November 20

2016

war_is_peace_by_matthileo

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

One of my favorite parts of George Orwell’s classic, 1984, was the three slogans of the Ministry of Truth. I went on a dystopian bender last night, listening to the audio version of the book while I pounded beers and wondered if Big Brother was watching.

This book was required reading in my English Class. After the Patriot Act, it should have been required reading of every person in this country. My goal as a writer has always been to thought provoke. To have an impact of some sort.

To be dragged away, kicking and screaming, by the Thought Police.

There is so much political banter out there. We are saturated with it. I could line up with those shouting fascist at Trump and have my voice be lost in the crowd.  This is 2016.

WAR IS PEACE

We have been in a state of war for most of my natural-born life. The War on Terror started when I was in fifth grade. I remember finding out about the planes flying into the Twin Towers on the bus ride home.  I watched Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, all these old men give fiery speeches. In the name of democracy and preserving freedom. We were gonna rain down democracy like hot lead.

Everybody seemed so surprised to find out the government had tapped their phones. We just had to understand, there were certain concessions to be made if you wanted to live in safety.

Osama Bin Laden flashed across the nightly news, reminding us the concessions we made to our privacy were for good reason. When the ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ banner flew, some wondered why we were still in the Middle East. It was a new war now. We still waged a war on terror, but now we had spilled over into Iraq, to free them from another man flashed across the nightly news.

Foreigners, who spoke strange dialects and had hard-to-pronounce names. It was too easy to justify our hatred of people so vastly different from us. They forced their women to wear shrouds. It was disgusting. As we liberated the women and children, Osama’s face ran across the evening news.

When they caught Osama Bin Laden, I thought it would be over. Then, the ISIS terror began.

After years of trying to move out of the Middle East, I watched Rudy Giuliani, now soon to be a part of the presidential branch, go on stage with old men giving fiery speeches.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

Like I said, we had to give concessions in the name of freedom. We needed to understand the government wasn’t looking for us, just the bad guys among us. The NSA wire taps did little to bother us. The government wasn’t invading our privacy, they were insuring our safety. All insurance requires a small deductible.

We refresh our lives on Facebook. All our personal information, neatly databased with our likes and our dislikes. Our political affiliations. It is all there. Pictures of our homes and our cars. Our families. We built the database ourselves. The government didn’t even need to ask.

Before war in the Middle East, boarding a plane was easy. Too easy. There were stories of children sneaking on to planes and ending up halfway across the country.

As TSA pats me down and scrutinizes the mouthwash in my carry on, I am reminded this is for my protection. Because they flew planes into towers.

I return home after hours of being in lines and through X-rays. The bills pile up in my mailbox, reminding me I will need to work my nine to five until I die of old age if I ever want to get out of debt. Tens of thousands of dollars is what the Department of Education would like. It gave me the money so I could become educated.

Becoming educated in this country is costly. Not going to college means other options. A job where you will make under the cost of living and become indebted to society’s great welfare system or trading in tennis shoes for combat boots.

Every pair of combat boots comes with a free ticket to the world. To spread democracy and ensure the safety of our liberties at home.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

I struggle to understand how we got here. The Database’s newsfeed is a turf war between conservatives and liberals. These are the two parties we have divided into. The right and the left. They mudsling and ignore those in the middle. Reason has become a thing of the past.

I try to understand the policies going into effect. After fifteen years of war, we are now to possibly introduce a special registry for all of them. The Muslims. The root of our problems is no longer Osama Bin Laden, it is now the religion he carried. Our Christian State will not fall to The Muslim Invasion.

Swastikas have begun to show up on public buildings. The Nazi symbol sparks shouts of the threat of fascism.

Racist terms have begun to show up too. Why someone would feel emboldened to write the word ‘nigger’ on anything is lost on me. Is this one of the policies we voted for? Shrugging off hatred?

The president-elect is busy on the evening news.

“You want me to tell them to stop it? Fine, stop it.”

His reaction to the hatred bubbling over in the country is a shoulder shrug and fifteen minutes in hair and makeup.

People say they are tired of the political correctness. That it is what is ruining our country. We should be able to say what we feel, without caring about being conscientious of those around us. Accommodating those who are different from us with our vocabulary is too difficult. We want to write the word ‘Nigger’ on things.

It reminds me of the words I struggle with. Since a young age, everything was retarded or gay. As I grew older, I embraced political correctness as I moved ever so slowly to the left. I had friends who had kids with mental disabilities. To hear them hurt over the word ‘retard’ was enough for me to work on eliminating it from my vocabulary. Same with ‘Gay’.

It wasn’t retarded, gay, political correctness to me. It was trying to be a decent human being.

I scroll through the newsfeed, input my daily reminder to the database that I am a leftist. When the left and the right aren’t hurling swear words at each other, they are erasing ties to one another. Old friends, families, devoting themselves to party instead of one another.

It’s a dangerous time to be a leftist. Rudy Giuliani, the old men, they are all far right. It is their world again. I wonder what it means to those like me.

The violent clashes between left and right are coming to a cusp. I worry about sending my kid’s into this world. Will they be accosted? Demanded to show their loyalty? Handed a spray can and told to choose their side?

I lean my head back and listen to George Orwell’s radio version of 1984. A classic. It goes down as smooth as the beer I am drinking.

November 19

Twenty-five

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I will confess to a whimsical side. To oversized fur hunting caps, worn Caulfield-style, as I dance through crooked streets. In a crooked world. On crooked feet.

That isn’t for the sake of imagery. I remember laying in bed with my shoes attached together so as to fix my gait. Apparently my toes pointed in when they should point out. The braces kept me awake many nights as it attempted to fix my walk.

My hands these days are a bit hard. A bit rough. Unclean. A bit much. I take two ibuprofen to numb the pain. They pick up heavy objects and kids just the same. A certain kindness has settled into these mitts. I would call them old, but it might force someone to feel obligated to remind me of my age.

Twenty-five.

Well, these hands have battled in their days. They have fought against the world and haven’t been held enough. These hands they have built and destroyed. They’ve held life and know joy. They’ve broken bones and seen some dark, dark, places.

My hands softened a bit upon holding my firstborns. There is a lightness to their touch now. Ol’ meat gloves, cradling two five pound babies, realizing their calling was to hold and raise, not to destroy.

For twenty-five, these hands have been through a lot. They content themselves to rest upon a keyboard, gently typing out my thoughts. There are times I refuse to think, contenting myself to let my hands tell their story. They have felt the world and know well enough.

My turn, tiny little digits.

“He is talking to his hands!” whispers the audience. He is also creating fake audiences in his mind. This isn’t a blog post, it’s a play. A monologue. A gentle aside, where I reveal under these tattoos, I got a whole lotta heart.

Holden broke the barrier for a lot of us kids who would grow up and talk through writing. Introverts, our lot, tapping away or penning away into the night.

If you aren’t down with Holden, I ask you not to sit with us.

These hands have held many books. From growing up on Velveteen Rabbit to the RL Stine spooks that kept me up at night.

Maybe I didn’t have a mental disorder, maybe the book about the woman whose scarf kept her head and body together still gives me goosebumps!

Stories To Keep You Up At Night. Aptly named.

I ran through Harry Potter and Eragon. Let us not forget The Chronicles of Prydain or His Dark Materials.

I ran amuck with Harry. Rode Dragons with Eragon. Taran and I found ourselves. Lyra taught me how to fend for myself.

I breathed in the words from the page, begging them to take me to their special place. Underdogs, the lot of them. Fighting for a better world, with bigger responsibilities placed upon them than are just. But, fighting for a better world and against all odds.

In my young adulthood, I moved through A Million Little Pieces. When I found out he lied, fabricated, embellished, I giggled out a “Who hasn’t?”

You can fact check these words. All my stories bear witness, as I developed an ever so slight fear of Oprah.

These stories aren’t larger than life. I have had good friends die. I have lived my life with foolish lack of trepidation. Skipping through puddles, not worried about the cold.

Blowing lines in bathrooms and growing in a dirty world.

Finding fatherhood and fighting for a better world. It always seems against all odds.

I fantasize my own story. I have always fancied myself a comeback kid. Like Darren Shan, or the Baudelaires, facing tragedy with love and light.

And a little bit of fight.

I look in the mirror. Even for twenty-five, I look old. I see where the old lines will form, wondering when the grey I feel will show.

Some days, I worry I may never see my whimsical side again. The one that rattles off nonsense with such  delight. Who contents to rhyme instead of reason and ignores the seasons, wearing shorts in winter.

The Caulfield-style cap wearing son of a gun.

Then again, I remember these hands. They have lived and loved. Felt the love of a woman’s touch. Held little hands and dried out on the pages of a good book.

I remember series running through my mind. The characters I grew to love. The journeys they made. No, the journeys we made. Through Wrinkles in Time and Wardrobes, I chased fantasy down Rabbit Holes.

I stretch through my mind for other books I have read. So many books, so little time.

Then again, I remind myself, I’m only twenty-five.

November 18

Love-Stained Pages

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I have never known a woman to be more beautiful than after she has orgasmed. Maybe that is a bit risqué to say. A little inappropriate, sure.

But, there is a glow in flushed cheeks. A smile, carving away years at a time. The secret to a long life isn’t kale, it’s a good fuck.

In a world of memes and ten-second videos, the average reader’s attention span is probably too short for a long intimate conversation about anything, even if it is sex. So, in lieu of that I interrupt your read with some light poetry:

Well I found the girl of my dreams

Her face was in the tea leaves

The divination divined my destiny 

She was the girl for me 

Reminded of my yesterdays

Of love letters to Dorothy Gale

I’ve been baselining romance 

Since tender ages 

Growing up, I don’t think I knew one functional relationship. I lived in broken homes, with broken people. Surrounded by broken toys and broken dreams.

I snorted white picket fences before I snorted pretty white powder. Free fell through A Shadow Of The Wind, screaming at Clara to love Daniel. If you haven’t romanticized, and your attention span hasn’t fallen to that of a gnat, go read the book.

Another poem for my Attention Deficit brethren:

She is a beautiful mess

Like paint splattered against blank canvas 

She talks about people like they are places

Carefully discovered, traveled and intimately known

I think her feet leave heart imprints and stardust in their wake

She was born with the word ‘love’ etched on her skin

You may chase her, but she will never be yours, my friend 

I smile a faded smile at my son, wondering if he will heed my words when I tell him to never grow up. I’ve been staying up late at night, feeding my addictions. Shots of whiskey chased with poems by Bukowski. Drinking in the poetry, letting it kill me inside. I never got the nihilist memo and my cup is half full. Of hopes. Of dreams. Of love.

I hid in small spaces filled with uncertainty. The screaming reverberated around the house. That’s not love. Even when I was young, I knew. Love doesn’t equate to holes in the wall.

When I put my fist through a wall. Nevermind. Now isn’t the time. Another poem, shall we?

Find me around the bend

On a bender, fading fast

Pick me up from the rubble 

Of my own self destruction

I’ve been burning

I’ve been boozing

I’ve been missing you

Clean me up

Lord knows I need a shave

You can nick my skin 

Just to remind me what it feels like 

To be alive again

Well my blood is thin

As my weak constitution

And I’ve been fighting with my demons

I aint afraid to admit 

I’ve been losing

But find me round the river bend

Soaked in fear and sinking feelings

Pull me up and dust me off 

When I go spiraling, friend

Take me home 

Take me home

I’m afraid I won’t last 

If you don’t

Take me home

“Never grow up.” He smiles at me. He doesn’t know how serious I am.

I used to put holes in the wall. Growing up but not actually doing any emotional growing, I punched the wall. Until the fateful day I hit a stud and broke my knuckles in two. A divine intervention, stopping me in my tracks as I screamed out the word ‘fuck’. It was many years ago, but on cold days like today it feels like it was only yesterday. The pain lingers, reminding me to walk away.

I was born with passion intrinsically written in my DNA. Learning to live with fire is learning how not to spontaneously combust.

I have fought, with passion. I have fucked, with passion. I have lived, with passion. And as I retire myself to a fifty hour work week and fatherhood, I have written, with passion.

Is it time for another poem? I may have one or two left.

She said she was but blood and bones

Skin stitched together my scars and woe

As with most women, she was so much more

I saw her like the first ray of sunlight

Cutting through the air in shades of crimson 

A visage unable to capture in frames

Her beauty could best be seen

In person or in tea leaves

I have never known another life than my own. Simple statements like that keep me from judging anyone. Flawed, broken, but alive. The last part, I have to constantly remind myself.

Alive.

I am alive. I was born to feel things a little too much. I fed myself servings of love growing up. It got me through the uncertainty and the constant fights.

This is a mess. If you take nothing from it but a book recommendation, I wouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes I talk aloud in empty rooms. Saying things I long to hear. Words I need. Simple statements like ‘I am alive’ to remind myself not to slip away and die.

One of these sleepless nights, I may write that book. Syrupy and sweet, pouring my own love like whiskey on love-stained pages. One last poem to say goodbye:

I’m tired. 

Yeah, my bloods a little weak. 

I had a fire but I feel poured down the sink. I need to get in touch with reality,

 two feet on the ground just isn’t enough. 

I’m trying. 

Trying a bit too much to keep myself at evens. 

I’m at odds with myself.  

Working through a shaggy demeanor like burning the candle at both ends

in the dead of the night. 

She was right about my constitution when she shouted and she screamed. 

And though her knees were bloody, 

it was my heart aching that day. 

The biggest lie I told was “I’m okay”,

and though I know apologies won’t suffice; 

I’ll still try. 

The man in the mirror doesn’t look like me. 

But, he sure has my brown eyes. 

These clothes don’t fit quite like they used to.

 I guess they fit alright. 

It’s not a defeated demeanor just when you know you’ve had enough. 

I’m sloshing through,

 and sipping, too. 

The seasons change around me. 

I’ve been up.

 I’ve been down. 

I’ve been all over the place

I’ve been in love

I’ve been in lust

I’ve been lost and found 

Found and lost 

But, I still believe 

And though my constitution may be a little weak 

I still believe in us

In tea leaves 

In love 

November 17

KathrynHolidaySucks

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“Are you in these private groups where KathrynHolidaySucks is trending?”

Blunt. Simple. To the point. My first conversation with Kathryn ever was her asking if I participated in groups that were attacking her.

Kathryn is a Trump supporter. I would go as far as to say she is a devotee. Because of it, she has been labeled a bigot and attacked again and again by fellow bloggers.

I will clear the air right now. I voted for Hillary. I campaigned, rather openly, against Trump. I am more disenfranchised Bernie kid than Clinton supporter. I felt the best chance for a continuation of progressive policies was through a democrat-ran White House. Those were my reasons. I felt the country would simply be in better hands with Clinton. I still think so.

The fact is, that isn’t going to happen. For the next four years we will be under a republican reign with Trump leading the way. Do I know what it will bring? Nope. Am I hopeful of it being what ‘Makes America Great Again’? Not really.

But, this isn’t about political affiliations. Well, I guess it is all about them actually. Because Kathryn reached out to me due to the fact that I was, in her words, left-leaning.

I am not a part of these groups where KathrynHolidaySucks is trending. I wouldn’t care to be a part of them, either.

I have been in my fair share of blogger groups. For awhile, I ran one I became rather proud of. These days, I tend to shy away from them. Drama, gossiping and public-shaming is best left to high school and fantasy football. It just isn’t my thing anymore, if it ever was.

The problem we left-leaners have created for ourselves is an inability to have civil discourse. We write off others for their opinions and beliefs, holding our own opinions in such high regard we dare not risk having them shaken by dialogue.

The echo chamber is real folks.

In a post-election world, it is time to grit teeth and extend hands across aisles. In the Catholic Church, there is a moment during mass where you shake hands or hug those around you while wishing them peace.

“Peace be with you.” The words burn coming out, as I hug an in law. It isn’t an enjoyable experience, yet it is an important one. It is a reminder that although we may never see eye to eye, in this world we are forever connected. Through children and loved ones. And for their sake, we wish one another peace.

Kathryn Holiday and I don’t agree on a lot of things. When I catch her in my newsfeed, often times I shake my head at her views of the world. But, I continue to keep her in my newsfeed.

Why?

Because it is important to see opposing views. It’s important to surround yourself with people who disagree with you.

It’s important to try to understand one another. Maybe even respect one another. Because we all have loved ones and children in this game.

As adults, we are supposed to be above this sort of stuff. Facebook isn’t your personal burn book to trash other people’s names. It’s disturbing and disappointing.

Kathryn Holiday is my friend. Maybe more because the things we disagree on than the things we see the same way.

From my time in the blogosphere, I have seen how nasty it is. People take and hashtag your life struggles for personal enjoyment. They mock you in their little corners, acting holier than thou. I have been a part of it. I didn’t like it then. I didn’t like it when I left all the blogger groups I was in and watched people suddenly disappear from my notifications.

I didn’t like being told I shouldn’t have left a group, before a friendship was clearly ended.

Make no mistake. I have been a part of it. I once told one blogger to cut another blogger’s hair. I said it jokingly. It didn’t make it right. To those ends, I am sorry.

I think we sometimes get so caught up in our opinions and views, comfortable in our surroundings, and begin to become a lot of Mean Girls. I will be honest, I would rather associate with a Trump supporter than a pretentious bitch any day.

And the use of the word ‘bitch’ here isn’t because blogging is a predominantly female world. When I joked my friend should cut another blogger’s hair, I was being a bitch myself.

Kathryn Holiday is my friend. Chances are you are my friend, too.

There’s no place for this bullshit in adulthood. Between bills and babies, you’d think there wasn’t any room for bitchiness.

I’ve been wrong before. Like when I thought Clinton was a pantsuit away from the presidency. It still hurts. It’s too soon.

When they go low, we go high, right?

If Kathryn is reading this, Steve Bannon can suck a bag of dicks. You’re cool though.

 

You can read Kathryn here. She is a very good writer. 

November 16

Effigy

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I split wood for the fire. Tonight will be a bonfire.  

We are burning ourselves in effigy. 

I have soaked my insides in flammables. One hundred proof as I step barefoot on the pyre. ‘Don’t forget me’ the words mouthed softly into the night to no one in particular. 

Don’t forget me. 

The words freeze in the air like silent scream. I close my eyes, in hopes of opening them and finding this is but a dream. 

There’s no waking up tonight. 

*****

At the height of my young adult adolescence, I swallowed a handful of Klonopin and chased it with beer after beer. I don’t remember much from the night, random cups being raised to lips and projectile vomiting around a room. When I came to, I had lit ablaze half a dozen friendships. Laughing, I reached for a half-empty cup of beer and washed the bile back down my throat.

I ripped through a few years of my teens like a bong, fancying myself a Mr. Goodtime. For the most part I was. The problem is, for every good time there was, I surely felt the drop. Like a slow-dripping in an empty tin, the lack of moral fiber made a loud *clank* as the drop hit my hollow home.

I read years later about people dying from drinking. It wasn’t just Amy Winehouse. It was Ashley, who had babies at home. She drank herself to death one night, leaving two kids without a mom.

It struck a chord with me. Not because she and I were close. We had made-out a few times, texted a few times and never got around to being anything more than drunk and horny at the same parties. After I began to dry out from the copious amounts of drugs and booze, I guess she didn’t.

It reminded me how close to death we lived back in the day.

There was the time Sean swore I smoked crack with him. After chasing a Xanax bar with beer after beer, I woke up dazed and confused, unsure of how long I had been out. As I emerged from room, people shouted, “You’re alive!”

One day I will inevitably have to sit my children down to give them the drugs are bad speech. I don’t know how fire and brimstone it will be. There will be know “IF you do drugs, you will get addicted and start sucking dick for them until you die in a desolate hole and kill your mother with a broken heart.”

It also probably won’t be “Drugs are bad, but really, REALLY, fun.”

I don’t know the first step in educating my children about drugs. I know I did my fair share.

Maybe I will tell them for every night I survived, someone else died. That’s how it feels sometimes.

Ashley wasn’t the only one who died. Sean overdosed a few times. He had a few friends die. I saw an old roommates face show up in the local paper for selling H to the kids. Fucking junkie, selling the same shit that he once told me made him hate himself. He might not have died to anyone but me, but he’s long gone may he not rest in peace.

I drove drunk and smashed the car. Cam drove drunk and never got to graduate high school.

It isn’t enough surviving yourself.

I toss the word ‘addict’ around on my tongue, testing out it’s textures. I still don’t have the appetite to swallow it. It doesn’t feel like a word for those who survive themselves.

Some get to where I am in twelve steps. It took me a mile.

It always felt like just a phase to me. For some, it was life. We weren’t having a good time. We were trying to die.

Burning ourselves in effigy.

November 15

Pardon Me While I Burst

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I stand in line for pardon, begging to be forgiven for past sins. As I meekly approach the hour of judgement, at the slow pace of twenty-five to life, I wonder what the executioner has in store for me. If there was a witch in the middle of the woods, who could tell me how it ends, would I seek her out?

My friends and I explored the woods many days in my youth, as darkness creeped into the sky. We never found her cabin, but I found some peace of mind. In the stillness on the trails, I gently winded through what seemed like endless thoughts. Past swamps, I wondered if I would ever be a man I was hoping to be?

Would I settle down or chase beatnik Kerouac dreams? My soul is wandering and old. It is not destined for any one location, but a sailor sojourning through the sea. As I laid my head down at night, I found the oceans of the depths of my mind. Ever expanding horizons to conquer. From land, to sky, I traveled across synapses hoping to find a place to call home.

To sleep perchance to dream. I am recycling lines. Both others and mine. My soul appropriates as it grows ever older, wandering and wondering if it will ever find a home. When walking through the stillness wasn’t working, I found myself pulling shoes from feet, to walk barefoot. I needed to feel. Anything. Even the pain of thorn in the balls of your feet is something to keep you grounded. Keep you present. To keep you from brambling through the thickets of your brain.

I ask the Good Lord to wash my feet. I ask for judgement, but demand to be free. I am not looking for God, I am looking for a witch in the woods to tell me my lot in life. To cast bones and rattle chains. To show me my colored strand in the fabric of this place. To show me where the shears will decide my fate.

I stand in line because I see others doing so. Asking for penance is not my style. I am fire and brimstone. A heretic of the modern worlds. As they preach for peace, I can be found like the snake in the Garden of Eden.

“Let it burn” I hiss.

Let it burn. I am not of this world. To me, they are the aliens. Abject in thoughts. Minds sickened, subconscious drunk on reality tv.

“Let it burn” I begin to chat. “Burn it to the ground.” 

I miss the days searching the woods. Before technological chains kept us inside. I miss the Kerouac dreams I keep recycling when I write.

A longing for a cup of coffee and wayward skies.

I turn the volume on the music up, little by little. I will drown my thoughts tonight. I don’t want to explore tonight lest I drown. In thoughts of lighting this world on fire and laughing as it burns down. I am no longer gently winding, the waters are choppy and I begin to move faster and faster.

Faster.

FASTER.

At a frenetic pace, I am crashing through the woods. Wildlife startled, I am searching for the witch.

“When will I be free of this mind!” I scream.

Laughter, soft and sinister. I am past the caveats and closer to danger.

“WHEN WILL I BE FREE OF THIS LIFE?” I bellow!

Somebody sedates me. I sip the rotgut and begin to slow my pace. I sip the fire water and slowly I fill fine. I am pulled from the woods, given proper shower and shave. Someone’s hand on my back, I am gently moved forward. I stare with dead eyes, asking to be saved.

November 15

Beauty

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I contend I may never be a beautiful writer. The one who has words dancing along the screen. Awe-inspiring, like ballet dancer pirouetting through my mind. My words are stripped, naked and raw, for inspection and reflection. Bits of myself, unapologetic and open.

I fear I may never find an alleyway tucked between busy streets. An escape plan and a cup of coffee. The bustle moving around; I will forever be pulled with the crowd. Even if it is kicking and screaming, I may never find that quiet-tucked-in-alleyway home.

My mind percolates as the coffee brews. It takes me to the edges of despair. Babe, I ain’t gone over yet. I stare out over cliff, dangling one foot and hoping a gust of wind doesn’t sweep me to my demise.

Babe, it ain’t killed me yet. 

My essential oils are the smells of fire and chemical reactions. Nicotine, creating emphysema halos above heads on a late night. Lips dipped in whiskey and slow tunes to set the mood. I want to out smoke, out drink, and out shine the moon. Chasing the stars from the sky as cups spill over; drowning out the night.

I want words to make you fall in love. A spell-wrapped stanza, quivering as it drips. A shiver as I crawl in. Inside you. Down your spine. Causing goosebumps up your sides and down your arms. I want to be the tragic quote, causing star-crossed lovers to fall into one another’s arms.

Kiss and dance. Spin her round and lift him up. Do your stuff, Love, do your stuff.

Long have I been a prisoner of my mind. I lay shackled to a long lost romanticism of words. Voracious is my appetite. For those who don’t know, it means I always want more. I am hungry for love and lust, as Shakespearean thoughts spin tragedy into love.

It’s tragic in this mind, but I call it home.

I try to blood let my thoughts. There are pieces of paper hidden around this home, with words scrawled, barely legible, as I let it out a little at a time. I am not filled with books, I am filled with time. And tales. And meter.

And rhyme.

I am the songwriter who couldn’t sing, putting simple heartache to chord. There is no music, but you should be listening for the verse.

I carry my pain simply, like Johnny Cash singing Hurt.

I would go as far as to say I am the Man in Black of words, burning in a ring of fire. The world needs beauty, but that will never be me. I am bare naked in my words and the scars catch the light. If breakdown is your beauty, then maybe I am your guy.

As the coffee percolates my thoughts, the ballet dancer begins to pirouette through time.

November 15

Tomorrow’s World

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As blood poured down my face, I activated the camera on my phone and snapped a picture. Being kicked in the face had it’s perks.

Only moments before, I was on the ground letting out an ugly howl/shriek/cry as I clutched my face. By the lightning pain shooting through my face, I could tell my nose was broken. I had gotten into a fight with three guys and decided to take one to the ground. You don’t win three on ones, you just pick someone to hurt as badly as possible before you get your ass stomped. I’ve been in enough fights to know it is nothing like the movies. People don’t come at you one at a time. They swarm, punching and grabbing you from every which direction.

When the first big guy threatened me with a good time, I gladly obliged him. Connecting with a clean right he didn’t see coming, I followed it up with a left before I felt the next guy grab me. Shimmying out of my shirt, I swung wildly before making my own grab for someone. As I took one to the ground, I figured the end would be soon. I began throwing as many elbows and fists into the dude’s face as fast as possible.

The first punch to the back of the head did nothing to stop my swinging. When an uppercut came, I rolled away hoping that would be enough. As a boot made impact with my ribs, I wanted to laugh. If I wasn’t gasping for breathe from being kicked in the ribs, I might of. Clutching my now bruised ribs, I made the one and only mistake of the night. I left my face unguarded. As the boot connected with my nose, the searing pain blinded me.

I couldn’t tell you how long I laid there mixing blood and tears into the dirt, but when I got up most of the people had cleared out.

I didn’t care about the bruised ribs. Or the broken face. My mouth filled with blood, I cared about taking a selfie.

Many years ago, as a kid I followed some pretty heavy metal bands on Myspace. I remembered this one lead singer who had a profile pic of him with blood running down his face. I don’t know why, but I always wanted a photo like that. It seemed like the perfect picture to describe how I felt. Bloodied, broken, but smiling. It captured my daily struggle with life.

Snapping that selfie was like crossing a life goal off my list.

“Are you taking a fucking selfie?” Someone said, half horrified, half laughing.

There is a certain madness I know I carry. To take a picture moments after being sprawled out in the dirt is insanity. But, I was alive. A bit broken, but alive nonetheless.

There is a line I love from the movie Green Street Hooligans. Once you’ve taken a few punches and realize you’re not made of glass, you don’t feel alive unless you’re pushing yourself as far as you can go. 

Maybe part of my problem is the romanticism I wrapped violence in growing up. In today’s world, that isn’t acceptable. But, when I was growing up, fighting was something you did.

As a boy, I fought because I was the only white kid in an all-Mexican neighborhood. When I moved to Connecticut, I fought because I was angry and having a hard time assimilating. If you have never been West Coast to East Coast, you wouldn’t understand the shift. People are nicer out west. The east is rife with stuck up folks who wouldn’t know politeness if it hit them in the face. So I hit them in the face.

I am not proud of the broken knuckles I have accrued over the years. For awhile, violence was all I knew. When I became a father and tried to live my life in a more thoughtful manner, I realized the world was changing for the better. Out back bare knuckle brawling wasn’t something I wanted my kids to embrace.

It always kills me when I see people bitch about how the world is changing. It’s too politically correct. People these days want things the last generation had to work for. Back in the day, my parents beat me and I turned out fine.

All of that, all of it, is bullshit. Trying to make a world where a kid doesn’t feel the need to lash out violently because he is different is a world I am happy to be a part of building. I want my kids to not have to worry if they are different. I want your kids not to worry, too. As far as free handouts, if I can do my part to get children the chance to go to school, go to the doctor, do things I didn’t always get the chance to do growing up- I am going to be for that. It doesn’t feel like entitlement to want to leave the world a better place for my children. I once had a chair thrown at my back because I wasn’t going to my room fast enough. I can remember every ass-whooping I got growing up. I can barely remember the hugs and kisses.

I didn’t turn out fine. I turned out a fucking mess.

Unless you are working your dream job, in your dream home, with your dream car- chances are you didn’t turn out fine either. This isn’t me judging or attempting to condemn the past generation. They did what they felt was best. I am hopeful of that at least. But if I have to see the guy I went to high school with, who was smarter than me back in the day, say he turned out fine because he got ass-whooping as a kid- I might go crazy. Working at the local gas station in the same shitty town you grew up in doesn’t mean you turned out fine.

In today’s world, you are more crazy for wanting to provide free tuition than you are for snapping a picture after getting your face broken in. Nobody sees something wrong with that?

People complain about everything changing in the world as we try to build a more inclusive society. I don’t think we are doing enough. I don’t want Today’s world.

I want Tomorrow’s world. 

November 12

Broadway is Dark Tonight

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My wife will always be a better person than I. At her core, she is forged with the fires of compassion. It is what drives her.

It’s one of the things that drew me to her. There is a certain beauty in the humanity she possesses.

When my mother passed, with tears through her eyes, my wife told me she wished she could take my pain. Not only did she say it but, I knew how much she truly meant it.

I watched my wife cry today over the loss of her grandma late last night. While I stood there holding her, I began to understand the burden her beautiful humanity carries. To wish to take people’s pain away and heal; it is the kind of characteristic I may always strive to achieve without ever succeeding.

I am broken, and in that brokenness I hold some semblance of beauty. My wife though, is a pure light. I have called her my port in a storm. The anchor to keep me from drifting away. For most my life, I felt being broken was the hardest thing in the world.

My wife is whole. She is a rock for broken souls, like mine, to cling to, lest we get swept out to sea.

I don’t think I understood a word my wife’s Abuela told me. But, in our moments together, I felt the small comforts I longed to feel from my own family. Just her presence in a room had a way of making me feel comfortable. A fiery latina woman, she always seemed to be making loud shouts while clapping her hands. Maybe she was shoo-ing me away, I don’t know. I will miss our little moments together.

When the boys were little, she taught them this Spanish song. I always butchered it, doing the hand motions and mumbling some random Taco Bell food. “Nacho Bel Grande!” I would say to the kids as I put my index finger into the center of the opposite hand. My children loved the song. When the youngest became old enough to learn it, it felt like a rite of passage for them. Abuela’s Song.

My wife searches through her drawers for dark clothing. Selecting tights, she tells me it is a cultural thing to dress in black after a loss. I am reminded of the light going dark on Broadway.

Broadway’s dark tonight.

When my friend dimmed the metaphorical lights on her blog after my mom died, it moved me. We are all trying to build something with our words. A brand. A safe space. Something we feel a driven desire to create. But, my friend dimmed the lights. To be a writer is to breathe words. To stand in silent solidarity while you allow your friend to grieve is a touching moment.

I find myself at a crossroads. This is my culture. The culture of the Wri-Ters is to dim your lights and pay our respects. I am halfway through an every day writing challenge. But, this is a cultural thing. While I may continue to write, there is a culture to uphold.

Broadway is dark tonight. And tomorrow. And the next night. To remember a fiery Latina Abuela, and the beautiful granddaughter I cling to when I am at my most broken.