Tears on the Tiles

I found myself on the floor. Except the tiles aren't the same, the shower curtain cheaper, the walls whiter. 

Crying. Listening to the same song. The last time I was here, my sister walked in, probably about 8 years old at the time, confused. My mother was downstairs preparing for another Wednesday, knowing the reasonings of the dreary bass bumping through the ceiling. 

His name was Jack, or maybe it was Kevin? Maybe a Chris? Matt? It's funny, I don't even remember what boyfriend of the week/month/season it was, but the pain was so true for 15 year old me. 

I joked just last week with a girlfriend about how ridiculous the relationships were that I cried over, but how real the pain was. It was valid. But my reality was narrow, rows of lockers and booze filled basement sleepovers were the extent of what I knew. So that was the greatest casualty of love, I would have known at that time. 

But, I find myself..listening to a playlist with an uncanny resemblance to that CD-ROM. I'm only 23, but this in some moments feels like the end. I've never loved like this before, I've never committed myself like this. 

But, my reality, my experiences are still so narrow. I've seen a lot more, loved a lot more, hurt a lot more, little by little, since the Jack-of-the-week broke up with me for a cheerleader. I guess that first heartbreak, and the miniature ones after have just toughened me up for this morning on my bathroom floor. 

And this moment, this pain, this walking through life, is just catapulting me to broaden my reality. My ideas of love. What I need. What I deserve. What I can give. 

I'll laugh again, listen to this song and me telling a year prior me, "I wish you could see yourself now." But I will always remember, despite where I grow from here, this pain, in this time on my rental's bathroom tile, as real. It's very much here, in this moment. It won't be forever. But it's raw, it's valid, it's the launching pad to just becoming a little bit stronger.

 

Richmond, VA

home invaders

blazing love from the top of the tub to the bottom of the place where i rubbed you. oh, if i could love you i would make the most of it, running like a wild man to the top of the hill screaming till the flowers covered their ears and fell in the chill morning soft low buzz of the coming day, running. waitress comes to my table interrupts the writing, but i’m fighting with the ugliness, outside the dim lighting in this cafe writing, i read about a sighting of a lust that became love that became death that became trust, but too late. i wonder what a bright night looks like, tight lips keeping shut all the shit that we left in the back of the car, when i looked you up and down, on the west coast, in the future, with all the LA friends i made, while i was abroad. we downed tubs of beer, but the time is what made us close, as always. shared a small space, saw each other’s belly button lint, hinted at what we couldn’t deny about ourselves if we sat together long enough. moments like these, filled in between the moments we all know, the ones like warm streetlight snow, or tree-breezes that we happen to catch in our own branches. i wonder what i'll do with you, once everything falls away and it’s just us? what will you do with me? i trust you much more than i trust myself, rusting since the first act of love in my life, my birth, i continued to just take and take, and my love burns up like calories, or tiny sticks, but i keep finding em’! over and over, i’m good at it. i find nice little sticks, break them into fifths and burn them till i make a home upon your lip, i never even noticed the tattoo above your hip. like a gun, ready to fire accidentally downwards, making holes, that we toe while we talk. so exhausted, by the end, ready to sleep. but you remind me, there’s a place we haven’t gone yet- that you know about. in the restaurant, toying with the waitress like a basketball, she is smiling genuinely, because her soul is a perfect glow, thriving on this evening especially. my ammo is my gummy teeth and earthy smell, yours you keep in your purse. you purse your lips, something you never do. i wonder what i’ll do with you. in the car, we watch the flickering tv, trees and lights and walls and houses, rolling shutter, i mutter something, and we- back at the house- it doesn’t feel like mine, or yours, so we just sit their like home invaders, pressing each other’s buttons, turning each other’s dials, trying to get each other’s appliances properly arranged on each other’s counter tops. the banter never stops and i forget to kiss you. my intent, born upon my thirsty ledge at my birth, urged by absence of much at all, fails because of my forgetfulness, and hesitation. my fears swarm. the radiator is warm. we sit by it, finally quiet. the window does a dance for us.

 

Richmond, VA

studying film in Prague

Deadly Acceptance

It appears to me
Through transparent panes
The scenery lanes
Having a choice to be opaque
Through glasses that seem less
Of a pic, more of a biopic
How I'm a leaf coloured soldier
Inside my cabin
Soon to step out in a duality of grave
Helpless like a romantic
Accepting everything once again
Even the bandages
Of today's blood
Till a stained tomorrow
Who knows, what high rated canvases
Are really made of.

 

Silchar/Assam/India

Born on 1988 in a small town of Silchar, Assam, India. Daipayan Nair is a freelance writer/columnist, poet, fiction writer and essayist. His works have been published in a lot of printed anthologies and online poetry journals like The Poetry Breakfast, The Galway Review, Tuck Magazine, 1947 Literary Journal, Duane's PoeTree Blog etc. He was recently awarded The Reuel International Poetry Prize 2016. His works have been translated in quite a few languages. He has also got a book to his name. His first collection of poems is named 'The Frost' which was released in 2015. His recent publication is a co-authored anthology of poems titled ‘THE VIRTUAL REALITY’ which was released at the end of 2016. Currently he is working on his upcoming project, a detailed poetry book on the new poetry form ‘Tideling' titled ‘Parallelism’ to be published by the end of 2017.

Family Divorce

The divorce from my family is finalized. 

For decades I accepted the sarcastic criticism, the frequent shaming both publicly and privately, the shunning, the ever-present better-than-thou sneers—I would say holier-than-thou but there was nothing holy about any of it. You’ll have to trust me on that. 

Over many years I had hoped geographical distancing would do the trick, which I exercised ad nauseam. But I was like a homing pigeon. Once a victim always a victim, I thought. The lock hold on my soul seemed impenetrable. Would I ever find the courage to escape this vicious cycle. 

The happy news is that I did. It took years of building self esteem, digging deep, doing an inside job, having faith and courage to go where I’d never been before. I had to step off the proverbial cliff. And, this is important, I had to accept that many people wouldn’t like my new resolve and harsh judgments would surely follow.

Step by tiny step, my growing confidence allowed me to begin the process of letting go of people, places, and things that did not fan the flames of my better self. If I lost sight of that better self in the presence of someone, I let them go. Sounds cold and ruthless, right? It isn’t easy or pain free. But the peace I was seeking came to me over time when I learned these and other boundaries. 

I’m not an easy person. I have a plethora of unsavory flaws. And I drag behind me a garbage bag of darkness. Through forgiveness, that bag gets smaller every day and my step becomes lighter. I have developed an ever-deepening love and respect for myself, which in truth, is all I really need.

Material Things

Maybe it's the grey, sagging, block-dotted, uncomfortable couch that's burned in my memory. It was awful. Going to friends' homes was an exercise in curbing jealousy and humility. Observing their thoughtfully coordinated furniture, area rugs, and paintings. Throw pillows 'n shit. I just wanted nice things. 

Maybe he's right. Maybe I am materialistic. Is there anything so wrong with that, though? Isn't there something to be said for taste and for the accumulation of niceties?

The key, it seems, is being able to let go of even the nicest of things when we no longer need them. When we have evolved past them. When our palate no longer tastes appreciation for them. That's true of people, and homes and jobs, too. The proper and improper nouns of our lives.

Buddhism teaches us that detachment from things--people, material items, and especially emotions--released us from worldly burdens. 

Maybe some of us need to accumulate to realize we need to let go.

 

Richmond, VA

Human Tarp

I remember Thanksgiving when I was a child. We didn’t do much with holiday hoopla, nor did any of our neighbors, as far as I know. My grandmother always cooked a big evening meal, but the main attraction of our day was leaf raking.

My dad would borrow his brother’s pickup truck. Some of my neighborhood friends would come over and help with gathering the leaves. I don’t think they especially enjoyed this work; they were present for the several trips that we would make to the dump. We filled the back of the pickup with leaves, and then we children piled into the truck bed and functioned as a tarp. My dad set out along narrow, winding country roads, driving too fast, usually with his window down, while smoking a cigarette. I doubt he ever considered the possibility that his ashes might fly out the window and ignite the leaves, injuring his own two children plus three or four others. Neither did he worry about us being thrown out of the truck. We knew where all of the bumps were and looked forward to the feeling of tumbling around all over each other and the leaves. It was better than any amusement park ride, and somehow we all survived with nary a scratch.

By the time my children were born, Thanksgiving had become more about food and fellowship. I don’t know when or how my parents cleaned up their leaves in those days. I never gave the slightest consideration to allowing my children to ride in the back of a truck.

 

Henrico County, VA

I have a BA in English from The College of William & Mary and a post-baccalaureate certificate in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Many years ago I left a career as a Certified Public Accountant to become a stay-at-home mom to three children who are now in their twenties. Much of my writing reflects my childhood in the southeastern Virginia paper mill town of Franklin.

Swimming

If you don’t swim in the waters
and you don’t dance in slow motion
to see what your body can do floating
slowly, suspended light upon its surface,

you may not catch the rainbows
or bathe yourself in her colors, 
life’s possibilities lost and replaced
will constantly fail to delight you.

For we all come from the sea
who whispers to us in our sleep,
but dreams are only dreams
until we wake up to who we are.

So it is time to dive into your joy
and shake off the blah, blah, blah
of discouraging voices you carry around
in your head. Trust me, they lie.

 

Richmond, VA

40

I wonder what you're doing today,
on your birthday.
Your 40th, of all birthdays.
It's not that I really even care,
I'm happy in my world
and in my heart
but I still wonder
aimlessly, sometimes,
whatever happened to you
the man who I thought
I loved so much
so long
ago.

 

Richmond, VA

Off Target

Target has become the scene and trigger of recurrent depression and rage throughout my divorce. My semi-absent parenting, my new fear of poverty, and middle-aged, single male pariah-hood intersect there with a vengeance. In front of me in line stands a woman with her daughter, maybe 18 months, who dutifully stays close and helps unload items handed to her. The mother has a brilliant engagement ring and matching wedding band. Her watch glitters as she swings her buff, tanned arms. Her fashionably distressed jean skirt outshines my own distress. The leopard print of her Tom’s ballet slippers contrasts with the even tone of her skin. She sweet talks her child and feeds her snacks with one hand while helping the cashier load her canvas bags with the other. I left my own reusable bags at home with the delusion it might save me time at check out. I imagine this woman doesn’t believe the anti-environmentalist a-hole behind her has any good reason for smiling and waving at her child, whereas I believe that if this were my daughter, I’d need someone to distract her from running away or playing with the spray cleaners stockpiled on the shelf below the cash register right behind her. 

As soon as the first woman leaves, another one pulls up behind me. Her leopard print Tom’s have high heels and her rings a different hue. She reveals a baby bump while putting her plush king-size mattress cover on the conveyor belt. I have never had a bed that large and couldn’t make much use of one now if I did. 

Hemingway, if I have my aphorisms straight, wrote that bitterness is the greatest enemy of writers. I write, but bitterness likely threatens all who have failed. I try to console myself that all of life is an experiment, so all results are equally insightful if one acts on them. I try to console myself that perhaps I have walked through some internal darkness and come to know it in ways these women and their surely perfect (to-be-) kids have not, but I assume they’d, rightly, furrow their brows to ask, “Why not just turn on the lights? Didn’t you pay the bill?”

Yeats has his line about descending into the “foul rag and bone shop of the heart” in order to come back with poetry and a Nobel Prize. I have not come back with either, and, in fact, I am not entirely sure I have come back at all. I seem stuck in the foul part, the rags, the bones, at least for which I now have a giant bottle of vitamin D in my cart. I thought I needed it just because the doctor told me so with his precious lines of test results, but the label suggests without these pills, I am in danger of snapping a blood-red femur. 

At home, I unload pasta and canned beans. I unpack the toy tools I bought for my daughter but feel too guilty to give to her now, guilty at having spent the money for something that wasn’t strictly necessary, whereas at Target, I had felt too guilty for not nourishing her interests. After all, hadn’t she just the other day asked for my hammer? I hide the tools in the closet atop my own toolbox to wait for Christmas. I tell myself if she accidentally discovers them, I’ll pretend I had been waiting all the while to surprise her with the find.

I won’t, however, tell her about Target's surprises that, despite their variety, somehow predictably find me in near tears of envy and furious, resentful grief as I cross the parking lot. It doesn’t matter, coming or going—or neither coming nor going, as the Buddhists would say—the turmoil seems the same. When I do practice gratitude, I apparently miss the Target.

Richmond, VA