Baked On The Inside
I found my breath between lives
in the light to end thought
motion and movement
unhindered by form
I will live in this time
I will die in this time
Miles from nowhere
Of life and death?
Thoughts have left me
Just weighted words to carry
I will live in that place
I will die in that place
Miles from nowhere
Gazing at formations
Through an open window
That can never be shut
Death Is Always Hated
I have always been hated
I have always been feared
Wherever I go
I bring sorrow and tears
From their very beginning
They've searched for a way
To destroy me for good
Or keep me at bay
They tend to fear
What they don't understand
They desire to hold
Their fates in their hands
It pains me to know
I am misunderstood
For I mean no harm
My intentions are good
At the very moment
Of their greatest pain
I come and whisk
Their souls away
I protect them from hurt
That cannot be beared
I protect them from wounds
That cannot be repaired
And I wish I could
Protect them all
But I do not always
Hear their call
Still they fear and hate me
All the same
They've embedded their hatred
In my name
If you do not believe this
Just rearrange it
And you'll find that
Death is always hated
I want to live in the stars
a new group of people die.
they get transported to a star.
they stay to get judged to
see how many years
they will get to spend
I could live with the stars.
we are reborn
in a different dimension
with no memory of our time
our previous family and friends.
We start fresh.
A new life
It will be so shiny,
but soon enough,
we will lose sense
and life will go by so fast
in the blink of an eye.
When I was seventeen, his mouth tasted of sea water. I lay with him, on a futon mattress at ground level, covered in the freckled light of evening, and I remember thinking that he had brought the ocean with him, that it was inside of him.
I wanted to kiss him again, but I was startled, unsettled, to have found the sea in his mouth. It seemed like a strange metaphor, too perfect of one, explaining something I couldn’t see. Or maybe that’s how it seems now, looking back. Is it possible not to tint our memories with the future, once it is known? I remember at the time feeling the metaphor inside of that taste, brimming with a luminous surface tension, waiting to spill over.
He reached his arm over me, and it was comforting. I lay with my face very close, looking towards his eyes, green flecked with brown, vividly aware, and slightly slanted. He always had a weight to his body, even though he was slender. He was solid and heavy, especially in his legs and hips. Even as a kid, you can see that heaviness in pictures of him. The weight of his body. I think back on this now, with the strangeness of knowing.
He liked to tell me of the first time we met. I was very young at the time, and I’ve never remembered it, but for him it was particularly vivid, because It was his first day on the island after arriving from Egegik. He was nine years old, a few years older than me. They came to our house first - he told me that many times - they came right from the ferry, and we all went to see the Lion King in the movie theater.
He never told me about what it was like, what it felt like, arriving from Alaska with his big sister and his dad, into an all white town with houses built of wood, if he was scared or sad. He just talked about how kind we were to him. He was always like that, grateful for things that I took so wholly for granted.
Years later, my mom told me about how his dad went up to Egegik to get them, about how he had to steal them back. I never saw a picture of his mom. She drowned in the river, or the sea, there in Egegik after he left, like so many of his uncles - six of them, I think.
I remember thinking that it was like some kind curse, like a weird alaskan fairy tale, that brought his family, one by one, drunk, to the water’s edge. I worried about him when he was up there, like that water was calling to him, calling the salt of his mouth back to it, wanting it to wash the sea back out. I envisioned Egegik, the fish and alcohol, the concrete buildings and snowmobiles, and the big family who had given him his caramel brown skin, and slightly slanted eyes. His salty mouth. They were Native, he said. He never gave a tribe name. Just Native, not Aleut.
Looking back, I see how endless time was for me then. I always felt that we would be together someday. There was a certain feeling between us, indescribable, somehow sourced, for him, I think, from that first day, when we greeted him from Egegik. Funny how time shrinks as it goes on, constricting around us as we age, and grow.
When I was 20, his mouth still tasted of seawater. The same flavor, not just the salt, but the brine, seaweed, drying rocks, mud.
He lay in the little wooden house I had built, in the morning, and opened a beer. I didn’t really get it, what that meant. It seemed like an act of rebellion. There was something wild and cool about him, layered in with that gentleness. By the time I understood it, he was already back in Egegik.
I talked with him on the phone a lot after that. I knew in my stomach that he could change back, become sober again. That if I offered myself in his life, he would revive for me, come back effervescent and strong. There was some link, running back through to that heavy footed nine year old, arriving at our house, and it gave me a special power. Such a young thought, but one I still believe. I had moved to a city, and was walking down the alley behind my house. A cat was stuck at the top of a telephone pole, and was up there yowling, and yowling. I held my little flip phone to my cheek, it was getting hot there, and I told him that I wasn’t going to be his girlfriend.
The next time I saw him, years had changed. His body looked broken down, decaying from the inside. From the heart out, from the mouth down. His skin held tides of a different kind, and I didn’t see him in there. The boy with vibrant green eyes was buried in there somewhere, already drowned, one liquid for another.
Time shrank again, smaller still, until all of its possibilities became pricks of light, too small and fragmented to count.
I saw him on the street and I stopped. His heaviness had grown, taken over him. I love you he said, you are family. He was unsteady and full. The feeling of him was so thick, he was blurred, internally, caught in memories that distorted him. I saw him as a memory, then, too, and it sank through me. We never thought it could follow him. That the salt of his mouth could be called from anywhere. From our bay. Right off the dock, in the night. The heaviness of his body pulled him down, down. He held his breath there, I imagine, in the cold green black water, before the ocean came in, at last, to wash itself out.
What follows after the passing or end?
Vanessa Helsing loved always watching the stars at night. She had heard stories of people moving on to the next life. Vanessa was intrigued and curious to know what exactly happened after someone or something died. She didn't know much about her mother, but she believed that she was watching over her and her Dad-Abraham V. Helsing. Her Mum Serra would always be dear to their hearts.
From all her travels across different kingdoms and regions, she had picked up different views of death. The one which really stuck the most with her was: ALL THINGS DO NOT ABSOLUTELY PERISH, THEIR SPRITS STILL LINGER ON IN AN ALTERNATE FORM OF LIVING EVEN BEYOND OR AFTER THEIR PASSING. She felt that maybe that was really true and her Mum's spirit was either her human form or a new spirit form of what her next life would be. Then if that was true-How was she going to find her?
She sneaked into her Dad's library office and began her research on the departed souls, life and realms of the living & the dead. There were accounts in the books main section-of what kinds of creatures were associated with death and life. The first pages of most of these books described how death could happen in a natural way, and it also had disturbing details of how to end the life of an evil creature. To think that her father could easily kill even with his eyes covered, and hands tied behind his back. He was a savage (then again he had kept her alive, healthy, well and taught her the family secrets & trades).
The next pages in some of the books had a vague brief story about kind creatures-that helped someone longing to see their loved, one who past on, do so even if their time to pass on had come.
These were horse-like creatures. They looked like some form of unicorn too. This all seemed a little too surreal. There was no exact location of these creatures in the book only the riddle or key that said:
To find what or who you seek, All that yea need to do is to look beyond what the naked eye sees. With a steady hush of a firm cold front-you'll know that what you seek is near. Let your heart be the compass to guide you to your desired wish or treasure.
What a way to provide instructions. The forefathers used cryptic words. Why didn't they mention what they meant to say? This was going to be a tricky voyage.
Vanessa packed all the stuff she needed for her trip. She told her Dad that she was going to tour around and look for a training Academy in the nearby towns.
Abraham: If you say that you're going nearby then why are you packing so many stuff?
Vanessa: I'll need a few extra clothes for -uhm-er-changing, ah-yes that's right.
Abraham: How many times will you need to change in a day then?
Vanessa: Who knows? The weather might be moody throughout the day. And in that case I'll need to be fully prepared.
She had actually packed mostly weapons: machetes, rifles, knives, solar flares, garlic explosives, wolfsbane dipped arrows, highly ear piercing and sirens. & a map of the kingdoms-that also displayed the forests, woods, unchartered and unmarked or unknown-unfamiliar pathways.
Her Dad pulled her and gave her a tight squeeze. He wished her God speed and told her to always watch her back. Abraham also reminded his daughter to be careful of shape shifters.
She had moved across plains, valleys and had many encounters on her way. The young Ms. Helsing asked about water creatures and some people or creatures that she met gave her helpful information. While a few others tried to mess with her, but once they saw her ring with the 'H' symbol-they thought twice about messing with the daughter of Van Helsing.
Her father had slipped on the ring on her finger before she departed from home. He knew that it would protect her on her journey.
Vanessa had been travelling all day. She hardly even noticed that she had arrived at a town near the famous peaceful coast.
There was a calm presence around this place. She felt at ease and set camp near the water's edge. Then she tried to fall asleep. That didn't work out. Vanessa went for a jog close to the coastal waves. After that she lay by the edge of the water and listened to the waves as they shifted back and forth across the sand.
Was it just in her head. It seemed like there was a cool voice calling her name. Without warning there was a massive glorious wave that came towards the shore. As Vanessa looked across the ocean, she was quite stunned to see that the wave formed into horse-like creatures or some form of unicorns. Then these must be the water spirits!
The creatures bowed their heads and made a pathway for her to follow. They opened a water portal and Vanessa stepped right in. Even though she was not sure where it led. She tried to open her eyes but there was a blinding light.
She heard a familiar voice call out her name.
She opened her eyes and couldn't believe what she was. Vanessa hugged the departed soul and held her as tightly as she could.
Serra: How you've grown honey.
Vanessa: Mum. Dad and I long to be with you so much.
Serra: I miss You both too-very much.
The creatures let both dear ones have time to bond and talk for a while. Vanessa felt something slowly pull drawing her back towards the portal.
Serra: Time to head to back to reality.
Vanessa: But it's not the same without you Mum.
Serra: I am always with you honey. I'm always by your side.
As the last words of her Mum were carried with the wind, she heard a person shouting informing her to get up. Her Dad had tracked her down.
Abraham: Vanessa. Hey, I only came to check on you-I promise.
She told her Dad about what she had experienced and that she had seen her Mum.
Abraham: What did she tell you?
Vanessa: That she loves us and that I don't need to worry. She's always with us.
Her Dad smiled and saw that his young mentee was gazing into the clear cayan sky. Up above in the clouds, Abraham saw a bright golden Eagle-that was Serra's favorite bird.
Dead flowers dress the rooftops
Of these final destinations.
Weathered trinkets mark the entrance
To these ancient habitations.
Stone monuments give tribute
In this soul depository.
Lay me down and let me bask
In their everlasting glory.
Surround me with the epitaphs
Of those who've gone before me.
Lift me up, give me strength,
And let me tell their story.
I can see that you’re enjoying the moment. Your eyes closed, your mouth curled at the corners in a subtle smile. We’re descending.
The background is Michelangelo—I note the anachronism of our gears, so with the pomp and circus let’s revise to Fellini, in splendid color-vision. It’s just us, though. The pilot has left. It would be heaven but instead of Rest, my heart is suddenly channeling Beethoven’s Ninth. A coda against the sky. It’s time: My clock has stopped.
“It won’t go,” I say weakly, oddly devoid of surprise, totally out of chime with the looming magnitude of demise.
Your lids fly open. You dive towards me like through water—which I fear more than anything else—and I become absurdly aware that this celestial sea is more or less the same, my eyes already drowning in defeat.
But my life is complete. I see you reaching out in exquisite slow motion. There in your face I recognize what I could never before bring myself to fully believe. For all my pathos, blinded by my conceit, misunderstanding your perfectionism; the trust implicit in your harsh critique.
You wrap your arm around this padded jumper as if it’s the single most important thing, mentally sweeping me off my feet, and I think to myself: Good God, will we go down together? Suddenly they’re closing the curtain on an act of Shakespearean suicide.
I am aware of only one word. I don’t remember who had the presence of mind to pull the other cord. The canopy unfolds and yanks us back to reality. I’ve lived. I’ve loved. I’m not afraid of flying.
Depressed? Please read.
My experience with death has been limited, especially as a 40 year old. But that I have experienced is deeply impactful, as I'm sure it is with everyone.
Before 2011, my only real loss (luckily) was my Great Grandmother, who lived a long life of 100+ years. As sad as it is to say goodbye to anyone, when GG has lived 100+ years, you figured, "yep, that's about right, she had a good life." Now, that in and of itself may sound callous when you refer to the dead, but it's also how we cope with this natural cycle.
In the aforementioned year, I lost my college roommate and best friend, 13 years after college. He and I had gotten into Naval flight school after college - a goal of mine from age 13 - on the same day we also passed our U.S. Coast Guard test for our 3rd Mate's license. It was the best day. My father picked us up and we ditched the rest of the day's classes to drink beer and celebrate. But, to most people's surprise, I chose not to go active duty and instead took my commission in the Navy Reserve (orders for flight school didn't actually kick in until you showed up for day 1) and a job in the private sector. He reported to Pensacola in July 1998 and eventually got his wings of gold after years of intensive training. I was proud of my best friend. Shortly after that, he went back to New York for another classmate's wedding and ended up getting hit by a car while crossing the street. The police responded and wrote the accident up as a homicide, as they didn't think he was going to make it. But he did.
Fast forward a few years. My friend was still in the Navy, but had been grounded due to the head injury he received in the accident (meaning he never flew again) and became understandably depressed. But as he did, my buddy rallied and fought with all of his might to better himself. He met a Navy doctor. They married. I was happy, he was happy. I still remember a Facebook post of his, "I love my wife, I love my life." Then, the call.
Out of nowhere I received the phone call from his wife's mother informing me my friend was gone. One day after Valentine's Day. When I learned how it happened, I couldn't believe it. My best friend, the life of the party, the one that made everyone laugh, was dead by his own hand. No more phone calls, no more Facebook comments telling me how I "better get my ass out to San Diego to visit" (damn, I'm sorry I never did). Instead, I hopped on a plane and met my friends, most of whom I hadn't seen in over a decade, and we memorialized our loss. I was asked to give a speech - a eulogy of sorts. It wasn't the easiest thing to do, but I did it and cried the whole way through.
That has by far been the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. I still tear up writing these words. I want to know more. What happened? Was it just the head injury? Troubled marriage? Trouble sleeping? Why didn't you call me? Why didn't you call me!!?!?! WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL ME?!?!?!?!??!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?
Unfortunately I know there will be more experiences like this. It's life. Death is a part of life. I just hope that my future losses are the "expected" ones. Old family members dying in their beds surrounded by all of us who love them.
I wish this for everyone, although I know it's unrealistic. And by God, if you're so depressed that you're thinking about ending your life, call someone. Call anyone. If you've hit the bottom so hard that you think that suicide is your only option, the only way to go, even though you can't see it, is up! Reach out for help. You're not alone. Someone, somewhere, will write similar words in a therapeutic effort to lessen their pain over losing you if you go through with it.
Sorry, I didn't mean for this story to become what it has, but then again, life is unpredictable sometimes. Remember that.
A few weeks ago
we walked amongst
in the town cemetery.
You spoke aloud
the names in stone
those at rest
in the quiet cemetery.
Old friends and lovers
people you knew
waiting for you
in the friendly cemetery.
Tell me now
are they with you
all your friends
from the empty cemetery?
Are you happy now
gone from the cemetery?
Now I walk
amongst the grey stones
I see your name
in the cemetery.
A name I knew
a person I loved
I am not alone
walking in the cemetery.
I walk quietly
tell me now
of the times we had
outside of the cemetery.