Thinking In Hushed Tones

I still remember how i felt that day. The second time my father left us. It may as well have been the first or last because it stirred inside of me the first emotions of empty bitterness and betrayal which had previously been unaccustomed to my life story.

I was 8 years old and only recently became aware of the looming fact that the changing grasp of a universe i once thought existed purely to satisfy my lasting happiness had been replaced by a brooding darkness filled with joyless mornings and sombre Saturdays. I felt it in my heart, i felt abrupt and discreet when i peered out my front window at the awesome wonder that illuminated the grassy green opposite my house, knowing all the while that a cold, unyielding lull played its games deep within me.

That day of days when my mother sat me down to explain in tones of shrill sadness, still haunts me in ways that only those affected by the peerless abandon of hope could ever possibly need to understand. I left school that 4pm in May, a shy and smiling boy of innocence but i returned a shameful wreck of creaking unkindness. The schoolyard which once gave me the impression of youth as a base canvas upon which to discover the universe at its most beautifully diverse, was now a spoilt wasteland into which fell the limited tears and broken dreams of a forgotten kid buried in his own chasm of ever declining satisfied souls. My dearest mother, a woman who had bled herself to keep me safe, chose that day to break her recent silence about my father’s unexplained departure in a manner which softened my center satisfactorily but allowed for the deep and painful ache to worm its way plentifully without pardon or bashful lessoning.

“Come sit down a minute James” she rarely called me by my actual name. An event such as this was reserved for times of great triumph or catastrophic failure. The mere utterance of this sent me into a spinning gloom and shivers overcame my body in each split second until i heard her utter another syllable of speech. “I need to explain some things, i need to be honest about what has happened these past few weeks, i have not been honest or myself lately” this brutality of realism shocked me somewhat. I struggled to come to terms with its context or what she could possibly have meant. I had been acutely aware of the distance she had forced between herself and the outside world in recent weeks but been of that age i could not relate to her in a meaningful way so as to understand why this may have occurred. Too busy enjoying the worthwhile nature of a youth blessed in its own petty foibles, instead i passed her off as having the kind of troubles i see manifest themselves in my adult teacher every day. The unfailing ability to reach from cautious brooding to wholesome anger was something i had come to accept in general normality and i was to leave it unquestioned for fear of opening a strand of human emotion that could never be closed again.

My regretful response of “Oh” was somewhat lacking in any definitive thought but borne out of a failure to properly contemplate what doom was about to be unleashed upon my life. “I know this is going to be difficult to hear but your father has not taken short term leave to work abroad helping the disadvantaged” she muttered almost cautiously and with a quivering lip dying into her mouth as if the mere mention of an actual truth was somehow a catalyst for the heart and childish innocence within her to finally be swallowed into a swoon of unabashed anguish.

The fearful but forthright nature with which she approached this had taken me aback and given rise to a fuller sense of myself for the first time in my little life. I was brutally aware of everything. The tears which had so far kept quiet within themselves were suddenly unleashed between her eyes, as a release of every solemn moment beforehand led to that one display of pure and virile melancholy. For the first time i had come to see mother’s raw and unflinching pain betrayed before me without a worry of saving me from the harsh realities of what unquestioned loss can do to a human being’s sense of suffering. Still a child or not, this was the day i became a man.

I gathered my senses momentarily. Enough to search her face for clues as to what possible alternative meaning there could be behind such an appalling statement. The plain view naivety was assuredly within me. How could this possibly be true? How could any of this be real? Was i to dare question the woman who had succeeded in giving me the warmest embraces on the worst mornings and taken the best care of me when i fell deathly ill? This was the newest departure for her, a moment recoiled in terrible betrayal for both of us. How could it be that she would dare lie to me and how was it ever possible to believe that my father had really disowned me like an unwanted animal sent for mocking to a shelter? None of this could be real and yet deep down i knew that mother’s deep and seering sadness was the only sign i needed to know that my life had irrevocably changed and the painless pride with which i strode my path would be replaced by a seething angry stomp over cracks in the pavement. Cracks which more than concrete could surely never fix.

“What do you mean he hasn’t taken short term leave. Where is he then?” was my prolonged and long overdue response. I felt like an inquisitor, a serial investigator baying for answers from a frightened prisoner. Maybe it was too much to expect mother to have all the answers, perhaps its the natural childlike manner to seek such fortune from such tragedy but i forged ahead with a look of silent seeking in my soul.
“I..i…i.. i need to tell you things about your father you may not want to hear” she said interrupted only by her own sharp unwillingness to reveal too much of her own grief in a sentence. “Okay” i reverted back to short and disdainful retorts but i wanted this to be over, nowhere near anticipation but in a dismissive manner as if i wasn’t remotely prepared to hear the home truths which had until that point been so engrossed in envy at my carefree childhood.

“You see, the thing is with your father…” was wholly followed by an indeterminable pause that felt like one long and indifferent arch. “the thing is with your father…. he decided to leave and i don’t know when he’s coming back, i don’t know if he’s coming back” now the sheer vagueness that accompanied this utterance, quite puzzled me. The tears which hitherto overflowed were now replaced by a softness in her eyes, a certain abandonment of thought, a resealing of old wounds to be gutted in by equally immortal, callous and deep new ones. Mother was healing the news of heartbreak by gathering in my nervous vigour. Her focus had shifted to me and how news of my father’s departure was going to affect the deep recesses of my young mind.

“You don’t know if he’s coming back? Why?” At this point i was so obscured by the softness in her approach that it hadn’t dawned on me that a person of adult age could simply decide to leave of their own free will without a moment’s thought for those they so brutally leave behind. “James, your father doesn’t belong with us any more. He needs to be in a different place right now. Its not anything we have done, its his choice” Hmmm, her attempts at justification were fallow but worthy. I could sense an unease in how her manner changed. Her hands were shaking rapidly, her fingers slowly taking aim against the cushioned covers beside her thighs. This moment was bereft of a silver lining, she waded through her amplified vocabulary to find the reasoning that may satisfy me wholly but such an impossible task would always come up short against the shock and horror a moment such as this would reign down upon a child. It was necessary but unsatisfactory, it was plentiful but exasperating.
-“How could he just leave us? It’s not fair, its not right”
– “I know its not fair, James but none of this is your fault, our fault. This is him”
– “I don’t care, what kind of awful person would do that”
At that point a sudden, swift, embodiment of reality swept its way inside of me. This was the very first time that a real sense of grief had descended to me. The hollowness of feeling, the anger and despair, the lack of reasoning, the wept shores which mother had so proudly displayed as truth before me were all the surest signs that this was not a simple childhood event that needed explaining. This was the unravelling of perfectly sealed satisfaction, unwound on the world to be ravaged by the unjust foil of adulthood. A child shall remain a child but an adult can swoon his sword without fearful reproach or lustful examinations of his attempted anarchy.

Mother’s pity for myself was confounded by the enormity of the situation. “I am so sorry, so very sorry” Perhaps, looking back i allowed too much of it to fall on her. The weight of burden lay heavy like a cloud bleached in the blood of a thousand terrors. The enormous sense of feeling left us both misjudged and somewhat escaped. There in the moment but hardly ever there.
-“Its not your fault mum, its him. We are together, please don’t leave me”
I felt weak and uncomfortable, ripe for the picking. The scars had begun to peel away so many layers and the immense frustration overcooked the thoughts running through my head. Thoughts so unclear but rabid and fascinating, nonetheless.
-” I will never leave you, i promise. You are all i have in this world, all i love and all i need. I am here with you forever” This momentarily comforted me. The solemn shaking disappeared, gracefully but only fading into the background, not fully unkept. It maintained distance but nervousness remained equi distant.

For now i wish my mother had chosen that day to explain to me that my father had left us some years previously. This time he had done so in darkest winter. I was only 3 years old so what little grasp i had on the waking hours of daylight, i am sure i would have had little chance of processing his absence much less discerning any possible future correlation from such an occurance. I understood why my mother shielded me from it back then but by 8 i felt old enough to deal with the unfolding drama which en masses swallowed up my tenderness and time. Much later when she died and in my father’s letters to me, i felt a great sense of regret that i never found the chance to discuss with her the full scale of human devourment she suffered at the cold dead hands of my repulsive father. For her, a woman who so bravely met such challenge, the light diffused in her heart was so easy to see flicker and flame out as the years went by but in my own selfish style, i reverted to the casual talk of simple platitudes and mundane mockings. How so much of life past could have altered swiftly with a little thought or tolerance.

As i learned too late to changed our fate, my father, a precipitous railway worker at the time, developed a keen eye for the many various groups of travelling musicians that would pass through his station day after day. To him they lived the kind of life he yearned to be free within. Their vacancy from responsibility thrilled him much more so than the actual sound of their music. That was temporary, their alterior existence was permanent. Every Tuesday their joyous patter on the platform was gloriously followed by the faint humming of a cloud nine song that he sometimes failed to fully grasp but one that never failed to intrigue the wanderer inside of him. He could hear joy and music but more than both he heard a life which promised him the etheral servitude and distinct fancy which had so far eluded his conscious failings. He never felt so free as for the moments when he could surrupticiously hum along to such tunes as he may never have known but therefore loved. He knew that he had to get away and disappear to alternative innocence before the plain and simple sickness of bored reality drove him to decisions that would crush the hope of all who surrounded him. I could never have forgiven him for such selfish acts as to be the ones bestowed upon us but at this later point in life i had a surer sense of why my young life had been ripped so viciously from its roots without fear of waking.

My earliest memories were the happiest ones. And surely they all seemed to exist in sunshine. Perhaps its wistful and delusional to only see life in those terms but my very early passions were fuelled by the unmistakable sense that brightness was the only polemic on which to lay foundations for living. We lived on the side of a hill between a house, another house and a row of shaking sheds which come winter became home to the animals who forever determined that hibernation was not their muse. Out the back plumed a lake or a stream, i was never sure what to call it. It flowed eloquently west, its drops dripping in beautiful elegance as it strode naturally to its resting place. A home such as this could never have been built on less than sweetness. I spent days searching for tadpoles, weeks a plenty by life’s end, trailing their feet from one end all the way to the ridge where the stream embraced its future and move past mere delights. The simplicity in the silence was thrilling. But for the sound of splash and the curious ache of small fish swimming against the tide, there was only silence and sight, perfect and as wondrous as you could ever hope to discover in sunlight.

My first pain felt so vicariously strange. When i was 4, i cut myself chasing a rabbit through the listless fields between the house and the other house that was across from our house. By then my father had left home and returned, the first time. Unaware of such fuss or the inconceivable thought that adult life could afford such distractions, the harshest pain forthcoming was the ability to graze my shinbone on a wire fence chasing such extravagant extremes. The cut was shallow but stung, my pride was overwhelmingly stated and momentarily left to exclaim its own virtue without success. My mother however, a woman so adept at curing the most fullsome of ails set about restoring the very confidence which had been forlornly broken. “Now honey, the next time you chase a rabbit, make sure and catch him before you make it to that fence” She was a great woman, who’s first thought was not to scold me for my attempts at such petty playfullness but to remind me that getting knocked down in life does not mean one should stay down. Pain is but a wound waiting to be healed, short and sharp, unrelenting but baying to be thwarted. The only wilting needed is from those who simply do not have the strength to subdue.

We endure because the alternative is frightening. We exhale because breathing life is the only excuse not to die. As minimalist as that may be, each breath is the forward stride to take us from beginning to end and back to begin again. So as i sit here and remember the people, places and torture that led me this close,  i wonder if i have made the right decision. I wonder if its all for nothing or can it be for something, if the lasting effects of blurred life can be categorized as merely unfortunate circumstance or is it something more. The thud and clash of thunder reverborating inside my head, the glances and glimpses become flash floods circling the hollow recesses of my soul. The vibrancy of a once youth delicately destroyed as remorseless angst played chords of unsurity softly against my better judgement. I feel weak but this weakness does not destroy me. The thought of dying does not victimise me. I have searched so long i am no longer lost. The only assuredness against the flood is the timeless ticking of promise but everything it portrays gets swept inside the vulgarity of variables. The promise of such beauty comes rarely without scars. I can still see the tadpoles paddling against the stream with a hopeful nod and a wink of charm, i can still feel the sting on my shin from when i cut myself. I can still hear mother’s words so delicately tearful and tragic, i can hear her voice so agonisingly angelic. I miss her more now than every day since she passed away, my heart begs for hope but all i feel is hopeless. The light that burned so bright and once burned out, is now a short candle with both ends whispering in the wind. The flame is turned to smoke, deathly calm and devoured. The day before me is dark, shattered, woeful and stolen, the years in front of me are hell, unkind, wasted, broken. So as i sit here with all my life exemplary, i feel nothing for saviours and no sympathy for aching. I am not lost because i have never been found. Shortly the train is coming, i have spent so much of today thinking, soon i must go.

In A Forest Of Hope, All Is Not Lost

In a forest of hope, all is lost. The sound of intimidation and reverb splitting the branches and breaking through the chipping knots. The noise of waking, blindly played into its place a swift and solid shaking.

In a forest of light, all is forgiven. The insects and animals behave as one being, becoming unique as each one delivers into the day, a treasure cemented by its new found bravery. All light in their eyes, all spectacle surrounded.

In a forest of sin, all sin is equal. The depths ploughed alone ones of venture and vanquish, tarnished and tragic. Casting out two rows of jealous lilting, sweet and softly the voices heard from heaven, they remain within.

In a forest of darkness, the night is a lie. To a hopeful wonder spilt on a soft spoiled promise, with the aching of millions bled into a moon of purple. And beyond, up up and beyond, to the darkness as our souls become one.

In a forest of trees, each one alive. And torn into the dead ache of muddy mashes, emerging to a greater sense of purpose and falsified by style. Reworked and revoked, each leaf construed by construction, these trees shine as if forever never leaves.

In a forest of hope, all is not lost. The remains of trickling water and subtle sound and passions plied under duress, the counting of ticks and solemn smells withering the wonder where the dew bells lay. In conversation with passing time, in glorious aftertaste and meddling minds of May. In a forest of hope with a swell of dismay, there still beats the promise of each day after day.

The Black Lung

He crowded himself by the fireplace. A cold and violent rain persisted far outside the window in the corner. His thoughts turned to the sadness of what had happened, his eyes half filled with decent tears and half with rain. His soul shaking with the screaming torture, this pain somehow stunning and also quite inevitable. Out there is evil, despair and darkness, inside there is warmth, love and longing.

The dim coat, now almost torn and thrown over his shoulder so passively and just a placeholder, to save him from a prolonged death, a freezing so mature in its ways, set up to aggressively capture him in its claws. Fighting it every second, hoping for the momentary joy that comes in the realisation of escape, but what is really escape where there is lasting terror?

He spoke of the “Black Lung” and made it sound irreverant, deep and powerful. “It came so quickly, i had nothing. It struck me so forcefully i could not move” Its violence pursued inside him a prayer, he turned to a higher power, as if salvation could be captured in a last second return to faith while all around him became swallowed by their surroundings.

This “near death” changed his mood, altered his view on everything. In a split second he went from carefree fool to conscious thinker of reality. His words were luscious, long and without meaning. They were nervous words, fought off by an anxiousness previously unseen in his ill forgotten world of screaming and pious partaking.

“Only a man can see his true soul when the end is placed in its comfort” These phrases were aloft and pushed to other people, his determination somewhat enthralling and always deeply distressing. A changed man is an awkward concept, it allows for interest but only once you cut through the insanity and short moment selfishness. It can be both beautiful and sad, thrilling and awful. It wrecks the vain wishful commonness of man’s thinking but overflows a mind with putrid nonsense that has little to do with actual reality, a new reality or a deeper finding of ones nouveau self examination. It can find greatness or it can find a vacuum.

Inside the fire, one constant flame flickered and rolled up the side of the chimney, like a pathway or a message, a sign that he had escaped by following its light from the heart of the burning into a corner, dark and brooding and safe from death or desire. He followed it with his glazed eyes, each time secretly hoping it changed course on its journey. But it never did. That flame was for him, it stayed constant, it was all or nothing.

Outside the rain unrelented. The glass panes on the terrified windows, shook with the sound of thrashing, a beating taken by the elements of nature, remorseless and unforgiving. The world outside was wild and useless, it brought a pain rarely felt with such force when a soul is wrapped up in the comforts of light and fire. He turned to a clock in the corner and he hadn’t noticed that his musings on life had taken over an hour of what remained in the unmeasurable timescale of his life. This is what happens when fear is everywhere and passionate, his words had become sentences, his sentences had become paragraphs, paragraphs had become chapters and suddenly all time was rendered immortal for it swept all reason into its centerfold.

The savagery of this night, the darkness of the unfolding was only now starting to truly hit home. The senseless half death of the “Black Lung” had swallowed more than victims, it shook his core and left in its wake a terror that needed only a moment’s notice to ravish its prey. Intoxicated by the smell of damp, dank scum cycles. Fantasised by the fireplace, a wishing wild and pondered upon for all eternity. Take him whole and bring him home, risen from the land below. He sat in silence for a few minutes, refusing to move as if moving would somehow be disingenuous to his previous train of thought. Suddenly, he stood up, took one look at the constant flame still barrelling its journey upwards to the sky, spoke in barely heard words of comfort to himself and to the night and stepped out from himself into the adjoining room to say goodnight.

Evermore

Forever and forevermore
Upon the holding of a stone
Beneath the brave and rolling wave
The land will grow into its own.

Forever and forevermore
The laughing thought of haunted yore
Will come a sauntered place or home
Between the rocks of life’s blessed implode.

Forever and forevermore
Waiting by the day’s short shore
To wicked, wild and waiting core
Come earths divide come light not yours.

Forever and forevermore
Into darkness a heart will pour
Its sins and fate, its love so pure
And live on land and seas every evermore.

Wait, There’s Magic There?

So many sailboats, so full of flickering and cool breeze waving into light shift memory magic and alternate worlds wrapped in guilted torch supremacy.

Where is the waiting? Where are the stilted stakes on which a breathless betrayal grows roots? Were it not for places to roam there would barely ever be distance measured or time put forth to explain the alarmity of our actions.

The placid enmity released into a wild and frenzied scream of panic. The buzzing of birds wore into a passion of weekend after work salvation. The feeling of fever, the sadness in a noise, the vileness of weak massacred apathy in a chorus retained deep within scourged remains.

But wait.. There’s magic there? A world remote in afterthought but rich in a loving flight of fabled joy. Tales of folks not so much aching but restless energy and curiosity contained in every simple question. A world so worked up, woken up to light forever in its destiny. Uncontrolled by common voices, sailboats or its fears, a world awoken by the richness of its every lasting youthful years.

A Silent Rain

No talking, no whispers, no anything of note not even song or prayer or gentle judgement, nothing sacrificed in honour of the rain that falls.

Flowers melted into spiteful subterranean and ground hollow in its mess but glorious and free forevermore. The pain of sorrow, the tears on cheeks but no sobbing heard, no anything of sound beneath what just you see.

The words, the colours all gasped and figured in patterns light and lifted into brighter moons but still not right, still not taken from its safer home for a few waiting walks with the ever lasting end in sight. See everything, feel everything but hear nothing…

The deafness of life to you be a blanket covered in the fuel of sharper imagined shrines. To us we see a poor man walking in the long sad days of a wasting soul lost in the darkness of passing time.

Wave At Dogs

Say hi to me and people and things, places and other things, everyone and everything in its own place. Not that it stops for you or me or for the ticking hand of a clock so stuck by ravaged bitterness or beauty.

Which one I never know, which should it be it hardly even matters. Come into life a child of brains and skin and tears and vibrancy and light, leave a toiled mess of fallen dreams and broken promises and aching limbs and not much else.

Say hi to me and people and things and say hello to dogs and objects and random clouds that seem to wave at the corner of your soul. Everything seems just, adventure puts its faith in your love and trust. The wave awake, the mind of a shattered life left to trail.

For real, nothing granted nothing taken from you without first getting sold on its beauty, on it’s reasoning. For warmer winters, for cooler Summers, for days you knew not much existed inside your soul but torture and famine of your body whole. Breaking up the pieces that were left, taping them back together with only dreams, waving at dogs to make you feel better, for a second, minute for the hour it takes to live again say hello and say goodbye to everyone and everything.