Thursday, June 30, 2016

Addendum...Ashes to Soot

I wrote a little ditty the other day. Sometimes I am so compelled to put finger to keyboard due to a rush of insight or a tidal wave of emotion. But this instance in question was as monumental as the proverbial flood....

I was in hospital running some tests. Had been there all the day long ~ gawd I hate those pastel walls and little arrows on the fukkin floor! But my stay was almost over after 9 grueling hours (or so I thought), and I was finally released~all the rubber straps removed~from that tortuous bed of lies. I was told to walk and almost ran I did ~ straight to the bathroom hehe.

However, as I approached the room way off in the corner of the ward I paused. For there....in this bed....all alone....in this fragile corner of suffering....was a dear friend I thought healed and happy. She had been fighting that battle royal....the dread melanoma....and had gone through trials, sanctioned experiments in all seriousness, and the news had been good last I had heard. Yea, so I had heard....

Yet here she was, so lost and forlorn, ragged and beaten to the sheets. I called her name and it took an eternity for her to open those piercing blue eyes. Oh damn! Did I inadvertently call her back from the brink of that abyss she so obviously welcomed in relief? I expected to find pain in that visage but found acceptance instead. She spoke of her struggle, not with "why me's", but with "it was a good fight". Told me that it was almost over, about the new grandbaby-to-be she would never get to see in person (though I fully believe she has communed with in spirit).

My heart opened up and I gave her my all, anything she needed to ease her way, anything I could do....just anything. And then I began to bleed. It was like a stigmata. I felt no pain, no worry....fear was left far behind me. I held her hand and bled for her. For you see, she was there for a platelet transfusion.

By this time the nurses had hunted me down because I had been gone way too long. They asked me what I was doing and I said "administering to a friend". That’s when the blood was spotted and chaos ensued. Oh yes, I had bled for her indeed. My femoral artery had blown and I was seeping like a fountain. They dragged my out of her hands and all I remember from that point on was pounding fists and screams. After 3 more hours of bondage and cussing I sprang up from the bed~albeit in slow motion~and went looking for her to no avail. She was gone, the bed empty and tidied as if it hadn’t been used for days. What was even stranger was that no one remembered seeing her there....

Ashes to Soot

i looked across the room
and saw mortality looking deep within
the spark of that taper lit, smoke and suet
disguising the lightness of being
that once rushed out to meet life heart first
now, only a flickering behind the screen of shadows
tossing and kneeling in fear
their last grasp a shallow bundle of season
twisted and shorn beyond any semblence of regard
~

i looked across the room
and opened my heart to you
my blood flowing free and smooth
compassion merging with those puddles
leaked of an inertia spent at war with this enemy within
no quarter gained nor forfeit
the truce but a frayed banner stained with time
~

i can't cross this great divide with you
the one that separates the willing from the tired
a whisper from a shout, this tear from an ocean
but i light my candles in celebration to you
your breath fully grounded in love
progeny springing forth from the dust of your passage
a conduit to future memories prevailing in perpetuum....

rest easy my friend and go with peace

Under the Overpass

Under the Over pass It was midmorning, and an even quieter interval for being the middle of the week. I was off work for some reason (the reason escapes me at the moment) and had took off up to the north (again…for some un-remembered compulsion, heh). I had pulled up to a light to do what we city dwellers do best….wait. It was one of those lights under an overpass (that should be the title of one of those drinking songs~), the traffic roaring through the blue, cloud-ridden sky above. So it was doubly peaceful and sparse of bodies down here below.

the traffic left behind....hmmm. does that mean the freeway equals the Rapture? oh nevermind.... Anyways, I had pulled up behind a small car, one young people get or are given as a right of passage when leaving the nest (or is it for bribery purposes? Get Out! hehe). Another car pulls up beside me and the 2 usable lanes are now fully emergency-vehicle blocked. YaY~

The car in front of me contains 3 very young Hispanic girls, the oldest of which couldn't have been much more than driver's license age. Three young, bouncy, long and curly-haired chicas, out to conquer their little piece of the world with hair spray and chicle.

We all sit there for about 15 seconds, automatons winding down after the death-race from the previous light (as if our lives depended on getting somewhere…if only we knew where....) letting the exhaust fumes lull us into the chemical numbness inherent to big cities.

Then it begins….
The driver, obliviously bored and wanting to get to who-knew-where to impress who-knew-who, looked into the rear view mirror and did that little hair fluff thingey. You know….pat – poke – lift – Flip Then looked straight ahead to destination unknown. 5 or so seconds go by….

The front seat passenger snaps the sun visor down to peruse her image in the hidden mirror. And what do you think occurs? Yep….pat – poke – lift – Flip Visor tossed back up out of sight, eyes straight ahead to…. there….over there. Another elapse of a miniscule measurement….

The backseat lassie squeezes her sparkly-spandexed self between the 2 front seats to view her teased visage in the rear view mirage. And….pat – poke – lift – Flip Everything settles back into that zen state of semi-consciousness we all get after rushing wantonly nowhere. 5 seconds, 10 seconds, this light is.…simply a light. Nothing profound here people.

Then OMG!
A frenzied eruption in the compact car! It starts tilting from to, then fro. Arms flailing about in the air, visors snapping up and down, mirrors flashing and blinding all within sight. What in the heck has transpired while my head was turned aside for that fraction of a moment?? And isn't that when everything in life usually happens?! Gads! Haha

The dust settles somewhat and I see….all 3 chicas patting, poking, lifting and FLIPing in a syncopated dance of fluff the likes of which has not been seen since the last time I went into a smalltown beerhall bathroom.

This frenzy goes on for 5….4….3….2….then total inertia.

I look around feeling like I had just stepped out of a hypobaric trance. Did that really happen?? Did I just see what I thought I saw? WAS DAT A PUDDY TAT?? I glance over to the car beside me for some kind of an answer, any kind of answer, at the exact same time the driver of that car looks around befuddled and bemused. HA! It did happen! HA! We both crack up, laughing weepily until the light changes and our lives move on....to somewhere a little less absurd.

bug-a-bears

You know what frightens me the most? Not monsters, or the lush effects so common now-a-days. Not Death, nor weapons, wild beasts or brutal assaults….. No….no, my pet fear is madness.

Madness terrifies me, that total mental collapse into spiritual decay.

I have this image in my head, from a movie I saw so long ago. Of a woman, from a pre-civil war, well-to-do family, who loses touch with the commoners one day….

She takes to her hands and knees, crawling the house day in, night out, her black taffeta gown dragging the floor, her perspective halved and lacking.

At moments she seems as sane as you or I, just a peculiarity, this viewpoint from the hip so to say. But then eyes turn inward and she sees something that starts the foray……

The moaning and denials, screeches that reach sub sonic frequencies, to be followed by rushed whispers, the dialogue frantic and centered.

This….this is what I fear most.

Tillery and Chicon - Tres

Our lives never got back to that idyllic beginning. Things had been said, issues raised, faults discovered, addiction re-submitted for perusal. We had made a commitment to each other, through thick and thin, good and bad, failures and successes. We would continue. A routine was settled upon, and our future continued on its fitful way.

In case it wasn't mentioned, we lived across the tracks – you know – the 'bad' side of town. What this meant to me was culture, pure and simple. I love living amongst people with lives and customs that stretch back years, if not centuries. These people are real, have family, have continuity. They can tell you who and when and where – for every member of their extended families. We joined in the neighbourhood comings and goings, the drama and festivities. I was accepted as family. One of our neighbours had a son my lover had grown up with, gone to school with, loved and lost with. They were life-long friends, and the family accepted me into the fold. We were invited to all their gatherings. Now this family entertained in a big way. They had converted their acre lot into one of those old-time compounds. Out-buildings abounded, concrete was poured in lieu of grass, there were barbeque pits big enough to cook half a cow in, an ice house that rivalled any convenience store beer cooler, places set aside to play basketball and volley ball. These people took partying seriously. What everything one would ever need to have major gatherings or intimate get-togethers. They would even hire bands for those really big occasions (or even a small one, no excuse was wasted), and drinking and dancing was enjoyed by all. And of course it was locked up tighter than a military base.

It was on one of these occasions that the next episode enfolded in our life together. We had gathered together at the compound to celebrate who knows what – a birthday? A national holiday? A sporting event? They all qualified for celebration, so forgive me if the details are a bit fuzzy. The drinking went on till the wee hours, and as we lived just a few houses down, we stayed almost to the blurry end. We staggered home and the house was locked up for the night. All the small before-bed rituals were performed. Well, I did them. My lover had passed out cold on the bed as soon as he walked in the door. I finally crawled into bed with him, taking my place next to the wall, as is the place for all good donnas. I looked over at my lover, who was dead to the world. I said my good nights and gave a little peck, even though I knew he was oblivious. I was just drifting off, when he spoke softly, too softly to make out the words. I opened my eyes to look at him, and he was still laid out flat, hadn't moved in fact. I thought maybe it was a dream mutter, so I touched him to get a response, a look, but nothing. This man was not conscious. Then who spoke?

Again, the words, stronger, a little louder…."Juan loves you, you know."

Now why would he be speaking in the third person I wondered? I jokingly asked "well who are you then?" "I am Juan." But it was the way he said it…..one

and not a muscle moved on his body except those lips…those lips I thought I knew so well. But those lips now chilled me to the bone. There was no curvature, no facial quirk, no emotion or acknowledgement that he was speaking to me, me his lover, or that he was even alive. It was if I was viewing one of those fun house machines with the dummy that tells fortunes, a monotone, unmoving plastic. I looked around…yes, there were those green eyes again, glowing from the closet. All the hair on my body stood up on end. I felt threatened as I never had before. This was too close….in my bed? Against my naked body? Would he become animate as well? Would those eyes open and someone else look out at me? Would I be touched by someone else's hands, grabbed, forced to see, him, it….who, what? His body was as pliant as a rag doll, anything could take place…it could be used to do anything. And what would be said? Did I want to hear? I was not ready for this….not so soon after the other.

I slowly crawled out of the bed, along the headboard, standing up against the wall, inching slowly with my breathe as a cover, keeping my eyes on those lips as they spoke, on those eyes that were closed, praying they would not open. I did not want to see who or what would look out at me. Did not want to see the author of those words. I gathered up some belongings and made it out of the bedroom, the voice following me….

"Juan does love you, we all love you. We are glad you have come to this house, because we need you. Have we told you about our brother? He is here with us…would you like to speak to him? Our father is here as well, though he doesn't join in much anymore."

Shit shit shit! I ran to my purse, my keys, barely pulling on the minimum of clothing before heading out the door. I could feel something whipping at me, at my skin, at my hair. My eyes were tearing, glazed in fear, half closed to block out any unwanted images. I drove off, not having a clue where I was heading, what time it was, just this urgent need to put as much distance as I could between myself and this house, this house and its occupants. My lover was on his own, his proximity to such having long since anesthetized him – I hoped. But when fear like this rides you honey, everyone is on their own – sorry.

I drove around the sleeping city, trying to decide what to do, where to go. I ended up clear across town at my parent's, 4:30 in the morning. I quietly let myself in and slept in the cold, lonely spare room. Explained away my unusual behaviour as just a lover's spat. I did not hear from him. For two days, nothing. I finally called, wanting to know if it had all been imagined, a dream I had woken up from too soon, a twisted memory. He was angry – why had I left without telling him anything? No note, no phone call. I tried to jog his memory…remember our conversation? Nothing. I was in the wrong for leaving without word. So I placated and soothed, hoping against hope that it was my wild thoughts that had taken hold of me. I went home, needing to be near my things, my animals, my once-true love. Hesitant yet again to be around this man I had committed myself to.

Tillery and Chicon - Dos

At one point I felt I had finally protected, if not totally cleansed the house of this presence. All doorways, this world or other, were locked and closed. Nothing could enter without my knowing. Safeguards had been posted and armed. I felt I had done all I could to protect myself and mine. I went away for a week, happy and satisfied, ignorant in my bliss. Then I came home….

A visitor had come to call and stay in my absence. Someone from my lover's chequered past. Someone with an aura of violence that clung to him like black and red oil. Someone my lover was terrified of. Someone who looked out at the world with dead, black eyes. Who rarely spoke, who didn't even seem to recognize the presence of any other being on this planet. It seems my safeguards had failed me. And then all hell broke out….

Do you know what's it like to have your home, your work, your love usurped? By a dead man? Do you know? Can you understand? I bitterly complained to my lover, about his mindless submission to this thing, about our life that was slipping away, about the disgusting state of affairs. About the rediscovered addictions. But his mind and soul were focused rigidly on the rail. Nothing could stir his intent. It was as if I did not exist in that house. Everything was geared towards pleasing this wraith. Every decision my lover made had to be Okayed by HIM. I was left alone, left to watch from the outside as my home and the life I had built was taken from me, minute by miserable minute.

Until one day I had had enough. I came upon my lover kow-towing to this beast, while he sat in a chair in OUR bedroom, his arms crossed, like a pasha. I confronted this demon, confronted him in front of my weakened soul mate. Battled with him for my love. The elements joined in this battle, as they always do. The wind howled, trees brushed and knocked up against the house, the windows. Sirens screeched. People shouting up and down the street. Clouds covered the sun and animals ran. When my anger is up, woe is unto thee that has stirred it. My lover was in terror, for me, for us; of me, of him. "Do not berate him!! Do not make him angry!" Fuck that, he has crossed my line and I will not, I repeat, will not allow this campaign to continue. And the demon sat there, saying nothing, those dead eyes looking into me, through me. I ranted and raged, spit and pointed for almost 30 minutes. My fur was arisen, the hackles were up. I screamed at him every injustice his presence had wrought, of how he had made my lover into a spineless fuck. And damnit! That was my job - who the fuck did he think he was? And oh wait; do I even want this fool you created?! On and on I went, amazing myself at my audacity, thrilling at the venting of all this pent up venom. The Fury was loose and in full glory… He didn't move a muscle, not so much as a twitch. His dead eyes looked out, not seeing, not seeming to care that this mad woman with wild hair was within an inch of striking him dead. But finally at one point he actually turned his head and looked AT me. And that is when I asked him….in a soft voice…"wouldn't you fight, kill, destroy, face the fires of hell, die….for you and yours?" And he spoke, his only utterance during this whole encounter…..

'Yes….'

Then he walked out of the room, out of the house and disappeared from our lives.

Tillery and Chicon - Uno

It was an innocuous little house, almost picture perfect in its charm. A long rectangular building, with pale yellow paint that glowed when the sunlight filtered through the tall cottonwoods and elder pecan trees. It was built during the 40's on an old, tree lined lived-in-by-families neighbourhood. The outside of the house and surrounding property had aged gracefully over the years, with quaint little flowerbeds lined by long, wide sidewalks.

It sat on the strangest shaped lot I had ever seen. The house proper sat on a squarish plot, but then it tapered to this long point towards the east, like a spear aimed at the rising sun. At that point was on a crossroad. Well, the street changed names when you went around that sharp corner. I'm not sure what the founding fathers' intent was. The angle was so severe that cars had to move very slowly into the turn, and drivers had to wait at each side of the lot for on-coming cars to finish their journey.

The angles were tight, the path was bottlenecked and the light was speared.

The house sat directly across the street from a police substation and a half-way house for South American refugees. 'Nice….' Oh well, I could live with a lot of things, if motivated.

The house was a two bedroom, one bathroom setup. I had seen the same floor plan in many older houses - high ceilings, big old country kitchen and living room on one end and the bedrooms on the other. A long, dark hall leading from the kitchen to the bedroom wing, the bathroom in the middle and a closet at the end. The inside was dilapidated - dingy grey and brown stained walls, filthy yellowed windows, and dirt piled up in every corner. But it had longed-for hardwood floors, and all the odd little eccentricities of an older house. I've always had a soft spot for old houses, so I was excited about moving into this one. A little paint, some TLC, and it should be more than habitable. I was starting a new life, moving in with a man I loved. What more could one ask for? He had inherited the house from his father. And in the months prior to the move I had heard a lot about this house. How and when it was built, of his father's love of it, of his pride in all the developments over the years. So I felt I already knew this place, had become intimate, become old friends.

The house had a little something extra – his father had built on a strange addition onto the north east side and had left the floors as dirt. The room was sunk into the ground, and when looked at from the outside, resembled a bunker or a hobbit's dwelling. And nothing would stay clean in this room for long, the brown earth and dust settling on every surface, clinging to your clothes and hair when you walked through. It had a door that you entered by walking out the backdoor of the house and crossing the porch, and one window which faced east. Lots of nooks and crannies, shelves and corners. I was drawn to this room almost from the start. I would go there by myself almost daily and look out the window and weep from the bottom of my soul, not understanding why. I would take to wandering the dirt floors, not exactly pacing, but moving, aimlessly, from corner to corner, as if looking for a something I didn't know I was missing. I felt a presence, not malignant but aware. I believe it was his father, ruing his life and his choices. For he had lived life large, hurting many people in his neglect. And he paid for it in the end because all those he thought loved him had drifted away. And in the days and months to come, this room became my sanctuary. I ran to the father for protection, for camaraderie, not knowing if he even saw me in his self centred misery.

I set to work making the place a home, ours. I even put in new gardens, enriching the love-starved earth with compost, my sweat and my love. I spent a lot of time out there on that point. I could feel an entity out there, just beneath the soil. An ancient being that rose up to meet the sun on certain eolian occasions. Hopefully he would not stir in the near future, for I felt it would tear us all asunder when he ripped himself from the earth.

The bedroom on the southeast corner was not used. My lover said it was his parent's room, the bridal chamber for the couple when the whole family lived there, so he didn't feel comfortable sleeping in it. We moved into the southwest bedroom and made do, even though the other was of a grander size. I went about making it ours; you know the spiel – bedspreads, curtains, knick knacks. But the closet in that room……… in the middle of the night I could feel something stir the breeze, hear a disjointed breath. If I opened my eyes and looked up, I swear I could see eyes..... glowing green eyes.... up in the top left-hand corner.... on the shelf. I asked him about the house then – who had lived there, what had transpired. He told me about the anger, the family violence, the neighbourhood gang fights. About one of his brothers shooting him in the stomach during a family quarrel. And how the second brother, who had slept in our room, had been the youngest person in the city to be convicted of murder and sent off to prison with the men. Of how this brother felt he was possessed by evil spirits and that he eventually killed himself after his release.

Now I don't think those eyes belonged to this long deceased brother, but I did feel his presence – a howling from the depths of hell, not for release but for notice. For recognition, for acceptance of all his foibles and choices, and of his need for it to be known that it was not him that committed those acts, but that someone else's hands had guided his. That he took responsibility for the other's power on him. That he felt he deserved the torment he then and now suffered. How can this be? A ghost in the depths of depression….

No, those eyes belonged to some other creature. Not a demon per se, more like an ancient maligner. Perhaps from the time of the sun worshiper. So I began the process of cleansing. Prayers were spoken. Amulets created, hung and worn. Herbs planted for protection. Symbols etched into earth, wood, paint and trees. The sun and moon were my accomplices. I burned sage daily, hung witches balls near all the entrances, placed mythical statues at cross-hairs. I even spoke with my lover's mother about the house. She said she had felt the angry malignancy when she lived there. That it had driven her out and killed her love. She had been practicing cleansing rites for many years as a result, searching for the ones that would work, would heal. Using old Indian magic, the church's crutches….. anything. For she felt her family had become tainted as a result of living on that patch of earth. I still felt it had something to do with the spear pointed at the rising sun….

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