deep thoughts, pennings

september 25, 2019

there are chairs everywhere.

there are chairs everywhere and art hangs on the walls.

there are chairs everywhere, and there are old vintage light bulbs that glow for another night, and she is strumming guitar in the living room, and the flowers are drying, and it is chilly with the death of september. there are new bar stools on old beige carpet, there is lavender in the air, and there is leftover pizza.

there is a semicolon inked on a wrist. a friend points it out. ”i like that,” she tells. ”i see you,” she says. there is laughter like drunkenness without the carnality, there is truth in the comedy, and a jar of milk is out for those who would like cereal.

there is the sun through the rotting leaves, there is the light through their holes, there is a constellation that beams through the clouds, and there is his smile when his son tugs on his hand. there is the knowing of pain, there is the advil, and there is the match, struck to let it burn away. there are the custody papers, it’s sitting in his desk, it’s sealed, it’s promised, it’s real, just like her seventh month clean from cutting, she’s been learning how to carve instead.

there is the holy sacredness of parishioners blissfully ignorant of the time, sharing their hopes and dreams and the day that they saw the lord was good— the spaghetti was only 25 cents a piece. praise the holy god, the rent will be paid. there is the steady risk of being perceived, there is the danger of being known, there is the unrivaled thrill when the sentence is uttered, ”you are not alone”.

there is the mental instability, and there is the healing. there is the grunting at the mirror to persevere, and there is, for the first time, the acceptance to step away. there are the lonely nights, and there are the drives in the car when he looks out the window and the rush comes flooding in to try to be alive. there is time, there is time, there is time to undo all the wrong, there is time to make right, there is time to know that the responsibility does not fall on any one’s sole pair of shoulders.

there is her smile, her hair glinting in the light, walking downtown and feeling nervous, unsure of what is coming next. there are the long drives after the angry people storm away, silent and tired, and so young, having copays and having little siblings to take from distant parent to distant parent. there are their scared faces breaking into smiles, there is the way his eyes shut as he strums the untuned guitar, there is her small question. ”so, cause my dad didn’t marry my mom, am i a sin?” there is the emphatic “no!”.

truth be true, it’s not really sure what that one is, the one with the cinematic heartbreak constantly observing the world, an enigma to all, even himself. there is so much fear of screwing up, of making a fatal mistake, of losing communication forever. there are pauses in between the nerves, discussing art by mentally ill lovers of life, there are pretentious little walls with their egos properly decorated to size, and oh, fool. fool fool fool. there is so much love. there is the common ground of inhaling illegal substances in youth, against either one’s will, when both were small and curious and wanting a better life. there is the hope that it is coming. there is the hope of possibility. there is, like his soft goodbye, the promise of possibility, that when he pulls out of the driveway he’ll park at the overpass, look down, and move forward. it’s painful, it’s painful, he wishes for a good night, a good day, and the wish is made that he will stay.

there is so much love. dear mary, joseph, peter and paul, there are not two steps in this stupidly small town where it isn’t felt. cvs sells it discounted, the spanish church a block from it offers it for free on saturdays, and don’t blink too much but it dare may be in his hand.

there is pizza, that is most important. and there are chairs everywhere.

there are chairs everywhere. for, with the weight of this fullness, there requests a place to sit down and belong.

there are chairs everywhere, asking one to stay.

“pfft, well if you have to sit on the carpet, move over. you silly, silly child!”

deep thoughts, pennings

i am of a fictional mind and of the notion that you are in love with life tonight

Jesus save us

modernity has failed us

and i’d love it if we made it

muse, my good friend, whom i would call lover if you didn’t choose to be so absent all the time, do me a favor and come to me, will you?

i’m thinking about the world tonight, i’m thinking about love, and i’m realizing i’m not half as angry as i was when i first started.

let me put it this way; the leaves are starting to fall. the mornings are nippy, and condensation fogs the windows of the car that hasn’t died yet. i haven’t relapsed, he hasn’t collapsed, and our friends are six months sober; the same mark for their little child human, as old as her parents are finally healing.

isn’t it beautiful?

i might get tattoos, to mark the occasion. i’ll get some temporary ink to ward away hurting fingers gripping innocent blades, and i’ll write love on my arms. i’m willing to write love on yours too if you’ll only roll up your sleeves.

but that’s your move to make, friend. we can sit here in the park for however long it takes, even if it takes a lifetime. that’s a song, by the way, my best friend shared it with me when i was depressed and insane and it came with me when i moved away and it stayed when i moved on and look, these earbuds come in two, so have one, or the other, and i can watch you experience the start of a beautiful thing without even realizing it as the sounds meld into your brain. it’s an unusual arrangement, but what do you say?

truth be told, there is no reason to believe the world is cruel and not do something to fix it. note the qualifier, it’s taken years to learn. i watch the sirens ruin my memory again and the cops take your brother away, to relay the information to your already tired mind. i’ve never liked him much, he’s a hurting hurter– but he’s only 13, a year younger than us when the car came to take us away. so yes, i’m posting bail. i could ask my brother to think about custody. i’d ask you but it’s not fair, it’s not fair. you deserve a childhood too.

you told me fall was like everything dead, and i argued that the world was just getting dressed up and ready to go, all neat and proper for its funeral show.

let’s agree to sing the dirge, but leave it unfinished; some other soul will play the whole thing if they absolutely must.

deep thoughts, pennings

i’d be waiting for you a stupid long time, perhaps i’ll go protect the picket line

she pulled up to the curb in a barely functioning ford focus, painted mint blue and churning red fumes.
“so you left your keys in the apartment.”

“shut up.” i’d been sitting on the curb for an hour, at the mercy of the 81 degree heat and the smoke of the barbecues the neighbors put on. my earbuds deigned themselves fit to be broken while it was ahead, so i listened to the cult of dionysus on repeat through one ear and cursed the mechanisms that failed the other ear. of course the bugs enjoyed that.

you know, i thought of calling you.

i supposed today was a festival of some sort- the back of her car was filled with fruit and milk. a weird combination, the grapes and berries and dragonfruit and mangoes and dairy, with packs of gum bouncing around. surely she could make sense of that experience.

“did i miss something? some holy day you wanna observe?” i tossed my cigarette, unlit, unused, out the window into the grass.

she frowned at that just the same as if i’d been packing those for days and didn’t just have one in hand for the neighbor’s sake. “you should stop talking to bill.”

“he’s just a little high, he’s not evil.” the air conditioning sputtered in my favor.

she parked, finally, in the shade of the tree with the beetle problem. her boyfriend already called twice about that, but nobody ever did answer. knowing the man, i knew he’d give it another week before fixing it himself. they were a self starting couple like that. she forced some grapes into my hands like i should follow their good example.

“yeah, well, i can’t afford another copay to get you into rehab again.” her breath hitched, she coughed, and her eyes pulling shut in pain. it must’ve been the heat.

i had a perfectly good, reasonable, mature and grownup answer to that, sticking my brown neck up in mock defiance while the window blazed, an idiotic dragonfly ramming its head against the glass.

“i’m not gonna relapse!”

“maybe so. grab the milk while i get my keys here.”

i bet if you were there, i could’ve gotten you to carry the grapes.

when the food was stored and the box of words touched, she answered, knocking back some aspirin into her throat. “church wants a feast day.” she swallowed, and maybe it should’ve been self explanatory then.

“it’s monday.” i told her, stealing half the strawberries.

“yeah, well, i’m doing as told. you and drew are coming with me.”

the apartment was only two rocks’ tosses away from the half burnt brick building most called grace church. it got the burnt color from this one kid ten years ago who was bored and had an interest in pyrotechnics. it got the name because everyone who came was desperate for it. and now, it was holding a feast day, on a monday, with no significance, for the sake of communing together, or maybe cause they were all bored.

“you’re kidding me, right?” i folded my arms, no new scars to show this time, thanks to grace church.

she shook her head. “celebration is biblical.”

“it’s monday.”

“none of the designations of the days we arbitrarily live in mean anything when it comes to who wants a feast day. duh. sometimes you can be faithful and have a good time.” as if to prove it, she drank some coffee straight out of the pot.

“it’s monday,” i said again, like a broken record in a broken store; there wasn’t any reason to protest against it except i too, was bored as hell and suited for worse. perhaps that’s why she kept dragging me to this church. she needed it more than i did.

she shook her head at me and flat out ignored my reply. a little angry smile rested on her face, maybe knowing i was spiteful, maybe not caring all the same. she walked away to freshen up, hollering at me to fix my attitude and maybe my lack of manners before mrs. smith wondered what i was up to next.

“and for the love of god, accept that he loves you and show up!”

hear this one talk. you know she wasn’t living this clean until she ran away from home, right? you and i could do that.

it wasn’t humid anymore, the way it’s been for years, and it wasn’t horribly chilly like when they set out the pumpkins and the bones. it wasn’t anything. i could’ve sat on that curb for days. i wouldn’t even know what i was waiting for. well, that would be a lie, since i’d be looking for you.

“can we invite him?”

she blinked before turning left, the way we were supposed to go. “does he want to go?”

i didn’t know. would you?

i didn’t respond fast enough for her to respect my request. she turned left and patted my hand. “i’m sorry kid. i just don’t wanna force people to anything they don’t wanna go and.. and you know, that guy hasn’t come in a month.”

i hated a lot of things, but then and there and in that moment, i hated that my throat tightened. maybe i shouldn’t have any of the the dairy any more, it does horrible things to your throat like that.

“you told me that–“

“it’s not the same, he doesn’t know god.” the gas pedal was pressed on harder.

“i don’t either!” i almost dropped the fruit and screwed up this whole holy day to prove absolutely nothing.

“but do you want to?”

the car jolted in front of the red light, and i couldn’t look her in the eye.

“yeah.” i sighed, and i cursed. “yeah.”

she didn’t pity me, but maybe she thought about it. “i thought so. just give it time. give you time.”

she didn’t say anything about you. didn’t want to stake everything on whether or not you were bored, i guess.

the next parking lot was filled with heat and people and the signs that were supposed to be biblical and the conversation that wasn’t supposed to be, but somehow that got switched in the making. the grass felt tolerable, the air felt right– someone spiked the lemonade. never mind. the 81 degrees knocked its ego down a bit, for size, and if i closed my eyes, it could almost be a different season. maybe the holy spirit was offering a foretaste of deliverance. not the whole thing just now.

“yeah,” you said, coming up behind me with a water bottle in hand, “we couldn’t handle the whole thing even if we tried.”

i jumped. that’s not accurate. i freaked out, catapulted into the air, remembered that bored men do bad things, and i must’ve dislocated your arm if you hadn’t caught me from falling.

“what are you doing here?” we asked each other, neither too sure, neither too calm.

“my earbuds broke again.”

“i was thinking of calling you.”

you offered me some fruit, and wondered what i thought about the miracle at cana. i sat down thinking we need to rename this church again.

deep thoughts, pennings

i am in the process of understanding the meaning of god’s grace, i think it’s between the wrinkles of your grandmother’s face

in case you miss me, i’ve decided the academic system is a sham and have since escaped to death valley, become a hermit, and taken a vow of silence.

my new life work? corrupted film portraiture. i’ll send you negatives every so often in case you get bored of scantrons and test prep. maybe you’ll hang them where your scholarship letters are supposed to go. maybe you’ll burn them. i’ll infuse camomile through the darkroom experience so it goes out calmly.

you could use that, possibly.

here’s what i’m grateful for, before the tassels on your graduation hat bounce and leave as far as you tend to do:

i am grateful for the sun, and i am grateful for the law. when neither work there is always something different to be disappointed in.

i am grateful for the shadows and i am grateful for the dawn, and popcorn and ashes and the painful twang when they pushed us out of their way. we were only fourteen and it smelled like injustice. we kissed ourselves to sleep, after the crying. i am grateful it wasn’t enough to make you jump off the roof, for there is no way of knowing that i wouldn’t have come with you.

i am grateful for the running away and i am grateful for the childish plans, i am grateful for lamps and worn out metal, i am grateful for expired bagels, i am grateful for your hand.

i am grateful for the haunting of the holy ghost in the alleys that i hid in, i am grateful for the flashlights on the graffiti freshly painted, i am grateful for the stuttering, i am grateful that she took you in. i am grateful you don’t hate the world.

farewell, tell your grandmother she’s a gem. when you’ve seen one you can spot the others.

(yeah, it’s you. i’ll pull out the kodak as undeniable proof.)


self making a man, not that it has to be solely a man, but it certainly feels like it

restlessness jumps her feet, so she takes a sibling and drives out, keys jangling to the beat of piano man on the patched together radio dangling precariously from the car ceiling. the sun’s real pretty, the sibling says. she rolls down her window, hand on wheel, elbow on edge, heart calming down.

“let’s go to goodwill.”


“because i wanna.”

the angry one left. she slammed the door of the empty home her mother won from the divorce, the one whose scars she deepened with her bitterness. she leaves behind a frustrated sister and her similarly vengeful friend, she leaves behind a suddenly relieved mother, she leaves the stubborn love. she is somewhere nobody knows, not even her, and she doesn’t know her brother pastes missing posters on the sides of the ignored streetlights. she doesn’t know her siblings keep checking the wrong turns.

“well, you get your room back.”

“i get my room back… oh!”


“i get to put my hepburn posters back! i had to take them down and now they can go back to their rightful place!”

i will seek happiness, the thought persists, as hands tape up boxes filled with old lives, to move them another place yet another time. i will seek happiness, and i will find joy, and i will be okay, and it has to turn out well. the thought can come from a mind if it wants to, if it tries hard enough.

“we… we think it’s best if we take a break from each other.”

“you aren’t doing that already? what were you doing then?”

for we grow our souls, do we not? and we raise ourselves, don’t we, in the middle of nothing with the loving eye of the lord god and the warm touch of guardians that never do their job? so when the drugs overdose and they are sitting there on the porch, with the silhouettes of the trees casting down on their faces outlines of pity, can you blame them for not attempting to leave?

“ha, if i make it after high school, send a postcard to wherever you make it out to.”

“nah, if either of us make it, come with me.”


“i don’t wanna think of anything but.”


romeo was wrong, a rose by any other name would still feel remarkably unknown

names are gifts, isn’t it so?
and so,
if one was given a curse,
who could blame them for throwing it far, far away?
but i think you know.
you can’t answer honestly.
you can’t bring yourself to claim yourself at the baggage claim of identities.
is it cause the luggage’s borrowed?
so here you are,
lost and found,
but i don’t think you’re looking hard enough,
and i don’t blame you.

it’s hard to keep your eyes open.

she is petitioning,
a word here that means
legally begging,
rather difficult,
but she pulls it off with poise you wish you had
goes over the fully printed set of words that mark you legally
and names you as who you have come to be.
no questions,
no blinking.
the lawyer brushes aside your scrapped together birth certificate.

i think he understands.

your friends know you have no name.
not one that wasn’t fought and yelled over and screamed in pain.
not one that was given.
so maybe i told them this,
maybe they’ve figured this out for themselves,
you cannot leave the room without multiple names of affection.
some of them abbreviated variations,
some are stupid nouns,
and all of them are now yours.

gifts on gifts of the curse’s undoing.

he doesn’t quite say your name.
to be honest, it’s debatable whether he even knows his.
but it’s okay.
i can see through the increasing amount of twinkles in his darkened eyes,
in a crowded room of ghosts,
through the crackling purple sky,
when the light falls down and you are skipping over puddles in your broken shoes
he shakes his tired head
calls out your name and laughs
it is then you will realize,

you have been gifted love at last.

deep thoughts

quit honking your horns, there’s five other lanes

she won’t get it when i tell her that i feel violently alive, because she has never known the struggle to be either of those things. when you’re raised away from war, the bombs are only fireworks flying.

i’m sure that will change in time. i’m sure that we will die. i just don’t know how, and i don’t care to think too hard on it as much as i did before. somehow it isn’t as necessary now.

maybe the world will be brighter and maybe we are all blind. maybe there’s goodness and maybe there’s lies. maybe light refracts and maybe it’s a gaseous object and maybe, maybe it just is, like how you are not entirely yourself and i am not completely gone. maybe the possibility is enough, and maybe there’s a god that loves, a god above, and i am willing to bet my cards because i have nothing else to gain and nothing else to lose, and i think he loves you, can’t you see the signs?

so if you didn’t notice the stars are falling, take another look. they’re speeding past the planets and whistling on this kamikaze mission to become fossilized mysteries we misconstrue, all for what? another government to bless themselves with something new to mine?


light is not expendable, and baby, neither are you.

(how obvious is it that i’m drunk? or worse, that i might possess a heart?)

deep thoughts, everything & anything, pennings

nocturnal hygiene

wash your face at midnight and choke on the soap that’s trying to clean your throat, don’t you know that the universe is spiteful and we can say that because we can insult the dead? so we exfoliate in the decay and moisturize with the comfort of the grave.

love, you have to wake up early tomorrow. you have exams tomorrow. you have work tomorrow. you have events and duties and people tomorrow. you have to live, maybe even die, all in this fleeting idea of a today that is not yet until it is.

is it worth it?

i consider this, inhaling secondhand smoke that i don’t mean to inhale. it just rises and floats like the dreams in my mind that never come true, but exist only to give a short feeling of exhilaration. at least, when i get lung cancer, i’ll see first hand the proof that something developed.

is it worth it?

i will say yes to this, coughing. it’s no easy word to say. yes is weakness wrapped in submission sent with admittance, and too many people have stolen it. i’ve never learned to give it freely, i’ve never gotten to keep it safe, you cross boundaries that open just for you. if you knew that you’d hate yourself more.

love, it’s one in the morning, and it’s not very warm. if you go to sleep now you can still catch the dark before the dawn, coming up in its reluctant way, bursting through with tired glory, burning the world to warm the cold children in it, kissing your forehead awake til your eyes flutter and you become aware of the crying heap beside you that will be me. perhaps you will worry, and perhaps you will steal the light to weave into my soul. i bet it would look nice.

dream of a safe home. dream of seaweed theft and hiding in crevices of the sky, dream that i love you, dream that the world will be kinder.

one of those has got to be true this time.


why wildfires are the result of our own hubris, or, rejection sensory dysphoria is a qui– on second thought let’s not say that

the sky is the color of my heart tonight
red, angry and red, desperate and red, demanding and red
it should not be this way
it should not be this way
it should not be this way
and i’m tired of pretending that it isn’t so

the heat aches, only second to the tension of my mind tonight
throbbing and stiff, lonely and stiff, bitter and stiff
what brought it to this point
what brought it to this point
what brought it to this point
after all this time, i still do not know

the homes are gone like the ones i love tonight
hurting, hurting from rage, in pain from rage, leaving from rage
it was bound to happen
it was bound to happen
it was bound to happen

i hate that it was me all along

deep thoughts, pennings

“I could easily walk through the valley of the shadow of death I would even enjoy it actually”

that is not the point

i look at you, shaking my head, while
you shrug your scarred shoulders
the ones covered in angry ink
and ask me what is then, since i know so much

i don’t
you know that
i know that
but since you asked

the saying that one is in a better place
when one has passed away
does not mean that we’d all better end it quick here
only that we hope it is so

that one was ill and suffering
when they are no longer here
is no explanation for the fact that they are gone
only that it should have been said before

you tell me that you love me
after disappearing for months
not to hear me say it back, no
only that you are trying something you don’t know

and so to walk in the valley
of the shadow of death
to fear no evil
because you are with me

a psalm uttered to describe
stuttered breathing and thrown away knives
with blood and tears and whispered fears
or simply put, life

is not referring to you, for you cannot save
is not encouraging mortal excursions, for it is not death to die
is not a solitary journey, for you do not go alone
only that, in spite of this, is not meant to be walked through at all