I See A Darkness

There are some new body poems up on the poetica page, if you’re in the mood for a more hopeful reading than the reflection that follows…

It’s been a long year and I’m more cynical than I would like to be right now. The brandy’s turned the almond milk sour in my mug of hot cocoa. It’s one day before the end of the year and my endurance is young yet, I’ll weather more before it’s over. More years worth of disasters we’ve thrown money at but not been able to remedy, more times we’ve strengthened our faith in each other, because the churches and the governments are culpable and the institutions are ineffective and the corporations are corrupt and poisoning us all in the name of capitalism. This year just feels like I wised up to some core truth about myself that made it possible to grow strong beyond despair.

I gave some of my all and then I took it all back and moved away with it, and now I feel intact again for the first time in a while. The old story of struggle and coping with struggle seems inflated, dramatic, and a waste of any more energy.

It’s happened. The state of the world used to be a deep dread in my belly, like an unknown allergy to the full and terrible truth. I was a child of the Cold War 80’s, of interstellar battles and the icy gates
of the Kremlin, of Japanese technology and Reaganomics. I was taught about welfare mothers in 8th grade health class, and I responded with a yelp as though it stung. And it did a bit – the worldview of the real world is hard, cold, and unforgiving. There was judgment in the pages of my textbooks. This is how I introduced myself to reading in between the lines: I kept asking questions of the information when it pained me, and the dread migrated through all these layers of tissue out to the skin where it oozes like a sore in plain sight.

Nobody in the world is okay this year, because a lot of people left us, and we all know about it. And a lot of factories kept producing toxic waste and more and more of us know about it, and we all feel it in our lungs and in our spirits. And we’re running out of things that we need, or that we think that we need. And not everybody knows about it, or worse they don’t care. And the human race is full of people who are willing to gamble with the lives of others, especially when the stakes go high.

And there’s a sort of settling in happening. I’ve scouted the land, I know my allies. I don’t believe education will do it, will make the shift in consciousness spread as far and as wide as it has to. I’ve been reading fantasy novels again, where a small band of committed allies across kingdoms joins their different magicks collectively to defeat the darkness.

I’ve been listening to Johhny Cash cover a Bonnie Prince Billy song:
I See a Darkness. In it he sings,
“Well you’re my friend. And can you see.
Many times we’ve been out drinking. And many times
we’ve shared our thoughts. Did you ever, ever notice,
the kind of thoughts I got.
Well you know I have a love, a love for everyone I know.
And you know I have a drive, to live I won’t let go.
Can you see its opposition comes rising up sometimes.
And its dreadful imposition, comes blacking in my mind.

That I see a darkness, and that I see a darkness,
and that I see a darkness, and that I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you.
Here’s a hope that somehow you,
can save me from this darkness.

I hope that someday baby, we will have peace in our hearts.
Together or apart, alone or with our wives,
That we can stop our whoring, and pull the smiles inside,
and light it up forever, And never go to sleep.
My best unbeaten brother, this isn’t all I see.

Oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you.
There’s a hope that somehow you
can save me from this darkness…”

Don’t mean to force anybody to walk this mind road with me, but it’s core, and now in the long dark evenings like tonight, it feels true to bare it openly.
This year has had its moments alright – some loss and pain, and some secret pleasures too. I’m glad to greet the next one, but there’s a guardedness in my heart that’s new. I’m not as young as I was last year, and last year I felt old. And I’m angry but I’m not lashing out with it anymore, I’ve harnessed it for my own purposes, it is fuel of a sustainable sort, since there’s plenty for it to feed upon.

And my love? Doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and what I’ve got, is a lot.

4 thoughts on “I See A Darkness”

  1. On those dark nights, I pause take a deep breath and look up at the wonderous dark sky, dark and full of stars, hazy with clouds, wet with wind, whatever it is that I look up to and take a great deep breath of awe. Awe for the adventures, for the soul searching, for the chaos to give to moments of peace, and to my friendhips, true and pure. We do not get older, we just grow with our lives, you are not older, you are light, and without the darkness we wouldn’t be able to smile at the simpleness or see the small amount of light.
    I miss you and am thankful to you, for being.

  2. Hey JB, thanks for the thoughts and Chris thanks for the comments, so beautiful.

    Your article made me realize that what happened to me last year, is that I did declare war upon those who refuse to see the high cost of the way they live. For those who can not see the direct effects (or consequences) of their actions. Cause and effect is one of the first abstract ideas I remember learning – sometime in early grade school. This concept seems entirely lost on so many of the humans in the world around me.

    The declaration of war did give me hope, in two ways. One, is as you say, a focus for the anger. The other is that I choose to fight the war with the weapon of living by example. It is in this way that I hope people will see the alternatives available to them, and maybe question and perhaps (hopefully) questioning will lead to change.

  3. so, another one of my dear poetry-sharing friends did send me this poem for christmas, and i thought it was worth sharing, and this seems like a good place:

    Standing at the Top of the Lane

    One star against the winter blackened sky
    no more, not yet, though there will be
    soon–soon enough the night filled
    with leaping crackling light
    bound for eternity.
    For now, one star glistens
    a hand’s breadth above skeletal trees,
    while behind me
    (i know for I have turned to look)
    the sunset’s raw wound nails nighttime
    to the earth.
    Wish on the star, there, low;
    my body pierced by an arrow of hope beyond possibility
    in this world gone awry, grief congealed
    in shrouds and hospital beds, the dead
    too young and I am too old
    to see war again. Wish on the star.
    A simple thing, this wish, crafted
    in blood-written words naming peace.
    Peace I leave you; peace I give you.
    Snow covered plains on a frosted night,
    the dark slash of a frozen creek bed–
    a coyote pack runs in the draw
    warbles sweet and high
    as if they were angels, singing in tongues.

    Janet Sunderland
    December 5, 2005

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