For Better or Worse


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For better or for worse, I am a dark writer.

 It isn’t something I wanted to be as I grew up…it is more something that had to be done to give my inner grief a voice so that the pain and suffering did not consume me. The events of my life have consumed me like maggots feasting on the carcass of a dead child. Have you ever wondered why the best of Irish writers are so dark and depressing? It is because they were consumed and compelled by lives lived in abject poverty, disease and general disrepair and despair. Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Frank McCourt, …all suffered from severe moral disintegration, from morbid ideations brought about by the unrelenting ugliness that this so called “good life” thrust upon them.  

 The French poéts maudits;  François Villon, Baudelaire and Rimbaud?  These were simple men forced to live  their lives outside or against society, awash in the abuse of drugs and alcohol, insanity, crime, and violence. They all died pitiful, painful deaths. Or how about the Americans?  Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Bukowski…each caught up in what life does best…grinding their souls to dust in the absence of any lasting hope until the merciful fist of death grabbed each by the ankle and pulled them under.

 You may think I’m just cynical and indulgent…but I tell you, for every ray of sunshine you can conjure, I can show you ten bolts of lightning that rip and destroy.  I am glad others have happiness….but I myself was pushed through this veil of insidious despair without my consent, and I’ve learned to navigate life in the absence of hope.  And yes, I find some comfort there.  It’s what I know.

 People are always saying, “try and look on the bright side,” and to them I say, “ Look around you, for fuck’s sake!”  There is an ocean of pain, agony, and suffering washing over the majority of the earth’s population…and you think platitudes  and sweet rejoinders make a difference when the crows peck the eyes from a dead child who has starved in the Sudan? Or when 20 beautiful innocent children in Sandy Hook have their precious lives snuffed out, or when entire populations are being systematically wiped off the face of the earth for political expediency?  Get real.  Take off your rose-colored specs and take a deep look around you!  Evil flourishes upon a people’s unwillingness to see.  They are blinded by their blazing sunshine and forced optimism.

 Yes, we live in the same world, but I see the shadows where you see the light. I don’t write this kind of crap because I have something to say…I write it because something which must be said has me to write it. My apologies for the rant…but I get so ill in my gut when people say, “there, there…the world is a beautiful place. Just try harder to be happy.”

 The world is obscene and delusional. And it hurts.

The Skirt


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You laid your plaited skirt
on the foot of my bed,
neatly folded as though
in doing so you could somehow
retain your virtue.

In the midst of our fleshy thrashing,
I kicked it to the floor, and you began
to cry, deep sobs that rattled
the mattress springs.

I moved, too reluctantly, to retrieve it
but you said, “Why bother? You’ve ruined it.
You’ve ruined me. You’ve ruined everything!”

Making love doesn’t always
mean making sense,
and so I threw my feet to the floor,
pulled on my jeans, and looked back,
although I would never be able to see.

“So that’s it?” you sobbed.
“You bastard!”

I smiled In affirmation, buttoned my shirt,
and turned toward the door,
and as an afterthought, picked up
your once plaited skirt, tossed it
carelessly over my shoulder,

and left.

 

Letting Go


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Slip away my son, your night has come
As this day unwinds the sorrow
And do not fear the bells you hear
They ring a bright tomorrow

See the stars above, shining bright, my love
It reveals a path for you
Take one step to be heaven bound and free
Your spirit’s been renewed

It has been my boy, the utmost joy
To hold and love you true
If I must let go, you must surely know
How proud I am of you

Take my hand my dear, and feel me near
Let go these earthly hollows
Feel the light within as you now ascend
And know that I will follow

 

Smoke and Fire


smoke and fire

 

Smoke and fire, my heart’s desire
Stoke the flames a little higher
Dancing in the flickering flame
I find my mind’s gone quite insane

Burning with a fevered pitch
All my thoughts are loosely stitched
Visions scatter like floating embers
Incensed moments I remember

A life consumed by selfish lust
Now reduced to smoldering dust
No regret to stave the heat
My soul’s destruction now complete

My faith is set to flaming torch
Beliefs once held are darkly scorched
Yes, fan the flames, incense the fire
Let this be my funeral pyre

Full of failure, drinks of Gaul
Life has been a tortured haul
Let my bones cremate most slowly
Scatter my flesh, let strong winds blow me

To another time, another life
Full of promise, less in strife
May I rise one day again
More in grace, less in sin

 

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Defeated


defeated

 

I reached for fame,
but my arms too short;
disappointment reached
back and embraced me instead.
I pushed off fear and tried to be strong,
but the effort sapped the life in me,
and I fell asleep.

I awoke with a whisper of hope
but drowned that with a cup of coffee.
My day is better spent walking silently,
alone.

My thoughts bounce
from the pinnacles of possibility
to the depths of despair,
turning back and forth by the minute.
Restless yet spent,
I stumble through each and every day
seeking only a moment
to catch my breath
(secretly hoping it will be my last).

Life is not fair that way.
It will pummel you,
but it won’t let you quit.
You have to do that on your own time,
whenever that might be.

If I had the courage to end it all,
wouldn’t I then have the courage to live it all?
You would think.
On both counts you’d be wrong.

So until breath departs and sleep descends,
I keep stumbling along.
If you see me in the road,
cross the street.
The stench of defeat
can wilt an angel’s wings.

The Insidiousness of Life


Sorrow

The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
no time to simply put it on cruise control enjoy the passing of time.

For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.

I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises
eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my meaning.

Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.

There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,
I will stumble through somehow.

Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.

Wishes


wishes

I wish I could have given her more.

More of my time, myself, my love.
But a man cannot give what he
doesn’t possess, unless you count
the empty promises. Of these, I have
given beyond measure.

I wish I could have loved her more.

More deeply, more sweetly, more completely.
But I hated myself too much to
truly love another. I cared, but that’s
hardly the same. And the love I received
simply gave me permission to misbehave.

Until it was gone.

Above all, I wish I had more wishes.