Glass & Gale pt IV

The sunlight through the clear stone was warm. The cub moved the stone side-to-side and watched the light change color. Red, yellow, green, blue, the cub lay on his side and pushed the stone with his paws. 

As the light turned yellow again, the cub heard something from above. Looking up into the trees around him, he spotted the falcon from the willow tree sitting on a branch high above the forest floor. The falcon watched him, unmoving. 

Their eyes locked and the cub felt something pass through his body, warmth spreading from his chest to his legs. Time seemed to stand still as the wolf and falcon gazed at each other. 

Pain shot through the wolf cub’s paw and his eyes darted quickly down. The clear stone had light shining through it, and where the light fell on some fallen pine needles, a bright red burst of heat was growing. 

Jumping back, the wolf cub watched in horror as the flame consumed the needles and started reaching up the nearby tree. The heat grew intense, billowing out from the flame and leaping up the tree trunk. 

One burning tree became two, then three. The fire seemed angry, lashing out at all of the world. 

The wolf cub ran. 

The fire chased. 

Reaching his pack’s den, the cub started howling and barking at his family. 

“Go! We must go!” 

His packmates looked at him as though he were mad and started yipping at him. 

“Why?” “What happened?” “What’s wrong?”

“What did you do?”

The last question was growled from the throat of his sire. A huge black and grey wolf, the pack leader stood a few paces away, hackles raised. 

What did you do?” 

The cub shrunk away, fearful of his sire’s anger. He had seen many times his sire challenged by other wolves, and every time the challengers had limped away bleeding, or died. 

“Fire,” the cub whined. “It comes.”

Sniffing the air, the pack leader stared the cub down. “What part of this do you own?”

“The clear stone, it let’s light through, and-”

A sharp growl cut off the rest of his words, and the pack leader leapt toward the cub. Bowling him over with a shoulder thrust, the great Wolf leaned in close and snapped his massive jaws at the young wolf. 

“Your fault. You, with your games. You have never been what you should be. This ends, now.”

Lunging toward the young wolf’s throat, jaws gaping, the big wolf was surprised by the younger wolf’s shoulder in his chest. A fierce push set the bigger wolf back on his heels, and the two started circling each other. 

“So, the pup wants to play,” the older beast spoke with derision. “Come at me, then, pup.” 

Feinting toward the young wolf’s face, then snapping at his flank, the big jaws ripped a gash along the young wolf’s side. 

Falling back, then quickly jumping toward his sire, the cub bit down hard on the big wolf’s front leg. Blood filled his mouth as he shook his head, and he heard a cracking noise as the leg broke in his jaws. 

As he let go, the bigger wolf turned and closed his jaws on the young wolf’s neck, just behind his shoulders. 

A sharp scream filled the air then, and a grey blur from the sky became the falcon, swooping down and burying her talons in the great wolf’s eyes. As she pulled away the older wolf snapped his jaws up at her, and found purchase in her leg. Stabbing with her beak, the falcon ripped the great wolf’s face open as she flew out of reach. 

Wounded grievously and blinded, the great wolf snarled and snapped his jaws aimlessly, hopping in a circle with his broken leg lifted. 

The young cub closed quickly, sinking his jaws into the soft throat of the old wolf. Clamping down and shaking, the cub tasted his sire’s life passing through his jaws. 

Motionless on the ground, the great wolf died with a small whimper, and the young wolf backed away. 

Looking around, he spotted the falcon on a branch above. Bleeding from her leg, she looked down at the blood-covered wolf. She gathered her strength and leapt into the air with a short squawk. 

The smell of smoke and the crackling of flames consuming the forest got the cub moving. With a final glance at his deceased sire, he raced after the falcon, through the forest. 

Glass & Gale pt III

You are Curiosity

Seven moons had passed since the cub found the strange tree-thing in the clearing. He had grown strong, almost as big as his sire. Learning to hunt had made him fast and agile. 

However, the cub had a tendency toward being distracted easily. His sire and packmates were often displeased by the cub’s flights of fancy. 

Your first duty is to your pack, his sire would tell him. Chasing butterflies won’t fill your belly, or your pack’s. 

Roaming far away from the pack’s den, the cub had found many things that he did not understand. A half day’s walk from the den the cub found a great expanse of sparkling rocks and water that stretched forever. 

For hours the cub would walk through the rocks, listening to the murmur of the water as it caressed the stones. Each rock was different, an array of colors and shapes unlike anything to be found in the forest. Gray birds flew over the rocks and landed at the edge of the water. The cub would chase them into the air, then run away as they screeched at him and dived at his heels, swooping down where he had been. The cub thought it great fun to see the surprise in the bird’s eyes when he would stop and snap his jaws at them. The squawking and sudden changes of direction filled his heart with mischievous joy. 

At the end of the sparkling rocks a huge stone sat, with a giant willow tree growing over the top. The cub would sit under its low-hanging branches and stare through the leaves, for some reason the place filled him with peace and a small sadness. 

On this day the cub crept quietly under the canopy of willow branches and heard a soft crooning sound. Looking up, the cub saw a falcon sitting alone in the highest branches. The bird stepped side-to-side and made the soft sound with eyes closed. 

A small chuff escaped the cub’s throat, and the falcon’s eyes opened quickly. Staring down at the cub for a moment, the falcon slowly extended her wings. A small shake off her beak startled the cub back on his heels, then the falcon leapt into the air and flew away. 

The cub watched the graceful flight, feeling a deep sense of envy for the effortless way the falcon swept through the sky. 

To be so free…

The cub stayed under the willow tree until sunset, hoping the falcon would return. As the sun dropped into the water he started for home. As he reached the edge of the sparkling rocks a glint of light caught his eye. Sitting half-buried in the sand under the rocks was a stone unlike any the cub had seen. Gripping with his teeth, the cub pulled the strange stone up then dropped it on the ground. Perfectly clear except for a small mark on the center, the stone caught the light from the setting sun and made colors dance on the other side. 

The cub picked his treasure up and started running for the forest. His sire and packmates would not understand, but the cub had to see what else this light-stone could do with light. 

At the edge of the forest, the cub paused and looked back at the willow tree. He saw the falcon flying over the branches, seemingly looking towards the forest. 

I wonder if she can see me…

What I Really Meant To Say

I meant to say, I love you, Mom. I was eleven and lying on the living room floor, and she was falling apart. Crying about life, about the difficulty dealing with my youngest brother. She poured out her heart, and then she had to go. 

“I love you,” she sobbed. 

“Bye.” The cold cruelty in my voice startled my brother and I felt something die, inside. 

I meant to say, I need to be your friend. I had been strung out on meth for weeks, maybe months… It gets fuzzy. Fifteen years old and trying to destroy the thing called me. I was desperately in love with her, Twenty-three and so much that I understood. Smart, funny, damaged. She told me that I was too young, of course I was. I told her that I couldn’t hang out with her anymore, because I couldn’t get over wanting her. 

I meant to say, please don’t let me screw this up. Twenty-three and so easily destroying the only real love I had ever found, she needed me and I needed her. We fell in love together, holding hands and reading philosophy and poetry by the ocean. Making love every night and fucking every day. Innocently, desperately, with joy and enthusiasm, we loved our love. We licked it. We breathed it into each other, 

and there I was on the phone, saying, 

don’t come back. Inside my head I was weeping, begging the words to change, please don’t let me do this. I need to be in this love. I can’t let this happen. 

But I did. 

I meant to say, so many things. Death after death after death and I kept thinking of the perfect things to say, too late. Funerals and memorials and another and another and when, when, can I say the fucking words that I need to say, in the moment? 

I need you, I love you, I  sorry. You were so much to me, you were my favorite. I need you. I need you. I need you. I’m sorry. 
Please don’t die. 

Buckle up. 

Look both ways.

 Take care of your health. 

Go see a doctor. 

Stop doing drugs. 

I need you. 

I meant to say,  I waited my whole life for you and I screwed it up the first time but I will not, this time, thank you for loving me, today we are man and wife, woman and husband (why don’t they ever say it that way?) Today we are choosing to say, 

This is us. 

I meant to say,  

I’m not anything special, just another survivor of childhood trauma and abuse. Just another recovered drug addict. Just another tormented writer, just another contradiction. Just another overactive mind. Just another insecure, needy, desperate fool trapped in a moderately attractive and confident man. Just another magician, using sleight-of-hand to show smiles and talent while hiding broken edges and shattered dreams. Just another depressed person, struggling with PTSD and suicidal urges. Just another day in the life of the impossible. 

I meant to say, this. 

45 Missed Calls

I’ve been avoiding this. 

I can write short things, small poems, quick hits and move along, nothing to see here, nothing to fear… 

I have always learned about myself by writing. 

I’m afraid of what I might learn, this time, and that’s why I’ve been pretending to have forgotten about my little blog. 

April 26, May 3, May 6, you would think people would show a little courtesy and die on dates further apart so as to spare me the trouble, to spare my hurts from being doubled or tripled or god-damned infinite. 

Matt was a good kid. He looked up to me. He was 19 and having fun and then he was dead on a road in the middle of the night, and his mom and his brother and his dad and by the way his uncle, Big Matt, the 25-year-old that didn’t know what life meant yet, the guy that had so much of his identity wrapped up in a kid that had the same name, none of these people knew what to do, that night changed everything. I’ve read those words before, 

That night changed everything

And I didn’t get it until I was screaming at the sky, drunk and destroyed, a few nights later, after burying that kid, that fucking stupid kid with an easy grin and more mischief than a toddler, that kid changed my life by dying. April 26 

Ethan was a good kid. 

My only kid brother, he was 29 years old and he had never caught a break on his life. Our mother had babied him and never taught him how to live and then, when she was tired of him, she booted him, just abandoned like a kitten on the freeway, he had no clue how to live. Something we had in common, except I was gifted with so many talents and strengths and I had other people to help me, but for Ethan, everything was harder. 

He was a fat guy. 400 lbs of neglected emotion and he was a sweet kid, he lived with all of his heart and would give anything to someone he loved. He did some drugs, he got into some trouble, he was unlucky. 

He broke his leg, and that lead to an infection that went into his heart and he died. A few months before his 30th birthday, he just died, and all of my thoughts about trying to help him and my guilt over being unavailable to him are all I have left. My only kid brother, and what does that mean, I had two kids that looked up to me and they both died young, 

I’m starting to think it’s me. May 3

In fifteen years, I’ve had fourteen deaths land in my heart. 

I won’t go through the whole list. It’s enough to say, some mattered more than others. I think it’s fair to acknowledge that everyone has their own significance, in the lives of those they are connected to…

Some hurt a lot more, when they go. 

Matt hurt a lot. Ethan didn’t hurt as much, but there was more guilt. A few others ripped me up. One in particular that I can’t talk about. 

Ruane, she was good at a lot of things.

She had a life that was both amazing and awful. The entire spectrum of experience was visited upon her, and she lived with undeniable courage. She also made some terrible choices and hurt a lot of people. 

She was my angel. I was her angel. 

We were close, for most of my life. She was a friend, she was a sister and a mother to me, she saved me more times than I can count, she was damnably charismatic and she was absolutely broken, and she was my hero. I looked up to her. She told me, once, when she was going through some hard times, that she looked up to me, because I was trying to live a life of truth and integrity. 

All I had ever wanted was for Ruane to be okay. I had seen the whole story, I knew the good and bad and I understood the choices, I understand still what it’s like to live broken and damaged and somehow still face life with ferocity and courage, I got that from her. She gave me so much. 

I left Colorado because I couldn’t afford to stay. Financially and emotionally. Going to the places where Ruane and I did things, hanging out and living, for close to 20 years she and I lived in those places and the memories were tearing me in half. 

I remember still, and I dream about her almost every night. I am not ready to let go. It may take me more time, for this one. Some of the deaths I’ve carried were momentarily sad, and I moved on. Some have taken years to accept. 

Ruane is still alive, in my mind. I can’t let her be dead, yet. I need her, I have always needed her to help me understand life. 

She dropped her purse from her motorcycle. I hated that she rode it, I was sure she would get killed. She loved the rush of being almost dead and fully alive, going fast and feeling the wind on her body, she told me it was like a drug, and she loved the high. 

It was late at night, she parked on the side of the street and ran out to get her purse. A drunk dude hit her, speeding and not paying attention, and she died on the pavement within a few minutes. May 6

I don’t mean to take anything away from anyone else. I know that Matt and Ethan and Ruane impacted a lot of other lives and I’m not the one that felt it the most…

I’m just the one writing about them. 

People live and people die, and 

I know this life is awful and amazing

And I can only live my own life

But how I wish I could have lived

With them. 

I can imagine Matt, all grown up and 33, still with the foolish grin but a man, not a boy. 

I can picture Ethan, 35 and finally figuring life out. 

Ruane would have been 50 this July. Her grandkids miss her, her daughters miss her. 

What would I have been, if they were alive, if Matt hadn’t changed everything, what would I have become? 

Life doesn’t give anything

Without taking something else away. 

Some Day

One of these days, I’ll look back at right now and remember how I got through. 

It’s happened before, it stands to reason that it’ll happen again. 

One day all of the sleepless nights will seem like a distant memory, a fantasy I created to pass the time. 

Close your eyes…

I didn’t mean forever!” 

(What Dreams May Come)

Some day, this period will seem like ancient history, the Greeks with bronze tools, the Romans with togas and debauchery and deception. 

Some day I will sit at her side while she dies, or she will sit at mine while I go, and whichever way it happens we will remember all of the times we have rescued each other. We will remember the troubles, a little. We will remember the triumphs, a lot. 

Some day our difficulties will make us feel stronger. 

Once upon a time I thought I would be alone and unloved forever. Today I know better, that I have lives in my hands, I have hearts in my mind. I know today what I could not, then. 

Some day I will have the answers that I lack today. The stress and trouble I feel right now will feel as unnecessary as the loneliness I used to live in. 

Some day I will have the hugs and smiles that wait for me, across oceans and continents I have a family of real emotion, spread across the world. They know who they are and I know that they dream of that someday, the same as I do, 

Some day my life will end on this plane and I will be remembered as things I almost was. 

Some day I will think more about what I have done than what I will yet do. 

Spiral

January 11, 2001.

A funny thing happened on my way to commit suicide. 

I had been depressed, desperate, defeated, for as long as I had thoughts I remembered. I had finally given up on changing and made the decision that would bring peace to my life- by ending it. 

I told everyone I was going home, that a change of scenery was what I needed. 

There were no cries for help. I didn’t want anyone to stop me, as had happened before. I didn’t want to be convinced, again, that I could be more, better, that I could live and smile and be happy. 

I complicated the process, of course. 

I took my sister with me, caught in her own spinning wheels, I gave her a respite from dealing with her problems. 

The truth is, I was hoping she would catch on, without a cry for help. 

I hoped that she would see past my facade and we could say goodbye. I didn’t want to be saved, but I wanted to let her know that she mattered to me. 

She didn’t. 

Her vision was blurred by her own desperation. She had a marriage to ruin, an addiction to commit to, she had a life to destroy, and my self-destruction was too cleverly disguised. 

I was happy to take a trip with her, just the two of us. We sang and laughed and forgot that our regular lives were in shambles. 

A stop in Phoenix to see our sister turned into one more thing I screwed up… Young and emotionally overcharged man mixes like napalm and dynamite with repressed married women (word to the wise- don’t get involved in other people’s escapes.)

On that night when we entered the apartment in Seaside, California I was all-go to say goodbye and swim away, maybe become a selkie off the Monterey coast, maybe become a lonely, wandering ghost in the fog of Lovers Point. 

The funny thing that happened was ironically perfect, the universe reaching out to me through a set of fog-colored eyes, familiar yet strange, brand-new and long-lost-home in one glance. 

I remember it quite clearly, these sixteen years later. 

I was pissed. 

Fuck me, I thought. Why now? After all these lonely years, there she is, sitting there changing all of my plans with a single look. 

Our story is a good one. Romantic, sweet and seemingly pre-destined. 

I’m working on telling our story in my next book (tentatively titled Hurricanes and Promises, coming later this year) and that will be there… A story for another day, as they say. 

The thing about depression that I usually don’t hear, see or read-

It doesn’t go away. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not a literary device. It’s more treatment-resistant than cancer, and it’s more insidious than a decently-made ghost movie. 

The trouble is, depression is not an invader. It’s not a foreign body doing damage. 

It’s me. I am the perpetrator of the crime, and I commit the same crime, all day long, every day. I hurt myself and I hate myself and I damage myself. 

And knowing that it’s me doesn’t help. 

I can say, it’s me doing it, so I can stop. 

I can actually stop. 

For a week or a month or a year I can be kind to myself. I can love myself and praise myself and do what makes me happy and at the end of every day, 

I’m still there. The ‘me’ that made me miserable. The ‘me’ that hurt me so much. The ‘me’ that is my enemy. 

I’m not separating myself into two entities… I am the person that loved me. I am the person that hated me. I am both up and down, and no amount of talking or analysis or love will ever change the truth. 

I didn’t want a reason, on that January night, to learn how to live with my depression. 

I wanted an end. 

I’m not bitching about finding love- I’m happier than I could have believed possible with my wife. She has made me a good man, she has lifted me. 

But when the wind blows from the wrong direction, I still taste the metal in my mouth, the cyanide in my veins runs cold, 

The end is always hanging around my neck. 

It’s a little too easy to listen. 

It’s a little too easy to believe. 

Which leads me here…

To you, kind reader. If you feel what I feel, if you recognize the way my mind fucks me and you know what it’s like…

Choose to believe in the more difficult idea. 

Decide to believe that you can get through. 

Make a conscious effort to quiet that voice, that insidious and familiar old enemy that whispers your secret fears. 

Climb back up that spiral, and enjoy the struggle. Realize that your strength is much more than you knew. 

You can do this. 

Why Life Hurts

I have a sister I’ve not met. We know each other through words on a screen and the occasional photo. We are close to the same age but have lived wildly different lives. 

She is the person behind 

Our Lady Of Lust And Grace

www.ourladyoflustandgrace.com
On Facebook, and her blog is the first I ever followed. She has a way, she has a style that hits my brain like sugar cookies, she says things that feel like  home and she calls me Brother Matt, because I told her she is my sister. 

This was written in response to one of her blog posts, if you don’t read her you should. 

“I love this. I love you. It’s not up for debate and does not require any action on your part… It’s what I am. 

I have been debated and disagreed with on this point, but, my definition of love seems to me to be accurate. After seeing what is said and done, for four decades and in hundreds of varied relationships, I have narrowed it down to a one-word topic:

Love is service. 

A mother loves her child, and there is no use in arguing, because when she loves her child it can be seen (and if she doesn’t, it can be seen)

Spouses love each other when they put in effort to show love to each other

Siblings love each other when they make sure to exhibit love for one another

Strangers display their love for other strangers, for the needy, for the lonely, for the random asshole that needs a bit more concern… When one person feels love in their person for another, they act. It’s used as a catch-all go-to default setting type of thing, but so often it’s being used to imply some type of obligation… (Of course I love you, now do what I want)

But…

If I love you, it means I will help you, I will work for you, I will go out of my way to give you a part of me and whether or not there is any tangible return from you, my love is being shown. 

Love is service. Love is given. Love is acted. Love is Eve and her children are the gifts of nature. Love is an apple tree heavy with fruit. Love is a flowing, ice-cold stream of clear water, waiting for you to drink. Love is gifts left on a doorstep with no ‘from’ address. Love is the unnamed stranger changing a tire and leaving without a word. 

Love is not a weapon… Love is a choice, a decision, an action, a thought that brings a smile. 

Love is, it just is, love is. 

Love must be. “

Ready, Set, Go

My life isn’t ending, but my life is beginning. 

I reserved a trailer. I put in notice at my rental and my work. I have opportunities lined up, and soon (fingers crossed) will have a new place to live waiting. 

We’ll drive for two days and leave the mountains behind. Going to the desert by the ocean, where our hearts have been waiting for our return. 

A lot of life has been terrifying and unsure. This is exhilarating and unsure, but I’m not scared. I’m not worried. I know that whatever happens next, I have my life in my strong and capable hands, and I’m going to succeed. I’m going to win, with my Queen by my side and my sails unfurled. 

Set a course for glory, 

We’re coming. 

Crashing Waves

I feel my soul in those rocks, 

Standing against the onslaught.

Eventually everything is eroded, 

But for now, I stand, 

Eventually everything is washed away and worn down to grains of sand

Rage, I yell to the ocean, 

Give me all you’ve got

Give me all I can take

I will stand, as it crashes on me, 

I will wear away one tiny piece at a time

Let It Hurt

Twelve years, and twenty. 

Two decades ago I came to Colorado, the next stop on a journey, I thought. 

I had no plans to stay here. 

I came for a job, and a place to live, and I had no idea how life would go, 

I came from a place I didn’t like, to a place I didn’t like, and I assumed I would keep going after a short time. 

I had no home, I thought. 

I started working at my current job twelve years ago, today. I’ve been through a lot of life at Crystal Courier, I’ve learned a lot and grown more. Today is my last anniversary with the company. I’m happy to be going home to California, but there’s definitely some strong emotional activity going through me, right now. This company has been a huge part of me, for a dozen years. Highs and lows, good and bad, I have had a support system in place, and I’m leaving. 

The call of saltwater and sunshine is beating on my soul, the memory of a childhood spent unaware of how amazing the place I was in truly was. California has it’s bad parts, and loads of issues, but it has my heart. I was born in Salinas, grew up in the Monterey Peninsula area and later in Humboldt County. I have missed the redwoods and the beaches, the foods and the scenery, for so long that I have accepted that longing as part of myself. 

I have grown comfortable with the homesick angst, waking up thousands of miles away from home and visiting old haunts in my dreams. I have hurt without noticing for so long that I can’t remember what it’s like to feel anything without pain. 

I am packing up my life, my kids and my wife, and we are going to the home I’ve almost forgotten. 

I’m going, going,

Back, back,

To Cali. 

This may not go the way I want it to, and I know that life will happen. I know we will have hard times, we will face challenges. 

My darling wife and I will face them, together, on familiar ground. 

We will make our life work, in a place where we are natural. A place we can call home. 

I’m nervous about details, 

But I am so happy to be going home.