“Pain is unavoidable, and sooner or later everyone reaches a breaking point. It’s okay that you’re broken, because being broken means you can be fixed.”

I am drawn to you,

Like starlight to black nights,

Or else the rough sea

To a sailors dreams.

If I am to continue,

My darling, I do so

From your spark

It has ignited the tinder,

Shaved from my chest,

Giving rise to a heat,

A roaring light.

You’ve gifted me the Sun,

And with it a simple hope,

That even though I am alone

I can find my own way home.

“Doing nothing is something; it means accepting that falling apart is as normal for us as breathing.”

I built you a home in my chest by clearing out everything that was useless. My skin was paper, so I cut it away into tiny shapes of cranes, and you smiled as my flightless birds floated on top of the bathwater. You watched them only long enough to see as they made their way from one end to the other, so I won’t blame you for not knowing that water and paper birds don’t exactly mix. My ribs were bleached chalk, so I turned them into the seasons. During the summer they became the white letters littering sidewalks and flat driveways. As Autumn soaked the leaves that shimmering amber of hard liquor, my ribs found root in your gardens and became your second bloom of pristine Candytuft. When winter gave you nothing but a bitterly bright tundra, my bones turned into powder, as soft as moonlight, to gently kiss your rosy cheeks. And when Spring finally came, I flattened what remained of my ribs into cherry blossoms. They were tinged the palest pink at the stem, but you didn’t seem to mind, so I ignored the color. Even as that pink began to run red, I didn’t stop. You were still smiling, with every petal that filled the air you were smiling so wide… so of course I couldn’t stop, couldn’t slow down….how could I, when I was making you smile?

You taught me the value in all things, so even if you’re gone, I can still find reasons to keep on living.

Love is not blind.

Love is a vision beyond our eyes.

I can close my own

And right in front of me

Does my love appear.

She is formed

By all things;

Her hair are wisps

That lead lost souls

Through dark woods.

Her eyes are petals,

Slow falling light

Through a somber winter.

Her hands are the morning,

The start of all things,

A welcome to beginnings,

And a steady help

For the beginning of the end.

Her lips are autumn;

They are warm

Like the lingering summer,

But as time passes

And the Sun begins to set

Faster and faster,

And rise later and later,

She does all she can

To give you hope.

She colors you fire

Before burying you in ice,

So you may find life again

In the spring.

My love has given me

The greatest gift of all;

She is formed by all things,

And so it is in all things

That I can find a reason

To love, even if that thing

Is me.

“I am October, Ohio.”

I am October’s colors, my skin the reflection of bruised peaches and burnt honey. I stick to all things green, suckling away at their breast, until only a shriveled husk remains, clinging onto skeleton branches, begging the wind to let them be. My winds are not so kind as to carry any calls for help, even if it would be in my self-interest. I am October, Winters harlot and Summers whore. I welcome September with amber whispers, while Death waits in the kitchen for crumpets and tea. Before November arrives, I will have suffocated every cul-de-sac’s front yard with the flesh of ancient oaks, and laugh along with the children as they make piles of the refuse skin to jump and play in. I am October, a fire without heat, burning the sunset past the horizon, leaving life tinged the shallow shade of a red run dry. I am October, because we are the same; we are only beautiful when we are dying.

“For every day I spent believing I deserved to be alone, you promised to help me find all of them, so you could show me that there was never a time when I didn’t deserve love.”

When I’m talking to you, I never feel like I’m ever talking “at” you. Like, when I’m telling you a story about work, or about something I did as a kid, or something I imagined I’d do someday, I know your listening. I’m not sure how I know, I just do. It probably has to do with your eyes, and how they might not always be trained on my lips, but they never shift out of focus. Your hands also play a part, because they sit so calmly in your lap, not shifting or shaking, never appearing jittery or anxious to be on the move, except when than make their way into mine. Whenever I’m talking to you, it’s not like I’m just sharing words and stories, I feel like I’m sharing me. I feel like I’m sharing me, with me. You’re a part of me, and as a part of me it’s only natural that I’d share who I am with you. I want to share, and you want to share. When I’m talking with you, it’s like I’m just talking to the best parts of me, the parts I always forget I have. You remind me how much I have to offer this world, and I really, really hope I make you feel the same.

“I want to give you pretty things, like seashells, forehead kisses and promises I’ll never break.”

My smile isn’t what it used to be. I’ve managed to put some miles on my smile, which is inevitable for anybody who’s ever allowed another person into their heart. That sounds negative, but it’s a neutral fact of life. Honestly, if I were to meet an adult whose smile shined as if it had never been touched, I wouldn’t trust that person. Nobody would trust that person. We would all call that smile “fake” and take everything that person told us with a grain of salt.

A smile isn’t beautiful for how big or bright it is. A smile is beautiful for the soul behind it. My smile as a kid was a big, goofy smile, with every one of my teeth out on full display. It was innocent and genuine and reflected my good fortune to have amazing parents and siblings and friends. Now my smile is a thin line that barely curls at one end. I hate showing my teeth, or even opening my mouth, so I know my smile must look miniscule compared to when I was a kid.

But I’m still smiling. I like to listen to NPR in the mornings and at lunch, and after getting through the dense political stories, they always have a lighter piece that makes me crack a smile. I like listening to my coworkers talk about their kids, and when I see the pictures of their birthday parties or trips to the beach, I can’t help but point and chuckle and smile along with everyone in my office. I like watching stand-up comedians, and short skits on YouTube, and re-runs of Who’s Line is it Anyway, and since I’m often (always) watching alone, I laugh out loud, and my mouth can’t stay closed, so all my teeth are showing, and my lips are curled up, and I can feel my cheeks lifting, and my dimples showing, but I don’t even think about it in the moment, because I’m just enjoying the moment.

I don’t have a smile at work while I’m trying to make month end adjustments on my balance sheet, but I smile a bit when it’s finally done. I don’t smile when I’m prepping up dinner for myself, but I know that when I take that first bite of a new recipe, and it’s not a complete failure of a meal, I feel a sliver of pride, and I eat my dinner with a smile on my face. I don’t smile when I’m driving to and from anywhere. I don’t smile when I’m out shopping, or shoveling snow, or applying for new jobs. I don’t smile during Autumn, nor in the weeks following the New Year, and never, ever, on May 3rd. I don’t smile more often than I do smile, but the fact remains that I do smile.

So, my smile isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still there. It’s a bit smaller, and the moments when it comes are further and further apart, but it’s still there. And as more years are added to my life, I’m sure my smile will shrink and shrink even more…but it will never fully disappear.

My smile isn’t what it used to be, but I’m still smiling, still hoping, still living. I’m still here, and that has to count for something.

“You walk around in the shadow of your sins, looking for an Ocean to drown out the last dredges of your humanity.”

Whenever I’m alone, the darkness starts to set in, and I devolve into a mass of guilt and cruelty. I recognize my own sins for what they are; conscience decisions made in the face of a two-faced God. All of the good I’ve accomplished in this world is credited to my creator, while any evil committed in his name is still paid for with my blood? I am forced to bear the burden of being a creature who commits ill deeds by his own selfish desires, but my God, the center of the Universe, the benevolent God who created all, he takes none of the blame. I never asked for these feelings. I never asked to be brought into this world. I never wanted to have the choice, the human choice, to do wrong. Why would my God create an existence from such pliable clay? Leave me in the sun, and I melt away, or leave me in the cold, and watch my exterior crinkle and crack, until I’m a pile of hatred and regret. A good worker does not blame his tools, yes? So God cannot blame that clay. God cannot blame the stars he scattered, nor the Angels he banished. God cannot blame time, for he is timeless. He cannot blame the unknown, for he is all knowing. God cannot blame a single soul, for every inch of every soul was forged in his image, by his hands, and his hands alone. God cannot blame who I am on his failures, because he cannot fail. So I’m left taking on that weight; Mount Olympus on my back, the Garden of Eve the chip on my shoulder, and the words of a God who demands I accept him before he would ever accept me. Tell me, does a father need to have his son ask for help to receive it? Does a father not bear the responsibility, to look after and teach, to lead his children down a path of kindness? Is that not the role of a parent?

I was born with sin in my heart, because God told me so. I can only be forgiven through his blood, because he told me so. I must find God, and give my life to God, in order to be saved. That does not sound like a loving father. That sounds exactly like a prideful, arrogant, petty child. Those are the demands of a spoiled brat, the decision of someone with self imbued omnipotence.

God created me, and I am a mass of spineless sins, choking on the despair born in the very first thought of my existence. I am blamed for all that is wrong, while it is demanded I return all acts of good back into the hands of my creator. O what a truly merciful God! What a completely outstanding  example of fatherly love! What a marvelous, magical, monstrous saviour, our so called merciful Lord!

In the end, I cannot rely on God to fix me, because he has nothing to do with me. I must reforge myself from the scarps of my soul I’ve scattered across the skies and the seas, until I have saved enough of me to walk towards a heaven where I can truly be free.