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To Walk Down a Dead-End Street

dead end

As an introvert with comically low

self-esteem,

I have made some truly awful

choices in my life.

But writing isn’t one of them. 

It’s true that a life of

settling for less along the path of least resistance

has given me

a point of view most successful creative folk never see,

and I can write from that view

as easily as breathe. 

But there is still

something missing,

and I don’t mean something missing from my

smalltime life. 

I mean something missing from my

genetic code

that enables others to whisper a resolute “fuck it”,

and move onto the

places where few go,

and fewer survive. 

I have always been,

for less than better,

and often far worse than that,

one who only moves forward with

a wall at his back,

and this time is no different. 

But it is

forward I must go,

because the only right direction to walk

down a dead-end street

is out.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Crossroads

crossroads

First note to self: Every road has a crossroad, eventually.

This may be my last blog post.  Then again, it may be the first of another few hundred.  It all depends on what’s coming at the next crossroad.  Once upon a time, in a distant, bordering county to Los Angeles, I thought I knew exactly what the path of my life was.  With a wife and two kids, and a history of changing directions every few years, I believed I was cosmically chosen to move back to the land of my raisings, and begin all over again in the very same zip code my parents had once called home.

So we bought a nice, mid-sized home, half a mile from my old high school, and with plans and late-thirties dreams, we marched blindly ahead into the future.  I started a brick and mortar business.  Our eldest started the 9th grade. My wife stayed home with our youngest.  It was an early chapter in our book of the American Dream.  Now because this is an unread blog post and not an essay in some fine quarterly anthology, I will cut to the chase and tell you that in the years following, the business went bust, our eldest learned how to score meth, our youngest retreated into his own insomnia-fueled exile, and the marriage came to an end. 

And those weren’t necessarily the worst things that happened, just the highlights I felt like sharing.

Basically, it was a ten year stretch along a highway of failure after failure, bad choice after bad choice, crossroad after untaken crossroad.

Second note to self: Every crossroad has crossroad of its own, if you’re looking for it.

When I was younger, I would hear this phrase spoken a lot, “When God closes a door, look for a window”.  Now I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds a lot like breaking and entering.  And God being God, I figure if he closes a door, the least he could do is open another actual door, and I would not be required to carry a crowbar and a flashlight everywhere I go just to get into someplace I actually belonged.  Yeah, metaphors are tricky like that.

So anyway, crossroads. 

About ten years ago, give or take, I began two hardcore pursuits that, combined, still occupy nearly all of my waking hours, and a lot of my sleeping hours, too.  Those things are work and writing.  I know, work doesn’t sound like something you just decide to pick up in your late forties, and it’s not.  And frankly, neither is writing.  But the way I threw myself into them was.  Starting slowly, I forced myself to learn what it was to work.  Long hours of actual physical labor, with no human reward except the food it put in the fridge, the rent it paid, and the endurance it created in me.  And at the very same time, after thirty years of ignoring a calling I first heard in college, I began to write.  Then, after ten years of writing, a first book was born.  As much a tribute to the endurance learned from work as any questionable skill I may possess.

Both the work, and the writing, the result of slowing down long enough to look, and to see, the crossroads.

So now, because I sort of know what to look for, I know I am at the crossroads again.  After ten years of these twin occupations, I have decisions to make with them, and what roads to turn down on my way to something newer, better, and right.  One decision is made, and the other is in the making.  The first, I am quitting the job that is now damn near killing me.  That’s a done deal, even if the boss doesn’t know it yet.  The second has to do with the writing, and not even I know what the questions are, let alone the answers.  But I think the writing may be killing me, too.

You remember that line at the beginning of all this, “This may be my last blog post”? 

Maybe it is, maybe not.  But I know I can’t keep doing both the work and the writing for very much longer without becoming some cliché mashup that a friend of mine had called, Norman Rockwell-Bukowski.  So with that, and because I hate being a cliché, I’m taking a detour off of one of these roads before I have to take the other.  And we’ll see what calling it quits with the job does in keeping me from calling it quits with the writing.

But the truth is, I do not know what in the actual fuck I am doing.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Teach Me

teach me png

Teach me to laugh,

and you’ll teach me to cry. 

Teach me to think,

and you’ll teach me to die. 

Hold it against me,

and you’ll teach me to lie. 

Forgive me for all,

and I’ll only ask why.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Orphans

orphanage

I followed my feelings,

and got lost. 

I learned late.  

That shit only works in movies. 

In truth,

there are no heroes,

or prisoners.

No princesses,

or monsters.

Except those you imagine. 

But there is one part of the story that’s true.

We are all orphans,

left to raise ourselves

in the shadows we create. 

I want to be alone in the sun.

To be warm,

where nothing blocks the light.

Understood by all,

because all is only me. 

And if then lost,

the only absence I will know

is of the noise I left behind.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Absolution

graveyard png

She said…

Baby,

I wanna make you feel all better.

Be absolution for the blame.

 

I said…

I appreciate that,

lover.

But I no longer play the game. 

I won’t give myself that freely now,

or ever be the same. 

I don’t let my guard down,

because you haven’t earned my pain. 

And there is no absolution

for the blame.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Not the Same

Never was

is not the same as

never will be. 

But never was,

and never was to be,

are.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

The Theory of Tears

tears

Tears don’t scare me. 

I know people hate them,

in themselves and in others,

depending on just how manipulated

tears make them feel. 

Manipulated,

not by the tears,

but for the reasons they flow. 

There is a theory of tears,

known only by a few. 

Not by the ones who cry,

but by the ones who hold it in. 

They have learned

all the reasons for them,

and choose not to give them away. 

Unmanipulated,

and unmanipulating. 

They hold onto the tears

as tightly as they do the theory. 

Tears don’t scare me,

they say,

as long as I don’t have to see them.

At least that’s what their theory says. 

But the truth about

the theory of tears is this;

that tears are only scary

on the inside.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

These People

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I watch a TV show

or a movie,

and I see friends. 

Human beings

who have friends,

friends who have

human beings

who are their friends. 

And I ask myself,

“How did these people

find each other?”

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

Starting and Starting Over

walking backwards png

Starting, and starting over, is not the same thing.  They are as different as walking forward, and walking forward, backwards.  Not as clearly different as starting and stopping.  If it was, then you would have no trouble telling them apart.  But make no mistake; people do have trouble telling them apart.

Starting is that thing we do at the beginning of some something we have not done.  Starting over is that thing we do when some something stops us, but just long enough for us to think that maybe we have not really stopped at all.

It is understandable when those who have never really started a something, and seen it to its end, don’t know.  Most books don’t teach it, and most folks have never lived it.  It’s a mystery, on the lines of accepted but incomprehensible things like the laws of gravity, and thermodynamics.  But whether or not someone knows what those names are names for, ask them if a satellite or even a shooting star could fall to earth, and they nod and say, of course those things are true.

And this is where I say that, because those laws say that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest, the very same thing can be equally true about the path of a human life, lived in this human world, often at the mercy of the most human of circumstances.

Speed bumps are formed.  Detours are made.  Shit happens.  And sometimes, those obstacles stop the beautiful movement of a body in motion, until it becomes a body at unintended rest.

Have you ever tried to give a falling star a shove to get it back on its course through the heavens?  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  In fact, it’s damn fucking impossible.  Yet when a very human body, with all its complexities of motion and emotion, loses its path through the glory of this world, it is no more easily shoved back on course than the star that fell from the sky.

But we still ask of those who lost all their momentum, sometimes well-intentioned, sometimes with a critical intent, why can’t you just start over?

Maybe it’s in the way they’re walking.  And maybe you’ve been fooled, because you haven’t noticed that they’re walking forward, backwards.  And maybe in walking backwards, they are slowed by looking at the past that was; their past, lost to the speed bumps, the detours, and the shit of something that no longer is, and not the new that waits behind their back, right over their shoulder.  Not in starting over, but in turning around and starting brand new.

So in the same way you would look into the night sky and at the stars within it, look closely at the shining stars before you, and understand.  Because starting over is never easy, and they are doing the best that they can.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

If a Tree Falls

tree falls png

I have never been a successful writer.  I’ve never won a single award for writing.  I’ve never been a best-seller on any list, anywhere.  I have fewer than a thousand followers of my blog.  I don’t drive dollars, pageviews, or likes.  My words have never been found on a shelf in any library.  As writers go, I have not been quoted in another book; I’ve not spoken at a conference, or given a talk that was recorded for play on anyone’s YouTube channel.

If a tree falls in the forest, does anyone know I’m a writer?

I once asked someone who knows me well, “What if I just stopped writing?”  They answered, “Better chance of you becoming a woman.”  Okay, if that’s true, what prompted me to ask that question?  Then I remembered I also once asked this person, “Can’t I just be a posthumous success?” 

And no, I didn’t like their answer to that question, either.

Pausing as I write this, I remind myself that only 20 to 30 people will ever read these words.  But I’m still writing them.  I just don’t know why.  I’m hoping that one day, before I stop for good, I will.

 

© Copyright 2017 William S. Friday

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