Through a Window

29 03 2006

“Waiting”
* for a friend of mine

I’ve been through these dreams,
I saw you smile at me,
And it was something I won’t let get away,
Something I need to make it through today,

One thousand dangers,
One million strangers,
The world is so different from my window,
The world is awake, but I want oh no,
There are lovers kissing on a bench,
Arms on each other, they’re entrenched,
I’m still so far away,
Until my window decays.

I’ve had so many beliefs,
How could they say to me,
And I was something I wanted to save,
Something I need to stay awake.

One hundred lives,
One lonely night,
The world is just a movie to me,
What else would you like it to be,
Mr. Director I’m standing by,
I’ll play to your cues in the limelight,
Instead I remain off the stage,
Until my window decays.





Longest Autumn

29 03 2006

Amadeus

It had been the longest autumn he had lived through. He sat on an old lawn chair, writing out flowery poems. It was as if there was nothing more to life. A plane was landing in the distance at a nearby airport. Twelve seconds later he saw the plane engulfed in flames. Less than a second after that, he heard a glorious explosion. The poet remained seated; the vision of the disintegration of the plane suddenly became connected with the violent noise. He stopped writing his poem, he stopped imagining about tomorrow, he stopped altogether. A voice behind him cried out,

“Jesus, Amadeus, did you hear that? Do you think? Oh, God.”

Amadeus did not move. His shoulders did not tremble, his face did not shatter, only a small hint of melancholy emanated as a tear from his left eye. Never before had his oldest son, Nick, called him by his first name; he thought about that. Had they suddenly become equal? It would have to be a question he would ignore until later; his eyes were transfixed on the slowly burning plane in the horizon. He knew his future hung in the balance and yet it was completely impossible for him to do anything but watch, simply futile. The smell of burning jet fuel eventually made its way up to camp, the children surrounding Amadeus. When, at last, the sun had set, Amadeus rose from the lawn chair and went inside to turn off the television set which reported on several stations the landing gear failure on flight 223. He went inside and locked himself in her room. The children huddled together asking him to come out. No response.

The following morning, the children acted like angels. No one turned on the television, they served him breakfast. It was not burnt toast and uncooked eggs like it was on his last birthday. Everything was clean, everything was as it should be. At precisely eight in the morning, he opened his door, each footstep correlating to a chime of the clock. No one said a word. In truth, nothing needed to be said. He sat down, his face about to crumple in, tears streaming, turning his face down towards the table. Before the huddle of children came, however, he said one thing, “she’s gone.” At this, everyone took on a stance of more intent, focused quiet as if their silence would console him. He suddenly lifted his head, ate his food, and smiled. He genuinely smiled, reminded that he still had joy in his life. Some would call the children obligations, ties. To him, they were everything – hopes, fears, dreams, all potentials. Children are potential incarnate. One cannot imagine anything but a happy life for this man, even amidst the deepest sorrows.





Unfamiliar Wilderness

28 03 2006

Morning

Crystal lake ran out in all directions. She sat there looking out on the expanse wondering what was to come. Sensing nothing in particular, he walked around the edges of the lake, passing her. Moments after passing her, he recalled her face as if it were some lost memory or dream he had forgotten. He turned back to analyze her reclined figure forming a silhouette against the setting sun. She was postmodern, guessing by the book in her hand, and based on an intuition she was also independent, focused, and energetic. He turned his backwards glance almost into a stare, until she glanced back in his direction. Smiling, she called out to him. By the time her voice got to him, he had already continued walking.

She laid herself out on the blanket watching the red sunset trickle across the soft, beating ripples scattered over the lake. Her name was Jane. She would tell you that she grew up in a prestigious boarding school on the shores of this lake, before going on to Ivy and eventually, the lucrative job she works in now. Though her job is lucrative and she graduated Ivy, there never was a boarding school on Lake Paraguas. She still comes every summer as if the invisible school was her home. The years go by and yet her face hardly ages, her friends and relatives have all forgotten her birthday, it is a hard-kept secret.

When the sun had set twenty minutes later, he realized he would not make it to the campsite before dark. Rather than pursue what he felt would be a fruitless and painstaking venture through the unfamiliar wilderness after dark, he headed back towards the woman with the book. Using his cell phone he notified his friend that he would not make it that night. Though the voice on the other line was worried and agitated, he calmly replied, “I’ll find my way” and hung up. The woman lay there taking a nap in afternoon attire.

She woke up as his footsteps broke the small twigs and branches she had put nearby. “What took you so long,” she spoke without opening her eyes. “What do you mean,” he said startled at her keen observations. “You know exactly what I mean, you just don’t think a girl like me could figure you out so easily.” Hours passed. Eventually, it struck the both of them that it was far too cold to be outside. She spoke, assuaging his fears, “I have a place, you can stay”. He then realized that amidst the long conversation about his past and her future he had neglected to ask permission to stay the night. He also became suddenly aware that he gave up his chance to get to his campsite that night in exchange for the uncertain odds that he might get to stay with this woman. The lake trembled deep underneath, though nothing changed the glassy surface.

He followed her all the way into her cabin on the hillside. Entering the door, they immediately began kissing passionately. At first, he pretended to be surprised, then he gave in and kissed back fiercely. Never before had he noticed her long, swaying green dress, her defined shoulders, smooth complexion, and wistful eyes. Moving towards the bedroom, they continued kissing thinking about their past, their present, and perhaps their future. Almost at the foot of her cleanly made bed, he paused. What did he know of her past? And what future? Would they even have a future? Is there a point to the present without a future? Jane seemed to articulate his exact past, her future. She had faltered several times when talking about her past, including when he asked questions surrounding her experiences at this lake. “It is home for me,” she had said, “I visited when I was very young. We always carried umbrellas, even if there was no rain. My mother used to say we must always block something out; if not the rain, the the sunlight.” He asked Jane how old she was and her birthday. For once, she replied honestly though it was so direct, so honest, that it made him doubt it. “September the fourteenth, nineteen hundred and seventy seven. And that makes me about thirty.”

Without realizing it, he was already in bed with her. It was if his consciousness became separate from his decision-making. While he thought things out, his body was simply getting things done. Sensing nothing, he chose to go on, to make love to Jane. Afterwards, she offered him coffee and toast. Blinking, he noticed she still was not wearing clothing. He replied softly, “no”, fumbling the covers and adding, “thank you.” Hours passed.

He woke up just as the sun was rising over the lake. Small ripples soon brought last night’s events into focus. He smiled as he watched the reflection of sunlight over the lake. “Nothing,” he told himself, “not a thing.” Turning away from the windowsill, he noticed Jane still nude. She was beautiful. Not just on the outside, but her voice was sweet, her past was interesting, and her thoughts intricate. Truly a pleasure. Offering him a small breakfast, she caressed his shoulders. He paid his dues as a guest and ate dutifully. Afterwards, he quickly made the jog over to his campsite. He eventually arrived at his tent with the old Chevy parked beside it. He remembered how perfect the campsite was; there was no one for miles. Unzipping the tent flap, he went inside and gently woke up his wife. “Good morning, darling.”





Dreams Not Unfamiliar

26 03 2006

Under the Lunar Sky

I watched lunar sky that night,
As I took a nap inside my mind,
It was too much – I could not breathe,
The words came out and I was choking.

You lay in front of me, it was my mistake,
Don’t cry like that, you might not wake,
Oh no, oh no, please let this go,
I swear, I swear, your breathing is so slow…

The lunar sky walked above my head,
It took its time as the streetlight sent us to bed,
This time I know I won’t let you down,
Oh God, oh God, where are you now?

As long you breathe I’ll be alright,
The future my imagination writes tonight,
Oh no, oh no, I pull you close,
You’re barely moving and now I just don’t know …

As I held up your lifeless neck,
The lunar sky watched over our heads,
I wondered if this would be the end,
And then you said, then you said,

You said, “Goodnight, it will be alright,
Can’t you feel my breathe by your side”
My face dropped two notes and fell again,
Then you smiled and everything was said.

I Won’t Let Go

It must have been years by now,
Maybe just a yesterday,
When your mother broke down,
I remember what she used to say.

A long time ago, before you left,
She came to our house, now and then,
“Oh my dears the years you’ll have”,
You remembered exactly what she said.

The night, the vows, the song, the dance,
Darling you departed so soon,
And did that kiss have to be the last?

The light came, and it went,
Now I’ve lost all that I had left,
The songs you sang still follow me,
And the crash that struck you so violently.

Here I am with no life in my hands,
Silent, tilted with my back to the wall,
I feel the ring the one they gave back to me,
The one I can’t let go – the scene, the scene,

Your eyes looked empty, I could not turn away,
They shut them for me, it was the day the day,
The light that drew us outside,
To take a walk that would change our lives.

We sat on the swings, the cars went by,
It was just another day of our lives,
You mentioned the kids, I smiled,
We whispered about the years, the miles,

I wanted to stay, we had to leave,
There were things to do, places to see,
If only, if only, darling I’m sorry,
You led us away, it was like a dream,
You went your way through the door unseen.

Seeing

I met you last night and the feeling is fading,
You wore a beautiful face and you were waiting,
I left my date at the door for someone more,
We made our escape,

You were the girl I always knew,
We rode on the swings before the early dawn,
The one that laughed at my silliest jokes,
The girl who fixed me when I was wrong,

Now you’re gone,
The moment is lost,
I’m crying alone,
The night, the night is forgot.

I pretend you’d be there if I turned around,
I made it a game, and I shouldn’t lose now,
Maybe I know better, maybe I don’t,
Last night I cashed in all my hopes.

I give up, doubt wins, now I turn,
I blink and pretend to not believe what I see,
There’s nothing in sight,
Then you say, “You’ve got to open your eyes”

Prone

Tears dissolved his sight,
The weakness he gave into,
In exchange for her eyes.

Fear and Regret

My body was trembling,
The unspoken tragedy played out before my eyes,
Everything was crumbling,
I watched you hold me up as I died,

A few parting words, a goodbye kiss,
I watched the eloquent grace I will forever miss,
I looked around, I wasn’t ready to leave,
God was coming, so I hid under the sheet,

I peeked around and there He was,
I ran towards my body jumped inside,
I shook, I stirred, you smiled, you cried,

Almost back together again,
I looked up to see God pulling me in,
Turning away from the bright light,
I fought and I fought, but darling I’m sorry I died.





On Change

25 03 2006

“All Different Now”

Isn’t it just strange the way everything changes? We live two steps into the future, forcing the ignored past to catch up with us, then time slows down, the past and the pending collide, and suddenly everything’s different. I woke up one morning and I found that change itself has a sliding scale. Mathematically, it’s a second-order derivative; there exists a concrete rate of change for the rate at which things change. In physics terms, we’re talking acceleration or deceleration. Changes are inherently linked to perspective and with that, our concept of time. It’s been proven that our mind can actually function faster than it does, slowing down our perception of time enough that car accidents or knife fights are actually perceived in slow motion.

These collisions of the past and the pending constitute change in the larger sense. Change, by which I mean a significant and perhaps largely unnoticed and subtle change in life, is created when the mind no longer ignores the past, thinks in the present, and understands the transient nature of the future. I’m not sure whether or not these epiphanies can be induced consciously or not, but they do occur. Of course time does not actually slow down, not even necessarily in our minds, but what I’m postulating is that the equivalent occurs subconsciously allowing the brain to process everything sufficiently that it appears to be a sudden consclusion.

Life is motion all moving in every direction but summing up to zero. Imagine, however, that you are alive and that as you age things happen at a fairly predetermined speed. You pass through grade levels year by year, you enter the work force and you get your promotions and maybe eventually a pension, then you retire and die. Motivated people speed it up, apathetics slow it down, but more or less, life is a straight line with a few rough edges. When we notice a significant change in life, it is because (again consciously or not) we ignore the linearity of life and our ability to determine what is to come in exchange for an introspective analysis of what has happened thus far. Our perception of significant changes comes in subtle epiphanies that appear to us as understandings that we’ve always had.

Initially, I spoke about changing this life-rate, that it can accelerate or decelerate. Whether that happens, whether or not you change what tedious events will unfold is up to you; no advice will be written here. I am writing about what I believe ‘is’, not what I believe ‘should be’. There is a unique difficulty in perceiving the past and present when we are changing the course of our lives; being so intent on the future eliminates our peripheral vision. This is an acceleration, where we consciously make efforts to break away from what the timeline has plotted out for us, taking an strong will and intense zeal and focus. Another shift in the change of life is a deceleration, where others impact your life (through accelerations or decelerations of their own), unwillingly forcing you into a separate life track. Though the phrase deceleration has a negative denotation and connotation, deceleration is not always bad. However, it is, by my definition, unintended. Decelerations work like the opposite of an acceleration; rather than inhibit our ability to perceive the past and the present, they tend to slow everything down for us. Sometimes, these events are tragic, like an automobile accident or a knife fight and sometimes they are not. Though both accelerations and decelerations are infrequent and perhaps elusive, they do occur, altering our ability to perceive change.

“I went out in the rain suddenly everything changed,” wrote Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. The Beatles wrote in Yesterday, “suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be”. Change, especially the kinds of change that deal with who we are and where our lives are going, is not always unexpected. We just have a lot of small changes unexpectedly catch up with us. Time slows down, the past and the pending collide.





some things are out of style

16 03 2006

My young friend once wrote in a small letter on the back of a “Williams and Bakers” menu,
“The ice balloons float above this sky,
The silver tired eyes disappear tonight,
And we were …”
Many thoughts entered his head, visions of wonder, a beautiful swirling void of thought. Nothing of the strange terrors of life entered his mind, the years spent at the windy docks, the way infants’ necks snapped so easily, how strange men can pull a gun and steal your car and never been seen again, or the fear that creeps over you when you first wake up and hear slow, muffled breathing from behind your closet door. He smiled as if the world was not what it was. “It is, my dear, as I believe it to be”, he once wrote in a letter that was mailed in an envelope that was sealed, stamped, and beige that was carried to the post office, where it was taken to the wrong address, where a man in a black coat opened the letter and laughed after he threw it in the fire.

He glanced around unsure of what the next lines would be. “We were … we were … what were we doing,” he asked himself aloud. “Poetry is not artistic redundancy,” he reminded himself, “but instead the wondrous confluence of thought and emotion.” He had a way with pretty words.

When I met him once, he was without his girl. He seemed relaxed, he had none of the apprehension I feel with women. They tend to be quiet, at least the ones I’ve had. I get queasy, I doubt myself, and I find it awkward to tell them about myself. It’s always a risk. Anyone can know anything if they care hard enough to find it. I once walked this pretty girl with large, pink lips up to her bedroom, and she seemed excited. I can’t quite remember how I was. I can’t remember. I don’t want to remember. It did not happen. He was without his girl. That happened. My friend spoke to me in his famous serious voice, “The art of love is that there is not a drop of art in it. Art is something that men create to represent natural truths. Love of all sorts cannot be conjured by a wand or wave of the hand.” He turned away from me and as he walked away in his brown blazer I overheard, “I always tell them what they need to hear.” That’s always bothered me.

I sat down on a bench in a nearby park. Parks seem to be out of style. I hope they come back in style soon. There were a thousand thoughts in my head. Where should I go to work? Why am I still here? Who was that girl I kissed? Am I easy? What time is it? Does time matter? What is love? How good are books? Will I ever be a writer? Why can’t I ask anything but yes-no questions? Am I stupid? Why do I doubt things so much? What is honor? Am I typical? I stopped. Am I typical? I hate being so predictable. God, I hate it. And then the questions started again. Do I believe in God? If there is one is he good, all-powerful? Does he care? Will I ever find some purpose or …

A few days later, I smiled. I took a photograph of a young couple years ago standing against the rail on the boardwalk. It’s one of my best ones. Funny how proud you can get over something that doesn’t matter. I cried that day. I went home and I bought myself a typewriter and began typing. Maybe it’s something you’d be interested in:
”I was in a world stuck in time, I want to go back to her, she was mine, I want the reasons again, I want the absurdities to go to bed, The singing in my head was the sound of something I said, out of something I read …” It goes on. I didn’t feel like copying it all down. Don’t worry; I know it’s pretty bad. I can’t write like he can. I can’t believe he even enjoys it.

The young man sat at his desk. His girl came up to him and kissed him, smiled, and cried. He told me about all this the second time we met. I’ve tried to put everything down on paper. After he told me about that kiss, he mentioned something about how the world is easier if you risk letting it go. I almost yelled, but then I quietly said, “What do you mean, let it go? Kill myself? Let down my friends my family? Or do you mean let it go and just rot in my second-class crapartment? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get upset.” I never got to see him much and he was so happy; I liked being with him just to get happy. He nodded and told me that “it was quite alright.” I’ve never seen his girl though I imagine she’s very happy.

I don’t much understand about letting it go. I know he meant for me to let go my perfectionism, and live up to a new idealism. I can’t quite separate the two yet, though I bet I will in a month or so. I always say, “Just give me time.” I found this girl the other day. She likes to draw, she likes to talk, and she likes me. We saw a few movies and ate lunch. I’m pretty sure she’s not the one. Even if she is, there’s no way she’d get through to me; I’m so fragmented, I’m not even sure I can get to me. Things always turn out worse than the way they started. I wish it could be different with this one. I found a poem I wrote, dated “two years from now”:
“Her eyes washed away my prior sins,
My thoughts were pacified by her breath,
The soul understands itself, but not with words,
I heard her voice two years away,
And my dreams will rest on distant wars,
Slow is the walk into those arms.”

The last time I met him, the young man said to me, “Woe to the man who cries, ‘The world rests as I lie awake; the questions ignored by everyone else I cannot abate.’” As I strode out the door, I replied, “Woe indeed, you empty beast.”





An Oppressive Slant

11 03 2006

All Abouts

“You’ve all got to hand it to yourselves. You think it’s all about you,” the familiar young man spoke. “If you’d like me to speak with you honestly, then ask for it. However, each and every one of you know better. It’s not cowardice, it’s disgust. You don’t want to hear me say cruel, inhuman things to you. True things; but the slant of my voice will oppress you.” He laughed, perhaps almost a sly cackle. “I could, perhaps, hide it.” He said this knowing that he only could, but would forever have to. However, he could not resist tempting them. “My words be riddles and my toungue be forked, by your wisdom I do beseech thee, think not thyself on mere words”. He laughed knowing as they thought out his words not only would they miss the point entirely, they would believe he was quoting Shakespeare or some forgotten literary ghost. He smiled again. Thinking to himself, “I enjoy playing with them. If the effect wears off, or they choose not to play silly games with me, why should I play silly games with them. I know that for now, I best play along.” After some time, by which his familiar audience was growing frustrated having been embarrassingly given more than plentiful time to understand his previous statement, he spoke again. “I am not what I am. Add to that a bit of ‘I know not seems’ and a dash of my flair for acting and perhaps you’ve hit the root to this, my dilemma, my madness as you call it. But, Hamlet comparisons aside, I am and have always been myself. Just because I stop acting for a while shouldn’t toss you all in a panic. Relax, soon enough things will get back to normal.” He laughed, wiped his eyes, and composed himself. Continuing, he said, “Everything will be familiar again.”

And yes, “This time, it was all about you”.