Healing

Like a child sent to his room

I’m stuck staring, blindly

thinking about what I’ve done.

Because I’m still healing, I mean

it’s really no excuse except to acknowledge how

I’m just like everyone…

When I was a kid—after bedtime—as quietly as I could, I would crawl from my bed, onto the floor, then elbow and knee my way down the hallway to lay in the doorway of my brothers room…

When I was a kid—after bedtime—as quietly as I could, I would crawl from my bed, onto the floor, then elbow and knee my way down the hallway to lay in the doorway of my brothers room to watch his television.

He’s four years older than I am and, well, I thought he was really cool.

One, for having a TV in his bedroom. And two, for probably knowing I was there but not saying anything.

Whatever he was watching didn’t really make a difference but it was comfortable there, on the carpet, with the blue light flashing.

A dark bedroom can be pretty scary to a child, especially during a thunderstorm.

Now that we’re older, we speak when it is necessary, but not all the time.

Probably less than either of us cares to admit.

He’s a busy working husband and parent while I’m pretty much all over the map.

Though when we do talk, it’s a meaningful talk of mutual reflection. He provides me with information from four years down the line and I remind him that I’m listening by offering whatever small insights are on my mind.

I thought he was great then and I still do now. No matter the distance the bond between two brothers is strong and unwavering.

Basically what I am saying is I look forward to the next time we’re able to watch a little TV, crack a couple jokes, and just hang out—without any pressure—even if it means the carpet or floor, that’ll be enough.

The Sweatpants King And His Little Brother

How often have you judged yourself by your looks rather than how you feel? For this average white guy, countless.

If I could go back, all those years, and stand next to twelve year old me, would I have the courage and strength to tell that nervous boy watching all the other children, swimming, laughing, and running—playing shirts v.s. skins—to quit worrying and join in, that it doesn’t matter how chubby you feel, or how different you look, that as long as you love and accept yourself, no words from another can harm you, or would I just sit back and watch, still the observer unable to join the party?

It’s funny how something so simple as taking your shirt off to swim can be so detrimental to a young child’s self esteem and yet as adults we often forget what that was like or rather what external forces beyond our control led us to believe ourselves unworthy of such a simple, yet harrowing task.

As in childhood, so as in adulthood, what we allow to harm us will.

Commercials show us long, slender, sleek models who seem to effortlessly fit in to their surroundings while being rewarded with warm smiles and admiration for seeming perfect.

Television shows and movies give us well manicured, quintessential versions of ourselves that often seem more like science fiction than what actually is.

Billboard ads and magazines are placed conveniently to fill all our psyche with blemish-less detail to promote this false sense of unattainable beauty that even when met, there’s ultimately an even whiter teeth formula, or wax to whisk away our imperfection.

It’s a cycle that even before the mind has time to develop, stunts it’s growth and like a cavity begins to decay all sense of self worth.

How often have you judged yourself by your looks rather than how you feel?

For this average white guy, countless.

But it’s taken all those countless times to figure out that it doesn’t matter in the slightest, especially as a child who’s developing.

So would I tell that twelve year old me to take his shirt off and go swimming with the rest of the lot?

I don’t think there is a clear answer other than that instead of telling him what he should or shouldn’t do like all the rest of the world, I’d allow him the opportunity to listen to my story and decide for himself.

But I would say this. Chances are that boy or girl over there thinks there nose is too big or there ears are too small. Chances are that kid who cringes to put on his glasses everyday feels just like you do now, wondering what others will think of what makes him human.

Perhaps I’d reassure him that everybody has stretch marks, even the biggest, strongest athletes. Even his mother, and what could be more beautiful than sacrificing your physical form to grant another life?

But we all figure it out in our own time.

I know he did.

Clearwater Beach Florida

Portrait of my own Unique Beauty

If what you see in the mirror is ugly, then consider this: chances are you’re comparing your own unique beauty to what, for your entire life, you’ve been programmed to believe is beautiful.

And what is beauty anyways?

Margaret Wolfe Hungerford said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

And isn’t that true? Yes or no, in more instances than not beauty is subjective. In fact, I’d go even further to say that beauty manifests itself in infinite ways other than what the eye can see.

As a photographer with a fond admiration for women and men alike I can honestly say that I have taken countless photographs and manipulated them to appeal to the mass collective of what is to be considered quote on quote “beautiful.”

Hypocrite. No, I think not. I never claimed they were beautiful but simply did my job in a way that my superior agreed was aesthetically pleasing.

A wrinkle here, a crows foot there, deleted.

Nobody has ever died from a portrayal of beauty, right?

Wrong. Though I’m not an extremist so there are many factors to consider, all of which yes, I agree, may seem like a bit of a cop out or excuse not to hold oneself accountable for taking what is and transforming it into something less natural.

But this isn’t about my career choice or eye in which I behold.

This is about you and that “ugly” reflection in the mirror.

You are not ugly, you simply aren’t. You are you, and you are beautiful.

Those who claim to seek perfection, well, they’re only trying to fill a void. And it’s a bottomless pit because like beauty, perfection is ultimately subjective.

While I sit here and delve deeper into thought, I watch a mother and daughter walk by my window. The mother is flapping her arms as graceful as she can. The child looks to her mother and understands she is trying her best.

In the end all that we can do is try our best to love ourselves enough to fully accept the unique beauty of another.

Any other judgement is of which we have been programmed to believe.

It’s taken a very long while to believe in myself and I willingly admit that each day is a slow progression to further acceptance of my own unique beauty.

If someone tells you you’re not beautiful, that’s their loss.

And I hope the next mirror that you face looks back in your direction as the child looks with grace and marvels at the perfection of her mother’s love.

Portrait of my own Unique Beauty, September 8, 2020

Call me crystal and I’ll make this clear

Call me crystal and I’ll make this clear

The world’s your oyster, won’t you be a dear?

Remember us, when you’re famous

Such a dangerous manifestation

Bite the bullet trigger happy kid

They said break a leg behind closed eyelids

Opportunity, don’t blow it

You’re a shooting star, now show it

Call me Ishmael cause I am drowning quick

Wailing never got you through the thick

What more could we ask for?

Through closed doors

Another kid’s born in the grave

By the third day he’ll be saved

Another wick is burnt too late

Just one more spirit and you’ll feel great

Wipe the Chalice, next in line to drink

Every word has meaning, child

who’s never’d time to blink

Blades of grass

Blades of grass

beneath my feet

rise and fall

and spring back

towards

my perception of sky,

and my eyes are blue

and my vision is clear

and I’m seeing sevens,

while my shadow flutters

and becomes the tree

which stands still as death

O Heavens! O Heavens!

your child’s due rebellion—

a gift,

now I can finally see.

it’s ok to feel blue too.

I think I’d rather not

I mean ok

Let me walk a block

Get my thoughts straight

Try and help out

Make you feel great

If this was high school

Basket case.

I think I’d like that

I mean no don’t

If you bite back

I could go home

Take my shoes off

Draw a warm bath

Some use a toaster

Here I’ll right back.

Got a new job

Got a new face

Got some new friends

To help replace

No that ain’t right

I mean ok

It’s a bad trip

Depends what you take.

Is that a sick joke

Or the new wave

Is that a cut throat

Or a switchblade

Is this real life

Or a showcase

No one can hurt you

Just be brave.

Had a dog once

His name was courage

He could sense pain

Like a surgeon

One day I woke up

He had broken

His chain and ran off

But that’s the breaks kid.

See the sunshine

And the bus stop

See the shadows

And the rooftops

Even your grumpy

Great grandpa

Smiles sometimes

Don’t last long.

So if you feel bad

Just know I like you

If you feel sad

I’ll feel sad too

We’ll sing a singalong

In a sad room

Kid it’s ok

To feel blue too.

Tell me a story

There’s a part of me

that see’s this all clearly

like a child standing in a crowd

there’s really only one way out.

What is it that you see

it’s fine to disagree

why if the world’s mine oyster please

forgive me for the lack of belief.

I had this faith in you

I thought you had it too

how many smiles does it take to show

the unhappiness we grew to know.

Do you take this hand

would you understand

lighting matches just to prove you could

did it ever do you any good?

Tell me a story, one without love, cause it’s taken me for granted so many times—enough.

There’s a part of you

engrained in me now

I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit

it’s a piece I won’t ever regret.

So what’s the point of these prose

and insecurity poems

like a fish needs water to breathe

I guess it really isn’t up to me.

If this is just a passing feeling

I’ll agree to disagree then

watch the sun rise and fall once more

a couple hours then I’ll start the chore.

You see I know my problems

it’s not up to you to solve them

if I go out the Hemingway

like Kerouac first I’ll have my say so

Tell me a story, one without love, cause I’ve taken you for granted so many times—c’mon.

Tell me a story, one without love, cause it’s taken me for granted so many times—enough.

His final farewell

I recall the calm

as I recall the storm.

Lead foot hesitation,

the slamming of doors.

Endangered are many

who’ve less stayed for more.

Excuses are fatal,

not ours anymore.

See I recall quiet

death and coffin smell,

his mustache, beard shaven

estranged from the crowd.

Was I the unwelcome?

The burden? Expelled?

His name once my keeper

I’ve written it well.

Yes I recall freedom

wished upon a star,

a second floor window

alone in the dark.

The price no one bargained

unimaginably hard,

his soul like a raven

still blackens my heart.

A kid and a coffin

for now I recall,

the parlor room floor

dead silence in awe.

While tears spill to carpet

and jittering jaw,

echoed through the parlor

with no sign of God.

I recall the calm

the storm never ends,

it grows like a Cancer

bad thoughts fill my head.

His final farewell

is my cross to bear,

how no son of mine

shall feel such fear.

The game is rigged the money’s spent

If I stay in bed too long

dreaming of the times gone by

There must be something wrong

like not knowing what is right

If I get up and get gone

still daydreaming in the morning light

There must be something wrong

because all I see is black and white

Out there on the road

passing frowns can’t weigh me down

Like songs from days of old

freewheeling there’s no time to tell

She’s been reaching for the sun

did all I could to take her there

Must be doing something wrong

like two children we’re still unprepared

To walk

on our own

As state signs blur

on the road

Yet all this time

we have grown

There’s still this

phantom partner feeling

though we’re on our own.

When you go there’s still coming back

don’t be extreme like who needs that?

There must be something wrong

for me to feel like this and that

She was going either way

it didn’t matter if I saved the day

There must be something wrong

for me to think or feel this pain

Standing in the setting sun

which blinds me now casts shadows on

Reflections on the windowpane

my doppelgänger’s staring back at me

If looks could kill I’d live

my malice spite all gibberish

God knows if I could commit

I’d probably muck it up like a little kid

Whose ball

hits the rim

It bounces far

time and again

The game is rigged

the money’s spent

Yet there’s this

faint glimmer of hope

like there’s a chance to win.