Thursday, November 6, 2014

Show and Escape

“Did you bring it?” said Chuck. His face bright eyed and nervous Chuck towering over the boy in front of him. His excitement was palpable awaiting the illicit contraband.
            “Yeah I got it, back off man!” said Alvin pushing Chuck away. “Did you bring yours? Did you bring what you were supposed to? Because if you didn’t, we have a real big problem.”
            “Al! Come on you know I got it. I always come through for you. You on the other hand have the issue remembering.  Besides, if you forgot yours, mine won’t even matter.”
            The two boys argued back and forth over whom had forgotten what. Other children trailing hats and gloves ignored them as they spilled into the classroom of Sunshine Daycare Center. The brightly colored room filled with many face and bodies. They happily placed items into cubbies exchanging hellos filled with excitement. Al and Chuck’s entire argument had gone unnoticed while the room became more vocal with tiny voices. As Ms. Torrance watch she knew this was going to be a wonderful start to the year.
            Ms. Torrance stood and nodded to Harry, her teaching assistant. This was the signal to flicker the lights and close the door. Every child immediately stopped and turned to face Ms. Torrance. Al and Chuck hastily ran to their cubbies stuffing their belongings away. The last thing needed was drawing attention to their actions. They took their places behind their desks, waiting for Ms. Torrance to begin.
            “Good morning class, “ said Ms. Torrance.
            “Good morning Ms. Torrance,” twenty small voices answered in chorus.
            “Go ahead and take your seats,” said Ms. Torrance. She counted in her head the children sitting before her. She made a mental record of the children in attendance. It was this first count she would use as a checklist anytime a child entered or exited the classroom.
“There should always be twenty,” thought Ms. Torrance. “We’re going to start this morning with show and tell. Does anyone have anything exciting to share from their summer?”
            Two hands immediately shot up. Both Al and Chuck leap almost loose from their seats.
            “Alvin and Chuck which one of you boys would like to go first?”
            “We want to go at the same time,” Chuck and Al answered.
            “Curious,” thought Ms. Torrance. “Okay...? Are you sure boys?  You can each go right after one another.”
            “No we really need to go together,” said Al.
            “Yeah we really, really need to go together. Our stuff won’t be good if it’s not together,” said Chuck.
            “Well, alright then boys. Come on up and share what you brought.”
            Al and Chuck rushed to their cubbies to grab their bags. They moved like the wind from one side of the room to the very front.
            “My Dad got a new hobby this summer,” said Al.  He reached into his bag removing a cylindrical shaped item. It was brown etched with lines on all sides. “Here, my Dad calls this his ‘mellow out buddy’.”
            Ms. Torrance took a hard look at the item. A word rushed into her head, CIGAR! “Oh Alvin that is a very adult toy you have there, can you give it here please?”
            “But why? It’s not even lit up yet. I was going to do that next,” said Al, reaching into his pocket to fetch the lighter.
            “OH NO, there is no need for that Alvin,” said Ms. Torrance. She leaned across the desk; hand out attempting to snatch the cigar away. Just inches away as Chuck jumped forward with his item in hand.
            “Annnnnnnnnnnd here is what Al’s Dad uses to hide it from his Mom,” said Chuck. His small hand held a glass bottle. Chuck depressed the gold nozzle at the top. The room was suddenly filled with the pungent odor of cheap brute cologne.
            Eighteen small noses snubbed back in revulsion. They began to cough and wheeze. Cries and the cologne filled every corner of the classroom. That is when mass hysteria read about it medical journals took hold. Tiny bodies fled their desks streaming into the aisles. Chairs were thrown everywhere as Chuck and Al rushed to cover their mouths and noses. All the while Chuck continued to rapidly depress the nozzle.
            “Harry! Open the door, everyone line up FIRE DRILL!”
            Forty-four feet lined up straight, and rushed forth from the room, away from the cologne. Al and Chuck made sure to be at the end of the line. They knew that Harry would ignore them while the girls were in distress. He was one of those “rush in on a white steed” kind of heroes. The line of children between the two teachers ushered themselves down the empty hallway. All looking forward to the promise of fresh air.
            Ms. Torrance who was allergic to such cologne could barely walk as her eyes swelled and filled with tears. As she stood and held open the door she was too distracted to recall her earlier run of counting to twenty. This miscount allowed for both Al and Chuck to step free the line and rush toward the far end of the playground.
            Both boys raced as far as they could before stopping to take a breath. They hugged and high fived each other, their plan had finally worked.
            “Freedom,” said Al.
            “Freedom,” said Chuck.
            “Freedom?” said Ms. Torrance.
            Half way across town a woman would claim she heard the sound of glasses breaking in her sink. What she did not know was that it was not glass that had broken but the hope and hearts of two small boys.
            “Good plan boys. Just not good enough,” said Ms. Torrance. She pointed sternly to the line of students standing by the entrance. “Now get!”

            The boys obeyed. They moved awkwardly, shoulders heavy, heads to the ground,  feet laden with sorrow. As they approached their classmates, cheers and accolades welcomed them. They were heroes. They were legends. They would try again tomorrow.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Captain, my captain...

This is a personal note for those that either need to read what I am writing or for my own understanding. My intention is to be open with my own understandings. I am in no way commenting on the overall and general understanding of mental health or human suffering. I hope that what I give here is understood as it is intended. 

Recently the whole of the entertainment and American public were shocked to hear of the death of Robin Williams. I like many were shocked to hear that such a wonderfully talented actor was no longer on the living plane. I immediately when to the internet for answers finding that his death was suspected and then confirmed as a suicide. I was even more shocked and heartbroken to learn that his actions were a result of a lifelong fight against depression. I asked, what could a man so funny be so depressed about to seek silence in such a way? I also asked, is this the cost of the line light? Do all the greats die young burnt out from flames fueled by passion and heart? Is there hope for those of us that have talent but have yet to be struck by a spotlight? I was flooded by the questions of hope in such a dark ending. Then I remembered the scenes from Dead Poet’s Society, The World According to Garp, and my favorite scene from Good Will Hunting. Matt Damon is making fun of Robin Williams’s deceased wife, Matt laughs making obscene comments about a picture she painted. Williams suddenly lunges at Damon pushing him against the wall. Damon is shocked as quiet rage rolls off of Williams’ face. Williams says in a low and direct voice, “If you ever say anything about my wife again I will fucking end you.” Right there, like myself, movie goers were thrown off their seats with one comment from a man who used to stand on his head saying, “Nanu Nanu.” I wondered where Williams had gotten his understanding of loss so great that it leap from the screen and shook the audience awake. Now it would seem that this scene for Williams may have not been acting, it may have been how he felt every moment for a very long time. I much like the proverbial hero looked deep into the void and found that it was looking just as deeply back into me. I understood what Williams was saying in that scene, I understood the loss, and now I can understand that for him life was more battle than banter. The point I make here is that we all have demons deep in our hearts, the question is do we fight them free them or give in to them? Why the loss and struggle of a funny man speaks so fervently to me is because I am afraid at times that like Robin Williams I may seek silence rather than die alone screaming in the darkness. 
The reason why it is relevant is that in my own wonderings I too have almost given in. For the last seven years I have been in active consoling. I attend both private and group sessions at The White Raven Center in Anchorage Alaska. It is through the good work and guidance of the facilitators Marianne, Floyd, Cathy, Toby, Rebecca and others that I am still here. Not that I was at any point ready to go quietly into that good night, I was moreover always there on the edge looking out over the void. Some might say that I have not had reason to be so morbidly depressed or suicidal. Some might say that their struggle is harder than mine so I should man up. Other still would say that we all have issues so keep calm and carry on (I loath that phrase not for its meaning but more of its usage). I say to that from an earlier and angrier voice, “GO FIRETRUCK YOURSELVES!” Now that I have had lots of time to heal I can say openly to those that question my journey “Go and help yourself. I will if I can be there to witness your healing and support you as you need in doing it. You have all the weapons you need to battle the darkness inside, now you only need to choose to fight. 
In my own life I have a father who ditched me before I was born. I was born with a disease that made me, in the eyes of others, weak and broken. I have family members that chose to “check out” of life rather than live it. I have a mother that married a man who tried to drown me in a pool. She then chose to flee that marriage only to choose to give me up as her son to try and make a life with that same man. I was married at a young age to a woman who was the only reason I graduated High School. I fathered a child with the love of my life, and I lost both of them in the blink of an eye to the idiocy of a drunk driver. I was blamed for their deaths because I missed a phone call. I was (and still am) outcast from everyone that I thought loved me and supported me. I stood for ten years alone in the dark, screaming, waiting for death to get it over with. I have walked calm into that good night, but I have raged internally against the dying of a light I could care less about. I did what I thought a man was supposed to do, suck it up and keep it all on the inside. I can now say that even though I had my head above water I rarely remembered to breath. Until I made the choice to come back into life I was lost. I can see the old me standing angry and alone cutting into his soul just as he cut into his flesh over a hundred times. I carry those scars upon me, but they do not make me what I am. 
Now that I have complied the outline for madness which I have lived I can better offer the point. No one needs to stay silent, or calm, or strong, or nice, or proper, or anything if they don’t need to. Robin Williams kept his struggle silent and internal. He chose to leave the world instead of continue to live in it. He may have been able to come back from the void if he had felt validated in choosing to live with the support of others. Who is to say that he didn’t; I am noting that is still not okay in today’s society to broken. Broken meaning that you don’t want to live, or get out of bed, or stop crying, or stop punching the wall. Broken as in unable to remember those parts of yourself that broke off because it was too much to carry on. The soul parts shattered from your core so that you could keep walking forward without pain. Broken as in you can remember what it is to be not broken. Broken as I was, broken as in moments I can remember where I too longed for to be over. Being broken is not the issue, the issue is that bring open about being broken is something best left alone in the dark. And to all of that I say again, “FIRETRUCK THAT!” 
There is no need for people feel bad over wanted help. There is nothing wrong with having issues if you openly look for the opportunity to resolve them. We are human so there is no reason to feel bad or guilty in needing people to be humane. There is no reason to be alone in the dark because you do not want to burden anyone else. Your silence is not golden, your madness is not rude, your struggle is does not lack merit, your heart does not need to beat alone. As I write this I am worked up slightly because of how important I feel this is to everyone. The point, behind my ranting, is that no one need go alone, its dangerous out there take this, my (anyone’s) hand. I cannot fix it, but in the least I can listen to it and walk with you as you battle it. Again, you have all the weapons you need, now fight, and know that your need not fight alone. 
I am sad with the loss of the person and the talent of Robin Williams. I am sadder that he went alone into the night. I am even sadder that he is not alone in the struggle that claimed him. I hope that even with the loss we can see that there is no point to it for anyone else. If you need to be heard speak up and someone will listen, I did. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Deadman's Wish

How soft the river bed is 
gently lapping upon my feet. 
Time is lost as I look downstream
eyes open unblinking
How many days?
How many hours?
Has it only been a moment? 
Am I too lost in beauty to know 
the length of time I have laid here.  
Nothing moves here but nature 
wind through the leaves
water racing beside each bank
light into shadow and back again it turns.
My body needs no more
stimulus to drive it from its seat
It is good to rest old bones
it is peaceful to settle old flesh. 
So nice are these times
no hunting to madden my heart 
no screaming to fury my soul 
no sorrowful laments silent in my mind.
Gods please make this steady
make this constant a river flows.
Let my dead stay dead
let my soul be at rest. 
Cover me with silt to nourish the ground
for generations that still have yet been born.
Make me a stream 
rushing willingly to my end.
I am tired 
I am hungry 
most of all I am willing to find
my peace after death.
I would cry if I could. 
Weep to show my intent 
But my eyes are dry as is my flesh 
all but my feet.
As I sit without time beside my river 
rushing for the ocean 
to take it home.
What pieces of me become part of it 
I hope will be happy knowing 
I wish for all of me to be home as well. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Deadman's Lament

I am no longer aware of when
it was the first time I went mad. 
My memory has failed
just as my heart lost faith in everything. 
All I know is that my world is silence
in the void of what I once was.
I recall here and there
the happy of what was lived
in memory shared with or about others
before the darkness took its first bite. 
Do all of the others feel as I 
in their hunt for something great
could each also know 
the similarities of the emotion I long for. 
For them I hope not
because for me it’s lonely here
locked in the darkness of my mind. 
Everything is on automatic 
reacting only to outside stimulus 
like heat, motion, taste, and sound. 
All the while I sit watching
banging ethereal fists against my prison. 
Walls hard and course like stone
but alive and present like water without air.
Hunger, is a word both my body
and my mind understand. 
They sit across from each other at that table 
drinking from the same cup. 
The senses catch another impulse 
and my body begins to move.
Slow feet being their trod 
toward a glory known only as yearning
My body smells the fear
my belly rumbles at the sweat 
my mind screams, “oh god, no more, please run, not another, not yet.”
They are rabbits cowering with fright
my body responds to instinct. 
I become more than just imagined fears
more than the boggy man lurking clothes at night.
The look on their faces says horror
the taste of their flesh sings divine. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pastiche of Yusef Komunyakaa' "My Father's Love Letters"

Little Things by Jeff Lee 

She swings her feet freely back and forth.      
Small white shoes polished to shine.                   
Catching the moon’s full luminous glow reflecting white on white.
 As she swings she also sings                               
a tune of mice and clocks                                   
running hickory dickery then stop.                   
In her ignorance is innocence                             
Knowing nothing of what has happened         
or anything of the great beyond to come        
My job is to tell                                                     
her what will befall her next                                
on her road to salvation.                                         
A shepherd one traveler called me,                       
the great and mighty decider some used,          
soulless bastard cried another.                       
They all cried, screamed, and pleaded.               
It is their nature                                 
to want more   
of the life they had lived  
no matter how full or empty                             
they want more.                                                    
Her head turns in my direction                            
eyes a pale blue                                                       
“Hi, why are                                                            
your clothes so black and smoky?”                      
She does not know me                                               
I am just another person to her                      
a stranger on the street.                  
“Clothes are as they need to be”                   
“Your dress is pretty”                                               
“Mommy made it for me,                                     
she cried on it though.”                                                 
“Can I go home now, please?”                              
My job only allows me a                
purpose, never a choice or favor                        

I am death, even when it hurts.    

Original Poem:'s_love_letters.php
(I only matched the word count from each line) 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Work Poem

A part of me wants to explode
A part of me wants to die knowing I took someone else out with me
A part of me is crying 
A part of me is no more than the simplest idea of evil 
A part of me is burning away what it has left 
A part of me is resurrected knowing that I am the only god I need 
A part of me lacks faith in the whole 
A part of me is faithful to the concept of revenge 
A part of me is dark 
A part of me is the monster underneath my bed
A part of me enjoys the arguments of other voices in my head 
A part of me wakes up alone and does not know why 
A part of me hates the movies that make me cry 
A part of me laughs to keep from screaming 
A part of me is okay with the rest of me leaving
A part of me is funny ha ha and funny weird 
A part of me is that ringing in your ears 
A part of me is nothing that should be given concern 
A part of me is the lesson you need to learn 
A part of me can the see the future when it’s dreaming
A part of me lack the skill in completely believing 
A part of me is dead
A part of me chooses life instead 
A part of me is fight 
A part of me is strife 
A part of ne is happy 
A part of me is crappy 
A part of me is smart 
A part of me has no heart 
A part of me is me 

A part of me is all the me I need to be 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Shut Up Because I Love You

She was different in how she moved 
She was normal in the world she viewed 
She was loved in each type of sound her laughter made
She was hatted in the beauty of the love that she gave

She was science in the efficiency of her every process 
She was magic in the total of her video game loses 
She was stone in the foundation of what she was believing
She was clay in the knowledge of her inherited teachings

She was victorious in every single argument she ever had 
She was defeatist in every note she sung, they were just that bad
She was joyous at the very start of each day
Shea was morose in the times I spent away

She was broken in the turbulent soundings of continuous thunder 
She was solid in the acceptance and fixings of my blunders
She was anger in the running of mouths fueled by ignorance 
She was laughter in the resolution of my rabbling nonsense 

She was light so that I would always see my tunnels end 
She was darkness so that my monsters could have a friend 
She was ending to the long lived fancy dreams of my youth 
She was the beginning to the man I learned to be at rebirth 

She was birth to the end that I eventually needed to learn 
She was death to the fool hardy dreams for which I so long had yearned 
She was my hate in all the time as my sadness sat growing

She will always be my love and my reason for which I keep going

Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Flash Fiction

The Meaning in Fate
By Jeff Lee

Dear Gerwald,
Here within this letter is the full detail of your inheritance. I never had the heart to tell you about what lays in the crates my lawyer have presented you. It was stupid of me to think that keeping a secret from you would save you pain more so than giving you this letter now and being unable to answer the questions you may have. I am sorry for that and hope that as you read this point will be clear and my love is understood.
Your loving father,
     The letter was one paragraph but was only the first page to the hundred-page manuscript sitting on the table before Gery Helm. He was tired, a fact that could be told from the rumpled nature of his clothes and the dark circles etched below his eyes. Gery took a sip from his cup of coffee the lawyer’s assistant had given him. It was cold and bitter but grounded him as he read on.
You see son when you were born I was so worried about your future that I sought the console of a seer. Her name was Rадател Hela M’Tynri and was renowned for her skill. I asked her plain and simple what worries you would face during your life and what I could do to aid them.
She said only a few simple words. “Your son will lose a foot.”
When I asked her to explain she said that is all she saw. I left harrowed by the news that you may at some time be crippled. It was then that I decided to do what I could to fix the problem.
When I returned home I took down my tools, my pencils, my drafting square and I began to draw your feet. I had measured then while you slept and by morning I had carved a near perfect replica of each foot. They were wooden but if needed would keep you mobile. But when I looked at them I knew these would not do. Hela had not said which, or when, or how you would lose your foot. I took it upon myself like a quest of old, I would craft you a pair of feet for every age. I studied the anatomy of feet in books and talked with podiatrists who specialized in prosthetics. I even sold a few of my designs to larger companies to both help and finance my endeavors. I found better material and trained myself to mold it, as I needed.
Each night I would measure your feet down to the most minute of details. Without rest till the day I passed I crafted you 97 pairs of feet at last count. I know you no longer need the pairs of feet from your youth so I am donating them to hospitals around the world. The adult pairs I beg you to keep and care for they are my legacy to you, the love I have for you in physical form.
     Gery put the documents down on the table in front of him. He felt sick like the world was moving too fast around him. His father knew something like this and had not only kept it from him but had worked everyday of this life to prevent it. The distance that Gery had always felt from his father was only a defense so that Gery would not have to carry the burden of it. It was too much to take in. Gery’s dizziness strengthened as he reached for his coffee cup. His hand missed the mark and the cup was knocked over the table spilling the coffee on the letter and notes from his father. Gery rushed to catch the liquid but his hand was too shaky, it only made the coffee run faster toward the floor.
     Gery rose from the table pushing the chair away from him. The assistant had rushed in to aid him in his clean up. She placed a folder on the table with Gery’s name on it. Inside were the release papers for the cases and the prosthetics he could no longer use. He drew his pen and signed them. He handed it to the assistant and walked out of the room leaving the cases and his father’s notes behind him.
     Later that week a delivery truck parked outside of Gery’s house. The men asked where the cases should go and Gery gestured to the garage. When they were finished Gery gently opened each of the cases. There before him were smaller cases each holding a single foot and a placard reading either right or left and the age. Gery was astonished by the craftsmanship and care put into each foot.
Searching he found the one listed 45 RIGHT and pulled it out from its case. Gery took off his shoe and sock and placed the artificial foot down next to his. It was a perfect match down to the coloring of his toenails. Gery smiled a small crack of a smile.
For the next several hours Gery worked his way through each of the cases. It was as if he was traveling through time watching one piece of his body age before him year by year. He eventually came to the end and began to return the feet to their cases. When he reached 57 and he could not match one right foot to a left. He let it be and worked down back to his own age but still he was missing one left foot. He unpacked and repacked each set of feet. Looking all around his garage and eventually his house. But he could not find it anywhere.

Eventually it dawned on Gery and he began to laugh deep and resounding. “You were right Dad, I did lose one and because of you I felt no pain for it.”