I took off work yesterday. Keith and I hadn't been close since I left the Hot Springs area, but he was always someone who had significantly impacted me when I was younger, and you don't just lose that. I was some sixteen, seventeen year old punk kid who tried writing and was scared, and he was one of the people who encouraged me. He and a short list of others made me believe I had value, my voice was worthy of being heard, I should continue trying this crazy thing called art. We'd catch up whenever I went back to visit, but he always seemed a little distant.
I guess now I know why.
Depression is a motherfucker. And that ain't the half of the reality. It KILLS people. Don't think of suicide as selfish. Think of it as tragic. It is not something people do with the intention of hurting others. It's something that happens when people cannot possibly hurt any more. I wish I were back home right now, I wish I could gather with everyone who wants to honor Keith's memory. I wish I could shake his daughter's hand and tell her how honored I am to meet her, after hearing so much for so many years about her, about how much Keith loved her.
My friend isn't coming back. When I go visit home next month, I won't see him.
So I have to hug the ones I see even harder. Love them even louder.
I love you.
So you're reading my blog! Wow! Every year I get more readers, more views, more comments. I remember once, talking to an ex-lover about something I wrote and said, I mean you probably haven't seen it---
He interrupted, "I read everything you ever write."
What kind of mad praise is that? My whole heart sat with that and still sits with it.
I saw one day last week I got nearly two hundred views. In one day! I mentioned it on Facebook, and a few different people said they'd been poking around, catching up, reading old posts... Think about how much it means to be SEEN in this world. To know that people are looking at you. On purpose. Because they want to see you.
SO many of us don't know this feeling. I think Keith didn't know. If he'd known how many of us read his book, how many of us looked forward to seeing him again, would he still be here? Would that have been medicine enough?
You are my medicine.
Say something. Leave a comment here, or on a past post you enjoyed. Or one you didn't enjoy! One you hated! Tell me what's working for you in the piece, tell me what isn't working for you and could be tightened up. Tell me what you miss. Tell me who you love. Let's communicate and celebrate - we're still here on this side of the ground.
Yesterday's poem was part for Keith and part for all of us with depression and life-threatening mental illnesses. Today's poem is part for Keith and part for celebrating life and part for poutine.
Yesterday was hump day. The 15th of the month, out of 30 days. So now we're coasting downhill toward home. Why not write a silly poem? I've been serious all month. Today let's celebrate something that made me happy. Today, that thing was a poutine burger from A-Chi, the best burger joint in Pingtung and maybe even all of southern Taiwan.
I neglected to take a photo before I dug in. I was too excited to have it in my mouth. Halfway through I thought, I should write a silly fun poem today, for Keith, and took a photo. No "after" photo because you've all seen a blank plate before.
Ode to the Poutine Burger at A-Chi:
so full of potential,
so undirected: raw
in the cold air, behind
a tightly sealed door. Behold lettuce,
ripe tomato, white onion thinly sliced.
Pickles bathing, relaxed,
in their vinegar. Behold cheese
and bun. Take all of this and you would have
a burger. But today
is not just any day. Today we add
mashed potatoes, brown gravy plus cream
and mushrooms. Today, I glut.
I debauch. I celebrate another day
on this side of the ground with
GRAVY. There be no tidiness
here. No means to dainty my way
through these pillows of exploding mash,
these gravyfalls of deliciocity! This
is bliss, and it's all over my face:
a terrible joke.
I will now suffer it upon you.
What's the difference
and mashed potatoes.
Pussy makes its own gravy.
BUT NO PUSSY EVER COVERED MY FACE
LIKE THIS. Oh, poutine burger, inappropriately
named, in this country without curds I don't care
what I look like, seated outside at the table
in front of the restaurant, I wear you without shame,
I wear you with prize, nose to neck, sweet sweet
poutine burger, I left my last wife,
the chili cheese burger with real pickled jalapeños
FOR YOU, in this country with no chili
and no pickled jalapeños, for YOU, oh my love,
there can be no other above you, no day of work
is too terrible that you cannot wash
it away with your sauce, gravied potatoes, gravied
bun, gravied lettuce and gravied onions, gravied red
ripe tomatoes, oh my god, gravied PICKLES.
The occasional saucy mushroom tries to escape
but my fries are at the ready. POUTINE BURGER,
never leave me. POUTINE BURGER, never die.
POUTINE BURGER, only you
my wandering eye.