what can I bring

January 7, 2016

oh, my Daughters.
hugs…love…listening…
I am not proud
I know I have no discipline
and when I try it on you = its weak at best
sporadic, erratic; I bark and back off quickly
having accomplished nothing.
what am I teaching…
only what you are watching.
no fooling myself,
I know its only my consistent behaviors.
my inadvertent quirks and starts and lurches
that bring any lessons.
you see me survive,
love your mother well
and the rest is vague.
you know me in my limitations
and lingering sadness; vulnerability.
you know me
and I can’t know what that means
or how it is shaping you…
terrible and terrifying
I don’t even know where to begin.
I was a man of prayer and imagination once.
I wish you knew me before the grinding.
now I’m just tired…
a man of reluctance,
a man who needs a shave
who needs convincing;
and you can usually do it…
because you have soft cheeks that gather when you smile,
interests of your own,
secret ways that know me
to wiggle into all the cracks.
you have learned,
whatever I have brought;
positive/negative.
I hold on to hope that somehow
to you
it will always mean safety.

it can’t take everything

September 25, 2015

there were moments when things made a bit more sense.
a memory of this came with a song the other day.
at a time; my wife and kids and I all enjoyed it together,
one of our momentary family anthems – a peaceful song
and proof that there was this day with enjoyment.
with the memory came a longing for that different day
just so that I could appreciate its happening.

at the core there is a constant reaching…
slow stretch of fingertips
to brush beauty.
its hard to yearn and strive
and keep open;
not to snap shut and turn on something
you can grasp two-handed and throttle
or more often give up in indolence or easy dissent
sinking back into the default of exhaustion.

…but beauty flowing like wisps of smoke
gathering in my hands, winding around my fingers…
what about the dream of you I had once
– all those I love with that ache of longing –
standing together talking, holding their stars.
or the easy afterglow of the Unfair Advantage
or the occasional day alone in wilderness.
I know that I have inhaled beauty
and that can’t be taken from me.

at work…
6 deer stepped across the parking lot.
young bucks; their antlers: big and new and awkward
impeding their quick disappearance
into the thin copse of trees at the edge.
then walking in the community garden
I saw a pumpkin on the dying vine
still small and half buried
but so orange.
is that what it is like inside
the sense of returning?
a few unwithered vines still reaching…
to soon to tell
need more rain.
I hope when it comes I will dance in it with my children.

the depression acquired a sniper rifle
BANG! – industry
BANG! – humor
BANG! – creativity
BANG! – connection
hunting them down
with nothing to stop it
having destroyed my defenses long ago
it kills.
and all the bad things overrun the system,
gain influence,
make their authority, their residence seem permanent.
hard to imagine hope
when both imagination and hope were gunned down.
most things are hit initially with a nonlethal shot
and then slowly put to death…
ground down (sometimes tortured) over time
as I watch
helpless to do anything
becoming too starved to struggle,
exhausted against the original bonds
that tied me down so long ago
cutting into me and cutting off my circulation.
humor and creativity (wit and nuance) were my friends
and so liked by others
but they’re all gone now.
embarrassment and shame are left guarding the room,
though I still struggle when I can
against the persistent beatings of apathy and cynicism.
and honestly, hope is hard to kill;
cause it can shatter into so many tiny fragments
and go scurry off in every direction to hide
even lay dormant for impossibly long times
before peaking out again.
I haven’t seen light glance off a shard in a while
but I believe they are still there (proof)
waiting for the right sunbeam.
for now, forever, however
I am bound and gagged,
tied to a chair and knocked to the floor
left to ruminate and ridicule
my own histrionics
and to wonder how the hell
I’m supposed to parent while
lying on the floor tied to this chair.
exhaustion very slowly dragged the keyboard
to my hands so I could type this
but it was a challenge
being trussed up backwards and all
and it took about 6 months to slowly
peck it all out.
I can’t tell if its any good as I can’t see it
and most of the faculties that provide discernment
have been assassinated = good judgment, acumen, etc.
I’m afraid silliness might still be bouncing around in here
and I’m not sure that I ever had any
reticence to speak of.

we awoke to snow the other day
a bit unusual here
the kids went out (ill prepared) to play in it
with wet gloves and pink, swollen fingers

I wanted to go out
but I excused myself regarding my pj pants
and that I remember the treasure of playing alone
without adults.
I did make one snowball
and threw it at a telephone poll (I missed)
but mainly the snow served to more deeply and clearly
define the Woolf tracks at my door; prowling
surrounding me.
come. I want to be eaten – devoured
but my pockets don’t hold enough rocks
and I don’t have the energy to fill them
besides the river looks so cold
to just go walking in gasping
grasping a poorly made snowball
pj pants sagging off from the weight of the rocks,
besides Virginia didn’t have kids
playing on a hill in the near distance.

come Woolf and howl
it is mournful but meaningless.

another Woolf

#s

January 6, 2015

24 – and before is not anymore

25 – its strange & good to be alive
26 – seeing things that need a fix
27 – bills for pills and therapy sessions
28 – accept it all as a trick of fate
29 – would make a change if there was time
the big three zero – over trying to be a hero
31 – a little addition & adulthood has really begun
32 – duty is what there is to do
33 – the balance of circumstance and biology is reality
34 – scrape the edges, look for more
35 – still searching for the drive
36 – sick and tired of being tired and sick; the cliché sticks
37 – don’t worry much about hell or heaven
38 – a bit to soon for it to be too late
39 – and no one wants to hear me whine

but this year I’m 40.

still sad, stuck and silly.

eggshells and mug shards

December 17, 2014

tell me that you love me.
i just want to stop moving for a little while
have a lie down
sleep to escape me,
but these days i snore
so even in the night
i bother us all.
dammit this stuff was supposed to help me
not make me crazier.
i don’t know what to expect
or what is even a valid expectation.
your love
is the constant.
so exhausted that it
turned to crying this morning
for me for you for us for them.
i don’t know where my heart has got to
and the mug leapt out of my hand
as i was trying to put it away
crashed down on that important plastic thing
rendering it useless
i yelled as it bounced and fell to the floor
broken, ruined
my heart
pulverized
what kind of fragile things
are our children growing up with
as i toss eggshells all over the floor
on the couch, on the carpet, in the kitchen
where ever i went this morning, wherever i go.
i know that our first-born
would cover the shells with candy hearts
and sweet little slogans
sincere visions in colored paper hung on the fridge.
she squeezes into the hug
so tall now
but still finding room…
there is room for them all.
but i lack the strength
to sweep up.
be careful where you step, kids
dad’s heart is missing again.

i will try

November 17, 2014

if i were to come home
wrap you in a cozy blanket
lay you on the couch in warm light
brush your hair and rub your feet
with quiet companionable equanimity
that would be awesome

if i were to come home
grab a cheapassbeer from the fridge
collapse on the couch amidst the chaos
feel the ache in my head and feet
try to accept the noise and my deep tension
that would be obvious

if i were to come home
wrap you in a hug as soon as the kids let me
sit on the couch with them and read books
look forward to when we can relax our minds and rest our feet
together release as much of it all as we can
that will be enough

what are reasonable expectations?

i don’t really know where to go from that question.

sleep, i guess.
thats the big one.
i used to assume that everyone was tired.
once upon…
a lady asked me how i was
(which at the time was typically low)
i didnt want to tell the truth, that could be obnoxious
but i have trouble saying “fine” like i’m supposed to
so i thought i had the perfect answer and i responded
“oh, same as everyone else i suppose”
she got serious and asked how everybody felt
and my response was: tired.
she said, “I’m not tired”.
and seemed genuinely surprised that everyone else was.
honestly, very presumptuous of me to speak for others
but surely this lady is an outlier.
she has like six kids and is super active all the time with everything
but not tired.
is everyone tired? (besides her)
i am too tired to even write this
that which i am writing
or are you too tired to tell
those who which i are reading.
can you be too tired to procrastinate?
i mean, it seems impossible now
surely i would fall to my knees and weep
if i tried to keep writing, to do anything
but whats to say it will be any easier tomorrow
to order the following into proper meaning
more sleep is unlikely
but i cant do it
put it off
you can read all this later. – oh, sorry.

how are you? says the van…
i am tired. says the wheel.

cage

October 16, 2014

my brother (in-law) always asks:
if you were an animal right now, what would you be?
i like this game.
i like to hear the kids answer
and what the adults say if they’re willing to play.
well, since you asked…

i would be a (non-specific) zoo animal.
see, here’s the thing about zoo animals:
for the circumstances of survival? they’ve got it made.
in their modern enclosures
well fed and comfortable, safe,
taken care of, even loved.

i’ll be honest,
as i sit here and write this
i think, “i’m failing to explain myself”.
on the way home, in the car, it seemed like a good metaphor
and i had it worked out on so many levels
that i was surprised.
i mean – all metaphors eventually dry up,
break down and face their limitations
but this one seemed nicely apt
and remarkably nuanced and multi-whatevered.
now i’m not even sure what i was trying to get at.
plus there’s plenty folks who find zoos sad / repugnant
and would have good arguments against what i just said.

but i’m not debating anything here, just wandering…

at the zoo:
when we pass the pumas
their eyes follow my golden-haired child
and i feel their feral thoughts: …food.
the flamingos walk around mumbling at one another;
goofy and striking.
the petting area full of harassed goats
and a carpet of brown pellets.
the enclosed, engineered spaces full of thousands of creatures
worlds away from where their wild fellows are mostly dying.
and they have no idea where they are or what their world is,
and probably don’t care.
but i once saw a local squirrel lose its grip
on the net covering the snow leopard enclosure – falling.
that was an intense few minutes.
but when the chase was over;
the squirrel was breathing heavy on the outside
of the net considering its unfortunate clumsiness;
dexterity, good luck, and freedom…
while on the other side sat a frustrated beautiful beast.
born and bred in captivity, languid and lackadaisical.
then the squirrel had to rush off
to its frantic existence of foraging and survival
while the leopard yawned, stretched,
found a comfortable shady spot
and lay down for a rest after the excitement.
and there it is.

if animals were people
and had some kind of idea about themselves
and feelings about themselves one way or another
as a success or failure in their animalness
what kind of people would your animal be?
(that was stupid but i’m not gonna change it.)

i don’t want to be pacing the cage
but i like being safe and warm,
loved, cherished and taken care of.
our instinct is to be feral
but we all enjoy having our bellies rubbed.
as my mind flies and dives
runs and climbs and leaps
exalting in wild beauty;
i sit in my cage
roll onto my back and wait.

the last sock matched
laundry finally finished
bed was made before a child got in it
and jumped and wrestled
and hid under the blanket
until bed time
when clothes again filled the laundry basket
and covered the floor
scattered with the legos and cars and more
art work than any surface could handle
oh… someone has taken a deck screw
and twisted it into a candle
red wax chunks all over the carpet
what child did this?
probably the one hiding under the blanket
in the wrong bed, in the wrong room
go get the kid, go get the vacuum
so neither of them get smashed into the ground
do something good, that sucks,
while calming down
floor is cleaned
now what about teeth
that goal tonight
might just be out of reach
but wait there is also faces, feet, hands
off to the bathroom, kids, be a marching band!
no, no fun can keep out the fussing
no level of effort can prevent the cussing
that never comes out
but swirls around in the head
when it becomes certain that the children
will never go to bed.