Marooned and My Rum Soaked Rescue

Peter rigged a rope and tied it to the base of a tree. The hole was well-below the water-line, but dryer than an Egyptian tomb in the desert. Blue sky made our descent into darkness less threatening. Scrolls and maps and seaman’s charts were stuffed into the walls. The air smelled of dust and alcohol.

“That chest isn’t locked,” I said.

“Well, let’s have a look see then.”

“Wait, we don’t know what’s inside.”

“Anything alive, has already died. What could go wrong?” And Peter opened the lid. Gold Galleons and jewels and ivory pistols greeted our eyes.

“This is bigger than National Geographic,” I said.

“Well, there’s only one thing left to do. We’ve got to load my ship with treasure.” Peter climbed out of the hole and lowered a bucket down, while I shoveled jewels for him. It was one of those rare moments when reality doesn’t seem real. Hoisting hundreds of pounds of treasure out of a hole takes a long time. So, I tried the rum, and it wasn’t bad, but I decided not to get drunk on the job. Whenever I saw Peter’s face above the hole, it changed, in some small way, like a wrinkle or line, that normally takes several years to define. It was happening to his face, small significant lines.

“Peter, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

Was it the hesitation in his voice or was it mine?” Something was off; trust wasn’t there. All the treasure was in his ship; dust and charts and alcohol were down here. I shrugged off my doubt and grabbed the rope, which fell limp in my hands like a puppet on a string. “Peter!” I shouted. “I say…Peter!” No response. The boat motor CHUNKED and came to life. I was marooned; left for dead, by a friend I thought was a friend. Maybe treasure is cursed. It causes men to do things they would never do.

I spent the day and night in that hopeless hole without the marooned man’s rights, a pistol with one shot. Dehydration by alcohol was my doom as I drank into the next day. Too much of a realist to hope for a rescue. I was thirsty and drunk, when I heard shouting on the shore. Was it a mirage, fueled by alcoholic blood? I ripped off my shirt and stuffed it into a bottle, pulling a lighter from my pocket; a habit I couldn’t quit. Fire burned the bottle and I threw it towards the sky. A palm tree went up like a roman candle and loud-mouthed beach boys looked into my hole.

I Discover I’m a Magician

It was difficult to speak, but after several awkward moments I found the words. “You’re the cat I found in the woods.”

“We’ll, actually, I found you,” she said.

“What?”

“Have you ever wondered why you aren’t good with women?”

“I just thought it was because I need to get out more.”

“Well… maybe you do, but that’s not the reason; you aren’t an ordinary man.”

“I guess that’s true, but I’ve never had fire come out of my hands before.”

“That’s because you haven’t found the right woman. Someone like you gets power from someone like me.”

“And you are…?”

“A witch.”

“Aren’t witches supposed to be ugly?”

“You’ve read too much folklore. Witches spend their time in nature. We crave natural things.

“And that’s me?”

“It can be you, and the longer we spend time together, the more powerful we’ll become.”

“You know, I was taking you to the police station.”

“I know.”

“Well, right now I don’t know what to do.”

“Well… why don’t we go for a walk and get to know each other?”

“Okay, but what do I call you?”

“Samantha. You named me; don’t you remember?”

“Yes, but that can’t be your real name.”

“A magician always names his witch.”

“Don’t you want a hyphenated name?”

“No, what’s that?”

“Women do it to make sure they don’t have to submit to a man.”

“Witches are happiest when they serve their man.”

“But what about your rights?”

“Rights?”

“Yeah, women have rights.”

“But I’m not a woman; I’m a witch. I will clean for you and cook for you and have children with you. Just don’t cross me.”

“Cross you?”

“Once you choose me, there is no going back.”

And I believed her; there was fire coming out of her eyes.

A Shipwreck, an Island, and a Hidden Sea Chest

The untouched sea is wild. It forces the insides of men into the open; natural elements erode the false self and nakedness appreciates its nakedness; human and only human. Peter checked his course. Dark clouds didn’t bother him, in the same way that big waves weren’t big. Enough time on the ocean desensitizes a sailor to its emotions and Peter enjoyed the drama. It was the symphony of the storm that he lived for. I was still a land lubber who enjoyed sinking his feet into the sand, but spending time with my friend on his adventures was worth the ocean’s anger.

“Better brace yourself,” Peter said.

The waves were like a roller coaster. I threw up and Peter laughed. The wind howled with laughter; there wasn’t much difference between it and my friend. The red sky turned black and the night saw the sun cut through rain clouds, a sprinkling of peace after a wild ride.

“We’re close to the reef. The coral forms a natural barrier on the tail end of an isthmus near old shipping lanes. It would be worth exploring. The ship is half-a-kilometer from shore.” Peter pointed to something I couldn’t see, a discoloration in the water. Drop the anchor when I tell you.”

My hand was sweaty.

“Now!”

I pressed the button.

“Gear up; we’ll need to scuba,” Peter said. I didn’t like pretending I was a fish; it was unnatural. People pulled them out of the water without mercy and jumping in after them seemed like a bad idea. The water was dark, and as Peter was preparing to jump, a fin cut the surface.

“Hey, watch it,” I said.

“Oh, that’s nothing, maybe a white tip.” And he jumped. I didn’t want to be left alone, so I grabbed a spear gun, and I jumped. We went down and under the surface the water was clear. A ship lay uncovered, against the reef, looking as if it had been sand-blasted; The San Anita—a Spanish Galleon my friend told me about. Summer storms had pushed it against the coral.

Peter swam inside the cargo hold as a shadow moved between a pillar of rocks; it had stripes on its back. There was nothing inside, except wooden rooms and sand. An eel slithered out of the shadows and bit my friend. He cut it with his shiny knife and it bled in the water. Peter motioned that we should surface; blood in the water made sharks crazy.

“Is your arm hurt badly?” I asked.

“No, just a scratch. Let’s recoup on the island.”

“You read my mind.”

“I’ll sterilize the wound. Jamaican Rum?”

“That’ll work.” I went to pour it and Peter grabbed the bottle away from me.

“Never let good alcohol go to waste,” he said. There was a grove of palm trees up the shore and we sat in the shade drinking rum.

“You know, I feel like a pirate,” I said.

“That’s a good feeling.” Peter finished a beer and went to take a leak.

“There’s a cargo hold on this island.”

“What?”

“Yeah, a great big hole, and a ladder. I don’t trust the ladder though. Quick, get me a light. I see a sea chest down there.”

A Story Reminds Me I am Not Alone

As evening fades

the natural light

goes out

the sky is wet

washing away

the day

a story reminds me

I am not alone

it’s a warm blanket

on a cold night

riding past a still lake

where country lights

reflect windswept waters

I sense how quiet it is

nearby rustling leaves

in stark contrast

to still trees

poking into the sky like spears

a wall of spears

separating a tunnel of clouds

the only light in the sky

as I ride on invisible ground

towards my lonely home

a book and a light

reading

through the evening

entertainment

meaning

Stories that hug me and love me

written into existence

by a crackling fire

this one gives me hope

showing the way

a writer writes to know he is not alone

a reader does the same

anything else is dirt

the treasure hunter must dig through

searching for something that cannot be seen

between the pages

in the mind

through the night

into the day

and the day is brighter

because of it.

Cat Woman

When I looked into her green eyes, I felt taller. The best way I can describe it, is that my hormones were changing. I had been on many walks with women where it was difficult to talk to them, even difficult to walk with them—some wanted me to lead and others wanted me to follow, but she was unlike any woman I had ever met. True, she was crazy—and maybe that’s why I didn’t feel a burden, but there was something else happening inside of me that I had never felt before. It could be love, but that didn’t make any sense because we’d only just met. No… it was that I was feeling stronger. I was more like a man.

I knew the police station was on the other side of the park and the fastest way to get there was to cut through the woods. So, I asked her…

“Would you like to go for a walk in nature?”

“Oh, would I,” she said. Her smile lit up my heart. And soon we were enjoying the river that flowed through the city and next to the park.

Voices carried across the water, like they were whispering inside my ear, and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. It wasn’t what they were saying; it was their tone. “My cousin does that; he’s stupider than you.” The voices were closer now and I sensed Samantha’s shoulders. They were tense and I could feel them, without touching them.

“Hey, what are you doing with that pretty young thing? She’s too good for you.” There were three of them and Samantha wasn’t going to help me. She reminded me of a scaredy-cat ready to bolt. And I asked myself why I didn’t work-out more?

“Hey darling, you have such silky skin.” And the next moment was a blur, like a hurricane. That power I’d been feeling suddenly rushed into my fingertips. One of the guys in a long trench coat punched at my face, so I grabbed his hand. “It’s burning; you’re burning me,” he screamed. His hand caught fire and then he used his trench coat to put out the flames. The other guys saw something in my eyes that scared them. They ran, leaving their smoldering trench coat smoking on the ground.

I looked for the woman and I couldn’t find her. And then I noticed an orange cat hiding in a tree, looking at me.

“Samantha?”

She looked amused. I noticed my basketball shorts lying on the ground. Then she sprang off the limb and transformed into a naked woman.

To be continued…

My Island of Mind

Near the stormy sea

I look through moss covered trees

through gentle mist and subtle fog

listening to the rain

washing away my footprints.

Is it cowardice to love the land?

to avoid orders

and refuse to give them

ships need masters and crews too

while I float alone

in my lonely canoe.

It is paradise without pain

barely disrupting crater lake

shielded by shadowy mountains

where fire formed

this island of my mind

uninhabitable

except by me

marooned by choice

ambitious to the last

surviving between worlds

to make life livable

just for me.

Can greatness occur in isolation?

where thoughts abound in space

where stars reflect infinite freedom

alone

hidden from men

while I wait

What makes me strong?

What makes me right?

this island is growing into a continent now

it won’t be hidden for long

So, I’ll stoke my fire

and defend against invaders

this island of mind

vanishes and reappears

those who find it

will never leave

it was meant for one

but it might take two or three.

The Garden isn’t there Anymore

Bicycling through the forest is beautiful

trains used to run under the trees when I was a boy

that wasn’t that long ago

the river runs for miles

near the trail

where I grew up

winding next to the wilderness

becoming less wild, every year.

Reaching the highway

the sun is hot

protesters hold signs

and

cars honk, as I race home

The wind is blowing

through the golf course now

scents of fairways, cigars, leather gloves, and pine needles

fill my memories

I can even smell the sand in the traps

lavender bushes

and the muddy stink of the river I call my own

I cross the bridge I’ve crossed thousands of times

to the only home I will ever know

telephone wires leave their outlines on the pavement

as I coast my bicycle

down my driveway

under the big oak tree

where the garden isn’t there anymore

and strangers stare at me

because the house isn’t my home.

The Desire NOT to be Human

We feel less than

and then we force ourselves to feel superior than

and this goes on for months

and often, years

until our friends are like us

and we can’t stand them

this stage is seeking average than

in salvation, or something else

Salvation, may free you

and the something else, is the gradual realization

that you cannot be free, in this life

Then, there is the desire not to be human

it is a shedding off

cutting off

hate

for all things human

We are trapped by our desires

pulling us

in different directions

there is nothing pure

and our lack of love

is not hate

but the desire

Not to be human.

My Elevator Rising

My elevator rising

from urine-soaked streets

from crowds that don’t listen

from the lost

clinging to their mothers

asking, “why was I born?”

cables rusty,

splintering

threatening to drop

the next oversized ego

and there is only enough space

for one wanting

promotion

willing

to suffocate

to see the skyline

wanting to know

penthouse platitudes

of supermen

My elevator rising

grinding steel against steel

resisting the weight

of my fragile ego

threatening to break

Most who take this suicide ride

get stuck

between 3 and 4

as the melancholy mechanisms tighten

friends, disbelief and empathy

parked in the basement

as the sky lift stops

regrets set in

I could have been walking in the streets, among people, sharing penthouse dreams

but I got into this box

where I can’t breathe

no servicemen

no one listening

just a skeleton in a sauna

praying…

for My Elevator Rising

CLUNKING

squealing,

pealing sounds of cable

as my momentum breaks the trap of mediocrity

like lightening thundering up from the depths of nowhere

charging to heaven

without breaks

leaving my heart behind

feelings that made me human

now I’m screaming and I can’t hear

because of my elevator rising

like a jet engine

burning

as I reach the top

seeing the people and the places down there

friends I had and the many friendless faces

this view is something to see

the risen are dead

and I’m the only one here

while I write this poem from the penthouse

philosophizing.

Van Man

“What are you after, Budd?”

“Freedom.”

“What will you do when you have your freedom?”

“I’ll be a philosopher.”

“What do you Need to get it?”

“Nothing. I have it right now.”

“What is freedom?”

“If you have to ask that, you don’t know what it is.”

“You know, we met a nice Native gentleman in the national park. He was selling a book of poetry.”

“Oh, did he self-publish?”

“No, it was just a stack of papers stapled together. How’s your poetry coming along?”

“About the same.”

“Oh, I see. And how’s work?”

“It’s work. Whenever we do a risk assessment on one of our dangerous kids, they ask us who the kid identifies as, a follow, a leader, or an outcast. I smile, they usually say he’s an outcast. I guess I identify with being an outcast too.”

“Oh, I’ve always identified with being a leader. When I was in high school, I could go from clique to clique and fit in anywhere. The same is true for me in my dean job. I’m getting a raise and moving to Northern California. Where are you going, Andy?”

“Nowhere and everywhere.”

“And where is that?”

“Far away from people.”

“How will you live?”

“In a van. I won’t pay taxes. I won’t go to meetings. I won’t talk to anybody. I’ll live in the wild.”

“That’s really immature. What about marriage? What about kids?”

“That’s where I trust in God. If it be his will, it be his will.”

“But you can’t just let God take care of things for you.”

“But I can. Look how good my life has turned out so far.”