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February 19, 2015 / douglasnyback

Heartland

By: Douglas Nyback

For Grandma:

 

And here we come
to the final impasse:
Here is only salvation
or
damnation,
never really on the table,
because she was
just
too
good.

You breathed her,
her gnarled structure
strong
built of a generation that went through it,
truly,
and you knew
you were home
non-negotiable,
though you’d fight it
sometimes,
the honesty of it,
but you could never really
fight
her.

You didn’t want to.

She was love,
by her hearth
and her hall,
tables on tables
waves of family
so loving
they’d crush you like the tide
ever in
and
ever out
until you were pulverized on those shores
refreshed and reborn
singing somehow of God,
knowing always
you were singing of Her.

She was
the Divine to me,
immortalized forever
God’s chosen one
by the song in her voice
as she beaconed you home.
She was
the best of an entire generation of hardship
pounded until there was
nothing left
but imperfection and struggle
forged in the fires
of self-chosen-salvation
every sin
boiled in kindness
until what might have been bad
became a perfect imperfection
of a woman who
at her core
loved,
fully
with everything she had
until she burned herself out
one more star,
pointing us north,
no longer at a savior
but at ourselves,
guiding us always
forever and true,
home,
to Heartland.

Whenever we need it most.

 

 

January 3, 2015 / douglasnyback

Home

By: Douglas W. Nyback

 

An old tune
tinny on the radio
it’s claws
deep in me,
the jukebox
housing my quarter
predatory as a saloon song,
old sorrow
it’s treasure.
 
Ever greedy,
memory is.
 
It’s a small moment
one in a million
one in ten.
These
blinks of our eyes,
if we put them together
my God,
how much life
would we
spend in darkness?
 
It’s the mundane,
where love lives,
breath leaves you
in a sigh
you’d emit for no one else
hands over your eyes,
succumbing to the safety
of someone
daring without knowing
this horrible world
to do it’s worst
with a single statement
said only as children:
 
“Can’t see me now.”
 
In that dark corridor
we find ourselves,
never the sum total of our light
always ever
eyes closed and broken
nothing left but memory
inches from each other, alone
somehow,
miracle of miracles:
Home.

 

 

December 21, 2014 / douglasnyback

Endless Sky

By:  Douglas W. Nyback

 

A moment of silence in all this.

 

A knot in me
unwinding,
instruments
engineered for survival
useless against
this endless sky.

 

I drive,
swallowed by the void
of farmland and hoarfrost,
God’s trees
jailed
but
reaching ever up
to heaven, impossible.

 

And it is here
on this land
that I am
mercifully aware
of the infinite above me
ever-expanding
unimpressed,
indifferent and kind
tucking me in
deep underneath these fields
whispering
with all the love in the world,
“It’ll be ok, I promise.”

December 16, 2014 / douglasnyback

Off Prompter

By: Douglas W. Nyback

Michael Malone stared down the teleprompter like it was the barrel of a gun.

And he thought:  #DontShoot.

Three years he’d been the lead anchor of WWN Nightly News, a job he’d been through hell and back for.  He cut his teeth as a litigator and wartime photographer covering revolutions, insurgencies, black ops and human interest stories, but it was a single pair of eyes that haunted him.  When all that’s left after a napalm strike is carbon, teeth and a one third alive seven year old, you still have to worry about the composition of your frame.  A kid can’t blink with no eyelids, but miraculously there was still hair covering his face.  He brushed it out of the way and got his shot.  He thought he’d never feel Evil like that ever again, but it’s a big old world and there’s not one lick of fair in it, is there?

In his head a voice chimed up, his Executive Producer, the Angel On His Shoulder: “Thirty Seconds.  Just stick to the script, Mike.”

And he thought:  #ICantBreathe.

Tori Johnson, Katrina Dawson.

Names on a teleprompter:

Tori Johnson was shot trying to wrestle the weapon out of the hands of a radical gunman.  Katrina Dawson tried to shield her pregnant friend from a hail of bullets.

And he thought:  My god, the people who run in when everyone else is running out.

Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin.

Names on a teleprompter:

A world tearing itself apart with gun violence and bigotry.  From 2011 to 2014, it had just gotten worse and worse.

Sandy Hook, Aurora.

Names on a teleprompter:

He’d covered them all.  Each a straw on his back.  Critical mass.  So they say.

“Five seconds, Mike.  Just like we practiced.”

And he thought:  #IllRideWithYou

“3, 2…”

The red light blinked on and Michael thought about the seven year old with no eyelids and every life that had been taken since.

The Angel on His Shoulder, “Mike.  You’re live.”

My god, the people who run in when everyone else is running out.

“Mike?”

And Michael spoke:

“I have a son.”  He said, “He’s four years old so he fights me on everything.  But he’s a kid, so he doesn’t know he’s just testing his boundaries.  He didn’t used to have any, he didn’t even used to know that boundaries were a thing.  In the beginning it was all just peeing, pooping, peekaboo and nursing.”

He paused.

“But as we get older, our world gets smaller, what we’re allowed to do shrinks as logic and reason prevail.  The darkness in us is defined and contained.  Because at our base function, we are evil, we’re violent, we’re extreme and we’re relentless.  Humans are…awful, it would seem, of late, wouldn’t it?  I look at my nation, taking what Dr. Martin Luther King taught us and lighting it on fire.  I look at people all across the world pointing guns at each other, at mothers, fathers and children and I hear the deafening roar of the shots as they ring out.  I feel what the bullets do to the meat they’re aimed at.”

He rubbed his eyes.

“The other day when I got home, my wife had fallen asleep and my son was in the kitchen.  On the floor was a shattered cookie jar and in his hand was a cookie.  The problem was, he was in his PJs so he was barefoot.  He was caught red handed and he couldn’t move, or he’d cut his feet.  I asked him, ‘Son, did you try to steal a cookie from the cookie jar while Mommy was asleep?’ and he said to me, ‘No.  I didn’t.’ So I asked, ‘Then why is there a cookie in your hand, bud?’ And he started to cry, ‘Mommy said I could have one!’ And he just stood there and cried and cried while I cleaned up the glass and made sure he wasn’t cut.  As I carried him to bed he fought and fought and fought, harder and harder until I tucked him under his covers and shut off the light.  I stood on the other side of the door for over half an hour before he finally cried himself to sleep.”

A wry grin crossed his face.

“We fight the hardest when we know we’re wrong.  When we know our back is against the wall.”

He looked dead down the barrel of the camera.

“And Evil knows this as well as my son does.  Bigotry knows this.  Killers know this and they are fighting.  They are fighting so, so hard.  So when I think of what’s happening in America, in the World right now I don’t see us losing a battle, I see Evil up past it’s bed time caught stealing a cookie red handed.  I don’t see the act of violence, I see the noble protest of outraged citizens, I don’t see the vicious, racist tweets shouted by cowards from the darkness in their underwear, I see an entire nation with their hands up rallying behind the hashtag Don’t Shoot.  When I see a cowardly gunman who killed two hostages in Sydney, Australia I don’t see the killer, I see Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson who gave their lives to protect and save others.  And Evil is just screaming, because It knows It’s box is getting smaller.  So if we’ve been standing outside It’s door for the past three years, just know:  Evil’s only got so much scream in It.  It’s got to fall asleep sometime.”

A long moment passed.

“And my son?  He hasn’t tried to steal a cookie since.”

December 4, 2014 / douglasnyback

Everything Eventual

Douglas W. Nyback

 

I dreamed of you last night
soft features
and sharp angles
framed perfectly
in a gray coat
and hat
the cobblestone
of One Schubert Alley,
Rising,
New York City
presenting you
as the diamond
formed
from
all
this
struggle.
 
We will love each other.
 
True as lightning
and sealed by fate
that we may never diminish
but burn electric
for as long as we’re allowed
because
your eyes
usually so filled with mirth
opened
to
me
in a way I have only ever imagined;
every bit
of the dark
surrounding
your
iris’
screaming
one word:
 
Need.
 
Honest and pure
the way
God looks at Gravity
and is so grateful
He went off recipe
that day.
 
You kissed me
and
made me a prophet,
in a time when
I’d choose purpose
over breathing
so
I will tell you true:
 
I have already begun to love you.
 
I imagine you can feel it.
 
To everything eventual.

November 24, 2014 / douglasnyback

Inspiration, in Sparks

By:  Douglas W. Nyback

 

She is,

bent over the bar,

beyond beautiful

her teeth

like too many sharp keys

in a life

played out

in E-Minor.

 

She smiles like she means it.

Because she does.

 

This is

her experience:

good intentions

skipping

from

shot glass    to             shot                             glass

like stones thrown,

with the momentum of childhood

head on a swivel,

her slender body

nothing but laughter

honest and heartfelt

burning bright

behind her green eyes.

 

I imagine how she looks in daylight.

How

the soft light of morning

would cast shadows

across

where her bones end

and where her curves begin.

 

She brightens nights.

She does.

I’d imagine she brightens days, too.

November 12, 2014 / douglasnyback

Who We Used To Be

Who We Used To Be

By:  Douglas W. Nyback

It is terrifying how quickly
and how completely
someone
can
disappoint you.

In the blink of an eye, a Universe destroyed.

These velvet imprints
from the past
crushed
under the weight of
how
what was terrible then
is
somehow
less
terrible
than how terrible things are now.

I think of these Great People
loving the Purest Me:
these
deeply enshrined
Passports
through all the Greater Selves
I’ve been,
loving
me
for who I was
when I was
complete,
charitably.

I used to believe
time was
a
building
block
but
my relationship to age has changed.
Age
is
Gravity
relentless
and
endless
in it’s
pursuit
to

bring

us

down.
And it does
because that’s all It knows
and I am
this close
to being
so deep
into
a buzz that is bringing me closer to
whatever truth
is
bending around
the bent keys of
the out of tune piano
playing over my left shoulder
and
the Singularity that birthed Gravity
and I think
that
that
truth is:

I am slowly being made less.

Say what you can about self improvement
because
decomposition’s a helluva drug.
And
it
will
lure you
into pulling the covers tight around your head
blocking out the dread
daylight brings
and you’ll toss
and you’ll turn
and you’ll let the world burn
but deep under those covers
in the
avenues of
the-sheets-you-shared
are insects
blood thirsty and elusive
and they will
consume
you
until you
are
a puddle,
bed ridden and broken,
immune to Gravity
but
never
quite
knowing
that the Pressure That Makes Us Less
inspires us
to
be more.

If only because
we remember
the impossibility
of
who we used to be,
before.

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