Interlude

Strings pulled tight, ring out,

Necks bowed just to hear,

What is this really all about?

Consideration so close, near,

Fingers fast in explanation,

Hearts poured out complete,

Tones settling in desperation,

Notes, this is silence in defeat,

Harmony deliberately steals the moment,

Where fear had crops yet to be farmed,

Our brain, doubt so wasted, time spent,

Melody, a hostage perfectly unharmed,

A symphony of vivid tomorrows,

Chorus piercing thoughts we once knew,

A retirement of wretched sorrows,

Restoration in song, like baby born new.

-Jeff Allen-

Son’s Lament

Son’s Lament

Words protected, leftovers not said,

Regret, verses spoken with anger,

Lives altered, weary eyes, tears bled,

Hearts smashed, faulty danger,

Hope inquiries for an afterlife,

Love’s laughs fracture to scream,

Censored harm like a concealed knife,

Rapids escaped, passing upstream,

Denial, puzzles with missing pieces,

Moments absent in what remained,

Words, yours in my head, increases,

Pictures, to the past you are chained,

Guarded recollections, like jewelry gold,

Comprehending what you aspired,

Lucky lives led, fortunate stories told,

Amplified, two hearts melded, rewired.

Love, Hope and Sanity

‘Love, hope & sanity’

Walk home from the corner bar,

Memories, friends carry us home,

We know, lucky to be this far,

Footsteps in rhythm, adulthood syndrome,

Eyes open, eyes closed,

While traffic rushes close by,

Sidewalk safety, so composed,

Nostalgia held close, to rely,

Cold wind burns our cheek,

As winter slowly kidnaps summer,

Childhood recollections antique,

No cure for our mental cancer,

Careful to care just enough,

As we lunge for trust,

Life is full of contrast, rough,

Intent, always so earnest,

Drink away the cold season,

To numb the pain,

Sober up for warm reason,

Savor the mundane,

Stand tall against it all,

Propped, friends and family,

Guarding against a fall,

All for love, hope and sanity.

Urbanity

‘Urbanity’

Crimes, personal preservation,

Homes lacking doors,

Infliction devoid of intervention,

Souls twist into whores,

Shots ring out nightly,

Rain washes the blood away,

Streets so cheated, left crying,

A life barely begun, died today.

Soft expression to another mother,

Anger, rage and never a reason,

Witness too rigid to bother

for trepidation of social treason.

It’s the same old depressing tale,

The one our cities tell habitually,

Populace absent of escape to avail,

Praying please no one I know today.

 

To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.

“To live in hearts that we leave behind is not to die”
November 20th (tomorrow) is/was my Mom’s birthday. She would/should have been 54 years old. My Mom gave birth to me when she was only 15 years old. She put much of her life on pause and focused on raising me. I have never met my father and for a long time (along with my Grandparents) she raised me alone. Because of the closeness in age and some stubbornness there was a period in my life when my Mom and I didn’t really talk (lost years, differences that seem less important now). I always thought how crazy it was that we were so close in age and that because of that I always assumed my Mom would be around perpetually. My Mom and my differences were emphatically overshadowed by the tremendous Grandmother she was to my children. In retrospect, I don’t think I ever felt closer to my Mother than to see the way she interacted with my kids. It was/is complete and total unconditional love.

Since my Mom passed, a few months back, I have waged mental warfare attempting to work my way back to ‘normalcy.’ When someone passes tragically, there is usually a graduation thru stages of grief. I always thought that recognizing this would somehow enable one to move through the stages more hastily. From my own personal experience I now realize they will come and go without much notice. Externally you can sport a big smile and a stoic face and move steadily forward but internally these stages will take up residency and make sure you take notice. Shock/Disbelief, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Guilt, Depression and then finally Acceptance/Hope.
If you are as fortunate, as I certainly was, you are overwhelmed by an outpouring of friends and family providing kind words, stories and hugs that threaten to break your back. Even in the worst of times it resonated strongly within me – we will all go through this experience and the love, empathy shown was/is amazing.

I have always lived my life expecting, with acknowledged naivety, even in the midst of tragedy we must surely be on the cusp of turning a corner that will usher in better, more meaningful days. Surely whatever we were experiencing was just a lesson that needed to be learned in order to fully appreciate something soon to present itself. This approach has always served me well and I have always loved the fight to be optimistic. However, when your Mom dies, I could not find any pep talks or hopeful quotes that make it feel like things will ever be on the mend. As an adult, you have obligations. You must work, you must parent, and you must be a good spouse – you don’t get to stop doing these things while you try to work through your new reality. You do these important tasks to the best of your ability but with about 1/3 of your traditional energy. I learned a few things: You eat A LOT and your normal exercise routine will seem like an impossibility. Your body and mind will betray you with random panic and anxiety. Welcome to the depression phase and apparently it is one that no modest self-pep talk will quite remedy.

Emerging from the others side of this stage only recently, I feel ‘ok’ writing this now. It has been a couple weeks and I am back in the gym, I am eating like I am feeding only one person again and starting to feel somewhat ‘normal’ again. My rationale for sharing this goes back to the feeling that resonated as each person squeezed me in an attempt to break my back during the week that I lost my Mom, they told me their stories and shared their kind words – we will all go through this in our lives. It bonds us all together in one of the worst experiences that can happen to a human – we will all lose someone close to us. I share because in a world where we often find ourselves focused on ‘ugly’ human behavior, there is something very beautiful about how we rally to support each other during the worst times.

So as I graduate back into a hopeful state I sincerely wish my Mother a Happy Birthday. I loved/love you very much and carry with me your heart, your strength and quite expectedly your stubborn streak =)

Fatherless Syndrome?!

fatherless-day

*Young men who grow up in homes without fathers are twice as likely to end up in jail as those who come from traditional two-parent families…those boys whose fathers were absent from the household had double the odds of being incarcerated — even when other factors such as race, income, parent education and urban residence were held constant.

*63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes

*85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes

*71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes

*70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes

*in 2014, nearly 4 out of 10 children find themselves in fatherless homes

These numbers are brutal, horrible to read.  I have never met my father, I don’t know his name or ANYTHING about him.  I wasn’t aware of the statistics I was up against at birth.  I kind of wish I had known these stats because back then it seemed like I was the only one in my situation.  I felt so different, and often very alone.  I write this as someone who has faced the odds above and has emerged on the other side, adulthood and fatherhood and find myself both determined and energized to advocate to fix this shit.

I can only speak from my own experience.  As a child without a father you are destined to run into your own naivety.  It is simple embarrassment when you are unable to do something that everyone else’s Dad has taught them.  Some of my earliest memories include the realization that I was different, I did a quick headcount of my neighbors and I always came up one short.  Being different as a kid makes the mirror in your room look like one of those fun house mirrors that distorts reality.  You look into it in the morning and all you see is a warped sense of self worth.  You are too young to articulate the feeling but you know that something must be wrong with you.   As a child I lived with my grandfather, my grandmother, my mother and my blind uncle.  My memories really start at about 5 or 6 years old.  In retrospect, it blows my mind that at that point my mother was 2o, 21 years old.  I am not sure how she was able to face that challenge, that stress but maybe that is a story for another day.

So, back to facing your own naivety.  A child without a father misses out on all of those talks, that readiness that allows you to enter conversation with your childhood peers with confidence that you have a strong foundation of who you are and what you believe in that has been past on to you as family structure.  Once you have been embarrassed enough you find yourself at a crossroads.  Will you crawl into your hole and take up your bastard’s fate?  Or will you come out swinging and make your own life and name?

I admit there was a long learning curve where I scampered back to my hole and believed that I was less than those who surrounded me.  I mean, I didn’t even know my Dad or have a ‘real’ last name?  As I read the stats above, I think back to my own crossroads and my own decision to leave that hole and never look back.  Your only friend becomes anger, you have seen enough and you are never going back to that place.  Time to move forward and anger will be your fuel.  Anger is a messy fuel, it burns hot and rages to successes and defeats.  You find yourself moving further from your bastard’s hole with more and more accomplishment but sometimes you find yourself burning meaningful relationships to the ground just to move forward.  You learn that you can throw a punch and you learn you can certainly take a punch but you start to wonder why you find yourself in so many situations that require punches.  When I look back and think about the rage and anger that burned so strongly in me it is amazing sometimes that I don’t make up part of those percentages above.

As I really started to accomplish things in my early adulthood….. degrees, relationships, careers, workout goals, anything positive… It started to bother me that I had to thank anger for my accomplishments?!  Was I really only driven to become further from where I had started or should I start to become something new, something that when I looked into the mirror stood on its own merit.  This is the last mile in shedding your fatherless skin.  You have to shake off the anger, you have to shake off the wounded child and stand on your own two feet and realize that you are moving forward because that is the person you are and you will not settle for anything less.

As an adult, as a father, this road to self understanding has become so important.  I have been blessed with an incredible chance to end a cycle.  This is my chance to take all the things that I disliked and do things differently.  Sometimes that means just sitting quietly and listening.  Sometimes it means being motivated to do better so I can be all the things I wish that I would have had.  I guess I write this to help underscore why being a father is the most important thing I will ever do and maybe to serve as a warning to those who don’t take this amazing role to heart.

“Every father should remember that one day his son/daughter will follow his example instead of his advice”

Inherent

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Eyes sewn wholly shut,

Still, staring at the sun,

The meaning sure cut,

The walking before the run,

The words that were left,

Days with no use,

Ears closed, unnoticed theft,

Revelations with wet fuse,

Intentions forgotten, discarded,

Days wasted, consumed,

Insecurity, so guarded,

Healthier than assumed,

Happier, than before,

Eyes open, now so broad,

Content, central, core,

Firm, but anger thawed.

David Foster Wallace….

http://vimeo.com/m/68855377

 David Foster Wallace….

The video above was passed along to me by my cousin, Jeremy. It was one of those slaps to the face that hits you when you least expect it. I was waiting outside in the car while my wife ran inside to fulfill a mundane errand. I clicked play on this short video and suddenly was thinking much deeper than I had planned. When she came back out I had to dismiss the water in my eyes as ‘contact irritation’. I can’t pinpoint what exactly caught me so soundly about this video but it just painted a picture of a life without the shield of sarcasm. It was about taking accountability of our lives, educating ourselves to the point where we felt that accountability because ‘we knew better’ and somewhere in the lack of inspiration I was grandly inspired.

Wallace grew up in Champaign, IL, he was a regionally ranked tennis player as a youth and became a professor, a novelist and someone who sought out dogs that ‘he believed had been abused to the point that they would likely not find homes’ and made his home their home.

This speech has stayed with me, in the back of my mind for what is probably two years now. I have thought about it at random times. Sometimes I had been sad, sometimes extremely happy … when the simple thought ‘this is water’ would again resurface.

I never took the time to learn the story about David’s life …at least not before today. Today, for whatever reason, I thought about this video & re-watched it again and decided to look up his story. I saw all the highlights above, the successes, the kindness shared in his life and also that he had committed suicide in 2008.

RIP David Foster Wallace.

Box of yesterday…

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Slideshows & dark silhouettes,

Old cowards filled with used days,

Home movies and mix cassettes,

Ten thousand morning sun rays,

Ticket stub memories,

Faded photos stained yesterday,

Hope in all our eyes,

Quiet smile, lost dismay,

Spread across this blanket,

Recollections & blurred truth,

Plans written on learner’s permit,

The narrative of our youth.

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