
Like it’s bad luck to spill yourself all over the floor
by accident or by someone else’s agency

But I don’t believe in luck
I believe I rebuilt myself from the ground up
but I am still busted up
The ceramic laced with gold
to make my imperfections glow.

This is the Facebook post that triggered this piece. I seem to only be able to write in the moment if I can write at all.

FBScreenshotPieces

Every Word Handwritten

PenandInkI have often wondered what it would be like to maintain a relationship through written correspondence. I had pen pals when I was younger and there was a certain magic to opening an envelope to a handwritten letter on college-ruled paper with black ink. You can see the mistakes and the scribbles where the wrong word was selected and in the permanence of of pen there are few things so unforgiving. In my case, it’s a call to slow down and concentrate, to form my words into one half of a conversation and tap into my creative side.

My writing voice is much more interesting than my speaking voice. It’s backed by the ability to carefully compose rather than spit it out on the fly.

Unfortunately, no one has the patience for this anymore because of e-mail and social media. “Connection” is just a click away now, rather than waiting days to receive a response. The anticipation is part of the magic; the wait is the great allure. But now it’s all about instant gratification, the dopamine rush of getting things now, now, now. That’s just our culture. Now.

I often long for someone who can take the time to write me a letter because she thinks I’m worth the effort but also has the capacity to compose her words artfully and spark my wild heart and imagination. It stands to reason if she can write well she can read well.

There is gratification in handwriting, even if it’s just for yourself. I don’t update here as much because I started using a notebook. It’s the might of the pen, the magic of the words filling up a page. There’s just something about every word hand written. There are websites out there for finding pen pals but it seems so impersonal. My previous pen pals were people I connected with and shared my joy in writing. Nobody I know feels this anymore.

I have been told I’m an old soul. Maybe I’m just old.

I am Not an Artist

16_IAmNotAnArtist

If we are somehow connected on any social media website or, by chance, happen to actually know each other in real life you’ll notice, while I consider myself a creative person, I never refer to myself as an artist. This is not meant to be a cut at people who call themselves artists. In fact, I happen to know several people who have devoted their current existence to creating art or supporting art in the local community. However, you will never find me referring to myself as an artist. Perhaps it’s prejudicial or just one of the many random hang-ups I have about the most banal things in life, but I feel so pretentious when referring to anything I do as “art”.

Let’s be clear. I am a writer, an aspirating musician and I try to be a photographer when I can find my camera (it’s in a box somewhere and I don’t know where I put it). I carry a notebook with me at all times where I compile ideas for song lyrics and I’m constantly working on new songs and ideas in my head. But I don’t consider myself an artist. Others might. But I don’t.

My experience with art has been an interesting one. I have a good friend who spent a good portion of a year traveling, using her art and coming up with new ideas for art while traveling all over the place. I have another friend who gave me an awesome print of a painting she did of Henry Rollins for my birthday one year and I love it to death. I have yet another friend who was working on creating masks and made one based off imagery for some tattoos and things I had written. So, my life is not without creative people and it is not without aesthetic and artistic endeavors.

I just can’t call myself an artist.

My experience is based off attending an art show or two. While I adore the people I knew who were showing, it was really hard for me to feel like I fit in. I think, culturally, artists have been assigned their own subculture and are often rendered their own little area in the world where they are allowed to exist outside the realm of the people who don’t share their enthusiasm for creating new and beautiful ideas. I see this perception in myself and in other people that artists are an untouchable class in the sense that they can do something a lot of other people can’t. This may be partly true. I know someone who creates some of the most detailed work I have ever seen and it’s because of her deadly attention to how she composes the piece and, especially, what brushes she uses to create her pieces.

At the same time, I also think people are intimidated by creative people when they, themselves, are not creative in that fashion. I am not a painter, at least not like the people I know. My hands shake terribly all the time and I don’t possess the coordination or talent to draw or paint with any great precision or detail. That’s just not my gift. I don’t belong in that niche and I am somewhat intimidated but those who are. I don’t think they are better than I, necessarily, but I do find myself avoiding events where I would have to mingle with people like that. Well, that and social anxiety but that’s another blog altogether.

I don’t think creative abilities should be a deterrent to being creative or making something new using the tools that God gave you. We are all built with the ability to use our minds to create, we all just do it in different ways. In theory, someone who work wonders with fixing vehicles should be on par with someone who can create masterful works of art on canvas with a brush. Someone like me who spends a lot of time creating new ideas with the English language rather than clay should be no less of a creative force.

Maybe it’s just me and my own perceptions I’m trying to repair but I just can’t shake the feeling that, sometimes, art is treated as its own particular club where only the elite creatives are allowed membership. I think a lot of people have that perception as well because art has often been lifted up as the ultimate of the aesthetic pleasures. I’m not putting down anyone and their talents; I am merely addressing something i’ve perceived over the last few months. But I still don’t consider myself an artist. Creative, intuitive and maybe a wordsmith but never an artist.

Because, if I’m an wrist, than everyone else is an artist too.

Texas doesn’t have soil. It has stone. And I hate it.

All my exes live in Texas
at least they all should
because I feel like Texas
is a tough state
tough
like a bullet between gritted teeth
drinking whiskey from dirty glasses
and wearing assless chaps.

I think Texas is a suitable place
for those I’ve loved and those who have left me
and maybe those who eventually will
because I think dealing with me is…
complicated.
Like trying to shoot holes in a polka-dot dress
awash in a sea of polka-dot dresses
and or a bee out of a bonnet
Let me shoot holes in the saloon walls
That’s easy
and when the alcohol all leaks out like
a black hat’s blood at my feet
I’ll weave a lasso rope through the holes
in the shape of a cactus
with big arms and
vaguely in the shape of a hand
giving the finger
And from the lone hole I missed
with my lasso
a bird will emerge and from its
sawdust and gritty songpipes
it will sing the song of Moses
after parting the red sea
except it sounds like Moses’s been
smoking unfiltered, handrolled cigarettes
(and on a sidenote, I want to try that shit.
He says his staff turned into a snake once)
but I digress…
and he drank from too many dirty glasses
because this songbird
has the voice of tracheotomy
as it sings of the egress of my exes

So I connect my heartstrings to the lasso
And pull that wall down
I watch as it salutes me
quite the stoic, stolidly
as it crashes into the dust
with a great Wile E. Coyote….
POOF
With extra plosive on the letter P
like a burst of Acme TNT,
fuse lit and flame-whittled down
to the base of the wick
like just when it appears the stick is a dud
and you want to give up the game
it blows up in your face.
The letter P does that.

But enough of letters. I’ve written enough letters.
If I connected the pieces of paper
On which I spat my inky thoughts
I’d have a scroll that unrolled the entire length
of this one horse town.
Because my scroll is exactly one horse long.
And it’s the one I rode in on
and I stretched it as far as it would go,
used part of him to make glue
as a security device and told him not to let go
while it dried.
So my horse stretches for miles
And everyone else walks.

Everybody walks but nobody wants to go anywhere
Except my exes because I know they’re here
I can sense each and every one of them
with the antennae in my chest
I’m on a hunt for revenge with my six gun
in both hands.
Because I’m not strong enough to dual wield
I tried that once
flinging lead with my reflection,
a mirage in the sand
and I landed flat on my back in my own oasis
staring as the clouds went by
so I rested on my laurels for a while
and watched the sky change moods
until once I saw the sky turn grey and cry
or maybe that was me
forgetting everything I’d ever wanted
for the sake of all I thought
I’d left behind.
And the seasons passed like dust
from my hand to the wind to gravity
it returns to dust again.
And my laurels became doldrums
‘Til my soul could rest no more
and I told myself I’d go to Texas
because Texas was tough
and maybe I could learn.
Then maybe I’d get revenge
on those hoop-skirts that
cat-walked out with their tails up

So, I mustered up what I had left
which wasn’t much
and jumped upon my trusty horse.
Yanked the reigns and dug in my spurs
The horse reared and dug its
soon-to-be-glue hooves into the dust one more time

And you know most of the story
except that I ran through there
shooting in a blaze of cordite scented glory
My spurs jingling like bells
which is how they found me
as I ran for my life from women in hoop skirts,
men in white hats and some of their kids
in tiny white hats.

They chased me out of Texas
I was not tough enough
I guess.

Couldn’t tell you what I was thinking, honestly.
Because I know revenge is a dish best served cold
and lead slugs tend to be hot when they’re fired from a gun.
So that defeats the purpose… doesn’t it?
Is my imagination or is it hot in this desert?
But hey!
I found a phone.
I can call for water… or something…
So I pick up the ear piece and
hold it up to my
eyes
Never know what desert critter could crawl in there.
All clear
So, I put it to my ear and turn the crank a few times.
1
2
3…
“Hello?”

The Things I Know

Listen, if I didn’t have so much of this life all wrong… I would have gotten it right by now. I talk a whole bunch but I really only know a few things so I ain’t saying to follow along verbatim here. I’ll just tell you the things I tell myself, the things I know. You can see what sticks. – Buddy Wakefield, “The Information Man”

I spend a lot of time being wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time with my nose in books and researching things that seem to catch my eye and finding out that my preconceived notions about a topic were incorrect.  The customers I talk to on the phone at my job spend a lot of time telling me I’m wrong or I will look into a problem and find out that what I told the person was incorrect.  It is then up to me to swallow my pride and let my customer know that I was wrong. It’s not easy to do but it’s a lot easier because I don’t have to do it face to face. I purposely stay quiet out of what I call humility during conversations and classroom discussions sometimes but I’m not really humble, I just don’t want to be wrong. I think everyone has, to a greater or lesser extent, an innate fear of being wrong. It’s just part of being broken and prideful that we, as the center of the universe, cannot be wrong.

The thing I’ve discovered about being wrong a lot of the time is that I only know a few things. The things that I know are things that I can always be certain of and maintain my confidence that at least in the things I know I can’t be told that I’m wrong.  I was thinking about this today after I shook the sleep out of my eyes at the crack of noon today after staying up too late watching a movie.  I can’t tell you how I got down this road of thought because it’s just more proof that I’m wrong a lot of the time but I decided to entertain the thought process that followed.  I was able to come up with three things that I know with great certainty, without a doubt, 100% foolproof. Just do me a favor and don’t try and prove me wrong with these three things.  They’re all I’ve got.

The first has a lot to do with my personality and talents.  First of all, I’m really good at being overly analytical.  I will scrutinize something down to its most basic molecules if I have to. I will understand what I am analyzing and I will make sense of it even if it drives me to the brink of insanity. I’m pretty sure this is why I’m single but we won’t go into great detail about that.  Second, I am really good at reading people and sometimes even empathic.  I can’t tell you how many times this particular portion of my gifting has decided to rear its head.  I can’t really control it, per se, but I can decipher the signals it sends to my brain however I sense things. I have been able to tell when people are depressed, anxious, or just trying to lie to me.  It’s just been something I’ve always been able to do. It’s like that scene in Good Will Hunting when Skylar (Minnie Driver) asks Will (Matt Damon) how he figures things out in minutes that takes her hours to comprehend. He goes into this long explanation that used Beethoven and Mozart’s understanding of the piano about how they could just play and when it came to the understanding the difficulties produced by Ivy League academia he says, “When it came to stuff like that, I could just play”.  That’s the best I can describe it: I can just play.

Now when you combine analytical abilities with my interpersonal skills and severe empathy and you get a man who has easily been able to discern what a person is like, things they’ve done or something as weird as how many siblings they have and what gender those siblings are. It’s weird, really, really weird to me sometimes when things like that come to me so easily especially when, just by looking at one of my friends, I was able to tell that she had been a part of a mutual friend’s infidelity.  It is stuff like that I really don’t want to know.

What’s really frustrating is that there are times and there are people when these abilities carry absolutely no weight. It’s like someone just emptied my head or flipped off some kind of switch.  Some people are just really hard to read.  I would like to think that through my abilities I have gained some sort of insight into the inner workings of the human psyche and, to some degree, it has. I know a lot more about people than they realize a lot of the time.  But then I will see things that make absolutely no logical sense and it becomes unbearably frustrating.

This leads me to the first thing that I can tell you that I know without a doubt: There are some things I will never understand.  I will never understand why people who had a horrible go around when they dated will break up and then get back together. I will never understand why at the age of 25 I was diagnosed with a heart condition that’s typical in people in their 50’s.  I don’t understand why people hate, why people can’t be honest and why it took me so long to figure this out.  Some things just will not make any sense.  But at least I know it and someday, if you don’t, you might understand this particular truth.

Which provides absolutely no segue in to my next paragraph so I’ll just bumble into it.  I’m not a pro at this, I just speak what’s on my mind and heart and hope it makes sense.  I’ve always been that way, I guess.  I’ve been writing prose and poetry since 7th grade.  That was when the ability to communicate via paper and pencil was really unlocked. I had the most fantastic English teacher in Miss Fischer, a woman whom half the guys in the class had a crush on. I came to know her as more of a friend because she treated me like a human instead of the freak that everyone thought I was. I was a loner back then and writing was kind of my gateway out of that mindset.  Just as I’m doing now, I would write down how I was feeling and eventually I found someone influences that really altered and gave me a stronger voice. Self-expression is necessary, I think, for everyone. It manifests itself in many ways but it’s always there.

I’m still a loner now and I still write as is evident by the 1,200 words I’ve spewed forth thus far. And I still retreat to a form of writing to make sense of things in life. I’m really good at feeling alone in a room full of friends still.  It just goes to show you that some things never change.  And that is the second thing that I know.  I know that no matter what happens in your life, my life and everyone else’s life there are some things that will never change.  In a world where “the only thing that stays the same is change,” there are actually a few things that are not blanketed by that statement. Autumn will always be marked by the colors changing of the leaves, the tides will always be affected by the moon and even though their positions may apparently alter slightly, the stars will always shine in the sky when the sun sets.

There is something else that never changes.  You know, as much of a heathen as I have been through the span of my life I have always believed in God.  He may not have looked or acted like the God that I’ve studied and believe in now but he has always been there. In theological terms, people like to say that God is immutable, that is, he is not changing or able to be changed. This is something I know about God.  It’s hard to comprehend but it is indeed the truth.

My friend Ben says he’s wrong 20% of the time but that’s only because the other 80% of the time he’s talking about Jesus. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  I believe Jesus came down in the form of a human and was tempted like we are tempted every day. And I think even worse because Satan himself really went after him first in the wilderness and then through Judas Iscariot who turned Jesus over to the authorities to ultimately be crucified.  In theological terms, Jesus’ nature can be defined by the hypostatic union, that Jesus is fully man and fully God.  Because of the former it was written in the letter to the Hebrews, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Jesus is that high priest.

With all of this in mind, I think there’s really only one more thing I can say I truly know.  While I know that some things I will never understand and there are some things that will never change, I think I’ve discovered something that is ultimately far more important. I know that God understands and he never changes.  That’s something, above all else, that I can cling to and tell people I know.  All other issues are unimportant by themselves.  When you add them up, however, and lay them like bricks in front of you the end result, because what I’m telling you is the truth, the road you build will lead you to the God I speak of.  I know that it’s narrow and there are few that will find it.  If it’s truth you seek, if it’s understanding you desire, then there is a God who knows you more intimately than any person ever could because he knew you before you were formed in the womb and before you were born he called you out and he wants you to know him.