Sunday, December 11, 2016

Better Off This Way

The days are bright, and the sun should be a source of joy. Why then is it pain I feel each morning as it pierces my eyelids? I can admit it: I'm burnt out, discharged, exhausted, and above all, bored. The brief bursts of enthusiasm and energy from this past year seem unreal now, as I sit in wait for the year to come to an all too welcome close. Some part of me still needs fixing, if things are to have turned out this way at the end of another year that began with promise and hope. It's not exactly with despair that I sit now, but just disinterest. People around me are making plans of places to go, sights to see, and perhaps most importantly, things to do. Me, all I want to do is find someplace to level out, and wait for the future to come to me on my own terms. Trouble is, I have a pretty good idea of what that future would look like, and it's not particularly appealing either.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What I'd Say

Blame it on a lack of experience. There I was, with the opportunity I'd apparently wanted for a few months now -- initial bridges crossed, shared jokes exchanged, and an evening spread out farther than I could see. But it's only the morning after that I'm able to think up the things I should have said, and shake my head at what actually went down. I have a familiar sense of regret, but while usually it's a dull background to my mind's inconsequential chatter, now I feel throbbing and pressing up against my skin. Mistakes, I think, are not something I can afford any longer.

Blame it also on my endless search for the mysteries of the self. Not only has it turned up nothing of value some ten years on, it also seems to left a lingering sense of delusion that all of my internal minutiae has even a passing interest to anyone else. So it goes that when a drop of this is drawn out, perhaps out of curiosity or kindness, what follows is a drowning that would be terrifying where it not so unimaginably boring. Only when laid bare in the most inappropriate of circumstances does it become plain to me: there's really nothing here, deep inside me, that anyone needs to be aware of. (If I could also be ignorant of it, that would be a plus, but I don't hold my breath.)

What I should have done seems deceptively obvious in hindsight. For a start, have every sentence feature the word "you". (This self is a stranded vessel trying to find its way to a harbour; each wave it makes, every strip of land in sight finds a way to bury itself in the water.) More specifically, I should have sought some detail, if they were willing to give it, on a few off-hand remarks scattered over the last months, hinting as they did on a private world as complex as my own. (Let me try to solve my problems by overpowering them with someone else's.)

As things stand, while proceedings concluded cordially enough, I know that the sight of what dwells within must have been disturbing. Left to rue over another day's worth of poor choices, I wonder when this journey of self-actualisation will complete, if ever. Dissecting events to learn lessons is valuable, but how can it be that I still need to be taught the most basic rules of conduct? Anyway, for what it's worth, here's today's lesson: it's a sad reality that to let anyone want to get closer, I first have to completely suppress myself.

More optimistically, put another way, I have to suppress the negative part of myself. Because I do believe there is a positive part, and that it's one that can have a greater say in how I operate. It's probably the part that kicks in when I do anything that involves me not be the focal point. Lending a helping hand, say; why don't I do that more, again? The negative self chirps in with a mountain of reasons, but I'm not in the mood to pay it any mind. I'd much rather revisit a line that held some sway when I first read it: become the person you want to be. Figuring out who that is in entirety, that's perhaps one goal of my muddled musings. Figuring out one or two things that person would do, that's easy. Ring up and say sorry, for a start. And then work to earn a place back at the table.

Friday, December 09, 2016

One more bit

You'll remember my advice from a while ago: never write anything the days immediately before or after an age increment. This has been a simple yet effective guard against the most obvious, and unrewarding, strains of self-reflection and flagellation. Well, we're past that point enough now for me to try to bring some sobriety to the scene, but wouldn't you know it, I reach into my mind for a thought and my hand gets eaten up by the dark.

I've told myself this so many times it likely doesn't bear repeating, but I have nothing else to say anyway, so here goes: the meta-flaw I seem unable to conquer is obsessing over my myriad minor flaws. Without my quite realising it, it appears that every quiet moment when my consciousness isn't looking, part of me tallies up the mistakes I've made and keeps a fresh list at the ready for a moment of weakness. That's the only way I can explain what I did yesterday: a sad, and ultimately selfish release of my insecurities to a party unable to do anything with them except make note to never bring up anything of the sort with me again.

It's all the more surprising given that I thought I had...well, if not conquered these demons, then at least tamed them somewhat. You remember the separation of concerns, and all that. I'm not sure then what yesterday implies, other than that I seem to have been living in a form of blissful ignorance I didn't know I was capable of. And frankly, I'm largely ok with that -- some truths just aren't worth confronting or owning up to, provided they are never given the air to actualise. The latter, I think, is the key: how to stop these episodes of emotionally deluging some unsuspecting other?

I know it's a long way still for the next bit to drop, but last night and this morning, I couldn't quite see a future where that actually happened. How am I supposed to keep this up, day after day, night after night? Loneliness has never been a particularly good friend, but it seems the only one I have right now. And, wouldn't you know, it really hates new company.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

So did she agree? Hah. Of course not. I must say that despite all my rough talk about my fundamental worthlessness, my actions betray a rather different sense of the self -- one laughably inflated in the other direction. It's why I now find myself feeling undone, where my past writings might suggest a complete lack of surprise to be the only logical response. I suppose I was one up on myself with those self-portraits dripping of deprecation and despair; that's clearly a much more honest picture of myself, at least, in how I am viewed by the outside world. What do I expect from a lifetime of sitting in the corner, avoiding eye contact, and going out of my away to shy away from any non-superficial interaction? It's only reasonable that my pathetic attempts at reaching out are seen as what they likely are, a last ditch attempt at grace by someone who doesn't seem to realise that he was damned a long time ago. So I hold no ill will. Thankfully, my little corner of the universe remains faithful to me. There's room enough here for me to spend the rest of my time, fading away bit by bit, day by day.
Away at last from the swirl of people running around, making excited plans for the future, proudly displaying to the world that they are in pursuit of a higher purpose. Their energy always gets me down, reminder as it is that maybe I was once like that. Or not; I don't really remember that well, but I'm not particularly inclined to get to the bottom of that matter. In any event, what matters is that right now, energetic is what I'm not. This evening, like many evenings, I feel like a piece of driftwood, aimlessly floating to whatever shore happens to be closest. Even writing down these thoughts takes up dangerously close to all the stamina I have left.

The glimmers of hope that trap themselves in my mind ever so often are swiftly exhumed by my overpowering sense of cynicism, which is now indistinguishable from my sense of reality. It's admirable to try to escape your fate, sure, but tonight, I wonder whether I'm not better off just accepting a few things once and far all. This journey I shall travel alone; my life's course isn't likely to change anytime soon; and happiness, while never totally elusive, is simply not mine to hold with any permanence.

That last one is particularly worth fronting up to. It's now 12 years since last I remember having a year where there weren't blocks of time lost to some combination of extreme self-loathing, misanthropy, and lack of any positive external influence. I don't doubt a lot of this is circumstantial, but those other two points are such that they mean these circumstances are unlikely to change radically. The pragmatist in me thus asks to simply be thankful for the days where I wake up with something to believe in, and to not be too dismayed to find myself confronted with gaping holes where the future is supposed to be. I ought to be used to that by now.

Why do I always seek the rip in a silver lining? I don't remember being born this way; rather, I seem to have grown up all wrong, never content with what I have, always lamenting what I have lost. I certainly wouldn't suggest to the bright young faces that such flaws can't be rooted out. But only while you're still young. Fat good all these trite realisations do me now, as everything I could've held onto has been taken away. My bed is made, and someone is forcing my eyes shut.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

One of the uses of poetry is certainly in providing a glimpse into an inner life, both as it is lived and experienced. But is that the only use? I should say that this question is purely academic to me, because what I produce isn't poetry in any serious sense of the word -- these are private rhymes, secret phrases that carry weight in my memory. They serve no greater purpose than recording the moments that produced them, and have been a success measured solely by the fact that I can re-read them and remember an episode or emotion vividly. But hubris tempts me to ask whether they could ever be something more.

In asking that, I am immediately shut down by a familiar reality -- to write something personal is trivial; but to write something externally emotive is not. Certainly others have shown that the two can be present simultaneously, but their creation remains a mystery to me. How does one get outside one's own consciousness, hopelessly warped and solipsistic as it is, and even hope to convey something to another person? Whenever the hopeless fantasy of sharing these writings crosses my mind, I think of any normal reaction to their content and context, and am forced to conclude that if judged by how clearly they express feelings for others to digest, they are an abject failure.

What does any of this matter, you ask? I don't actually think there's anything wrong per se with keeping writings private. I do suspect, though, that like with most things, there is value in having thoughts converted from the personal to the universal (or something resembling that). For a start, it might convince me that there is a world outside my own, and that there's nothing particularly special about my view of it. Whether this hypothetical mature version of me would have anything useful to say, though, is up in the air.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Somebody's Baby Now

I thought a poem
Could win a heart
Or if not
Then cure the blues;
But tonight
I write alone
When I'd rather
Be with you.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy for You

And truly I can bear
To never take his place
Each time I see you wear
The smile that lights your face.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

My claim is not to know more about music than the people I spend most of my life with. It simply is that I seem to think more deeply about a particular strain of music than any of them likely imagine possible.

There are times when this seems like another adolescent hangover that I should have shedded a long time ago. But then I come upon another album, another song, another turn of phrase that makes me remember the large body of work I've taken so much pleasure from the past decade or so. I make no special claims about their structural depth; my taste firmly and unabashedly lies with the deft manipulation of words, set to pliable melodies. Where once I would have naively claimed that these assuredly belong to the world of poetry, now I'd just assert that what ever the world may think of them, I know only that this mind and body is particularly attuned to the skilled exponents of this craft. And I'm content with that.

These structural limits of the format, ironically, seem to act to the benefit of the composers. On the written page, the absolute freedom on offer seems to have compelled practitioners into a direction that elevates structure over feeling. It could also be that I just like nothing more than a good rhyme, and again this seems to have been eschewed on paper in favour of a variety of other devices that my untrained eyes simply do not respond to.

More broadly, I think it's also the subject matter. There is in a way a lack of pretentiousness in rock poetry, simply in its quotidian selection of topics. I'd certainly agree that elevating the everyday experience as something greater than it is would be a mistake. But a remarkably large spectrum of thought and feeling is to be found within these songs. I'm probably well beyond being able to better myself in knowledge of enough of the antiquities and history to fully appreciate the verse that is set in that style. Perhaps that would be a far more enriching experience, and are far more enriching life. But I'll deal with the life I've got.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Too Much of One Thing

Symptomatic of a larger malaise I possess is that I shirk from wholesale commitment to anything that brings me pleasure. Whenever I happen upon anyone praising something I enjoy, but going the extra mile that I didn't realise was there -- that's when I pause, stop, and turn around. Not that I turn my back completely, just that I maintain an air of aloofness that I think is a betrayal of the depths of my feeling.

True enough, sometimes, I can't convince myself this isn't rational, though. Take music, and my distaste for the levels of obsessive fandom that have a following unto themselves. I've spoken before of the danger of all this, namely, elevating eclecticism unjustly. Then again, maybe I'm just too closed minded. What, after all, differentiates my eccentric picks over anyone else's? Just that I don't praise them to the same extent?

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Final Fig

My candle is spent
Its flame at end
But sadder still
The sight
Of a wick
Still strong and thick
Yet never set

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What do I do when I'm not working? An innocuous question, to which my only feasible reply is invariably: Not a lot. I stress feasible rather than honest, because the truth is a little more complicated. It's true enough that a lot of my time is spent in pursuit of admittedly juvenile thrills, which have historical roots in my seeking to bleach out the once painful act of everyday living. But whatever little of it is spent productively - and there is a little of it, not none entirely - is in devotion to something immensely private. These writings for example have seen sufficient attention that by any reasonable definition, they would constitute something approaching a hobby. Yet there's precious little here that I can reasonably share with anyone I know in any personal capacity: the edges are too sharp, the references too oblique.

Where, I wonder, did those figs go? Once I had the thought of writing beautiful, universal words that would make up a rich tapestry of an inner life. I seem unable however to put my experiences in a language that anyone else can understand, or even cared to listen to. If I were forced to guess, I'd wager it's a simple consequence of my perennial sin of elevating my own consciousness above everyone else's. I can curse the words for ending up the way they have done; but at the same time, I can't quite conclude what I could have done differently. If the aim was to chronicle my true self, I think I've done a pretty good job.

I'll admit that maybe I spoke too soon about vanquishing vapid social norms. Pathetic though it may be (is), my recent surge of emotional interest is proof that part of me feels unfulfilled. Or could it be that part of me feels bored? In no small part, I suspect it comes out of just needing something to pass the time. And true enough, it is a largely harmless pastime in its current incarnation. The adverse effect that I see is simply that, should the day come when I decide that actually some norms are not worth fighting against, it further delays any genuine progression. That's a bridge that exists only hypothetically now, though.

Perhaps this is as good as I can hope for. For someone so resistant to change, working up the gall to even claim to have flipped a fundamental mental switch is something. And in a way, there are some positives to take out of this. The far more pernicious issue with my previous state was an entrapment in the past, which absolutely prohibited anything from the present to make its way through. That I should even find myself in this situation indicates that I'm not beyond being moved by something I see before me, no matter how perfunctory.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

He and She

I am lost in my own maze. It's possible that what I said was true, and that all I am doing is repaying a debt. A debt I created willingly, and am paying back most obtusely, but it remains a possibility nonetheless. The alternative is a possibility I shudder to consider, because it would imply that my is shame unbounded. But, as always, I have a feeling the most pathetic option is the most likely. Even I have to ask this time: what am I doing? Fortunately, this can only end with the last laugh being on me. Some things, no matter how vulnerable, can still be unattainable.

Our outing is set for the afternoon, but it's five past five and I'm up thinking about it. Morning rituals are replaced by a jittery blur, as I try to picture the scene in my mind. Several hours to go, and I still find time fixed on that hallowed hour. I iron my best shirt, and devote time to finding the best accompanying soundtrack. The last failed weekend of boredom and nihilism is a distant memory, and I'd almost say there's a spring in my step. I'm doing this because I want to help out someone who's feeling alone, I remember thinking. I couldn't have been more right.

Friday, August 19, 2016

I rebuffed their invite because I felt betrayed. By who, or what, I don't know. There's enough blame to go around, likely a lot of it to me (as always). Why do I turn my back on every olive branch sent my way? What, realistically, do I want out of them? An apology? A song of praise? Or maybe, a grand gesture, like calling the whole thing off. Perhaps I want them to admit, We can't possibly go on without you. Except, I know that'll never happen, because I know that's not true. It appeals to my vanity to imagine that I am the only thing standing between them and irrelevance, and that my absence will make them question whether they have let down. In truth, I imagine the show can and will go on without me, and be a splendid success. They will pay my absence as little notice as they do me, and who can blame them?

It was a big step for her to open up; never mind that I already knew her secret. Left alone with her quiet tragedy on another quiet evening, I wonder why I have to keep myself from smiling. I've mistaken a confession for closeness, no doubt. But even that granted, that I should derive pleasure from her sadness, however tangentially, makes me reflect how impossibly far I feel from most everyone around me. I'm ready to grab any hand in the darkness, be it from kindness or pity.

I'm alone this evening only because I let her secret hang in the air, slowly press down, and push me out. Before walking away, there was perhaps an opportunity to keep our brief candle alight a while longer. I think she's lonely - I know I am - so I should have asked her if she wanted to walk awhile, perhaps. It's not entirely implausible she would have agreed. But somehow, I sensed that she knows there are worse things than being alone, so I just left.

Why did she feel it the right moment to invite me into that private world? It is perhaps that I offered my plea first, conscious that it would encourage an unguarded moment or two. I held nothing back, and said my piece without a hint of self-pity. So calm was my acceptance of perpetual defeat, I doubt she had ever seen anyone quite so pathetic. Is that what it takes for me to seem human?

She ended with an admission of despair, meant perhaps to comfort me: I too wonder sometimes, she said, what am I doing here? I almost wanted her to say, I too wonder sometimes, what good am I? Only because I could then counter with a private truth of my own: People see no worth in you, but I do. But she held her composure, and the moment passed. It's just as well, because I don't know that I could have explained myself if pressed. Even if I could, why would she care to listen? Anyone can see her eyes are fixed elsewhere; anyone can see that I am blind.

I am also taken back to another who told me her secret. Then, like now, I knew that the beginning was also the end; then, like now, I had my sights already set on another city, another life. I have places to go, always, but never people. Only as the day fades can I make out where the light shines the brightest.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


So universally unwanted and cosmically crippled, the ground itself would reject my footsteps if I kept on walking. But I can come to a complete stop now, because there is no sense in going anywhere. The days are a waking nightmare spent sitting in a quiet corner, shunned by civilised company. The nights are spent sitting in a quieter corner, grasping for words to explain what it is I feel. But words crumble too in the face of the shadow I cast. All living things must die alone. And some must live alone too.

Friday, August 05, 2016


Can you make it one year without visiting that gaping hole that is open to any traveller, offering a room for a night that lasts a lifetime?

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Open City

I have no particular mission in mind as I walk the streets. But as I go by the unchanged buildings plucked out of my memory, part of me feels like it is almost taunting them for a response: I have come here unarmed, and don't mind if the past defeats me; I am just curious how far along I have gone in this game. Each footstep into a prior battleground however sees no victor either way. Sometimes, there is a brief moment where I feel my throat constricting as I recall some forgotten horror, but it usually passes quickly. Most times, there is hardly any reaction at all, just a mutual acknowledgement of continued existence. I'm not naive enough to call that a victory, but from where I was three years ago, a truce is good enough.

Though they do not mind my presence, I can feel that I have become a stranger to the streets that were once a home. There is nothing beyond the reach of time, I conclude, but not with sorrow; at least, not today. Today, I'm just glad to be able to walk the streets with no expectations. I don't have particular illusions about all of this signalling anything significant. But the tangible proof that life can go on, both for me and my onetime tormentor, leaves a trace of hope I'm not above being grateful for. My heart feels lighter, having to carry around one less burden. For a moment, though I'm just a stranger walking alone, the future seems a wide open space.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Longtime readers will know the careful secrecy I've attempted to maintain as to the real-life events forming the seed of my writings, no matter how strongly the events in question long to be named. It may come as a surprise then that I recently took it upon myself to share a subset of these writings with someone patently outside the sphere of suffocation that produced them. What triggered this was, I think, two recent developments. First, the realisation that at the parade's end of the glorious 20's, there is only so much time one has to find a welcoming hand in the dark. Second, the insatiable curiosity, harbored since this blog's inception, to see how an ouevre borne of impossible longing and isolation would seem to an unspoiled pair of eyes*.

On the latter point, I might as well add to the reader's entertainment by mentioning that I have thought on occasion of selecting some of the works closest to me, and seeing how they would fare in something approximating the public marketplace. On this note, despite my confidant's protests to the contrary, I see that not everything makes the journey from my mind to the outside world unharmed. But a few slivers do. In the endless hours of darkness that seem to be my public life, this at least gives me hope that the Sun may yet rise.

* Oh, eh, right, and so what did those eyes see, you ask? Frustratingly, but in hindsight unsurprisingly, it's somewhat hard to tell. Receiving something so blatantly personal, I would imagine that the only non-sociopathic response is to profess how the work reveals only the deepest and most universal of truths. But at least the words, and the sickness that created them, have germinated elsewhere. Within one other mind are now fragments of the life I have led, a source of mirth if nothing else.

"I once thought that time
Accentuates despair
But now I don't actually care"

I spoke of the separation of concerns a while ago. This appears to be still in effect, with the consequence that I no longer find the desperate urge to put to paper feelings that would inspire any student of literature or psychology. To be sure, I'm frequently filled with the sorts of grim existential doubts that have made up the vast body of this outpost; but their nature seems frustratingly quotidian, and patently uninspiring as far as writing goes. As far as trade-ins go, it's a little early to tell whether this one is acceptable. On the one hand, I do like the normalcy of my new turmoil. But I can't say I don't sometimes miss drawing a bucket from a deep well of sorrow. It's just that these days, I find I'm just not thirsty anymore.