Friday, November 27, 2009

Yet Another Poem

If shame had a name,
or evil a form,
it would sound like my syllable
and move like my shape.

And if hope had a tune
or goodness a gait
I’d be tone-deaf
and limping from place to place.

If the grave were a pillow
I’d rest my head,
and seek a better world
among the dead.

But I live and I ache
and I err and I take
and I make pointless blunder and wretched mistake
time and again, feeling hollow and fake,
till I wish either my heart or the whole world would break—

There is a void that stretches like a promise
where no one knows my shadow or my name.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dan White

I've admitted some very terrible things in my life, sometimes in forums far more public than this. Still, I hesitated a little in writing this post. But the desire for catharsis won out over the desire for human decency.

Sometimes I think I understand what it's like to be Dan White, the man who assassinated Harvey Milk.

Isn't that horrible? What a horrible sentence. What a horrible human being.

This isn't about being gay, so don't go there for even a minute. This is about disliking someone, about not understanding why everybody likes them so much, about knowing you'd be unpopular if you expressed the way you really felt about them, about how they're managing to accomplish things and become this kind of figure you've secretly always wanted to be, and about how that doesn't seem fair, how you've always wanted it and worked for it and hoped for it, much longer and harder than they have probably, and how they don't even seem to try and it just happens to them, and you shake your head and say, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!?!?" all quizzical-like. It's about the anger and hurt and confusion and at the same time a sense of mesmerizing jealousy-mixed-with-utter-loathing that has you almost obsessed with them in some weird kind of way. It's about this mixture of emotions that would lead someone to do something stupid. In my case, I can't say the person I feel this way about has anything to worry about life-wise. I've only ever touched a BB gun. I hate violence, and I used to be able to say with some conviction that I hate hate. Now, though...

Now that I find myself capable of writing such statements as the one I wrote above, how can I be sure?

I don't want to hurt this person. In fact, I wish them well. The thing they have is something I used to be obsessed with wanting. Now I've come to realize that it's really not good for me at all. So in a way, I don't envy them. I just shake my head and wonder what it is that everyone else sees in them. How can everyone NOT see the annoying way they seem to turn the conversation so it ends up going away from what you were talking about and toward whatever it is that they're currently thinking? How can people find ENDEARING the way they so casually talk to you like you're smaller or less significant than them somehow, in the unconsciously didactic way adults usually talk to children? Or maybe they don't do that to everyone. Maybe they do that to me because they sense in me something everyone else can see except me. Maybe I am stupid and childlike and not capable of dealing with the grown-up conversation, maybe I've been relegated to the child's table at dinner this whole time without even knowing it.

This is a post about hate, I guess, but it's also a post about justice. Because the world isn't just, and the scales are never balanced, and they swing to and fro all the time.

Maybe this is her time, and maybe this is not mine. Maybe I will never have a time.

I am not Dan White, but I have felt what he felt. It's how I choose to respond to those feelings that makes all the difference.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On Magic Wands

I bought a fancy wand when I already had a wand. It was a wooden dowel from Wal-Mart which I cut and whittled smooth. I bought a woodstain pen in the right hue and stained it a beautiful ash. It's plain, untapered, and the ends aren't perfect, but it's the right length and it weighs well in my hand and it's mine. It's always been mine.

But I was in the merch room and they had these fancy wands out, with tapered ends and special braided-twine grips and one of those felt pretty good in my hand, so I bought it. Packing to come home, though, I laid it on the bed, forgot, and sat on it. It snapped in two.

I have an ordinary wand and a broken fancy wand, and yet I've never had magic. Not then and not now. Never, really.

I don't know why this makes me so sad.