Flight delay

birds don’t carry baggage
they leave it behind
and fly
perhaps that’s why we’re so different
because we carry with us
a pebble here, a twig there
baggage that bleeds
but never gets lighter
and keeps us earthbound
helplessly flapping
with our eyes skyward
exhausted by heavy weight
but still seeking ourselves
in the treetops
we are only sure to reach
if we let go

Limbo

Presently I am alive
but I’m feeling rather dull
as happens when you shoot for the moon,
miss the mark and find yourself
crashing down without a safety
burned to the point of numbness
and wondering when the pain ended
and limbo began
then the epiphany…
there are bills to pay
and mouths to feed
an alarm clock shouting orders
and a bladder full of yesterday
screaming to be emptied
so with quiet, masterful care I
sit on the edge of my bed
forgetting to remember
what it means to really live
and with one great heave
propel myself into the routine
that keeps me here

Navigation: lost

Sometimes there’s just a hole
and sometimes it remains
no matter what you use
to try to fill it
to smooth out the road ahead
sometimes the sun won’t shine in
the dark spaces between
no matter your speed or
the size of the dust clouds
kicked up by road-worn tires
no matter how you try
to blink away the clouds
and the storms they bring

so you open the floodgates
let the roiling pain slip through
to light flash strips on the pavement and in morning find yourself a different being…mourning the lightness of what once was while trying to navigate the heaviness of what is
watching the mile markers go by
lost

Headspace

All I do is scream
Even my conversation
is a shout, unbearable
to my own ears
Who am I?
It seems anger has taken over
speaks for me in my dreams
and waking hours
In harsh tones and insults
An axe blade to chop down
Feelings of vulnerable me
that later show themselves as hot tears, salt poured on wounds too deep to heal
A headspace I want desperately
to leave…

So many memories

There is courage in living the life you don’t want to live and in facing the death you don’t want to die. That is what my grandpa had: courage. A gritty resignation to face his life every day, even though it was not the life he dreamed. He suffered physical and psychological ailments that bound him, body and mind. And yet, he could laugh as heartily as he could cuss, and his laughter somehow reminded me that the struggle doesn’t have to steal your smile, even if it takes your strength. Every morning, he would wake up with legs as heavy as concrete blocks, and mustering all his strength, swing them one at a time to the edge of his bed while working to pull himself into an upright position. With sweat forming on his brow, he’d grab a metal pole that had been installed from the floor to the ceiling of his room right next to his bed, to help steady himself. Then, with a series of heaves and self-motivating talk (or sometimes curses, or sometimes prayers) he would propel himself into his wheelchair and roll from his room into his day. He lived alone and insisted on independence for as long as he could. Parkinson’s was not kind to him, but he accepted it; sometimes grudgingly, sometimes with a calm and quiet resolve. He had a keen sense of justice, even if the world was not always just to him (and believe, it was not). His childhood, a time filled with laughter and lighthearted days for most, was punctuated with sadness and egregious wrongs. He was misunderstood, judged. And yet he grasped on to life and to the moments that mattered. Holidays especially seemed to be a time my grandpa would come alive and reach out to share just a small amount of joy, to bring out a smile.

His lifetime spanned 86 years. I was lucky to get to know just a few encapsulated moments; life stories he’d share when I’d come by to tidy his house. I feel so lucky to have had that chance, to see my grandfather as more than just a grumpy old man. He died in a Hospice nearby, after lingering awhile. Again, he met death in the same head-on fashion he met life with…acceptance of his fate and a resolve to do what needed to be done, even if deep down he was afraid. I am honored to say that in those final days, when his hands were too unsteady to hold a razor, my grandpa trusted me to shave his face. I’d gather the necessary supplies; a dishpan of warm water, a razor, shaving cream, and a towel, while making small talk about the weather or the state of the world. I’d wet the towel and place it gently over the shadowy stubble that covered his chin and neck, and after applying a layer of shaving cream I’d begin the task, always gingerly. I wonder if he was as worried as I was that my most careful would not be careful enough. So many memories. He was humorous and philosophical; religious and agnostic; powerful and fragile; elderly, but young at heart. He was not perfect by any means, but he tried. He was, in the end, the human-est of humans. One of the bravest, showing me that courage is facing the known unknown…the moment you are in and the moments to come with dogged determination and tenacity of heart and with hope, by God with hope that something better awaits.