On the thoughts of a gorilla and the news.
“Shh, old man,” Reggie mumbled to himself as he eyed the TV. “It’s not the end of the world yet.” He leaned closer to the television. “The end of the world hasn’t come yet, for we old soldiers still sit in purgatory uncalled. Surely that devil would call us if he knew we sat at ease.” The TV blared, for Reggie used the sound against the loneliness of his soul.
News reports troubled him: the president declaring war actions, kids dying, no one understanding why killing was so easy for the man, volunteers sent packing as democratic pigeon minders, told they got no business, old people dying and no one caring.
”Hush, Reggie, pray he doesn’t call you. You can barely keep time at a social dance with the old women down in the basement of the church. Not much of a social, all of us left by families that know our minds are going. Not much to be happy for, to care for, to do. Puzzles and number thingy squares. Old women knitting. Women ruminating like cows, no brains left. Young folks and nurses bugging folks to be active. Folks showing us computers, damned machines. Shh, damn it, man, don’t get so upset. Don’t call attention to your dark soul. You don’t want the attention of that type. They bury us with trumpets blowing and our service honored, but there is little honor in what we did. We killed, oh that we served as God willed. Oh, that peace was close, but it ain’t coming.”
The news flooded the room. Missiles launching from planes, children laying dead, yellow gas coating everything. Reggie looked down at his hands. His hands, beautiful hands, that had held a child when it was born, helped it learn to walk, paid with labor to send his child to school, and watched with pride at the start of the Great War III. Strong hands that had served him, that had held his wife as she sobbed at the telegram from the War Department, now sat idle in his lap. Sad hands that watched the news take his wife’s will to live, that buried her.
“Reggie, man, you have to keep quiet, man. Don’t say your thoughts too loudly, or they’ll have you out the door as a traitor. I’m you, you know, still you. I’m me. I was…I am, I get so confused these days.”
He moved the food on his plate around in circles. TV food, the folks next door brought TV food to him each night. They said it was okay he didn’t know them. He hated that. They told him names. They had no faces. The food was placed on his TV tray. One plate, one fork, one spoon, one glass of water. His teeth were worn and so his food was precut, mushed by him into the catsup. He took a bite, swallowed, and took another. Food had no real meaning, it just kept him alive. It all tasted the same.
“When’s it morning, old man, when’s morning coming? Not soon enough. Devils on the TV, devils in church, next it will be devils in my home.”
The door to the room he sat in opened and closed. Reggie didn’t bother looking around.
“What do you want now?” he asked. “You don’t normally come for the dishes. Got something for me?”
Whoever had entered the room hissed at him, “Good evening, Reggie.”
“Don’t know why you bother me every night. I’m an old man. Got a devil for president, a war to begin more wars, ain’t nothing going to ever be okay again.”
“Your pain, it seems worse tonight, Reggie. Shall I take it from you?” The stranger moved to the front of the couch. He pushed the plastic container of pills in front of Reggie.
“Pain means I’m alive. I’m an old man. Ain’t nothing going to matter ever again. Leave me alone. I don’t want nothing from you.” He watched the TV change to a game show. “See they roll that wheel and people guess words. Fools always take too long. You want to watch this show with me? I ain’t about to go out with all that fireworks on the news going on.”
“I can take your pain away, Reggie. I can ease the burden of your heart.” The stranger sat down and rested his hand on Reggie’s knee. “I’m worried about you, Reggie, you don’t do anything but watch that idiot tube. The news will make your heart stop, if you keep watching it.”
“Heart stopped years ago when the wife died.”
“Reggie, all you have to do is tell me that I can take your soul to a different plane. But you have to say it.”
“Hell, you think you’re the devil or something? Take my soul to a plane. A plane to a place where no-one gives a damn. Nah, you get out. I’m not going with no devil. I have my own devils inside me. I live my own hell, don’t need to go to one.”
“Heaven won’t come to you, Reggie, not ever. You’ll never find relief sitting here. Come with me, Reggie, you’ll be warm and with family.”
Reggie watched the wheel spin. “Hey, weirdo, you know that phrase right there? Daniel Webster said it.”
“Fine, Reggie, fine. What’s the phrase?”
Turning to the illusion beside him, Reggie laughed and said, “Get the hell out.” He leaned back in his couch and closed his eyes. “Devil wouldn’t want me, I’m too much of a grumpy old Gus. Close the door as you leave. Damn curmudgeon needs his rest.”
The devil stood and smiled. Reggie was one of his favorites. He could bide his time. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Reggie.”
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/survive/ Survive, they tell us, On narrow-edged razors Placed, just so, on a budget Of bloodlust. Politics For the common man, reduced to Serfdom, where the poor Are sacrificed for the glut That wealthy others feed upon. Survive, they tell us, On a release of the Restricted intelligence, So that terrorists walk free After butchering children. An alarm clock of hatred, A mocking of decency. Unworthy of ordinary life. Survive, they tell us, When the crowds surged Forward, enraged. Engaged, With the hate, the fear, The mongering. My health, Now a kicking point, for to be Sick is a crime, a punishment Given by God Almighty. Survive, they tell us, In a century of knowledge, As idiocy and lies are perceived As the only truth. Ice caps Fail, polar bears plunge Exhausted into Arctic water. Rivers begin to laugh As they move towards combustion. Survive, they tell us, As children drink lead for breakfast, As the aware, pushed toward A long sleep dreamless, give A sip, a toast, a cheer, propelling pushing destiny for shiny heroes, Forgotten moments later As their lives deteriorate, wounded. Survive, they tell us, Laughing at the confusion In newsrooms. Truth or Dare. Truth or Dare. Resist. I walk on a knife blade Where time is frozen. Survival of the fittest, Now a mortar field of guesswork. Resist.
OK, everyone. For starters, can I just reiterate something which people seem to gloss over: meltdowns happen in autistic adults, not just autistic children. You may not see them as often because we may be better at hiding them from the general public, but just sometimes you may see cracks in our armour and one will get through.
[TW self harm]
For me, meltdowns are much the same now as they were when I was a child: the crippling panic, the uncontrollable tears and shaking, the repetition of a phrase of thought on loop in my head, the need for space and silence. Added to that are some tricks I picked up in my adolescence to ease the pain in my soul: the hitting my thighs or walls, the digging my fingernails into my head, the rubbing my skin until it’s raw.
[End of TW]
It is real. It happens…
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This explains so well the mission of a poet.
Few essays on writing poetry grab me by the collar, slam me against the wall, and say “Listen, dammit!” But this one did.
Camille Dungy’s words sear through the fog. She tells it slant. She tells it true. She explains how some masters have done it. If you’ve not read her poetry, seek it out. You’re in for a treat. If you have the good fortune to attend a lecture or reading by her, do so. She’s energetic, wise and kind. She knows.
Originally posted in June 2014.
If I roamed in speech like Mark Twain, Making sure of my woods, river, sea, I'd wander in a circle, find an old goat, A grandfather, a porch, gold, river pirates. A wooden rocker and an audience, newsprint. Of innocents abroad, of jaded women here. If I enlisted like Mark Twain, casually, Caustic humor, avoiding combat, dinner. Serving for two, yes two, weeks And late for dinner. Tents and shovels. Tour of duty, the South, Rising late For breakfast, late home for dinner, Lectures from well meaning adult fools Who don't understand that war means blood. If I prayed like Mark Twain, for he did, It would be short, sweet, to the point, An argument of reason, intellect, An avoidance of familiarity, a face, questions. He prayed for salvation for his absurd truths. He never even got a letter in return. I am not Mark Twain, although I ramble in A concrete jungle, a zoo of originality, Of pauses and starts, hesitation, then Galloping on two feet with little hands. Children are my joy, his too. I enlisted, found a hole with my name, Foxlike I waited for the big dog, But all he wanted was sex. Sex, with me! Fraternizing with peers, I said no, and no, I found the door to file papers of abuse. Learned men are a grouping of Rotten apples, grapes on a vine. I have no time for old boys. Networks, bah. I don't pray. No, never got an answer, Not even a no. I figure God will Send me a postcard, or an email Asking for money, when God gets around. Everyone wants money. I have a hole in my pocket. Leaking. I am an emotional clamp, holding together A family of squirrels. Who knew? Mother always knew best, then I, Me, became the All Knowing Mother To mine own be true. Schools and crossbows Peeking from Concrete towers of sand. Sand stolen from the river. Free. Wait, there's a charge? Grumpy black bear, Moose Feet, It's something Twain saw, In the City of Gold at sunset In San Francisco, My dream city. Twain and I would have whiskey Talking politics, reading Dickens. Laughing at the words lost On a system of learning. Unlearning. Creeping, shadowing, loathing. We'd chat, sympathize, reconnoiter The political landscapes with Enough comedy for years of shows. Appalled that thinking people still hate. Appalled at the randomness of the bible Applied at a voting booth. Politics And religion rarely join joist to hinge. Mankind at its best, condemning sky, water, Others because they can, do, lust after. He'd shake his head, write a book, Find Adam in the park. Discuss with disdain, And I would listen, rapt, filing for later All of the similarities through time, A century of time, of things he thought Would mend, but haven't. So I write.
Where are you now? With the audience silenced. Can you return? Can I find you? The critics miss Your beautiful voice speaking, drawing visions Of life and time, of vision and hope, a woman in yellow. Her hat as is held in place by a hand, a pin, A ribbon. Slipping on and off the bus. I miss you with the audience gone. Quiet air. Friends are far apart these days, Imaginary, real, internet friends, have life. All kept apart by electrons rotating, holding hands Turning in waltz time, 3/4 time, one, two, three Heard beyond time as planets revolve blending with each other Cosmos tracking galaxies, so the revolution Relies on you, a woman scorned, no, not you. You, a writer, spectator, talent, rider of buses But someone said, and someone did. Hurting, You left us, all alone, missing the train you Put before us to ride, taught to negotiate with our souls. I call you as your grandmother might, cheerfully Near the clothes line, over a fence, worried At tea with a friend. Where are you now? Traveling back and forth, seeing a desert, A plain, a woods. The Cat seeking your hand purrs. Comfort from warm sunny days on the porch swing. I read them over and over, your words, hoping that I'll see A sign of life, a breath, star dust, your smile. Are you coming back? Be brave. Words are only words. But they live for us, grow as infants, loved, Even when they scold, they love. Eyes smile, arms hug, Don't leave, don't run away, by bus, train.
Pace your hate, as you line up for the cause Of suppression. Homogenous populations, all the same, in tacky Red hats that Support a change to control the liberal masses And their ideology Of helpful compassion. They give to others what We don't have. Betrayed by life, we blame all of you who want to Continue Roosevelt's policy. Heard on Fox news, conflicted and wounded, Unmade in their beds. Giving a face globally of self-centered anger, A movement thought dead. Those who hate, have buried seed, seed from Eons hidden from light. Majority voters, liberal thinkers, compassionate Lovers of all, Who are these new oppressed? Your mother, father, sister, Brother, uncle, niece, aunt. All liberals want is a chance to be happy, to share, To be kind and considerate. This is a crime, signed by a swirly pen, by a old man With tangerine skin, gibbonlike,jumping up and down, Red hair dyed so that he cannot be old. A screamer, A bully wishing to be King of the swamp, the dark underbelly, anti-regulations Of protection. Our new leader, a sociopath, a leader of sociopaths, Of spies and lies. This is what the haters wanted. A chance to burn with Fire and fist. To force back into the box the godless, the "fairy", The rebel child. Force back into the box the librarian who allows that Filth on her shelf. Force back into the haze, our global responsibilities, The cost we should not Bear, and bare the back without brother, the bible Thumper in bunny clothes. Beware your hate, for you are a candle in the dark, Beware your match. Reason is a dangerous opponent on the battlefield, Where compassion Equals hope, hospitals, schools, wells, medical care, Where a bridge Is not too far, it pulls, tugs, pushes our knowledge Of others, like a kite. Beware the actor, the captain, the ship, who find Lie after lie And tattle to the world. Pace your hate, because I Will extinguish it.