Hard Times Come But They Don’t Last
I was walking down the street one day and found a bag of money I handed it into the police but no one claimed it so they gave it to me. I couldn't believe what I have was told. I was being giving $100,000. I asked myself what should I do I never had nothing good happen to me before and I been through a lot. I been raped, molested, abused, and etc; but this was a blessing from up above. I now got my faith back and decided to donated the money to charity for victims of crime and child abuse.
Social Distancing Distortion
Self-isolation's a term that we’ve gotten used to in 2020
Stay away, stay home, stay stay, stay alone.
But the fact of the matter is that I’ve been self-isolating long before I was grown.
Tears on my pillowcase, teardrops on the bathroom floor, I’ve long known what it was like to be alone.
This doesn’t feel like anything new, somehow living through a pandemic feels like something I’ve already been through.
Lonely nights, the sound of your voice echoing through the house hasn’t been anything anew.
The next day you pretending, like I was ignorant, like the cover of the night covered your sins.
You’ve been my pandemic my whole life, you’ve cut me off from the outside world, and though I’ve tried to run with every sprint with every attempt you cut my limbs.
Stay at home.
It’s always been your way.
We could never stray.
Stay at home
You’ve taken away my options.
Dear God, you are nothing but a toxin.
Pandemic's new for this century.
For me, it’s nothing but an old memory.
Phony lies telling me it’s safe outside.
But in reality, all it is is a graveside on a hillside on the eastside where in the end we all go topside.
See you think I’m weak and you can silence me with your disease.
But I will never let you preside.
You will never see my tears on the roadside, or cuts that I scrap by the bedside.
You will never know what you’ve done to me because if you know you affected me then that means I let you get to me.
You will ever only see my strong side with the phony smile and bright jides.
You will never see the way I cried or the parts of me that I’ve killed and left on the roadside, for vultures to divide and the cars to collide.
You will never know my contrite for you.
All I will ever do is be polite, never forthright with you.
See Ill I brush my teeth with the fluoride looking all bright with a cheesy chide to you.
But the truth is I’m only waiting for an off night with a landslide by the seaside with riptide to take you, in the night.
And when I'll watch you try to swim ashore with more empty promises for another chance to make things right and for another chance of a rewrite.
I will look at you and I will stamp denied.
Only then will I be able to collect the tears that I shed by daylight and grab the rawhide of my body parts and then after you are long gone ill set a fire and ignite them by the hearthside.
You my, pandemic will be gone, no part of you will be implied, then maybe I’ll take a joyride to your graveside with an invite.
Telling you to watch from below how I turned out alright.
Would it kill you,
Would it rob you of your breath,
To say it back?
Would it hurt me,
To hear those words tumble from your mouth,
Is that why you’re silent?
Is everything you do
An attempt to convince me
That this is over
Or are we waiting for the green light
To say something sweet
Even if it’s tinged with regret
in the center _ the explosives in waiting
sit down and begin. what troubles you?
I don’t even know where to start. It’s a lot
that’s alright, just go whenever you’re ready
/ the voice is a whisper when she speaks /
but where is that place?
what place, love?
the beginning of it all... I can’t see where the first string is, I can’t even grab it, TOUCH it. can you? can anyone?
I’m a bit confused. when you say a “string”...
my string, the first thing that pulled me down that damn hill.
well then, as they say, let’s start at square one. What brought you here?
you already know.
I am familiar with the situation, but what sits in your mind? what prevents you from sleeping? why are there so many strings that pull on you?
/ low sigh, the chair creaks against the tile floor /
It’s a lot.
yes, I am aware. Now, begin when you will remember where your voice is / trust me, it’s still there, silently screaming through much thicker walls that you built around yourself
is it still possible to break through something that you’re not even sure exists?
come one now, you and I both know, the walls are real / you both saw mine and felt yours.
yes, you’re right / but I’m just so tired of the same thing happening all over again. it hurts. numb pain shouldn’t hurt, but it does / it’s scary because it’s placed under all that was good. it’s painful to...
to shove my hand under the bones, and touch the insides / they’re already bruised from before / from so many times before. Do you know what scares me the most?
what is it? please tell me.
it’s that damn scale in my life. it shatters me in ways I cannot tell
for every little good thing that happens, something worse comes after.
/ the woman looks down at her hands, trying to prevent the emotions from taking over, it’s not easy /
It seems that this time despite all the bad that has happened, a sense of fulness lingers.
what kind of fulness?
It’s a sensation of feeling less broken / or maybe the same, just...
/ she looks up and eventually braves herself to find the other set of eyes in the room /
do you think it’s possible to be both broken and heal over time?
/ a gentle smile opens up to her from the other person and she exhales, not aware that she was holding her breath /
yes, I believe it’s very possible. we remain broken in some form our entire lives, but with the right people by our side and inner work of our own...
that sounds very new age
let down your guard, love. no reason to defend yourself, I’m here for you and only you
/ her chest moves deeper and she nods as if a child caught red-handed /
yes, you’re right... please continue?
/ a steady nod /
the right person not only for your mind but for your soul changes things. they allow your broken pieces to mend, coating them in warmth and patience, with understanding / the broken things within you shall always remain in some form, a steady echo of your scars and bruises, a living organism, but with the ones that are good for you, your wounds will stop bleeding and it won’t be as heavy anymore... do you feel that?
/ a sense of calm approaches her, even though she feels how unsteady she is
in all of this /
Yes, I feel it / and I have been feeling it for some time now, close 380 days of warmth and softness reaching my bruised heart, my once pained soul / don’t get me wrong, I’m still in pieces, and the pain lingers in small spaces and some bigger ones... but I changed.
but with a long way to go?
Yes, but better... because of you
/ the other person shifts in their chair, seeming uncomfortable but it’s the way
they handle big waves of emotions crushing into them without warning /
you have done the same for me...
we do such beautiful things for each other
yes, and we will continue to do, we have so much to live through / now, can you touch
the first string yet?
it’s still a struggle... but I will try
take your time, I’m here. looking for a few mangled up strings myself / can we proceed?
it so hard... but yes
/ a calm now and soft voice answers /
perfect, now allow me to hear you, even if your voice still screams / It’s alright, I’m not going anywhere unless you ask
/ another nod and slowly, without rush, they continue /
it won’t be easy riding a storm that hides in both of them, they have been challenged by life and bruised in so many places that at times they close up, their hearts and minds shutting down for protection / thankfully it’s a process that’s not permanent / and in the end they find a way back
eventually every soul centers back to its steady core / to a place where the cold eases and gentle fingers embrace you in their warm hands / the way to that fragment of yourself is long but worth it every time / be kind to yourself, even when it seems the hardest thing in the world to even remember who you are
i think? therefore
i might be sold out
but how do i know i ever
really owned them, anyway?
taught, traded, absorbed.
learned, kept, lost.
or rubbed off, discarded, twisted?
made up, repolished, replenished?
were they mine to begin with?
what originates from my brain -- no my heart --
and what's just the leftovers,
pieced together from watching
other people's charred hearts:
their own reflections projected,
my own mine replaced by the
standards and the expectations
so easily devoured into my own
being until i cannot untangle
what i was -- if i was ever
do i own my own mind,
or is it something entirely
built by others and echoing retellings,
diluting me into
Survival: Fading Light
“Now, try again.”
Felix took another step, then managed to trip over his shoelace.
I sighed. This was not going as planned. Rubbing my brow, I looked up to see him anxiously smiling at me, his grey eyes creased in concentration and fatigue.
I`d left Hayley in charge at the meeting place. For the last few hours, I had been trying to teach Felix how to hide in the shadows while sneaking up on people. Then, failing that, I tried teaching him techniques on being stealthy while sneaking around. Then, after tripping into a rusty car on our right, faceplanting into the gravel five times and somehow managing to run into each other, I decided to start with walking quietly.
It was frustrating. I wanted to storm off and get back to work, but one look on his face reminded me that he`s 17. Damn it, he`s just a child. He should be deciding on which college to go to, if there was a college, or getting stressed over homework, not fighting a war in the remnants of a crumbling world, and the 10 years that finally destroyed it.
“Sargant Kirkland? Did I do it right?”
I smiled, erasing all traces of fatigue from my face. He stared at me, biting his top lip, and fidgeting with his hands. I didn`t want to ruin his innocence. He didn`t deserve this. He was just a boy, sitting on a cracked wall, failing to see the inevitable doom we would all face.
I stepped out towards him, putting my hand on his shoulder. “Let`s try again, shall we?”
He nibbled harder on his lip, his joyful expression turning sorrowful. It was almost painful; he was so easy to read. It was there on his face, the moment he felt it. Sorrow, joy, nervousness; he was an open book. I`ve known people like that in the past. That could be a liability in the future.
It is my job to make sure it is not.
My face hurt from smiling, but I persevered. “Okay, put one foot down slowly... yes, let`s go slowly...yes, good! Now, make sure the ground is stable and empty before you—"
I sighed. He lifted his foot, looking sheepishly at me. I`ve had 10 year old’s better at this than he is. I`ve taught younger people faster than him.
Then again, none of them have survived this long. Against COVID. Against the thousands of deaths that shaped our world. At Lionel Banks, and his Urnes Snakes.
Felix had survived. How did he? I realized I had never asked.
I opened my mouth to say something, but closed it, watching him as he sat down on the ruined wall, rubbing his right foot. He looked disappointed, melancholy, but talking about the destruction could trigger something worse. Something we wouldn`t want. I decided there and then; I couldn`t hurt him. He was too young, too positive, too playful, too open, too naïve of this cruel world`s ways. He wasn`t a soldier. He looked at the world and saw opportunities, not regrets. He could have never joined the army.
However, he was a survivor. What could that say about him?
He stood up, took another step, and walked on top of a granite piece that promptly collapsed below him. He sighed, and took his seat again, rubbing his temples and staring desolately in front of him.
I smiled, shaking my head, and turning around. We needed a break.
I took a step to check the sun, and make sure we had enough time for a ten minute break.
“Hey, how did you come to join the Marines, Sergeant Kirkland?”
He looked at me, expecting an answer. His body drooped from exhaustion on the rubble he was sitting on, his clothes were ragged and torn, he was sunburnt, and he had lost his smell of berry bushes and toast. He smelled more like he burnt the bush and toast, then left them out in the sun to rot. A picture I had come used to creating.
Well, at least he smelled better than me.
His question lingered in the air, making the silence uncomfortable and heavy. I forced myself to break it.
“That`s not something you want to know.”
It came out sharp and pained. The emotion escaped before I could stop it. I cursed inwardly. Alone, I thought. Don`t talk about it. Don`t go back there. It`s behind you, and you can`t learn anything from your past. Forward. You know what`ll happen if you talk about it.
Felix smiled awkwardly, but his face was tense, and his eyebrows furrowed. Taken aback and confused. His eye narrowed; why had I said it so promptly? His lip curved to one side. Fear. His stance straightened and he drew back. Self-defense.
My own eyes narrowed. Where has the last one come from? I knew it too well to miss it.
He gestured for me to come over to him, then, realizing I wouldn`t, looked away. He opened his mouth, deliberating on what he should say. Then he turned back to me, scooching on his seat, and asked a simple question, but one I couldn`t bring myself to answer.
I shook my head, and looked towards the late afternoon sun, calculating the time we had left. About an hour. We had to finish up and go back to the meeting place for yet another gathering.
“Felix, please, don`t talk about it.”
Silence. I was growing tired of it. I relented and sat next to him, smiling as I would to a scared animal when he flinched away. I knew how to calm him; I had practiced it many times before.
“We should head back soon,” I said gently.
We were outside his father`s old bakery, as I had taken him away from his wall-building duties. The windows were dim with dust and dulled with relentless sunshine. Bricks lay scattered around; part of the backroom had collapsed into itself. Glass crunched into our feet if we weren`t careful enough, and our surroundings lay grey and tired.
Withered grass, dead trees, buildings scattered like a hurricane, and we were standing in its eye.
My mind thought back to when Leila—
No. Don`t. Not now. I can`t deal with this. We have work to do.
I felt a weight on my arm and snapped my head to the side. I saw Felix, resting on me, his eyes closed. He`d spent a good part of the morning collecting rubble, and sleepless nights making sure the bakery was closed and minded, the developing machinery oiled and maintained. I`d not be surprised if he hadn`t slept in a while. He licked his lips, the moisture disappearing as easily as it came.
“You know, if you keep opening an oven to check if a cake is done, Sergeant Kirkland, it ends up burning afterwards.”
I felt my eyes crease with confusion, and he smiled softly at me. The light minimized as the sun sank behind the bakery, and it was suddenly cold. Felix snuggled farther into his jacket and curled up beside me.
“What I`m trying to say is, don`t tell me if you don`t want to. But I-,” he hesitated. “I`m here for you if you need a shoulder to lean on.”
He grinned tiredly, blowing an offending piece of hair away from his face.
“We all have a breaking point, Sergeant Kirkland, and I want to make sure you have support if you reach your own. I`m not a soldier, and I can`t even walk quietly, and I expect there are too many people more able than me, like Hayley, or that Matt guy, or was it Ben? And of course perhaps Veronica...”
His voice cracked as he said her name. He inhaled a deep breath and continued.
“Just, it`s okay to be sad, Sargant. That`s all.”
My own eyes brimmed with tears. I looked towards the western horizon. He was so innocent. God, so innocent. Why, after everything, should this be the one thing to hazard my tears? I`m trained to prevent emotion, to push it down and stay serious, in control.
I was never trained for this.
Felix, and his positivity. Felix, and his teenage-high-school views on everything. Felix, and his golden heart. The world was going to break him one day.
It isn`t fair. God, it isn`t fair.
What I thought didn`t matter. I was a leader, and it was my job to be confident. Like all those before me, I needed to be strong. I needed to be confident. I needed to prepare ready strategies for the next day, and the next, and I couldn`t appear weak. I was a symbol. It was my job.
Felix didn`t seem to care.
His fawn hair swooped in front of his storm-grey eyes, lined with laughter and determination. He had a straight stance, his front unprotected, his back a target, He stood with his face to the wind and his back to the destruction.
Full of ambition. Full of joy.
He took chances. He dared to try. He didn`t see the failure before him, the greed and deviousness of the human race that brought the Earth to its knees. He looked past the viciousness of the world. Unwaveringly loyal to someone he didn`t even know. Loyal to another old man that destroyed the world from its core. He didn`t see the monsters that hid inside us, ready to spring. He was the only angel in what was supposed to be a city of them.
He was so young, to be fighting so many. Too many.
I couldn`t dwell on that. I needed to keep him alive, no matter what. He was the one we should all save. He was the only one worth saving.
He was a soldier, simply because he was here.
I sighed, the wind whistling as it picked up a little, and didn`t sense his head against my arm anymore. He`d probably curled up into himself. I began to turn.
My gaze fell against an empty wall beside me. He had sneaked away without me noticing at all.
and a child’s body is like a five figured star,
splayed across cartoon skies of navy.
our souls crease, film-thin as spinach leaves,
yellow as the half-eaten crayon on the floor.
soft, we drift across the crinkled skyline
riding the paper mountains,
living a multicolored lie.
we are only as naive as they tell us,
we scratch the rose coating from our eyes
in a curiosity of our world, but realizing
our mistake, we lick it back up like dogs.
becoming increasingly aware of the color
we lose by merely living. it is no tragedy—
just a part of growing up, like hating the
thirteen year old you when you’re fifteen
and missing the three year old you when you’re
oh tell me, if we were born with everything
then what is left for us at the end? which
questions are worth asking and which are not?
what is worth risking and what is not? were
you always who you were, just ignorant of it?
or perhaps it is a fact, that we only get more
naive as we get
Somehow, mountains made their way
Into our conversation. I remembered I’d seen
A tattoo on the arm of someone lovely
A sketched-out outline of three peaks.
Turning the space of his arm
Into the sky and earth and the in-between.
I told you in the name of beauty
Wasn’t that beautiful? I said.
You heard and agreed, in the light of
That slightly dim café, with its shawls and cushions
And carpets and beads. They made
Your eyes shine a little brighter than usual.
I was never quite sure what landscape you’d be
I thought of a garden by the beach
With the kind of breeze everyone
Dreams of on hot summer days
Or maybe a clouded sea.
It was difficult not to notice
How the curve of your waist tucked into the belt
Of your one-size-too-large corduroys.
And how beautiful your hands were,
Hands I watched flutter when you talked
About everything you’d make and create.
Perhaps, —yes, I was envious
Of every surface they’d touch
But mostly I could barely contain
My amazement that someone like you
Existed in the same place as someone like me
I thought of you in that coffee shop
I tried hard not to wonder
The shape your chest must make
When your spine curved
And what it would be like to see
Your frilly white blouse
Rise and fall to the floor.