CURE (Casual Utopias Rarely Endure)

Why do they call it a “labor of love”? Does anyone ever love labor? Or do we mean to say love is something to be worked on, not something that magically falls into your lap and works itself out? When the truth is, things never work themselves out, people work them out for you.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see more than I seem to reflect. And I cannot say that I am blameless, there is an image I project. But the girl in black and white in that picture on my wall – the one that looks so sad – she’s really more me than the bubbly one you met one sunny Saturday.

Don’t you know to look out for the overly happy ones, because they’re the ones with fault lines on the inside?

I am not the antidote to your ailment, I am not the stitch to hold that wound, not the tonic to your gin. This body of mine has never healed anyone, it barely heals itself these days. That cut on my leg has been there for weeks now.

You might be better off with drugs and alcohol if it’s oblivion you need, because in the end my skin is just as warm as the skin you’re trying to forget. And unlike you, I am straining to remember what a warm body next to me feels like, one I would want to reach out for, so what you offer is a bitter pill to swallow.

If I flushed it down with some vodka and my pride, I’m sure it would make me feel alright for a while. After all, what would be the harm?


“And I think I’m scared that maybe

After all this growing up

I’m only good at being young”



[Part 10 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]


SPIN (Some Paths Intersect Naturally)

All the clocks and watches in my house have stopped running. I don’t replace the batteries as an effort to stop time.

I am living my life backwards again. Before my inner eye plays a retrospective of the questions I never answered, the paths I never took, the open doors I never closed and never walked through either.

I remember the doorway I stood in, straining to see in the dark. That night I followed the call and walked into the room beyond, but then I retreated in the morning and never went back. What I’d give for another chance at that doorway.

In hindsight my pattern has always been two steps forward and one step back. But I’m hoping lives are circular and you will lap me soon, briefly existing in the same space and maybe this time I can follow in your drift.

Like planets, we each have our own orbit that spins us in giant loops and every now and then we conjure up an eclipse when our lives intersect and overlap. But time stops for no one, celestial forces move us on and soon we are on opposite ends again.

And then I remember that returning is not the same as going backwards. The hands of each clock pass each spot twice a day yet move ever forward. So I don’t want to go back, I just want to revisit and continue moving.

“And I wonder where you are tonight
If the one you’re with was a compromise
As we’re walking lines in parallel
That will never meet and it’s just as well”


[Part 9 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

DOOR (Declining Other Offers Repeatedly)

There’s a dip in the mattress, right in the middle, where I always sleep, because no one else needs the space beside me. So now I try to confine myself to either side, to wear it down evenly, so that my long-standing singledom is not so obvious to every visitor.

I like things just so and ‘so’ is how I ask you to keep them. I struggle to trust you could improve upon what I have spent all my life adjusting. And you don’t fight to convince me I am wrong, which disappoints me. How I wish someone would fight me.

When the weather rebelled, and many cursed the heat, I came alive. I let the sun mark my skin and reveal the natural colour underneath the ghostly shell. Maybe this is why so few see me now: I have faded too much.

I bought another notebook whose pages will stay empty, because nothing ever means enough to deserve the honor of staining the pristine white. The stories are better in my head.

And it’s not that I’m comparing you to the visions of people I’ve conjured up, it’s just that you never seem to measure up. But then I use the metric system and you calculate everything in pints, so our math is off.

I keep meaning to get a door with better locks, but I have always been too good at not letting people in, so maybe tonight I’ll leave the chain off just to prove a point.
And I will lie in the half dark in the dip of the mattress with the window open and listen to the neighbor’s dog barking at ever the same things, eternally surprised by its own surroundings. And I will wonder if someone will open the door.


“I have known more empty bedrooms than I’ll ever know myself”


[Part 8 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

START (Some Trips Alter Reality’s Tracks)

I’ve packed some essentials, but I keep looking out the window to try and gauge the weather. Will I need that jacket? Will I need those boots? Will I need an extra dose of bravery and determination? Should I take the mountain path or the island path? Should I ask for company or set off alone? Should I dance or go on horseback?

I imagine one of these days I’ll just go, like I always have. I’m not afraid, just undecided.

And decisions have always mattered, because once I start I do not stop. I may stumble and fall, but I do not quit.

It has to be soon now though, the hourglass halts for no one. The grains that have passed cannot be reclaimed now, but I can remember and treasure them as I carry them with me in my little pouch. Some, those that really mattered, strung up like pearls on a necklace to tell the story of who I really am.

I’m better equipped for the trip now than I was before, I’ve acquired some tools along the way. But I’ve also lost some things, like innocence and boundless optimism and I cannot help but wonder if what I lost opened doors more easily than any lock pick I may now possess.

Then I shrug and think: there’s plenty of ways inside, I’ll dig a tunnel if I have to. Just remember this: you cannot regret what you haven’t done and Spartans never surrender.


“Now don’t look down,
The world below’s made up
A photograph of life,
Never quite sure enough”


[Part 7 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

The Chase

I’m not chasing you, I’m not even chasing the idea of you. I’m chasing how you made me feel.

How my heart skipped a beat when you walked into a room. How I hoped with every fibre of my being you’d notice me and then crumble when you did.

How everything we said and everything we didn’t say seemed like it was taken right out of a movie script. Real life rarely gets it this perfect.

I’m chasing that fire you sparked with one touch that you made me wait for forever. One finger tracing down my arm, that’s all it took for me to want you and no matter how much you gave me, it was never enough.

How I got dizzy with happiness from the sensation of feeling how soft your skin was. I don’t miss your skin, I miss the dizziness.

How my brain was so wired it memorized every detail of every moment in an instant and now I can never forget. Not much these days seems worth remembering all that well.

I’m chasing that feeling when one word from you could cut me open and make me melt. How you saw what was important and all the rest just fell away.

How you showed vulnerability just when I was convinced I’d never break through to you.

How you brought me to my knees by sinking to yours.

I’m chasing a time when every second was heavy with meaning and intent. When I was somehow more alive, painfully so. When my corners caught your edges and left my entire being raw.

I’m chasing the visions you conjured in my head and the ghosts you left behind that linger in all the words I write and echo in every song I hear.

I’m chasing what cannot be captured, for once you close your hand around it, it’s already fading.

And a part of me still thinks that maybe I should be chasing you and that dove blue shirt.

But answers don’t lie back there and if I don’t fix my eyes on the road ahead, I’ll lose the race no matter when I finish.

NONE (Never One Never Ending)

I longed for warmer weather, but now that it is here I miss the comforts of winter. Hot tea, cozy sweaters and less spiders invading my personal space.

Like the flowers in my garden I try to open up to every new day and be welcoming to those coming my way, be they bees or wanna-be’s. But when the night draws nearer, like the flowers too, I retreat – I don’t want to share my bed.

I have two pillows for another reason and there are corners of myself I know I will never share. That is not your fault – it is my choice. Because then at least there will be something that can never be tainted, forever mine, forever true. Where the stories live and all those lovers I never had except in dreams.

I always cook enough for two, but if I gave you a plate all I’d be thinking is how you’re eating next day’s lunch.

I like remembering people. How they were, or who I thought they were, in that one moment, on that one day, during that short time we shared. I like staying in the “before” so I don’t have to live with the “after”.

I know you want a chance at the in-between, but it is heavily guarded by those ghosts of people I’ve made up.

There’s one more glass of wine and while I drink and once again the night settles in I wonder: how to make that one ghost real, the one that’s been there all along, never left my side and knows my story. Now that would be a feat.


“I think I was born with a broken heart, lonesome deep in my bones.”


[Part 6 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]


On your knees now you say you are not the same man. You have travelled eastward and inward and found yourself. It’s not that you were ever lost, or that your core was silver when your life was golden. You were never that far off in the first place, but at least you know that now.

On your knees now you are willing to be accepted rather than be judged. You have acknowledged your flaws and you no longer apologise. The only person you can disappoint is yourself and your own expectations are unchanged.

On your knees now you are not asking for rules, you are offering control. You have finally understood you have the power and it is yours to give and not something to be taken away. You will only be led to where you want to go and you’ll wear a smile on your face on the way.

On your knees now you are taller than you have ever been before. You have revealed yourself without fear in your eyes and without expectation in your heart. This moment now transcends you and dissolves into intent and promise. No matter the outcome, you will rise the same.

Forever changed.

HOME (Here Or Maybe Elsewhere)

Will here be where I make my final stand? Where all the paths I’ve walked converge, making this my destination? Have I finally won the race without ever returning to the starting point?

The rain against my window wakes me in the night, I turn my head and on the pillow next to me is only the figment of my imagination conjured up by water hitting glass.

I yearn for rivers and lakes now more than ever. At the shore, when I am quiet long enough, sometimes I think inside I can hear the echoes of far-away voices. Of those who came before, or maybe even something bigger than myself altogether.

I can trace my lineage to times and places far away, but there are parts of me I can never account for.

I hold still, I hush, I listen as just like me they grapple to express some kind of truth, dig beneath the skin, and see more than meets the eye. Our sight lies to us constantly, only our vision can guide us through.

It’s not about escaping reality, it’s about diving deeper into life. Instead of being the skipping stone on the water’s surface, I want to be the one that sinks to the ground and in the underwater silence discovers secrets long forgotten, currents dragging us along and the meaning of it all.

You can paint the surface like a canvas, make it reflect the sky, the past or your version of the future, but you will not make anything stick without an anchor in the ground, without roots that go deeper and grab hold of something true.

Here then, at least for now. For where is home? No fixed abode.


“I’m fast enough to get in trouble, but not fast enough to get away.
And I am old enough to know I’ll end up dying, not young enough to forget again.”


[Part 5 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]

Seasonal Wisdom

(originally written in 2008, re-posted for current relevance)

After the summer that came and went without anyone ever knowing it had been there at all, I am still sitting alone in my room over the same task I was assigned weeks ago and my thoughts now so far down a path I am thinking it is hard to catch up to them again, ever. Or to explain them to anyone, even myself. Nothing is real and tangible these days, it’s all just mist and truths in dreams.

I opened my window and the air coming in smelled of winter. A few days after autumn started and already I can smell the frost and behind my closed eyelids see the twinkling lights of Christmas. My heart takes a leap of joy as a smile forms on my lips and the crisp breeze travels to my lungs.

From the back of the closet I longingly pulled out my black winter coat, which keeps me warm in the worst of weather and I smiled at my biker boots standing right there underneath it. I thought to myself “I cannot wait for it to be winter”. Preferably with a lot of snow and sunshine in between. I want to take long walks. Through the city and out of the city, past trees that are sleeping. I want to breathe deep while in my ears Matt Pond sings a sweet song. I want to wrap a scarf around my neck, wear my silly woolen hat, my mittens and my biker boots with thick socks in them and trod around in the cold for hours until my nose freezes off or I get hungry. And even then I would rather unpack a crumbled ginger bread man from my pocket than go home. I want to take my journal and record my thoughts when my feet are tired and I am sitting on a bench, people with dogs passing me by. I want the cold to make me feel alive again. When I am freezing I will finally feel every muscle in my body, every part of me will be there, achingly making itself noticed and I can take inventory and see if I lost anything along the way. I will feel the shivers traveling along my body, starting in my lower back and spreading to my stomach, running down my legs and back up to take a hold of my arms until I shudder and shake them off. And I will start to run, my arms flapping like those of an unselfconscious child still full of enthusiasm not worried about looking silly. I will run as fast and as long as I can until the cold pierces my lungs and I will fall into the snow and stare into the pale sky while the wetness makes my coat damp from underneath. Maybe at that point I will break out in song.


“If you ever wanted anything

Then you have to disagree

Make some time with the fire’s coals

Who really knows if it isn’t cold”


Standing at my window lost in my fantasy of winter I think if I close my eyes tight enough and listen to the silence in the weather, I can smell the fireplaces that are going to be lit when the thermometer drops, and the dead earth, the leaves rotting away under all the mushy brown snow. I can hear the muffled steps of children making new footsteps where no one has gone before them and the faint sound of Christmas songs playing in every store in the city center. And with the icy particles of winter wind a sense of connection settles onto my skin. Thousands of miles away I can see a face, reddened by the temperature and the exhaustion and I can’t wait to meet him.


“I can be quiet

Wish you could hear me”


I stand frozen in my posture and fractions of another life slide across my face and pass me by. The ice is so unbelievably thick in Wisconsin in winter. You never get ice like that around here. And once in my childhood it rained and then froze so fast, all the trees had a coat of ice around them and when the wind blew they clunked against each other and played a glockenspiel symphony. That was a magical day.


Many people hate winter and the cold, but I remember a friend of mine who said he hated the heat more, because you can always put more clothes on to shield you from cold, but there is a limit to taking clothes off to relieve you of heat. I believe the cold makes us more aware. It brings out the truth. You cannot hide from all the cold. You put on layers and layers of clothes in an effort to hide, but the cold always finds a way in and only the resilient retain a smile and a cheer. The most spirited ones defy the rules of everything dying and come alive when it’s cold. The people grumpy when it’s cold are the ones always grumpy, but usually they hide it well when the sun provides a cozy cover and chemical illusions. I dare the winter to bring out the truth, show us who we really are, point me to my corner and make me whole again. I’d rather be freezing on the outside than frozen on the inside.

Under all the items of clothing you wear when it’s cold it’s hard to express anything, you are restricted from using body language or intricate gestures with gloved fingers. You have to use your words and people do it too little. I applaud the cold for wrenching words from mindless souls. Nothing registers as real if you never give it words. You cannot run from sounds you have spoken, you can never take them back. This permanence is a good reason to hate winter, but it’s no excuse. To stand in fields of snow and speak words from deep within is beautiful purity you can only get in winter.

Winter makes you dig for things. Your car underneath the cover of snow, the safe way to cross the icy road, your gloves at the bottom of your pocket, life underneath the exterior of death. If I ever you wanted to say something true, winter is the time to do it. There is nothing left to distract us, no girls in short skirts, no beach parties, no barbecues, no feel good radio hits, all that’s left is what you keep from dying in the cold.

I’d never trust someone who falls in love with me in summer time, the sun makes everything look too pretty. I don’t care about pretty and sunny and colorful. I like the core of things, all the dispensable disposed of and no chemical illusions altering the mind. Summer lies and people lie in summer. When all you can see is my eyes underneath all the winter accessories I am wearing and all you can hear is me singing matt pond PA and talking about crickets when you fall in love with me, that’s when I’ll believe you, because at the bottom of things that’s who I am. I am winter and I like it that way.



LOST (Lingering On Sensible Thoughts)

Waiting for the water to boil I am clairvoyant for a moment. I can see the sad goodbye and the tears are already choking me here and now.

“To destruction,” your order sounds out and I march and the dove blue shirt has taught me nothing. I don’t know better.

The scale broke, I can no longer measure my own worth and so I trade for what you offer, hoping markets turn in my favor.

Have I ever colored inside the lines?

I’ve told myself the story, reading it out loud every night at bedtime. That doesn’t make it true. But who’s a fool for believing?

The wine tastes off. But maybe it’s supposed to be this way. I drink it down anyway, because consequences are a morning problem and I need nighttime solutions.

The skin on my elbow will not stop being rough and dry. The wear is starting to show from the inside out. But what are bodies for if not to be used up?

The waters are murky now, the forest dark. I am convinced I hear the babbling creek ahead, sunlight diamonds waiting to be caught. Just don’t trip on the underbrush.


“I took off my shoes and walked into the woods. I felt lost and found with every step I took.”



[Part 4 of Volume 2 of my “Thinking in Acronyms” series”]