Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Dirt-Based Answer to Such Heart-Quandaries as, What is Love? So This is Love? and Do You Love Me?

Love is fleeting.
Love is shallow.
Love is fake.
Love is dangerous.
Love is exhausting.

Love is a flame, easily extinguished.
Love is a liar.
Love is a slippery, slimy-scaled sprat.

Love is petting a purring cat,
and then being scratched and bit.
Love is being asked for my number,
and then never being called.
Love is spending the day together,
and then never getting a word in.
Love is being best-friends single,
and then being deserted for him or her.

Love is ironic.

Love is opening oneself to be drained.
Love is keeping one’s mouth shut.
Love is sparing another and going it alone.

Love is black-and-blue marks.
Love is an open wound.

Love hurts.
Love tears.
Love bends.
Love stabs.
Love distorts.

Love calls out into the night.
Love cries in silent agony.
Love bleeds from a clot-less vein.

Love is this void that cannot be filled.

Love is thinking I’m blessing,
when it’s received as seducing.
Love is thinking this is life,
when all it breeds is death.
Love is pouring me out,
when I’m already dried up.
Love is advancing in confusion,
when it’s time to retreat.
Love is thinking I am healing,
when I’m trailing fractured hearts.

Love is always saying yes,
when I should have said no.
Love is always saying yes,
when all you give is silence.


God, I thought You were Love.
And that if I was in You,
and You were in me,
then I would be Love too.
But if this is Love . . .

Tell me I’m wrong;
I already know it is true.
But the dilemma remains:
I’m too earthen for You.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

To Answer The Call

I found myself on the edge of the valley-induced mountain, looking out upon the darkness-induced lights. I’d never walked up here before—a new view of the city below. The wind was playing gently with my hair. I could hear the trucks on the highway below me, carrying their passengers far, far away. What is so safe about here? Up so high? Hidden in the dark? Sitting above, apart from the twinkling lights before me?

Kevin drifts back into my mind. Sitting on the bed. Tan work boots. Faded jeans. Plaid, flannel shirt. Ripped cap. He leaned over to talk to his father. A Marlboro pack was peeking out of his breast pocket—anything to take off the edge of stress, I suppose. He reached out his hand to his father; calloused fingers, tainted black.

Kevin asked me to stay an hour longer than expected. The prospect terrified me. The last time had depleted my strength. His father had at first held me suspect out of dementia-induced paranoia; then he had held me captive out of loneliness-induced beggary. Kevin asked me to stay an hour longer than expected. I couldn’t say no. “Are you sure you’re okay with it?” His father had fallen twice today. I couldn’t say no. “Yes, I’m sure.”

Kevin reached out his hand to his father, but his father didn’t take it. Kevin was held captive by loneliness-induced beggary. I studied Kevin’s face. Stress cut canyons and sleep-deprivation painted black-bagged eyes. Kevin was held captive. He couldn’t say no. “Sure, Dad, I’ll stay a little longer.”

His father became occupied, but Kevin couldn’t leave. He stood with me at the doorway. “So how are you handling all this?” I asked. I doubted he would give me a genuine answer. Here I am, probably half his age, someone he’s only met once before, and will hardly ever see again. Why would he trust me? “I’m handling,” he replied. Bull shit. Don’t trust the little girl. I let him be. More captivity. More empty chit-chat.

Finally, “So how about you? What are you going to do?” I could have answered empty. Could have returned his distrust-induced shit. But he’s someone I’ve only met once before, and will hardly ever see again—I don’t have time for the vague niceties. I told him how I’ve been burned-out before. I told him that I’m scared. I told him that I feel weak. I told him how easily I get drained.

And that was all it took. “I’m burned out,” he said. “This place is a shit-hole,” he said. “I can’t do this anymore,” he said. “I’m watching him fall apart, and it’s tearing me apart,” he said. “I get drained too.” He paused. Then he said, “So thank you for doing this.” I wanted to say to him, “I’m doing it for you.” But I didn’t.

He went to check on his father again. Twenty minutes had passed since he had first tried to leave. He was held captive. He couldn’t say no. I wanted to say to him, “Give me your chains for a bit. I can handle them. Sure it may tear me apart, but it will only be for a few hours—you’re getting torn apart every day.” But I didn’t, and he still didn’t leave.

It was dinner that saved him. Once more the Marlboros peeked out of their pocket and the calloused, blackened fingers reached out for his father’s hand. “Bye, Dad. Bye, Jaime.” And out the door he went. I hope the chains fell off—even if just for a few hours. I felt them settle around my wrists and ankles. “I’m doing this for you,” I thought after him, and then turned toward his father.

The darkened heights called to me when I finally left. I didn’t want to go home. So I climbed. I crossed over the highway, where I paused to watch the trucks speeding by into the night to who-knows-where. “Take me with you,” I thought. Then I climbed farther and higher than I ever had before. I found the edge: a guardrail at the end of a street. I sat alone. The lights twinkled before me. Why do I feel so safe up here? Up above and hidden in the darkness?

Kevin was only one of the many people who drifted through my mind. “So many,” I thought. So many to love. And I feel inadequate. And small. And weak. And scared. Maybe the darkened heights are a refuge. A reprieve from the daunting task before me. Hadn’t I just prayed the night before that Christ is enough? Maybe I don’t believe it. Or maybe I do. He has to be enough—because I’m certainly not.

And then there is that other nagging question: who will love me? Or maybe it's, who will I let love me? Yes, the darkened heights are safer. Then a dog barked behind me. Loud and threatening--I'm trespassing on his territory. I guess my reprieve cannot last forever. Back into the lit valley I descend.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Grip 'n Grim

I watched as the leaf fell toward me; slowly, elegantly, dancing with the wind; its vermilion hue shimmering in the evening sunset. As I grasped it, cold wetness splashed upon my chilled hand. The misty air broke into a soaking downpour, as the sky released her tears. The sun was laid to rest, and the darkness rolled upon the earth.

I came to on the bathroom floor. The garbage can had been knocked over, and trash littered the floor around me. My head was throbbing. I shakily picked myself up and cleaned the floor. Then I snuck back to my room, hoping no one had seen or heard anything.

The tiny cell screamed in agony. Its nucleus tried to think—tried to figure out what was happening. More ATP! it would yell. But the mitochondria were unable to produce. More glucose! they demanded back. But glucose was not to be had. Deliveries had become sparse. The cell knew there was a famine in the universe, yet for a while the fat reserves had sustained life as usual. But recently an intercellular rumor had begun to spread. It was easy to discredit the basophils; after all, they were always overreacting. But despair began to set in once the lymphocytes confirmed: the great fat stores had been depleted.

I lay huddled on the couch, feeling naked and abandoned and cold. So cold—and exhausted. I finally garnered enough energy to ask for my ragged, oversized, flannel jacket. My belongings hadn’t been approved yet, but perhaps the nurse was moved to pity me. She retrieved my jacket from the back room, and I returned to the couch. I curled myself into a ball—the jacket covering my entire body. Behind my eyelids, my muddied brain recalled a vision I had seen upon arrival. A woman. And tubes. Tubes on her body. Tubes going into her body. She was being fed through tubes. I don’t want to be that bad, I thought. I pulled my body even tighter, trying to disappear. So cold.

I tried to leave the city. A man in white: white suit, white hood, white boots, white gloves, white mask, black gun. A man in white held a black gun to my face. Get back, was all he said. I stood for a moment, looking at the line of other white men around him, and then I turned around. As I walked the dirt road, I could hear moaning from every direction. The stench clung to me: vomit, defecation, blood. The entire city was being consumed. I entered the shack. My sister lay on the floor facing the wall. I listened to her strained breathing, relieved that she was able to escape death through unconsciousness. My head began to throb. I sank to the ground next to my sister and placed my hand on her arm. It was cold—colder than her skin should’ve been in the summer heat. I shook her. She didn’t wake. I could still hear the strained breathing, but her chest wasn’t following rhythm. Agitated and confused, I shook her again. Tears filled my eyes, and I felt my nose begin to run. Tremors convulsed my body. I brushed my trembling hand against my nose, and then reached again for my sister. But I stopped when I saw the red on my hand. Copper and iron coagulated before my mind. I coughed and painted my sister crimson.

“You look like death.” “Your body is eating itself.” “Your heart is so weak; it will eventually stop beating.” “You are killing yourself.” “Maybe you should write your own obituary.”

Look away from me.
I don’t want you to see.
I know I’m on my own, but I wish—
I wish you'd call me home.