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Green Grass

Green Grass png

Silence,

the green grass upon which

every dream of summer rests,

to wither,

lost for seasons,

burnt,

then cold,

unremembered,

until awakening in the

nightmares of another spring.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

No Lie

 

window

One thing you learn as a writer, if you tell yourself the truth, is that writers are really good liars.  And I am a really good writer.

No lie.

I’ve been moved into the new place for a week now, and I don’t think I can handle it.  I know what all my online posts looked like after I got here.  All Zen and peaceful, with a nod toward some kind of “I found myself” vibe since I arrived.  As I write this, there’s a soft breeze coming through my windows with the approach of sunset.  I can see Long Beach airport in the not too far off distance.  I hear birds sing in the next-door neighbor’s trees.  On the quiet street below, a man walks his dog, and the two of them move over the fresh asphalt as if they were walking on green grass in a park.  Idyllic is the first word that comes to my mind. 

Idyllic, if you’re raising kids, or retired, or a lot of other things that I am not.

Idyllic.  And I fucking hate it.

Maybe because, for the first time since I turned my life over, originally to the chaos of separation and estrangement, then to the disillusion of love found and lost, and finally to the desperation of intention and the desire for something more, all that’s left for me to feel is nothing. 

And it turns out that is the last thing I want to feel.

I thought, with all the change I manipulated and moved myself into over the last few months, I would feel that new direction I was aching for.  Feel the purpose that comes with a best laid plan, conceived and achieved.  Feel everything coming together for the first time in the entire time I’ve been alive. 

Just… feel.

One thing you learn as a writer, if you tell yourself the truth, is that writers are really good liars.  And I am a really good writer.

No lie.

At least that’s how I feel.

 

© 2017 William S. Friday

Forty-Eight Beats Per Minute

pick me up

I woke up two hours before my alarm.  The TV was still on, but barely audible, and it wasn’t the thing that woke me.  There was a dream.  There is always a dream. 

I had three messages on my phone from three different people, still accustomed to my old hours.  I’m not up all night anymore.  I’m just as likely now to fall asleep watching a movie before I know I’m even sleepy, and be up before the sunrise, before my brain knows what time it really is.

The only thing that is the same in my very different life is the coffee.  Except now, that first cup, and the time it takes to consume it, is as sacred as the silence that surrounds me as I drink.  Now, the only sounds that keep company with me are the clock on the wall behind my head, my nearly silent breathing, and, if I’m truly still, the slow beating of my heart.         

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Ghost Town

ghost town PNG

Today I moved into a ghost town, where the past and the future live in perpetual now.  Leaving behind all my worldly possessions, except my bed, where all my senses are aware, in dreams. 

In this ghost town, there is everything you need.  There is silence and solace, ignorance and inquiry.  And time, because in a ghost town, time is as plentiful as weeds in eternal sunshine.

There is no fear in my ghost town.  The neighbors, because they are good ghosts, welcome you.  But slowly, as they know that you, like themselves, came here with the echoes of the noises of your old life in your head, and that is scary enough for now.

So today, I live in a ghost town, where life and death aren’t the law, only acceptance.  This is the place I always belonged, where hope and love keep the peace, and the ghosts of the past shake hands every day, because they have made peace with each other.

And they wait to shake hands with you.  Wait, until you are one of them.    

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

I’m Really Gone

exit

I’m really gone.

Okay, technically, after I leave in the dawn’s early light of this Friday morning, I will still have six-and-a-half hours left to go.  But in a very real sense, the job I’ve worked for three weeks short of nine years is over.

I’m really gone.

So on this last night of a seemingly endless run of thirteen-hour shifts, I said goodbye to some people I work with, in this, and other states.  Officially trained my replacement for a few whole hours (I hope THAT works out for all concerned next week when I’m no longer here).  And I wrote this, to remind myself that…

I’m really gone.

To remind myself, because at a time of night when most decent folks have been asleep for hours, I had a revelatory burst of zero-dark-thirty energy.  Not the “Mrs. Howell on radioactive sugar beets” energy (by all means, find it on YouTube), but the “I just realized how much actual time I’m getting back in my life to do all the things I could only do in my non-existent spare time” energy which, when harnessed, creates its own CERN-level epiphany that years of sleep deprivation and exhaustion can’t touch.

So, though you’ve all seen me around the blogospheric interwebz for a while now, you’re going to be seeing more of me.  Call this your pre-dawn heads-up for all things Bill Friday.  The kind of heads-up where I tell you that when one life ends, another life can begin.  A life where you really can do all the things.  A life where you figure out what works, and do it.  A life where you figure out what doesn’t work, and you try like hell not to do it again.  A life where even the old things feel new again, because this is the exact, right time for all of them to finally happen.  Just like you always wanted them to, but you always ran ahead of God, or the universe, or your own shoelaces, and you tripped and fell every time. 

Until now.

Because now, I’m really gone.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

On This Day

Americanflags

My dad gets a flag

on this day,

even if I’m not there

to plant it.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Movies, Monkeys, and the Music in my Head

 

28 days later

There’s music playing in my head right now.  Not the kind you’d expect.  Not the Sirius XM playlist kind of music that some invisible algorithm picks for you from somewhere in the black bowels of your emo soul.

It’s something more insidious.

When I was 20, I had a job in retail, selling wallpaper and other equally inane home decor products for a nationally known chain of stores owned by an international breakfast cereal conglomerate.  And no, I could not make that shit up if I sat down hard and tried.  Anyway, this nationally known chain of stores, owned by an international breakfast cereal conglomerate did not play well-known music over the ceiling speakers for the customer’s in-store pleasure.  What they played was a six-hour, continuously looped, instrumental audio tape of songs, scientifically created… or so we were told in training… to stimulate the shopper’s brain in such a way as to create in them “an innate desire to purchase” on a purely subconscious level.

Such was the weird science of the early 1980s.

Whether or not these musical cues actually stimulated our customer’s amygdaloidal behavior to the tune of windfall profits was unclear to me then, just as it is to me now.  But what I can recall clearly was how we just-above-minimum wage employees responded to being in the presence of these sounds, day in-day out, for however long each of us worked there.

Did you ever see the film 28 Days Later?  Yes?  Good.  That’ll make this explanation easier.  Remember the opening scene, where the eco-activists broke into the animal testing laboratory to free the captive primates from their cages, but found out, too late, that these primates had been infected with some chemical cocktail “rage virus” while being subjected to image after television image of non-stop human-on-human violence?  Remember what these primates then did to their liberators?  And remember what would become of the world only 28 short days later?

Yeah, I wonder what all that listening to shopper stimulation music ultimately did to those of us who worked for that nationally known chain of stores owned by an international breakfast cereal conglomerate in 1981.

Oh yeah, my actual point.

Remember when I said there’s music playing in my head right now?

I’m not so sure it’s a coincidence I thought of that music while sitting alone in a warehouse and wondering, is it really only two weeks…okay, 14 days, 22 hours, and 19 minutes… till I’m free from this 20,000 square foot chimpanzee enclosure?  And when I’m free, will I react like an adorable rage monkey?  Because, you know, writers can be pretty adorable when they’re raging.  Or will I act like Jim, the smooth-skinned, human in the story, who when awakened from a coma, must face an entire world now completely changed from the one he knew before.

Metaphorically speaking, and if you read me, you know, I’ve been in a type of coma since I started working the graveyard double-shift life last year.  This awakening of sorts that’s happening in June is me, coming to grips not only with my certain past, but my uncertain future as well.  I’m unsure how it’s going to go.

But I have it on reasonably good authority that it’s going to go better for me than it did for those adorable rage monkeys in the movie.

Tick-tock.

I’m about to wake up.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Baby Face Chinaski

baby fade chinaski

I don’t have time for your shit,

you post-pubescent misanthrope. 

Once upon a time,

when your ironic alter-ego roamed the streets,

and haunted the bars of dirty L.A.

like a piss-stained ghost,

you were yet a regret in your

bitch of a mother’s misbegotten womb. 

Although I don’t think I blame her

for how you turned out,

given how you beg for the teat

in every Facebook post of yours

I have ever read. 

Maybe I’ll listen to you

when you can grow a mustache

thicker than a row of pubes. 

Until then,

I will simply shake my head,

and comment less and less,

because the only two things you are listening to

in these last days of your misspent youth

are your own mewling laments of growing up too fast,

and the hollow sympathies of girls your own age,

who would sooner court the clap

than give you what you think will make it all better

for just one night,

before the sun rises in your sunken child-eyes,

and you post online once more.         

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

The Warehouse of Brand New Dreams

Urban Lumberjack 02

In my favorite picture of me, I look like classed-up shit.  Or maybe just shit on the outside, and class, invisible, on the inside.

Either way, it’s me.

I’m told I look skinny.  But I must make up for it in ways not seen by the naked eye.  And get your mind out of the gutter, right now.  My kids could be reading this, after I’m dead, of course.

In the thoughts that went through my mind between that last paragraph and this one, I realize how many things I’ve written that I know won’t see the light of day before I’m gone.  Things I’ve written that are so honest, they even scare me when I consider the possibility of making them public while I’m still around to reap the consequences.  And not things that are acceptable between consenting adults, but things that a lifetime of reinforcement cause me to share only with myself and the blank computer screen.

I do hint at them, in poems, mostly.  Sometimes in song lyrics that only have music playing inside my head as I write.  Regrets about the past.  Fears about the future.  And how many people I’ve hurt from there to here.  As a writer, I know it’s assumed that everything is fair game, especially those things that you’ve lived through and survived.  But most of them are an embarrassment to me, and I will probably keep them locked away for safe keeping, until I have made peace with them in this life, or am at peace in the next.

This evening, I had my daily talk with one of the drivers who come in and out of the warehouse with freight and parcels headed from point of origin to destination every day.  I’ve known him my entire time here. I was the one who spotted the heart attack he was having back in ’09 while he sat in a chair waiting for his truck to be loaded up for another run.  There’s a closeness between folks when one recognizes the looming mortality on the face of the other.  Mortality that could just as easily be your own face as his.  On this day, he was stunned when I told him that in two weeks, when I finally work my last day here, I will be leaving just three weeks short of nine years.  Nine years as, essentially, as a blue-collar temp. 

He’s been here for sixteen.

Today, we talked about all the drivers and warehousemen we’ve known, and how much each one ended up hating the work they did.  The same work he and I have done.  By the end of our conversation, he asked me if I regretted the last nine years, on the road and in the warehouse.  I told him that without those years, which seem to have passed overnight, and taken me through a lifetime’s worth of trials that, without it, I would have learned nothing, had nothing, to show for my fifty-some-odd years on this earth.  That seemingly, all the lessons I’ve learned in my life came to pass in these nine years, doing something I hated, just to survive.

And that in leaving I know, looking back, this was exactly where I needed to be to understand anything about where I’m going.

A couple of days ago, I posted something on social media that went like this,

“I used to call this place The Warehouse of Broken Dreams. No more. From this moment forward, I call it The Warehouse of Brand New Dreams.”

I’ve got two weeks to go until I step out of here and into an unknown future that these last nine years have prepared me for.

And maybe then I won’t be afraid of the all the honesty I’ve kept hidden in this life, while there’s still more life to be lived.

More to follow.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Catalyst

catalyst3

There’s a poignancy to changes in an ingrained life, lived flawed, but still true to human nature.  Change is not natural, and it only comes by way of trauma, either physical or emotional.  And though the choices for our changes are brought about under the sovereign hand of our autonomy of spirit, there is always a catalyst, and never of our choosing.

I am no different than any other soul that must change.

My catalyst is emptiness.

For me, it was a two-step process.  First you lose most of what you have, and then, you give the rest of it away.  The losing isn’t all that hard.  Humanity is conditioned to lose.  It’s what we do most of the time.  We’re used to it from as far back as our earliest memories.  It’s the real reason we idolize winners.  A winner is humanity’s real life superhero.  They succeed where the rest of us fail, and we idolize them because of it.  To be human is to worship, and it is easiest to worship the demigod who looks like a better version of us.  Hero worship is as real a thing as hunger and thirst, and easier to satisfy.  Just find a winner and put your hopes on them, while all of us who aren’t them keep doing what we do best.  Lose.

But after the losing comes the hard part.  The giving away of whatever you have left.  You’re already a loser.  Not a day goes by when you aren’t reminded of it.  For most, the response is to try and hold fast to what’s left of your losses.  For the rest, there is a different choice.    

I used to be that guy who held on.  To everything.  Until there was nothing left to hold onto.  Until life removed the last of everything I thought I wanted.  And the thing you realize when everything you thought you wanted isn’t yours anymore, is that you can finally let go of the rest.

So after a life of losses, now comes my time to let go, because only empty hands can take hold of the good that comes after defeat.

And I’m going to need a new catalyst.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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