conversations with broken men

first part

this is true.  i'm sitting outside and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and starting to feel this burning in my chest start to feel like a cold feels, if i could feel my hands i might know for sure.  but i don't know anything for sure, not at this time of year.  this is the point where the light comes back, but it is also really the second-longest night of the year, and tomorrow is the third-longest, and there are more long nights ahead.  that could be good news.

but this, the true part, this is what i wanted to tell you, that i was thinking this cold was good because it's getting out of the way, and soon the desert will warm up a little, and i think that's a good place to return.  i don't know how long you're here, i don't think i am supposed to ask.

second part

these are conversations around coffee, always coffee, always talking about the same thing.  it would be better, so much more convenient, if all of my friends were in love with the same woman, her name could be sara, and we would all be getting together to talk about how things are with sara, how the revolutionary hero is watching his heart move backwards and forwards while sara gets in and gets out and changes her look, and how the musical wizard is living with sara and how he thinks about her all the time even when she's with him all the time but it's even worse when she's gone, and how the shaman with the broken bike is missing sara and thinking about something beautiful that happened once but it happened for so long that it became a beautiful poem, someone should write that poem someday.

the broken men are complaining about being broken, and the broken men are becoming aware that the thing that is broken is the place where all the healing waters come thru and release, and the broken men are not aware that these healing things also come from them, because they are so concerned that they are broken men.  this is a night of sudden recognitions in the dark.  on the second darkest night of the year, some of the broken men go home to sara, some of the broken men wish they were sara, and some of the broken men are already gone deep into the desert, with the intention of grieving for sara but unaware that they are turning into something else entirely, and this is always the way of broken men.


he decides that he is not going to send any hidden messages after this one.  this is the last time he will speak of it, and afterwards he will walk the earth, like caine in kung fu.  he decides that he will take all the love left in his heart, and ask the woman with brooms for hands to sweep his heart out, and after that there will be no more talk of these things, and everything will be what it looks like on the second-darkest day of the year.

but the worst part for him is that as soon as the love is swept from his heart, he looks up and sees a shooting star coming from the cold north, and before he is even aware that his mouth is open and his tongue is moving, he is whispering her name (and it's not sara).

and so fourth and so on

this year wore on the bones like every year, and the bones of the ones who were here at the beginning of the year who are not here at the end, they wear their way into the way that we sleep, and i am dreaming of white cats with grey spots who know the secrets of flight.  this year wore into the organs of the living, and while we were busy trying to build bodies without organs, there was something that was starting to grow, and some of the warrior men were starting to show signs of age that had nothing and everything to do with the war.  the war that wore through our bones was only made worse by the endless promise that it would be over, and every checkpoint i drive through is a little further and a little closer to someone that i almost learned how to forget.  and every checkpoint gets a little more tense, because this is a revolution, and some of us are wizards and some of us are shamans, and all of us are healers, and on some nights it seems possible to re-define god.  they say there are a thousand names and a thousand faces for god, and our 400 gods have a dozen names each, but that's just math.  at every checkpoint, i am leaving a small piece of skin and cloth, parts that don't work any more, and if i leave them scattered they won't have time to gather together again and come back, because things like this might take all the time in the world.  it's taking a lifetime to shed all my skin, and it's taking all my breath to keep myself from folding up like a clam and falling back into the sea, but in the middle of these wars i remember nights when it felt like i was learning how to breathe under water, and how to walk on the floor of the ocean.  beauty is soft when there is a whole morning ahead and every cafe is filled with women playing with their hair, when it comes holding a heart in one hand and a mask in the other it is as brutal as the current and as bright and sharp as coral, but if you look too close at my name it won't take long to understand that i always was a child of the sea.  and if i am broken it is only because i am always breaking, trading my tongue for stones, something that can speak about what it means to redefine god, and fevered like the bones of a soldier, like the eyes of a wild horse, like a diviner looking at the patterns on the sand and finding something in the pieces, like a lover distracted by the glintings of jewels that decorate the faces of the ones who know secrets of how to put things back together in patterns we can use.  like a friend who suddenly recognizes that shooting stars are never seen by those who need too much, or those who grieve too much, or those who believe too much, but by those who are engaged in a life of telling the story of the love triangle between the sky, and the earth, and the bottom of the sea. 


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