For Better or For Worse: I Am a “Dark” Writer


dark writer

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 overwhelm 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 flayed by mental anguish  They were 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.

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.

Crucified Beneath Her Touch


Image

In my darkest hour,
rolled up into a ball upon the divan
reading Plath and Poe,
fantasizing about the silent sweetness of death;
writing angry, diminished verse raging against
all things holy and full of light…
then, only then was I full of purpose and certainty.

From the falling of the sun until the break of dawn,
pouring ice-less cups of bourbon to free my tongue,
burning with each gulp as I exorcised my demons
on the back of half-torn slips of
empty bank statements and creditor threat letters.

My loving Kate stood sentinel outside the door,
occasionally sneaking in a tepid bowl of broth
or a grilled cheese sandwich;
she both hated me beyond all measure
and attended to my waking needs with a love that
stung me to my bitter core.
She stayed because she could see in me
what I could not, as I lay crucified beneath
her touch. I stayed with her so that someone
would be around to answer the angry phone.

In the daylight, awash in the cool grey light of morning,
I tucked away in the roll-topped desk
all evidence of my madness.
Beneath a shower of scalding water,
I made vain attempts to wash away my sins
of the previous night.
I stuffed my walking corpse into
a starched white linen shirt,
draped with a burgundy tie,
and stepped into my fresh-pressed suit
(dear, Kate!) I kissed her dry lips goodbye.

Each day, I drive into the city,
interviewing for jobs I would never accept,
stopping by Tommy’s Irish Pub for a shot of Johnny,
and napping the afternoon away on a
faded green park bench outside the county courthouse.
At 5pm I headed home to flee the light once more.

Dinner would rest un-touched
as I passed straight through toward oblivion.
Kate would be at her spinning class
as I dropped the suit and all pretense,
pulled on a pair of faded jeans,
and slowly drifted into my melancholy.
Each day, I would rummage through her dresser,
lightly tracing my fingers over her satin underthings,
remembering when.

I’d pull another freshly  bought bottle
of amber courage from the kitchen pantry
(dear, sweet Kate) and poured
myself another night.

 

Lost and Found


My heart is loosely stitched
with frayed, crimson-soaked threads
binding my existence to abnormal beats.
I am lost and imprisoned in an iron-forged cage
of despair, mercilessly hammered
on this unforgiving anvil we call life.

Even from childhood, I would see shadows
where others saw light; and I grew up
nursing on the dark teat of depression.
I sang sad songs, embracing my melancholia
with insanity’s unrelenting grip.
The laughter and merriment of others
cut through me like poisoned shards of glass,
and I withdrew further and further into the
cold, foggy corners that framed my world.

But I was not alone.

As a young man, I found my grotesque reflection
resonating in the erstwhile lies of ‘les poètes maudits’;
Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, and Mallarmé!
Like a chorus of fallen angels, they sung to me
the blackened verses of lost love, alcohol abuse,
insanity, crime, and violence!

Their acid-laced stanzas felt warm and inviting.
Their words fit me like burial shroud
clinging to my defeat.
In them, I lost my refuge, my compassion,
my raison d’être! Because of them, I stepped closer
to the plunging abyss of despair…

The Void


A breaking dawn does not mean
a new day has begun;
my life is spun in hours that
never advance, and I do not
even bother to rise in the mornings
of the whippoorwill.
I am filled with an emptiness
that stretches into nothingness.
and when my name is called
I do not answer.
Yesterday, today, tomorrow…
they are all rolled into my despair,
and I have stopped fighting for a
meaning that never comes.
My brittle bones are ground into
the finest dust, and when the wind
kicks up, I am scattered
through empty streets.
I have surrendered to bouts
of liquid reasoning
for the grave will not dig itself.

Contrasting Lights


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.

Descent into Silence


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caught in a flame, and scorched by fire
The searing heat of dark desire
A life for most part innocent
Now lay shattered, scorched, and rent
And on this day to never set
The Sun reveals what she can’t forget
There are no tears still yet to fall
For in this act, she lost it all
What still constricts this child’s laughter
What further harm awaits hereafter
Horrors endured in silent fear
One day stretched out into a year
A year to ten, and now a life
Lies severed by one day of strife
And now confined behind a wall
In silent screams, we watch her fall
Into a pit of pain and bile
All to whet a taste most vile
Malevolent and deadly sour
Another child lost to baseless power

A Godly Silence


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.

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 hope and 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.

Cowardly Run


Footsteps echo across silent floors
Lightly I stumble against bolted doors
I can no longer see for the daylight blinds
Thoughts become jumbled; confused is the mind
Beneath my eyelids, a white pain sears
Unleashing regrets, a torrent of fears
So many years wasted and so few to live
I lie down exhausted, no strength to forgive
My bed sheets are covered in sweat and regret
My slumber eludes me, a payment for debts
I toss and I turn and shiver with cold
The reckoning comes for we who grow old
I wait for an ending, too slow to come
My life has been naught but a cowardly run
My reason is slipping; my hope is diminished
The sun is now setting, my long days are finished
Chandelier stars slowly appear
Darkness descends, as time disappears
Moment by moment, and breath by breath
Slowly appears the sweet face of Death.

The Winter Bites My Bones


The Winter Bites My Bones
Standing all alone amongst the howling winds,
I count my sins and shiver, shiver, shiver
Icy cold reflections freeze me to the spot
No longer will I find warmth in my denials
Numb and quaking, I huddle amongst the fallen leaves
And like them, slowly decay and fade away.
The winter bites my bones
Chewing my frozen flesh with teeth of sharp icicles
Darkness descends and I am numbingly consumed.
The frozen ground will not receive me
Shallow breathes hang before me, vapored and still
Muscles aching from too much holding on
As the winter bites my bones.

Perserverence


Awoke today to nothingness, and no sense of direction
I looked upon the looking glass which offered no reflection
Without much aim, I stumbled forth, devoid of my complexion
And set my way in this darkened day, begun in such rejection.

Aimlessly, I persevered, despite my lack of vision
Offered up my hopelessness as an object for derision
Stepped forth into my wandering, so filled with indecision
But felt somehow, that even now, this was the best decision.

Sightless and in full confusion, one foot before another
I wandered forth upon my course, each turn unlike the other
I cried out for a helping hand, I cried out for a brother
With breathless yelp, I screamed, “please help” but my words were quickly smothered.

I turned about and struggled home, afraid and full defeated
And not one time upon the path, ever was I greeted
Yet even so in time I’d come to find myself full seated
In my home, all alone, blind but undefeated.