My Melancholy Muse

 

A hint of autumn chill in the late summer air battled the smells of gasoline, bus exhaust, homeless people, cigarettes, stale urine, and the ubiquitous Cinnabon, a risky purchase down here at the bus terminal.
It was drizzling, and made the neon reflections shiny and the stones drab.
I bought two coffees and started searching, not knowing if I’d find her here.
We hadn’t spoken in a while, and I guess she got tired of waiting for my call; her message said she was leaving, and she hoped I understood.
I did, but I couldn’t let her go.
Checking the departure board there were eight buses leaving at this ungodly hour.
I found her in the last one. She’d bought a cheap green poncho that offered little protection against the elements, and the hood was over her hair. She was so lost in thought she didn’t look up as I approached.
An old blind man was sitting down from her on the bench, silently rocking back and forth.
“Dabria?” I held out a cup. Surprised, she looked up at me with those large, beautiful brown eyes that always seemed to shimmer like a sun-kissed lake.
She didn’t smile, or take the coffee. She just regarded me like someone she recognized and wasn’t sure she liked.
I proffered the cup again.
She took it, popped the lid, took a sip, and made a face.
“Sorry. Bus station coffee.”
She only nodded, then remembered her manners. “Thank you.”
I looked up at the terminal clock that had a booze ad on it; fifteen minutes until her bus left.
I said, “What are you—“
She held up a hand to stop me. “Don’t.”
“Dabria…”
“I said, ‘don’t.’ You shouldn’t have come down here.”
Time was short, and there was no time to filter what I felt. “I don’t want you to go.”
“No? Well, you sure have a funny way of showing it.”
“I’ve been writing with Nightshade—“
“I know where you’ve been. I’m having trouble understanding why you think I should stick around when she gets all your attention.”
“Because I always come back to you; you were the first, and I’m no less devoted to you now than when we started.”
“That’s a lie.”
I sighed. “If it were, Dabria, would I be here now?”
That gave her pause. “I…I guess not.”
The rain grew steadier, and somewhere in the conversation we got the blind man’s attention; he still rocked, just not as much, his head slightly tilted.
The wind harder, making the diverse odors swirl in a nauseating, miasmic, malodorous dance.
“I still need you, Dabria. We’re not close to finished, and I’ve started so late.
“Please, come home.”
“And Nightshade?”
“She’s going to be part of my life, too. Just not the main part. With you, I write what’s on my heart. With her, it’s what’s in my imagination.”
She smiled. “You do have a great imagination. I like tapping into it, too. But if I have your heart…”
“Then don’t go.”
The old blind guy had stopped rocking, and started to smile.
I reached out my hand.
She put the coffee in it, smiling. “Throw that out.”
Laughing, I tossed it, and gave mine to the blind guy. “Fresh cup.”
“Thank you. Glad you got your muse back.”
“Thanks. Me too.” I held out my hand again, and Dabria took it.
I kissed the back of it. “I promise—“
“Don’t.” She kissed me.
As we walked back to the entrance, I thought back to what the old man had said: Glad you got your muse back.
I looked back over my shoulder.
The coffee cup was on the bench, and he was getting on the bus.
“How did he—?”
“Don’t,” Dabria said.
I shook my head. “I won’t. Coffee?”
“When we get home, mister. You’re going to write all night.”
“Lucky me.”
She smiled, giving me a sideways glance from those incredible eyes. “More than you know.”

True Colors

In this asylum called life, no one makes it alone.

In my own times and trials, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that in my own life, there have been good people, people who don’t look like me, who came alongside me when my fortunes reversed.

From the late 90s through the early 2000’s I went through a serious thyroid illness, a divorce, and severe financial distress, one paycheck away from homelessness and having my only means of transportation repossessed.

It was humbling to need help, and embarrassing to ask, but need overruled pride, because I came to the realization that I would do whatever was needed to keep from being on the street, because, to be honest, I didn’t think there’d be any coming back from that.

So I asked. And sometimes G-d provided without me having to say a word.

And with unconditional love and no hesitation, there were friends and acquaintances who simply came to me and said, “What do you need?”

Color, politics, entitlement, privilege, condescension, patronization, and a sense of supremacy were never part of the equation. A man in need was aided by good people, in the spirit of the Samaritan.

They made sure I had food, gas, bass lessons, and shelter. They gifted me vehicles for transportation before I was finally able to afford a car. They opened their homes, finances, and hearts to me in my darkest moments.

They encouraged me when my spirits flagged, but they also loved me enough to hold me accountable to make the changes needed to get back on my own two feet. That meant leaving them and pulling up my roots to start over, and they helped me with that, too.

Without them, there is no Alfred Smith, wannabe author and occasional bassist.

Without them, there may well not have been a 2017, where I’m now back on my feet and moving forward with a lifelong dream.

I am honored and blessed to still number them among my friends, even though way has led on to way.

So it is to them, I say:  It’s been a long road back, but you’ve all walked the extra mile to get me here.

And for that, with love and gratitude, I thank you with all my heart.

God bless you, all ways.

 

 

 

Of Summers Passed

Ah, I see. You must leave again, my love

to pave the way for your older sister,

the one who colors before the whitening kill.

I shall miss you.

Will you miss me?

We dance this dance

year by year,

and the music,

while ever as sweet,

slows down to the rhythm

of our ending.

I do love the touch of

your sun

upon my skin,

and the way your breath of song

makes the branches dance.

The brightness of your eyes

makes me don that which

tames their radiance,

and the weight of your stare

warms me.

The touch of your hot kiss

on my face

makes me close my eyes

and offer up my cheeks.

My heart takes sanctuary

in your

ethereal greenery,

as even now

you start to fade.

Summer,

I will miss you,

resting in the surety

of your

perennial return.

Sleep well, my love,

and know

my heart

is ever

yours.

Let These Words be True

So when all is said and done,

and I’ve seen my final sun,

and the final tale is spun,

who will say what I have won?

 

Have I touched a human life?

Relieved someone else’s strife?

Offered comfort, peace, and love

to someone I’d rather shove?

 

Have I made a small child smile?

Did I walk the extra mile?

Did I listen for awhile?

Aided someone through a trial?

 

Did my giving of a gift

give a trodden spirit lift?

Did my words that gave approval

lead to heavy load’s removal?

 

Did the music that I play

brighten someone else’s day?

Did the lessons that I taught

make the out-of-reach get caught?

 

Perhaps I will never know,

for I do it as I go.

From the surgeon to the skater,

plant a seed that may grow later.

 

May these words I write be true.

May they be true of you, too.

A Page a Day

A page a day,

the sages say,

is healthy for to write.

A poem, a story, ditty,

typed by day or

penned by night.

But sages are not writers

so no matter what they say,

when Muses seize you

by the throat,

you find you will obey.

So write whene’er you want to friends,

and write whene’er you can.

And listen to your Muses,

for a sage is just a man.

 

(*art by Sam Kennedy)

 

 

Of Blood and Stone

In time

the blood and stones

write history.

The comfort of

stone’s cold embrace

allows life’s elixir

to leave its

indelible mark

forever.

Dry now,

with all emotions of the moment

contained within it,

the sanguine secrets

of the day

are imparted, recorded,

remembered, and held

like a pressed flower

between pages.

Dead to history,

vibrant with a story of the past.

Unsearchable.

Unknowable

by any and all,

by all and sundry,

except the stone.

A Father’s Day Memory

It was a sunny afternoon, and I was helping my Dad with a project; he did woodwork / carpentry as a hobby sometimes, and I was sanding something for him. I don’t remember specifically what it was, but I remember at the end, when the piece was finished, something was off.

We had some difficulty, but he knew how to fix it.

“But it’s going to take longer,” he said.

I looked at him.

“I’m going to do it the faster way,” he said.

I realized then that he was slowing down; he never considered doing anything less than a quality job, in spite of the problems.

I admit I was surprised, and as much as I hated these projects (because I’m better at writing than woodworking) and wanted to finish this, I said to him:

“That’s not your style.”

He looked at me; it was his turn to be surprised.

“Do it the right way,” I said. “If you take the shortcut, all you’re going to do is take it apart later and do it the right way anyway. I’m here to help you, so just do it now.”

He smiled, and we fixed the problem the right way, and he was happy with the work.

He recounted that story to other people for years afterward, pleased that I was there to admonish him to stick to the very principles he taught me about working, whatever the job, and to do it with a sense of pride and excellence.

I was glad we had that time, because I discovered too that sometimes, as much as we need our parents, they need us too.

I love you, Dad.

It’s been twelve years now since you took your final journey.

“I’ll see you when I get there.”