Caught In The Moment

 

When the waves roll in

we shall not resist.

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She drove through the misty mountains for what seemed like eternity,
but her face looked the same.
Clouds sat heavy in the cactus,
headlights cut the fog,
humidity soft in her chest.
It was a long drive but not because of the road.
It was a long drive because of the place.

After a lifetime at highway speed
she found the turn
and just like that
the rest of the world could not follow.

She cut the engine and saw him standing on the porch.
He’s here, she thought, and that was all.

**********

They played mind games on the lawn while the Milky Way shuffled its hand.
She sat with him on the couch in the empty house.

They spoke of water and of life.
They spoke of power and of freedom.
They spoke of fire and the way of the mind.
They spoke of everything and of nothing.

Her eyes were open and she saw the things he could not hide no matter how dim the lights.
What began as a respectable distance became no distance at all.

**********

He stood in the breeze of the window,
not anything but himself.
With no good explanation she wrapped herself around him, close, but looking away.
She felt his hand in the small of her back and the other in her hair,
“What’s on your mind, Love?”
Don’t call me that unless you mean it, she thought but did not answer.
Tears rolled down her face and there was no way to stop the breath from catching in her chest.
She knew he noticed.
She saw her life going by, conflict stung her eyes, so many angles to separate the light but not a single word that could be spoken.
She waited for him to push her away, to free himself of her embrace and go back the way he had come.
She waited but he stayed and finally she said, “Sometimes my life seems like such a fantastic mess and sometimes it seems so simple.”
He didn’t know what she meant by that but he knew he was being called so he held her.
There was nowhere else he needed to be.

**********

She slept but he didn’t.
He watched over her the way he always had.
He knew she was playing her cards close, choosing her words carefully.
He didn’t know what was left unsaid but he looked on anyway to see that she was safe in the night.
He was there when the demons approached, when her brow furrowed and her body tensed.
He reached over and put a hand on her chest.
She didn’t wake but pulled him around her like a blanket.
Peace was restored and he could never let go.

**********

He stood on the curb and watched her drive away.
She had slowed down to reach out and take his hand one more time.
He didn’t tell her goodbye, wouldn’t tell her goodbye, but the time had still come for them to part ways.
He watched her leave and went back inside.
He sat on their bed in the middle of the universe.
His heart was coming undone.
It wasn’t the first moment
and it wasn’t the last.


The Lumberjack

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There once was a young lumberjack who was very skilled at what he did.  This lumberjack was so strong and so talented that he could cut down nearly twice the number of trees in one day as anyone else and he was widely regarded as the best in the land.  All the girls wanted to get with him and all the boys wanted to be him.  He was happy and proud of himself. He was comfortable in the idea that he would always be at the top of his game.

The other lumberjacks had a great respect for him so they studied his techniques endlessly in hopes of some day being like him.

As the years passed the once young, but now aging, lumberjack began to notice that he was no longer cutting down twice the number of trees as everyone else because everyone else was cutting down more.  Not only that but, even though he was still working just as hard as he always had, his actual yield was going down.  Every day it seemed he worked harder than the day before but his work continued to decline.

After awhile, not only was he no longer the industry leader but he found himself at the back of the pack in last place.  Even the newbies were cutting down more trees than him!

With great exasperation, he would complain to his friends, “I am doing the exact same thing that made me a champion but now I can’t even keep up!”

At the end of the day, the lumberjack could always be found drowning his sorrows at a sketchy watering hole that stank of grease traps and toilet sanitizer. It was on the dark side of the tracks and fly paper hung from the moose head by the door. Men with dull hair whose wives never saw a paycheck and women with skinny legs and no last name sat mesmerized in the glow of Deuces Wild, hoping to win but planning to lose.  It was a sad and predictable scene at the bar called Diminishing Returns but it was still a step above going home. One night while the lumberjack was taking up space and once again regaling everyone with his tale of woe, the bartender’s ears started to bleed so he leaned over and very quietly asked him one question.

“When was the last time you sharpened your ax?”


Home

Sometimes things don’t work out.

No, sometimes they don’t work out at all.

And, sometimes, it seems heartbreaking.

Things were not as I thought I wanted them to be.

As it turns out, I thought wrong…

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Once upon a time on a mountain in the sky,
Arizona burned bright with flames a mile high.

And it waited.

It waited while a boy stood at the crossroads, asking for a sign.
Caught in a fluorescent bath of indecision, he looked at his watch, he looked back at his car, he looked at the suitcase by his feet.
It should be so easy, just get on the plane.
“I prefer to be in the plane”, he thought to himself, but his feet still didn’t move.
He thought of his dream, turbulence in crossing the Mississippi River.
A blaze of glory with a sudden stop.
Going down in flames to die a proverbial death.
Something’s gotta give.

He stood in the parking garage and considered his other dreams…

Once upon a time on a mountain in the sky,
with thorny arms and hot breath,
Arizona changed his mind.

“You don’t have to take your life at face value”, he would breath in the words from her mouth as she said it to him later, though he heard it then.
He tried to reach out and grasp the glow of her heat but it was on him already.
In him already.
Compelled his thoughts.
Already.

He didn’t know what he knew while he stood at the corner of uncertainty, not exactly, but a spider moved in it’s web and the wind stirred the surface of the water.

“What if I told you that if you get on this plane nothing will ever be the same?”
He heard the question though it too was yet to be asked.
“What if I told you that you can’t go home again?”
“What if I told you that you never left?”

Once upon a time on a mountain in the sky,
a silent creature in Arizona waited with unblinking eyes.
Warm sand against it’s belly, in the shadow of a tree.
Without worry.
Patiently.

Xavier locked his car and picked up his suitcase, this is what fate feels like.
It was time to go.
Home.


A Room Down The Hall

I would concede that my descriptions over simplify reality exactly to the extent that they are misinterpreted.

I had wanted the room with the windows but it didn’t work out that way.  Instead, my plants and I have taken refuge in the walk-in closet where we sit around a bare light bulb trading ghost stories.  While I have finally succeeded in wrecking my marriage, there remains only one way out of this mess and that is to go through it.

When I was younger, I used to keep snakes, an endeavor that may or may not have required weekly trips to the pet store to bring home mouse happy meals.  Snakes tend toward the strong, silent type and can be difficult to get along with because, lacking the gift of facial expression or the ability to learn sign language, communication is not their strong point.

“Are you hungry?”, I would ask my serpentine friend and then wait patiently for a vision or a smoke signal.  Once I thought I heard it’s forked tongue say, “Stick your hand in here and find out”, but in reality no response was forthcoming.

Unlike their devilish human counterparts, snakes do not kill for sport which meant that on many occasions the mice were left to their own devices to kill themselves.  An unmotivated reptile will watch unblinkingly as one panicked creature after the next would drown in the water bowl, die of dysentery or break it’s neck falling from the rafters, all in an attempt to escape a predator that didn’t want it in the first place.

Naturally, the plants were horrified on the evening I chose to share that little gem with them.

Some ghosts are living and some ghosts are dead.
Some books stay open,
after the final page has been read.
On a hot summer night, too hot for my bed,
I met a pigeon in a parking lot with an upside down head.

Unable to fly,
and with down-turned eyes,
it said:
These crumbs on the sidewalk are the stars in my sky.

When you talk to plants their leaves shimmer and quiver, curl and wither, depending on what you tell them.  Their bodies, like ours, consist mainly of water. Water that rises with the tide, sits like glass in the moonlight and rages in the wind. Water giveth, and water taketh away.  Water becomes the shape of it’s vessel.

Crowded in a tight circle, their sweet faces pale with incandescent light, the plants listen patiently to my stories but one by one they have to agree that this dim imitation is not the sun.  “We can’t live this way”, they tell me.

“I know”, I say, “but please hang on a little longer.  I will find us a new room with lots of windows very soon.”

They nod and say, “We hope we’re still here when you do.”


The Time In Between

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East Coast Ira walks in the leaves of autumn.
They smell like fall.
They smell like frost.
They smell like change.

He travels from one ocean to the other,
but water is water and land is land.
Time is time,
but the time in between has slipped away.

He arrives in the last colors to fade with the sun.

It’s his face in the mirror, but not the way he remembers.
Better, maybe.
Sharper.
These days, it seems, are accelerated.

What’s out there pales in comparison to what’s in here
and seems to stretch into eternity, but just when he thought it would go on forever..
He hears her voice in a shell.
The time, the time is now.
She loves him, the Devil loves him and he remembers walking in the sand with her.
Here, to this spot where water is water and land is land
and the time in between has slipped away.

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Books About God

“It grieves me that you wake up frightened”, sayeth the book about god.

Does god grieve for my fear?

I don’t know.
How would I know?

But I do, wake up frightened that is.
Everyday.
Frightened that the hummingbirds will not come back.
Frightened that while the flowers bloomed and rejoiced in the sun, I looked away.
Hopeful petaled faces waited for me until they could wait no longer.
Frightened that I’ll never find the downbeat to live in real time.
Frightened that I won’t get what I want,
and frightened that I will.
Frightened that I would wake up in an empty space.

The book about god says there is no empty space.
This god novelist sure has got my number.

She knows what I know.

She wakes up in a pool of her own regret and terror.
Everyday she thinks something about this familiar dirty window is comforting.
Something about the dark recess of the house, where the air is still and the little dog sleeps, something about the smell of coffee in the morning seems like home.

But is it?

Is it the one and only,
or only one of many?

She knows what I know
and she still writes books about god.


Parables About Nothing

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He said I was savage.
He doesn’t know what that means.

***

A hermit was walking in the woods and came across a coral snake.

The snake had been bitten by a cat and was badly injured.

The hermit felt bad for snake and took it home to nurse it back to health.

Months passed and the snake healed but the hermit had become very attached to the snake in the meantime.

One day, while having some special time together, the snake bit the hermit in the face.

The hermit picked up a rock to crush the snake’s head and cried, “how could you?!?!”

The snake never blinked. “Why are you crying?,” it asked, “Everyone knows that snakes make bad pets.”

With rock still in hand, the hermit pondered this while the snake crawled back to it’s home in the woods.

***

I don’t know who is who in this story.

Actually, I do.

I am both of them.


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