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the bay. i overlook the bay on these cool new jersey nights. the wind
wafts up and down the sides of my two bedroom efficiency as the moon
comes up over my back. it’s too cloudy out to see the moon so i simply
enjoy the feel. the breeze across the deck lightens my solid burden and
blows it away, into the flags cascading down their poles.

i light a cigarette to my dreams of lowell to the north and mexico south.
it calms my nerves as i rub my hand against the rugged beard i nurse on my
face. i think of failed road trips and the different places i could have
been. i could have been writing anything other than this. but my
deepening tan pins me down to east coast beaches if not the twelve hour
days spent roasting over twelve open flames. so i toast this glass of
wine to me here now.

wine is my newfound pleasure in life. i spend many nights on the deck
with various bottles of chardonnay or pinot grigio. the pinot goes down
smooth like my dreams of jumping off the deck into the bay for a moonlit
swim. i never jump. i never sail through the wind into the water. i
never leave the house at night anymore. i succumb to smoking cigarettes
and watching the traffic roll by the main strip. state troopers and the
expedient ignorance of tourists provide me with enough source of
entertainment after dark.

the nights here are cool enough to wear long clothes, the days so warm
that it drains you of your energy. you want to do nothing but sit inside
by the air conditioning. i have bigger things to accomplish though, like
cooking steaks and pasta, paying the bills and giving one last glance to
my summer plans as they ebb out with the tide. i guess the pull of the
moon affects more than the waves. it controls me as well. i strive to
get off the island, closer and closer to the bridge with each waking
moment but then, like the bad dreams of youth, i can run no further
regardless of how much i try. this happens night after night for three
months each year like and inherent part of nature which i am condemned to
live out.

i could have headed west this time.
to chicago with the half a heart it took me years to expose, where cool
northern breezes, bright city lights, and friendly comfort could satisfy
my late night hunger pains.
to california in a rental car, living the life of freedom: freedom
from money, reality, and responsibility. california is the only place on
earth where reality is an extremely foreign concept. (lack of
responsibility applies to the pacific diving board state as well).

if i head west, though, i might escape gravity’s pull enough to never
return home. i would travel west and further west until it was considered
east again, but never far enough east that the west stood on my horizon.
i would experience life, cultures, and wines in their natural habitats.
still, i stay east. south east? east central? north east? it’s all
relative and i’m sick of making the connections. i chain smoke my third
cigarette and restate my opinion that i am just here now. i don’t care if
there’s a reason for that. there’s only five more weeks until i get to
head a good ninety miles west. hah.

is this an even trade? i don’t think that is far enough west for me. i
am trading the serenity of sunset bay for the pollution of the delaware
river. the good outweighs the bad, i hope.

it’s getting late, bordering the point of early. four hours until the sun
comes up. eight until i clock in at work. twenty-two hours until my
worries cycle round once more. i wish i had something more potent than
nicotine, the same something i tried to leave behind in the humdrum of
humid philadelphia nights. i am good at burning the bridges i want to
cross and traveling over the ones i wish to stray from.

i sit with my head in my hands until it is early again. now i can listen
to philadelphia dawn at a distance. it took twenty-one years to hear it.
note to self: twenty hours until the cycle repeats itself again. i find
myself trapped in words like never and again, different and the same.
it’s always the same.

the mist travels in and mixes with the smoke of my cigarettes until they
are one. only the fog of san francisco can compare to the lord’s lament
over my sorry state of affairs in this town. the wind changes directions,
coating my eyes with tearlike drops. the clouds move north towards the
lonely home of kerouac. they’re all empty towns once filled with my
idols, those who were able to escape.

am i content where i am, making steady wages at a steady job with a place
to call home? or is this the reason behind my decreasing stability? i am
beyond the state of burnt out and incoherent and too lucid to be
considered grown up.

this is me alone at wanderlust hours of the night. no one need enter now.
i fear the deniro of taxi driver resorting to insanity for sanity, peace
in chaos. inside, i know i will toss and turn looking for the most
comfortable pillow to rest my head upon. sleepless and staring at my car
below the deck, glancing at the car key on the bureau, stuck with my
opposable thumbs in twiddle.

es ist vier uhr zwanzig jetzt. wast macht’s das? i don’t know anything
anymore. days blur together and fall apart. memories are something i
used to have. now i have my deck; my deck and a pack of parliaments.
then there’s my guitar. it’s the last resort of temporary escape for a
temperamental person. i would normally sit down to six stringed strumming
but my nerves are wrecked. my fingers shake as i put pencil to paper.
outside the taboo of my car key, there’s no means of escape.

maybe regular hours and regular wages do increase my stability. maybe it
makes me sane and comfortable and i am afraid to admit that. it makes me
feel old. i hate feeling old. i want to set foot on the uncharted
territory of the west coast. i have never experienced anything west of
pittsburgh. leaving the atlantic, my security blanket, behind instills a
deep sense of fear in me that i must cope with. what if i am wrong?
anything is a possibility or is it that not everything is possible? my
attention span is too short to soak it all in. i wish i could squeeze my
mind like a sponge to rid of all the excess dirt and useless particles
that drift through me with no destination planned; the influential and
most reflective part of my personality.

none of this would happen if i could pose a reasonable solution to my
biggest problem in life. is it the drugs speaking or are they responsible
for my unmatched sense of sobriety? i’m the one man stuck on the low end
of a teeter-totter, never able to see over the other side. vision is not
necessary all the time, though. i have my tactile senses. i can feel
ground weighing heavy beneath my feet. i can run my fingers through the
sand sifting below and falling through the spaces in between.

freedom = need. desperation via depravation, saturated in irrational
thought.

my conquest is lost. i’m afraid of escape because i forget what i am
missing out on. i’m afraid of staying because it hurts too much to know
what i have now. everything must come from the heart. fake it and miss
losing the cause. too many causes left behind. too many causes lost.
i’m resentful of logic. depravation may just keep you in chains to
unattainable goals. freedom = acceptance. hope is need. i hope. hope
is
vertical. we reach for the stars. we try to climb to the moon. these
goals are too high for the unstable ground beneath my ladder. oft crashes
build my tolerance for pain. fucking analogies. cyclical thoughts cramp
my mind.

where do i go from here? the eternal question. the west may be more than
my chaotic mind can handle. 90 miles west does sound good. it may be
the most reasonable option. to a small extent the work is calmer, thus am
i. this is all in proportion, of course. it may not be the most ideal of
situations but it feels natural. the past two years there have settled
firmly in the comfort of the stomach. i am tuned into the frequency of my
surroundings and can call it home. stomping grounds get boring easily
whereas home offers a sense of permanence.

eighteen hours left? no, the moon is fading out of sight in the bright
yellow light that coats the dome. i call the sun’s bluff, one last time
by the ocean. the day exposes my addiction. i struggle and can admit
that now. home is the only place where everything is all right. the moon
is now too far to affect me. i understand that my change will not come
from the west. it is internal. with that i long to cope.

After Noon

that night, i dreamt of the afternoon. i saw myself out on the deck,
fully aware that the restaurant was open and that it survived without my
presence. the west still stood on the horizon. it waited at a distance,
safely far enough from my troubles. it waited for the sun to shine in all
of its magnificent glory over its states and provinces. the people waited
for it before they rose in the morning. the sun moved at its own pace,
making sure to cover as much ground for as long as it possibly could.
meanwhile, flowers stood on edge to pay homage to the warmth and comfort
it would bring, the nurturing sustenance of life.
we all wait for the sun.

as i slept soundly, for the first time i could remember, the sun coated
the lake in a golden film of serene inviting pleasantries. just hours ago,
it was a dark, empty abyss which swallowed all of my hopes and dreams.
now, it welcomed me to reclaim my future as my own. it set the arrows and
guidelines for me to follow, but i wondered if it was but a trap. has the
lake embodied and personified the sun, or would it drag me down through
its endless stream of hydrogen and oxygen atoms clashing up against one
another?

could i actually feel the sun wrap its warm, loving arms around me? it
would never lie to me. it guides me to the water. i think it guides me to
the water. it walks me down the stairs and across the street. it carries
me out of my bed. i stop. i look up to the sun and smile. i must do this
of my own volition. so, i walk to the edge of the peer and cannonball to
the bottom in full work garb.

it is astonishing. no matter how pavlovian the response, my eyes open
without force. the fish swim around me, pecking their tiny mouths against
my rapidly wrinkling body, but time stands still here. no one can find me
amidst the flourishing underwater vegetation. there is no boss hollering
at me impishly. i cannot hear the burdens of my friends and family and
their worldly concerns. there is no quarrels over seniority, rankings or
professions. there are only fish, awe-inspiring silent animals willing to
let me into their kingdom. they brush up against me with their jelly
scaled bodies. it tickles. it makes me laugh.

i wish i had gills so i could live in the seemingly endless depths of
the inconsistent waters. imagine, to think of being still, moved along
with the whimsical tides and flows. no need to communicate. no need to be
a provider. but still, subconsciously, i know this is all a dream. but do
i know that this is a safe haven of excuse? that is a decision i have to
make consciously.

Vision, Sight

have you ever closed your eyelids and turned your head up to the light?
the lids are translucent enough that you can see the fluids passing above
your eyeballs. pay attention to that for a minute. look at the shapes
and patterns, the squiggly strings and circles. no beginning and no end; a
part of you individual to you.

my eyes function. really. they are bright, red, glassy, and purposeful.
still, they are only eyes. they need to be rubbed. i need more sleep. i
watch the sun rise. i watch the sun set. i miss everything in between.
cobwebs. sight.

it's past noon. i should have clocked in already. blink.
shake the cobwebs. close my eyes, open my eyes and go. go. i need more
sleep. did i say that already? stop. collect your thoughts. day in
and day out, it's the same old shit. i sleepwalk throughout the day.
the bright sun burns the retinas of my eyes on my way to work. so, i look
down and stare at my feet the whole walk. i clock in and out. there is
nothing worth mentioning in between. then there is night. the contrast of
the day's heat against the night's breeze is becoming a bit
overbearing to experience on a daily basis. it messes with my mind.

my circadian rhythm must meet up with my schedule.

i can almost see my breath. it's brisk out. sunday, 12 noon, rainy
and cold. the potency of nicotine and chardonnay ladened morning breath
catches my attention quicker than the chill. now i wipe my bright red
eyes. my hands are still covered in work grime and browned with tar. i
need a shower. years of abuse and negligence corrupt the body.

From the Shower to the Drain

i remember seeing a b movie late one night during my childhood. it was
poorly shot, scripted, and directed as most b movies are, but it almost
captured the isolation of a small child in a new town. a line from that
movie always stuck out in my head. it was from a scene where this child
was asked why she did not have any friends. she responds, “i don’t like
kids. they smell like tv.” it was pretty ironic coming straight from the
tv screen, but most things are. the child was wonderfully unattractive
and carried herself limply down the streets. on the surface she
struggled to pull off a sense of pride and failed more with each passing
second.

i don’t think i ever saw the end of the movie. nor do i remember what
exactly it was about, but i saw every last bit of myself in that child’s
eyes. her words became words to live by, and sufficed as an
ultra-effective defense mechanism.

it wasn’t long thereafter that my excuse provided logic for every
irrational decision i could make. this excuse became so malleable that it
was stretched out into every form and shape whether it did or didn’t fit
it. i suffered from a state of utter incontinence and it was painfully
obvious.
the descent into my own personal hell was rapid. i egged it on. i took
full responsibility for what i brought on myself, until it happened. i
questioned freedom and deprived myself of it. i questioned need before i
knew what it was. it was a downward spiral of constant contradictions and
all i could say was “i don’t like kids. they smell like tv.” in all
honesty, that may be one of the few events i remember clearly from my
childhood. it was a start, and that was what i needed.

Further Down the Drain

i don’t know what brought on that memory, that movie. it really had no
place in my life but i put it there. i fit the square peg into the round
hole with complete disregard for the structure of the board. and hear i
stand, naked, watching the water run off of my face in lines and
spurts. the drain collects it all. it sends the dirty water, toothpaste,
flushed toilets, scented soaps and all other wastes into the sewer system
where i do not have to acknowledge that it still exists. the escape for
all escapes.

A Future Chapter

i wish i could blame it on these nights, but i know better than that.
these endless nights of listless shifting about, asphyxiated by the
blankets i twist too quickly in; lying over old synthetic coverings that
easily give way to the anxious spring-heeled prisoners it keeps inside
each time i move about. but i know it’s these turgid thoughts as restless
as i that keep me up. something needs to be put at peace soon. i cannot
take much more of this. outside of the open windows i hear a man confide
in the anonymity of the dark to an old friend (or possibly even the
passing breeze) that he has always been living in the shadows. “i am a man
long since forgotten.” i can’t help but look outside to find this man,
but see no one. perhaps he could understand how i suffer. perhaps he can
jog the absent memory that keeps me up from the accesses of my brain
forever burned away and shriveled up.

sight is the greatest false sense of confidence a man can feel. it always
makes him forget that he is blind. it is our condemnation, an eternity of
paradox the man never acknowledges the truth looming in the back of his
head. maybe it is this that keeps me up so often. i doubt it, though. i
have never felt it my burden to carry the weight of the world on my
shoulders.

Another Future Chapter

i am a mound of mental incontinence. reaction sans action. this is who i
am: sobering thoughts followed by thoughts of sobering. it is more than
the external though. it’s more than i’ve ever been willing to admit and
now i am faced with the choice of losing someone i love or continuing to
hurt myself.

and this is where it happened:
the house is gone. it was torn down two months ago. my father is slowly
dying on the inside. in paul auster’s words, he is the “invisible man”.
my mother is dying. her insides are being eaten by cancer. it has
changed my whole family’s life, as if they were one in the defeo
collective. i quit smoking for her. that should say it all right there

Final Chapter

so many thoughts left to be thought. so many questions left unanswered.
the ever present struggle of struggles. no matter how hard you try, at
the last page, or when the credit roles, the story is never over. life
continues. the earth keeps moving. relationships stop, breathing stops,
life never ends. hurt and suffering come into play when that specialness
is lost. when a person is no more, the ability to create new memories
ends. the story is still the same. it will never change. and that hurts.
you are forced to stop acting and reacting. move on. live in your
memories. regardless, nothing is new. someone has forced you to stop.
but you want to live in the climax. you want to feel the anticipation of
what comes when you turn the page. eventually, there are no more pages
left to be turned. even if you are left stranded and you know that there
can be so much more to the story, it is over. in that feeling, you have
missed something. there is so much there to begin with and each moment
must count to its fullest extent. if you rewind or turn back to page one,
it is not the same. you know the story. perspectives can be changed in
memories but it is something used. it has a second rate feeling to it.
there is something unique and vital within each story and relationship.
live that feeling out. make it special. in hesitation and rationale,
seconds pass and time changes. each experience is different. you can
only make the most of it within the confines of the context. breath.
feel. those are my only words of advice. otherwise, you too will be
forced to recapture all that you have lost on the commonality of paper and
pen.

i felt love and disgust and hate and fear. i was in countless
situations where i hesitated and lost. i have been completely overtaken
by my feelings and held back out of that sense of fear. now, i must cope
with the fact that these are all just names on paper. those people will
never know what was inside of me. those people may never read these pages
and, if they do, they may never know if i was actually talking about them.