Droplets

Dripping down, the leaking droplets create a consistent sound above us. A night of thunder and broken clouds of winter rain wash away the fallen snow, bringing in a layer of water and slippery surroundings around the home. Marley lays in perfect harmony with the couch, undisturbed by chatter and the morning’s happenings.
The sun breaks in the horizon, the sky opening into light to contrast the clouds and grey directly above the home. The thin, cold air outside is a signature of the clear and crisp northern mornings. The pine trees of dark, wet complexion cover the view from the back window, offering foliage from the homes behind ours. The fresh morning air stamps calmness over the neighborhood.

A cup of coffee steams alongside a piece of breakfast toast. The bookshelf calls me to approach, to sit on the couch next to Marley and look through the newly added pages of fiction and prose. As the tide of darkness has shifted to light following the winter solstice, a few precious minutes have been added to the short days. The snowy winter months will gather in force as will the daytime hours leading to spring.  For now, the sun is shining through in the distance and the morning is free to be enjoyed, whether inside or outdoors.

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Vacation Mornings

The street lights flicker as I try to step quicker with every breath of fresh air I ingest. The morning chills have me buttoned up to my neck in sweater and jacket, strutting the damp sidewalks stretching around the homes and onto the main streets of the small town. The routine of coffee and cream, bagels and bananas cannot be forsaken for darkness or cold.

It is a necessary walk, signifying my awakening and need to move into the morning. It is to grasp a hold of the day, to take the morning by storm, and to step out for a well needed exercising of my sleeping legs. In silent march, the smoke-filled exhales from my lungs perforate the air around me. My vision still slightly blurred from sleep, I walk alone through the dark until the lights from the cars on the main street take a hold of me, placing me in the grips of the town.

A bite of bagel and a large coffee cup in my hands, the sweet morning air of freedom and freshness brushes gently against my skin. This is the best and only way I wish to take on the best of my vacation mornings.

Our Homes

Many years have passed, the patches of green grass turning brown, into mud and finally filled in with concrete and new beginnings. The houses of this block were tales of fortitude. They were inhabited by a generation which had managed to scrape together what was left behind by its former rulers. Through civil strife, a country was hammered together. Given the keys to their new homes, they were left with an unfounded society, borders and hopes of building a functioning nation. This block was just a small part of a larger dream that was known then as a new country.

As the nation lay dormant, its population boomed and our city swelled in heat. Pollution and traffic grew as old customs and commitments trickled down sparingly to the newer generations. The area changed gradually and before long, the original homes were renovated, revamped and repackaged. Many of the families remained the same but the inhabitants developed new habits. New jobs meant lucrative opportunities and before long, the neighborhood alongside the city grew with the markets and the country.

The corner house was our place away from home. In my younger years, it was a sleepy bend of cats and dogs, of the elderly, and an enclave signifying a getaway from the bustle of the city. As the barbwire fences grew taller from our side of the boundary walls, so did the weeds and bushes on the other side on the abandoned plot of land. Watching from the balcony, the stray dogs would form in gangs, sleeping and foraging for meals. A slow ruin came over my eyes as I moved away and visited the corner house less, maybe because of the process of growing older elsewhere or simply due to the hands of experience.

The once large and cozy corner became a small ball of stress, gasping and holding tightly to the crumbling side streets that were too narrow for vehicles. The land grew smaller as the population grew larger and the new faces that arrived were unfamiliar. Society had changed and our corner felt the impact of this new world, from inside and out. The house wore down, renovations were difficult and upkeep costly. Neighborhoods began springing up around the city of millions, boasting impossible price tags and incredible, high-achieving socialites. Our corner could no longer afford to keep out the outside world, to sneak away from the hustle and noise of the city and into the afternoon light of Sunday lunches with family and friends.

Looking back, I remember this home in fondness. My safe place as a child no longer mine, the friendly confines of the neighborhood no more my peace of mind. I have found new homes, nature, cozy and warm settings and even traces of youth in recent years but never again will I find a first love as I did in the shape of this house once upon a time.

Art

Art without boundaries, yet captured within frames on walls. Lines and paint strewn, drawn, foregone the constraints of society and the sobriety of societal conform. The burst of a life’s work seized within an institution, realized in front of a stranger’s eyes. Displayed, judged, and contemplated, often after the disintegration of the artist whose efforts are emancipated only after their passing from this world.

Photos and sculptures by the unknown thinkers of culture brushing their defeats and victories within the white sheets of canvas. Modesty within the story, aesthetically enhanced dancing in artistic purgatory. The brushes of the painter’s hand, freed from the crutches and clutches of restricted man but never restrained or refraining from it must do and what it can. The ability of an artist, the agility to maneuver the intricacies of creative conquest to produce the best of an imagination at its strongest.

Within small glass cases and large exhibitions, the artist’s rendition of the world’s vision functions with precision edging on chaos. The landscapes and contemporary structures showcasing the ink blots and thoughts of process ponder beautiful rupture. As visitors pass through for a homage in a minute for a collage selected and put together but never truly finished, the work lives on, drawn and pulled on by the artist’s intentions and personal limits before one moves on.

A day in The Bay

The lifting fog uncovers the Bay area morning life. Houses stir in early morning mist with the sunrise having ushered in the day as families filter slowly out of the neighborhoods on their way to school and work. The small green patches of grass lining the sidewalks are freshly dripped in dew, the blades of grass straining water into the soggy ground. Squirrels stir low through the trees and side streets in the morning burst, ready to start their day with the rest of the neighborhood.

Traffic gathers in force and stores open in slow unison on the main streets of the town. Commuting workers stop into the small shops for their breakfasts and coffee before heading out in their industrial vehicles on the daily grind. The mornings are cold this time of year and the puffs of chilled steam and smoke are as easily visible from mouths as they are from cars mufflers.

The morning gathers force until eventually, the streets fall once again into quiet and calm. The early afternoon is a time for sunshine and silence. The neighborhood dogs bask in sunlight, laying lazily in backyards. An occasional cloud passes overhead but the clear and open blue horizon boasts year-round afternoon warmth. A few cars pass through the neighborhood and workers filter in and out through the streets but the afternoon aura is of subdued peace.

It is late afternoon again and residents begin to return to the neighborhood. Students walk over the sidewalks on their way home from school and parents return home with their children. The neighborhood comes alive briefly as it does during the mornings and the youth come out to play on the streets. It will not be long before the sun sets on the streets of the Bay and the children return indoors and into their beds. The street lights are dim and darkness engulfs entire blocks of neighborhoods.

As the last of the house lights go off for the evening, the neighborhood falls into a slumber in the frigid air of the night, undisturbed and waiting for tomorrow to repeat the day and bring life once again to the Bay area.

Fools

A heap of sorrows
a cup of worries
mixed two parts
for a misery in flurry

Starve me of this strangulation
spare me this miserable mess
count me in for the fortunes and freedom
only to mumble away madness
like the truth of sadness in weak threats

But cheap bets placed for success on a pauper’s soul
need years to manifest, and at best eventually worth their weight in fool’s gold
save your investments and pull out your pots and pans
and get to cooking with your neighbors
all that is left in the pathetic thoughts of man

Days

The words fall into white spaces. Trickling from fingers onto page, emotions and scenes are enraptured by experience. Stories take shape all around, in profound settings as they do in the mundane. A vein exposed to an inkling of suffering is buffered and prepared for all that daily routines may dare. The growth of subsequent strength, at long lengths only to weaken at day’s end, bent and out of shape but remodeled in sleep for another cycle in lively, earthly rotation.

A summation of existence in a minute is possible, just as the unanswered call of the infinite and endless. Possibilities arise just as hopelessness may derive the strength of people who thrive on little pleasures. Little treasures are measured similar to doses of good weather, the moderation of the day between play and pay, between staying and walking away for tomorrow that may leave the strong speechless or the weak knowing exactly what to say.

To the dismay of the clouds clearing for a burning blue sky in orange flickers for an evening’s goodbye, the human star gleams light without ever truly burning out.

Stations

A rumbling locomotive grinds into the crowded station. There is little space afforded to stand and none to sit. The faces pile into the train, squeezed tightly and holding on for sparse breaths and safety, looking forward to making it to their destinations. The compartments are full, some of the passengers on the platform choosing to wait for the next carriages to roll into the station before making their way home, sacrificing their time for a little more comfort.

The platform left behind is a tale of people, of waste and of the hardships that pass through every day. A site of struggle and necessity, the stations are murky in their standing, lined on both sides with soot encrusted tracks. The storm of dust brought in by the compartments settles as the train continues forward, onto the next station on the journey from one end of the city to the other.

Jolting from side to side, the train speeds in bullet form, pausing between stations and coasting along as it can. The faces peer into phones, into their papers and out of the windows only to find their reflections glancing back at them through the dark underground. The number of passengers thins as the train proceeds out of the city.

The train surfaces in the suburbs, people continuing to appear and disappear in and out of the compartments. There are hundreds of stories on this train, of toil and struggle, and of hopes and dreams but I can only be sure of one. The people of backgrounds dissimilar, of different worlds, crossing paths once for a brief eye contact only to never brush into each other again on a warm and crowded Friday afternoon on the subway.

Her

She is a beautiful creation. Her blonde hair glows in darkness and her sparkling green eyes cannot hide her delicate nature. I met her by chance many years ago but did not have the courage to speak to her. I was only a boy. Our eyes met briefly but she disappeared into a crowd of students within a few seconds.
Many years have passed since our first awkward meetings. We were both shy but we would run around town at late hours, eating at restaurants, drinking wine and enjoying each other’s company. She would follow beside me, hiding her fears and doubts. We were young but with many worries. We remained attached side by side for days at an end before parting ways. This continued for many years. The best moments together were between spells of troubled times, our encounters brief and our bond, strong.
We stayed in touch and in each other’s lives, separated by an ocean and thousands of kilometers. Taking life day by day, the plan of our future slowly began to take shape.
She has only grown more beautiful in the years passed. Our dog sits by her side, his nose burrowed in her lap. He proves stiff competition for her affection but lately, I have let him win. He brings her great joy and calms her when life gets overwhelming. She now knits calmly, her little fingers weaving away the concerns of work and daily responsibility. She lives for today. Sitting within an arm’s length, she looks up
at me and finds me looking at her. Her large, watchful eyes meet mine. Blushing, she utters,
“Why are you staring at me?”

A Long Way Home

It is by no means a long walk and with each step, I inch closer to my student housing. The blueberries of summer have been replaced with gravel to prevent pedestrians from falling. The howling winds of winter have arrived early and with them, a lumbered stroll home in the night following long hours of study at the University.

I stumble with my steps, mumble to myself about the miseries of chills that wish to spill me over onto the icy roads. The snowflakes fall sparingly and cars pass in numbers, the bubbles of orange light speeding past in sequence. I avoid the large puddles but my feet are wet, water soaking into my socks squishing under my feet with each step. I will soon be home, but with each turn made and each crossing passed, I feel further away from warmth than my last stride.

Up and down the small hills and streets, my legs stiff stiffen like wood. My jacket hood covers my hair and my wool hat covers my forehead with only my eyes under their glasses and cheeks exposed to the winter air.  It won’t be long, I tell myself.

I pass through a pedestrian tunnel. The graffiti on the walls of this hollow channel changes quickly and often. I make a final turn down the home stretch of pavement. My building is within sight, the warm air of my room beckoning me forward. I wish to lay in my bed and fall asleep but the trek continues. The tension in my legs eases and I have made it within a couple minutes of my apartment.

Passing my key card through a metal slot, I pass through the glass doors with a sigh of relief. I await the elevator, hop into the tiny box and appear at my floor within seconds. Opening the front door to my room, I have finally arrived home to a warm room and comfortable bed. Each step is an accomplishment in these miles and minutes of cold weather demanding more with each passing moment.

I look forward to tomorrows, to more walks, to challenges and further successes.