I saw this movie in the theater. There were only two other people there and after the movie ended I heard one say to the other “what the hell did we just watch”. Ten minutes earlier I would have agreed with his sentiment; however, the last scene lit a lightbulb in my head and I suddenly realized everything. I was certain I knew exactly what I had just watched and I really wanted to scream at the two random people “wait! I’ll explain”. Fortunately, I recognized how awkward that would be for all of us. So I went home and, with my inflated confidence, I scrolled around movie sites and realized that everyone has a theory and it isn’t the same as mine! Seriously, that shocked me. I was so certain that I had the correct theory and that I would soon be validated by the writers (they’ve actually decided not to tell us what they intended and are allowing us to have our own opinions). I rewatched the movie last night and I’m still pretty on board with my original thoughts. Before you read on, please know I will be talking very specifically about the movie from beginning to end so if you haven’t seen it, I recommend experiencing this movie before allowing me to spoil it for you. I will say here, however, the black and white paired with the aspect ratio is beautifully daunting to watch. It is really filmed impeccably and the acting is fantastic. My review will be solely on my theory of what it is about and not at all on the technical aspects.
So I will just lay it out there that I believe this movie is about the character Thomas Howard, and the story he tells in the third act about the accident with his foreman, Ephraim Winslow in which Ephraim drowned. As I see it, Thomas attempts the journey back, faces many hardships including a Nor’Easter like storm and eventually starves to death. The film that we watch shows this downfall into madness and ultimately death through a fantasy that Thomas plays in his head as he is nearing death.
The Lighthouse starts out with Thomas Howard (whose name we don’t yet learn) as a quiet yet hard working young man staying with Thomas Wake, the light keeper. Wake represents many different people that Howard knows in his current or past life but initially he represents Ephraim Winslow. From the start Wake calls Howard “old dog” and uses condescending language and tone. Howard is calm and quiet and obeys the orders he is given. “Old dog” is a phrase that Ephraim used repeatedly as he was dying and Thomas was letting him drown. So I am convinced that we start here with Ephraim and Thomas eating crappy food while Ephraim drank the alcohol. We continue to watch Thomas work very hard manual labor– he is working alone for the most part. Right off the bat Thomas has a vision of a dead body in the sea and then we see him drowning right before he wakes up. The movie skips ahead and he’s been there 4 weeks with 1 night left and tells Wake that he wants to be called by his name, Ephraim Winslow. This is the point where Ephraim has died and Thomas has taken on his identity since Ephraim has a much better track record and Thomas says later on this reason. He and Wake both drink on this night with a toast to “relief”. The next day Thomas does not get picked up and a Nor’Easter comes in setting up the descent into madness. There are so many easter eggs in here that I can point out that support my theory, especially in the conversations that are held between the two. Thomas insists that help will come the next day and Wake calls him out on pretending that things are fine when they clearly aren’t. They begin rationing. There is a scene where he is climbing the side of the lighthouse using a pulley system that resembles climbing a mountain, the pulley breaks and Thomas falls to the ground. The next scene all is fine. Thomas gets to a point where the food isn’t enough and he just wants a steak. Things get all muddled up throughout like someone is going mad. By the very end, they’ve switched places and Thomas has Wake on a leash. That switch happens in the middle of a sentence and is really cool.
So with all that, there’s also the light. Thomas badly wants to get to it and Wake is firmly against him seeing it. I am not firm on where I stand at this point but it seems like Thomas Wake is a barrier to the coveted “light” and since I believe that Thomas Howard is the only person alive in this story and Thomas Wake is a manifestation of several people from Howard’s mind. Starting with Ephraim, sometimes he is his father, but mostly Wake represents himself (Thomas Howard). As himself, he is protecting the light because he is trying not to die; however, he gets to a point where he is obsessed with the light and finally gets there and is able to die.
I don’t think my theory disrupts any ideas of the Greek mythology that is so obviously present because the entire movie is mythical.
Did you know the finality of the words you spoke
Through gnashing teeth
While coughing up blood
From a hardened heart
Convinced my sentiment a hoax?
Was the irony lost
When you cut off the kite string that allowed you to fly
And then vanished on foot?
Desperation held the search party.
I sucked in a breath of cold air
Bitter realization stole my soul
As my fate became sealed in the ritual
of my own self denial
Intestines turning green
Master of self destruction
I tried it all, why wouldn’t I?
And all the while you made a mockery
descent like it was done by design
After a year, still no reply
Same after five
Ten years ago you disappeared
could only decipher why
From pieces of memory memorized by a mind
in shock and dread
The one thing you repeatedly said
Was that I couldn’t be trusted to stay
Would you admit that you were wrong in the end?
That you were taking revenge on a misconception.
Could you comprehend yet
that I actually meant
What I told you back then
Would you still be content
If you knew that I spent
ten years while expectantly
Waiting to hear
your words spoken again.
A Poem to My Mom
Do you mind if I borrow your time?
My best friend is upstairs and she’s totally crying
At 13 years old, confused by the ruse and why her mom doesn’t love like you do
Without hesitation you held her with love and you did it through many years to come.
I watched as you lent her your heart to be brave
You lent it so selflessly to help mend her pain
And you showed her a love she had never been paid
I wish you knew how I saw you right then
Powerfully humble and genuine
But mostly I witnessed the strength you held within
A strength you discreetly handed your children.
Will you move over so I can get in?
I’m sorry to wake you, I can’t sleep again
Don’t give me that look, the movie was scary
I’m aware of my age mom, am I not still your baby?
I know you secretly still want to cradle me
I was 18 years old and you didn’t hesitate
To let me sleep with you no matter how late
Or the fact you weren’t even awake
You lifted the covers and I settled in deep
And you even stroked my hair until I was asleep.
You look happy but your smile is beguiling.
A road trip to New Orleans?
This is really exciting!
What made you decide to do this with me? Oh
You’ve noticed I’m sad, this could help, I see
Well, you’ve got no hesitancy coming from me
Honestly I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
You coming out of your comfort zone for my well being
Nothing about that idea could be easy
Still the journey began so open and freely.
We spent two nights but we were not done
The night clubs, casinos, it was too much fun.
And we stayed an extra night since we were having a great time
I cherish that trip. It’s a top memory of mine
And I hope that I told you how you were right
I began to really heal because of your sacrifice
Just another example of the mother who raised me
These gestures aren’t small but you made them seem easy.
guess what, I’m having a daughter
Why are you laughing
You think this is karma?
You’ll come visit me though as soon as you can
I need to watch how you did it again
This time I’m going to pay close attention
And watch how you teach her your love and affection.
You loved my kids as much as I do and
I knew I could always come and talk to you
About any detail no matter how small
Your love would shine as you praised them all.
I’m back home now and I’m ok
I don’t talk to you often
But I have so much to say.
Life is busy right now but I’ll try to make time
If you would text then communication would be fine.
It’s actually better to hear your voice
Or see you when we get that choice.
I miss you so much I don’t really know now
If I’m going to get through this without telling you how
My kids are doing so I can hear you praise them
Or to talk your ear off knowing you actually listen.
It was unexpected and I wish I could have said a proper goodbye
Though what would I have said..
Thank you for being my mom
Thank you for a million more examples I can’t begin to list
I’ve been setting up this site and just slowly filling it with pieces I’ve already written. It’s frightening to write in the present on a public website. I had to start this though and that’s because my mom died last weekend; Saturday October 23rd. She was 77 and that’s a long life but it was unexpected. We were talking about recipes we would never get to try with one another now. She just got sick with some infection and died. It’s such a strange feeling to lose your mom. I mean, there’s like a physical void I feel that’s painful and hollow. And I know that I will get better, I believe I will just get used to the hollow. Because there just isn’t anything that replaces my mom.
I am attempting poetry but we will see if that lands. I’m kind of creatively in shock for now.
I did, however; take the week to be in a movie watching event. I had to watch 30 movies and rate and review them within a week. So over in my movie reviews section, I’ll talk about that more.
Write any kind of comment/question you like. And thanks for reading. Below is my mother’s obituary.
Was it just this morning that she left? It feels so long ago. She was so calm and I knew she was sad so I thought maybe she would stay. I really wanted her to stay. She even gave me an option. If I could just step out of the house and take her hand, she would follow me back inside.
She even took off her glove and I know her hand was freezing in this weather. I just wanted her to stay with me.
Inside.That fucking car.
I don’t know if I would have done it but that fucking car just came out of nowhere and I jumped. For now I will blame the car. Trying to save a semblance of pride, how can I be proud of what I’ve become? She knows I’m hopeless. She didn’t offer an option, not a real option. She knows by now, I have no options. I’m hopeless and she’s gone.
These are fleeting thoughts as I sit here in my living room with a gun to my head and some asshole screaming at me. Something deep inside tells me that I have something to do with the situation I’m in.
Somehow this, too, is my fault.
My name is Philip but I’m called Flip. My sister, Jessie, couldn’t pronounce Philip and therefore I’ve forever been known as Flip.
Sarah is the girl who just left me. She and I have been together for 15 years. She really brought out an adventurous side I never knew I had. She took me skiing and introduced me to the kind of people who I always wanted to be like. Eventually she moved in with me. Sarah had just met my dad before he died from brain cancer. She didn’t really know him but she knew my mom or she knew how to handle my mom. Nobody knew how to handle my mom, even Jessie was mystified at the way Sarah seemed to be unaffected by my mother’s negative and shallow nature. Jessie had a nickname for Sarah, “the womb”, because everyone always felt safe and secure when she was around. My mother had a way of victimizing herself which only got worse after my dad’s death. She screamed for attention by locking herself inside her room and not speaking. We took turns sitting beside her but she liked it when Sarah was with her the best. Sarah explained that my mom just needed to feel safe again. That losing my dad had left her feeling helpless.
Helpless and scared.
Sarah, the ultimate empathizer. If there was a mental illness for being too empathetic Sarah would be diagnosed with it. For I knew too much to empathize with my parents. They didn’t deserve Sarah’s loyalty or “understanding”. My father was fairly absent even before the tumor had turned him into a different person. Not like he spent all night out and came home at 4am smelling of booze and hookers absent, but absent in that he took absolutely no interest in any of us. I would have preferred for my shitty father to have at least been a little bit interesting or mysterious but he was just a shitty father who liked his steak well done and his wine sweet. Ironically, he became more present after the tumor started to grow and fuck with his temperament. He hated everyone and he made sure we knew it any time we were around. My whole life I just wanted him to be more vocal, and then I got my wish in a fucked up turn of events. He used alcohol to curb the anger which, in turn, made it worse. Jessie and I avoided him and my mother seemed utterly unfazed by his mood swings. His death didn’t leave my mother any different than before. She had always been this way. And she had taken it out on Jessie and me our entire lives. Helpless and scared was her fucking excuse and the only way she could justify the mind games she put her kids through. If it weren’t for Jessie, I would have been right next to my mom,
trusting no one,
If not for Jessie….
No mom not again!
Flip has to go to school or you’ll go to jail! Dad is here somewhere you’ll be fine.
Let’s go Flip.
Eventually my mother died of a heart attack and Jessie and I were left feeling relieved, albeit guiltily. Sarah was probably more impacted than either of us but she kept it in. She knew there was more to the story of my mom but she never pushed us to tell.
She’s a keeper Flip. Don’t let her go or you’ll be alone forever
Jessie married her boyfriend, Paul, a freelance artist who was growing in notoriety as a marketing specialist. He had done it all right. Paul was great at his job and he was humble about his successes. In hindsight, Paul is partly why I didn’t propose to Sarah. Not that she ever pushed it.
Why didn’t she ever push it?
Watching Paul, the way he was so much more than me. Where Paul was confident and mindful, I was insecure and selfish. If I had half of his talent and success, I would be proud and brazen. But not Paul, he was smart. He was humble. I never understood what Sarah saw in me. She could have a Paul too
maybe now she will.
You idiot Flip!
See what happens when you leave your mother alone in the house.
Now I’m hurt and it’s your fault
I idolized Paul almost as much as I did Jessie, in fact, I used to idealize a world where I lived with them. Sarah and I could rent a room from their house and stay there. She used to look at me funny when I brought it up dreamily.
I will always protect you Flip, that’s what sisters are for.
It wasn’t long before Jessie got pregnant and had a son, Zachary. Zach was spoiled by all of us. He was never without a loving family around and I think Jessie was secretly glad Zach never had to experience our parents. Paul’s parents lived in Ohio but they visited so often I don’t think Zach even knew they were ever gone. And Jessie absolutely loved them. She would have given anything to have a normal relationship with her own parents and I was elated to watch her flourish with Paul’s. And of course Sarah had her own bond with Zach, like she had with everyone she came in contact with. And I, well I felt safe. I felt happy.
Then everything changed
He’s not in the house. He’s not…..That fucking carInside.
Jessie and her family moved to Ohio after the funeral. Being in Colorado was too much of a reminder. But despite the pain I felt after losing Zach, I was petrified of losing Jessie.
Sarah would fly out and visit them but I couldn’t get on an airplane anymore. Sarah offered to drive us once. The road trip to “get it all out and help mend the pain”. I packed my things but the night before, I ended up in the hospital. A panic attack disguised as a heart attack. I should have seen that as a sign but Sarah and I ignored it. I became more withdrawn. I called myself an introvert. It was easier than explaining something I didn’t understand. Not fully.
It’s OK mom. Don’t cry.
You don’t have to come to my recital.
Jessie will record it for you and dad.
Being a recluse turned out to be easier than one would think. I was already working from home occasionally so I took that and manipulated things so that I was remote all the time. Sarah was harder to convince. I did do things with Sarah, like go to the store and out to bars. But little by little I began to stay home. Eventually I stopped driving all together. That’s what broke any silence. It was the first straw that brought Sarah to a different level of concern. I think she was fine with my homebody attitude; we had done enough traveling together. But when I stopped driving to even the store, that’s when she began confronting me. I hated those confrontations. What am I supposed to say? That is correct Sarah, I am oddly nervous to do what was once considered normal, thanks for pointing this out, AGAIN.
There’s no need to be embarrassed
Let me help you
I gave her nothing. How on earth could she understand much less help! Not abandoning me would have been helpful.
I’m sorry Flip but I think if I stay here I’m only enabling you.
I don’t know. I guess she was right. The only time I’ve even tried to leave was to find her. It feels like she’s been gone for months.
I have to credit her for sticking around as long as she did I guess. Yet I still hate her for leaving. By the time she decided to go I never left the house. Groceries were delivered, my job was fine and I had no need to step out into the world that invoked only fear. If anything enabled me it was the internet’s ability to reach vast resources. Hell, I even had a doctor appointment online. I gave my symptoms and he gave me an antibiotic prescription and my pharmacy delivered it! She didn’t even pick up my medicine for me.
That’s so unlike her.
But the bottom line is I don’t really need Sarah for anything.
Except; I mean in all honesty, being alone, truly alone, brings a fear just as strong as the fear of leaving. I remember shutting the door after she drove off, I remember feeling dizzy.
Just get to your desk. Bury yourself in work. Shut this out,
So the video didn’t record Flip? How convenient! You’re punishing me aren’t you? It’s your fault I didn’t go.
I don’t remember what happened after Sarah left and the haziness of my mind took over. All I know is when I came to, I was sitting in my dining room on the floor. And Marco was there.
I have no idea who Marco is or what the hell he wants but he snuck in through my basement and is holding me at gunpoint. He’s all over the place, screaming at me, screaming at random, pacing back and forth from the front window back to where I’m seated. I scan the room around me and see my phone. I instinctively reach for it but am cut off by Marco who snatches up the phone before I can reach it.
I thought you said your phone was dead? You lying to me?
I shake my head, I have no idea if it’s dead or not but it doesn’t matter, Marco takes the phone and smashes it to pieces. I want to suggest an anger management group but I don’t think he would take that well. He can’t be a day over 25 but he has at least 2 feet on me and can probably bench press me without breaking a sweat.
Marco turns and gives me a hard look.
What are you doing here? What is it you want from me?
Marco cocks his head slightly and looks at me funny. Then he lets out a sarcastic laugh.
You’re a funny man? You’re fucking with me right now? You must have a death wish.
He emphasizes ‘death wish’ in my face in an attempt to scare me. I know fear, and I wish he knew that nothing he attempts will succeed in inducing fear out of me. I stay quiet and Marco evaluates me again. This time he looks unsettled.
You’ve upset your mother again Philip.
If you don’t go sit in there with her I’m going to make sure you don’t sit for a week.
Man you need to have your head examined. I already told you what I'm doing here.
Refresh my memory then. Please?
Marco seems exasperated but he takes a deep breath in and squats down next to me and fills me in on some crazy elaborate story that involves a convenience store and a robbery gone bad and a bunch of shit that sounds embellished. But my house was the only one unlocked and so he’s hiding out here until things cool down.
You robbed a convenience store and then shot someone?
Marco’s heads spins and he locks eyes with me.
What man? How the fuck did you get that from what I said?
I don’t even know to be honest. He has a gun. His clothes are stained. It could be blood. There’s a convenience store not too far. I love that convenience store. They actually will deliver to me! Ironically that store actually brings down the real estate value in the area but if people knew just HOW convenient that store is, the housing prices would go up.
Marco is still watching me. I have to be honest, I don’t mind this strange interruption. He doesn’t seem like he wants to shoot me. Nothing about him actually is threatening to me. It feels like I’m watching a guy pretending to be a bad guy. Like he’s seen this on tv and so he’s just playing the part. No matter how much he cusses or paces around, his energy feels quite soothing.
Why do you keep looking out the window? Do you have a friend coming?
What.. when.. how the hell would I have gotten hold of a friend to begin with? Listen, uhhh what’s your name?
He laughs to himself before he continues.
Well Flip, I don’t have time to counsel you right now but you should consider therapy. Anyway, I have to assume somebody saw me running this way and it’s only a matter of time before the cops show up. That’s why I’m looking out the window.
I nod as that makes sense to me. I try to make small talk but he doesn’t open up very much. He thinks my name is amusing. I guess it is. And that makes me think about Jessie. It’s ok though. I like thinking about Jessie. We sit there in silence and I can’t help feeling relaxed. Marco grabs a picture frame of Sarah and me.
This your girl?
Ah was… she obviously was the one who cleaned the place too.
Marco scans my house in disgust.
She left this morning.
Marco lets out a small laugh.
As he opens his mouth to say more we hear police car sirens and the lights are visible through the window shades. Marco jumps up.
Shit! Fuck fuck fuck!!!
Marco puts his gun to my head then pulls it back while cursing and rambling. I try to talk to him but he shushes me and continues to talk to himself incoherently.
Suddenly Marco stops. His face lights up and he actually smiles right at me. I smile back.
Ok. I got it. Let’s go, get up.
Marco pulls at my arm and I hesitantly stand up. Marco seems annoyed at my reluctance.
Where? It would help if you told me this immaculate plan of yours. You’re practically glowing.
Marco looks at me with dead serious eyes.
Listen Flip, I’m not going to hurt you but I need you to help me. Will you help me?
I…. I guess so. I mean how can I possibly help?
I’m not getting out of this. But if I go out there I don’t know what those cops will do. So I just need you to come with me. I’ll keep the gun to your head like my hostage and we will walk just to your driveway and that way I can talk to them before turning myself in.
My head begins to spin. I aggressively pull away from Marco’s grip.
I’m sorry? What do you mean no?
I can barely control my breathing. I start to scramble backwards.
Flip, it’s just a formality but I need to take you out front with a gun to your head so I don’t get shot.
The look on my face must have brought out an ounce of empathy because he continues to try to soothe me.
I know I know it’s scary but I promise nothing will happen to you, I’m ok with going to jail.
At this point I’m backing up so fast I hit a corner. Marco continues to try to calm me by soothingly telling me to just relax but there’s no fucking way I’m placing a foot outside this house. I know he’s getting annoyed and anxious and I’m trying to find somewhere to hide. I decide to try and run towards a small corner with a tiny space between a wall and the side of a heavy wooden desk. If I can get there I can buy some time.
I don’t even get one step away before I feel Marco grab me by my shirt. He puts me in a headlock in order to gain complete physical control over me. But I fight. I fight like there’s nothing left in the world. I kick and scream and wrestle Marco to the floor. You would be surprised how strong someone can be when that kind of adrenaline is pumping through. Marco has to struggle but eventually he is able to get a hold of me. He holds me against a wall with one hand and takes his gun in the other hand and firmly pushes it against my forehead.
Listen, I will pull this trigger. I will blow your brains all over this place. It will look like a Jackson Pollock mural in here.
I try to calm my breathing and my shaking and with all of my effort I grab the shaft of the gun and give added force to my forehead. I steady my eyes with Marco’s.
If it’s a choice between a bullet and going outside, I’ll take the bullet.
Marco’s face contorts into the same expression I’ve seen from just about everyone I have ever known. And man, I don’t get it either.
Marco sits down, defeated, the gun on the floor by his side.
I’m sorry. I say.
He nods and shakes his head. What the? I mean, what is wrong with you?
Flip come back. Flip!!!Mom don’t cry please!Flip she is sick and you can’t fix this. You are only making it worse. Trust me, I’m your sister and I love you.
Shaking off these random thoughts I decide to indulge Marco.
I haven’t left the house in over two years.
How is that possible?
I work from home, my groceries are delivered. The internet is very resourceful.
I shrug my shoulders. Scared I guess.
Scared? Ha. Of what? Big mean guys with guns? Guys like me?
Scared of myself.
Flip you let him out alone?
Marco scratches his head. It doesn’t make sense man.
I don’t know. I used to go out but then I began to panic. I would have to come back in. It became easier to stay home. Sometimes when Sarah would have to leave I would panic even in here.
Marco leans his head back and sighs.
But now she’s gone.
Now she’s gone.
And you’re all alone.
Maybe she will come back. Flip, man, how long has she been gone? Really?
Since this morning.
Marco’s eyes look sympathetic. He gets up and walks towards the front door.
Don’t forget to wear your gloves, I say almost robotically.
It’s 97 degrees outside.
Marco keeps shaking his head in disbelief.
Of all the houses, I pick the one mother fucker who is crazier than I am.
I smile to myself while fixated on his gun on the floor.
When did Sarah leave?
I wish I could call Jessie.
Is that my phone?
I pick up my phone and my boss is calling. I don’t understand who fixed my phone. I have 43 missed calls.
I look back over and the gun is gone. Marco is gone. Why would he say it was 97 degrees outside? How did he lock my house? The police are gone. Everything is quiet. I am alone again.
The familiar fear quickly fills my head.
Maybe Marco will come back.
Maybe I’ll call my mom. I’ll tell her, I’ll ask her to come over. I’ll tell her I’m scared.
I’ll tell her I’m sorry.
I understand now and won't leave again.
We can just stay here, inside.
Your words are my vice like a parasite that ignites my fears and incites me to tears deep inside you applied this unwanted spy but it still resides and you’ve disappeared
I dream of the times when our minds would align with the stars in the sky with a shine so divine that the exposure seemed fine and our trust was the blind kind of like feigning our truth and remaining with presumably nothing to hide
I was denying the obvious blind swinging with weakened fists grasping to rewind all this But you still left me despite of the length of that hike the one I hike every night remembering the fright and the might in my fight before I met you but after the loss of my light
your parasite needs a host that’s alive to survive and I’m trying but it’s tiring this continual unwinding from who I was and who I am and how you could never understand that the touch of your hand Can put me to sleep remind me to weep forget my defeat
My head treads above water and the shallow end gets farther away I’m afraid that I’ll drown you’re not around to be sure I’m ok to be sure that I make it across where we planned
I can’t stand I can’t stand I can’t stand without you I can’t handle this too. I can still hear the wounds in my head causing dread and confusion, the illusion drenched in red and I search for restitute But all is black, I am blind, I am deaf, I am mute But I still hear his words That demanded my courage
But now I am stranded abandoned and branded I just need a bandage To protect from infection And nourish the reflection Of the pain you injected instead of protecting me
This is a chapbook I wrote based my years of dealing with domestic abuse with two children. There are 18 poems total. I would love to hear your comments.
I don’t think that I heard you right
A mass in his brain that’s impeding his sight?
How has this affected his mind?
Have you already said, will he die?
Do you think this explains things, do you think this is why?
Remind me again of its size
Where is it located, what do you advise
Inoperable since it’s too big to excise
Yes, I’m still his wife until the papers are signed
The restraining order allowed for more time
Thank you but I should apologize
It’s a lot to take in, a convenient surprise
I’m sorry to doubt you
but I can’t surmise
Your confidence that he will most likely survive
That he’ll live with a golf ball size tumor inside
His angry and violent, unpredictable mind
forgive me for speaking with spite
But what you are saying just doesn’t sit right
Yes he told me first but that asshole is sly
It’s ok you can tell me it’s another damn lie
Tell me I’m dreaming and that I'll be fine
I’ve come way too far for this to arise
Im sorry, forgive me
I don’t mean to cry
Of course I’ll take care of him, I am his wife
I’ll get the kids moved back into his life
Maybe what happened was caused by this blight
Maybe he’ll change now that he knows why
Maybe I’ll survive
Maybe I won’t die
Maybe he won’t be mean now, I mean, maybe he’ll try
I’ll put down defenses
and we will be fine
We have to be fine
I have to at least try
A Ghost Town
It’s quiet here
At least during the off season which is most of the year
For the first time I feel the dark noise fading
The dark noise that has taken over my mind and polluted it with
Have I gone deaf?
I’ve heard this sound a million times but this is the first time I actually hear how beautiful it is
So clear and pitch perfect and I don’t think I ever want to hear another sound
My daughter speaks with ease
Her words are
This is my first time to experience her speech without the underlying darkness of fear and insecurity pushing her words out in a desperate attempt for some solace or stability
At night I no longer hear my son’s teeth grinding away the anxiousness and unease that has haunted his 4 years alive
I finally hear his heart
his soul calming with each breath
I love the sound of his soul
The dark noise is hiding
Our bedrooms are connected by a hallway and we can see each other with the doors open
The doors are always kept open
I hope that this place will help alleviate the fear
I hope that this ghost town is enough to help them through the long weekends they spend with the dark noise
So I take them to the beach
And we let the wind play with our hair
And we let the crash of the waves drown out our thoughts
And we are invisible
The ghosts here take away our fears and memories and allow us to be alive
Some nights darkness hovers over us
Reminding us of the noise
An unwanted reminder that we will hear it again
Hear you, again
These nights we sleep with the doors open and the lights on
These nights we sleep in the silence of this ghost town and just survive until morning
The Smallest 250lb Man
You are nervous and I am not
It’s unsettling that I am this close to you and I’m not scared
It’s unsettling that I know the peace that lives in my home may decide to leave once it meets you
My place is too small for you and a month ago you wouldn’t have fit in the door, but today you mesh with the ants
You eat the crumbs off of the floor and crawl with effort to sit somewhere eye level with me only to avoid eye contact
The uncertainty of your mortality has made you small
You ask if I mind if you sit in the chair I just watched you exert all of your energy to climb onto
You wonder what to do
Who to be
Who you are
Who you’re with
Are you thankful?
I think you are too afraid to know
You are different but you are the same
You ask for a glass and pour yourself whiskey from your own bottle
And I secretly hope you will die
to the home I made after you destroyed ours
to the home that enabled me to silence the continuous strain of insults that swarmed around my mind
Making your lies become truths
Validating all of my insecurities, underestimating my worth
Keeping me complacent because I was too lazy or stupid to cook or clean or be a mom or a wife
This is my new home
It reminds me that I am strong
There’s love in here and I’m allowing you to enter
Of course the pantry is full
Your assumptions have always been for you to justify your actions
I agree, it’s a nice place
It hasn’t seen the ugliness that our home endured
Are you shocked?
Maybe a little disappointed?
You’re impressed you say?
My competence is cute
I’m an actor in this little place; amusing you with this facade
Entertaining everyone before I fall and you pick me up
How long will you wait before you get impatient?
Watching me on my feet won’t be cute tomorrow
How long until I fall down?
How long until you push?
I know what you're thinking
I can see it in your eyes
They emphasize your sighs
They patronize my lies
The think is I know the truth of the matter
This proof I bestow upon you to shatter
The chatter won't matter now
I got a free pass
served up on a platter to batter the past.
I can blame it on the rain
I can make my claim and stain
this story to fit my name
I can take every single drop left of bitter and empty it into this hole of dirt
and seal it up with concrete hands
and tight lips with finally smirk
at the rarity of it all;
I know it wasn't always the tumor
but from now on
Each shot he took
with hands that shook
with hands that steadied once his brain didn't work
Stronger shots that plot this crime of passion in which he did not do time
Now you see it?
Proof that validates every claim I had
aloof to the shame and all of the blame
and as the truth is untied and blind eyes become wise
to my proof I realize
how this all seems obtuse; like
some story you'd read in a fictional sleuth
In a bind
to play back memories that aren't mine
I blame myself so much that this proof isn't the truth but made up by my mind
that has Stockholm Syndrome
or has been brainwashed
from a past that won't stay behind
My believability without proof isn't as high as I assumed
and my believability now is just a facade of necessity
because you all owe me
So you can sigh
roll your eyes
but this time you can't deny
my life back
because I have proof
and you have to believe me
when it happens
This shouldn’t be regarded as permanent
But to me it makes sense
Because it never should have been what it was
It only took a tragedy
To get back what I want
I can see the man he once was
The father they used to have
or the one they wished into existence
Did the treatments do more than stop the growth?
Have you come back to us?
Because each night I dream of a life that flows
Evenly through the wind
That carries us all up and down and we are always laughing
Going with the flow
Sometimes my dreams show me a monster on a movie screen
And I’m not afraid because movies don’t scare me
And I laugh at the absurdity that I could be scared of something so unreal
And I wake up laughing
I float out of my bed to go about my days now filled with ease and comfort
Disability is short term and
Decisions are needed
The kids are so happy
The kids are so happy
Will I stay happy and keep everyone happy?
Trusting in you is not easy
And dreams aren’t real but I want to believe
One last trip to the beach
Say goodbye to the ghosts
Blinded by hope and desire to trust
I feel the sand
And then the sting
An unhealed wound on my arm
And a familiar reminder
The first game in the new place in the new town in the new future
But the kids are reluctant to watch and if memory isn’t going to remind me why then I only have about 10 minutes
scream into the television with a sound so alarming that it’s hard to know if it’s the actual game invoking this anger
This isn’t a typical sound
This sound comes from somewhere dark and it’s scary and the fear is back
I try to wish it away
my kids are too aware to be so stupid
You notice reluctance and it makes you more angry
I try to change tune but you will always know what we can see
This is just the beginning
You’ll let it go
I no longer care who wins
Even though I have to care
it will determine your attitude
The amount of alcohol you consume
What time dinner will be ready
Tonight will be fine
But tomorrow is coming
The kids are hiding in their rooms and I’m pretending not to notice
the last ditch attempt
I could never fully imagine what you go through. You and I have been using alcohol to get through shit for as long as we've known one another. I have zero judgement. I would never say that you can or cannot use alcohol to cope with your situation. It's ludicrous if I did. The problem only arises because of your daughter and your son. And as you and I have become aware of our drinking and its effect on the kids, it has become really manageable. As long as we don't have a huge fight your son is great. Your daughter knows that you drink alcohol because you have been through a great deal. She loves you and only wants you to be happy. And she has been able to assess situations as well. You are the father and caregiver of this family. We need you and we love you. We will never fault you.
Do you remember this?
I remember it well
Back when I still thought I could find a way through to you
And again when I was trying to ease your anger
I held onto this like it was my shield
Look at how sympathetic I am!
Look at how I’m taking the blame too!
Please come back
I don’t know where you are
I don’t know who this is next to me
But he scares me
So I give him this
He never remembers so I give it to him often
It’s all I can do if I want to keep hope.
a dream, a wish
Our son told me of a recurring dream he is having
I imagine it’s quite scary
Not knowing who is who
What is what
Dreaming of you as you
And the other you
How scary for a child to not know which you you will be
Such a complicated thing
For a small child to wrap their mind around
In his dreams.
Making you go away.
It’s a happy dream because he’s saved in the end
By the you he’s made up in his mind
The you that could have been
Should have been
Showed up in his dream
To save him from you
A son who needs a father so badly
He’s made you into something imaginary
Because he doesn’t remember when you weren’t you.
He just wants his version of dad to show up
Like in his dream
He wishes for a different you
Waiting for you to show up and save us
Each time you come your stay is shorter than the last
I’m afraid eventually you will stay gone
And we will be stuck with this you forever.
I’ll take what I can get
Because sometimes I get you back
And I remember
I forget what you’ve turned into
Because it’s easy with you
It’s easy because we both do it so well
Everything is fine
That was yesterday
Today is about having fun
And man we sure know how to have fun
Rocky Part 1
This is the part where I digress
I pause the story and I confess
Victimization isn’t always obvious
Especially to a man as proud as my ex.
A victim of society
expectations he lived with quietly
Born a man to take care of his family
Never quite living up to reality.
I’ve never seen anyone so fearful of life
So fearful of failing,
Of missing a step or a small oversight
I wanted him happy not understanding his fight
This turmoil he lived with all on his own
And tried to endure it
With all of his strength
With all of his might.
He should have been praised
For his efforts displayed
For his motivation ablaze
For his intent to amaze
His efforts would not satisfy
Expectations he set way too high
Attempting to grasp at the sun in the sky
While dying inside
While dying to try
Bloodied and chained, a struggle to be freed
Keys within reach still no will to proceed
All hope he had left, his mind would impede
All energy expelled, and he let himself bleed
Rocky Part 2
When he was diagnosed with the tumor
And the radiation treatment took his vision in one eye
And he lost his job
And he began to panic all the time
And was unable to drive
He said it was because of his depth perception but it was because he was having panic attacks
In his mind
He was no longer capable of taking care of his family
He was defeated
I can continue to tell a thousand horrible stories
But they are all the same
The most painful thing about all of this
Is that he stayed down.
“It’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can take a hit and still get back up” Rocky Balboa
That was his favorite quote.
He thought he was Rocky,
He always thought he could take the hits
He was the tough guy
The guy who can fix everything
The guy who has everything
It was so important to him to have everything.
But life knocked him out
He never got back up.
And he never came back
My ex is still alive
He still has a presence in this world
But he is a different man
Goodbye my old friend.
All trust went out the door when you forbade me to get help for her
It was the last string we had
And once it came unstrung
You became unhinged
My ear still stings
And I can’t hear as well
I will always touch my neck to make sure it’s still there
There will always be the concert
And the restaurant
And that soccer practice
The time you walked to her teacher’s house in the middle of the night
When you called her a bitch
When you told her you would be happy to never see her again
When you made him feel he was at fault for your behavior
When you said he was a wimp and needed to man up
I just found out about the chair
That thought hurts more than your fist
And the next one after that
And the next one concreting the tradition it now held
A hole punch sealed up on every single door we have ever had
The mounds of food on your plate
The smell that radiated from your body
In the elevator
In the car
And then there was the text
“If we don’t go out there, he is going to kill her”
Nothing mattered after reading that text
I will never hear the clanking of ice the same way
He will never have a drink
I’m afraid she may have too many
You are a drifter
You deny your present like you deny your past
But now you do it on your own
We are gone
left only with broken memories
And uncertain emotions
Uncertainty that holds us physically hostage
Can you speak up?
I’m having trouble hearing you
There you sit
In your chair
That will be the first thing I get rid of
I am stopped at the door
The ground is littered with eggshells and I’m unable to move for fear I will step on one and you will realize
I am home.
I just need to make it to my room
She’s in her room
He’s in his room
I walk past you and your chair and your glass of vodka and the sound of clinking ice
As long as the ice is louder than the shells
And I may just make it.
You grumble something and my step quickens
You get louder
I hear the glass hit the table
I hear your heavy breathing as you attempt to stand
and I shut the door loudly behind me
This is all going to be over soon
I will strike
Not before you get me a few more times
But it hurts less now that I have a plan
I have to stay alive just a little bit longer
Tumor or alcohol
We no longer try to figure that out.
We focus only on survival
One more month.
And we are going home
That four letter word elicits mounds of emotions
I believe it is one of those words that is universally accepted as good even if you’ve yet to experience a good home
We hear the word and we imagine an idealistic place to rest your head somewhere
that accepts you without judgment
somewhere you can be yourself
home is a concept
home is undeniably unrealistic
however I’ve never had to look for my home
I’ve never had to find it or try to understand it
my sister was 10 years old when I was born and has been my home ever since
my sister always has room for me
she always accepts me
My sister validates me
she thinks i’m funny
There aren’t enough words to write a poem that could encapsulate all that has become of me because of her.
Thank you for saving me.
I sit here
And it’s blank
My mind remembers everything until I try to remember it and it all gets hazy and I think I’m talking about someone else when I try to talk at all because there’s no way this happened to me.
What’s that? You want my victim card.
I guess it’s hard to explain myself when I can’t conjure the words to admit what I let happen. How can I be a victim if I let it happen so here’s my card again, can you help me get groceries so the kids can eat?
But you just bought him a computer and you bought her a car and last month you gave me $300. How do you have $300 when all I have is a card?
I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you mad. You see I didn’t want to make you mad so I didn’t ask for any support. What did my lawyer tell the judge to get you out of responsibility? It’s hazy again but this I have on paper. So I am always reminded of how hard you can hit before I fight back.
If I fight back.
It’s kind of tiring to fight back when the noise is so loud I can’t think and I can’t remember which part I’m just now deciding to fight back.
If I think really hard and the haze clears up I panic so I focus on the fight I won. That was for my kids. See they have cards too but I don’t need to see them. Their cards will always be a glowing light that illuminates their being everywhere they go because I let it get so far and now my kids are victims.
Because of me
Don’t tell me to be quiet
I want to say you lost that right but you never had the right in the first place.
I’m just starting to talk and the words are coming easier and
DON’T TELL ME TO BE QUIET
I’m blocking you now.
By the way I lost my card.
As I’ve begun to speak the unspeakable I realized that nobody once has asked to see it.
Why do you want to see the proof of something you are trying to deny? I don’t have a victim card, you made me a victim so that shit shows all the time and trust me, nobody looks in my eyes and needs proof.
I’m not looking for a reason for it all
I have been fighting life as if it is a separate entity from me, an entity that is trying to hurt me and that I am to conquer and control
I like to blame
And if I admit the synonyms
Me and life
Then I am fighting myself
Then I’m blaming myself
I cry and yell and curse out loud to a vast universe of stars that have been dead for millions of years and a moon who is too busy shining to coddle the grown woman who cannot just let go and understand that this is not about
Waxing and waning year after year
Losing connections and losing my mind
Fighting anger with anger and losing my balance at the whirlwind I create because that is a cycle that does not end
There is so much power at my disposal and yet my eyes won’t dilate leaving me in the dark unable to see past it all
Unable to understand my own voice
Or they dilate too much and it burns
I can never find the balance that is right in front of my nose.
I’m so busy opening and closing my eyes and I am looking through prisms and they are forming a hologram and I don’t appreciate the beauty in that balanced perception because I don’t have any perception I can believe in
I can’t see what I see and I get dizzy because it is all an illusion
Everything is an illusion
I am playing a game of chess with myself calling checkmate only to watch
To stay ahead.
This isn’t a war
There are no enemies
He says I am always angry
I thought I was fine
And now I’ve got it all
It’s over and I won the fight
I can go back to who I was before
my life was torn
I am reborn and I’m brand new
But I won’t tell you
The sad parts
Waking up in the dark
Fear clenching my heart
But it’s been a while now
Don’t be a child, now
Why can’t I remember how
To fake others out
Of my emotional business
I feel so crowded
Shrouded with resistance
I need everyone to back away
Of course I’m afraid but
This is just how I do things
Which brings me to reality
I am not starting over because I am never going to be who I was
I need to clarify what I won’t pretend
So that there are no more misunderstandings about why I am
Who I am is a mystery I only figure out in hindsight
Which means that presently, I’m just a lost soul trying to mend.
I'm starting over with a new past
Do you have any suggestions on how to change that?
Because I don’t have a clue.
Don't mistake these tears
They aren't for you
I'm actually fine
I'm better now that I can see
No longer surrounded in a darkness
No longer blinded by naivety
Or by you
No longer am I forced to watch in horror as your
eats away at your
No, seeing you does not bring the comfort of nostalgia
Seeing you reminds me that the goodness in humanity is becoming
You see, my soul lives to experience human goodness
I don't know why I can't feel it anymore
I hope I get to feel again
Seeing you reminds me of a time when even after one of life's brutal beatings
I still had hope
I had faith
Seeing you reminds me that my optimism is wavering
My optimism is embarrassing
It wants to give up
Because with 100% of my soul, guided by the ignorance of my optimism,
and I was wrong
and that shocked me.
And now I'm afraid I'll never be shocked again
I'm afraid my soul won't survive a mind that can no longer
My tears are for those of us who are affected by you who cannot see the polluted world you've created
Forcing us complicit
Your narcissism and hate cloud our skies
Your abuse of power
You block our light and mock our dreams
We are suffering because of your inability to understand that this world
doesn't belong to you
Your inability to realize how detrimental
that you stole for yourselves
and love is dull
but your BMW is shiny
And your indifference breaks my heart
The significance of my tears mean nothing to you
nor does the pain you would feel if you could feel
with my heart
Why have you approached me?
If you want forgiveness, just ask
If you want forgiveness, look at me
I'll forgive you
Just be better
I need to feel again
I have been told I need to set boundaries
I wish I had boundaries made of stone
Wishful thinking has become a past time
As time keeps passing by
And all of life's lessons seem fruitless now
Because even if I could stop my watch
While time waits for me to understand
It would still be just a waste of time
You see, my mind is no longer mine
It doesn't resonate with these times
I close my eyes and obsessively ponder why
I'm still here
When did I wake from the dreams filled with promises that my wishes let in?
I just want to sleep in.
Why is it so hard to love?
Protecting myself from those who understand
When nobody really understands
I don't want to be like you
You, who take my kindness and use it as a doormat
You, who wonders why I'm defensively reacting so strongly to the shock of the unnatural
I assume you an alchemist
Fixating on amethyst and quartz
Desperately I wear a hair shirt for you
But you tell me that it's cotton and I must be crazy if it hurts
I don't want to be crazy so I hold in my pain while I painstakingly hunger to try to figure out
Who I am
If I am anything but crazy
And I bite my tongue
For your peace
And I hold back my emotions
For my sanity
And I'm afraid
I will be stuck here
Because the doormat got old
A little rough around the edges
Dirt piled on and no one cared to clean it up it's just a fucking doormat anyway
If only it were the door
So necessary and cared for
Harder to replace, harder to ignore the screams when it becomes unhinged
Impossible not to notice it
I am not familiar with my own existence
Why do I need boundaries here when I barely am
As a doormat
And waiting for the day I wither away
Or my mind comes back with the times
Will I take back what was once mine?
Could I survive another try?
If we are made up of our memories and mine don't come with certainties
Am I nobody again?
Do I start over and then
Make bigger boundaries
Do I begin?