Submarines.

I’m just tired; I’ve got some work to do; I’m fine; I don’t know what you’re talking about.

He went with, “I’m just a little tired,” because it was the most convenient half-truth to tell at the time.  It felt like he could do nothing right that day.  And he knew – he had been told, really – that it was all just an overreaction to a single negative situation, and his programed response to it was to catastrophize.  Nevertheless, he didn’t care to fight back tonight.  He joked about physical exams earlier, realizing too late that she was anxious from her latest checkup.  The doctors were taking an uncommonly long time to return the results to her; in fact, self-diagnosing led her down a dark corridor with the walls closing in on all sides, stopping with just enough room for her to tuck her knees into her chin and hope beyond grace that it was all just catastrophizing.  He hadn’t meant to lead her by the hand back to the corridor.

How selfish he was, letting his regret show on his face, putting her in a place of regretting her openness about her very real issue while fighting to steady the darkness from encroaching upon the rest of her night.  And the way he left, making a big show of just how much he regretted making the joke, all the while leaving her ashamed and thinking – wrongly – that maybe she was being a burden on other people.  Maybe he was putting prison bars where freedom walked, giving in to the whispers of doubt about just how good of a friend he actually was, and none of this was happening at all.  He wanted to feel guilty about what had happened – he deserved to bear the responsibility for his mistake because he was supposed to be a good friend.  It was the most convenient half-truth to accept at that time.

The retreat inwards began, but he didn’t notice.  He just needed to get through to the end, and he would be home free – free from ruining anymore of his relationships, free to be silent, free to not live underneath the expectations that others had come to own.  He would just run from it all because after all, he was just a coward who couldn’t face his reflection when it surrounded him.  All he did was lie, sell himself as better than he really was, believe in his own lies, and continue manufacturing selves.  Positivity was his most polished mask, and his heart had accumulated enough of his half-truths to believe it owned a single, reliable shard of honesty.  At the end of the day, he was weak.  He wanted to be strong; he wanted to be reliable; he wanted to be honest; he wanted to be kind; he wanted to be free to know who he was and where he stood without the ground collapsing at the slightest nervous shift in weight from right to left, plunging him into the frigid and lonesome below.  He was catastrophizing.

Another mistimed joke, and he found himself lost.  Why was he? Had he not realized that he could have tried not belittling people around him for once, just so that his own crudeness could find a measure of stability?  Was it impossible for him to understand that who he was just didn’t fit who he thought he was?  He was pitiful.  He’d go home and paint something – painting would do the trick, what with the silence and the focus on making something really intricate so that he would just forget seeing his own face stapled onto his friend’s disappointment.  He knew that it had been a rough week for him, but he let his own charm poison the vial even more.  What a wreck.  He really didn’t know who he was at all.  All this time, he had the ridiculous idea that he had been doing him a favor when he himself was the burden.  Is it only now occurring?  He probably thought he was an idiot for even trying to show him in the most explicit way that he wasn’t the friend he thought he was, and here he was, thinking that he was saving him from the shadows.  There wasn’t a thing right about him.

He dove into the dark of the ocean, colliding with the side of the boat on the way down.  Abrasions didn’t matter anymore at this point; he wasn’t even sure he felt the slick, dull, trauma anymore.  I can’t do anything right. I’ve heard that one already.  Why are you wasting your time? Be honest about your mistakes.  You’re the reason we’re here.  Are you still here? Haven’t you grown up yet? Jeez. Get a grip. Move on. Stop worrying so much.  Time will tell.  Why didn’t you say anything? You disappoint me.  Where is the surface?  Don’t be a baby.  Where are you going?  You don’t understand.  Why am I here? You’ll be fine.  I can’t feel anything anymore.  Who’s fault is that?  You made this mess, you fix it.

His heart pounded and every beat felt heavier and heavier and slower and slower he felt it in his head and in his eyes until he was realizing that he was trying to breathe in deeply he was trying to breathe in but his lungs weren’t enough for him and he saw that it was dark except for a single moon far away though far from him and who he was and where he needed to be so he breathed less hoping to reflect on things more and realize that it was just catastrophizing it was just in his head it wasn’t going to be that bad it couldn’t be that bad what was going on he hadn’t felt this way in a long time but he couldn’t find his way out except to talk to no one about it because that’s who understood him best.

I can’t breathe.  Just let me wake up.

Please.

Moon Beams.

Tonight is a good night for nostalgia,

so go to the lake.

The moon says hello from the surface,

you wave politely.

~

What memories shall we make tonight?

Perhaps the trees will light aflame

in remembrance of

three hundred forgotten stars.

~

Your sighs howl in branches

and wind up in your lap;

don’t forget to look

up – and see yourself always upwards.

~

Eyes put on colder lenses

as the night grows softer, fuzzier.

Warmth yearns for freedom

from weathered tombs.

~

You let go of the clinging in your eyes,

scattered free on moon beams.

So they walked on the moon,

forever forgetting home.

Magnificence.

A crashing wave upon a stone,

centered beyond its usual home.

Alone, the wind guides waves

back to shore so they can tell a poem.

What legends must they tell?

What fable is so pressing?

Beyond the horizon is a

return that needs addressing.

Swiftly, Lord, You are coming;

with love, You’ve waited all these years.

The stones of Your creation

are crying out, stained with ocean tears.

Oceans deeper than our fathoms,

Forests fuller than our dreams

speak to Your imagination

Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.

Forgive us when we are

silent about Your glory.

Make us each a crying stone

that speaks, in part, Your story.

May Your fullness reigns in us,

bearing through us some new fruit;

May You deeply speak to us,

sharing with us Your whole truth.

Though the mountains may now stand,

they will fall when waves have finished

telling of Your ceaseless mercy and

glory no more diminished.

 

These Streets.

These streets no longer are the same;

footsteps fall

foreign before asphalt.

These streets once saw the

joy of nighttime cheer, now

tears adorn the paved sidewalks.

These streets now bear

in memory, ones who were loved

and loved others.

We walked upon them for

years and years,

yet it was not

these streets we walked upon.

These streets, they’ve changed

along the way,

and so have we.

Strength to Rise.

Tragedies have always found themselves in the limelight, becoming fulcra of unity around which communities gather.  As students of UCSB, more and more it seems like this year has been a year for us to pause and reflect on our own community.  With the riot from Deltopia and now the death of seven students, including the shooter, we are gradually becoming unfortunately familiar with regret and mourning.  This latest shooting in particular has caught me off guard in terms of how much of a burden it is upon my heart.  To think that one of the victims was on the phone with his father not even an hour before he was shot is heart-wrenching.  It’s in times like these that people of all beliefs, all cultures, and all upbringings ask, “Why?” and though they scan the skies desperately, the meaninglessness of the brutality is only magnified.

Tonight, I mourn the condition of a community I have grown to love.  Coming in as a freshmen, hearing about the reputation as a party school, I was terrified.  And yet, I found the most open, friendly, welcoming students on campus.   There was trust in those days – trust that we would respect each other, trust that we would take care of one another, and trust that we would all leave UCSB, grateful for the memories and the preparation it provided for the “real world.” And now, I cannot help but feel as if that trust has been broken by a single individual.  When we question how we as the future generation can make a difference, how we as students can contribute to society, how we as a community can improve the condition of the world around us, we never expected, and never realized, the power to change borne by a single individual.  And yet, if this is the effect one man can have, what’s stopping us all from using our own God-given abilities to do the opposite, and perpetuate a more hopeful tomorrow?  Not as individuals will we overcome, but as a unified coalition; solitude only bears forth calamity, but to stand in one accord arms us with the strength to rise above what has happened and look onwards to what is to come.  In this time of healing, we must learn again what it is to trust.  We dare not live for the betterment of our own lives any longer, but that we might enrich the stories of those around us until we all come to the full measure of our portions in this life.

The dead can speak no more on the preciousness of their own lives, having had their lives robbed from them without opportunity to resist; we the living bear the silence of these victims as guilt, as sorrow, as regret, as pain, as loss, and as sacrifice.  However, this silence is not merely an event for us to look back upon when we leave these grounds – that would be an insult to their memories.  The silence these victims leaves behind will be a lasting call to grow as a campus and even beyond the boundaries of Henley Gate when we leave, bearing a message that speaks to the effect of: “Don’t take what you have for granted.  Your education, your passion, and your characters will all mold this world in ways that we never had the privilege of experiencing.  Don’t consume yourselves with just focusing on improving UCSB, but expand your visions to encompass the world around you.  Do big things for us, the ones who were stripped of the joy of seeing how we could affect the world positively.”

The situation was born from an imperfect heart in an imperfect world, shattering the hearts of thousands within the community.  And now, we as a community ought not have a more pressing goal than to greet one another with our shards of hearts, exchanging them with one another as we knit ourselves tightly around the memories of the lost.  We all offer our prayers and condolences to the families of the deceased, praying in earnest that we might finally wake up and realize that we are together, that we are united, that we are one.  In unity, we stand vigil over the memories of the victims.  IV, my thoughts, prayers, and my heart go with you; I can only ask that you treasure them as your own, and that these shattered hearts heal not as many, but as one.

Stillness.

Be still my heart, for beats unrelenting

bring only a mindset that is unrepenting.

Adoration falls on things that are formed,

yet Maker of all is the one who is scorned.

Be still my mouth, that you might not flow

forth a torrent of judgment and make a new foe.

Unbridled tongue of flame, lash not;

recall the battles you need not have fought.

Be still my mind, for thoughts dark may come

’til strife, grief, and sorrow become your sum.

Know love, yet with your “wisdom” proclaim

no love to those who are called by one Name.

Until all three are at peace within,

depraved heart of mine will continue to sin.

Forsake God’s rest without a look back;

yet still see a love greater that has not a lack.

Nearing the End.

I come close to the end of a year in which I managed to more or less successfully stick to my New Year’s resolution of writing one essay-ish piece and one piece of poetry per week.  I never really took the time to reflect on how the activity has affected my writing, and so now, in an attempt to delay the writing of my impending paper, I write this.  In certain aspects, this resolution was something that I didn’t necessarily need to stick to at all, and yet I somehow found the time to more or less get all of the necessary works produced in a timely fashion.  Looking back on what I used to write, I realized that my perspective grew more and more realistic, my tone not quite as lyrical as before, and my views not quite as naïve as they previously were.  This is the consequence of change; however, I’m not certain that I like the change.  I enjoyed writing the effusive, overly eloquent, labyrinthine pieces about certain people that I used to write, no matter how much of a headache they were to read.   It seemed like my connection to the language was fuller and more fulfilling back then.  Perhaps at the end of the year, I’ll go back and do a reading of all the pieces I wrote this year, and bring out a few of my favorite ones to analyze.  I think I would like doing that, and it might give all of the readers of this blog something to consider and measure their own interpretations against.  But for now, I write, on and on, into the passing eternity of memory.