The Abyss

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“…And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” Nietzsche

The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

In the matter of a week and a half two friends, former coworkers, had taken their lives; a ripple of sadness passed through what used to be a close-knit family, one that has been cast to the four winds, nomads, since they closed the plant a couple years ago; Facebook is all a flutter, as everyone is trying to make sense of this tragedy and offering to be a sympathetic ear for those in need; and I’m just crying; when “Bob” committed suicide about two weeks ago there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to it; as he had recently gotten a better job and appeared to be happy; well…he always appeared to be happy; he was the guy that you never felt the urge to avoid, that you always had a nice conversation with, as he was soft-spoken and was rarely ever without his smile; though rumor has it he has fought periodic depression for quite some time; he has been in an on-again-off-again relationship with another friend/former coworker that he has a daughter with, but whatever the reason(s) he had he found it necessary to hang himself with copper wire in his garage; and I found myself wanting, no needing to know what was going through his mind as he stood at the abyss’ edge; I don’t know if this need stems from morbid curiosity, the writer and student of human behavior that resides within or because I have been near the abyss’ edge before and needed to know just how far down this rabbit-hole goes–how much worse can it get before one takes action; whatever the reason the idea was always lurking there like the shadow behind every sunny-day thought; then a few days later my wife called me while I was on the return trip from North Carolina and told me that “Mark” had killed himself; as I was with my father-in-law and sister-in-law I bottled and buried all reaction to this news; but once I was home it started to hit me harder and harder in waves and I began going back over all of Mark’s Facebook posts; it was as if each one was a scream for help; the most recent post had seemed darkly poetic, as it spoke of the woman he lost; she held him in her arms; his cheek against her chest; lips pressed together; his need to be with her is paramount; his eyes grow heavy; he is sorry; I had lumped this post in with all of the other dark/depressing/vengeful/lamenting/antagonistic posts he had made forever, but with 20/20 hindsight it couldn’t have been any clearer to me; a captioned picture of him laying with his dog on the couch, “at least someone cares about me,” and another post asking all of his contacts to tell him something good about him; a one sentence response to Bob after his passing, “I feel you but you could’ve called me bro,” and the more I read and re-read these posts the more I despised myself for not seeing the signs before it was too late; where I once needed to know what Bob had been thinking, I found myself overcome with the raw pain of hopelessness and loneliness I knew Mark must have felt at the end; I was there at the abyss’ edge with the ghost of a friend and the familiarity of the abyss washed over me; I had to shake it but I couldn’t; we had babysat his now four fatherless children; I had given him rides when his car was broke down; I had told him in an IM when he looked for validation on Facebook that he was a good man and that I had a great amount of respect for him; it took me two days to get to the point where I wouldn’t just break down crying at the mere thought of him or at the latest Facebook posts; I had gotten closer to the abyss’ edge than I ever had before, but I learned a valuable lesson, that I remain unbroken…perhaps even stronger having faced those demons; the deep lows and the amazing highs give me the breadth of reference that not only makes me who I am, but allows me to bleed upon these pages unabashedly; life goes on;

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I am

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I am the undeliverable letter

With no return address

The faded love poem that waits

An eternity to be gifted

The song that sits at the edge

Of understanding never sung aloud

I am the unread manuscript

That only felt warmth in a 3am house fire

The wilted, unpurchased, bouquet of roses

That would’ve brought a smile to their lips

The fledgling that wasn’t quite ready

Left longing for the warmth of nest

The apology caught in the throat

Behind ego’s lump, that’d reconciled the two

The unsaid vow of the heart

Afraid it would go unreciprocated

So, deliver me; gift me; sing me; read me;

purchase me; push me when I’m ready; say

You’re sorry; and, say you love them.

Take the chance, be uncomfortable…that’s

Where life begins.

Afraid

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I’m afraid

I’m afraid of me

I’m afraid

That we aren’t just what we do

Butcher, baker, lunacy maker

But what we COULD do

Capability is culpability

I’m afraid that a lifetime’s

Transgressions

Sublimely sublimated

Lies beneath rice paper skin

One scratch and the equation

Comes undone

A gushing hemophiliac

Simmer to boil in a picosecond

My foot steps off the hose

Back-pressure seeking equilibrium

Bruised ego is the vacuum

Liquid rage siphoned from a wrath tank

Spraying across the asphalt

Filling the chalk outlines

Of life’s regrets and iniquities

Just world hypothesis circles the drain

Why would you…?

Why couldn’t I…?

I’m afraid

I’m afraid of me

I’m afraid

That the scratch will never come…

Waterboard of Directors

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They place the cot in my office

It is so comfortable, here try it out

I’m lowered into place

The blanket is heavy and made of unobtainable goals

I’m tucked in and told to feel the security of it

I’m bound by expectations

Standing squarely in the middle of my sandbox

They hold meetings I’m not invited to

They place the cloth over my face

They talk of personal development plans

We’ll water your face value so it grows long

The water erodes my approbations

I must walk the gauntlet, formed by the waterboard of directors

Chivalry is not dead, as they hold the door open for me

I walk out on my own accord, not…one…shove.

Breakthrough

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Tabula rasa

Bone white paper

Hand glides across gently

The bumps may divine portent

Eyes squeezed tight

Searching

Hand spiders across the splintered ivory table

Fingers find the instrument

Cold to the touch

Almost too heavy to bear

Steel-tipped calligrapher’s pen

Dipped in last life’s losses

Blind scry from the third eye

Tip touches paper

Paper screams out like nails on slate

Eyes squeezed shut

Strokes are light at first

Like the gentle flicking of an imbedded sliver

The words will not be coaxed this night

They must be ripped out

Exhumed

Cause of death questions linger

Bear down

The nib bends beneath the pressure

Back and forth, back and forth

The planchette rides the infinity

Eyes squeezed shut

The nib chudders against the surface

Inspiration oozes from the gaping wound

Moments long lost in the ethereal

Blink in and out of awareness

You’ve found your groove

Paper is wood, the pen a chisel

The floor is littered with the useless bits

A breakthrough made

Callused fingers wipe away the detritus

Trace the jagged edges of the worm hole

The dura mater exposed

The demons released

The nib bent beyond repair

A new trephine needed for tomorrow’s work

Now is the time for healing

No one said writing would be easy

Eyes squeezed tight

Soapbox

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Your very perception of yourself can be fallible. To see faults where none exist. To magnify the smallest of imperfections to caricature extremes. Body dysmorphia becomes your own personal hell. Powerful insecurities astigmatize the minds eye. The same can be said about the content of ones character. The villain is the hero in their own book. The asshole feels justified. The you, that you share with the world, is rarely the real you. Your public you is based on the faulty perception of what society deems acceptable. Who is society? A bunch of other insecure, distorted reality viewing, pretenders. All of us falling prey to the shiny objects that are meant to fill the void. The latest cellphone, the MK purse, the new car. We work longer hours, missing the ones we love, so we can buy these diversions. Keep your eye on the prize. In this way you won’t notice your deteriorating spiritual connection to Mother Earth and your fellow man. Love. Compassion. Empathy. Not just for everyone else or the natural world, but for yourself. For me there is one undeniable fact…we are ALL ONE. NOT…we are ALL ALONE. We are all one.

House on the corner


The house on the corner

An empty shell

Devoid of family warmth

No tv glow

No snuggling on the couch

No home-cooked meal aromas carried on the breeze

You haven’t had family in you for years

A for sale sign, a cry of loneliness

Uncut grass, like an unkempt beard

I feel your depression like a burlap cloak

Where are the little children’s feet, padding across your hardwood floors?

The peals of laughter, do they still echo in your empty rooms?

You still feel the vibrations, the resonance, don’t you?

Oh, I see…life breathes in you still…

Groundhogs have made your front porch their home

Pigeons roost in your attic, cooing out their greetings to you

Is this consolation?

Are you happy?

When we grow old, solitary, with wild hair and wilder ideas, mumbling to ourselves…

with only our thoughts, our pigeons in the attic, to keep us company…are we you?

Are you labeled crazy by the other houses for not wanting to be inhabited?

Are we, humans, crazy for the same reasons?

Or…are we both just waiting for someone to turn the key?

One

One is the onliest number that you’re ever due

Too can be hard won

It’s the lowliest numb-er since the slumber won

Now is the sadist’s experiment you’ll ever know

Yes, it’s the sadist’s experiment you’ll ever know

‘Cause one is the onliest number that you’re ever due

One is the onliest number, whoa-oh, worse than too

It’s just no good anymore, sense, you went away

Now I spend high tide just making climbs to a hideaway

One is the onliest number

One is the onliest numb-er

One is the onliest numb-er that you’re ever due

One is the onliest

One is the onliest

One is the onliest numb-er that you’re ever due

It’s just no good anymore, sense, you went away

(numb-er)