Being Honest

•February 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

If I’m being honest
I’ve been depressed.
I’ve been like this most of the life I can remember
It’s, honestly, the mood I seem most comfortable with
but I told myself a long time ago I wouldn’t let it linger in my chest
that I’d shake the crows from the lines from time to time
and try to remind myself of the miracle this mess really is
that the shadows are only as dark as the light you surround them with

but one night, this fairly level headed aquaintance of mine said to me,
Poetry is the fastest way
to end a party.
and it stuck with me
because he’s fucking right
a lot of the opening lines I write
could silence a busy room on New Years eve at midnight.
so what am I doing?
am I only taking the stage to rain shit on someone else’s parade?
to remind the world that it’s not all fun?
That somewhere, on the other side of the horizon, the light does fade
the darkness comes, and while everyone has a price, not everyone will have to pay
No, that’s not what I want to say

I stand up here because one night someone said to me
after a particularly passionate performance of a breakup poem that meant a lot to me
that her mother had needed to hear that,
she’d been afraid of the thoughts she’d had for a while
and that I had
found a catchy phrase or two she could repeat
when that’s all she could do
when she just needed to know she wasn’t alone
and remember she could surely weather that storm too.
when maybe she just needed something like that to be true

So, I promise to not go gloomy every time,
to not do my damndest to seek the darkest dredges of my life
and just excercise my demons while folks are trying to have a good time
but I’m also going to speak my mind
to use the only weapons I’ve found to fight the feeling of being alone
to offer the path I found out, and the one I’m still on
because we’ve got nothing if not the shared experience of being alive
of staring down the barrel of life and pulling the trigger time after time, after time
and maybe it hasn’t always gone so right
maybe we’ve lost a few fights
but I’m here to say that maybe that’s the most beautiful we’ll ever be
maybe breaking is what makes making it mean so damn much

we deserve the courage to fall
and if we believe we’re the first to do it, maybe we’ll never take the chance at all
maybe raking our mistakes across the coals is what makes us such relateable miracles
turning them into something someone else sees as hope, a little light in the mist
because the shadows are only as dark as the light you surround them with

sure, maybe I’m depressed,
but I guess I’ve always seen us as kind of like clouds when it comes to this
we grow heavy with the dreams, the heartbreak, the love, the loss, sodden with sorrow
but those that learn to rain,
to turn the pain into something to write, create, paint, or perform,
offer others dodging lightning reason,
those that see nothing but storms a story to believe in
They offer more to the world than just the darkness they carry
they offer hope in the form of a struggle, of a journey
of a road so emotionally wrenching it earned itself a song, a painting, or poetry
they offer proof that you’re not alone,
that someone has been the storm you’ve occasionally found yourself forming
and learned so much that they’re performing the mistake
three nights a week, despite debilitating stage fright and self-conciousness
you know,
If I’m being honest.

Molting Constellations

•February 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I caught her molting constellations on the water. Her sunburned skin, pale and stark against the moonlight. It occurred to me then, what a miracle we all are, considering how fumblingly we go in, and how seldom we get it right. Beneath a black curtain sky, shattered to life with stars, I held my breath on behalf of her, and listened to the shoring water shush the surrounding world into quiet reverence.

Something about getting older had me thinking about suicide. Maybe it wasn’t so much about death, but about leaving everything behind. Watching her silhouette move through the water, the moonlight scattering beneath the oily calm waves she pushed through, I wondered about where I’d go, who I’d be, what I’d do. All those promises I had made to myself, and how few had wound up coming true. God, help me, for a moment there, I actually wondered about You.

In the darkness, surrounded by the soundtrack of ocean silence, I stood; quietly screaming inside. I’m so angry at a stranger, who lived what feels like a lifetime ago, an existence that owes all its coincidence to facial resemblance, and after all this time, barely even feels like mine. The mirrored man I meet every morning still looks sixteen to me, still wonders somewhere when this is going to suddenly turn around, and I’ll finally figure out what the whole damn thing means. But that’s not me.

I’m thirty-two, watching the shadow of a stranger wade, shoulder deep, through constellations she makes in the waves she breaks, and wondering, like we all do, where I’m going, who I am, and what I want to do. The terrifying truth is that tomorrow is always another chance, to remain, regress, or advance; to change, to wait, or to fall back. And it’s a choice we have to make every moment until we cease to notice so much that they pass as that they have collected, into a pile of people and promises that we’re proud of.

“It’s Better To Have Loved and Lost, Than to Have Never Loved at All”

•February 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

She smiles at me over her shoulder. Rolling curls of blonde ribbon, bouncing around her shoulders, framing her smile in mischief somehow. Her dress, thin shining silver seemingly painted across her skin is open down to the smallest part of her back. She’s walking away, but her laugh is begging me to follow. For a moment I don’t. I wait. I breathe. And somewhere, all these years later, I remember being madly in love.

I remember as if it was yesterday. She could be 16, maybe 21, she could be a dream, but I see her shedding a prom dress, maybe a formal dance, or just some night out we had. But I remember being utterly breathless. I remember realizing that this is what life feels like when it’s being lived, but I suppose it’s easy enough to forget. The truth of epic train wrecks is that they had to be epic before they got wrecked, it’s all about perspective and, in  retrospect, when we’re paying attention.

We believe in disaster more, as a people. It’s what we understand. Beauty, that’s much tougher. Even beauty becomes mundane. Even miracles become old hat when they’re happening half of every day. When your perspective begins atop the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, it’s going to take Everest to impress you.

I’ve surely been higher on her smile than I’ve ever been in the beautiful state of Colorado. It’s why it hurts so damn much when she leaves. It’s why I still can’t seem to shake the dreams. But, at the same time, it’s why I kept trying, even after an age of darkness in my life that knows no equal. An almost nuclear devastation we came shambling through, only to find myself stepping back up to the line to go traipsing out onto thin limbs again.

It’s a pain that knows no relative. Is only a distant cousin to any agony that anyone else has ever seen, and, in part, it’s true. Because no one has loved like I loved you, they couldn’t have, I was busy doing it with you. And God willing, someone loves you now, just like I used to. Yes, God willing they’re scared as hell that if you leave they’ll have the same problem I still seem to. The sort of pain you’re sometimes proud that no one understands. The ache of loving someone with every day you have.

I don’t believe we’re made to only love one person. I don’t believe in soul mates, or star-crossed lovers. Though, I’ll admit I probably once did. Now, though, what I know, is that it’s much more complicated than all that. There’s no one made to fit, there’s no one with whom things will just work. I’ve seen love. Reveled as it shook me in my bones, stripped me of my breath, and left me sobbing outside a T.G.I. Friday’s. The point is that I’m skipping over the point, which is that I’m eternally blessed for what came between.

A sort of love whose absence left me devastated, and whose occasional appearance in my life has wrought meaning to a scientific sort of existence. One who never had much room for religion or superstition. One who only really believed in fate because he was lucky enough to find the “one.” Once I realized there wasn’t only one, I didn’t do a whole lot better, but I still believed. Believed in the power of a mostly insignificant little mammal to believe in the beauty, the power, the potential of another insignificant little mammal, and I still believe to this day.

To have lived days without numbers. To have laughed along with the morning. To have laid weeping in a well of sorrow. If I never love again. If I never have kids. If I never come to terms with the things that I have lost and this is the best I ever did. I’ll at least have tasted a life at its most heart stopping; at its most breathtaking. I have seen some of the best things life has to offer and, in turn, some of the darkest depths the mind finds to go when all good things feel lost, and all hope is gone. We are only mammals, blessed with the curse of knowing how small our bigness truly is. How devastatingly meaningful we are to one another, and how fragile that all really is.

Sometimes

•January 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes I wonder why I never stopped loving her. If it’s me, if it was us, or just her. Sometimes I wonder if she has the dreams too. Wakes up desperately lonely wondering what the hell I’m like at thirty-two. But then she kisses her husband and falls back asleep, because it’s not about her and, and it’s not about me, it’s about still believing in something bigger than the both of us. That thing we offered to one another before either of us were old enough to know how fragile it really was.

On Heroes

•November 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Underneath the last throw of spring rain
out of the corner of my eye, I heard her say my name
but I was preoccupied with this series of red comets she’d written across her thighs
and I know she asked me a question but I can’t seem to reply
I can tell she’s trying to get down to my level
but I mettle with dangerous metaphors
turning final corners just to find the door,
burning the last bridge down just to finally see the shore
gleaming in the distance, right where I left
before I started writing stories without heroes
scrawled across flesh in a language no one else knows
A slow but steady tally that heals, then grows
a book I pretend to close with clothes
long sleeve shirts in summer sweat
because it’s not the sort of story I’m ready to share just yet
and it occurred to me
that the words I was carving across my arms spelled ‘help me’
but maybe you misread and thought they said ‘join me’
because you turned to me when faith misplaced you
and our words were wasted, your trust defaced and
I was too busy telling stories with my hurt to face
that you’d taken up my gory way with words
but I found phrases I thought I forgot in your smile
and collected them, and it might have taken me a little while
but I believed in them, wrapped them up like your shattered trust in God and I seeded them
to grow like the mansions of faith we used to see for them
two hearts held together because we bleed for them, need for them
to turn this darkness back to the light that I see for them
dream for them, turn my back on what I know and believe in
because we see then, we’re lucky to be let down
it’s why they call it falling.
What if we’re just thunder, rolling through the rain?
Some rumbling seeking the distance, like an outbound train
what if we can never find the words to say
but can only scribble into the trembling flesh that still tingles with touch
and you blush, when you tell me, you think you finally understand
what it’s like chasing darkness with your own two hands
like cradling lightning, only to watch it disappear, again and again
but then you’re bleeding, and you’re staring back at me and
for a moment all I can see are shooting stars, written in red ink
and you whispering to me, my name, and no more,
as if the sound of it meant peace to the both of us, instead of war
and I wanted to say to you
the story I’ve been scrawling across my scars,
every bit of it is true
but where it ends, is with you,
and I’m sure I’m gonna have to find another way to tell it,
but that’s okay too
because I’m beginning to see that scars aren’t the only way to tell the truth
that sometimes words tell it better, so I’ve gather mine together here for you
and maybe baby this is the best I’ll ever do
but I’m not willing to live in the dark no more
I’m not willing to take chances with other people’s hearts
and I know I’ve hardly ever really been good for you
but maybe this is how it starts
just to stop trying to tell stories with scars
to find the words for my particular burden of truth
and carry it like a torch to help light the dark
sure, our shadows will always be waiting a step behind,
we’ll be chased by darkness all of our lives
but I’m gonna do my damnedest to make my struggle a light
whether it be in the way I live or the words I write
and I’m not always going to get it right
but I’m going to keep putting my pen to paper
again and again
to try to prove to you, to me, maybe even to them
that we’re more than the stars of our success
or the scars that we etch onto our bodies or into our chests
we are lightning, we are thunder
we are trains chasing the distance, carrying wonder
and we will be derailed, defeated, and disappointed
regaled, believed in, and anointed,
but we will never be more than what we give to one another
we will never be bigger than what we share
so maybe the point is not to lay your burdens to rest but to lay them to bare
to map the constellations of our scars and when they look,
let them stare,
because what this took, wasn’t fair
and I’m on the hook, but I don’t care
because somewhere between the scars and the stars there’s us
in clothes instead of capes,
writing stories about heroes,
and the mistakes it takes to become one

This one took me a while to write. Like, a long while. I had this experience with an ex-girlfriend. I was into the self-harm thing, and one night she decided to try it out. When she showed me the aftermath it completely rocked my world. She was a happy girl, didn’t really struggle with depression other than with mine. Sort of made me realize how much my decisions effected others.

Pieces of this one can be found in some other stuff I’ve done in the past, but pretty much everything is new. It’s one I didn’t expect to finish, honestly. I had to keep coming back to it, month after month. Little by little I chipped away at it, but I’m really proud of what it became. I really strive to not let my stuff just be a downer, I always want to leave a light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ve been struggling a lot with that lately.

Over the years, probably over a decade now, she and I lost touch almost completely, but I’ve carried that night with me ever since. Everyone wants to be the hero of their story, to save a damsel/cowboy, or to be the one that got away, but the pleasant truth is that we may never know the example of survival we leave in our wake. We may struggle all of our years only to leave an easier path for someone behind us to take.

Struggle. Because the alternative is to wait to die, and that’s not hardly a life at all. Remember, every day, that you are only the story you tell yourself, and that perspective will always determine success, no matter how you, your friends, your peers, or your family sees it. You were born to build, but you will break, and when you do, be damn sure you have the courage to share the wisdom of your mistake and the humility to accept the truth.

The Ugly Truth

•November 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I believe I am broken. I cannot say that I’ve honestly felt anything in almost a year. I’ve just been coasting. Maybe waiting. I spent most of my life believing I’d be someone else by now, that standing here makes me feel like a failure somehow. It’s not that I wanted to be more, but that I wanted to be different. I wanted to worry about different things. I’d happily still bury my days in work if just one of those ill-fated relationships had left me anything but burnt. Bitter. Angry with hurt.

I used to believe in a magic sort of love; that swept you off your feet and carried you into middle age. Ordinarily toting a child or two, and a complex regarding what it all really means. A sort of script to the average existence, as long as you played by the rules. I never took it for granted, though. I always loved with the best parts of me, and you can ask those who know. I never cheated, did my best to treat others as I’d like to be treated, it just never worked out. And that’s okay. I’m a better person for every one of those experiences, and I’d never call them mistakes.

I used to believe in fate, though. Destiny. That things may not work out great, but they will be how they are supposed to be. The older I get, the less I believe that. The more years I see the more I believe that we’re out here sort of adrift, and that we’re all simply the sum of the mistakes, the successes, and the undefinable moments of a million other lives, just as clumsily lived. We are, in the end, only our children’s past. And maybe whatever else we can find to give.

I have no children. My job doesn’t change lives. I didn’t wind up with that record deal, nor the degree, but the spaces between filled in, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a good time. But now I’m thirty-two, and I have no fucking clue what to do. I don’t have some big regret to point to either, no massive mistake to blame, overcome, and eventually defeat here, just crippling depression. An unshakable feeling of broken. And a year of feeling numb.

I told myself I’d come back, that I’d fill the pages no matter what words came, but I let myself fall silent and slack, maybe because it all sounded so much the same. I’ve come to claim I don’t care. I don’t give a fuck if you like this, or if you share. I’ve come to shed the shadows from my shores until the waters look clear, subscribers be damned, and may I no longer hold ‘views’ dear. This is the ugly truth, right here. I’m not okay, and I’m not sure I’m getting better, but I’m at least going to try and tell someone about it here.

Cynical Crush

•October 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

She’s the kind of woman that makes your insides ache when she smiles. The sort of woman that gives credit to the cliche “sparkle in her eyes,” and I was paralyzed by the combination of the two. Her long red hair flowed down her, washing down her back, and rolling down her shoulders, save for a lock she twirls absently in her fingers. She was the girl that every girl I had a crush on, was jealous of; which wasn’t so much a product of how she looked, but the absent way that smile ate at my insides and crushed that part of my ego that had been strutting around like pride.

I wanted to know what she looked like over the pile of covers in the morning, her eyelids fluttering open, pleased to see how pleased I am to be lucky enough to watch her wake. I wanted to make her coffee, so good it makes her toes curl, and she tells me so. I wanted to hear what she wanted to talk about when the only things still on her mind are dreams. I wanted to feel her warmth, under a cave of covers, curving against my skin as she folded herself like paper over me.

I haven’t wanted anything so purely since I was still learning what it might be like. I wanted to tell her so. Tell her that I’d give up my friends to worship her night after night, at least for a couple months or so. That I’d surely jeopardize my job just to spend more of my mornings sharing heat beneath the sheets, and telling stories about how crazy we were about one another. That I’d treat her so well she’d eventually be so convinced that she’s not what I think, she’d surely leave for someone who would inevitably treat her worse. That I’d likely cast her in a screenplay she never agreed to, then constantly compare her to that character, like I always seem to. I couldn’t bring myself to beg for the chance to be broken, or to break another. Though it’d probably pass and we’d find forgiveness enough to laugh about what fools we were to think it would work.

So, in spite of those sparkling eyes and the artistically inspiring lines of her, I held my breath. Imagined what it would be like pressed against her chest for the last time, hot tears warming the shoulder of my shirt, wishing like hell there were just a few more days left, but knowing in my heart that there weren’t. Because surely someday she’ll be lonely, staring out at the rain wondering if there’s someone out there to love her like I wanted to, and I just knew I couldn’t find a less painful way to tell her, I do.