In the Mines

October 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

Getting this in just under the wire, as a reminder for you and for myself. 

Mines run deep and dark, and it only takes one fall for your lamp to break, and you are lost. 

Don’t despair; know the exit is waiting to be found, and keep moving. 

Voices call for you. Maybe they’re your friends’ voices, maybe they’re strangers. But listen, and crawl toward them. 

It may be a long crawl. You may be cut and bleeding and raw. But the voices are calling you back to the surface. 

Follow them into the light. 

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Brick by Brick

October 7, 2017 § 2 Comments

I’m seriously considered tearing it all down. Deleting my Facebook account. Nuking Twitter. Flushing old blogs, and maybe this one, too.

Pulling up the drawbridges and building the walls higher.

This year has its boot firmly to the back of my neck, pushing my face deeper into the stinking mud. It will not let up.

It’s time for hermitage. Withdrawal and reclusion, and good luck to you brave souls stuck out in this bastard world.

Be patient. Be kind. But take care of your needs first.


weeping angel

Farewell, Dear Phouka

September 13, 2017 § 7 Comments

What’s left of Hurricane Irma lingers over southern Ohio, weeping her gray tears. It’s fitting weather; just past midnight, I learned that my friend Bardi had died.

I laid awake for another hour or so, walking the dark paths one walks when discovering such news late at night. Remembering Bardi, reflecting on his life and his death. Sad and angry by turns, and wondering if I’m on the same path. He got laid off and lost his health insurance and got sick and couldn’t afford to go to the doctor, and it killed him.

If I lose my job, that could easily be me. It could be you.

Bardi’s family is planning a wake in true Irish style, as well they should. His son said anyone who attempts to make it maudlin will be shown the door. In that vein, I’ll keep this small remembrance on the sunny side of the lane.

I won’t claim to know him well, but I knew him a while. We met in the mid-90s, when we both joined in a Star Trek fan club. We met again, years later, drawn together by NaNoWriMo and Firefly and a mutual love of Irish music. I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t remember him at first, but he remembered me.

I knew him by a few names — Timothy J. P. O’Riley and Taedgh O’Riley — but I and most who knew him called him Bardi. Short for Bardiphouka, his nom de net.

The thing I think of first when I think of Bardi is his writing. He could write a 50,000-word novel for NaNoWriMo easily, and often wrote double the word count. I think one  year, he wrote two novels in that month.

Every April, he did APAD — A Poem A Day — on his blog. Once, he told me he had a fan club in France, and they bought him an iPad in appreciation for his poetry. An iPad for APAD.

He also wrote songs and made music. I remember sitting in his den as he played a song he wrote for my friend Annie, plucking it out on an acoustic guitar, singing. He was particularly proud of a song he wrote called “Topper Takes a Toe.” (I think that’s the name of it; regrettably, I never got the chance to hear it.)

Bardi was that rare kind of individual you simply can’t capture in a nutshell. Quiet, kind, an eternal romantic. A gentleman in an age where gentlemen are scarce. He loved unusual hats and unusual turns of phrase. He liked to make people laugh. He gave because he enjoyed giving.

For my 50th birthday this year, Bardi posted this on Facebook:

Today is Random Acts of Kindness day. Also Dave Borcherding’s birthday. Which in a way was a random act of kindness to all who have come to know him.

It was possibly the nicest thing anyone said about me on my birthday.

2017 has been a bastard of a year, to the point that I’m constantly bracing for the next loss. Nevertheless, losing Bardi was one I didn’t see coming, and it’s been one hell of a gut punch.

Goodbye, my friend. I hope you’re dancing a jig with a beautiful lass on Fiddler’s Green. I didn’t see you nearly enough, and I am the poorer for that. And the world is poorer for no longer having you in it.

 


Bardi with our friend Brooke, New Year’s Eve 2012. (Photo Credit: Steve Blanzaco)

bardi

Beneath Stillness

August 26, 2017 § Leave a comment

The waters seem lifeless, with an unmoving surface the color of an olive's skin. No breeze, and only the occasional drone of a fat horsefly.

Maybe a frog's chirrup, a time or two.

A skipped stone makes waves, but the stone sinks and the ripples fade. Did it feel the flat pebble's staccato kisses? Does it feel the wasp sipping from its surface? Does it feel the heat of the noonday sun, or the chill caress of moon's silver light?

Perhaps this hole in the earth feels not, and holds no life; nothing swims or wriggles and crawls beneath its apathetic face. Maybe it's nothing more than a reservoir of the clouds' tears, tinted by sour mud and algae.

Or perhaps the depths roil; passionate creatures twist and dance together, or hunt and devour each other, or race for the sheer joy of speed and competition. Perhaps treasure waits to be found, or ancient mines tick toward detonation.

Perhaps here be monsters.

The water may settle and clear, in time. Until then, what lies beneath the stillness can only be guessed.

Passing the Devil

August 10, 2017 § Leave a comment

I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe in the supernatural. No afterlife, no ghosts, no gods or devils, heavens or hells. I trust science, and so far, science has found no evidence that there’s something after death. Just darkness and silence.

And yet sometimes — sometimes — something happens that makes me wonder, just for a moment, if maybe there is an undiscovered country. « Read the rest of this entry »

You Are Here

August 5, 2017 § Leave a comment

The walls have thorns. The paths are full of sharp stones. The leaves beneath your feet have been trodden black by millions who have come before you.

Weren’t you just here? You are not prepared for this. You never are.

Pick a path. Start walking.

Get out of the bed. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair.

Always turn right. Isn’t that what they say to do? Or is it left?

Take your pills and fight to keep them down. Pack something bland for lunch. Half a sandwich, perhaps.

If it’s dark, look to the moon. If she hasn’t been hung yet, find a sprinkle of stardust.

Make a list. Start at the top. Check things off, one by one by one.

The bees will bring you honeyed memories. Each one will sting. They’ll be the only treasures you’ll find here.

Listen to classical music, and let the waves of it wash over you. Waltz in the blue Danube.

Is there a way out this time? You can’t see it. You may never find it. Keep moving.

Call your mom.

If you find a bottle of sweet wine, speak to it of nothings.

Chew gum; it keeps you from clenching your teeth.

Comfort the small creatures and let them comfort you.

Sleep, if you can. When you can.

Sing a song to greet the dawn. One of the old ones. One of the sad ones.

Keep walking. Keep turning right. Or is it left?


hedge maze

 

Knocking off the Rust, Sharpening the Blade

July 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

The wonderful Maureen McHugh once told me, “Writing is a skill, like basketball; not a body of information, like biology.” Her point being, you get good by writing, not by studying it, or thinking about it, or reading other writers talking about it. You grab the ball, get on the court, and start dribbling.

I like to think of it more like carpentry. Pulling and hauling, grunting and sweating, sawing and hammering until a dead tree starts to look like something else entirely. « Read the rest of this entry »