Raising mountains upon flesh
Your fingers trace the pulse
Of a heart in rapid fire
Breath wanes, collapsing lungs
Making room to bend
Skin against skin
Until ribs interlock
Until each bated breath
Falls into the same rhythm
Your touch becomes my own
As the dawn becomes
Your warmth and mine—
The flame burning
Sunspots in our eyes
Raising mountains upon flesh
Still, I feel
The trace of your finger
In the lines of my palm;
The breath of your kiss
In the smile of my lips;
The charm of your words
In the rush of my heartbeat—
A beat skipped too quickly
To make you stay.
I can’t think clearly when you show up at my house at 3 AM.
I can’t think clearly when you pull me in for a hug and when I step away you pull me in for a kiss—
When you kiss me and keep kissing me, as if the sun will not rise in three hours.
I can’t think clearly when it’s 3AM and you’re kissing me and it’s raining.
I can’t think clearly when you look at me like an animal, like there’s a fire raging inside of you.
I can’t think clearly now that I’m laying in bed with the taste of you lingering on my lips;
With the words you breathed too heavily to say lingering on my tongue.
I can’t think when my breath has yet to catch up with the speed of my beating heart.
Maybe, as sure as tomorrow’s arrival
There will be hope waiting
Upon your awakening.
Perhaps there is reason
To the madness knocking
Upon your window late at night.
Perhaps there is reason
To the incessant ache inside your heart,
A constant reminder to the infinity
Of which its beat renders the pain
Rolling with the clouds
Of this storm inside your mind,
Flashing lightning to keep you awake
With eyes wide shut.
I was there
When you were restless,
When you were abandoned.
I was there,
When a year later,
You stood upon my doorstep
With your crooked little heart
I the palms of your calloused hands
In need of mending,
In need of something much larger than I.
Often times when people ask me what my religion is I find myself unable to answer, at least right away. Usually I respond by saying I am a Christian because that’s what my parents raised me to be. Growing up, we went to church every Sunday and followed the Word of God rather strictly. As I got older I had to face difficult situations, particularly regarding death. There were points where grief was my only companion, yet others where I felt completely and utterly blessed. At times when I question my religion I always find myself steering back toward how I was raised. I think that part of me is afraid to not believe in God because of the consequences of Hell, and yet the other part of me is afraid to waste time and energy believing so strongly in something or someone who ultimately doesn’t exist. I think when it comes to religion I am more of a searcher rather than any defined religion. If it weren’t for my wary faith, I could put myself in the category of a Christian, however, it is a constant challenge for me to put my whole self into it, there is always a voice in the back of my mind telling me I’m a fool for believing in such nonsense, but another telling me to keep my faith strong and all the broken pieces will fall into place at the end. But what is it that happens in the end? Is there a God or Heaven? It is the absence of knowing that I think stifles my conviction the most. Perhaps at the end of this essay I will come to some sort of realization.
Every person needs something to believe in, otherwise, what is the point of all of this? Even Atheists believe in something, even though that something is the concept of nothing. Believing there is some sort of afterlife, or that there is none gives a person some sort of purpose. If one believes in Heaven and that good deeds and strong faith will lead him there then he has hope and generally has reason to look at life’s troubles as mere obstacles that need to be crossed in order to reach the promise of peace at the end; whereas, if one believes there is nothing but dirt and worms nesting in our skulls at the end of our lives he may focus on making the most of what time he has or just the opposite, he may find no ultimate purpose to any of this and make poor decisions based on that notion. For me I think I would like to believe God exists more than I actually believe. I would like to think there is something great and renewing at the end of my life, but the thought is so transcendent that I cannot fathom something bigger than this. Instead, I find myself trying to find some sort of proof. There are moments in my life that make me believe there is no way any sort of God can exist, but there are others where I cannot find any other reason for such miracles than that He must exist.
Like I said earlier, my family and I attended church every Sunday. It was a small church and my family was close with the family of the pastor, his daughter was my best friend growing up. Eventually it came out that the pastor did to no degree practice what he preached and was found out to be a cocaine addict and to have consistently been unfaithful to his wife, which the latter is still true to this day. After that we went from church to church trying to find some sort of honest Christianity and it is sad to say that that is rather difficult to find. There always seems to be some sort of corruption within the church or a haze of hypocrisy over most of the people whom attend. While knowing that one does not have to attend church to be a Christian it is a place where one can openly discuss and practice their faith in a community of people who share the same beliefs and values. It is in a lot of ways a comforting place as a Christian, and when it becomes such a challenge to find a church with honest people it tends to put a damper on one’s faith, or at least it did upon mine.
Another reason for my lack of faith is more of an issue with death and the fear of losing someone and it makes me question God and why He would allow such things to happen, or rather if he exists at all. During my freshman year of high school a dear friend died with his parents by way of electrocution. Since then, I have lost four other friends to suicide. While knowing that it was their choice, it makes me wonder why, if there was a God, He wouldn’t show some sort of sign of hope to them. The most difficult of these to deal with was my friend Steven. We had been close for years and he was always the happy one, the one smiling and making everyone laugh all the time. No one even knew what sort of demons he was dealing with behind closed doors and so when he shot himself it was a complete shock to everyone. I learned a lot through Steven. I learned that in any tough situation, one needs to keep a positive attitude as best as he can. More importantly I learned I need to open up and not keep everything under lock and key. I miss him, and resent the fact that this was his decision. I resent my resentment itself, for it knows no limitations. However, I can honestly say that through all of this mess I have come out a stronger person. With that being said, the question of God still eats at me. One can learn from these things but I cannot help but wonder why it had to be that way. I am always searching for some method to His madness, to why a supposedly merciful God allows such terrible things to happen to those He claims to love. Perhaps my issue with Christianity, let alone religion as a whole, is not particularly an issue with God or whether there is a God, but rather an issue of theodicy when it comes to Christianity.
With that being said, I do believe there is some type of higher being than us. There is no other explanation that makes sense to me as to how the universe itself even came to be. I believe that something, some higher being, had created such a vast space. There had to have been a beginning to the universe, which alone brings up more questions than answers. Is it infinite? Are there more than one? What was there before it’s beginning? I can’t help but to speculate as to whether or not science has crossed paths with creation, in that God created something of which was to develop in its own nature seeing fit the destiny he had predetermined. For me it is not crazy to believe that the Big Bang was a true occurrence, be that it was a fate of the universe created by God himself. There are so many aspects that collide and contradict each other and I think that reason alone is why I cannot completely rule God out. Science has not proven anything, but has rather formed theories that cannot be proven first hand. The same is with Christianity, in that within the religion there are said to be such marvelous acts of creation and miracles that also cannot be proven first hand, which brings me back to saying that me being a Christian depends not just in my belief in God but also my faith in said beliefs. It is difficult to have faith in someone you cannot see or who’s supposed created destiny seems too merciless and purposeless to be of a loving God.
There have, however, been several moments in my life where I have truly been convinced of Him and of his grace. There was a period of time when after church, my younger brother would walk around the house holding his illustrated Bible preaching that of which we learned in Sunday school that morning. It wasn’t too long after this started that he began to change. Instead of telling us that Jesus healed the blind or fed thousands of people with only a few fish and rolls of bread, he was throwing fits and lashing out with a temper that was unimaginable for a four year old. He would hit my mother and scream profanity that he had never been exposed to, at least not by our family or church. He became violent and his temper, uncontrollable. I remember my grandparents watching us while my parents went out of town and he showed similar wrath to my grandparents, hitting, screaming, spitting. My grandfather had had enough and yelled at Zac with all the fire of Sicily boiling up inside of him. The next day things were worse. When my parents came back and my brother had another fit, my mom took him in her arms and started crying. She began reciting verses from the Bible, rebuking the devil from her son and it was at that moment my brother stopped screaming and put his arms around my mother’s neck. Since then, while he still has a short temper, it is one better seen as hereditary from my grandfather rather than the beast he showed us as a toddler. When I think back to this I cannot doubt God’s existence nor his grace. I cannot think of any other explanation for what happened, other than that it was the Devil’s work thwarted by my mother’s call upon God and prayer that her faith would not go ignored.
I have since looked back on this and it is one of the many incidents that bring me back to feeling foolish for having doubted him. I do not attend church regularly anymore and I haven’t for about three years, but the times in which I do go there is no question of His existence and of His grace. When I hear the Word of God being preached I am overwhelmed by its holy magnificence. I feel completely at peace and as if everything will be okay, as long as I keep my faith in check; but when I am there, not only hearing, but listening to the Gospel, I cannot help but feel irrational to have been so hesitant to put all my trust and devotion in Him. It lasts for about a day and then I enter our ghastly reality once again and the cycle repeats. I think of myself as senseless to have believed such nonsense of a loving, almighty God when some of His children are such murderous, unwell people. I think of this and then later I think that maybe there is suffering and unjustness in the world for us to stop and separate what is right with what is immoral and to figure out which path we should walk upon to lead us to something better, whether it be a better life or to the Heaven that is said to open its gates for us who are deserving.
December 12, 2013 will be a year to the date that my mom was diagnosed with stage four cervical cancer. It has been something that has been the death of many of the women in my family and still it was unbelievable, and somehow seemed impossible to have happened to her. While under such a colossal amount of stress with this news and an already present anxious nature, she was overcome by panic attacks, one day landing in the hospital fearing she had had a heart attack. She was alone at the house and my father had been three hundred miles away on a job. One could say it is the love my parents have for each other, the bond in which planted the unsettlement in my father’s gut, but he felt something was wrong and left the job early, and was able to get her to the hospital, and some may consider that to be an act of God. Three months later, my mother’s tumors had gone from fatal to nonexistent. Just when I thought I was going to lose my mom, my best friend, the one person who has been my number one fan all my life, someone was looking out for her, for us, and I cannot help but believe it too was one of God’s miracles.
Yes, I doubt. Yes, I question Him, but at the end of the day I find myself searching for Him more than anything. Sometimes I find Him. I find Him in the sky, in the oranges and pinks that drown the sun before the moon takes its place. I find Him in the smiles of the people I meet at Publix where I work. I see Him in the father and daughter that live across the street from me. I see Him in myself and the ironic thing about it is, while I still can’t steady my faith in Him, I have yet to steady my faith in myself and that is why I believe I am constantly searching. I can make all the excuses possible, but in writing this I have come to realize that I am my own worst enemy. I have a hard time allowing myself to believe that awful things happen for a reason, while I look at positive things and cannot help but thinking they are indeed happening for some sort of predetermined plan. With good comes bad, with right comes wrong; for, we would not know one without the other and we cannot grow without knowing the difference.
I grew up learning the value of faith and of the happenings often accredited to God. I grew up learning what it was to keep faith, not just in God, but in people and in chance. It is only now that I am wary about such things, and if it was all worth believing or keeping up with. It is only now that I falter beneath my own uncertainties—not, as I have come to realize, of God’s existence, but of his grace. I have learned how to accept the hardships that life doles out and how to grow from them, no matter the extremity of the dosage. I have learned that no matter how strong or weak, my faith in Him is always there and is relentlessly tested. Although I am a searcher of His grace and of his destiny for me, I cannot lie to myself and say that I am ultimately not a Christian.
Blood in the roots
Paints the whole tree red—
I am but a semblance
Of what you wanted me to be.
Maybe this is
Just how it happens—
A beautiful mess
Wrapped up in
In a tin box
Kept in the back
Of the closet,
For your eyes,
But never to be read.
Maybe this is
Just how it has to be—
Hummingbirds often thrummed with sugary beaks, tasting the sweet nectar brought forth by the rain, entranced with the season’s homely grasp. I could not find myself, as I was lost in someone else. I was but an empty body in the garden, yet somehow found myself looking around, taking it in. The ghosts of my troubles escaped me, unraveled the roses until their petals coated the dirt—vermilion remnants decorating the cold, brown soil. Morning glory crept upward along the side of the house over the years. At last, they reached the window, blossoming flowers along the sill—sweet-scented and lively. The marigolds below sighed—with the same warmth that colored them—into my hollowed lungs. I could breathe again, only to be captivated by the handsome, dark strawberry avens. Their saucer-like petals doubled over themselves around their yellow-freckled centers, offering hearts to the flitting hummingbirds.
There was a great oak in the far corner whose branches stretched into the sky. Its leaves were tiny hands reaching out to gather up the sun, as if to deliver its light to the petunias caught in the oak’s penumbra. Their flushed color appeared endless like the stars still beaming, though their lights’ homes are but a carcasses of dust.
The heavens continued to unfold, enveloping my soul, pledged to a heart wrung with hunger for the sky’s kindred spirit. I was unaware I closed my eyes until I had to open them to see, and when I did I noticed a single white petunia alone in the middle of all the others. I picked it from the soil. So pure and white, I plucked its milky petals, sending them flying with the calling breeze—relieving perfection of the pressure of a world trapped in blindness. When the last petal flew from my fingertips I felt faithful despite my stagnant doubt. I finally felt full and alive. I grew familiar with the garden, and thus with myself.
I have decided to participate in nanowrimo again. Last year I wrote a novel, I was in the process of publishing it until I reread it. My story was not very good. Not at all haha. This year, while I have no decent ideas for a other novel, I have decided I could use this month to really revise my novell and make it better.
For the past couple of months I have felt so discouraged when it comes to my writing, despite having had a few poems published during that period. I think when I started writing I had this somewhat grandiose vision about it and when I “failed”, I decided to be done with it, but that is the wrong mindset. I have read over some of my old writings and while some are absolutely terrible, some aren’t half bad.
I have figured out my weaknesses, especially when it comes to prose. Prose writing isn’t my strong point. I have my ideas, but I can’t seem to execute them well. There are many of you here who have such a talent for it.
So, with that being said, I have a proposition for you prose writers. I would like you to read the crap that is my novel, (Just please try to do so without judgement of me as a writer haha), and give me your honest opinions and criticisms. I’ve been attempting to edit it myself, and quite frankly, I am too biased and want everything to work, and I am not practiced enough in prose to really tear it apart. I need fresh eyes and complete honesty. My feelings don’t get hurt too easily so don’t be afraid to pick it apart. It helps that I already hate I haha.
I’m feeling really motivated to get this done to the best I can, but I need your help. What do you think?