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Where I Come From

Grass Pic with Cab Rox Sash Tiff copyI come from the death throes of Jazz.

For my father, maybe it was shame— a surprise bastard child within his Italian-Catholic family. Maybe it was ego— a threat to the promise of the Stan Kenton Band, his success finally within reach. He chose absence, complete and silent. He chose indifference.

In the image of the father
Just look in a mirror
An intangible presence
Silent, otherworldly
All nature, no nurture
Myth, not man

To my mother, I was a piece of cherished perfection. I was potential. Hope. A man to mold to her exclusive ideals without conflict, competition or compromise. Men failed her. I would not. I would be a salve for, and vicarious offering to her man-demons.

A fire-siren, mother-pirate
Loving Angel of Ark
Dragon of the red year
Flame whip flail tongue
Man-bane, demon’s toy
A hammer on my heart
Soft intent, hard blows

The tidal pull between his absence and her intent distorted my heart into oppositional arcs and angles.

I was an anomaly— a character outside a story. Mother constructed a story around us, the last of her collection of tragic short stories. It was enough, for a while. A new novel, a new family, left me struggling to find a place in between the new characters, forces and themes. I felt like a hero turned addendum. I felt betrayed. Her protective gaze wandered to other interests and I was sexually abused. Again, I proved anomalous and she frustratingly questioned how this could happen to a character she molded so well. It scared her. Confusion and fear eclipsed her heart and it was lost in a veiled projection of blame and shame. My heart was cut with betrayal once more. I was eight years old and no longer felt safe.

The dark became sinister, my dreams nightmares. Sometimes fear gripped me so tightly I didn’t sleep. I began to steal, unknowingly to fill the emptiness growing inside. I felt untethered, separate. Melancholic. I wandered streets and fields. I became suspicious of others and learned how to read their character through their body language. I became acutely aware of the secret suffering of others. I turned inward, constructing stories where I overcame great and tragic challenges. I was bullied at school every year until I’d snap with animal savagery. I dreamed of love, of winning the hand of whatever girl I had an unspoken crush on. I rode my bike too far from home. I changed schools six years in a row.  

Legacies, the inherited echoes
Of talent and beauty
Artists, dreamers, thinkers
Wet, blurred with alcohol and smoke
Wounded minds and hearts, liver and lungs
Snared in shadow invisible
Its cast long, deep
Through memes and double helix
Slithering over choices, dreams and plans
Darkening lives

Not this man, not again
I’ll step into the sun
And burn the dark from our history
For all of us
For my son

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Renee D Pellegrino January 8, 2014, 7:37 am

    We all have skeletons, regrets and dreams, I believe after you follow your dream, all the regrets will go away and the skeletons start to fade away. I think you are doing just that–following your heart.

    • Cab January 14, 2014, 6:32 pm

      It’s going to a whole new level… Time to jump and flap furiously.

  • Tiffany January 11, 2014, 6:24 pm

    I really like the verses in between. Nicely done.

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