Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wirebirds (A Very Short Story)


Today I felt the curve of the earth.
The horizon bowed at my feet.


- -


     “You see that?” The old man was talking, breaking the silence in which we had until then uncomfortably existed, amongst the smells of leaky exhaust and ancient leather. “That’s where you want to be.” I looked, but couldn’t see anything important. “Up there, boy! On the wire.” He pointed.
     “The birds?” I had no idea what he was talking about. The light turned green.
     “The ones on the wire.” There was a flock of birds in the median. Most of them were on the ground, pecking and eating and jumping – busily doing bird things. Some of them, about twenty or so, had perched high above the rest on a phone line. “That’s where you want to be,” he repeated, “up outta the shit. Up where you can breathe.”
     I looked at my grandfather – really looked at him – and for maybe the first time in my life I saw him as the person he was. Not as an occasional giver of money and interminable stories, but as a flesh-and-blood human man. A man who had scraped and fought his entire life to live in his own tiny house in the poor part of a town that had grown up around him. A man who should own the respect I had never thought to give him.
     A horn sounded behind us. “Grandpa? The light’s green.”
     “Ah shit,” he said, and stepped on the gas – too hard. The old truck lurched, stalled, and coughed to a stop. “Go around!” he yelled, waving his hand out the window. He laughed, and looked at me. “What was I talking about?”
     “Oh yeah.” He turned the key, the engine sputtered to life and we continued on. “Birds.”

     We finished the drive in a very different kind of silence than the one in which we had started.


- -


Gravity’s weight had me defeated,
and the core of the earth – I could feel its heat.

-Attack in Black



Monday, May 4, 2015

Spoiler: Long and Embarrassing

When I started college in 2005, I did what a lot of people who start college do: I looked at a guitar and thought “Oh yeah. I’m gonna learn me some of that.” So I learned a couple of chords from my friend Rob and decided I was a musician.

Now, what I should have been doing had I been actually serious about learning a new instrument was actually focus on learning that instrument. Instead, I focused on writing lyrics to songs I would never record or sing – because I am not a good vocalist and while I practiced guitar long enough to develop calluses on my fingers, I did not practice long enough to learn more than three chords and definitely did not practice long enough to be able to sing and play at the same time.

But I did learn enough to transition between those three chords (It might even be four)! As you can hear in the following clip:

Why I am not rich and famous, I will never know.

So guitar was evidently not my thing, nor was it going to be. Not because I was unable to learn how to play, but because I lack the motivation and discipline to learn an instrument when there are things like video games and television in this world.

I am very good at playing video games and watching television. I would enter into a television-watching contest if there was such a thing. Maybe there is. Stay tuned.

In any case, I did continue to write lyrics to songs that would never exist. Poetry was kind of my thing the first two years of college. Maybe I was kind of angsty. Maybe it was being on my own for the first time in my life. Or maybe it was because I really liked writing poetry. Who knows? I eventually grew out of it.

Whatever the reason, I have decided to share some of this potentially embarrassing writing with you, my very few readers. Keep in mind that I was very heavily influenced by bands such as Something Corporate (& Jack’s Mannequin), Dashboard Confessional, Brand New, Zox, Linkin Park, Jimmy Eat World, Copeland, etc. Please don’t judge too harshly.

Keep in mind too that these were supposed to eventually turn into songs – my friend Rob had a good singing voice, and he was the one teaching me to play guitar. I (maybe even we) had dreams of becoming a famous singing/songwriting duo someday, which were probably crushed when I decided that playing video games was way more immediately gratifying. Anyway – to the embarrassing things!

(Influence level: Linkin Park)
(Embarrassment Level: HIGH)

Hiding in the shadows
You are all the same
Dancing in the moonlight
Playing twisted games

Drawn towards the perilous
Burning with desire
Throwing caution to the wind
You fuel the darkest fire

Children of the night
You were angels, angels
Come into the light
And rewrite your life

Sometimes I imagine
That you are just a dream
Slinking, sliding, slithering
You make me want to scream

Running blindly through the muck
I’m giddy with the fright
I curse the silence of the moon
You trap me with delight

Children of the night
You were angels, angels
Come into the light
And rewrite your life

Forgotten by society
You shun the modern world
Living in proximity
Your words are never heard

Banished to the darkness
Your pain just never ends
Forgotten by your family
And Hated by your friends

Children of the night
You were angels, angels
Come into the light
And rewrite your life

Not trying to be normal
Not trying to fit in
Looking past the darkness
To see the light within

(Influence Level: Something Corporate)
(Embarrassment Level: Moderate)

Politely bruised and broken
You are lying on the floor
Too nice to speak your mind
To willing to give more than he deserves

Wake up and smell the flowers dear,
You need to get away from  here
Before you die

You’ve all-important vows
You think are worth the toughing-out
Too loving to let go
Too ready to miss out on a better life

Try hard to make it on your own
You would be better off alone
You don’t need this

Without him you are elegant,
Unstifled, bright and pure.
Too pretty to be real
Too certain to be sure your life is right

Look up and see the newborn sun
Give that bright smile to everyone
Give it a try

Your life becomes a cancer
That will rot away your heart
Too simple to be dangerous
Too familiar to be part of what you hate

Can’t tell you how you’re supposed to feel
It’s something you need to reveal
All on your own

Your secrets are a cure
That helps to only make it worse
Too blind to see the faults
Too blessed to be cursed, you are so young

You are so young

(Influence Level: ???????)
(Embarrassment Level: Moderately High)

Come inside to see
All the things you’ll never be
Look around and you will learn
When your dreams begin to burn

You call yourself my friend
But your laughter never ends
You are laughing with my pain
But your laughter is insane

Can’t you see that I’m about to snap?
Helplessly I fall into your trap
You twist my words so I can’t say a thing
You bind my ears so I can’t hear you sing

I step so carefully
On the surface of the sea
Jump above and try to dive
But I fall into the sky

Can’t you see that I’m about to snap?
Helplessly I fall into your trap
You twist my words so I can’t say a thing
You bind my ears so I can’t hear you sing

I feel your sick delight
In the darkness of the night
You fooled me for so long
Now I find I don’t belong

My life is caving in
Around the places I have been
Put my mind up on a shelf
And please come save me from myself

(Influence Level: Dashboard Confessional)
(Embarrassment Level: Fairly low)
Still one of my favorites.

The city whirls around me
Fills my head to burst
The sidewalk melts and I dive in headfirst

I wake up and I’m driving
Your picture on my dash
I see it and I smile for what we had

The radio sings to me sadness
While the full moon shines in through the glass
And I want to go to sleep so bad it hurts
but first I need to be sure that you’ll be there

I pull into a dark house
I never want to leave
The hospital bracelet hides beneath my sleeve

My thoughts lie down beside me
They whisper to my heart
But I can’t change how everything’s my fault

The radio sings to me sadness
While the full moon shines in through the glass
And I want to go to sleep so bad it hurts
but first I need to be sure that you’ll be there

The city whirled about me
We were spinning in the street
I could feel the sparks beneath my feet

The city whirled around you
You were flying through the air
The last thing I remember was the smell
Moonlight on the flowers
Was the sight
Spinning in the street
Of your hair

(Influence Level: Jimmy Eat World & The Calling)
(Embarrassment Level: None!)

Misty Monday morning
You walked out of my door
Memories are slipping
What do we do this for?

Cry out for an answer
Helpless futility
Memories are slipping
This life isn’t free

I picked it up and I tried
To fake your brutality
But the thing you never realized
The answer was always me
Cry yourself to sleep tonight
Look inside and you will see
Your strong guilt-free exterior
Is breaking at the seams
And the thought of me is haunting all your dreams

Feelings buried deep
Locked away forever
Memories are slipping
Ties you tried to sever

Living on your own
You are living all alone
Memories are slipping
What good have you done?

Look where we are now
Did you know that it would end like this?
Did you know we were bound to miss?
Tangled in all this bliss
Like this

You are wasting time
You wasted all my life
Memories are slipping
It serves you right

So there you have it. Some embarrassing pieces of my past. Although those last two (Sparks and Amnesiac) I actually still like quite a lot. My previously-mentioned friend Rob actually sat down and recorded a rough take of Amnesiac with guitar and vocals that I think is pretty dang good considering it was recorded in one take sometime in 2006 on some kind of potato microphone. With a little polishing and practice I think it would sound awesome.

To leave you, here’s a video of that very recording with some doodle I doodled after he recorded it.


To double-leave you, here is a short poem that was actually published (front page!) in one of the Purdue Exponent’s student literary editions, so I was fairly puffed up for a few days after that.


What do you see on the back of your eyelids?
What do you see in your dreams?
Follow a road to the back of your mind
Where nothing appears as it seems;
Where your unspoken secrets are living their lives
And only in sleep are they free.
How can a question be answered with yes?
How can we answer with no?
Setting a price on the weight of the world
Is like standing a candle in snow.
And the melting puddles of our tired lives
Will steam up to the stars and glow.
Have you ever really looked out the window?
Have you ever looked at the scene?
We’re building a bridge to the end of the world
Just to fall back into the sea.
And everyone’s lives are one and the same
The killer, the preacher, and me.