Waves

It has been a while since I forced myself to sit down and write something.  It has actually been about five months, give or take.  At Christmas time I sent her two books for her and two movies for her boy as gifts.  In hindsight, it was a poor decision.  Was I actively trying to woo her back with gifts? No, not really.  Did I have some sort of misguided or ill-conceived hope that it would at least start a dialogue up? Yeah, of course I did.  You see my mind likes to have these back and forth thoughts, like waves gently falling onto a beach. One wave will be reasonable, rational, the next will be the exact opposite, and it is up to me to try to sort through all of the wet sand the waves leave behind.

She was unhappy with the gifts, she sent them back unopened, and followed that up with a message that simply said to leave her alone, that it had been a long time since we had been together, that she thought I was a good guy, just not her guy, that she knew from the get go that we were not going to work out.  She said there was a line in the sand, and I should not cross it, I should not reach out again.  She also told me to stop writing about her.  I responded sheepishly that I understood, that I would not reach out, that I would not send anything else, but I did say that I would write about whatever I felt like.  The writing is mine, and it is all I really have as far as a way to cope with things.  But then a wave crashed in my brain, and I have not written anything since.  Not a line.

I wonder about a lot of things from that last exchange.  Am I intimidated, is that why I stopped writing?  Am I still holding out some sort of delusional hope?  SHe is getting married for God’s sake! AM I just scared that the writing is getting repetitive and stale?  Is it that I am simply not good enough to write, because I was not good enough for her?  But then the waves come again, some good, some bad.  She said she knew right away, why did she say all the things she said when we were together?  She said she knew right away, why did she stay for the year? I have not begun to figure that stuff out, or even try to, because I believe it would be a monumental waste of energy, and a needless exercise in inflicting more pain upon myself.  I have become comfortable with this simple idea: if she meant what she said back then, she is lying now, and if she meant what she said five months ago, she was lying then, either way, how can I trust anything that was said at all?  I hope she is well, I hope her son is well, and I hope she has found someone who she can tell the truth to.

Meanwhile, I want to start writing again.  I have ideas.  Ideas for short stories, long stories, poems, and songs, and I am going to ease back into it, writing little bits here and there, kind of like exercising after a long lay off.  I am not going to be prolific, I never really was, but I am going to be steadier about things.  Because writing is important to me, and I do find it comforting to let some of the things out of my head and onto the screen. So read if you’d like, comment if you want. I will selfishly tell you that for now, this is for me, and for no one else, and that is just fine.

 

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Noise

You hear that?

That high-pitched whine

That noise that sounds like a metal fork on a cookie sheet

That noise that sounds like fingernails on a chalk board

Like unlubricated metal on metal

You hear it?

Is it out there?

In the world?

Or is it in here?

Inside of my mind?

I can’t make it stop

It feels like there is a rat trapped in my head

It is clawing and chewing to get out

Scratching at the walls of my skull

I can’t stand it

I need to make it stop but I don’t know how

I used to try to drown it

I used to try to medicate

Not anymore

For my own good

The noise shrieks like a baby bunny

A baby bunny getting eaten by some fearsome predator

The screams echo, resonate, bounce around

Are they the voices of my past?

Are they my voice begging for relief?

Whatever the noise is

I can’t make it stop

It wants me to suffer

It wants me to hurt

I can’t make it stop

I don’t know how to make it stop

Please come save me from the noise inside my head

Without chopping it off

Help me identify the noise

Help me isolate the noise

Help me silence the noise

Help me

Help me

 

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Double take

I received your last note. There was nothing passive about it, there was no mistaking it for anything other than what it was. It was a line in the sand drawn by the same heel I had let stomp on me for a long time. 

That is my fault, I hung on too long, hoped too hard, wanted it so much that I blinded myself to some hard truths. You are never coming back, and when you said those exact words, it was peculiar,  like a weight had been lifted off if me by angels. I expected it to hurt more, but honestly I am all out of hurt right now.

I have just a smidgen of anger, and a dash of indignation. I look back at your older and oldest messages and wonder if what you said now was true. Did you really know I was not the one immediately? Why did you say you loved me back then? Was it because you knew I needed those words? I need them now, but from someone who means them. It does not matter in the long run, but being who I am, I like to ponder.

If you knew right away as you most recently said, why go through the act? The notes, the texts, the photos, the hugs, and kisses, the gifts, the talks, the nights…all for what? 

I once heard a manager at a busy business say that they never fired anyone, they just reduced employees hours more and more until the employee just quit. I used to think that was clever, so no unemployment would have to be paid out, now I think it is a bit cowardly, and weak. Just say, “Sorry, this isn’t working for me.” 

Don’t just disappear, don’t just sever the line of communication,  it isn’t right, not to mention unkind.

I got your message, and whether you were faking it way back then, letting a lie flourish, or whether you are lying now, it doesn’t matter, you have drawn the line at last, and for better, or worse, I am free. 

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Reflection

My house was quiet

My dog was gently snoring

Laying in front of one of the baseboard heaters

I can see my reflection in the computer screen

That face staring back at me

Seems to be that of a stranger

Where did those lines around the eyes come from?

When did the gray hairs start to sprout?

Why are those blue eyes dulling?

Who is that old man staring back at me?

Years take their toll

But it is not the years, it is the mileage

Or so they say

I have been on this road for what seems like forever

Started when I was a boy

I was different, am different

Not a lot of friends

Easier to stay quiet and alone

Easier to not tell the stories from home

Than to explain the bruises

The fresh marks

Looking for salvation and soothing in a woman’s arms

Like looking for a glass of ice water

While floating in the Pacific

I hear the winter wind whip snow against my windows

Reminds me of Minnesota

Hopeful hug turned away in disdain

Different arms not wanting my heart

Just a piece of my flesh

My mind was not attractive enough

My feelings were weird and unwanted

Later still there was the 21-year-old actress

What a joke

What a mistake

Still looking for salvation and soothing

In someone else’s arms

Then the artist

Best friend who shattered me

Made me skip Cohen to spite myself

Made me realize love, hate, desperation, and denial

All interwoven like a Mexican blanket for sale

Hanging on a panel Van’s side

Then I thought the one had finally arrived

Bathed me to cleanse the hurt

Soothe the bruises and the fresh marks

Hold me and be held by me

Whispered truths in the bedroom with the low ceiling

Quietly sang all of my favorites

My voice cracking

Trying to share what I felt with other peoples words

Did you know that peanut butter and alfalfa sprouts are delicious

With hand pressed coffee and a sweet smile

Served on a freshly toasted bagel

It was a lie

A lie that I perpetuated upon myself

Who can live up to that?

I have the energy, the manic energy

No one else does

It is not fair to expect it

I have come to a crossroads in my life

I choose change, but on my terms

No more colored pills taken in eight-hour intervals

If I am going to hurt, let it be sharp

Let it cut deep, so as to never heal

I am never going to apologize for my scars again

Old scars from childhood

New scars from 745 days ago

I am never going to apologize for holding on again

It takes Herculean strength to say this is what I want

I am prepared to suffer with no visible end

I refuse to silence myself

Why should I not try to talk to one whom I hold so dear

Who I believe to be as good as I have known

If you want me to shut up

Say so

Your silence wreaks of fears of your own

Your lack of communication is an inherited and learned response

I am strong

Stronger than I knew

I can take decades of torture and sum it up in 1000 words or less

It doesn’t matter anyways

This is my way of saying goodbye

I am going to withdraw

Left to my own devices

It will hurt, but hurt on my terms

And if that is the one little bit of control

I am afforded

I will take it gladly

My heart is hers

It has been in one shape or another for a long time

The rest is mine

And I choose to close ranks and keep it to myself

So I am sure I will speak with you again

But not for a while

And the bluntness will be gone

That is now mine and mine alone

If she wants it, all she has to do is speak

I won’t hold my breath

But I will hope as hard as I know

 

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Discovery

A pretty young girl took a seat at my bar

We had met many times before

She ordered her usual and said with a sigh

“Work was terrible, it was slow and long”

i asked why, as i poured her drink

She explained that someone was trying to arrange

A meeting place at the last second

She explained who the person was

i said, you know, she is the person who i mourn

The person who had me hit rock bottom

The person i have changed myself in the hopes

Of meeting again someday

The girl cast her gaze down and slowly she looked at me

“I hate to tell you this dear friend, but she was with a fiance”

My heart jumped and pushed hard against my chest

i wanted to scream and sob all at once

i held it together, and honestly said,

“Well i hope she is happy, and that he is good to her and her boy”

It had been so long since i called her mine

Since she and i were a we

It was insane for me to still be holding on

Friends had told me as such

But still i held on because it is my belief

That love is so rare and fickle

That stranger things have happened than my dream

Now i hear she has decided

To spend her life with another

i declared the night sad song night

Played all my lonesome favorites

The next day i spoke to a therapist

Same guy every week

He urged me to be logical

To let things go

That emotions are not real

i understand and nodded

But truly i do not agree

My emotions are as real as the moonlight glowing

On the raging great lake

Just to the east of me

i wanted to write her a letter

To explain how much i had to offer

i wanted to talk to her nephew

To ask if it was really true

But none of that would be appropriate

So i sat and let the thoughts stew

i sent messages to a few of my friends

To seek solace in their words

i was hoping one of them would hold the secret

To making everything all right

i did not want to hear what they said

“You are a good man”

“It is her loss”

“You will find someone better”

“I love you like a brother”

All the best intentions, but none seemed to heal

So here i seat writing

Instead of working or sleeping

Maybe i am a bit crazy

Maybe i just am not right in the head

i can see and help others concisely

i cannot get her out of my heart

i still have the books i bought her

For Halloween her favorite day

i did not send them, not appropriate

Unopened on a bookshelf they lay

i pray to my God for answers

But i ask all of the wrong questions

Some tell me that God has answered

i just was not accepting it

Maybe that is true

But what is the difference between stubborn and hopeful

The difference between hard-hearted or perseverance

It is a thin line, too narrow to distinguish

i know that i have lost her

Lost friends probably along the way

i think maybe it is time to surrender

To admit love will not be coming

So i wish her all of the best

Happiness, peace, and prosperity

But a little voice inside me says

“Don’t forget about me”

I write this knowing it is not good poetry, knowing it is sappy at best, but I needed a release of some sort.  I really do love that woman, even after all of my suffering.  I really do yearn to be with her again. I can’t stop remembering the warmth, the laughter, our bubble, the big house, and all of our other inside jokes.  Don’t share this, hell I doubt you got this far.  Just know that I am doing my best.  I miss her, and on top of it I miss others, all of the loves keep piling back into me, like a dam with many leaks.  I just don’t know what to do, how to act, where to search.  I am blessed with many things, so am I being greedy? Maybe I should just quit.  It is not in my nature to quit.  If I do quit, it will be all the way. Ah well, good night, I am going to try to go back to bed.

 

 

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Confession of A Cubs Fan

It has been a little over fifteen hours since the Chicago Cubs professional baseball club won the world series for the first time in 108 years.  Just writing that feels odd, feels foreign, almost like I am doing something wrong. But it is not wrong, it is right, and the emotions flowing through me, as with so many Cubs fans are overwhelming.  The instant the won I was working behind the bar at a small pub in Kenosha, WI.  The crowd there erupted in cheers, there was hugging, there was singing, and there were a few tears.  None of that came from me.  I stood there with a small smile on my face, and just absorbed it all, tried to take everything in to store up for another time.  As I did that, a million thoughts raced through my head, and I want to share just some of them with you.

I remember being a child of 5 or 6 years old, and being able to only buy bleacher seats the day of the game, and they would let you bring your own food in.  My dad took me with the neighbors, and me and my childhood best friend were asked to scoot under the gate as they raised it, and run up the ramp to get the most desirable seats in the bleachers.  I remember eating candied orange slices in the hot summer sun, with my best friends dad hooting and hollering to the players, and my dad sitting back enjoying a cold beer.  As the Cubs won, I was sure that my buddy’s dad was in heaven cheering up a storm.  This was for you, Ray.

I remember learning about rooting for the home team from my beloved grandfather, my favorite man in the world.  He was from southern Illinois, and a die-hard Cardinal fan.  He taught me how to tie my shoe, throw a ball, catch, play cards, bowl, and he taught me that the home team is part of America.  I wanted to be a Cardinal fan like him, but he insisted that I become a Cub fan because I lived in the far Northern suburbs of Chicago.  He would make a trip up to see me in the late spring, always when the Cardinals were in town to play the Cubs, and I would go visit him once a summer, always when the Cubs were in St. Louis.  He taught me how to score a game.  I remember him in his white undershirt, his freshly cut flat top haircut, his horn rimmed glasses, and his pall mall hanging out of his mouth, pointing out different players and spots in the stadium to me.  Whenever I go back, I swear I still smell his cigarette.  As the Cubs won, I know my granddad looked down on me and smiled. I know you love the Cardinals granddad, but this was for you anyways.

I remember watching the Cubs in 1984, with the Sarge, the daily double, JOE-DEE, the Bull, the red baron, the penguin, and all of that colorful team.  I remember my dad letting me skip school to watch the playoffs.  I remember going up 2 – 0, and thinking this was it! I also remember Steve Garvey, and the game 5 Gatorade soaked glove.  It was my first lesson in Cubs agony,  I was born 2 years after the great 1969 tragedy that haunted my elders.  When the Cubs won last night, it was for that team, for all of the Cubs teams and players who have come and gone, who played their guts out, but couldn’t quite make it. This one is for you guys.

I remember watching the 1989 team with Maddox, and Sandberg, Grace get totally destroyed by Will Clark and the Giants.  I remember being numb to it, thinking this was just how it was to be a Cub fan.  We only got glimpses of joy, mere glances at the crown, but it was not meant for us.  When the 2016 Cubs won, this was for that team, and stick it in your ear Will Clark.

I remember the 2003 team.  I was a father by then, with a 4-year-old son, and an infant son.  I remember them being 5 outs away, and then blowing it.  I remember thinking that we had our two best pitchers, Wood and Prior, going in game 6 and 7 at home, and losing.  After the last out, I sat on the couch and cried.  I was devastated, that team felt like it was destined to win.  That team had so much.  When my 4-year-old asked what was wrong, his mother just picked him up and carried him away, telling him, “Daddy will explain some day” as she looked at me sympathetically.  The win last night is for all of my sons, who will never have to deal with Billy goats, and century long streaks.  This one is for you my boys, I love you so much.

I remember 2008 and 2009, thinking maybe we have a chance, only to get squashed by the stupid Dodgers.  Believe me, when the Cubs beat the Dodgers in the NLCS, I took extra joy in that.  I shouldn’t be that petty, I shouldn’t hold on like that, but I think that is what part of being a Cubs fan is.  It is to remember all of the joy and suffering this team has given you, and now, today, the joy is historic.  This one was for us, all of us Cub fans to savor, to have, to retell for the rest of our lives.

Mostly, I remember people who loved the Cubs just like I did, it felt like being in some sort of weird cult.  I remember Ma Geisler, with “Her Cubbies” watching on the couch, drinking diet Dr. Pepper, and shushing us to be quiet while the game was on.  I remember Tara, and how amazing she looked in Cubbie blue.  I remember Kev, and watching games with him and his Ma, trying to be cool, but living and dieing with each pitch and swing of the bat. I remember a beautiful woman and her son named Murphy, both of whom I will love forever.  I remember game 3 with Shakey and the angry Jarhead Cleveland fan. I remember my Kelly Kelly, RAB, and Eric and his daughter, and the rest of his clan, I remember Sawyer and Mary stopping in to have a drink, I remember AL high fiving like he never has before, I remember it all, every little piece, from Harry singing to Bill Murray, to Eddie Vedder, I remember it all. So this world series win is everybody;s, in their own unique way.  I hope that they enjoy it as much as I do.  I hope they love this team as much as I do.  I hope they love all of the other Cub fans in and out of their lives as much as I do.  I hope they carry this amazing feeling into other parts of their lives to make the world a tiny bit better.  This win was for all of us, all of the fans new or old, and everyone else who love us.  Thank you Chicago Cubs, this was one for the books.

If you are a Cub fan, or know or love a Cub fan, please share this.

 

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Stuck on Repeat

I have been lying in bed for over 4 hours

Listening to my ill-installed ceiling fan keep time

I am drained, tired beyond tired

Yet I still can’t fall asleep

My mind force feeds me images from forgotten dreams and nightmares

Replays them relentlessly at different speeds

I hear a favorite song stuck on repeat

Some sort of demented soundtrack

A piano playing chords all in  minor keys

A famous singer whining, growling, spitting words

Into an old time microphone

The words I swear are plagiarized from my internal tragedy

I wish I could make you hear this song

I wish I could make you listen to the words

I wish i could make you understand how important

The music and the lyrics are to me

Although i consider myself a poet

A part-time poet at least or at best

I readily admit that there are plenty better than me

I focus on my only goal

My only goal of peace

Not world peace, or national peace

Hell, not even peace for my block

But internal peace is my goal

A peace not dependant on anyone else

Just me

But the turmoil and the dull roar

Increase inside my head making it throb

Like a thumb whacked by a hammer

A giant whirlpool of shit spinning around inside of me

Anger

Disillusionment

Sadness

Guilt

Memories

What can make things better?

What can erase all of this shit?

Family, Friends

Education , sobriety

God?

Not tonight my friend, not tonight

By the way

I really fucking hate Billy Joel

I know, I know

He is talented and all of that

But man, i really, REALLY hate Billy fucking Joel

Anyways

I am not writing all of this to impress you

Or me, or them

I am not writing this to try to win you back

I think that ship has sailed

I have doubts whether you were ever truly mine in the first place

Not that I owned you

I mean, I doubt if you were ever as invested as I was

I am

I look back with regret and anger

Wondering why you had to be so passively aggressive

Why the truth couldn’t have been told

Did you know I could not handle it?

Or did you simply want what you wanted

And did not care about the rest

Do you talk about me now?

Do you tell people the things you told me about past lovers?

Are they the truth

Were they?

None of this is helping

I listen to the words of the song, stuck on repeat

I listen to the words that are familiar in their gloom

I feel the chords of dissonance resonate

it is beautiful in its hopelessness

It is a real comfort to me

That someone else wrote words

With the same fevered agony that I feel

Why can’t I fucking fall asleep

Misery loves company I suppose

I am so tired

My eyes are heavy

Yet there is a strange electricity residing inside of me

A current running from the bottom of my stomach

Full of acid and nausea

All the way to the top of my scarred lungs

25 years of Marlboro

Lungs tight with asthma

Tightened by the electrical surge that keeps me awake

Anxiety? Maybe

I blame me and you

Ok, mostly you

My unwitting and unwilling muse

I write all of this down

In hope that many will read

When in fact it will probably be 6 people

A half-dozen piteous readers

I know I have potential

Every now and then the things I say, the things I write

Ring true to more than just me

Incite a flicker of emotion in others

But potential is like a damning millstone

Wrapped tight around my neck

By a thick mooring line

Dragging me to the bottom of the raging lake

Just east of my backyard

Burying me under the washing machine waves

That beat a natural rhythm against the shore

Stuck on repeat

Nothing is easy anymore

Maybe nothing ever was

Nothing is peaceful

I used to be able silence all of this noise

Drown it out and numb myself up

Blood of the gods and Kentucky madness

And it all faded away

Now here I am, trying to figure all the big questions out

When I should be fast asleep

Trying to forget the worst parts

Trying to cherish the best

Still that song plays on

Still the singer whines, growls, and spits

I am still listening, hoping to catch a drop or two

Of the magic venom he spews

Onto the tip of my tongue

Or on the tip of my pen

So maybe I can write something almost as beautiful

Almost as impactful

Almost as touching

So that maybe someday

Someone else who is suffering will read this over and over

Stuck on repeat

Ah never mind, I am going back to bed.

 

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