Category Archives: Writing

Perspective

A man swings alone
in the park beside the library.
I wonder why he’s there.
The parking lot is empty.

The library doesn’t open for another hour.

I put Malcolm Gladwell in the drop box.
He’s been helping me understand the misunderstood.
He’s given me 6 hours of perspective
on how we see things incorrectly.
How we misconstrue the facts.

I want to ask the man
why he is swinging in the park alone.
I wonder if there’s a woman
he wishes he hadn’t lost.
I want to ask him what he did wrong.
Why she left.
I want to find out what his plans are
to get her back.

From my air-conditioned car
I watch him lower his hands and his head
as if he wouldn’t care if his body flopped over
onto the ground like a rag doll.

I diagnose him with a broken heart.

The man’s posture stiffens
and he drags his feet to force a stop.
He stands, turns, and suddenly becomes a teenager
who walks into the arms of a beautiful girl
who just walked into the scene
from god knows where.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
6-15-18

 

Heart Failure

By accident
or maybe on purpose
you cross the yellow line
you accelerate
toward the small dark circle
coming toward you
and you have exactly
7 seconds to decide
how this is going to end
6        5        4
you return to your lane
your flatlined heart
beating again
as the lives
you decided you’d spare
speed past.

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
6-14-18

Just a Little Lost

Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade. Robin Williams. Chris Cornell. Suicide by hanging, all. There are others, of course. Many famous, even more not famous.

My first reaction after the shock and sadness for their families is, “Balls of steel.” My default position has never been to blame them. Or to accuse them of selfishness. Or to suggest they took the easy way out.

I’m writing this to work something out.

I’m writing this in a moment of weakness, after a long time of sitting secretly in darkness.

I’m writing this because from anyone else’s perspective, I have it all. I have three beautiful, healthy, impressive children. I have a reliable support system. I have a profitable skill. I have the privilege of free time to hike and enjoy the outdoors and build a house.

Yes, I am building a fucking house. I am the envy of my younger self. I am the envy of others.

But I would exchange almost everything I have to share a loving relationship with another human being willing to invest equally. I have never had this. I don’t know what balanced love feels like. I also struggle with why I feel like I need someone to share my life with. (I will keep the details pressed against my heart.)

I am unable to fully feel the joy that should be running in parallel to my current life experience because I have no one to share it with. I have no one who loves me so much that to be with me means more than everything else, or even almost everything else. And to admit this feels like I’m whining.

I believe that it’s here…this exact location, where people find themselves before they take their own life. And by “this exact location” I mean the point where they realize that to complain about ANYTHING while seeming to already have EVERYTHING feels selfish and obscene. So they don’t do anything…but fester. And then, overwhelmed, they make their exit.

I have so much good in my life that to complain about anything feels wrong. It feels like to complain is to conscientiously make a choice to not appreciate those things in my life that are positive. This inner conflict of guilt vs. appreciation is one of my most powerful demons. My rational self knows that these feelings are a normal and healthy. My rational self knows that my life is currently in a rut, but that it won’t last. My emotional self wants to avoid pain at almost any cost.

I know what it feels like to stand on the edge—that feeling of despair that tempts you to step off. But I’m going to work on my house today. I’m going to snuggle with my 10 year old. I’m going to be so kind to everyone I see. I’m going to fight tears, and I’m going to lose.

Today hurts. But I’m going to wait for life to smooth out again. It will. I have so many good people in my life. So much to look forward to. But what I don’t have, today, is balls of steel.

I don’t need this number right now. But here it is in case you do. Or in case one of us needs it in the future. Because no amount of intelligence, talent, fortune or fame is enough to exempt us from the realization that life is not only fun and beautiful, but often terribly empty, hard, and (deep breath) optional. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Falling

Parrish Broady—
a boy who hadn’t reached out
to grab my memory
in a long damn time.
But driving fast down 46
I see a truck waiting for its turn
to pull into traffic.
Broady Electric.
Blue letters.
The association begins.
A middle aged man
behind the wheel.
Middle age
never grayed the hair
of Parrish Broady.
Never calloused his soft hands.
Middle age didn’t arrive
with a birthday cake blazing
or a crisis of identity loitering
in his high school yearbooks.
Parrish Broady—
the boy with the strange name—
more haunting
now that he’s gone—
now that I have lived
more than double his short life.
Parrish Broady—
the boy
who must have climbed that tree
a hundred times—
that tree that was finally able
to reach its branches
into the powerlines
like fingers searching blindly
for the switch in a dark room.
And he perished—
the young boy
the son
the little brother
the friend
the beloved and adventurous kid
who must have mistaken
that dark limb for the one
that would keep him
from falling.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
6-7-18

Fairy Tale

The atheist pretends
for a moment
that he has a soul
shaped like a heart
given to him before birth
by Yahweh or Zeus or Baal—
it doesn’t matter
who is responsible
for this flat Valentine—
it’s his to keep
or give away
or cut into pieces like confetti
falling from grace,
which seems to him to be
the best way to celebrate this life
which has no one to thank for it
but the two people
who believed his birth
was a blessing
from their favorite god.

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-27-18

 

 

Rejuvenation

He enters her dark room
like a ghost
illuminated by memories
woven into the fifty-year-old shirt
he’s wearing—
the one his father never gave him—
the one he acquisitioned
after a soul passed from this life
into ashes—
and for all he knows
his father wore
that soft blue polyester shirt
with the once-fashionable collar
to work and back home
or to gamble away a paycheck
at the track
or to visit his mother’s grave
or to pick out paint
for the bedroom of his youngest son
or to a hundred church picnics
or to a meeting
with other intellectuals
to discuss the impact of Vietnam—
and maybe once upon a time
his father was disrobed
by a woman who wasn’t his wife
and maybe the shirt remembers
how it feels
to be unbuttoned
by a passion that doesn’t exist
back home in the bedroom
where it hangs.

 

 

 

 

 

DeMaris
5-21-18

 

“Four Lane Road” by Edward Hopper, 1956