youandi on the infinite highway.

 

the infninte highway

i’ve got an idea.

let’s jump in my car.

just get in

let’s drive.

you and me.

trust me.

come along and I’ll make you this deal:

nothing fake.

no false faces.

no promises made to break,

nothing but real.

let’s discover strange, uncharted places.

i will guarantee you one thing

come with me on this ride,

and I’ll have your back

i’ll stay right by your side

for as long as you say, “drive.”

let’s forget all the lies, all the times we cried, all the people who died,

let’s remember the Road is like the sky,

endless, open, and high,

like our futures before we knew,

full of promise and shining bright,

let’s remember before we forget

that even for one moment,

for one minute,

for one good mile, the Road,

like the limitless sky,

like us,

like

you

and

i

– we can be infinite.

My Time at The Music House. 

It wasn’t just music that we were going to make, but magic. This was a ritual of reconnection. The resetting of a bond that had lain cracked and fallow in many ways for over twenty years.

5.

I drove in to Austin just to go to sleep.

I arrived exactly twelve hours after Marce’s text. It was 2:00am – just a bit later than scheduled.

I found the house fast, thanks to Google Maps and its location – South Austin, a mile or two towards West Austin, right off 35.

I had to park and do reconnaissance. I wasn’t sure of the house’s exact location, so using the walking directions, I walked until I found the correct address. Marce had texted that he had left the door unlocked.

I opened the door and entered.

The smell of old wood floors and plaster comforted my road weary body as it filled my nose.I love the smell of old homes. It reminds me of grandparents’ home in San Antonio. 

An inflatable air mattress, laid out and prepared with a pillow and blanket, greeted me in the middle of the small living room, to my direct right. On the left, amps and guitars were lined up along the wall that separated the living room from the kitchen.

I began to unload my kit in as few trips as and, as quietly as I could. I wanted to do it quickly, but my preparations for the trip had hindered my plans. I finally had completed buying carrying cases for each piece of my drum set, so I could only take in so many at time.

I didn’t want to risk doing the “Shopping Bag Thing” and carrying all of it at once, then dropping something or putting a dent either in the wall or one of my drums. So it was back and forth and back and forth, but silent and steady was going to be a problem.

Anticipating the probability of rain, I wore my chunky hiking boots. Muted – but audible thuds were the best my weary body could do after three hours on the road and all the events previous to that.

The continuous and uninterrupted sound of snoring in the next room allayed my fears of waking anyone up. Marce snores. Go figure.

I stacked my kit in the corner of the kitchen, beside the fridge where Marce had told me there’d be space. Then I brought in all my percussion gear and set it, as compactly and organized as I could beside Marce and Ryan’s amps along the wall dividing kitchen from living room.

Last, I brought in my duffle bag and my satchel that held all my writing and sketching gear.

I have this thing when I travel where I have to take out all of my gear and lay it out around and beside me just so: plug in my charger and charge my phone, lay out my keys and wallet, take out the novel I’m reading, as well as my writing journal, my sketch pad, along with pen and pencils.

Once that’s set, I feel at ease and a sense of security. Then I can take my meds and get ready for bed.

I couldn’t help but be aware that everything I had done that whole day up to this point had a sense of ritual about it – even me not rushing and going slow about all my travel preparations. But it was exactly that.

For me, even though this was a weekend jam session, it was a spiritual experience. Bob Batey’s death changed all that. I was, again, acutely aware of the Hand of the Divine at work, and I had to pay it the reverence of ritual.

It wasn’t just music that we were going to make, but magic. This was a ritual of reconnection. The resetting of a bond that had lain cracked and fallow in many ways for over twenty years.

There was the fact that I had to make amends with Marce.

I needed to make music to honor the passing of Batey.

And I needed to make music to attain a level of spirituality that I know I needed to set myself right.

But the house – the house was so cool – and not temperature-wise, it had a cool vibe. I had to look around first.

I took pictures immediately to document my journey. I posted many of them on Instagram that first night.

The living room and kitchen were both of equal proportion and both equally small – but cozy. All the furniture was late sixties/early seventies retro: wood grain speakers stacked on a an end table, a long wooden bench-style kitchen table, aluminum and red plastic diner chairs, vintage speakers and amps used as decoration, black and white pictures of Paul McCartney, Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen covered the walls, vintage posters of Rio de Janeiro Carnivale posters plastered on the fridge. The place was perfect.

There was magic to be made. And if there was magic to be made, this was the place to make it.


I changed, settled into bed, read a little, wrote a little, and drew a little, then before I knew it, sleep took.

I awoke to a room flush with pure bright sunlight. The sounds of Marce shuffling around in the kitchen and the bedroom as he made coffee.

There was nothing for it. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I had to get up.

It was time to see what the day had in store.
Next: Setting up. Back in the pocket. Old, good friends, old, good brothers. Reunions and Revels.

My Time at The Music House. 

​3.

Signs.

It’s always Signs and Providence.

I think I really began to notice their existence when my marriage began to disintegrate.

Chicken or egg. 

Which happened first? Did I always possess this gift? This ability to notice windows of opportunity open up, briefly, to be taken advantage of before they disappeared? Or did the constant pain of the years-long dissolution of our marriage scrub any and all illusions of a perfect life out of my eyes, washed away by years of tears and sobs, leaving me to see only what’s real?

Either way, I was left, somehow, being in tune with my gut. Pretty accurately, too.

I don’t believe in prayer as a form of action. I don’t let go and let God. Unless I’m collapsed in a heap on my bed, going through one of my heavy depressive states, I move. I move forward, and I look, and I know that when I do that, then God presents us opportunities. 

That’s how I ended up in downtown Houston, alone, by myself, for a four day weekend. 

So it was, less than a month after dad passed away, that after scrolling through my emails, I saw that Brett Dennen was going to be  playing at Warehouse Live, in Houston.

He’d be playing Austin on Wednesday, but taking off from work during the middle of the week is kind of tough.

Then I saw that he’d be playing Friday in Houston. Now, taking a Friday off is much more feasible. I did the math. I knew that I could get away with taking two days off — it’s May, we were done teaching everything. It’s just pure enrichment. So I bit the bullet. My dad just passed, my problems with my ex weren’t going away, I needed space, distance, and to have my ragged, worn-down spirit cleansed and rejuvenated. 

And that’s why seeing Brett Dennen’s gig appearing serendipitously that May weekend is another sign of a door opening up by the Divine.

I love Brett Dennen.

He’s the only singer-songwriter whose songs have ever made me feel simultaneously astronomically happy, and tear-stained ashen  heartbroken.

To me, Brett represents  purity of musicality – with his bright melodies and his ability to often juxtapose them against heartbreakingly sad, authentic lyrics, he is a real musician and a singer-songwriter of the highest caliber. 

Now it’s Monday morning, close to check out time.

I feel different refreshed. 

I feel lighter – more so than I’ve felt in a long time. Seeing Brett Dennen, singing along, crying out all the anguish, heartbreak, and joy I’d been going through. Then exploring downtown Houston, finding a great coffee shop to hang out during the day, then haunting the local Flying Saucer across the street. Making friends, chatting with strangers. 

Needless to say, I was happy.

So I truly don’t know why I decided to pick up my cell and text Marce.

I truly can’t remember – Did something come to mind. Did I text him totally out of the blue, after weeks of turning over the problem in the back of my head, what I needed to say finally crystallized and had arranged itself into perfect word order, or was I returning a text of his?

I honestly can’t remember. 

All I remember was just getting out of the shower, getting all my gear packed up and ready to roll, then I got my phone.

I texted Marce. 

Everything that I had been wanting to tell him about things that he had done – from high school to his comments on my work, to my thoughts on his work  that had been gnawing at the edges of my consciousness,  irritating me, burst forth in my machine gun texting style. 

And I didn’t care. I did not give one rat’s ass. My father died, and he made it about him. Or so I thought. It was a minute or two of frenzied texting, then nothing. 

There was silence. 

I stood before my duffle bag on the bed. For a moment, I freaked at what I had just done, then I let it go.

“That’s harsh,” was all I could remember him replying.

“The truth is harsh.” I responded.

And that was it. 

That’s how it was for a very long time. No communication. No social media. I believe I unfriended Time passed, as it tends to do.

I would get an occasional message from him, an infrequent text. Then – and to be honest with you, I cannot remember when it began – the messages and texts came with more frequency, the apologies. At some point, I apologized – not for what I said, but how I said it, and that I should have said it long ago. My tone changed. I changed. The death of my father irreparably changed me into someone much harsher. 

My father died, and a part of me died with me.

I now had no problem telling people what I thought. I wasn’t “sweet,” or “kind” – and I sure as shit wasn’t going to be “diplomatic.”

Maybe not harsher – honest.

Finally knowing myself, knowing my worth, knowing what I will and will not put up with.

Everything was changing.

Everything had changed.

And that was a good thing.

Next: an invitation, a decision, more death, a path to healing. 

cycles, suns. breathing, heal.

we’ve stopped shouting, finally.

the wounds’ barely a memory of a sting, an afterimage of an amputation.

we can bear each other’s company.

and we know we’re solid enough

that we can look at each other and joke,

when people ask us,

“what broke you two up?”

and we reply, “our mental illnesses were simply not compatible …”

 

 

i’ve been thinking about cycles

a lot lately,

of loops

and rings

and circles

spheres

repetitions.

 

i’ve been thinking about this

because i look at the sun.

i’ve been looking at the sun almost every day

this summer.

i made it a point to go outside every day

because i wanted to

because it felt good

because it’s good for my depression

i went outside every day because i wanted to burn,

i wanted to smolder.

twice a day, actually.

baking, in the 3pm one hundred plus Laredo heat

after a workout.

baking, in the evening bathed in moonglow and starshine.

calmed by the swish of my Three Sisters

and the vapors of the Green Dragon

when he visits.

 

but the smoke

and the sighs

and the swish

and the sway

and the heat

beat

me

d

o

w

n

open my mind

up,

and lift me out

of this husk of a shell.

 

so open my mind sees

suns behind my closed eyes

afterimage moonglows

the curve of a fingernail moon.

 

i’m open.

and i think,

 

my father died.

heal.

 

my relationship was destroyed.

heal.

 

i damaged myself.

heal.

 

i damaged her.

heal.

 

to heal is to close something

that was once whole,

complete,

perfect,

after it’s perfection was penetrated and ripped

 

my father was ripped from my heart.

i ripped myself from my girl – well, ex-girlfriend’s heart.

and in this ripping, i was ripped – from myself.

all around the same exact time …

 

so, circles.

 

i sit under stars.

i lay under the sun.

 

and i breathe …

            (love doesn’t save all)

and i breathe …

            (my depression was me and i was my depression)

and i breathe …

            (she was ill – how can i blame her for the things she did when she was ill?)

and i breathe …

            (can i forgive her? yes)

and i breathe …

(can she forgive me? god i hope …)

and i breathe …

            (can i forgive myself? i’m trying, trying …)

 

and i breathe … and with each vapor misted thought,

clarity appears.

 

and i breathe …

            (what is my purpose here, alone?)

and i breathe …

            (is this my role?)

 

and i breathe.

and i look at the sun.

and i look at the moon.

 

do i love myself … ? … yes.

am i good man …? … i try.

do i still love her …? … yes.

does she still love me? i think so

can it work?

no, we’ve said – in tears and laughter, in smiles and hugs.

no.

 

but circles close.

 

and my ex, my little bull, has her own alphabet soup of issues.

and she has bad says.

so i help her.

why? people ask,

their faces wrinkling bitter instantly,

acid etched grimaces

– the facial expressions of hurts past,

scars forever seared into their muscle memory.

 

why?

because love,

because time,

because Alabama Shakes,

because this is who i am.

 

and cycles turn.

suns set and rise.

gravity is constant.

time is relative.

and love can be both –

exactly, unknowingly …

 

and unknowingly

i write this poem

coming around full circle

back to that day,

almost exactly to that day –

one half-year of pure hell and

two and a half broken numb separated pieces 

on the three year

 (goddamngofigurewearealwaysatthenexuswebofserendipidtycoincidencedivineconnection)

anniversary of our world ending.

so now here i stand.

and there she is.

we’ve stopped shouting, finally.

the wounds’ barely a memory of a sting, an afterimage of an amputation.

we can bear each other’s company.

and we know we’re solid enough

that we can look at each other and joke,

when people ask us,

“what broke you two up?”

and we reply, “our mental illnesses were simply not compatible …”

 

the sun sets.

the sun rises.

the wound heals.

cycles come full circle.

something else forms, molded

in the elliptical orbits of our lives.

the sun sets.

the sun rise.

 

and i know who i am now.

i know my role.

 

i am the one that pushes.

the helper,

the one offering suggestions,

the hand on the shoulder,

the encourager,

the nurturer.

i am all-encompassing.

i am love.

 

the sun sets.

the sun rises.

 

and

ouroboros,

eats his tail,

over and over.

again …

reading cycles suns breathing heal
The original version of this poem I read at the Laredo BorderSlam Spoken Word Slam Poetry night, July 27, 2017. I wrote that version in 35-45 minutes while my ex-girlfriend, Lindsey was present – talk about pressure! This was the hardest poem I ever read on that stage -for so many reasons. Once I stepped off the stage, I had the shakes for 30 minutes.

if you can see the light through the window …

“i hope you find this.

i hope you read this.

because i’m writing this for you.

because i’ve been there.

because i know

what it feels like

to lay broken in porcelain pieces at 4 am on the bathroom floor.”

are you up?

are you on your

phone?

you can’t sleep?

are you

okay?

have the thoughts stopped?

are you rubbing lotion lovingly on your precious skin?

not cutting

not scratching

it.

is it there right now – the emptiness?

i know it.

it’s vast and deep and cold and endless, yet it seems to fit inside your body,

that dark vacuum.

the only sensation you feel

the anesthetic numbing tingle,

the

event

horizon

of your

emptiness.

sometimes it is the only way to check if you’re still

alive.

if you are up,

and you don’t know what to do,

i hope you find this.

i hope you read this.

because i’m writing this for you.

because i’ve been there.

because i know

what it feels like

to lay broken in porcelain pieces at 4 am on the bathroom floor.

i want you to read this.

i want you to know i’m serious.

i am here for you.

for as fast as i can write and talk and text to cause you anxiety

i can be funny.

i can make you laugh.

or if the burden in the center of you is stone,

in your heart,

in your mind,

in your soul,

is so heavy

you can barely breathe,

then we don’t have to talk,

we can just sit.

we can just be.

if you can get up,

if you can get out of bed,

if you can drive,

come over.

there are pillows here,

blankets,

plenty of movies to watch.

plenty of books to read.

plenty of music to listen to.

you will be safe here.

you will be safe with me.

i know,

it’s not a cure.

it’s a respite.

it’s a Healing Home,

The Last Homely House,

it’s a small break, a waystation on your journey, that ends in you getting better.

i know it.

and i know the thoughts, too,

i know the sucking pull of gravity,

the cruelty of inertia,

the ache of death,

the emptiness of loss,

the ache of mental illness.

the thoughts,

the thoughts,

those fucking thoughts.

just don’t be afraid.

i know.

i understand.

just talk.

just be quiet.

just be.

be.

just be.

breathe.

do not fall.

do not fade.

just be.

it can get better.

it will get better.

just be here with me if you need strength.

i’ll gladly give you mine,

or I’ll be with you – just call, text, message.

just please,

do this:

breathe.

just please,

understand this:

it will get better.

just please,

know this:

you

are

not

alone.

Window Light

driskill.

“i’d take whatever you gave me,

laying my bare skin

against your bare skin,

whatever was exposed.

made me feel safe,

calm.”

we were younger

once,

and so much

in love,

our bodies

intertwined,

fitting perfectly skin to skin

cheek to cheek,

forearms,

thighs

i’d take it.

i’d take whatever you gave me,

laying my bare skin

against your bare skin,

whatever was exposed.

made me feel safe,

calm.

i’d never known such …

peace.

my naked flesh – leaves, solar panels,

absorbing all your solarskinsoul had to give .

we fit so perfectly,

remember?

we’d say that,

“how funny that we fit so perfectly!”

our bodies fit so perfectly.

our bodies fit so perfectly.

our bodies fit so perfectly.
why didn’t our minds?
why didn’t our mental illnesses?
it was the mess our minds made

made us shudder,

made us shake,

made us rift.

ADHD, PTSD, MDD, OCD, anxiety,

the shreds

the shards

ragged

puzzlepiercing

p ie c e     s

p u s  h    i     n      g

away      .

now you’re over there, baby,

and i’m over here.

coming up on years, now

happy anniversary, baby.

three years and

now you’re over there, baby,

and i’m over here,

and the pull won’t go away.

“maybe one day, you say,”

smiling.

maybe one day,

i

think.

smiling

as

i

w a l k

a w  a         y .