There she sat restless upon the surf bounding roughly by. Once a fine ship. An Indiaman. A once fine hulk, now with sinews de-masted and sails de-breasted by a foul wind off Madagascar. A squall by not some not underwhelming sense of mistaken reckoning. The fore deck in shambles and her hull breached. The three sat high up upon the amphitheater of piled stones that now served as her quay. Barely a spit of sand that her master had found by the grace of God before wind and sea and coral rock could have any further way with her. God and the Devil only, who could now tell if her stout oaken keel had succumbed to having its back broken grinding across same? The trio now shivering with impotent rage and trepidation at the slim prospects that the curse of unexpected bad weather had left them that now lay ahead.
A search of another craft far inland deposed a curious collection of ten disassociated items. Some as mundane as a raggedy doll and an old corroded brass plate watch and fob. The most disturbing find being a living thing whose shape held to no known convention strictly identifiable as a recognized species on this earth. A milky colored greenish cast to what appeared to be an uneasy combination of mushroom and asparagus. Something that lay there the similarity of lungs heaving lost in the conundrum of what for it might have been serving as same. Where it had come from was suggested by the broken frame of something disk-like and fractured. Silver metal of a sort that suggested no terrestrial equivalent. The occupant of same offering the most disturbing element of their immediate collection laying at the end of items so much more common to their sensibilities.
The lounge room of the apartment across the hall was full as he stood before the open closet doors in the bedroom. They seemed oblivious of his presence as he stared into the limbo of his own disconcerted thoughts. To his shock and surprise she stood beside him. Barbara. Her entrance as much a mystery as the fact of the appearance of her person. Only for an moment and then she left. Leaving her discontent to mingle with his disappointment to leave an inky film about the room of regret. Now he felt that eyes were prying at him studying his demeanor at her loss. Though unbearable to his sea of raging emotions within he kept up the fiction of remaining inert and unmoved. The sorrow filling him up so rapidly that it felt in a short span of time that it would overcome his neck and burst forth through every portal above. Still he carried on perusing the emptiness of the cubicle before him as if looking for his coat.
The top of the stairs just outside the apartment revealed that this location had been more appropriately a public venue held within what might have been architecturally intended as a hotel or meeting center. He collapsed down into sitting crouched upon the upper steps. Refraining from a swirling sense of spiritual vertigo that sought to whisper to him that he might consider hopping quickly into final flight over the railing just behind him. A just solution in so many ways to cure the guilt and stupidity of his former deeds. Why was he such an empty useless vessel of vacuous circumstantial emotions that like some rare vintage was never really shared? Why had he not shared his heart with her so long ago past when she had given him the opportunity? Was he such a perennial spoilt child that he could not help but further embarrassing the both of them by carrying on for days after in pressing a quest that had clearly demonstrated no intention on following up upon?
He swayed back and forth as the feelings seemed to build to suggest that he had indeed been in love with her. Even if he had not been in love with her enough to through all caution to the wind! The railing behind him waited with the promise of its flying lessons leading quickly to a final view and true oblivion. The presence of another interloper unexpectedly casting a shadow over him from behind. A man! A man dressed in suit and tie appropriate of some formal description of public trust spoke out gently to him as if he might need assistance. The official station suggested by his voice and his manner stopping all thoughts of unbearable loss and that ready antidote of immediate self-destruction. He put on a mask of complacence all the while knowing that his current performance was instrumental to his keeping his freedom. After a few moments interchange he felt that he had rounded the bend in some way. And the man walked off leaving what was for him a chilling promise of an imminent return. Gone for the moment this house genie had set his heart to beating at a furious pace. Escape was all he could think of as he tripped down the stairs as casually as his legs would allow.
To his horror he realized that he had not found his coat back int he closet of the suite now far above. Dare he return he thought to himself, the intercession of that official stranger would most assuredly preclude its use. He had no wish to become an inmate of some hospital! If indeed this is what this space that he had lost mental sight of had truly been all along from the start? He padded back down the main hallway imagining the cold Winter wind outside and what he would do without any appropriate covering containing wallet, cards, money and keys. The trail back led to a fork where the inference of an escalator peeked out to the one side and a low stair suggested further to the left. The notion that only the risk of returning the way he had just came into whatever was now waiting for him might be the only solution. How he hated this society for so easily casting him as a murderer in mentally alleging that he was so ready to frivolously take his own life. Who were these people that demanded entry to his thoughts and felt empowered to redirect the intentions of his should when he felt that he had reach that point that he had had enough? How terrible after all was this empty pursuit of finding that lost trail of one’s long lost fleeting love.
What would have been like to be in the arms of someone who loved you. Again? What! As if it had ever happened? Old memories buried in each other on a pile. A pyre. Locked in place and no longer available. But you’re here. Still? Aren’t ya! That’s it. Walking around like a ghost without a clue of what brought you to this haunt. What kind of love is that. Smelling the stains. Laying on an old broken down mattress. Pretending that you know something. Like something, someone knows you. Who is kidding who. Who has? Yourself. A thought after thought after thought after thought. Echo. Two mirrors! Someone’s truth lies between. Is it you. Your’s? You want her talk. Talk, talk, talk. You wanted them all to talk. Safe to talk. They did! Then they did! And it was all about something. Anything!Nothing. But not you! You couldn’t understand that. Not you. That you didn’t enter into the equation. You never did. Never! You were a ghost. A ghost of a dream. A ghost in a dream! Your dream. Never! Never, never, never. Neverland. You were a child tucked into pajamas. Not a man. No! Never. Sucking your thumb. Sucking their tits. Sucking and fucking. Fuck off! You might have felt their passing fury. Felt a tremble through their body. That tremble. Trembling? For a moment. For an instant? Never. But you were not available. Never were. That was you sin. The sin of self. You alone. The key that wouldn’t open any door. You were locked out. Out in the cold. Cold. Dead cold. Like dead. And so why? Why ask the questions. “Where’s my money?” Why ask. Why! You know the answer. Don’t you? You do! Now. Now is not the time. The time. No longer the time to ask.
This private ongoing conversation with you. You, whoever you are. You my friend. You my enemy. You, and just you! The mental fiction of the whole wide world beyond these words. This endless stream of myself that I send skyward in the fiction of my heart transcendent. Some form of wishful immortality to be heard at last. To call out and know that all this lonely struggle was not simply for not. To you who I will never know. Assuming much along the way that such a thing could be possible. There is no strident sound breaching my reality of some sharp tapping upon a water pipe in the dark of night! As if I were in a tiny prison cell. And this same prison being the world outside that cell of me as myself. I would like to believe that all the world is mine. But I unfortunately am of it. Something I will not see! But you are beyond all this! In storied castles or dark mud huts. Anywhere and everywhere. Waiting in the realm of my own fantasies to hear how I explain you in some small part from the tiny pieces of myself. Old rags from the previous day’s washing hanging out to dry on this ethereal clothesline. Who am I kidding?
To you my best confident! That I am never in danger of knowing. Of ever saying, “no!” But just staying there perfectly silent as I find new ways to speak my truth. Yet never to offend.”Impossible!“, you may say? But then my lips are your words. Vainglorious notions that all these well-worn symbols of currently imposed colonial patois splatter forth. That will serve as fit language and will penetrate. How selfish I’ve become? How pathetic this symbolic death of verbal commerce evident within my own land? That my own kind and I are so wrapped up fatally within ourselves? That we fear the weight of so many others just like ourselves that might steal the very oxygen from out of our breath. What fools! And yet this nagging fatal impulse to cast loose my shell and fly forth into places unknown. Unknowable! To conjure and to fly off further still. You and I, we form this very flock of restless birds as tireless as the Sun. Daily put upon to rise and fall and then rise again. To renew ourselves by these hopes, however impossible and flawed. To reach out and hope that hope that there is truly someone else there that understands.
How to meet your end. Do you hold out your hand like a hobo? Thumb out in the relative direction of travel that you wish to go? To new places where no one knows you. And those few that do only will find you again in a passing sigh at the discovery of your obituary. Is this mortality? Are we all so timid that we cannot risk the road and the reality of life beyond the waiting chaos of another day? Who are the zombies now? Those who would brave the wilderness living ont he edge? Or the rest of use who are terrified at the prospect of no one any longer saying, “Hello?” Can you say goodbye to an entire existence of your own few endless decades? Who is the captain now? To give up the power of the illusion of certain destiny in a bus ticket. To be willing to be left in the middle of nowhere and not survive. In the final chapter that you yourself have not read but can only write. The one that you suddenly realize in shock is that last instant. Who is the fool then? Who is the fool now? Maybe we are all fools to think otherwise?
This universe feasts on questions. The emptiness of chaos ever eternally hungry and needing to be filled. All the temples of the world that sanction safety mere dust on your divan. The gold melted down. The metals gone to rust. Smiling corpses of fractured marble and granite. Nothing survives! Yet life persists? We all dream on at the foot of an awakening volcano. The approach of warm covers in hot magma.Stay to still and the birds will peck your eyes out. You will wear down to the ankles. Yet inside you will be alive. Fatally entombed within the withering self. Needing to be free of the past that weighs you down. Those unkind stares that convey short tempers and a basic irritation that people like you are still alive. Short fuses and big lawns. They all want their fantasies free of you. So how do you survive? Commit suicide by just walking out the door without ever stopping to look back? Ride the rails until one day your head lays squashed upon it? So many questions that cannot be answered except through inevitable actions. So get going and find out!
Exquisite bits of pain
drift your glass across my heart
let the shards cut deep
let me melt
and know what it is to be alive again!
Watch it drift across the lane
lonely and low
lest it seek you out
lest it call your name
and know what it is to be alive again!
Step slow step along
upon the edge of teeter upon your long dried tears
lament your into knots
lament her as you had once known
and know what it is to be alive again!
Exquisite bits of perfidy known
that tails the lies that you dare not speak
lock tight your lips
lock off your heart
and know what it was to be alive again!
The doors of old familiarities close and other theoretically open. Or so they say? Your’s is a universe neglected. So filled to the brim with that others now considered as refuse from the hoary distant past. These gates are to your palace. Neglected. When you become quiet enough to remember so. Old melodies of sad love gone awry. Plodding finger strummed lute-like across faded things. Who can remember their sting? Those old disappointments when love’s ship was pushed aside by an ill wind upon rocks of a foreign shore. And now, as all else fails, you are brought back to that very moment when you once again abandoned all. And now. You want to hear that melody sung again from the sad living instrument of her bygone voice. That very same one that so long ago you heard last before you turned her into a mermaid. Bereft of limb and heart. The very one that you left so far back and behind by you lack of virtue betwixt land and sea. You deserved your sorrows. You deserve this death. Locked out from what once made life worth living. Sitting now peacefully before the gates of time. Errant winds of time caressing you absentmindedly like that same forgotten hand. So long absent. Long and slow are the strings that drag this feeling out of you. The ayres about you moaning in their slow mournful cry of sailors, decks awash, caught within their tears. Too late. Eternal winds blow. Blow forth into that narrow space caught within the past. Both horror and delight. Your sleep will take you from this safe refuge to return finally only to yourself. The current drift of that barque, now empty, that you once called you. Slowly down to the river’s mouth. Slowly on through towards the end of time. Your lifeless eyes surrendered unconditionally to the endless blue of heavens long desired above.
(John Dowland – “Dear If You Change”)
The world that one exists within eventually seems to become a place of never ending disappointment under the weight of the ever shifting controlled chaos of a fickle indifferent society. And as such it does often seem that as one grows up and eventually grows old there is little help for those that it abrades to regain a sense of lost innocence that was their initial state of being. The notion of same in practice as an adult considered a sign of simple-mindedness by the surrounding ill winds of decadent cynicism that pervades popular culture where being vulnerable in public eye is nearly an unpardonable sin. The invocation to those little aspiring mortals caught within what was once long ago a period of time known as childhood being to toughen up and be disciplined in the face of the domino-like gauntlet of one disappointment after another leading to an inexhaustible series of same. The semblance of appearing to win being more important than daring to ask for a uncompromising acceptance for what one is at their weakest moments. Perhaps one can know of how much one’s self has been corrupted over the years by their wonder at a tiny little untainted soul in distress and as such know what innocence truly is yet again?
The experience of supervising young children in the middle of the first decade of their earthly existence for an hour each day has taught this author as much about life as the proceeding decades of constant collision with the vagaries of existence in an urban realm. Those occasional moments when one is challenged to depart from the strict guidelines of professional indifference and lend a kindly ear with sympathy being a minefield for misunderstanding. As a an adult male caught within a much larger political battlefield it is taking a chance with ones career and nebulously ambivalent social standing to provide such a human gift. My present wonder at this is occasioned by a most recent experience where a tender young lady of between five and six and small in stature for her age. The first one to arrive generally having to apply almost all of her strength to pull aside the heavy hydraulic cylinder loaded doors. The ring of her childish vocal chords resounding in a nursery room cartoon impression of adulthood as she experiences it. Her encounter with the decorum of the classroom itinerary of the teacher necessarily forward as if by some internal undisclosed resource provided her as a young cub to survive the hostile world of older peers by this effort. The playing deck of varying childish rivals who demand attention from the one adult influence as the dealer of regulated progress in this classroom assembly for their own form of unstructured acting out within the context of the coming hour always in contest with those small and perceived as weak but ever resilient. Yet in my experience with children over the last year in considering what has been for me as a lonely bachelor verified by decades of solitary existence, as undeniably miraculous.
To see such a little soul unexpectedly demeaned to tears within this constant battle for hegemony in the ruthless pecking order of the patent meanness that those in the group casually deal is equally heartbreaking. One wanting deep down to violate the strict taboos of this workplace and simply offer the solace of a warm embrace to assure that the world they live in though so often mean in spirit is not without sympathy for their plight. The next best thing being offering a middle ground in engaging her in conversation in one’s supposed position as battled worn sage. Enlightening her as best one can by offering the notion that their mentor was once as young and vulnerable as she was. What a wonderful and terrible disclosure to find that the object of her pain is one of the other little boys that rage about the room in constant careless play. Equally innocent in his way despite him testing every rule to favor his experience of the world by ever testing its confining boundaries. The ghostly descendants of these same little demon spirits that once plagued one far ago in one’s own experience at five. The whispered secret as solution to the sorrowful tale pf woe that she relates in her version of unrequited desire for singular connection with this ruthless rapscallion being to reveal that his form of reaching forth to vie for her affection is to be ever annoying. The part that one necessarily leaving out that perhaps this same menace is just being annoying with no other underlying motive resting behind his perceived infamies as she suffers them.
How odd it then seems then to one so late in life to be aware as a bystander of this same old endless repetition of dissension imposed as d’rigor of common playground etiquette? The battering and bruises that these young untainted souls endure seemingly harmless to the outside view of adult sensibilities now long decades past. Yet realizing for the moment that these seemingly incidental scars too often are carried through an inadvertent pattern of behavior abstraction over the course of their future lives. To see this in such a way and offer one’s mercy to try to explain as best one can that all are equally likely beset along the way with the basic unfairness of misdirected emotions by others. Hoping that despite the futility of the situation and their lack of stature of the one in pain that it is not just childhood but the beginning experiences that they must fathom as part of the experience of life. The moral lesson in all this seemingly inferring that as members of that final constituency of those growing fatally old and near to an earthly passing we must return in one way or another to those days of childhood where it all began. How ironic that one who by the fact of their solitary existence of seven decades would be shown the world where life in general by virtue of connection by paring is renewed by the fresh experiences of the offspring that are produced. How even one whose own life having been cast at a distance from all this is renewed in some small way by contact with these initial petite dramas. It makes one feel that the universe around is not simply an empty vessel that can only be filled with regrets.