Archive for the ‘While I was Dying’ Category

“Just as the sand made everything round
Just as the tar seeps up from the ground 
Bitter dancer, ever turning
So was the day that you came to town”

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“I had a lover / I don’t think I’ll risk another / these days.”

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In 2004 Army ranger, football star, and all-around American icon Pat Tillman was killed.

Tillman Story

The story, as the documentary explores, is rarely so simple.

I was too young to really remember the story of Pat Tillman, and unfortunately, so much occurred around that time politically that it’s easy to chalk it up as another momentary lapse in a very broken time in US history. Nothing was in the news very long, political moments were seized with impunity, and people like Pat – the film argues – were the true casualties.

The story deconstructs Pat’s killing, as well as the complex political atmosphere surrounding him. He was primed to be an American war hero, some thought he would run for office, and yet he consistently goes against type as the film progresses. He likes Whitman, is an atheist, even disobeys orders he doesn’t care for.

And that’s the crux of the film. Pat’s personality is deconstructed in relation to his status as a figure of political symbolism – constantly battling the Army’s attempts to lionize him and white-wash both his political criticism and their own fallibility in his death.

There are no easy answers in the film. And you shouldn’t expect to leave truly understanding all that has transpired. We live in gray areas, and like Rashomon we arrive at the ultimate truth that we will never know what happened on the hill in Afghanistan.

As Tillman’s mother points out – it’s no longer about Pat. It’s about heroism and honor, as when she notes that telling false stories about soliders does disservice to their real work.

Almost like Burn After Reading, what makes the whole thing transcendent is the fact it actually happened, and we could have just as easily never found out. How many other times has this happened here? In the war? In the country?

The mind is many sided. A polyhedron. So, too, the sides of Tillman are many. But we feel his parent’s anger, and we despise the military tribunal, and the whole thing is bitter, bitter, bitter.

It’s a socially important film, if one conventionally filmed and lacking something at the core. Then again, perhaps a sense of completion is too much to want here. Pat will remain forever frozen on paper, and on tape. It is not a hero’s burial, but at the very least it is the way he would have wanted it.

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“There are words here … you just can’t hear them.”

Shogo Ohta

And now we are ending. And now we are here. And now we are one.

The Body

Now my body is growing stronger. I treat it with more care, like actors do. I love it stronger, as it is my vehicle. I am slowly learning to be in touch with it, to listen to it, and to love it like my own.

Soon, I hope, I can start exercising more. There’s literally no time in my schedule currently, and I am trying to find some.

The Spirit

I have prayed beneath you and beside you, when arms were not enough and now the body is breaking. It is building itself a new kingdom.

The Want

When I am feel and feel and feel and expresion I become just like this. All of my failures wash around me like a drowning tub of desire.

That is to say – I have cut out many addictions, and battle many addictions, and now wear penitent cloth. I try so much harder than anyone realizes, and know my body now more than ever.

The Ugly

Because learning to love yourself is a constant challenge, mantra, we strive.

“There will be days when Heaven does not seem so close.” – Carvens Lissaint

The Need

Will kill you. Please cut up your prey like an old buffalo, wear it proudly as you begin to exorcise your demons.

I need to learn the difference between who I am and who I’m becoming.

“Harry, you’re going to have to try and find a way of not expressing every feeling that you have, every moment that you have them.” – Sally Albright

The Sex

Can’t be like that anymore. If you’re ever going to learn to trust yourself again, you have to stop breaking things.

The Call

Is your lifeline right now. No text.

The Women

Are like fireflies around the continent. Don’t let one burst until it reaches your fingertips.

The Boy

I pity him. I really do. I know he must be picking up all the battered pieces I left behind, and I can only pray he sees the same things I’ve seen.

I don’t look like any of them. I don’t speak like any of them. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

The Man

I realize you thought you became one when you pushed her up against a wall, or when you had her in the hallway, but it was when you sat across the table and apologized.

It was when you wrote your mother the card saying you love her.

It was when you stayed up too late to talk about her future.

It was when you asked her to come to the Midwest.

You became a man the moment you stopped being the most important person in your fucking story.

“Life is not linear.” – David Foster Wallace

(And I am not a monologue.)

The Girl

Is beyond recognition. Is the subject of ten thousand conversations and not a lick of sense is made.

The color orange.
The color blue.
A hint of red.
Confusion and hush
and cacti and prick
and silence.

The Woman

Was born one silent winter. Glacial, she moves. She has the strongest heart, ice unbroken, of any you’ve seen.

She wraps you up tight in her arms, and all of her is smiling, and it overwhelms you in this weight of being loved.

You have never felt this cold and, yes, your fingers start to split and bleed.

All of a sudden you are red and white and drowning.

This is love and death and lust and murder and who taught you to live?

How many times have you been alive?

“A flaw?” – Jake Gittes

The Soul

Returns every
time you say
her name or
breathe her
breath or
(this is
boy) how
you felt

(We’re always
always always
always here.)

The Quiet

Who taught you to live alone?

“I just think you’re kind of a son of a bitch.” – Raleigh St. Clair

The Brain

Is plastic, idiot.

When you cut out the bad sex, and the broken skin, and start to treat it like the key to you, you, you start to realize you’ve been transforming for years.

“You must become.” – Kurt Vonnegut

The Heart

Is perpetually wanting.
Is learning to be strong.

Is trying to be real.
Says I love you every day.
Calls its mother at least
once a week.

Kept calling her.
Almost sent her a
Made her a CD.
Has a notebook
all about it.
Bought an
extra gift just,
well, because.

Because the heart
is wanting. Because,
son, you’re needy.
Because you gave up
porn and Valentines
and the redhead at
the party and hating
yourself in the
morning and
lacerating yourself
with pictures and
tumblr posts –
yes, the heart
is weak and
so strong and
misses orgasm
less than
or respect
or improving
upon silence,
or, or, or,
telling you
with a voice
what you’ve
been doing to
my body since
before we met.

The heart is frail,
you haven’t taken
good care of it,
and I could never
blame you. You are
you and I am me
and this is the
too-bigness of us.

Beating between the
fingers and dreaming
of my father, I
remembered that every
single bit of love
in my life needs to
be cherished and I
simply have to live
up to the weight of
all of it.

“I love so much, I love when love hurts.” – Kendrick Lamar

The Dead

I salute you, Tom,
you crucifix hanging.

My whole childhood
was one awful, tripping,
race not to be just like

And I am so much like you,
and spent so much time hating you,
and now we are only goodbye.

I will see you in our next life.

The End

Is one long Om to forgiveness.

I forgive the broken heart,
and the forgotten girls,
and the one I want,
the one I can’t have,
the awful weight of all
of this is just a flicker in
the eye of a sleeping dream.

A year is not enough change for me. Like Huck, I head out for the hills knowing only that my skin is tinted different, the ink of years and time and stain. I have her kiss on my collarbone now, and my father’s wrinkles, and my mother’s courage.

I want to become immortal and die.
I bear the weight of many lifetimes.
I keep your love in a locket,
it is always with me,
it is disappearing.

I will be gone so soon. And this post, our final dance, is the last personal thing you need ever read from me on here. It is a goodbye to sharing in space, and a last wave to something I started, and a hallelujah to the many parts of me that are still learning the meaning of work.

Call me. Call me and write to me. We’ll make something beautiful somewhere else. The forests of Maine, the beaches in Georgia. Maybe we could get lost in Omaha (the place we met in that dream) or find the place we met in Indiana (so long ago). I know I’d like to show you Oregon, and you must know an awful lot about Alaska. I’ve heard California is great at this time of year and I thought you could tag along.

I thought I could run my hand along your back. I thought I could hear the intake of your breath. I thought we’d find some things in each other we’d forgotten, and maybe we’d find something everyone forgot.

I know you love adventure.
And adventure isn’t here.
So let’s find it with
words nobody has ever heard.
Let’s make it rain
and forget our old bodies
and take the train.
There’s always a train running
to my heart and I have tickets
and maybe someday somebody will
ride. Maybe you just never got
my letter and you didn’t even
realize I skipped the station
and nicked a bike.

In my dreams you’re always riding a bike.
With your hair so long,
and your teeth so bright,
and I’ve finally memorized
the curvature of your spine.
It reminds me of a butterfly.

While you were dreaming at the
station I escaped.

I chase you, and keep choosing you,
and somehow we just missed the connection.

If I’m climbing a mountain somewhere,
you know you can always send me smoke
signals and I’ll try and find time to
meet you. With a post-card from my heart,
and carrying the weight of all that we’ve shared,
and as warm as the first touch.

“I’ll write you a postcard, I’ll send you the news /
From the house down the road – from real love.” – Torquil Campbell

Find me out there – I don’t live here anymore.

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Look, I
all of
this is
and I
I would
to tell
you how
I feel.

In the beginning,
We closed our eyes.
Whenever we kissed,
We were surprised
To find so much inside.

Jeff Tweedy

I hope
think of
us when
you hear

It is
and it
and it
but it
is true
and raw
so me,
so am
I, all

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(I know I promised to wait…but it’s been so much longer… I really did try…)

Chaz Bundick

[In so many words.] / [Always a background vocal.]

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Two-headed boy, she is all you could need.
She will feed you tomatoes and radio wire,
retire on sheets safe and clean.

But don’t hate her when she gets up to leave.

Jeff Mangum

(In the wave, and
in the ether, we
are often pulled

But in all of this
all-ness, I firmly
believe something

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lies everything.

The night, the morning of, the quiet.

There are all the telephone lines ringing,
electric in their emotion
the day my eyes almost fell
to blue – every person picked
up but one.

There is a ticket with my name on it,
I filled it out in the bathtub wondering
where his blood must be –
there’s a room I don’t want to enter
because I think I could have lived
there in a different age.

While sitting in the library with Berkley
we hashed out the whole messy affair,
and I realize I’ve been more imperfect in the
last three months than in the last five years
because I’ve lived more – but the sterling part is:

You don’t deserve my relapse.

And that old article I read went something like:

I know you are conventionally beautiful, intelligent, wonderful, charming, seductive – and you are all of those things and more in the moments you can survive your own skin but the me that sat in the bathtub and thought about drowning can only say –

I’m sorry, to me you are very ugly. To me you are pained, and hurt is need is want is expectation, and in that moment all four flower like cold blooms.

This is the most like cowardice,
and I am walking through the hallway with his skull
like Damocles.

I am strong enough to survive,
and weak enough to want,
and you look so terribly different
to me in the wake of a long winter.

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In five days
this thing will detonate
and leave the last remnants of
my time on the internet as a strange
shrapnel-laden artifact.

It is bloody
and pulpy
and still pumping,

I’ll save my thoughts for the very last second,
but yes,
like a subterranean onion
my heart is ready to stop
squawking above ground.

I probably won’t respond to your texts
and I don’t know what you tweeted about
or how far you’ve tumbled –
but yes,
I might send you a missive
or a song
or a drawing
or the love letter I wrote
months ago and keep
pinned to my chest.

It is almost bomb and
goodbye and still,
I know you know
where to find me
when wanting and
watching fall

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When I heard her husband described as –
a huge feminist, but
well, you know,
he probably wouldn’t
put it that way…

I knew in that moment
I’d be telling them
I was one for the
rest of my life.

And Niccole can never smoke –
her lungs do not have
the tenor, the timbre,
she is the most beautiful
thing I’ve ever seen.

She told me she’d do anything
for lungs that work and now
I will never pick up
another cigarette.

And, at the party,
my old shade of red
blew by – she is fair
in all the right places
and still so wrong.

Maybe I realized that
wanting something that bad
is like trying to save fish
from drowning.

The second time we met
I asked you out, and I’ve
been replaying the moment
ever since, every August
I remember.

Anymore I just try to make
it through the day, and I would
not know what to do with your hand on
my chest.

The second time I saw you
we made love, and somehow you
are still vivid even in this

When you cracked me open I
made a pact with the universe
to give up some things to
keep the yolk from slicking
out all over me.

I think all of these things
are passing away, and I don’t
want to believe I lied to Kaitlyn
when I told her none of them would touch me,
most of all not me, not at all.

But I am watching it all pass away,
the sea-shells and dead parts of me
and the things I dreamed of in January –
a big, gauzy blanket of snow and

And maybe, Wind, you still have something
for me.
And maybe, Peacock, your feather will always
hang around my neck.
And maybe, Red, I will get up the courage
to look you in the eye again
some morning when we are older, and stronger,
and can find words for all of these
dead lifetimes.

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