Drained


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Drained


Life asked too much of me today…

When I finally did sit down,
in silent exhaustion
the whole of me was aching,
inside and out
My determination had been battered
And my will was strewn about
The voice of all of my frustrations
left
too tired to shout

I had been drained by the day,
feeling tattered and torn
This day, took everything I had
And then greedily wanted more
My heart, left clinging to my sleeve
My soul, scattered on the floor

Endless hours, of one after another,
constantly knocking on my door

Yet, there was a calming sense of relief
A satisfaction of accomplishment
For having passed each test,
on the worst ‘just one of those days’
I rose up to every harsh challenge
I chose
all of the appropriate plays
I was exhausted, yet extremely alive,
proud of my self-sustaining ways

Life asked too much of me today…

Summoning everything that I had,
I found more than I knew I had to give
On days like these, we don’t get to choose
the life that we have to live

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Invariably

                     Invariably

“You need to pave your own path,”
she would always say.
“Do not let fear, or doubt,
ever stand in your way”.you are enough text
“Just take the bull by the horns.”
“Jump right into the fray.”

“Carpe diem, Gary James.
Seize every day.”…

I would see the familiar postmark,
and I would always smile
A thoughtful note, a card, a poem,
certainty, every once in a while
That perfect hand writing
Her unique, unmistakeable style
My consistent, truest inspiration
Spanning many a mile

“Carpe diem, Gary James
Seize every day.”

Invariably, my phone would ring
after a few sunken days in a row
When I needed her buoyant words,
she would lift me from my low
Her soothing and assuring voice
A motivational “get up and go”
Not sure just how she knew
She just always seemed to know

“Carpe diem, Gary James
Seize every day.”

Even as the cruelty of life
slowly seized the best of her20180803_204117.jpg
Even as her struggling breaths
slowly faded away…

Even in the face of the inevitable,
in the last squeeze of her hand,
her message seeped into my heart
And it’s forever here to stay…

“Carpe diem, son.
I am with you always.
Now go and seize the day.”

Meeting

                                  Meeting 


I arrive with wine, and little apprehension

Entering your home, my worries are very few
Confident that you are kind, that you are genuine
because your wonderful daughter is a part of you


As I look around, a comfort settles over me
Instantly, I am at ease, and even more sure
We say our hellos and she squeezes my hand

Moments later she takes me on a tour

I see warm colours, and family photos
lovingly displayed, up and down the hall
Your own creations, and your creativity,
gracing each room, and on every wall

Crafty signs, stitch work, and oil paintings
Your personal touches, so easily found
Children and teens, newlyweds and grandkids,
all of your loved ones, leaning or hanging around

Tangibly vibrant, with a flick of each switch
The now and the then, brought to light
The young couple, handsome and pretty
Their beginning, framed, in black and white

We stroll through your memories, new and old,
The long journey of a husband and a wife
A visual journal, of his story and yours,
Room to room, so full of a life

As we join everyone in your living room
I look to you, straight across, sitting in a chair
Our glances meet, knowingly, for a moment
neither overly concerned, but both of us aware


Just as I had hoped, with this important step,
I was adding perspective to my happy reality
But it was also tweaking my ongoing interest
with peoples’ grasps on their own mortality


I find myself staring, as we are having dinner

catching myself, just before you do
I am lost, inside my natural curiosity,
wondering about your point of view

I imagine what you might be thinking
Another Easter dinner, like any other year?
Are you blissfully oblivious to who is new,
and simply thankful that everyone is here?

Are you thinking about who is missing,
a little sad, and reminiscent as you look around?
Or are you soaking in the whole atmosphere
Every familiar sight, every happy sound?

Your grandchildren, all talking excitedly
That perfect mix of exuberance and loud
The smiles of three uniquely beautiful daughters
Your constant smile, telling me you are proud

Your living legacy, right here before you
Those most important, just being themselves
A vital portrait of your loving family
brought down from off the shelves

Your smile subsides only when you speak
Voice cracking, behind the few words you say
You seem quietly content, at the head of the table
as I gradually get to know you, on this April day


Everyone slowly heads towards the door,
saying thank-you and exchanging good-byes
I see your expression change, ever so slightly,
a
s a twinge of melancholy forms in your eyes

Implicit

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Implicit

I sense it in your demeanor

I hear it in your voice
You’d appreciate my input
to steer you to your choice
You are hesitant. I understand.
The long-term is your concern
You digest the output
from my live and learn

The strength of our friendship
is our mutual respect
My honest thoughts
are all you can expect
Frank and forward,
telling it like it is
My honest observations
go something like this

Age is just a number,
as the saying goes
It’s really just a matter
of who knows
Fifty-three, the new forty-three
Forty-two, so thirty-two?
All that matters, really,
is her,  plus you

Perspective is everything,
when it comes to the heart
You are far better together
than when you’re apart
Fulfillment is truly reciprocal
It’s all about how you feel
If it feels best together,
what you have is real

So much common outlook,
that it’s effortless to share
Life is far more full
when you’re both there
The physical, the cerebral
The intimacy, the fun
Life seems more complete
when you two are one

We are in absolute agreement,
that the enemy is regret
It becomes more assured and clear
with the further we get
My words are implicit,

coming from the right place
As honest, and reassuring,
as the smile on your face


I sensed it in your ease
I can hear it in your voice
Both relaxed, and relieved
with your obvious choice
You are happy. Bottom line.
Nothing selfish in that smile
You’ve known what you want
for quite a while

Deliberation


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Deliberation

It’s been a full and active day already,
with even more still on my plate.
Feeling pretty sluggish at half past ten.
Been going since this morning at eight.

Some friends I saw earlier, are visiting from Toronto.
Was planning to meet them later for drinks.
I am going to have a hot shower first,
and then I’ll see what my body thinks.

I toss my shirt and gitch in the laundry
and grab my bath towel from off the rack.
As I leave my room, I hear a faint whisper,
so I stop, I listen, and then I go back.

Scanning the room from the doorway
I can see, of course, that there’s nobody there.
Must be my phone, in the pocket of my jeans
which earlier I’d slung over the back of the chair.

I slide my cell phone out, and I take a look.
Nothing to see there but my cover screen.
No open apps, or videos playing,
so I slide it back in, to where it had been.

Turning once more to leave, I hear it again.
This time a little louder, and a little more clear.
It seems to be coming from near my bed,
and the voice I hear says, “Gary come here.”

A little less tired now, and a lot more freaked out,
I inch a little closer, and the voice speaks again.
This time adament, with much more authourity.
“Do you really need to go out? It’s well after ten.”

“Who’s there?”, I ask, speaking to no one,
looking in the direction of the pyjamas on my bed.
“Who are you, and what do you want with me?”
“I want you stay home tonight, just like I said.”

Now certain that I must be hallucinating,
I flee my room and head down the hall,
past the closet and toward the bathroom,
rocking the print that hangs on the wall.

I come face to face with myself in the mirror.
Needing a reality check, I smack my cheek.
Feeling it’s sting, I speak my thoughts aloud.
“It has been a busy day. And a very busy week.”

Still hoping that a shower might wake me up,
I hang up my towel and pull back the curtain.
Spend equal time washing, and convincing myself,
“pyjamas can’t talk, of that I am certain.”

I finish up with a cold blast of water, 
with similar results as the slap to my face.
If I am going downtown I had better hurry.
With renewed focus I pick up the pace.

Wrapped in my towel and rapt in thought,
I strategize my night while I brush my hair.
Thinking now of my best way to travel,
glasses or contacts, and what shirt to wear.

Distracted by the tasks on my mental list
and the momentum of my slight energy burst,
I find myself standing back in my room,
with a tall glass of water to quench my thirst.

After a lengthy guzzle, I reach for my jeans,
pull one pant leg up and then make it two.
As I tighten my belt I hear a different voice,
“So glad we’re going out, Gary. Good for you.”

I take a quick step back, with an audable shriek,
knock over the glass in my astounded haste.
“It’s me Gene, Hey, I’m right down here.”
The words seem to have come from below my waist.

“Good thing you didn’t listen to that guy.
He’s flat and lazy, and a complete bore.
Grab your cash and your keys.  I’ve got your cell. 
Let’s call a cab and we can wait by the door.”

“Who you calling flat? You denim deadbeat!”
My head jerks quickly in the direction of my bed.
“Ya you, Levi, with your zipper and your attitude.”
And yes, I clearly just heard what my pyjamas said.

“Always making this guy empty your pockets.
Give him a break. Your material is wearing thin.
He is a bad influence on you Gary. Take a night off.
Listen to PJ, get comfortable with me and stay in.”

“Come on lounge boy! Don’t zap his momentum.
You, with your save some money, save your liver crap.
He knows when to say when, and it ain’t now.
Not with good friends, and so many good beers on tap.”

At this point, stuck in the middle, I decide to just go with it.
I muster up some courage and I join in the debate.
“Gene, I get it, you have some some very valid points.
And PJ, I am tired, and been going non-stop since eight.”

Immersed in this, and actually needing to make a decision,
I get an idea, that gives both sides a chance.
I take off the jeans, or Gene, and I lay them/him on the bed.
I will take some time to think, and decide between pjs or pants?

“When I get back from finishing in the bathroom, I’ll choose.
You two try to get along. I’m giving myself ten minutes to decide.”
My underwear and I depart, back down the hall to brush my teeth,
both with a vested interest in selecting one side.

As I floss and weigh both of the night’s options,
I can feel the cumulative effects of all that I did today.
Yet, it would be nice to see Greg and Chrissy again.
I only saw them for a bit, and they did come all this way.

Spitting out the last swish of my mouthwash,
a realization comes over me, and suddenly I know.
I figure, if any of my clothes are speaking to me,
I obviously need some rest, so it’s wiser not to go.

I make it official, by going from contacts to glasses,
confident and pleased with the logic I choose.
Proud of myself for deciding to be responsible,
I return to my room, to deliver the news.

I can hear some murmuring and muffled obscenities.
The bickering gets louder as I walk through the door.
Once inside, however, I am met with complete silence,
fully expecting to find one of them lying on the floor.

Still side by side on the bed, are anxious jeans and pyjamas.
And you could cut the tension with a knife.
I preface my delivery with some token respect,
“I appreciate your concern fellas, but it is my life.”

“While I am seldom one to let responsibility slow me down,
I do have to learn, sometime, when I’ve had enough.
After careful deliberation, I’ve decided to stay home.
Sorry about that Gene, but if you don’t like it, tough.”

“A little harsh Gary, but I suppose it’s okay, just this once.
But I hope you don’t make it a habit to be so boring.
Because there is nothing more sad or pathetic
than a lazy ass, on a Saturday, at eleven, snoring.”

“Point taken Gene. Speaking of a little harsh.”
I toss him in the basket with the other dirty guys.
“I guess it’s you and me PJ, let’s watch some tv.”
“Good idea Gary. And you’re not boring, you are wise.”

I immediately feel comfortable as I put on the pyjamas,
adding a sweat shirt to my lack of cares.
After texting my friends to politely apologize,
I refill my water and we head down the stairs.

After flipping on a lamp, I turn on the television,
pick up a remote that had fallen on the floor.
I plop myself down into my favourite lazy boy,
which seems oddly appropriate, because of before.

“There is nothing wrong with a nice night in.
It doesn’t always have to be go, go, go.”
That was just me, justifying to myself,
wanting to make sure, that both of us know.

Finally settled, I think, I scroll through my movie choices.
“Don’t sit there. Come lie down with me. No need to slouch.”
Hearing this, I am actually more exasperated than surprised.
It’s a sexy female voice, coming from the couch.

Past

“So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light…
Just promise me we’ll be alright
But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life
And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life”
‘Ghosts That We Knew’
– Mumford & Sons


Past

I took a chance
and let you into my heart.
I let all of my feelings show.
Uprooted my life,
for me and you,
but little did I know.


I discovered your wounds,

written in your own words,
there, for anyone to see.
Cuts and bruises,
vital accumulation,
scars, that you never showed me.

The breadth of your struggles,
so much I didn’t know,
spread across my screen.
Instead of in my mind.
Instead of in my heart,
where they should have been.

I took your determination,
for never again,
as a personal affront.
Your learned defensive posture
as harsh belligerence,
 you just being you, being blunt.

Your fierce independence
was stubborn vulnerability.
Your frustration, was our fate.
The voice of your experience,
sad and specific,
finally heard, but far too late.

I would have tried harder
to let you speak to me,
to let your words get through.
I could have helped you 
confront your demons,
instead of confronting you.

 It became impossible
to live with you
when you wouldn’t let me in.
Hard for us
to start over,
with nowhere to begin.

Had I only known
 the slippery slope
  of dealing with your past.
Known that I would struggle
to wade through
the depths
and dangers of your doubt.

I still would have wanted you.
I still could have loved you.
I would have understood.
I could have pulled you out.


I chose the challenge,

and gave you my heart.
Let all of my feelings show.
Uprooted my life,
to be with you,
but little did I know.


If only I had known,
I could have earned your trust.
I would have opened up my mind.
Instead, I read of our demise,

   determined before we met,
 by those you left behind.

Takers, martyrs, bullies,
sad and hurtful people,
there on my screen.
Instead of in our talks.
Instead of in my thoughts,
where they should have been.

 Until I read it,
I never once heard you 

refer to your mother as
Mom.
In fact, I barely knew
where all of the hurt
and resentment
were from.

Never could I picture, you,
together with your ex.

Made no sense to me at all.
And, until I read the name,
  typed in bold hostility,
I had never heard of Paul.

Bitterness and bravado.
 Broken pieces of the past,
clenched inside your fist.
   Our time, our spirit,
spent fighting with your ghosts.
One more added to the list.

It’s tough to share
with someone
who barely gives.
Hard to live
with someone
who reluctantly lives.

Had I only known
the bleak history
of your emotional pain.
The depths to which
those before me
had sunk inside your mind.
I still would have wanted you.
I still could have loved you.
I would have understood.
I could have been more kind.

I gave you my heart.
Had I only known…

 

 

Bus

                     Bus                         

I see the bus coming up the street
I am energized as I leave my seat
Feeling that extra bounce in my feet
My heart embracing the added beat.

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It’s your contagious, expressive energy
An always positive vibe that enlivens me
Your ever-present smile, your joie de vivre
The impressive person you have come to be

Always offering and anxious to help out
Willing to try, even when there is doubt
Confident and capable is what you shout
You already understand what living is about

When your school day is finally done
The best part of mine has just begun
Shining bright in the late-afternoon sun
My first-born daughter, you are second to none.

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– 

Changes have come, as we knew they would
Less time together than we know we should
In different places from where we stood
Life gets in the way, like we thought it could
It may be different,  but we are good

Another twist in a road that often bends
Between work and circumstance and friends
We are seldom together when the day ends
Yet with just one call, my heart mends
Buoyed by your voice and the assurance it sends

Patience and understanding, as we have discussed
We will always find time, in that we trust
Making the most of it is our infinite plus
The same father-daughter bond connecting us…
I just miss being there, when you get off of the bus.

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