Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Won't Ever be The Same.

           Tonight on the ride home, I followed a big Dodge Ram dually diesel pick-up.  It was lifted and had two big smoke stacks rising up from behind the cab.  This truck screamed redneck at full volume.  The only thing missing was the fake nut-sack dangling from the trailer hitch. 
            It was around Lodge Farm Road
that he spotted my running lights and started playing.  It should be noted that I drive a Ford F350 diesel pick-up.  Sure it’s big (four doors) and has a leveler on the frontend so it looks lifted; but my truck is understated and almost classy, if that is possible?  It skirts the redneck line only because of its size and noise.  Most times, the boy’s running stacks will nod as we pass, but I know that in the back of their minds they’re thinking to themselves, “Pussy, big truck, mostly stock; that boy needs to stretch his legs a little.”  It’s a queer bunch that drives big diesel trucks.  It’s an unspoken club.  I am a member, but don’t attend the meetings and have never grasped the intricacies of the secret handshake.
            So Trucky-boy in front of me starts speeding up and slowing down as we get closer to the straight-away that runs through Todds Farm.  It is here where these good old boys wind it up and let it out in impromptu drag races; diesel vs. diesel on a mile long stretch of straight road that dumps you into Fort Howard, my home.
            And Trucky-boy is really pushing my buttons.  I’m coming off of a twenty hour day in Philly.  I’m beat.  The crane operator crushed my hand twice; and the second hit broke one finger and fractured another.  Everything that could go wrong with a sky-job did, and we still managed to complete our task and limp home back to Baltimore, broken but intact; and comforted by the realization that we might have made a difference in a world that seems so determined to prove us wrong.  I have a twenty-four ounce cup of cold black coffee in the center console, and there’s only grounds and mud left in the bottom of the crappy cup; and I’ve rationed these out and have been munching on the remains for the last fifty miles.  I am beaten and delirious, and now some asshole wants me to drag race the last mile home?
            Fuck him.  Seriously, fuck him.  Right about now I want to slam on the brakes and let the fucker ride up my rear end.   But he’s looking for a race and swerves out into the left hand lane.  We’re running side by side now, at a cool fifty.  The window of the Dodge rolls down and this is what I am greeted by…
            “Com’on muther-fucker, let’s see whatcha got!”
            It was that simple, the race was about to begin.  I said nothing.  I just looked over at the fat fuck in the passenger side and sneered.  Fuck you, asshole, I just tempted fate for the last twenty hours.  Your little test of manhood is piss in a bucket.
            So we dance.  Punch it, pull back, punch it; until we hit the main straightaway.
            And then I see her.
            Fuck me.
            There’s a rabbit sitting in the road just six clicks ahead.
            “Come on sweetness, get a move on.  You can hear and feel us coming.  It is two freight trains coming your way.  Get off of the center line and go.”
            But she doesn’t.  She just straddles the line.
            I mash my brakes and start to drift.
            The asshole with something to prove just hammers down and winds it out.
            And he clips her.
            It is so silly and unwarranted.
            He never slows down.
            It’s like he never saw her.
            I watch her careen across the tarmac.
            She tumbles
            And rolls,
            Like a projectile
            Fired from a cannon,
            That looses speed over distance,
            And gives in to inertias unpredictability.

            It’s like watching a wet rag,
            In a mini tornado.

            Fuck me.
            I’m now grinding to a sideway’s halt.
            I can feel the suspension and frame of my truck twisting and bending under the strain of a controlled and sudden stop.  Behind me there is a black patch of rubber that looks like a licorice stick in the hands of an infant.
            And I stop.
            Just like that.
            Aching metal finds peace.
            I look in the rear view mirror.
            And in the twilight and mix of the amber glow of my brake lights,
            I see her stir.
            She is broken,
            There is no doubt,
            Broken beyond repair,
            Of this I am certain.
            But I just can’t leave her there.
            Nothing should go out,
            And away,
            So suddenly
            If someone was there to notice.

            So I pull into the hay field before Avenue C, and park.  I grab the flashlight and start walking back to where she laid. 

            When I get there she is still moving.
            Her tiny body is still trying to run away from the chaos that crushed it.
            Timing is everything, and her timing was way off.

            I kneel down and touch her side.
            I can feel everything broken inside her.
            It is like running your hand along a thin velvet balloon filled with broken glass.
            I slide my hands beneath her and cradle carry her to the side of the road.
            In my hands, I imagine I am carrying the Hope Diamond shattered into manageable pieces.  “If I can hold it all together, maybe I can salvage its worth?”  In my heart I know, that I am carrying a 1000 piece Springbock puzzle that is about to unravel and fall apart at great speed; and I will never be able to put it back to right, put it back together again.
            There is a wooded glen just off the road.
            I carry her there.
            I hike in just enough, so that passing cars and people won’t know we are there.
            I sit down upon the bed of leaves, and look upon the life in my hands.
            It is fading.
            It is fading fast,
            I can feel the heart beats,
            Speeding up, and slowing down;
            In an uneasy cadence.

            And then she was gone.
            Just like that.
            It is amazing to hold life in your hands,
            No matter how small and frail;
            And then to feel it just quietly disappear.
            But it never goes quietly,
            If you really care and believe.

            If you are connected,
            The loss,
            Of even the tiniest of things
            Is like the echo of great thunder in your heart.
            And if you happen to really care,
            There is a flash of light
            That blinds your soul.

            So I sat in the woods,
            Just off of Avenue C,
            Blinded and deaf.
            A twisted and broken rabbit
            In my hands.

            When I gathered my senses,
            I went back to my truck,
            Grabbed a shovel,
            And began to dig.
            A hole, just off Avenue C,
            In the woods, far enough,
            Where small simple things could find peace.

            And I dug.
            And I kept digging.
            Until I realized,
            That I hadn’t just dug a hole for a small, broken rabbit;
            I had dug a hole big enough for me.
            So I laid her down;
            This small, frail, broken creature.
            And I filled the empty space around her
            With night flowers and green
            That I gathered from the woods.
            And then I rolled the earth back over.
            And just like that it was done.

            And I sat in the cloak,
            Of the woods,
            Just off of Avenue C,
            Sobbing at first,
            Then keening,
            And then just sleep.
            The morning sun awoke me
            Where I was.
            I was different.
            And I won’t ever be the same.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Gravity's gone, and I'm just floating."

And I quote the Drive By Truckers (look em up), "I've been falling so long it's like gravity is gone, and I'm just floating."

And I am just floating.
I float out of bed.
I float though work.
I float through my ride home,
and then float through dinner;
and promptly float into bed.
Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Most days,
these days,
it all just melts together
into a delicious grilled cheese
of boredom, lonliness, and bone breaking ache.
Imagine getting lost walking from your kitchen to your bathroom?
Now imagine the space between these two rooms,
is as big as a baby pool?
Even a child can navigate
this blue plastic and shallow wonderland.
And yet I somehow find myself
lost and drowning between the brittle curved edges.
My guess is I could somehow
find a way to drown right now,
in a five gallon bucket full
of piss and vinegar.

But I wouldn't drown.
I'd just float;
Right back to the top.

Everything has changed
around me.
I have watched
the big oak out back,
go from green, to amber, to barren, and back to green.
I have sat beneath her
and watched the stars climb across the sky with predictable precision.
Some stars fell.
We prayed for them.
I have stood next to her
and waited for the fury of the gray storm veil,
that moved across the inlet towards us.
And as the gale overtook us,
before the rain really fell,
We watched as the lightning cracked
upon the onyx surface that divides liquid from air.
The big oak holds steady through the storm.
And I pray for her.
Because I have little else to pray for anymore.
I have little left to trust and believe in.
I am afloat;
And I am adrift.

Right after college,
when we all seemed to be drifting,
when we all seemed to be floating;
we stole my friends father's boat after a night of drinking.
He was allowed to take it out,
just not at night after the bars had closed,
and without permission.
We parked on the side road outside the marina,
climbed the fence,
snuck past the sleeping watchman,
and with quiet determination,
pushed the big boat away from the dock and into the river's current.
Once enough distance was between us
and the pier,
we fired the big engines up and headed out into the black.

My friend,
who was now in a world of shit,
for stealing his father's boat,
manned the helm and brought us to a spot on a river somewhere;
where we dropped anchor and settled in.
We were pirates,
if only for one drunk night.

Another pirate on our journey
issued a challenge.
Who would dare to swim under the boat
from port to starboard?
Who would dare to dive into the black?
So he and I did.
Even with eye's wide open,
there was nothing to see.
The only way to make it to the other side
was by feel;
A hand stretched out above you,
running along the slick bottom of the boat.
And it felt
like I would never reach the other side.
Breaking the plane of black water above,
was like a rebirth.

But this wasn't enough.
My friend, my fellow pirate,
challenged me to contest of wills and strength.
"How far do you think we can swim away from the boat?"
So back into the black water we went.
At first it was a contest of speed.
Then it became a contest of will.
Just how far are you willing to go?
The light off the bow keeps getting smaller.
Are you giving up yet?
The sounds of those left behind are gone.
All I can here is my body moving through the soft waves.
Am I giving up yet?

And then it happened...
I just laid back,
looked up to the stars,
and floated.
I let the current just take me.
I could make it back to the boat,
if I just rested,
I also knew
that just floating
on the current
could take me further away.
But as long as I floated,
and stayed awake,
I could find my way back to shore.
I could be miles from home
when I touched land again,
but I would never drown.

So I paused,
and stretched out,
upon the uneasy engine of the black water,
and watched the stars.

And when I had enough of floating,
I fought my way against the current,
back to the boat.

I am floating.
I know this.
And when I have enough of floating,
I will fight my way against the current
back into the land of the living.

But for now,
please let me be.
I need this.
I need to feel weightless and free.
I need the infinite heaven of stars above me;
and the black uncertainty embracing me,
and holding me up.

I am floating.
There are better ways to be.
But as long as you float,
you can't drown.
And the tide will always take you someplace,
that just might end up home.