Son of the Morning and Only Today is Key

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 – 1:01 am


“Son of the Morning”

I hit your home in
twice broken form
Yet dust to dust was
never offered us

Our light faded
blackest night fell
mining my throne
carving my spell

Third of the Stars
our choir aligns
savoring mens wails
sweetest of wines

Chained to your house,
whipped with your regret
We swore the final vow
They’ll ever pay Your debt

“Only Today is Key”

Tumblers align like swift and
morning star, red, and blue,
the giant, ringed, and ice giant,
the dwarf and big blue

You feel it in your bones,
the dying of the guard,
cracking Joseph’s cell and
Methuselah cries no more

Days and nights lose face
bodies move again in rhythm
turning, spinning, burning
killing love and wisdom

Today alone is key
Tragedy, ecstasy, loss,
testing grace by faith and
screams from burning dross

Hampton Bays

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 – 11:55 pm

 

Fifth Grave”

 

In one life, my fifth grade

was three hells

in two cities

in three houses.

 

In one battle, brothers and fate raged

twenty minutes manic

of frantic changes

to flawed futures

and flayed faces.

 

In one hell, three monsters

in two boys to men

broke three windows

in two forever goddamned rooms.

 

After two brothers grim

and blood mopping truce,

I dove lustily to the challenge

and hastily scrawled

a curse on

our blessed home.

My fifth grade was splattered from North Dakota to New York, first Easthampton and ever onward to Mastic Shirley and then William Floyd Parkway.

And whilst in the same grave grade, then on to three torrid tales from one town.

Hampton fucking Bays.

Wait, did I lose you already?

Hampton Bays is the first school in which they gave me my own psychologist.

Like Pilate, I once fitfully scrubbed my charcoaled hands that scarred black gore on our own back door:

GET THE FUCK OUT

My brother and I had broken three separate windows in our fight and I had to think fast.

I convinced dad my prose and profanity were similar to the swastika sprayed on our Jewish friend’s door a year before, before we’d gone completely off the reservation up in Dakota (North).

Plausible phantoms played perfectly to my parent’s paranoia.

We brothers threw fists so daily, our bruised faces somehow went unnoticed after that fight.

Swollen connection to shattered panes and frames remained unsuspected through the night.

But scant days.

Father finally figured it when he found our broken window shards laying out in the yard and wondered why they didn’t land inside the house.

Neighbors confirmed they’d seen us brothers punching and choking each other outside on that white winter day.

 

Dad reminded us that dark red night of a much purer rage.

Hours previous, I stood inside the dining room of my classmate Tommy’s house and marveled at the prolonged lack of screaming between parent and child.

Holy fucking shit, is this what a normal family looks like?

I told Tommy’s mom of my righteous fight earlier in the week against two larger guys at school and a brick wall.

A horrified and nauseated look from Tommy’s mother at my gory details bode ill for any future family time with my brand newest ex-best friend.

My lungs burned like hell and I knew if I kept running, I was going to pass out.

I looked up and there was his house again, darkly different at this ungodly hour.

Sun long gone, my naked arms crossed, frozen bloody face and shoeless in the snow at midnight.

Fleeing another beating, I sprinted here in moonlight, hoping for a haven to hide.

In my second dissociative event for Hampton Bays, I ran to Tommy’s house after another fight with dad.

I ran a mile in white snow, blacked out, barefoot, bleeding.

I was twelve.

Forever changed and dark inside, I looked in their unbroken front window and saw the family with the white picket fence would always stay dead asleep.

I spit at their fucking illusion and turned back to the devil I knew with bare and numb feet for my next beating.

The longer I waited, the worse it would be.

I had done everything possible to fuel flight, but crash landed again in a fight.

Moments after the sucker punch from one of my two larger attackers, I had blacked out and lost some time.

It was only a few seconds, but they told me that a lot happened.

I came to with one of the guys pulling me off his bloody, unconscious friend.

In a feral mania at my uneven odds, I went somewhere else and someone else gouged his eyes and something else altogether smashed his skull against the bricks of the school wall until he stopped moving.

My older brother and I were for a few years evenly matched in boxing, whether gloved or bare knuckled.

High from the victory against my two attackers the day before, I ventured back into the dusty, bloody ring of Cain and Abel.

The five pound candle I threw at his head had long telegraphed the punch and smashed through the first of three windows to break in twenty minutes.

The third window shattered when Paul’s fist went through it.

“Okay, now you’re just being fucking stupid,” I yelled at him.

I screamed truce and urgency at our deadline, while he wrapped his sliced up hand.

I lifted the lid on the grill on the back porch and removed one charcoal briquet.

I warned my brother, “Clean up your fucking blood. I have an idea.”

 

Waxing Crescent and How Many More Times

Monday, January 30th, 2017 – 10:28 pm

“Waxing Crescent”

 

Midnight moments

minds mending

mine redefine

light of life

 

Hours sick seers

in darkness see

sewn or hewn

sinew mind divide

 

Hip sway under

limitless covers

Only your eyes

stayed so wide

 

Scar borne coals

you long to hold

Best loved and lost

lust and cried

 

We dreamt of you

and you wept

Only ghosts believe,

only lovers lied

 

“How Many More Times”

 

Trackless too soft sand

wave roars our abyss

cold charred logs and longs

Moon missing mistress

 

My heart over mind 

our damned to repeats

lost days found our nights

my balms and her beats

 

Doomed dunes, salty stains

Wild wont waves recede

Pleasure measures pain,

births and sparks the bleed

 

 

Split Milk and Medicine

Monday, January 30th, 2017 – 12:22 am

“Split Milk”

 

We

of course

still believe

in the space in between

in crimes in deeds

Sin our saint are fairer sees

sudden stops and screams

In time travel

ever find you

I left us here

So we could 

love again

neverend

I am

 

“Medicine”

 

Black liner light sticks

cross like shaman bonesight

Mine your mind tricks

crucible of praise and might

 

Grand, Master

lash and heal, hail and clash

Sin Eater eat her either

ease her, Treasure or Trash

 

My voice, your songs

rotten echos all along 

lost in your blues and

wrought in your wrongs

 

Beauty before beast

faith before feast

finds fitful clues

and lustier longs

 

Chamber Music and The Face She Shows

Sunday, January 29th, 2017 – 10:27 pm

 

“Chamber Music”

 

succor friends

shattered chambers

tied to bones and burning bush burdens

same sweetest saddest songs 

blue to black

gray suns ever come back

just not for him

just not for her

they swim your broken moons and bloody rooms

searching for perch and purchase and

echo that will never die in the shadows of

your first missed cry

 

 

“The Face She Shows”

 

eighth notes pearls

strung between

living and the grateful

three fourths tempo

average span

faithless embers

fanned again

flames red

forever our ages

my nails bend

and break

the edges on 

our bleeding cages

Tale of Two Brothers

Saturday, January 28th, 2017 – 3:36 am

One of my brothers lost his father recently.

I say brother. He is my cousin, but sometimes you get so close to someone, you cannot say a more accurate word than brother.

Or sister.

When you know you are just as close to someone as your own brother or sister.

Or closer.

I spoke almost an hour with my cousin Adam the day before yesterday, as his father, my uncle Jerry, had died in his sleep the night before.

We both were still a little stunned and unsure how to converse when the phone call began.

At first.

Adam and I have a shared backstory that many do not know about. It is hard for me to even type this without getting choked up, thinking about experiences with extreme trauma and violence that drive both of us to channel that into something good, trying to be devoted family men and extremely protective of women.

I know, because I look up to him. I promised him to do all I can to be there for him and his two beautiful sisters, my cousins Bethany and Siobhan.

As my father began to lose more of his ability to walk and talk six years ago, their dad, my uncle Jerry, drove his big brother all the way upstate New York to help him to the top of the Olympic ski jump in Lake Placid, just miles from the Shene homestead and the place of my birth.

Just a few years afterward my father’s condition deteriorated much further and after the 2014 Shene reunion, I urgently called my cousin Bethany, who had extensive experience with her nursing business over elder care and end of life care.

She and Adam both, not unlike their dad helping mine to the top of the ski jump, rushed in to my parent’s house to selflessly help their uncle Paul and aunt Paula. They spent their own time and money to help make it more handicap accessible for my dad, as his condition rapidly progressed.

All of Jerry’s kids have the same exact kind of  shirt-off-your-back compassion and fierce loyalty to family that their father strived for himself. They always have. And they made him proud by excelling even him at it, now in the middle of loving and raising beautiful and compassionate children of their own.

Since my condition has disabled me over the last year, Adam and I have talked a number of times about the dangers of PTSD from extreme violence. We’ve talked each other down from several angry ledges. And we’ve confided things only the closest of brothers could ever do.

We both had sometimes violent fathers who were at times either not there or present in only the most destructive and worst of ways. And he and I also were the the first to later extend an olive branch to those same fathers to try to create a new friendship, after reaching adulthood.

My uncle Jerry was a loving and loyal friend, son, brother, father and grandfather. He went before any of us were ready to say goodbye. But he did it right. He was not perfect, but he was an example I was proud to be around. He laughed. He loved. He loved his wife Laura and she loved him just as deeply. Everywhere he went, Jerry asked how you were doing and he meant it. He really cared to know. He always tried to make you smile or laugh. And uncle Jerry usually succeeded.

In reminiscing about our dark pasts, Adam and I did not pretend the damage never happened. We just refuse to take our eyes off the future and our families we choose to shape and protect from harm and severe abuse. Something we didn’t have. We strived against the worst odds possible to make our fathers proud and we hope we succeeded.

But far more importantly, we hope to someday make proud our sons and daughters.

 

My Father’s Hands

Sunday, January 15th 2017 – 11:24pm

My conversion disorder with abnormal movement is from severe PTSD that I have had since I was very young. And it appeared in earnest about seven months ago.

But in retrospect, we had many warning signs well before it became overt, including dissociative breaks, violent outbursts and blackouts.

Intellectually, I am not what I used to be. I was sent for a four hour neuropsychological evaluation last month and they said my IQ was very high, but I know it is not quite what it once was. We will get more in depth results from that doctor next month.

My PTSD was caused by extreme violence that I began to both suffer and commit from a very young age. Supposedly, this is partly where the high IQ came into play at a young age, being able to mentally break myself away from violence and pain, until it became a serious issue.

One of my earliest memories was my mother yelling, “Not in the face, Paul!”

With gold rings on both of my father’s hands, slaps to the face and back of the head were a regular occurrence, at least weekly. And on the bad stretches that could go for weeks or months with his depression and substance abuse, the slaps to the head and face were then daily. That was on top of the daily “regular” beatings with the belt, whether leather to legs or buckle to face.

My first indelible memory of my father is from the age of four, watching the blood spray up and out of my neighbor’s nose as my dad smashed his fists into it over and over and over.

I know that pin position well, having beaten people unconscious and had the same done to me by others.

By the time I was in my teens, my dad was genuinely afraid of both of us older boys, but continued to use extreme violence to try to control us.

I first started beating my dad at chess when I was five and by the time I was in my teens, I knew the final move on the board was I was going to kill that motherfucker before he killed me.

And he was hoping the same thing, to get to me first. He told me once that he was sure I would be the one to pull his own hunting rifle on him, but it was Paul that did it first.

I will never forget the morning my older brother pulled the lever action on the 30-30 and pulled the trigger with the barrel just a few feet from our dad’s chest.

Fortunately, Paul hadn’t checked to see it wasn’t loaded.

And after the empty click, dad beat him bloody for a very long time until mom and I could get him to stop.

It is hard to explain to people how you can sustain brain damage from PTSD or the validity of a PTSD trigger.

In April of 2016, I was watching the season finale of The Walking Dead, which took their gore and violence to a new level and signaled the final time I ever watched it, when they depicted someone being beaten to death from the point of view of within the eyes of the victim, including the blurred vision as the bat crushed his skull and blood dripped into his eyes.

I immediately went into a panic and couldn’t finish watching the show. I was gasping for breath and feeling like I was having a heart attack.

This was a few months before I even began to “get sick” and have seizures and lose my ability to walk.

The closest my dad got to to killing me was when I was a teen. Those of you who have followed my writing for years have probably read the account more than once.

In April of 1984, my father drunkenly informed us we were all – “including Patrick” – going out as a whole goddamn family for once to see a movie.

That is not how it ended.

I said no.

I always fucking said no.

I still do.

Try me.

TRY ME.

When I came to, the blood dripping down into my left eye blurred my vision and I wasn’t sure where I was. This is not the first time I have been knocked unconscious. The first two times were when I was five.

Wiping away the blood, I tried to get away from the danger I could not even define, because I was too dazed to know where I was or that it was my own father that was still punching and kicking me.

I stumbled and ran toward the bathroom and tried to shut the door, but he smashed it down easily and tackled me. The last thing I remember after that was my father grinning and his maniacal face screaming he was going to “FUCKING KILL” me, as he strangled and choked me unconscious again.

Tonight, I was reminded my low tolerance for screen violence since my conversion disorder.

I was trying to watch an action movie with Amy and Austin. When any violence was graphically depicted, I literally had no control of immediately looking away and I even plugged my ears at one point. It was not unlike watching myself, a different man, once again, or a seeing a child watching his first violent movie.

My biggest fear since I was a little kid, even prediction, was that someone would finally push me to the point of no return. And I have gotten frighteningly close to that a number of times, increasingly over recent years. Times when I knew I was one bloody bar fight and blackout away from never being a free man again. I knew it with certainty.

I was diagnosed with PTSD in February of 2016, still a good five months before the seizures and paralysis began to manifest. And then we went another five months with no diagnosis, cycling through different Parkinson and Epilepsy medicines as my condition worsened.

Sure, there are scores more sordid stories that explain why I have PTSD and Conversion Disorder with abnormal movement.

But we are hopeful with therapy to see some improvement this year.

I am more hopeful than ever before and surrounded by people who love me.

I am blessed.

 

– Patrick Shene

Harvests and Wheatfield

Sunday, January 15th 2017 – 2:22 pm

“Harvests”

Favors need
buy love
only time

Plant seed
nor toil
foreign grime

Pray rain
wash hates
arid clime

Ice grind
tires whine
boneless chime

crop lost
souls dust
spreading lime

 

“Wheatfield”

Brush my fingers through the bony stalks
to time your hips, day and night

Your laughter, my comfort siren call
of your Love makes Might makes Right

Home and hope, illusion starved walks
tear us like only love’s bite

He stabbed asunder our rise and fall
with our rusty Bowie knife

Love and Lumpias

Friday, January 13th, 2017 – 2:05 am

I first unearthed my compulsion to artistry and authoring at the amorous and awful age of six.

A few doors down lived the prettiest five year old girl in the whole Mare Island Naval base apartment building. I didn’t let the age difference bug me too much, but sometimes fondly called her “Kid” to remind her the many more roads I’d hewn.

She was Filipino and laughed at my jokes and I thought I was in love and probably was. Every Sunday, their food was the best food in the world and maybe even my whole neighborhood and I trusted the way to a man’s hard earned meal is through his woman.

At night, my brain refused to obey arbitrary, man made systems of bedtimes and adults being in charge, so I spent it planning and scheming and plotting and scripting. I had an admittedly ambitious plan for gaining the glory, getting the girl and grabbing the grub.

In the first story (which I wrote, starred in and directed) I pushed her out of the way of an oncoming car or bus and she immediately devoted to me her heart and cuisine. As one would expect her to do as a courtesy for lifesaving, if not already owed to me by law. Fair is fair, fairest maiden.

In another story, I pushed her out of the way of an oncoming boulder. Again,she avowed fealty and feeding of me for all time and memorial. I admit the sequel was a little derivative of my original night’s tale, fancy art critic.

The next morning I saw her and poured out my heart and explained my exhaustive work thence penned. I assured her that love and bravery and food were all related and if she needed saving, I would be her man in training. She said I was silly and my eyes were pretty, but it was still a binding agreement as far as I was concerned.

Later, as Sol said so long to SoCal, the building shadows sprawled, cooled and merged into the day’s final blues and I heard the secret knock on my door.

Everything was going according to plan. We crept over and she rushed in for sustenance while I waited breathless and panicked, hiding poorly behind the bush outside her back door.

She promised to grab a plate from the buffet and return before my discovery and sure banishment from her food and life. I imagined family members of size and dangers unknown grabbing me by the collar or ear until I screamed a confession in hatching the plot for love and spring rolls. They never came, but my girl friend did.

After we finished the greasy delicacy, she asked if I would kiss her. I closed my eyes and tried. I may have kissed her face, but I don’t know for sure because I couldn’t see.

WHY WOULD THEY MAKE US CLOSE OUR EYES FOR THAT AND EXPECT ACCURACY?!

And then she slapped me.

I felt this conveyed a bit of mixed message and quietly but quickly excused myself.

The next day, I asked her if she still had feelings for me and she admitted we had maybe moved a little too fast. But now she suddenly wanted me to meet her four year old sister. My insisting “NO” seemed to help propel her rocketlike into her house to almost immediately reappear with a slightly smaller version of her adorable self.

I was known for many things in that neighborhood and startling intellect and charm were both overshadowed that day by the fact I was the fastest six year old in the world and maybe even my whole neighborhood. I was already in my house before they were halfway to my door.

I slammed it hard and loud, as what I clearly assumed was the universal code for “it was really nice meeting your sister, I’ll talk to you tomorrow”, but their pounding fists said otherwise.

My mother ran toward the noise to ascertain what fresh new hell I had hounded or harbored and so I affixed my best, “it’s really not my fault this time” face on. My splayed X shaped frame of forty pounds feebly blocked the door and enemies without, while I negotiated with mommies within.

“What is going on?!” she demanded.

“Nothing. Don’t open the door. Please God please mom it’s not my fault this time,” I offered as a means of clearing up things.

“MOVE,” the matriarch commanded.

As she slowly, barely crept open passage to 254 McDougal St., I slinked further toward the hinges to hide and hope. I was in my “stand in the corner” corner and knew the hinges well. I’d studied them more than once for hours. Once, four hours.

“Hi! Can I help you, little girls?” my mom asked.

I noticed it was with a cheery tone that sounded a lot like another mom than the one that just yelled at me to move.

“Hi! Can Patrick come outside? We want to kiss him!” asked my once friend and frankly, failed henchwoman.

My mom looked over at my terror and horror at the drama I’d wrought, having almost sold my freedom and birthright for a bowl of lentils. My oversized eyes and waving twigs for arms were the universal code for “get me out of this mess and I swear I’ll only cause trouble another twelve, horrible years”.

Mom came to my rescue.

“I’m sorry. Patrick has homework. I’ll tell him you came by, though.”

“Awww….”

*click*

It was days, if not weeks, before I could even begin to think about giving away my heart like that again.

Undeterred in matters of love and palate, I knew even one such as I could grow and mature from what we’d all endured. I knew in my heart to not take someone’s precious feelings – even a girl’s – so lightly in the future.

I also knew now to case a place more thoroughly next time.

Sorry, but I got places to go, people to kiss and food to eat, “Kid”.

Fences and Floes

Friday, January 13th, 2017 – 12:52 am

“Floe”

Paddle harder
battle farther
from safety
lined shore

Addled brothers
walked awaves
trade safety
for storm

Boat turned floe
ice returned stone
return paddle
long thrown

Our voices
just winds
my last
cried stop

 

“Pick Your Fences”

Your smile,
onced open gate
protects the grounds

and haughty,
golden cage
projects the sounds

and sights and sighs
on bottomless nights
from your dry, bare bounds.

Lives pause time for divine
lessons for lesser lemmings
and storied moral morass.

Your codes and cries
and walls and lies,
eyes motes lodged fast.

Your boards fray and pray
and unlike today,
We may no longer pass.