Saturday, October 10, 2009

Indian Poker

I was seated at a table, small round, covered in the familiar green felt that I had come to dread. The room was in neutral colors, beige paint on textured walls. The room was rimed in the dark cherry oak that you would find in our grandfathers studies. The room reeked of cigars, its pungent left over smell and its slight discoloration of the ceiling would be nauseous if not edged by the glass of scotch in front of me, filling my nostrils and flooding my senses with something better. I glance around the room and recognize the leather chairs, reading tables and bar for what it is, a famed Republican hangout. A place of old men sipping bourbon and smoking illegal cigars, where decision are made and discussion take place that will move the country. A place of power; A place of control, a place where those who sat before me knew the rules, and would change them when they did not fit. I blink, the view blurs and as I bring it into focus I see the glass in front of me. It is half empty; a pessimistic truth that came from an optimistic beginning, the glass was full of Glenlivet. As my eyes focus I see the bottle on the other side of the green felt, a similar glass in front of him, slightly more full I should say. There is card stuck to the bottle, slightly eschew, it is a queen of spades. I am mesmerized by the card. Then I am aware that I too am holding a card to my forehead. I have no idea what it is, yet I will continue to bet. The bottle of scotch looks at me, taunting me. Yet I know it is a game, a card game, it has rules, and rules bring equality. As I look at my bet, I notice the small reflection in the glass in front of my opponent, it is hard to make out but it is the card on my forehead. As if it can read my mind the bottle laughs at me, he knows the rules, I do not.If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? If a game has rules to level the playing field, and one of the players does not know the rules, are there really any rules. It is clear that I have been out classed by this piece of glass across from me. The reflection becomes clearer and I see the four of hearts stuck high on my forehead. I laugh, a sad laugh, and reach for my glass and take a long pull. The bottle has done it again; it has beaten an opponent that doesn’t know the rules. The room around me blurs and fades into my neighborhood, into my dining room where I sit glass still in hand. The dining room blurs to a collage of my past and present. I see the bets that I have made ignorant of the rules; ignorant of the second and third order affects. I laugh again, slightly harder this time as I realize the truth. I have placed myself on the altar of self pity and I have drank deep from the wells of despair. The control I envisioned around me, and of me is gone. I have wished it to be with a passion that made it almost real, then the bottle looks across the table at me, waiting for me to ante up. Reality slides away, or is it the other way around and my world drifts into reality. I am the fiction writer constantly amazed that there are no dragons.I stand from the table and turn to walk away, knowing that it is impossible for me to let it go. Our illusions are everything, they are my everything. I look back, and feel the emotion rise up from somewhere deep, somewhere where childhood dreams still live, and I come crashing back to the table swinging my arm in a sweeping arch sending glass, cards and the bottle to the air. With defining shatter all smashes against the hard wood floors of the Capitol Hill lounge. I blink, and sit up. The room is dark and I am breathing way too hard. Ripping the covers off of me I swing my legs out of bed and take the three large steps to my bathroom sink and splash water on my face. It is but a dream, a reminder of the effort that I must put forth everyday to maintain control; to maintain my illusions of control. I breathe a little calmer; the cold water has felt good. I turn and head back to bed, fully aware now of where I am. I lie down and reach over to turn off the light, and that is when I see the empty glass looking at me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Video Response
A Response to a video confession of the next Billy Ghram

First you did not fail in the first four minutes of combat. And as you are now aware that it had nothing to do with god or you. In fact the names of heroes that are forever written on the walls of history were never made by the etchings of those you shielded and protected but rather those who stood tall and gave the orders that others would not give, with great concern. You were incredibly successful. How you coped with those first days has nothing to do with your actions during command. It matters not to those who served with you or those around you to know about how you cope with your own internal thoughts and spirit; it is way more important for us to see you stand solid in the faith or choices and in god. It is here where you can fail, to stumble when faced with these decisions, with these impossibilities of a Christian life, no matter how far removed from all that you know and have been comforted by. To know that Gods strength is a direct reflection of your actions at every moment. To know that as you take your stand he weeps in admiration of his very creation. Standing in front of the wreckage of the car bomb waiting for its imminent destruction and looking at the very actor that gave his life to kill you, and deciding not to save him is not a failure in anyone’s eyes including God’s. It is not fair to compare your failure of sacrifice to that of Christ’s. In fact is the anathema of what he would have wanted. Do not be so vain as to believe that the choice of sacrifice is always a martyr’s death, or you trap yourself to the same chains that our enemy is shackled to. Christ died for an inherent failure of the flesh, to insure that our ascendance would be maintained and that his example would allow us to have a human template in which to emulate to our best. Your choice though covered with the militarisms of not dying for your enemy, or even better “fuck him, let him die,” is merely a façade. The decision in all honesty was made with much less emotion than either of the last two statements provide. It was the calm cool rationalization that you could not order another soldier to grab him when the impending risk that ended up killing him was too high. That being said, your choice to do it yourself would have been worse than the ordering of a soldier. The loss of the senior man on the ground would have been a huge success for the enemy and the ultimate gesture in futility. You had no choice but to watch and pray. And even though you do not believe that you prayed for him, you did, that night laying awake you prayed for him, later in your dreams, you prayed for him, and even today in a video confession of a wrong that you never committed. Never degrade your achievements on earth, do not be so vain as to feel that the martyrdom that would have ended both his and your life compares to that of Christ who saved generations of humanity, saved those that have committed no sins maliciously. Take strength in the understanding that God weeps with pride of his creation when you are able to look at your enemy and wish you could save him. Take strength in the knowledge that God takes strength in you. Stand tall and do not be apologetic about the series of choices that brought you and many of your soldiers home while accomplishing the mission to the best of your understanding. To do anything less will force those not as strong as you to throw themselves back into the flames of self doubt. Remember always that the sacrifice of gods is the glorious relinquishment of their ultimate power, for you it would have been a needless waste, a small gesture that would have been lost in the moment. Martyrdom to be true must have a much greater price than your life.

Love ya brother…… and don’t worry I haven’t switched sides……

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snowy Woods

Every once in awhile one looks around and wonders where he is and how he got there. Of course, he knows where he resides and if he is lucky, even his place in the world. But it is a rare moment that he notices he is in too deep and thus snaps away the façade that he is in control of his situation. It is akin to walking through the forest and enjoying the warmth of the sun on his skin and the excitement of a rushing river through the rocks only to wake up and realize that it is getting dark, he is naked and he is without shelter. When life strips away these vestments of control and leaves him stark to the world he tries to remember what this was all about and how long he has been wandering in this forest. He therefore not only wonders how he arrived in this forest but starts to entertain the possibility that he has always been there. Why is he there? What is he trying to accomplish? Which way is up? Which way is down? In this vertiginous environment he has no way of focusing his motivations and decrypting his bearing. He is lost in the forest now and not enjoying the scenery at all. The trees scrape at his skin and the sharp rocks and cold river are threats that could be his undoing. Where is the control? Where is the preparation? How does he live one life at the top of the motivational and moral ladder while living his other in the dark alley of turpitude? Does he know what is right? Of course. His choice to adhere to part of the social pattern of accepted behavior and eschew the rest of it leaves his soul limping. He maintains one strong limb for walking but the other is a shriveled vestige that inhibits him from taking long vigorous strides toward his goals. His weak shortened limb isolates him and ensures that he will never walk in a straight line but is destined to drag himself in circles. He knows that he does this to himself and still perpetuates the behavior of his self-fulfilling prophecy without understanding or even asking; why. The auto destructive choices he makes should send a signal to his brain saying “get out of the forest and you will be ok”. He is chooses not to hear the creaking and groaning of the impending cave in over the raucous laughter and fickle impetuous shouts of his temptations. More than a warning, this klaxon of common sense falls on deaf ears that are determined to mask his eventual undoing.
-my friend-

Sunday, November 16, 2008


ironic that you write about his expressive and vivid use of color when in the end there was a darkness that overtook him.So it seems that he had two (maybe more) personalities - one that his fiance related to and loved, the same (possibly) that you related to, and another that only he understood.Out of curiosity, and as an observation to your writings, do you ever feel you relate in the aspect that you are living your life but growing in ways that others think they relate, but you personally realize (and may not vocalize) that they dont fully connect with you? Is your blogging a stream of conscience or a way of vocalizing these observances or maybe I am way off.

First and foremost, who are you? And second, you are probably closer than I would like to admit to. Not that I have any problems with no longer fully relating to any of those that I have connections with. But the unfortunate reality of that statement, is that I would rather it said that they no longer fully relate to me. That they are the ones that have changed. I know it is almost semantics and has no logical flow but then again emotions rarely play solely on the physical and almost always push the metaphysical. So I am afraid maybe that any sort of acquiesce to where the writing comes from. I would like to think it is both a stream of conscience and a way to vocalize that which I cannot express through oration. The world as it is to me today is filled with impossible amounts of mystery and wonder, and as each of us must find their grove and niche, so must I. The rub is that I do not know where mine is, and I am awash in possibilities. As for my friend, I am sure that I related to his personality in its entirety. It is true that all humans are plagued with internal strife, and it is not shared equally nor dealt with equally. My friend had way too many demons and not enough strength to fight them. I related to that part of his existence. I shared with him the same amount of demons, yet I was able to overcome. For those that are as haunted as he was, you never really win you can only place at bay and build walls. Very rarely can you make them go away. At best you use those demons for your own strength and personal exploration. We commiserated and shared what was unspeakable. I survived; I beat back the horrors that he allowed to become reality. I was just as prepared as he was, I was just more capable. That is why his death haunts me more than any other I have felt before. It is as if I was running a mile long race. That I am in a pack of men sprinting around a track fighting the clock. This is not a race to see who is faster than the other; it is a race to see if you are faster than a set time. The penalty for not making it is death. To know that you crossed the line and your friend did not is a harsh reminder that all men are not created equal. To add insult to injury, the type of life that I lead now, places me around men that give no respect to weakness of any kind. And his type of death is the paramount of weakness by their definition. The taunts and jokes thrown around about those that cannot make it in this world hurt every time I hear them. And I am a part of this crowd. I was forced with his death to remind myself of where I came from, from what impossible odds I thought I faced at the time to now. That I had forgot that and enjoyed a self gratifying existence where I could sit firmly among the top of the food chain and look down at those near the bottom. So, I can say with certainty that I am comfortable around death. I have lived times that others are already saying are best forgotten. And just when I can square with the truth I am reminded of my own failures and my beginnings. I can only hope that one day I will have proven my worth…


Stand up and embrace the world as it exists in front of you. Embrace the very passion that is the grand unification theory of Einstein contemporaries. Oh life, oh rub of life, step through the veiled friction that is breath, and inhale deeply from the pool of humanity that stretches out before us across the vast fields. No more shall you hide in shame and some self loathing hierocracy that will haunt your days and plague your nights. Oh, green fields of grass and leaves forever reaching for the sunshine that comes and goes along its path around the earth. Forget the torrent of carpe diem, step free of the saints of the church, leave our days alone, forget the glory of the sun, and instead embrace life, embrace passion, embrace our very being, reveal within our own humanity, find enjoyment in our blood, leave the crutches of the church, the counselors of the drugs, to other lesser people and step free of the constraints imposed on us by the world from which we demand so much from and from which demands so much from us. Fight against the dying of the light, just rage.

Lay down the powers of persuasion at your command and fight hard against the dying of the light, aim low among the stars and fly on towards the morning. Let go of the allusions that plague our daily life and embrace the uncertainty that is the very nature of the universe that we grow through and in.

Oh me, oh life, oh for the stars that have stared right back down upon me and others like me. For every time that god has looked in envy at my pain and my exuberance. It is time to take a new stock on my position. It is unfortunate that I need these monthly reminders of priorities, that my own compass has a built in error that continues to allow me to drift hard with the current that I must fight. I write down so much more than others will ever see so that I might be reminded of the pains and pleasures felt at any given moment. A constant reminder I have found is necessary to ensure that time does not shade over and cover the very problems that you faced before. It is amazing that the fourth dimension can solve almost anything if you allow it to work its magic long enough

Oh, me, oh life. These are the words of the immortal author who through diction painted a world that is too real, so solid and stable for anyone who has tried to live within its confines. Who subjugated themselves to the laws of the universe.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Death… a word of finality a word, of the highest divinity. I have written many times of such events, some sad, some heroic, but all righteous, or as righteous as my beliefs will justify. Last Sunday a friend of mine died, suddenly, yet not so unexpectedly. Most days the death of a friend will remind me of my own mortality, of my own choices that I have made in relation to my occupation and life.

Not this time, this particular friend did not travel to foreign lands to do his countries bidding, he truly owned his own soul, and he would bear no cross for others. He was an artist and an admirer of life. He strived daily to show the world its own true colors trough various mediums. From repainting the industrial brick walls of the Chicago inner city to his prints of his city in reflection, that now hang in galleries across the country. Always outwardly he tried to make the world see its own beauty, and improve it, to leave the world more beautiful than he and others had found it. Always outward he faced hiding the ugliness that he found in his own internal struggle.
He fought longer and harder than I ever have. From my personal battles to those in uniform, together were nothing in comparison to the wars that he waged, in both difficulty and duration. This Sunday he finally lost his fight, years of battle, where ground is lost and gained in feet and yards. A difficult reminder of my own days, charging trenches next to him, and fighting against the same daemons.

It is amazing the same survivors guilt that I felt when returning from oversees I have felt with much more intensity with his death. A week ago today my friend killed himself in an act of desperation, the final white flag and surrender to an enemy that would take no prisoners. Such shame, such shame, for him, for me, his family and mostly for his fiancée that must finally learn that he could never truly love her no matter how much he wanted to, he was still trying to maintain his love of himself. Such shame. So much shame that I have trouble talking about his death, that my coworkers and current friends would despise him for his loss, and curse his name. They will call him weak; say that he was undeserving of this life. They will judge from a position that they should not be able to. The ministers will cry pity for a soul they cannot save, and condemn him to worlds of fire and torture. They will ridicule his decision, they will laugh at his final actions and claim good riddance and congratulate him on a job well done in his final act. They will say he was undeserving of this life.

Those people never faced his daemons; they never fought the same battles that he did. They will say that if he didn’t want to live then let him go. They will degrade his existence to something far less than human. Ironic that the strong automatically assume they are deserving and they may critic and enforce our worlds standards of perfections; and yet, have such little compassion for those that have too much love, and feel too deeply.

Those people never met my friend, never stood beside him and saw the world in the colors and designs has he did. None were there when he reached out to their gods for sanction and salvations, none of those people saw the greatness he was and the greatness he was going to become. Many a days I spent traveling with him. Numerous adventures that we shared, great fortunes were made and lost in minutes of our time together. I remember to this day me looking at him in the face and telling him that where I was going he could not come with me. That I had won my battles and I was off to see the world. I told him that I would come back, that he would never fight alone, that his existence was significant enough to the world. Well I never came back. I sailed the islands with a new found freedom and then raced off to fight for others…

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

an ocean venture

A simple question in the middle of a simple conversation reminded me of the ocean and the idea of different perspectives. I was explaining a trip I had taken, where I sailed solo from Masonborrow for 18 hours straight into the ocean. Nearly seventy miles later I was forced to turn around so that I would make it home in time to return to work on Monday. Why? Who does that? Those are the standard questions asked when talking about this weekend. Well I had an answer; I needed a new perspective, and let me tell you the ocean did not fail.

At first you can see the land and you are comfortable, many days and nights have been spent cruising up and down the Carolina beaches filling you with the illusion of control. The weather is calm the seas are low and the water is relatively flat. The wind is from the south east giving you an easy beat straight out into the ocean. Setting the auto helm and adjusting the sails you look around to ensure no others are on your line and you are free to move around. A little plastic cup with some scotch burns your mouth as you stare backwards at the shore. Already the rocks of the inlet are lost to the small swells and chop. The landfall has turned into a shaded edging to the ocean and only barely discernable. This is still close enough that your mind does not race from one weak point of the boat to another, close enough that the sounds of the seas have not overtaken your senses. Soon though, you have past across the horizon and land is gone. So too are the other boats, there is almost nothing now except the occasional bird. The wind has held steady. Hours pass and you go below to get some more to drink and to bring topside a book and some pillows, it is time to relax and sleep before the boat takes you out to the blue water. At some point loneliness will wash over you, it will be instant and intense. Knowing that the trip is for only so many hours helps calm this inescapable feeling. Now that you have been on the water for five or so hours headed due east into the middle of the Atlantic, all of your senses have built and you can hear every creak and strain of the rigging, you can feel the ocean breath as the seas rise and fall around you. You life shrinks to insignificance under the awesome weight of the seas. You can almost feel Poseidon reach up and grab your ship and push her forward. The recognition of your place in the world is the ultimate change in perspective and a clear constant reminder of the power of nature. You have come to grips with the inevitable, that you have no control and that your fate is intimately entwined with that of the world around you. Eight more hours and the decks are awash in blue water. The stars above you are bright and clear, the Milky Way is a visible path stretched across the sky. The trepidation that you had felt melts away with the wonders of the ocean night. The breeze has picked up and you can hear its whispering. Speaking to you of adventures and dangers that dreams and story books are made of, it is this voice that you have fallen in love with; it is why you adventure out. It is this voice that reminds you that you do have some control, that you can reach out with both hands on the wheel and change course. You can push harder into the wind, or bare off, you can turn and run with the wind or just go home. In the end it was your choice that had taken you to the edge of the continental shelf and it will be your choice that will bring you back. It is at this point you have finally shaken hands with the seas and made your pact with Poseidon. So you turn around refreshed and happy. With a renewed sense of self awareness, you have seen the world from another vantage point, and have regained perspective on life. The work is hard and brining the boat into port, but you are filled with the steadfast will of a new man.


Your friends can tell you that you are being played but in the back of your mind you secretly hold tightly to the idea that maybe if you just give it time… Well in my short time in Southern Pines I have been successfully played by a cute 32 year old woman. She is a lot of what I want and only a little of what I fear I don’t want; but none the less, I have pursued and dealt with rejection and a hesitant acceptance, only to find that it has been conditional. She is using me for some type of social interaction, or just for conversation, or maybe she does like me and just hasn’t realized it. But that is the very notion that continues to allow her to play me. She has already made up her mind. She has already in her mind moved forward but allows this farce to continue as long as it doesn’t interrupt her schedule. Damn do my failures continue to haunt me. The failures of Colorado opened the door to a new way to live that would have I assume, allowed me to live within the normalcy of humanity. That I would be able to feel love and passion and true concern for others. Well I now can, and I do not like the feeling. I do not enjoy the constant needs that it inspires within me. I am wasting space and time on a dead end. The only sad thing is I feel comfortable around the girl, I feel content, I feel that I could give the relationship a chance, and here I am constantly reminded that she will not even think about it. Ah fuck it, I do not have time for this shit and I will move on, I will hopefully regain my composure. I will regain the initiative and move forward or in this case backwards toward what I used to hold has my shining shield in the face of all odds. I must rebuild the walls that have been torn down over the course of time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Massonborrow Morning

The slow rotation of the earth returns the sun to my face a few minutes earlier than I would have liked. Though it is not fair of me to blame the earth for my early morning, it very well could have been the constant clanging of metal on metal that echoed throughout the harbor. The morning current rocking the boats in the pier, slapping stays and halyards against masts’ in a constant clanging that is relaxing and reassuring. The chimes are matched with the rhythmic splash of the water against hulls, bringing a solid beat to your morning. Sitting up in the port settee, I look out the port hole and find a world filled with fiberglass, stainless steel and canvass. The warmth of the morning sun slowly works its way into the fan cooled cabin, tossing the sheets I climb out into the world and am hit with the sharp smell of salt sea air and the smile spreads across my face. Arms stretched wide I embrace the morning at the water’s edge, rubbing my eyes I greet a salty old man, with tanned leathery skin as he motors his boat out into the ocean, with a wave and a good morning. His smile back, is the consummate reassurance of my acceptance into his world of wind and water. Bare chest is the dress code of the coastal morning and I am a believer in fitting in, wrapping a bandana around my curly hair, I boil a pot of water and make stiff coffee. Most of the pier is already awake and working on their various tasks. Across from me I can see the fishing poles and lines being prepared for the days catch, on the far side of the marina a crew is preparing to detail a rich mans boat, everywhere you hear the sounds of human activity, yet it is not the same bustle as the city, not the same roar that screams out urgency. It is the whisper of a day well spent in the sun and spray. It is the camaraderie of the ocean that brings each of us to our rightful spot on the continental edge. Below where I stand the colors of the water reflect the suns escalation into the sky, spitting out blues and greens across the harbor. Brown tanned men living in a perpetual squint from the sun wander by the finger pier and smile and wave.
I am deciding what I will do with this morning. I have already turned the radio on to hear the latest on the weather just outside the inlet, my bowl of oatmeal is already made and am listing to the winds as I eat. Decision made, I stand and start the engine. Casting off, I motor out into the open waters and raise my sails skyward to the heavens waiting for the breath of god to push me out to sea.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friendly Revelation

The day I lost my first friends, the crushing feeling that I felt forever reverberated through my soul and heart. The crushing grip of certainty like a fist around my heart squeezed until I though I could walk no more. For one year I lived in this agony waiting, breathing, one slow breath. Just the hint of their return, just a moment of compassion of understanding that I had shown them time and time again. I had given everything to my friends; I had the ability to lie down in front of traffic for them. I remember the day I told my roommate after a late night phone call with my friend that I would leave school that very day to go to her if she had asked, thankfulness now rests with me that she did not. There was no obstacle I have not surmounted, no measure I have not met, and none that I would not have met for them had the need been there. The only time in my life I have been selfless and it is past and gone. The time that I needed something small, I was abandoned, and the time when I could have used all the support available I was alone. It was at this moment, that I solidified my past adventures and training into the completion of mind and body devoid of weakness. I stepped upon the plane with no regrets and a smile that can only come to those at peace.

For I recognized that though my view of whom my friends were had changed and though I had lost those that I loved unconditionally I had replaced them with a more powerful friends, those that loved me and I loved them not in unconditionally or out of some selfless infatuation but out of mutually achieved respect and desire. Out of a shared difficulties and trials. Out of pure ecstasy of the relationship, out of a sense of value that was worth my efforts. In the constant scales of balance their worth was more than I could pay at any time. These are the friends that would do anything for me, and in the end I watched some lay down their lives for others and me. Though this is not the true test of a mans worth in life, it sure can be used as a metric. In some form of irony fate has placed me face to face with a friend of my past, a friend that no longer recognizes me for I have changed so much. Though subconsciously I place my youthfulness out for her to see, so that she might be at ease, the man that I am now would not please those old friends, they would not approve. They would not like the horror that I have become, or what I am capable of. The process of my minds constant evaluation and adjustment, a constant analysis of the changing environment in which options are weighed and measured in a non-human way. The fact that once you have done things they become easier every time. Well damn it I want my sleeping bag back.