Sunday, December 4, 2016

composure

On the surface I might look composed but beneath it I am not
As I survey the world around me and the madness of it all
A spoiled lot of children who see slights that just aren't there
In their "anger" seething to make things "just" and "right"
They feel so righteous as they make those judgement calls
On people far and near of whom they know nothing
They would reach out and take the food from the mouths of babes
They would trample on the weak if they stood in the path
Yet they call themselves righteous
And if you ask them, they respond in all their feigned piety
About how things are so bad and so hard and so tough
As they sit in their comfort
On their upholstered thrones
With food in their bellies
They don't turn a blind eye, no, they simply refuse to look
To acknowledge
To even think about it
"Besides", they probably say, "it is likely deserved"
On the surface I might look composed
But on the inside, I am screaming

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Weakness In Me (a very short story)

It was Halloween night. The usual crowds were gone. There were no more lines for any of the games. "Dragon's Lair", one of the newer ones, wasn't even played this evening. It wasn't unusual for week nights to be quiet, and most of the local kids had gone trick-or-treating the night before. Still, the arcade was quieter than it had been in months.
Lee decided to go ahead and start cleaning the place up, and use manager's prerogative to close early. The last employee on the floor, a lanky boy named Steve, was standing behind the prize counter, leaning over his calculus homework. 
"Hey Steve, why don't you go ahead, clock out," Lee said.
"You sure?"
"Yeah, pretty sure. When was the last customer?"
Steve looked at his watch, "I guess about seven thirty."
"Well, it's nine," Lee said. "You'll lose an hour tonight, that's all."
"Who's going to stay here while you count out?"
"I'll do it in the morning. Go. I'll see you Wednesday."
And with that, Lee was alone in the arcade. He kept the door unlocked, the arcade open, for a few more minutes while he swept the floor, thinking maybe some late customers might show up. It didn't happen. Outside, the cool Connecticut autumn air was giving way to genuine cold. Beyond the parking lot, across the highway and beyond the houses, the stars flickered out over Southington Mountain as the clouds began to sweep in from the west. 
He decided to put some music on, something other than the dreadful tape that the owner made him play all day long. He decided on Joan Armatrading's "Walk Under Ladders".  
As Lee went towards the front to turn off the "Open" sign and lock the door, a young woman came up. Her dark brown hair was being tossed by the cold wind that was whipping over the parking lot. She looked up at the sign, and then pushed open the door. Lee knew recognized the face in an instant. 
Emma.
She walked in and saw Lee standing there, broom in hand.
"Hey Lee. You weren't closed yet, were you?"
"Well, was going to. How ya been?"
Emma shrugged, "you know, school. Busy. You?"
Lee motioned around. "This... is all my responsibility now. I'm the manager."
"Huh, old man Rosovitch put you in charge finally?"
"Yup. Past year. Just in time to watch the business die."
"Yeah, I know. Weird, isn't it? When I was here last time, what, summer before last, this place was packed. Now..."
Lee nodded, "I know. Deadsville. It happened fast, too."
"I don't go to game rooms the way I used to," she said, "too busy."
"So school's keeping you busy?"
"Yeah. Junior year."
"What's your major again?"
"Elementary education," she said. "You going back to school?"
"Not ready to," Lee said. His already faint smile weakened a bit. "How's what's-his-name?" he asked.
"Oh, you mean Carl? He's good. Got his masters, going for the PhD program at UCONN."
"Yeah, no kidding? For what?"
"Psychology. Well, he wants to work for the FBI, he figures it would be a real boost."
Compared to this guy Carl, Lee was nothing, just another working class kid. Carl's family came from old money in Pomfret. He could choose to be a janitor, and he'd still be set for life. Emma had met him her first year at Central Connecticut. He was working on his masters, three years their senior. Emma obviously decided that being with the kid who still lived in a trailer was just not for her, and moved up. 
"Hey", Lee said, "you want to play a few games while I sweep the place? Got some tokens here, if you're interested."
"Yeah, sure," she said, seemingly half heartedly. Lee reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of tokens and handed it to her.
"Always keep a roll handy," he said. 
"Thanks," she said, "you still have Miss PacMan?"
"Out of order. For like six months. Got Q-Bert, you liked that if I remember right."
"Yeah, okay."
She walked to the games lining the walls and located it, while Lee went ahead and locked the front door, shut off the "Open" sign, and started sweeping. 
When he got near Emma, without turning away she asked "you seeing anybody?"
"Nope. I mean, yeah, I've had a few dates in the past year, but no, no one steady."
"Why not?"
He shrugged, "I don't know. They don't find me interesting, I don't find them interesting, bad chemistry, I don't know. That's about it."
Q-Bert missed the edge of the blocks and fell into oblivion. Game over.
She turned around to face him.
Joan Armatrading was singing "I Wanna Hold You", second time this evening.
"Look, I was hoping to see you tonight, but was going to..." Emma stalled.
"Was going to what?" Lee asked, as he stopped sweeping.
"I... don't... nevermind. Why this album?" she asked.
"You wanted to know why I chose this tape?" he asked, genuinely puzzled. 
"Well, no, I have it, too, that wasn't what I wanted. Just noticed you had this on, that was all."
Lee leaned against the handrail behind him. "What's on your mind?"
"The Weakness In Me" started playing. Emma squeezed her eyes shut. Tears began to form at the slits of her eyelids. 
"I... I gotta go," she said.
"Emma," Lee asked.
"No, I gotta go, School in the morning. Busy week, and it's late. I gotta go."
Lee nodded, "Okay."
She pulled her coat up around her face as he unlocked the door. The wind was picking up from the north west. As she stepped out onto the sidewalk, she quickly turned, leaned up and kissed Lee on the cheek.
"I'll see you around," she said, as she turned and walked briskly into the parking lot to her car. Lee stood there, watching as she started off down Route 10.
He turned and went back inside, turned, and locked the door. As he looked out across the darkening parking lot, he could just make out snow flakes, carried on that cold breeze, starting their way down.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

a tender trap

why am I forever drawn to this place?
I have far outgrown it or left it behind
it or I have changed
and I feel an alien here
yet I am forever drawn here
it was my home
where I grew up
where I experienced young life
my best friend
my first crush
my first kiss
my first set of wings
my first heartache
the first of many heartaches
and it has changed
but it still feels as if there is an aspect of me here
an echo really
the still voice of a lonely child
the ramblings of an anxious adolescent
the sorrow of a lost soul
and it has changed
I am no longer comfortable here
I am alien and so very different
and I wonder
is my being drawn here to keep
that lonely child company?
that adolescent calm?
that lost soul from being more lost?
I wish I knew
because it has changed
and I am an alien here
- rrl

Monday, November 4, 2013

the warm eyes of innocence

it is so easy to just give up
say that the world is corrupt and vile
that there is no hope for it
that it should just run its course
and be done

inside of me there is a child
who refuses to see the world in such a harsh light
a child that loves willingly
shyly at times
and longs for goodness

that child feels so alone
but he isn't
and the greatest moment of all
is when my child's eyes
finds another

thank you

Saturday, October 26, 2013

a cold wind blowing down Whitney Avenue

There was a cold wind blowing down Whitney Avenue. 
I hadn't been to this bookstore in a long time, at least ten years.
It was a lovely place, even more now than it was then.
It had an adjoining cafe, with a narrow doorway between them.
I had drifted in there, having not been there in so long. I wasn't really after books this windy late October day, I simply wanted... escape.
After looking around for a few minutes, I went to the other coffee stand, the one in the bookstore itself.
Within a glass case, rows of wonderful pastries could be seen, so I decided to try one (very sweet), and accompanied it with a latte. There were two couches near the counter, a nice place to sit and relax.
The music they were playing was nineteen nineties fare, maybe no later than two thousand and three. Aside from the young woman behind a counter with a new iBook, it could have easily been some day more than a decade ago, and my mind began to drift back to that time.
A younger couple walked in. They were perhaps in their mid thirties. They struck me as the artistic type (kindred spirits), though not as radical as many. There seemed to be a sadness between them, conveyed in facial expressions and gestures. Something was sad between them.
I watched them, studying the clearly sad interplay between them.
After watching their few minutes of silent shopping, Eagle Eye Cherry's "Save Tonight" started playing. I could see her look up briefly, coyly, with hurt in her eyes, but then back down to the book she was holding. He caught her glance, put down what he was holding, and walked up to her.
They were standing in a section of shelves that formed an open box, the fiction section. As he got to her, he reached his left arm around her waist, and slid his right hand into hers, and pulled him to her.
He began to dance with her.
I never knew you could dance to that song.
Yet they were.
It was a slow, tender dance.
She rested her head on his chest, now wrapping both arms around him.
There were tears in her eyes, causing them to sparkle, which could be easily seen even from where I sat.
They danced until the song ended, and then stood still when the next song played.
She looked up, and he kissed her lightly, tenderly.
Then, hand in hand, they walked out.
Into that cold October wind that blew down Whitney Avenue.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Darkness Speaks

I had stopped along the road one day for reasons still not known
Looking beyond a bog, into the deep, dark woods found there
On this autumn evening a feeling chilled me to the bone
As the shadows grew longer and my breath hung in the air

The wind was cold that autumn day as I looked into those woods
Reminding me of winter's approach in due time to arrive
The fading light, the shadows, the wind made me shiver still more
Together with my mind these things did conspire and contrive

Perhaps it was a trick of light that confused me as I stood
But something soon caught my attention, soon I was aware
Of a face! A face! I know I saw! There in the tangled brush!
That faded when I looked again where I once saw its stare

I gasped and turned to walk away, convinced it was just nerves
Playing with my mind the way that anxiety sometimes can do
The wind picked up, carrying a voice that sounded in the leaves
A voice so faint but clear that I felt shivered through and through

"You know me well, you always have", the voice in whispers spoke
"You know that I am always there, barely a heartbeat away
You see me yet I'm not really there, your mind knows this is true
The feelings that you feel tell you that I am real as day...

"Those shadows that make you stop and look again with pause
That sometimes appear to come perhaps at the oddest time and places
The creak of the floor, the squeaking door, that make the bumps arise
Those times like these when you know you've seen my many faces...

"For I am the absence of all light, but not the nightly sky,
With thousands of stars it is still blinding when compared to me
No, not the night but something else you fear, you just can't see me still,
Hiding in plain sight and everywhere yet somehow you still can't see...

"For I am darkness, eternal, still, infinite and yet confined"

The voice soon faded from my ears as the wind died down
Leaving but the clattering leaves blowing down along the lane
The Sun appeared one last time as the clouds blew on by
Yet in my mind that voice I heard in a haunting refrain...

"For I am darkness, eternal, still, infinite and yet confined...
For I am darkness, eternal, still, infinite and yet confined...
For I am darkness, eternal, still, infinite and yet confined..."