To Another Day
Sunday morn, skies that mourned,
wrinkled blankets, undone laundry,
notes that piled, lectures paused,
plates and bowls, last night meals.
Seasons changes, fall and rains,
falling apart, piece by piece.
Save me, please, screamed to the skies,
begged and hurt, lone in a crowd.
Deep inside, something changed,
life felt different, so did I.
What once was, what now is,
what would be, all blurred in one.
Barely human, days all same,
can't be machine, feelings clawed.
Bewitched in a maze, no way out,
dark that stayed, lights that frayed.
Would I leave, this game of hurt,
or would I stay, forever and frail?
Shall I try, when all things fail,
or just let go, as fate may plead?
But I will wake, to another day,
for dawn may break, and the sun may rise,
birds may sing, and the rains may pour,
nights may fall, and the cold may creep.
I will wake to another day.
You asked what it is
It is not the rain.
It is not a deep well, or
anything else dark or dank.
It is not ash and flame.
It is green spring with unacknowledged birdsong,
applause for someone staring into space,
flawless sentences misconstrued,
love that doesn’t count.
It is habitual coffee, untasted,
a once-beloved book, unremembered,
a birthday text, unanswered,
untrusted and feared.
I sit and I stare at the screen on my desk
and I watch as my friends make their posts;
my thoughts are awash with great story ideas
but for now, they’re elusive as ghosts.
I long for the days when I cavorted on Prose,
and great poetry spilled from my head,
but I bought this new wireless keyboard and mouse
and all the damned batteries are dead!
I cannot sleep
and thoughts run
I cannot keep
oh so sweet
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray thee lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray thee Lord my soul to take --
to existential doubt
does God exist
or is He just
does it even
if there is
a something after
if who we are
will never know
what really is
till we are dust
I cannot sleep.
Little White Rings
I don't usually tell folks about my own private Hell, and I had no intention of doing so here, despite the invitation, but a second invitation from LilEnigma has also arisen--something about vulnerability... about trust. What kind of horrible things have we donein our lives--which kind of lends itself to a type of private Hell. So why not? I'd often heard about "the gates of Hell," but I always figured the term to be sort of... fantastical. As it turns out, there actually is a gate to Hell just outside of Poughkeepsie.
Poughkeepsie-- all my life, I'd never known, or considered, for that matter, how to spell it. Strange though, the moment you see it, you know how to pronounce it, regardless of its many letters, and regardless of how one might think it would be spelled. I got stuck staring at it-- Poughkeepsie. I stared at it so long that there developed little faint white rings on some of the keys of my otherwise black keyboard--a tell-tale sign of someone who has found one of the gates.
There's divided highway east of town called Haight Avenue, which turns into Manchester Road coming through Arlington-- three lanes of traffic headed either direction. Officially, it's simply, Highway 55. About three miles east, you can take an exit onto a plain, two-lane road, Old Manchester Road, which immediately turns into Titusville Road beginning at the bridge over Wappinger Creek, then leads south into, you guessed it... Titusville.
The gate of Hell, to which I refer, is located almost exactly halfway across the 181-foot bridge over Wappinger Creek. In June of 2016, I stood on the edge of that bridge and decided to jump.
I did not. Instead, my phone rang, and it was someone saying they wanted to publish my book. The gates of Hell would have to wait.
Telling you about the gate is the easy part. I've done that so many times that it's begun to become numb. No, the intriguing part of this exercise is the vulnerability... the trust. So, let's try this.
In 2012, Kendall was 17, Ashley was 9, and their mother would harm me physically if I revealed her age at the time. Danielle. Danni. I had recently published (self-published) The Second Rape of Doctor Emily Pershing. Life was good-- damn good. Our family had been on a quest, seeking out information regarding Danni's birth mother, as she had been adopted as an infant and had decided to find out as much as possible about her past. We found out a lot. A lot.
The love was thick, heavy, wonderful. The proverbial cup had runneth over. We decided to share the story-- share the love, so to speak. Danni, Kendall, and I shared as much as we could remember, and the majority of it was handed down from Danni's mother, and a beautiful friend whom we desperately wished we could meet. The crux of this thing-- the book-- was that sacrifices were made in order to give Danni life, and in turn, give life to her daughters, creating every beautiful thing which filled the cup.
As much as I wanted to believe the story was well-prepared and researched and presented, I have come to accept that there is something missing. The reviews have been as exceptional as they have been rare. To my knowledge, fewer than ten people have ever read the thing. Call it what you will, the simple fact is... it's a failure.
On March 4, 2016, Danni's impossibly adorable brother, Percy, had treated the girls to a road trip to visit my parents, who had moved to New York for reasons that I still cannot fathom. One of our family quirks was that, whenever we saw something while traveling which made any of us wonder, "What is that?" or "Where does that road go?" we'd head off to solve the puzzle. I imagine, someone must have thought, "Why do they call it 'Manchester Road?'" Then they convinced Uncle Percy to exit on Old Manchester Road, to confirm whether or not Manchester truly existed.
A moving truck lost a wheel-- an entire wheel-- while crossing westbound on the bridge over Wappinger Creek, causing the driver to lose control and cross over into the eastbound lane. Percy, Danni, 21-year-old Kendall, and 13-year-old Ashley were hit, head-on, bouncing their minivan up and over the guard rail and into the creek, killing everyone inside.
My heart damn near chokes me when I think about how I used to joke that life was going to suck when Ashley turned thirteen. I thought she'd be such a tremendous pain-in-the-butt, so head-strong and argumentative. I thought she'd be impossible.
She wasn't. She wasn't. Dear God in Heaven, she was absolutely perfect!
I've found salt formations to be remarkably resilient. How they last under constant abuse is beyond me. The only thing which seems to break them down, other than some type of cleaning agent which I haven't the heart to employ, is the very thing which created them. And here I am, having once again, added more droplets, which will eventually dry, the salt crystalizing, reinforcing the little white rings.
The publisher who called about the book was complete BS-- wanted me to spend hundreds of dollars to have them redesign the cover, proofread it, and put absolutely zero effort into advertising it anywhere other than where it's already easily found... and that's the hard part: the vulnerability. Sacrifices were made, lives were uprooted, hell, lives were lost in order to ensure just the possibility of Danni's existence. Her life was made possible, Danni's children's lives were made possible, and I was, by far, the greatest beneficiary of those lives... and now they're gone. All there is, to demonstrate the awesome selflessness of the people and the extraordinary beauty of the sacrifices made, is this story--my contribution, my effort-- and as I stood on the edge of that bridge and stared into mouth of the gates of Hell, it was my greatest, most profound and contemptible regret, in this cruel life, to have known that in that effort, I had failed them. All of them. It's as if none of them were ever here.
And neither am I.
What She Saw
I learned the horrors of prescience at the very moment I discovered I was gifted with it.
She was a childhood friend, a year younger. There happened to be a pause in our rambunctious play, a pause just long enough, and our play just close enough, that we accidentally found ourselves looking into one another’s eyes. Being children, the staring itself became the game; exploring each other’s souls inside them, daring ourselves to venture deeper while at the same time being revealed. We passed that point where one laughs to hide their discomfort, or looks away, and we continued even longer, her winded breath so close that I could feel it on my chin, and on my moistened lips. It was then that I saw who she really and truly was, and she me. And it was then that I knew.
“You are going to die.” I whispered.
“What will you do?”
She answered the only way a child could answer when the question is so fearsome as death. “Hide.”
When I left her that day I never saw my childhood friend again.
“Robert?” My mother called from the foyer. “Alicia’s parents can’t find her. Do you know where she is?”
“No Momma,” I lied.
But it did find her, even where we had so carefully hidden her; inside that big old trunk down in her basement, covered between the musty old clothes and things, the heavy cedar top closed and latched.
There’d been death in my friend’s eyes that day. There is no hiding from that.
These hands, she fills them.
held by the bull.
and hollow scrimshaw
decorate the labyrinth,
But she remains unbroken,
lifting, pulling, pushing us
The burden too heavy,
clouds too far,
slipping grips and crushing
weights, I fell and I'm fallen.
She moves up,
she moves on,
and I mourn.
I will welcome my Theseus.
Pet Peeve Room
There are so many people in here but not enough room,
there is an empty trash can too, but no trash bags or a broom.
Someone put their coke cans in the sink
and now the small room begins to stink.
I hear an awful song in my head that appears to be stuck on repeat
and I'll be damned- someone just turned up the heat!
It's hot and humid and spiders are crawling up the wall
I do not like this room so much, I'm not fond of it at all.
There are bingo numbers never called and cake that's never made
As I come to realize this, my smile begins to fade.
Sitting next to a talkative Know-it-all
I get what I believe is a spam robo call-
All of this has happened before my day even begins,
I cannot help but wonder what fresh hell I'm in.
Princess of Darkness
TRIGGER WARNING: Sexually explicit and unashamed
Ew, does your asshole have some kind of an STD?
Sorry, that’s just from where he put his cigar out in me.
Ew, why is there a brown mark on your pink pussy?
Sorry, that’s just where I was bit for being fussy.
Um, why are you sitting so strange and formal?
Sorry, I just thought that was the everyday normal.
Um, why would that make you so fearful and sad?
Sorry, I just thought I was in trouble for being bad.
WTF, why can’t you just be more proper and stable?
Sorry, I thought every girl is supposed to love anal.
WTF, who in their right mind has a cum infatuation?
Sorry, that’s just something which feeds my rabid dark elation.
I wish someone could see all the beauty I have inside.
That my scars are merely from what I had to survive.
I close my eyes and pray for someone to save me.
A man who can love damaged goods from actual slavery.
Sweetheart, open your eyes and look at me, you precious jewel.
Mister, are you sure that’s allowed and not against the rules?
Sweetheart, please don’t hide, let me see your gorgeous body.
Mister, are you sure you want something so disfigured and shoddy?
Babygirl, no one has ever loved me the way you can.
Mister, are you sure I’m not just an obsessive fan?
Babygirl, I promise I want you and only you.
Mister, is this a trick or is it really true?
Princess, I love your dark mind, down to your pinky toes.
Mister, you even want my secrets that no one else knows?
Princess, I want all of you because we fit so perfectly.
Mister, are you the puzzle piece made for me, personally?
We discovered shared madness within letters of causerie.
A fine fellow with an aching for my debauchery.
He’ll never be some bullshit definition of Prince Charming.
But to me, this quiet giant is my Gentleman-Dom King.
He loves my wounds and kisses them softly.
He earns my submission no matter how costly.
All my dirtiest deeds are matched to his desires.
When we make love, we light this fucking world on fire.
I was grown by the heartless,
So this body I must dwell.
Now, the Princess of Darkness,
In my own beloved Hell.
Memories of Hell
Where did they go? Mother's red eyes and Father's rueful glance –
under harsh lights, their helpless looks harken broken romance.
Life's dream ebbs
like silken webs,
gone as if by chance.
What is this place? No life or touch, old sets of memories –
gossamer echoes of times long past, sweet host of reveries...
But all before
I knew the score
of my life's treasury.
Time does not pass. It's come to rest. No sun or darkened sky –
watch the moments, both joy and shame, and all fool's hope gone by.
I am outside.
I am apart.
No effort here to try.
Emotions come and then expire, but envy lingers here –
jealous of he who lived my life and never knew to care.
He stood inside,
with angst and pride,
and let love disappear.
I can't abide. I cannot look. Exhaustion. Endless pain –
imprisoned death, unmoved so long that I forget his name.
I only hate
his laggard youth.
Ignorance, you are my shame.