In response to my friend Brian Garrity’s short story “Sirens of Franklin” in his new book “Cig”.

Go home
You all yell to the woman with the covered head
As you drive by bravely
And you all laugh again, except your heart is breaking
You yell together the N word as you pass a lone black man and you see the fear
Someone throws a beer can and it almost hits him
You see his fear, his anger
Your fear, your anger
Nasty mean words thrown up and out of the mouth
You yell as you drive by
Your friends
You all laugh and have another swig of beer
You, you yell your hate out, hoping somewhere inside it will go away
This is not how you want to be
You know that queer, that freak, that fairy, that faggot, that foreigner is in you
You are them
You don’t belong
You don’t want to be found out
You liked his/her dress and heels
The purse was beautiful
You envied her ability be who she was
You hated her being who she was because you can’t be who you are
The ‘boys’ want to beat her up
‘You’ want to beat her up
Beat yourself up
But no
You keep driving
Now you’re the pussy
Yes you are, but not because you won’t beat her up
You have another sip of beer and swallow everything


Copyright Don MacLeod

The Unliving

We are the unliving
Unliving our lives
Not wanting the life we live
Doing nothing to change it
Doing nothing to break the cycle
Dragging ourselves through the day
Afraid to ask for help
Afraid to tell the truth
Fear is our constant companion
Small most days, but constant
It dictates our every word
It dictates our every decision
This small worm, an infection making us the unliving
We have to take the medicine to cure this infection
We have to take the medicine that will make us brave
That medicine is called love
It’s a powerful medicine
But it’s hard for us to swallow
We don’t think that we deserve it
We fear it’s not true
We fear
Take your medicine
Share your medicine
Receive the medicine you are given
There is an abundant supply in every breath
Encourage others to take their medicine We can not live this life in fear
This world can not live this life in fear
Love is not sex
Sex is not love
We get those confused
Love comes from the heart
Love is received by the heart
It’s time to stop this unliving
It’s time just stop this unloving
For all of us
It’s time for all of us to live our lives
It’s  time for all of us to love our lives

Empty Places

It’s a strange thing that happens when people disappear from your life, I don’t mean to say that they have disappeared from society, only from your life, the space they held in your everyday has become empty, a lonely place void of warmth and solace. You used to be able to count on some part of your routine being affected by them, by their wit, their smile or maybe just their energy. But now, the only thing that exists in that place is their absence.

It’s a sad feeling, feelings of abandonment hover close, maybe it’s uncomfortable for both parties, maybe neither one wanted to disappear but that space became awkward because it was tainted with the energy of another. Regardless of the reasons for vacating that space, maybe you even asked them to leave but now, as time seems to slowly and methodically drift away, there are feelings that float to the surface like stones in a farmer’s field. Emotions tied to that person that disappeared, a longing for their banter, for their laughter, for their breath.

You are a different person because of their absence, that’s not to say that you aren’t you, only that a certain aspect of you has changed, only that a portion of you no longer has a place. What happens to those parts of us that are so because of someone whom is no longer there? Will those parts of us eventually fade away; will they become unnecessary and unwanted.

Will they simply fall away someday like an empty, faded leaf from a tree, only to be carried away by the winds of fall, abandoned and left to parish? And someday when we pass that person again, when we see them, when we hear their faintly familiar voice, will we know it, will we recognize them as someone whom once held a special place or like boyhood pals, as it does sometimes, will the two just float apart and become two more people on the street, filling separate places?

When the sun begins to cast long shadows, and it feels so much later than it really is, will we long to say goodbye to those we have lost but aren’t really gone? I wonder what happens to those empty spaces within our lives that never really seem to fill back up, do they just remain there like echoes, coming back to us on days when we feel vulnerable and alone and no one else seems to understand us?