Woes

Her words are like a trumpet ringing clear
I hold them, oh, I hold them, like it’s heaven in my ear
And try, my god I try, to answer clear
But words are like a drop of rain
They fall and land, but don’t remain
And what they could have been…it doesn’t matter…they just disappear

And still, I try to speak them all the same
While fearing they’ll be heard, but lack the strength to thus remain
I say them as if words could make me sane
And yet they never seem to hold
The light you need when life is cold
And so I see you shiver and the only thing I know to feel is shame

Her words are like a beacon in the sea
I follow, oh, I follow, like they’re only meant for me
And so I tell myself I have a key
That promises an avenue
Where you and I are me and you
And hold, do I, illusions of a world where me and you are truly we

And disregard the chasms and the crows
I wrap my arms around the highs and try to disregard the lows
And seal your name in rhymes and written prose
That never really mean as much
As but a fragment of your touch
And still, my goddess, still, I wish my words could simply wash away your woes

Advertisements

Answers

No answers here and truly, none shall be here anymore
And still, I’m drinking oceans for the shells along the shore
A cheap metal detector looking for a golden score
My fingers on the residue I wish I could ignore
But at the bottom, only two versions of two and two are four

I race along the apertures I made to leave behind
Where vis-a-vis and que sera sera are intertwined
Like words that gave an answer that I hoped you wouldn’t find
And eyelids try to close so that, to truth, I could be blind
Because I spoke a million words, but never really spoke my mind

The answers fail as surely as the bottle where I sought
New answers for a problem old I never should have bought
And looking, starry-eyed, at every lesson that was taught
While hoping that in silence I could share my every thought
As if the precedence of proof was like a key I needed not

I fell beneath the light where all the amber fell to gray
Where questions I beheld, but not a word I chose to say
To eyes I never wished, for even once, to look away
But knew my every breath was always destined to betray
And so I waited til the moment past then asked if it could stay

But answers, so I see, and always have, are like a wing
Upon a fragile bird that never really learned to sing
And still, I try to pull and place the world upon a string
While knowing that the end result will obviously sting
Just know the only promise I can really make is not to promise anything

Recompense

I see you in swamps and I cannot but rush to your side
Knowing, certainly, serpents are hiding there under the tide
And yet, without any regret do I follow
For life, without you, seems so terribly hollow
Like words from my lips lacking even an ear to confide

I see you in places you never existed at all
Like there in the midst of a desert, a cobblestone wall
And still, so approaching, I kneel for I need to
And say, with a heart hanging heavy, I need you
Like feet on the ledge of eternity destined to fall

I see you and hope that, in time, it’ll pass and become
No more than a shadow from days with an off-center sun
And yet, do I hope to forget ever wanting
The you that’s removed from the future I’m hunting
For hollow, it seems, such a victory, terribly won

I see you and all I recall are the reasons I need
To see you again, thinking naught of the cost that I feed
Nor care what had led me to where you were standing
Or what could become from the things you were planning
For, bowing to you was I willing to do like a creed

I see you, and maybe I shouldn’t, but always I will
As if an ellipsis that follows the word of until…
And so, without worry, and ‘lo in your travel
I follow and see that I slowly unravel
But love is a cost and I promised I’d settle the bill

Shots

Since America is the center of the solar system, it is impossible to not know that everyone and their mother’s, best friend’s dog’s litter’s owner’s cousin’s uncle’s extended family is caught up in the spectacle of the fact that – you paid for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge – we’ve had yet another moment of gun violence.

This will, of course, be met with several things:

Some people will say that this could be avoided if there was someone else with a gun to gun down the gunman so that the gun violence could be neutralized like a gun vaccine. I can’t completely ignore the logic that states “If someone has the capacity to neutralize your violence with some of their own – it does – ipso facto – reduce said violence. This, of course, lending strange credence to the notion that fighting fire with fire does not – as one would assume – create a bigger fire.

Or does it?

Don’t worry. This isn’t about to devolve into a philosophical viewpoint of “Well…I mean…maybe that really is the best solution…” Because my viewpoint on this is as abstracted and convoluted as I am, and you all love me for being. And I’ll get to what that viewpoint is…

Later…

Others will, of course, say that the answer to gun violence is more laws to eliminate guns so that fewer people can have guns and fewer people with fewer guns is less gun violence. And, from a very static, mathematical point of view – this holds true. But then…it doesn’t.

Or does it?

Don’t worry. This isn’t about to devolve into a political moment proclaiming that “We need to remove as many guns as we can from as many people as we can so that more people without guns can be safe from the fewer people who have guns.” Because my viewpoint doesn’t support that rationale, because it’s faulty in a way that I find to be eye-rollingly absurd. I’ll expand on that…

Later…

Others will, of course, point out that we have a president that perpetuates violence and racism. And others will bring up evidence that he doesn’t. And some will say that, even if he does, blaming one man for the stupidity of others is, in and of itself, stupid in so many ways that they will not dignify such absurdity with a response.

Some will say that more religion is the answer. That we have strayed too far from the holy teachings of <insert holy teachings here>, because if we all <insert religious thing here> at the altar of <insert religious construct here> we would all be <insert better world metaphor here>.

Others will point out that there are cultures that are far more secular than America and have less violence and that there are cultures that are far more religious than America and that they’re far more violent.

Others will point out that there are cultures that are far more religious than America and have less violence and that there are cultures that are far more secular than America and that they’re far more violent. <- I don’t know that this is actually a thing – if I’m being honest. I haven’t found any stats to support this notion…but I digress…someone will still say it.

So…

We’re here now…

We’re at “later…”

I’m an atheist who does not agree with anything that precedes this sentence.

Religion doesn’t make people good or bad. Good people are good people and they help to inspire other people to be good. Bad people are bad people and they help to inspire other people to be bad. We can get into the whole world of nature/nurture. We can get into the whole, sordid idea of psychology, sociology, religion, philosophy, etc…

But I’m not going to…

And here’s why…

Too many answers hinge on a binary solution to a real number problem.

If you read that and understood what I meant – good for you. Give yourself a gold star, a pat on the back, and understand that I respect you more than you deserve.

If you don’t understand that line, then I’ll explain.

Binary is very basic. It is a system of one and zero. It is true and false. It is off and on. And it doesn’t compute for humanity.

The solution for alcohol in America was to ban alcohol – because saying “Hey, you can’t do that!” makes problems go away.

But it doesn’t.

It. Doesn’t.

Saying alcohol is illegal doesn’t stop people from drinking – it makes drinking a criminal enterprise. It is owned and operated by criminals. Its patrons are criminals. Saying drugs are illegal doesn’t stop people from doing drugs – it makes it a criminal enterprise. It is owned and operated by criminals. Its patrons are criminals.

Saying that guns are now illegal – in any capacity – will make it more of a criminal enterprise than it already is. It will have a greater share of ownership and operational oversight by criminals. More of their patrons will be criminals.

If you think this is somehow flawed – news flash. There are things that are illegal and people still get them. They buy them. They pay cash.

I recently watched a guy buy anabolic steroids.

Online.

With his credit card.

But they’re illegal – except where they’re not. And that place gets to make the rules they want because they don’t have to be concerned with what you want. Or if you got ripped off. Or if it’s safe. Because what are you going to do?

Call the cops?

So, if you believe that the answer to guns is “Well…simple…no guns…” Then you’ve learned far too little about that wonderfully terrible thing called history.

Humans know that things exist. They want those things. Telling them no doesn’t stop them.

Except for when it does, right?

Sure…except for when it does. Because some people won’t cross those lines. Some people are either legal hardliners or else they just fear being caught.

But it says nothing of the ones who cross lines. Who don’t care. Who don’t know anything beyond “I want this. I will find a way to have this. You cannot stop me.”

This extends all the way back to the moment not so long ago when I said that too many answers try to look at a binary solution for a real number problem.

Take every sentence between when I first said that and when I said it again. Apply it to everything that people bicker over from a legal standpoint.

You can’t flip a zero to a one and solve the problem. You can’t turn false to true and make things go away.

It doesn’t work that way, and if you don’t know that by now, then I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you.

Fact is – you already know this. You support this same logic…when it suits you.

Don’t agree with abortion? Ban it. Problem solved…except that it isn’t. Not really. It just becomes a criminal enterprise. Ran by criminals who cater to criminals. But hey…at least <insert happy ending platitude here>.

And yet, you will see an attack on what you believe in. You will see a problem that others approach with the solution of “Just ban it…” and you will go, “No! It doesn’t work that way! It just becomes a criminal enterprise and anyone who uses their services becomes a criminal as well!”

Correct.

A+

But people love to believe that their position is unique and beautiful. Their fight is the good fight. Their war is the righteous one.

But you are fighting real numbers with binary solutions.

Real-life has complicated numbers. Decimals. Integers. Positives and negatives.

Binary is simple.

Binary is clean.

I love binary. I really do. But if you think you can apply it to humanity as a whole, then you – again – have a weak grasp of the last many years of human history.

You really do.

It’s all there.

We’ve been writing it down.

If you choose to ignore that, it doesn’t make you wise – it makes you ignorant. And if you think that your personal binary solution is the silver bullet for the werewolf of American gun violence, then you’re living in a land of beautiful delusion.

Side note: please share whatever you’re taking. I’d like to try some.

So later after later is here now.

All my rambling condensed to an actual point.

And you might be thinking, “You know, it sounds to me like you’re saying that you don’t have a point.”

Well…yes and no.

My point is that there is no easy solution. But, by that same standard, I’m prepared to tell you a wonderful fact about humanity that holds true on a very firm statistical basis.

1.) The more educated people are, the less prone to senseless acts of violence they generally are.

-> Someone will now point out someone who is wicked smart AND a lunatic/criminal/serial killer/assassin. And I’m sorry, but that’s called implying the exception is the rule. If you think that makes sense, then please brush up on your understanding of statics, bell curves, and outliers. If you think you get to call a mulligan on this because you can think of a handful of cases leveraged against the population of the world then math was clearly not your strong suit.

2.) The more financially stable people are, the less prone to senseless acts of violence they generally are.

-> Same thing as above. Someone is going to find the anti-Bruce Wayne and go “Oh yeah?! What about <insert name here>!” Please spare us your inability to grasp how numbers work.

And that’s it.

Seriously.

If you look at the world and you go, “What makes a place safe?” there are two things.

TWO

CONSISTENT

THINGS

And they keep showing up.

Educated people who are not impoverished tend to do a better job of “playing well with others.”

And why is that?

Well, it’s actually very simple. So simple that it’s almost binary – except for that whole…implementation…thing.

Smarter people tend to think about what they’re doing and what it means and who it affects and why they should and shouldn’t do what they’re doing…more.

And people who have something to lose are less likely to risk losing it.

People who are uneducated are less likely to have – what I call – mechanical empathy.

Empathy – of course – is our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another. For people who are very emotional, this is just “a thing that happens because it’s who they are”. But for people who are not as emotional, (yup…I’m one of those people…) there is (what I call) mechanical empathy. I don’t feel for you. I don’t care about you. You’re some person who works job A to pay bills B, C, D, E, and F and you live in location G and came from location H and whatever else..

And I don’t care.

But I understand that you suffering isn’t good.

And that more people suffering is bad.

And that I don’t want to be the cause of that.

And that when I fuck up and people suffer, I understand the consequences of that and what they mean, and why. And it’s not emotional. It’s mechanical. Numbers adding up and I can go “This isn’t good…”

And when I fuck up – because I do…because I’m human…I learn from that. And I do better next time. And even better after that.

Additionally, those with nothing to lose…well…they

HAVE

NOTHING

TO

LOSE

When you cross-pollinate those terrible flowers…that’s bad for everyone.

Now…if you’re thinking, “Oh…okay…so…you have some liberal concept of…”

Let me stop you there.

I don’t care about your politics.

I don’t care about your religion.

I have friends that I don’t agree with politically and I have friends who I don’t agree with in regards to religion. And I would never try to “pull them over to my side” because they’re still good people.

And that’s what’s strange to me – the fact that I – even now – can honestly say that, yes, people are…believe it or not…inherently good.

And if you want a binary decision to help guide yourself…or an entire country…on their way to a place where pulling a trigger isn’t a solution to every situation under the sky, how about we start right there:

People are inherently good, and maybe we should treat them accordingly.

People believe different things, but that’s okay because we’re all – inherently – on the same side.

People are different and that’s an absolutely wonderful thing and people don’t get told that often enough.

Because if I had to really sharpen this whole narrative into some kind of an actual point, then it’s this: the world suffers when we stop treating people like people, and when we feel like we have nothing that matters, then we act accordingly.

If that thing is god or your favorite red pen, I don’t care.

If that thing is your best friend or the flying spaghetti monster, I don’t care.

Because shit like this is a real number problem.

It’s complicated.

And it’s weird.

And we can’t just flip a switch and make it go away.

It doesn’t work that way. And if you still don’t get that, then you need to work on your understanding of world history, basic human psychology, mathematics, and statistics.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll become more educated and push us all closer to a world that’s less violent in those educational pursuits.

<insert witty closing line here>

 

Acclimation

I surrounded myself with the center of the bell curve.

I sometimes think of this line as I look back. Or look around. Or just look.

Center of the center. The end result of when an outlier finds its way into a place where it doesn’t belong.

I suppose that there’s a power to it. A sense of prestige. A world that is all wrapped in the warm comfort of ignorant happiness. A world where mediocrity reigns. A world that is numerically oblivious. A world that can be more easily quantified and, more to point, made more astounding by one who is willing to quantify it.

This is not to say that I feel that I am part of some amazingly rare element of the statistical make-up of the world. I do not place gold stars upon my metaphorical papers. I do not showcase the moments that others might find victorious. I do not laud accomplishments nor offer negativity when others accomplish little and less.

And yet…

I wonder, at times, if I have not found myself so warmly embraced by the realm of simplicity because it is a realm that seems more easily navigated. A realm where some are more easily impressed. Where hundred dollar words are appraised at twice their price and even the slightest modicum of eloquence seems a world away from the doldrums that often supersede all those dawdling moments that span the near and far like oceans lapping at the distant shores of possibility.

Perhaps that’s the allure, though. The feeling of being the equivalent value of a knight in a world of pawns. Not so much better as different. Not moving unhindered, but moving in a way that seems more freeing…if only because the constraints are different.

I wonder what a world where the curve has shifted will be like.

Where my equals might be equals.

Where that which so many find exceptional is a thing that is basic and obvious. Where the variegations shrink. Where many and more have set foot upon distant lands and now look upon the oceans…lamenting…wondering why so many can’t seem to swim, or sail, or fly.

But as much as there is comradery in those thin slivers of disparity – those little islands where those of similar ilk would congregate – there is also that stagnant feeling of similarity.

That place where suddenly the sky is seen the same by all.

Where the moon is not so wondrous a thing.

Where the probabilities all mesh and merge and the separation of distinction shrink to grains in a world where once they seemed boulders.

But here I find myself eschewing the middle warmth and facing the outer rim. That place where unique means something different. Where strange means what so many called normal in a world where once I seemed so strange. Where for the first time in such a long time, I wonder if I will look around – if only for a moment – and realize that my banner is not so bright and not held so high.

Where measurable distances are harder to measure.

Where distances are less distinct.

Where the new middle is not so warm and I find myself wondering…

Was it cowardice that kept me where I was or is it hubris that leads me to where I now go?

Imperfection

It is
Of course
Important
No
Imperative
To remember that we are all
Imperfect
We are
Fractured
…Frail
… …Faulty
… … …Fearful
Fragile little things
Glass eggs in a world of iron hands
Soft tongues
Navigating angry teeth
Chapped lips
Holding back words
Both gentle
And cruel
We are, all of us, imperfect moments
Hoping for perfect results
And lives made of uncomfortable compromise
Hoping for uncompromised comforts
With hands stained in yesterday’s tears
And eyes blurred by next year’s sandstorm
Living in that
Ephemeral
…Ethereal
… …Evanescent
… … …Ever-fading dream
Of some distant sun
From last year’s distant summer
Where
If only for a moment
Perfect lived
And breathed
And placed its hand upon our heart
And said
If only once
“Imperfection
Is only our breath
Held in screaming lungs
Waiting for us to
Let go
And remember
That we all take
Perfect breaths
However imperfectly”


Okay…so here’s another free-verse because of reasons A and C from the previous list of reasons that I didn’t give you. I’m going back to rhyming after this one…

Skull

I dusted off the dust and tried to see if there were worms
Beneath a countenance of confidence
While I, behind a mask of domino and actions obstinate
Sat behind a window wearing fog from all the softly whispered words

And picking at the pictures like the old, and peeling paint
Upon the obelisks and oubliettes
I wondered long on Ios, poor Ophelias, and Juliettes
Wearing gloves and monocles, and looking for a name, however faint

I emptied out the emptiness and drank ’til I was full
Using a cup of coded confidence
Where, like the hangman’s daughter, I was not immune to consequence
Resting, you, or maybe I, on wooden pillows over lands of wool

And chasing, like a chalice, filled with all I wished to know
I asked a question of a quandary
You answered like an absent word, “You never did belong to me.
And after all that was, and for the darkness that you hold
You ought to know
You’re gonna leave an ugly skull
After you go.”


I’ve been on a big Acid Bath and Agents of Oblivion kick recently. This poem was inspired by the song The Hangman’s Daughter. Good song.