Lament, by Joseph Knecht, by Hermann Hesse

No permanence is ours; we are a wave
That flows to fit whatever form it finds:
Through day or night, cathedral or the cave
We pass forever, craving form that binds.

Mold after mold we fill and never rest,
We find no home where joy or grief runs deep.
We move, we are the everlasting guest.
No field nor plow is ours; we do not reap.

What God would make of us remains unknown:
He plays; we are the clay to his desire.
Plastic and mute, we neither laugh nor groan;
He kneads, but never gives us to the fire.

To stiffen to stone, to persevere!
We long forever for the right to stay.
But all that ever stays with us is fear,
And we shall never rest upon our way.

This is in “The Poems of Knecht’s Student Years,” a chapter at the end of The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse.  It rang true with me in many ways, literal and figurative.

The world is such a wonderful place.

Jamie hugged his savior for the evening close, breathing deeply the sweet scent of his cologne, hoping some may rub off on him. The weight of the man’s arm around his shoulders shielded the cold, the man’s voice warmed his heart. For this brief moment he was in another place. Human contact a catalyst to a dimension he often forgot existed.

Taken to Jersey, to his mother’s arms, 1985. Comfort, safety, and innocence in those years. Nigh forgotten times, dream-like times, memories of those times lined in a rainbowesk light. Food and warmth and love all in surplus, taken for granted. Where had it all gone?

The man’s arm slid down and away as he patted Jamie’s back; the retrospective shattered. As the man slid three dollars into Jamie’s hand the memories remained in the past, but the feelings from that era long past were fresh in heart. Warmth, love, overtook him. With perhaps a bit too much pace and yearning in his shaky voice, he spoke through the crisp winter air, “Thank you, if you see me ’round don’t be a stranga. Thank you, please, you my friend, you my friend man.” The man smiled at Jamie, he’d heard the sincerity; he reveled in it for a moment, tipped his hat, and walked away.

Jamie walked to the gas station and bought some hot chocolate and a 40 of OE, he pocketed some deli meat turkey too.  He’d figured out over the years that if he bought some things while he stole it usually turned out okay.  On his way out the Timex from the lost & found beeped midnight, he hurried back across the street to the abandoned motel shed where he’d stayed for months.   He burst in through the rusty hole in the back siding to be immediately enveloped by a sea of arms, embraces warm and snug; by his kids; by their love; by Thanksgiving.

Catalytic love,
Cataclysmic lives,
When they come together,
Everyone thrives.

The Story of Ray Sin Boe, Shirley, Lonnie, Thomas, AMLXIIIIIII, and Maryanne.

Pastel yellow shone from his coffee stained teeth and the gaudy overhead lamp alike. Love was in the air, a mist and a tide swept through the restaurant engulfing all whose hearts still kept rhythm with the clock. He smiled at a young girl, barely able to keep her wild disheveled gaze from his deepest part. Penetrating eyes all around, he felt them and he loved them and he despised them.

Voices and echoes consumed his mind, haunting any semblance of a thought and scaring it back to the recesses, to sanity. With the grace of an illiterate giant of old, he mumbled and shook with frustration, with guilt, with shame. Feeling suddenly and outrageously out of place was nothing new for him, it was part of him. Part of his condition. Today a loving condition, returned by none.

Dejected, he paid quietly and left the shady establishment, walking holding hands with pocket knives and gumballs. Pink gumballs from a shiny new machine on the corner of 9th and Wallace, they only ever had pink ones. The gumballs were for Shirley. The pocket knife was for him.

At Straight Avenue he stopped in to the cigar and coffee shop, bought the most expensive he could find, and continued on his way. The streetlights were his only beacon on this night, cars were empty and houses were burnt out. It had been a long week for the world, and for Ray Sin Boe it was no exception. He had had enough. He would give Shirley the gumballs and laugh as she tried to chew and the gum got stuck to her gums and she growled and panted in simultaneous frustration and delight; then he would carve a nice new name for himself in the stairwell. He would echo his new name for all to hear.

And no one will hear.  If they hear, no one will listen. It’s been 42 years, and tens of hundreds of names, and no one will listen.

The next morning was a fine morning.  Rain pattered hard down the aluminum siding of the shack, and the sun shone through the clouds and a mist arose and it was golden. He awoke to this beautiful sight and then fixed his glazed, sleepy eyes upon a stray mail piece that had landed upon his stoop. It was fresh, the ink had barely run, and it said Lonnie Sharp.

Lonnie Sharp was a psychotherapist and a card shark. He solved problems and made money and made problems and lost money. It’s what he did, and it was a rush and it was satisfying, he loved it. Nobody else loved him for it, but that didn’t matter to Lonnie.

And so a new man lived on, Lonnie Sin Boe. He was a caring man, this new Lonnie. He held the door open for strangers, and lit women’s cigarettes, and always practiced his manners in hopes that one day he may need to use them. Lonnie claimed to have met many fine people in his day, but never the one. He had no fortune to tell of, and his only stories were those of his past. He had no ambition except to be proper and a gentleman, and he had no one to share this selflessness with, except Shirley. She got a lot of pink gumballs.  It’s no surprise he never met the one.

Lonnie did however meet a very young man named Thomas one day as he wheeled his grocery basket past the park. Thomas’s mom never liked him talking to strangers but Thomas wanted to make an exception because he thought he saw kindness in Lonnie’s eyes.  Lonnie was interested in Thomas and Thomas didn’t have any friends, it was a good relationship for both of them.  Thomas was 5. Lonnie gave Thomas all of Shirley’s gumballs that day, and so he had a friend. With this friend came new material, and new hope.  Thomas would tell Lonnie everything about his day at school and about how Lucille from the playground was a bully to him, but Thomas would comfort the child and tell him to look on the bright side since he was already 5 and he was still alive.  It was good.

Lonnie decided to tell everyone that Thomas was his long lost uncle, which made not a lick of sense to anyone but Lonnie, but no one knew Thomas was 5 and no one ever met Thomas so this was quite alright. Lonnie had a friend and someone to speak of to anyone that would listen. Shirley would listen and was very patient with Lonnie, who would haphazardly repeat the same story over and over, trying to find the right tone of voice, the right edge so as not to frighten away any potential with his awkward approach. For a long while, Shirley was the only one.

It would remain that way until, on the way to the cafe that Lonnie had been to a week ago as Ray, he was hit by a speeding taxi and broke his femur in three places and received a concussion. It was excruciatingly painful, and he remembered his name and much else when his life flashed before his eyes. Albert Murdock Lawson XIIIIIII, son of a wealthy hedge fund manager and a nurse, abandoned at age 3, homeless and developing an intensely unhealthy case of paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder since. Maryanne found him on the sidewalk, the taxi hadn’t stopped.  She smiled a wild toothy grin, her face was brazen and beautiful, and she was smitten from first glance into Albert Murdock’s eyes.

He told her everything, was an extraordinary gentleman for awhile, and they fell in love.

Amber

Sunrays leap through glimmering amber-speckled eyes,
Enchantingly beautiful, intricate, they’re infinite,
Reflected trees falling, dancing amidst your ridges,
Playfully exploring the magical landscape of Iris,
A forest in your eyes, late-Autumn-deep-brown,
I could explore for eternity your arbor,
Touching ever tree’s bark, as if to leave a mark,
While knowing the foolishness of such a thought,
Exploring anyway, enjoying the journey,
Sacred meadows and mountains, seared to my soul,
In amber.

Poetry reading: Amber

Trans

sucking it in spewing it out
come waves and words and love and chords
singing and believing can complete me
but that Past ghost he keeps on lying
he lies all day but I never know
you tell me he lies though

confused all day then all through the night
sleep and wake and shake with doubt
want to live free and live to see it all
patience drunk sways but i can’t see her
she’s about to fall and i can’t know
she can’t go oh no

life’s sweet candy coated in the bitter
frustration at not knowing His thoughts
trying anyway and failing forever
for eternity, feel your way around
blind as a man with no eyes
blind in faith and love and life

put fuel only on His fire
save none for your own desire
his fire will quell your desire
if you listen if you listen
his fire can quell desire
i’m full of desire

hours and crying and wiping the mind
surrender sweet in the early morn
taking everything in, spitting it out
fragmented vomited words stolen
stolen from everyone but me
from whom there’s nothing to steal

amalgamated love and thoughts and fears
living inside everyone else for 23 years
empty so empty except for this love
selfless love comes easy but shows hard
showings hard, it’s not who i was
i must fight who i was every minute
of every hour

for you
and for Him