The Dream

Why do we hold on?

Why can’t we just…let…go?

It fucking defines us

We let it define us

We LIKE that it defines us

It means there’s more

More than your 9 to 5

More than your carpool lane

More than your social media likes

More than your Netflix suggested list

That with the right amount of light

The right amount of water

The right amount of bullshit

Of believing you can

Despite the odds

That we could succeed

At something truly worthwhile

To do what you love

To love what you do

To be remembered forever

Immortality

By finally letting people in

By opening yourself up

Exposing your truth

Your psychoses

Your vulnerabilities

Your humanness

And showing other wounded

That they’re not alone

But this dream takes a toll

The biggest of which

Is self belief

And why is that so…fucking…hard?

So many of us with a story to tell

But gagging on the first syllable

Afraid that once we do speak

We’ll realize we’re alone

And always will be

Listening to those words

Echoing off cold, brick walls

That a dream never achieved

Is better than the death of that dream

Even gagging on that syllable

We are trying and possibility exists

So why do we hold on?

Because we’re through sleepwalking

Now it’s time to wake up

Time to put in the work

Even if the gagging

Brings the taste of copper

We will swallow it down

And retch out the next syllable

Together we are a chorus

Commodity

What’s standing in my way?

Me

You practice saying croissant

While I practice saying thank you

And I’m sorry

When all I want to scream is…

I take compliments

As a toddler takes a booster shot

I follow conversations

The way a boxing commentator

Describes a 10 round flight

Finesse the points or swing for the fences

Or pretend to be good neighbors

As fences often are

We all say we want truth

But all we really want is OUR truth

When confronted with another’s truth

We swallow it whole

Hoping it doesn’t scratch on the way down

And that it doesn’t change the color

Of our shit

When it is done sustaining us

But remembering you

Never feels quite as important

As you remembering me

But remembering YOU

Never feels QUITE as important

As YOU remembering…me

But vampirism grants immortality

And ripples mimic wind currents

To the point we confuse words

With actions

Sometimes words are all we have…

Somnambulant Explorer

I’m investing in Tesla to test out my toughness

I divested in diaries to skip out on dowries

I spun all the muster and fuss of the spinster

I’m a mister who missed her so I could ration my minutes

Fingers outstretched I fetched the gold band from an old hand that lingers

Searching for answers I’m lurching at dancers

This middle earth dearth was worth all this curse

I’m resigned to decline the divine if it means less time with my kind

I try to master my mind faster, a spell caster lost in time, a bastard

I’m just a sleepwalker, a mumbling talker, who dreams of being spoiled, you see, living off book royalties

I miss

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I miss the younger me

The weightless unencumbered me

The carefree and aimless me

I want to hide beneath the weeping willow

A nature-made fortress…of solitude 

Where, like Superman, I flew

Thin branches wound around my bone-thin forearms 

Leaping against the pull of gravity

A mind that didn’t carry sorrow 

Or guilt 

Or servitude to the almighty dollar 

A helium balloon in the clouds

Tethered to unslumped shoulders

How I soared 

I bent spoons with my mind

Slayed dragons with vorpal sticks

I worshipped the mother in this church 

Light shining through stained glass leaves 

Many moons later

Barely able to lift head from pillow

I’ve sidestepped into a different reality 

Where I no longer felt like I fit and I made sense

This alternate timeline

After 12 hours of contractions

I find myself sentenced

Now I’m a contraction at the end of a sentence 

It is what it’s 

Pendulum

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The pendulum swings

From pearl to gastrolith

I feel it’s weight with each shifting

In this damned uncomfortable chair

When it’s a pearl

It’s a story

A captivating tale that sets me apart

Sets me on the path of being

Actualization

When it’s a gastrolith

It’s still a story

A forgettable pablum not worth noting 

Securing my place of anonymity 

Forgotten 

The weight, either way, is there

It’s gravity a nagging reminder 

Often paralyzing 

There are times, though

When the bits of wire and rusted nails

Break free from the ingested magnet

Where all the world’s pain collects

These bits of detritus regurgitated 

Coming out through a torn throat

In bloody, mucosal, pyroclastic eruptions

There are times, though

The body feels warmth from the insoluble 

It gently encases it in layers of nacre

Making its expulsion more tolerable 

The vomitus a pictada fucata 

Throat stretching to accommodate 

The goose that lays a mother of pearl egg

In either case, the process is necessary 

Whether avoiding a stomach so full

I beach myself on distant, unknown shores

Having broken the elemental barrier 

Born again, but into desiccation 

Or the calcium that makes up the nacre

Is cancerous in high concentrations 

The body evicting a deadly tenant

A baby gestating too long

In either case, the process is creation

In minima

Like a young child staring in awe

The first time they make

Crying when the toilet’s flushed 

Or the first piece of art 

That makes the side of the fridge

There is value in the letting go

Not the reckless abandon of encopresis 

But the satiation of a need

The building of an edifice of confidence 

But just like the microdosing of dopamine 

It’s a bandaid for a puncture wound

True healing

A resurrection, not just a seance

A real fucking dose, not just a bump

I have to stop hiding

I have to  take the leap

But I daydream about skydiving 

And am afraid to fall

In the end, the true fear is failure

That if I cut myself open

If I dig this weight I carry out of my guts

If it’s DOA

Then I am empty, a shell, a testa

And where do I go from there?

I only have one recurring dream

And one ever-present nightmare

Reminder

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It had been so long that no one remembers just when it had happened. You’d think an event like this would be clearly recorded in our history, but like the wholesale slaughter of the Native Americans, it’s something those in power would rather forget—in order to feel human, that they’re part of something great. 

These little statues appeared everywhere and all at once. There were more in the areas you would expect to find them, at schools, parks, and grocery stores, but there were quite a few that must’ve formed in secret…in backyards and in bedroom windows. Rooted to the very ground upon which they stand, many were tried, unsuccessfully, to be moved, like atrocities from high school, social studies, text books, so we could go back to feeling normal.  This just wasn’t going to be the case. 

This horrific tableau. These children who were neglected and/or abused simply froze from their grief. Their little hands clenched so tight, fingernails puncturing what was soft, tender skin in their palms, leaving the burgundy dried blood on their hands and in spots on the ground below. The place where their tears had trailed down are now dried up streams, that left behind salt crystals that glitter in the sunlight. Their heads tilted completely back, as if their last action was to look to the heavens, the heavens that had clearly forgotten them, and then scream. Their mouths open as wide as their little jaws would’ve allowed, some almost appearing to open even further, like snakes that dislocate their jaws in order to swallow a much too large piece of suffering. 

If this had been the extent of it, then we might have adjusted. We would walk past them as if they were just pieces of furniture, or telephone poles, or some art installation that has been there so long…we don’t even see it anymore. But, again, this was not the case. 

We quickly became weather junkies. We’d watch every forecast. The weather man spending the majority of his segment pointing at the proximity of isobars. When those isobars were close together, this rapidly changing pressure gradient, meant wind. People would call into work on windy days more than on days of unrelenting snow fall. 

These statues, with their tilted back heads and their mouths agape, resonate when the wind blows, like blowing across the top of a plastic soda bottle. The sound that issues forth from this chorus is so soul-twistingly sad, that the strongest amongst us fall to our knees and sob uncontrollably. 

Those that had ones in their open windows, in their back yards, and on their porches…simply moved away out of shame, hoping to start fresh. 

There was a period, as the accumulated dirt across their faces, from the residue of long since removed duct tape attests, where we tried to stifle their song. But the very sight of these children, who were silenced in their suffering during their lives, standing their with taped mouths was more than anyone could handle seeing. The tape was quickly removed, but the stripe of dirt across their mouths serves as another reminder. 

As bad as all this was—as if this wasn’t enough to show us the error of our ways, we had to explain these statues to our children. Like most children their questions were never ending and built on the last, until it mounted to a crescendo, where we would finally just break down and say, “I don’t know, baby, but we’re better than that now, and it will never happen again,” tears rolling down our faces, as we hug our children tightly. Each child giving the slightest smile and tiniest of nods, as if to say that the lesson has been learned. 

Those that tried to use them falsely as a warning to misbehaving children, as if their temper tantrums would lead to this, were met with a implacable, marrow-deep knowledge that this was a lie. 

No one knew if this was a one time occurrence, or if more were to come if we stayed on the same path, but some hoped that, if we changed our ways so truly, that these children would come back to us. Even though they were generations old, we would take them in and finish healing them, and ourselves. 

We are still waiting. 

Learning to fly

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They hid it at first

He was so young

Only four

They’d call him a freak

Two little nubbins 

One on each shoulder blade

Loose shirts

Windbreaker jacket

Then the first event happened 

Fucking tuna fish can

Sliced his mom’s hand right open

Oh how the red scared him

Nerve damage

Limp fingers

She was struggling to dial

Goddamn rotary phone

She felt woozy 

Then two little hands reached out 

Gently taking hold of hers

As he placed his head against her 

The nubbins stretched out

Featherless little wings

His mother was dumbfounded 

She didn’t notice the bleeding 

Had stopped

He buried his face 

Into her stomach

I love you, mama

The next day they grew

Twice in size

More difficult to hide 

Homeschooling was the answer 

A couple years slipped by

His questions became more pointed 

His need to see the world deepened 

She began taking him on outings 

Planetarium, museum, theater, petting zoo

She worried so

Then the second event happened

During a long elevator ride down

To the underground caverns 

A middle aged man collapsed

An RN performed CPR until exhaustion 

She couldn’t save him

The little boy looked up at his mother

His eyes pleading

Her face twisting

She nodded once and turned away 

She could hear the gasps

Knowing life would never be the same 

The canopy of the tent fluttered 

With the wind blowing outside 

He missed the feeling of wind and sun

The revival would be starting soon 

His wings were the size of a condor’s

The tips dragging on the ground 

His mother gripping her rosary 

Muttered about the crowd gathering 

The 2:00 show

He looked so gaunt to her

The preacher’s sermon 

Was all fire

And brimstone 

Then the lines formed

With each passing touch

Each person given a new lease

He felt himself slipping further away 

The doctors and scientists tore him apart 

In the end they determined his wings

Were a cancer

And when he couldn’t give anymore 

Of himself 

He stretched his wings

For the final time

Slipping into oblivion 

Mandala

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I took my poems and pinned them to a giant cork board. Butterflies of every hue. Like a conspiracy theorist or a detective hunting a serial killer, I connected the poems with string. My crazy wall. I connected them by how old I was in the memory that spawned the poem, by themes of love and loss, by which of the two poles I steered towards, or away from, if the poem was looking in the past, thoughts of the future or grounding myself in the present. It started out looking like a spiderweb, and I plucked the strings of love and watched the poems thrum and give off chords of joy. Then I strummed the strings of loss and a mournful sound issued forth, making the room waver and dance. The strings of depression hung limply and could not be played, but the beauty of their draping form stood out amongst all the straight lines and angles, and the strings of anxiety were so tight they were shrill in the plucking…almost pulling the poems from the board. As my eyes moved about the board I found myself, simultaneously, smiling and teary-eyed.  As the web flowed about in waves from the welling tears, I had to wipe my eyes clear. To my astonishment, within what was to become my life’s dream catcher, was an outline of myself, arms outstretched to what could only be stars. Dumbfounded at how I didn’t see it sooner, I traced my fingertips about the edge of it. My hand eventually settling on a bare spot, a hole, at the center of this wondrous mandala, right where my outline’s heart should reside. I pondered whether this void represented the parts of me I’ve kept hidden or parts I’ve yet to discover. I vowed to fill this hole. To keep writing. To keep catching butterflies. 

Ice Age

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You have a book inside you that someone will love so dearly that, when everyone else is burning anything made of wood during the next ice age, they’ll hide it and read it in secrecy…lest it be taken for a moment’s pure bliss of warmth. They’ll lose toes and the tip of an ear just to feel the resonance of your soul. 

451 reasons to one. But that one reason, oh my god, that one reason…

Just keep bleeding out, until the edges of your heart blurs and your vision narrows. Until you vomit the bile of your genetic inheritance, of your fractured roots. Ride the leading edge of a wave built on generational success, but also on deferred dreams and compromises. This push and pull…this give and take is the tide you dragged yourself out of. Primordial soup for the writer’s soul. So when they try to sanitize you, you march right out into the yard, roll in the freshest pile of shit you can find, and howl at the hunter’s moon. It’s that very madness that’ll carry you through, that’ll get you and your reader through the long, harsh winter. 

LinkedIn feed writing prompt: remote controlled brains

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[The following paragraph showed up in my LinkedIn feed. It has such insidious implications that I thought it could be a great writing prompt. I won’t say much more, as I’d actually like to see your take on it.  Please don’t hesitate to leave your idea(s) in the comments.]

Here it is:

Feeding medicine directly to your brain: Researchers at MIT have developed a hair-thin device that can be implanted deep into people’s brains and distribute medicines via remote control, a potential game-changer for patients suffering from diseases like Parkinson’s or depression. The implants can bypass the blood-brain barrier — which can sometimes block medicines from reaching their intended destination — and limit the potential for undesirable side effects. The researchers aim to connect the implant to medication pumps that will sit beneath a patient’s skin, which can hold more than one kind of medicine and be refilled with a simple injection. • Share your thoughts: #DrugDeliveryBrain