a breath of spring air...
a moon frog croaking away
the computer screen
A boy sat on a grassy bluff outside a village.
Long ago. Far away.
He sat. Staring down a winding trail.
That boy would watch the trail in misty morning dew.
Often he would and for years it was a rituai.
The women of the village
Walked that trail down to the river. Down to the rocks.
With baskets perched atop their heads and arms hung by
Down the trail to river rock. And churning emerald
Pool.the river was the cleanser and the rock a pounding tool.
A long procession of balance and grace. a practice old as time.
Then back the trip of swaying hips and poise. In young or old.
The rock. The grace. The. Quiet noise. A pageant.
That boy was me
That river rock still calls the women
Slow procession. Natural and endless charm.
The rock. The trail the emerald tide.
The womens hips. The undulate .
The basket never falls.
The river calls.
A place still very much untouched.
this is a poem about the Tulsa Race Riots
terrorism doesn't compare to self destruction.
disaster between the slaves, and their masters
we're richer, but they're smarter.
black wall street abolished, its name never in vain
although we remember, we'll never understand the pain
with our own eyes, it would leave us blind
by flash bombs, envy, discrimination
and hatred of our own kind.
gunpowder made buildings fly against the street lights
red and green, bombs still singing, ears still ringing,
we might as well be deaf.
the grass is always greener,
but our skin will never change or fade away
and to live in the past destroys our future
because just when we started to rise from the ashes
we burnt ourselves down again
from opposite sides of the city,
north and south
attract like polar opposites
wasting away green with envy
you can try to forget
because theres new paved concrete
but its still the same street
we owe to the stampede
jealously, destruction, revolution, prosperity
worn out buildings and bricks trapped us
but we're still free
under state laws
but only conditionally
the city sleeps when we do
but stays up late with disdain
days wasted and blown into the air
like concrete and fame
its a shame that
race riots black wall street and greenwood share the same name
it can't stay this way
one day, tulsa you'll change
you'll paint the streets again
faces engrained on
black walls like oil spills
treading new roads
buildings towering above
there are bodies below our feet
but that doesn't mean we're above them
and one day we'll breathe again
we'll write the names back into our history books
their sacrifice on our tongues
remembered, never in vain
like saviors honoring the pain
but never throwing it away
greenwood rising again.
the door is still ajar and there is still a lamp lit
and hue spills out in a straight line
where I follow markings on the
sides of highways to forget
how I won't forget the impression
you leave on the sidewalk through
season after passage of next to
brightlit stripmalls somewhere
with snowcapped mountains
and lakes and lakes and lakes away know
I'll probably miss you
when streetlights burn down
when stoplights wear out
I'll be out on the ocean
you'll find me in
indian summer mornings
rain flecks on train windows
winding trails around
never figure out how to pronounce
you won't miss me
walls closing in
i try to run away
out in the open
but the bees come
stinging one by one
The morning started with a shower
Arms braced against the wall in a kind of supplication
Pushing hard so damn hard you want to fall
You let the water wash your dreams and pain away
The morning started with you leaving
Saying I'm so nice as you walk out the door
I know your tired cause we didn't sleep
I remember your whispered promises that were quickly disposed of
The morning started with you lying next to me
While I played Rilo Kiley
So close I could touch you but I could tell you didn't want to be touched
"Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can’t move
Awake but cannot open my eyes
And the weight is crushing down on my lungs
I know I can’t breathe
And I hope someone will help me this time..."
I played it in a moment of honesty
My one true expression as I watched the distance grow between us
I wanted to fuck you again cause I hoped it would mean something
Thank you for teaching me that the third time is the charm and the fourth is for sleeping not fucking
It's hard to find this kind of rejection early in the morning. Thanks for staying open late to accommodate me.
The morning started with me laughing at you when you said where's the underwear?
Writers can laugh at painful parallels and prophesy true unintentionally but not uneventfully
It doesn't help me not want to fuck you again
So we fuck again for the third time. The last time.
You kiss less when your not drunk
The morning started with some smoke and water and generic Advil
Proscribed to all the fallen like vitamins
You look good naked
Next to me
I wonder what this morning will bring?
This morning started with me inside you the second time
You made me cum inside you like you wanted something that I had to give
Maybe love maybe pain -you did like to be hurt
You didn't remember that I said I want to hurt you less cause I actually like you
I choked you cause you wanted it more than me
I feel like Kriegers robot arm sometimes
Perhaps we could just affix a cock to the arm and I could be replaced
Go on vacation to the city of lost whore sluts
I hear the buffet there is wonderful
The morning started with me inside you
On the kitchen floor
I threw you up against the wall too hard
You fell down so I took you right there
On the linoluem Under flourecent lights
You were so tight and tender and tough
You fucked me desperately like you hadn't been getting enough
Sorry for banging your head up against the fridge
The morning started with you next to me
Both of us drunk
You kissed me right
Out of the many there are few that do it
It's a weakness for me and dangerous to believe in the power of knowing through a kiss
You dry humped me like a dog on speed
It felt good
That and the kissing
I said no
I wouldn't fuck you
Like I said before
You said it had been to long
That you never did this
I said I needed to wait
That I liked you
I didn't want you to be just a fuck
Not just for you
But for me
Sometimes even seasoned whores need to feel special
I said that I'd fall too quick
You can be very persuasive
The morning started with me on the couch with your friend
We had makers and he had Jameson
He called it neat but it had Ice
I didn't say anything
You told him that you knew me for a long time and that i was gay
In retrospect it probably helped that I talked about color and carpets and paintings and poetry
I tried not laugh as we tried to pass of our little deceptive parody
Sure it was successful but what does it really say about me that he'd believe it
Oh the irony of pretending to be gay to get a girl
The things we do
He left after a long soliloquy on decorating and fashion
I think you might be like me and sometimes confuse the facts of your friends and stories with your dreams
I thought your adept practiced and surreptitious deception was endearing
I wanted to kiss you all night so I was glad he left
After he was gone I told you in the bathroom that I wanted to kiss you all night and you dropped your pants and peed in front me
You looked at me like no big deal and said what I don't care
I really starting liking you then
The morning started at the bar the night before
You sat down and smiled and flirted with me
You told me I would have to wait a year and a half to fuck you
As we drank way too much and both grew more beautiful and gracious with every ounce of liquid forgetfulness
The morning started the night before at your work when I hit on you cause you were laughing and smiling and had a little halo
The morning started like any other morning
With lies and rejection and sweetness and passion and loneliness
If I knew I was going to be used like this
I would have used a condom
Not to just protect against the std's but to protect from intimacy
I hope I won't fail on both counts
A little worried
That's why I write this story
Azrael Always James
© Copyright 2013
also, I am sad that no one has anything to say:-(
I did everything g that was required but love is still absent
I think of him everyday, that passes
tears drown my green eyes
when I think of his last words
I remember getting closer and closer to god
as I was waiting for him to walk away okay
the necklace he picked out
is lost in a dark shadow land
I can remember the day that he passed away
and not a minute goes by that I don't think about him
but one day we will be reunited
and the family will be whole again
In between (a poem)
my mind struggles against its own illusion
nightmare tumbles out into still morning
light is heavy,
a fog of echoes...
and I am caught
day dreams the sunlight
dreams light the day
and I am caught in between
like a stillborn ghost
who can't take a breath in the present
I live on a tropical island and just want to go surfing with my husband, but the nausea in the early morning as I try to eat breakfast and drive with him to the beach is so uncomfortable. Day after day it makes even surfing a chore, and I consider not going anymore. Background anxiety and unreasonable irritation interferes with our marriage, frustrates him enough to want me out.
For me, a trip to the grocery store or meeting a group of people awakens the same dreadful fear as rockclimbing a cliff. Perspective has been lost in the extremes. I try to gain some control over this hindering nuisance, seeking situations that bring the same surges of adrenaline so I can learn to master it. If I can just push past the avoidance that would keep me inside doing nothing, if I can just ignore the feeling I want to throw up, if I can just get out there, I am rewarded with life’s potential beauty eventually. Many days I do enjoy the thrill of mountain biking or connection with nature when surfing, but there are too many days that reduce fun to a relentless chore of wrestling inner demons.
The VA offers a few sessions of marriage counseling, and the doctor begins to explain PTSD. WTF, I’ve learned to cope with an unreliable brain, but now there’s this? The website for the National center for PTSD says. “After a trauma or life-threatening event, it is common to have reactions such as upsetting memories of the event, increased jumpiness, or trouble sleeping. If these reactions do not go away or if they get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.”
“Common reactions to trauma are:
• Fear or anxiety: In moments of danger, our bodies prepare to fight our enemy, flee the situation, or freeze in the hope that the danger will move past us. But those feelings of alertness may stay even after the danger has passed. You may:feel tense or afraid, be agitated and jumpy, feel on alert.
• Sadness or depression: Sadness after a trauma may come from a sense of loss---of a loved one, of trust in the world, faith, or a previous way of life. You may:have crying spells, lose interest in things you used to enjoy, want to be alone all the time, feel tired, empty, and numb.
• Guilt and shame: You may feel guilty that you did not do more to prevent the trauma. You may feel ashamed because during the trauma you acted in ways that you would not otherwise have done. You may:feel responsible for what happened, feel guilty because others were injured or killed and you survived.
• Anger and irritability: Anger may result from feeling you have been unfairly treated. Anger can make you feel irritated and cause you to be easily set off. You may:lash out at your partner or spouse, have less patience with your children, overreact to small misunderstandings.
• Behavior changes: You may act in unhealthy ways. You may:drink, use drugs, or smoke too much, drive aggressively, neglect your health, avoid certain people or situations.” It lists four main symptoms: reliving the event, avoiding situations that remind of the event, feeling numb, and feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal)”
Four words strung together: Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. They’ve become a tired cliché, exhausted from the endless threat of random cruelty camouflaged in banality, weary of the weight shouldering back the wall that separates death and gore from the living. Living was a reflex beyond willpower and devoid of choice. Control was self-deception. The mind was so preoccupied with A: survival, B: sanity, in that order. Rest was a cruel illusion. The tank was drained, no room for emotions ditched. Empathy took too much effort, fear was greedy. Hopefully they can be remembered and found on the other side, if there is one. Sleep deprived cells were left hyper-alert from the imminent, shot up and addicted to adrenaline. Living was Fate and Chance, and meant leaving that time and place sealed in forgetfulness.
Now PTSD is a worn out acronym, a cold shadow of what it feels like. I try to think of something more personal that can describe the way it randomly visits me, now resigned to its familiar unwelcome influence. It steals through my brain, flying ahead of me with its own agenda of protecting sabotage. Its like the Guardian Trickster of Native American legend, an archetype but real enough to make mistakes: Chulyen, the black raven.
A decade after the ER, contentment is found in a garden of slow tranquility as a butterfly interrupts a sunbeam. My heart fills with bittersweet and just then Chulyen’s grasping black claws clamp it with painful arrhythmia. My heart fills to burst, tripping in panic trying to recover its pace. The sudden pain drops me to my knees, in the dirt between fragrant lavender and cherry tomatoes. Pain stops breath and time and makes me remember the ER, when my heart rebelled its ordained purpose for a week. I had tried to throw my bitter life back in God’s face but He didn’t take it. Now that I have peace and a life that I treasure, He’s taking it now. The price for my mistake is due. It was all just borrowed time and I’m still so young, my children just babies. God with a flick of cruelty reminds me not to put faith in the tangible, especially when its treasured. The sharp claws finally relent and I can breathe, looking up with a gasp and the Raven takes flight overhead leaving a shadow. Bright noon warmth, unusually heavy and foreboding, seems to say ‘there will come a time when you will not welcome the sun.’ Doctors run an EKG and diagnose ‘stress’.
The bird perches on my shoulder two more decades later, always seeing death just over there. So I sit on the porch just a little longer and check my list again, delaying the unavoidable racing heart and rush of tension when I fix the motorcycle helmet strap under my chin. I know all those stupid drivers have my life in their cell-phone distracted hands and hope my husband knows how much I love him, and my daughters too.
Chulyen wakes me at 3:00 am when autumn’s wind aggravates the trees. His rustle of black feathers outside unsettles the dark calm. An end-of-the-world portent hints that this peace is just temporary, borrowed. Tribulation will return.
The raven perches relaxed in the desert on the gatepost of a memory. A bullet-scarred paint-faded sign dangles by one corner from rusty barbed wire:
That Means You
A haunted idea what's behind the fence. Chulyen implies the memory with a simple sound:
a Harley in the distance is for a second the agitating echo of a helicopter...
or those were the very same words they said when...
or I hear a few jangling clinks of forks in our warm kitchen...
hinting a cold cafeteria at 5:00 am smelling of fake eggs and industrial maple flavored corn syrup,
and everything else that happened that day...
My cells recollect, brace with the addictive rush of adrenaline. But the raven denies access to the memory, distracting with nausea. I trip and I fall hard into the gritty dirt of irritation at the person who unknowingly reminded me. Anxiety floods in along with fatigue of the helplessness of it all, back then and still now. I can't go further. Chulyen’s tricking deception says Leave This Memory, you never wanted to come back.
But I already knew from just recognizing the bird patiently sitting there a sentinal,
recalling every other time he tricked me with nausea and depression.
I tried to tell myself again that behind that gate,
the past has dried up from neglect.
Disintegrated into dust,
After everything else, how to work through this? The VA gave me a manual, a crudely printed set of worksheets with a government-looking blue cover page: Cognitive Processing Therapy.
“In normal recovery from PTSD symptioms, intrusion, thoughts, and emotions decrease over time and no longer trigger each other. However, in those who don’t recover, the vivid images, negative thoughts, and strong emotions lead to escape and avoidance. Avoidance prevents the processing of the trauma that is needed for recovery and works only temporarily. The ultimate goal is acceptance.
There may be “stuck points”, conflicting beliefs or strong negative beliefs that create additional unpleasant emotions and unhealthy behavior. For example, a prior belief may have been “ I am able to protect myself in dangerous situations.” But after being harmed during military service, a conflicting belief surfaces, “I was harmed during service, and I am to blame.” If one is ‘stuck’ here, it may take some time until one is able to get feelings out about the trauma, because one is processing a number of rationales. “I deserved it because…” , or “I misinterpreted what happened, I acted inappropriately, I must be crazy…” The goal is to change the prior belief to one that does not hinder acceptance. For example, “I may not be able to protect myself in all situations.”
(chapter continues with recovery methods)
Got up to turn the pages
Let up so I can burn my wages
I spend time like Its money and I am a Forbes CEO
Just when I think I can supersede myself the confusion begins to glow like an expected sunset on the drive home
I smile at an elderly woman leaving a tacky hotel wedding in a wheelchair, cheap dress draped with an oversized man's coat
It's cold in Philly
And the sharp bending wind whips my soul
Like a favorite eerie movie I inevitably watch again we fight on the phone and you say it's everything that I've done
I sit down with my coffee and smoke a cigarette
I don't gamble with numbers - but the chances I get
Far away in a jet soon to tel aviv
banks' charge conversion rates for currency
the door opens and closes
the places my heart goes when I remember you have to say yes before you can learn to say no
Sometimes when I'm on my computer,
rather than nonchalantly pressing each key,
I play them like a crazed, camp Beethoven
surgically hammering away at the ivories.
In doing so,
I satisfy some vague, compulsory madness.
However, in the process whatever I'm trying to type
becomes horribly disfigured.