Referential Existence

Words are so remarkably frustrating. They never fully encapsulate what I am trying to convey… the swirl of thoughts and logical strands, the elegant images and buzz of emotions tingling in my veins… they never flow out of my mouth, instead they tumble and crash like the waves on a beach trying to reach the dunes but failing because their shoes have been tied together and so they fall on their face and are dragged back to the sea of confused meaninglessness by the moon, which doesn’t even make any sense because the moon is so far away so how can its influence reach us.  These things, these letters and words are so limiting so constraining so endless so infinite so definable so utterly incomprehensible…

I took a poetry class in my final year of college.  I sat in a desk,
watching our professor try to pull the strands
just enough to let the light come through the impressions painted with pens,
just enough to get a glimpse of the supple curves and delicate skin,
without shedding the fullness of the harsh light that would shatter the seduction.
Just enough to convince us that we are not alone in our aloneness,
that others, too, are thwarted in their attempted sharing of the solitary oneness of self,
looking to the tilted mirrors of those around them, disappointed.1
Yes, and2
That others, too, recognize words as an elegy to what they signify,3
wavering between being and loss, awash in an incommunicable sea of existing.
That others, too, have sensed the strangeness of holding an unusable, yet somehow beautiful, broken tile of memory 4 in hand with a gentle wondering of what to do
that others, too, feel themselves at the center of a powerful and baffled will,5
Yes, and that others, too, are desperately avoiding erasure6
Aware of oblivion’s inevitability7
And the feeling or fact that
what has been done will be done again
and that there is nothing new under the sun8
And that originality is a myth
And that why is ultimately unanswerable

And so,

Vladimir:             What do we do now?
Estragon:             Wait.
Vladimir:             Yes, but while waiting.9

 


1 Hass, Robert. “The Apple Trees at Olema.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
2 Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014.
3 Hass, Robert. “Meditation at Lagunitas.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
4 Hass, Robert. “Novella.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
5 Hass, Robert. “Misery and Splendor.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
6 See footnote 2.
7 Reference to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
8 Ecclesiastes 1:9
9 Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. Grove Press, 1954.

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Referential Existence

/cr\ack/s

(undated journal entry from some time between August and October 2016)

The water of the shower drenches her in sudden insight. The realization of the reason for the sudden and intense need to leave the room trickles through her hair and down her back. The idea percolates through to a place of understanding somewhere deep inside of her – a place the influence of past and unconscious is unearthed beneath the surface of conscious present. This place where the paper is filled with imprints and smudges, the floor covered it eraser shavings and splatters of white out – the remnants of constant battling.

The clay she forms remembers the places it has been touched, mended, and punctured.  Though it does so silently, only revealing these memories later, when tried by fire. Only then do the cracks appear, shedding light on the previously unseen mistakes/damage/mishandling.

She realizes in this moment that she is this clay, cracking in the kiln of marriage. And just now in the kitchen he was not her husband, but her father. And the fear that left her child self hiding in her bedroom some evenings, brought about by his anger, was suddenly cracking her surface.

/cr\ack/s

Inescapable

Stop.
Please stop.

Their gunshots
like the drops
on her forehead,
Cold and penetrating.
She shut her eyes
and her mind
between each:
bracing herself for the next,
steeling herself.

She had, for a long time, liked to think that her mind was indestructible
But slowly, slowly
she was learning otherwise

She turned the knob, just slightly, so the faucet would slowly and consistently drip fat, cold drops. She stepped over the edge and laid on the bottom of the tub so that her small body would be aligned to let the drops fall precisely on the imagined x in the center of her forehead
drip
As the heat was drawn from her body and her bones became self aware, her eyes no longer saw the bathroom and her ears no longer heard the silence.
drip
She was elsewhere,
this child,
fascinated by torture
And slowly, slowly
she found that a mind,
like steel,
will corrode
given enough water
and time

drip.

And now
their gunshots and you
surfacing in the ocean of silence
A jolt
in a dream
bringing back all the memories and realities
Like an earthquake splitting the surface
simply to remind the world
of its layered existence
sewn together.

Inescapable

[((shellter))]

brick low resThe small finger traces the maze of mortar, sliding through streets that run between buildings of brick in a vertical city
and that finger doesn’t know that a standard mortar joint is assumed to be 3/8″
And that brick sizes are determined based on that assumption
And that Frank Lloyd Wright spec’d colored mortar to accentuate horizontality
And that even though the little pig was protected by his house of bricks that the walls of home can’t protect from everything
Because so much of this world is a facade
And it’s the wood framed interior that goes up in flames
And the mold of sadness in the basement that slowly creeps in
And the termites of time eating away at the bones
But her bones are still young
And her skin is still soft
And her eyes are still smiling
For they haven’t yet witnessed the things that huff and puff more viciously than that wolf.

If only the shelter of childhood was built to house us all.

 

[((shellter))]

In Response

It upsets me that I end up crying in church all the time.

It upsets me that Christianity feels so arrogant. And that it condemns a large portion of the world to hell. And that a lot of the time it turns people into projects and checkboxes.  And that God’s sovereignty can be used as an excuse for a whole range of things.  And that the woman at the playground didn’t even care who I was as a person or what I had to say when she handed the Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet to me.

It upsets me that we exist in a broken world but that God hasn’t fixed that yet.  And it upsets me that that increases my doubt and causes me to question his sovereignty, power, and existence.

It upsets me that every image or thought I have about God is tainted by my humanity, and that I am supposed to be able to see him as perfect, when all I have are imperfect people as previous reference points.

It upsets me that I have to try and discern the difference between biblical truth and fiction created by “christian culture.”

It upsets me that I can’t read the Bible without twisting the words or getting stuck on some theological/philosophical issue (e.g. the problem of evil or the interplay of sovereignty and free will).

It upsets me that faith is so difficult.

It upsets me that I don’t understand. And that this can be answered with “well you’re finite so what do you expect.”

Death upsets me.  Seeing my mother-in-law fight for her life for four years only to die after all upsets me.

It upsets me that we are given friends and loved ones only to lose them.  And it upsets me that the sermon today seems to suggest that this is to teach us a lesson. And it upsets me that all of life feels like a lesson to be learned.

It upsets me that I have a friend dying of cancer. And it upsets me that praying seems futile. And my pessimism upsets me.

It upsets me that life isn’t fair.  And it upsets me that I feel guilty for saying that as I live in a free country with a roof over my head.

It upsets me that I am small and insignificant.  And that I don’t feel in control of anything.

It upsets me that sovereignty and manipulation seem interchangeable.  And that I feel like a pawn.

I am upset by the feeling that Christianity promotes self-loathing and low self esteem.

It upsets me that the arguments against Christianity feel so potent.  And that so much can be explained by science and psychology.  Because this makes faith seem even more impossible. And it upsets me that my doubt makes me feel inferior.  And causes me to fear becoming ‘a project’ to my Christian friends.

Empty words upset me.  And hypocrisy.

And it upsets me that sometimes I feel so much anger inside but I don’t know what to do with it.

It upsets me that this list is so long and that it is only the tip of the iceberg.  And it upsets me that it shows my selfishness and my price and my brokenness and my laziness and my need and my misunderstanding.

And it upsets me that numbness feels like a more tolerable way to exist than having to deal with all of these things that upset me.

 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In response to the opening question of:

what upsets.JPG

In Response

Unfinished

Her signature unknowingly picked up the gauntlet
that he unknowingly dropped.
And this unknown challenge was both imaginary and impossible:
there were no rules and all the rules,
nothing was defined and everything was.
With no weapons and all the weapons,
it was all and nothing

Like the space between walls

that we call rooms

And the pauses between words

that we call necessary

But his homelessness felt all too familiar
Longing for the lives and places that were no longer his
Now existing in an obsession with isolated oscillation
A mouthful
Of memories
Creating the pieces she held between her fingers, trying to place
Because she was accustomed to the lonely company of puzzles
Wanting their wholeness for their own sake
For she imagined she knew what it felt like to be shattered into 1,000 pieces and placed in a box on a shelf for a rainy day

But this one,

this one was like the one at Goodwill –
Where she was startled by the violent eye contact made across the room
While standing in the checkout line
And he walked in through the door
And neither knew what the rulebook had to say about this
So he disappeared amongst the shelves
And she out the door.
But now every time she goes back
She can’t help but feel her stomach drop out of her torso
Like it did in that moment
In the store with the puzzle himself –
Who never gave her the satisfaction of having all the pieces

So instead of admiring the whole
It’s the gap that holds her attention,
The emptiness that drives her insane
As she sits still trying to determine if anyone won
Amidst all the losing.

Unfinished

The Accident

A white car in fog heading towards her
driving home his points and ideas
with no lights on
so nobody sees him coming.
But they break down –
The metaphors that is

He should have called it a mini van
His ghost child trailing behind him.
But it’s a fog eat fog world in here
Where everything slips through fingers
And she questions if he’s even real
Because she’s always been a cynic
Or so it seems
As she secretly covers a deeply dug pit
of hope
that waits to be filled
Because she’s always been a dreamer
Or so it seems
As she secretly swallows a premeditated handful
of sleep
that waits for no one

And she realizes what is happening
too late
and just in time

Now it’s all just a stinging cheek,
a tear streak, a journal page, and a drawing from the girl in the room down the hall, who also walked in socks to the attendance sheets that set them free…
And by free, we mean from the walls of daycare and the restless nights and the twitching of the cocaine addict and the heads that speak like talking to children, their eyes making sure we didn’t find our shoelaces – God forbid;
For freedom is different for those trapped by their own skull and skin

And he drives to the coast
To submerse himself in freezing water
To let the waves crash instead of him
Because we’re all trying to be alive and asleep simultaneously
Because we’re all looking for someone who might pretend to care, even for a second, about our shattered dreams and broken expectations
Because we’re all in a silent state of solitary confinement, just looking to make eye contact

(But they break down)

And maybe there’s no fog where he came from
So who’s really to blame?

The Accident