a bow-tied gentleman’s smiling introduction

Anger is sadness. It’s sorrow with a switchblade and it burns in a heart as deep as love doth as it stabs through the moil. Anger is our sadness that has not been heard, but which shall now be known even if its sound is stoic silence where once laughter trailed the whispering sea-breeze of crimson summer evenings. Our anger is an affirmation of self, a mountaintop declaration of being as was Whitman’s barbaric yawp, and it is as misunderstood as the black-pit pain that’d birthed its red-winged vengeance. With many years passed since its damning recrimination, uncovered in a new life that is the old life forgotten, its silver steel still gleams, reflecting in the pupils as does lost-youth’s memory; decades-old blood pools on its surface, wet and shining. If love is the medallion saint of fools, then anger is our god, able to grant forgiveness and in forgiveness’s tall-walled absence, a penance to be paid. It is anger and love, both, that make us complete, exposing our undisguised humanness, each teaching us of the other, a bow-tied gentleman’s smiling introduction and an open-arm invitation to the hooded hangman’s razor-rope gallows. It is here, when twisting in grisly silhouette ‘neath the crimson’s last return, that we know– hatred does not exist, has never lived, but in the minds of those who’d give lesser notions deity.

young vagabonds

It was then, when we’d been tussled young vagabonds– that I’d learned of words, their promises, and their treason. I remember the first beige-paper letter I ever wrote to you and the stark room– where a crimson-glow sun bled out inside a narrow window that didn’t open and the walls stood tall and blank beside me. I’d only wanted you to be where I was then, or I with you– both of us rescued from this world, every detail shared.

I didn’t love you yet.

I mailed the letter from somewhere in Kansas; on the road, there ain’t nothin’ but nothin’, and more of it over the horizon that never arrives, only changes– nothin’ but screaming thoughts and haunted voices, and whispers– your song and your laughter gave solace between the rumble-thump of tires and the red needle dropping low.

Finally home, four dark walls made me miss the horizon, its rising hem that teases our wishfulness as we give chase, right foot to the floor. Each letter was several pages longer than the last. I wrote to you for hours every night by the heat of a yellowed bulb. Oh, the places we traveled, in my mind– we danced again, but this time sober, aware, inside the moment’s fire.

I still have your letters here, somewhere; I know better than to read them now.

love’s cherishment

Poetry is too impersonal to convey love’s cherishment. The trouble is in the words themselves. Each would wish to be a god, but there are no gods. There is only seduction, shouted into the soul’s echoing well, when we’d wish’d compassion’s whisper.

Can you remember– the lake’s shimmer? Aye, the way the water held the sky above us, and kept us from the darkness below– Our conversations, our silence, both brimming, and entwined, each a continuation of the other, seeming never to end. To the east, there was a fence, broken by vandals, its opening wide enough to crawl through. I’d ventured inside once, finding another lake beyond the tree line, but without you there, after you’d left, all I could hear was the calls of the birds. I’d watched a swirling-purple sky yield to night’s cruel obsidian, and I spoke to you, without speaking. I’d whispered your true name, that which’d been known only to me, that which’d been told only in silence. Nothing stays the same.

Secretly Sad, Fairy Tales of Happiness

“Happiness comes and goes. It’s enough, and perhaps better, to simply seek contentedness.”

The words came during a conversation on life, and have stayed with me, for decades now, and every once in a while I revisit the notion to test its truth as it relates to my own life. He was right, of course. Happiness is measured in moments, not lifetimes, and if we’re lucky, there are enough of these moments that we find some level of contentedness that is somewhere above zero.

The suicide rate is higher than the murder rate by more than 30%. That’s right. We kill ourselves more readily than we kill each other, and we do a lot of the latter. Though, why we kill each other is a topic for another article. Why we kill ourselves at a rate of 11.3 per 100,000 in population, why nearly 7% of adults suffer from Major depressive disorder in a given year, why one in eight adolescents have clinical depression, those are the questions asked here.

I watched a show recently about thrill seekers, people who jump off cliffs and similar activities. Contrary to the larger-than-life persona which they wore, the show suggested that some, but not necessarily all of these people, suffered from low levels of Dopamine, which is one of the chemicals of the brain which make us feel happy, like everything is going to be okay again. The adrenaline rush of jumping off of high places gifted them with a return to an emotional normal which the rest of us enjoy– but do we?

And what of the rest of us, those who don’t jump off cliffs wearing colorful wing-suits for fun? Others suffering from depression might be more likely to jump without a parachute, if they even felt like climbing a cliff or a bridge to jump. That’s a lot of work, and the jagged stones hurt when climbing. We hurt enough already. There are easier ways to die, dying slowly, without having shared the internalized pain or ever finding an effective remedy, being the most common.

And why are we depressed? Even if not included in the clinically depressed statistics, whatever clinically depressed might actually mean, many are simply sad, plagued by a lingering melancholy which returns in our solitude, measuring happiness in mere fleeting moments. Everything is great, though, fucking wonderful, in fact.

We, as Americans, are rich, filthy rich by comparison to much of the world. People in other parts of the world watch each other cough up poverty’s dry dust to pass the time and make fried protein-patty meals from swarming gnat-like bugs. We have cable TV, dammit. We have fast food for our quick grease and calorie fixes. If we are able to afford it, or if our credit cards aren’t maxed out, we have fancy dinners, movies, massages, parties, and shopping for fabulous, shiny-new stuff in palatial malls.

We have drugs and alcohol to help us forget, or to help us to be social, to help us pretend we aren’t so damned sad. Still, the melancholy returns for many, like the next morning’s hangover. What the fuck is wrong with us? Maybe our money is boring the hell out of us, making us sadder as we’d wished it to fill an unnamed void. Maybe it just isn’t enough to be rich, by comparison.

We feed ourselves constantly, and not just food. We devour love, and religion, ethereal hopeful-hippies who hide in the sky. We consume material things, and state of the art entertainment, and self-help books written by gurus who are also secretly sad, and we already know this; nothing ever fully satisfies.

In a recent conversation, someone had referred to us, we fragile and moody humans, as chemical beings. Maybe she was right. Maybe the still-not-understood-by-science chemical reactions going on in our bodies all day, every day, are to blame. Maybe we have a deficiency of some sort. If we ever figure out the cure for our deficiency, someone should bottle that shit and sell it. Though the money won’t make them happier.

We’re just sad; we can’t figure out why, and we don’t want to talk about what’s eating at us all the damned time. It makes us feel ashamed to feel so sad, often without an apparent reason, even though many others feel the same. Maybe we aren’t as alone as we often feel, and if we only knew, we’d feel less sad.

Okay, so it’s not a poem, but I found this in the rubble of a website I’d abandoned. Sharing it here. Be well. 

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