“Kiss me,” I said to her but she disregarded my offer, shoved it aside like an old chair. “Tell me where I should go from here.” I pleaded. Still, she gave no attention to me. “I love you,” My final plea.
She turned and smiled as crookedly as the road home and with one sweeping move she thrust a dagger into my chest.
It is with regret that I have lived beyond the lives of many friends. No I’m not ancient and dabbing my toes in the River Styx, but I have lost so much wise advice. The fate of many I’m sure. Perhaps I’m being just a bit morose. Poets are supposed to be a tad morose you see. Otherwise how could we give wing to our morbidly depressing thoughts of this life we live?
This next drivel of thought is about an old friend perhaps I should call him a sage. His words made me a man. His actions made me a better man. I lost contact with him years ago. He and his wife moved to Texas to be near their children and grandchildren. He was several years older than I and fought with Cancer for quite some time. I’m not sure if he won the battle. I hope so. If not I do hope he is safe in the womb provided by Mother Nature and I do hope a tree sprouts from his resting spot. He was a wood carver, a musician, a singer, and a man with great hopes for a world filled with peace. To him I say so long. To you, I say again so long until we meet again on the white sheets which carry my poetry across the skies and oceans between us.
Charlie’s Place sat isolated on a side street. Next to a train track which is traveled rarely by anything resembling a train, generally it’s used as a path by smokers heading over to the Smoke Haven Cigarette Store, 2 packs for seven bucks. For some crazy reason I thought I would enjoy a Saturday night at Charlie Patton’s bar. It turned out to be a futile trip.
The bar was small, smoky, and crowded. The stools sitting at the bar were full of old men wishing they were somewhere else, somewhere over the rainbow maybe. The tables were gray with red stools perched on each side. Each of those stools was occupied by a young hoper. Youthful tavern goers were hopers, hoping they could leave with someone. Each one wanted someone to hold, to love, and carry them away to utopia, a place none of them ever visited. It was just a place to be hoped for. Utopia lies in the mind and nowhere else.
I didn’t cross the threshold of Charlie’s Place. Instead I shuffled my way to my old truck. The night was not good to me. Since Mandy’s death the night became my enemy, alcohol my friend. There was no reason to keep the charade going. I just wasn’t interested in moving on with my life. I preferred the muck.
I mentioned Mandy’s death. It was years ago when pancreatic cancer stole her away. My dog Fred was flattened by a car and Bagles simply died of old age. My drinking increased after those tragedies and all the tragedies preceding them. I couldn’t stop drinking and CSH told me I must stop working. My last paycheck lasted three days.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy in this bizarre life was me. I was a tragedy waiting to happen and happen it did. My old Pontiac long ago died and was buried in our local junkyard. My mobility, my self esteem was buried along with that old rusty pile of metal. None of it matters now. You see I have written my destiny in cheap whisky and in foreclosed houses mostly filled with the homeless and the forgotten. I say without the need for compassion that I am one of them.
If something can be learned from my story it is that the world has always been a mystery. Along with the world the possibility of an afterlife is more of a mystery. No one knows what lies beyond our graveyards, perhaps just more graveyards a thousand lifetimes of graveyards. Is there a dimension beyond the three or four we have? I saw what I saw but who’s to say I am not crazy. Who is to say that the things I saw were nightmarish hallucinations. I know that I lost a battle with myself and that comes from my own weakness and only mine. It is what experts call the internal locus.
The struggle to live is your struggle. You own it. I hope with what’s left of my mind that your struggle leads to better results than mine. Humankind can be humane but that my friends is up to you, you hold the injured bird in your hand, let it live or crush it to death. Let it live.
I had a friend many years ago though his name wasn’t Arthur Shoemaker. The name I invented for his privacy as well as mine. Arthur passed away several years ago without knowing his impact on my life, both spiritually and intellectually. We were friends, but before I could tell him how much he was loved, he passed. I am sorry Arthur, but I offer now my very own eulogy to a man that I loved for his simple joy for living.
I’m Sorry Arthur Shoemaker
I’m sorry you were born into a dysfunctional family and felt the hard burns of detachment throughout your childhood.
I’m sorry for the indignities brought to you by your stepfather and a mother who closed her eyes to your abuse.
I’m sorry for your inability to be loved and to love during your youth. Your detachment from the herd of social conformity can only be blamed on your intelligence and individuality, nothing else.
I’m sorry that the hatred and vitriol that eats at our brothers and sisters of the world made you cry so many nights.
I’m sorry you never met a woman to share your mind or your need for children. It was a loss that nothing can replace.
I’m sorry that your lack of belief in a God has caused emotional trauma in your life, but know this, goodness comes from within and not without.
I’m so sorry that you and I did not know each other in our college and youthful years. There is so much we share.
Finally, Arthur Shoemaker I’m sorry you’re gone. Debbie and I miss you beyond words. My sadness eats at me each time I think of you.