The Critical Zero by Marc Alexander Valle

The Critical Zero

by Marc Alexander Valle

There’s a place inside us not even the gods can touch. 

You’ll find it in the dirt when you feel that humankind has left you or that you’ve been stranded in a far off land.  

Take good care of it. 

Put it deep inside your pocket. 

Water it with kindness to yourself, and if you can, compassion for others. 

If you can. 

And if you should find yourself lost in the thought that we’re alone and that we’re meant only to die, know that you’re not the first to entertain this notion and will not be the last. 

There’s a place inside us not even the gods can touch. 

They despise us for it, and tempt us with possessions and limitless power over others just to see it crushed. 

But it’s never crushed, hushed, but never truly crushed. 

There’s a place inside us.

You can visit it only if you find yourself worthy. And that’s the hard part. Because you are worthy. And always were.

by Marc Alexander Valle

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

 

The Cloud-eater by Marc Alexander Valle

Reality is a conversation with yourself.

That’s how I was going to start the poem. I became inspired to write it while I was waking up. I had to use the bathroom quick first. It was going to be my greatest poem. By the time I got to the computer, I forgot what I was going to say.

Reality is a conversation with yourself. A conversation full of narrative threads and spider-web worldviews.

I won’t have to worry about being fast enough at age 80. A machine will be in my head with a connection to the future form of the cloud and all my past thoughts will be at my disposal. I will write my great poem.

Reality is a conversation with yourself. A conversation full of narrative threads and spider-web worldviews, born from the fire of existence.

I’ll go to bed that night and have the best sleep of my life and have a dream better than all the dreams I’ve ever dreamt. I’ll revisit old memories intertwined with old fantasies that will turn into new adventures. I’ll get to use all of my collected knowledge to solve riddles and puzzles and unlock the greatest mysteries of the world. Did Socrates exist? Who was Shakespeare? Where was Jesus during the unrecorded years? I’m not sure if I’ll ever wake from that dream that night. No one ever really knows with those sorts of things.

© 2019 Marc Alexander Valle

Hero with a Thousand Bits by Marc Alexander Valle

I only ever met one kind of prophet in my life.

The older kid at the arcade that could beat the game in a handful of quarters.

He took us to the promised land of closing scenes and end credits.

I met him again today.

He’s bald and fat and has four girls in their teens.

They just kept playing on their phone as he asked what topping they wanted on their pizza.

I wanted to tell those kids that games, like those on their phones, filled a store-sized room at the mall.

That their father could dodge bullets, high kick thugs, out run cops, fight off aliens, save the princess and come back to life before his mom came to pick him up.

All the kids and teens in that room stood behind their dad, holding their breath and cursing in between.

The Indiana Joystick of flipping burgers.

But every now and then he’d get a day off from the hamburger stand, and fulfill his obligation to show us the way.

He exited the pizza shop with his girls and pulled a parking ticket from under his windshield wiper.

Not enough time on the parking meter.

He ran out of quarters.

Marc Alexander Valle ©2019

The Santa Poem by Marc Alexander Valle

(Feedback is welcome)

The Santa Poem

My brother told me that Santa doesn’t exist. He showed me where all the gifts were stashed. G.I. Joes were everywhere. I felt a thrill throughout my body. Finding that Santa doesn’t exist is a double-edged sword. Your childhood is almost over, but now you have the advantage in gift begging. You can manipulate your parents into getting you what you want, and now you have someone to blame when you don’t get it. I’ll probably lie to my kids about Santa if I ever have any. When they find the gift stash, I’ll still lie to them. One Christmas, our dad made us leave a can of beer for Santa. He said that he wanted to see if Santa would drink it. The can was empty in the morning.

Beyond the Pillars of Hercules by Marc Alexander Valle

Feelings have no literal translation. Not even with body language. Or music. They’re private. Tossed and lost in the middle of the ocean like pirates’ treasure. Like Atlantis. It kills all of us to know that no one will ever know exactly how we feel. They call that loneliness. The only feeling without need for translation.

The Bucket: A Flash Nonfiction by Marc Alexander Valle

“Wax on, wax off,” I said. Tanya laughed. I continued with more impersonations.

After the fourth minute, it was indisputable. The second grade blackboard was clean. I would have to impress her another time.

“Alright,” she said. “Mrs. Reed makes us dump the water in the sink when we’re done.”

Tanya approached the sink. I followed.

“I got it,” I said, taking the bucket from her.

“Mrs. Reed told you how to dump it, right?”

“Yeah! Watch.”

I grabbed the handle with my left hand and lifted. It wobbled. I held the bottom with my other hand. All I needed was to get it above the sink, way above, as high as I could get it without getting water on the counter.

Tanya stepped forward, “Mrs. Reed said–

I tilted the bucket.

“Just make sure you pour the water sl—

I dumped all of the water into the sink in one shot. Nearly all of it splashed back.

Tanya backed off a step.

I backed off a few.

But it was too late.

“Oh my God! You got water all over my dress.”

I looked at myself, “Yeah, I got it on me too.”

“Why’d you do that? You were supposed to pour it in.”

“I didn’t know.”

Students got out of their seats, looking over.

“Ooohhh, weeee,” they said.

I turned to Mrs. Reed’s desk.

She was walking towards us. I placed my hands in front of me to cover the water.

The Straggler by Marc Alexander Valle

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.