You in the End
The air leaves me breathless. The light, blind. My senses, over extended. My bones crack under pressure. My hair, whipping like wild fire. Fed by the oxygen and thriving out of control. And everything is ending. And I think that as I fall I will leave you behind. But you fall with me. And you are the wind under my skin. You are the gravity breaking my insides to splinters. The stars behind my eyes. You are the rupture of my lungs. The bursting of my heart, too full. The enveloping waves, crashing through my last thoughts. You are the cement rushing at me. The ground, ready to catch me. And I think I’ll leave you behind. But I’m only diving to meet you. I’m only careening into your arms one last time. And I still feel you in the end.
FALLING OFF THE EDGES
Ominous smothered clouds
swagger in the tempests.
I lose myself
toward a distant shore,
drifting into shadows
of yesterday’s rage.
I plunge in the cusp
of your black reflection,
jagged crimson souls
flashing in darkened heavens,
naked rhythm stitched
into grasping debauchery.
fervent bodies in
scorching summer brink,
moon spitting imagery
down my back
falling off the edges
of our whipping seas.
The last thought
to my breast
before I disintegrate
is of you
in my nightmares.
I was fallin’ down to Earth at a gawd-awful speed through the clear blue skies of Zephyrhills, having made my peace with Jesus, knowing – finally – how the universe began and how it would end:
“Helluva lot of good that’ll do me now,” I thought.
A six-pack of things crossed my mind, including: who would get my Frank Sinatra album collection, where did I park my car, would my sainted Mother have to ID my crushed body, how would my Nets, Mets, and Jets do next year, would anybody miss me when I was gone, and, most importantly: “Whatever happened to Arch Deal?”
In June, 1975, Tampa Bay TV newsman Arch Deal jumped out of a small airplane at 3,000 feet over nearby Cypress Gardens and his main chute didn’t open. At 2,000 feet, his reserve chute failed to deploy. At zero feet, he hit the ground – yet managed to survive, except for his broken neck, six broken ribs, separated pelvis and hundreds of contusions, lacerations, and bruises.
I was in a similar situation – but without the chute.
Would I survive?
The spinning, churning, and turning was taking its toll. I was fadin’ in and out. I’d managed not to look down by keeping my eyes closed as long as I could. When I finally opened them (wide) and stared at Mother Earth, I saw (floating in the sky) what looked like a large, eerily thin, crown of thorns.
A sign from God?
Then the crown slowly transformed; first, to a winking eye; then, to a butterfly.
My last sane thought was of the card game that dealt me this death drop.
“Never play poker in an airplane when you’re out of money,” I thought. “Never.”
Wish somebody had told me that sooner.
The rushin’ wind, like an old train, was blastin’ (unmercifully) through the dark, moist caverns my brain. The last functional thought I had was a joke I heard as a kid. The punch line:
“It’s not the drop that kills ya . . . it’s the sudden stop.”
I have always been enamoured with the endless blue of a summer sky, the white cotton puffs of clouds, the blinding white sun. So it seems fitting that these will be the last things I'll see as I fall with my back to the endless earth, my unshielded eyes forced open by wind.
I suppose that now I should be praying to some sort of God, but I can’t seem to move onto the next thought- I’m past Panic Mode and onto some sort of paralyzing indifference- the sky seems to be holding me fast in this one, infinite moment.
I close my eyes
I am a child again running through the woods and the trees don’t end I am staring straight up instead of down at my feet where roots trip me but nothing can stop me I’m invincible I cannot fall I cannot die it’s nothing but me and the lines of trees and the sky the sky the sky and now for an instance I am everything I am the sun and the moon and the stars and gravity cannot hold me any longer I am not falling but flying
I open my eyes. The sky is so beautiful so beautiful so beauti
The humid air worked its way through my lungs as I pulled myself up higher. The aerial roots of the great banyan tree rose from the earth to a canopy, intertwining and stretching across the edge of that rocky hillside.
My mind a mess with anger, hurt, and pretended indifference, I paid little attention to my body which warned me I was climbing too high and too fast. Surely there was too much air beneath the majestic limbs beneath my bare feet. It was almost as though I knew what would happen when I tried to balance my way up that branch; almost as though I had sent myself there for that specific reason.
And suddenly I slipped. My feet, legs, arms, face, all tingled as my scream split the air and I fell. The rocky slope rushed toward me. Rushing through my mind were thoughtless words I would never get to take back, the boy who would never hear me say “I love you,” the children I would never name, and friends who might cry.
I braced myself and tried to hold on to that pretended indifference.
Serves me right I guess. I shouldn’t have been a villain in a Disney animation.
Plummeting Thoughts (Acrostic)
Paralyzed with fear;
Lucid state of mind
Underneath the azure mirror
My fate I'm soon to find.
Mimicking the raindrops
Enveloped in the air
Transcendental; time stops
In minutes, I’ll be there.
Next to all the daisies;
Grass that’s kelly green
Treasuring the scenery?
How odd, I think, it seems.
Or is it? Am I dreaming?
Unwind. Rewind. Wake up!
Good for nothing—screaming;
Halfway down I stop.
I wake; chilled in my sweat
Should have skipped dessert I
shared and had hot tea instead.
’Why did I decide to go camping in the woods?
’I had no idea what lurked in the depths of the ancient trees—well- actually, I thought they didn’t exist.
’I guess it’s over for me... (sighs)..
’Not how I expected my day to go~ served to a couple of young giant mole rats....
’I really should have paid more attention to the signs that were placed by the path leading to the forest: DANGER!!! KEEP OUT!!! BEWARE OF THE GIANT NAKED MOLE RATS!!!
‘AH— no- I’m not ready to....’
Hard to believe only twenty minutes ago my life was normal. Tuesday morning sunshine ruled the morning and the sun sparkled off the Manhattan skyline below my window.
That was before the plane hit.
I saw it happen. I was dumbfounded; I sat at my desk and just watched it get bigger and bigger. I started to say “That is wrong,” but before I could get the words out, it flew into the building, directly below me. WHAM! At least twenty floors down. We all felt the impact, and the fireball that rolled past the windows was so hot that many of them cracked.
We tried to find a way out, but the stairwells were full of smoke and flames. The air grew thick and acrid, and the smell of burning rubber, plastic and flesh was enough to make us all gag. William threw a chair through the window. The fresh air tasted good, but the smoke became a chimney roaring past us. The people below looked very small as we stood on the narrow ledge.
“I can’t burn, man.” That’s all William said to me before he jumped. I wonder what he thought about as he fell. I’ve had time to think a lot; ninety-eight floors is a long, long way down.
I see the ground now, coming up fast.
I love you Mom.
I hope it doesn't—
Don’t Look Down
It’s all about timing, really. Of course, you also use your eyes. You see placements, or “marks”, but for Tsigana it was all about timing, and she had learned to keep time in a most natural way, she played a tune in her head and counted off the beats. She had done this so many times that now she could do it blind-folded, just by singing the song.
1-2-3, 2-2-3 He floats through the air - Wait
1-2-3, 2-2-3 with the greatest of ease - Release!
1-2-3, 2-2-3 That daring young man - 2 somersaults
1-2-3, 2-2-3 on the flying trapeze - and Catch!
Simple, really! Kazmer always caught her. Kazmer... solid, steady Kazmer. Kazmer who was always in the right place at the right time, Kazmer who never deviated from the script, who was unwilling to take risks, or to step outside of the normal. Steady, boring Kazmer.
Kazmer was good looking enough. The women sitting in the grandstands loved Kazmer, what with his bulging chest and tights, his marble face, and his jet black hair. Those were the very reasons that Tsigana herself had once fallen for him, had married him even, but that was not enough to win her love. Tsigana wanted more... she deserved more! She was still young. It was her time to live!
Sebestyen now! The lion tamer! Sebestyen knew how to live! Tsigana had been with Sebestyen just last night, and it had been a wonderful night spent dancing, drinking, laughing! They had made love on a park bench, under the stars. Her skirt had been short, so that to do it was easy and somewhat discreet, it was certainly something Kazmer would never dream of doing. But for Tsigana it had been intoxicating, especially when strangers passed by on the path staring wide-eyed at the young woman in the short skirt sitting on the man’s lap so brazenly? Intoxicating! Exhilerating! Higher even than the trapeze!
Tsigana unwound from her tuck on cue, but no strong hands graspered hers. Panicky eyes sought out Kazmer to find him out of position... late. Late! She hung suspended at her zenith, floating, waiting. Desperate, she found his eyes. They were looking into hers, and they were smiling? Kazmer was never late, and he never smiled! Tsigana’s arms flailed the air, swimming in it, holding herself aloft. She tried to recall seeing Kazmer smile in all of their time together and could remember none. Not even once. Not even the day they had married. This was one hell of a time to see it for the first time! “Late, you fuck!” She mouthed the words. Could her eyes have fired lazers they would have done so now, and they would have fired them directly into his.
And then her swimming failed. Tsigana began to fall. The hateful expression in her eyes changed to something else.
Was there a net? They never used a net! “Not authentic” Kazmer always said. A strange sound escaped her. The sound grew in volume as her downward velocity increased. She actually heard the heart-felt, “Oooohhh” whispered by the gullible fucks in the crowd, by those who paid good money to watch... this? To watch murder? She saw in his face what this was. Kazmer was condemning her for her many, many crimes. In this frightening moment Kazmer was God, and she subject to his mercy.
Someone must catch her! Kazmer must catch her! She was too young to die, and too beautiful, but she was falling fast, too fast, way too fas...
There was no thud, no thump. It was really like crashing through plate glass, only without shards, or blood. There was a ticklish moment when she was happy even. There was no pain. She was ok! But then it occured to her that her velocity, rather than stopping, continued to increase. The “Ooooh’s”, and the Aaaah’s” from the crowd were gone, replaced with far reaching shrieks and screams, echoing screams that emanated from within the deep, cavernous pit that pulled her downward. This was no Earthly place, and it was certainly not Heaven!
There was only darkness to fall into. There was no wind, nothing to indicate the direction of her fall. She was in an immense weightless space that pulled her toward a swirling black hole, a crushing, sightless, soundless hole that sucked at her soul like a foul-breathed prostitute, unclean and hard, wanting to pull her in quickly and get the nasty work over with. The fear in her grew to an absolute and unimaginable terror. This fall was multitudes worse even than the fall to death. This longest of all falls was Tsigana’s fall from Grace.
The fiery pit loomed.
“Who knew,” she thought? “Kazmer is God!”