Tag Archives: suffering

Little Wonder

I was diagnosed with
an illness that
they didn’t catch in time.

Doctor told me that I could be
in pain for months
perhaps years
and could face
permanent hearing loss
in my left ear.

It was at times
debilitating.

The vertigo and tinnitus
were Hell.
Days became Hell.
Life became Hell.

Even after
several months
I wasn’t getting better
and nobody was sure
if I ever would.

It wore me down
eventually.

I was just reaching
middle age and
had never felt
so vulnerable.

I sat downtown on a bench
feeling sorry for myself
when I heard,

“GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY!
TAKE YOUR VIRUS BACK TO CHINA!”

Three teenaged boys
harassing
an Asian woman and
her daughter.

They were right in their face.
The woman and child
were scared.
Nobody was helping them.

Before I knew it
I was across the square.

I grabbed the biggest one and
social-distanced him
right into the
central square fountain.

The other two turned
on me but I
shoved them down
hard
and they scattered.

I was sick
but I wasn’t weak.

“They’re Korean,
you Shitheads!”
I called after them.

All the excitement
made me dizzy.
I was unwell.
I shouldn’t be doing
things like that
and so I staggered
back to my bench
rubbed my temples and
closed my eyes.

I felt a sudden
warmth on the side
of my head
a flash of heat
and the pain
the dizziness
-the nausea that I had
suffered for months
were all suddenly gone.

I opened my eyes
to find the
young Asian girl
staring back at me
as she took her hand away
from my ear.

Her large beautiful
almond eyes
were filled with compassion
and such sadness
that I have never before
seen in a child.

I knew in that moment
that my sickness was gone
for good and that
she had taken it away.

The girl smiled.

She put a finger to her lips.
“Shhhh!” She said then
turned and
ran back to her mother.

I watched them
turn the corner and
disappear.

Afterwards,
I put my head
in my hands and I wept
because I didn’t
know what else to do.

Then I got up and I started to
walk straight
for the first time
in months…

then I started to run
and laugh.

The War Veteran

Johnny had his face in his iPhone.
He didn’t see the crippled old war veteran
lying like litter on the sidewalk
in a beaten parka begging for change.

“Get out of my way, you filthy bum!”
Johnny was disgusted. The city should do a better job
of keeping this scum out of his sight.

As Johnny went to kick the man’s legs
to teach him a lesson
the old man’s hand reached out
and seized Johnny by the ankle
for while this particular veteran had lost everything
along the way he had obtained a very special gift
and today it would be Johnny who was the one
receiving the lesson
of a lifetime.

Everything went dark and quiet but for only a moment.
Johnny opened his eyes but didn’t remember closing them.

He wasn’t downtown anymore.
Instead Johnny was in a rice field and his ankles were all wet
the air was stifling hot with no breeze
large insects buzzed all around him and he could
smell his own sweat along with cow shit
but he didn’t have time to feel disgusted again.

A large boom displaced the air all around him as
further up the way
the entire tree line disappeared beneath
a wall of mushrooming fire
as jets roared past overhead.

Johnny’s eyes widened as the heat hit him and as
dozens of men came running out towards him screaming
all completely covered in crawling flames.

Johnny could smell their skin burning
when the barrage of endless bullets began
whipping right past his head and
cutting down the men Johnny realized
where all around him
scared just like him –men that
he went to basic training with
that he played cards with
men that were like his brothers.

The way that his best friend’s body
twitched as it was riddled with bullets
made him look like a dancing puppet
and it might have been funny as Hell
if it didn’t break Johnny’s heart.

Bombs exploded dirt high into the sky
that came raining back down all around him.
Then another hit…and another
closer and closer each time.

Johnny turned his head to look behind him.
A boy, must have been only seventeen
a new recruit that Johnny knew well
was seated on the ground trying to hold his guts in
screaming for his momma.

Men in straw hats came running out of the forest
fire spouted in rapid succession from the barrels of their guns.
They were all around him coming in fast.
Johnny was paralyzed with fear
his bladder let go inside of his pants when
the sergeant –a large shirtless man wearing a cowboy hat
calmly smoking a cigar
came up to Johnny and slapped him:

“Don’t you dare wet yourself on my field, soldier. You worthless piece of wet chicken shit I’ll hand you over to Charlie myself and you’ll get ass-banged all the way to Goddamn China if you don’t get a grip on your gun and DO WHAT YOU”RE TRAINED TO DO!! We’ve got to take this damned village or we’ll all be sucking bamboo dicks for the next ten years so get your Sally-ass shit together and make yourself GOD-DAMN USEFUL! GET TO KILL’N SOME COMMUNISTS! YOU WANT TO MAKE IT HOME SOME DAY THEN START MOVING! THE ONLY WAY OUT IS FORWARD AND THROUGH THESE SHITBAGS!”

The sergeant was the scariest person Johnny had ever seen
he was obviously completely insane
and made Johnny want to run into the fire just to escape his presence.
Instead the sergeant pushed Johnny forward and at that moment
Johnny somehow knew that he had spent over a year
in this Hell and there was no respite from it
not day or night
it would just continue on and on.

Johnny’s Mom wasn’t going to be able to
bail him out of this there was no one
there was nothing but him and his gun and
he was going to die or go mad in this man-made Hell
where everything was burning and filthy and all covered in
grease and blood and where everyone wanted you dead
and the only thing worse than the insects was the heat
and the constant endless stream of enemies.

This was a reality that he had never had to feel
or know was real and Johnny just couldn’t handle it.
Johnny just wanted to go home and hide under his bed.

Johnny leaned over and vomited
then vomited some more
as the sounds of passing cars and people
laughing returned and Johnny opened his eyes
realizing that he was in the middle of the sidewalk
crying, having wet his pants and now
retching his insides out in front of a
group of Japanese tourists.

Johnny ducked into a nearby alley
and leaned back against the cold brick wall
shivering and still crying.

The last thig he remembered before all this was
the man…the old man…
The war veteran.

The old man climbed up into his wheelchair and
quietly rolled himself down towards the harbor.

He had found some bread to feed the gulls with.

It was getting late and the view of the water
at sunset always made him feel at peace.

The Demonic Bathroom Tiles Get Me Everytime

It could be in the mirror
behind you
seen just for a second
or spotted in a photograph
-something that doesn’t make natural sense.

It could be you.
It could be me or
it could be something else.

You decide.
I’m tired of trying to
discern ghosts from the blonde next door.

“You have a comfortable bed.” She said.
Though it was the third time she’s used it.
“Thanks.” I muttered best I could
as the toothbrush viciously scoured my bottom row,
me being a fervent believer in oral hygiene and all.

The tube was spent and when I turned to the trash to discard it
that’s when I saw it:
The patterns on a single tile of stained linoleum
appeared to be forming into a visage.
The more I grew fixated on it
the clearer it became
until it sharply resembled the face
of somebody screaming.
The eyes were blank with terror and
the lips stretched back far as they could go.

I would only know such pain
if I were in Hell
and that’s where this face came from
as it was a window directly into the bottom
of God’s boiler.

I began to hear the cries
of a thousand souls
-a million.

I thought of death, war, Walmart, eternal suffering, Cthulhu, diabolic torture, George W. Bush.

It was pulling me in.
It was pulling me in.

“What are you doing, Silly? You’re dripping.”
She smiled in the doorway, laughed, rushed down the stairs.

I looked back to the floor. I could no longer see it
so I spit, rinsed, spit and followed.

It was time for me to cook some eggs
with the Peameal bacon left over from camping.

It was a lovely Sunday morning.

It Gets Harder To See The Way

It’s hard to see the stars
from the gallows
or a smile through tears.

It’s hard to see rot beneath beauty
hope beneath shame
love beneath all that hate.

It’s hard to see change at the end of a gun
peace through the flames
or God through all that pain.

It’s hard not to bury
not to burn
not to break
because it’s hard to see the way.

And it gets harder to see

every day.