It was last year. What was I doing on a day like today? Was I contemplating the meaning of my Youth, as I do now? It must have been something like that. Now it seems like I simply count away the hours until I slip into my image of adulthood. Eighteen is a powerful number when you have not the slightest idea what might happen in the next two years. After that point, well, I’m not so sure. I hitch-hike to a small town in Arizona. I get a full time job and then what? The snow continues to fall outside. It’s more sleet than anything. I’m thinking of the girl I used to talk to around this time last year and another. Within one was the artwork of old Paris and the other, I pictured in the rave scene of underground Europe. It was strange, I know. I don’t speak to either of them, now. I haven’t in a long time. I’m trying to imagine my journey across America. My longing for new people to meet, with stories about heartbreak and self destruction. Along with my own. I’m nowhere near a novelist, I’ll say that, and as far as being a poet, I’m half of one at most. I hope to meet a woman full of ideas in my travels through Youth. The grand adventure, I would call it. I want to meet modern Hemingways and Wolfes. I imagine this and pour myself a cup of coffee, lighting another cigarette
Just underneath his Wickett tree
Douglas Milford died, you see.
He died the way old men die
When pausing deep within a sigh.
And there he stood and watched
The world, his world
Into the deep, the darkest,
Empty, soulless shade.
Shaded well, and sadly so,
For Douglas Milford discovered secrets
All dead men come to know.
That time, she waits for no one.
And that it was time to go.
Time called him
And Douglas Milford heard
And empty word-
'Follow,' she said,
And Milford knew
It was but one more thing
He was required to do,
And he felt that lingering,
Like the gentle turn
Of a gossamer wing.
And Death paused,
At a raggedy pond,
And said, "You must leave
Your dreams here,
Before moving on.
What you were in life,
That emotionless shell,
You cannot be in death.
It will not do you well.
So discard it right here,
And we'll be on our way.
It is part of the fee
To the price you must pay."
And so Douglas Milford
Collected each dream
Into a small satchel
He'd taken along,
And he poured them inside,
Every hope, every scheme,
Every wish, every want,
Every childhood song.
And he wrapped them up tight,
Without any delay.
And then he watched Death
Simply toss them away.
"Death is unkind,"
He thought with a sigh,
Not quick to noticed
There was no longer a sky.
And that the air
Rusted metals and soot.
And the road was not easy
To travel barefoot.
He was poor
And not so right.
His boney feet
So thin and small
Did not show
He'd been quite large in life,
For, now Douglas did not seem so tall.
The cool wind against his face
Carried such a nasty sting,
His mind thundered in a rush,
And he remembered
Every little thing.
Ten years old he stood
And saw his mother cry,
And somewhere deep inside he ached
As he watched again his father die.
And his little baby sister -
Who came with the harvest moon,
Faded into the red and cold and gray,
Called away far, far too soon.
It was a pain that he could
And he cursed himself and
And there Death smiled,
For this pain had cut him
Like a knife.
"Why do I have to cling to these
Damned and fool-hearted memories?"
And he shivered with a quiet fear
As he wiped away a tear.
And Death told him,
"They haunted you in life, my friend.
And they'll haunt you to your very end.
They are the Ghosts in life
You could not change.
Cancel out or rearrange.
You've trained yourself so very well -
With your selective memory.
And you've crafted yourself quite a cell
By seeing only what you want to see.
All these years you've carried these
Little haunts you've hid so deep,
And you never could forgive yourself
For sins you did not plan to keep.
I am afraid they'll linger in your heart
And echo back from time to time-
It is the price you have to pay
When a haunt of guilt clouds up your mind."
And images danced against
The shaded thoughts within his head.
Every cold and empty thing
He'd ever briefly said.
Those words he'd shared with strangers,
Was he just arrogant,
Or completely blind?
Far too many moments when
All that he spoke
Was heartless and unkind.
Will they haunt me too? he thought,
Damn this vile retrospection.
Must I drag up everything
Accursed with indigestion.
There must be something good I've done
That Death cannot steal away.
Some memory locked so deep inside
The fates cannot betray.
And there he saw a spark of good,
A hint of gentle grace.
Was that Grandma? he wondered
As he saw her rosy face.
She shined with such compassion,
He longed for her embrace.
Her smile was so welcome
She brightened up this
But something in his mind snapped back,
And offered no reprieve.
"You are no victim, Douglas.
So do not grieve.
In life you lived just for the day.
You did every single thing your way.
You had no faith, and damned to hell
That eternity the preacher's sell.
You cared less for those with less than you-
And you cannot return to fix that.
It's a something you can't do.
There's so much you had no faith in,
For it wasn't your ideal.
But just because you don't believe in it,
Doesn't mean it isn't real.
This is your inheritance.
And you've worked hard for your reward.
You've hidden all your fortune,
And this it where it's stored."
And Douglas Milford rested some,
As if the day was finally done.
His bones, they ached,
His knuckles bled,
And there was a pounding
In his head.
And he swallowed dry the metal air,
And imagined a softly moving sea,
And tried to dream that he was there,
Still underneath his Wickett Tree.
That upside where it was cold and gray
Blue sky still welcomed in his day.
And that this ground,
Just shards of broken glass
Were soft and cool as new grass.
He tried to drift into his dream
Of peaceful quiet on a hill,
That gentle breeze that carried every
Song sung by the whippoorwill.
He wanted blue sky overhead,
And crickets chirping by his tree.
He longed to hear a story read
About how good a life should be.
But the jagged thorns that pricked his heel
Brought him back to skies of gray,
And to the shaded shards he knew as real,
That Douglas Milford died today.
Copyright © 2013 Richard D. Remler
"For death begins with life's first breath
And life begins at touch of death."
you want to save the world
be a hero
you're my best friend
dressed in combat boots
'Marines' on your back, on the way to pt
riding in your old Chevelle, on the way to take me home
blasting our music and singing at the top of our lungs
the wind blowing in and out of the car
because driving with the windows down makes you feel free
you make me feel free
when we walk from class to class
talking about things that don't matter
but i couldn't talk about those things with
anyone else would look at us and say
we have the deepest fears
but with you in charge
with you by our side
there's absolutely nothing to worry about
I once wrote something in his
diary for my birthday, but I
actually read a page or two
of his life. A particular story
in which he wrote, all I
want to do is wake up
and make her breakfast,
that is my dream and at
the time all I could do was
smile. I wish I had written
more, but don't we all?
[or more reasons I want to slap you right across your pretty face]
my brain informed my arm to
tell my hand
to pick up a pen and
tell of your voice
the first time
i hear your particular vibrations
your sound waves
over the air
i almost drove off the side of the road
...now i have to close my eyes
and hold my breath
trying to hear a silent memory
stored in a recess of my mind
your voice has a musical quality
a warm tone
that i miss
this brings me to your perfect, hateful lips
(really, i could do without all of this nonsense)
this very moment my heart is pounding
right out of my chest
my jaw clenched
my eyes glaring stubbornly into blank space
release me from this madness...
i just want to get through the day
without this ridiculous longing
just one goddamn day...
...back to your stupid lips
i like shapes
and yours are the exact right shape
to taunt me
you grew that scruffy sexy stuff
just to drive me insane
i'd also like to slap you
for informing me of your jogging habit
my imagination is quite active
and the last possible thing i need
is the sun...
glinting on your hair
on your stupid muscles
i mean, seriously?
i've almost run down 18 men
that look nothing like you
because of this insanity
that has saturated my brain
never in my life
have i been slammed
with such desire
how to end this madness
but forced to remain still.
letting words flow
trying to calm the mind.
but my body wants to m o v e .
my heart wants to explode
my breath wants to quicken...
my voice wants to escape...
my nails want to claw...
my teeth want to bite...
this is getting me nowhere...already i feel the new words coming
her skin was like a pure driven snow
laid behind the deepest blue eyes
and the brightest ruby red lips
you could not look at her and not
want to kiss those soft velvet lips
want to stare into those eyes
want to touch that skin
feel her run her long fingernail
up the spine of your back
to the back of your neck and chest
the nerve endings all over your body
exploding messages of pleasure
the chance meeting in the park
in an early spring warming sun
flowers beginning to burst with life
trees reaching up with their new leaves
you could not take your eyes off
sitting on the edge of the fountain
spewing a water spray from an angels mouth
two angels together in one slice of time
you waited as long as you could
it was time to return to work from lunch
and you had already run 10 minutes over
you walked past her dreading leaving
she looked up with those big blue eyes
and those ruby red lips began to move
you transfixed not realizing she was speaking
you stopped abruptly trying to clear your mind
but still no sound could be heard
only her big rimmed straw hat of white
the the bluest blue eyes
and reddest red lips
and her white alabaster skin
luckily she recognized the symptoms
and smiling put her hand on your arm
and waited patiently for the blood
to return to your brain
oddly she spoke with an island accent
how could this creature come from the islands
the sun and sand and alabaster
she was a princess mandated to sanctuary
on a holiday with her father
who was on business stop here in Atlanta
she knew no one here and the park
was just across the street from her sky suite
for some reason she felt okay speaking with me
now I was 30 minutes late as I took
a quick peek at my watch
you must go she asked?
Yes but can I show you the city later
Yes she smiled to me
I think I would like that
after getting her room number
I triple skipped, jumped and hopped
back to my office my head still abuzz
I stared into dreamland for the next 4 hours
you gonna stay over my boss yelled to me
I shook my head OMG it was 5:05
he yelled you gotta date Rob
yes an affair to attend to I said
an alabaster affair
Gomer LePoet ....
and reddest red lips
and her white alabaster skin
I am the vacant sea,
Bereft of sentimentality apparently,
Gallantly, I uncannily resemble,
An assembly of mistreated heroes,
And a villain or two;
I am a wave at its lowest ebb,
Further now from the shore,
Furthermore from the door,
Of the love I want to blow,
Obsolete, I’m Pac-man in the penny arcade,
Ms. Pac-man’s fucked off for days,
Or months or years; or was she ever even here.
Always holed up in my cave,
Staring at the razor blade,
Waiting for divine intervention,
Some totalitarian convention,
To drag me away;
No cares, this lust,
This pushed me over the edge,
Through the hedge- funded by my
Need for mediocrity; indemnity,
Insatiable, eternally caught far,
From what I seek;
Could anyone love a Devil like me?
Going on a diet of bread and water,
Lamb to the slaughter,
So that someone’s daughter,
Might love a creature this bleak
There was no noise,
When I saw you but
Loud scrapes of wheels
Some chattering, ignored
And I like it. Being
'in my own little world'
I like it it is mine and I like it
But people like you break it,
Popping my sensory little bubble.
I want your blood to deafen me
Not the waves of water but
Nothing from my own world now
It's washing down the plug hole.
I'm trying to
I don't really
All the mental
Of the brain
And also not
Deep in thought
Keep on adding them
"Son of a bitch" list
What you'll get
No longer know
Which one caused
You the trouble
When you wake up
Through the dark
It's sad to say
Who you are
An admonition to myself, and those who wonder.
Another one got caught today, it's all over the papers. "Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal", "Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering"...
Damn kids. They're all alike.
But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950's technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?
I am a hacker, enter my world...
Mine is a world that begins with school... I'm smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me...
Damn underachiever. They're all alike.
I'm in junior high or high school. I've listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. "No, Ms. Smith, I didn't show my work. I did it in my head..."
Damn kid. Probably copied it. They're all alike.
I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn't like me... Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I'm a smart ass.. Or doesn't like teaching and shouldn't be here...
Damn kid. All he does is play games. They're all alike.
And then it happened... a door opened to a world... rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict's veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought... a board is found. "This is it... this is where I belong..." I know everyone here... even if I've never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again... I know you all...
Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They're all alike...
You bet your ass we're all alike... we've been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak... the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We've been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.
This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.
Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.
Written January 8, 1986