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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Reflective Walk...

Relentless sorrow dims my walk as I allow myself to squint my eyes against the backdrop of the morning sunrise. The river before me stretches out endlessly, placid and polished....its surface is not reflective of its true contents, the mirrors are only there to deceive. The multi-colored flora of clouds above the horizon erupts across the landscape bringing sublimity and enhancement to areas not in search of such illumination, at least not this morning. I step forward emotionally and struggle to land each step evenly on the soles of the uneven and unforgiving substrate beneath me. The souls of others not as precisely balanced upon my shoulders waver from side to side as my gait quickens. Scales, weights and measures all conspire against the progressiveness of my intentions. In the distance, I hear a faint wailing but I choose to ignore the screams of those left for dead, their hearts long ripped from the breastplate of their own selfish existence. From smiles to sorrow, the blood runs deep. Crimson rivers of regret slosh aimlessly from the edge of my blade across my trousers leaving vibrant channels of evidence plain as day for the commoners to see. I choose to no longer hide my blade nor the blood of my travels. I am the purveyor of pain for countless souls who possessed the momentary audacity to cling to my promises and lose themselves against the belief that I was a cause valiant enough to believe in. Foolishly subscribing to a misplaced conviction, they lost everything and the masquerades continued to sell out their performances night after night. Puppets dance and shimmy across the tired wooden planks exploding in a mixture of revelry and lust, saving one last dance before reaching the end of their beam. The zenith of their own shaken purpose in this lifetime at last revealed, just before their demise.

Arriving back to my white stone abode, I sit casually in front of the earthen fireplace now reeling its flames high into the room, blistering the air with its sparkling embers. I sit alone, cold, my blade now rested against the stone hearth reflecting nothing but the blinding amber storms in its immediate proximity. Erased from the carved metallic skin are the carbon remains of my travels. For now, I remain tempered and purified by the flames that some might believe bring forth only destruction. For now, I rest my blade not allowing myself to continue to do the same. For now, I am content in knowing that as long as my blade remains still, life and love will be given a season to replenish without the fear of reprisal and the uncertainty of my chaos.

You chose to return. I need to remain.
Cut the strings.
Restore the performance.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bridging the Past

As I quietly glided the Jeep mud tires over the worn grass parking strip, I subconsciously unleashed decades of anxiety into the silence hovering within the cab of the vehicle. Pulling up to the edge of this drive-in theater performance was not something I had ever contemplated occurring in real life. The stage performance was far too perfect, all of the characters were always on-key, always on target, always magical. Could I truly allow this fantasy to breathe in the fragrance of reality? The midnight skies felt suspiciously accurate to the ever-present nature of this conversation and the realization that darkness is where the truth is most revealed. I stopped the truck, removed the keys and leaned over the center console, embraced her hands in silence and murmured, "You ready?" Smiling with a knowing nod of things to come, I opened my door allowing myself passage to the event at hand. Walking in unison, but not adjoined, we made our way across the service road street leading to our destination. Stretching my aged but still adroit limbs with a mixture of anxiousness, stress and just habitual nature, we both prepared briefly for the road ahead. The bridge here joining Bay Saint Louis and Pass Christian, MS was new since Hurricane Katrina, as the prior 3 mile crossing had been completely washed away by the ravishing storm. I pondered the fact silently that some things improve with grave challenges to their structured normalcy. I wondered if after this walk, would we both fair the same outcome? Would our own pathways be destroyed in order to bridge the 19-year gap in our hearts?

The walking lane consisted of a concrete lined path adjacent to the eastbound side of the bridge spanning about 10 feet in width with an multi-tiered aluminum guard rail to the right lining the full length of the road structure. Every tenth of a mile, there were beautifully and masterfully carved bronze plaques showcasing various aquatic and wildlife species germane to the Gulf Coast lifestyle. Pelicans, alligators, and egrets conducted themselves in a peaceful accord of presentation obviously gilded into existence with the Federal relief monies poured into this area following the storm. I had walked this bridge a hundred times alone with her voice vying for equal measure against the prevailing winds and traffic intrusion on the path. I had always been enough, been perfect in those walks. Now, she was here walking astride hands clasped into mine maintain the same fast-paced gait. As we pressed onward up the gentle rise of the bridge platform, we took turns in silence glancing over to each other trying to avoid the ownership of our intentions, passing the views off as innocent and even random scans of our environment. However, we both knew better. We were calculating the weight of the moment. The weight of remembering. Recalling everything we had chosen to forsake 19 years ago, everything we had lost. Could it really be recaptured striding over a mechanized platform of steel and concrete? I knew this bridge was as ever much a transport medium as it was a teleportation platform.

The amber haze of the sodium vapor lighting piers spaced out evenly down the center of the bridge crafted a whirled mixture of illuminated intrigue and darkened shadows along the structure. Headlights offered an occasional spotlight onto our position, revealing our outlines, perking up thoughts of voyeurism from the passing motorists. I stared. For one too many seconds, I stared. She stopped. She read my mind. I stated aloud, "You look 19. You really do look 19. I see you as I have always seen you, Jennifer. You are beautiful and this moment is timeless." I smiled. She really did look 19, at least from what my aging mind could recall. She was breathtaking. She was Jennifer!

Responding in unison, she allowed herself to smile, albeit briefly, while immediately shunning the concept of anyone finding her beautiful. Not this girl, not now, not ever. Well, not for 19 years, I surmised in silence. 
I so missed her smile. Her eyes would light up as her smile shaped her face into a picture perfect form of joy. Her lips playfully retreating back over her teeth, her skin erupting into brilliant shine, her eyes reflecting the purity of her soul. I repositioned our bodies migrating to the rail with her back to the bridge. Reaching in gently, I hugged my best friend. "You are beautiful, Andrew. When you smile, I see you as you were! You look 19 again.", she offered in joy to our enriching embrace.

The culmination of all things loving placed into motion was slowly blossoming to fruition before our eyes. The misdeeds of the past, the sudden departures of our youth, our broken dreams and miscalculated steps were allowed to wash feverishly down the side of our union. Down into the dark watery abyss beneath our feet, the moments that we allowed others to define us were finally abdicating their claim in our lives. Vacillating between moments of gleeful even youthful play, the weight of the tears of regret and recompense were at times hard to balance. The pure disparity between how we would commence this innocent stroll and how it would end could only echo the volumes of solidarity between our souls. Hand in hand, we completed the journey across. As we reached the far side, I didn't turn back when the guard rails ended. Instead, we continued faithfully down the bridge until reaching the monument erected to offer homage to the contributors and words of dedication to the structure. I reached out and touched the cold bronze plaque with my hand fully extended as I have always done in my journeys alone, my steps taken without her at my side. I always needed to follow my compulsory, if not obsessive routine. For the touch of accomplishment of something I had started always needed to be realized tactilely.

Racing up the bridge and its rising elevations, I have never recognized such happiness within my soul.
My friend at my side, my heart full of promise, all order in the universe had been restored. Arriving back at the Jeep, I opened her door. My smile covered all layers of my existence illuminating the nearby shadows attempt to mask the simplistic beauty of this moment. "I love you, Jennifer", I offered to the night air. Reaching in, I kissed her forehead gently and knew in that instance that all was indeed right with this troublesome and cruel world.

Love was restored. Love had conquered all. Love will always find a way to lead you back home.
Even if you need to take a bridge to get there.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Serenity of Saint Louis

"Let me show you something...", I urged intently, gliding her embraced hand into mine as we strided down the side path of the aged, stone corridors of Jackson Square. The French Quarter festival was in full swing with merchants and visitors clamoring equally for their fair share of the revelry playing out on the beautiful Saturday afternoon. The streets were packed, albeit without vehicles, as is often the case in New Orleans during celebrations where the pedestrians far outweigh the flow of traditional traffic. City streets become nothing more than free-flowing sidewalks to balance the density of the entertainment. Loud music, colorful tourists, bold artwork, alcohol and Cajun food seemed to ooze from every pore of this magical crescent city. Like a pasta machine on full power, the richness extruded forth effortlessly and the flavors of fun permeated the air with an uncommon ease. This city was truly a sight to behold. We were both proud to call it home.

As our walk eased to the far corner of the square, I slowed our pace as we neared my planned destination. The black iron gates stood menacingly and protective in front of this large tower row house built in 1838. As we both stared at the brass historical marker emblazoned on the aged column reading its bold text, the once forcefully loud music playing nearby dimmed to a silent whisper. "This was my great-great-great Grandfather's home, Victor David" , I mentioned with a slight hint of pride and homage. "He was from Bordeaux, France and he met his wife Ann Rebassa and married when he was only 19. The number 19 immediately echoed within my soul since that age is precisely where our lives were permanently altered. I made no comment about this irony. The iron work is studied in architecture classes since each landing is unique and hand-crafted."

I ceased my historical dissertation. Sounding like a cheap tour guide, I chided myself inwardly for my excessively prideful commentary and waywardness. Leaving out parts about his travels, success and even his marriage in the nearby St. Louis Cathedral, I took her hand in mine and eased across the street. We turned back briefly, looking up at the four-story home. Now showing some of its 175 years of age, but looking amazingly well preserved, its slight leaning and aging burgundy paint adding nothing but character to its glorious facade.

Summing up the moment as complete, we turned down the nearby alley, the same in which my ancestors certainly walked upon, and headed back towards Jackson Square. The sidewalks here were more like gray stone streets with a curious draining cistern trench carved out in the middle. The concrete narrow trench made it difficult to walk without consideration, especially in collective stride abreast with one another. This was when sober. I could not imagine how arduous this would be when sipping on the nectar of the city that flowed in greater quantity than tap water. Alcohol kept this city afloat nearly as much as the Mississippi River itself ever did. We continued our walk turning south towards the Square, the white Cathedral wall to our immediate left. We both smiled without words at the whimsical placement of our steps in order to maintain our pace. We smiled for so many reasons, every moment just as perfect as the one prior. We smiled just to reflect the beauty of our souls.

Reaching the sea of the colorful populous before us, I turned left without knowledge nor intention but my heart guided us towards the front of the Cathedral. Reaching the vertical surface of the white facade, its mighty height and steeple overwhelmed. Triple sets of aged, castle height doors towered nearly twenty feet towards the mid-day sun. The center set, a bit more decorative was fenced off with iron gates, obviously reserved for special events such as funerals and weddings, with the opposing pairs allowing access for all those intrigued enough to enter its formidable walls. Knowing my relative across the alley was married within these walls just a few years after its completion make this journey that much more personal. Wondering how amazing following in that tradition would be, I smiled briefly.

As we ascended the stone steps, our hands remained intertwined, as is always the case when we are together. Like two soul-seeking adventurers, we know our greatest strength lies not in our intrepidly adroit and capable selves, but in the magic that unification brings forth within our aged spirits. We are simply just better together, and it is demonstrated in each moment we share as one. Upon the sixth step, our feet reach the marble floor landing and immediately a sense of tangible awe encompasses the vestibule. A gift shop to the left is sealed with a small black iron gate with only an unleveled crude plastic sign marking its purpose and  superfluous revelation that it is not opened for business. To the immediate right is a large black candle rack that seems to have been in place for hundreds of years, continuously burning the faith that so abundantly pours into the air. Flames and glass, an aura of spirituality hovers over the candles.

After a few moments to gather our spiritual bearing, we proceed to the inner pairs of wooden doors separating the vestibule from the main worship area. Stopping briefly, I place my right hand into a stone vessel coating my skin with holy water. Unconsciously, I make the sign of the cross in perhaps an effort to quickly wash my sins. Perhaps in an effort to make myself worthy enough to enter this sacred place and stand before God. Pushing upon the mighty wooden barrier, our bodies move forward. Reaching the back walls of the church, we cease our walk and tighten our embrace.

The first emotion felt upon entering is the sheer immense size of the St. Louis Cathedral. 50 rows of aged wooden pews stretch our endlessly before the casual visitor, separated by an aisle nearly 10 feet wide, hand painted murals tower a hundred feet into the air. Scenes depicting Angels, Heaven and Hell equally span out across the arched ceiling supported by tremendous stone columns with thick gold caps emblazoned upon their stately Corinthian architecture. Memories of the Sistine Chapel immediately filter into view within my mind, but this is New Orleans not Vatican City. A scaled down version not stylized by Michelangelo, perhaps a cheaper rendition offering flattery to his glorious work. In any case, it has stood on its own and elicits similar emotions of humility and grandeur ; truly a testament to the reverence of God.

The hoarding masses numbering in the dozens are quiet and respectful. Choosing to remain in the rear alcove of the church, perhaps not to offer disrespect to those here for worship, perhaps feeling uneasy about their own lack of willingness to do the same. Photos snap. Right, left, center everyone capturing this moment, but  not upon their hearts. iPads, phones, professional and disposable cameras alike point towards the ceiling, the rear facade, the alter. Everyone seizing the aesthetics and not the spirituality of the moment. For a brief instance, it forces me to wonder how blasphemous this scene would have been even 20 years ago, much less  back in 1794 when it was first erected. Times have changed. Certainly, not all for the better.

Instinctively, I move us to the right rear of the room and choose to proceed down the right aisle towards the alter. I pause at the first large column and decide to make rest here, slightly isolated behind the immensity of the towering stone support. As we glide into the warmth of the smooth antique skin of the oak pew, I am cognizant that this will truly be a magical moment. We sit in quiet reverence of both our own love and the respect we have for God, for our home here in this place, for our souls that have known such abandonment of peace over the last twenty years apart from one another. Intently, I stare into her eyes and smile while exclaiming, "I love you. Let us give thanks to God for this love. Let us be thankful that we have been faithful enough to believe that He would restore this love back into our lives." I pause my impromptu sermon and laugh inwardly at my own pastoral debut. We sit in near silence and observe everything individually, but feel the weight of this moment - truly as one. Scanning the ceiling, the floors, the walls and the casual pedestrians. Everything in motion, I feel nothing but stillness.

Without words, I reach for the kneeler and she assists me to lowering it to its intended position. The Catholic upbringing in both of us manifests forth effortlessly, as we smile into each other's eyes and I ask humbly, "Do you want to pray?" She nods perhaps startled that I would choose to share such spiritual intimacy with her and obliges. We kneel before God, before this love that has taken so much away from our lives two decades prior but we are still here together, side by side, ready to reclaim the serenity that this conversation elicits forth so joyously. Silently, we uncouple our hands and become unique souls before God. For a brief moment, I feel alone. Not abandoned. Isolated. Removed from everything else in the world that has ever existed, released from the rigors of the world, exiled from the noise and clamor of the masses nearby. An aura of understanding and peace hovers over us both and I feel its tangible warmth and embrace. God is truly in this place, and He is so blessed that we have maintained our faith in this love. His love.

As I pray, I close my eyes before God and ask for forgiveness. I humbly offer the deepest praise for the woman beside me. My spiritual counterpart. My dearest friend. My most beautiful angel. As we complete our reflection, we both return to the pew in silence. We smile and gaze into each other's eyes knowing without question this moment is truly life-changing. Grasping her hand, I steady my stare. "Do you feel like you are home?", I ask with a direct, almost palpable inquiry. She nods with an immediate and steady rhythm coupled with smiles and deep reflection of appreciation. "Yes, Andrew. I am home. I am finally home", her words flow sweetly like honey through her angelic lips. Smiling, we hold onto each other and continue to feel mesmerized and protected equally at the marvelous revelation that our faith in God, our faith in love, has led us back as two servants ready to choose God, to choose love always.

"Only one more circle left to complete in this lifetime", I whisper, leaning in close while staring at the fingers on her empty left hand. She immediately understands my cryptic message and grins, "Yes, Andrew. One more circle."

"Indeed. One more circle. One lifetime of love.", I proclaim inwardly in silence reading each word as it crosses the backdrop of my mind. I hold her tightly, embracing her body and soul equally. Smiling while soaking in the warmth and serenity of God, we depart with an uncommon peace. Releasing ourselves back to the grandeur of this city. The city that unites our souls, both now and twenty years prior. The city we both proudly call home.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Choice.

Tears flowing, heart racing...her voice cracks abruptly across the miles and my soul wrestles with the sensitivity of the moment. "I am in a very bad place........", she exclaims with the soaked syrupy coating of sadness barely enough to balance each word she utters forth. I pause. Knowing she just departed from legal proceedings was stressful enough, knowing how the canvas is now painted emotionally, my heart sinks to understand the weight of the recent sentencing. I listen. She chides herself outwardly, "Why does this happen to me? Why is life so difficult and unfair? I am a good person. Why is nothing ever easy?" I am moved by her expressions of somberness. I ponder the words to state in response, when every inclination within my soul is simply to hold her close. I begin to sob silently, but choose words of support instead of adding my weight to the moment. I am torn. My arms are not that far-reaching, physical touch and comforting embrace is what she needs, not my idle words, you idiot...... Impotently, I reassure her the only way I can here in these scenes. I respond to her pleas of despair, "You will be fine. We both knew this could happen. At least you have this conversation and so many friends and family members who love you dearly....Be strong. I am holding your hand....."

My words sound as hollow as the shell casings lying in disarray from the the recent ambush she has just endured. I feel her uneasy, weakened frame as vividly as I feel myself falling deeper into the depressive nature of the scene playing out on center stage. She is distracted repetitively during the conversation, and this leads itself unintentionally to a disjointed and non-linear sequencing of events. Causing me to I feel inept and incapable of balancing the darkness with my words, I shutter from the knowledge that I may need more time to contemplate the way to lead her back to the light. I just wish I could hold her....

"I love you", softly rolls off my tongue. Knowing it is not profound, I am still captivated by the magic contained in those words. Those three little words. 3w always, I remind myself. Love has always been enough, always been sufficient for us both. It is has always been the road not chosen. Painfully holding us both hostage to the barren pathways that have elicited nothing but thieves and hidden truths, love has kept us searching for peace in spite of our own unworthiness.

I reach for her hand in the darkness and find it immediately. She is here. She is still believing in the sanctity of love, the beauty and simplicity of this conversation. I smile knowing that even in darkness, she can sense the uplifting spirit that unifies and washes an indelible wave of understanding and peace between the shores of our souls....I intertwine our fingers together immediately feeling the warmth that only this love could ever provide..... I am at peace knowing that this time the only limitation on love is what we choose.

Whatever the cost, I choose love.
Whatever the cost, I choose you.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sword of Peace

Peering down my arm, I glance at the wounds on my hands from the recent abundance of manual labor.
The locations of the wounds are always identical, top ridge of inner palm just below the point where my fingers stretch out from my hand. Never seeming to heal completely, the repetitive insistence of their nature concerns me and why my own body never feels a need to protect itself from further harm is another aspect of deep wonderment.

Healing. A process by which something is renewed and restored to health. This process continually escapes me in my physical, emotional and spiritual walk. The wounds I have felt throughout the course of my journey are indeed reminders of the steps that I have taken and the scars from the battles that I have had to endure.
Reaching deeper into my soul each time, I have yet to uncover the source of the unsettled spirit that guides me through the waters but never allows me to bathe naked, released in full to the sanctification of the moment that could afford me this elusive perpetual solace.

Perhaps I believe in silent admission that I am deserving of the anguish and continued upheavals in my own life. Never settled to walk in peace with trust and love as my balancing allies, but instead choose the arduous path that is marred with recent razing, darkness and solemnity. Alas, I didn't choose to be here; my spirit was  summoned, commanded to return to this place. Return to the only place that I knew certain love, certain trust, certain understanding. I question the logic of this conversation always unfolding in opposition to time and reason. Always promising the path to serenity, reflections of streets of golden hues shining ever so brightly in the midst of the coldest and darkest storms I have ever realized.

Physically, I am weakened by the emotions playing on the stage forefront in my mind. Strength, still present and apparent, is harder to maintain at times, as I continue to walk forward. The proverbial walls slowing closing in, forcing me to choose. Forcing me to raise my own blade of reckoning and lay judgement to those who wait patiently in the gallows awaiting their bewildering state of execution. The steps remaining are heavy and the path truncated by the length of the journey already traversed.

I pause. Knowing the weight of the moment and the immediacy of the decision to be calculated, I breathe in slowly. I close my eyes, squinting out the last bit of the afternoon sun, and guide my right hand to my hip tracing the outline of the hilt. I roll my fingers just below the pommel and clench the weapon forcefully, bringing it to life.

As the sword is unsheathed, I raise it forward abreast of my face and tilt its blade in the sunlight; the finely crafted mirrored surface is etched with words of peace, love and comfort. I am momentarily mesmerized by its unexpected warmth and divining nature. Irony indeed for a weapon of chiseled destruction, but then a bold thought overwhelms my soul. What if....this is truly...the sword of peace? Instead of laying destruction to those who would fear its pruning and absolution of sin, what if this talisman was used to instead defeat the darkness?

The heft of the moment overwhelms me, and I fall to my knees, sobbing. Thrusting the sword with both hands into the gravel laced soil, it is buried nearly up the guard; the entire blade shrouded from sight. As I guide my hands to my face to clear the flow of tears, I notice my wounds are no longer visible. Healed perhaps by the understanding of where I am proceeding and what choices I have left to make in this life to complete the journey. I know I will one day lie in death, a victim of the sword that now lies impotently within the earthen substrate nearby. But, not today. Today, I choose the path of peace; the path of love, understanding and promise for better days.

I raise my hands to the sun, my palms illuminated and accept the healing that I have gone without for far too many sunsets. A prayer of thankfulness, hope and peace unexpectedly rolls off my tongue, and I bathe in the warmth of this moment. A moment of healing. A moment of choosing love over fear. A moment of choosing peace over darkness.

I raise to my feet slowly and smile. Better days, Andrew. Better days. I echo to myself in silence.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Drafting Destiny.

As I sit before the antique 1910 industrial engineer cantilever drafting table, I am mesmerized by its form not its function. Its sleek, metallic, immoderate lines draw an immediate congruency with an item to be discovered in Asimov's laboratory used to devise sinister plots of world dissolution or perhaps the creation of the neutron ray gun.  The table is adorned with faded cast-iron arch supports coupled with the reflective patina from a century of natural aging of its broad, wooden working surface. Drawn to antique artifacts from this industrial age, I ponder as to why the ideal for quality-driven focus and invention has long departed our disposable mindsets. Procuring these relics is a fascinating hobby of its own, seeking out that which still remains long after those who considered its usefulness or even possess the ability to master its utilization have long had their innards masticated by worms, their souls long departed from this place of emptiness and greed. Their fate sealed in accord with the tools and ideologies of those who no longer breathe our common air. Alas, the path still remains for those who dare to cross the social media picket fences and campaign for the truth in understanding.

Inventiveness has been superseded by lackadaisical composition and transient whimsy, bringing joy has long carried more weight than contemplative and meaningful design. Bringing forth epic change now is akin to designing not the essence of flight, nor the distribution of electrical current, but a polka-dotted collegiate snuggle available in all sizes to withstand the essential vagaries of common sense, so often amiss but truly a perfect fit for the Epicurean in all of us.

Laurel branches sit, in idle on the surface of my work table...aged from the weight of the generations who admonish those who remain loyal to the values of hard work and dedication to quality. The satiated masses continue to feed from the protuberances left by our gracious forebears. Arid, the veins have grown feeding the undeserving and unappreciative.

Reaching into both my mind and my soul in tandem, I draw my intentions forward as I glide my chair into position directly abreast with the edge of my sturdy new friend. Chuckling outwardly at the cliche echoing forward from my lips, before its release, I relent to a simple smile. "Back to the drawing board.....", I state even as much as I marvel at the stupidity of my own words. I pause briefly with an unforeseen sagacious grin, momentarily losing sight of my discounted words from a just a moment prior.

That phrase has definite meaning for a rudderless captain in search for a calming coastline.
Drawing a new future is my destiny.

As I reach for my pencil and begin to plot a new destination on the parchments lying before me, the words of Goethe immediately enter into my mind with a forceful vengeance:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. 

Begin it now.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Alligators, anyone?

Reeling from relinquishing the truth of my words to the spoken air, I tremble in the darkness with deliberate pausing of breath, waiting for the faithful jesters to carry forward my admonishment. I listen intently as her voice fades into silence, and now, I hear nothing more. "I am processing", she states with obvious concern and deliberation in her voice. Slumping into my seat, I slowly attempt to retract my words in vain. Silence fills the moment once again adding weight to my heart. Deciding to carry forth the judgment on my own terms, I step down from my vehicle and walk back towards the familiar stone wall that has haunted my dreams for the last several nights. Now, completely lucid --- I am painfully aware of the stage, the performances remaining to be conducted by those who exemplify and mirror the darkness within my soul. The reptilian beasts remain in hiding waiting for my arrival. I can sense their presence even as much as they too sense the apex of this confrontation. Counterbalancing the heft of this moment with my own exposed culpability, I cannot help but envision that their continued presence indicates a showdown is approaching. The moonlight gleams across the aged brick building to my immediate right adding another layer of suspense and visibility to the scene that I simply want to conclude without bearing witness.

As my heart rate quickens, I increase my gait and clinch my fists firmly in preparation. As I approach, the silence is broken by guttural sounds of fear and warnings of danger which rumble forth as growls from the edges of the jagged stones where the beasts remain in hiding. I continue, shaken, but assured by a force more driven that my own in this moment. Suddenly, the scene fades to gray before my eyes. I reach out with my hands to touch its bleakness. Simultaneously, I halt upon hearing a familiar voice which shatters the night air, "Tell me of your alligators. There were four present, not just one. Tell me what they are." Her voice, her words slice through the layers of flesh and bone, and sever directly to my rippling soul still in awe that someone has visibility to this depth of my existence. Shuttering from pure disbelief of the accuracy of her statements, I murmur a few trite words before taking pause and choosing to reveal more of my buried truth.

Akin to Arthur freeing his weapon from stone, I instantly feel empowered to slay these demons in earnest for their continued perpetration of despair and prophetic subversion to my happiness. Gifted from a place of unconditional love, and not judgment nor disappointment, I am humbled in her presence, as always.

Cautiously, I unravel more of the truths into the open night air, allowing each one to hover before our souls as a discussion, an explanation of its own standing, its own existence. Knowing all the while, my paltry notions and attempts to clarify are weightless against the guilt that I feel which permeates all surfaces of my own soul here in this moment. Inwardly, I begin to sob at the purity of her heart and the understanding that unshackles every conceived notion that my sins were not only forgiven, but not even being quantified against our conversation. With certain immediacy, I begin to question my own significance against her overwhelming love and nurturing spirit.  How could someone love me this much? How could someone have the awareness to feel my spirit completely? When did I become this worthy of her greatness?

I fade in and out of the remainder of the conversation. Reeling from the emotions being expressed, I stumble to my knees on the cold, concrete ground. I take a deep breath and breathe in the purity of her love as my strength and faith are replenished. As my eyes regain their ability to focus, recognition of change abounds... Sunlight now beams over my shoulder warming my naked skin and ensuring comfort and solace to previously dismal and stressed composition. I stretch my arms, raising them towards the promising blue skies and smile. Erased from view are the stone walls, the demons, along with the fear that I have been harnessing in my emotional satchel, now emptied and weightless.

I stand to my feet, pausing to marvel at the context of what has unfolded before my eyes this evening.
I gaze hastily in all directions attempting in vain to locate her, but she is no longer visible.
She is with me in my heart. Her voice -- always soothes my soul. Her intentions -- always pure and loving.

I remain motionless, in awe.
For even in the midst of her continued struggles, she chooses love, not fear.
Even through the pains of despair, loneliness and strife, we will choose love, not fear.
As long as I have breath within my lungs, I will call out her name in joyous remembrance of promises made.

Made at times when the only thing of permanence through the darkness was faith in the belief that this love will see us through and the gentle murmuring of her angelic voice,

"Choose love, not fear......"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Too Happy to Write...

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Preserving Appearances.....

Sheets of plywood lie unused and piled high in the garage just as I had remembered. Nails purchased were now rusted and sprawled out across the aged and pitted concrete floor beneath my feet. An old but sound hammer lay poised but never used. The wood now split, rotten and covered in dust is merely used to support other casual collectibles and junk, so invaluable, that it hardly justifies their continued preservation.

But, all things have value to those who treasure nothing.

Walking around this old garage as a child I felt nothing but neglect. Never once was I content nor happy here in this abandoned refuge. The faded orange paint was just as tired and unwelcoming as I felt the majority of the time living in this place. Afraid of the tattered wooden door that had rotten past the point of providing security, loose wooden strips were all that remained to provide the framework. Holes and decay had rotten its outside surface and it shook like a dried-out corn husk in late December when you attempted to push against it.

The twin garage doors which were supposed to house vehicles never functioned in the nearly two decades of my existence living at that home. Instead of repairing the defunct and decayed pieces, mere cover-up and facade building was in order. Pieces of new wood and brick were simply stacked in front of the decay. Even as a child, I was certain that this was only done to enhance the view from the street. One could surmise quite assuredly, that this was not the only part of this home that was receiving that same unique form of touch-up.

The decay ran deep in this family but there was always something that could cover it up to preserve appearances. After all, no one could know the truth. Not even those who resided here.

If imaginable, the sides and rear of the garage were in far worse shape. The wooden paneling had completely rotted at the ground and access for stray mice and cats were in abundant supply. I will attest that I often wondered with the rampant termite, rodent and weather damage how this building ever maintained structural stability at all. Figuring that the sense of malevolence that permeated from all aspects of this property was probably strong enough to overcome mere physics, I allowed my reckless thoughts to wander elsewhere.

Standing inside the garage, I always felt the same dark, cold presence of evil. Hanging in the corner, I would never forget the dusty plastic hanging bags holding my father's military dress uniforms that remained motionless and untouched for my entire span of memories at that home. The bags, opaque and clouded in debris seemed to shroud another lifetime, perhaps even a lifeless body within their wrappings. I was always too freightened to touch, to even come close. I knew that this was just another aspect of my father's life neglected and abandoned to rot in its own painful suffocating demise.

As I learned later in life, those garment bags would not be the only ones hanged in that place.

I tire of appearances merely to hide the truth......
Facades are those foolish enough to believe people don't really know who they are.....
or that people truly care at all in the first place, not busy enough masquerading in their own performances.


You always had the ability to improve, you choose neglect.

Is it not ironic that those same items once sealed the mortal fate of a lowly carpenter?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Deliver me, deliver my dreams.

Postmarked, I arrived later than expected.
Twenty years, no mailbox, no home.
Memories made with the wrong recipients.
Photos faded in a solvent of deliberation and sadness.
Picture this, picture that --- I remain unexposed.

You were ever present on my skin, tattooed without ink.
No forwarding address, I rested alone.
Sentiments written, I wrote out of coercion.
Without you, nothing was meaningful.
My slate remains blank, ready for the truth.

Arrival, departure.
Change is always present.
Time is unmerciful, but judges not.
We are but slaves to the seconds we have left.
I remain captive to the only love I have ever known.

Risking everything, I stamp my heart.
No return, the mail slot closes.
One last delivery for this lifetime.
Postman, carry me on your wings.
Until a song of joy rolls from my tongue.

Deliver me, deliver my dreams.

Friday, February 8, 2013

All the while, I lay captive.

As I rounded the corner of the stone sidewalk illuminated by the star-lit skies above, the silhouettes of nearby tavern signs appear like ominous crates blocking my path forward. As well worn as this path may be, emotionally, it feels completely out of step with my prior recollection of this travel. I glide sheepishly into the darkness and turn down the alley now littered with stagnant water and refuse attempting to reach her abode before it is too late. I can hear flames from nearby furnaces crackling against the hardened stone walls encasing my narrow passageway, echoing the fires of my intentions now brooding with feverish intensity within my soul. Summoning a sense of renewed ambition, I increase the weight and pace of my steps. Out of the alley, I turn north and instinctively lock in on my destination. Just 10 meters before me, I recognize her home. Captivated by the changes I observe, I settle into a slow reverent stride....observing and processing each second with a calculated accord.

The torch hanging above her wooden door is balancing delicately on its side, out of kilter in its emblazoned sconce. Barely revealing any illumination, it appears as tired and restless as its surroundings. The iron bars shielding her doors and windows are uncommonly in place and secured. It is an usual sight to behold as I have never felt as isolated from her as I do in this moment. As the clouds past over the midnight sky, the moon light dances off the rustic wooden planks comprising the side walls and roof lines of this structure. I stand before the door and hesitate to knock as it has never felt as dark before, and I need to be patient. Patient in this, patient for what I might uncover on the inside of the darkness, what has been kept hidden from the light for decades. I surmise considering the distressed ambiance it is best to remain cautious and diligent with my steps.

Deciding to observe rather than involve, I step onto a stone block and lean into a window trying to catch a glimpse of my love, a notion of understanding without the weight of my arrival for her to bear in these moments that may be too hard to balance. As my eyes adjust to the interior darkness, I detect an outline in the corner of the room. Resting on the ground against the wall staring blindly into the center of the space, I instantly recognize her beautiful face. The only source of light, a candle nearly exhausted with its copious wax overrunning the edges of its silver candlestick base, comes into view on the table immediately to the right of her position.

As I adjust my angle in the window to capture more of the candle's paltry emission, I see a well worn trail of tears carving lines of sadness onto her face, now pooling on the floor below. Smoke arises in the corner of the room from a recent fire that may have just been exhausted before my appearance. However, the flames that were recently present certainly explain the weight of sadness that permeates from this space. I stand in place not knowing what action would be most beneficial at the immediacy of this juncture. I try to capture her glance, but she is indeed wounded and reeling from struggles that play out in her mind.

I step down from the stone block to afford her the respect that she deserves.
I then approach the wooden front door, reach up and adjust the misaligned torch, allowing it to regain its proper illuminating strength.

Absent of any deliberation nor diffidence,
I unsheathe my dagger and delicately scribe 3 letters onto its worn surface.

I    L   Y

I knock once, move my hand across the carved outline of letters and murmured "Always"
I then turn and walk back into the darkness...

Knowing that she knows my heart and will return when she is able, I am content and at peace.

All the while, I lay captive....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Cost.

Walking slowly within an exhausted state of mind, I cautiously begin to recognize the outline of the oak tree in the distance. The tall grasses beneath and surrounding my position sway aimlessly in the fog draped air, disinterested with my presence or intentions amongst their existence. My mind, soul and heart are out of a worn slot machine, I pull as I might, but simply cannot get the fanciful symbols of luck to align themselves with my path. Perhaps, these gears will always be uniquely poised against uniformity, perhaps always out of synchronization. Perhaps therein lies my penance. As prison is not only an encampment, but a state of mind, so too are my feelings never quite settled within the walls of my journey.

The cost is far too much to bear. All moves upon this chess board will lead to the eventually demise of something that was once good --- only to have it supplanted by a truly promising embrace that I cannot bear to shoulder simply to protect those I truly love. I refrain not to limit my own gain, but to avoid the loss and disenchantment that would certainly be soon to follow. Discouraged with my own sheepish mindset and dismalness in this moment, I cease walking and kneel upon the damp ground.

I want nothing more but to end the pain and release myself from the entanglements that I have weaved between and around those who would believe that I was somehow worth loving, worth believing in, worth trusting. I count myself not within that group that harbors those exaltations but simply feel constantly admonished for knowing that I will never be worth the cost.

My spirit longs for the elusive commodity of truth....

I wish my words weren't so revealing.
I wish for nothing more than your heart.

At what cost?
At what cost does following your heart justify the sacrificial bleeding of those who once believed in you?
At what cost is my happiness worth more than the blind joy of others?
At what cost?

Leaning back, grimacing from the emotional upheaval playing out before this tired stage, I fall back onto the wet grass. Turning on my side, my clothes are now as cold and damp as my spirit.

Lying helplessly weakened in the moment, I utter to myself, "No matter the cost. I choose to be with you. No matter the space in time nor distance, I choose to be with you......"

Staring up between a sudden break in the clouds, I am now well aware ----
It is time to pay the cost --- It is time to accept the gift. 

I smile, knowing that change is coming... 
The winds providing breath to my soul, echo my words in unison.....