Through the window
The Leyland cypress are my cover. I hear they have a short life span. What will I do if they fail and decay, die, and then fail me?
When the moon is bright, I do not dare go out and watch them. Things can be seen under the moonlight, like naked lovers on the beach and the crabs searching for a return to safety like me when I pull up my comforter and adjust my pillow until it is just right helping me to avoid my chant. "Sleep. Tired. Sleep. Tired…."
What is it I desire to see in the house behind me? Sex? No. I can get that porno style and no one is the wiser other than if I decide to murder someone or commit a lesser crime and the powers at be decide it is in their best interest to do their thing and search my internet history. Unlikely.
No. I am not a criminal. Or am I? Because I have heard them and seen them without their knowledge. The foreigners that live behind me observed at all hours of the day and night. Foreign because I do not understand a family that says, "What do you think love?" In a tone that expresses such kindness and patience that….can it be? Is it even possible?
It is a cloudy night, safe for me to peep, and I watch them pass the popcorn and laugh through their window. Maybe when I go back inside I can figure out what they were watching on TV. Maybe not. Does it matter?
I want to scream at the ocean,
turn the tumbling waves,
at the edge
of the sand,
I want to clap my hands,
send trees crashing
colliding with the earth,
shards of wood,
I want for my whispers
to crack stone
I want for the tight vessel
of my knit together
I want my tears
to rip the sky
I want control.
The day had been long, dragging, draining. A constant parade of demands and distractions; death by a million paper cuts. The strain coiled in her shoulders and neck, angry and pulsing, sending jolts of pain into her temples. She stopped at the front door, took a deep breath, and braced herself for the next round. Behind her closed eyelids she could picture the scene inside. Toys strewn across every surface, empty applesauce packets, orange peels, and dirty socks stuffed inexplicably into random nooks and crannies. The children would be upon her in a clamoring cacophany of sweet, grimy faces and a million sticky fingers. She steeled herself, plastered on her best mommy smile, and opened the door.
And there he was, a Swiffer Wet-Jet in one hand and a tray of brownies in the other. His gray T-shirt was grimy with streaks of peanut butter and unmentionable child effluvia, but it stretched nicely across his firm, broad chest. The lemon-fresh smell of newly-mopped floors wafted towards her, with an undertone of homemade lasagna. She peeked behind him to see that the living room was pristine; not a toy in sight, every surface gleaming. The house was quiet and still, wrapped in a peaceful glow of cleanliness.
“I put the kids to bed early. Come have some lasagne and wine.”
His words curled her toes and set her spine tingling. He steered her towards the dining room table, set with two matching plates and brim-full wine glasses
“And brownies?” She breathed, wide-eyed with ecstasy.
“Dinner first, then sweets. Sit.”
A mischievous grin lit his bearded face as he set the brownie tray down on the table. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck. He lifted her effortlessly and kissed her with bone-melting sweetness.
“Oh yes,” she murmured through a giggle as they surfaced for air, “we’ll definitely have sweets tonight.”
The creak of old ship beams
the sighs of tired men
fog drifts over water
like paper pressed to pen
Out past the bowsprit
from the unseen beyond
comes a voice like spun gold
casting spells with no wand
Pressed flat to the deck
hands slapped tight to his ears
a man screams his warning
through the mist of his tears
The ship moves with purpose
pulled tight on a string
to the source of that song
to the end of all things
Long and shimmering fins
mouths stretched tight with glee
they wait for the ship
black eyes and wild teeth
Sharp rocks up ahead
but the ship isn't turning
the men sway like lovers
held trapped in their yearning
Wood splinters jagged
high screams split the air
decks drenched in saltwater
the topsails stripped bare
The songs runs its course
then laughter like fire
it burns and it burns
witches strapped to a pyre
On the banks sit the guilty
their cruelty untamed
dense fog lifts around them
their shoreline bloodstained
Claws dig deep into feasting
lips smeared with dark red
and the wind softly echoes
through the bones of the dead
There is blue in the water
there is sun in the sky
and tomorrow a new ship
will surely pass by
I could sense my children’s revelry as I watched them through the window of my office. Their faces lit up as they jumped at every passing wave that came at them. I turned back from the window to sip my coffee. It wasn’t too hot but far from getting cold. It was just perfect. I looked down at my computer to finalize my work for the day. It was always a win to finish up by noon, that way the rest of the day could be spent doing whatever I could dream up.
As I closed my computer I heard the keys jingle at the front door. Finally the wife was home and our little family was now together for the rest of the day. As I got up from my
desk the dog at my feet raised her head with love to see if she was needed.
“Go back to sleep Izzy, we’ll go outside to play soon”
I walked into the kitchen to see Mary putting away her jacket. She was the perfect specimen of beauty, an absolute miracle in human form. There’d always been an air about her that made me feel like a schoolboy again anytime she was in the same room as me.
“Welcome home my love,” I said. A smile as big as I could muster appeared on my face.
“You didn’t miss me already, did you? I’ve only been gone for a few hours.”
She quickly walked over to me and put her arms around me. With a quick glance up to me she kissed me deeply. A kiss that seemed to block out the rest of the world. A kiss that seemed to go on forever yet didn’t seem to last long enough.
"I missed you too, dear.”
As she walked to the back of the house to be welcomed home by our kids I couldn’t help but feel lucky. We’ve been married for 15 years yet the love and passion that we had when we first met was still there. If anything that affection has only grown over the years. While most couple say they experience ups and downs, Mary and I’s relationship seemed to only be on the rise from day one.
I followed to the backyard to partake in the festivities of the day. As I went through the porch doorway I noticed the glass that appeared in my hand. I raised it up to my mouth. Bourbon on the rocks. Blanton’s Original Single Barrel in fact, my favorite. I took another sip and leaned up against the porch. How lucky was I to be standing here watching the love of my life and our two beautiful children in the house that I had worked so hard to build for us. This is all I’ve ever wanted. All I’ve ever needed to get by.
As I basked in my bliss I started to notice the sun going down. I looked down at my watch. The hands on the watch face whirled around the inside of the Rolex as in fast forward. Damn, It couldn’t be time already, could it? It had all seemed to fly by too fast. I took one last sip from my bourbon as the glass disintegrated in my hand. Yep, the simulation was definitely coming to an end. It was always hard to leave but I’d be back. I always get to come back and seem to never miss a thing. A few more weeks pay and maybe I’d be able to stay a little longer next time. All the blood, sweat and tears were worth it after all. I sat on the porch swing as the house behind me started to disappear behind me. I looked down to see my dog Izzy looking up at me from the foot of the swing, her paws laying on me feet. A nice little touch of comfort. My kids continued to play in the ocean as it slowly disappeared in front of them. My dear Mary held one of them as she looked back at me with all of the love in the world in her eyes. I raised up my hand to say goodbye. Goodbye for now anyways. She smiled and they slowly disappeared into the sand.
The usual sense of sadness didn’t overtake me this time. It was a good day. A day that would get me by the coming weeks. Then I’d be back in paradise. I couldn’t wait to be back.
The bacon is frying, there is no alarm, and the sun is shining through the blinds just enough to get the pink petal hue on the horizon. I dont sit around in bed, groggy, stretching my legs or hiding under the covers. I don't reach for my phone and scroll through the endless stream of content. The bacon is frying. The smell is good enough for me. I get up and make my way to the kitchen, instinctively. It is no battle. It is inertia, movement, right off the bat, I'm ready to go.
The wood floor under my feet is always smooth. I never wear shoes. It feels right to feel the Earth beneath me. There's no constant hum of cars going about their business, or the honking of the early morning commuters, only the quiet chirping of birds, the rusting of leaves, the stillness of the morning.
She's there, in her blue underwear and her oversized t-shirt, she's focused on the pan and lost in her thoughts. She looks lovely standing there, frozen in time, all mine. I love her thick-rimmed glasses. I know she's blind as a bat and thank the stars that it worked out for me that way. Her hair is wild and the locks sit on her back untamed, unkempt, just the way I know her to be.She hears my quiet footsteps and the world starts to shine because she is there and I am hers.
"Good morning" she says and the warmness inside of me amplifies by her simple smile, her adoring eyes, the genuine gaze of a woman who loves me.
"Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes. Coffee's on the counter."
The steam rises from the red barrel-shaped mug and tastes sweeter than ever knowing that she made it for me, without ever asking, without ever mentioning it. It is a simple labor of love and it is these small labors that keeps love alive, that make me realize how lucky I am.
I kiss her on the cheek and sit down at the table. There is a stack of books infront of me and they all excite me, the names of legendary writers on the spine, their mythical prowess with paper and pen alluring as ever, already the words ruminate in my mind and hypnotize me. I grow hungry for the words, the masterful craft that nourishes every fiber of my being, all on those pages - the questions of the universe and the folly of attempting to answer them.
I sigh and look out the glorious window; it is autumn. The leaves are changing but I am like a rock - stable, sturdy, confident. I glow at the burst of yellow and red. I feel sorrow for the emptying trees but rejoice in the cycle, time will bring back the lush brush, the grass will be back soon, but for now the snow is coming and the wintry winds too but I have my books and my coffee and the bacon. What else does a man need?
"I think I'll work outside today before the real cold comes" I say.
"I'll be back in a few hours. I have a few errands to run. You have the house all to yourself."
She kisses my forehead the warmness spreads downwards, all through my skin. It's the simple things.
"Have a lovely day" I say
The hammock hangs from the tree. It is heaven to be suspended, to sway back and forth, to be part of the tree, the roots going deep into the Earth, and it is her prowess that keeps the gentle rocking afloat. There is a hushed breeze, it disturbs the papers infront of me only slightly, but the cold is a reminder. The chill keeps me from complacency, it keeps me going, the momentum, and suddenly I don't feel the world around me at all. It is hypnosis.
The words come with difficulty at first, I am still in my head, still finding the perfect words, still being human, flawed, imperfect, but the more I write, the more I become less of myself. There are pauses but soon they dissapear. I am finding the flow, there is nothing else in the world anymore, I have lost control, the straining of the wrist, the constant movement of the pen, the ink struggling to keep up, there is nothing to it at all now; it is momentum, the constant movement, inertia keeps me going now, and I cannot stop it, nothing can stop it until it has run out of energy but I never let it go that far. It is vital to never empty the well but to leave a little water left to keep the drought away. I am dreaming, the medium is monochromatic but the wave that pulls me here and there, that lifts me up to lands unknown is kaleidoscopic, it is heaven to be lost in myself and the universe.
I can feel the reserves depleting, I am getting to the end of my rope, the hypnosis is starting to vanish and I am being dragged back down to Earth, the colors begin to come back and the hazy stupor does not have its hold on me.
There is little left and I decide to stop.
For a moment I have lost the fear of death, there was nothing that ever mattered more than the words that I wrote. Perhaps the words are mediocre, useless, only important to me, but it does not matter. There is a slight hint of guilt, it follows me constantly, perhaps I should do more, perhaps I should have done better, but then I know that I am human again, that I am back to my flawed self because in the hours that I was lost with the pen there was no doubt, only flow and miracles, creation. Even the shoddy craftsman looks at his work and says, "Tomorrow it will be better". I did the work. I did what I had to do and that is all a man can do.
My duty ends there with those words, now the day is free and I am its humble companion.
I look up to the branches and the falling leaves. There is no need for fantastical escapes for me, everyone has their own. Mine is simple because after all it is the simple things that make the biggest difference. A snowflake can bring the avalanche, a drop of water can bring the flood, a single breath can make all the difference, and for now I look at the falling leaves, the quiet of my home, my finished work, and keep swaying side to side and smile in the simplest pleasure of silence.
And then, She Spoke
She has rested for almost a thousand years. August in her porcelainity, she was presented in reverence and piety for all to behold. On her altar, she never stirred; she never moved at all. Her immortal body was calm as polished stone and just as unchanging. Exposed to the elements, her body remained incorrupt. Caressed by millions throughout the centuries, she remained unsullied. We knew instinctively that she alone was pure; she alone was whole. So many have kissed her lips in hopes of waking her, so many in hopes of fulfilling their desire. Even in her slumber, she was great, bearing miracles around her every day. What are we to she?
Today she opened her eyes! Life springs forth from the desert surrounding her. The world is transforming around us and transforming us as well. With her first breath, the world cooled and became heavy and still around us. Her second breath warmed the air bringing a storm unlike any have seen in our lifetimes. The parched fields flooded and soaked up the rain. Her very breath commands the weather! No one can approach her now. What are we to she?
Accounts of old speak of her as the mother, a nurturing figure. But her power was so great she was feared she would destroy us all. Now she stands surveying everything around her with eyes no one can understand. All we can do is bend and supplicate to her. Her eyes do not meet ours. She sees through all. She takes another breath and the world grows still again. What are we to she?
We all witness her splendor as she takes her first steps. And as she reaches her pedestal, she parts her lips. And then, she spoke.
My Sordid Love Affair with Lucifer
I was sitting in Hell, wondering what to do with myself. My mother, Ms. Amelia Patriot, had been a good woman. She had gone to church every Sunday, wondering what to do with her lost daughter. I stared into the man’s eyes, his perfectly chiseled body, his beautiful face. I would literally kill myself if it meant I could be with him.
I was thrilled constantly, happy to be a part of something so dangerously beautiful. He teased that I should kill myself. He said he was kidding but I knew that he wasn’t. The man never was. He’d even introduced himself to me as Lucifer. I thought he was simply joking because he liked to party so much, drinking wine, whiskey, and beer until the wee hours of the morning, but, alas, he wasn’t.
He wasn’t joking about a damn thing and I knew it. How could I be such a stupid woman? I asked myself this at least ten times a day. Nonetheless, I couldn’t leave him. I tried, but the man was like a drug I couldn’t withdraw myself from: Day in and day out, he would call me, tell me he loved me, tell me I was beautiful, tell me everything a woman wanted to hear. Then, suddenly, when we were alone, he would put his fingers around my neck and he would choke me. He would say that it was over, that he was done, and toss me out in the dark. He’d leave me there, alone without a single soul in the world to be with, and then, a few months later, when I was about to recollect myself and get my life back on track, he would call me, and I would thank my lucky stars that something I thought was impossible had actually come to fruition.
Once, I got upset and told him I could do better. Instead of snapping back at me, he just told me that I was right: I was beautiful, smart, funny, and kind, and he was nothing compared to me. Then he flashed his gleaming white teeth and went on his way.
I wonder why I’m even writing this tale.
Lucifer won’t care. He’s too busy rallying his demons to continue encouraging hatred. He is too busy being in my mother’s head, convincing her to commit suicide. I am standing with her on the edge of a cliff and she is about to jump. I left him, but Lucifer has a way of possessing me with constant inner dialogue about how I’m not good enough, whether I choose to believe in Christianity or not.
He has a way of telling me who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to do and how I’m supposed to do it. He says that I am not doing anything right and that I’ll never be able to. Sure, I don’t always clean my laundry on time, there are a few specks of God knows what on the dishes, and, occasionally, I even get lazy and put the trash in the recycling, but I’m trying, damn it, I’m trying, and Lucifer torments me day and night.
The whiskey bottle on my bedside table beckons for me to drink more, and more, and more, until I can barely walk. Until I feel as though my feet are tripping over themselves and the room spins as I fall to the floor. I’m a walking shell of who I used to be. A shadow of what once was, yet, somehow, the man convinces me that he is my savior and I, foolish as I am, believe him.
I am not ignorant. I’ve seen the man kill, yet somehow, I manage to find his power alluring. I’ve seen the man toss his own mother out as if she was the bane of his existence. His sister and his father were nothing but rats on the wall. He’s alone. He’ll always be alone, no matter who is with, and he selectively feels bad about that. Depending on the day, of course.
I imagine that you're walking down a quiet, empty street,
Hands crunched inside your pockets, your thoughts a mile deep.
Maybe your chest is heavy and the world has made you wary,
Or the anger at injustice is becoming too much to carry.
I imagine that a voice calls out,
"Hey, you," it gently floats.
Not out of indifference or not knowing your chosen name,
Because I'm glad to see you, just you, from my front porch today.
"Come sit, you're safe with me," I say. And I imagine that you do.
I'm glad whenever you say yes, it's more for me than you.
I imagine there's no virus so I can hug you if you need,
To sit with you in silence or listen to you grieve.
I imagine that I help you in some small, hopeful way,
That you can stand up from my porch and continue with your day.
I wave to you as you begin to leave, if I spoke, my voice would quiver.
I imagine that you're safe and sound and home in time for dinner.
I imagine you'll be back to share a calming breath,
You're always safe with Mama Jean so please come back and rest.
I love you.
The girl stood against the gaping blackness of the rocky mountain cave mouth. Her brown hair lay in a long braid down her back. Her deep set eyes were fearful. Her fingers trembled as she gripped the dagger in her belt. She stood still and silent, scrutinizing the opening before her.
A cloud passed over the sun. The dip into shade changed the girl’s eyes from blue to green as her pupils dilated, momentarily, before the sunlight returned their original color. A bead of sweat trickled down from the girl’s hairline.
In the distance, a sparrow sung, oblivious to the presence of the girl and the greater presence beyond.
The girl took a deep breath. She let it out slowly, steeling her weary soul against the overwhelming afternoon. She took a step forward.
A yellow slit appeared in the blackness. The slit, the only light in the darkness, elongated like the iris of a cat. In an instant, a second eye appeared. Cleary startled, the girl stepped back.
The yellow eyes grew in size at a measured pace. The girl looked about her, for escape or assistance. After her initial alarm, she held her ground.
The darkness of the cave faltered. The blackness gave way to grey, the color of storm clouds on the horizon.
When the eyes reached the size of an apt beet, a long snout emerged from the shadows. The girl pulled out her dagger.
The beast slipped into the light. Its scales glittered silver in the sun’s rays. The great lizard sat on its massive back legs just inside the cave’s entrance. It regarded the girl cautiously, trying to make sense of her or awaiting her first move.
They faced one another thusly, the girl on her feet, the dragon on his rear. The dragon blinked his eyes sideways. The fear began to fade from the girl’s countenance. She released the grip of her dagger. It clattered to the rocks.
Tentatively, the girl stepped forward. The dragon lowered its eyes. Its head slumped. Its shoulders stooped. Its movements were weak, weary.
The girl noticed the scarred, cracked skin on its front legs. She reached her right hand outward. Though it maintained his position, the dragon’s profound nostrils flared.
The girl lowered her hand and stepped back.
After regarding the dragon a moment longer, she turned and picked up her dagger as she went.
She had faced her dragon. She had done that much. She knew then and there what sort of person she was. She knew who she wanted to be. She contained in her small frame the courage to walk away.