I’ve known a great deal of things in my life. I’ve known the screaming injustice of a helpless youth; the searing agony of unrequited devotion; the sunken dejection of ultimate betrayal. I’ve known love; something which I wholeheartedly believe, after innumerable dialogues with all manner of people, that few others have had privilege to experience. Something the description of which I could devote ten-thousand pages to and still capture nothing of its sublimity. I have soared on seraphic wings across the rapturous valleys of its highs and surrendered my soul to the demon drink to escape the unbearable weight of its lows. I have forsaken family; slept on the frigid pavement of a train station overpass in the dead of winter, and danced with the devil in surreal states of consciousness induced by those selfsame elixirs I’d imbibed to rid the disease of his presence.
I have felt the touch of death.
Through all the chaos littered throughout the pages of my history, I’ve somehow emerged intact. No…perhaps not intact – but alive. I walk now into the glittering gold of a sunlit morning and can honestly say, on most days, that I feel the touch of God in every moment; the miracle of life by which the universe experiences itself in all its celestial beauty. But I am often haunted by the vestiges of memory which linger from those unspeakable days, reminding me always of the path I’ve tread to arrive here as the man I am today. As the light of day recedes and that sacred abeyance of corrosive cogitation yields to the trenchant gold of dusk which heralds the advent of nightfall, I cling desperately to those fading hours of divergence from the ineluctable torment nearing in the unfeeling nocturnal dark when I retreat unto my solitary slumber – no true sleep, as men who pass the night in quietude might know it, but rather a silent meditation, a still position and a whispered prayer to what God I’ve yet to incense to deliver me just once more through this purgatory. An atemporal limbo when no man or mission remains to quell the incessant, disquieting cerebral machinations; diverting my mind’s wandering eye from that weathered, wintry segue which I cross once more unwillingly, to will that evil entity which lends itself so willingly to ill intent and recompense from whence was bred my misery away.
On most of these nights, I ultimately fall into a fitful and restless sleep, at least for a time. And time after time I find myself cast into that same eerie realm in which he dwells; this malicious entity who stalks me always from the shadows in the darkest recesses of my mind as a constant reminder of all that in life which I do not deserve. Upon waking in the dark and mist of a barren and hopeless wasteland, I search for signs of life and venture forward into the thick and overbearing blackness only to find that I seem to be walking along a uniform plane with no end. I stop, and I can feel the aura behind me. I turn to see him, and gaze upon a man for whom I hold more loathing that any other who has every walked the earth; A caustic hatred which transcends time and space and boils the blood beneath my skin at the very thought of his existence. He stares at me with an expression of worn indifference and even with the long and disheveled hair, the wild and unkempt beard, the dirty, faded clothes and those sunken, hopeless eyes I am struck by how little my appearance has changed over the years.
I remember the very day from which is summoned that long-ago image of my younger self. I can remember very little of what transpired in the early hours, and that which I do melts together in a swirl of blurred and contorted images, the hazy distortions of a memory damaged by the inanely human act of toxic self-destruction. I know that fights occurred with loved ones, and how many unspeakable words were said on that day which must surely still resonate in the minds of those whom I would readily die for I will likely never know. I remember my father asking me why. Just…why. And for all the depth of contemplations on the thousands of reasons I could cite and the vast philosophical venues I could explore in the answering, I leaned my head against the wall to balance my failing equilibrium and responded such that I could swear I saw myself die within his eyes.
I don’t know.
Upon leaving the house, leaving behind an ocean of memories and a man whose very spawn had not an hour earlier been millimeters from opening his throat with the serrated edge of a steak knife - the very same which had so often been passed between them during meals in times which now felt antediluvian – I was met by the gray mist of an early afternoon fog which hung heavy as my heart, its veiling of the path ahead so much an allegory which I was too somber or stupid or high to understand in the moment. I reached into my pocket and felt my fingers close around my salvation. I withdrew a small bottle of vivid orange liquid not unlike the ones I’d been given as a child by a loving mother when I was afflicted with a minor cough or cold. The bottle was almost empty. The morning had seen me strolling through the aisles of the local supermarket, lifting the tiny bottle with the practiced hand of a learned thief. No less pitiful an epithet that anything else which could accurately summate my character. I ambled listlessly down to the town docks and sat upon the ledge, gazing out into the distant horizon and admiring the gray and clouded skyline for its verisimilitude as a light rain began to fall. I stayed there for a time and drank deep of my succulent reprieve, and then all at once I was sitting solitary on a bench in the park where once I gamboled with an old and all but forgotten friend. And then I found myself facing down my father in a truly vicious exchange which nearly resulted in his blood on my hands. And then there I stood, opening the bottle and downing the very last of the sickly sweet liquid.
I pressed on through the haze of mist and trickling rain, guided by my blurred vision as my legs had long since been rendered numb. It always provoked the feeling that one was gliding forward on the air like an apparition, with such dissociation from the world in which you’re walking it truly begets the full sensation of being a ghost, a specter from another realm, a revenant drifting melancholically through this mortal plane in search of some desideratum which eluded him in life and that he hopes to find in death but is unaware that never existed in either. In retrospect, the truth was not so dissimilar.
I continued on in what I thought was aimless meandering; however I soon found the Port Washington train station looming before me. I had lived here for the first thirteen years of my life and so had viewed this scene a thousand times before, stood in that very spot, at that very time of day – but never had it been like this. Rising before me was the set of stairs which led to the elevated walkway that bridged the gap between the three platforms at the terminus of the station. Peering up toward the apex with the light rain falling visibly from on high I felt the sudden urge to ascend, an incontrovertible understanding that this was a place of great importance. There was something atop those steps, I knew, which I needed to see. I placed my phantom foot upon the first step and began the solemn ascent.
When I reached the cusp, I looked around slowly. The walkway was vacant, as were the platforms below, for the most part. I gazed out into the horizon, turning a full three hundred and sixty degrees to get a full, panoramic view of the uniformly grey sky. I looked up, and rain fell upon my face but I saw no God. A distant horn captured my attention, and I focused my gaze to the southeast to see a train approaching. That sense of purpose lurched once more in my stomach, and I realized why I had come here. I was summarily beset by an ineffable, overwhelming tranquility, and with the very real prospect of death before me my senses suddenly intensified, though not entirely; the drug was still in effect, and the rain on my skin and the air on my face felt insubstantial, evanescent – like a dream. And maybe that’s what all this was. Just a dream to wake up from, or perhaps simply depart from into nothingness. The thought was almost uplifting. The train was decelerating but drawing nearer, and I clambered clumsily over the railing to stand precariously above the tracks, the full weight of all my endless sorrows pulling me toward the blissful descent. It was so close, and it would be so effortless to just let go. I swear to God I started to.
Then as I looked down at the tracks that would mark my passage from this world, I noticed something I hadn’t considered. I noticed the shoes I was wearing, and I realized that they were not the same worn and beaten antiquities which I had worn until recently but a new, clean, and in fact very comfortable pair of sneakers. And I remembered that my mother had bought them only days before, perhaps even the previous day. And then I thought of the sight of my mangled and desecrated body upon those tracks, and my own mother coming to identify it with the pair of shoes she had just bought still fit snugly on my severed legs.
And I cried.
I cried for a lifetime of sorrows; I cried for my family and the hell that I was willing to condemn them to; I cried for those I had known who had lost the very battle in which I was currently engaged, and for those who I knew would not win in the end. I cried for man. I cried for women. I cried for children, and the inevitable death of their jubilant innocence. I cried for life. I cried for love. I cried for her.
That day was the day that the man you see was born. Something happened there, I could not explain it if I tried, so I won’t. Suffice to say that until that moment, I had never truly understood the beauty of life. I had experienced it, but never understood it. The distinction is subtle, but gravely significant. I may have known love before that moment, and in fact the very best of my experiences with love all came before it – but it was not until then that I knew why it was so beautiful. So precious. I came to know the meaning, not of life, but of living.
Not long after I conquered myself at the gate to oblivion on the precipice of that ledge, I got on that very train which nearly took my life and rode it two towns over, to my first appointment with a therapist whom earlier that day I never thought I’d meet. I would tell you some of those first words that he spoke with me, but for the fact that I remember them only vaguely and because in truth, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I may have clawed my way up from the edge that day, but there is not a doubt in my mind that that man is the reason I still live today. That day, though inarguably a turning point, was not the last of my most difficult days. Or nights. If I had not met this man that day, I would be as dead as if I’d taken that fateful dive into the abyss. And if I had not broken down and reconsidered my actions in that moment, I would have done exactly that. I know this to be true as surely as ever I have anything, in all my days.
I suppose that eventually I will make that jump, of course. It is one of those inevitable things; though I don’t believe it will turn out quite as dramatically as it would have if things went differently that day. No, I will – I hope – die quietly, peacefully, and contently in the presence of some distant, insubstantial lover, family, and friends (if I don’t outlive them, of course). But whatever happens, it is a certainty that every moment which has passed from that day on in which I draw breath is a gift. Not from God…but from the one who truly gave me life. So I close the tale thusly; while I dare not be so arrogant as to issue commands or advice – particularly considering the preceding evidence of the inherent fallacy of my character – I would suggest one, simple thing: The next time your mother buys you a pair of shoes…thank her. And hold her tight. For once you step out that door there is no guarantee that you will get another chance. There never is.
Just found the other one I wished to post - misplaced the file. The assignment was for my English class, and entailed writing of a time when you had the opportunity to rise and intervene or speak against an injustice, but did not - and whether you would repeat the decision today.
The Day I Lived
In the jumbled and chaotic annals of memory through which I stumble nightly, there exist the puzzles and paradoxes, the known and the unknown, the hopes and fears and dreams and sorrows and all other constructs and constituents which compose the grand architecture that is a human being. Among these things are the true and the untrue, the proud sacrifices and the inescapable regrets, and the almost intangible recollections of eras impossibly distant, remembrances so far removed from the present moment and the man I am today that it is at times difficult to determine if they occurred at all. It is within this surreal and enigmatic realm that this account is archived – stowed away surreptitiously on a shelf somewhere, behind a hundred other such memories and experiences consigned to oblivion. It has been there a long time. A moment passed which returns to me from time to time, even now, in the encumbering manifestation of guilt – for a decision I never made, to stop a cycle which I’ve been navigating since; and for a soul I never knew, the fate of whom I undoubtedly shall never know and therefore will never forget. While changing the past is a possibility which exists solely in the dreams of those with haunted consciences, I take heart in the genuine belief that I am far more meritorious a man today than ever was the sorry individual trailing in my wake through the shadows of my history. The truth I wish to discover, at the heart of it, is whether the current incarnation of my character would truly act differently. Perhaps a senseless contemplation, as the answer is impossible to truly know – but I believe with consummate conviction that he –that I – would. Let this mark the inception of this treatise as a pensive endeavor to elucidate this query.
Around the age of twelve, I was not much different from any other boys my age – causing trouble at school, trying to ensure that I bled the least (or the most, depending on the mood I was in) out of my “friends” while doing whatever insanely idiotic activity we were attempting; bullshitting my friends about partaking in “activities” with girls that I didn’t even understand the mechanics of yet (and buying their bullshit as well, because none of us knew what the fuck we were talking about until another thirty-six months or so) – just generally being a nuisance at best, and a delinquent at worst.
From time to time, when there was no school or friends to distract me from the relative chaos of my home life, I would wander the earth (or my small corner of it) alone, exploring new areas and observing new phenomenon, concocting my own background and story and dialogue for every face within the ceaselessly swarming masses that I observed along my sojourns into the realm of adulthood. It was both strange and familiar to me, for even at my tender age I had seen enough to know that things such as sorrow and regret could never be mitigated or eradicated, but at best conglomerated into one’s comprehensive being, to become one more unremitting weight among the ubiquitous burdens that permeate the average human soul. The evidence of this was clear wherever I looked.
The world of men was a lascivious one. Promiscuity was omnipresent, and the wanton pursuit of carnal desires seemed to outweigh all other priorities, even the occupational and familial. This salaciousness, however, I witnessed not only in the men but in the women of the world. I vaguely recall wondering from time to time if many of the women whom I saw give themselves away for almost nothing truly desired the treatment they received. I would see a man spit viciously abusive words at a woman, sometimes driving her to tears – and yet with each hideous treatment she seemed all the more determined to win his satisfaction. It was not until some time later that I would discover – through many years of hard fought battles against the crippling and lasting effects of childhood abuse – that many of these concupiscent fixations too often spill over into the world of children. A man beats his wife; the wife beats their son; the son grows old a tainted soul and so repeats the cycle – iniquitously laying these burdens upon his defenseless daughter in the darkest still of night. And so is claimed another disconsolate victim by the innate depravity of man; the girl - now broken - drifts unwarily through life, imprudently offering herself to men of the most contemptible character, too damaged and deluded by her inherited demons to understand her true worth. Among the few good qualities I count in my possession, I am grateful to have grown to manhood retaining a true and unshakeable respect for women and all the struggles unique to their existence.
Some of these things I saw closer to home, other I did not witness until I had strayed a bit farther from the safety of the nest. Eventually, Long Island wasn’t providing the distraction I needed any longer. So I began taking trains into the city whenever I could, jumping on them and riding undisturbed (most of the time) in the bathroom stall all the way to Penn Station. And then I would exit the station, and I would walk. Where, I often had no idea. I neglected to even read street names much of the time. I would simply walk in a direction for a given number of blocks, walk in another, backtrack and repeat. In truth, it never really mattered where I went. To me, this was what I was missing. The hub of civilization. The essence of humanity, all bundled together into one colossal aggregation of pain and misery and hatred and sex and love and family and tears and empty, sunken faces and calm exteriors and unbridled rage and jealousy and deceit and murder and sacrifice and life and death and all these things of which I saw but a shadow in my sheltered world at home, but which here in this vast, unfeeling metropolis shone through in all their great and terrible lucidity.
Though seemingly irrelevant, this prologue is significant because it highlights the weight with which the situation in question moved me – I recall it now as vividly as I do, despite the substantial interval since, because the principles I live by then and now would deem my reticence detestable. It is an early and important incident among the vast list of contritions which expedite my perpetual self-contempt; for it was in this moment that I was transiently capable of interrupting that interminable cycle of human decadence. That held, let there be no further digression – as the crux of the tale is at hand.
Throughout most of these secret excursions I remained a silent observer, a passerby unnoticed by any of the countless multitudes, like a diver unheeded by the myriad schools of fish he is studying. But this instance was different. It felt as if I was being dragged from the edges of the scenario to the forefront, like a reader unexpectedly sucked into the pages of a book and suddenly forced to play a pivotal role in the plot. I sat uncomfortably upon the damp concrete of a vacant train station platform in Woodside, Queens. Eyes closed. Somewhere between the beginning and the end of an atemporal juncture that exists both here and there I was awoken from a vivid reminiscence of a person who might never have existed at all for the antiquity of her image by a faint sound, almost inaudible – but carrying with it a weight that moved me on the most basic level. It was a sound of…pleading. A meek and fearful whimper, carried on the wings of the indifferent wind and deposited in my ears by some transcendent god so amused or intrigued by our ceaseless stumblings in the dark that he acts the part of causality, curiously awaiting our reactions to his cosmic orchestration.
In the remembering the sound comes first. After a moment I open my eyes to a sinister backdrop all the more disconcerting for the surreal incongruities scattered throughout the memory betraying its age and ambiguity, like shadowy figures skirting the blurred and abstract visual horizon as if taunting you to delve deeper and know the absolute truth of this moment stored within the confines of your fallible human cognizance - a train station platform, lit by the lonesome, stoic streetlamps spanning the length of it which might have been distant galaxies floating in a vacuum for the depth of the darkness between them; a heavy rain, like a deluge of stones in the force of their impact, pervading the scene and blanketing the unsheltered sections of the platform in a wall of water visible only where it shimmers with the distorted image of a silhouetting light.
I was waiting for a train, lolling in an intermediary state of inertia along my journey back home from one such routine urban excursion – the hour was late, and the station empty save for myself and two figures standing along the edge of the platform a short way down from my position. I heard the sound – that disquieting whimper, followed by a second, firmer voice - distorted somewhat by the ceaseless cacophony of the tempest upon us, but growing exponentially louder – or rather, one of them was. I slowly raised myself from the floor and began moving slowly and surreptitiously (though hardly necessitated in the ever-present, booming thunder) toward where they stood.
And then the smell of alcohol. Even through the rain. The scene delineated before me; on my left was a child – a young boy, not more than six – shrinking under the dispassionate visage of the figure to my right; a man of about six feet, age and appearance indiscernible through the impenetrable torrents of rain. The man loomed over the boy menacingly, virtually three times his height, mumbling incoherently whilst intermittently shouting sonorous exclamations of a deeply depraved and even disturbing nature regarding a woman (whom I assume was the boy’s mother, though I have no way of truly knowing) as well as the boy himself. He asked the boy a question I could not decipher. I saw the boy shake his head, and was instantly shocked by the speed with which the man brought his hand down to strike the boy. Standing stock-still, the man repeated his question once more as the child rose to his feet, having been knocked to his knees by the blow. The boy shook his head, and the man simply gazed at him indifferently, even contemptibly. Then the sound of an approaching train in the distance, followed by the faint light heralding its approach, growing ever brighter. The man held the stare a moment longer, then muttered something unintelligible and turned to face the approaching train.
It was here that I faced the decision. I looked around, searching for someone – anyone – to appeal to for assistance, only to observe a station as empty as ever. I tried to devise a viable solution, but found myself unfocused; lost in the sudden and unconstrained rush of adrenaline, my reasoning mind scorched silent by the heat of the primordial rage surfacing from a place within me where lies that which is indefinable; The essence of something raw, untouched by my conscious, logical mind and all the complexities thereof. Something I know a great deal of, but nothing about. The scene, for reasons I understand far better with the wisdom of age, ignited a fire inside of me that had simmered perennially within that place in the deepest reaches of my inner sanctum since first I drew breath – as it continues to do. A flame that burns incandescently with the unbridled loathing of all who violate the intrinsic sanctity of a child’s youth, strip them of their innocence or burden them with the corruptions of age; thereby continuing the cyclic process which I see now, in the wake of innumerable sufferings, that I have been battling all my life.
My ire impeding prudence or reason, I arrived singularly at one insanely impetuous idea. The man stood perilously upon the platform’s edge, swaying precariously to and fro, looking as if a strong wind alone might send him careening toward a grisly fate below the platform. His back still faced me as the train continued its steadfast approach, and I found myself slowly moving toward him, envisaging the execution of things unspeakable. By the second footfall, however, my conscience was clawing its way through the whirlwind of fury in my heart, and I found my pace slackening. A barrage of images flew through my mind, of life as I’d known it, of family and friends, of people I’d known and cared for who’d exhibited the same aggression when possessed by the drink. I looked down at the boy, so devoid of that childish effervescence which those untainted are privileged to know. I yearned to act, to rout the villain who’d stolen the light of his youth. But my resolve was yielding under the gaze of the phantoms I’d invoked, and the train was nearly upon us.
Somewhere in the vastness of eternity a thousand parallel entities that share my name and history did it and it was done – they lived and became heroes or died and became martyrs and that young child lived on with a newfound freedom from the tyranny of an unworthy father; he grew old and married and loved and lost and sired children who grew to do great and wondrous things and were forever grateful to the benevolent soul who was so much the essence of whatever beautiful things lie in such men’s hearts – but I am none of them and this is not their story and whatever did become of that child thereafter is a direct consequence of the cowardice and naivety of a young and ignorant boy who knew nothing of the stuff that makes a man as such – love. For if I’d known the truth of such things as I do now, I would not have concocted so arrogant a scheme to single-handedly rescue that child from a miserable existence through some grand and ostentatious act of nobility. Instead I would have tempered my reckless desire to act out my wrath and devised a more calculated and subtle approach – perhaps waited to board the next train with them (as it were, I wound up boarding the very train of which I spoke, while the boy and his father forwent it – presumably to board a subsequent one). All it would have taken was a sliver of patience, and the understanding that my abhorrence of a thing does not equate to a capacity to alter it. But I of course had neither at the time – as only after I had wholly and unconditionally devoted myself to the love, care and convalescence of a soul more tainted by the sins of men than any I have ever met – could I truly understand those inalienable truths: The battling of trauma takes a serene mind, a patient hand, and a solemn understanding that the effect of your tireless efforts shall never match the extent of your indignation. And, perhaps more than anything, a steadfast endurance against the assiduous onslaught of guilt and anguish borne of futile endeavors and unrequited devotion.
Post with 25 notes
Touched by a fire lit before time
Raising the ire of a never-born child
Too tired to handle the weight on my mind
Inspired by memories too deep to find
To sire an angel by wings that were mine
That if they were open then maybe they’d shine
Brightly into the dark where I lie blind
Sitting so silently summoning sirens of
Simplistic structure to safeguard my dreams
And lift me above her until I don’t need
To hear her voice calling me simply to breathe
To feel her breath grazing my skin just to sleep
So sleep it won’t come now to bring me no peace
And breathing’s no fun though I’m living at least
Were there just one who could keep me at ease
I’d lay down my lungs for her, fall to my knees
Please take this piece of me take it and leave
Before I can ask you to stay here with me
You need to be free, I’m like a disease
And all that I stand for will crumble beneath
The foundation falling on what we’ve contrived
Exposing a reality of languor and lies
You’ll say you’re angry and I’ll say I’m tired
And nine sundowns later we’ll say our goodbyes
There’s no need to smile or say nothing nice
At the end of the day I’ll pretend I’m alright
But ever since never has entered my life
I’ve thought it’s better that I’d just have died.
Post with 37 notes
Walks through the city
In livelier times
Livelier spirits and healthier minds
Dreams of felicity
Borne of naivety
Withered by anguish and unconscious crimes
If I could find
A passage through time
I’d find the man who wasted his life
And stepped on his brothers
And spoke all these lies
Mistreated his lover
And left her to cry
Fought with his family
Hurt them inside
Left them in agony wishing to die
I’d take his eyelids and open them wide
Force him to witness the pain he’d incited
Force him to relive that miserable time
And give him a dagger to do what is right.
After the disastrous choices I’ve made
Nothing can keep me from going insane
Not with these images stuck in my brain
Not when these memories keep me in pain
Cut out my heart
Open my chest
Take out my soul
And sew up the rest
Send out the body to do what it will
Leave everybody to say that I’m ill
Deal with this figure who acts out the will
Of demons conspired to take what I’ve built
All I’ve aquired and all that I love
Set it on fire and kill what it was
Set back my soul in my chest as knelt
Screaming and pleading to end all the guilt.