Repose En Paix
He bent down and placed the bouquet of golden flowers on her grave. How he wished he could tell her how much he missed her.
The sound of a sneeze made him lose track of his thoughts of her. He sighed and turned to look for the source of the disturbance.
He looked around, but his eyes had spotted no one around the graveyard.
Another sound reached his ears. This time it was a quick and strong burst of laughter.
There surely was something out there, just watching him. He clasped his hands ready to say a little prayer.
Then he screamed when he saw a head pass through the headstone of his beloved. He hoped that it was not coming to steal his body. It smiled and asked him what he was doing all by himself at the graveyard.
He took a deep breath. And slowly smiled while wiping away some tears that rolled down his face.
It waited for his response and moved closer to him. He felt better seeing that the head still had a body attached to it.
The being sat criss cross by his side. He pointed to the name on the tombstone & read the name on it— as if he was praying to his guardian angel.
He sighed- and bowed his head. The being watched him and looked at the name. It moved its hand pointing at Daisy’s name and said, ‘‘Is that a flower’s name?’’
This made him laugh. He had asked her the same thing. Daisy had introduced him to the world of flowers. Before he had met her he could not tell the difference between gardenias, chrysanthemums, or petunias.
Thanks to Daisy he was somewhat of an intermediate flower expert. Not only could he tell you the different flowers that he knows, he could now also share how to take care of various types of flowers.
The being pointed at the flowers and asked, ‘‘Are they daisies?’’
He shook his head, ‘‘No. These are her favorite flowers known as tulips. They are also known as wild tulips.’’
‘‘Thanks. That they are.’’
The being sighed.
‘‘I have never received flowers from anyone that pays me a visit.’’
‘‘Oh,’’ he said as he pulled a wild tulip from the bouquet & handed it to his new pal.
The being opened it’s hands and happily exclaimed, ‘‘thank you!’’
‘‘From me...and Daisy..’’
He closed his eyes and his mind wandered to the moment that he met Daisy. She had this nature of adventure that he adored. It was like she still had a connection with her inner child.
At that thought he opened his eyes and felt less grief. He realized who he had been talking to.
Resolving the Unresolved
my heart beats
f r a n t i c a l l y
why does he decide to call now?
it’s been years
s i l e n c e
l o n e l i n e s s
w o n d e r i n g
(wondering where i went wrong, or if he still cared)
Y E A R S
doesn’t he realize how much that hurt me?
straining to read
glowing texts in the dark
attempting to find the answer
to all of my
b u r n i n g
he does not get to call me
after all of these years
e m p t i n e s s
(it isn’t fair)
(i take one deep breath)
i will not stoop down to his level
(that one word was the start of a conversation but the end to years of suffering)
I hear the whispers from the sky
spores floating on winds of change
hems of oceans unraveled in foam
silver sprinkle of murmured breezes
I hear the whispers from the sky
gentle sweetness on lips like wine
peaceful silver waves in aqua sea
gulls swooping low to catch reflections
I hear the whispers from the sky
A thousand moons slipping into dawn
echoed seaweed strewn on carpeted sand
unhealed wounds washed clean by tides.
bloodstained fingertips trace words in the dust upon the glass of these broken castle walls that once loomed so high above our heads but now they’re nothing but rubble bits and bricks among the ashes where even the plants refuse to grow
the chains holding us rust and creak with every breath until there’s nothing left but dust trickling down around us caught in the fibers of time woven into our beings and pulsing with every throb of our shattered hearts
a single word high above the rest traced in the dust and seared into our minds
‘war’ it proclaims ‘war’ while we’re crying out for peace our voices caught in the darkness until they too fade away like the ghosts of those who came before us
we cannot shake the icy fingers of the past that tremble down our backs with crusty fingernails and clutch us in their grip waiting for a moment of surrender to strike
but we cannot surrender we cannot give in we cannot stay silent we must fight against the chokehold we must fight against the lies we must fight against the wrongs
our fingertips still bloodied we wipe this word from these fallen ruins and carve a new word a new mantra a new legacy
i'll bury the version of me
that only existed for you
i'll bury her in a field of flowers
so she'll forever live in the scent
of the perfume on your neck
and when everything is done
i'll fall asleep without crying
and i'll be able to see you sober
“All Apologies,” unplugged
The first thing I ever knew about Kurt Cobain was that he was dead. I was just eight years old when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hit the airwaves, and still in elementary school when he died. But when I entered seventh grade and travelled downtown to Butler Middle School, his face was everywhere. The most popular t-shirt showed Cobain’s blond locks drifting over his eyes. There was a quote on the back: “The sun is gone, but I have the light.” I figure most of my compatriots—including many of those wearing the trendy shirt—were like me and had no idea what Cobain was in life. In death, he was a countercultural visionary, and that was the Nirvana that I began listening to. I missed the party, but I witnessed the mythmaking.
Fittingly, then, the first Nirvana album I owned (and the first CD I bought with my own money) was the posthumously released Unplugged in New York. I listened to it differently than the other albums I acquired in those early years, with which I would skip to the three or four songs I really loved, over and over. But I almost always listened to Unplugged in New York the whole way through. Its specialness came as a whole, not packed into any one track…not even Plateau, with that moment of mic feedback that I await like a friend from out of town. Almost two decades later, it’s the atmosphere, the feel of that album that I search for on some evenings. Stripped down, the songs aren’t angry and disaffected youth anthems. They’re soulful. The rebellion remains audible, but Unplugged reveals what else lies beneath the grunge.
“All Apologies” begins around the 45 minute mark, the penultimate song on the disc and the final Cobain-written one. The simple bassline (actually performed on a guitar) carries the song forward with inevitability, and the acoustic guitar picks out a carefree tune. The song seems to drift. The first sung line floats right along with the music. It’s not until the title words that we hear the first strains of angst: “What else should I be? / All apologies.” That two-word expostulation contains no trace of contrition. I am who I am, Cobain declares, and he delivers the “apology” in a voice just a step or two shy of a sneer. In these lyrics that affirm the singer’s identity, we hear passive aggression, exactly the sort a teenager gives a parent whom he can’t openly defy. He feels put upon, targeted for transgressions that he couldn’t avoid. He sings later,
Find my nest of salt
Everything’s my fault
I’ll take all the blame
Aqua seafoam shame
Feeling accused of both specific misdeeds and general wrongness, he moodily retreats to his “nest.” He’ll take all the blame that others heap upon him, as well as the shame that accompanies it. Shame has never been assigned a symbolic color, as far as I know, but “aqua seafoam” sounds as good as any.
Frustrated teenagers feel the world has them every which way at every turn, subjecting them to “sunburn” and “freezerburn” alternately, and sometimes simultaneously. Parents and peers each have their turn at oppression. The faces are all mocking, the days all painfully bland, and the choices forced upon them. Shoved into line and told to march in step, the young find rebellions both large and small irresistible. The world wins every time—even someone who strikes back successfully will probably wind up “choking on the ashes of her enemy”—but that only makes resistance more virtuous. Defiance is victory.
Cobain once wrote in a journal, “I’m not gay, although I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes.” In a world he perceived as unjust and ugly, he saw provocation as a duty. Singing “All Apologies” on Unplugged, he told everyone watching MTV, “What else should I say? / Everyone is gay.” Mission accomplished.
Defiance animates “All Apologies.” While the music continues its pleasant drift into the future, Cobain’s rough, passionate voice protests. The vocals refuse to be carried along in the song’s current. “I wish I was like you,” he sings, “Easily amused.”
The deep chords of the chorus alter the flow of the song. Cobain’s voice arcs upward to sing, “In the sun, / In the sun I feel as one.” When the bass cuts out, the forward progress ceases completely. His voice calls, “Married.” These lines evoke feelings of warmth, brightness, unity. The guitar gently plays up and down while the word “Married” optimistically hangs above it. The song cannot stay frozen in this moment, of course. Neither can life. Cobain belts out the word “Buried,” and then the drums carry us back into the current.
With Nirvana, the lyrics are often beyond the point. Once upon a time I tried to look up some song’s meaning on the internet and came across a Dave Grohl interview instead. Don’t get too hung up on lyrics, he suggested: Kurt sometimes wrote them 15 minutes before taking the stage. This, too, fits our image of the Man Who Was Cobain, a brilliant slacker whose ideas spilled out of him, raw. But even knowing how hastily written they might have been, the lyrics have too much staying power to be dismissed. Fragmented and impressionistic though they are, the words say something.
The song gradually fades out with Cobain repeatedly intoning, “All in all is all we are.” The tone is contented and accepting, the unity of the chorus now drawn out at length. The music fades out before the vocals, so that Cobain’s and Grohl’s final “All in all is all we are” suspends over empty space. In the end, there’s some peace after all.
My reflection stares back, judgmental eyes roving.
I poke, pinch, prod.
You could use some definition. Toned muscles look good on a woman.
You need to eat more, you look anorexic.
I reach for an apple only to find it has gone soft and shriveled. Cookies beckon from the cupboard.
You should get more sun. You look pale, pasty, sick.
You can’t be in the sun with that complexion. Cover up before you burn.
I slather chemicals onto my skin. Avoid streaks and patchiness. No one can know this isn’t natural.
Your hair is so frizzy, it looks much better straight.
You better not be using heat on those curls, you’ll ruin them.
I pull my hair back, strands breaking.
The voices are thunderous. They drown me; squishing, squashing, squeezing. Shrinking me until I am small.
Please don’t notice me.
When I step out on the stage, my body moves in such ways.
Sensuous, tantalizing, desirable.
My feet are light as I flow, the jazzy notes washing over me.
Curly tendrils caress my cheeks.
Skin luminous in the spotlight.
Curves shimmying gloriously.
Emerging from those dark depths, I am no longer small.
I am tremendous.
The band leads up to the final crescendo and I unclasp the last lock, springing free from my cage.
The roar of the crowd is deafening.
And the voices are silent.
Goodbye, a Heroic Sonnet
Baptisia cowered under autumn's ceaseless heat,
distressed and graying 'long the garden fence,
as rusty grass rove under gelid feet
at peace with recompensing cancer's debt.
Pellucid limbs reposed atop a squab,
assuaged by sun-baked warmth and downy fluff,
and once the lancinations dulled to throbs,
he addressed the doting boy aside his cuff:
"'My son, the quiet grows too loud to spurn;
like windless days that sap the stream bed dry
and unseen flames devour'ng bees and birds,
the stillness belays fear and prompts goodbye-
but know I'll still protect you from above
until the day our souls unite again,
'cause even death can't quell a father's love;
embrace me in your memories 'til then...'
and that, old friend, is what you must relay
when Junior holds your paw and cries my name."
I know it's hard to slow down.
Everything is fast.
Everything is now.
Breathe, my child.
Close your eyes and listen....
...listen to the silence.
...listen to the nothing.
Let your heart beat.
Let the wind blow.
Let your mind think.
A Little of This, a Little of That
Praying for a good day,
Enlightened thoughts abound,
Albeit for me to change things.
Creating a moment for self ... divine,
Ending a good day, with dreams of peace.
Happy are we,
Arising to new days ahead,
Ready to meet the task before us all.
Never relinquishing what you hold true,
Yeilding to no one, yet pacts made, bring harmony.
Remembering days long past,
Encompassed by dreamscapes and memories,
Conjured thoughts arise,
Often thought forgotton.
Numerous are the thoughts that surround you,
Craving to be explained, even examined,
Illuminating what you hold private,
Laboring over whether we will or won't.
Illogical? Immoral? There must be a middle-ground,
Abide with what you know is right,
Tortured though your thoughts may be,
Imagine the difference made,
Observing one simple word to change everything;
Now is the time to make your reconciliation.
In as much as we strive for perfection in ourselves,
Not every moment is a good one.
Nevertheless, we continue forward,
Ever moving, for going backward is no plan,
Reliving the past is good, rethinking the future ... better.
Quelling anxieties, fears and pain,
Usurping all the horrors ever faced,
Insurmountable though they may be,
Electrify the you inside and rise above intolerance;
Thankful that you have finally reached your personal goal: Inner Quiet.
* I hadn't any plans to do anymore writing for a few days (at least until Monday), honest! But then I saw this challenge. It drew me like a moth to a flame. Lucky for me, I didn't disappear into smoke.