My Perfect Wilderness

Falling
through the trap door
of deluded sober bliss
into something
approaching
hell,

what I found
became
my perfect wilderness.

I

We were way way
beyond
drinking
by then,

far past
where the path ends,
and deep
into uncharted waters.

Only monsters,
demons,
ghosts,
and me
stalked the sea caves and crevices
at those barren depths.

Unable to move
or breathe
or run
or fight,

trembling,
lonely,
fearful
trying desperately

not
to think,
not to see
the plan
I’d hatched
had turned to shit,

the world
I’d made
came crashing down,

the love I’d found
was gone,

and all I wanted
was
simply
to
die.

II

Winter came,
the worst ever,
covering the world
in thick filthy black ice
and dismal squalid
never ending
cold,

that pierced and froze
my broken burning heart.

I became we,
and together
staggered
through the hours

dragging these selves
up and down
steep hills
and through
dense impassable forest.

There was lawyer dude
and biker dude
and zen dude
and daddy dude.

drunk dude
and sober dude
and smart dude
and fool.

Lover,
runner,
weak broken soul,

and always
a pitiable
lonely boy

whose loss now
echoed all life
all the way back

to before
remembering
was even possible.

III

We wrote long poems,
pretended to sleep,
smoked at 3 AM,
looked out broken frosty windows
at nothing,

and hung sad blue Christmas lights.

We lurched along,
stroke-like and reeling,
the echoing corridors
of memory,

turning this way and that,
seeking a dim light
which never came,

weeping howling
ever more infantile,

yet somehow managing
still to see
whatever portion
of clarity there is

that flows
from such suffering’s
torment.

IV

Spring finally came,
smashing the ice
and draining the snow,
with flowers,
the smell of pig shit,
and Kelly green.

Just that alone
made the days
a tiny bit
easier.

I became again able to smile,
though in truth
without the joy
of one who’s healed
or been forgiven,

and gradually
imperceptibly,
like how trees grow
over the eons,

learned a little
to stand
again

as if I’d really resumed
a human life,

because in the sad knowing
how empty
them old dreams were,

and finally seeing
the struggle
to make
just so
her beating heart

was stupid,
selfish,
and doomed,

in truth,
I remained
bereft.

V

Though
my love
was long long gone

there was a sense
of movement, clarity,
or maybe just wishful thinking,
and sad sad peace

that thrived
beyond
the need
to die,

and with it
certain realizations
about loss
and alone
and pain
and fear

flowing older
than anything
this dumb bastard drunk
ever knew from before,

VI

I wasn’t alright
but better;

there remained
an unsolved ache,
a hunger
for redemption,
brief sightings
of truth,

the wisdom
of the sea,

as I found
whatever it takes
to go on
after a fashion

diminished in joy
but sober,

awake
and mourning,

struggling on
in the hope
them long hours
on cushions,
these awful poems,
and the help
of those
whose passing willingness
was up to the task

would all somehow truly help
heal the deep bewildered pain inside.

VII

So when
from out of the blue
she came around
and told me
she missed me
and still wanted a little
of what I had,

of what we had,

of what there might be
to this thing
they say
is love,

I wasn’t sure
what to think.

There’s this old reptile brain
in me
that just knows
no matter how you are
or what you do,

the good won’t last,
isn’t as real,
and never ever
plays as loud

as whatever badness
life’s really
all about.

VIII

But no matter whatever else
there is
that is,

the chance,
for second chances
never happens
often,

like maybe once
in a thousand lifetimes,
at best.

So when the opportunity
appeared

to set straight
the course
of lives once shared

true self
demanded
the effort,
the chance,
the opportunity

for love’s
redemption.

And
even if no less foolish
then when I was 8
and believed for awhile
I could learn to breathe
underwater,

my heart leaped
at the very idea,
which I’d banished
to the landfill so many months ago,

of another chance
at her love.

IX

So now in Summer,
broiling and wet
like how it is
when you drain the water out of the pasta pot
at the sink,

we been in bed a lot,
or on the bike,
rediscovering our hearts and bodies,
learning to talk
to feel
to laugh
to maybe accept
our own humanity.

The little kid
in me’s still scared,
the fighters and lovers and fixers
still want a stake in the game,

and the beating heart
of some fool drunk
still leaps from my chest

at this humbling
and undeserved great fortune

somehow found
on the pathless path,
through the wilderness

of barely
awakened hearts.

My Perfect Wilderness

Taiyu

Iowa City, United States

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