Dream Variations

Dream Variations

by Langston Hughes

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

I often wonder whether I know the true meaning of freedom when I’m encased in whiteness, when others’ first impressions of me neither reflects my culture nor who I am. But I think that, though Hughes was most likely referring to the sorrowful plight of the African-American, the poem might very well refer to me as well.

There have been so many times when all I’ve wanted to do is scream. The stress and the overwhelming desire to give up becomes so strong that I feel like I’m bursting from the inside out, like I’m filled with helium and, if I’m not held to the ground, I will somehow fly off in the far distance and return deflated and alone. “To fling my arms wide…” That’s what I’d rather do; to dance and whirl somewhere between sanity and madness, until the whiteness of hospital walls and sedating pills are done. Then, and only then, can the cool of night, that time when everyone sleeps and only I remain restless, come on gently as I fill page after page of writing the darkness that threatens to escape into society’s rigid, pale world.

“That is my dream!” To be able to give it all up (“fling my arms wide”) and face my responsibilities, my duties, the constricting expectations of functioning citizenship, and dance and whirl in their faces until all I do is write, write, write away my life, my sadness, my joys, my soul… then finally “rest at pale evening,” that place between doing and done, where night comes tenderly and I can finally understand the meaning of true freedom… “Black like me.”

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Love is an Echo

Love is an Echo

In order for an echo to be heard, a sound needs to be made.  The sound of love is oftentimes the most prevalent sound that lasts long into the echo.  But love is not always the sweet sound of wind chimes singing in the breeze or waterfalls cascading in the distance.  Sometimes love is the sound of sobbing in the dark or the heart-wrenching silence of wanting someone you can’t have and watching her from a distance.  Those sounds last well into the years until the echo is all that is remembered and the original sound has long since faded.

Some try to petrify the echo in time with deposits of tears and hopeful yearning, reaching back into the past to capture something that had never been there.  But ultimately, an echo is just an illusory craving for something heard only by the bearer of the echo as it perennially resonates in his head until he believes that somehow she too can hear his heart beat against his chest with the sounds of a love she never knew existed.

And when the echo evanesces, the clamorous ringing of loss becomes its replacement so that instead of feeling the sting of unrequited love anymore, he hurts for a love he could no longer remember having forgotten.

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Unrequited Love” by Pichu

** Featured image by Zeiva (http://zeiva.deviantart.com/art/Echo-33587678)

Intercession

One night, when fate had separated us and I knew I was losing you slowly, a fireball visited me in the darkness and woke me from my sleep. Having awoken, I could no longer see it, but felt you writhing inside me like a Dantean character clawing his way out. I held on to my aching chest as if heart-stricken, my beating pounding for the two of us, and collapsed upon the floor on my knees, gulping the breaths you were gasping for. The tears streamed down uninvited as my head warred against the idea that you suffered, that pain engulfed in a backdraft. My soul struggled to understand the sudden loss of yours emptying out like disgorged victuals on an irreverent altar of oblation; I, your sacrifice on a pedestal, and you the profane priest that held a knife across my throat. So I cried out to the God that hears even the desolate whispers of His beloved sinners, but not for me; I murmured your name over and over again like an ancient incantation in another tongue, the image of your burning flesh impressed upon me so that the pain of losing you over and over again would escape in the repetition like blisters forming upon my skin. And, in the end, I collapsed, exhausted and afraid that my intercession had not reached the inner sanctum of Heaven where angels gather to worship and convey messages from His people, that your own guardian angel had abandoned you in the darkness of your room where you fervently prayed like a virtuous saint, longing for the hankering of a second chance.

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“Angel Underground” by Michael Reineke

Pearls

Two pellucid pearls were placed in the palms of my hands, each serving a divine purpose, both proof that God’s unwavering love cannot be unveiled by mere human experience. Each pearl came with a choice that had to be made: one of true love and the other of falling in love, both destined for me, neither of which could interfere with the other. And so I chose the shinier pearl of loving and being loved, and brandished it around my neck, to cherish closest to my soul, two flames burning in the same hearth, where I could be reminded that unconditional, pure love exists even in a fallen world. I placed the other pearl of falling in love upon the ring finger of my left hand, nestled close to the palm as a testament that romance and love sometimes intertwine to blossom the mingling of two hearts and meld them into one.

But humanity, in its brokenness and sinful nature, was not meant to hold such loves for their fate is one destined for righteous holiness or holy condemnation. Perfect love on Earth only had only come once, and the gifting of pearls had become so rare in its benefaction that only few had received such blessing. But too late did I realize that I had been among the blessed few because I had taken for granted the pearls that had adorned me for years, and, in doing so, I had forgotten their divine appointments to show me God’s love in its purest forms. My soul burned for the attentions of the heart, and my heart yearned only for fealty, but all I wanted was to appease my aching, troubled mind with the distractions of the flesh, and so God, in His infinite wisdom, stripped me of the pearls, leaving only the husk of a charm and the monotony of an overused band, both still with me, but devoid of the purity that had bound them to me.

And so somewhere between the storms and tsunamis, between losing all hope and drowning in misery, I lost God’s message and the beauty of His pearls, for it was never meant for me to hoard or to abuse; it was meant to remind me of His timeless love. The pearls, with their exclusive purposes in my life, the gifts within them shining forth the purity of God’s love to humanity, were meant to remind me of His love during the times they would not complement my heart and soul, when my mind would wage war against both heart and soul, and bury me in the burning pyres of depression.

Unfortunately, I have forgotten the way pearls feel in the palms of my hands when they are so lovingly entrusted to me.

 

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On Wearing Masks

Masks unveil the hidden, for if one needs to wear a mask, it means there is something to hide. But if the mask is a good one, others never suspect that the mask is, in fact, not my face.  They have seen it so much, though, and so often that they have come to believe it is not simply a mask that I wear in order to protect my secrets and insecurities, my opinions and maladies, but they believe that it is who I actually am.  But I know it is not, and sometimes the illusion of mask becomes so heavy in its deception that it is harder to hold up with only a strap. And I can feel it slipping ever so slowly, the holes for my eyes covering my lids, making it harder to see clearly; my mouth now distorted so that my grin looks more like a smirk or a sardonic leer; my hands shaking to readjust it even as others watch with dismay or amusement (I’m still uncertain of what they actually see).

And if I only wore one mask, it would not be surprising  that the mask would become aged and begin falling apart with cracks like wrinkles suddenly touching the edge of existence.  Where once there were cheeky colors and ballsy retorts upon an intriguing calavera mask, now there is only the inevitable fading like a relinquishing submission to expected conjectures that only lead to spiritual death.  Ah, if there were only one mask.  But there are too many interchanging masks for me to keep up with, one for each watchful faction of spectator just waiting to see the sinful face of reality, the pallid one that conceals what makes me the most vulnerable like a washed up crab along the shores of oblivion, glaring into the sun of others while slowly shriveling up and dying.

Even crabs hide behind shells, and so even I hide behind the masks that you have papier-mâchéd onto my face.

Standing in the Gap

Standing in the Gap

Many who know me know that I absolutely hate clichés. They are verbal excuses to not think beyond the obvious and, instead, to rely on hollow phrases that have been told way too often to hold any true meaning. Clichés are like air-filled balloons that, despite how high they may go, will always be empty on the inside and will always lose their buoyancy. They are designed to not delve under the cracking surface to witness the wild tempest and ride the dangerous waves of a broken friend.

The worst clichés are religious ones, the ones that quote out of context in order to offer vacant reassurances and false hope (but for whom?). These clichés are more dangerous because they usurp the beauty of the truth and warp it into the speaker’s own selfish fears of having to “stand in the gap.” Which makes me ask: what does “standing in the gap” really mean? Is it only about praying for one another? Or it is walking the walk with someone else who needs some hand-holding until she is strong enough to walk alone and, perhaps, able to hold someone else’s hand? And I wonder: who will stand in the gap and hold the hand of a needy friend through the darkness of her days when she struggles in the waiting and suffers alone?

 

Zero to Sixty

And there it is, right in front of my face, like a sharp slap that burns instantly at contact, the sound resonating in my ears as if a nuclear explosion had taken place. Not near enough to blow me to smitherines, but not far enough to not have an impact.  The brutal honesty of emotional upset always seems to predominate stoicism when pushed to its limits, and only then can the ripostes of perfunctory people be taken close to seriously. You see, I am fully aware of my own emotions, the disease that runs through my brain like thick, black cords strangling my neurons, and how they course through my body like electricity, abusing the demented on and off switch.  I can deal with truth as well, that candid little tattler who sits on my shoulder thrusting a pitch fork into my temples until I can no longer justify myself, or breathe; yeah, I know her too.

What you do not know is that I am my worst indicter, the one who sees the craziness inside and hates me while loving me as well, the dichotomy of such contradictions both exciting me and making me self-repulsive.  It’s not as if I’m not fully aware of the hellion that erupts within me like an unexpected firecracker bursting in the night sky so that I’m explosive on lift-off, but quickly diffuse in a haze of hot smoke.  I hate that! I hate the way I have lost control of my light switch and now some unbalanced force pushes me around like an ocean wave, beautiful but void of willpower.  I used to display passionate expressions of conviction, but now all it has become are rapid-fire tangents that say too much and make no sense.

Zero to sixty in seconds.