Friday, February 23, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Fear

This poem arose out of a minor crisis yesterday, at the office. I was unprepared for something important and felt my fear rising as the doomsday hour approached. It got to the point where I couldn’t think of anything else but my anxiety, so I started writing about it. I got half way through this poem and then had to tend to my scary task. When it was over and my heart rate had returned to normal, I sat down to finish the poem. But my motivation was gone and I was unable to pick up the thread. I was bummed because I liked where it was going but felt that I’d never be able to finish it. So I took a risk and forwarded my incomplete poem to my good good bud Poet With A Day Job. She expertly extracted my head from my rear-end, got me out of the 3rd person and into the 1st person and made numerous poetic suggestions that really turned this piece around. What I’m trying to say is, “Thank You PWADJ! You rock!” This would be a very different poem if it wasn’t for her.


Your rise is inexorable
powered by an invisible moon
the God of my tide

You swell in every space within me
scattering my collected world
now blood-red, black and weeping

What was, is lost to me
as your heavy engine chuffs another
whistle-stop; your shrill cry divides
me but is otherwise unheard

Kissed but not loved, I am
for I know your true name
and lie down with you
incestuously; feel your chill-breath
upon my veil, opalescent
with some other light

Oh confident veil, departed
with so much of me in tow, how
little you’ve left behind to meet the task

But burn if you must these slender threads
sewn loosely here with no precision
for I am not the sum of spinners work
and when tides recede upon the moon’s exhale
I will again be more than I’ve become

by Dennis Tkon Copyright 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Poetry Thursday - The Body Remembers

Body memory is something I believe we all experience, and sometimes suffer. We store both good and bad information. I can play the guitar with my eyes closed because my fingers remember where to go. Bad body memory takes us places we’d rather not go. The worst part is that when such memories are triggered, we have no choice because the trigger bypasses rational thinking and elicits a pre-programmed response. We just suddenly find ourselves where we don’t want to be. There’s actually a phenomenal psychotherapy treatment that can reprogram negative body memories so that the individual no longer suffers the effects. It’s called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprogramming). It works. Take my word for it. Actually, it’s changed my life in almost every way I can think of. Before EMDR, I suffered terribly from post-traumatic stress disorder. My entire life was focused on avoiding situations that would trigger unwanted body memories and reactions. This poem is about life before EMDR.

The Body Remembers

My body remembers what I’ve forgotten
and pushed beyond the border of mind
Drained of meaning, colorless
and there, at the very start of me

In my cellar, a child’s stories huddle boxed
in neat rows on shelves labeled “Denial”
They hold their breath as Truth paces the darkness
vigilant, flashlight in hand, searching

Keeper of secrets you betray me
for you know what lies buried
where bones grind and chalk
and always where to dig

And so it comes to this
A door slams violently shut
Glass shatters the night
And screams bore into me
through secret openings

My past revealed
Oversized shoes – clown-like
Sleeves dangling far past fingertips
A briefcase too heavy lies askew
Peering over a buttoned shirt collar
I glimpse my body - diminished
And I’m eight years old again

by dennis tkon copyright 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

Yogurt Time!

The in-flight food airlines used to give you for free now costs $7.00. The price increase has done nothing to improve taste or quality. Those brightly colored yellow boxes are still filled with crappy tasteless snacks that have accumulated more frequent flyer miles than me. However, somebody with a Ph.D in food science thought that including yogurt on the menu would be a good idea. And now I’ll tell you why this isn’t so.



First, a little science background.
Atmospheric pressure is the pressure at any point in the Earth's atmosphere. In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point. Low pressure areas have less atmospheric mass above their location, whereas high pressure areas have more atmospheric mass above their location. Similarly, as elevation increases there is less overlying atmospheric mass, so that pressure decreases with increasing elevation.

For those of you with little or no comprehension of scientific principals, the above basically means that the higher above the Earth you go the lower the pressure. Eventually the pressure will decrease such that if you were exposed to sufficiently low pressure without protection, you’d explode. Every cell in your body would rupture simultaneously. No. Really. Most of us live at or near sea level (except you folks in Colorado.) At sea level, air presses against our bodies with approximately 15 pounds of force. The reason we don’t feel it and are not crushed, is because the pressure inside our bodies and inside our cells is pushing back with an equal amount of force – which is why we’d explode in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Actually, we’d expand like a balloon and then explode in case you’re studying for an exam. If you’ve ever swum to the bottom of a pool or body of water, you’ve experienced the same situation and felt the increasing pressure in your ears. As you rise back up the pressure decreases. Same idea here with air instead of water.

The reason we don’t explode when we’re inside a jet airplane at 39,000 feet is because the inside cabin air is pressurized – well, sort of. You know that uncomfortable full feeling you get in your ears when you fly, that’s cured by swallowing? That’s the effect of the internal pressure inside your head trying to equalize with the much much much lower air pressure inside the jet. The cabin is pressurized, but the pressure is still much lower than it would be back on terra firma. I’m sure money is the reason the airlines don’t make you more comfortable at 39,000 feet.

So somewhere along the way, the corporate airline executive food geniuses figured out that yogurt would make a great snack at 39,000 feet. This proves one of two things. Either airline executives don’t eat yogurt, or they don’t fly in jets.

A little background on yogurt. All you really need to know is that it’s manufactured at sea level. Mr. Dannon puts it in a little plastic cup and seals it closed with a peel-away foil lid. I don’t know why this is, but there’s a little air gap between the top of the yogurt and the peel-away lid. Again, I’m assuming this has something to do with money. They don’t fill the damn thing all the way to the top. Damn it! Don’t the yogurt magnets know that this fluid-like dairy treat is being served at 39,000 fucking feet? If the yogurt containers were filled all the way to the top, we wouldn’t be having this discussion I assure you.

What happens is this. When the little foil lid is glued to the top of the yogurt cup, it traps air (or perhaps some inert gas) inside that gap, which happens to be pressurized at the normal sea level pressure of 15 pounds of force. The yogurt is shipped to the crappy snack food company and married up with the rest of the junk inside the cheap yellow boxes. Chill, load and fly. At approximately 39,000 feet, the pilot decides that it’s time to feed the suffering huddled masses and orders the flight crew to feed anyone willing to part with $7.00. The yellow boxes are handed out systematically. Dining begins.

It was my experience on a particular flight, that everyone got to the yogurt at about the same point in their meal as everyone else. But because the boxes were handed out row by row (working from the front of the plane to the back) there was a slight delay in the partaking of the yogurt. While I was about half way through my faux ham & Swiss on impossibly small rye (which only took 3 bites to eat) I heard a noise from about 3 rows in front of me. Just above the constant whine of the jet engines and through the fullness in my ears I heard a muffled, “Oh Shit!” Perhaps a minute later I heard it again, but more clearly this time. Perhaps only one or two rows in front of me. “Oh Shit!” I couldn’t imagine what the problem was, but from my cramped quarters, there was nothing I could do and wasn’t about to go exploring. The third time I heard it, it was clear. A quite perturbed “Oh Shit” came from the row in front of me. By now I’m seeing flight attendants walking by with handfuls of napkins, offering apologies somewhere several rows up.

I finished my sandwich and grabbed the yogurt. I wrestled the plastic spoon out of its sanitary envelope and placed it on my seat-back tray, which was not upright and in the locked position. I noticed that the peel-away foil top of the yogurt container was clearly bulging. It had a definite camber to it and was quite firm to the touch. Despite these visible signs (and a straight “A” average in science all through high-school and college) I failed to realize what was coming. Nothing registered whatsoever. This says a lot for the value of experience over book learning, mind you, which for me, was sorely lacking, as I had never eaten yogurt at any height above that of your average tabletop.

I grabbed the little foil tab and tugged. Nothing. I tugged harder and was immediately greeted by the sound of a wet fart and rushing air, and promptly followed with my own “Oh Shit!” as I watched about a tablespoons’ worth of yogurt fly out of the container, and splatter the front of my shirt. Raspberry surprise! Suddenly, my whole world made sense to me – the domino-like cascade of “Oh Shits”, the bulging foil top, the handfuls of napkins – the entire cosmos clicked neatly into place in the space of one second. I sat there stunned as comprehension poured into the top of my head – considering it all. And then it started again. The row behind me. “Oh Shit!” I smiled. I couldn’t help wondering whether this was the flight crews’ favorite part of their day “Yogurt Time!” Perhaps it’s me, but I was glad to be in on the joke, or at least a part of it. I had to admit, this was pretty damn funny, considering all of the circumstances that had to line up for this to happen just so. Science is cool – especially at 39,000 feet.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

If I Loved You . . .

I found this fun little diagnostic test on the web that tells you how tightly wrapped you are. The good news is it looks like my weekly sessions with my shrink are paying huge dividends. The bad news is that it looks like I’m a narcissistic, self-adoring, self-important, self-(fill in the blank)! The truth is, I am. But I’m not sorry about it one little bit. It took me a long time to even feel worthy of being loved – deserving even. Ok, perhaps I’m still compensating in an unhealthy way a little bit according to the results of the test, but I’m not so sure that loving yourself is such a bad idea. It just might be the sanest thing I do! Loving myself is sort of a new phenomenon for me. And it took so long to get there. God! I was closed to love for so many years – so afraid to love, even myself. And then one day with the help of my therapist, I waded into the stream of love. And then life started happening in a good way. Life is good. Just plain good.

Paranoid Disorder:Low
Schizoid Disorder:Low
Schizotypal Disorder:Low
Antisocial Disorder:Low
Borderline Disorder:Low
Histrionic Disorder:Moderate
Narcissistic Disorder:High
Avoidant Disorder:Low
Dependent Disorder:Low
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:Low

-- Personality Disorder Test - Take It! --
Personality Disorders --

(I know these tests can't be taken THAT seriously - but I'll check with my shrink on Monday just to be sure!!!!)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Poetry Thursday - ch ange

I’m all about change and particularly growth, which is why I thought this week’s prompt was very cool. But I’ve been under the weather and my creative powers have failed. I’ve rubbed the lamp vigorously, but my poetry genie only taunts me. I hear his poetic mutterings, but my head’s so stuffed with fluff the sound dies before registering. So I have little to offer this week other than this short and true story:

I saw my family doctor on Monday for what is apparently nothing more than a bad cold (which I guess makes me apparently nothing more than a big baby – but I digress) – I was sitting in the car worrying about this week’s prompt, feeling sick and uncreative. I felt angry that I was sick. I was tired of coughing and felt overwhelmed by the piles on my desk being ignored due to a cold. And then, I saw these two words in my head –

punch anger

Just like this – next to each other in font colors of black and red. And I thought, “Wow! That’s pretty weird! What the hell’s up with that?!” I wrote them down in my notepad and just stared at them. After a while my head started filling with all kinds of ideas about this unusual juxtaposition. I’ll share with you what I thought about this later – after a few days – but for now, just look at these words together like this, and share with us what comes up for you. Just look at the words. If nothing comes up, then don’t comment. But if anything comes for you, please share it here. This is my contribution this week. If you’re looking for something more like poetry, I have two poems below that I posted since last Thursday. Feel free to take a look.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Exit Wound

Exit Wound

Fetal pose on wood parquet

His breath exhaled so completely
Death could make all the arrangements

The world in 90-degree perspective
Face on the floor – a taste of rust –tongue dry
Once vertical black seams on stockinged legs
Now retreating horizons pumping toward the door

Invisible entry wound
Applies fresh gloss to her weapon
Imagines poison destroying tissue
Reaches for the knob and turns the page
The exit wound inflicted by
her sotto voce “goodbye”

And in the hall she passes Death
who crouches gathering withered flowers

By Dennis Tkon Copyright 2007

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Forever Nothing

From time to time I go back to the well to sip the bitter waters of my past. I don’t know why I do this. I usually come away feeling worse – poisoned again, if just for a moment – but oh, so gloriously alive! Perhaps it’s similar to an addict’s relapse. A bite of the apple from the forbidden tree. A pinch after an impossible kiss. The thrill of a near death experience.

I’m talking about the poetry I wrote before I woke up – before the healing started. I go back and read it again and again. I just have to. It’s like a dead body in the woods behind my house. You know it's out there - rotting - calling you to examine the business of decay. In the middle of the night I put on my coat and creep outside, navigate the tangle of my past, and find the dead corpse of my former life and poke it with a stick. I stare at it agape - at its lifeless form. You would think after all this time, rigor mortis would have set in. I mean, my god, rehab was almost ten years ago! But the body yields to the pressure of the stick – still supple - so much so that I more than half-expect it to rise up and engage me in conversation – I fear it may hug me and tell me how it longs to come back inside my house, for old-time's sake – that it was the only one who ever truly loved me or can.

I read my poem. In my head I hear, “This was you asshole – you pathetic piece of shit! You’re a maniacal, self-loathing, self-centered, ego-maniac, and above all else, you’re incapable of love! You can’t even love!”

And then I read my poem again. I stare at the corpse, watching it convulse and twitch with what little life is left. I place my foot across its neck and try to press its head into the dirt. It's mouth moving now, jaws working - fish-like - in silent protest. My stick finds a soft spot between its ribs and I shove through the heart until I feel the stick pass completely through. I crouch down to its ear and whisper, “You’re forgiven.” I take the hand of the small boy standing next to me – my ever-present companion, and whisk him back to bed. Tucking him in, I bring my face close to his, smelling his innocence and whisper in his ear, “I love you.”

This is my poem - it haunts me still

Forever Nothing ~

A resonance born of existential urgency vibrates deep within me. Each successive wave building upon the next. In crescendo, its biting sting tolls against the walls of my inner-self, revealing in its pure tone an emptiness nourished on a banquet of isolation. A feast of famine fit for the king of nothing. My unsatiated hunger to be un-unique feeds in maddening desperation on my sanity, devouring my desire to be. It consumes my hiding place and all my secrets.

The moments comprising my existence hang in a loosely strung succession like beads on an infinite twine, threading it's way backwards, forever into a shadowy place bordering a magnificently splendid nothing. There, non-existent willows sway in an ethereal breeze, weeping infinity into an empty black pool. At its bank, reflections of what never was stare back at what is not. Emptiness sings its silent hollow song, richly devoid of words and tone, in meter without measure. In a moment, nothingness becomes nothing. Its transitory non-existence was ephemeral after all, as was the moment in which it was perceived.

Perception defines reality, yet mine is unique to my minds eye. Seeing what I see, sets me farther apart from those who share in each other’s comfort, those who are bound together in a common perception forged not of their own experience. Theirs is one passed down to them clandestinely; a bitter pill tucked inside of sweets and washed down with mother’s milk. Independent thought, originality, awareness, present moment mindedness - the blacksmith’s forging tools. Experience, the iron of which my reality was struck.

Moments pass, each folding over upon themselves, doubling and redoubling in length and insignificance, strung in their eternal place on the twine. Frenetic monotony ushers in each moment yet to be wasted. Through my active pursuit of incessant idleness each moment’s infinite potential is squandered. A shrill wail is faintly perceived as I give birth to yet another crippled companion, each the progeny of unexpressed hopes and dreams, the sum of my desire.

This anecdote devoid of prose has offered me a brief repose, from tolling tones which sting and bite, disturb my sleep and lengthen night. Through idleness did I give birth to this account of my self-worth, which as you see indeed is low, the scar of trauma long ago. A gentle child, perfect, kind, long-forgotten, left behind, my life a worthless piece of twine, threading its way backwards forever into nothing.

By dennis tkon copyright 2007