P H A N T O M

ce formulaire de contact So I fell.

http://lycee-chateaublanc.net/49-dtf98973-rencontre-photo-arles.html 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.

Moments of Collapse

I awoke that day to the familiar patter of footsteps pacing the hardwood floors. But that morning, the steps were hurried and palpably manic. I opened my door to find my friend pacing the house with a phone to her ear and tears on her cheeks.

“Larry just died,” she said.

Larry. Her mother’s partner. An old oak of a man whose main method of communication was a series of grunts, scoffs, and dismissive waves. Visibly racked with a pain only a dying man can feel, no one ever questioned the brevity of his speech. He dwelled in a space of solitary that young people reserve for the old; kept at a respectable distance for to be any closer would remind them of the fate that awaits their spry joints and quick limbs.

“Larry is dead…”

The words washed over me with little sensation. A breeze through an open door, subtle and fleeting. I didn’t know him. He was but a fixture in a house to me. Someone I didn’t sit near or speak to besides whatever cheap courtesies I could afford. A nod. Hello. Goodbye.

He gave up the ghost a little after dawn. And in that sunrise I learned that you never really know when your last goodbye is for good.

As I watched my friend crumble before me, my male mind raced with solutions on how to fix a problem I’d never solve. In the wake of my helplessness I knew only that I should be there for her. So when she finally got in the car, I got in the fucking car too.

Her mother’s house was not the home I remembered. It was stirring with an unsettling static in the atmosphere, like something had been sucked out of the walls.  The yelling, the barking, the screaming, all the laughter, that chorus clamor of an affectionately dysfunctional family…it wasn’t there. The music of the house had dwindled to a mumbled lament. Not even the dogs made a sound. For the first time, I entered that house and was greeted by a stranger named Silence.

My friend walked up to her mother, whose face immediately swelled with tears like a dry wood that touches water. They held each other and their grief. I stood in the doorway and felt the pressure of something I didn’t know how to articulate then. I touched their shoulders in quiet consolation as they shook under the weight of their sobbing. I left them to their mourning without a word.

I walked down the long hall. My feet moved, driven with a purpose all their own. I had been down that hall I don’t know many times before; ushered by screaming children chased by panting dogs. Walking alone then, the hall suddenly felt so much wider than I remembered. I found my feet in front of his door. Beyond was a place I had never been, in every sense of what that could mean. I didn’t know what was on the other side but my body took me there, and I followed.

Larry’s bedroom was a simple and quiet place. A fine reflection of what I had seen of his character. The walls were completely unadorned, save for a few scattered photographs. Strange and familiar faces inside of small frames. Another family. Another life. A solitary window faced the street where the early morning sunlight began creeping in.

The light and I found him, sitting in a chair in the corner of the cold room; his head resting in his chest. His hands curled atop his lap where a blanket lay falling off his legs. The old man looked like he was just sleeping.

Almost like a spotlight, the sun stole into the room. The rays caused the naked white walls to shine brilliantly as they touched the atrophied limbs of the body in front of me. Almost heavenly, in a way–if, after all this time, you still believed in such things.

I had never seen a dead body before. It’s something your eyes see, plain as sunlight, but your mind struggles to grasp the concept. This person is gone; even with their body right in front of you, somehow you know they aren’t here anymore.

And yet, his peaceful countenance stirred in me a sense of disbelief. What if he is just sleeping? What if he isn’t dead?

With a steady hand I placed my fingers upon the life vein in his throat, searching for a semblance of a pulse. His body had already begun to atrophy and grow stiff. It felt as if human skin had been stretched across the bark of a tree. His pulse answered me as a statue would. I felt his chest for a heart beat but it’s measure was over. No breath. No movement behind the closed veils of his eyes.

In the hallway, I could hear the women he left behind crying. Sadness was in the walls and the house seemed to creak in response. I found his bed without any real thought and slowly sat down. I don’t know how long I stared at him. I can only tell you I could not look away. Neither fascinated nor disturbed. Not afraid nor really brave. I only felt this great sense of…nothing.

I felt nothing.

“Where’d you go, old man?” I asked him as I smiled to myself. Realizing then what a great joke this had just become. I just said more to this man in death than I think ever had in life. That distance I kept him at, would that I have closed the gap.

”I want to believe you went somewhere. Somewhere better, I do…” Conflicted with my own beliefs of the existence of an afterlife, talking to what was left of that old tree named Larry, I felt something then. I couldn’t tell you what it was. I could only tell you it was there.

I remember hearing once that when stars die they collapse under the weight of their own gravity. The star erupts, and when the dust settles what remains of the star and its energy coalesces around it’s former orbit to form a nebula. In that room I felt a pressure then, of a star that had gone out in a tiny universe with four white walls. And there is poetry there that I will forever struggle to properly articulate.

As I stared at the body of what used to be a husband, a son, a father, I noticed he had drool slowly falling from his mouth down the side of his great wrinkled face. It made him look particularly infantile. Regressed in death, to the stage of his birth. I took a rag and gently wiped away the spit. I took his blanket and covered him up to his neck. He didn’t seem so frail then. Just a man lost to a forever kind of dream.

And then I left him. To be mourned and seen by what people knew him. One by one his people began to visit the house to pay their respects and be there for one and another in their own way. They all began to regale stories of the old oak. His grumpiness was comical to most and to my surprise, he was quite a rambunctious soul. Had you only took the time to know him, he’d have talked to you. He might have even made you laugh. Scoffed at your youth and then, perhaps, shared some wisdom purchased at the cost of all his years.

And you couldn’t help but wonder, who will be there when my body is found? Will I make it to old age? Will I be so lucky, to pass quietly into that good night? Will they speak as fondly of me? You can only hope and strive to be that for people; a source of fond remembrance. In that crowded room in our wake, I couldn’t help but think that in the face of death, you can only live in spite of it. In truth, is that not life’s greatest rebellion?

As the house began to fill, I took a seat next to a friend, the youngest daughter of the now widowed Mother. She was holding in her arms her newborn niece, Mary Anne, swathed in a blanket and clutched at her breast. I sat next to these two beautiful creatures and my weary eyes just rested a while in their innocent countenance. Little Mary Anne, being fawned and awed by a love struck teenager.

Such life existed now in this house where, only moments ago, was only a vacuum of sorrow. Our own little rebellion, if we had anything to say about it. I edged closer to them and dove into Mary’s eyes. These great blue pools of curiosity teeming with wonder and contemplation. Searching the room until they found you. And then you just drown in there. You really do.

I reached out and touched her soft, porcelain hands and she grabbed my finger with a strength I didn’t know an infant could possess. In that moment, I can tell you, I felt something; love. This sudden unwavering desire for nothing but all the good of the world to befall this creature.

That feeling, it grips me as tight as her hold on my finger and does not let go. As I am swimming in her eyes, I see her begin to drool a bit. Her spittle falling gracefully over her face, I grab some napkins and wipe it all away from the cherub ever so softly. I wipe until her face is clean and ready to be admired. And then, I laughed. I didn’t know what else I could possibly do but laugh.

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

Of Bones and Blood

It’s not enough.

It’s never enough.

A brilliant star collapsed inside my gut
and it’s a hole that since
has never shut.
It takes,
it breaks,
and it unmakes
in a fever of bones and blood–
and even though I know,
I know,
I cannot endure this storm alone.

As if pain were a tree you diligently water,
for the shade of its branches
has been all you’ve known of shelter.

– I. G A L L O W S
November 3rd, 2016

The Carousel

I

My life has become a carousel.

A beautiful ride. A brightly lit amusement teetering along a set axis of imaginary lines.

Thoughts turn to memories and memories to translucent dreams as a familiar tune I know now all too well sings just for me. Under the alluring spell of nostalgia, soothed by the smooth porcelain hands of familiarity, I am anchored in the deceit I sell myself that this is what it means to be free.

The comforting weight of knowing that today will spin on forever, keeps me in place.

Tomorrow becomes a forgotten friend I told secrets to in the spring of my youth. Under canopies where we carved our names into towering titans whose changing foliage was our only sense of time. When we ran naked and wild in limitless fields of our imaginations and flew about with invisible wings.

And now, we dream digital dreams birthed from the wombs of screens. The Gods and their magics have all faded away, starved out in disbelief. Pregnant with the knowledge this age of wisdom brings, tomorrow seems a happily never after just beyond my reach. Like the limbs of impossible trees that taunted me in that childhood of virgin spring.

I am far from my jungles now, lost in the crowd of a parade called, “Someday”.

These painted horses and magical seats find me and carry me aloft. Destination: unknown, yet certainly familiar. For the everyday happens every day. Again and again and again. Seasons merge into seasons at an accelerating pace. Years skip along the rippling surface of time like weeks, never sinking; still finding me in the same place.

And when I lay my heavy head down again, that song becomes a lullaby and on whatever surface my body finds tonight, I will dream the same thing; of a life I don’t constantly feel the need to escape from,

And the dream remains a dream.

II

Then, dawn finds me again.

All fades and recedes like the black curtain of night, as I get back on the carousel stage.

Allured by it’s siren song and captivating lights, blinded to all else that would enter my sight, the ride will cough and sputter to life. The circular motion provides an illusion of progression. I am moving, if only further from the point of origin that was myself. The wind is in my hair and the lights dance about like fire flies in a Southern night. Artificial stars guiding me to a destination I’ll never find.

A rat in a wheel aware that it serves, in spite…

Be still, my rampant mind.

For it’s all…

just a ride.

III

And this,

this is goodbye.

For I am that which must collide to break the constant spinning of cycles.

Farewell, ye well oiled machines, whose machinations are beyond me. Whose design produces assembly line drones and counterpart white collar clones existing in living limbo on the fresh cut lawns of suburban purgatory.  You, who sour the Earth with pollutions that poison the imaginations of minds and darken the native born, holy exuberance of men’s souls!

They sold a Nightmare donning the mask of a Dream with tickets bought by those lost in perpetual sleep. Our dreams orphaned on a busy street. I cradle my newly adopted son of insomnia.

Farewell to the painted horses whose instinctual trajectory brought me to memorable places I have since forgotten. The people I passed by passing through. Out of focus, brightly colored silhouettes who painted a picture a thousand others could paint rather than signing their masterpieces with scar or stain. Momentary loss for temporary gain. Spinning each other around, again and again.

The innumerable static distractions and few starving affections. The angel choir chorus of slapping skin and creaking mattress; spun round the willing impostors to an endless waltz and grand skeletal ballet. Spinning in pretty circles until the scenery recycles.

Allow me to forget the steps. The modern dance of romance that leaves me dizzy for the band is always off time and off key.

Rapturous melody! Oh, harmonious discord! Fill my lungs and teach me a new song!

Or, let the music stop.

Turn the fire flies off.

Enrapture me in silence and cloak me in a void,
So that I may find my voice.
Leave me deaf and leave me blind.
So that among the muted progression of seven billion songs screaming towards heaven I can find myself in this passage of time.

– I. G A L L O W S
December 3rd, 2012

Gardener

I swore once
that there was a magic in desire
that could give flight to creatures born without wings.

I levitated on this feeling once.
But butterflies are all but a forgotten memory.

Remind me.

Please.

For all I have are dreams of what has yet to be;
for that is all I will let be.

Here, amidst the soil of this savage garden,
I have come to fear the thorns of every flower
from the times that I have bled,
yet still–
I am intoxicated by the scent.
And this love would bloom if only I would fetch the water,

But I am not a gardener.

– I. G A L L O W S
July 15th, 2012