Somewhere South of Zero

hombres solteros sant feliu de llobregat I don’t have the words.

In my weakest moments
I sought the power of symbols,
learning how to weave a series of lines
to name the monsters of my life.
Dragging them out from the shadows where they hid,
reducing them from nightmares to mere scratches on parchment.
Or orchestrating a divine procession from a pen
that would paint a better picture of life in my mind;
like a spell spun from a sorcerer’s tongue.

Découvrez plus ici As I struggle now to articulate and name these things,
these most monstrous things,
I am reminded of that helplessness
as I stand static in their shadows;
crippled and bereft of all magic.

I don’t have the words.

Because I am somewhere south of zero. 
In a cold place of long night, 
that consumes all of me 
just to make it to that far off sunrise.

To that first break of quite luminous warmth
shot straight through this night’s dark chest, 
that dares me to hold fast the hope
that soon, very soon, 
I will have the words. 
I will again have these devils named 
and make grand parades of their funerals.
I will capture the very essence of that resplendent dawn
that crowned my head in golden victory,
and there I shall leave it.
Etched in the icy ground with my frostbitten fingers,
a most glorious spell,  
for all the others who find themselves
somewhere south of zero.

– ian gallows

The Altar

There,
in spite of years of repair,
is still a hole somewhere.
At night I swear
the wind whistles straight through me.
In spite of the sacrifices
I have laid at the altar of my avarice,
these appetites remain
unquenchable.

INSOMNIA

Insomnia: Also known as sleeplessness, the difficulty of falling or staying asleep caused by a wide array of medical or psychological issues including stress, depression, and trauma.

Often do I dream of my father. Though I have not seen him, nor heard his voice in many years, nearly every night when I close my eyes…he is there. There, in the house where I was unmade.

There is always the house. Always the cold pale blue of wild eyes.

In my youth the dreams of him were much like my waking life; I am a child, cowering in a corner against the onslaught of a rabid wolf who seeks to consume his children. And how the beast did bite. Festering fangs seep poison in my veins that will find root and grow. I was never so tiny as I was against that titan. In my dreams, I can’t speak. He has stolen my voice and it will take me a lifetime to find it again. I am reduced to utter nothingness, my strength stripped off my skin by the lashes of a forked tongue. With all of me, I hate him for making me so weak. Soon, I will come to hate myself for my weakness.

Out of spite, out of instinct, and absolute necessity I grow; contorted but uncompromising. I vow to myself I will never be weak again. I lie to myself until it becomes the truth.

Years pass. I am finally strong and I want him to know. In nightmares more vivid than any day I throw my father into the walls of the house until they break. I want them both to feel this. My fists pummel those cold blue eyes shut; he feels it. The poison pumps fetid and scalding, and I am too blinded by it’s rage to see I have become a beast–just like him. I have finally claimed my inheritance.

In those dark days of hate, my nights rang with thunder and a terrible war. There was never any semblance of victory. Each morning I only woke with a terrible ache in my heart; the wake of which hits harder than any pain we authored against the other.

My father may have laid the foundation for a terrible future for myself, but here I was…ever the architect, still building this temple to worship the anger I’d come to love. I will be a man before I tear it all down, going gray as I kill the god I’d learn to pray to.

The eyes he gave me saw the world with magnificent malignance, so I tore them out. With new eyes, I gaze upon the battered form of my old man. No longer the giant I remember, he is a small and frail thing now. In my dreams, there is no more war. In our armistice I speak with my chest, my words no longer dripping with the venom he put in my veins. I ask him questions, so many questions that even with my newfound strength I still buckle under the weight of them. I implore my father to help me lift this burden. I am begging him and he will not answer me. He has already given me everything he has.

He is mute. The ice in his cold eyes melt into a wrinkled, broken face full of such sad smiles and an undying pride that does not permit those tears to fall. The rabid wolf has final succumbed to it’s festering disease; this is defeat. He never sought treatment, because to admit there was illness would mean there was a flaw. Our curse took my father long ago; whoever that man is now, I do not know him. I only know the circle must be broken.

I mourn him and all that could have been. I have bled the poison out that was consuming me in his honor. I harbor no more hatred in my heart. There remains only a great gutting sense of pity and, in spite of my most monstrous efforts, an undying note of longing in a song I’ll never stop singing.

The dreams still visit me, drifting in on quiet nights when my heart has no vacancy. There is always the house. Always the cold pale blue of my father’s eyes.


Most nights I just fight the sleep.

ian gallows ©

It Comes at Night

I whispered,
“It’s the sweetest thing,
so I have been told.
But my love has all the value of dirt
where only crooked things seem to grow.”

Then you turned to me and said,
“My dear, to those who dwell in deserts
fertile soil is worth more than gold.”

But how could I hear you
when I wasn’t ready to learn?
I was back amidst the arid lands
you dared to speak of;
as if that alabaster skin ever knew
what it was like to burn.

As I drowned
in the frozen waves of those dying dunes
yearning for a shore they will never touch,
your hands reached out to bring me back to you.
Your faltering fingers only certain
that they pointed towards the truth.

But I recoiled,
protecting soft spots
as if you were trying to sink your teeth into my throat.
I will never forget that look on your face.
How those eyes quaked so loudly
they damn near spoke,
“I will never again see you the same.”
And no map on Earth would ever lead me back
to the treasure of that sacred place.

In my wild youth these eyes were all but blind.
Your gifts came in unfamiliar shapes
wrapped in colors I didn’t recognize.
You tried to teach me there was nothing left to fight,
but I was raised on savage sands
to take what is mine;
and what am I without my knives?
You saw how my skin was burned
from the desert I barely survived.
When you offered me the shelter of your sacred shade
my instincts could only scream at me to take flight.
I mistook your love for the all the dangers
that used to come for me in the night.

ian gallows ©

The Tempest and The Tapestry

I look back at all you and I sewed together. How all we could make then with hands only taught to shape fists was a tattered tapestry that barely warmed either of us. Even huddled together we still froze. United only by the cold, we told each other love was simply the act of suffering the storm. So I did not waver against your hurricanes and you screamed louder than my thunder ever could. Until our tempest shattered us both with a force no mountain could have withstood. Scattered to a distance only fathomable in dreams; our hands still grasping tight the cloth as we ripped it apart at the seams.

You’ve come back to me again under clearer skies to make me gaze upon what remains of the work we made. After all these years still clutching your half of the fabric like some treasured memory. And I am wrought with shame that I was ever capable of making such a thing. For though these hands had to be broken to undo their teachings; I am armed now with stronger bones. If only I could show you how to unfurl your fingers and finally let go. But still you hold fast to what warmth it brings.

ian gallows ©

The Thirst

Death decorates the dunes with trinkets bleached white and gifts rings of bones to it’s eternal bride. Here, under the bluest of skies, life only survives. Nothing is offered, there is only the taking by those with knives. Soft eyes unsinged by the savage sun call this cruelty, for they have never known the fight. I look to the creatures birthed to these merciless sands and call them my kind. The engine roars and devours the divides of the highway to escape the land so blessed but oh, so cursed.

You may leave this place, but those born to deserts never forget the thirst.

EMBERS

There was once a time when I lived for whatever moments I could steal with you. I became the greatest of thieves. Hoarding memories like riches, precious metals that now seem such a curse to hold. Currency from a civilization now all but dust. Like all careless outlaws, my crimes caught up to me. In this cell, I tell myself I gladly pay the sentence for these gifts I have stolen. Though as the tallies on the walls grow longer to mark the passing of days, I am certain that regret will visit me with temptations I cannot refuse. 

No one held a candle to the flame you lit in me. I told you that once. I see now, I kept myself in a dark room and gave you the only key; any light would have been blinding when that door opened. My eyes grown dim so used to the black.

I didn’t know how to do this without you. Such is the wake of separation. No longer will we be crutches for each other, we told ourselves. In the letters I will never send I wrote, “I have rubbed my body red and raw trying to wash you off my skin, but you’re a bullet buried in my spine. To take you out would leave me paralyzed.” 

I can’t recall who fired the gun. With whiskey, distance, and long days poured over the entry point I performed the surgery and hung the shrapnel as a trophy. Static limbs that languished in atrophy will soon give way and crawl. One day I will walk, and even run without you. I am uncertain if that will just bring a new kind of pain; I only know life goes on. Time is the dog that licks all wounds and I now count you among the greatest of my many scars.

I held a vacancy in me that dared to dream that I’d read these letters to you aloud someday in some far off summer. Sleep was the only thing that brought you back to me. It’s that part of me, the part that dreams that needs to wither away someplace far below the surface; like an old mongrel that seeks its end beneath the boards of a house, alone. This boiled over and spilled into every floor of my life. A life that creaks and groans with so many other leaks in all it’s chambers that I feel as if I’d drown were I not so adept at keeping my head above water.

You became this pillar in my life that held up something that was more than just a shelter. In that place you taught me so many things that I thought myself truly incapable; I can never thank you enough for exposing me as the great liar I had become. But now, that column has collapsed; the roof has caved in. It is winter and I am cold, and I can never again go to you for warmth. 

So I retreat deep within the halls of myself, to the room I kept for you. To find the embers I kept barely alive to find your way back to me. I snuff the last wick in a place that once blinded me with lights. It is dark now, as it always should have been. I lock the door with singed fingers.

I am a house full of empty rooms.

P H A N T O M

So I fell.

Long did I linger in the crater of collapse. I made shelter amidst the scorched earth and haunted the place I learned to call home. A spirit that languished in a past it could not move pass. Cursed to relive all the minutes in the many hours that made me what I am.

I took my time like it was something owed to me. Licking wounds so compulsively the very act of healing kept injuries from ever closing. What was one more scar among an already flagellated body? I was made to believe I was my wounds. That all I suffered, was all I had to offer; thus I was valueless. Unloved, to be discarded. Someone else’s lies became my truths and I called myself an honest man.

I was a ghost passing straight through the things I yearned to touch. People slipped between my fingers like water and dripped out of my life into polluted rivers of memory, only to be forgotten by a heartless sea. These hands never taught to hold, there was only the act of letting go. Such was my purgatory. Neither saved, nor damned, just a phantom to be forgotten. Until I saw my future in that place, and found that there was none.

So I took my body and possessed myself again. Bringing new life back into atrophied limbs, reminding them the strength of their grip as I lifted the burdened boulder of existence willingly up this mountain that knows no peak. Aware there may never be a period of peace. I may always be at war against this, but what greater fight is there?

Rise and rise
and rise again
and again,
in a baptism of ashes.

I forgive what there is to be forgiven, for I must travel light. I pardon those who have wronged me, for they too were once children of God. Embraced, not in grace, but marked and broken in their Father’s image before the age of reason. Thus traumas transcend time, like chains linked from their beginnings to ours in forges whose fires are kept bright and burning generation after generation in hatred and anger. So I came to love my legacy. I inherited these rusted irons and melted them down into armor. My daughters will have their shield and my sons hands will be bound no more.

The words I used to curse myself, they were never mine. I thought myself damned and made that hell so loud I heard nothing else but my own fire for a lifetime. Until someone showed me all those lies I thought were true. How they wore my face but spoke in my father’s voice. I had to learn how to speak all over again until those voices belonged to me. Kindness was once a foreign language, now my tongue is fluent and it has tasted salvation. Ever since then, it has finally been quiet. Life grows anew among the blackened soil and soon, it will be green again.

One Voice, Louder than a Choir

In this parade of charades
you are but lighting and shade
in a never ending guessing game.
Who can we portray to you
to make you believe what we say?

Woven symbols of a narrative
we so meticulously orchestrate,
What is a name? What is a face?
Everything we say will never be erased.
Press the spine and watch us break.
A fictive biography of would be histories.
Superficial symphonies sang in the key of Me.
An opus higher than an opiate;
push the needle in and watch it bleed.
In a measure sung by a pack of liars
can one voice ever be louder than a choir?

All conjured illusions interlinked,
A spider web of mirror deja vu.
Woven so tightly,
lest we all be crushed by the weight of truth.
You’ve so many faces,
I never know which one is you.

Have we ever truly met, my friend?
In a world where reality shifts and bends
I fear we have lost sight
of where the stage ends.
Cover your ears,
we can still pretend.

– I. G A L L O W S