What Could Have Been (2013)

Some amongst us sinning monsters
sometimes wish that we were younger,
just so we could see:
Hell through a quiet angel scene;
and cherish best what’s meaningless,
as sacred hours–all.
Every game that we still play,
Is hangman and the word is faith;
the wrong word makes it fall.
Boring days when seen this way,
are as sacred as all,
And memories, fragmented scenes,
is all that’s hanging on,
a pale leaf in the Autumn bleak,
by Winter long is gone.
Of those we’ve lost who lit our face,
who warmed our hands and heart,
whose prism in it’s brilliance
was the match that struck the spark,
that wavered in the prison wind
then left us in the dark.
In this hole we’ve made we know,
that this brief life, this time, and space,
what we have made our home–
is nothing but an endless march
to a silent world alone.
That hourglass, the Lord of Lies,
is an illusion we call life,
It is the image we are given,
to paint those passing by.
It has been said, life said to death,
‘Why do they hate you so?
when to me they cling and cry?
Tell me, I must know.’
In hurried breath thus whispered death:
‘For I’m a painful truth,
you are a beautiful lie.
You’re where they’re from,
I’m where they go.
There is no reason why,
a brief life, it happens that,
it but a dance of choice and chance,
that’s how it will be played;
You’ll feel no pain, you’ll have no name.
faith is the botfly in your brain.’
That king of death, the clock itself,
Has never been defeated yet;
that shadow cast, that silhouette,
the only thumbprint of us left.
Life isn’t free; the Rich Man’s King,
will come and then collect,
The interest rate they calculate,
is found between the dash and dates.
Don’t hide the scar, when burned,
when marred;
Don’t drown the pain,
but you are warned:
Get too close and you will burn.
But when you burn is when you learn.
When you burn is when you learn;
that nothing lasts forever;
the earth, that sky, will idle by,
It’s stops for no one, never.
Death never has arrived on time;
And we these frightened fireflies
in our confusion wonder why–
that one of us that lit the night,
had to leave without goodbye.
Who lived so brief, and died so soon,
and sleeps under a paper moon.
When all our sin is added up,
karma will pull up in a truck
and we must get inside.
To then be taken
to the place whence
Ben has made it,
an unfinished portrait signed.
So this will be goodbye for me,
I miss you Ben, I hope to see,
a part of you, and get to meet
if but a portion in some corner
in this manic world of wonder,
But just in case you may be there,
I hope that you can read.
That all this town, from main-street down,
came to cry and stand around;
to pinch your cheek and weep and weep.
We loved you kid, don’t steal a base
‘No running,
you’re sliding
in the dirt
Cause you’re safe.’
You were loved by old and young,
and your vigil I will keep.
And if by chance you catch a glance,
of Mama in her sleep.
Give her a hug and all your love,
and tell her not to weep.
We all made the deal at birth,
to the last man from the first,
To live we pay the highest price;
and death’s the way we pay for life.
If there are questions left unanswered.
trivia for Zoroaster.
It isn’t like it is on camera:
because there is no Necromancer.
Death started with the first man,
and the last man hasn’t learned,
where we go, or where we’re from,
only that no one returns;
and why we’re given brief a peek
at such a universe unique
to pull the rug beneath our feet,
when dressed our very best
In that tuxedo asleep.
The funeral, the road, the show,
The silent cars in somber rows.
The people too are dressed in suits,
Like all parades they too will fade,
at least we got to see:
that young child, his final ride
before they lowered him inside,
that soundless cave so dark,
he’s gone–
and time itself must carry on.
I guess it must be stated that–
we know of good because of bad.
and as beings who can reason,
we should embrace the empty space,
where once he sat with mom and ate.
These memories in lowercase,
that when we talk, we don’t relate;
The mirth died as they walked beside,
that casket green with him inside,
and hopeless we all cried and cried.
We still are bleeding now.
To bring him back I’d call old scratch
and hammer out an old contract,
I’d go to hell to bring him back.
This tragedy is wolfish sheep,
it’s not what it appears to be,
although his passing was quite sad and
torture is what he won’t have, then
No computer, favorite games,
no girlfriends later in his teens–
All those songs he’ll never sing
or bob his head and laugh or smile
nor grow into a man with child
his own child to kiss;
this is what true torture is,
all the things he never did.
The things that he loved best,
I see him with his catcher’s mitt
and all the things that could have been;
all the weird things he would do,
laid to rest, to gather dust,
The memory is kissing us.
What could have Ben,
that is the rub,
to think he’ll never own a car
or know the pain of love,
or go to school and play the fool
What would have Ben, if when we wrote
we kept alive a hope, a note,
that by some magic we could have him
return to our arms:
the falling dream a false alarm
We’ll sing this tune for you.
That by some witchcraft you might come back,
And then crawl out the pen, and laugh;
He’s living in the future,
of our world already passed.
This is a seance,
I pay homage:
to all the people lost, forgotten
I’ll light the candles, chant the tune.
Mom, can you hear?
Can daddy too?
I’ve possessed this man to speak to you.
Mama I was always proud
although we fought and often loud
I knew what you must do;
say hello to all my friends;
Hello to daddy too.
Now I guess I’ll say goodbye,
I love you mama, Max, you guys;
think you for a wonderful life.
It won’t be easy for you now,
to get used to me not around
But know that anytime you’d like
you can take a bath, at night
Dream that we upon a stage
Are king and queen of our domain;
I miss the smiles, I miss the face;
the beauty in the eyes, the grace;
I’m in your mind, a better place,
and I live on, I’m home, I’m safe.
For some life might be a ride,
a carousel of colors wild,
their neon ghosts that fill the sky,
there are those who still compose
lamentations for a rose,
to see such beauty die.
Some people give off fire bright,
make sure you cover up your eyes–
the beautiful things we see in our dreams
Give off heat, they give off warmth
but get too close and you will burn;
for when you burn is when you learn.
When you burn is when you learn;
that nothing lasts forever;
the earth, that sky will idle by,
It’s stops for no one, never.
Death never has arrived on time;
And we these frightened fireflies
in our confusion wonder why–
that one of us that lit the night,
had to leave without goodbye.
Who lived so brief, and died so soon,
and sleeps under a paper moon.
When all our sin is added up,
karma pulls up in a truck
and we must get inside.
To then be taken
to the place whence
Ben has made it,
an unfinished portrait signed.
Yours truly uncle Brandon,
crazy man with dirty hair.
I’ll never try to reassign
any aspect of my mind
to blind the time I stood in line
to simply kiss your cheek.
It’s bedtime, buddy.
Sweet, sweet boy;
I love you,
and sweet dreams.
You are the reason, every season,
new Mockingbirds must sing.
As all that falls to winter’s thaw,
is reborn again in Spring.

In Memory of Benett Dalton
September 18th, 2004 – September 23rd, 2013
♠ ♠ ♠
I have published previous drafts of this before, on this very site; I am reposting today because I have, after much deliberation and revision, a final, definitive draft. I hope you enjoy it. This is the consummation of my love and grief. He is survived by his younger brother Max, his mother Brandi, and his father Scott. My family, all my love.


Breaking the Floor (And the Why of Theatre) from The Chameleon Mirror – 1 October 2015

This is from Chapter 5 of my upcoming novel The Chameleon Mirror, which you can find in digital-serial form at http://www.chameleonmirror.com – All work is in perpetual flux, as it is being prepped for a mid-October, early November release. 

‘Mme. Nanty, have you ever thought of incorporating the audience into a performance?’

          She was intrigued by this:

          ‘I mean, lots of shows break the fourth wall. Breaking the forth wall is when an actor or actress acknowledges or speaks to the audience. That’s breaking the forth wall. I’m talking about breaking the floor.

          ‘How would that be done?’ I asked.

          ‘First, you plant actors into the audience. They do this on shows in America to give the performance more weight, especially when the show is inherently fraudulent. Like mediums, a person who uses cold-reading to pretend to gain access to an audience member’s dead mother or father…’

          ‘That’s awful!’ I said. ‘How do they get away with that?’

          ‘That’s the thing: they get away with in broadcast more than they do with the audience before it’s broadcast, because the studio—the people producing the show—have actors intermingled with the audience. They have lines and costumes and no one, no one outside of the production staff knows about it. The idea could work to even greater effect in honest theatre. You plant actors in the audience and mix them. Give them parts to play, lines to read, and audio or visual cues to bring them into the performance. You do this and you take away the idea of deafness, the idea that the performers are separate to the audience or blind to them. The actors could use this to great effect. Think about it: what is never questioned in a performance?’

          I couldn’t think of anything. I’ve read critics, and not all of them were like Lain.

          ‘When someone fucks up,’ he said. ‘If an actor fumbles a line, or stutters in a meaningful scene, everyone knows they’d never intentionally fuck up. Incorporate that into a mixed audience, and you have a basic premise to break a floor: an actress is on stage—let’s say that it’s Renette here, may I call you Renette? Okay, thank you. Let’s say mademoiselle is on stage during a great, long monologue. She’s doing it perfectly, and there’s a member of the audience—a very vocal and proud fan of the piece. Let’s say I’m that guy, and I see her fumble the lines. I start shouting her down, and she fumbles more and more. Finally, she loses her shit entirely and runs into the crowd and beats the fucking shit out of the guy.

‘That’s when someone throws something, another actor joins in, and in minutes, you’ve got a crowd in chaos and only half of them know it’s not real. What would the person sitting next to me feel? Real fear. When you see something performed, something supposed to scare you, you’re never really afraid because you know you’re not in danger. You add to that, bring twenty, fifty actors into it, and have frustrated staff take to the crowd to kill them, what do you have? Fucking fear. You have a broken floor.’

          ‘Why do you want to scare people?’ mother asked. ‘Wouldn’t that make them, I don’t know, leave the theatre?’

          ‘Why do we go to the theatre?’ he asked. ‘We go to experience feelings. Of course some people go to be entertained, for an escape from the real world, to escape into fantasy. Some people go to the theatre to more intensely feel the real world, or at least become more aware of the things that matter about it. Think about it: when do you most care about someone in a show? The moment they lose the person they love. Their father, their mother, their spouse. It’s about fear and desire, at its core, every play, every drama, is fear and desire in contrast with hope and reality.

‘When do you care about someone the most? When you think they’re going to die. When do you want someone to stay the most? When you find out they’re going to leave. When you’re scaring someone, without them knowing, you’re teaching them to love and to love more and to love harder. Why scare them? Because when they’re clued in on the joke, when they find out everything is A-okay, they will never feel greater relief, because there is no such relief in life. In life, when someone leaves a stage with a pistol and shoots at real people around an audience member, the cadavers don’t jump back up and bow and let her know that it’s okay, it’s all okay, nobody is hurt. Because in those situations, those people are fucking dead and nobody gets back up, not after that. You break the floor just to show them how real the floor is, how vulnerable, how precious.’