Again The Night

Through the darkness, the beast stalks
slowly, cautiously, tasting the air, peering through the shadows
perked ears straining for the slightest shift, the indrawn breath
silently probing the impenetrable darkness
for sign of the prey
prey which too suddenly could become predator
there, the whisper of flesh against tree-trunk
frozen, the beast fixes upon targeted shadow
swift and sudden, one fluid motion to the creature’s throat
teeth crushing breath, metallic life spurting as molten lava
death incarnate, the beast ends the creature
blood staining his fangs-

a noise
suddenly awake from my dream of predatory tension, lying next to her, I am a coiled spring, in my bed. Did I hear that, or-
again, a soft thud
a sharply indrawn breath
she shifts next to me, and now sure that my dream is over, I time my movements with her deep breaths, so I am not heard
inhale- my feet to the floor, softly
exhale- I stand and slowly move to the open door of our bedroom,
stopping just to the side of the opening. Knees slightly bent, head cocked to the side, I taste the air, searching the darkness for any unfamiliar scent
perked ears strain for the slightest sound, waiting for my prey to give away its location
there, a rustle of flesh against soft carpet
my mind sharpens, as my heartbeat increases slightly, adrenaline coursing through my body, in anticipation
I visualize my movements, I will be prepared,
sudden and swift I will be through the door and upon the intruder,
hand to throat as I attack, force the creature to the ground and overwhelm with ferocity, gathering violence in my bones, I aim towards the sound, swiftly and suddenly through the door-

my son lies on the floor, beside his bed, twists again to escape the monsters in his head… so much like me.
Calm, now, I scoop his sleeping body up, and he curls toward me, puts his hand on my chest and murmurs softly, still lost in his dream world
I gently lay him back in his bed, covering him with his soft baby blanket, then the thick comforter

I lie back in bed, mentally laughing at myself, careful not to disturb my wife from her all-too infrequent sleep. As I curl up next to her she reaches out for my hand

I close my eyes
Through the darkness, the beast stalks

Lasting First

In the time before the life I know

there was, basically,

everything that has ever been.

Life is long, so long it seems impossible. The first day of life is perfectly terrible and a lot of boulders roll down slopes after.

I know right here you’re expecting that I’ll tell you how short life is, that it moves too fast and you can’t get back your time and everyone you know will die before you do, maybe, if you’re lucky you might have enough time to do all you want.

But that sentiment has been shared ad infinitum and I think it’s bullshit.

Life is long, so amazingly and insanely long that there’s time to do everything. Every day is 23 hours and 56 minutes long, each of those minutes has time for me to live a minute, to torture myself for some pain I caused twenty-six years ago, to live in a memory of passionate lust and desire that went away seventeen years ago. One minute in so many days and what do I do with these minutes…

I’ve just spent three writing that paragraph. Considering the words and how I want to make my point, to cast the hook and see if I can get you to bite.

If you’re reading this sentence I’d guess that you’re interested enough to get to my point.

Life isn’t short. Even for a baby that dies on her second day, life is not immediate. Awareness creates perception which in turn creates a clock ticking, this breath and that heartbeat.

When Matt Wafer flew out of the rolling SUV and died as a nineteen year old kid, his life wasn’t short. He made it through about 7200 days full of minutes and seconds and thoughts and hopes and laughter and love.

When Ethan Eayre, great big goofy kid wrapped in the sins of his father, his mother, his older brother, died from a simple infection that became the descriptive and fun-to-remember labels “morbidly obese” when he lived and died, he still does, I’m in that moment now, telling my mother in the lobby that, yes,

She can do this.

She can say goodbye to her youngest son, she can carry herself through that moment, because he lived all of his days as a loving and confusingly decent person, a fluffy and smiling friendly-bear going around making people happy, mostly… In part. He lived a life as he could, and it is over, so, Mother, you won’t freak out

you’ll go in there and cry for him, cry for yourself, you’ll give his life the respect which is due.

The time we live is not short.

I live those days every day…and more.

That night in 2001 I walked into a room and was claimed by grey eyes that want to see me, the smile that needs to kiss me, the mind that needs my mind and my time, I’ve lived that moment a thousand times in the seventeen years and a few months since… I can still feel the first kiss,

it’s still the first kiss every time.

That moment has lasted all of these years and been added to all of the eternal and looping events I’ve seen and touched, I could try to forget what it was

but those pains and joys matter so much, I’ve lived those days with my grandmother, I’ve laughed with the boys and wrestled my brother, I’ve had parties and road trips and I’ve been to weddings and my own,

my own wedding has never ended,

she just walked out into the sun, and

my head got funny.

In a swirl of heat and love and pressure building inside a dynamite keg, she was there, looking just like the only thing that has ever been real.

I’m in that moment, right now.

And the backyard when we were kids.

I’m driving through mountains with her and the kids and we’ve pulled over to a rest stop without lights,

13,000 feet above sea level

and we can see the galaxy,

we’re watching the spin of infinite depths of time and light, in our little remote spot

I looked up as we held hands for a moment and I almost disappeared.

I’ve lived those moments,

Every day.

So don’t tell me that life is short,

because people died and you got to keep living, you get to keep living those laughs and smiles and hugs and tears, those days with calendar stars, the days that got pinned to the pages of a photo album, you get to live those every day until you go.

Life is long, incredibly and depressingly long. Life is longer than everything else.

You’ll never do anything that lasts longer than life.

The trick is making it through each moment and remembering.

F€@® & L0√£

I’m at the age where I realize, 

Nothing, actually (Sublime)
Just say the words, tell me I’ll be okay. 

You don’t have to mean it, it ain’t gotta be true, you’ll never have to be accountable for what comes or goes, 

Just say the words. 

I tell my friend, she of open heart and hospitality, tell me my parenting will get easier, tell me it gets better. 

She says, yes.

 She says, I did it, you will too. 
I tell my son, he of 13 years and internet-trolling, if it’s not true, helpful or necessary, 

Don’t fucking say it. 

He says, okay Dad. 

He says, I understand. 
I tell my wife, she of magical unicornism and poetry-inducing madness, 

I will always give what I have, I will work until I drop, to give us, I say, to give you, 

To provide for you, my girl, wife, dream, goddess, queen, 

My endless frustration

To give you home and hearth and love and food and bandwidth and hot coffee and cold air when it’s hot outside, 

I will give what I am to a job that takes all I have, to earn this place I see, this golden fantasy where you smile and we have a door with a lock, behind which we remember our youth and we expose our eternal truth

She says, wherever. She says, I got you. 

She says, be happy and I will. 

She says, we got this, love. 

We got this love, love, we have our love to rely upon, she says and she shows and sometimes she needs reassurance but,

She knows. 

Tell me, say the words. 

I will say the words. 
Even when I have trouble believing myself. 
You’re going to get through this. 

I’m going to get through this. 

We’re going to be okay. 
We got this. 

💚

Through A Mist

I will not see your face with my eyes, nor touch your hands with my own.

I will never hear your voice outside of my dreams, I cannot watch you live.

A life is not made of time.

Supposing I knew you, I weep in secrecy for what I might have known.

I can tell the story of what may have been and what was, I can interpret my intuitive emotions into language and create a space for you in the hearts that might understand.

When I was twelve I had a kitten, he ran away before he was two months old.

When I was nineteen I had a crush on a girl that didn’t return the favor.

When I was thirty-two I forced life to my will and captured love and family.

When you were-

When you were-

You weren’t.

Perhaps I didn’t do it right, maybe a mistake on my part left you on the other side of the veil. It could be that I wish it was my fault, I’ve always been more comfortable wearing blame than my own face. It could be that random chance left me an unintended consequence.

When you were… No.

You were not, you were almost.

I will never forget your name, the sound that means my smile. I will never let go of your possibility. I will be what is, I will be your life. You exist in me.

I will hold your image, bouncing curls and sad eyes over a glowing, crooked smile.

I will say your name in privacy, I will call your name through the mist of what might have been until my lungs stop drawing breath and my mind can finally let go.

There is at least a small chance, still, that this life is my dream and one day I will wake to find that nothing was lost.

Anniversary

He took the microphone and walked to the center of the dance floor with her, as everyone pushed back. She clutched her dress nervously, never liking the spotlight.
The music started, and she smiled like the sun breaking through clouds. ‘Butterfly’ had long been one of ‘their’ songs, he would sing to her in front of people with no fear, and seeing him free made her happy, so he kept doing it.

he sat down next to her hospital bed, again. the chemo treatment always took so much out of her that she slept for hours afterward. he sat and waited for her to wake up every time. lately it had been longer each time, he would sit, and watch her sleep. the pain showed on her face even though she was drugged for pain… the brain never let anything happen without noticing.

He slowly danced around her as he sang, touching her shoulder then pressing up behind her, spinning away and leaning toward her as he sang the sexy words to her- always, only her.
She began to loosen up a little, swaying back and forth and staring at his eyes and mouth as he sang, reaching up to caress his cheek, then yanking on his beard lightly with a mischievous grin. He started really feeling his voice as he got further into the song, serenading his love on their anniversary.

she woke from her drugged sleep to see him sitting next to her, as always. “Hi, love” she said. he rubbed her hand softly in his grasp, looking at her face without meeting her eyes. she noticed the evasion, of course. she always saw everything he felt.
“what’s wrong, baby?” she asked, squeezing his fingers softly, as firmly as she could.
“they said it’s over”, he whispered. he continued looking at her hand, caressing her fingers lightly. “they said hospice care is the only option left.”
she smiled, a wry, half-smile. she had known this was coming. the fight had been long and painful, and each step had been a step backwards. a step toward death. she tried to make him smile, tried to put the old familiar sarcastic tone in her voice, “what do they know?”
it came out weakly, quivering, feeling every bit as sad as she felt.
he looked at her eyes then, his eyes glowing with fervent emotion. “I won’t let it happen this way, baby.”

Then he got to the part of the song where lyrics disappear in favor of scat- and he stumbled. Trying to find the rhythm again, he did a very poor imitation of the singer.
It was agonizingly painful. The look of delight which had painted every face in the room turned to embarassment and sympathy as he kept going.

the plane ride was awful. fourteen hours from San Francisco to Greece, with several painful moments along the way. he held her hand as they landed, and said, “we made it baby. we made it.”

A voice broke out of the back of the room, “Stop, that’s not right.”
Shocked gasps spread across the room as horrified onlookers all turned to the owner of the voice. Her angry face stabbed daggers through the low light, livid that someone had interrupted her husband’s loving but awful singing.
A slight figure walked forward, wearing his signature hat, holding a guitar. Recognition turned all the shock to outright disbelief as everyone assembled realized who it was. She looked over to her husband to see a huge grin across his face as he looked back at her. Understanding followed immediately, as she realized what her husband had done.

they walked slowly out onto the beach, white sand gleaming in the sunlight. she was barely alive, but his love carried her all the way to the waterline, where they sat down in the clear blue waves. he cradled her body against his, her now frail body leaning against his healthy bulk. she nestled her face against his neck as he held her, water washing against their hips as they sat in the gentle surf. he whispered imagined tales of their life to her, telling her of all the things they would have done, explaining all the adventures they were going to miss. they sat there for the entire day, he whispering in her ear, she feeling her life slowly fade from her body as the water took their stories away into the Mediterranean.

The singer walked over to the couple, and said, “Can I help?”
They quickly gave assent, he laughing and she with her eyes wide. She mouthed the singer’s name as she went into her husband’s arms, shaking her head. She smiled up at him, tears glistening in their beautiful home before escaping down her cheeks.
The singer looked at the band, and signaled them to resume, then he picked up right where the man had faltered, scatting through the difficult part. The happy couple danced through the end of the song, and everyone joined them, The singer played their other songs, all of them, and had the man join in on a few parts.
After the music stopped, the man once again took the microphone. He walked to the center of the floor with his wife again, and raised the microphone to his mouth.

she stopped moving just after night fell. he sat there with her as the moon rose, soft white light shining and reflecting off the water as they sat. beginning to shiver with cold as darkness surrounded her, he told her now, still form, the story of their love- stories of imagined times being painted on an invisible canvas. after he finished, he stood up, cradling her lifeless form close to his chest. he walked slowly up to the resort hotel, mentally preparing for the job ahead- the last duties he had as a husband, seeing to her body’s last disposal. the tears flowed freely down his face as he walked, her body not much more than a bundle of sticks in cloth. the disease had taken away all of her substance.

Voice trembling, he said, “You have been my life. You are every word and every poem and every song, all the words and thoughts I have been trying to wrap around your heart. You have lifted me from my grave, given me safety and inspiration, you have held me through every storm that has ever raged in my soul. I would marry you again, every day, just to hear you promise to be mine. You are the only place I have ever wanted to be, and I am yours forever. As long as I exist, I will be needing you.”

they took her body away, and he sat alone in the hotel room. they had dreamed for so long of being here, in Santorini. they had not foreseen the path life had chosen for them- their journey here had been only a defiant gesture. he sat in the room, unable to sleep without her. he cried without sound, sitting on the end of the bed. there was no solace for him, no hope of home. his only home had died in his arms, and there was no longer a reason for him to hold his sadness back. finally free of hope, his lifelong melancholy flowed through him, as he dissolved over and over in his hotel room in paradise. he held a photo of her, smiling at him, and repeated over and over again, “I love you, my soul.”

Beaming at him, shining at him, looking at him as though he were the only thing that existed, smiled as wide as she could, and said,

“Likewise.”

In Pieces or Whole

I had a dream that I was sitting with my dead sister and my dead brother

and I was describing to them the way that Dennis the Menace park in Monterey had been dismantled, destroyed and abandoned

which was strange because the park hasn’t been, it’s still there and functional

but I told them in detail the way that the train had been melted down 

and the big slide ripped out

and the tables were burned

and as I told them, in my dream, it never occurred to me that they were dead

or that I was describing an important part of my childhood that was gone

and when I woke I felt the pieces come together and the picture fell apart

because somewhere between a group of kids playing at the park and an almost-forty-year-old man having a dream 

some dreams were lost, some dreamers woke, some nightmares came true

and I massaged my temples for at least twenty minutes while my wife slept and the darkness changed to dawn, my head and neck and shoulders aching and refusing my request to slip back into sleep

when we were kids we would play and laugh and it never mattered if we got hurt because we were going to live forever

and the secrets behind the daytime smiles were never told

In loving memory of Ruane Richardson and Ethan Eayre