What’s Real?

Why do we feel

the need to convince other people

we are right?

We should listen to our own voice

drowning

underwater

distracted

by things

created

from other minds.

Now, the madness

is like some poorly designed

artificial intelligence

with a thirst for vengeance.

I guess, the man is in the machine, now

and he isn’t happy.

The imagination

is real

where pain and pleasure and evil

come from.

There are no made-up worlds…

You can be touched by evil

You can be touched by skin

You can be touched by a nail

You can be touched by an imagination

something

no one else

can feel.

There’s a light

in the dark

recesses

of your mind

TURN IT ON.

Chapter 7 Gregson’s Manhood is Tested

Gregson’s running shorts were getting tight. They revealed a bit too much of his manhood, but if he owned it, and strutted with confidence, he gained 2 extra pounds with the ladies, or I mean, points. Half of all success in life, is owning it.

“I’ve got a boat behind the church—do you fancy waterskiing?” The Father asked.

“Why?”

“It’s going to be 90 degrees today, and there’s a church potluck coming over. You know the kinds of people who only talk about superficial things, and after the conversation, you don’t remember what was said, because nothing was said?”

“I stay away from those kinds of people.”

“Me too, but unfortunately, it’s a hazard of the job. Potlucks are worse than meetings—everybody laughs, when nothing is funny. At least in meetings, everyone is serious, and something gets done.”

“Are you sure about that? And what’s this about looking for my family jewels?” Gregson asked.

“You don’t have to look very hard to see them,” the Father coughed.

“Our family is well-endowed.”

“Well, I’ve been reading books from your dad’s library, and been trying to become a wise man.”

“And…?”

“It’s more difficult than you might think. There is a reason real wisdom is hidden in riddles. Real wisdom is not for people who can read—it’s for people who can think, for themselves. Reading is part of it, but it takes significantly more thinking, about what you have read, and what you haven’t read, to get close to wisdom. There’s the boat.” The Father pointed at a brand-new Mastercraft.

“How can you afford that?” Gregson asked.

“Tithes and offerings… how else?”

“But isn’t that God’s money?”

“I listen to God, and do as He says. The Outlet was having a sale last week, and I felt God said, ‘Buy the boat.’ I never say no to God.”

“But what about the IRS?”

“Best to do God’s work in secret, so that we are rewarded in heaven.”

The Father unbuttoned his black shirt, revealing tanned muscles.

“You’re ripped,” Gregson said.

“Yes; the church bought me a Bowflex. It’s important to strengthen the body, and the spirit—they are more closely connected than you might think. The Father had a gold chain, hanging from his hairy chest. It was studded with diamonds. He could’ve been a rock star—a Jesus Christ Superstar, Gregson thought.

“Get in the boat, and we’ll push off,” the Father said. “Do you want to be the first to waterski?”

“It’s been a while, but I’ll give it a go.”

The Father gunned the engine, and tried to pull Gregson out of the water. It’s impossible to skip a round rock across a still pond. The rope broke.

“Damn; we need a thousand-pound test for you.” The Father tossed Gregson a thicker rope. This time, Gregson came out of the water like a pro. He jumped the wake, and held on with one arm. The Father looked at Gregson with respect.

Only a man with style, can recognize a man with style.

Chapter 6 The Coroner and the Family Jewels

“What do we do now?” Gregson asked.

“Wait for the coroner—she’s the undertaker and embalmer.”

“She?”

“She’s already taken, Gregson. She likes dead guys a bit too much. They don’t leave a mess, they don’t cheat, and they stay right where she leaves them.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“Just look. Here she comes…” The lady coroner wore long black nylons that hooked underneath her skirt. She had straight black hair, dark eye-shadow, and maroon lipstick.

Maybe dead guys like her look, Gregson thought. They’re always stiff.

“Miss Dexter, I presume?”

“Why do you always act like you don’t know me, Father?”

“Maybe because you tried to horn-in on my job, and perform the last rights.”

“You don’t have a monopoly on the spirit world, you know. And it’s not my fault I went to medical school. I just happen to like the dead more than the living. Who’s your friend?”

“The name’s Gregson.”

“My name’s Tara.” She extended her hand. Gregson noticed the pentagram etched on it.

“I think I’ll pass. I have reservations about shaking hands with the devil.”

“Suit yourself.”

“How did he die?” The Father asked.

“Acute blood loss,” Tara said.

“I could have told you that,” Gregson complained. “I’m hungry. Will you make me a sandwich, Father?”

“What are you, in third grade?”

Gregson shrugged his shoulders.

“Follow me, my son.”

The walk back to the church reminded Gregson of being a boy. “Father, do you ever get lonely?”

“No time for loneliness. You know the people here. They all have problems—usually newlyweds. I marry them and the judge in town, divorces them. I thought about going to law school, but realized it would be a conflict of interest. Getting paid to marry and divorce is too much power!

“I hear that. What about your personal life though? It must be tough—never to marry.”

“Not really. I’m married to God, and God doesn’t nag. Every day I am becoming more like him because I spend more time with him. Men who are married spend more time with their wives, and become more like them. I prefer to be like God, if you know what I mean?”

“I understand that,” Gregson said. “Around the age of 30, things changed.”

“How so?”

“Well, my friends got married, and pretty soon, the only male friends I had were ineligible bachelors. They all had problems.”

“What kind of problems?”

“Oh, you know… Brad worked one day a week. When I asked him about it, he told me that he didn’t want to marry a gold digger. His defense was not to work.”

“Sounds like a thoughtful fellow. But what about you, Gregson? Why didn’t you get married?”

“Some men want security. I need to chase.”

“You know, you shouldn’t chase women.”

“I know that, but what good is a woman if she isn’t a mystery? What good is a woman, if she isn’t dangerous? What good is a life, if you know when and where you are going to die?”

“You are different, Gregson. You always were. I guess you had the courage to keep running. Speaking of running, can you run a few books back to your dad? I confess, I’ve been searching for your family jewels.”

What I Alone, Understand

I don’t need to participate

in the politics

of what people think.

It’s only their programmed prejudice.

I don’t need great wealth

only time to myself.

I don’t need to be the best

I just need to know

what I’m trying to do.

The simplest path

is the one for me

It’s the one I’m walking down.

I stopped trying

for other things

and the peace I have

is better than the false promises

of the world.

Delight

is found

where people don’t go

in the things

people don’t understand.

I visit them

and they make sense to me

but only me

and in time

the world may even pity me

but that’s only because

what I want

is not understood by the world

and I’m thankful for this lack of understanding

because it proves

what I have

is entirely

my own.

Aphorisms on Freedom and Inspiration

1.

A man ought to do what feels right

and leave the rest

to chance.

2.

Not to be liked…

there is freedom in that.

This is not to say

a man should be mean

there is no freedom in that.

People will condescend

and say, “Nobody likes you.”

Or, if they don’t feel so bold

they will try to use

the crowd

to control you

and when that doesn’t work

they can’t look at you

because

what they really wanted

was control.

Most relationships

are about unspoken control

and when one of the unspoken rules is violated

you can expect

tension

and the temptation to say something

you don’t mean

to make the other person

feel secure.

This is a strong social force

Basically, so the other person

can have faith

in themselves.

3.

The truly free individual has few friends

not because he needs them

but because his friends are willing to be his friends.

Giving to them

is gain.

People always take more than they give

With true friends

it doesn’t matter.

4.

If your entertainment

is yourself

you will never be bored

and if boredom happens

it’s accepted, as a necessary state

like the doldrums

before the storm.

5.

Authority…

Most people don’t recognize their own

They need someone else’s authority

to react to

and by so doing

they think

they are free.

6.

Ambition can get you into trouble

but without it

you can’t go anywhere.

7.

Successful people

intentionally

stop working

because inspiration comes from inactivity.

You can’t force creativity.

8.

When I’m giving advice to a close friend

all I’m doing

is reinforcing what I think

and what I believe.

It’s comforting to know that I hold the high ground

while I survey

all of his problems

and give him directions

from my unaffected

lofty position

of superiority

like a general

in the Revolutionary War

gazing at his troops

through a spy-glass

while they get slaughtered in battle.

Then I calmly calculate

whether it’s a loss

or a victory.

9.

Many things masquerade as freedom

wealth

women

and wanton

waste

but nothing more pernicious

than power.

Men

give up their power

for a position

of power

Then they answer to men with more power

who have less mercy.

10.

My boss gives me criticism

then she gives me praise

I tell her, “Just give me the criticism. I don’t want to be controlled.”

Respect

is all a man needs.

When a man is positively reinforced

he becomes a boy.

11.

There is something unnatural

about

the end-of-the-school-year

get-togethers

they are filled with co-workers

pretending to have a good time.

They are being paid

to have a good time.

I would rather work at work

and have a good time

when I’m actually having a good time.

Being paid

to have fun

is the surest way

to die

inside.

12.

What they meant for evil

You turn to good.

They offer insincere help

that never comes

while they smile

evil

inside.

Less opportunities, means…

more free time.

They don’t know,

you know.

They don’t know,

you have something better to do

with your time.

Be careful with

what someone else gives you.

Be careful with

what you ask for;

it may take

from you.

Rejoice

when you are given

Nothing.

Smile, inside.

Never let them know

you know.

They will win

but you will always win bigger

These types of victories

make you free.

13.

Avoid superstition

at your own peril.

14.

I listened to the band teacher…

“My kids aren’t turning in their assignments.”

“You hand-out homework?” I asked.

“It’s digital; they just record themselves, but they don’t even do that.”

“I understand,” I said. “I would be out in the sun, if I was a kid.”

“But you got a Doctorate; I would think you were a good student.”

“Not really… I went to school as little as possible, and perhaps…

that’s how I got through so much. You have to pace yourself, and stay in the system, to beat the system.

Don’t give up entirely

quit

slowly,

but never 100%

and you can do amazing things with your life.”

Those Living People Who Have Died

If I listen to the next man or woman

who cuts a life to pieces

with a sweeping statement

like a knife

slashing

a living body

of work

that’s died

I’ll feel murdered

inside.

My soul, remains

because of dead bodies

crying out

from the grave.

I alone

seem to be the only one

who hears them.

The rest, say, “Good, he died. He was a socialist, a parasite, on humanity.”

A sweeping gash

of red paint

splattered across greatness

with no chance

for greatness to defend itself.

Strangely, no defense is needed

Greatness

can’t be undone

though, many have tried.

Maybe, I’ve been infected

by my own curiosity, cutting too deeply

right into my bones—

the marrow of understanding.

Dead people

say more than you do.

They are honest

because they can’t hide

naked, underground

unlike you, clothed with cowardice.

This sneaking humanity

says, “Let’s be friends…”

and they walk away.

Hurt people

hiding

in grocery stores

believing

I hate them

when I don’t

How can I?

I don’t even know

them

“Good morning,” I say.

They can’t look me in the face.

We meet at doorways

their shattered respect

distorted

like slivers

of glass

piercing

with pain

infecting

their anger.

My respect

is compromised.

My power

tested.

But now,

the only opinion

that matters

is my own

self-opinion.

Their words

don’t enter

my mind.

Their pride

is part of the crowd

more dangerous

than a thousand

hungry lions,

waiting to eat

the living.

We are saved

by what we believe.

We are saved

by what we reject.

Don’t listen

to the lions’ roar.

Listen to the silence

inside

those living people

who have died.

Your Sound

if you don’t feel like yourself

listen

if you don’t hear your own voice

get louder

let the walls, and the trees

echo

with your own sound.

People say

what they hear

Recordings

going round and round

They don’t know

their purpose

they don’t know

their sound

they tell common lies

and neglect obvious

truths

they are afraid

of themselves

they don’t believe their own words

and they don’t believe their own sound

if they dare to speak

they are silenced

and they stay silent.

When you speak

in secret

they will know.

Your life is not their life

Your dance is not their dance

It’s entirely your own

with much confidence

delight

and swing

you are unaffected by their sound

your power is a revelation

not a recording

an unfolding

beautiful

sound.

I Define Myself

What knowledge is worth knowing?

Not useless words

in a phone book

Not expectations from a job

from parents

from fools

from ambitious newscasters

Maybe, God

if I become like God

the ultimate creator.

Life and Death will tremble to take me

when they hear my thunder clap.

Ignorance looks at greatness

and knows it’s great.

I want to be that painting

that sculpture

that word

that can’t be forgotten.

There are a thousand things

I freely

forget.

I can’t be everything

to everyone

I can’t be a smile

in an unwanted conversation.

I can’t be 14 definitions in a dictionary

only one, the one, I give myself.

The mass of men

are only dust

blowing in the wind

scattered on a sea shore

and shaped by circumstance,

waves of their wanting

washed away.

I will be

different

A speck of sand

in time

grating against the flesh of humanity

creating pearls

from pain

crushing want

with fire

true desire

turning tides

of the timeless war

shaping the ocean

of emotion

and moving mountains

with faith.

I prefer my life in pieces…

I prefer my life

in pieces

separated

from the whole

a great mystery

I can’t solve

jagged

empty spaces

imperfect

because it’s never going to be.

A fractured life

is fulfilling

because the game can’t be won

there are always squares

that won’t fit

that can’t fit

and rather than trying to make a perfect picture

with what I have left

I’ll enjoy playing

this game

that can’t be won.

Whomever created it

must know

I want the whole world

or nothing

and since I’m not going to get the whole world

and I’m sure to get something

I’m not going to try to make my life

perfect

or even

as good as I can

What is the point?

An imperfect life

that can’t be solved

is more interesting

than getting

all the pieces just right

in the right amount of time

Maybe this is defeatist

because I have

a few pieces missing

but I like the game more

because of that.

A Mountain of a Man

I was looking for someone I could respect— without that, what could I hold up, and call valuable?

The military made everyone the same, and the academic world made everyone think the same. Nothing I knew about could help me progress. Not being a philosopher, I only had a vague sense of who I wanted to become, and the images and attitudes in my mind far out-weighed the skills that would make me useful to society. It frightened me, that I was seeking an education that would make me useless. It’s dangerous to have an attitude. Adults recognize this in teenagers, immediately—it’s the first thing they stomp out.

It wasn’t going to be easy, to change—and it was going to be even harder to live with the change.

I spent three years in college, learning about how bad it was to be a man. I was looking for a man, who was a man—someone I could respect, but I couldn’t find ‘im. I felt I should be able to respect someone, but all of my heroes were toppled by the truth. I found out they had no definite purpose. Even with all their success, they were only living for themselves. They were living for the next big high. They were easily controlled by what they had: fame, money, women. And everything they achieved was done for simple reasons. There was no great mystery. I listened to them talk about their own greatness, thereby nullifying everything they had done. Greatness is an energy that expresses itself like a mountain; it just is.