Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One day when I die they'll open up the top of my head and a herd of elephants will come charging out and somebody will say, "Huh, looks like she made out pretty well considering everything that was going on in there." 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm keeping the word joy in the middle of my mind--turning it over and over again until it is shiny and bright.
I am sharpening it into a blade. 
This is my only weapon in a pit full of lions.
I am the Michael Jordan of sad.
I am a ticker tape parade of sad.
I am the Eddie Van Halen of sad. 
I am the Carnival Cruise Line of sad.

Monday, May 26, 2014

What's at the intersection of an obsession with death and an obsession with the creation of meaning?  Paralysis.  Melancholia.  Despair.
The sad reality is: you spend all day in a box and then when you cross over, you'll spend all day in a box.
There's more sound and fury now then ever before.  So maybe you make an effort to throw your own voice into that swirling cacophony, thinking it will make a difference, but why?  What for?
Once I was driving at dusk, heading into my hometown.  I turned a corner and it seemed I was heading right into the sunset, all violet and shades of rose.  The sky made up like a whore.  I had this epiphany, "Existence is forever.  Now that I'm in it, I can never get out."  I felt so tired, then.  Tired to the point of sickness.
Ever since then I've asked myself, "How do I break loose?"  Maybe that's the only true freedom.  To be nothing.  To have nothing.  Know nothing. Want nothing.
But here I am.  Stuck in these maddening circles of desire and craving.  Grasping at small things that will make me forget for a moment.
Maybe you'll say I'm depressed.  That I "suffer from depression."  Ridiculous.  You learn how to minimize the gravity of it--how cavernous it is. You get so good at the song and dance, you do that old soft shoe in front of trained professionals and they brush their hands together, "All done!"  They clock out feeling satisfied and go home to their own shit. 
The real condition--the actual feeling--it's so much bigger than a word.  Especially one co-opted by big-pharma, a word you hear all the time on television and see in the glossy folds of magazines.  "Anxiety and Depression, Anxiety and Depression, Anxiety and Depression." They're the goddamn Laurel and Hardy of our times.  Even your troubles are commodities now.  Things you can use to get you out of a boring situation, badges to make you feel special--things that might be able to save you from an honest day's work.
Fuck a name.  It's a feeling that bucks off a name like a wild horse.  You can't name it because it isn't yours.  It belongs to the universe itself, something older than time--almost holy.
What's the solution, then?  You can't outrun it, you can't cheat it--it always finds you.  It spots you hiding behind your stupid pleasures and points its finger at you and waves.
 "Here I am.  Hello, there.  Here I am still."
Maybe the only thing for it is to keep going through the motions.  Moving your body this way and that, in the ways deemed acceptable.  Relying on your muscle memory to get you through all the smiling and requisite laughter.
That's the terrible thing.  That maybe we're all fooling each other.  That maybe we all feel it nipping at our heels, but we're too proud to admit it.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Poem is the Antidote to your Parents

Fill up on bread.
Start running.
Don't look either way.
Don't wear a sweater.
Forget your lunchbox.
Don't learn a trade to fall back on.
Take that tone with me.
Make me repeat myself.
Make me come back there.
Make me turn this car around.
Mess up your room.
Let yourself fall apart.
Go, go, go, go, go.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
Don't even bother to look.  Just leap.

Friday, June 28, 2013

You are the scab I pick over and over,
The whip I use to beat myself.
Your spectre hangs on the back of the bathroom door.
 I stare at it day after day as I sit on the toilet and tell it,
"Things would have been different if I had known.
I still love you.  I'm sorry."

I want to write graffiti in your memory,
Buy an ad in the classifieds to tell you.
Anything to absolve myself of the inky guilt
Of still giving a shit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writing Workshop: Week Three

Week Three (15 August 2012): We had to write a scene that takes place in a restaurant.  Here's mine:
It was the place we went 46 years ago when she found out she was pregnant with Seamus.
She ordered the roasted chicken with new potatoes that night and the chef came out and shook my hand.

We went there when he graduated from college, too. He poured us each a glass of wine, stood, and thanked us. The whole dining room applauded when he was finished his speech. The two of us were ebullient then, full of love and pride.

When we found out Linda's sister Carol had been diagnosed with breast cancer we took her out to Javier's, too. The night before she started chemotherapy. The four of us, me, Linda, Carol, and Carol's husband Marty.

In the low-light, after a few glasses of wine it was easy to look into each other's eyes. It was easier to say, “Everything will be okay,” and believe it. Linda just had a salad that night. Carol had the prime rib cooked rare. She was eating like it was the last day of her life.

Six years later, we went back to Javier's for a luncheon after Carol's funeral. That time Linda didn't eat anything. She stood near the entrance greeting people as they came in. At one point I looked over and it seemed one of the waiters was holding her up. She had her head on his shoulder. I could see the tension in his body, he was trying to inch away. She had forgotten he had another job to do. I went over to her then and took his place.

Last night we visited Linda's doctor again for the 25th time in the last 12 months. He asked to speak to me privately and finally said what I had been waiting to hear. “Take her home,” he said, “keep giving her her medication, but I need to tell you this: She is in decline. It won't get any better than this. I need to be honest with you now, David, because I think you deserve honesty. You need to be prepared for what's ahead of you.”

I met Linda in the waiting room and she smiled her vacant smile. “Everything, okay, darling?” she asked me. She rarely called me David now because my name usually slipped her mind.

“Yes,” I told her, “how would you like to go to Javier's for dinner now?”

She just beamed. It was one of the only places she still remembered.

We got to the restaurant and they sat us at our usual table. It was a Thursday night, so there was live music. A singer and a guitarist. When I got Linda into her chair I walked over to the singer and slipped her a twenty.

“Do you know 'Someone to Watch Over Me'?”

“Of course,” she said.

“Play it for us,” I told her, “It was our wedding song. It's our anniversary tonight. I gave you twenty bucks so you'd play it four times. Five bucks a play is fair, right?”

The singer smiled. “You got it, sir,” she said, “Congratulations.”

It wasn't our anniversary, of course. But I was still celebrating. I would be celebrating every day that I still had her.

Linda ordered the lamb chop. It seemed the food made her lucid. She grinned and grinned throughout the whole meal.
I noticed that she had some gravy on her chin and then I heard the first few chords of our song.

I got up from my seat and crossed over to Linda's side of the table. Holding her face in one hand I wiped her chin with my napkin and kissed her.

She looked at me, there in the low-light, after a couple of glasses of wine, it was easy. She looked at me and she understood.

I saw tears in her eyes and she whispered, “Thank you, David, thank you, I love you.”

They played the song three more times and each time I got up and crossed over to Linda.
Each time I took her face in my hands and each time she recognized me.
Each time we kissed it was the first time and the last time.
Our tears fell clear through dessert, but we laughed at them and at each other.
On my second to last cup of coffee I caught the singer looking at us. She was crying too.

Here was the answer to all the times in the past year I had asked myself where she had gone. She was still here, in our favorite spot, at our usual table, after a couple of glasses of wine, listening to our song. She was with me still. Each time I got up and crossed over to her, she came back to me fully. She knew who I was, who I had been. She saw it all, and it was enough.

Our life together had been a series of perfect moments. Without the various contexts of our experiences, it could be like a montage in a film. Linda in her favorite blue dress. Linda fixing my tie. The two of us sharing the drive up to Maine in the summers. Me young and slim in my swim trunks. Linda ordering an appetizer, having another glass of wine, thanking the waiter as he fills her water glass. Me getting out my seat several times during dinner to kiss my lovely wife. We had lived so beautifully, had been so generous with one another. It would go on. It would keep going on until the end.