When Your Time Is Up

You know what you can’t do
Without drawing attention?
You can’t sprawl out on the sidewalk.
Head down, resting on the concrete, watching a bug.
Feet up, kicking.
I guess you can, if you’re eight or ten.
You could lie there for hours rubbing a rock back and forth
And no one would bat an eye.

No one would call the police.
Your neighbors would not be scandalized,
Insisting they knew all along that you
Were bat shit crazy.
I know I should get up.
The rock is just a tiny nub now
And the bug has long since passed.
Off to its hole or crack or burrow for dinner
Or out cruising along the twisting trail
Into the park looking for love.
That bug, it really does have it all.
Does it think so? Probably not.
Those with it all rarely do.
None of us content.
All of us scrambling.

Well, not me.

There is a small crowd gathering.
Someone’s (probably Patty … the bitch) has put a blanket over me.
As the sun sets, I can hear the sirens calling out their intent.
Coming!
Coming!
Coming!
Coming!
Everyone exhales when the lights bounce off their nosy faces.
When the authorities arrive.
When someone else will take care of this.

It’s just that I’ve had a shit day.
And really, I wanted to relax.
To do something in the now.
In the moment.
To be present.
To observe.
To not be bothered.
I wanted to think.
You cannot lie on the sidewalk and think.

It’s a disturbance.
Even if no one is using it.
It just not right for you to be lying there.
It’s a concern.
And I can tell you,
Everyone is concerned.
Even if they’re really not.
Just nosy and uncomfortable with the unnatural.
The strange.
A grown man (I like to think) lying on the sidewalk,
Rubbing a rock back and forth,
Back and forth,
Back and forth,
Talking to a tiny bug on some errand.
Kicking, ever so slightly, his feet.
Staring off after the bug, wishing it well, and happy holidays.
No, this isn’t a holiday breakdown, thank you very much.
It’s rude to assume bugs celebrate the same holidays at the same times as us.
It’s incredibly humanocentric.

Anyhow, I woke this morning with
(Don’t laugh)
A song in my heart
A smile on my lips
A full happiness in my soul.
I had so much to look forward to today.
I was swollen with prospects and promises.
They pressed out of my every pore.
It hurt to let my face go slack.
Nothing went wrong immediately.
And like I said, I didn’t expect it to.
All was going to be amazing.

I dressed.
Collected my things.
Went to my car.
My reflection showed on the window.
It being slightly tinted,
I could see the sweep of my hair,
The color of my shirt,
And the man standing behind me.
Same sweep of hair.
Different color shirt.
I turned.
We locked eyes.
I saw latent desperation peering back at me.
I saw sweaty skin,
Clenched fists,
Heavy breathing.
I saw twitching and false starts.
I saw the coming action.

Patty (the bitch) hummed just beyond the hedge,
Her footsteps approaching,
Her cockapoo whining.
My doppelganger rocking.
My eyes flashed toward the sounds, toward the walk where she walked.
She paused, smiled, and waved
(What a bitch).
I nervously laughed.
Lifted up my hand.
Turned to confer with my new friend.

But he was gone.
In a glinting of light,
In a reflection of glass,
In a rustle of leaves to my left.
Movement continued.
The bush shook violently,
Fear crept up me.
My eyes peeled back,
Mouth stretched wide,
Arm flew up for blocking the attack.
Rooster, it was, the dog from next door.
He lifted his leg, peed on my tire,
And bounded back to where he had come.
Exhaling, I tittered.
Got into my car.
I drove downtown to the shop.

It was burning when I got there.
Great clouds of smoke plumed up and could be spotted miles before I arrived.
The flames required you to be closer.
They licked the walls,
They cracked the windows,
They ate up my one and only shop.
I parked my car.
Straightened my shirt.
Walked up the door of my shop.

Kitten mewling;
I reached for my keys,
Wrenched open the door with a pop.
Heat poured out,
Drenched me completely,
Peeled back my skin,
Pried at my eyes.
Kitten coughed.
Then leapt to my arms, whom I caught.
Grateful he clawed at me,
Right up my neck, get me out of here he cried.

Now sooty, Kitten and I, we retreated back to the street.
Quickly around the bend.
We couldn’t be seen leaving this scene.
Now that my shop’s at its end.
Steps fell faster, heels clacked, hurried to my nearest friend.
The building was tall, gray slate, and iron wall.
Kitten in my shirt as we ascend.
Elevator dinging, hall lights gleaming.
I scurried to the end.

Knocked then banged.
Silence still hanged.
Hushed voices come up from behind.
The woman, from across the hall,
She didn’t recognize me at all.
I asked after my friend.
“That apartment’s been empty since December twenty, I don’t know about any friend.”
Then Kitten she spotted
Cooed love to the top of my shirt
Where her little head bent.

She cradled Kitten,
Removed the burnt ribbon
And stepped back with no hint of pride.
“Thank you,” she said and ruffed Kitten’s head.
Walked backward to her door.
Closing it as I blinked my eyes.
Again, I raised my hand to say goodbye.
Then returned to the street sans friend.

The day was spent walking,
The feel of someone stalking,
A stranger with my eyes and my old friends.
No wallet in my pocket,
No cash on hand.
I sat in a park to think.
With mysteries growing and, of course, me not knowing,
I couldn’t guess where I could be.
Where he could be, I mean.
Something had happened. Something called out.
Something brought about this strange circumstance.
Glanced up to the side. He stood feet away.
I didn’t know what I should do or say.

“Your time is up. You’ve been called back home.”
What did he mean?
With all thought my mind still screamed,
“This has happened before my friend.”
The shop has burned a thousand times.
Kitten has been saved even more.
Friend in the high castle, erased without hassle.

This copy of me
Shocks my memory,
Why did it take until now.
I’m tired of running,
Tired of climbing,
Tired of the Patty … the bitch.
I’m not starting over.
I will not forget.
You can tell who ever sent you.
I’m spent.

I stumbled.
I run.
Straight into the sun.
Desperate to get back to my brick.

And. This is where you found me.
Lying on the ground.
Rubbing a rock on the ground.
A group has huddled.
Shaming me for all the trouble
I’ve caused on this small strip.
A paramedic, he bends, shines a bright lens, taps me on the face.
Just over his shoulder, I see my twin
Arms crossed ,
Head shaking,
A thin smile snaking
Across his lips
Here at the end.

Oh. Light is receding.
The others are leaving.
Patty … the bitch,
Says I’m dead.

My Family Is …

Passive aggressive bullies.

Now,  Be Nice.

Okay … Full of shit.

Nope.  Try again.

My family is full of people trying to make it.  Trying to make their life full.  Trying to navigate what they need, what they want, what changes their minds, what keeps them going, what pushes against them, what others need, what others want, what pressures them.

One wants you to visit.

They miss you.  They love you.  You aren’t trying hard enough.  Where did you get that idea?  No.  I can’t believe you thought I’d want that.  I want.  I want.  I want.  You just need to show up.  Be present.  Do whatever.  But also run it all.  You disappoint me.  You should have.  You needed to.  You can’t keep me from doing this.  It means so much to me.  Since when?  Since always. You never said.  I shouldn’t have to.  You are letting me be.  You don’t expect me to do it.  I already paid for something else.  I want to do this.  Well, I just thought you’d want to see your family.  I thought you cared.

One doesn’t want to visit.

You don’t love us.

Yes, I do.  My family is full of needs.  My family is full of hurt.  My family is full of love.  My family is full of sadness.  My family is full of shame.  My family is full of desires for laughter.  My family is full of missing out.  My family is full of ideas.  My family is full of procrastination.  My family is full of disappointments.  My family is full of borrowed feelings.  My family if full of unclaimed feelings. 

Ownership.

Kicked Out

I have been kicked out of many things in my life.  Some of them were institutions that promoted love  and understanding.  I was kicked out of Brownies – that’s the step below Girl Scouts.  You know that song you sing with your troop it has the line “My honor is to try and my duty is to love?” They were loving me right out the door.

I was kicked out of youth group.  Youth Group – where you go to church during the week to hang out with others that love God and talk about how you need to be accepting of all people – kicked out.  I was kicked out.

Most recently, I was kicked out of couples counseling – where you go to make things better with your partner.  Yea, asked to go somewhere else to work on my “issues.”  I have mentioned before that I am working on some codependency issues but the couples counselor felt that I wasn’t allowing us to progress do to other issues.

I was still too hung up on my daddy issues and my ex-spouse issues and my mommy issues.  I need to find someone else to pay to work those out before we can go back to work on the relationship.  Last I checked, our problem wasn’t my dad being an addict.  Or my mom being apathetic.  Or my ex being a douche.  Now all of these can contribute.  Yea, yea, yea.  I know.  But I can have some current, up to date, complaints that are legitimate and worthy of discussion.  Worthy of repeating.  Worthy of standing up against.  I can and I do.

I haven’t dismissed the “work on the past to help the future” decision made for me.  I have gotten underway discussing all the wonderful things about my family and I feel like shit.  My new therapist has told me that I was physically abused – by today’s definition.  I am not attaching myself to that bullshit.  I got the hanger.  To me, it’s just what happened when I was a pain in the ass.  Or the belt when I was a pain in the ass.  Or the brush, spoon, chair.

I was a pain in the ass.  I still wouldn’t say I was abused.  Would I?  I am having a difficult time enough trying to set appropriate boundaries for the members of my family that don’t know what they are or give a flying fuck about them.  I am not going to run home for Thanksgiving and say, “You abused me.”

It doesn’t matter.  It wouldn’t change the past or the future.  These people aren’t capable of change.  They are nice enough on the phone but they can’t even clean up when I visit.  Or the other half can’t even call at all.  They have too much.  They’re just as unhappy as I am.  They need just as much help as I do.  They aren’t going to get it.  They don’t want it.  They aren’t there yet.  They may never be there.

This is my own thing.  I have to heal without confronting.  The response would halt any progress.  My awareness is sometimes great, sometimes lacking.  The irony may be right in front of me.  But maybe I’m not there yet either.

Big Deal

What the hell is wrong with people?

Is it so hard to ask for help?

Can’t you just walk away?

Don’t you think you could reconsider?

What is your process here?

Cuz I don’t get it.

There are so many people

Willing to help

Willing to do

Willing to take

Willing to give

Willing

It’s a big world

And it can be overwhelming

But

You don’t have to go

To the measures you’re going to

Really

People care

We have to

It’s our job

Not Mine

Are you sleeping well?

I kept you up.

You don’t need

Me

Our life

What we made

Well, I was wrong

I left it all

Made what I have

And now

You’re there

I’ve no luxuries

No drugs

To drown

No smokes

To calm

No booze

To numb

Just busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

Busy

It’s funny

Because I make

Things

Up.

And I try to fit

Whose idea?

Not

Mine.

Fizzle

School’s out.  Not with a bang but a fizzle.  Last year, it was long awaited, exciting to be completing another year.  This year, it was still long awaited but I wasn’t excited.  I just wanted the kids to leave.  Perhaps this is because my 9th graders are really truly leaving this year.  I will miss them.  I was feeling sad that they were leaving but that isn’t what made me want to run and never come back.

I wanted to do that because on one of my most celebrated days – the start of the last week – one of my students came to checkout of school.  He told me he tried to kill himself.  That he had several times.  He wasn’t sure how many.  It was the first I had heard of this.  It was revolting.  To have been so clueless.  I don’t want a job where such devastating loss is part of the package.  Every year, something horrible happens.  I hate it.  I feel I have failed.  Let my student down by not being their link to security.

Of course, I can’t be that.  It isn’t my role.  Self importance allows me to think that only I could have helped.  All bullshit.  Any thought of helping someone that doesn’t want help is a waste.  I have been there.  I have planned.  Nothing and no one can pull you from that grip.  Nothing matters.  No one matters.  All logic lost.

The only true hope is that time will pass or someone will notice and physically insert themselves into your day.  Never leaving.  Not ever giving you that opportunity you so desperately want but won’t ask for because you know you’ll be denied.  Thank the rotation of the earth for the passage of time.   That allows you a minute to think clearly.  To see what an ass you’ve been.  To thank whatever you want to still be alive.  All things matter.  Everyone matters.

Could I be the person that inserts into the path of a suicidal student?  Yes.  I do think it’s my job.  It is my role.  “To a degree.”  I am told – my job is to recognize.  To alert.  Even with everyone on alert, we still fail.  I didn’t recognize.  That is where I failed.  I think back to what I could have noticed.  These kids.  They don’t all open up and tell you their troubles.  They say, “I’m fine.”  Liars.  All of them.

I tried to make up for my failure.  I tried to tell him that one day, he will see a bird or leaf or sunset that fills him to no end.  It will be there just for him.  And he will be glad that he is there to see it.  Did he believe me?  Will he try again?  Or has there been enough time?  Will he get the help he needs?  Life isn’t the big deal that movies make it out to be.  It is the little things.  The delights are in the mundane.  A cool breeze.  A rainy day.  Reading.  Finding who you are.  And accepting it.