A Prayer for Her


6

Last night, as I lay quietly weeping next to my sleeping wife, I prayed with all my heart.

In four short days, we will be separating for good, a prelude to the divorce she requested just before Christmas.  Looking at her through my tears, I could tell she was exhausted.  The past few weeks have taken such a toll on her.  We still love one another and have both been trying so desperately to make our inevitable parting a process of love and respect and peace.  But that does nothing to stop the inevitable pain of letting go.  As she has for our entire relationship, her primary concern has been for me.  Doing whatever she can to make this in any way less traumatic, easier to endure.

She has always been selfless, up until she finally gathered all the vestiges of her courage to finally set herself free.  I desperately want her to be happy and fulfilled, even if that means letting her go.  But I prayed, nonetheless.  I prayed like a condemned man facing the final seconds of life knowing that in a few short moments the executioner will do what he must do, and it will all be over.  I prayed like Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, asking his Father to spare him from “drinking this cup.”   I prayed for everything cowards pray for when the consequences of their actions stare them squarely in the face and demand accountability.  I prayed for a way out.

And then I realized…this is exactly why I’ve lost her.  In that tender moment of the night, watching her toss and turn in a fitful sleep, I had failed her once more.  I failed to pray for what’s best for her.  I failed to pray for her happiness and security.  I failed to pray for her future.  I failed to match her selfless act for selfless act.  I failed, once more, to love her with all of my heart.  Too consumed with my  loss and pain, I failed to consider hers.

This is undoubtedly why I should not be allowed to pray. Or to love. My prayers fall on silent ears because they are offered in false pretense.  I haven’t evolved enough as a person, let alone a man, to put the needs of those I love most ahead of my own.  I have no faith anyway, so why I continue to dabble in the mysteries of prayer, I don’t know.  But with or without faith, I am going to give it one more try.

This time, my prayers are for her.  For her happiness. To ease her suffering and pain.  For the joy she so richly deserves.  To be surrounded by people who are stronger and more present than I ever was.  And more truly loving.  For the strength to grow from this, to risk again, to find her true meaning.

To let me go without second-guessing.

Perhaps, if just this once, I pray for her needs before my own, then tonight she will sleep more comfortably.  And I can cherish the few remaining days I have with her…for her sake.

A Failed Marriage


Image

I left bruises on her heart,
not memories, but empty spaces.
There is no fossilized evidence
love ever existed.
Her contempt folds in stages
like a Japanese silk fan,
while the flowers of our youth
drop their tired and wilted petals.
For better or for worse was a lie
easily uttered when I held more promise,
but as the years, and my failings, took their toll
it was easy to toss me aside like bitter fruit.

 

The Absence of You


crucified beneath her touch

I want you every second,
every minute, every hour of the day

I am flooded by an agony…
a physical longing for you…
brought to my knees by a craving
for your nearness and your touch.

Through tear-clenched eyelids,
I try hard to imagine your lips on mine.
If I could only hear your laughter,
the sound of your voice once more!

Nothing and no one, anywhere or anytime
could kill the love I have and hold  for you.
I have surrendered my individuality,
the very essence of my being to you.

I have surrendered to you my body
time after time to treat as you pleased,
to tear in pieces if such had been your will.

My spirit never seems as joyful
as when I remember the kisses you gave me.
All the hoardings of my imagination
I have laid bare to you…
There isn’t a recess of my soul
into which you haven’t penetrated.

I have clung to you and caressed you and slept with you
and I would like to tell the whole world I exist for you.

What strength have I that I may bear it,
that I may endure the absence of you?
Is my strength the strength of stones
that can wait for your return?

You are my mistress and I am your lover.
Kingdoms and empires and governments have tottered
succumbed before now to that mighty combination:

“I love you” –
the most powerful of sentiment
and words ever uttered in this world.

 

The World Remembers Delaney Ann Brown


 DELANEY “LANEY” ANN BROWN

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We have all been following the courageous battle of Laney and her family this past month, and are deeply saddened to learn that this precious young child was called home to heaven this Christmas Day, 2013.

“December 25, 2013– on this chilled and grief-filled date, the gates of Heaven were flung wide open
as God embraced Delaney Ann Brown and welcomed her home again.”

The sun arose this winter day -
Across the world the children played.
Homes echoing with carefree glee,
As Christmas day was meant to be.
Each parent dreams of such a vision -
‘Til life injects its cruel revision.

Yet, like a child’s lost innocence,
Cherished and held in reverence -
In just one moment swept away
No sympathy for child’s play.
Into her life a darkness came;
Into our own, an infinite pain.

Our hearts now filled with an empty space -
of sweet Laney and her joy-filled face!
Malevolence came and stole her future,
A wound too big for mending sutures.
We heard the sounds of angels cry –
The day we watched this child die.

Image

We swallow hard; prayed harder still -
Our heartbeats faltered against our will.
The deafening blast of pure insanity
We’ve lost the best of our humanity!
A nation mourns with silent tongues
The senseless death of she so young.

The doctors did their very best -
Nurses offered up their loving breast
To shield from cancer’s savage blow -
To buy this young one time to grow.
But she slipped away, lest we forget…
Upon her memory, no sun will set.

Sweet Laney lost and taken away
Beneath the sun of Christmas day.
We are lost within an anguished grief,
As even celestial angels weep.

Image

Impeccant cherub laid to rest;
God took from us our very best.
The loss we feel is real and deep,
The pain forever ours to keep.
No answers to the question, “Why?”
Our babies were not meant to die.

So, brush away our tortured tears;
this truth is too demanding,
and whisper in our silent ears
some prayer of understanding.
Laney’s star now shines above,
Eternal bright and beaming love.

The Lantern


Image

Do you see that lantern on the mantle?
Its light has shined on three generations of this family.

My grandfather learned to read under the tutelage of its glow.
He wrote love letters to my grandmother in verse reflecting
The warmth gathered from its flickering beam.

My mother found her way home through lost woods
To the waiting arms of my Dad,
And on the night I was conceived, it lent its sexuality.

Bright and slightly hesitant, still burn brightly
The night I was born, weaving moonbeams
Linking silver threads through the tapestry of our lives;
Illuminating my path through the years,

It has lit my tears and calmed my fears;
Beneath its flame we all found ways to heal
To bind up old wounds; to celebrate new beginnings,
While keeping vigil as loved ones passed away

One day I’ll pass it down to my children
Now crawling on the ground
And in its light they’ll learn to see within themselves,
Beyond themselves

I take it down and light it it’s blackened wick
Whenever I am consumed by darkness;
It watches over me and comforts me;

It reminds me that there are so many ways
To become illuminated

 

Poets and Prostitutes


Image

He was a lover of street prostitutes;
not the sable-wrapped uptown girls
bathed in Chanel No.5 and punishing Daddy
by selling their tight-toned wares retail,
but rather those wholesale working-class girls
perfumed by the sweat of their labors;
standing beneath broken streetlights at 2 a.m.,
in cheap, colorful makeup and Wal-Mart lingerie,
with asses bubbling back and semi-flaccid breasts;
those colorful painted whores of the night.

In his youth, he had been scorched by the beautiful
and he would never again have the fevered yearning
of lying with flesh more pliant and comely.

Street-walkers fed his pathos and filled his inner void.
They would let him kiss them on the mouth,
and wouldn’t complain when he couldn’t get hard
because of too much beer and whiskey.

They’d always wait patiently, filing their nails,
chewing open-mouthed wads of gum -
but most of all, they would never, ever
fill the silence with meaning-less chatter.

If he couldn’t function, they didn’t condemn him,
but would play with themselves upon request
so at least the failing of the hour felt sexy.

Most of all, they didn’t lie!

They wouldn’t tell him what a great lover he was
or offer up false platitudes on his endowment;
They used their real names and would share their coke
for an extra twenty-five, and he would pour them full shots.

Sometimes, he would write beautiful sonnets for them
and they would genuinely be moved to tears.

If the sex was lousy, they took it in stride and didn’t bitch.
They didn’t conspicuously spit into folded Kleenex
or stuff their mouths with wads of spearmint gum
after he had come, just to lose the taste of him.
Rather, they swallowed because they, too, didn’t care
if they got one more filthy, fucking disease.

They were like him; defeated and empty,
just grateful not to be judged and discarded
like yesterday’s rotten fruit.

Lights


alone_in_the_dark
You have always stood
beneath a dazzling array of bright colors
Brilliant, and brave, and blinding
Your light provided bright reflections
and lit the stage upon which you danced
careless, joyful, and exuberant

It was a separate light that bathed me
not quite so radiant
and full of shadows
It has never illuminated my way
nor has it warmed me in its beam
It was what it seemed
an insignificant blue glow, dim and misleading

In your light, you were found
In mine, everything was lost

 

Lover’s Delight


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With desire spent, we leave the night
Our bodies bathed in morning’s light
Our limbs entwined like climbing vines
Our kisses sweet like summer wine

Our spirits soar, our hearts set free
Beneath a verdant canopy
Of flowering trees and running streams
Of fragrant winds and lazy dreams

Such sorrow shall we one day know
When either you, or I, shall go
And leave the other to sorely miss
This warm embrace, this soulful kiss

As the sunrise drives away the night
and sunlight fades to starry light
So does this love, in ardent gladness,
Dispel the weight of parting’s sadness

But let us in this moment know
One final bout in passion’s throe
And leave the morrow to the night
This moment now is our delight

 

The Lantern


Image

Do you see that lantern on the mantle?
Its light has shined on three generations of this family.

My grandfather learned to read under the tutelage of its glow.
He wrote love letters to my grandmother in verse reflecting
The warmth gathered from its flickering beam.

My mother found her way home through lost woods
To the waiting arms of my Dad,
And on the night I was conceived, it lent its sexuality.

Bright and slightly hesitant, still burn brightly
The night I was born, weaving moonbeams
Linking silver threads through the tapestry of our lives;
Illuminating my path through the years,

It has lit my tears and calmed my fears;
Beneath its flame we all found ways to heal
To bind up old wounds; to celebrate new beginnings,
While keeping vigil as loved ones passed away

One day I’ll pass it down to my children
Now crawling on the ground
And in its light they’ll learn to see within themselves,
Beyond themselves

I take it down and light it it’s blackened wick
Whenever I am consumed by darkness;
It watches over me and comforts me;

It reminds me that there are so many ways
To become illuminated

 

Beneath a Dust of Snow


snow

The darkly puffed clouds, pregnant with snow,
hang dark and bitter and over mountaintops flow.
A cowardly moon casts a muted light, reflecting
scattered jewels across the veil of night;
Winter descends.
The rippling hills in the park in dusted white repeat;
streets grow eerily silent beneath unmoving feet . . .
The timeless face ticking on the old clock tower
shivers as the bell strikes its mournful hour.
The city sleeps unaware, or lost in the memory
of yesterday’s warmth and illumination.

He, from his frost-laced window panes
in silent rumination, stares out in pain
over the bitter whiteness of the slumbering town,
Seeing through swirls of white softly floating down
one candle burning in the window of a shuttered house
where this night the flame of love was cruelly doused
as she, in death’s harsh grip and coiled embrace
surrendered the light that transformed her face.
The frozen earth, itself reluctant to let her go
as he laid his love to rest beneath a dust of snow.

He desires like this to forget what will not pass,
Grey death, stale ugliness, and the sodden grass.
Deep in his heart old bells are beaten again,
Slurred bells of grief and twisted pain.
Dull echoes of hideous places where poisons grow,
he desires to drown in a cold white peace of snow.

A Godly Silence


silent-god

 

I speak to God in silent phrase
And offer up my heartfelt praise
Yet silence is His voice to me
He shows no earthly empathy

My prayers are but a silent wind
And I a storm that’s lost within
A body crushed beneath the weight
Of loss, regret, and certain fate

In slow descent, the spirit ebbs
Dead within this mortal dread
Yet silent still His saving grace
A void I feel within this place

No comfort shall I know this day
My God has simply slipped away
And in his place a dark despair
Hot ashes flowing everywhere

The pain increases even still
All that’s left is my free will
And so, I chose another path
Turning from His vengeful wrath

His Son was slowly crucified
So He might feel more sanctified
Though in the hour of my need
His sacrifice is lost on me.

 

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Fade to Heaven


images

Time comforts me, though the clock winds down
And I’m driven to the ticking of another sound
My heart beats so softly, in erratic measure
Comes now an end to this life I have deeply  treasured

I have done my best, or so shall I plead
As the Book of Life will surely read
When comfort was asked, I held out my hand
I shared what I had without a demand

Solace I gave to those deep in sorrow
Lived for today, and prayed for tomorrow
The sick I did comfort, the hungry I fed
If needed I fought, and oftentimes bled

For the weak and the child with no one to care
To fill them with love and crush their despair
My joys and my sorrows, both equally scattered
Like dying fall leaves that no longer  matter

Now days turn to hours, and hours to minutes
Now comes to a close this life with me in it
Softly my prayers in last utterance fall
“Grace be upon me, I’ve given my all.”

Defeated


defeated (1)

Like most people, I am caught in the web of learning  to navigate the constantly changing twists and turns of today’s fluctuating societal ups and downs.  It seems every day someone achieves their dreams while another is blown to bits by a terrorist’s bomb.  I celebrate a birthday with friends at the same time a mother buries her child.  This insidious balance of good and evil renders me near catatonic with a mixture of soaring joy and abysmal despair.  It just doesn’t make sense, and I am completely lost in a world I no longer understand.

The shooting at Sandy Hook and the resulting flood of grief as Death descended on this sleepy community left me in tears and shaking with sorrow.  No sooner had the bodies of these innocent children been pulled from their classrooms then I found myself out shopping for Christmas gifts in anticipation of a joyful family reunion. I watched the mix of loved ones waiting at the finish of the Boston Marathon, full of love and pride as their champions crossed the finish line, suddenly blended with the explosions of hate that laid low the lives of three people, one, a child who now joins the bitter fruit withering on the vine of life, not yet fully blossomed.  I have found that I am incapable of processing this confusing blend of despair and bliss.  My psyche is not wired to route the neurons of my emotions bouncing back and forth within my soul so randomly, and my mental landscape is muddled beyond words.

I am left feeling that I have personally failed in my journey upon this earth, this blue-green marble that spins wildly on a shaky spindle.  I don’t know how to proceed. No sooner than I fall on my knees in prayer that word comes of another senseless act of violence.  Is this how God answers desperate prayers for comfort and understanding?  Am I a fool to think that a simple act of Divine intervention might be suggested amongst all this violent loss of life?  So I stop praying.  God must be a sadistic voyeur for the silence of His absence in all of this is deafening.

My life does not slow down, however, to properly mourn, for no sooner than my heart is laid low by the killing of a dozen Syrian children, then the phone rings and I’m invited to a party celebrating the engagement of my best friend.  What cruel and atrocious mocking of life this all turns out to be.  Where do I find understanding amidst the laughter and the tears?  How do I proceed with any semblance of balance?  I retreat into the only sanctuary where I find an ounce of control: my writing.  But as the words pour out upon the page, my sadness and confusion only becomes more evident.  I start to write of hope and love, and in moments my words become dark and sullen.  I am the world I live in. And like that world, I am confounded  in both mind and body.  My pen stops and weeps uncontrollably.  My writing is exhausted and no longer makes sense.

I am caught in a bubble devoid of clarity, floating mindlessly through each demanding day. I cry out,  “Please, someone, pop the bubble!”;  explain this senseless woven tapestry of life so that I can chart my course, so that I can find meaning in this tower of babel.  To God and His perfect plan I say “Fuck You” – this pain is no longer bearable.  I cannot trust the joys I know when lurking behind the next corner is just another tragedy waiting to crush my spirit once more.  I need to get off this see-saw and find shelter.

I can no longer play His celestial game of ping-pong.  I will not!

The Green Viper


green-viper-snake

I walked into the dark forest,
my stomach gurgling fear.
Pushing it down into my gut
I entered a grove of mangoes
devoid of fruit and intensely tangled,
like the ribbons of my life.

I saw there a green tree snake
coiled upon a gnarled branch,
watching me as carefully as I did it,
a flickering tongue eerily matching
the flickering of my heart.

Startled then by a strange desire
to feel his venomous bite,
I stepped closer
and reached an unsteady hand
toward the inevitable.

The strike was sudden
and true to its mark,
though I saw it all in slow motion;
the beady black eyes locked as the head pulled back,
and with the mouth, full of cotton and death,
opened to two curved fangs.
The lightning extension of his slender body
racing toward the fattest curve of my extended arm.

Just before the bite,
I saw all the stale moments of my life
stretched before me;
the childhood full of loneliness and broken toys;
the awkward attempts to befriend others,
met with laughter and derision;
a teen locked within the pain and uncertainty
of forced loneliness;
the young man twisting in the wind,
fearful and drunk after lost hours
searching for love that would never be there.

It stung for a moment,
then slowly a fire spread upward
from my elbow to my shoulder.
The painful memories replaced by a certain knowledge
That peace would soon cocoon me
in the darkness that I yearned for.

I felt sleepy and content in knowing
that this green viper was the closest thing
I would ever know of true love.
He bit to release me.

I sat upon a mossy log,
my breathing, moments before racing,
now became labored and shallow.
The pain brought with it a strange sensation of giddiness,
and as I watched the darkness
creep up through my surrendered body,
I smiled one last time.

And just bef….jus…as…I…

There’s An Answer To Your Dreams


Sweet_dreams_are_made_of_these_by_Dream__Window

There’s an answer to your dreams
Though it’s never what it seems
If you reach into your soul
You’ll find the path to all your goals

Let the pain and sorrow fade
The path to happiness is laid
And the joy and love you seek
Will be placed before your feet

When you feel you can’t survive
Let your heart then be your guide
For it beats with endless truth
All your fears then gently soothed

Know I’ll lift you if you fall
Hold you close and give you all
The gentle love you need to rise
To overcome and learn to fly

Trust that love will come along
Give you strength to carry on
A precious gift that makes you whole
And heals the sorrow in your soul

You have the power to survive
All the emptiness inside
If you simply trust your heart
You’ve had the power from the start

There’s an answer to your dreams
Though it’s never what it seems
If you reach into your soul
You’ll find the path to all your goals

Opposite Sides of the Same Pain


grief

A Sunni mother silently watches:
overhead, a gathering of scavenging ravens
paints the dusky sky above
the broken bodies of her three children.
Bewilderment mixed with horror and beauty,
accented by the pebbles beneath her feet,
polished smooth by a flood of tears.
An acrid wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
confetti raining on freshly scorched earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the loss of its precious fruit.

grief 2

In that very moment, across the sea,
a Haitian waif reflects:
A flock of seagulls angrily position
above the ghetto garbage heap
next to a crumbling shanty
where her newborn triplets scream with hunger.
Bewilderment mixed
with horror and beauty,
the waste beneath her feet glistens
with the flood of her tears.
The stench of rotting wind swirls
with scattered hope and broken dreams;
flies rising up from quaked earth.
Another womb is rent in unbearable grief
at the bounty of its damnable fruit.

 

I Live Here All Alone


alone

 

I will not die for lack of love,
though greater seems the fate,
Nor shall I pray for tenderness,
or seek my soul to mate.

No kiss for me do lips desire,
nor arms round me entwine;
A soft caress or heart possessed,
I am not so inclined.

This rhapsody that others seek
I will look for in tomorrow.
With so much pain, I’m now within
A great and binding sorrow.

The emptiness I live within
has always been my home -
So do not seek my company,
I live here all alone.

 

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.

Faulty Reasoning


inmate

I was wrong about obscurity then,
hoping for darkness and a quiet bed;
but then the iron door slammed shut
and the cacophony of inmates filled my brain.

My crime was meant to buy me the freedom
from life’s incessant hammering; but I found
myself thrust into a discordant and never-ending
screech of men bemoaning their false innocence
and knives fashioned from melted toothbrushes
jabbing the life from unsuspecting fools.

I had hoped for the consistency of routine and
lights out early, but beneath the glaring ceiling
sconces that burned 24/7, each night slammed down
with new threats and opportunists to perish.

I longed for the numbness I had known in my
drink and drugs, but in here, they would only
give you antacids and an aspirin.

I had simply not thought this through.

The Night She Called



I was so drunk
the night she called
I thought the phone ringing
was a song in my brain -
I hummed along
and laughed that empty laugh
that is found at the bottom
of well drunk bottles.

Later, she came to the door
and knocked, knocked, knocked
while I stared
at the crack spreading
up the wall,
reminding me of her varicose veins.
I tapped my foot in time.

I will most certainly die
on this side of the door one night,
and all the ringing and knocking
won’t bring me back to life.

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.

My Father’s Gift


My father was a gifted man,
if by gifted you mean having the ability
to take a perfectly good family and
fuck it up beyond all recognition.

I often wonder what his childhood
was like – did he lay awake at night
anxiously awaiting that condemning
sliver of light from a cracked bedroom
door? Did he endure the midnight
smell of rum and coke that announced
another night of abuse? Did he whisper
to himself, “this is what I want to do
when I grow up?”

He had a gift for loving his children,
much like a pimp has the gift of loving
his whores.

At Last..Goodbye


Each word, a thousand times spoken
Each promise, another vow broken
like snowflakes melting as they hit the ground
your words fall coldly without a sound

Each kiss, from cold lips pressed
Each touch, just an icy caress
You hold me so tightly I can no longer breath
Your embrace insincere – I no longer believe

Each gesture, an empty illusion
Each thought, just a delusion
The love I once felt has turned to regret
And the best I can do is hope to forget

Each day, a waste of my giving
Each night, exhausted from living
With someone who hasn’t the vision to see me
I’ve opened my eyes, I just wish to be free

I Live Here All Alone


I will not die for lack of love,
though greater seems the fate,
Nor shall I pray for tenderness,
or seek my soul to mate.

No kiss for me do lips desire,
nor arms round me entwine;
A soft caress or heart possessed,
I am not so inclined.

This rhapsody that others seek
I will look for in tomorrow.
With so much pain, I’m now within
A great and binding sorrow.

The emptiness I live within
has always been my home -
So do not seek my company,
I live here all alone.

Broken Smiles


Behold, such sadness in her eyes;
sweet longing, deep sighing, for days gone by.
A single translucent tear descends,
etching a deep, meandering rivulet
through her softly powdered face;
betrayal writ in her broken smile.

She wears defeat with noble grace.

Alone within her cruel vexation,
Her despair drifts upon scented air.
I am entranced by this cheap perfume;
I cannot, I will not, look away.

Her emptiness devours me;
I am lost within her reverie.

A thousand questions knit into one:
What tragedy before unfolds?
Has deathly illness laid low a precious kinship?
Perhaps a lover, forever fore-sworn, now departed?
Promises shattered like broken glass;
cutting her dreams into ribbons?

She rises slowly, partly turns;
her glazed eyes lock onto mine
but for a whisper of a moment;
I offer nothing more of comfort
than my own broken smile.

Tears well within my intrusive eyes
and I look away:
My empathy is my undoing
and shame rises to paint my cheeks
a mournful blush.

I turn again and she is gone!

Years have passed
and still my broken heart
beats in imperfect rhythm.

Was she set before my vision
or concocted from memory’s revision?
Did she find her peace once more;
perhaps some comfort in our communion?
Even now I feel her sorrow
like a midnight fog rolling over me.

My tears have long since dried,
but my cry is eternal.