the jump

Swiftly moving through the woods. Wandering with a purpose. The air is cool, dark. Blue and grey. It’s foggy. Early in the morning. When everything is a shadow. The trees. The rocks. The clouds. All silhouettes. Unable to distinguish what is real. What’s alive. What’s breathing. What’s beating. What’s waiting. What’s leaving.

Am I breathing? Is my heart still beating?

The wind is asleep. Air still and thin. I’m anticipating a faint whistle. A breeze. Something. Anything. I’m expecting it. Whatever it is. And in this place of expectation, I get lost. Forgetting I was ever gone. Forgetting I ever was. Memories fade.

The anticipation gains momentum. Accelerates. Snatches me up. Is it here? Can you feel it?

Getting close.

At least I’m not alone. At least I have company. My shadows are with me. They tag along. Keeping a distance. Skipping and playing with each other as I carry the bags. There are two of them. Both younger. Nine years apart. I feel safe and secure knowing they’re here. Knowing that they are home. My sisters.

Layers of emotions rumble in my chest. Don’t forget about me.

The transition. The shift.  The static. That sacred time between night to day.

I inhale. I listen. I wait. And I hear nothing.

I feel a quake in my throat. The pressure builds.

And then, an opening. A marked trail. A path through the foliage. I see it in on the other side of the train tracks. Urgency presents itself. I hurry across. My shadow sisters follow closely behind. I don’t need to look around for them cause I know they’re there. They always are.

My ears vibrate. Holding back tears.

We tip toe through the opening and get to a clearing. Change of scenery. No more foliage. Now, more rocks. Dirt piles. A boat ramp that once was. Gotta be quiet. Gotta lay low. We must remain unseen.

I close my eyes. Trying to contain it. Breathe.

We’re on the edge of an endless body of water.  Standing on a bluff. Looking down at this crystal clear water. Lifetimes beneath us. Worlds beneath us. I’m hovering above their crowns. Enjoying the aerial view. They’re getting ready to jump.

I close my eyes. Standing at water level now. Looking up at them. Try to get my phone out. My camera. I desperately want to capture this moment. I wish I could be where they are. I wish I could feel their excitement. I wish.

My phone is out and I’m ready to take the picture. Eager to document this beauty. It’s almost too much. Filled to the brim. The type of beautiful I feel guilty for even attempting to capture. I’m a fool for thinking a picture would do it justice. Nevertheless, I attempt.

They lift off. Headed straight for the water. Slow motion. Time frozen. Watching it through this tiny screen. Scrambling to snap as many pictures as possible. The camera follows them under water. I continue to shoot.

And then they’re gone.

The pictures turn out better than expected. They’re motion photos. Less than a second long. My sisters are flying. Soaring. Holding hands. Their clothes act like wings. Turning in to fins as they hit the water. I keep playing this picture over and over. Eyes glued to the screen. Feeling a painful type of joy as I watch them fly. Deep longing and sadness.

This joy is a place I visit. And I never want to leave.

But I gotta go. I resist. Continuing to watch them soar. Wishing I could touch them.

Wishing.

Waiting. Leaving.

Missing.

Tears, flowing. There it goes.

Heart. Still beating.

Thank god. 

 

 

 

 

 

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opensure

 

Flashbacks of those winding roads. The ones littered with bodies. People. Cars. Ambulances in ditches. I’m dodging the bodies. Do I stop to see if they’re breathing? Do I get out and help?

Nah, they’re not real. They’re just bumps in the road. Bumps I have to avoid. No need to stop and check for a pulse. I can barely feel mine.

Speeding. Closing my eyes. Foot heavy on the break. This isn’t real. This isn’t real. This. Isn’t. Happening. The breaks are useless. The impact of my heavy foot causing more damage.

Eyes. Closed. No memory of slowing down. No memory of the pause. Parking. Getting out. Walking. No memories of that. Just feelings. Pains. Tingling in my legs.

Flashbacks of the helpers. Those people. The brown eyed ones. Dark skinned and gentle. Holding my limbs for me. Dragging me out of the car. Moving my legs. Stumbling with each step. Keeping my arms in place. Holding me upright. Up. Right. Through the tunnels. The stairs. Up. Right. Round the corner. Three flights we climbed. Or was it four?

My body heavy and limp. Restlessly limp.

Flashbacks of the lights. Those harsh bright lights. The table. The cutting board. The blurry faces. Those fair skinned believers. Signing papers. Blue eyed deceivers. The ones who strapped me down. Stole my breath. Stripped my humanity and left it in a plastic bag. Suffocating and growing mold. Giving me bruises in my sleep. Taking pleasure from my pain. Those ones.

The white devils.

My body quakes at the thought of them.

Bones turn to jello.

Throat swells. Chest heavy.

Just a blink. And I’m back. A safe house. A house. A Safe. A key. A plastic illusion of safety. This is only temporary.

What’s in the safe? Treasures? Money? Food? Are there weapons? Drugs? Tools? What’s in there? Is it really safe? Is it worth protecting? Are you never gonna use it?

Time to drift. No need for answers. Abandon ship.

This cycle.

Infinite.

Closure? You want closure?

Oh. Sure.

Closure.is.An open sore.

 

 

release me

I’m in the house again. A trusted friend accompanies me. The one who was there when he wasn’t. The one who held my hand as i took the poison. Who stroked my hair as i lay curled up in a ball on the floor. Moaning. Groaning. Bleeding out the last traces of him. The one who was there as I cried and begged for independence. That one. The real one. One of them.

I enter through the main door. She disappears into the hum of the building. Filthy nostalgia. What am I doing here? Seriously. What the hell am I doing here? Did someone call me here? Was I invited? Am I welcome here? Does he want me here? Do I still care what he wants? Pretty sure he’s the one who wants me here. He’s the reason I’m visiting this place. And that reason is beyond my comprehension. But shit here I am. Weaving through these unanswered questions.

I’m in go mode. Looking around the corner, I see a door cracked with the light on. He’s in there. Pretending I don’t exist. He’s in there. Preoccupied. He’s in there. Playing games. He’s in there. With what’s his face. The white dude. That one. Whatever his name is. They’re doing their thing. He’s trying so hard to send a message. I feel it. I’ve heard it. Now here the fuck I am. You’ve succeeding at invoking a response.

I’m quite familiar with this game. I know how he moves. So I keep it moving. I don’t make a sound. I’ll play along. I don’t see the harm in it. I’m still here. Amused.

This is a dream, after all. I am somewhat lucid.

Back to questioning my purpose here in this space. Was it simply to check on him out of pure curiosity? His body language says don’t bother me, so does that mean my work here is done? Can I go home now? Perhaps its a different purpose. Maybe I’m picking up something I left? Or dropping off something I no longer need? I don’t remember coming in with any bags. So what am I doing?

I’m running circles in my mind. Confused. Questioning my own intentions. Questioning everything. He’s got me questioning. Fuck. He’s got me.  

When I’ve felt stuck in this place before, I like to think of him as a drug. Reducing this complicated intricate person to an inanimate object. A pill. A tiny manufactured tool. Dehumanizing a human as a means of coping. I’ve read the label. I know the side effects. I know what happens with continued use. I know exactly where this is going.

So why am i still here?

Hmm. I’ve always had a thing for this shit. Like driving aimlessly on dead end roads. Finding a dark place to park. Abandoning my vehicle. And walking. Leaving my safe place in the name of curiosity. Seeing where the night takes me. I get a rush from this feeling.

Down the stairs I go. Away from the horrible lighting. Away from the memories. Down, down, down I go. Down to the basement.

Someone put in a new carpet. Brand new everything. It appears to be clean. Nearly unrecognizable. It feels safer. Comfortable. Muffled. Yet still this feeling. I feel trapped. Bound. Hiding from something. Avoiding confrontations.

I peek in to the room where we used to sleep. Fresh carpet blankets the floor in this small space. Stuffed animals thoughtfully placed in each corner. Signs of life. Little bears and giraffes. I tip toe around. This can’t be real.

I have an urge to take a shower. Wash myself of the memories. Peering across the room, I see a shower head. Recently installed. I lack patience. Ready to shower now. Not thinking of where the soap is. If there even is any soap. Not thinking of what I’ll be drying myself off with. Not thinking of the fact that the shower head has been installed above a pile of stuffed animals with no drain in sight.

Not thinking. Period.

This shit don’t make no sense. But shit, I just wanna be clean.

Nothing else matters. I kick the pile of stuffed animals out of the way. Turning the water on low. A trickle. I hold the shower head above my head. And then I see him. Out of the corner of my eye. Ready to talk. I laugh to my self. The droplets of water haven’t even fully saturated my body and there he is. Ready to talk. This is unreal.

I let him talk. Get whatever it is that seems to be on his mind out. He tells me about his life. All seemingly good things. All progress. I am happy for him. Genuinely. I hold my tongue.

Children start to fill the room. Running around us. Playing with the stuffed animals. Keeping things on track. Keeping us in check. Letting us know that they’re watching. That they look up to us. Raw and unfiltered judges. This is a supervised visit. Don’t do anything stupid.

As he speaks, I see the little black snake. Shriveled up. Crispy and delicate. Lying in the pit of his stomach. Protected by layers of distraction. Vulnerability is his name. He shows no one. Cause this tiny snake holds the key to that unlocks the gates to his underworld. With empty spaces I gladly dug. He is terrified of a breach.

Sometimes. Under the right conditions. With the right lighting. I can see it. The baby snake. The ashes. Glistening through his eyes. Begging to be let out.

Release me. Please. Release me. He begs.

I want to reply. To acknowledge his existence.

This is beyond my control. Beyond you. Beyond me.

Release me. He whispers. Let me breathe. The black snake pleads.

I apologize. For I am no gatekeeper.

Only he can set you free.

Not up to me.

you see?

 

keep it moving

i don’t know why i’m here. or how i got there. but it’s where i am. i must do what i’m here to do.

mindlessly loading up my cart. clearance items. wrapped in plastic. made in china. this place used to be a library. now it’s a mini mall. with the feel of an airport at 3AM. half of the sections are closed off. lights off. no signs of life. no signs at all.

i grab items from different sections. i don’t see anyone working the cash registers. they’re all preoccupied and missing. this doesn’t stop me. i continue browsing on autopilot. i have to go through a door to get to the next section. am i allowed to bring merchandise to this section? i haven’t paid for it yet, but nobody’s there to question me. i keep it moving.

i’ve wandered off so deep into this place for so long. my cart is near full with useless items. why am i still pushing it?

there has to be an exit nearby. i can feel it. and pretty soon i see it. yet still, no people in sight. i could easily walk out the door with my haul of free stuff.

what’s the point, grace?  yes it’s all free, but it’s all so useless.

my mind is made up. i abandon ship. i don’t need this junk. no harm done, just wasted time. the moment my hands leave the cart, i’m in a different place.

outside of a hospital room. i can’t see the patient cause the curtains are shut. when i look down, i notice the place is flooded with a diluted disinfectant solution. i’m up to my ankles in bleach water. the cleaning crew has arrived. but the patient is still in the room.

a small river of blood seeps out from underneath the curtains. flowing past my ankles. i’m curious who’s on the other side. my curiosity is overtaken with an urge to breathe fresh air. and walk with dry feet. so i leave.

and just like that, i’m out. i’ve made it. finally. that chapter is over and now i am here. ready to go home for the night.

the air tastes like the 30 minutes following a midsummer sunset. warm. dry. refreshing. i see plants everywhere. plants that i helped grow. i look to my right and see an open air sidewalk cafe. all the customers have left and a middle aged couple are closing shop. music is playing. ethiopian music. it speaks to something deep within me and nudges me to move. they are dancing. i can’t help myself and start to dance. their joy is overwhelmingly contagious. i don’t care who’s watching. even the plants are moving to the beat.

i become light and am able to lift my feet off the ground. i dance and dance with the air till my eyes open and i am no longer there.

this time it’s real

it’s the middle of the night, but artificial sun doesn’t sleep. the sky is illuminated as far as the eye can see. blurring the lines between night and day. it’s all so loud. the smell. the taste. the noise. i wish i could hide behind sunglasses. maybe that would make things quieter.

it’s easy to feel alone in a place like this. i usually would. but not this time. i’m with two others. maybe three. those comforting faceless beings who share the same blood and memories as me. we are in this together.

airplanes buzz around like flies. the harder i look, the more concentrated they get. and closer to ground. maybe i’m near the airport. that’s got to be why there are so many of them.

i’m no longer focused on where i am. or why i’m here. because i know what comes next. it’s always the same. each time it happens. one by one, the planes are going to start falling. just like in my dreams. only this time it’s real.

and so it begins. i know which ones are going to be next. each one that i look at falls as soon it meets my eyes.  it’s happening far enough in the distance for me to feel safe. but only for a moment. and then i  remember where i am. this place is infested with planes. more so than anywhere i’ve ever been. and they’re all gonna come down.

they start crashing closer and closer to me. fire and destruction all around. i’m dodging the chaos. trying to shield my faceless companions. i want to tell them where to hide. what to do. after all, i knew this would happen. i should be prepared. i should know exactly what to say. but the crashes are getting closer and this is just the beginning. i don’t have time to plan. it’s all happening so fast.

i love you. i’ll see you on the other side.

i climb on to a picnic table and jump. once my feet are off the ground, i know there’s no coming back. at first i’m just floating. then i speed up. up and up toward the sky. further and further from the ground. why hadn’t i done this before?

the chaos is beneath me. fire from the crashes glimmers in the distance. i’m rapidly accelerating. i’ve finally escaped. relief washes over me like a cool milk bath.

suddenly everything goes black and i’m vibrating. and then it hits me. i left my body on earth.

another train

i have to get dressed. i have to get ready. i have somewhere to be. a party. but i don’t know the host. it’s ok, my friend knows the host. my friend will come with me. my friend knows where the party is. and we’ll take the train.

i’m dressed and ready to go. i head to the train station and wait for my friend. once he gets here, we can board the train and get to the party.

the station is vast and scattered with people. we are all anonymous. in our own cages. with bars made of selfish priorities. each of us on a separate mission to distraction.

the train is here and i’ve already boarded and taken my seat. eager to get to the party. to accomplish my mission. one step closer. the doors remain open. there seems to be a delay in departure.

just when i think i’m set, i see my friend arriving at the station. remembering i was supposed to wait for him. i wave to get his attention. he sees me. but the train has already started moving. the doors are still open so i don’t panic. i assume everything will work its way out and he’s hopped onto the next car. i’ll just wait for him to find me.

i wait till the next stop. no sign of my friend. ill just call him. it will all work out. but there is no service in the underground tunnels. maybe i’ll get off at the next station and wait for him. maybe he’s waiting for me. i wish i knew where the party was so i could just meet him there. but i don’t even know the host. or anybody at the party. i need my friend to get me in to that party.

i get off at the third stop. everything and everyone is brown. the air is crisp and hazy like a monday morning.  people are in a rush to get somewhere. it’s too late to find my friend. he is long gone. and so is the party. i come to the realization that i am lost. i’ve missed my chance. time for a new mission. a new distraction. time to dance in my cage.

no sleep

flying half way across the world to see him. unannounced. no call in advance. no warning. just a hazy memory of a shallow promise.

“you’ll have to come visit, stay as long as you want.” he said.

and here i am. but why? what am i doing here?

i’m running on empty. drove straight from the airport to his apartment. its been over 24 hours since my last shower.

the air is thick and artificial. it sticks to my skin. how did i know where he lives?

i park outside. hoping he hasn’t seen me. and if he did? he wouldn’t recognize me. or my car. he wouldn’t believe i’m actually here.

i have to kill time. i can’t just hop out of my car and show up at his doorstep. i have to sit in my car. there’s unfinished business here in my car. i’m not ready to face him.

i open up the center console and sort through my rock collection. which rocks should i bring with me?

i choose a purple one and an orange one and put them in my pocket. i’m satisfied with my selections. my distractions. but still not ready to go in.

my gaze is redirected toward his window. hoping i don’t see him. hoping he doesn’t see me. am i really here?

the seed has yet to be planted. it rests on the surface of the dirt for now. what’s keeping it there?

flashbacks of discomfort. anxiety. an inability to break down the wall. my beautiful, deceitful wall.

the feeling of the wall growing taller. minute by minute, brick by brick. as i sit in this parking lot.

i remember his wall being as beautiful and deceitful as mine. my wall compatible with his. comfortable. stable.

but i jumped over my wall last year. i breathe the air on the other side. no longer suffocating.

second thoughts come and go. second thoughts no longer second thoughts. those thoughts are in the double digits.

i have no money. i have no gas. i’m somewhere in china. and i’m surprisingly calm.

my decision has been made. i turn on the engine and put the car in reverse. slowly backing out of the parking lot. no longer caring about avoiding detection. i’m as good as gone.

i look at a map and start driving toward the green. feeling lighter already. i’m looking forward to sleeping with the trees.

PTSDream

we’re a long time from home. in a city built of deja vus and painful nostalgia. with the familiarity of chicago. but the sun hits you like LA. sprawling salty pavement. rubber friction. how my skin smells after falling asleep on the beach.

i try looking forward but the sun asserts its dominance and my view is blocked. eyes unprotected. vulnerable. raw. squinting till it hurts. thankful for the manmade structures fighting the glare. providing me with shade. comfort. enabling me to see straight. everything is orange and the day is tired.

our aim has yet to be discovered.  the  purpose of us being here is unknown. but we are certain its where we need to be. we are driving right into this unknown temporary destination. we have the power to turn around. but we’ve come so far. and that would only lead to another temporary destination.

stuck at a  red light. do i go forward or do i turn left? the after-glare of the sun blankets my fragile eyes. is the light even red? i want to close my eyes. but if i close them i can no longer navigate the vehicle. which way were we going again? better have your mind made up once the light turns green.

boom. green. left it is. no. too many cars in the way. go straight. wait, i’m already in the left turn lane. i look over my shoulder. untrusting of the mirrors.  cars keep swarming my lane. which way is the easiest? which way has less traffic to navigate through? urgency causes panic. does my turn signal even work?

“get in the right lane, quick! now’s your chance.” we’re going forward now. and i’m not even driving.

my sister is behind the wheel. and then sirens. i hear sirens.

“you have to move for sirens,” i tell her.

but where are the sirens coming from? we’ll have to move if they’re doing our way. but they’re not. they’re coming from up ahead. so now we know where we’re going.

we chase the noise. and the noise leads us to a neighborhood.

one of those warm neighborhoods with brick houses and small yards. where children play in the street and grandparents live on the stoop. where you knock on your neighbors door and ask them to turn it down when they’re being loud. never letting a third party intervene. looking out for one another. each person doing their part in a living breathing organism. being here gives me flashbacks and flash forwards of home.

we drive till we can go no further. stumbling upon the cause of the sirens. chaos. chatter. red and blue lights. a large crowd gathers up ahead, blocking the street. i have to see what’s going on. we have to check out the scene. someone could be in danger. the police could have killed someone. it isn’t adding up. we need witnesses. we need advocates. we need voices.

the crowd grows. neighbors. children. moms. teenagers. shop owners. curious folks like me.

police come out in riot gear and infect the neighborhood with fear and intimidation. batons. megaphones. masks. bulletproof vests. steel toed boots. knee pads. masks of a coward.

rage is my antidote to their intimidation. i am not afraid. i am fuming. what are they trying to hide?

the roboclowns speak, “don’t go past this line or we will arrest you.”

what about the people who live past that line? where are they supposed to go? are they allowed to go outside? who is documenting this abuse?

“don’t take notes or we will arrest you. you are interfering with an investigation” barks the megaphone.

i’m on fire. but i comply. weaving through the crowd. down the hill. back to our car.

on my way, i hear someone shout, “praise for our boys in blue.”  i feel disgusted and violated.

back at the car, someone tries to steal my bags. they yank and i tug back harder. easily overpowering their weak attempt at theft. holding my own. a female police officer sits nearby on a bench watching the whole thing. calmly. unaffected. filing her nails. not giving a fraction of a damn.

shock and frustration seep out of my pores. i’m about to burst when rene shows up. just in time. i’ve seen her before but don’t know where. she’s seen me before but can’t remember either. her hair is long and probably hasn’t been washed in days. by choice of course. we are glad to see a familiar face.

one of her comrades walks up to her and says, “did you hear about oscar?”

my heart sinks deep in to my chest as i connect the dots. i don’t know oscar, but it doesn’t matter. i close my eyes and i can see him. khaki shorts. socks and slide sandals. backwards baseball hat. olive skin. dark shaggy hair.

everyone is hugging and crying. mourning. oscar is the one they shot.

 

 

light

i cannot sleep. a familiar feeling keeping me up. the shift. physical. mental.

sharp pains striking my chest. my feet. my stomach. my hands. what is this? i ask.

and then the lights flicker.

wind howls in the cold dark grey space between night and morning. calling my name. whistling at me. taunting me.

and then the power goes out.

could this be it? could this be the end of the world? the end of my world? the end of my life? fear takes over.

and then, an explosion. a boom. a bright light. piercing through the window and onto my wall.

i’m certain. the ship has crashed.  they’re here. my time has come to return home. i am no longer worthy of existence on this planet. but i am not ready to leave earth. this temporary home. cold and dark as it is. i love her dearly. i am terrified.

and then, i tip toe toward the window. no longer do i wish to be alone. cradling my dog. my anchor.

peering through the window, i come face to face with the source. of my fear.

an electrical fire. burning down a telephone pole across the street. mother nature’s sparkler. reminding us of her power. taking out our artificial power.

forcing us to disconnect. to unplug. to detox from the fake white light. detached from our own.

no longer do i feel alone.

 

the butterfly people

staring up at the night sky. with my anonymous companion sitting by my side. i want them to see what i see. and i see the stars. all of them. tonight they are going to put on a show. i can tell by the way they start to move. it’s subtle at first. one by one they begin to shift and shoot across the sky. warming up. building momentum. pretty soon they will dance.

and then pretty soon turns into right now. and right now they are floating and jumping around like a confused school of fish. such a lovely sight. i want to take it all in before it goes away. cause it always goes away. this scene never lasts longer than a few heartbeats. and my heart is beating. because i know what comes next.

the dancing usually turns violent. and i usually panic. anticipating doom.  the stars twisting and turning. swirling around so fast my head spins. i panic cause i feel powerless. no control. my human body stands no chance against the inevitable crash. and they always crash.

but tonight is different. tonight i am calm. i know the stars are going to crash because i’ve experienced it before. yet here i am. still standing. heart still beating. i always survive the crash. because the crash is just an illusion.

just an illusion i say to myself. and something shifts within me. no longer worrying about the crash. no longer playing it out over and over in my head and bracing for the impact. this time  is different because i am looking forward to crash. i’m ready for what awaits me. and then a light goes on.

and the light appears to me as a star. but this star is not dancing. its movement and hue set it apart from the others. a tiny yellow ball of light. drifting with the wind. toward me. all the other stars are white. but this one is yellow. this is my star. and tonight is the night i get to formally introduce myself. finally.

the ball of light is getting closer and bigger. it has a dark spot. a silhouette. i see wings. a butterfly. i see the silhouette of a butterfly. a glowing butterfly coming my way. closer. nearer.

i extend my arm and she lands. perches. kind of like a bird. but her body looks like a bat. a bat with beautiful monarch butterfly wings. i am so lucky this creature has chosen my arm to land on. i can’t believe this is happening.

i blink and the butterfly shifts. changes shape. the butterfly has turned into a human. she looks exhausted. she says we’ve made contact before. and i tell her about the dream i had. the one with the path of butterfly wings on the sidewalk. and she nods her head.

she says that i may be one of them. a butterfly person. and only time will tell. they will visit me again. and over the course of their visits, lessons will be taught. and i will be tested on these lessons. i’m told to be vigilant. and vigilant i will be.

i look forward to the lessons. to the tests. the transformation. maybe one day i will learn why the stars dance. and learn how to dance with them up in the sky. and float down to earth. and check up on the people.

until then i can only dream.

sit back and enjoy the show.