A RICH LIFE

I have always had a strong imagination. When I was a child, there were nights where I would lie in bed, waiting for sleep to claim me, with more vivid fantasies about knights and magicians than the dreams that would follow. On the walk to school every morning, I would picture the world coming to an end in a new way, just to pass the time (and, perhaps, in hopes that I could somehow make the school explode).

Until one day I realized that I had to move on. The perfectly detailed gun battles, the stealth missions against giant aliens, the jumps from thousand foot buildings with a parachute—they all were too little for me. I started spending my time on schoolwork. Instead playing clips of unwritten movies in my head at night, I passed out with a pen in hand and a notebook under my head.

I got a degree in finance, and was set up with a steady job. The office walls had that dirty, faded white color that looks simultaneously unfinished and ancient. Things were pretty good. During my breaks, I got a brief moment to myself to breathe. I usually spent this time picturing what it would be like if I were outside, but company policy was that all breaks not spent on the can were to be spent in the break room. Then it was back to the tip-tap­ of the keyboard.

And that was twenty-five years gone. Nothing changed. The occasional pay raise kept me feeling humble about myself, while the company’s profits quintupled under a budget plan I had proposed. They even offered me full health insurance coverage—and I mean FULL. They even scheduled check ups for me, I was considered that important to the company. Plus, the big guys said they could write off any costs anyway.

Then the day came where the check up didn’t go so well. It was an overcast day, with the sun just barely peeking out from behind the clouds. The doctors’ office was colder than it was outdoors. I came in for a routine check up, which I had once a year, and the doctor found a strange clump in my chest. The tests came back a week later, and they told me it was breast cancer. It had progressed fast, too, and was likely to begin impacting my health seriously within the next two months.

The company gave me leave—something that came marking both my twenty-fifth anniversary with the company, and the tenth year since they monopolized the market (of course, in America they can’t call it that, but the results were the same). I went to Spain, to Germany, and a load of other countries to try to clear my head. The head of the Euro branch of affairs found me a top-notch place to stay at, and I began to burn through my hefty savings.

One night, I took a break from the parties and the escapes, and went to bed early. I was nostalgic about my life. I had called family, friends, and even past co-workers about my conditions. My childhood memories of imagining things before bed came back to me, and I closed my eyes to picture myself in a meadow. It started well, but soon I had lost myself in a story about beautiful queens and valorous knights.

And it struck me that I had never been valorous. There was no adventure to my life. Sure, I was frequenting the top of the top in society, but the blow was hardly fulfilling anymore. There were no roadside breakdowns. No struggles. No victories. Just fun. So much fun, that it didn’t feel special anymore.

The next day I took a walk through the street market. An old couple was deciding between two vegetables, while a child ran from his parents in ragged clothes. They all had such smiles on their faces. They had made it. No, they weren’t spraying champagne into crowds of cheering faces, or sleeping with gorgeous models, but they had the heart-wrenching expressions just the same.

I walked my way up through a cobblestone tower with a name I couldn’t pronounce and looked out over the world. It was a misty day, with just enough fog to coat the horizon, but not so much to cover the city. They didn’t have ledge guards here—if you fell, you fell. And as I stood there, I pictured the life I could have had. I could have ditched that class, went on that hike, or went to that dinner. Maybe then, I wouldn’t be standing where I was now—rich, famous, and utterly alone.

And I jumped.

——

 

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GALE (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Privacy

I sat on a bench

confessing love, while a bird

watched me from a branch.

 

Regrowth

The patch of green grass

growing from dead dirt reminds

that life will go on.

 

Narcissus

They were so busy

staring at their reflections

they missed the white fish.

 

Disown

A doll made of sticks

lies in shambles in the dirt

as the girl stomps off.

 

Gale

A wind this restless

engulfs the valley in fear.

Even the stones shake.

——

 

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MAKING FACES

Those parents who threatened me

that if I kept making faces,

my mouth would end up frozen

in a two-fingered grimace, forever

 

clearly never considered that the Buddha

has a smile that long outlived

all the pairs of uptights and unenlightened

who concentrated too much on his future.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #69 – WHISTLIN’ IN THE DARK

I laughed at Don Lockwood for dancing

out on the damp, dimly lit sidewalk

when I first saw him singing in the rain

just ‘cause he got kissed by some brown-haired babe,

 

but when I was walking home last night

after all the lights on eleventh had gone out,

I could hardly contain the skip in my step,

much less the whistle wrenched between my teeth

 

and as I came across a lone, flickering lamppost,

I embraced it wholeheartedly, as he had,

as though it were the one that had shot me full of electricity

and upgraded my black-and-white life to full Technicolor.

——

 

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DROPPED NUTS

Ok, I’ll take a break from 50 word stories for at least a week after this one:

Wandering through the park to work, I came across a dead squirrel at the base of a tree. He had slipped from a branch while retrieving nuts, and crashed headfirst into a massive root. His head had split open, and the nuts that had distracted him were soaked in blood.

——

 

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LAKEBED (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Lakebed

An empty lakebed

is the memory of life

cracking at the seams.

 

Messy Desk

Look at the piles

that I let build over time

like half formed towers.

 

Return Home

Dust lines the doorway

as hosts do at a party,

with cob web banners.

 

Speckles

The blank, white tiles

were mundane till the artists

speckled them with paint.

 

Good Night

Dear all seeing moon,

only you may know my life

when the sunshine leaves.

——

 

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THE JOKER

You can’t laugh your way out of this one.

The walls are closing in on all sides

at the family dinner table

that treats you like a hospital patient.

 

You’re shackled to that fork and knife,

the silver gauntlets that force-feed you

under the pretense of a household bonding;

yet one bad joke and it’s off to your room.

 

The Arkham Asylum, as you’ve named it,

where your solitary confinement

hides the hurt with a jacket of hugs

and your parents get to be the Batman

who locked you there for treatment.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #68 – OUR SWEETEST KISS

Behind the bleachers after Homecoming

was the crème de la crème for a long time.

The crowd cried out in victory

and our careful embrace lasted an eternity.

 

It wasn’t until that night on the ocean

after the sun had set, and the surveyors

had disappeared into their dreary vans

that the moonlight granted us a silent usurper.

 

But the sweetest of our kisses

is one you have no doubt forgotten

in the passing time between then and now

as our bones grow stale with senility.

 

It was under the cedar tree on our daily walk

when our weary legs begged for a moment abench.

The wind was blowing like any other day

and that peck you thought nothing of

left me whirling along with it.

——

 

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RETURN HOME

I really enjoyed writing my fifty-word story last week, so I thought I’d try another this week:

 

The walk home from the winter train station always feels like a Debussy song. Each step through the snowscape is like strolling on a cloud in the summer sky, despite the cold. When I cross the bridge, I can faintly hear them. In the reflection below I see myself smile.

——

 

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DIVING BOARD (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Window Thoughts

Staring through the pane

to see a magical world

beyond the sunset.

 

Christmas Town

Carols and cocoa

waft over the merry streets

while children go by.

 

Goodbye Balloon

Goodbye my red friend.

I found you on a park bench

trying to fly free.

 

Growth

Towering above

is the bud we planted, back

when I could still see.

 

Diving Board

Close your eyes, breathe in,

open your arms to the sky,

and savor the fall.

——

 

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