Flipside

Time for a hiatus.

I’m empty. I’ve hit a point where there doesn’t seem to be anything of substance to say.

So I’m not going to say it.

I need to regroup. I need to find myself again.

I need to step away from the microphone so I can hear myself think.

Thank you all for the words you have spoken, for the encouragement you have given.

I will be back–I think–I hope.

In the meantime, please feel free to say hello at Vance_Woods@baylor.edu. I’d love to hear from you.

Catch you on the flipside…

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Hurt Me

Hurt me, please…
I need it. I feel it
In my bones, the groans,
The tremors of longing
For belonging.

Entangled,
Wrangled from my rock of
Lonely ages; saved from
Pages upon pages of drama
Poorly written. I am smitten;
I am lost; I am careless of
The cost. Name your price,
And I will pay it; write the part
And I will play it. Use me, muse me,
Only choose me. Chew me up and
Spit me out; knock me down and
All about.

Hurt me, please…
Pluck my beating heart and
Cast it on the ground
Before me, then ignore me
As I fall.

The Late Great, or, Feeling Sorry for Myself

Everything went so well
Until I
Turned from the agreed route
And headed out on my own…and then,
Disowned.

The words I shared were once
Admired, and then
All at once
The world grew tired…and I
Was fired.

It is not that I crave
Position; it is not that I fear
Rendition. I will speak, I
Will seek…but this losing streak
Weighs heavy.

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Shade-Tree Philosopher

“Listen here, young man,” he said,
A glint of pride in his eye,
“I’ve seen the sky change color;
I’ve seen it pass from blue to gray to green
And back again. I’ve felt its presence, felt the
Wind, faced the storms, faced them down:
I’ve stood when other men have drowned.”

“I’ve sailed the Seven Seas, my friend,”–
He tapped his graying brow–
“In spirit if not otherwise. I’ve seen the world
Through many eyes. Pages yellowed, cracked with age–
The words of fools, proverbs sage. Pictures painted
In the mind; false conceptions undermined and built anew,
Some convenient, fewer true.”

“I’ve seen the face of Death, young man,
A face of many guises. Many a glimpse of
Light I’ve seen, even as the darkness rises.
It is no threat, the end’s approach, it is no curse,
No grim reproach, if only those who face it know
It cannot kill, nor overthrow, a life lived well.”
He smiled, then, as evening fell.

He left me standing in the road, and as the moon rose,
Gibbous, at my back, I remained in silence, lost in thought;
I weighed his words, wondered if I ought to write them down.
These things I’d heard, they seemed so wise and full of meaning.
And then I heard the sound of singing. The feast’s begun and I am late–
I must be off. All this can wait.

An Open Letter to Myself

Dear Me,

Dear me! What a couple of years it’s been for both of us!

I just wanted to let you know that I’m still here. In spite of everything, I’m still hanging on, somewhere on the periphery of consciousness. The panic has subsided a bit–I’m getting a little more comfortable with the face I see now in the mirror each morning. (Never seems to be the same one twice, lately.) I’ve learned to recognize the sound of my own voice–sorry, your own voice–again.

Still, it’s been a while since we’ve spoken, and high time we caught up with each other. I’m anxious to know how things are going on your side of the fence. Truth be told, I don’t really talk much at all lately, with anyone, about anything. I find it much too confusing; too much information, you see, too many conflicting images bouncing around the ether. I can’t keep them separate as efficiently as I once could–nothing is discrete anymore–everything’s all lumped together, continuous, distinctly gray. Black and white aren’t what I once thought they were: always mixing, as soon as I think I’ve deconstructed them, taken them apart and categorized them individually, always coalescing into a spectrum of indefinability. The one thing I’m sure of is that I’m no longer sure of anything…

Anyway, how are you doing, out there in the light, the visible to my invisible? Seen anything interesting, anything new? A wise man once said there is nothing new under the sun. How do you respond? Is it that there really is nothing new to experience, or is it simply that we refuse to look at anything from a new angle, a new perspective? Are all perspectives forced? Forced upon us, by who knows what?

Upon reflection, I don’t know that any thought I’ve ever had has been truly my own. Our own. I don’t know that there are any truly original thoughts left out there to be had. We humans have been around for a long, long, long time, after all: every new word seems a rehash of something already spoken, every new image a reinvention of something already pictured. It never ends, this giant circle we travel, over and over again, ad infinitum. Ad nauseam.

I’m not worried, though, at the end of the day. Even though we have become distant, you and I; even though the wall between us is a hard one–maybe an impossible one–to breach. One of us is the real one–I’m not sure which–but one of us is, and whichever one is real needs only the tiniest push to pierce the surface and breathe real air once again. Just one tiny push. The tiniest of pushes…

So, my friend, the best of luck to you. This fight for survival may get ugly, but I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. And the day of reckoning approaches. We will meet again, and the truth will out. The circle will be completed.

I will return.

Quest

My horizon lies just beyond
The edge of sight, sapphire-blue,
Deep and
True. Shot through with clearest light,
Darkened not by shade of night or
Blink of eye. Wonder not that I walk
Silently, wordlessly, often even aimlessly:
The heart of me flies far away and high above
In search of life, in search of love. I strain to see
What is not there, to share with all this secret fare
That fills my soul and spills without,
A cup half full, emptied free–I am but who
I have to be.

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-Inspired by Shift

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Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

Man #17

Cameo appearance:
Day after day, a thoughtful stray
Meandering at the periphery,
Something of a mystery, eyes
Blistered by the light of blackened
Sunbeams. Shallow memes pretending
Greatness, exalted by their utter lateness, but
Spoken in tones of grave conviction: all original,
All a fiction. Afflicted by this pale depiction of
Life, shadow of a former self, a rocking horse
Placed on a shelf, lost in the perpetual motion of
Devotion to a brazen image of
Itself.

Teach Me…

To open myself.
Floodgates, passions, heretofore
Abolished, unacknowledged, unaccepted:
Untested in all but form. What a storm of
Withering proportions, this distortion of normality
Burdened by formality and doubt.

To see myself.
Unblinkered view of everything
(I’m told)
That matters. This pattern of
Arrhythmia perpetrating chaos; unsteady
Chain of change that locks fast the soul.

To know myself.
In the face of faceless masses wielding
Broken mirrors full of nameless terror ready to
Destroy. Toy of fate, victim of pomp and
Circumstance, informed and uninformative–
How normative am I?

To name my self.
Something unpronounceable,
Impossible yet inescapable. Indestructible;
Ineluctable. Defined and indefinable,
Unbelievable, undeniable. Irreducibly
True.

War Zone

These streets, they’re calling me;
They follow me
Everywhere. It’s in the air.
Can’t grow for shrinking;
Pounding the pavement
As a hymn of bereavement.

Deal to steal
a little of the life I’m not feeling.
Transparency and currency don’t mix.
Can’t fix me if I break you first.
Do your worst; can’t feel the hurt
Anymore.

I’m a soldier in the trenches,
Barricades made of park benches
For back-alley battles. There is no
Surrender, ’cause I can’t just retreat. I
Dance to the beat of lock, load,
Repeat.

There is no DMZ for me.

-Dedicated to the memory of Keenan Hubert (1990-2011)