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Sinking into couch with a pillow lodged in the small of my back, ambient noise pours from my headphones and into my ears. Another long Monday at school and another week started, where I can only wait to return home to an empty house Thursday afternoon for my two hours of real silence. A cup of ice cold water sits on the table before me and a pile of papers lays wrinkled t o my right. A collection of reflections, stories, and journals that I still feel are too jumbled for recognition. The cup sparkles in the yellow light from an overhead bulb turning the white porcelain to a yellow cream. Images reflect in the still water. The walls that surround me are curved and rounded, a different setting than the one in which I sit. A fake world that only exists within the cup and its contents. Real objects, accepted and understood, projected forward to the eye from a surface that is ever changing and existing for only a few moments before a hand reaches forward, stirs the plane and takes a drag from the lip of the vessel. A new setting reveals itself The words on these pages lie lifeless and dark, waiting to be read by wandering eyes, torn apart by questions and inquisitions. The words sit, a projection of this reality through the haze of the mind. The reflection of a setting on an ever changing surface

I woke up to cats Two kittens, one gray, one tan Lucy was the latter, dean the elder gray From atop the armrest on a hand me down chair They dove, one at a time, on the ambiguous green movement That happened to be my feet just underneath a green sheet Pulsating with my every breath, twitching and curling with every itch They would stutter to the edge, eyes fixed Attention unwavering, one paw before the other Sniffing the air, eyes on the prize, a crash from the next room didn’t matter Just as the whistling breeze was of no interest. No, the quarry was just two feet below. Hidden by a single thin sheet I wiggled my toes, their ears perking up. Eyes wide. And then it was over, one cat at a time dove to the floor. A few swats at the green objects protruding from the ground and then back to the armrest for another jump. I kicked the kittens off, brushed them off the sheet with my hand The small hearts beat within my palm as I gave them a gentle toss from the carpet To the slick wooden floor. Like a young child scolded they sulked away. Shoulders slouched, looking back from time to time and me turning my back to them beneath that thin cold sheet on the hard floor. I wrapped myself one more time in the blanket, holding my arms to my body tightly With one last look at lucy laying down with her head between her paws in the corner of the room, I curled up and turned back to sleep. It was 11AM on

cherry red sunday morning

Have I been driving for the last two hours? I asked myself . no voice or real contemplation. Just the frightening realization you have when you realize the road is foreign to you. Something your eyes should be fixated on is alien. The answer is "yes� (roughly) of course. No quite two hours I correct myself. The small OCD part that rears its head from time to time. With Twenty miles from the familiar comfort and relaxation of my home, I wish I had continued to stay semi conscious, letting the road speed by without a thought. Instead I fish for recollections of the time in question, some sign of existence. But my memory fails me. The engine hum was recorded and rewrote these last two hours. A record slowly spinning, never advancing, scratched. Announcers and football scores replaced by a gentle hum. The kind you would hope Envelopes you in death. No Vision or touch, taste or smell. Just a velvet sound Nothingness, calm Like slipping into a warm bath. The water, slowly advancing up your leg with steam floating into the air. A solid wood casket is slowly lowered into its final resting place just below the grassy surface It’s light tan finish, 21 guns firing mere yards away. The reak man died twenty years ago with the accident, but no one says a word. Grandma sniffles with a hand perched on her left shoulder Degrees fall and the machinery Strains to lower it. Creaking and groaning with every inch it falls, being overtaken in blackness as the family walks toward the bar. A grey sky hangs above Too far for attention, too blurred for concentration Ground passes by. Pushed away by the tires that tread above it, but holding on contently. The coffin signs for its own delivery Have I been driving the last two hours? The answer is yes, of course. (roughly)

I want to make a book A picture book really One that correlates letters with witty sentences Each illustrated by talking Chickens and dancing silos I remember sitting at home sometimes. A lap beneath my legs and arms cradling, book in hand. My eyes stared into each page with the greatest interest I want to make a child Laugh and grab at the Pages. A mother holds her Baby firmly as she Speaks as the characters would. A gruff smoky voice for the old grumpy badger that yells at the young children playing on the lawn. A british bouncing frog rows a small canoe between reeds that tower like redwoods. A new world where everything a child wants will and can happen. The sun setting so that stars can shine brighter and longer than ever before, trees bouncing to the rhythm of your walk and greet you on a morning stroll. A never ending soundtrack plays inside your head, songs from the past that have lost there direct meaning, but the comfort that drew you in the first place lingers on. I want to create warmth That creeps into your Body from around. Crawls into your veins. Puts you to Sleep out of pure comfort The kind of sleep that only celluloid can deliver With bodies entangled and heartbeats matching perfectly, a blanket lays wrinkled across the bed but is not needed. To collapse into comfort, the clutches of embrace the only mattress, the caressing hands the only blanket, a dependable warmth that makes it bearable to climb out into the misty cold of the morning, only to know you be back in the same sleep just past the coming sunset. I want to make this book A picture book Correlating letters with witty sentences Creating a love that an old friendly blanket can carry But even the night cannot steal

wake up son of mine its time to start gather your things pack them together open the door and take in a large breath throw the blankets from your body unleash your consciousness a gray sun reaches through the living room blinds stealing the warmth from the blankets that now lie strewn across the floor. The house is quiet, lifeless today Too early in the morning for movement One step out into the living room and a chill finds my foot Nipping my toes, latching onto the hairs of my shins, crawling, lurching up and up I step into the open room, a pile of paintings to the right, dishes piled on the counter Walking out of a dream, the room is nothing but a disappointment A silent portrait of a weekend we don’t recall A screaming reminder of decisions we choose to forget Its going to be one of those days I tell myself Headphones on, music loud, eyes turned to the screen The gray sky reflects into my eyes, a white glare blocking my typing I turn away fall day November 13 2009

"I’ve overdone it.� With my eyes closed And I forcing sleep upon myself. I sat on the left end of the couch. My head rested on my hands, which hung limp off the edge of the armrest. It was dark in the room but a warm glow emanated from the white Christmas lights strung around the window. I went for an easy weekend. A night off from the homework and projects creating a carpet on my bedroom floor. I could walk to the bathroom now while it was open. I could stand up, nonchalantly step over the cans and bottles and get it over with. Rid myself of those horrid tastes and stomach twists Overreaction I say My head spins in the darkness. I once asked my dad if you could vomit in your sleep. The answer was obviously yes, but still, there seemed some comfort in the ability to sleep that trounced the nausea. My eyes pushed closed, clenched, shutting out the world that spun around me. Yearning for thtat false comfort. I think I might have done too much. Ive been in this situation before and came out alright but this must be different. I have finally reached the point where my body turned its back. This thought yells out when all else is quiet, pushing forth the worst of my fears, a worst case scenario. At a time when nothing more is desired than to have silence, this screams from the darkness, tormenting and lingering, stretching these last few moments before sleep into hours of torturous confusion. 10AM overreaction

oh warm day scatter yourself gently throughout the room throw your light to every corner leaves to the floor let the strands of sunlight caress the room and entangle yourself within its veins oh warm day take me in your arms give me no other choice

I wish I was a seagull But not just a soarer I would swoop and dive Skim the waves and snatch small fish just below the surface some stay aloft, high above the ground and only land to join in a scrum over rotten flesh washed up from the depths of the water But not I I wish to swoop and dive, Catch my own meals and Savor the ones I deserve I tire of this garbage Things thrown out piled High in forgotten bins Screeching and cawing to no avail Picking at black plastic bags For a week old bun or piece of old fruit Something new, a fresh breeze A gentle rain, a soft shower running the filth out through the drain cleaning the feathers that keep me up trimming those that become unruly There is more I desire than survival More I desire than a forgotten dinner Or the victory of a squabble I want to swoop and dive I say As the low glow of the television envelopes my prostrate body

"This is going to be the most painful class ever” With that comes other notions Three hours of identical presentations Three hours of second guessing the quality of my own project to be turned in Three hours of wishing I was in on the joke going on across the room. The whispers and snickers that pass like a game of telephone down the line. "ever” might be an exaggeration, but five minutes in, it is more true than anything I have than the deadline on the sheet before me. Already fidgeting, this energy drink is pulsing through my veins The objects on the table, from a pen to a pushpin are already a distraction They fumble around in my hands, taking the cap off ever so slightly and snapping it back into place, the pin digging into the edge of the table, splitting the rubber from the wood. My mind is a tapped well, spilling information, relevant or not, into ideas and tangents and blur the lines between fact and fiction Thesis ideas that would never work Storylines that are 60% truth and 40% fiction Only the "ifs” of real experiences. I could work on something Take this time to be productive. Write a paper, a poem, Draw a cartoon. One that might be accompanied by a short four line rhyme that reminds of the old fantastical children’s books of talking animals and nonsense I wish I was part of that joke. With something to add, something to whisper over a friends shoulder and see there pursed lips animate into a wide smile. Instead I fidget, scribble on a pad Scribble from that ever leaking well This will be long Repetitive, monotone, stale, But the well is full of life Keep draining My drawing will make people laugh since I can’t be part of the joke. Ill pass it down a row and feel pride as chuckles rise from serious faces But as always, the paper will be passed back and forgotten, no more comments, no more looks and head nods. Whispers start and again necks turn to, the faces of the people behind with a gleeful expression and giddy excitement. My pen scratches the beginnings of a desperate cartoon. This will be the most painful class ever

a foot race to keep my head It’s 10p.m. and cold, the cloud of breath floats from my mouth Catches the wind and is thrust back into my face I blink in the haze that covers the streets around me Three minutes in Panting, too focused to think Only words at a time come to my mind. As strange as that sounds, just reciting the lyrics of the sidewalk before you The road ahead, the time on the watch, it’s cold, a pain in my leg, sparkle, rock, crack, curb, person, light, puddle, car, The patter of my steps sit one level above that of the background.A car may be honking as the wind lightly nips at my cheeks But the droning in my head belongs to the thundering booms let forth by my soles hitting the pavement Sweat drips from the tip of my nose and run down to my upper lip. The salt teases my tongue as I glide by the red glow of a McDonald’s. The light reaches out to the street and over my shoes. Distorted shadows climb my toes and jump to my shins. A vague image of a cardboard cutout Ronald, or was that a column? A quick glance at the watch reveals nothing. I should have worn my glasses A second and I see that I’m almost done The matter of time is more important than where I am in the city. Instead of a route I run to the path of the clock, and when a certain point comes up, the run is over. No matter where I am. Is it that important that I am that exact? I ask And of course the answer is no, but my body screams with ideas of its own. Then one run might be better than the other, it says And I agree, you can’t have anything be more important than another But that is really the problem, something can be better than the rest If it so deserves. And yet, I cannot decide what I deserve from day to day Should I be the one to assign the designation? I pull my long sleeves to my elbow, wipe the brow with the loose cuffs And my running falls to slow walk, water rippling off shoes as they push through puddles. The cold slithers into my clothes and my hand moves to the other shoulder a charade of an attempt to find warmth. Watch the cars as they whiz by Damp pavement, blurred reflection "This is a subpar run” echoes

dozing off to sleep only minutes at a time as the same track loops over and over cats dance and paw at dust balls and I drift in and out drums beat or paws run across the floor, which I cannot know blurry windows and confused visions the same track loops over and over a mist over consciousness a veil between my mind and the world a bad taste bursts forth in my mouth, bringing a flash of memories as my eyelids open and light streams blindly in. Im on the couch, back to the kitchen, and the menu for the movie "Gonzo” running through and repeating on silent. There was strange music coming form the wall behind me, but no sounds of life, just the beat. Like ghostly dreams, images shot within my mind. I remember leaning on the table, beer in hand, laughing and joking about high school and people we hadn’t seen in years. Who was pregnant, if anyone was in jail: all of the gossip you plan to have at a reunion as long as the person in question isn’t in the conversation. We were outside, talking to the people passing below. Yelling insults, asking questions. A man walked by that my friends knew and they told him to come up. He didn’t, apparently they hadn’t really wanted him to anyway I found, as insults were thrown once he was out of ear shot. I turned back into the house and went to the couch. It was two a.m. now and the DVD player had been turned on. A few bodies lay strewn about the living room. Some awake with their eyes intently focused on the screen, some lifeless and limp in contorted and twisting in their own small section of the couch. And one with his head on the floor, eyes gazing upward, and hand blindly rush* ing over the remote resting atop the table. His fingers glided over the buttons, pressing randomly and searching like a mole through the dirt. Pressing the buttons that felt right, moving past the ones that smelled sour. The cursor moved around the screen and highlighted the dif* ferent options. We watched the documentary and its special features, how some had felt it truly captured the man of Hunter S. Thompson, how some people reflected on how you could never understand the man through a movie, how crazy and uniqe his he was. Did they say these things to his face? Or did they wait until he passed by, and then, like us, dove into a mocking conversation as as soon as he left the room? A group now stands. One of which I had been a part of just moments before. Had I fallen victim to the ritual? Beer cans scatter across the floor as my friend walks from his room, the beat still playing. A smile is across his face as I turn and crane my neck to see him. He walks into the kitchen and I know I need to wake up and leave. It had to be nearing noon and there was work to be done. I had to leave, nothing ever gets done here, I say to myself, thinking of my friend. Sure fun and good times abound, but when it comes to being productive this is not the place to be or the people to be with. I pause. Thinking about homework, projects, and last night. and the same track loops over and over.

A website today is necessary A separate identity accessible beyond your personal being, meant for the promotion of this personal self Scratch that, not the personal self but the public self. The personal self is everything that is not a website. Whether or not you do it on purpose, this website is not really who you are, it is who you wish others to see you as. I need to construct a website. I need to open this window, and guide people through this sometimes embattled area. Help people to see the good that comes of the bad And the beauty that comes from the destruction The kind of thing somewhat might learn in that brief handshake during an event. Of course nothing intensely discussable, just the water cooler talk, the big easy things. You go back to take a look at the things that have happened Correct your missteps, erase your mistakes She sat near the front of the bus and my eyes burned a whole into the back of her head throughout the six hour trip up north. While I were excited to take my last year as a camper and whatever came with it, another fail in this department, especially weeks before the start of high school, and it would be months before I thought about trying again. We unloaded the bus, grabbed our oversized bags and shuffled through the kicked up dust to the amphitheater. It was new this year, proper benches filled the area where last year only woodchips lay. I glanced around and our eyes met, both glancing away quickly and slowly looking back in the same direction. I took a seat near the middle of the amphitheater. Hunched over, only my bags around me I played with the dirt and woodchips, digging a small hole and piling chip atop one another. My name was read and I walked toward the stage, I couldn’t wait for camp to begin and hope I’d meet this girl again. I now remove that final two sentences and replace them with the better version. I walked over and introduced myself, a sarcastic joke and a stimulating question... Maybe not entirely true, but the one that people would be impressed to hear. In the end they both work out to me getting the girl, so what’s the harm in changing a few of the details? It’s still me in the story, correct? A window that lets people in to your life Show what you choose Be how you like I need to produce a website A river smoothes a stone A new name relieves the past A gloss cover for the grit and grime

I drove him home around 1:30 in the morning. It had finally stopped snowing about twenty minutes earlier But the roads were still slick and the temperature was still dropping This used to be a regular thing, this late night drive. We would watch movies till our parents went to sleep, eat junk food and drink soda Six years ago we might have slept over, but being "adults” we saw that as childish. recently it has been less and less. Coming home only once every five or six months hasn’t helped and we were never the kind of friends to talk on the phone much at all The windshield began to fog up as I turned onto the highway. The long way home. I turned up the bass as the defroster whined and rushed through the vents Streetlights passed me by. Buildings sprouted up from the sides of the road, buildings that were new to me, Foreign to the place I knew growing up. There wasn’t much here that was familiar any more. At least from the most memorable years of my life here. My sister was home, something that I haven’t had for at least six years and my younger brother, who once begged and pleaded to play with me and my friends now had no interest in accompanying me to the store or the mall or any place for that matter. The room in which I slept for many years is now a storage place for uncomfortable pillows and old books, the closet now a pile of paintings rather than the clothes from my youth. Even I had changed things since. The walls that once sang with hundreds of photos of times and places overlooked and forgotten were now bare by my own hand. A rush of emotion had ripped them down some years back, some kind of way to keep the past from creeping into my mind I suppose. The streets rush by, the lights changing from red to green, cars stopping and starting. Everything seems like a new place, everything seems different from the world that I have painted in my mind. An ideal vision of my nostalgic home and this is not it. The life and love that once ran through the streets is replaced with yellow streetlights and neon bar signs. Home is not the place but what it contains. My home has mostly lost its objects. Spread them out over states and countries, made a foundation for new homes and memories while I still look for that place I once knew.

Today the 26th, a chilly thanksgiving in a year of unseasonable weather, And for the first time in many years we were not making the regular trip to winona to see my mothers side of the family Books and headphones in hand, we loaded the car and took US Highway 52 One and a half hours north to Aldrich street of Minneapolis MN The family, together again, but contrary to recent get togethers, this was a thankful celebration, not one of death and mourning that the previous three had been. The car ride was lively, with jokes and sarcastic comments. Father’s mellow and soothing playlists fill the background, professing love and wishes of artists who have not been recognized by popular culture, but continue to spill there souls to people like us willing to listen. Its not that I haven’t seen my family at a time of joy in the recent months Or even that I dwell on the events that have seemed to come up with a certain regularity over the past year But somehow, the moments where love is present through joy seem to play second chair to the love seen through despair. The windows fog as we merge onto 494 And the talking stops when we take the 36th street exit. The large oak door opens after a few knocks and a ring of the doorbell. People I last saw embracing in a desperate plea for comfort Stand relaxed, sipping wine and nibbling crackers and hors d’ouvres Laughing fills the air Not from one or two conversations but from every direction. The kitchen, the dining room, porch, and study It’s overly warm in the house, but coming from the near freezing temperatures outside, it warms more than just the long sleeve shirt that is bunched around my elbows. They keep walking through the door, every half hour or so A face unseen for months or years now, Maybe seen but not in this glowing light The cool breeze rushes in, chills the outstretched frayed threads of dresses and jeans, but is once again vanquished by the heat contained within. A football game plays in the background while uncles toss the names of current stars in conversation. Stats and everything makes the grade But only minutes later the room is bare and everyone has turned to the living room. A young cousin performs a song and dance while we half pay attention Half indulge in our own conversation, The chatter never stops but that is the family I remember The cleaned pressed suits are hanging in the closets Black wingtip shoes lay lifeless beneath them The closet doors remain closed, lights off and a thin layer of dust undisturbed on the surrounding shelves. The breeze may rush in from time to time, turning a smile stale And carrying hands over shoulders but the overly warm home heats more than just the long sleeve shirt that is bunched around my elbows.

It has seemed like a very long time since I have been in class and in the discussion. I have missed the previous class to work on a big project and did not realize the next week was already thanksgiving. It is amazing how quickly you can fall out of your regular routines. I went to the Nature Center for the first time in a couple weeks to finish my volunteer hours. I still struggle with the question of continuing the volunteering, or cutting it off as it is no longer required however this was not on my mind as I got out of the car this bitter cold, late November morning. I was planning on seeing the same few faces and heading out to one of the fields while chatting about birds or whatnot, but when I stepped through the large metal doors, I didn’t recognize anyone sitting around the fireplace. Still many people multiple times my age, but none of the familiar smiles and eyes that I had grown to expect. I thought for a bit, worrying that my head was on backwards, that I came on the wrong day. A day when maybe a different group came to do the work. Was it Tuesday? Was I late? I realized that it was a Monday. A common day for volunteers, but a day that I had never came on. Not that I had done it on purpose, but it was now routine for me to finish my homework Monday morning and save the volunteer work for later in the week. It was strange. Everything was the same, but the people completing tasks, drinking coffee, and reading the newspapers were an entirely different crew. It was like a complete double of my normal group, just with different faces. We all introduced ourselves and shook hands and set out over the fields to the small north pond. It may have seemed that enough was new at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, but the preserve seemed slightly changed as well. It had dropped a significant amount in temperature since my last visit and the place that I once knew as an explosion of life in reds and yellows was now hunched over in snow and ice. The ponds were contained beneath a thin film spider webbing across the surface with millions of tiny air bubbles lost in a frozen space and the small buds left on the trees we growing yellow with frost. We marched through grass and maneuvered around mud puddles that had overtaken the path. With the pond ahead, we made one last push. Shoes sank into the ground and water bubbled up through hairline cracks in the icy mud. We reached the edge of the pond and each grabbed a pair of shears from the rear of the "EZ GO�. We split up and began work cutting down the buckthorn that mobbed the area. The thick green leaves had finally given way to the ground below, but the trunks still stood strong and dense, choking the roots of the mighty oaks looming above our heads. As we worked, I felt a warmth within me and a smile climb to my face. A separate version of my own special Wednesday getaway, something completely new, but yet so familiar and warm. I threw the spiny trunks behind me on a small pile just inches off the ground and settled in. The same birds chattered overhead and the same cool breeze rushed in and out of the forest with leaves chasing behind. New voices and faces recited a new set words I had yet to grow accustomed to, but each kept the beauty with which I had become familiar.

"The breeze is growing colder” I thought as the vents opened up to reveal themselves. Not really cold, but in comparison to the fireplace warmth in which we had been sitting, it might have well been ice. The small pain returned to my lower back, on time with the hour I had been sitting on the golden orange couch, and my body flexed to find comfort. Each new position a new piercing stab. Each stab a new hope for an end to the droning ache "What are you trying to do?” they asked with a chuckle. Not a funny chuckle, but one that begs for forgiveness, one that says, "I’m sorry for saying that, but it doesn’t make any sense.” And with a nervous chuckle I respond. It’s a map, in a way. Through my thoughts over the past week or so. A trip through my mind from point A to Z, but not directly. There are many stops along the way. A connects to D, E connects to M. not a relation you can set in concrete, but one that flows and changes throughout like a river breaking apart and meeting at the ocean. It is all part of the whole, but no piece is more important and no piece can be forgotten. I struggle to stay still as the pain shifts from left to right. Sometime the knee joins in and brings a thigh along. Each movement setting an ache to rest and spurring another to scream. Knee connected to thigh, hip to spine. All part of a whole but no piece is more important and no piece can be forgotten. We dwell on that a minute. November 30th, 2009 on a chilly autumn evening.

CARRION a product of CARRION Š


thoughts and reactions of an unstable mind