The way a person puts out their cigarette says a lot about them. I usually like to flick the cherry meticulously, careful not to burn the edge of my middle finger, and once the cherry becomes loose, I squeeze it out ever so slowly onto the ground and put it out with my foot. It’s much the same as when a person drinks a beer, or talks to a woman, or even in the simple act of tying a shoe. Does he drink romantically, allowing the cold fresh fluid to wash his mouth, flavoring it carefully, meticulously? Does he look her in the eye, confidently, bravely, taking in her beauty in a single swift glance yet never missing a single beat of conversation? Does he kneel to one knee, watchful of his surroundings, looping slowly, beautifully, dancing his fingers as each lace finds its place. A simple action can tell a lot about a person. Each action, each thought, each word. Does each word fit into the sentence with an effortless ease, as each cherry burns brightly to the ground only to be snubbed out, carefully, meticulously?
The smell of stale smoke clings to my worn wrinkled clothes
while my mouth is dry with the acrid taste of a faded night,
my body aches and my mind spins in blindness
all I can see is the shape of your face,
the warmth of your body pushed against mine,
your laughing voice staining my ears with desire,
your hand causally pressed against my shoulder blade:
“Stand here with me”
And when it was time for me to leave
“Maybe I’ll see you around?”
Is it some sort of Kierkegaardian madness,
an unexplainable leap of faith into folly,
an unanswerable puerile measure of my unconscious self against all I desire,
a madness unknown yet made manifest in my male ego?
Or is it because I consider myself some weird sort of feminist,
Or maybe somewhere in blind naïveté I grasp at nothing,
Or perhaps it is my sexual brokenness,
(for some reason it’s not ok for a ‘man’ to be sexually broken – to scream in frustration of the expectations just having a penis brings)
Or is it my childhood – that fine dance of cognitive dissidence,
my only reminder that I once grew up,
I once learned, loved, hated, was someone else?
Am I less of a man because
I did not ask for your number,
that I did not take you home,
that I did not fuck you last night?
I am filled with a sad sense of expectation, or perhaps expectation already fulfilled. Melancholy pervades, fills every corner of the room like an odorless gas, corrupting all hearts like mine that are prone to sensitivity. All are changed, all are touched, all are penetrated.
Not a feeling of dread – it’s a longing melancholy, waiting slowly but desperately to be filled, yet knowing in the end only the bitter disappointment of loneliness, and knowing this during the futile wait. Rooted in the ever-present dread of life, freed only by the reality of death, we await this expectation, this change, this filling, this touch by the hand of God.
It does not come. It will not come. Not here. Not now. Not this way. For holiness, for wholeness, is not found under steeples, not in the extraordinary, not in the miraculous, not in a clinging brokenness braving unity under ancient words, but in the mundane, in the everyday, in the average, in the father chasing his giggling daughter on the playground, in the son waking early to prepare breakfast for a frazzled mother, for the lovers experiencing a first dawn, for late night coffee talks and evening jogs, in the celebration of life that only a funeral can bring – he did it all for us – factory working 12 hour days six days a week, whose heart gives out a week after retirement, for the kingdom of heaven is all around us, and while we patiently await for the holy to touch us, letting melancholy dictate a bitter future, we miss out on these little moments, the beautiful, the holy.
Dedicated to the Flores family – whose father, and the millions like him – make this world a better place to live in. You will be missed.
I desire nothing more
Than to take in
The early morning dawn
With a fresh cup of coffee
And a cigarette
Sometimes I think I have three identities:
How I see myself
How others see me
How I think others see me
But maybe I’m just being neurotic
those restless explorers
for never being satisfied
with where they are.
God bless the astronaut for discovering new worlds
and god bless the farmer for feeding ours
God bless Malcolm X for showing me that as a middle class Midwestern white man my perspective on race is pretty limited
and God bless Mr. Rogers for showing me that even though my perspective on race is limited my voice still matters
God bless my mother for putting up with my stubborn ass as a child
and god bless you dear reader
Now bear with me,
I know this is corny but I’m a sucker for sentimentality
So god bless you
For all the tears of joy and pain you ever have shed could never fill the deepest oceans
And every breath out of your lungs could not be stopped by the most powerful storms
And every experience you have ever lived could not be contained in the largest library
For I know you, dear reader
Everytime you’ve been told that you have never lived fully because you have never seen the ocean, Ive been there
And everytime you’ve amazed, astounded someone because you do not know how to swim, you’ve never been taught as a child, I’ve been there
And everytime you’ve cried yourself to sleep,
Been told that you are not good enough or strong enough or brave enough
Every early morning sunrise and cold dew upon bare feet
Every sweet embrace of absolute surrender
Every hand trembling heart fluttering nerve racking miserably magic first kiss
Every late night walk with existential angst as your only companion
I’ve been there
For you are not alone, dear reader,
There is nothing new under the sun
There are no words, no thoughts, no love, pain, joy, fear, hate, deed
That has not been thought, felt, said, done before
Nothing new under the sun
Others have come before and others will come after and you will be forgotten
take comfort in that,
For you are not alone,
If others have found the strength to carry forward day by day
then I can, then you can, then he she they and us can
So god bless the astronaut for all his fears
and god bless the farmer for all his struggles
and god bless Malcolm X for all his anger
and god bless Mr Rogers for not being perfect
and god bless my mother for all her failures
and god bless you, dear reader, and know that you are not alone.