There is nothing quite like
the feeling of your body as
your foot departs from the
rocky surface of the cliff
and your body is suspended
in the air for milliseconds-
your heart trumpeting a
perfect cadence of adrenaline
and delicious euphoria.
In that moment your thoughts
are as clear as the water that
is hastening towards impact.
Heights cease to be scary when
you learn to enjoy the fall.
He was the doctor of melancholy
taking his stethoscope and placing it
in his ears and asking the patient
to take a deep breath and exhale a word
that describes their sadness.
He would listen to their heartbeats
as they blew out CO2 and regret
thinking for a moment and then writing
his diagnosis on the severity of heartbreak
and likelihood of recovery.
When he died of cardiac arrest it was
the sadness his heart carried knowing
this world would never have a shortage
of heartbroken patients but instead have
many, many repeat customers.
I was walking alone along a path on the waterfront of Catania. I stopped at the kiosks and sifted through rows of fresh fruit and pails of snails for escargot until I was distracted by a lone man on a bench by the sea. I wandered over to him with a forgotten peach in the palm of my hand, drawn by the way he looked sketching the scenic panorama before him.
I sat next to him and watched him execute perfect strokes of lead across the page, envious of the way he could perfectly transcribe what he saw. We performed the traveller’s handshake of telling each other who we were and where we were from, and he showed me his book of sketches. Some of the drawings I recognized from the sights that lay before me but deeper into the book was a visual guide to his home in England. I gazed at expertly composed pages of streams and cottages and felt truly transported to the countryside.
He asked me what Canada was like and I, lacking his artistic skills, instead described the way that pine trees look dusted with snow, and the mountains that cradle crystal lakes between them. I detailed how my city looks split down the middle with a twisting river and deep valleys of green juxtaposed against the cold concrete of the city sky line.
He closed his eyes and said, “Ah yes, I can see it.”
There were two things that I realized in that moment:
The first being how well you can truly appreciate the beauty of home when you are miles and miles away from it. The seemingly mundane things that you would not notice in the day-to-day become features you feel compelled to describe perfectly to do the scene justice to a stranger.
The second was that everyone creates in different ways and being jealous of another’s ability to construct reality is like (as a dear friend would say) counting others’ blessings when you should be counting your own.
Sometimes on nights when it seems
like the rain will never end
I listen to Tom Waits and Elliott Smith
and read verses of Percy Bysshe Shelley
thinking about how they have already
said it all, better than I ever could.
The pen in my hand becomes
an extension of my arm
and the blood my heart pumps
travels through my fingertips
to be filtered through my pen
and deposited as black ink
across an otherwise blank page.
Writing becomes dialysis;
cleaning my soul from impurities
from the thoughts that corrode
their way through my arteries and veins.
Every finished work cauterizes
my wounds just long enough
for another to open up.
I was standing outside the bar
with a cigarette between my lips
and I asked him for a light.
When he slipped a pen between my fingers
I told him that was not
the kind of Bic I was looking for.
He said maybe I should find a more creative
way of destroying myself
so I took his advice
and started writing instead.
Sometimes I am unsure whether
to wrap my fingers around
or run them through your hair.
Passion and madness
have the same definition
it’s just a matter of perspective.