Chapter One, The End
Thirty-four and faceless, I must face the facts, I've failed;
The events past, forever cast, my destiny unveiled.
My life seems but a story that somehow strayed from the plot;
I know there once was meaning, but somewhere I just forgot.
The prologue wasn't very long – ‘twas mostly in a fog.
I faintly recall "It's a boy" amidst the dialogue.
A mother's bane, a father's pride, the table had been set...
And I, the victim -- I, the prize -- just didn't know it yet.
The standard admonition of a billion pawns in wait,
I heard the call of Childhood and I raced her to the gate.
Humankind, a curious lot, she tossed the die of Fate;
I closed my eyes, in dream – ‘would seem that I awoke too late.
At six years old I stood, a man, beneath a child's gaze,
Drawn to animosity through a melancholy haze.
I watched them spit and throw things, still I couldn't quite abhor
Those soldiers getting off the plane coming home from the war.
There, crept disease into my blood for forsaking the trite;
The rottenness of hell, within me, taking form that night.
I met the challenge, tried and true, but never gained control,
For what amounts to tolerance pays no homage to soul.
Then Nixon gave a peace sign and I understood the "lie."
The Challenger exploded and I saw my father cry.
The tender years were passed me and I drew my mother's scorn,
I was simply the child she wished she had never borne.
I lay on my back, on the floor, my feet propped to the bed;
The aches, the pains, the night sweats all arrayed within my head.
Thirteen years old, biding my time, I could, too plainly, see
The pendulum of Death, above, tick-tocking, mocking me.
Then Education showed the guiltless harbor no reward;
Decorations fall where they might, if kin to the school board.
Hard work and dedication are the keys to any fall,
And the insights of those like me are best left to the stall.
Then one by one, as if by curse, the closest to me fell;
And yet they lived by voice, in verse, in my story to tell.
Perhaps was just benefice found to somehow give life worth,
As stone by stone I turned, alone, to give each back to earth.
To pulpits and to prophets, God, I bled the spoken word.
I delved into His parables -- still swear I never heard
The answer to one question; "Why suffering never ends,
And Darkness won't relinquish me even as Night rescinds?"
I prayed for hope, I prayed for love, those things I'd never felt.
I prayed for understanding of the cards I had been dealt.
But careful what you pray for, for nothing in life can burn
More than the knowledge love and hope may garner no return.
Then bullets flew over my head, but well within my grasp,
As all around the world paused to meet them with a gasp.
Hinkly may have been famed for life, if just a better shot;
Bullets meant to kill Reagan, though, hit men we all forgot.
Yet somewhere in that paradox I came to know disdain;
As solace became silence, and emptiness a refrain.
I drew her like a blanket ‘round my battered, bitter heart,
And slept the first sleep of my life where dreaming played no part.
A robe, I donned, of blackness, shrewd, but one fit for a king;
Then sought the witch of ill-omen and proffered her the ring.
Perhaps there of my own accord, perhaps drawn by her spell,
She accepted the role offered and shared my private hell.
‘Twas there I flung, for eight years full, on strings at her command;
Slave to the grind, a man grown blind, beneath her wispy hand.
As inch by inch, as piece by piece, she eroded my shell
Then gave full slack unto the strings to laugh that I had fell.
There, with a sudden angst attuned, and with a fearful cry,
I saw the blood upon my hands and looked unto the sky;
Exposed for what I was, a fake, sought sanctity above,
Reminded, there, what comes to those in search of hope or love.
My Dad was gone, my one true friend, the strength in me from birth;
I watched him die beneath the lie of all life maybe worth.
Still cancer's a peculiar thing, I realize it's true;
Everyone who witnesses it, in his own way, dies too.
But I bent over backward and I nearly broke my back,
To strive and strain and wrack my brain for all in life in lack.
The grim Reaper incarnate, robed once more and now with scythe;
I'd make amends to father and I'd watch the wicked writhe.
I found success is forged upon the keys of greed and hate,
But inspiration's not a charge that's payable to Fate.
And in the carnage of the bloody sorrows that were wrung,
Disease anew, back for round two, laid claim to my left lung.
I lay there, cursing, lay there, screaming, lay there night and day;
Coughing, gasping, groping, grasping life slipping away.
The doctors felt I could not heal should they draw the blade,
And so should I just slowly make my way unto the glade.
Two years dead, but Death wouldn't touch me, till they split my side
To remove that which cursed me in my curse upon my bride.
Two years more I lie awake clutching an empty chest;
Closing my eyes to shut the light, but seldom, then, to rest.
Impeached he was, our president, and yet he wouldn't leave.
New heights of gall, I must attest, ones I could not believe.
A silver tongue, a crooked smile, deceit cleverly hid;
I found one day I could care less just what the bastard did.
No faith in man, no faith in God, nor Death as I could tell;
I lost all gained in life that they should laugh at me, as well.
And so I ran, and so I hid, a shadow in the night;
Garnished myself in nothingness, that none know me by sight...
To dream away a thousand things that all in darkness crept,
And sleep by day my life away in promises unkept.
But towers fell and I awoke, and as yet, have not moved;
I know there is a point here, though know not how it be proved.
We hold up signs, "A No Hate State," but all know kindness kills.
It's not a battle of borders but a battle of wills.
And I, a man without a voice, might seem disturbed, at best;
To hold human life above all, knowing we've failed that test.
And so I ride my carousel of life, so prearranged,
Wondering how it comes about to leave one so estranged.
A calloused heart, a weathered soul, and eyes that just can't see
I'm lost between a man I was and one I'll never be.
Perhaps it's just a mystery, perhaps just a cruel joke.
I really can't begin to touch on what these thoughts invoke.
In all endeavored to mistrust, or Death might have curtailed;
Thirty-four and faceless, I must face the facts, I've failed.
Michael R. Anderson