Fred’s week went down right after he had his best swim. The water pushed him along, nearly parting as he pushed his newfound pace. There was a post-exercise rush that ended as soon as he got to work. The weight of shutdown culture came crashing down. The drowning nature of the fear existing from the defense of other people’s feelings pulled Fred under. He did the only thing he knew to do. He held his breath, dropping out of sight and stewing about what life was becoming, an unfortunate set of experiences that stole the good from a super swim.

There was a character in a James Bond movie,
He felt no pain,
It was a great source of anguish for the guy,
He hurt all the time.

Death has a way of sobering up a day,
Just something about it,
Such a great source of pain,
The loss so much for some.

I’ve had my share of loss,
Sudden, life-altering deaths,
Family, friends, each layering on scars
Somehow shielding my soul from death.

I’ve grown to accept that death will come,
Grabbing someone,
Maybe another relative, maybe a friend,
I hope neither. Me, either.

I worry that I’m that character,
Not able to feel the sadness when people die,
Maybe because the ache from my family’s loses
Have jaded my outlook on grief.

Move on, go forward,
“Get busy living, Red.”
Too sober some might think, although,
Others might realize I’m drunk with life.

So how is it, that I don’t belly up to the grieving bar,
I don’t know, not cold-hearted, just accepting of the end,
Saddened by the losses, not saddled by death.
My time will come and I hope people say a toast and move on.

That would be enough,
No grieving,

Natural human behaviors
Seem so unfathomable to me.
I hear “the way people should act,”
And I wonder why it is that
I am unable
To do them naturally?

Why don’t I ask how others are feeling?
Why do I avoid delving into others’ personal lives?
I want them to be okay,
I care that they not suffer,
I know coping is not easy,
Yet, I feel like I shouldn’t ask how they are.

Living blindly.

Probably, all of those,
But being on the inside doesn’t feel good to me.
After a life of looking away
I don’t know how to look out of me,
Even though, I won’t hurt others
Except when I’m not asking, I hear that I really am.

I’m sorry, everyone,
I haven’t got people figured out,
Maybe I gave up on them after my brother died,
Or my coach went to prison, or I understood
How badly people can treat each other.

Perhaps I retreated,
Thinking that if I just go day to day
That would be enough.
The logic being, I can’t be hurt
If I don’t bother with others.
Am I wrong?

“You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

One of my favorite songs is Star Witness, by Neko Case
It came to me via a sampler CD
Back when the waves of life were crashing
Laying waste to anything that I thought at the time.

I find the song beautiful,
Her voice, deep and truthful,
The instruments playing together
Making music that touches me each time I hear the song.

How many times have I heard this song?
The words tell a tale that is so wrong for beauty,
A drive-by shooting, the death of a loved one.

How many times have I heard this song
The final notes leaving me wanting more
Before death of love or whatever comes
From confidence destroyed and defenses that have gone awry.

Tonight I can’t stop listening, it plays on repeat,
I wonder about the wolves in my life
Those inner demons that eat away at confidence,
That sucks the life from the past and present.

How many times will I listen tonight
Trying any trick to reset my brain
Like it’s a computer ready for a reboot
To defrag the bits of emotion that have frayed.

For a moment, I can my reflection in a Wyeth print,
The one of the farmhouse over on Ring Road
In late fall or winter when everything is sparse,
Only on light shines through a single window.

Then my dog pushes me in the back,
His misperceived reputation as a fighter
Given a true purpose in his insistence that I play
Yet I can’t understand what he is offering

Because I’m still lost in Star Witness
With its haunting lyrics and contradictory music
That has given me more comfort over the years
Than the cheerful sort could ever understand.

Still, though, he won’t give in,
When I turn from my desk to see what he is doing,
His ears are up, tail wagging,
And I wonder what’s wrong with me.

A great family.
Great kids.
Great job.
S#!@ for brains or soul, whichever it is.

And I’m here
Looking for better feelings
In a song about a shooting, one
That has consoled me for over twelve years.

Maybe this, too, will pass.
The Earth will still spin.
The sun will come up when I get to work tomorrow.
I’ll still be loving this song.

Rain is falling outside.
The sound of the water
Bouncing on the deck
Is soothing.
Soundscapes adds an Old Dominion Road
Quality to the room
As the music brings a relaxing vitality
To the dark morning.

And finally, exhaustion begins to take over.

The calm of being so tired, so
Worn and worried
Is ebbing from my body.
I’m thinking with the rain
In emotional puddles
That are finally starting to wash away,
Finding the path of least resistance
That is so elusive without a storm.

And then the alarm goes off…

The music and the rain take leave of their duties
A clock ticks its rhythm
Of real life, responsibility, and continuance.
There is no time to catch up,
To find the peaceful groove that is coming
It’s back to the grind
And the prison that is routine.
Tick, tock, tick…

Crazy, but I feel I’m standing in the rain.


Storm clouds have their say
Bombastic, they are
When high winds abuse verbal play
Storm clouds have their say
Punctuated by lightning’s cackling bay
The strike causing emotional char
Storm clouds have their say
Bombastic, they are


Photo Credit: via Pexels

pexels-photo-10979A foreign land
Where I felt alone, distant.
Anger and uncertainty, my
Survival tools, sharp and blunt,
Ready to cut and bash
Whatever hospitality the locals
Brought my way.

Opportunity allowed a getaway,
The revelers were too busy
Congratulating themselves,
Sowing their oats or shoofly pie,
To notice my predetermined escape.
Anger dulled to a steady calm and
Uncertainty became confident
As I got home.


Photo Credit: Zach Damberger via Pexels