Alyssa Underwood Jul 2016
It is out of the heart’s cavernous longing and furious search
for love, significance, acceptance, approval, identity, security,
freedom, belonging, innocence, intimacy and transcendence—
out of its primordial memory of what was lost to us in the Garden—
that we begin to erect idols for ourselves.

Unconsciously we hope they might restore to us a taste of paradise,
taking away our fear and shame and isolation.
We yearn to go back but, alas, we cannot get in from there.
We ache to connect to beauty, to be desired by it as much as we desire it,
and Jesus is the only door by which we may enter.
He is the Beauty, and all the rest are simply there like pealing bells
to arouse our hearts to Him and tell us that He is coming for us.

Still, as if we haven’t quite yet heard and believed the message, we keep
aimlessly trying to forge a false righteousness through our false gods.
When they are lost or the dreams of them unrealized we are devastated,
for the shadows, echoes and reflections we had supposed would finally
make us feel good about ourselves have been exposed as frauds,
and once again we are left to feel naked but without fig leaves to cover us.

It is at these precise moments, when the bottom of our false hope falls out,
that we are best prepared to encounter Christ in His intimate
fullness and most apt to recognize at last that He alone is
everything we have been so desperately wanting.
It is our boiling point, where the unbearable weight
of failed expectation so crashes in on us that we are finally
begging God to lift our idols off of us and deliver us from them,
pleading with Him to come and capture us,
crying out to Him to possess us fully.
Leon Zebrick Jul 2015
Hotrod
Verse I

Wrenches clanging, knuckles banging
A drop of blood the young man spilt
A new part here, and old part… there
A hotrod had been built!
A patchwork, mechanical, quilt

Feelings of excitement not unlike those of Christmas mornings long past paid visit to the young man, his head under a raised hood, hands occupied, the job nearing completion.  Did building that Lionel train-set so long ago form some type of pattern in his brain, now being so pleasurably served?  The good feelings would dissipate though, as quickly as they came, as he cursed himself for stripping a bolt, or cursed someone else for selling him the wrong part, or the engineer whose design goals obviously did not consider “remove and replace”.  He cursed the “gorilla” that never heard of a torque-wrench, the glowing particle of slag that popped on to the top of his head as he welded, the metal chip he flushed from his eye, and even himself for the burn he received by impatiently touching something too soon after grinding.  He, and his type, cursed a lot, but mostly to their selves as they battled-on with things oily, hot, bolted, welded, and rusty – in cramped spaces. One day it was choice words for an “easy-out” that broke off next to a broken drill bit that had broken off in a broken bolt, that was being drilled for an easy out.    Despite the swearing, the good and special feelings, feelings known only to those with a true capacity for this type of passion, would always return, generally of a magnitude that exceeded the physical pain and mental frustration of the day, by a large margin.   Certifiably obsessive, the young man continued to toil dutifully, soulfully, occasionally gleefully, sometimes even expertly, in his most loved and familiar place, his sanctuary, laboratory… the family garage.

And tomorrow would be the day.
Fire extinguisher? “ Right there”
Battery? “Charged and connected”
Neutral?  “yes”
Brake?  “Set”
And with hard learned, hard earned expertise and confidence, in this special small place, a supremely happy and excited young man commanded his creation to life.

Threw  a toggle, pressed a switch
Woke up the neighbors with that son of a bitch

The heart of his machine was a stroked Chevy engine that everyone had just grown sick hearing about.  Even the local machine shop to which the boy nervously entrusted his most prized possession had had enough.  “Sir, I don’t want to seem disrespectful, but from what I’ve read in Hot Rod Magazine, you might be suggesting a clearance too tight for forged pistons…” then it would be something else the next day.   One must always speak politely to the machinist, and even though he always had, the usual allotment of contradictions and arguments afforded to each customer had long run out – and although the shop owner took a special liking to the boy because, as he liked to say, “he reminds me of me”, well, that man was done too.  But in the end, the mill was dead-on.  Of course from the start, the shop knew it would be; that’s almost always the case; it’s how they stay in business - simply doing good work.  Bad shops fall out quickly, but this place had the look of times gone by.  Good times.  Old porcelain signs, here and there were to be found, all original to the shop and revered by the older workers in honored nostalgia.  The younger workers get it too; they can tell from the men they respect and learn from, there is something special about this past.  One sign advertises Carter Carburetors and the artwork depicts “three deuces”, model 97’s, sitting proudly atop a flathead engine, all speeding along in a red, open roadster.  Its occupants a blond haired boy with slight freckles (driver), and a brunette girl passenger, white blouse slightly unbuttoned,  both in the wind-blown cool, their excited expressions proclaim… "we are free!" (and all you need is a Carter, or three).

The seasoned old engine block the boy entrusted to the shop cost him $120-even from the bone yard.  Not a bad deal for a good block that had never had its first 0.030” overbore.  In the shop, it was cleaned, checked for cracks, measured and re-measured, inspected and re-inspected.  It was shaped and cut in a special way that would allow the stroker crankshaft, that was to be the special part of this build, to have all the clearance it would need.  The engine block was fitted with temporary stress plates that mimic the presence of cylinder heads,  then the cylinders were bored to “first oversize”,  providing fresh metal for new piston rings to work against.  New bearings were installed everywhere bearings are required.  Parts were smoothed here and there.  Some surfaces were roughened just so, to allow new parts to “work-into each other” when things are finally brought together.  All of this was done with a level of precision and attention far, far greater than the old “4- bolt” had ever received at the factory on its way to a life of labor in the ¾ ton work truck from which it came.  They called this painstaking dedication to precision measurement and fit, to hitting all specifications “on the mark”, “blueprinting”, and it would continue throughout the entire build of this engine.  The boy stayed  worried the whole time, but the shop had done it a million times.

After machining, the block was filled with new and strong parts that cost the young man everything he had.   Parts selected with the greatest of effort, decision, and debate.  “ You can compromise on paint”,” live with some rust”, he would say,  “wait for good tires”, “but never scrimp on the engine”.  Right on.  You get one shot at getting that right, and this proclamation demonstrated wisdom but also provided ample excuse for the rough and unfinished look of the rest of his machine.  But it was just a look, his car was, in fact, “right”.   And its power plant?  Well the machine shop had talked their customer into letting them do the final engine assembly - even cut their price to do it.  They were looking out for the boy.  The mill in its final form was the proper balance of performance and durability, and with its camshaft so carefully selected, the engine's “personality” was perfectly matched to the work at hand.   It would produce adequate torque in the low RPM range to get whole rig moving quickly, yet deliver enough horsepower at red-line to pile on the MPH, fast.  No longer a polite-natured workhorse, this engine, this engine is impatient now.  High compression, a rapid, choppy idle - it seems to be biting at the bit – to be released.  On command, it gulps its mixture and screams angrily, and often those standing around have a reflexive jump - the louder, the better - the more angry, the better.  If it hurts your ears, that’s a good feeling.  If its bark startles, that’s a good startle.  A cacophony?  No, the “music” of controlled explosions, capable of thrusting everything and everyone attached, forward, impolitely, on a rapid run to “red-line”, and it keeps pulling hard and delivering power while spinning fast because it is breathing right and proper and producing the power that thrills, and the only reason to shift gears is to preserve connecting rods, eager as the engine may be to rev further!

This is the addictive sound and feel that has appealed to a certain type of person since engines replaced horses, and why?  A surrogate voice for those who are otherwise quiet?  A visceral celebration of accomplishment?    Who cares.  Shift once, then again - speed quickly makes its appearance.  It appears as a loud, rushing wind and a visually striking, unnatural view of the surrounding scenery.  At some point, in the sane, it triggers a natural response - better slow down.    


He uncorked the headers, bought gasoline, dropped her in gear, tore off to the scene
Camaros and Mustangs, an old ‘55
Obediently lined-up, to get skinned alive!


Verse II (1st person)

I drove past the banner that said “Welcome race fans” took a new route, behind the grandstands
And through my chipped window, I thought I could see
Some of the racers were laughing at me

I guess rust and primer are not to their taste
But I put my bucks mister in the right place

I chugged/popped past cars that dealers had sold
Swung into a spot, next to something old

Emerging with interest from under his hood
My neighbor said two words, he said, “sounds good”

The ’55 I parked next to was “classic rodding” in its outward appearance.  The much overused “primer paint job” channeled “Two Lane Blacktop”.  The hood and front fenders a fiberglass clamshell, pinned affair.  Dice hanging from the mirror paid homage to days its driver never knew, but wished he had.  He removed them before he drove, always.

If you know how to peel the onion, secrets are revealed.  Wilwood brake calipers can be a dead giveaway. Someone needs serious stopping power - maybe.  Generally, owners who have sprung the bucks for this type gear let the calipers show off in bright red, to make a statement, and sometimes, these days, it’s just a fashion statement.  Now, expensive calipers, as eye candy, are all the rage.  What is true, however, is very few guys spend big money on brakes only to render them inglorious and seemingly common with a shot of silver paint from a rattle can, and the owner of this ’55 had done just that. 

Two things seem to be at play here.  One, he needs those heavy brakes because he’s fast, and two, hiding them fits his style.   Really, the message to be found in the silver paint, so cleverly applied to make your eyes simply slide across on their way to more interesting things, was “sleeper”.   And sleeper really means, he’s one of those guys with a score to settle - with everyone perhaps.   The list of “real parts” grew, if you knew where to look.  Something I had defacto permission to do since my rod was undergoing a similar scrutiny.  
“Stroked?”, I asked.  That’s something you can’t see from the outside. “ No”, the racer replied.  
“Hundred shot?”  (If engines have their language, so do the people who love them).   Despite the owner’s great efforts to conceal braided fuel and nitrous lines, electrical solenoids and switches, I spied his system.  The chunks of aluminum posing as ordinary spacers under his two carburetors were anything but.   “No”, was his one-word reply to my 100- shot question.  I tried again; “Your nitrous system, how much are you spraying?”  “Two hundred fifty” in two stages, he said.  That’s more like it, I thought, and I then figured, he too had budgeted well for the machine shop – if not, he was gambling in a game that if lost, would fly parts in all directions.   Based on the overall vibe of the scene, and the clean work on display, I believed his build was up to the punishment he planned.   I knew exactly what this tight-lipped guy was about, seeing someone very familiar in him as it were, and that made the “sounds good” complement I received upon my arrival all the more valuable.

The voice on the loudspeaker tells us we’re up.

Pre-staged, staged, then given the green
The line becomes blurred between man and machine

Bones become linkage
Muscle, spring
Fear, excitement

Time distorts ….
Color disappears …
Vision narrows…
Noise ---  becomes music
Speed, satisfaction

End
Ashish Gaur May 12
She washed away my feelings,
with my tears
He shattered my wings,
with my fears

That day I kissed a girl
made of thorns,
and somehow love found me
in his arms

I knew I wanted her
I knew I needed him

I've been waiting for so long.

Yet we're here
Yet we're torn.
we mended each other
we lost and found one another

Still I sense that
emptiness, growing inside of me.
Still I feel like
this will, be the end of me.

Because I lose myself
whenever I am with you
And little by little
I become a part of you

and then we become one,

we become our tears
we become our fears.

I look into his eyes,
I hold her tight
without saying any words
we read each others mind

we forget our qualms
for a moment or two,
because it's going to be alright,
as long as you're here too
Eleanor Rigby Feb 2015
You looked me in the eye
With the same smile you gave me
A long time ago.
You let me order your coffee for you
I knew which one
It's still the same
From a long time ago.

I laughed about the jokes you told me
You laughed at how unfunny
Mine were
And you playfully hit me
I frowned, you laughed,
I laughed, you laughed again
And said sorry
Just like you did
A long time ago.

The worst of it all
Was that when your hand
Accidentally brushed mine
I shivered
Just like I did
A long long time ago.


-- Eleanor
Leon Zebrick Jul 22
The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway… man that’s one long bridge
I drive it every day for my pay - here’s what I see along the way

Here comes:
Corvette Kary, setting pace he’s in a race
When Kary’s not waxing his ride, we all have to step aside

Petrified Patty, she’s over water and she can’t swim
She’s driving a white Lexus, so scared she has no reflexus

Miata Mike, chasing Kary, not gonna get too far
Trying to convince himself, he didn’t buy a girly car

Watch out for:
Makeup Mary, on cruise-control wow she’s one of the worst
She loves her new Camry, but her next car might just be a hearse

Yes, that Causeway, can be a long and boring ride
And if you get a flat… there’s no place to pull aside
Oh but that Causeway, has its points, take time to see
24 miles of entertainment, and the Northbound way is free

Here comes:
Road Rage Randy, always pissed and he doesn't know why
Today he’s running late, but finds time to escalate

Doughnut Danny, a rolling example of efficiency
A cream-filled and a coffee, and a newspaper on his knee

Wackin Wayne, you’ve got to be kidding me
Vibrating Virginia, now we have equality

We've got:
Maypop Marty, doesn’t know that tires wear out

Mark the spark, man go find a muffler shop

Headphone Harry, has no clue the cops are behind

Fugitive Fred, on the go 65 point 000

Yes that old Causeway, can be one long and boring ride
And if you get a flat… there’s no place to pull aside
Oh but that Causeway, has its points, take time to see
The mechanized circus on parade, our hilarious humanity

Don’t forget:
Frozen Frita, every rainstorm stops her dead in her track
Then here comes Ramin’ Ron, goin 60, aint too good for her back

No tie-down Tim, shit flyin’ out of his truck
For everyone behind him, Tim doesn’t give a fuck

NPR Nancy, she must be in a “Driveway Moment”
Only problem is, she’s on a god-damn bridge

Texting Theresia, I’ve saved the best for last
The last thing in life she did see, was an idiotic emoji

Lookin’ Lee, that’s me, pretty sad that I’m just as bad
Come join us nuts on the Causeway, might be the most fun you ever had
Corey Apr 2016
Minutes after - complete despair,shaking body and lack of functionality, decision making at its worst
The morning after - headache, weak muscles, and no tears left to shed after last night
Day 2 - more tears brought when telling people the news
Day 5 - regret, anxiety, and wondering if I've made the right choice
Day 10 - loneliness, after talking to someone day after day to no one
Day 15 - first contact and I've found out you moved on
Day 20 - “I have needs” sexual ones that you only just recently discovered with me?
Day 25- regret, and confiding in people I shouldn't be talking to
Day 35 - wanting to confide in you again, but giving you space
Day 40 - flirtatious with others
Day 50 - love at first sight, falling in love with nearly every attractive woman I see
Day 60 - it makes me smile when you think I am tweeting about you, don't try and start shit
Day 80 - regret and depression, worse depression than directly after the breakup

Day 100 - talking to others is tough, finding that I am quickly wanting to fall in love with them and leading them on. The sorrow aches at night, but is forgotten in the daylight
Day 110 - I cut ties with the people I've wrongly confided in, I am alone again
Day 125 - insecurity as I feel I should go out on dates as friends have told me to
Day 150 - skipping school, poor attitude, and hard hitting sarcasm
Day 175 - you are on your third or fourth new “boyfriend.” I've lost count

Day 200 - the connection with my friends are becoming weaker and weaker. My will to do anything is diminishing. My life is crumbling
Day 220 - I feel both distain and joy of your love life since we broke up. You can't seem to keep anyone around you
Day 240 - trying to rebuild my self esteem and a bond with my closest friends
Day 260 - once again confiding in the wrong people and leading others on
Day 270 - found my anthem, my song that will get me through this pain and will show me that I won't be tortured by this anymore, not today

Day 300 - slowly rebuilding my life, each day reminding myself that this too shall pass
Day 330 - the thought of you is one of distain and regret
Day 365 - a whole year, and still the nights torture me with regret, sorrow, and loneliness. I have only a song to get me through and it is becoming not enough.
Day 380 - happy birthday wishes were not sent
Day 390 - the cold nights make me miss you more than I should. December is a hard time for a break up

Day 400 - I thought I'd found love but it was too selfish and not selfless
Day 420 - feeling good, my friends are close and scarves are wrapped tightly around my neck for warmth
Day 430 - I finally feel free
Day 440 - my freedom has been revoked as the mind torments my soul with unrequited love for another
Day 460 - Most of my time is spent without you anywhere on my mind. I seem to have virtually forgotten you until I am reminded. Though when I am reminded, it is a flood.
Day 480 - the thought of you is one of nostalgia

Day 500 - today someone I went to high school with asked me if I was still dating 'that girl'. I said no, and they asked what her name was, as they seem to have forgotten.
I say, “Allison…..”
Silence for about fifteen seconds
They ask, “which one?”
“I… I'm… Drawing a blank,” stunned, I say, “I can't believe I can't think of her last name!”
When it finally comes to me, I feel embarrassed. I quickly end the conversation and leave.
I get in my car and then I realize what just happened.

Me forgetting her name, that was me getting over her. That was me finally being okay with my decision. Finally being secure with myself, and finally moving on.

Day 530 - even today, writing this I feel nothing more than nostalgia for our time together. It was wonderful but ended poorly, unfortunately.
I have no intentions of contacting you, and apparently neither you to me. Though, I hope you are well.
This has been one month of true freedom, the longest since we broke up. So I wrote this to celebrate. I hope you see how much you meant to me, and realize both how little, you make it seem, you cared about me and how much pain this has caused me over the past 500 days.
I apologize for the length, though if you did stick through it I both commend and thank you. Stay strong.
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