Never Mind

What do I tell my children?  What do I tell my aging parents, honest in that they
Do not envy me.

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How can I convey to you the heaviness of my heart?

I’m sure you’ve felt it, experienced the physical weight of sadness.

That sudden drop which suspends inside.

Lead within the quasi-weightlessness of water.

Water, wrapped in flesh, encased in a mind that cannot lift the eyes to see the horizon.

Just take the moment of temporary lightness, the mire of reality is unfair.

No one can help me, so I look to the earth for inspiration

I look to words for hope

I look to art for some sign of sympathy.

Never mind.

The earth has become paved over with concrete without thought to next week.

The words are glossed over by Freudian overtones that mankind craves.

Art has become not the object but the person who renders nothing but style.

What do I tell my children?  What do I tell my aging parents, honest in that they do not envy me?

How do I keep from mourning the family given and then taken?

The lessons have stopped and I am now atop the tiny dynasty learning faith.

And even that the world insists gets in the way.

Never mind.

Mirror, Mirror, Mother

Okay, listen, let’s get one thing straight before we go on.  I loved my father.  He loved me.  I couldn’t help his natural appetites.  My step-mother was there, yes but if he would have said ‘hey, I’m tired tonight I’ll see you in the morning,’ he may have lived longer. 

It didn’t work, my Mother was right.

She isn’t my real Mother but she’s the only one I have.  I speak to her in the mirror and no, we don’t look anything alike.

She’s beautiful, I mean really beautiful and I’m pretty.  There is a large difference.

She told me that deceit only works if you want to be rich, it never works if you want to be in love.  I thought, (and naturally so) what the hell does she know?  She seduced my father and I’m not too sure if he died of natural causes or if she helped him die of natural causes.

Okay, listen, let’s get one thing straight before we go on.  I loved my father.  He loved me.  I couldn’t help his natural appetites.  My step-mother was there, yes but if he would have said ‘hey, I’m tired tonight I’ll see you in the morning,’ he may have lived longer.  I suppose he died of what we all die of; free will.

Anyway, I was up in the attic trying to figure out the spinning wheel and thinking of a guy I just met at the well.  Now, Mom always told me not to touch the point of the spinning wheel because if I got a drop of blood on the snowy white wool I was spinning I’d fall asleep for 100 years.

I believed her because she worked like a dog for that snowy white wool.  She said that with my dark complexion, big brown eyes and rosy glow I’d look fabulous in white.

She wanted to marry me off as soon as possible.  To her credit, she was sizing up a very rich baron with lots of lands and a modern manor house with water heat.  I think of what life may have been there every once in a while.

I had other plans.  He was fair, noble, handsome and brave, the guy at the well. So I pricked my finger and dropped my own blood on the snowy white wool.  As I tumbled into that deep, deep sleep my Mother warned me about I heard her yelling my name from the basement.  Something about being an idiot.

I think if she would have just left well enough alone she wouldn’t be talking to me through the mirror.  She could have stayed in my father’s castle and lead a normal albeit rather evil life making her poison apples and scaring little kids.

“Did you have to lock your door again last night?” asked the mirror.

“Yes, and you don’t have to tell me I told you so.”

“Move up into the tower, with that game leg of his he won’t follow you up there.”

“He won’t let me cut my hair.”

“Let your hair grow.  It’s always grown fast and thick; you might be able to escape by it in a year or two.”

“That’s ridiculous!”

“So is being married to that frog of a man you waited to kiss on your wedding night.”

Trip Her

Why not trip him? Because the world doesn’t persecute intelligent men. Intelligent men are simply persecuted in a family setting, not on a societal scale.

I have learned, from dubious experience, (dubious being a universal description or rather an attitude toward the experience of..well, experience) that to avoid extreme mental fatigue and emotional pain avoid intelligence.  There is not much hope for you if you are intelligent already.  I’m afraid you must simply live your life out and take the mistake up with God when you meet Him.  But if someone you know is near the brink, the precipice, the mountain top of intelligence, trip her.

Why not trip him?  Because the world doesn’t persecute intelligent men.  Intelligent men are simply persecuted in a family setting, not on a societal scale.

Shut up.

Once a woman is tripped and looking confused and perhaps a little bloodied try and reason with her.  Maybe she is not physically attractive in the modern sense.  Perhaps she is older and has decided to be a “late bloomer.”  Stop her.

Explain to her that intelligence will only bring her grief.  You need not explain to her how if she has not actually accrued intelligence or if she is at the cusp of understanding, there is time to push her back into the womb of self-absorption.  Tell her to take a long hard look at her constituents in the pursuit of marriage, relationship and exquisite mind melding sex.  Don’t tell her those goals will never happen just tell her the pursuit of romantic love will be less harrowing than the pursuit of intelligence.

Are these lies?

Shut up.

Tell the woman you are trying to save, that she must trust someone and to trust you.  Intelligence is a never-ending pursuit and it will only, in the end, frustrate and demoralize.  Whereas on the other hand, the pursuit of relationship will frustrate and demoralize but she will have a better body (due to her pursuit of just the right partner) and she will have the indulgence of self-deception when explaining to a bleary-eyed intelligent woman how happy and content she herself is in her safe and happy relationship.  Will it be a lie?

Yes, but the bottom line is not to have love or even have intelligence but to outdo the other woman.  That’s what women want.  Not to be happy, content or intelligent but to be better than the next woman.

Think about it.  A group of women around some table in a restaurant, complaining about the job, the husband the kids and trying to outdo each other.  Then in walks a 20 something knock-out that they wouldn’t notice if the men in the room didn’t stop and gaze with wonder and awe.  Nothing, and I mean nothing unites women faster than an outsider beauty.  The only one who would throw this unity out the window is the intelligent woman.  The woman who would calmly state that the beauty can’t help she’s beautiful, that each one of them had their opportunity, and that they are all in different stages in their lives – give the girl a break.

See?  Intelligent.

And lonely.

 

The Love of Silence

Take heart for the cold of hatred is brief in fury

Though I would prefer the cold of nature to bury.

Take heart for the cold of hatred is brief in fury

Though I would prefer the cold of nature to bury.

I have heard of such places, the wind wicked cold

The water hard, so hard it cuts.  My sister, my sister,

Who lives there prays by the fire that keeps the winter at bay.

The men of that country, she says, glide upon the water

The water takes all the men away and they sail beyond the sun.

The water, all fresh and cold and haunted keep the men away.

She sits there and talks to God and speaks to Him about me.

My sister, says she to God, will know of me some day.

Our children are of one or the other; for me in their graves

For her never started.  We say little of their missing laughter

We say little of their missing sisters, brothers, and their play,

While in the daytime as she spins the thread that twists and curls

And I weave the nights away.

My sister steps out of her old stone house and listens to the rain

In Spring, while I listen to the sand and heat slide in a secret sacred way.

She thinks of me in the dry seasons and she prays.  I walk beneath

The dome of the universe and sing to the man that once shared

This cape of love with me – and listen to what God says she prayed.

During the day, while in the heat I let salt water drip from my eyes,

Once brilliant, clear, in pools white as milk and my husband would gaze at me

Amazed.  My sister has never known such love, such passion.  I have

Never known her days of silent peace.  We pray for one another.

We keep faith with God and wait to know the day we meet.

I will teach her to weave and love, she will teach me the love of silence.

 

I Forgot Everything

The things I saw.

God help us all.

I remember as a kid my granddad telling me not to drink the water in Calcutta.  Now you had to know my granddad.  The man never traveled further west than Des Moines Iowa nor further east than Fort Wayne Indiana.  What he meant by stating that I should never drink the water in Calcutta was that I could help myself to all the water I wanted here at home.  As a matter of fact, I should drink water over too much coffee in the morning, milk in the afternoon or beer in the evening.  No, he wasn’t a moralist, he was cheap.

When I was shipped off in 1942 to the Pacific, to island hop with the greats like MacArthur and Halsey, the old man got teary eyed and asked me to sit down and have a beer with him before I left.  I did but I wish I hadn’t because I never liked the taste of beer.  I wasn’t much for sentiment and he being old fought against the emotion so as to not embarrass me; my Mother didn’t feel that way she cried all the way to the train station and cried (according to my father) until I came home.

The things I saw.

God help us all.

We were told to die rather than get captured and they said it with all the sincerity of a man with a gun to his head.  The fly boys were being tethered in the jungle with honey smeared into their eyes, nose and ears so that the ants would eat them alive, took a while.  The natives were too frightened to make a rescue – even to kill the poor bastards.

I saw men blown apart in front of me and the last thing I ever heard my first sergeant say was “get off the beach you lead assed mother fuc-.”

They put him in the body bag piece by piece.

I forgot everything.  I forgot that there was a Des Moines and I forgot there was a Fort Wayne and I forgot I had a mother, father or grandfather.  I forgot I had a home.

So you can imagine after three years what it was like to be sitting at my parent’s kitchen table and hearing that old man, as he placed a tall, cold glass of water in front of me, saying – “aren’t you glad you didn’t drink the water in Calcutta?”

Three years, because it went bad for all of us at first and I had no sweetheart and I had no wife; just a mother who wrote to me once a week and that wasn’t enough, you see, to get me stateside.

So you can imagine with that cold glass of water before me, the outside of the glass glistening, my parents sitting down next to me, the pressure of my mother’s hand on my arm.  No gunfire, no bombs, no screaming, no cursing.

“Sir,” I said, “Sir, I never it made it to Calcutta.”

 

Pillar of Salt

never has

Regret found you

Roger’s City and Alpena

The sunrise side

Of cold, cold mourning

Head down, no warning.

Mists of Huron

A grip so soft

yet so unrelenting –

What lies of

Beautiful dreams

Do you have for me now?

What passion

Can you wrench from

Me so as to mock

The salt that I am

And you,

You Huron, are not.

Never have you turned

Around, never has

Regret found you

Above sin, above passion

Like being in love

With a marble

Statue

And I love you.

Sincerely, I do.

 

Welcome to the Company

“The object is to make no mistakes.”

“The object is to make no mistakes.”

“Impossible.”

“Improbable, but recommended.”

She was older, not bad looking for her age and not so frigid as she appeared.  She was my instructor.  I was to be a customer service rep for a short time and then move up.  I had college loans to pay back, a girlfriend who was looking worried and an older cat who looked to be getting to the expensive stage in her life.  The only thing I had to be thankful for was that I lived in a city that didn’t require a car.  True it required heavy coats in winter and was merciless in summer but still, I could get around albeit I couldn’t get out.

My mother wrote to me weekly because she hated computers and told me she wasn’t smart enough for a smartphone.   I suspect that she had a smartphone but worried over her data limits and wouldn’t give me her number.  I suspected that’s all.

“Ms. Levehausen, I’m a novice here and mistakes may be a part of my immediate future.”

“Mr. Warren, you may have been better off in obtaining a liberal arts degree rather than a business degree.”

“I don’t want to starve Ms. Levehausen.”

“Nonsense.  You don’t want to try.”

“Excuse me?”

“You see,” said Ms. Levehausen, “I can tell by the tone of your voice.  My guess is, your parents are both working in light blue collar jobs about 100 miles from the center of this great city and have encouraged you since the 6th grade to be driven.  They might have noticed that you colored within the lines and they might have listened politely to your art teacher but no son of theirs was going to go Bohemian on them and live out his life in a garret apartment or be the coinsurer of beer or coffee to make a living.”

“My father is a bank manager in a city 200 miles from here and my mother is remarried and canning pickles in Wisconsin.”

“Ah, then you must have a high maintenance girlfriend and an old dog.”

“I have an old cat, Ms. Levehausen.”  My head was beginning to spin because I was following Ms. Levehausen around what seemed to be several floors of cubicles that were full of bright-faced young people or gray old people.

“Here is your cubical Mr. Warren.  I will be monitoring your incoming telephone calls for the next three months.  If I feel you are not making progress, we will discuss your future with this firm.  We, of course, want you to be successful.  Your licensing for all 50 states in the Union are up to date and we understand that your training was highly effective.  Just how far in debt are you?”

I blinked at Ms. Levehausen.  Did I really hear that last question?  “Excuse me?”

“I said,” said Ms. Levehausen looking concerned, “Welcome to the company.”

Our eyes met.  I handed her my headset and never looked back.

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