Trees You. You were the seed that grew from nothing out of the ground.
Those trees raise aged hands toward heaven high. Their fingers stretch for the sky, but they cast dark shadows into a darker night, singing songs forever, never-ending into nothing, past the reach of the headlights. They’re old, knotted and wise, and they catch the wind, grin, avert their eyes from meeting mine, and suck those secrets deep inside. We used to whisper in one another’s ears, but those oaks have secrets that stretch back for years, and now they hold the key – selfishly – to the wind on which to fly.
We set you on the highway. Like a memoir to some feeling we were trying to portray, with absolutely no story or significance whatsoever. Well your mind races on the open road as the time. ticks. by. Said, “you know I’ve got a girl back home and I can picture her livin’ her life.” It’s the simple things that you think about on those late. night. drives. Like I’m going to bed; she’s waking up alone, and I am fine.
Do you believe in the fairy tales your mother read to you at night? Can you still go there when you need to? To that place inside your mind? Cause I do, sometimes. I swear to god it’s as real as the hand I hold in mine, and those fairy tales told you magic happens with the rising of the tide. So when the sun sets in the sky, and the moon reflects the light that pull the waves over my eyes, I close them tight, and pretend that I’m going to live forever until I know that I am right.
You can catch the wind, you’ve just got to try, and we’re all as infinite as the lines that pass by on the highway. These trees on the sides, they are wise but they’re stuck beneath the pavement. I don’t want to be stuck beneath the pavement. There’s got to be a way to breathe without being stuck beneath the pavement.
You were a seed that grew from a crack in the highway! But those fairy tales, I swear they kept you alive, and I just want to hold onto that shine - there’s got to be something that shines bright from those tree limbs!
We play mix tapes of love songs about loss and travel, no I mean, we play mix tapes of lost songs about road trips and being young. I mean, we play mix tapes of travel songs about love and lost loved ones. I mean, I’m lost.
The atlas threatens, bold out on the open road, and dares us to count the cost. It taunts, beckons, time ticks by seconds of life that screams it’s lost. Change is subtle. And you change a lot with the seasons, but home… home does not. These roads always lead me back to the city, but the miles find me forgotten, and the trees raise weary hands for high heaven, and dig their roots into dead soil, and rot. But a shining, aligning star gave birth to your bedside tale, and every night, I sing you to sleep whether you know it or not. I play for you, I pretend that you’re there in the room, listening like you know that I’m giving all I’ve got.
You know your mind, it races on the open road, you start to daydream when you’re sleeping alone. We live outside of your mortar and stone and your whispers and secrets that you claim as your own. You know I’ve got a girl back home, and I can picture her, livin’ her life. It’s the simple things that you think about on these late night drives. I’ve got a letter going back to the city, she’s wakin’ when I close my eyes. Pretending that I’m gonna live forever until I know that I am right.
Kaleidoscope [You told me that your god was beautiful, but I have not complained about every ugly thing he’s done for the sake of saving face. If there is such a thing as grace, then I must presume either that I have not earned it, or he’s saving it all for you…] So don’t you worry about a thing. Surely your god’s got you like a puppet on a string.
She had a stained glass window for a heart – a shoebox for a chest cavity, and a kaleidoscope for a soul that would reflect its light back at me. Depending on the day, she shone different colors. She had a handful of favorites that she kept locked inside her cupboards. She’s got drawers in her stomach, yeah she knows how to swallow her pride, but it get compartmentalized in the crawlspaces, and builds up inside. She says she’s fine, but she lies, so she keeps sunglasses on to try to hide her eyes. And at night, she stays out of the shadows – it’s one of the only times that her true color shines.
She says, “You’re talking about me like you know what I mean, but you know nothing about leading that kind of life. “Baby doll, my heart is as black as my lungs are. I keep bitterness in these cabinets next to all my bad habits – you either find faith, or lose it – you either had it or have it – Well I have had it! So I wear my smile on the good days that I keep in these baskets, wear my grimace facing life without the opiate for the masses. You pop your god like these pills that I take to bear the circumstances – What’s the difference? I called out to your god, but he never listened. You call it praying, well I’m just wishing that things could’ve been different.”
She says her daddy didn’t want her, so she squanders to be the mother/father figure for her daughter. A piece of clay recreating herself as a beautiful basin from the situation that she was placed in – build for retaining life – a feat manufactured without the proper water or the potter… And her heart… it cuts like a knife! It’s priceless and it’s as hard as a diamond, but she’s been selling it for nickels and everybody’s been buying. So now there’s cracks in the basin, the way there’s cracks in the basement – the one that daughter’s daddy beat her in when she’d dare to face him… the way there’s cracks in the cement that she can dig her high heels in while she waits for another customer to pour his water in.
She says her momma was a little bit crazy, a little lazy, a little biased towards the media mainstream. Prone to fainting or naming it fainting when she’d pass out after blazing just after papa came home late for the hazing. The alcohol made him crazy! See, that’s when I started praying, praying, praying, but nothing’s changing, changing, changing, so that’s when I started blaming, blaming, blaming, we’re all on our own, the stars are empty, there’s no hand out there to save me, save me,
She loved Vogue, and American teen magazines, almost as much as she loved vomiting to try to match the model women that she’d she on the movie screens. Says, “I believe that she loved me, and maybe it’s a fantasy, but I believe that she cared for me the way she cared for her methamphetamines.”
Don’t tell me I need saving! You point those fingers so righteously, all these people pushing for me to practice their piety… well, I gave your god a chance to save me, so thank you kindly, greatly, but it’s just me and my baby, me and my little girl – us against the world, well…
Sweet dreams, daughter! I’m gonna be your mother! I’m gonna be your father! So every time another man just like her father bought her, she spent the nickels on diamonds for her daughter.
She had prisms for eyes – and one time she took off her mask, and let me inside. I paid her for her time, told her that she was valuable and she replied, “Only as valuable as the next man in line.” Well I came to tell you that you’re beautiful. I think you’re lovely. I think that you’re made for more than you’ve settled for.
She said, “All of them tell me they love me. I used to dream, I used to have big plans, I used to believe that there was something out there that was bigger than me, and that he would take care of me, and that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted to be, but I guess it’s too late for me, so I started selling my dignity to give my daughter that dream, and to make it a reality… I used to dream! I never meant to quit! So who’s to blame for this bullsh- Shh, shh, girl, I will not even mention… it.
The hands that we’re dealt – I don’t understand. And I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know all the plans. I just wanted to tell you that you’re beautiful, I think you’re lovely, I think I know love that loves the unloving. “Yeah! You told me your god was gorgeous, but I just can’t see it! I want so badly to see color! I want so badly to believe it!” I keep an ounce of hope inside one dresser drawer in my chest! Every now and then, it grows, if watered, to a seedling, at best. One time, it grew and stretched through the cracks into the next, but I just can’t make it blossom, cause I just can’t make myself forget… and now there’s nearly nothing left…
She’s got a kaleidoscope soul, but she’s got grayscale lenses, she’s got rod-iron bars to keep up her defenses. She’s got all of her emotions hung up on hooks in her closets, she’s got little hints of happiness tucked away in her lockets. She’s got high hopes of heaven stapled to the doors of her cabinets, she wraps the hopes up in packets of personal baggage to mask it. She’s got angels singing to her from the lips of ballerinas in a music box that she keeps locked behind a door that’s cemented to a heart of rocks, but if you knock long enough, they say that door could be opened. Here’s to hoping…
until then, I wanted you to know that you’re beautiful. I think you’re lovely, I think I know love that loves the unloving. I think you’re still loved, I still think it’s true. I still there’s more hope out there for you. Yeah I think you’re beautiful. I think you’re lovely. I think you could know love that loves the unloving.
Bluer Eyes & The Fall Season I told this girl about God while I was drunk in her living room. We were talking about love. She said, “Yeah… I see the love in you.” I’m not saying that it was right, but I do think it’s true – God uses some pretty foolish things to get inside of you.
We had the most sporadic, passionate conversation about God; about what ails you, about the hallucinations that I had as a kid. About the family that she always wanted, but never did. About the marriage that she wanted for her parents that spilt over into a broken childhood, and fearful relationships.
She said, “God! I can’t help it!” She said, “It’s all that I’ve known.” She said, “All I want is a hand to hold onto.” She said, “And I’m scared of being alone.” And I didn’t tell her it’s alright. I didn’t tell her it’d be fine. I didn’t try to search for words or answers to questions that aren’t there to find… I just sat with her inside the silence of the night, and sparked up another cigarette, and offered her a light. Because sometimes you don’t want the input – the wrong or right – you just want someone to zip their lip and sit with you and sympathize.
I think it’s that thought – sitting in your car in the cold – sharing winter coat pockets with the hand of a person you don’t know. And if ever your eyes didn’t lie, I could look into your soul, cause that sadness all comes out in the freezing truth of the snow… A good friend once said, “It’s hard to live with the dead and not end up dead and especially once you’ve shared the same bed…”
Well, mom, I didn’t mean to hurt you – I just left – but you can rest assured, I’ve got a lot of regrets, and there’s something deeper-seeded that I’m trying to protect, but I have not found that, yet. I’m returning to the arms of lesser love, “nothing good ever happens after midnight” god above, she was right! We packed away your past into boxes, and all of the little foxes slipped through my grasp, singing, “your heart beats so, so fast on top of me!” Awkwardly, your forward behavior is shocking me and I wonder if this is meant to last.
But I found that dead rat in the parking lot, stapled it to the wall, singing “he loves me, he loves me not.” I’m lost! But if it turns out to be a battle not won, but fought, then I’ll have left you with the scent of every hated failure you forgot.
Welcome to Albuquerque, where everybody’s lonely! Where everybody needs to feel you out before it’s homely, “but nobody’s willing to put forth the effort to get to know me!” I’m learning to allow things to just happen slowly, but I just want somebody here to hold me.
“All your words run together.”
But you know how we get in the winter - once all of the leaves start falling, falling off of all of the trees. (I swear you can see their colors changing in me…) We strip bare like them, there, and if anybody cared they could see we’re all stripped cold down to our souls, we’re vulnerable and lonely. O! If I could, I would walk away from myself! But I’ve lost all worth in the eyes of everybody else – and your eyes are bluer than any I’ve seen… And your bluer eyes have found me completely wanting:
“Hey, if you fall any deeper, could you fall into me?” (Honestly, there’s not a lot of honesty beneath thin pieces of clothing between you and…) well, you’ve see the best of me, the worst is yet to come. (But when I come, you’ll find your monsters penetrating deep inside and in-between, the innocence you stole, and the tip of my tongue.)
“Help me find my body – I’ve lost it in your hands… but my worth cannot be measured in your eyes (because they’re dead).” And if you magnify that death, well that is your eyes, and such beautifully blue eyes are so sad inside. And if you magnify that sadness, well that is your life. (How can someone so dead be such a beautiful blue outside?)
Well, Merry Christmas, darling! I wrote to tell you that that concrete factory turns into a city of lights at night, (and if you wait for it… just wait for it – you can watch it happen right after the sun sets out of the sky). I pray earnestly in the mornings, but at night, my sight blurs as black as your eyes did the last time I tried to tell you I loved you, and that I was happy that you were mine. (I don’t tell you so soon), but I haven’t been kissed in so long and this night altered the very course we walk on, and five years later, I’m still singing those songs… listenin’ to Isis! Well, it became my theme song for life because life didn’t used to be like this!
I WRITE TO STAY ALIVE!
And December 25th, 2005 is the day that I died (started taping back my eyelids), pumping my lungs with fake air and good highs and absorbing you night after night smile like I believe you when you tell me I’m priceless – but you lie. I can see it in your eyes, I can see what you’re thinking as you pour me another shot of whiskey – keep drinking. (There you go girl, it’s fine, I can buy your love for $14.95)
BUT I WEPT RED! I WEPT RED FOR YOU! I GAVE YOU EVERYTHING! And now I’ve got letters marked “Virginia” written on loose leaf sheets, lengthy paragraphs from my mother, written in red ink, about how she’s so proud of me – her little bird with her big wings – her clipped wings – her newspaper clippings with pictures of butterflies, pretty things that she’s been pasting to her journals to remind her that she’s not beyond saving.
“Don’t be the gold ring in the pig’s snout, and be sure to write if you ever need us to help you out.” I put this journal away for so long, and tried to wrap my head around those years, those eggshells that I stomped on. “Let’s get something perfectly clear, there’s nothing left to uncover – there’s nothing left to bury here.”
I write to stay alive.
Lust without love is brutality personified.
“Whatever you were looking for at that point and time in your life, was never me, and you were never mine.” See, it’s getting warmer back home, and I know you’re getting colder all alone, but I can’t figure out if I’m lonelier when you’re here, or when I’m on my own. It’s amazing how quickly a beating heart can turn to stone, and out of the mouth, it’s overflow becomes… well, what overflow? You know? But now those years pass by as quickly as the pages I flip through, and I’ll always deny it, but every now and then, I miss you. “No one’s eyes speak to me like yours do.” I don’t want the wrongs or rights, I used to adore you… now, it’s all I can do to forgive you.
So September sometime, two thousand and nine, this girl and I, we drank a little wine and talked a lot about life. And she said, “See, last July, I finished this diary of mine – and I planned to keep all of it locked up behind closed doors. But I don’t know anymore, I just don’t want to bear this alone anymore. Could I tell you what’s on my mind?” It was a passionate conversation, a sporadic conversation, a don’t-interrupt-and-I’ll-try-to-tell-you-what-happened conversation, a look-I-don’t-want-the-answers conversation, it was a secret, I’m-gonna-take-my-chances conversation.
And I didn’t tell her not to cry. I didn’t tell her it’d be fine, I didn’t search for words to remedy the pains she kept inside, I just sat with her, decided it was better to be quiet while she tried to fight the silhouettes I see still clinging to her heart against the light. And that’s alright. Each word lifts it’s burden and flies away with the smoke into the night. Sometimes, you just want somebody to be silent.
That little brown book carries a lot of weight, I regurgitated my heart to those pages, and to me, they reverberate through time and space. It is what it is. It is what it was.
Words are what remain.”
Leviathan Grew Up Inside Of A Broken Home Seventeen years younger and as carefree as you can be, that tricycle rolls around Date street – over all of his father’s worries. How he smiled when he saw that tricycle! How he smiled when I saw that tricycle! How his heart melted over his bipolar soul when his seed learned to ride that tricycle!
Bicycle! How he smiled and his smile grew wider as he ran behind that bicycle – holding the seat of that bicycle – while his seed screamed, “Don’t let go of me and my bicycle!” How his chemicals got the best of him when he finally let go and his [in]dependant son learned to ride on his own. How his seed pedaled further and further down the street and he watched, and he would have like to believe that his eyes beamed with pride, but they beamed with sadness and those wheels kept on spinning past need and dependency.
I picture. I picture my father, healthy, healthy, sitting next to my mother behind a closed bedroom door where I can’t see… and he stares down at his hands and he buries his face in them and he’s wondering where the time goes – where the end of four years left him without a bike to hold on to, while his boy rides the red and silver memory down the street, wondering where his gift of a bike that he can’t hold on to anymore will take his boy.
I hear his chemicals rip apart at that feeling of being wanted that he kept close to his heart, and he can’t take his eyes off of his cracked fingers that his seed doesn’t need to steady the seat anymore, because his boy can do it on his own.
I wanted to tell the tale as detailed as the demons did with those four white walls as their canvas.
Well, my father’s father was a failure! And his mother loved her lover more than she loved her sons. My father is nearing the end of a good fight that he’s fought since the beginning: a far better man than the one he feared he might become. Glendora will always be the place his brain fragmented, and China will always be the place that he felt whole. Beijing will be the place the devil tried to fight it, and my mother will always be the keeper of his soul. Well, I just want them to grow old together, to sit on the front porch of their home together, to laugh about how my sister was the far more responsible child; to reminisce of how much we’ve grown.
You’ve still got to marry me and my wife, and you’ve still got to walk your daughter down the isle and give her to a man that you trust enough to take care of your little girl. You’ve got to see the smile on her face when she sees the smile on mom’s face when she sees the smile on your face as you give away your world. We’re all riding our tricycles, bicycles through these streets and we’re all gradually letting go. I know it doesn’t make it any easier, but you are not the failure that your parent’s were and I’d have never learned to ride on my own.
Well, how frail are these bodies! (And with your hand turned against me…) We blossom like a flower and then whither in the winter and like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. If I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion, and even if I try, I can’t feel you when you say that you’re near. My days fly faster than the weaver’s shuttle, and they end without hope. You, my lucky man, have been privileged to joy and cope in the same suffering your savior claims he knows! And who are you to challenge your creator? Surely resentment destroys the fool, and have you ever commanded the morning into daylight’s transition into evening’s cool?
All I know is that we’re all houses that someone crafted for a reason. Some of our paint is chipping, and we weather with the seasons, but all of us branches are prone to decay, so was it an honorable man or a cruel hand that made us this way? I am a house that creaks and groans, and all of my bones shake. I’ve got a cornerstone that I call my own, but I stumble on it every day, and the one that makes me a home, the builders rejected and threw away. On some days, I am tempted to follow suit and uproot my faith.
You built up your identity as a failure, gave ear to demons, legions, screaming, “Some father you are! Some husband! Some friend! Some pastor! Some man! Some lover! Some Christian! Some brother! Some son! Some change that you turned out to be in the end!”
Just look at the work of your hands! (Left dead to survey the damage.) I wanted to paint the picture as detailed as the devil did with those four white walls as his canvas.
But I finally believe that God is going to heal my dad! And it took a long, long time to get here, but I’ve heard rumors of rest for the heavy-laden, and you do not have a savior unable to sympathize with your weaknesses. There are liars inside your mind that you lay claim to control your life, and there are monsters inside your heart that have dug in their talons and become a part of you; but there is mercy every morning, and to the burdened, there is rest, and that promise overwhelms the deepest bouts of doubt and consciousness.
All I want is for joy to replace to the pain inside those irises. And all my dad wants is to ride his bike again! The one with the basket on the back that I sat in as a kid, and we’d ride by the fire stations and the firemen would blare the sirens for me from their fire trucks, and I would know what it was to trust and practice faith like a child! Do you remember what it is to become as a child?
I know you’re ready to go home, but if you could withstand the tests of time, oh, Job will sing out in the choir that we are the blink of an eye, pleading: there is rest! And this is not who you are, the way the light is not characterized by shadow, the dark, or the depth of his scars, saying: “Oh my pain is significant, but it did not make me savior, in resurrection you are made in the image and likeness of your creator.” Be joy! And may it be for the glory of the Lord, because, God if there is a point to this, I don’t see it anymore. But I believe in sovereignty – in something bigger than you and me and history and the way these generational curses seem to rip apart at the seams of our family.
Oh my God, be rest. Where is the rest?
Memories I saw a shining star rising from the East. I thought: maybe, maybe, maybe it was coming for me. Mother Mary held her belly and the Father was pleased. Baby Jesus I hear you crying for me. Mother Mary don’t you know that you were never on your own? Father Joseph when you dream, I am Comfort. Comforting. It’s only me. Baby Jesus when you’re scared, I am always, always there. Daddy, please. Take this cup from me.
Little John is gonna turn the hearts of fathers to their children! And from the moment he kicked inside of Elizabeth’s stomach I knew I was too frail to stomach this: what a jump from heaven to come down here for me! I pray to God my soul to keep me safe for eternity! Don’t be frightened, Mary! I know it’s a lot to carry but I have been preparing you for the coming of the Lord -
“I wonder what this child will turn out to be.” And I can just hear so many people singing, “Nothing.” I’ve had an epiphany: “Let’s kill all the children to be certain that we’ve killed him” But I’ve got a lot of children’s books that don’t mention killing children… I think we watered down the stories so they’ll taste better with the wine. We are a sleeping giant, but the Lord will wake us up in time… so Prophet of the Most High! The prophecy is nearly nigh, and I’m singing with the shepherds and the angels and the saints on the birth-night! “Glory be to heaven high! And peace on earth to all those in whom God delights!”
I offered you gold and incense, would you take it as a sacrifice? And like Simeon I will not die till I have seen the Messiah with my own eyes… well I’ve seen him with my own eyes!
So Mother Mary, don’t you know that you are never on your own? And Father Joseph can’t you see that Mother Mary trusted me? And baby Jesus, when you’re scared… I am there! I am there!
Here he is! Here he is! I am the voice shouting in the wilderness! Make straight a road for him… (“And people, meet your salvation.”) But I am not worthy enough to hold your sandals! So when you tell me that you love me, I’m just trying to get a handle on the fact that I can slip my fingers through your palms (and realize that you were right all along).
“The captives will be released and the blind will see, and the oppressors will set the downtrodden free.” “Physician, I need help, and can you help me? I am willing…” “Be clean” and I watched the leprosy leave!
So I stood and said, “Master, can you heal me? He said, “Your sins are forgiven!” They said, “That’s blasphemy!” But my Jesus is a revolutionary – so after that, he gave me back my legs and my feet and I ran around screaming, “Praise be the Majesty!”
God bless those who realize their need for him, for the kingdom of heaven is given to them. And bless the mourning, for you with be comforted. Bless the gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them – and hunger and thirst for justice, for I promise it will be given. And God bless the merciful, for you will be shown mercy, and God bless the pure in heart, for I will show you Me. And to those of you that work for peace, I will call you my own! And to those of you that hurt for me, my heaven will be your home! I will be rejected, but I will never be dethroned, so let the sorrows and the sadness and the victory be foretold.
FLASH BACK: A few minutes just before the kiss! Judas! Do you remember back when I healed Lazarus and the people rejoiced and screamed and he was set free? Thank you for sharing in that memory with me!
FLASH BACK: In-between the times you’ve betrayed me! Peter! Do you remember walking out on the sea? I promise one day you’re going to learn to trust me… It was scary at first but we laughed once we got to safety – thank you for sharing in that memory with me!
FLASH BACK: Just before the crack of the whip hits and tears the rest of my skin off of my back and chest! My friends! Do you remember the five loaves and two fish? Do you remember my compassion on those of them that were sick? Do you remember blessing it and thanking God with the least of these? Thank you for sharing in that memory with me!
FLASH BACK: Just before the crow of thorns on my head. Do you remember laughing around the table, breaking bread… Sharing wine! Do you remember what I said? Well this is poured out to forgive the sins of many… Thank you for sharing in that memory with me!
FLASH BACK: just before I take my last breath! Before I close my eyes and God turns his head and I lose the will to live and the strength in my legs and my heart breaks and thunder strikes and I am left for dead… My Bride! Do you remember your first love and the feelings you had for me? Do you remember our long talks and the way that you wept with me? Do you remember our long walks and the way that you stepped with me? Do you remember the silence and the way that we’d listen to the wonder I created… and you’re eyes used to glisten like the stars… I’m just kind of wondering where you are… the times you spend with me are far and in-between – I miss you.
PLEASE! WON’T YOU COME AND MAKE MORE MEMORIES WITH ME?
I’m here with you, be here with me! I want to hold you and I want you to see that that cross you took up to follow me isn’t dead and I am not another empty fleeting thing. The stone is rolled away and I’m awake and I breathe. Stick your fingers through my hands if it helps you believe – not my will but Yours through the steps I take with these feet… make this triumph our memory as we sing and we scream:
SURRENDER IS DIFFICULT, BUT VICTORY IS SO SWEET!
I saw a shining star rising from the east, I thought, maybe, maybe, maybe it was comin’ for me…