“Huge crowd gathers to watch ISIS throw gay man off building”

Preface: There are so many awful stories in the news, and to try to comprehend, to fathom what I see and hear, to humanize the murders, the tortures, the hatred, I am beginning a series where I put myself in the story and try to imagine what the person was going through. The result of that is here. This is not supposed to be what this man felt, but rather a rendition of what I would feel were I in the same situation.

It was just a kiss.
A heart-racing, eye-widening, soul-splitting kiss, but just a kiss all the same.
I should have known better.
I don’t know how they found out.
Nothing is safe.
Here I am, the consequence of one moment of weakness.
A message of hatred.
God, why?
The rope burns on my wrist and the heat scalding my skin are no match for my mind.
They are leading me to my death.
I am a good man. I give, I help, I love.
I love.
They wish to destroy me.
They will destroy me.
I think I’m on the roof now.
They’re talking all around me, but I can’t make out the words.
I am going to die for my love.
I do not want this, it is no heroic gesture – no one will stop them.
A sharp command, they grab my arm.
I am on the edge.
They share their message.
I’m overcome with the urge to jump right there, to shatter their vision of how this should go, but the self-preservation wins out, I hold onto life for just a bit more.
I know it is coming before I feel it.
My body is flailing through the air.
I am reminded of the steep drop of my favorite roller coaster.
His face flashes before my eyes,
disappearing in flames upon impact.
No one will ever know my fear, my pain, my promise.
No one will ever know me.

“Huge crowd gathers to watch ISIS throw gay man off building”

Thunderstorm eyes

There are some things that words can’t express
Some unseen knowledge that words can’t possess
But we, we push them closer every day
Metaphors and similes, it’s all a little crazy; well…
I fear your thunderstorm eyes
Flashing with the ferocity of lightning and roaring with the roll of thunder
I hate, your poker-face. So void of emotion, compassion, care, concern, recognition of wrong
Nothing scares me so much as, the mountains that shape your forehead as your eyebrows turn in to release the fury within, that statue-chiseled chin while you grit your teeth in pure rage.
Yeah, your anger is like all the bad in the world manifested to human form, like war and hatred and storms and aging and death, all wrapped into an overwhelming package before me.
Your eyes, oh your eyes, they show a hatred I’ve never fathomed, like, a spite from the past of black-white, German-Jew, but it’s just me—and you.
And in the moment of quiet like the eye of a hurricane I see the formidable fury console you and control you and I—I brace myself.
Me, I must be special because—I can turn a balmy summer day into the most ferocious blizzard when I piss you off.
What was it this time? Mother, Mama, Mom. Madre, Anya, Moeder, Mor Mare, Mari, Nai, Daya, Motina, Reny, Emak. What changed you from the symbol of love and affection to an enemy, what transformed my home of safety to a battlefield, this time?
I regret the words once I speak them, because—follows a torrential downpour and the many-miled per hour winds of a storm that is unworldly.
You, you have ahold of my hair like your reaching for some resolution there, some help perhaps? And you’re pulling, until my neck bends with the fragility of a tree under your winds and I’m staring into those deep dark pits that were once your eyes—where’d you go? Can you tell me, because I don’t know.
Call me a storm-chaser, because I pursue this scene with my provocations and my remarks, I know just what buttons to push to make you crazy, isn’t that what teens do? But this is different because I’m me and you’re you; and like any storm-chaser I’m expecting a day when my risk will yield no reward, if that’s what this is, but rather an end.
You find a startling satisfaction in the caging of a spirit and the countering of a body, yeah you trap me, forcing confrontation with the mildest obsession even I, storm-chaser-extraordinaire, cannot manage. And maybe that’s why when push comes to shove, today—I’ll submit to my own downfall before I speak, me and confrontation, we don’t get along easy, not at all.
So answer me now, have I made you proud? I don’t stand up for myself and here I am, the product of a tormented existence, I am quiet and submissive, burying your wrath within me, a past I don’t take lightly.
Tell me, can you see the resemblance? You and I, we’re getting so much closer now the way we look and act and I just wonder if you see it there, in my eyes, the shift from serene to chaos—when you touch me, pretend to love me; I’m sick of the lies—
The storm is within me, you put it there. And I’m scared. Not the physical fear I’ve come to know, the waiting out the storm kind of scared but—the ‘what if it’s in me,’ the ‘does it spread so simply,’ the ‘you’re stable now but did I inherit the rage’ kind of scared.
Me, I’m a storm-chaser that survived the darkest storm, I learned to dance in the rain and see the blue in the darkest greys, yeah I managed to find every cloud’s silver lining.
But now we’re fake, and I just can’t take—the pretend, the I love you and this is what it is and it’s okay, that never really happened anyway.
I’m scared. When I look in the mirror and see the intricacies in my face that resemble yours, the features that I inherited from you as if you owed me something, but I didn’t ask for this, it’s a curse; not a blessing.
And I’m scared, that you gave me this too. This storm-fed anger, but I’m a storm-chaser, maybe it’s what I do. Maybe I’m meant to be just like you.
I’m scared of my eyes—my thunderstorm eyes.

Thunderstorm eyes

July 4

This first poem was actually written by my girlfriend. Following is my account of the same.

You don’t think I’m scared
You write poems about my perfection
About my untouched simplicity
You say you’re scared
Scared of the things that could come between us
Scared of what we may one day become
I’m not scared
Not of you, not of me
Not of the what-ifs that may dissolve our love someday
Not of anything coming between us
But I am
I am scared for us
I’m scared for us everyday
But my fears are different than yours
Mine aren’t of us, but of others
Of alcohol, testosterone, and closed minds
Of dirty looks, insults, and confrontations
Of attacks, broken bones, and broken souls
You are the surest thing I’ve ever known
I don’t fear our demise, the end of an “us”
For I know the strength and conviction of my love
And every day you show me yours
But I do fear the world
I fear the wrong judge being a witness to our love
His conviction of our “sins” and his own need to punish
Small towns breed small minds
Small minds are quick to destroy
It is the thought of that destruction
That is my fear
So I let go of your hand
I scan the crowds, the smell of liquor strong
I wonder if anyone is watching us
I wonder if anyone can just tell
I wonder if anyone is the guy your co-worker punched
And I realize I don’t even notice the fireworks anymore
Or your eyes staring holes into me, confused by the silence
And suddenly I feel the tears pricking my eyes
I wanted a magical night under the fireworks
But I’m too scared to hold your hand
You know something’s wrong
You ask, and stare, and reassert your love
But how can I tell you?
I, with my out and proud stance
With my “screaming gay” shirts
With my arsenal of lgbt poems
The lines burned into my memory
Ready to remind me to be strong
To face the world head-on
To hold your hand in the face of any oppression
“And we were – from the beginning
Living in towns that frowned at our hand-holding
Folding up their stares like hate notes into our pockets
So we could pretend they weren’t there
You said, ‘Fear is only a verb if you let it be.
Don’t you dare let go of my hand.'”
But I did
And I want nothing more than to fall into your embrace
To shield me from all that’s so very wrong in this world
But I can’t
So I stand there
Muttering some excuse about my back
Which does hurt like hell
But not half as bad as my heart
Eventually you grab my hand and pull me through the crowds
I keep my head down, my heart racing in my chest
It’s not long before I drop your hand again
Filing behind you as we pass families in their yards
Hoping they don’t give us a second glance
But before we make it to your car, you veer off the sidewalk
We end up on a small bench, all alone
The fireworks exploding over the small patch of trees in front of us
And you grab my face, and kiss me
A kiss under the fireworks
Just like I wanted
You always did know how to make everything romantic and perfect
And all I can do is hope that my tears mix with my sweat before you realize I’m crying
Because I’m so far gone in my head
That I can’t even fully appreciate
This picture perfect, amazing moment
Of being here, with you
So I spent the night holding you as tightly as I could
Writing these lines in my head
Trying to explain what I couldn’t say aloud
Because I am scared
I’m scared to lose you to someone’s ignorance
To someone’s bigotry
To someone’s hatred
You always ask me, how people can be so hateful
How they could hate us for our love
I do my best, to reassure you
But really? I don’t know
I don’t know why we live in a world where I’m so scared to hold your hand
But we do
And I am
And I can’t even begin to tell you what a failure I feel like.

My account:

People pulse around the statue of an infantryman on a hot July night.
There are concession stands and children’s games, a dunk tank.
You and I stand side by side, swallowing our fear like gulps of air as the heat takes its toll.
This is what freedom feels like.
I hold my heart in my hands, unsure if I dare attach it to my sleeve or hide it in my pocket.
We are lost in a crowd of children and their keepers;
I look to your eyes and whisper a question you can’t understand, won’t understand.
The fireworks shoot through the sky and rain color on the town.
We are lost in a moment not our own, the town throbbing as we stand stock-still.
I know what you know, what we hope they don’t know, as their ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ sustain them.

We are not free of judgment, of hatred, of intolerance, of rude words spit between the teeth of ignorance. We are not free of the danger that seems to be bred, as if one generation can infect the next.

We are not free.
I stare at the fireworks, significance dripping from the burst of blue like tears;
with a solemn heart, I intertwine my fingers with your own and lead you away.
We turn our backs on the celebration of a freedom that isn’t familiar, the music fading…
“Here in small town USA.”

July 4

Close your eyes.

Blue skies are my lullabies.
Rainbows the silver lining in my thunderstorm world.
Lightning-shattered dreaming.
Tell me I’ll wake up.
Tell me it’s not real.
Tell me my fragility is a misconception, a slip of perception, I’ve no imperfection, no flaw.
Lie to me, so simply, do it gracefully, mercy mercy me.
Words reaching out to some understanding, hidden away by the secrecy of a webpage, what do I want to say?
God, I’m human.
The blood running through my veins is contained only by skin, the heart pumping it will stop when it is destined, the thoughts in my mind will come and go until I am no more.
Tell me that’s not scary.
Give me reason to believe that the entirety of existence is beautiful. It is. I know it is.
But convince me. I want to know that I’m living. I want to know that there’s some method to madness, some resolution to the confusion.
I’m not seeking an end, but a solution. I don’t want to quit, but a new beginning. I want to know.
How many people are feeling lonely tonight? How many are contemplating their life? How many are trying to find the will to live? Trying to find someone to help them, some reason to continue…the things you’d think are rare aren’t so rare after all.
How many are suffering? How many crying? How many need someone like me, like you? Such a simple action, just to reach out and say don’t worry. I’m a stranger, but I know what you’re feeling. We’re not all that different, really. All need to feel important, to feel wanted and loved and worthy. We all have our doubts and our fears, we’re all imperfect. We’re going to be okay though, you know? I’ll tell you.
There are better days coming for us. Days that hold sunshine and smiles. Days where we don’t doubt life, or fear death, or wonder how we can hurt so many and be hurt by so many. I know you’re feeling blue, but breathe. I know you’re feeling lost, but believe. Fight yourself, fight your enemies, fight your friends, fight the world, do what you can with what you have. You can live. You can be. You can aspire and seek and dream.
And you can cry. You can hurt. You can feel how you feel, because that’s what’s real. But don’t let that define you. Know who you are and who you want to be. Try to understand why you do what you do and feel how you feel. Try to better yourself. Try to help others. Try to let them see that it’s okay. It’s okay to be afraid. To feel low and wretched and wrong. You’re entitled. I’m entitled. We’re entitled. But don’t forget that you’re better than that. We’re better than our weakness. We’re better than our flaws. We’re better than we are. Keep improving. Let yourself cry, but don’t forget to smile. Lash out, but always apologize. Don’t lose sight of what matters in life. Take a step back. Relax. We’re gonna be okay. I promise you, there’s some good in every bad and some bad in every good. You just have to be able to ignore it during good times, and maximize it in bad. And it’s not easy. It’s a lifelong practice, and you still won’t get it right. But we aren’t supposed to get everything right. We’re human, you and I. We’re supposed to mess up. It’ll suck. It’ll hurt. Yourself and others. But, it’ll pass. It always passes.
So the nightmares are waking me from sleep, and I can’t find a way to convince my eyes to close.
I’m shaking and alone in the darkest way and time, I’m not even sure that I can see my own light.
But, some nights you can’t see the stars, or the moon. They’re there. Always and forever, shining clearly somewhere, for someone else to see.
I’ll be okay. You’ll be okay.
Convince me that the world is going to keep on turning, that the gravity is going to keep my feet on the ground, that the sun will rise and set and remind me that there are things bigger than myself or you or anyone else in play. Call it chance or circumstance, call it God or science or something undecided. There’s no arguing.
We aren’t the only thing going on this planet. There’s more than our existence. There’s more than our lives.
So, we can get downhearted and we can feel what we feel. But we need to remember that there’s more than us. There’s more than me and you. And that’s why we’re going to be okay. Because when push comes to shove, we don’t matter all that much anyway.

Close your eyes.