Letter Seven (Late Night Quick Sketch)

Everything in Perspective.

Rilke once wrote, “Thus each loses himself for the sake of the other and loses the other and many others that wanted still to come.” Such was the case for our subject and was cause for great despair.

He finds himself submerged in his memory of her. Clear brown eyes–glowing tan complexion–honest innocent smile. Details bursting at their seams from a richness too potent to behold; such returns to her leaving him heart-wrenched and forgone. Retreating deeper into her space, a beauty which once gave him life begins to suffocate him. Images of her fade and dull memories start cutting through him like a knife; details bursting at their seams from a pain too potent to behold. Smeared colorless eyes–dim pale complexion–insincere sinner smile. Drowning in her memory he loses himself.

Rilke once wrote, “I believe that that love remains so strong and powerful in your memory because it was your first deep being-alone and the first inward work you did [in] your life.” Such was the case for our subject and was cause for great optimism.

Perspective in Everything.

Advertisements

Falling (A Late Night Attempt at Writing Outside My Comfort Zone)

From high above, a white anodyne fog blanketed the ruins of the cityscape, filling cracks in many of the high-rise’s bodies. There was a promise of rain hanging in the air, waiting for a proper invitation. Michael sat atop one of the tall skyscrapers, dangling his feet over the alabaster sea below.

At street level, nature had gradually reclaimed what had been hers all along. Trees wrapped like grapevines around the bases of the buildings; weaving in and out of shattered windows, pulling closer to a sun that was nowhere to be found. Light was no longer something to be cast, but merely acting as a presence taking hold of the city. The omnipresent mist refracted rays of light in such a way that shadows were left arguing with each other.

Michael’s older brother Declan came over and leaned on an otherwise untrustworthy crumbling balustrade. “Hey, Declan watch this.” Michael sifted through the chalky rubble next to him, pulled out a fist-sized piece of sheetrock, and tossed it off the skyscraper into the abyss. No sound came.

“So if we never heard it hit the ground, do you think it’s always falling?” Michael looked up longing for an answer from his older brother who only let out a sigh. Michael bit his lip and scanned the dusty concrete floor, searching for his follow-up statement. “Hold on, hear me out. Like what if our perception is the only thing that matters, right? The whole, if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound idea. But in reverse this time, because if we never hear the rock hit the ground, then who is to say it ever hit the ground in the first place.”

“Michael–“

“I mean really, think about it. What if we ran down the fire escape and got to the street level, who’s to say, and let’s say we even find the damn rock, who’s to say it only just hit the ground by the time we get down there. We cause it to stop falling because our perception causes the rest of the world to start moving. Like gears in a clock activating by your proximity to such gears.”

“…”

“Wouldn’t that be crazy?”

Declan moves to his brother and rests a big hand on his shoulder. “Please don’t throw rocks off the building, Michael. I know it’s been a while since we’ve run into anyone besides the two of us, but with our luck someone is finally going to be coming to find us and before they can even enter the building they’ll be smashed on the skull by one of your rocks.”

“I know Declan, but like I am saying if nothing moves when we’re not around, that’d be impossible. Like the clouds move, but that’s only because we can see them, but through the mist down there. I cannot see damn shit through that mist.”

“Michael, please.”

Declan helps his brother up and they stand face to face, “Yeah, sure no problem Declan, sorry if I bothered you.”

“It’s fine.”

Both brothers walked back inside to their makeshift home and that night they ate well as a downpour played outside and never did that rock hit the ground.

Show Me Pain (Late Night Quick Sketch)

2:40 am — Alone Together, Performed by Chet Baker et al.

Message sent. Her face, faintly glowing from her iPhone, looms against the dense darkness sheathing the room. He answers. Excitement blossoms within her, tumbling upward, growing with warmth, and finally clutching her heart, spurring sincere smiles on an otherwise unaccustomed face. She wants to laugh, she wants to speak to him, she wants to say aloud that she loves him, she wants the entire world to know, she… She can only want, for everything must be kept in to prevent the man sleeping next to her from waking.

They text back and forth nonstop. Of course, not the man asleep, she texts another man. The other man. He understands her, the man asleep understands nothing. He is the one who promised to take her away to travel the world, to experience life anew… He makes her feel his love not by giving it or asking for it, but by simply sharing it. He lets her know that she basks within his every thought of every moment of every day. He promised her he would never hurt her and she believed him. The man asleep is the one who keeps her here; traps her as one cage a beautiful white dove. Text message sent.

It is an empty, yet undeniably exhilarating feeling. No, the feeling is rich, her love for him means something, her heart flutters when he crosses her mind. It feels perverse and shameful, but in a way that makes her feel alive. No, it could not feel more right; never had she been so completely sure about something before in her entire life. He answers.

He always answers. The other man exists given she texts him back, which she always does. He must love her. She thinks of what to write back, how many times is too many times to tell someone you love them? She must love him. Well, she loves him as well as she could love anyone; certainly more than the man asleep. She hesitates before sending.

They are in love and no one can tell them any different. Maybe they had never met in real life, but who is to say what real life is anymore. Love transcends all barriers and she knows deep down in her heart the ultimate truth that she has finally found the “one.” Her soulmate, her companion for life, her best friend… Why had God separated them so far apart if they were clearly meant for each other?

Nonetheless, it was an empty love. Emptiness being an aspect which imposed itself on many areas of this dear young woman’s life. Their love took far more than it gave and truly pushed into the question just exactly what the definition of love was. Whether her “emotions,” in the loosest sense of the word, would fall under the catch-all term of love. Surely, there must be some intelligent low-life lawyer capable of bending the syntax and interpretation of the dictionary definition to put her feelings under the blanket of love. Surely, something must be done.

Control (Late Night Quick Sketch)

She turns the knob from cold to hot. Cara stands in the shower, mulling over the events of last night. What had happened? Frigid air is seeping outside the edges of the shower curtains and she pulls them closed as tight as she can. Her showers have always been an escape from it all: complete isolation where nothing is felt, but the tapping of water on your back and the sound of water drops against the shower’s porcelain interior. She turns the knob from hot to cold. Never had something felt both so open and shut. The case that is. She ran shampoo through her hair, hoping she could somehow wash her thoughts away, that maybe the grime of her past could be shed. She looks down at swirls of bubbles descending into the drain. She turns the knob from cold to hot. The impending doom of leaving the shower surfaces as she washes her knees. A cold world awaits on the other side of the shower curtain; one that she could not control, one where change is not so simple as the turn of a knob. When she moved into this apartment, she thought she would have no trouble adjusting to living alone again. She did. Cara turned off the shower and reached for her glasses, which she always put on the shelf for a bar of soap. Blinded by a fog on the lenses, she thrust open the shower curtain. Her body shivered and the clouded glasses instantly cleared. Grabbing her towel, she remembered a detached moment with her ex-husband from long ago. Welcome home.

 

Where You Are Standing (A Late Night Sketch)

“Can you describe her to us? Anything at all could help us so much.”

“Hmmmm, Let me think…” She delicately brushed her hair out of her eyes and looked around the room for an answer. Her walls were decorated with an ensemble of picture frames; some holding pictures of places, others of moments captured. There was an old couch seating her guests next to a fireplace that was in desperate need of being cleaned out. A television showing Al Roker describe the weather in your neck of the wood was set on low volume. Next to her chair was a small, square mahogany table where her tea stood tall on a neat stack of personalized coasters embroidered with the family crest. Each of her possessions held memories, but none which she needed right now.

“Don’t worry, take your time, we’re in absolutely no rush. We’re grateful you were able to take the time out of your day to meet with us.” Andrew Chian said with a reassuring smile that was undermined by an incessant tapping of his pen upon his notepad. Warren nudged him to cease the tapping and looked towards her with his big brown eyes waiting for her to speak. Somewhere in their interaction, it occurred to her that you could know someone your entire life without ever truly knowing them.

As she reached for another sip of her tea, the words came spilling out of her. “There was an undeniable elegance and warmth to her. When she spoke, her voice was so rich, so full of experience, that it almost carried with it a promise to take you anywhere. Maybe I am not making sense here… ”

“She was funny. Funny in both a laugh-out-loud and quirky sort of way that made her her own. She never made you laugh at someone else’s expense, there was a morality that she never crossed. More importantly, though, she was defined. This was a woman who knew who she was and was unaffected by the opinions of others.”

Andrew vigorously transcribed her story from words to paper as he struggled to keep up with her. Tom Warren was about to interject when her voice came back in with no hesitation. “Yes, she had doubts about herself. Her children when viewed as a reflection of herself sometimes shocked her with their deviations. Qualities that seemed to have come from nowhere to her, but we all saw her husband’s influence on them, no matter how small a role he played in those poor children’s lives.”

“She was still somehow so full of life. Her face showed so many years before, but her eyes promised so many years ahead. Sure, she brought with her a baggage riddled with contradictions and hypocrisies, yet she never let these define her. Actions only speak louder than words if you stand closer to them. Even from afar I saw past these shortcomings. And now, looking back, I can only hope she did the same for myself.”

Andrew puts a period at the end of her sentence on his notepad and looks to Tom Warren. She feels perspiration on her palms; she felt she revealed more about herself than her old friend with her description. Warren, letting out a sigh, said in his grave voice, “That’s great and all and thank you for sharing this, but we are looking more for a visual description of her. Or perhaps where she likes to go in her spare time—“

Expect More Of This (Late Night Quick Sketch)

Somewhere stuck between asleep and awake, Maria Postigo laid in bed staring up at her ceiling fan. If she focused hard enough, she could pierce through the darkness of the room, catch sight of one of the fan’s blades, and follow its rotation. But if she lost concentration, even for a second, she would have to begin the process all over again. Not that anything interesting occurred during her lapse of focus. Though one could never know for sure if it was the same blade when they returned. Maria was the type to get caught up in such uncertainties.

She remembered a moment from earlier that day. Nothing remarkably different from the rest of her day, but a moment that she felt drawn back to. It was in the cafeteria at work. She was telling Lauren about how her brother, Anthony, was not going to be coming to Christmas dinner this year. Something about a fight over the phone between their mother and Anthony’s wife; one with screaming and fluctuations between talking in Spanish into English back into Spanish. Hardly an anomaly in their family. 

It was hard to say whether Lauren or Maria held any real interest in the conversation at hand. Maria did not care much about the possible absence of her own brother at the dinner table but thought the gossip might interest Lauren. Lauren did not care much about Maria’s family problems but thought Maria needed someone to comfort her. Regardless, their talking brought each other happiness and did a fantastic job of keep silence at bay. Silence, the kind which filled Maria’s long nights looking up at the fan, that could drive her insane.

Generic Despotism

Such blissful misgivings

Forgive my transgressions

Their allotted time runs out

The Meek shall inherit the Earth

Fountains of youthful blood will mount

And into our hearts, their limp-wristed mirth

Plague-ridden nightmare of conscious

I stand alone in the street

A victim of thought

Experience left me not cautious

Trapped, never caught

Wistful in my own defeat

Pretention verging on the obnoxious

And into our hearts, their limp-wristed mirth

Fountains of youthful blood will mount

The meek shall inherit the Earth

Their allotted time runs out

Forgive my transgressions

Such blissful misgivings

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This is the first poem I have ever written, please do not judge it too harshly.

 

Again (Late Night Quick Sketch)

Nella’s Home-Brewed Coffee Shoppe, Textiles District. 11:47am.

“Hello, can I have an Americano, please. Yes, can I have that with cinnamon flavoring as well? Thank you so much. Okay, what do you want? Yes, I’m paying for you. Oh, enough stop being a baby. Just an everything bagel? Do you want anything on it? Seriously, nothing? It hardly costs anything you can get butter on it. Okay, fine. An everything bagel with nothing on it and a water with lemon. You never do change, do you? Oh, yes, that will be all. Okay, thank you. You can keep the change.”

The snow is coming down hard outside. The warmth of Nella’s provides a momentary shelter from the harsh world outside. Aromas of coffee and fresh pastries fill the air, but never overwhelmingly so. Decent lighting casts the room in vibrant and smooth colors. The music playing compliments, and never drowns out, the conversations which animate the room. This is a place they once called home.

Akira takes another sip of her coffee. She pensively scans the room, recognizing a few familiar faces and a few young newcomers. She smiles. “I have missed this place so much.”

Warren, violently bouncing his leg up and down, takes a vicious bite into his bagel. He nods in agreement and solemnly looks down into his plate without saying a word.

“Tom, cheer up. You’re going to ruin our time together.” She rests her hand on top of his. “I’ve wanted to see you so much lately.” He turns his hand over and they interlock fingers.

Tom forces a smile. He had missed her as well. His moments with Ms. Kaye were few and far between; each time they met, it was never for very long. There was a time when it bothered him more, but these days he took what he could get.

“My work lately… it is beginning to take over everything.”

“Are you still with Andrew?” For the past five years since his retirement from the EPA, Andrew Chian had been Tom Warren’s associate. He was the one who introduced him to the business.

“Yes, sadly.”

“He has such a good heart.” Stirring gently with her spoon, she looks down at her coffee and reveals a delicate smile. She has such care for everything she touches in life. Her dark brown eyes look up into Warren.

Warren wonders if he regrets coming here. She is beginning to be too much for him. “I’ve seen things… things I cannot comprehend.” He avoids eye contact with her. “There are parts of this world, I would like to unsee.”

Warren squints his eyes, feeling a billowing storm of emotions moving in. He moves his hair back with his hand, “Chian is still so young, his view of the world has been sculpted by the things we’ve seen. And I think it has made him the stronger for it.”

“Things roll off his back, you know? Nothing seems tangible or real to him, at least, that’s the way I see it. Myself, on the other hand… I was not built for this lifestyle.” Akira pulls his hand closer to her.

“I promise you will get through this.”

Waves of exhaustion wash over him, ‘When was the last time I slept?’ 

Akira’s smile is fading. “Vanessa and I, we have been lucky to have made it this far without anything too bad.” An image of a deceased young girl in a coroner’s office taps her mind. She grimaces. “But, we’ve all seen something that never goes away.”

“I really wish you never joined this profession.”

“If I hadn’t, I would never have met you…”

“I know.” Warren lets go of her hand.

Two Possibilities (Late-Night Sketch)

Either she was the most beautiful or most hideous woman I had ever laid my eyes on. My mind wavered back and forth, struggling to make sense of the paradox. The only certainty was she pulled my interest whereas I was not even a blip on her radar.

Perhaps her ignorance of my presence was the catalyst for the attractive/repulsive quality she was giving off in doses. Her eyes passed over mine, confining me to the background. Conversely, her presence demanded she must be seen by all.

A handful of chance encounters would pass before I would ever be lucky, or perhaps unfortunate, enough to see her smile. It fell into place in the most forced way possible. Maybe I was overly confident, (wouldn’t that have been a change of pace back then) but I could have sworn when I first saw her smile, it was when she first noticed me back. Her smile read: “I’m sorry, you must have mistaken me for someone else.” Maybe I had. Double messages of “She is the one!” and “She is the last person you would want to be with,” were flooding my personal inbox. Not to mention the spammed “Just kill yourself” messages that often came in the form of attachments.

She had a defined jawline. A rather masculine and rigid jaw that contradicted any preconception of what was to regarded as feminine. It turned me off in the worst of ways. Yet, her eyes were jaw-dropping, no pun intended. I had never seen any like them. They were almost… inviting? Yet, somewhere in that facial juxtaposition laid the bearer of all my contradictory feelings. Feelings that eviscerated my chest and tearing holes into me.

Soon, none of this would matter. She would mean nothing to me and me nothing to her. Though, back then it meant something. Something real that feels absent these days. But then again, how would one know? Only two possibilities existed as far as I could tell.

The Girl (Late-Night Sketch)

The girl had been seventeen years old, his partner told him. Tom Warren, hunched over his desk, picked up the scrawled note found next to her hanging body:

“Nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered and nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered and nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered and nothing mattered in the end and in the end nothing mattered.”

Things were only making less and less sense as he grew older. He was sure at one point he understood, but that was a long time ago. Why?