Memory (revisited)

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What is a memory but a moment immortalized

In the moonlit mind of a midnight dreamer?
A gem of golden gladness gloriously displayed
or a moment of madness mirshed with misery
standing tall, torturous in one’s mind

Solid and immutable as a diamond by stress formed

Is a memory a gem to be held, polished, and admired?

Or a deadly shard with which to cut oneself
is it so concrete and rooted?
Or rather a bubble of iridescence capturing a fleeting moment

Of sun and reflecting a million rainbows?

Each glance back casting the brilliance of experience

Upon the fragile moment and seeing the subtle nuance

Of the bubble sounds dancing in the breeze of time
a memory moment so fragile and mutable

That the experience of seeing it changes it

And the rainbows dance to a different tune.

So fragile that we grasp it or we try,

Our desire to know invisible hands reaching

For that moment until they have it

Then …“POP”… it is gone forever
A burst of air gone

The moment, the kiss, the words gone
as a bubble bursts and leaves behind air

So the lost moment leaves an aching emptiness

Is memory a river, rapidly running rampart,

It’s riotous rage ripping the bank of the past

And rising to the present
the inundation seeping through everything

And overwhelming now and sweeping everything to the past
Maybe a mountain, an obstacle obstructing openness

And overshadowing opportunities opening up
maybe a memory is a mystery madly made magnificent

 

Or maybe a mirror

The Boy Who Could Speak to God

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It all started with the nightmares. The remembering. The memories.

The nightmares ate Stan up, consuming his flesh and leaving dark purplish stains under his eyes. He woke up each night screaming silently in to the darkness, the coppery taste of blood still permeating the air. At first he couldn’t remember much of the dreams except for the blood. Gradually more and more was revealed. Blue eyes. A song someone would hum. This went on for a month until he became a walking zombie and decided to seek therapy to get to the root of the problem. 

He stood there outside the office, a mere ghost of the man he had been 3 months ago. He paced back and forth, nervously tugging at the collar of his shirt as if the office made him uncomfortable or itchy.  The psychologist came out, walking with the reckless but careful manner alphas have and flashed a set of perfectly white teeth that contrasted well with his dark skin. 

“Hello, my name is Jacob” he boomed his voice both warm and commanding as he steered Stan into his sparsely decorated office. “Come on in.” 

Stan entered and sat, his fingers nervously tapping an erratic beat on the chair handle as his eyes darted from the Monet on the left wall to various inspirational posters in the room. Jacob sat quietly in his seat and observed for awhile before speaking up in a mellow conversational tone. 

“You seem uncomfortable. Is the there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?”

“Ha, maybe if you could rewrite history or something.” Stan barked, his head jerking to the side before receding into his shell and apologizing. “Sorry, didn’t mean to snap. It’s just I have a history with psychologists and it ain’t pretty.” 

“Tell me about it,” Jacob said shifting his weight forward and adopting a bland but interested expression. 

Clearing his throat, Stan begun. The story came in fits and starts but as he caught his stride it started flowing more naturally. 

It all started after my sister died. She was six years old and I was twelve at that time. This may sound strange but I can’t remember how she died. I don’t remember much about what happened the week before or after she died. I only remember the little my parents told me. So I don’t know how much of this is what I remember and how much is what my parents told me. 

I remember clutching the yellow and baby blue blanket she loved so much and laying in her bed and humming. I can’t remember what I was thinking or feeling, all I know is I was just rocking to and fro. There were no tears. Not then. And I wouldn’t move, it was as if my limbs were locked and I just rocked and rocked and hummed that song she loved so much. 

Stan pauses and swallows, and hums a song from Hansel and Gretel. He seems to get lost in the moment until Jacob clears his throat. After a moment of silence he continues his story. 

My parents tried everything. Begging, yelling, bribes but nothing worked to raise me from my half dead stupor. Two days later when it became apparent that I wasn’t going to get up, they called a psychiatrist to come look at me. He walked in and it was as if all the air was sucked from the room and I felt I couldn’t breath. 

“Hello Stanley,” his said, his pinched face barely moving to form the words that dropped from his mouth like stones. I remember being indignant because no one called me Stanley. But I didn’t say anything. Just continue rocking and humming. He stood there like a vulture waiting to gorge. After some time passed he shifted and turned to my parents who had been entering and leaving while wringing their hands purposelessly. 

“I will have to medicate him.” He said without any inflection. He proceeded to get a syringe out and pump me full of some medicine. The daily doses left me like a zombie for most of my childhood. Each day was a walking nightmare of grey hazy scenes I can barely remember. Too be honest I can’t remember much about what happened until I was 17 and I was finally deemed sane enough to stop taking it. 

Stan stammered to a stop, his eyes lost in the memory of his lost history. Jacob cleared his throat and brought Stan lurching back to the present. 

“I can see how that would make you nervous around people in my profession. But rest assured. My job is just to sit in this chair and listen and try to look intelligent. No pills, no shots, nothing but my attention and some questions. Which leads me to ask, you mentioned seeing blue eyes in your nightmares? Can you remember anything that would tie to that?”

Stan paused for a moment thinking and then begun to explain. 

It’s the Boy who could speak to God. I remember he had these big eerie blue eyes that can only be described as beautiful. The cataracts that made him blind were artistically arranged almost as if to add ironic insult to injury. I distinctly remember the first time I met him. It was near the park. He lived under the third lamp post in a little makeshift tent that someone must have erected for him. I was bouncing a ball, a rubber spider-man ball, alone in the park when it got away from me and rolled over to where he was sitting with his begging bowl. 

“Hey!” I shouted over, “Can you throw it back?” 

He turned to the direction of my voice and said in a surprisingly deep voice “I can’t. God said not to move.”

Intrigued and somewhat annoyed I ran over and grabbed my ball. As I turned to leave I sneered in his direction and said “You can’t talk to God stupid. He’s way up high in the sky and he can’t hear a stupid head like you anyway.” 

“He’s not. He’s right here next to me. And the Devil too. They argue a lot.” He exclaimed, patting to the spots next to him causing little puff of dust to fly of his threadbare blanket. 

I don’t know why I chose to sit down that day. Maybe boredom. Maybe fate. Maybe the hand of God. Who knows? But sit down I did, and he told me stories. Wondrous stories of fights in heaven and hell and how God and the Devil used to be friends but got in a fight over a woman. From that day forward I would bring him food and sit next to him and listen. We became really good friends as children will. My parents didn’t mind since it was teaching me to appreciate those of a different class. 

Stan laughed abruptly and said, “You ask a simple question and here I go telling you my life story. But yea, the blue eyes are definitely Zeus.” 

“It’s perfectly fine, talk as much as you would like. You never know what can help us get to the bottom of what is causing these nightmares. Now tell me about your sister.” Jacob responded. 

Stan opened his mouth to begin and like a ball of tinfoil crushed with some force his face simply crumpled into itself and he begun to weep silently. Angrily dashing the tears from his eyes he tried to begin again but nothing escaped him mouth but breathy strains of the hum. He begun rocking back and forth and whispered hoarsely

 “I don’t know! I can’t remember her.” 

“It’s OK. Don’t worry, you’re fine.” Jacob’s voice was low and hypnotic as he continued to murmur soft assurances until Stan’s flushed face returned to its normal pale color. “I think that’s enough for today. Same time tomorrow and you can tell me more.”

This continued on for months. Each session lasting until Stan’s sister came up and he couldn’t bear it and broke down. They talked about everything from Stan’s first sexual experience to what he had done with his life. But always the conversation would always go back to the boy who could talk to God and the sister. Finally once it became apparent that they could go no further without something changing the playing card Jacob announced that they would have to find the whereabouts of Zeus. 

“Do you have any idea how we could go about finding him?” Jacob asked after telling Stan his decision. 

“No, I really don’t know. I lost track of pretty much everything once they started drugging me blind.” 

“How about your parents? Would they know?” Jacob queried. “I notice you also don’t mention them much.”

“Well, my dad committed suicide pretty soon after she died. And my mom had dementia so nothing she says is going to be of any use.” Stan replied, dryly as if reporting the weather. 

Jacob paused, lips pursed, as if undecided on whether to pursue the revelations of whether to focus on the problem at hand. After a moment of internal struggle highlighted in his expressions his face cleared and he cleared his throat. 

“Normally I would address something as heavy as what you revealed immediately but I think it all stems from what we have been talking about so I shall continue along this path. Tell me everything there is to know about Zeus. This is highly unprofessional but a wife of an FBI agent owes me a favor that I think will help us get the answers we need.” Jacob spoke, his face resolute and determined, only the clenching of his hands revealing that he realized he may have invested too deeply in this case. 

They talked for some more minutes, Jacob taking good notes that could be used to identify Zeus. Stan talked animatedly with the nervous energy that people who have crossed beyond that border of exhaustion possess. His proud roman nose now seemed to sit wrongly on a face whose muscles seemed to forget how to hold up the cheeks. His skin was sallow and wrinkled drawing comparisons to a candle sagging under its own weight and drowning in the wax. 

“I don’t want to get your hopes up because Zeus could be dead, in a different country or in a hundreds other situations that would make it impossible to reach him. Bu I do believe that if we can find him we will finally get some answers.” Jacob said, patting the older man on the shoulder. “Until I hear anything, there is no point having more sessions as we are unable to progress much further unless we uncover the blockage. “

The days that followed were halting and seemingly never-ending to Stan. He lurched from place to place, unable to stay still for any length of time. Sleep was a memory of times gone by as each time his eyes closed he drowned in a sea of blood and the humming invaded his subconscious and he would wake screaming from even a 10 minute nap. When the phone finally rang he sprang and grabbed it with the ferocity of a starving feral cat. 

“Hello? Hello!?” he nearly shouted into the phone, “Did you find him?”

“Yes, come to my office and we shall discuss it.” Jacob said his voice controlled and studiously monotone. 

Tearing through stop lights and barely avoiding accidents, Stan made it to the office by some miracle both unscathed and in record time. He sprinted into the building, not even pausing to greet the pretty receptionist as was his custom and blasted into Jacob’s office. 

“Sit.” Jacob’s tone was firm and came as breath of cold wind to calm Stan’s fiery spirit. Stan sat, his heaving body struggling to return to a balance. 

“I found him. But I don’t know if it would be the best idea to expose you to him.” Jacob began his face scrunching as he concentrated on selecting the correct words. “Your friend is on death row. For murder. And you are in a pretty delicate condition right now. I don’t think this would be the best place for you.”

Stan sat rooted in his chair for what seemed eternity trying to process the information. Confusion was evident on his face as he examined his past. Almost to himself, he whispered

 “Why am I not shocked?” 

Then as if possessed, he springs upward, his eyes burning brightly and his nostrils flaring he forcefully exclaims. 

“I have to see him! I need to get to the bottom of this. I am barely alive as it is, and unless I understand what is going on I will never be able to sleep. I’ll go mad!” 

He stopped, and just stood there. A deflated balloon of a man crumpled as if all the air had been expelled with his forceful argument, he stood there waiting. Jacob sat and thought, his elegant fingers tapping his desk as his brow furrowed and released. 

“I can’t think of any other solution besides medication which you have already said isn’t an option.” Jacob said, “Seems this is the only option.” 

                                                                        ****

As they walked into the prison, Jacob gripped Stan by the back of the elbow to stabilize him as they walked in. It was quite the picture of contrast, one strong and vital and the other weak and ailing. After finalizing the required procedures to enter the prison they were led to a room with a table and two chairs. Stan sat in the one chair and Jacob stood by the door. The tension in the room was palpable, a wave of near solid pressure that chained their mouths shut. They sat and waited in the silence. 

The door opened and a tall lanky man walked in, the chains on his feet rustling and scraping gratingly against the concrete floor. His kinky hair was over grown and fell to his shoulders in an unkempt mess of knots. The guard led him in and shoved him into the chair opposite Stan and growled

“You have 15 minutes, don’t try nuthin.” 

They sat there in silence after the guard receded to the other room and simply observed each other. Suddenly Zeus’s mouth split into a grimace that looked like a smile and said in his deep voice. 

“Stan?”

“Uh,” Stan stammered shocked, “ye-Yes, how did you know?” 

“Don’t be silly Stan, I’ve been waiting for you. God told me that you would come when you left that day. So I have been here waiting.” Zeus stated matter of factually. “Who is your friend over there?”

“Uh-uhm, that’s Jacob.” Stan said, still in shock. “My psychologist.”

“Why do you need a psychologist?” Zeus asked. 

“I have been having nightmares. It’s actually why I am here. You’re in them. “ 

“Tell me about it.” Zeus said 

“It’s dark out. And I am walking down the street. And I hear the song from Hansel and Gretel. And then next thing I know there is blood everywhere and I am drowning it. Gallons and gallons of blood is pouring from everywhere and I am screaming and then everything is black and your eyes are the moons and sun. If I don’t wake up it starts over. Again and again.”

“He said this would happen. I didn’t think so, especially since Satan said he would steal your memories. But it looks like you are remembering what happened to Bethel.”

As if a switch had flipped on, Stan’s visage changed and became bestial. His long fingers seemed to become claws and his drooping face became less sad and pathetic and more that of a ravenous wolf. Flecks of foam speckled his lips as he leapt at Zeus screaming at the top of his lungs. 

“How dare you fucking say her name! How dare you!” he screamed, his eyes rolling madly in the sockets as if they had lost purpose. He clawed at Zeus face like a savage animal, screaming profanities and constantly repeating

“How dare you say her name!” 

Zeus made no move to defend himself but simply sat there and bore the determined but ineffectual attacks. The guard quickly came into the room but was stopped by Jacob’s lifted arm and head shake. 

Stan exhausted from lack of sleep and anxiety collapsed half on Zeus’s lap and half on the floor, sobbing and whispering his sister’s name. 

“Bethel, bethel…” he whispered like a mantra, rocking back and forth like a child as the tears flowed freely from him face. Zeus held him and rocked him, his face unreadable, and his beautiful blind blue eyes staring sightlessly into the depths of Stan’s heart. 

The fifteen minutes came and passed and the two men remained locked, rocking to and fro. Then after eternity, Stan looked up and spoke. 

“That’s why you’re here isn’t it. Because of he-Bethel.”

“Yes, they said I killed her and locked me up.”

“But you didn’t kill her. You didn’t did you? You were there though. It’s coming back now. We were walking. The three of us. I remember!”

The last was a shouted phrase that seemed to release the air that had stopped from the room and everyone began breathing again. Tears were still streaming down Stan’s face as he began to laugh, a shrill harsh tone. 

“She was so pretty, the two pink bows in her hair and her brand new shoes. She was so excited because it was her first time hanging out with us. Oh God! The gun. Why did I pick it up?! I killed her. I killed her! Oh the blood, it’s everywhere.”

Stan devolved into fits of tears, his body convulsing as the pain wracked through him. Through it all Zeus just sat as still as a statue and stroked Stan’s limp hair. Jacob stood in the corner, his body twitching as he fought with himself, every fiber of his being wanting to stop this but knowing that to interrupt would cause incalculable damage. 

“I killed her. I shot her. Why did I pick it up? Why did you let me pick it up!” Stan shouted, trying to turn his anger and misery to Zeus but before he could rally the strength he collapsed again. “No, I killed her, and you were punished for it. Oh God, what have I done!?” 

“It’s ok. God said this would happen.” Zeus finally spoke. 

“No, fuck your God crap! God doesn’t speak to you! You’re just a deluded freak with multipersonalities or something! Stop that God crap, I’m not 12 anymore!”

For the first time since walking into the room Zeus face changed as the mask he wore dropped for a moment and everyone in the room glimpsed the depth of pain and horror that Zeus had experienced. Then as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared and his face was again serene. 

“I know you’re in pain and you don’t know what you’re saying. God says you should always forgive. Just like I forgave you when you stopped coming and then you told them that I did it in court. Satan wanted me to hate you, but I didn’t.” Zeus spoke as if explaining complex matters to a child. 

“I’m so sorry.” The words escaped as a gasp from Stan’s mouth. “I’m so sorry. So so sorry.” 

“It’s ok, I got three meals a day and a bed and no one threw rocks at me. So overall it wasn’t that bad. And I had God and Satan to keep me company so I didn’t get bored.” Zeus said softly still stroking Stan’s hair. Stan’s sobs had lessened to slight hiccups and slowly, like a bubble floating, his eyes drifted close and for the first time in years he fell deep into undisturbed sleep. The two men sat locked in each others armed in the middle of the room with Jacob and the guard looking on voyeuristically at this intimate moment of peace unable to do more than witness this experience that blurred the boundaries between humanity and divinity. 

The Answer is Only Half the Journey

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You demand clarity,

each heart beat pumps desire

for knowledge to your brain

 

Your eyes strain

searching endlessly, relentlessly

for the answer to your question

 

You dread the answer

but you cannot unloose the hounds

of information from ripping through

 

You celebrate

as the answer appears before you

but you find its only half the problem

 

Now you know

what you wanted to know

Now that you “understand”

what will you do?

My Earliest Memory

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As far as I can remember, stories have been a part of my life. My mother would tell me a variety of stories: short stories meant to teach a lesson, long stories that would span days, historical stories, mythological stories and some that she swore were true that I would doubt sometimes.

I can remember the first story she ever told me, as far as I can remember. It translates to The Farmer and the Rabbit. It was a beautiful ending of a day, the sunset coloring the sky with colors so rich and pure that my young mind couldn’t even comprehend. We were all gathered around the little fire place outside our house, finishing our meals.

My brothers could be heard sucking noisily on the bones that remained from the meat we had eaten. My sister still had a full plate and was picking at the food slowly like she always did. I had already finished and was licking my fingers with gusto, trying to get all the flavor I could from the meal.

My mother stood and threw the leftovers to the dogs. Snarls and yelps filled the darkening sky as the three dogs fought over the scraps. She then came and sat down and sent my brother to get some mangoes from the nearby tree.

As he ran off to get the fruit, I huddled next to my mother on the one side and my sister hugged close to her on the other side. I stuck my thumb into my mouth and grabbed a handful of my mom’s dress in one chubby hand and settled in to listen.

My older brother came back holding four mangoes clutched to his chest and after handing the mangoes out he settled himself next to my other brother after some pushing and shoving for the spot next to the fire.  My mother waited until we were all settled in and comfortable before she started, her voice rising and falling and changing with each character.

“It was once told…” she started, telling the tale of the wily rabbit who had to outsmart the farmer to get his food.

Her voice was squeaky and sly for the rabbit and loud and booming for the farmer. She took us through the story, her words painting a picture and conjuring the characters into the night sky. We sat, mesmerized by the simple magic of her tongue as she made our hearts leap as we were running with the rabbit and our tempers flare as we discovered the spoiled garden with the farmer. Our hearts were in our throats as each time the farmer got closer and closer to catching the rabbit, me and my sister cheering when he got away and my brothers booing and declaring that next time they would get him.

 As she talked, her voice melding with the noises of the wilderness around us in a harmonious melody that lulled us, my eyes begun to grow drowsy and heavy. I battled hard to reach the end with the others but sleep was simply to strong and my mother’s voice much too hypnotizing. Though I never did get to find out if the farmer caught the rabbit or if the rabbit won once and for all, I was given an experience of beauty in its purest form.

Many nights like this would follow, the stories varied but the beauty and purity was still the same. For my young and open mind, the stories were gateways that led to worlds in which I could roam for days on end. Some were scary and made me huddle closer and made my brothers puff out their chests and pretend to be brave. Some were so funny we would be rolling in the dirt, our peals of laughter splitting the quiet night like the ring of a bell. Some, especially the ones about our ancestors were powerful and so inspiring that we sometimes couldn’t help but to holler a war cry into the night and challenge the hidden dangers of the darkness.

For my young and open mind, the stories were gateways that led to worlds in which I could roam for days on end. And roam I did, exploring the vastness of my imagination and continuing stories that we would start. From that day, I have always love the art of storytelling and as I look at my mother who is now tired from working all day and can’t tell stories anymore and see that it is my turn to carry the torch and spread the beauty to the world. 

How do you want to be remembered?

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How do you want to be remembered? Since the beginning of time humans have searched for the secret to immortal life. The fountain of youth, or the various magical potions that are supposed to render the user the user immortal and forever young. Our literature and our religions are based upon this desire. As of now, no conclusive proof has been found to validate any of these claims. However, there have been a few people who have discovered the secret to immortality. Not only do they live forever, but they are stuck in the very best moments of their lives.

 

Before we begin, I ask again. How would you like to be remembered? Do you want to be Alexander the Great, who lived so long ago that the earth has ground his bones to dust but he still lives and breathes life in our history books and modern culture? Or would you want to be remembered as a Hitler, who has been long dead but still reaches out and squeezes life out of people hearts even now. Or would you rather be the unknown anonymous member of the 7 billion plus inhabitants of the world, your death mourned by a few and your life accomplishments vanishing into the oblivion of forgetfulness?

 

Most of you are thinking, I can’t be one of the world shaker/movers who have changed the course of the world as we know it and have been immortalized it as a result. You’re saying I can’t make a difference.  In your head you’re already coming up with excuses and reasons why you can’t. I’m not smart enough, I am not rich enough, and I am not talented enough. There are a hundred and ten reasons why you can’t be one of these men and women who altered the world. The real reason however, the one thing that separates them from you if you are afraid. You are afraid to reach down into your psyche and see the unlimited potential there. Each human being was put on earth for a purpose and each human being is powerful beyond measure. But we are afraid, we are scared to tap into this unfathomable power and become who we are meant to be. I know. I know because I am like you. I have unlimited potential. I was put on earth, just like you, to change it. To grasp it and make it mine. But I am afraid. We are afraid.

 

But let me ask you again. How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to live a quiet anonymous life of following rules and never reaching beyond your comfort zone or do you want to become who you are meant to be? We are not all going to be Alexander the Great, men like that are molded by their life experiences into formidable forces. Without the oppression in India, would Gandhi have become Gandhi? Who can tell? But because it happened he was able to reach inside himself, scared as we are now, grasp the power within him and march forward. As a result he now lives forever, immortalized in the hearts of the ones who loved him.

 

Now how does someone like me become immortal? We can’t all appear in the history books or else our libraries will overflow. However, that doesn’t mean we can not be remembered after we pass. All it takes to be immortalized is to make difference in the life of one person. It may not be much, a simple smile may be all it takes for you to be stamped into the heart of that person and immortalized. It could simply be that shoulder to cry on presented at the right time. It could be that day when you don’t think and run into a busy road to save someone’s child. It could the time as you march in a foreign land with steel abominations in your hands and instead of shooting and ending that young life you remember that they too are human. It could be big, small or anywhere in between.

 

I ask for one last time: How do you want to be remembered? When you die will you have left footsteps in the sands of time or is all trace of your existence blown in the winds with your ashes? I don’t know how you want to be remembered. But I know one thing. I am tired of being afraid. I am tired of not having a voice in my life and being swept in the current of society. I am an individual and I am precious and I can make a difference. I know how I want to be remembered. I invite you to join me as I shed this skin of weakness and fear and step forth into the light, changing the world, one smile at a time. 

You, Me, We

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In age past, before the

darkness coalesced its liquid depths

and gave way to light.

Back, back before darkness

was dark and light bright

there was an egg.

A single potential in the

backdrop of impossibility.

A promise too potent to be

held by the cold embrace of

Nothingness.

Within we lay, not there but

There.

Unaware.

So was the universe born,

A potential within a sea of

Impossibility

And became we.

Memory

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What’s a memory but a moment immortalized in the moonlit mind of a midnight dreamer,
A gem of golden gladness gloriously displayed
Or perhaps a moment of madness mirshed with misery
That stands tall torturous in ones mind as solid and immutable as a diamond by stress formed
But is a memory a gem to be held polished and admired or a deadly shard with which to cut oneself
Is it so solid and immutable?
Or rather is it simply a bubble of iridescence capturing a fleeting moment of sun and reflecting a million rainbows?
Each glance back casting the brilliance of experience upon the fragile moment and seeing the subtle nuance of the bubble sounds dancing in the winds of time
A memory moment so fragile and mutable that the experience of seeing it changes it and the rainbows dance to a different tune.
So fragile that we grasp it, or we try, our desire to know, invisible hands grasping at that moment until they have…then it is gone forever
A burst of air gone and the moment the kiss the words gone forever.
As a bubble bursts and leaves behind air so the moment leaves behind an aching emptiness
Or is memory a river, rapidly running rampart, it’s riotous rage ripping the bank and rising to the present
The inundation seeping through everything and overwhelming now and sweeping everything to the past
Or maybe a mountain, an obstacle obstructing openness and overshadowing opportunities opening up
or maybe, maybe the past is a mystery madly made magnificent or maybe a mirror