Wounded Fledgling, Flopping All Over the Street
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but feel awful about there being nothing you can do
I pulled my car, loaded with groceries I’d just pick-up, to the side of the road to finish my cell phone chat with a fellow writer pal who lives 3K miles away.
As we were wrapping it up I saw it; what looked like a tiny bird, maybe a sparrow or a starling flopping around on the other side of my quiet residential street, likely just hit by a car.
I imagined this happening during one of the little bird’s first efforts at flight.
If God counts all our hairs and notices when every sparrow falls, and all that bullshit, you gotta wonder, why the fuck he’d let this tiny thing suffer so, twisting around, back and forth, horrible looking, in probable confusion and pain, “I thought I was supposed to fly? What’s happening to me?”
I get angry at God, who I don’t believe exists for all kinds of shit but this is towards the top of my list of major annoyances re: his damned “mysterious ways.” Killing a baby bird who has no chance whatsoever of growing up to be Hitler or the Tangerine Imbecile or any other number of really disgusting and useless lifeforms.
I finished my call not mentioning the tragedy unfolding before me.
What was the point? Why spread the pain?
I restarted the Acura, eased it into drive and edged forward trying to decide, do I stop, get out and walk over and crush the life out of this fledgling, ending its suffering, or does Big Daddy in the sky have some other bullshit plan for it and me.
And at about this moment, I got close enough to see that what I’d been looking at was a single feather, being tossed around, one way then another in the soft breeze...not a fledgling at all, not even part of one.
Just a lose feather in the wind.
Oops. Sorry God. My bad.
Thank You, that you don’t exist!
The kind of ghost we love
Remembering our guy Rusty
Dog Language (or, The Second Step on the Noble eight-Fold Path:“Right Understanding”)
Our dog Rusty lies in a small ball, curled-up on one of his two beds, listening through aging ears for any sound of danger; he licks his lips by habit and instinct. He has no language for knowing how beloved he is to us. But his right understanding of that truth has no need for words.
Patti Sobs every time Rusty, dying, yelps in pain, which is happening far too often for us to ignore. Tomorrow morning we’ll call the vet back again and have him put an end to this suffering. Earlier I took Rusty out front so he could pee, which he managed but not without a high level of hurting. And as I stood watching and waiting for him to finish a cold gust of April wind hit me in the face. I dropped my chin and tried to be strong as Rusty managed to struggle his way back into the house with me. I’d promised, recently, to try to write more cheerful poems but as you can see that ain’t gonna happen today.
The Pure Joy of Heartbreak
I haven’t been quite sure how to approach this topic. Of course, the title gives it away a little, but titles need to grab us and shake us around a bit. If you’ve never loved and lost an animal friend, stop reading now and move on. This isn’t for you.
Rusty and Ruby.
Rusty Shackleford, photo by author
Patti and I had Rusty for 8 years, he was intense, nervous, extremely protective with a personality that fluctuated between human psycho and superhero — brave, fearless, funny and almost terminally curious, Rusty became the center of our lives pretty quickly. When Rusty died suddenly at age 11, we were heartbroken.
Rusty, photo by author
Ruby was already 9 years old when we inherited her from Patti’s nephew Paul following his tragic early death (age 34) from brain cancer.
Rusty had only been gone for a few months. But Ruby had us at her first smile.
Ruby and Patti, photo by author
Ruby was the exact opposite of Rusty in terms of personality. What Rusty was to intensity, Ruby was to gentle, loving calmness. What Rusty was to movement and guardedness, Ruby was to friendliness and approachability.
Ruby and Paul, photo by author
Each of these animal friends took absolute center stage in our lives, as dogs do in the lives of anyone who is owned by one; your canine master has to be considered in every travel plan (short or long) every choice of domiciles, plans for entertaining, selection of vehicles for personal and, more importantly, transportation of them/for them to their walks, vet visits and play times etc.
Losing two loyal, beloved and cherished friends in so close proximity, was devastating and has taken us until now to even begin to process and from which to heal.
I had, however had some practice and experience in matters of loss.
image provided by author
Recently I posted my epic poem Sheehan and additional postings trying to pull Medium visitors and readers over to it. The main reason for doing this is that Sheehan is the best thing I’ve ever written, not the most popular or well known, that distinction goes to my 2000 novel Stuck in Neutral, still selling well after all these years, but the best.
What makes both of these stories so successful is the intensity of emotion promised by them and the delivery of that intense emotional experience to and for the reader.
We never feel intense emotion quite as sharply as when we are experiencing loss, especially permanent loss, is in the case of someone beloved to us dying.
This kind of pain can be so horrible that we feel it will actually kill us: we crawl into a ball sobbing, we can’t eat, can’t stop weeping, it’s as though something is eating us alive or kicking us to death from inside the deepest heart and soul of ourselves. We can’t do anything to pull ourselves out it, at least not for a while — We are wrecked and ruined.
Such is grief. Such is the purity of heartbreak and thus a kind of existential joy as the naked, brute truth of pain becomes clear to us. Sartre described how alive we felt in the grip of nausea. I’d submit that grief does the same to us.
The death of our animal friends, our pets, trains us in surviving such pain. Having lost and buried both human loved ones and animal loved ones, to be honest, the pain has been almost the same in its initial intensity.
I’m not suggesting that the death of a pet matches the burying of a child, I am suggesting that the initial pain, that first blast of loss and grief can be and often is and has been for me in my experience, indistinguishable between the two.
I’ve buried a stepson, the dream of a birth-son having any kind of healthy, normal life due to his birth condition, grandparents, parents, good friends and a nephew and aunts and uncles and neighbors and co-workers.
And several dogs, two of these much beloved companions within a two and a half year period.
Life is about pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, victories and defeats, and every experience we have, if we let it, prepares us for how to better manage our time here, to more fully relish our joy and love and hope and to help us rise above and move beyond our pain and losses and heartbreak.
It isn’t too difficult to imagine someone living life in total abandonment of compassion and love and empathy because the price tag for those aspects of our lives can be VERY high. But to me, the pure joy of heartbreak, of feeling all that pain in direct proportion to all that love lost, is part of what makes life worthwhile.
Five Short Takes
Because it takes a long time to read an epic
You are… …not the first but hopefully the last to hate me with such ferociousness. I’m sorry for what I did (or didn’t do) to bring this on. I’d be even sorrier if you didn’t hate me quite so much.
Disequilibration Some words just sound so cool that they deserve to be the title of a poem regardless of how much Disequilibration they cause.
“And Stuff…” Any sentence ending with “and stuff” tells you all you need to know about the person saying it.
Great Sex Is never much further away than your willingness to believe that’s what is happening.
The scariest shit to write … is the shit that feels like it could destroy my life. Shit that demands to be unleashed. I should add something here… but I’m too scared.
Medium as a Horrible SM Vehicle for Freezing, Lost, Trapped and Captive Souls
Just a tiny reminder
Real writers, artists of talent and ambition, are flying over our heads at 30K feet, 600 MPH while we stare up at them, trapped, wrapped up in duct tape with plastic bags tightly wound around our heads in a Medium.com cellar or ally, imagining where they might be headed.
Below is feedback from a fellow captive of Medium’s maniacal madness: Stuart Grant
In Re to my posting: Medium’s Ever-Shrinking Significance, at Least For Me
“You have contributed so much to this platform both as writer and editor. If it makes you feel better I am stuck in -25 Celsius tapping out blather.”
(My re to Stuart’s kind re to me)
It’s funny I opened this while in the midst of a conversation about Medium etc. with my pard’ in crime Vincent V. Triola who had just rightly accused me of taking my laziness to almost magical heights of uselessness. So, Stuart, thanks for your contrasting view, which I’ll use to smack Vincent around.