Fight. So violent. But fight we must, or struggle. The only two options. But, wait.
Roll, tuck, grab backwards, suplex. Grapple with it.
Hold. Take a second to breathe. Strategize while you have the moment. Move.
Listening to a friends amplified story riffing through my mind, I climb the crescendo of the rolling knolls that are these sounds. Safe. Sound. Home.
“Live Healthy, live Happy.” I read the bottle and tipped it back remembering why I did what I did. Fiction or fact. One knows its own bullshit. The other, is one of two: Disguising, or, elucidating. Each new beginning brings forth the chance.
I’m a sucker for that rhyme-like rhythm of life at night in the city lit by lamps and LEDs and riddled with horns and hollers to a god that won’t respond. Who to pray to? Who to pray? Who lays their head on a pillow, laced, sober.
Under the influence, why we inebriate. The influence of, what? What we fear, we fear of judgement. Who to pray for? Fear of judgement. Who to pray for? i pray.
“Float” they say. Float the way their fingers float on the guitar. Float the way the river bends earth, dirt, mud, slide into another run.
Scale these sounds, like mounds molded by the hands of their majesty.
Royalty behind the decisions of the jester poking and prodding at the mind of the collective, reading this, after the fact.
Deception: Disguising; Lies, down on the pavement, hands on the neck, taking a knee on a flag, black and tired. Blacked out and tired, in the dark, arms straight ahead looking for the wall we won’t build because when you look through a foggy lens into the light, you see an eye.
And I won’t disregard the experience of realizing the poetry behind that. Namaste. I Recognize the light in you. Cup it with your hands. Dim it’s reach because those in need are hungry and when they smell your warmth and gather, life force will be spread like butter churned by the same hand that squeezed the udder. Smooth licks, snap back, to another time, what in your mind we call travel, time willing, we move.
Will they ever make sense, with their switching pronouns like changing clothes? Will they commercialize that, too, like these T-shirts we sell to elephants, made in China. How high will the tariffs have to get before foreign labor slows and worn hands get a break? Our consumerism bleeds, dry, high on the purchase of a click, through traffic, ticking numbers up on a screen, collecting cents and a sense of satisfaction.
“I don’t know anymore.” He gathered his stuff and left the room.
She was stricken.
“Josh, focus. We need to get this done.” Her arms were out wide barricading him in.
He was distracted, and pushed through like gravity working water down, through caverns, to an underground lake where the sea meets fresh water and stills. Two lakes, stacked atop each other, underground.
“I don’t want to focus. I’m fucking tired.”
“Tired of what?”
“Tired of this.” He said with the sound of a memory of a commercial taking over a wholesome moment.
Use it like you reuse that Nalgene bottle. At least you fill it with water that came from pipes under your feet, not from the French alps. Reverse the osmosis and fill it with fanciness labeled with plastic wrapped and capped with plastic, discarded.
“I never’ll be sober again.” His eye teary with a hint of fatigue from the fate that had befallen him.
“I don’t think I’ll ever figure you out.” She said.
“I don’t think so.”
“Then why try? Right? Cause you are impossible to understand. So complex that my little brain can’t wrap around you.” Like a hug, she smiled, and he felt it.
“K, fine. I got it. I get it.”
“What do you get?” Her attention slipped because she could tell, he did.
“They will never know?” He ensured with his whole body in the form of a question, marking the moment like apt punctuation.
“Never. Cross my heart.” Hope to die, when you follow, the puzzle pieces itself.
“Okay, I try to take all of it out of ‘context’.” He put in quotations. “Because when they see what I see, it won’t be the same.”
“Okay?” He was slightly offended. Like what he said was actually confusing, because he was so hard to understand.
“No no no! I mean, okay, continue. I’m following.” She closed her eyes for a second longer than a blink and reframed her perspective.
“I’m saying that no matter what I say, it won’t mean what it meant to be. What’s meant to be is the feeling that we get when we connect.”
Connecting the dots, like painting by number, she followed without seeing the picture yet. Only uncharted constellations.
“Like, when you understand something, I mean. There is understanding something, and there is understanding someone. I think we do the former more than the latter. It’s like, we don’t always get the goal, because, sorry, I’m shifting metaphors, but when we don’t get the goal, we still have all those successive and successfully connected passes that led to the shot.” He paused. “I’m talking about soccer now by the way.”
She laughed, “Thank you for clarifying, I actually didn’t get that,”
He chortled, “Yeah sorry that was confusing. But it’s like learning, the more time you spend attacking some subject from different angles, the more you touch its shape, and you can map its outline, like a 3D printer. Does that make sense?” Earnest.
Like coming into a conversation mid way, she felt a rush of memories filling in the blanks. He was talking a little crazy, and aggressive. Attacking the limit, the gap, she asked, “What outline? Outline of what?” Chalk drug on cement, all colors, sidewalks marked with less than adolescent art.
“Like the outline of the moment.” He wasn’t about to let it pass. “The, moment, you realize that you understood something. Like got it, like it hit you in the chest and popped out that cork stopping your superfluous bile from spilling out.”
“Gross, yeah, but not in the way you think.”
They were still in the doorway, on either side, and really, only an earthquake would bring them, hugging, together under the solid structure between two places.
He said, “We can’t avoid this uncomfortable truth.”
“The fact that even though we speak in untraditional ways, we make more sense and truth, albeit in a choppy way.”
“More truth than what?”
“More truth than the prescriptive, rote ways, that where written and fired from the literary canon and the bible, and stuff.”
His skin, brownish with yellow and greens. Her skin, almost translucent with blues and reds.
He explained. “The money with god on it, like it was endorsed by an idea of imagining that we are all worshiping the same thing.”
But, what, she wondered, was he talking about when he said ‘god.’
The machine churned again, but the machines were hands, moved with the motion of a mind melded into the pot of charms, which held spells and enchantments, lotteried off for dollars at a time.
We all know that feeling, when god gives us paper for doing their work. Those genderless gods that don’t stagnate the pysche of the worshiper. The one god, that god that prays to you to pray to that oneness inside, Pray.
No comment on the lack of mention of willing gods, god willing, willing life like we will when we wonder what came first in line. In line, patient, escaping the pollutants, we scaffold horizontally along the ground, a way out. But what we need is up, down, around, all over, loving and caring and nurturing and natural, not always comfortable. Like the sights we see when we walk around at night. Shadows fishing out our attention like fear in the fur of a cat arched on a fence in October.
“What do you mean when you say ‘god’?”
He didn’t understand, because he knew god like he knew her. They were, like, best friends. They didn’t judge each other’s speech, ill formed thoughts, all disconnected and jumbled like the ping pong balls with numbers on them falling in place, chancing the next big winner to throw their arms up and scream, They chose me!
They chose me, too, like they chose you.
“Yeah, what do you mean?”
“Um, god, like, god, my friend, my father, mother, sibling. God, like my love for life, and ability to hold the moment through trying times. The moment, like god, that carries the warmth of a person extending help through the cold night like fire, pushing out heat for those people who need it, to absorb, and collect themselves.”
“You’re getting pretty poetic, Josh.”
“Because! Because god is poetic in nature. God is the singularity of life that allows us to be disparate, different.”
Disembodied voices and hallucinations dance like they did, those fictional characters in the imagination of a kid talking, playing by themselves, without new concepts like distrust and the venom of hate. It courses through us, emanating from the injection site, without hard hats, and no security, our materials are stolen.
“God is different for you as god is different for me.”
“Yeah, god is unique to the individual. But is god real?” She played the devil’s advocate.
“What isn’t real is what goes away when you stop believing in it. God doesn’t need you to believe in it for it to be. It just is.”
“Yeah.” Started to play herself. “And everyone comes to god in their own way, their own time. The unity of that moment, when they come together, is orgasmic.”
“Yeah. But no sex, no shame. Just a fluid moment shared inside the person with all that they know, happening at once.”
All at once they stopped, because the lights flashed, blue and red, and law entered uninvited. The lights were the same color as those in her skin, but shared nothing, no common color between him and the flash of pain hitting the brain, Advil filled, and seen as completely generic. They are all the same.
“What were we talking about? I just forgot.” Her eyes were red, and he read her eyes, both bloodshot, both of them high from the THC being filtered out by their cannabinoid systems.
It was like ending the story by waking up from a dream, but the dream was real, and the waking was sobriety, and they remembered slow and steady the god they had attacked from all angles. The one that they outlined with chalk like kids playing out in front of their homes. Like cliches ricocheting off the walls that we built to keep them out, us in, and fear strong.
He knew what they were talking about, about it, but to paraphrase it would be difficult, so he tried. “I think we were talking about god.”
They looked at each other, and like that, they laughed together. They understood something, someone, the former and the latter.
“I don’t know what to do with myself.” A statement that should be a question that we ask ourselves before the grappling starts. Everything has got to get better. Even when they twist your arm, we can tap out, signifying that we are being hurt. That we give into their physical will. And when they are choking us, and we say, we can’t breathe with our hands babbling taps on the skin of our master in that moment, hoping and begging for them to realize their victory and humbly back down for another round of sparring. No holds barred.
“Black lives matter!” she yelled through her pinkish lips. White light flash banged her retinas so small that she could only see that anymore, the light.
She cried out, grabbing her eyes, balling, yelling, when the pepper spray hit the windows to the soul, burning the panes until they were eaten away at like acid tabs on the tongue of the converted, or a priest.
She regained her composure. Fist balled, knee down, “Black lives matter!” The incessant chatter splattered all over by the right minded, what was left of understanding, meaning nothing but a counter to a statement that should not have to be an argument.
Black lives matter.
Unjust retorts, we politicate and fuck with them who we have in a choke hold, those who anything but babble, but boycot the disingenuous responses from the social pundants spewing hate, and refusing to aknowledge the firm and increasingly panicked taps from the stifled voices embodied by hallucinations from news flashes, flash bangs, and broadcasts.
They didn’t feel us, He said, after we died, after we stopped tapping and started pawing at their forearm, because we realized they were going to go through with it. This was a grapple, or at least they didn’t know that before we didn’t know that. We knew that now, that it was a fight, and knew that their choking us was without music. So we brought rhythms with our taps.
Complex structures meant as messages aimed at their hearts.
Hearts, black, beautiful hearts throbbing from fear and anger and misunderstanding things. An aspect of my teacher reaches from the other side of suicide. Life, and reaching for it, we drum in time with our last moments, not praying for us, but for them, because it is they who need saving, because justice reigns and falls like led on those who tote guns as if they are making a true statement in saying their lives are more valuable than ours.
Our lives matter. Not all lives, right, because that would imply that we will have to extend rights to those who nourish us with their flesh.
In fields they stand, or in between metal railings, barely moving, de-loused, in vats, and killed without communication or warning. We herd the cattle for slaughter.
So go out on the streets, because there is a virus that isn’t strong enough to take down the noble, because nobility is a quality that it admires. Not poverty. So the poor and the sick beware, because simple precautions that will protect you won’t be taken by those in power, and those protected.
Go ahead and hide behind your masks, your lies, deceptions, and doops. We deal in those everyday when we give you the benefit of the doubt, but time is running up and the gamble, the gambit ceased being an advantage when you suffocated it. Blood flow stopped like the damned at heaven’s gates.
The sinners, the muslims, the gays, the christlike people who never accepted christ, because to them, that was like taking away the eternal lives from their past selves not yet saved that they see in those who will never learn, never accept. Sea urchins, stuck like charisma, on the soles of the feet of those who walk barefoot on the streets that provide no shelter, other than discarded and thrifted tents, if you’re lucky. If not, the cardboard found in the blue bins fished out like shadows we see passing in front of cars before the light turns red. It wasn’t their turn, we think, but they walk anyway, to their next place to rest for an hour at a time, because the nights are cold, and cigarettes aren’t cheap, so find that nicely vulnerable man willing to swipe his card and show his ID to the clerk for menthols that might give you cancer.
Blowing smoke through light blue hospital masks, we choke, again, on the hand being dealt. Sevens and twos is all we see before the flop, and after giving us a full hand, and we stayed in, so only a fool would understand that it was unlikely for us to lose at this point, because we already won.
“I don’t know anymore.” He said another night in between rooms, safe, when the earthquake hit. She was there too. The whole thing collapsed except the door frame they were under. And his collated, collaged-colloquialisms saved him.
She saved her own self by listening to the ramblings of his sanity before they saw it fall. Not the tower of Babel. Babel actually never fell, they just reached the top and realized there wasn’t much room, or oxygen, so they spread the illusion that god didn’t want them to share. Don’t share thoughts, sexes, gender identities, orientations, proclamations, promulgations or presentations of anything trustworthy.
We don’t have time to dilly dally my friends, so drink up because the quest is coming and we can’t wait. Throw the ring into the pit that opened up after the earth shook. Hide the invisibility that we used, that they still use, to justify actions of an obvious origin. Obvious and oblivious of the nature they project into the world, creating an inhospitable place for many who just want to feel at home in a country where their forefathers were forced to come to, leaving a genetic trail and a feeling so strong that it transcended the words and stories that were stripped of those ancestors, like the cotton they stripped from the stems in the fields owned by the men who called themselves, masters. Masters of ignorance and violence and keeping it that way. But by twos, and sevens, I feel their grips loosening, for weakness leaks from the wicked, dripping like oil from a pipeline that should have never been built when wind whips turbines as big as a football field in circles, around and around, we go, until we can’t go any further.
“I think I’ve got it.” Said Josh.
“I think I understand why they don’t understand our characters.”
“What do you mean, like the people being interviewed on TV and stuff?”
“Yeah, like those supporters that are good people that refuse to see the hypocrisy in their vote.” He was excited.
“And?” She was eager to hear what he had to say because they were the only two left under that door frame after the world collapsed and the tower could be seen again.
He pointed to it.
“You see up there? The sun? Our star. Life here was seeded by that star.” The possibilities of reality are only limited by the imagination. “We came from that star, and some rubble, and from god. But, there are others out there that came from different stars, and under the light of those stars, and those minerals, it colored them differently, and left them color blind. They don’t see the differences between, because their mind’s eyes aren’t trained to pick them up.”
She was still connecting the dots, by the hundreds, and it was turning into a web, all digital, and dangerous, but she couldn’t stop now. Now that they had made it out of the choke hold that was on them and the people spoke after catching their breath.
Stop, please. They said. Please stop. Because if you don’t we will continue grappling your gatling guns and biases, and baseless accusations where empathy is outweighed by statistics, and history is caste, in a light behind the shadows creeping around the web, plucking at its strings like a guitar haunted by the demon constructed to control us.
Luckily we play drums, and the rhythms and taps reverberate through time leaving no doubt and only intelligibility in the way we sing our pain through these lines and lines of code that build our tools we use to reach out to say, god knows, we still love, and must love, because without it, comes the something causing excuses for a man taking a knee, taking a life, and the uproar when a man takes a knee and lifts a fist, during an anthem of patriotic fervor that only a pastor on acid could preach to.
Amen and goodnight to all that is holy under man’s watch, ticking away, uncontrollably, and we’re aware of it. So fight not grapple, because grappling implies common decency. And decency, I hope, we have in common. I hope it is enough when the taps come, designed in time, with time, to signal the trumpets to blast the news out from the top of every mountain, from sea to shining sea. A land lent to us from the blood spread like genocide commited over time and passed down in a sickly campy way as if to say it were as simple as cowboys and indians.
“I’m so tired of this.” Black Josh said.
“Not being able to sleep.”
“Can you listen to a guided meditation? I think that might help.”
And without hesitation of even a breath, he took his own life, into his own hands, and rested, falling asleep after sobriety came, and the music kept playing, mending the mangled mess meddling in his mind made up of meaningless messages, mingling among brothers and sisters and fathers and god.