Poem: The Question of Love, a Shakespearean Sonnet

Tis sweet defeat to love, says Lo
Answers Vick, thine sugar is rancid
Am I then dunce, asks I, or no
For defeat cannot be tasted.

Vick, he laughs, at I, and bends
Young knave, if defeat is thine candy,
Then retire thine tongue, or now, perpend
Thou death is thy life’s own fancy.

Lo, she fronts, thou fear the child
With thine zany words, I shrift
Love is unsure, unsafe, and wild
Yet without such Love, is one adrift.

The two undergo such testy balk
While I abhor their argued tenses
For Love is silent, and fools do talk
Neither doth Love to sit on fences

And still my mind doth will to capture
Such honest and absolute, thus rapture

Short Story: My Friend Grief

Grief is my visitor. He won’t stay long, yet long enough.

I recall the night he knocked on my door. The shadows of my newfound solitude invited me inward. I was pleased with myself, and deserving of a reward for making a difficult decision. In a pleasant mood, I was about to open a bottle of wine. A bold Merlot, you know.

Just as I grazed my fingertips upon the dusty green bottle, and sensed a thirst in my cheeks, I heard my visitor tapping. Somehow, I knew that it wasn’t a time for celebration.

Observing a shift within me, like the descent of an elevator, touching down on the basement floor, I went for the door. I promised myself the wine would flow at the right time.

It was late night and the rain was pouring down. Many memories washed over me as the cold draft met my skin. Grief stood on my heart-shaped porch, without a cover, awaiting his welcome. I touched my chest as a single tear fell. My old friend was back again.

We have a bittersweet relationship, Grief and I, and still, I call him friend. He’s taught me  much during his extended stays. We know each other well.

He’s like the night that falls, on schedule, bringing shadows and obscurity. I had learned to appreciate the sunlight, for the evening would come, soon enough.

I opened the door wide for him. He picked up two pieces of luggage, regret and growing pains, and silently stepped in. I took his coat and hat. He made himself at home.

For the first night, we sat before the fire. We didn’t speak to each other. We didn’t sleep. We just sat there, feeling the others’ presence.

I tried to open my heart to him, to accept him, and resist the urge to run. Avoidance behavior cost me so much trouble in the past. Now, life is much simpler, but it means acceptance of Grief, of who he really is.

Sometimes the moonlight shines through the kitchen window, and I can sing and dance as I celebrate my tender heart. He stares at me, his bushy eyebrows scrunched in confusion. His knees, bent at his chin, as he sits on the bottom step. He doesn’t understand how I can laugh and play when he’s around. I try to explain to him what it means to have joy. I think he likes the idea.

Other times, though, he comes to me at night. He sits at the foot of my bed, and it seems that we can hear each others’ thoughts. I speak the sadness of my heart, hoping the sound might absorb my pain. I tell her that everything is okay, and that I’ll always love and think of her, and that I pray for her every day and night. I wonder if her heart can hear mine. Then, sometimes, I cry.

I’m not sure how long he’s staying, but I can’t rush him away. If I’m going to heal, it’s going to take time, and I should give him all the time he needs. Really, I’m doing this for myself. No band-aids, no cover-ups, no crutches or addictions. No denial or repression, no avoidance behavior.

It’s just me and my friend Grief.

Short Story: The Reluctant Hero

I’m standing on a high cliff, overlooking some foreign ocean. The night is falling upon the scene, as starlight breaks through the darkening blue sky, and I.

I’m barefoot and shirtless. My hands are empty, too.

The salty breeze chills my skin, but I am transfixed by the sight of the ocean, its magnificent beauty, coupled with the intense fear of its power, awakening deep inside of me.

A tear streams down my cheek. Could one be so awestruck and fearful at the same time? A voice whispers in my heart.

It is the Aquarian sage. “The journey ahead of you, behold, in a ship of your own vessel. This is all for you.”

Yet, I know what this means.

“You must leave behind everything you have ever known. The bed you sleep in, the comfort of perceived limitations. The masochistic words you mumble under your breath. Your poisonous drink. You have outgrown these things. They have no place in your life anymore.”

Somewhere inside me, an Arian Warrior stands poised to dive into the depths of the great unknown, unaware, unafraid, but on the surface, right now, an unsure child stares at his feet.

But my hands are dirty. I’m unforgiven.

The Aquarian speaks. “Everything you have been through has prepared you for this moment. Yet, you have free will. You may choose to turn back at any time.”

The Arian lays down his weapon, a spear, at my feet. He kneels before me, his arms flexed to display his strength. His long hair falls like a curtain over his face as he bows. “I swear to protect you from the evils of this world, as you would save me from the evils of myself.” He rises to his feet, picks up his spear, and points it toward the horizon, to the bow of Sagittarius, five twinkling stars. “There is the satisfaction of your soul.” The warrior turns behind him, to the past, “There is meaningless comfort. The choice is yours alone.” He lays his hand on my shoulder. “I will follow you, wherever you go.”

I hear the clopping of hooves, the folding of wings. Beside me stands Chiron, the centaur. I look up at him, enchanted by his figure, half a man, half a horse. His green eyes stare out at the ocean.

Chiron is my Sun. He is, in many ways, my father, teacher, and best friend.

In his silence, the planet makes her trip many times. I watch as the Moon spins around the Earth. The Sun follows the elliptic. My hands grow larger, my spine taller. My mind expands and poses unanswerable questions, provoking a yearning within. What am I feeling?

Finally, almost three decades later, Chiron turns to me, the white hairs on his chin, blowing in the wind. “What are you feeling?” He asks.

“Time is no more,” I whisper, barely audible. “Chiron, this is magnificent, and I refuse to deny my destiny, but I am human, and this makes me alone.”

The hooves of the centaur clop as he moves closer to me. His human torso bends until his chiseled face is just before mine. I see, now, that his green eyes are rimmed with yellow and orange.

“You have never belonged on Earth, Dear One. That is why you feel alone. Yet if you see with your third eye, that has never been the case.”

Chiron reaches behind his back and delivers a bow and quiver. “This is a tool, not a weapon. Always aim upward, for greatness only exists in the higher skies.”

I take the items, throwing them over my bareback.

A woman appears before me. Her silk gown bellows behind her, white like the moon. She opens her hand, to reveal a pair of golden scales. “Two thousand lifetimes, and you have settled your karmic debt. But that’s not enough. You must create a surplus.”

“Libra,” I whisper. “Must I go alone?”

The corners of her thin lips turn up. “You may take anyone willing.”

I exhale, wishing to banish the passion of my heart, now burning my flesh, it seems. For, I desire the unwilling. I find the courage to meet the goddess’ eyes.

Libra’s eyes are white, innocent with justice, convicting my heart, compelling my speech.

I hesitate. “But, isn’t my twin supposed to help me?”

Libra lifts her hand, and I feel her fingertips glide over my face. “Your twin is with you, always. Though not in flesh, you feel her in spirit, do you not?”

I look down, to the dust, dissatisfied.

“Let that be enough,” Libra leans in and kisses my cheek. “Beloved, you have Chiron as your Sun, Ares as your Rising guide, and the scales of Justice by moonlight. Call upon Pan when problems arise. Let the Aquarian lead your heart.”

The Horned God stands beside me, half a goat, half a man. I can smell the mint he chews. I feel his calloused fingertips on the crown of my head. “You will focus on the mountain peak. When you see your destination, trust your feet, for they will not lead you astray.”

I close my eyes, receiving his blessing. When I open them, the ancient gods are gone. The sage, warrior, centaur, goddess, and satyr live within me. Combined, they are me.

I’m alone again, on the mountain’s cliff, staring out at the dark ocean.

Scorpius twinkles in Midheaven. A cycle has passed. It is time for rebirth.