How can I translate the shallow breath sounds of my soul and transcribe broken heartbeats, parsing pulse into parol?
What I Could Never Write
From what I remember, the year would be 1953, that is the year that stands out most to me. I was six, or nearing six that year, that also meant first grade. My life was opening up to new and various adventures.
What I remember were the row houses. Full homes, attached side by side down a city block, each with their red-bricked front, and concrete steps leading either onto a porch or directly to a front door. Most of them were two-stories high. Today, we call them duplexes.
Where my parents and I lived was in a completely separate building (on the same street), we rented out the second and third floor (third floor being where our bedrooms were) for $65 a month, and that included electricity and water. Not a bad deal compared to today.
Once you came past our locked door and walked up the thirteen steps, you would immediately see to your right, the dining room. Straight away was the kitchen with a linoleum tile floor, metal-legged formica top breakfast table and the bathroom door on the other side of the kitchen. The stove, fridge and sink were side by side. If you went the other way, past the dining room (that table was made from wood, but what kind, I couldn’t tell you), there would be a small den past there and further in was the front area, like a living room with our eight-inch television screen and two channels to watch, and the most god-awful wallpaper imaginable surrounding the room.
The neighbors, most of whom their names escape me, but a few, like the Dudasiacs, The Kilgore’s, The Long’s and the Pepe’s (of which their youngest son, Peter, nicknamed, Sonny, was my best friend then and four years older than me).
The Pepe’s and the Long’s, owned the best damn steak and hoagie shop in my hometown. I would end up eating a Philly cheesesteak sandwich on a fresh-baked hoagie roll twice a week, smothered in onions, seasoned with salt, pepper, vineager and oil and of course, provolone cheese. I would always later add ketchup.
The neighborhood was a mix blend of German’s, Scottish, Dutch, Irish, and English backgrounds. What was interesting, once you crossed the main street (Morton Avenue), that side of Eighth Street, for several blocks were mainly black residents.
Always found that odd as we didn’t have segregation in our schools, and as I later grew up, I became friends with a black boy (11 years older than me), who went by the name, Whitey. Odd, I know, but it was other black kids in the neighborhood who gave him that name because he hung around with white kids. Whitey was the oldest of nine and the only breadwinner. He worked three jobs and did his best in school. And once, he saved my life, but I’m getting ahead of myself. And that too, isn’t a story I am wanting to tell.
And this is as far as I would always get before I couldn’t go any further. The more I would think on this, the more difficult and even painful it is, to write the story of my life.
And it will remain untold.
The picture, Sunhip and Drydock Yard.
is where my mother worked during World War II.
She was a riveter, one of many women who put ships together.
And after 60 years,
I'm the only one left to remember that.
i wanted to write
a final goodbye
to spell out everything
i hated about myself
to make you understand
all of my guilt and shame
that weighed on me
the kind of guilt
that never lets you sleep
and if you do
it haunts your dreams
i wanted to write
you a letter
but i could never decide
if i wanted to write
a rant or an apology
if i should
list all the ways you'd hurt me
or say sorry
just one last time
i could never decide
if it was worse to never know
or to read a letter filled with blame
i tried so many times
but i never had
thirteen reasons why
just blurry memories
that i did not know how to name
sometimes i lie awake at night
trying to piece together
a letter in my mind
and though sometimes
i want to say goodbye
i hope i never finish writing it
maybe one day
i will set it aside
Fickle lines of simple rhymes some a bit too complex to let rest on their own. I was never good at traditional poetry. Putting thoughts and feelings onto a page in a certain order fills me with...rage? Rage is the proper word to say right? and yet I am filled with defeat because rage can't be beat in a contest of rhythm. Oh, golden poetry of words that rhyme seamlessly without doubt or question, when will you let me write you?
When your teacher tells you to write down what you learned from the lesson, you write: I learned quite a bit about the nitrogen cycle, not what you’re thinking: learning how to make a foldable, was not on my list of things I wanted to do today.
“What are you thinking?”
I’m thinking that maybe they were right and maybe you do like me, and that part of my brain is the logical part, it’s listening to what you’re saying and watching your facial expressions and how you’re moving and coming to a logical conclusion–you do like me after all, a lot. But then there’s that other part of my brain, and it’s saying that you can’t possibly feel that way about me, I must be misinterpreting signals and seeing what I want to see, and, oh no, I’m splitting again, you can’t separate the parts of yourself, it’s all you. Not black and white, not right and wrong, it’s all you, stop splitting. I’m overthinking this, I need to just say something, he must be wondering why I’m so quiet, I’m going to just say–
My pain is radiant.
An endless sunset, brilliant
and blinding, keeping me
on the edge of darkness.
My pain is a seedling.
Perennial, planted with care and thriving.
Climbing my spine, it blooms inside my skull,
leaving my brain full of brambles.
My pain is a deep-sea monster
with strong and abundant arms
that coil tightly about my neck,
threatening to pull me to the depths.
My pain (according to my mother)
is a figment of my imagination,
mysterious and suspect,
but nothing else at all.
I am tired.
I am young and I am tired
and I am afraid that this is all I am:
home to broken parts and
missing vital pieces.
My pain grows as I grow.
Soon, it will surpass me.
Maybe then, I'll rest.
Can we hang out sometime?
It was some time during winter break years ago I met this girl at school who liked all the the things that I liked, and hated most things I hated. She was really cool, and I was really not.
She invited me out to parties, get togethers, family reunions, but I turned them all down.
Y'see I was under strict supervision. My ins and outs were monitored, my time away from home tagged and jotted with precision.
We could only hang out afterschool for volunteering programs, theatre, or some other extracurricular activity. I joined everything she did.
I was on my way to what seemed to be an Ivy League future intended for the rich and the famous, and so was she. She had a lot of friends, I did too I guess. It was more out of association that they hung out with me than hanging out with me for me. She also had several best friends whom I always held higher than me in her esteem.
I never had a best friend.
Because of my upbringing, I never had the chance to even know what a best friend or a true friend even meant. But I thought this friendship was the closest thing.
I was wrong.
I was very wrong, but that isn't what hurts me. The fallout of our friendship was equally my fault as it was hers. Growing up and neglect tends to seperate people, y'know?
But I had another friend who was very dear to me, like the first she had a best friend already, and I didn't rank in that category.
But she was the best friend I ever had.
I was jealous of her best friend, because I wanted to be considered THE best friend. How concieted I was.
It came to the point I was almost angry at her for not having that spot available to me. I wanted to tell her "Why am I not enough? What makes him better than me?" But I knew that they went through much more than she and I have together. They truly deserved to be best friends.
When she graduated everyone of course says they'll keep in touch, but they never do. I participated in that lie on more than one occassion, but she was different. She didn't write in my year book "See you soon!" or "Keep in touch," or "Can we hang out sometime?"
She said; "we're getting sushi, every friday, every week, you better be there."
The night before she told me how she had found her so called best childhood friends drifted away from her almost immediately after the graduation ceremony prefering instead to hang out without her. I don't really remember what was said, but it must have been something, because she's not one to offer this kind of thing lightly. She, her true best friend, and I would strive to meet up every friday during summer before her best friend went off to study medicine.
But that didn't happen.
It was August. It was 3:00AM when they called me. I was up doing whatever. Her childhood friends asked me to sit down, already quite hysterical.
"You need to make sure you're in a safe place" she said, "are you in a safe place?"
"You're starting to scare me," I said "what's wrong?"
"Are you sitting down?"
"She's dead- It was around 2:00 AM- she got hit by a car. She was dead on site."
It echoed in my head over and over again. She's dead, she's gone. My friend was dead. My friend was gone. We'd never eat sushi on friday. We'd never get our driver's liscence together. We'd never see eachother again.
Five years later this still echoes in my head August to August. Year after year.
No one talks about it, I don't blame them. Everyone has lived their life to honor her memory, her best friend became a doctor. I've been left behind, but I'm still trying to make something of my life. I try to live for her.
I found more reasons to live.
I found more reasons to be happy.
I found more purpose to my existence.
I found peace with my family and love in my life.
But it hurts. I miss her everyday and I wonder often what she'd be doing at these events in my life.
There was something I wrote in a text to her that I never pressed send, because I knew she already had a precious friend.
I don't regret not sending it. I don't regret anything from that time, anymore. But I just wanted to say that friends, real friends, are the most precious relationships you'll ever have.
The only thing I wish I said to her was that she was my precious friend. The best friend that I had ever had, and maybe would ever have, and that I loved her. She was my friend. My real friend. I was lucky to have known her for any amount of time at all.
Please to anyone reading; tell them you love them. Tell them you care. Because today everyone has lost a friend, some to sickness, some to suicide, some to a tragic accident but the lucky few still have them.
Live to find them or live to cherish their memory. Please. Live. Because you are someone's precious friend, even if you don't realize it.
the things i can never say
I could never say it to you. All the things you've done, and I can nver see the end. I spent my childhood watching you leave, most of the time for work, but always knowing that, one day, it wouldn't be for work, and you wouldn't be coming back. One of my strongest memories is watching you drive away for the final time. It broke my heart, even though I hated you and I knew for a long time to expect it.
I loved you as I hated you, and I cried as you met my expectations. You left me, and still you keep calling, you keep texting, and you keep trying to insert yourself into my life. That's more painful than anything. I don't hate you anymore, but I don't love you either. In my mind, you are not part of my life.
You have never been there for me, and every time I was around you, you made me feel like nothing. With you, I wasn't allowed to have an opinion. I wasn't allowed to do what was important to me, and I wasn't allowed to grow. Around you, I feel small. I feel silenced. I feel weak. You made me feel as if I was not worthy of being loved. You'd make promises you couldn't keep. You've give me false moments of safety and love, right before you pushed my back down to the floor.
I moved on, and I want you to do the same. No calls or texts. No Christmas or summer visits. No more 'I miss yous' or 'I love yous' or 'I don't want us to drift aparts'. That isn't fair to me. I need you to move on, so I can live the life I was always meant to. One that doesn't involve you.
You keep trying because you tell yourself, and everyone else, that it is coming from a place of love. But you don't love me. You just want to control me. And that is not something I am okay with. To be okay, to live, to be happy, I need you to let me go. I know you think it is your right and your responsibility to be in my life, but it isn't. I don't need you here and I don't want you here. Not that you would ever actually be there. You forfeited your right to my heart and my life a long time ago.
If you looked inside yourself, I think you would agree that we are not meant for each other's lives. You claim you don't want us to drift apart, but you also know that we have never been close enough for a drift, anyways. I have never known you, and you have never know my heart. If you think you can deny any of this, answer this: Why have you never paid child support? Why are you living somewhere else? Why do our only words consist of talk about my sibling, of basic things about school, and you saying you miss me? Why did you never show up to my performances? Why do you know nothing about me?
Most of these questions, if you can answer them, are not things you can answer adequately. The truth of the matter is that you are not my father. You think you are, but you do not have the faintest idea of what it means to be a parent. Do you even know how to care for another? I wish I could send this to you. I wish this was goodbye. But even if I did send this to you, you would never accept it. You are too selfish to respect me by doing what is best for me.
I wish I could part from your mind games, and the lies I have to tell you. But I can't. I can't. And I wish more than anything that I could. I don't think anyone can truly understand how much. In my mind, this is goodbye. But, since it will remain only in my mind, the end will remain there as well.
Nowhere do I Belong
Where would I go?
It is to you I usually run to
...but now where you sit it empty.
I see the imprint of where you used to be,
where you'd be when you were relaxed, with me.
Yet, I now only see impressions of you where you can now only ever be...
And the sickening thought creeps into me-where will I be without you next to me?
I hear your voice and all the words you used to say
The words that wrapped around me tight, and squeezed away any doubts.
The words affixed to me like an ever burning blaze....
And now that flame has dissipated and what is left is a thickening smoke.
So now as the smoke engulfs my very me, I must beg where is the place I can belong?
You were here and now you are gone and so my screams go unheard.
But still I implore:
To where is it I can go?
And now I know that everyday will never be like yesterday.
The haunting gloom overtaking me endeavors to destroy my sanity.
I think of you and us and we
And now I notice it's only me
The broken me who used to exist before it was to you I could turn
And now no matter how many turns and swirls I take, I've come to realize my fate
I'm back to the place in which I once stood and...
I again there is nowhere for me to belong.