Category Archives: Poetry And Prose

though the sky is blue

Because I’d been boiling myself off and on on the landing and baking in the sun, I turned the AC to 70. Because my AC and heat had to be completely replaced, given that it was from 1976, the new unit is incredibly powerful; its loud sound is relaxing. Güino decided to slumber in my office chair. He’s wandered the landing and the lower floor today several times. Instead of bothering him, I rolled him a foot away and pulled my red rocking chair up to the desk. It felt like I needed to write a couple of hundred words. A few thousand words later, all of it expunged from me in a single burst, I sat looking at the prism hanging outside through the slats of the window blinds. My metal front door is over 170 degrees again. I thought of all the energy reaching us from our nearest star, the sun. We only receive a sliver of its output. It provides enough energy in the form of light to power the entire world – if we’d let it. I think the same is true for each of us. Most of us have the gift of massive kinetic and potential energy inside us. It’s in our nature. Somehow, we allow our lesser forces to override our natural tendency toward power and movement. In my case, I’ve been busy. Being busy or productive isn’t always the best use of my time. It negates introspection and examining the things I’ve said and done with sufficient scrutiny. Life flicks by on lightning skates. It’s easy to live superficially, and sometimes this ease lulls us into thinking it is the preferable way. It’s not. A moment of thought, especially one of gratitude or appreciation, becomes twice as memorable when considered after the fact. Those thousands of words that poured effortlessly from my fingers as I sat here in the zone? They are some of the best words I’ve ever written. I feel it in my bones, the ones that now creak a little as they realize how long I’ve abused them.

Here:

though the sky is blue, you look to the ground out of caution
caution saves, but it also reduces
though the world is a palette of individuals, you seek understanding by viewing them through your own filter
though the world shall never spin according to your whim, you waste your
allotted moments by wishing it not to be so
the pond will fill if you hurl enough stones into it, though it will take years
your life will fill if you stop looking toward what lies behind you and spend your hours subtracting and adding according to your desires
the sky is blue, just for you
and for me
if we but let it be

X
.

and if i am not

i am the prince of tides in my secret corners
imperfect yet unbound words, feeble purple prose, naive expression

i am the boy with muddy sun-browned bare feet
in the expansive tree looking below

the boy who loved his grandma and grandpa without limit
yet spent so much time in the small yet limitless world surrounding their modest tarpaper and tin roof house

i am the man who is not his missteps, his past, or his obstacles

i am known by a singular letter, born of a rejected name, burned by the pitiful and pointless ashes of anger and addiction

i have amassed twenty thousand two hundred and sixteen days of life

each of them begins anew, though i find myself waking to the next almost without edit

i can speak in a foreign tongue, stand amongst strangers without fear, walk further than most, and yet still discover i am where i started

i am not gossamer, invisible, or silent, though all sometimes would be better servants than my nature

and if i am not, who am i

i am

love, X
.

La Tremana (A Story)

It was raining. Of course. The bullets hit our heads like tiny bullets, each of us wincing and not wanting to react. We stood in a cluster, looking at the green carpet someone had carefully laid around the opening in the ground. Each of us was secretly holding back tears. Our incredulity was plainly and painfully written across our faces.

The minister somberly pronounced the words: “La Tremana,” he said, and something broke inside me. As I began to cough and sob, my burst of emotion triggered those around me to do the same. Within seconds we were indiscriminately turning and hugging those around us. We could feel her loving presence floating in the rain-soaked air.

No one around me knew what the minister’s phrase meant—no one except the woman laying in artificial repose in the closed mahogany casket and me.

“La Tremana” was a phrase she and I coined to describe a fantastical and imaginary place. Perhaps somewhere we would go one day if life and troublesome timing would let down its guard long enough.

As the years passed, we added details and layers to what it might be like. The coffee shop down the corner, the cigar-smoking man who would politely tip his hat at both of us but never utter a word, and the exchange of stupid jokes, ones which would make most people cringe. If we met someone interesting, we would add the person to our mental catalog of people who might join us in our other world.

We loved each other when we were young. As young people often do, we fumbled and failed to appreciate each other. Our love always remained as a backdrop, even as we married other people, had children and enjoyed the little things that make life feel like a real one. For several years, we wrote letters. Ones detailing our lives. And then technology stepped in, and we would sometimes trade messages over instant messenger or email. We never graduated to text messages or phone calls, silently acknowledging that those might be too much. Or perhaps too emotionally dangerous for us to handle.

After my wife died, we wrote to one another more urgently and frequently. I feared she would go silent if I told her I wanted to meet. This thought seems trivial and stupid to me now.

The day I conquered my fear and wrote her, asking her if she’d like to meet, still haunts me. I told her I wanted to find a “La Tremana” for us to visit. I checked my email six of seven times that morning, waiting for a reply. I answered my phone late in the afternoon when I saw an unknown number calling. It had to be Rebecca.

Instead, a younger voice spoke.

“Dan, this is Rebecca’s niece Jane. I know you and Rebecca were close in a way most people wouldn’t understand.” A chill went up my spine as she spoke. The past tense echoed in my head. “There’s no easy way to say it, so I’ll just blurt it out. Rebecca died yesterday. I’m so sorry.”

I sat in silence for several moments. My vision dimmed, and I felt nauseous.

Because that’s what people do, I asked, “How did she die, Jane?”

“She was rock-climbing a rugged cliff. A rock broke away above her and crushed her as she stood on a narrow ledge, looking at the scenery. She fell over a hundred feet and never knew it. She died instantly. Her friend Susan was a foot away from her when it happened. Susan is beyond inconsolable. But we both like to think Rebecca didn’t know what happened. And that she was happy and seeing beauty when it was her time.” Jane’s voice broke as she finished the last sentence.

“I loved her, Jane,” I whispered. I told Jane the history between us, all of it.

“That’s beautiful and tragic, Dan! She would have said yes to you, you know. In a heartbeat.”

Before hanging up, Jane told me the funeral arrangements. Without hesitation, I told her I’d drive the couple of hundred miles to be there.

The pastor waited several moments as we collected our sobs and wiped at our tears. We were at the service for our own reasons but bonded by Rebecca and her life.

“Many of you know that Rebecca performed the marriage for my wife Lilian and me. She’s the one who told me to ‘go for it’ with a smile on her face. And I did. Rebecca wrote something a little over a year ago that her nieces asked me to share. I think you will find comfort and peace hearing them. In place of a sermon, I’d prefer to read her words, which better express life’s meaning.”

La Tremana

though it exists in a place we can’t reach by walking
it is as real as anything tangible
love isn’t touchable, but it is an abiding comfort and joy
laughter isn’t felt by one’s fingers, nor is longing
they feed our souls and give us hope and purpose

even as my life filled with obstacles and heartache
there were always friends, always love, and always laughter

though I walked the earth with everyone
a part of me permanently resided in La Tremana
it is the ideal of one’s life
created to suit you, filled with things you desire

you don’t need to travel to arrive
close your eyes and imagine your best life

go find it
and waste no time doing so
With love, R.

After the service, I hugged all of Rebecca’s friends and family. Slowly, they made their way to their cars, stopping for impromptu whispered talks with other gatherers. The rain had lessened. Most ignored it. It was the least they could do. I stood near one of the large oak trees, watching them. As Jane made her final goodbyes, she turned and looked back at me. I waved, then nodded. She smiled and touched her heart with her right hand, a mannerism Rebecca once loved.

After a few minutes of standing under the tree and being lost in the past, I walked toward my car.

And perhaps, to my own La Tremana.

Clowning Around For Life (A Story)

Against the serpentine and changing ocean shoreline, Bret curled his toes into the cool, textured sand. The sun disappeared over an hour ago, yet he still stood there, watching the lights of the beachside hotel and the occasional silhouette of a person moving in front of the lights. Elizabeth told him she’d be back in a few minutes so that they could take a walk along the shoreline.

He knew she was terrible with directions and often quickly lost her way. The hotel wasn’t THAT big, though. And it wasn’t THAT far away from the beach. As he turned and began walking towards the hotel, he could hear her voice calling.

Her voice was always a little higher than most. The modulation of the waves made her voice faintly waft toward him. He shook his head, wondering what mayhem her internal GPS had caused. He stopped and listened for her next shout. He heard her again when he walked around the building and the service area. A large block wall separated the parking lot. He laughed. Somehow, she had exited the hotel from the service exit and trapped herself between the walls.

“Hold on a second, Elizabeth!” he half-shouted.

“Bret? Get me out of here!” she shouted back, her voice going up another half-octave.

“Go back the way you came,” he offered. “I can’t see the opening. And quit laughing.” He laughed even harder.

“That’s what she said!” she added.

From the other side of the wall, she squealed with delight. “Heads up!”

Before he knew what was happening, a bucket flew over the wall.
Bret laughed again and shook his head.

“Sweetie, why did you just throw me a bucket?”

“Duh!” she replied incredulously. “So you can stand on it and climb over the wall to come get me, dumbass.”

Bret laughed hard. “Umm, you could have used the bucket to climb over the wall yourself, so who’s the dumbass now?”

“Damnit!” She yelled while giggling.

Bret grabbed the bucket and threw it over without any warning. He turned and walked fast around the corner, turning to gain access to the barrier. When Bret rounded the corner, Elizabeth was up against the high brick wall, turned sideways, reaching to get her fingers across the upper edge. He carefully walked up behind her and goosed on the back of her upper right thigh.

One leg kicked backward, pushing the bucket away while her knee jerked forward, hitting Bret in the nose and knocking him to the ground. Her crotch landed directly above his broken, bloody nose. He still managed to laugh and smile and say, “Nice landing!” which made her howl with laughter at the absurdity of the situation.

As Bret stood up, the blood ran down his chin. “Let’s go to the ocean,” he said and laughed.

Elizabeth knew he wasn’t joking, so they walked hand-in-hand around the wall and back toward the waves. Bret’s other hand gripped each side of his painful, oozing nose. They didn’t stop at the shoreline. They continued to step out into the gentle waves until the water was at their knees. Bret leaned over and washed his face as best as he could. They both could only imagine what someone watching might think. Neither cared. That was one of their superpowers. Bret stood up and circled his arm around her waist, pulling her close. They’d go back inside in a few minutes to see about Bret’s nose.

When they woke up the following day, Bret’s nose was very swollen, and he had two black eyes. Elizabeth took one look at him and began laughing uncontrollably.

“That bad, huh?” Bret asked.

“I’m sorry to be laughing so hard! I know that has to hurt! I was just thinking about all the stories we’ll be able to make up to tell people why you have black eyes in our wedding pictures!!!” Tears were running down her face because she was laughing so hard.

“We could have someone be a stand-in for the pictures!” Bret replied. “Is that hot guy from your favorite show available?” He laughed.

“No, I already called his agent. You’re stuck! Besides, you look kind of hot with those black eyes. Bad boy, even. It could be a knee-jerk reaction for me to say so, though,” she added wryly.

“Oh, I’ll give you a knee-jerk reaction, all right,” Bret replied as he rolled over on Elizabeth and gave her a quick kiss, mumbling, “a wee-nee jerk reaction!”

Elizabeth laughed. The weenie joke was one of her favorites, even though it was so stupid and old. It made her laugh every time they used it.

That evening during their beachside wedding ceremony, Elizabeth kept giggling. Bret thought she was tickled at the two witnesses he found that agreed to be there for their wedding. Witnesses that she did not even see before the ceremony. One dressed in an inflatable T-Rex costume, and the other was a clown. He wouldn’t put it past her to use a fake marriage officiant, either. The pastor laughed when Bret leaned in and whispered, “This is a legal marriage, isn’t it?” The clergy replied, “Lord help you if it isn’t.”

Elizabeth giggled out her vows and “I do.”

Bret knew the clown and dinosaur were funny, but not THAT funny. She had tears streaming down her eyes from holding back laughter.

After their first kiss as husband and wife, Elizabeth let out a massive howl of laughter and bent over at her waist to catch her breath. Bret had never seen her laugh that hard.

“Do I have a big booger on the end of my nose or something??” asked Bret.

Elizabeth waved her hands and shook her head no. She was still laughing too hard to speak. Finally, she pointed down.

Bret looked at the bottom of her dress.

She slowly raised it to reveal that she was wearing a ginormous pair of clown shoes and rainbow stockings under her elegant, white dress.

She had also hidden two clown noses in her bouquet for a few pictures after the ceremony.

“Something else that kept getting me tickled was that I noticed how the colors of the sunset matched the colors of your black eyes!!!!” as she roared with laughter again.

During their wedding dinner that night, which was Pizza Hut pizza-of course!-they hatched a plan.

They would send out their wedding picture as their Christmas card this year. Each card would have a different story explaining why Bret had black eyes and a swollen nose in the picture.

When December came around, their stories ranged from a seagull attack, that he wanted his eye shadow to match the colors of the sunset, and “This is what happens to Bret when he tries to use his hemorrhoid cream as a moisturizer.”

I think these two are going to be just fine.
.

just a chair

the chair too teensy

yet made immense by enthusiasm

(like life)

eleven elbows and twelve knees, it seemed

i paid a burdened price for my gaffes

yet decided to surrender to yes

instincts certain, my mind girded with laughter

fused into the chair

interlocking and surprising pieces

murmurs, whispers

time postponed yet winged

the chair, both metaphor and corporeal

you can fit if you will it

you can find a place for your too much or extra

and let the river of wrong

flow anew

just sit

Try This On For Sighs

Well, I wrote a country song, if you can believe it. The song is just banjo, piano, and guitar; the guitar is loosely tuned to mimic a banjo’s jangly feel. It’s an imagined moment, making it more tangible than a memory. One of these days, I will sing it, though your ears might protest.

Try This On For Sighs

I turned on the radio, hearing lyrics nostalgic and free
Conway, George, and Charlie telling us simple stories
invoking us to live by life’s happy and simple decree

family to give us community
friends to give us companionship
and one to share our vulnerable soul

come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong

I walked by the closet, you standing like a dare
facing the mirror, nimble bare feet on the floor
black dress draped against your body, shoulders bare

the memory of your departed mom flooding your candid eyes
I could picture both of you silhouetted there, and still
your shared beauty an ongoing and persistent surprise

your chin and neck trembled with the painful past
you turned and smiled willfully in my direction
knowing I witnessed the overlap of time, recast

you tossed the garment aside, your eyes locked and wide
“Come here, and try this on for sighs,” you whispered
as the invisible music played, our bodies erased the divide

come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong

In the small space of a closet, time slowed, then stopped
as we laughed, elbows bumping as we twirled
in that closet, the entire volume of the world

….as we sang…

come here and try this on for sighs
you don’t need money, cars, or clothes
discard the disguise and guarded pose
let your heart and body murmur its song
find the enthusiastic arms where you belong

hallelujah, hallelujah

I haven’t finished the melody, but I wrote this song, something I haven’t done in a long time. When I finished, I realized that it could be both spiritual plea or a personal promise. For those whose lives are filled with God, let that be your premise. For those who love, may this be your optimism and purposeful promise of anticipation of another day. And for those souls who have both? Stand together and watch the sunrise, if you can.

Or the sunset. And be renewed. – X
.
.

hallelujah hallelujah

I shall never know if you’re listening
only that I’m whispering the words

That my life not be made easier
only fuller and always in anticipation

I don’t want to know the obstacles
nor the slap of who will precede me

only that I’ll have one more variable day
before the shadows grow feet and approach me

I make this unrequested promise to you
let me arise and see the sunrise, anew

just one more time, one more snapshot
another measure of loving enduring optimism

and if you do, I vow to sing

hallelujah, hallelujah

not for me, but for you

hallelujah, hallelujah

I shall never know if you’re listening
only that I’m whispering the words

hallelujah, hallelujah
.

Love, X
.

P.S. The picture is two superimposed pictures of a man celebrating both sunrise and sunset. Because the sun never sets upon the Earth, only upon our eyes. So much of us is limited to our narrow perspective, and we grow to trust only the things we can touch – instead of the things we can feel and experience.

Deanne

things often go awry, as they so often do
that unimaginable morning, it was you

nine years my junior, with a lingering cough
your energy ebbed and your spirit diminished

i watched my love and life wither
it can’t get that bad, i foolishy hoped

life had a hard lesson for me, again

i sat on the floor next to you
our albino cat standing guard,
as he had all night
before i made the horrible call

life had fled, from you, from me

promises made, hopes shared
became mist and floated away

a little piece of me stayed there, forever

another piece of me, the vibrancy you shared
found a way forward

i can’t believe i’m still standing
filled with love, expanding

sometimes, in moments
i’m back there, remembering the lesson

you said i was love
even in impatience
“my muffin,” you teased
and I? pleased

i try to remember the helplessness
hopelessness and despair

not to drown in them, no

but to live the knowledge
that we’re all closer than we think

it’s all here or gone in a blink

in those crevices of experience
we thrive or subside

with each new self-genesis
i take a long moment
to swallow the risk

and i remember

life knocks, i answer

it is not a question

it is life, moving

Love, X
.