Life as I know it: November 10, 2018

Life as I know it is this: My mother has a terminal blood cancer diagnosis (MDS). I am an artist with a professional career in IT. I am dog person living alone with two cats. And I burn with deep pain and passions that frequently erupt into the quiet practice of writing.

What is the function of my blog in my life? I consider the direction it has taken. I have many poems, hundreds probably, and have posted them here. I could keep up with that work, but I feel the call to something different.

My friend Todd blogged his personal journey through blood cancer- from his leukemia diagnosis to untimely death. It is a body of work I believe has helped others on that same journey (Popcorn from the Void). In the coming months, I intend to write about my own journey through grief alongside my creative writing.

Grief is my constant companion. It is the direct result of loving and having loved deeply and lost. I don’t write about my broken heart very much, but it plagues me with rage and sorrow. My deep fibers. They take my breath away.

I am standing on the tracks and there is a light coming toward me, a freight train that I cannot escape. I have read that all other death is merely practice for the death of your mother. Having lost my beloved father at age 12, it is difficult for me to imagine anything more painful than that (other than child death).

My mother is fine right now. She has treatments of chemo to deal with the cancer and anti-biotics to deal with the infections that low white blood cell counts allow to grow. She is active and living her life as normally as possible. She is not close to death yet.

But I am experiencing pre-grief. It is the sort of thing that comes at you sideways. It is feeling anxious without being able to do anything about it. It’s waking up, walking out, letting go. The ground beneath me is shifting- by my choice. I shaved my head. I broke my celibacy. I accepted a promotion.

In the midst of crisis, I am calm. This is typical for people who grew up like I did. I can be calm because I delay. I hold my shit together in order to get through it, to calmer waters. And when I get there, I let it wash over me. I experience the grief, the pain, the anger, the loss. But I have had a lot of crisis these past five years. I have both outgoing and oncoming grief now.

So, what is the solution?

I am in the in-between hours. It is the time for collecting good memories, to fill my cup, to feel free and alive, and take stock. I am visiting with friends, seeing live music, cuddling my cats, reading books- simply being without driving myself to some more constructive end. When the difficulties arrive, I will be able to look back on this time of my life and rejoice. There is happiness within me and within those I love.

It is precious to me, a reminder that life is not all darkness even when it is the darkest.

 

Copyright C.M. Mounts, November 2018

Months in review: Jul-Oct 2018

It’s November and this post was intended to be a quarterly Jul-Sep check-in but then life happened… I’ve had celebrations, out of town visitors, and/or business travel every weekend for the past five weeks. Since I mostly write and blog on the weekends you can understand my absence this past month. But really, who’s keeping track?

I submitted a piece for publication. It’s been over a decade since I last tried. Back then, I was writing children’s stories. If you know me, this fact may come as a bit of a shock- but it’s true. In the early days when I was first breaking out and sharing my work, they were simple, funny stories and did not disturb the deep fibers of my soul. Fast forward to today and you can read the lyrics that erupt when I strum those fibers.

I submitted the story after a friend and someone I consider a writing mentor urged me to do so. It feels like the natural next step to my writing career, such as it is. I have been asked by others why I am not published. And the answer is easy: because I don’t try. But the natural progression of questioning leads to why I don’t try, which I don’t have a good answer for.

You can chalk it up to laziness or perfectionism, but the truth is that it’s just the constraints of a professional working life. Consider our 168 hours every week, minus 56 of sleep (if we are lucky), minus the 60 hours dedicated to weekday work prep, commute, meals, and work day. That leaves 52 hours to rest, clean, shop, exercise, socialize, read, write, etc. Now add in the random universal chaos generator and there you have it. It’s not an excuse, just reality.

There is writing and then there is writing business. Searching for appropriate markets takes time and effort I am not willing to dedicate to my poetry and short fiction. So, I blog it here dear reader. I did manage to post ten times in the last four months, as well as attend open mics around town. This blog is my own magazine, entirely constructed of my work, for free and for my true fans.

But… what are my writing goals? What is it that I want to have accomplished by the end of my days? It’s not fame and fortune. We all know that is the same dream as winning the lottery. Still you can’t win if you don’t have a ticket, right? But I really don’t want that anyway. My dream is more about making a living outside the cube farm from the fruits of my creative writing. Maybe it’s my retirement dream, I don’t know.

My mission in writing is to make my readers feel the way I feel. I want others to know that they are not alone in this world. That the feelings and longings that they are ashamed of are a natural part of this human experience. I find life to be incredibly isolating- some of that by choice and some by circumstance. The difficulty of finding kindred spirits is universal. There are so many paths through life and different kinds of people navigating them. We often face the same trials with different responses and perspectives. I can learn from your experience and maybe you can learn from mine.

But those deep fibers have not rung out yet and finding markets for such stories will require fortitude, energy, and faith that I can and will find my place. That last one… that one fails me too often. Who exactly wants to read about all this crap rattling around in my head and heart? I have no great ego around my writing that makes me think the world needs to hear me, yet I am angered by the suggestion that I am not trying hard enough. I have fantastically wild dreams about my ideal writing life even while I still punch the time card…

The question I ask myself is why publish? Why not remain safe, pouring my guts out in anonymity? Why not leave all the notebooks behind and shock whoever is tasked with putting my final affairs in order? When I was first published in the Journal of Ordinary Thought back in 2002, a publication of the now defunct Neighborhood Writing Alliance in Chicago, I simply could not believe it. Yes, this was the parent organization of my writing group and yes, we were all guaranteed publication (unpaid) once per year, but there was still nothing else like seeing my writing in print. Some unknown someone was going to read it and react to it for good or bad. And in 2003, when I finished the first draft of my first novel, it felt as great as my college graduation. I felt like I could fly to the moon and back again.

Maybe that ride is reason enough for me.

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, November 2018

Loneliness

You never understood fear of being alone
Having been alone most of your life

People ask, “Are you lonely?”
of course, but what of that?

“Better to be alone than in bad company”
You know how bad company can get

Still, who knows your story?
Who can sit with a bottle of wine

Remember when? Your journals
Writing is a cast of the hole dug into you

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, December 2017

Auto

Not owning a car
Upsets others
Like not watching TV

Two of the three pieces,
Common ground falls away
Not old reliable: weather

People squirm
Are lost for something
To talk about

I am not poor
It saves a ton of money
From VW, Ford, or Nissan

Still, nights are sketchy
Winter bus travel avoided
Kitty litter economical in 40# bags

Pity for not owning a car
Bizarre reaction
It is the life I choose

Wait- my brother has a deal?
Mileage count and how much?
Where do I sign


-Copyright C.M. Mounts, May 2017

Your Eyes, My Breath

You seem surprised
Full of surprises
Words ring
Truth always does

You can feel
Space there
Full of what remains
Unspoken

But keep guessing
Work to figure it out
Wrong, wrong again
So well hidden

Impossible to read
Hiding in plain sight
Many, many stories
Tried to dismiss

There traces
They call you
Draw you in
Come here

Stop staring
Stop hiding
Come here
God damn it!

No? No more women for you?
No more loving, laughter
Hot filthy sex to anger
Neighbors with its volume?

No expectations
Only wishes
We can keep going
Until one of us is dead

Summer approaches
Sheet of white cloud
Strain an impossible sky
Drench the earth

I want
I need
More than anything
To love you



-Copyright C.M. Mounts, April 2017

Scars

I can see others
Get through
They laugh
They have love

If I try hard enough
Hold out long enough
Walk over enough coals
To the other side

This will get better
But in the midst of hell
You have only one desire
And that is to get out of it

Douse the heat with tears
Or alcohol (flammable)
You can step off for a moment
Until the ground shifts

You can’t stand standing
In narrow strips between pits
There is a door on the other side
People seem to make it out

But not everyone.
Some lay down
Some go back
Some stand, perpetual

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, January 2018

Summer’s End

I can’t really remember
What I have been doing
These past months, years

Maybe it is a mercy
Maybe it is survival
Maybe it is the only way

To get through it
To the other side
To the down time

I guess we all have the option
To not get involved
Close the door, turn on the TV

Shut it out, shut it down, shut it off
20 + 20 + 20 is an hour
To focus that long isn’t that hard

Run ink tracks through the page
Ride rubber into the sunrise
Coffee fueled, driven, driven mad

Long nights, sit in summer
Meditative rhythm of the respirator
Company of paper and sterile gauze

Passersby issue the hairy eyeball
Jaded nurses yearn for retirement
She walks now, I run

If I could get on my bike
Turn back time
No one would see me til September

 

-Copyright C.M. Mounts, August 2017