Tag Archive for Resignation

Best Left Silent

There’s a screaming inside my head. I know it’s me, but of course that doesn’t change anything. It’s funny, how people always talk of that dry, analytical part of you that just watches while your world caves in. Always the writers and the poets and the psychologists can say that to you in their smiling voices, honey rubbed along a wound, but they don’t know that even the ones who watch can scream. Oh, God, but they can scream so loud that nobody hears them.

Once upon a time, I woke up in bed, and saw a crack of morning coming through my curtains. Two hours later, it’s impossible to summon the fascination that a chink of light can throw you into, especially when those hours have seen you burn your reserves of goodwill for the day. After all, smiling takes so many less muscles, doesn’t it? It’s far easier on the face; not even painful compared to trying to look neutral when it’s facing you across the kitchen table as if the sunlight means something. Nobody really notices a rictus when you’re drinking coffee.

School isn’t bad as these things go, which they do. The corners of your eyes get a lot of work, naturally, and you can spend a pleasant period spying out a teacher’s sad smile: that mouth-up-eyes-down flicker that manages to lose itself on any other wayward charge. It’s not limited to the masters and matrons of wisdom, heaven knows; you know the look social services have perfected, the one that wants to help you, child, but stops just short of moving the body in any meaningful way. As long as she knows you care, you’re allowed to comfort yourself with thoughts that a girl doesn’t make her real friends ’till university anyway, and a cup of tea can solve all her problems. Bags, though, not tea leaves – too bitter for children and adults alike.

The vastly superior Garden wins a battle with the television to hold sway over time and inattention, though each one clamours in it’s own way. After all, one could watch gardening on TV, but there’s always the chance of your father coming in, and laughing at the fat smiling men leaning on spades and talking about how to sow seeds in your own back yard. He has a very loud laugh, my father, and very strong. It makes his stomach wobble up and down, as if he were breathing very fast, or hard. Or both.

Trees and bushes offer shade to fit the mood and a paradise for the scuttling beetles and centipedes, chased in and out of sight by every innocent child you can still summon to mind. Most of them look the same, though none of them look like me anymore. It’s surprising how sad that can feel. Hemlock and nightshade grow up against the far wall, lustrous green and purple providing too fine a trap for many a poor cat, intent on stroking their lithe, slender bodies though every patch of the poison they can find. It’ll make them sick eventually, of course, but for now they look healthy enough.

The sun slides away taking the sunset with it, and a million yellow streetlights spring up for those of us defenceless enough to miss her. They can’t quite make the dust motes dance the same way, but they shed enough light to cast faint shadows on the walls, until a real shadow comes to close the curtains, and leave them that way. I used to be afraid of the dark, like most children, but I had a father who would stay beside me for a while, until I discovered how misplaced my fear had been. I outgrew it, but he’s always been there when he needed me.

I’m not afraid of the dark, anymore, and I’m not afraid of the nightmares, it’s the waking up from them I don’t like. Screaming out in the dark used to bring them running, but I don’t do that anymore, not even when he’s already there. After all, why would you make life more complicated than it already is, when you can scream inside your head for hours and hours and be sure that you will never have to stop, that you will never have to breathe hard or fast or smell the hot humid air all around you, no-one will ever see, no-one will ever hear. No one will ever know. You can try and sit vigil by the streetlights until the sun saves you again, but not even they are witness to the things that bump against your life in the night. Cry for me, if you feel like, if you think your empathy can bring me some pity I don’t need, but don’t leave the light on. No one will ever know. Don’t leave the light on. No one will ever know.


A Thousand Martini Hours

Working and sweating in the afternoon sun,

Old man joints aching and creaking,

Dust floating up and onto his old jeans,

Remembering a thousand days out in the heat

Working and thinking

Of the past

And towards the future

And now, in his own garden,

Picking the crops they’ll eat tonight,

Corn and peas and carrots and potatoes,

Wrestled from the ground,

A thousand dreams and memories,

Held like water in his worn hands,

Dots of moisture on bald head and gray hair,

A few hours work in quiet apprehension,

Before strain is laid to rest in brown sofas

Gin is poured and that angry juniper taste

Flows down down down the throat fast and hard

Good breath and subtly worsening speech

Just like the last night,

And every one before that,

As far back as he can remember,

He’s melting into the brown sofa,

Old and content in his home,

Unlit fireplace in front of him,

Thinking and reminiscing,

Till night falls down and carries him with it

Into ancient dreams


Old withered tree

Gnarled and knotted

Towering to unreachable height.

Lifeless branches climbing—

Escaping their host’s unhappy fate.

Hangers clinging precariously to each branch;

Clutching their precious cargo.

Such cargo—images!

Images of places, of persons, of ideas

Scraps of cloth, of paper, of photographs

Attaching themselves like parasites to any available branch.

Below them, inching ever closer

With grasping, greedy hands

Lies a pool of quicksand, without depth

Swirling in a rapid and ceaseless vortex.

One by one, each item becomes absorbed by the overbearing sludge.

Every so often, one or two will resurface

Popping up for a moment, before it is jerked back down

To the unfathomable, murky world of Lost and Irretrievable.

And He Came Down From High

and he came down from high

and surveyed his lands

wiping a bit of sand out of his eye

from his ten-thousand–year nap


things had changed

since he had last seen this world,

he noted sadly.

the beat of wardrums grew ever stronger

as he watched

the women covering the eyes of their children

but not their trigger fingers

and heard the incessant refrain of

god will protect us

god is on our side

and we will be victorious


as bombs rained from the skies

like wish-seeds from a dandelion

he wondered where he had gone wrong


he climbed back on high

sighing heavily

and once again, closed his eyes

and weighted them down with sandbags

in preparation for ten thousand years more.

with a crystal tear tracing down his wizened face

Peace wondered how he’d been so forsaken.

Before Dawn

Somewhere on the other side of the world,

he acknowledges the waning stars

with a casual wave of a tired hand

through the only unbroken window on his street.

His focus now returns to the words scrawled

in jagged spiral patterns around his arm—

images from three-nineteen a.m.—born of

caffeine nerves and the muffled resonance

of a pained creature shrieking

inside his skull.


The bus ride is long, but

it only culminates my longer day

A day of shattered hopes

A day of shattered dreams

Every day I return a little less of me

A little more of them


With every rumor uttered a dream is dead

With every wicked stare a hope quenched

Eventually I’ll stand and say “No! Not me, not today”

Eventually I’ll give up and fade away

Six Months Later

Six months later

and rain

is passing through the waking streets,


the pavement,

flushing the heat.

Down on San Pedro

that old man with the black eyes

stopped singing some time last month.

I went down to listen for him,


through the blue shadows of late winter

and found nothing

save the distant beat of memory.


“We’ve lost, haven’t we?” Her dark eyes turned to him, not pleading, not appealing, but merely stating the undeniable truth.

David’s heart wrenched at the loss of innocence, and, ultimately, the loss of hope he saw in that gaze. Sera had been his source of inspiration so many times in the past that David was half-afraid that he’d used up so much of her spark himself that he’d left none for her. To see her so bitter, so hopeless like this, cut him deep.

“Humanity, I mean. Mankind, people—whatever. We’ve failed. We’re not going to make it.” Her eyes drifted meaningfully down to the crowd of racist protesters on the street below them.

Their cries had reached a crescendo now, and they were battering human dummies with their placards. Sera knew what would happen next. In a few minutes, the dummies would be alight and the protesters would be cheering, and eventually, when their excitement had died down a little, they’d go to a pub and get boisterously drunk, without a thought to the destruction they had caused. She’d seen the same scene so many times before. So had the history of mankind.

“Who knows, kid?” David shrugged, his own eyes distant. “The part of us that does these things is the same part that makes us human, the part that got us down from the trees in the first place.”

Sera snorted bitterly. “There’s irony for you,” her gaze drifted once more—but to the sky this time rather than to the protesters “We’re no better, y’know. We’ve been looking down on these people the same way that they’ve been looking down on us. We don’t burn dummies in the streets, but it’s still the same.” Her dark eyes shifted once again, this time searching for something in David’s gaze. Understanding, perhaps. “Them and us,” said David. “That’s what this is all about. It should be just ‘us,’ but it’s not. That’s where humanity falls down.”

Her eyes drifted back to the horizon and David reached out and gently took her small hand in his large one. He cleared his throat awkwardly, captured her gaze, and though his words were casually said, his eyes were intense. “Darlin’, I know I’m not exactly educated, but I’ve been around awhile. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that as long as there is one person left in the fight, there’s a chance the fight can be won,” he said, his gaze flicking to the particular section of the horizon she’d been looking at a little while before—the part where the sea met the sky. “I know what it’s like, kid. When one person gets the courage to stand against the flow, it makes it just that much easier for someone else to do the same.”

His roving eyes rested on a flock of pigeons on a rooftop a few buildings away, his expression carefully blank as he continued. “Pretty soon one of those pigeons is gonna pick up and fly. And, in time, so will another, until the whole sky is filled with white birds,” he turned back to her, his eyes filled with uncharacteristic tears and his expression begging her to understand, but somehow knowing that she would, that she always had. “That’s us, darlin’.”

Sera squeezed his hand; a slight—very slight—almost sardonic smile curved around her lips. “We’re birds, David?”

“You and me both, kid,” David murmured, pulling her against his side and wrapping an arm around her waist. On his lips was a slight smile. “You and me both.”

Behind them, a shimmering, golden glow was shed across the concrete and glass masses of buildings that made up New York, as the sun crested the horizon.

Of Light and Dark

There is reasoning

And then there is release.


I’m tired of the war raging here.

I’m tired of keeping up the fight.

The burden I shoulder

is not so heavy.

So I’ve stopped resisting its tug.


Yes, I walk in the light.

But I carry the darkness with me.


as I looked out the window

and gazed toward the sea

I saw so many people

all looking back at me

they are hungry

very cold

they are children

now grown old

their faces long

for deep within

there is no soul

inside their skin


I turned them away

they aren’t mine to keep

I couldn’t give them shelter

nor a place to sleep

I’m just a humble person

not a savior

not a prophet

these are things I cannot be

as I looked back out the window

and gazed toward the sea

I saw gently rolling waves

and no one else but me