A Haunted House and Dying

Today, I placed my forehead on the keyboard and typed the letter j a hundred times.  With my nose.  The tip of it.  Something soothing in the motion.  I never loved the letter j and yet here I am, a stream of jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjs across the page.

I was supposed to water my grandmother’s roses today, but I forgot.

“At what point did you choose to forget,” my boss would have asked.

Right about when I turned left instead of right, I suppose.

My cilantro is overgrowing.  The spearmint has shot straight out of the pot and grown in some strange erratic trajectory.  Also, I had a terrible nightmare last night about a haunted house and dying.

This morning, when I turn on the coffee, I stand a moment at the window and think about how tired I am.

I have a lot of guilt about the string of suicides inside my family and I only know I have this guilt because every time my mind grows still they creep in and invade it.  Like I cannot allow myself a certain happiness.  Too quiet a moment and their faces hover out about behind the sockets of my eyes.

In front of my keyboard, I weave my body back and forth like ocean waves or wheat amidst a windy field.  I absolutely cannot sit still.  Someone labels me impatient.  Probably, they are right.

Sometimes, when I think about Joey, I think that maybe he wouldn’t have killed himself if we hadn’t found that gun in my grandmother’s guest room.  Or if I had never teased him because he couldn’t read.  Maybe, if I hadn’t laughed at the way he ate tuna salad sandwiches, he’d still be here.  But then uncle kills himself, and I’m confused because I never did any of those things with him and he’s still gone not here away and missing underground.

I was supposed to water my grandmother’s roses today.  But every time I see her she talks about uncle and how angry she is and it makes my heart hurt like someone’s held it to a burning pot.

I turn left instead of right.

She talks about this coffee pot she wants.  How it is somewhere back in Colorado, hidden away in his possessions and she wants it back.  How he took it on a loan but it is hers and she wants someone else to have it.

When I come home, I sit inside the corner of my room and write.  On the floor behind the dresser, so no one else can see me.  For a long time, I took these pills that made me think of guns beneath a bed and all the jokes that people made about my skin and how I write and I think that, if I were a mother, I would have cried the loudest knowing that my daughter only wanted death.

It’s almost my birthday, which is the two day before anniversary of Joey dying.  Uncle is next to him now.  Last year he wasn’t but this year he will be.  Two graves instead of one.  Two family traumas side by side in a dirt lot and we cannot find the coffee pot or the gun beneath the bed and today I tried to eat a tuna sandwich but I vomited instead and somewhere my poor grandfather lies sleeping in the ground all by himself with the bullet in his chest.

Catatonic, I sit inside a stupor.  Is any of this real?  Our lives, some Grecian tragedy, some Shakespeare play.  All of it, surreal.  My heart burns.  It aches in the place where the air comes through my mouth and enters in my lungs.

I am angry at our apathy.  That I’ve made it to another year, when people that I love have not.  And still, we are unkind.

Which reminds me, I have some roses to go water.

I have a lot of people left to love and ask forgiveness from.

21 thoughts on “A Haunted House and Dying

  1. I’m reading a whole lot of labels, both internally and externally applied, and lots of other people’s ‘supposed to’s’ and ‘should’s’ … you don’t gotta do nothing that moves you towards someone else’s pain, no matter who they are and what history you have with them, even the dead.

    Ah my dearest young friend, all you have to do is keep on typing ‘j’s’ with your nose.

    (I tried it but I have one of those keyboards that have fat keys that click like a typewriter … this is what happens … uujjukijkiujijuijuju)


    1. Agreed. I’m in this completely complex realm of trying to allow my writing and my life have a freedom independent of other people, and my goodness is that a frustrating challenge. Thank you for the reminder–you are such a good force of centering in my life ❤


      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to read a lot of poetry, especially when overwhelmed,* or under. Then I tried writing poems when stressed or empty. They worked. They felt like letters to a caring person who would never really read them. It was important that I write them, not that the person (sometimes real, sometimes real only to me) would answer. It was my telling the truth in the strongest voice I could find that mattered. I see that quality in in your writing.
    . . . .

    * This guy brought me back to life more than once:

    Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
    Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
    In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
    Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be. (G.M. Hopkins)

    True, his style is “before your time” probably. (I was always an old guy.) But styles are more surface than depth. Like clothes, they fit certain occasions or moods. And true, he found strength in religious faith, but so many of his poems only preach part way. The rest (that is, the heart of most lines) revealed to me the strength and wonder of the natural world and of our world inside. I’m not recommending, just saying. Reading can keep you going, and keep you writing too. Though I realize that just writing can do all that too.

    (But you know all of this, except maybe Hopkins. I am reverting to grandfather/teacher mode. Not apologizing however. I am a grandfather. I watch out for them. Others too. Can’t help it.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really really like that visual. Telling the truth in the strongest voice you can find. That’s how I feel when I’m writing from this headspace—so much truth in that.

      I love to read, and look forward to sharing some of his words. Thank you for passing his name along. Thank you for all you shared with me. Keep grandfathering on—we need your kindness 💙


  3. My God this is heartbreaking. I’m sorry whenever I discover a kindred spirit. Your writing bleeds and it’s excellent. I’m just sorry others have to suffer like me. I’d be much happier if I were alone in that. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Creative Writing Course and commented:
    Hi Shayleene

    Thanks for the follow(s) * (+ likes), as the reason I write is to share.
    * (Though my family and close friends say it would be far more entertaining with a video-camera # in “real life”, rather than in cyberspace!)

    # By the way, do they still make them in today’s ever-faster changing world..or is it all done with mobile phones?

    (get with the times now,”luddite”* c – it should be a smart phone)

    * or so I was often called by my “my techno-geek” friend, Bill (“the gonk”)

    “total non-techno” c (who doesn’t possess a mobile phone, after a rather eventful’ experience some years back, whilst trying to walk, talk and chew gum at the same time)

    Who says men can’t multi-task!

    Kind regards and all the best with your blog



    Best wishes from the First City to see the sun (in summer) …and we’re also the first to see the sunset and the stars (in winter-time)

    “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”


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