This Blank Page

This blank page, a snowdrift across worlds of words

That sink into white nothingness. Pens, swords

Fallen from their wielders in the heat of battle,

Leak blood ink in a haphazard fashion.

And vultures, in their own mess, straddle

The pickings in red absorption of passion.

 

This blank page mimics the white heat of pain

As the canal opens; closes in contraction.

Being comes through it, screaming with disdain

At its own awakening. Satisfaction

Comes from the toil but is not guaranteed.

The question is whether it’s condemned or freed.

 

This blank page consumes my darkest nightmares

With the image of itself, my greatest need.

When the monsters come it enfolds them, expels

Terror with a vampire lust that compels

The infection of my thought, this evil seed,

Into innocent minds – those without cares.

 

This blank page is the flag in a foreign trench

Tempting you to brave the gore and the stench,

To claim victory; become conquerors

O’er this destitute king and his followers.

Elated, soldiers fix bayonets and fly,

Yet when the enemy’s reach’d, ‘tis not joy, but a shrieking cry.

 

Ambush! The flag’s a lie; fooled this final time,

They learn how this world has neither reason nor rhyme.

Nectar

In a metal cased tube in the back lab

A flower limply lolls about its head,

Dipping and swaying, it’s happy; content

To soak up fluorescent rays – processed food.

 

The room is empty, voices of absent

Technicians echo off stainless steel walls

Like underwater sounds in memory.

They are drowned by the hum of a slight buzz.

 

A stately king who’s wandered too far from

The boundaries of his abode, pompously

Suited in a furry black and yellow

Robe, saunters his royal colors along.

 

Eleven thousand swings mark his stature,

And he sings soft as he trundles along.

The weight of a single weapon bobs him –

His lifeline, his defense, whose loss means death.

 

As he nears, the flower ceases her sway,

Her petals shiver and tingle behind

The aluminum encasement, sensing

Pleasure from without her bright, lonely den.

 

The king smells her excitement; his hairs prick

On end. He follows the flow of her scent

In a stupor, his beats fast; erratic,

And with gallant courage charges her cage.

 

Unnatural walls repel him at first,

And his exertions cause an enraged daze.

So he pounds ever harder, and harder,

Headlong into the barrier ‘spite pain

 

Wonder, fatigue, and pervading worry.

Again head first, and again – no avail!

At last his energy is spent. Nearly

Dropping with agony and in defeat,

 

An unseen hole at the cases’ corner

Has become apparent. An access point!

Dogged, his former buzz now a murmur,

The king limps in through the secret entrance.

 

At last! The flower, ever patient and

Eager, spreads wide her petals to embrace

The arrival of the now joyous king,

Regal and firm despite his exertions.

 

Pillow-like, her anther enfolds round him.

He inserts his proboscis into her

Stigma. She cries out silently – joy.

Nectar is transferred; his buzz becomes a roar.

 

And in the silence that follows, the empty space around them glows.

The flower’s petals close and cradle the spent royal body.

She drops her head to try and wake him, but he’s become too soft.

Alas the king has lost his sword! His stinger has fallen off!

Out of Step

Dust rose delicately from the path.  Like a brown mist it ascended and slowly dissipated into the warm summer breeze.

Soldiers boots marched in step,  rumbling the ground with each strike of their feet against the brown path. Their green trousers caught the dust and mixed it with salty sweat. Long grass and weeds on the edges of the road leaned inward – bowing to the soldiers as they marched. Some slapped against the men’s legs, mixing and beating the dust deeper into the fabric of their trousers.

Faces, red from the heat and from the exertions of the day, dripped with perspiration. Some of the road powdered their cheeks and the corners of their eyes. Foreheads ran with tiny rivers of mud that caked in wrinkly cracks and gunked up until the lines from every facial expression were made apparent on the men’s faces. On most, the only lines to be seen were in squiggly pairs running across their foreheads – lines of worry, surprise, concern, and fear.

Near the back of the ranks, one soldier’s pace was not quite aligned with the others’. He stepped too quickly, often scuffing the heels of the man in front of him. He’d skip awkwardly to regain his step, only to fall out of pace again minutes later. There were no lines on his face, only smudges of mud from where he’d occasionally wiped his forehead with his sleeve.

The other soldiers in the ranks around him began to get annoyed. At first they smirked and muttered jibes to the private who scuffled along so awkwardly. As fatigue set in, amusement turned to anger. Smiles were replaced by sneers. The jab of a rifle butt or a muzzle substituted for jokes. The private tried to ignore them; he wanted desperately to march in step with the company. But his mind was always lost – never present in the moment. His thoughts drifted to other places. Sometimes to battles gone by, sometimes to the rest and relief that was to come, but most often to the face of his love. To whispering trees in a green valley, shading a small picnic from the noontime sun. They lay together on a quilt spread out to protect their clothes from the ground, and they shared grapes and strawberries, laughter and musings, hopes and concerns about their future. He placed his hand on hers, trying so hard to be natural but only fumbling and squeezing too hard. Like a bear paw mauling the poor girl’s delicate fingers, he thought. But she only smiled at him, and snuggled in close. And this was it. This was all that ever mattered in the world. Right here, right now. If he could stop time and live each second as though each one were a thousand years, he would.

Another jab to his kidneys woke him from his daydream. The man ahead of him had become visibly agitated.

Then, from the corner of his eye, the private discerned a large oak tree. It was so green compared to the barren land in which they marched, that it stuck out like a flower in the desert. Like an oasis. And then he saw the shade underneath it and his legs felt antsy. A surge of energy slipped in through his toes, around his heels, up his ankles, and through every muscle and ligament in his legs, and he jumped from the formation in a dead sprint toward the oak.

Shouts followed him.

“Stop!” Cried his captain. “Private, you stop right now!” But the words were indiscernible. All he heard was her voice. All he saw was her smile.

More noises cluttered from behind him.

“Kevvy,” she said to him, “you’ve got to turn around.”

“I can’t,” he said. “I love you. I need you. I’m coming home to you now. Don’t you want to see me again? Has it been so long that you’ve forgotten how we feel about each other? Aren’t you ready for me?”

“Ready,” she said. Tears poured from his eyes, flooding out the dirt and grime of his journey, cleansing him from all the terrible things he’d seen. From the deaths of his friends, from the murders and the killings he’d witnessed. From the blood, and the piss, and the death and the fear and the torture of living every day in a world where pain and suffering are the norm. His feet felt so light that he thought he could fly.

“Aim,” she said.

“You were always my aim, honey. My only true aim. I’m sorry I left. There’s nothing else that matters to me but you.”

“Fire!” shouted the captain. The company, who had lined up abreast of one another, discharged their weapons.

Kevin sprinted above the barren trail, up above the solitary oak – running, flying home to see his beloved.

Page One

Another new beginning –

Or is it?

A journey starts with that first step out the door,

But my other lags behind.

One leg breaks the threshold

While the other’s planted firm

In golden grounds of gone before.

 

Along before, maybe yet, I’ll see

The visible horizon change

Under my feet;

I’ll race the Sun to glimpse the rain

And all that might lay beyond,

Knowing all the while that as I gain,

And memory fades behind my tread,

I approach the past yet again,

And who knows where my steps’ll end?

Free Will

The hardest words to say, for me,

Is “let it be.”

Let it be Thy will, and not mine.

I can’t see Time

Stretched ‘fore me as a mountain range,

Nor can I change.

On my own.

 

Myself, in the valley, is dark.

I eat tree bark

And rest my head on stone pillows.

Sky’s blocked – Willows

Whose branches reach to praise the Sun.

I am undone,

No more One.

 

Shivering underneath the shadows;

Suffering blows

To perceived control; illusion

Of brain fusion.

Tiny glints of light, now and then,

Make me blink when

They descend

 

In hurried patches ‘cross my eye.

Alas, they die

In the shade. Again to ascend,

Force joints to bend

And crack against the daily grind,

While from behind –

Burden’s mind.

 

One step, pain – the next, suffering.

Life is stepping.

Might cover disperse at the top

Where the sun’s hot

And the air’s crisp upon the skin?

There shalt thou win –

So they say.

 

I will not know today.

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Live the life that you adore –

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Romantic love, or not

A rant inspired by Soren Kierkegaard’s article Either/Or ; a direct response to the characters’ ideas on love.

To write, to write, but oh, to write. One might easier give birth – or so says the man who will never imagine such a thing. Well, he might imagine it, but not accurately.

To choose or not to choose. The deception is that there is a choice to begin with.

So the married man, says author A, will regret his marriage. Marriage is boring, because it is not romantic; it is not exciting. And boredom, says author A, is the root of all evil. It is like idleness, but worse. It can only be cured by entertainment. Romance is in the passion of an instant. The moment when emotion, sense, and sensuality overcome one’s being and the person springs into action. It is entertaining in the sense that it is all-consuming, bringing pleasure and pain simultaneously and in various, fluctuating magnitudes. What better way to stay entertained than to fall in love? While falling, one is never bored – ask any skydiver.

But, Judge Taylor replies, marriage possesses the greatest love – the truest love – because it endures. And the key is in this word “endures.” To endure is to be longsuffering; to outlast each painstaking moment. Eternity is forever, and that is what marriage (a true marriage, a marriage of the souls where the “two become one,” as they say) is, the individual, loving, in each moment.

Loving, by the way, is an active verb.

Romantic love is the overwhelming feeling – it is the thing that makes your stomach ache and your vision blur; it makes your head light and your footsteps bouncy. It is encapsulated in the instant, or, in a brief span of time.

Emotions do not last.

It is as though the brain gets tired of building the neurochemicals which create romantic feeling. Instinct then gives way to thought; what was once unconscious is now deliberate. Love is an ever-complex, ever-detailed sculpture which the artist refines and chips and sands until death.

And ever after, some say.

Is it, then, an obsession? No. Romantic love is the obsession. The married love (which I will now call companionate love) is, rather, acceptance. But those are not opposites, you might argue. I reply that the world is not shaped into dichotomies – no matter how desperately Western culture tries to think in binaries.

Companionate love is acceptance of the spouse (or, significant other) as an imperfect being, separate from one’s self and beyond one’s control. Part of acceptance is the process of learning to love the imperfections; to love the whole person and not the image constructed and idealized in the romantic mind.

It is reality, or actuality, versus a dream. Although dreams may be based upon reality – and in some instances truer than reality – they are not, in fact, reality. Structuring one’s life and one’s relationship upon a dream is like building a house upon sand during low tide. It is only a matter of time before it is washed away…

So, Judge Taylor says, kudos to the married man, who loves each day, learning, refining, and never reaching the climax that romance literature epitomizes.

Does anyone else, at the end of a romantic movie, ask: so now what? He got the girl… so what? Does he keep her?

I think the Judge is right. Love is more then sensuality, and emotional feeling. As the commandment goes: love your neighbor as yourself. Loving strangers and neighbors – people who don’t necessarily share your interests, or give you orgasms – is a process. Even more so for the spouse after the passage of decades has made faces, sounds, and peculiarities all too familiar.

But this is by no means the final word.