Sunday, June 7, 2020

Father


Henry Regal during Korean War

Every physical piece of your father’s memory is gone, except for a tattered studio wedding photo and a toy soldier. He was a steady stream of love mixed with confused anger at his powerlessness. His dream of playing professional baseball thwarted by a job at the corner store to help his immigrant family. The constant abuse of your mother’s brothers hung like poison in every railroad room in Newark. He stayed happy in is love for your mother. He wrapped the front door with paper and painted Christmas images every year in that wretched apartment. His children were everything when he could muster his true self. He remained a brave soldier in his painful death, unable to take another step, dying in a hospital bed.  

When you lay in a Minneapolis hospital after a vicious rape, he boarded a plane, the first time since the Korean war in 1952, and was by your side within 9 hours. He was the only one who ever said he loved you meaningfully. In your agony, it seemed too late and not enough. It was potent nevertheless. He had to sit through countless retelling of the violent event, since all those people who came to see you had to know what happened. He sat there without complaint. He asked if he could go get a drink. He spent some time in a bar near the stadium, being a little relieved when he returned seeing some of the city. He left the next day and so did you. 

In your constant moving, you lost a Star Ledger clipping of him and Mel Ott circa 1944. The most mournful loss of his life on hold. He was always interested in what his children did. He generally supported who they were. Generous to a fault. You made him cry every night for your safety for 10 years when you thought closing the shade on life was your only way out. He saw you recover and achieve the impossible. You talked to him every day, three days before his death, a rapid devolving of strength. When you had to find an airplane ticket quickly for the funeral from south Louisiana to New Jersey, you felt you were trying to catch a train that was past your efforts of running. At the viewing, after every guest left, you could not bear to leave him.  

We often take too long to say the things we mean. We get caught up in the daily fight for existence in some families. The turmoil keeps our hearts closed. You learned to wall it all up as your mother’s family taught you. You eventually saved yourself but decades later must navigate the sorrow. With Covid 19 restricting your rabbit tendencies, the urge to run extinguished by law and circumstance, you face these things again without distraction. You bought a cast tin Roman bugler in memory of him before the virus swirled around the world. He said in high school they made such lead sculptures and he enjoyed it. You cannot cast in bronze now but you traveled the world to do so. He would have liked that. 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Fire and Brimstone

Photo by Cullan Smith

With current events weaving through your stomach like rotting barbed wire, all you can do is wonder. This unbearable cruelty is part of history from the beginning of time. You think the world has progressed but at the baseline, it has not. It is not the medieval ferocity. It is instantaneous savagery with one quick death move. The killer was bread for this, was allowed this, did this, and the city burned. White slime slithered in from other places in unmarked cars with weapons and a plan in mind. Take advantage of black grief and anger. Stoke the flames of injustice for your own purpose. America is about to be leveled in one way or another as you sit complacently at your desk, in your yard brooding over the quarantine, in front of some distractionSome have already dispensed with Covid regulations. It’s summer. Thou shalt not be prevented from having fun. The world turns without anyone noticing. Hearts melt, hearts harden, hearts wither away. Most pay little attention. 

You look at your parents wedding picture. They look lovely. Your mother is a stylist. Perfect in white satin and lace. A pert smile. Makeup, hair done like a movie star. Dreams rattle in her head. She wants to be a fashion designer. Freedom from the family will not be had. Desires will not pan out. In the end, after your father died, her children alienated, her favorite niece thrown quickly in the grave from Sepsis, all was gone for her. She tumbled done the well at breakneck speed. You never understood her. She seemed remote and vicious. Now, as you look at her face in the wedding photo, you grieve for communication that was thin as dripping ice in November. You did not try after a certain point, intent at following your own star. Weddings never interested you. Meaning always did although in your own family none was had. Your father, similar emotionally, targeted you since no one else could see his dilemma. At his coffin you placed a Roseate Spoonbill feather, bright pink, for the photos you never sent him of your work in Louisiana. You did not want to leave him. Your mother’s death did not matter much but it ripped your heart like a buzz saw anyway. It was over. It was not done, though. She haunts you to this day. 

You grew up in Newark during the race riots. It was a pivotal time of pain deep since you went to a diverse school. They were your friends. Your cohorts in growing up in a vicious city. The split from your family as a mere 10-year-old, was final. Their racist beliefs shattered your confidence. It split you in two. Dead presidents. Dead profits. Violence everywhere you looked. You tried to forget although some torments never go away. You seemed welded to violence, buried in darkness. Repeat occurrences. With one final push you broke free of the embedded chains that held you under water for a decade. It took too long to put things right. Here you are. Back at the beginning. Confidence shattered. The shining sun somewhat pointless. All you can do is find solitude. Make art, survive financially after losing everything, push on with the boldness to do the impossible and be grateful for life, the possibilities at your feet, the ability to feel for another as he cried for his mother. What can be done, you do not know? Be kind. Try to love even though you find you are lacking in that way. Move on in the moment to feel that despite the horror, the world turns and every day begins again. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Combustible Alchemist Rises


Time passes quickly, sometimes slowly, from the mist of our current condition. It is hard to put a finger on. Difficult to fully comprehend. Everything changed like the Pink Moon in April. Familiar, huge, close, slow moving and at the same time far away. You did not understand until Horace almost died, then came back to tell part of the taleA mysterious sickness like pneumonia mixed with malaria. Invisible. Threatening. In Manhattan, they hid the Auschwitz-like piles of body bags stacked into refrigerator trucks from forming long lines by stationing them throughout the city so not to create more panic. No one can say for sure what it is but some history of how it lurks, points to China, and now Europe. Our wayward president provoked, in his misguided talks, attacks on Chinese people. Always looking for someone to abuse. It is not one to blame but everyone. As always. 

People in bandannas look like train robbers. Surgical masks and rubber gloves liter the streets here and there. The pandemic reality is as nimble as that. Trash indicating a lack of seriousness. You, and other travelers, cannot escape. No planes, trains or buses to move the body into thinking life may be different elsewhere. It is not. Enduring seems suffocating. Friends turn their backs and others become important. You look to comedy with a purpose. Laughing releases anger, fear and hopelessness. Who is doing good? The search soothes the soul. You pledge to connect. The silky sun on spring leaves hide the fact that in many places Covid 19 victims suffer alone, forgotten, in a wretched state of life and death. There is much to contemplate. You move inch by inch through your own challenges looking for a remedy. You know you are not alone since the hotline is unreachable lately as the date of resurrection is pushed forward; freedom denied until a later date. Many feel they cannot last much longer in their circumstance. 

You feel numb, dumb struck, encased in red Jello. You have much to be grateful for. The constant aggravation makes you lose your spot in the line of sanity. Who can fix any of this? You watch those with larger issues, virus or not, do remarkable good for their community. Lives saved, hope given, by simple gestures of hardworking people with nothing to lose, with everything to lose. The truth of it changes attitude. You stack up your own needs with what you have. Once again, you landed on your feet amidst the terrors. A tale of two cities life. You have some freedoms, these abilities, the determination and resilience to continue. You tell the black dog to go outside and have fun among the freshly cut grass. You do what you must to put things right, trying to understand the point of it all. Somewhere in the world someone is starving, being bombed, trafficked, flayed by monsters. Such thoughts help you rearrange your disposition so you can go on and be of some use. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Smoke


The white sky is flat and finite. After decades you are shocked by the amount of delusions running rampant. The waste of distractions keeping reality at bay persist. You are grateful for a cleaned sidewalk after snowstorm or the brown creek running wild among clumps of grass where mallards feed. The air is clean and crisp. The sun may show itself. You lessened the time staring at the tiny screen of forgetfulness. With each turn of a page, the book on your lap suffices. Philanthropists save the day. The walk will be beneficial. Making is limited but thinking is not. You analyze the curves of your life thinking it can always be harsher, colder, hotter, less provided for and thank the smell of pine trees for your lack of gluttony for attention. Your internal gifts outweigh the hurrahs. They are as fickle as the moon in winter.

Above you, a lost man flushes his toilet incessantly. His psychosis will disappear sooner than the greedy trolls where you lost your hand as they survey the land for more. They invade the day and night. You see trees and south hill. The joy is worth the effort. A worktable given freely is coming today. It will be a holding place for unfinished business or the snail-paced terrain of physical recovery.

You lost everything before. Something new always appears if you look for it. Typing is hard but writing near impossible. You look to the future. You survived the earthquake of vile actions and heartless mornings. You did not break although it felt like every molecule would burst as if a wooden bat hit while emotionless ghouls snicker in the background. Where are they now? Causing havoc elsewhere. It never ends. You adapt and withdraw from bent scenarios blocking progress. A funny word that may have no meaning at all. Hope is like smoke. It rises and disappears.

You gave up the horizon of ancient cities for upstate beauty and focused possibilities. You thank the gods and goddesses old and new for your final luck. It is not perfect but relatively safe. You are not overwhelmed by insects and foul smells, trash obscuring natural lushness with the addiction of acquisition. It is everywhere. Too many want everything. Too many think things will change. Civilizations come and go. Still, there is nothing new under the sun. A gadget here, a gadget there may transform behavior but not culture. The lies remain the same. The human condition is eternal. Goodness and mercy have their power. They hide behind taking.

On certain days, all is right with the world. On others, destruction is close at hand. They are illusions made by emotion, images, random events as the earth turns without notice. The spine can tingle or go numb. To continue is what matters. What do we know in the end? That we are here and perplexed as hell or sure as a signed document. A good cup of coffee and buttered scone can save the day. Eat and move on.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Where are you?

Photo taken at The Metropolitan Museum in NYC
Oh my muse, where have you gone? Sing to me. Dispel the depletion of spirit. Stop the flashing surrealness of events gone before. Sing my muse. Let me tell the story of brave souls who walk alone as if they are invisible, few seeing them and what potential is held within their shattered lives. Sing with honeyed lips so close to the ear, an erotic wind rushes like an electric current. Sing, for you are believed in by the multitude of Cassandra's standing in pantry lines. Who are they who disrespect us so, we who do not fit neatly into prefabricated slots? So much of their discourse is repetitious and dull. Save us from such persecution and affliction. Soothe the mind with aesthetic traces of capabilities that disappear in the night. The smell of ammonia spells darkness voiding itself into the molecular structure as siblings laugh at your vertigo. They, like others, took everything so you took back. It hurt the spirit but you continued, pain being good for the art, bad for the day. Announce your ailments; watch them scatter as if someone threw a Molotov cocktail into the street. Win the award, they all gather to congratulate. Anger seeps through veins that almost killed you. The relentlessness of it complicates nightmares. Who’s to know but combat veterans. You all sing the song of terror, violence, deceit, courage, survival. The offending judger of prodigious weight puffs himself up like a bunting on a Louisiana road. Reruns of his blessed self repeat endlessly. Halos sweep two anointed heads as if Cerberus, the multi-headed guard dog stands at attention. Kudos burn with fast food gluttony. A little Dexedrine to slice off the pounds. Your harried thinness, though, fools the doctors and caretakers. When you are upright, all is well. When you fall, no one is there to see or believe the tortuous days and nights. You fall too often so they slide the knife into the most tender places. You portray the villain, the pointless person in the midst of righteous blindness. Only sparrows understand, fending for themselves in the wilderness next to lush creeks as receding hairlines demand gratitude for their barbs. And here is the sun. Here is the work. Here is the dowry paid for exuberance. No matter what the price, the cost does not matter. The longing breaches deadly spasms of lies you tell yourself when engulfed in madness. When it is over and you lived another day, the yardage makes sense, the blood-stained thoughts disappear. The room is filled with creation from the ashes of your discontent. You sing to the muse. She released you from forethought’s eagle. Your flesh stayed the course. You did go on.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Macrocosm


You stopped. So many meanings to that phrase. Tales evolve from stopping. From being. Strip away the exterior of self to look closely. Be carried away from the waves of daily occurrences. Nothing in and of itself. Bubbling in the generation of thoughts. Emotions come and go. Supposed realities appear and disappear. In the stream of time, all shrink on the evolutionary scale as big as you think you are. Beliefs vanish in moonlight; alter with the break of day. Who you are is called into question. No one is carved in stone. 

Our nature and world changes at the bat of an eye. Often staunchly denied by experts and fools alike. You distance yourself from what is since it is too hard to define. Many try such feats of courage. Search any library or set of circumstances. You say it begins here and ends there. Does it now? Interpretations all. You say you know. You say you have it. A jumble of words corner you in this effervescent thing known as truth. You have nothing. Impressions moving like clouds through an untouchable sky. Blue or gray, it does not matter. The air is as boundless as you are. 

Pinpointing is a game – a fool’s errand. Happiness. Disappointment. A turning world. Pain. Elation. Delight in the incomprehensible, such as it is. Be sure when you can. Assumptions abound but deceive. Expectations pop up but don’t suffice. You walk miles to pass the time. Distractions line every life. Enjoy what is and what is not when possible. Now is the only bit you can hold as it flutters away like smoke or waves on the sand. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I am

Greek bronze circa 100 BCE

I am from the ocean. The waves pass through my veins as I wallow through the sludge of unending obstacles. Still I continue. Sick. Brave. Tired of that which I do not understand. I heave to the sky with a magnet on my sleeve to keep me where I must be. Not on this land, which I do not know, but back to the place that I know better because of this land. History comes alive with suffering. The pages of the west. Our greed, determination, thievery, intentions good and bad become much clearer through privation and lack of understanding. Hygiene, safety laws, legislation, money making, diversity, addressing of issues. They are there in a new light. The Atlantic and Pacific and all between beat in my heart. Imagine a land lit up by leaving. We learn through experience, observation. It’s all relative. Words do not cover it. Even the monster at the helm cannot tarnish the dream that is American democracy. It is a wisp of a thing in reality but mammothly present as ideology. Can we make our home free? We have been trying since its founding. Failing. Sometimes failing well, sometimes famously false. The school bell rings. 

Greek bronze circa 100 BCE

I am from the crowded room called humanity. My wings flap even though I have none. My vocal cords shake the earth like a lion. I sing like a nightingale; am treacherous and kind as a dedicated nun. Beware the turnstile of the human heart. It strives to be light but is often as heavy as the earth. I will knock on your door, knock about your garden, see the beauty and spit at the indifferent. There lays the matter of the big world turning. Unpredictable, genuine, unreliable, worthy. Can you pin it down? Never. Not now, not ever. It is an illusion to think so. It will flutter past your eyes without leaving a trail. It will drag you to the bottom, then pull you up to the heights. Jesters all, that thing called failure and success. A deluded populace searches for answers hoping to nail them down on the desert floor, sinking, sinking. Faster and faster only to face itself where it started. Yes. The journey, the journey. Angels whisper at the attempt. The devils laugh over their indigestion. Bleep. Blap. Blob. A speck in the universe. So absurdly self-involved. Righteous. Raucous. Revealed. Rewound. There they go. Have after them. They will slip through your fingers faster than you can say JP Rocks. 

I am the searched for air. Freedom of movement. Labored breath. Surly mouths sucking on the tap of life. Desperate. Elated. Lost in a dwindling wilderness dreaming of polished six shooters. Violence becomes a picture show. Flickers. Saturday night specials, three for a dollar if you’re under 12 years old. Oh, Loews of my youth. Where did you go? You stayed in the mind as reality. So hard to dispel. Please for it to be that way. But no, you had to be a brut, didn’t you? You had to bring a light to see with. You had to be too complex to figure out although many have tried. In the end, it’s entertainment for the mind. A star for the collar. A gentle reminder that we must amuse ourselves or go mad.