“V”

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I don’t know where to start. She was the first girl to really make out with me and she was really good at it. Us, just a couple freshmen in the inner city. She took me from zero to 90 in four-point-three-seconds. Just when we were rounding the final turn she pumped the brakes. I was breathless. Confused. So unbelievably grateful that she chose me, but devastated that she’d brought me to heaven’s door, and said she just wanted to be held. I figured she was making sure I was the right guy, so I held her until she said she had to go home. I walked her home, holding hands, and I finally felt like I had worth. She had seen something in me, something even I couldn’t see. The next time we hung out my childhood friend was over and she was different. She looked at me like a flavor of ice cream she had enough of…too much butter pecan and in desperate need of a palate cleanse. And just like that…she moved on. Lying in bed I could hear the familiar wet smacking sounds of her, working her magic. This was the beginning of my Pink Floyd, The Wall, stage…everyday, all day on auto-reverse. To this day, The Wall can transport me back to the frailty of my teenage years and I feel an unnameable loss, a hole, that remains. I quickly learned that she pumped the brakes with my friend, as well. Somehow that made me feel better. It became a theme, though. Her showing up at gatherings of me my friends. Choosing her next victim. It got so, those of us she used, would put up two fingers, almost a peace sign, but with the back of the hand. It was a sign of camaraderie, like soldiers who’d fought in the same war and came out the other side, but far from unscathed. It was, also, the first letter of her name…V. Somehow Mikey, the best looking of our group, got to walk her home more than once. He had that all American look, with feathered hair and a shit-eating-grin. He had somehow found the magic key, but as long as they were together he never made it across the finish line. I moved away, while they were still an item. Years later, after they had long gone their separate ways, he told me during a phone conversation, that she had been such a great make-out-artist, because she had been taught, for years…by her father. Her older sister had got engaged and was making her escape, but V had worried that their father might turn to her younger sister to fill the void, and none of them wanted that. Like THAT was where they wanted to draw the line. The girls’ aunt cornered Mikey, at one point, and made him swear to never say a word. He carries…we all carry, that shit with us. The thought of this monster and his three daughters. I tried finding them. Facebook. Classmates. It’s like they simply disappeared. I no longer feel bad about how our time went, but can only hope that she felt safe and maybe normal, if such a thing exists, for that little while, when I was just holding her.

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My post “Tempus fugit” originally posted at Sudden Denouement, A Global Divergent Literary Collective

I imagined walking across the ocean floor The immortal lobsters and jellyfish my friends I said, “I wish I didn’t have to breathe.” I thought of wasted time and dreams deferred Of taking this split life and making it whole I said, “I wish I didn’t need to sleep.” I thought of money wasted, as […]

via Tempus fugit-Erich Michaels — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

Inured

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Remember when coffee felt like it was boiled in the depths of hell. When a broken promise brought real physical pain. When vegetables raised bile to the back of your throat and you made yourself sick, just to get out of having to eat more. The taste of artificial sweeteners…what fucking devilry IS this?!? Spicy food. Shots at the doctor’s. Using a public restroom. When the sound of adults arguing made me hide under the bed and I cried myself to sleep. The way a loved one’s look of disappointment hurt your heart. Asthma taught me, as a little boy, that even drowning on dry land will pass. Jesus, even with asthma, I hacked my fucking brains out on the first few cigarettes, only to become a pack-a-day smoker. The steady weight gain of middle age, until you find yourself buying shoes that slip on easily. The boss’ condescending tone, from a guy you wouldn’t even bother holding a decent conversation with. Watching my little boy in the window, as I drive off to my 9 to 5. Some of the deepest transgressions end up changing us but become just phantasms we try not to remember. I’ve been here before, so just rip the goddamn bandage off. No I don’t need to look the other way…just try and get it in the vein the first time around. I have become inured. But, but…sometimes I wish I felt every bit of it. Because I’m starting to wonder if I’m putting up with more bullshit than I should, and, most of all, I think I should still be crying everyday from your passing. I miss you, our conversations, and my biggest fan. This world/growing old/time has made me numb, has made me a monster, and I’m not even sure if I feel bad about it.

Notes On A Suicide by Hemingway – A.G. Diedericks. A very introspective piece on self esteem and imposter syndrome.

The cosmos misplaced me left me to meteor into this zeitgeist of insipid distractions Where i roam as an anachronism under the city of lights in pursuit of remnants from Lutetia with nothing but a pen & piece of paper to live on Problem is I’m not a poet Let me tell you how i […]

via Notes On A Suicide by Hemingway – A.G. Diedericks — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

Wires crossed

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There was a time

A time when hearing your name

As spoken to you by your mother

Made you taste her sweet milk In your mouth

A time when the words in a Dr. Seuss book

Shimmered, flashed and danced about

A time when your father

Played peekaboo with you

And as you watched him hide

His hands pressed against his face

You could feel the pressure

Against your own face

Though nothing touched you

A time when the radio didn’t just play music

But made rainbows

Pulsing from the speakers

Unfortunately that time has passed

Crossed wires uncross

Just like with a lazy eye

One eye will dominate

The brain ignoring the other

And a single, more useful image is presented

Its a matter of survival

Your parents talked of the psychic powers

That young children have

Of seeing guardian angels or spirits

But you we’re just watching

The velvety, pastel blue sound

That trailed out of your grandma’s mouth

As she sang long forgotten folk songs

For most of us

The only synesthesia we carry with us

Beyond the uncrossing

Beyond childhood amnesia

Is sympathy

Where facial expression and body language

Elicit emotional reactions

These crossed wires make us social

Make us human

Make us beautiful

Beacon

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Maybe I’m part moth

Maybe I’ve watched too much film noir

Maybe I see it as a tempting, empty throne

But when I’m driving at night

On some state route

Houses thinning out

The glow of the next city

Backlighting the tree line

And I see a streetlight

On some deserted corner

I get the overwhelming urge

This visceral need

To go there

And just stand

Beneath its light

Panopticon

The first one is tangible

But severed as soon as it hits light

After that, it is invisible

For most it thrums in the key of love

For others, the invisible umbilical is cut

You feel the weight of it

Trailing out behind you

The rest of your life

This is true with all primary connections

Whether lost by choice or by death

The next are, hopefully, tenderly constructed

These strings, along with the first

Make the power chords

The yardstick for all future connections

Some can be slack from uncaring

These don’t thrum at all

Brought up with these types of umbilicals

You’ll fear the sound of real connection

Alien…a trap, you’ll think

You’ll create your own slack

Some are too tight from authoritarian control

It’s a garrote of discordance

You associate it’s tight embrace with love

You strangle everyone you care about

Trying to keep them close

The tension is too great

The snap will be a reoccurring theme

Sometimes we overcompensate

Brought up with slack, we seek the tight

Brought up tight, we seek the slack

But when faced with purity of tone

We shed misconceptions like too tight skin

Sloughing off our callous nature

We stretch ourselves from spiritual growth

When we neglect spiritual growth

We create holes in our range

Like Hunter’s Syndrome we become deaf

Certain frequencies are lost to us

In desperation we fill this hole with objects

One way connections that drain us of energy

Wasting time amusing ourselves

With smartphones, PCs, or 4K televisions

It’s time wasted, because it takes us away

Away from the symphony

We form connections with friends

They give us range and depth of tonal grasp

We sometimes find a place in worship

Here we learn chords beyond understanding

At school we learn our spot in the symphony

With a good partner we resonate harmony

Each time we gain another umbilical

We place gentle fingertips on these strings

Quickly assessing their health and vitality

If we don’t continually tune our connections

We’ll find them either tightening, slackening

Or breaking altogether

It’s up to us which we strengthen or neglect

We are spiders at the center of our webs

Our webs interconnect with individuals

Our webs interconnect with institutions

At the same time we monitor our harp-webs

We, too, are being monitored

Do you color in between the lines?

Do you learn the latest dance moves?

Do you read the right books?

Some would be happier if you didn’t read

Will you turn a knob on your machine head?

Or allow someone else to tune you?

Will you become institutionalized?

There’s strength in numbers

We are creatures of habit

Did someone have to show you?

That Twinkle Twinkle is the ABC song?

You were too close to notice

Like not seeing your child grow

Not until you step back and borrow eyes

Before you know it they’re your eyes

Institutional-eyes

Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten

To gently lay your fingertips on the web

Someone is always doing it for you

Welcome to the panopticon

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;

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…

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