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.

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

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 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.