Wading Past Boundaries
And then the sky fell
and the weeds became
complacent and refused
to wave at the breeze
like when we were kids
and flipped off the passing
cars and thought scraped knees
would kill us
but only a thousand cuts
can cause us to bleed out
our souls were so bare
from all that praying
the earth as blue as water
caught us wading into clouds
When the Sky Fell
I sat on the bed ready for something big. Whenever a girlfriend said we needed to talk and used that tone, it meant we were about to break up. But this was different. This was a twelve year marriage.
We’d just had one of the most amazing summers of our lives. The kids too. Our four young kids. We’d gone to New York and stayed in a room on the 38th floor of a skyscraper. We’d gone to an amusement park in the hills of Pennsylvania with one of those old organ machines, old timey carousels, and wooden roller coasters. We’d gone to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee in the early Autumn when the leaves were orange and yellow like fire. And an anniversary trip downtown complete with fancy restaurant and nice hotel room. And then, the sky fell.
She told me she was gay and wanted a divorce. I tried my best to understand, to be supportive, and she said she’d get a job and be gone by next June. Next June came. And then September and I realized I wouldn’t be able to move on as long as we were still married and I was still in that house with her. I wouldn’t be able to find a life, get laid, find love.
And another June came and I was dying like a rotting vegetable. I watched pieces of my life fall away like flaking dead skin. And I saw the control and manipulation I’d blinded myself to when we were “happily” married. I’d chalked it up to the usual nagging, the usual honey do lists. The usual ball and chain. Only I was locked in a jail cell in the basement of her narcissism.
And I wasn’t able to break free until I found a new house and moved away. I found pieces of life like building blocks. A music open mic here. A poetry reading there. And workshops and parties. And eventually trips and travels. New chances at life. Old friendships renewed. And opportunities for new friendships, and maybe more someday.
I realized the sky falling, the rug being pulled out from under me, was maybe potentially one of the best things that ever happened to me. I’m not quite there yet. But maybe I’ll get there. Maybe one day I’ll learn to hope again.
A Universal Catastrophe (yet to come)
And then, the sky fell.
Shattered fragments of a once celestial being,
as profound and magical in their colors and shapes,
graffiti the heavenly body above that encapsulates our small, little Earth.
Spitting out as fanatical fireworks on a warm July summer’s dawn,
though, in a lightshow of a stupor of what I had thought was just a foggy morning’s
those stars collided - what a cataclysmic boom!
And the universe collapsed inside of itself.
And as the Moon’s cascading glow had dimmed just mere minutes before,
now the shimmering radiance from the Sun happens to be obscured –
hidden behind dark veils of falling celestial dust
as if one final desperate cry to be saved from the crumbling of eternity.
Time and space are no more.
Creation and existence only seem to be nothing more but calming thoughts.
Secrets and passions shared between the Heavens and the Earth
echo unspoken dreams
that once built the vast expanse of such a universal energy.
Hold my hand, dear friends, and my foes –
a numbing shatter of a reminder
of just how fragile
is the nature of existence.
For in the aftermath of a celestial catastrophe,
we all become the darkness
the sky was swallowed up in the inescapable nothingness.
You never know when there will be a moment that changes your life forever. If we did, we would probably try our best to avoid those few moments.
I stayed up way too late last night, binging a TV show. I needed a caffeine boost to help wake myself up.
All I wanted was a simple cup of coffee and then, the sky fell.
The explosion was deafening. Brick and mortar rained down from above. The shockwave was enough to knock me off my feet as I tried to cover my head.
When I woke up in the hospital, I was told that the explosion was from the top of the apartment building. There had been a gas leak.
I looked down to the space my leg should be occupying, but was flat. A chunk of wall had crushed my calf beyond possible repair.
I only had wanted some coffee.
I let go
I was broken, and I thought I was alone.
I was being eaten alive by the guilt of what had happened.
It felt as though the weight of the world were on my shoulders,
as if I was the only thing keeping the sky from falling down on me.
It went on like that for days.
I barely ate, barely slept, and hated being alone with my thoughts.
I kept reliving it, the memory keeping me up at night,
and when I did sleep, it was only until he haunted my dreams,
turning them to nightmares.
And then, the sky fell.
I gave in. I let the pieces I was barely holding together,
I was exhausted, isolated.
So I called him.
I called the only person I thought would do whatever it took to fix the problem.
I was too tired to handle it on my own,
to keep carrying the weight.
And I finally let go.
It couldn’t get any worse
we thought it couldn’t get any worse
hunger and poverty were everywhere
food was scarce
money was obsolete
whatever it took
the world that remained
had been crushed
the unyielding fist
and then the sky fell
of kaleidoscopic light
the devastated landscapes
we looked up
and thought fairies
had come to end our suffering;
and then the sky fractured
like a cracked mirror
the ugliness below
and we understood,
the death of all
how foolish we were to think
it couldn’t get any worse.
Every day on my way to school, I'd pass this house. In the yard, a Mustang slowly decayed beneath pecan trees. After I graduated, I stopped at the house and knocked on the door.
I asked why the car was there, as I'd heard rumors.
Mr. Conner himself relayed the below story, and he proudly showed me the keys in his pocket.
Jimmy graduated high school in 1966. He wasn't a wonderful student, and he barely squeaked by with passing marks in Algebra.
He was a great son, though, and a good athlete.
His father made a bargain with him, and it was simple:
Get a diploma, and he'd get him a job at the lumber mill after school...
and he'd buy him a brand new Mustang.
His dad liked to pretend that it was the promise of a job that got his boy to focus, but he was a realist. He knew it was the car.
Summer came, and with it, a green Mustang. Exactly seven miles were on the odometer when it left the dealership.
Mr. Conner made good on his other promise. Using his pull as a foreman, he got his boy a job working first shift.
Life was good. The younger siblings were all excellent students, and Jimmy was a decent kid. He was a typical young man; he sometimes drank, he sometimes fought. He had a girlfriend, he went to church.
He drag raced, and usually won.
The sheriff himself came knocking on the door one night with reports that he'd spotted Jimmy over on 24, racing again, and he asked Mr. Conner if he couldn't see to it.
Jimmy, almost a man but still under the Connor roof, was grounded. The car was parked under a tree, and Jimmy was relegated to catching rides to work with his old man.
Jimmy resented these rules, and he felt that he was grown and shouldn't have to put up with such foolishness at 19.
His father explained to him the truth of the world, and Jimmy replied that he'd be moving out. Mr. Conner just smiled and nodded, calmly stating that if he left under those conditions, he could leave the car right where it was. Jimmy went off in a huff, and stayed gone for two days.
On the third, the sky fell when Jimmy came home to find his draft letter.
His father, through tears, gave him the keys to the car, and mumbled apologies. Jimmy hugged him and handed back the keys with these words:
"No, dad. You were right."
On that day, he became a man in his father's eyes.
No one ever drove the Mustang again.
In the Hau Nghia Province of South Vietnam, Jimmy met his end on November 16, 1967. He did not linger, he did not suffer, and he died whole; a single 7.62 millimeter round stole everything that he would ever be.
It was eight days before his 20th birthday.
His father fell on black days that never ended. The Mustang became more than a car; it became a symbol of a father's love for his son. It was left parked under the pecan tree, and the keys stayed in the elder Conner's pocket. For thirty-seven years, the car never moved.
For thirty-seven years, a father mourned.
In 2004, Mr. Conner was reunited with his son in the Memorial Gardens.
He was buried with the keys still in his pocket.