And on the eighth day god looked at his children with utter despondency. And on the ninth he abandoned them entirely. And years later he looked upon his project called mankind with feigned surprise and whispered to death, “Look. Stare straight into the son. Is it not the darkest light you’ve ever seen?” And then he sold us all to the shadows.
Hidden Between A Game of Tag
Playing a game of tag
Across the rocky dirt
The pebbles scattered in the
Field of children
Of all classes full of
Life and games
We run and run and
Run till we can’t so we
Hide to not be found
And to not be captured
Bound along the edge of plastic stones
Away far far away from the chasers
Tired sneakers pound the ground made
Of dirt and clay
A Breeze sways the trees and a
Cold snow showers over our warm
Bye playground full of
My classmates and my
Crimson Blood of Betrayal
Your musky scent was clothed in magic
I breathed your scent and backstroked
through your crimson blood of betrayal.
I turned my face to your sun
and saw your beauty as you promised
me the world on your platter.
The sobs of your wind laughed at my pain.
My nights with you burned quickly
as I drank you with my eyes
gulping your music in my hunger.
I felt your tarnished knife in my back,
my exposed rouge wounds dripping
fresh blood of the kiss of Judas.
My universe trembled as you
were lying and I was dying alone.
You went back to your other life
tossing me like a used shirt
into your hamper of deceit.
Empty air washes off your taste
from my soul as my heart marches on,
refuse pile of bittersweet memories.
The wind whistles in each of our ears as we fly. Higher and faster than any of us alive, we soar through weathers unspeakable to our kind. Gliding through clouds then skimming through waters. Our strength grows together as our efficiency keeps us alive. With the same burdened responsibilities we fly. We are brothers in the air.
When strong we lead, when weak we follow. Our potent leaders tire and step down for the next mighty forces to charge our flight. The formation never breaks. With vigorous commitment we are unshaken by the miles we fly. Our common goal keeps us disciplined because only together can we reach our mark. That has been our most natural law.
And yet, there is nothing natural like an anchor in a race. A debilitated soldier. A rusty cog in the machine. A weak link spotted from the corner of my eye. A weakened joint across from where I glide. We both having just stepped down, I rejoin one end of the formation and count the seconds for my commrade to reach the other. Each second more eternal than the next. He flaps his weakened wings with invalidity. Frail and almost incapacitated he eventually reaches the other end. Even when he’s making the least effort out of the rest, he is still flying with strain. I watched the tumor in our system as his breakable resistance dooms us. I turn forward in disgust. The exact same labor was done by each of us yet all showed composure, but my friend on the other end. But, I cast away my concerns and give into my own resolve. We were nearing our destination.
It was time to land. Our Powerful leaders landed first followed by the recovering champions. Me and the susceptible degenerate across from me would land last. It was finally our turn to reach the ground. I let him get below me so that without hesitation I could eliminate the thing that threatened our order. With surging emotion, I rushed to attack . I sunk my talons deep into his feathers. His blood had drenched over my talons as we whirled through the sky, neither giving in. But as expected, he wavered and I positioned him towards the ground. My wings, never exhausted after flight, pounded the air as I aimed for the ground. We crashed on soil with him underneath me. My wings spread in victory and I basked in ending the imperfection that resided in the flock. The others only observed what needed to be done. Without warning, the disgrace pecked a chunk of my eye and rendered me half blind. With one swoop he released himself from my grip. His talons now wrapped around my neck.
The swift and harsh movement of his talons was enough for the snap to be heard. The others only observed what needed to be done.
When love was enough
Remember when they told us
That love was enough
That the world was fair
And to never give up
And we lived without care
Cause the stories they told us were true
Remember when I told you
My name at the store
And we both became shy
While we both wanted more
We decided to try
And we knew what we wanted to do
Remember when you told me
Till death do us part
Till the end of the world
Then I gave you my heart
And we danced and we whirled
And both our lives had just started new
Remember how we loved
So full of bright light
And we both were content
And it all seemed so right
Through where ever we went
Even when our small family grew
But I don't quite remember
When your mind slipped
Or when the fights started
When we went off script
When the plan departed
Just that I was left without a clue
Remind me when you told me
I wasn't enough
That you wanted more
Your voice and hand rough
You went through the door
Even when I cried and screamed for you
How I wish I could forget
When you served the divorce
When she caught your eye
When my life went off course
You didn't even say good bye
You just left me with a mournful view
Dont you remember when love was enough
To keep you here with me
And now here you are
Saying you're sorry
You shouldnt have left
Crying out your plea
Your tongue just as deft
As the day you left me crying for you
You want me to remember
When we were happy
When life was good
Our hearts were so sappy
So free of falsehood
And when we were one instead of two
But all that i remember
Is how much it hurt
And how deep it cut
How tears stain my shirt
You say you love me
But all I can here is goodbye from you
I couldn’t see through your cigarette smokescreen
when we met in that gin-soaked joint.
Lovemaking between twisted sheets of new-dew sweat,
mummified within our cheap motel sarcophagus.
Who knew I was just another slab of ready-to-order meat?
Pick a number at the delicatessen counter.
I could taste invading lovers on you, the salty brine of them.
Standing sentry at your gates, tunnel visioned,
while they crept through my periphery.
And as I sit with spirits clouding my mind,
I wonder if my claws clutched too tightly,
if truly I don’t know the difference between lions and lambs.
When you whispered
Candy sweet compliments to me
In the dead of night,
I did not
Could not know
That you spoke with stolen praise.
You whispered was borrowed from another,
You never believed it or lived it
But I did
And you led me down the path that shouldn’t be followed
So here I am,
A remnant of your
You picked me up off cold ground,
Only to throw me down a cliff
I still haven’t hit the ground yet,
I’m still falling.
Getting deeper and deeper with the rusty razor
The blood is the waterfall called gravity pulling me down.
If only I knew how to fly,
Then I could be a vulture and eat you alive.
Give you a taste of the hell on earth you put me through
The razor blade the cuts my wrists
Is made of the words you spoke
The stolen praise
That was never meant for me
The blood it takes out
Some of the demons in me
Left by your words
Of stolen praise.
The lines crisscross like stitches,
Drawn in sharpie,
Each stick is a tally
Of the false words you said to me,
The stolen praise.
The last gift you’ve given me
The curse of heavy weights dragging me down
Each one represents a time I “failed you”
When really it was your failures.
I am weighed down by your failures that you
Chained to me
With your words of stolen praise
The next time you fail, I won’t take your weight. I’ll let responsibility crush you
I’ll watch you suffer in a tiny morsel of the
Delicious pain you put me through.
I’ll be the one giving out stolen praises,
Stolen from you,
And you’ll be the one twisting and writhing like a worm on a hook.
Charlie Moss starved to death. I carried Charlie up to the Greenville Sanitarium myself. There was no money. The doctor looked at him despite it, but it was too late. Charlie died all the same. Doc said it was pneumonia, but I knew better. Good Ol’ Charlie starved and froze.
The work ran out a good while back. Most everyone we knew had hopped the cars for Nashville, or Birmingham, but when Charlie got sick I stayed there with him. That shanty was cold, what with the wind blowing in through the chinks, and Charlie was real thin. Hell, so was I. It wouldn’t be long until I was too weak to chop the wood, and then we would both freeze, if'n we didn’t starve first. I couldn’t cut wood fast enough now to heat the plywood walls of that shack, but I did my best to keep Charlie warm. With all of that though, there wasn’t much to do about feeding him. It was nothing but a damned shame for Ol’ Charlie, is what it was, that he picked the very worst time to go and get sick.
I knew Charlie Moss my whole life, going all the way back to grade school in Bristol, and then we did our service time in France together afterward. Once back home I courted Charlie’s sister until she ran off with a medicine show drummer. She never did come back home. I always wondered if she ran away from that town, or if'n it was me she ran from?
It hurt some when Charlie died. I cried a bit when I got back to the shanty alone, and I kicked that dog for watching me do it.
But for me the car was empty. Those able had already gone to where the work was, leaving the shanty-town long before cold struck the mountains. I jumped the train on the eastern slope when her speed was down, the wind shivering me in my shirtsleeves. I looked back once through the boxcar door and that dog was running alongside, but she couldn’t hang with it for long, could she? I mean, I would have brought her along, but how could I hold that dog, run with the train, and jump the car, too?
It was good that I was alone, my mood being sure enough sour. The rough plank floor of that car gravelled my ass with every clickety-clack, so that I was fairly miserable when we passed through the gap. I tipped my slouch hat down for a nap, but couldn’t sleep for thinking of Charlie Moss. They buried my friend with everything he owned, excepting that dog, of course. Charlie sure thought highly of that bitch. I expect he starved himself while slipping his slivers to it. That was the kind of friend Ol’ Charlie was. I had watched that dog lick Charlie’s face right before I toted him into Greenville. Charlie had smiled as he wrapped her head in his arms. I reckon that was the last time Charlie Moss ever smiled on this Earth.
Charlie would have been plumb disappointed to hear of it, of me leaving his dog to chase after the train. But damn it, if I didn’t find work I would like as not starve too, then what would that dog do? Hell-fire! She was better off than any of us! She’d go right on catching rabbits, I reckoned.
I left the train as it was sailing down off the Cumberland Plateau. It was a fast stretch, but distance was mounting. If I was going to ditch, it would need be soon. I hit gravel feet first, but from there it was ass-over-tea kettle, so that it hurt pretty good when I stopped rolling. It would be a long, hungry walk back to that shanty, and cold over every bit of this mountain, but I knew that dog would be there waiting, lying across Charlie’s olive-drab army blanket, never understanding why she was left there alone.
I knocked the dust and gravel from my duds the best I could, and started walking. I reckon I’m not the man to betray a friend, not even a dead one, nor his damned cur dog, neither.
Any minute now
It is 12:00 am. One minute after 11:59 pm and I wish I didn't have to count the minutes or bother my father. Over an hour ago, when I first felt the pain, even though I really didn't want to, I had to call my father to tell him I needed his help. That is when I started staring at the illuminated clock on top of my dresser. My eyes don’t hurt, but I cannot close them and I hear my heartbeat in between my ears. When he picked up the phone he said, “What's wrong sweetie,” and he said it with fatherly love, and of course I believed him, even though I could hear what he was clinging to beyond the phone; the jokers, the laughter, the back slapping, the clanging of glass, all of it adding up to white noise and lies. Lies for some. Some that don't understand. Not me. I understand. The Mona Lisa Bar and Grill is home; the place he goes to take a load off, eat his meals, fraternize with Jack Daniels, and forget.
“I'll be right there, I promise.” He always says “I promise” automatically now, because I used to beg, “Do you promise?” until I stopped. I stopped because I was afraid if he ever broke his promise that I would have to call him a liar to his face, and that is not something you say to someone you love. And besides the way he says “I promise” is no different than the way anyone says “See you later”, when they know they will never see that person again. Does that make someone a horrible, terrible person; a liar? Does it? No it doesn't.
The pain began when I stopped reading in bed, not before. Before I went to bed I had a very wonderful day. A day that almost made me forget. I went to school, I went to gymnastics, I went to my friend’s house, we did our math homework, and her mother made us a meatloaf that had cheese in the middle and we had cherry ice cream sundaes for desert. I walked home alone and the house was dark when I got there. The door was unlocked like it always is. I tiptoed up the stairs, I took a shower, put on my pajamas, and went into my room to read. On page 101 of To Kill A Mockingbird, I heard a scream downstairs and the sound of breaking glass. And then I remembered. I was hoping my mother forgot about me, and she would stay downstairs with her rage, so I put my book away and turned off the light and that is when the pain started. There are many nights I can’t sleep, but this night is different. I'm pretty sure people can't sleep when they are having trouble breathing, unless they wind up not breathing at all, but then they would be dead. When my father finally gets here, and I know he will, he will take me to the hospital and they will ask me what's wrong and I have to figure out what to say because I don't know how to explain it other than the pain is everywhere. Especially on my chest. It has been getting progressively worse since the phone call. It feels like a box of bricks was dropped on top of me now, and I want to move my arms and legs to push them off, but I can't because I am paralyzed. Maybe I am really dying this time and my father will find me in the bed dead, but I refuse to believe that is the way this is all going to end. He will rescue me any minute now and he will know to sneak in the house because he's afraid of her too, but he is also brave because he has more to be afraid of than I do because he's not supposed to come in here. Brave and also lucky that he doesn't have to sleep here anymore like I do.
When I ask him why he doesn't take me with him, he says his apartment is too small and he says when he gets enough money he will get a bigger place for us, and I believe him, because I see the tears stuck in his eyes when he tells me this. When I tell him after he picks me up what she has done to me, the tears do not stay stuck. They roll down his cheeks and into his lap. This is how I know how much he loves me, besides what he tells me every time he sees me. “Do you know I love you very much, and I promise someday everything is going to be okay.” Nobody else tells me that and nobody else understands. And even if he is late, he always comes when I call. He never treats me the way my mother does, and he never even gets mad at me, and that is why I try hard not to bother him, but tonight I was just too afraid of dying. He will be here. I know he will be here soon…..Any minute now, because he loves me very much and someday everything is going to be okay.
I swam with you and drowned
The soft snow rested on your hair like a veil, innocence radiating from your smile and red nose. Cold lungs and warm exhales. That’s how we found each other, a winter of contentment.
The pounding hail provided you with enough interjections to avoid what you came to say. Some were still in your hair, rapidly melting and blending with tears. He was there, I was not. He was present I was not. He was as I used to be… but only for a short summer. One empty season with a gaping void. One regretful season cowering from the ones we shared.
I wanted to say I told you so, but we shared too much for such an annoying response. I’m sorry you have regret - I suppose that’s worse. I swam with you and drowned, only to see you find an empty rock. Visible to me, but not worth the swim.