The Straggler: A Poem by Marc Alexander Valle

The Straggler

People will tell you things.

All you have to do is do something and they’ll have an opinion. Sometimes all you have to do is exist in order to hear the word ‘should’, and other times two or more people will tell you to do the opposite thing and you’ll end up without a clue.

My favorite is when they say, “Do this and that and that and this, but don’t listen to me. Just do you.”

Just do you. I heard that the other day in a soda commercial and it almost made me stop buying the soda. Almost. 

People need people. It’s how we learn to walk and sometimes it’s how we learn to die. I listened to other people so much at one point that I jammed all the channels to my gut, and I did nothing with myself except eat, sleep, and breath. 

People need people. What a beautiful concept and debilitating nightmare. 

We are abandoned creatures on the side of the Road of Answers and a darkening forest resides on both sides. We walk on all four legs, waiting to hitch a ride, but paws have no thumbs. 

The passing cars keep moving, and it keeps getting dark and cold and the woods are making noises that I’ve never heard before. I see another creature ahead, but it’s too far. I see another creature behind, waddling like it’s wounded. I see a firelight on my right through the brush and trees, and I hear something making a grunt and a growl in the distant woods to my left. I’ll wait up for the straggler behind. He or she seems nice. We’ll ask to join the fire together. It’s always better to get rejected in larger numbers. You never know what someone will tell you. 

by Marc Alexander Valle

Letter to the Like-Minded Souls by Marc Alexander Valle

Comments and feedback are welcome. 

Letter to the Like-Minded Souls

by Marc Alexander Valle

Dear Like-Minded Soul,

Perception is a wave, threatening to crush the shores of anything and everything you feel inside and think you know. 

I’m talking about their perception. And yours and mine. But mostly theirs. The people are scared. They’re uncomfortable, and it will not be accepted. 

The advice, the suggestions, the offhand comments, the superstitions, the hungry mob, the fanatical religion, the authoritarian government, your parents, wanting you to be a doctor or lawyer or x-ray technician. 

How can we ever just be when the belief that “we just are who we are” is a landlocked sea with dozens of tributaries? 

The salty, the fresh, the toxic, the mother, the friend, the father, the sister, the brother, the pastor, the teacher, the teammate, the lover.   

Was there ever a place?

We built forts of pillows to fight them off, didn’t we? 

And we flew off into space, didn’t we?

I’m at an age where I’m halfway there, the day that I don’t care what anyone thinks and how they see me, and I think to myself that when I get there it’ll be okay, Shangri-la, high above the waves.

But why so long?

Why so close to the end, if in fact there is a mountain sanctuary?

The people are uncomfortable. And they’re comfortable with their discomfort. And it rattles me. 

There’s nothing to do but to step forward and find 

your family, your people, the dreamers, your kind.  

And hold on as long as you can. But never too tight.

The hungry mob were once dreamers too. 

CHAUVET CAVE by Marc Alexander Valle

Feedback and comments are welcome. 

CHAUVET CAVE

by Marc Alexander Valle 

One of the earliest memories I have of my mother is her teaching me how to spell words. 

She would draw the stick figure picture and write the word beneath it. 

I asked her multiple times to run this lesson for me. 

My mother didn’t have a diploma, but she somehow knew the value of stimulating the visual cortex. 

It didn’t raise my verbal IQ by much. 

I was a decent student in mid-level classes, and I scored below average on my SATs. 

I don’t know what it did to benefit my education. 

I just know that if you asked me to choose between my sight or my hearing, I’d probably have to give up music. 

Then there’s the story of the mother, who lifted a truck to rescue her son.

I don’t believe she did it, but I believe that she tried.

Mav The Writer: The Lost Years

There’s a time in my life that I cannot write about. There’s no story there that would be of interest to my audience. I even get bored, thinking about it. From my teens to my very early 30s, I neither acted upon nor reacted to the world.

I did my thing. I wrote in various mediums, I went to karaoke twice a week, I read my work at open mics, I had my artwork in a gallery, I went back to school and earned my degree, I experimented in photography, and I worked various low-paying jobs with colorful people. But for the most part it was my lost years. I took no risks and barely ventured out of my comfort zone. I hardly dared to ask out females, fearing what they might have thought of me.

Is time ever really lost? Does the brain collect and process data and turn it into wisdom no matter the circumstance? And do movies, books, and music count as life experience?

I got into a shoving match in second grade, and it’s one of my sweetest moments. Some kid bullied my best friend on the playground. He was high up on himself, because all the girls followed him around during recess. I cursed at him and pushed him to the ground. All the girls came after me and yelled at me. The bully stood back up and cried. It felt good.

The world acted, I reacted, and in turn I existed. Beginning, middle and end.

We grade our lives on curves and our view of ourselves is rich with self-talk rebuttals.

I see no good in those years except that it makes my story different.

To excavate our lives for a happy ending can be a brutal endeavor, but a necessary one if the left foot is to move in front of the right and the right foot is to move in front of the left. I still can’t write a lick about that era.

Hour of the Muse by Marc Alexander Valle

I’d always play with those bugs that curl into balls. They called them roly-polys. I’d dig them up in the dirt and touch them with a small twig so they could roll up. I always wondered what it would be like in that ball, only seeing myself in shafts of light. Was it warm in there like when I’d stick my head into my winter jacket? Does he feel untouchable in there, safe and sound? Can he fall asleep?

I’d cover my entire body with the blanket at night so the zombies wouldn’t see me. If I can’t see them, they can’t see. This bed sheet, my midnight steel.

I’m a grown man and now believe that nothing is free from harm. Not my body. Not my life. Not my world. Not my dreams that can turn into nightmares right before I wake and throw off this thin bed cover.

But I still cover up completely even if it’s for a few seconds late at night, trying to fall asleep, and I wonder what all the boogeyman fuss was about. And maybe that was the Universe’s evolutionary plan with those roly-polys. Like the ancestor to the roly-poly lived in a world of bigger bugs, predators, boogeymen, and the only ones that survived were the cowards that curled into the ball.

I lie in bed waiting to feel dozy. Two hours will have to do. Just two hours.

When I wake, I will shed this bed sheet one more time to meet the day that will always arrive regardless of my fears, or what childhood I had, or how strong my daddy was, or what goals I’ve planned or failed to meet.

Just two hours. A few hours will have to do.

by Marc Alexander Valle ©2019