Five Years in a Flash – 02 Liver

(ICYM the first part – click here)

Not only have I fallen in love but we’ve stayed in love. That’s an important difference. And when someone you love mentions something no matter how small it should be heard and considered. In the autumn of 2012, I was well into the idea of writing a small collection of poetry to release as an ebook. But I needed something, a reason that these poems would exist together. I didn’t realize it would come together the way it did.

From the moment I entered my 20’s, I expected and was waiting for a moment that resonated and made me feel like a man. I was resistant to the idea that it just happened. There’d have to be a catalyst. Like love, man isn’t a word to just throw around—when speaking of manhood, that is.

Towards the end of 2012, two albums came out that greatly influenced my book of poems called My Enveloping Reflection.  Not only that, they influenced and inspired me. Since we’re talking about throwing words around—inspire is another one.

To clarify: inspiration is nonexistent if you do nothing. You can’t say something is inspiring. That would be like dipping your toe in the tub and saying you went swimming. If the inspiration was real you’d do something with it.

The aforementioned two albums are House of Gold and Bones Part 1 by Stone Sour, which features heavily on the idea of manhood and what it means to be/grow into a man, and Spreading my Wings by World Fire Brigade which is Sean Danielson of Smile Empty Soul and Brett Scallions of Fuel singing their fucking asses off. It’s brilliant.  Buy it now.

These things were in my ears heavily (along with the new Taproot) towards the end of the year when around November, Aleks asked about my drinking. I told her, and I really believed it too, that I needed it. I was drinking to fall asleep every day, which can be helpful to an extent and I think it was when I first did it to fall asleep during the day. I work at night so I sleep during the day. But a couple beers quickly advanced to more and more and more until I was at the point that I’d sleep 5 hours and wake up still buzzed (that may be an understatement) and drive an hour to work.

I forget what her exact words were but they were enough to stick into my head and get me to really think about it. Do I need it? The doubt was enough to make me curious if it was all in my head. So December 31st, 2012 I had one beer left in the fridge. I told myself that that was it until I DESPERATELY needed more.

At that point I had already written a few of the poems that would make it into my poetry collection but when January turned I felt a new question burning inside of me. The question of–am I going to quit? Is this it? So I wrote about it. And that poem is in the collection too.

In hindsight, I think drinking was an attempt to stir up some manhood because from an outsider it looks like that’s a requirement. And it was never about getting drunk, I never liked that. I think that the source of my substance abuse is not linked just to drugs or alcohol. But an urge to get away. That’s the only way I describe the feeling I feel when drinking. It’s not about getting drunk and sloppy. It’s about where the bottle can take me. Take me away, take me wherever you want. I just want to go.

I’ve come to this thought over the past week. I’ve been sober since the start of 2013 but last month when I was in Macedonia for Aleks’s birthday I had a couple beers with her. Mostly I was curious if I was “cured” or whatever. But the same urges remain. And the urge to get away is there still. But it’s not a symptom of hating my life because I don’t. It’s similar to wanting to be swept away by a good book. Let me just get away for a second and feel like somebody else. Maybe it’s a screwed up sort of empathy like Will Graham from Red Dragon experiences. I don’t know. I just know the away thing seems the most right of anything I can think of.

I do know and understand that drinking isn’t for me. And instead of pushing my luck, I’m going to stick to that.

I actually prefer being sober, which I found to be immediately surprising since I spent so much of my younger years the opposite. For most of my life I felt out of control of everything which could be a symptom of all the drugs and so when I let sobriety sink in I was floored by how in control I felt.

I’m not giving that away.

This Heart Is A Gunshot Wound

The last time I stood there,
The rain was falling like my own tears
This is the closest I’ll ever be to you
This is the closest that I will ever be to you
After a few minutes I couldn’t tell my tears from raindrops
The tears shed for our common hurt
The raindrops fell for us that day
and that was the first time in months my mind was quiet
All the questions stopped spinning around my head
Though today they still remain
and I know they will always be there
It’s a result of the choice you made over three decades ago
and like that windshield my mind will never be cleaned

After the war, the one the history books remember,
We both know there were other wars that you fought
You didn’t come back the same
No, nothing was ever the same
When the guns and cannons ceased fire, others began firing
I wonder if they said it to your face
The way similar people said it mine
Did you believe what they had to say?
All I know is they took you and locked you away
I hope it wasn’t the way I imagine it to be
and I wish I could save you from that place
The way I was saved from a similar place
I hate the thought of them feeding you pills
Keeping that beautiful mind frozen in place
I wish I knew how you got out of there…

They say that birds of a feather flock together
Are you the reason I always thought I’d die at 25?
I’ve read the words that you wrote
and I’ve read the ones that Grandma Bea wrote
I wish I could travel back in time
and show you what she wrote about you, shortly before…
She wanted to hear from you, she loved talking to you on the phone
What were you doing those last few years?
Did you buy the gun specifically to end everything?
Was your sister’s wedding too much to bear
because of the girl you wrote about?
How long did you contemplate the choice before you pulled the trigger?

I am the nephew you probably never thought you’d have
and I’m already older than you allowed yourself to be
Your middle name is my first name
and I’m sure that I’m the only one who has visited you in years
Your brother and sisters continue to call you crazy
and I think it makes it easier for them
I’m sure you felt unloved but trust me that isn’t true
In our family, it’s frowned upon to be honest and show any real emotion
Which is probably why we both turned to writing it all down

I love you Uncle Brian but you stole from me
You are but you really could have been my favorite uncle
and you threw away the chance to find the joy that was waiting for you
I can’t begin to describe how my niece’s beautiful blue eyes make me feel
and she’s beginning to fumble around with my name
You missed out on all of that with me
You missed out on all of me
and I missed out on all of you
My mother still gets uneasy around Thanksgiving
Your mother didn’t cook the year you killed yourself
My mother tried to and I think that’s why she doesn’t like to cook
Over 30 years later and the hurt remains
I’m sorry it had to be this way
I’d give just about anything to talk to you and get to know you
You’re the reason I don’t completely curse this blood in my veins
If there is one person that I would get along with
and actually want to be around, it would be you

Years ago when I was much younger, your mother lit up when I asked about you
Even with all the hurt you caused her, she chose to remember you fondly
The choice you made, that bullet, it was a mistake
and no matter how much anyone wants to, it can’t be taken back
I do hope you found peace
but at the same time I want you to know the hurt you left behind
That bullet didn’t just put a hole in your head
It tore through every single person that cared for you
You put it in yourself and now it’s lodged in all of us
and it can’t be removed, it will always be inside of us

There are multiple holes here
I just want the complete story
I just want to know you
Like the way it feels that you know me
Are you really watching over me?

Though the road will be difficult, I believe I can sew the seams of my hopes and dreams

My mind is always focused on a distant land
It’s both a metaphoric escape from the bland
and an actual place on this planet
I wish I there was a way to plan it
but the truth is it is all uncertain
I wish it could be a blanket instead of a curtain

It’s not about what is deserved
So many lines are always getting blurred
I dream of a life that could be earned
and on this path I find there’s much to be learned
I’m such a fragile person and oh so lazy
and I know most would just call me crazy
but that word is used when understanding is lost
Because it takes effort and it’s too steep of a cost
For most of the talking heads I see around me
but it’s not difficult to see what has found me
She’d disagree but she is incredible
and I intend to make it all more than a fable
because it absolutely is more than that
I swear I am learning from the times I’ve fallen flat

Often I find my head in the clouds
Sometimes the voices ring out so loud
and they turn things dark and dreary
When I know I can focus on thinking clearly
The truth is I let too much inside
and every time I feel like I die
A little bit more than the last
but it brightens just as fast
There is strength that is all mine
but often it is hard to find
Difficult to realize the truth of it all
Someone tell me why is it so easy to fall?
I’ve spent so much of my life chasing the easy way
but lately I find myself working towards a better day

The other distant land is this right here
The words you’re reading, the ones I fear
that will never reach the point I want them to
but I’m not sure there’s any other things I could do
I want to make a big splash and earn this dream
but my current life dims the light I want to beam
It’s not so easy balancing everything I want to balance
I get lost in my head, drowning in my own trance
Dealing can be difficult and draining
Too many people are extremely straining
The way I approach things needs to be rectified
and changed so I can bring out what is inside

in the breeze of anxieties

A disease, terminally touched down
Wildfires forcing the fleeing of
wildlife unto the uncharted
From seeds into full-fledged trees
Overflowing forests causing confusion, preventing the singing
from flocks of varying birds,
now overwhelmed like the undertow of the distant ocean
Unable to pick a tree, to find a branch
How can anyone expect them to pick a song to sing today?
The sounds of their fluttering wings, tree to tree
and branch to branch
It is all lost in the breeze and the swaying
trees seem to mock them

Watch as the worried looks appear
within the thick outer skin of these trees
What if the birds start singing and bring forth
the buzz saws or the match strikes?
Their bark begins to howl out of their unwarranted worry and sorrow
They are mourning what still lives
They are mourning what still exists
There are no signs of anything different coming
There are no intruding or deafening footsteps
Safety surrounds these towers
but why can they not see?
Is it possible they smell the stench
flowing from the fluttering wings?

Standing firm while bleeding and barely breathing
The creators of oxygen are struggling
Or are they?
But who are they?
It can’t be only trees blowing in the breeze
Shaking before a sneeze
There is a haunting disease
Like the buzzing of bees
Complete with a physical sting
Making nothing into something
Say hello and scream goodbye
Bring it down and leave it high
The only option left is to try
and keep trying,
it’s passing, it is dying
Yes it is dying!

Write and Wrong

The words, the ones softly spoken
Often are mistakenly thoughtless
and I’ve said it a lot:
The road from my mind to my mouth
Was never finished, the bridge is out
Perhaps it’s a crutch
I’m sure it comes off that way
It just feels better to write,
to be… isolated

Does this make me less than I should be?
The words seem to make more sense
When I write them all down
I come alive upon the page
and the rest of the time
I wither in the shadows

I’m heartfelt and vibrant, alive on the page
I’m cold and emotionless in person
like calculating machinery, going through the motions
because I’m afraid
and persecution seems to live and linger everywhere
I am alive but I refuse to be lively
They are out to get me
Every last one of you
Nothing feels as it should
If confidence is something given at birth
It surely was drained and stolen from me

These ups and downs I wade through
are less frequent nowadays and significantly deeper
I suppose that’s stability laced with clarity
Sobriety, I believe, is a war
Between restoration and regression


A drill bit could end the bullshit
A pair of scissors could erase the blisters
A razor blade could phase or fade
but why am I thinking this?
Is happiness a sinking kiss?
just enough to please and seize
We are all just trees in the breeze
Feelings are our leaves, coming then going
Rarely we allow our colors out for showing

Don’t mistake this for suicidal
The curious wondering is natural
Some seek out light at the end of the tunnel
I’m only trying to find faith in myself
Dwelling on all that I’ve ever felt
and trying to discover more about me
and alleviate my mind so I may see clearly

There’s a lot left, I’m not looking to die
Sometimes it’s difficult to find the will to try
Sometimes I can’t find the tears I wish to cry
and if I can be honest: deep inside
I know that life is not to be denied
There’s a lot left to witness and to be tried
There’s many of my colors yet to be flown
and so much I haven’t done and haven’t shown


She was the one with the threat
The one burning herself with regrets
She said “I have the blade in my hand”
Playing present tense when it was just a plan
She wanted it so bad and I was THE April fool
There was a cut but not flesh, she became flushed stool
We were walking, trying to balance on the tightrope
of all our lies, oblivious to the slippery slope

In hindsight, there is no fog
The truth is I got exactly what I sought out
I wanted to hurt, I wanted pain
Be careful what you wish for, is a cliche no doubt
but it’s stone cold advice too

I could make a list of all my mistakes
but it’s better to remember the lessons learned
There’s too many that are immune to wooden stakes
Some are out to drain and laugh as emotions are burned
Vampires belong on well drawn pages placed in crates
Watch as fictional folks are bled and turned

There may not be closure, I’m here picking at the wound
I was torn down swiftly and shown how to bloom
You see, I was confused it wasn’t a wall it was a door
She’s a skeleton now but still she rhymes with sore
She took her fictional blade and cut away parts of me
You could say it’s a bit of a rebirth, I became new
and I was shown something, I found something better
Amazing how it still blows me away how much better
You see, there’s this star in my sky shining so bright
Though not blinding, still a powerful pleasant light


Trapped beneath this feeling
Afraid to look up at the ceiling
Sleep won’t come, still I’m reeling
and winding this rope
Here without a hope

This is disorientation
Suffocating creation
Often only audible tastes
A contrast of what exits my face
So many voices heard
So much left deterred
The line is all blurred

An increasingly loud chant:
Pull the trigger! Pull the trigger!
You know you’re a quitter,
So go and pull that trigger!

and I wake to find
That I am so behind
The line is spinning
What is winning?
I’m not safe here or there
I’m no one and nowhere
It’s not about what’s fair
It’s about what makes sense
I have bruises from this fence

Discerning is difficult for me
Learning the truth escapes me
I see many falsehoods around
No wonder reality is rarely found

Heartfelt Anxiety

I know this heart of mine is strong
but why do I feel so weak?
I’m too sensitive to belong
Tell me why do I feel so wrong?

I stand but I feel as if I’m falling
and I bury my vulnerability
If I’m a car then I’m sure as hell stalling
Can someone stop the panic from calling?

I wish I could hide it, keep it from showing
but my face displays too much
Chaos lives in the wind and it’s always blowing
Acceptance and tolerance, what keeps you from knowing?

I should be able to let it all go
but my heart won’t allow me
Is armor something that I can grow?
Because I don’t feel safe letting them know


And I believe we can grow
Even if we can’t let go
Some are hidden and some show
Our own rigid scars to bear
No torment doesn’t play fair
It all seems too much to wear

Tell me, how can this be?
The windshield is dirty
All I want is to see
But it’s unclean always
The sight lost, gone for days
Wish it was just a phase

I see the sky empty
Lingering above me
Could I pay you a fee?
Is there an entity
With the power desired?
Just melt that gun with fire
and prove that you exist
Until then, I’ll resist

I can’t wash it away
You’re scattered every day
Trembling hands made the choice
Life is lacking your voice
Lost in an explosion
Can’t reverse the chosen
I knelt before the calling
and found what was falling

and though the windshield’s dirty
I found what was left for me
My own living memory
Overlooked and out of sight
A place bathed in shining light
Where growth keeps on through the night

A Chapter Called Mistake

There is nothing that can be said
Perhaps oceans are what’s left of broken hearts
Waves mimic the feelings that crash as reminders
He said he was loyal
He fucking said he was as loyal as they come
but can anyone be that loyal?
Now he’s trembling and screaming
but there’s no one around to hear
There’s no one
because she is hurting
and he is guilty
Whispering, shouting thoughts in his mind
“If there ever was a reason to be perfect
It is you.
Darling, I wish I could be perfect just for you.”
He knows the way he is now
Is the very definition of unworthy
She’s away but he knows there’s tears
and he tore the path that her tears take

He’s undeserving of a destiny
Maybe she could forgive but again
He feels so unworthy, he hasn’t earned a damn thing
“Just shut your lying deceptive mouth.”
He stands shouting in the mirror
There’s a punishment that must be placed upon him
but the one that is probably coming
Is the one he would give ANYTHING to avert
“Darling don’t push me away,
I’m weak, oh so weak at times
but you’re the reason to be strong.
How could I forget in that moment?”
He’s talking to her but she’s not available
Not even interested
The waves of memories crashing upon her
Is he destined to be another on the pile?
He doesn’t want to be, NO HE DOESN’T WANT TO BE
but it’s out of his hands
He made his choice and it was wrong
and in turn she’s wronged
“Is there someone out there that can tear this heart out?
I am unworthy of it, smash through my rib cage
and release that which lives inside.
I’ve ignored it, I am undeserving of it’s beating presence.”

It’s all futile
The chapter titled Mistake has been written
and all that’s left are pieces on the floor
He could collect them and put it back together
but it wouldn’t be right
Nothing will ever be right again without her hand
and her hand has become a fist
Sir, fall to your knees and accept what you created
Sir, close your eyes and accept what you destroyed
but he stands with fight in his eyes
“My dear you are worth fighting for
but I need you to tell me what I can do.”
He’ll scream inside while waiting for a response
That may never come
His part of the chapter has been written
The pages are in her hands now
but what will she write?