When I Was 17

I remember not wanting to be around,

afraid of my own shadow,

playing anxiety games with my friends,

see who could cover their shadow,

who might understand the freedom

the real world,

the possibility that exists beyond our dreams.

~

I remember sleepless nights with an amphetamine,

the coursing through my veins attitude,

we could last for hours on our own,

no signs of empathy needed,

we were powerful with a dash of freedom

in a zigzag rolled with the finest weed.

We were always able to finally fool ourselves.

~

I remember wanting to escape,

hoping this next moment might be my freedom,

the simple reality of an hour,

could I forget myself long enough to remember

where it was I wished to be,

when while a slow reality might creep in,

I could still be 17.

~

I remember when it was possible to dream,

imagine a world where my life seemed real,

I could play with ideas,

preach philosophies that turned on the girls,

i would listen to Steely Dan,

while trying to paralyze my body,

through some Buddhist meditation.

~

I remember seldom wondering about the next day.

Death In the Family

We knew

in his eyes

a fear he wouldn’t ever

reveal to anyone

he smiled,

we cried,

we knew

he would wander

boiling pressure

every glance seemed agenda,

hadn’t quite known youth;

a soccer field

was his life then,

but how quickly we move

beyond who we are, where we belong.

we knew,

he would falter,

yet we sometimes do

wonder,

if God or some spiritual magic

contains our soul,

even in the worst times,

a young age,

a bullet reprisal,

then gone,

and everyone sitting together,

just weep

for the next lost soul

Solace in Rejection

rejection-ignore-no-ss-19201

Haunting, perhaps a notion, angst, some feeling

of fear in the pit of my stomach,

that which I never want to return to again,

yet, I haven’t a clean slate,

I have human condition instead,

matched up with societal choices,

favors, friends, family,

all the different values of our history,

that open the doors,

and slam the locks.

So what is it I am afraid of,

will I return,

fall back into the trappings,

take a hit, belly up to the bar,

sniff with a following injection,

perhaps instead I might continue the fight

yet I am so tired, so very exhausted

by the reality of the game,

for it is that you know,

addiction,

the biggest fuck your head around I know,

yet, as long as I can still play,

I’m going to win,

take my losses and mount a force of reckoning

on such positive distributions,

that necessary energy,

to help me,

pause, to let me realize,

I can learn more, everyday,

I don’t ever have to stop

wishing successful.

Just, Actors

© Tom Shales

© Tom Shales

***

When we were like this,

nobody really stepped inside our world.

We could laugh and cry together,

hold one another, count on each other,

and smile for the camera as ourselves.

~

We lived real lives

beyond the facade of entertainment;

so compelling, so intriguing, so decimating

that our passions were swept up in

fear

Well, perhaps not each of us

yet

we did find our need to cast a persona

on a world around us

counting upon each story, gag, inventive moment,

to help

you, (them)

cycle through your typical day.

~

Watching us,

how many people realized

we were watching ourselves,

you, him, they, her, we

each ideal

laughter

at your (our) expense,

yet all in fun of course,

because we laughed as much as anyone else,

when the camera …

~

Here we are today

in memory,

simply wishing to evoke another nostalgic

dream come true

of life in America, of love, of fortune,

of delightful entertainment.

Remember us?

We were a household name,

to some,

we gathered in the storms of insecurity

and splayed a comedic shower of tranquility

upon the eyes, the visual masses,

waiting for our next

line.

~

At the end of the scene, we too had needs,

we simply wanted to be recognized as human beings,

beyond the responsibility,

we wanted credibility,

we were after all,

just, actors.

Tonight

swampofsadness

Tonight the pain becomes a central idea,

a notion, a recall, a, sort of, panacea.

Tonight turns life happy toward celebration,

the opportunity to herald a healthy decision.

What happened then could occur tomorrow,

might even be a possibility without my halo,

for the reality of our lives is a fragile pedestal

we could so easily roll backward and fall.

Tonight, ten years ago, I was on a roller coaster

of confusion and self-pity, yet steadfast the driver.

Tonight, begins, yet again, a simpler chapter,

with fresh drawn binding, and quality paper.

Without hope’s love, I could forever lose my release,

in that lair of addiction, from where I’ve found peace.

Walking Faceless

walkways

Taking a stroll downtown to walk the pavement

The many faces, the many eyes, the many silent

Moments that brush past their shoulders every

Waking morning, every tired day’s end so ready

~

Return home or to that place they find some solace

A refuge with walls, cornerstones; a quiet palace

Dinner is prepared with a martini nearby the fire

Newsprint becomes electronics kindled to aspire

~

Upon the world’s travesties, war at home and away

Today read about a drug epidemic seems here to stay

Ah a tired cranium hits the pillow the same each nigh

Dreams of pavement and shoulders and asking why

~

The mirrored outlook a callous reminder of whom

We may intrigue, we have inspired, we daily become

Lest We Forget We are Human Beings -prose-

human condition

There’s a famous line in the relatively obscure movie Freedom Writers that has stuck with me since the first time I heard it in context. ‘You know what’s gonna happen when you die? You’re gonna rot in the ground.” – Erin Gruwell. The context speaks to a young African American student wanting to be recognized as an original gangster – instead of living by society’s standards. I’m struggling with this statement today as I recognize the loss of another young man in our community to drugs. I want people to remember him. I want people to recognize the value of genuine beauty he brought to the people he interacted with in his world. I don’t want people to remember the mistakes he made that cost him his life. He was just growing up, and he made an egregious decision that effected his well being, and it ultimately tested his mortality and won.

I have spent a lot of the last week pouring over his Facebook page looking at the commentary from his friends that supported his recovery; a constant barrage of positive words in countless threads offering hope and prayer for this delightfully idyllic young man. Those posting are gradually moving to quiet and heart-felt memorials, as people begin to recognize his hours are now seemingly limited, perhaps reached at this writing, and people are now asked to remember his spirit and the moments that he touched their lives with his remarkable energy. I glance back at that opening comment in the movie, and I realize it was delivered harshly to drum home an important point. We cannot, no one in fact, overcome the grasp of our human condition’s mortality.

The time for this young man to depart may very well have been far too soon for those closest to him; indeed, also for those whose love for him goes well beyond an occasional encounter, those who knew of his positive spirit at parties and gatherings, those who remember his dynamic upon entering any room of people. Yet, today I wonder if this might be God’s plan. Are we not often asked to face our important decisions when we experience a major crisis? Does that moment often not change our lives, or at least put us in a position to start to actively make healthier choices? Perhaps we need to really grasp the reality of this occasion and recognize that this young man’s early departure is meant as a harsh learning tool for those closest to him, beyond the agonizing family, and more directly to the people in his social circles that likely carry on similar lifestyles.

So when I speak of the beauty of a young man, I also ask that all of you, young people and old please respect the diligent nature of artificial stimuli that is not meant to interact with your human capacity. I ask all of you to speak to each other, and help one another know there are other healthier departures from the daily grind, than the insidious gesture of testing your mortality at the hands of an illicit drug of choice.

I am my own example of the harsh reality of drug and alcohol use. I am standing here today with an addictive personality. I am realizing how vulnerable we all are to our own selfish pursuits, even when we’re not aware of how quickly these ideals may turn our lives upside down. I have experienced consequence, and am perhaps fortunate that my actions did not sacrifice my own humanity when as a young experimenter I thought I could beat any challenge. Today, I know I cannot and know I have to take a higher road, and acknowledge the damage that drugs could very well continue to wreak upon my life. I now look towards my children, my students, and anyone that feels they have that ticket to escape the fragile reality of our mortality and I plead with all of them, I beg all of you to take a pause, be grateful, and go forward with your life in a healthy and respectful manner.

Rest in peace and Godspeed to our good young man of smiles. Others will certainly join you very soon on this fast course to immortality. Eventually we will all be there with you as the natural course of time calls out our number. I hope that your example can help a few fend off that early departure from life as we know it today.

We Can Notice Someone

Walking in the park I noticed a couple of people

Non-descript just hanging out

Keeping to themselves and living

I could feel the laughter through one of their smiles

Seemed to radiate through a forest of spiritual energy

I believe we are all meant to see these moments

Even when we don’t understand

I believe when we can notice someone

They then begin to exist in our minds

We never let go of that vision, image, persona

Captured my attention that beautiful summer morning

When the sunlight peaks through the valleys of our mind

We are safe, we are real, we are loved

I knew a young gentleman

Who could make people laugh

Even when his own world might be crashing down around him

He was there for everyone else beside himself

Sometimes we don’t get a chance to only realize just too soon

Just how beautiful that couple in the park were that afternoon

The Journey continues … (prose)

heaven

Tonight I’m faced with wonder. I heard about a friend of mine’s brother who is on his final moments in that vehicle of a human body he has been blessed with some twenty plus years. His travel on Earth cut short by an artificial stimulant that decidedly stopped his heart, and now he awaits the ticket home. I am sad and confused, well not as much confused as frustrated by how unpredictable our lives really can be. Anything I write tonight will be meant as a testament for the tremendous respect I have for the family, and all of the anguish yet ironic love they will experience in the coming days, all of which begun on Sunday night.

For we do truly love when we recognize someone else’s grief. We do truly shed tears for the reality of God’s heavy hand when decisions of mortality become the truth of our existence. We experience without knowing, and are asked once again, in our brief sojourn with the human condition to learn acceptance.

During times such as this, we question God’s motives, and wonder why this individual was chosen at this time of his life. Not yet twenty five, and his journey here on earth in the physical sense will end soon, and his soul, that which we all wonder holds His mystique will travel on, at a certain peace from the hellish world he is now departing. I only call it hellish because in truth, his actions might have suggested that that need to escape was far more enjoyable than the nightmare his lifestyle had made commonplace.

Drugs are a menace to our young people, and this young man is a clear example of how easily vulnerable we can be to something that we haven’t any concept of its wrath. Tonight the family holds vigil, helpless to the awesome strength of our God as we know him, in all of our circles of spirituality and belief. There are some that will shed tears, many tears, in the release of emotion that follows this beautiful boy’s passing. And yet, somehow we need to be thankful, for again, in tragedy he has provided us knowledge, a keepsake for holding true to the tenets of behavior that can and will cut our lives short. His was measured by a need to escape, and depart he certainly will leaving behind many joys and fond memories of his own grace.

I’ve been looking at pictures all night long, and all I see is his beautiful smile. I cannot see the pain that exists behind the empty shutter. I only imagine the laughs and good times that were always had when he was in the room, because he really is love, and is that representation of our reason to live. He provides us truth tonight. God bless him, and Godspeed his peace and God please love him and guide him and protect him.

Fragile, Human, Love

We are a natural trip are we not

Stubborn, tough, confident

We walk into a room and we are noticed

Attention, smiles, familiar

We will need each other only when we want to

Cry, sigh, tell me why

Heart is aching tonight

Thinking about you, and you, and Grace

Wondering about choices

Deciding that while my life is lacking

Really how miserable that might sound to you

At this moment

Tubes, needles and ventilators

Providing fucking artificial life

Fucking artificial life

That final moment of acknowledgement

All that shit about living bold

Doesn’t matter

Doesn’t hold up

All that bravado was a lot of fun …

~

Yet, there breathes that inner demon

Struggling and gnawing inside

Often quieted in moments

When the outside needed to feel safe

Crawling through the mire of mortality

Seeking some serenity

It never came at least while you were

Breathing naturally

We can only pray

For in the night He holds the key

To deciding your elegant fate

~

We love you and know you and thank you

Quiet reminders of fragile human love