Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poetry: In No Particular Order

1:

does anything exist
beyond my eyes
did god really paint
the purple skies
do people believe
in greener grass
like everything else
this too will pass
is it possible to be
surrounded and known
while at the same time
completely alone

2:

cry
crawl
talk
walk
learn
drive
love
die

3:

angels
perched on clouds
spread wings of silk
as they prepare to guard
the beauty
inside you

4:

everything you desire
believe to be true
want from life
i cannot be
i have failed you
accept me as i am
take what i give
or nothing at all

5:

i love my car
i wax it every day
so it can shine
even though i don't

6:

I got up this morning
though I knew you were gone
and all those times
I told myself I couldn't go on
somehow the pain
though buried so deep
wasn't enough to let me
die in my sleep
now I'm alone
it doesn't seem so bad
maybe you weren't
the best I could have had
pictures painted
within my mind
constantly reminding of
what's left behind

7:

paper rock scissors
determining fate
while onlookers
patiently wait

overlapping moments
frozen in time
suspended eternally
in each of their minds

poised on the edge
and baited breath
paper rock scissors
determining death

apathy reigning
in a world fulled with shit
slowly dying
while silently we sit

paper rock scissors
destroying the earth
mothers and fathers
happily giving birth

8:

Once was beautiful
now am dead
can't keep the vermin
out of my head

lying silently
deep in the ground
not much room here
to move around

please don't ask
why I'm here
else you'll think
your time is near

just live your life
day to day
and thank God
He made it that way

9:

four A.M.
mouth is dry
can't believe
i'm still this high
legs are numb
eyes are red
where's the volume
for my head

10:

Roadhouse Love Song

I like the way you look
And you have a certain smile
I was wondering if you
Would be with me a while
I spend all my days
And nights here on the road
I need your loving to
Help me Loosen my load
I won't ask questions or
Take up all your time
I just wanna love you
And pretend that you are mine

I was driving down the road
In the hot part of the year
I got a little thirsty
So I stopped to get a beer
'Bout two hours later
I was three sheets to the wind
But I had to drop off my load
And so I climbed on in
Once again I'm drivin'
'Bout 80 miles an hour
Then I see the blue lights
And the boss says "son you're fired"

that brings me back to now
And this is where we are
can't you see I need you
We don't have to go too far
The seasons they are movin'
I can feel a change down south
You don't have to say a word
Just open up your mouth
I'll tell you that I love you
If it will help at all
But you know I need you 'cause
I'm not that flexible

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NON FICTION: My Locus of Authority

The glowing light of my laptop has been staring me in the face for hours and, until just now, the page was still blank. I’ve been toiling with myself and trying to figure out how and what to write. It is far more difficult to reach into one’s self for a topic than it is to, say, create a work of short fiction.

I have, for some years now, been using the internet for social media and networking. It began with a website called MySpace. I found the site to be a great way to connect with people from my past. Also, being that I live hours away from my family it was a good tool to allow me to be in touch with my siblings, cousins and my dad.

Most everything that my father knew about the internet and computers I had taught him. He had become active in social networking as well and was a user of MySpace. In late October of 2008 Dad found out that he had lung cancer and then on December the 13th he died. It happened so fast. My world crumbled. After his passing I stopped using the site completely. His photo held a prominent position on my home screen and I couldn’t visit the site without seeing his face and thinking of all of the times that we wouldn’t have. Since then I’ve been keeping in touch with friends and family via facebook and, more recently, Twitter.

September 22nd marks the beginning of fall. Rick Reichmuth, from Fox and Friends, posed the question on Twitter “What are your fall rituals?” Immediately I thought of candy corn and dry roasted peanuts and responded. Then, the he wrote me back that he loves the smell of decay in the woods. This got me thinking about my dad.

From the time that I could go with him, my father had taken me hunting and taught me about the woods and nature. As we sat on the ground being silent and waiting for whatever game we were hunting I would turn the leaves and dirt to combat my boredom; the smell of rotting leaves and wood and nature filling my nose. Such a rich and distinct scent cannot be mistaken and the memories and images that it brings cannot be forgotten.

As a child at my father’s side I learned about safety and how to shoot a gun. I learned what sounds different animals make. A squirrel sounds like a combination of a small dog’s bark and the chirp of a bird. A deer will blow air quickly to advise other deer in the area to be on the alert if she senses danger. Dad taught me how to grip a golf club and swing slowly and smoothly and let the club do the work. He taught me that you “look up and see a bad shot.” It was because of him that I knew that, in baseball, the swing is equally important as it is in golf but you’ve got to give it all you’ve got; and, with all sports, keep your eye on the ball. Bass, bream, crappie, and catfish; how to bait a hook with worms, crickets and artificial lures were all things that a boy can’t learn in a classroom. These are things that a father teaches his son and my father taught them to me. As I grew older he taught me different things and helped nurture my love for cars and working on them. I know the difference between a socket and a ratchet and I can look at a bolt head and, within a size or two, know what wrench I’ll need to grab from the tool box.

Then, gradually and all at once at the same time, I began asking him for more and more advice. Suddenly he wasn’t volunteering his wisdom as much. Rather, he was letting me ask questions and find out some answers for myself.

I called my father all the time to ask for advice and get his input on some of the most menial of decisions. I looked to him for advice and information but most of all for approval. He was my locus of authority. Even now, I turn to him but his responses are much harder to hear and understand. I feel like he is right here with me though I can’t see or touch him; I can feel him, sometimes more than others. He supported me, even though he was afraid of my feelings being crushed if I failed, when I began acting. He was proud to call me Son and I was even more proud to call him Dad.

I grew up in a very small town in Alabama called Livingston. It has a population of about 3,000 and a privacy factor of zero. I went to a small private school and was an outcast from day one. Children are so cruel. I was fat and my family didn’t have as much money as the other kids’ families. Being picked on for my weight was an every day occurrence. Fatty, fatty two by four was written for me…or at least that’s how it seemed. One particular instance that comes to mind happened during the summer between my third and fourth grade years. I got a call from some of the girls who were in my class and they were asking me if I would be their boyfriend once school started back. I was thrilled. Later in the conversation I learned that it was a big joke and then I was crestfallen. My dad knew what had happened and he let me know that if the girls were being like that then I didn’t want to hang out with them anyway. It was a cruel joke and 25 plus years later it still leaves a mark. I never dated anyone from my school and I’m sure that “joke” had something to do with it.

I was Fanny Fumigate. This wasn’t just the moniker used by my peers. My little league baseball coach called me Fumigate until Dad put an end to his shenanigans. My formative years were filled with disappointment and embarrassment. Dad was able to help me over the humps and through the down times. Often it wasn’t anything that he said. It was a gesture. It was a facial expression. His smile and eyes could convey more meaningful messages than many people are able to do with words. At times it was even a lack of response that led me to the right decision or conclusion.

Being forced to look at myself more deeply I’ve realized that I rely on the opinions of others a lot more than I’d like to admit. I would like to say that I am a free spirit and I do what pleases me but the truth is I am more concerned that the people I love are happy than I am for my own happiness. The whole truth, however, is that it makes me happy to know that those I love are happy and approve of my actions.

I don’t think that I have to wonder too much about why I seek approval. I’m pretty sure that it probably stems back to the teasing and taunting in elementary and high school. But then, I could be wrong.

FICTION: The Soundtrack of Suburbia

one

The amber glow of the instrument cluster in my dad’s 1984 Camaro cast enough light that my tired eyes could see his face. Calm and relaxed, it reassured me whenever a bump or rattle would disturb my sleep. To me, he was the canon of fatherhood; the person against whom all other parents would, and should, be measured. We were inseparable.

The cool October air seemed to amplify the squeaks and knocks of that old car. Sixteen years ago it was a delicious, shiny, red-apple taste of the American dream but it had become a dull orange symbol for the American day. It had nearly a quarter of a million miles on it and it smelled of burning antifreeze and, on this particular occasion, pepperoni, mushroom, and onion pizza. The father son evening that we were completing had taken me from exhilarated to exhausted. Skating, the movie and dinner had held my attention without exception but the 45 minute drive home had left my dad, for all intents and purposes, on his own.

“How am I supposed to find my way home when my navigator’s sleepin’ on the job?” he blurted while jerking the steering wheel sharply to wake me.

The smirk that he wore was as important a part of the uniform that made my father as are boots and the rifle of a soldier in a foxhole. It was the first thing that I saw when I opened my eyes. “I’m not sleeping. I’m watching the future so that I can let you know before we have an accident.”

His smirk had grown into a smile. “Please, dear oracle, for our safety, continue. And, if you can see far enough into the future can you tell me what this Wednesday’s lotto numbers are?” I smiled and resumed my research of the future.

Dad woke me up at 10:12 as we were pulling into the drive at home. The garage door moaned its welcome and again as it closed and hugged us with safety. “Go tell your mother how much fun you had today. Don’t forget to tell her what a great skater I am.” With a smile. “I’ve got to take the garbage to the curb and then I’ll be in.”

I rushed inside with all the excitement of an eleven year old boy to find my mother and tell her about the great time that I had had and how Dad had fallen down somewhere near 100 times at the skating rink. “Mom, we’re home!” The house was quiet and the dimmers that Dad was so proud of having installed were set nearly at their lowest setting. The air smelled like rust. I saw a reflection in an unfamiliar spot on the floor and reached for the light switch. I wished that I had been looking into the future earlier in the night. I wished that I hadn’t turned up the lights.

My mother was a beautiful woman. Her flowing red hair shone as though it were its own light source gently illuminating the pale canvas that was her skin. But that’s not the same red that I saw there in the floor. It was like a pool of spilled red enamel paint redecorating the living room and, lying face down near the middle, was my beautiful mother.

I clenched my eyes tight as I knelt down at her side not yet able to comprehend the situation. The mind is a wonderful thing and can help you to process things at whatever rate it feels is necessary for maximum comfort and comprehension. When presented with the sight of my mother’s cooling body in the floor my mind felt it was best to completely remove me from the situation.

“Rise and shine, sunshine.” It was my birthday and as I lay in bed my mother came in to my room to bring pecan waffles, orange juice and milk. The warm sweet scent brought a smile to my face and dampness to my mouth. My mother could create things in the kitchen that would rival any restaurant but the simple stuff was always my favorite. Saturday’s sunshine lit the day and the sounds of suburbia were its soundtrack. She sat at my side, beaming, as I enjoyed the representation of her love that was breakfast in bed.

I don’t know how long it was before my father came in and got me. He took me to my bedroom where we called the police. The house was filled with dancing red and blue lights and the smell of rust. The policeman said that they had already caught the man responsible. He had been breaking into homes in the area. Apparently Mom had startled him and a kitchen knife seemed like the best thing to calm his nerves.