Up and Down

A force within, pulled down and up,
Racked my brain, and wreaked havoc
With my heart. My life a shambles,
Holding onto the end of the shipwreck.

Created to be—something—unique.
Sometimes it seems as though I am
A monster, sometimes a master,
Most of the time something in between.

At the mercy of my emotions,
A manic-depressive collage,
Created and creating,
Something from it all.

And somewhere in there,
A mind struggles to make sense
Of the ups and downs,
Finding redemptive meaning in it.

Sometimes I wonder,
Is it possible?

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To Have Too Much

Drum, goes the beat, on my heart.
It echoes through my body,
And my soul cries out its anthem,
“To bed! To bed! One more time,”

It says. To freedom from toil,
To leisure, to escape from suffering.
And my head chimes in,
“Bills, bills, bills, remember them.”

Oh, how they haunt me,
Follow me everywhere.
I slave at my workplace
To pay my bills,

I panic at the grocery,
Hoping for a miracle
When I get to the register
To pay for this cart of wants

And needs, piled high in
Revery, oh to have, to get,
To be, to escape, to luxury,
Oh, to be there, just once!

Hypocrisy

Our world is a world of contradiction. Everyone, no matter what they espouse to believe, contradicts their beliefs in their thoughts, words or actions at some time in their lives. Anyone who claims otherwise is not being honest with themselves or others. Skeptics have a term for this: hypocrisy. And skeptics use this term like a silver bullet to try to shoot down anyone who tries to be a better person, influence others in a positive way, or make this a better world in general.

Even though I don’t like everything about the Christian religion, the history of the universal church, or even God himself (or herself), I do claim to be a Christian. To some, the fact that I can claim to be a Christian, yet criticize all parts of Christianity, leads them to conclude that I am a hypocrite. Or the fact that I do things that are not according to the Christian faith, leads them to the same conclusion.

The funny thing is, it is because I am a Christian that I am held to this high standard. This is understandable, since Christians do strive to be better people, and do try to help others improve their lives, but it is not realistic. Anyone inside or outside the Church who thinks that Christians claim to be or should be better than anyone else, is misinformed or confused. The only person that a Christian measures himself against is himself, and that measuring stick changes every day, every moment, since Christians are normal people, as tempted and corrupt as everybody else.

Another misunderstanding by non-Christians is the giving and receiving of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an easy ticket to non-stop hypocrisy. Forgiveness is the basis for transformation of all relationships. Instead of being angry, bitter and filled with hate towards others and towards oneself, a Christian chooses forgiveness instead. There is a word that Christians use that is also connected to the “how” and the “why” of forgiveness—grace.

Grace is something that is completely foreign to and rejected by many non-Christians because of the “how” and the “why”. The Christian understanding is based on belief in the sacrificial death and resurrection (three days later) of Jesus of Nazareth, whom we believe to be God, and the love exhibited by his sacrifice, which purpose Christian’s believe is to pay for the guilt of all humanity. Christians believe this sacrifice could only be made by God himself, who came to Earth as a completely innocent man.

No hypocrisy there.

Twisted

Crying, sweeping self from shores long served.
Dead, again so dry, so off, so…nothing itself.
Stuffed sameness swiped forth factoid run-arounds.
Regurgitating reality run through the ringer.

Rejection again. Feeling down to the bone, boneless.
Slick words go down like chunks of rock and ash.
Intentions disbelieved and promises uncounted on
Still bite just as strongly or all the worse the same.

Laughing in ironic mockery strikes like a knife to the spirit,
Hopes torn, then chopped, then diced, then liquefied to boot.
Trust betrayed at every turn, never knowing what face will
Appear at the next turn of the screw, cutting right through.

Unimportant

Solo subjection to professional opinion,
Legalese and doctoral battle for dominion.
Something smells inside this shell,
Rotten carcasses show me to hell.

Know-it-alls and better-than-yous come forth
To brag and pulverize the humble.
Beneath and beside don’t matter in here,
The worker ants are just fodder.

Looking for a chink in everyone’s armor,
Taking note of it all while taking it all.
Nothing left for the little man,
No man at all.

Equal access to no access,
Pawns played in a players’ game.
Casualties are only noted
As a notch to count for the win.

lounge

try come fly dead my rye lie end tie
do thy trend lope rend try tick odd
cable kid kick check crick elbow
maybe tube topple reach rely able
sound kind anger sick lead lord
label lid angular sybil torch sop sock
order never nick knife rip knock knob
clip send lob bell bring ching song
knee kong cringe sing and made
read nifty nice round wiped clean
old sick table rift key oggle swift
ripped lift ate keep pry whip lounge

Feeding the Beast

Stub your toe and see what you get.
The miser watches, he flies ahead.
He keeps your purse in his greedy hands.
He holds your future, his power is grand.

The miser can throw you to the wolves,
If his mood is dark enough and bold.
He can take from you every dollar,
And he won’t listen, when you holler.

When living in the miser’s tent,
You scrimp and save to pay the rent.
When working for the miser’s pay,
It’s “do this now, or else” each day.

Not an easy place to be.
Not ideal, by any means.
My wife and I get by, at least,
So every day, I feed the beast.

Love and Devotion

Today a friend suggested to me that it was ridiculous for me to show a poem that I had written to my wife, simply for the reason that she would not appreciate the dark humor in it. Admittedly, my wife is, for the most part, a bright and cheery kind of woman, although, as my friend aptly described, she is a little rough around the edges. At first, I was shocked. I didn’t know what to think. I did not reply, but simply left the verbal victory to my friend, who knows both me and my wife equally well, though, as I thought about it later, not well enough.

The really sad thing about my friend’s comment is that he completely discounts the very foundations that I consider essential for marriage: commitment, dedication, devotion, connection, love, hope, trust, etc. “So,” I had to ask myself, “does he think our (and possibly every) marriage is simply a marriage of convenience, something we felt like doing one day, and have just been too lazy, or perhaps, to blind, to undo?”

And then I had to reflect on my friend a little bit, who doesn’t seem to have any of the values I’ve listed, due to his own upbringing, which lacked many things we all take for granted—not just those things, but so much more. But the saddest thing that caught my attention was one aspect in particular, which you may have already guessed: love.

When two people fall in love, there is something there. And then when they commit their lives to be together, there is supposed to be something there. And when they stay together for going on 14 years, as we have, it is hoped, though not taken for granted, in this age of high divorce rate, that there is something there. I hope that what is there in my marriage, what is exhibited to my friend, but what, perhaps, his broken radar does not pick up, is what is supposed to be there, what is supposed to be the strength of a relationship: love.

And if what my friend doesn’t understand about our relationship is the love that we feel, we practice, and we exhibit to him and all our other friends, then he also cannot conceive of the commitment, dedication, devotion, connection, hope, trust and many other virtues that come alongside love. And as far as my poem goes, my friend does not understand that because of all these things, the very first person who I want to share my poems, essays and any other creative writing with is the person who I share everything with, no matter how much she will dislike, misunderstand, not appreciate or any other “negative” reaction you can think of. Of course, a positive reaction is always nice, but what is most important is that I have shared a part of myself with the one I love most in the world. Anything else is, as my friend is fond of saying, “icing on the cake”.

Swampland

Whip it through!
Look out, you don’t know
What’s coming from over
The hedge on the hill!

Do you have the password
Memorized yet? It stands
Over your head, wondering
What your next move will be.

Climbing up the tree,
You might find the answer
To the agony. The treasure
Is buried under his teeth.

Tricks lay waiting just behind
The righteous angle or in
Between the elbow native.
Trunk seething swordplay.

Sharp tangles echoing out
From everywhere around you.
The puzzle of the land
And the water comes back.

Fighting foes of nature
Feels like friendly animation
Come to capture you in
Its web of creature feature.

Swamp thing cries out
For blood and creeps up
Behind the innocent
Angel-eyed youngster.

What will be next
Between the rivals,
And when will the possum
Be ready for supper?

Three GSBs

I did not know the man who first held my name in my family. My paternal grandfather is a mystery to me. I have seen pictures, heard stories, but that’s all. He died delivering the mail on New Year’s Eve when my father was in college. I believe he must have been a very good man, because my grandmother is a very good woman, and her children were and are very good people. I know he made a career in the military, and his family travelled the world like many military families. He served during World War II. I have heard stories, like I said. He was the first Gordon Sinclair Bowman in my family. Even though I did not know him, I consider myself blessed, privileged and honored to carry his name.

I do, however, know my father, another very good man. My father also served in the military, though not as a career. He served during another war, Vietnam. He went to college, then married, then had two boys. Sometime later my parents divorced, and still later my father remarried. He worked with numbers most of his life, in offices. He is a very hard worker, and very generous. He serves his church diligently as a head deacon, and he will do anything for you, if you are in need. He volunteers all the time, and often does “good turns” simply out of habit. Although he could not be with his children the entire time they were growing up, he always tried to be with them when possible, and tried to make the most of the time he was with them, as he still does. I love my father. He was the second Gordon Sinclair Bowman.

Both of my grandfathers, my father and my father’s brother (my uncle) served in the military. My maternal grandfather used to tell me war stories. He encouraged me to join ROTC in high school, put in my two years in the military and then go to college on a military scholarship. I did not join ROTC, because by the time I was in high school I was a loner and just wanted to do my own thing. I did not think about what I’d do after high school until half way through my senior year. I recalled my grandfather’s words about the military and decided to take the military vocational exam. All of my family served in the Army, so that office is where I went. When I filled out the application, there were some questions about my health. I have had asthma my entire life, so I put that down under health conditions, thinking nothing of it. As soon as those recruiters saw that, they looked stunned and hurriedly told me they could not let me take the exam because the Army did not allow individuals with asthma to join. At a loss, I began to consider college as my immediate “Plan B”. I visited the college preparatory office at my high school (half way through senior year, mind you) and announced that I would like to go to college. The college counselor looked a panic, and we began to consider my chances for acceptance at that late juncture. She advised me to bring up my grade point average and told me I needed to take the S.A.T. I eventually applied to several colleges, mostly in the State of Florida. My test scores were high, and I earned an academic letter that year, so I was lucky enough to be accepted to a few colleges. My father took me on what was to be a tour of colleges in Florida, but I made up my mind after the first college we visited. Nestled in the hilly, tree-filled college town and Florida capital of Tallahassee, Florida State University was to be my home away from home. I grew to love Tallahassee so much that after I met Jackie, the wonderful woman who would become my wife, and who also loved Tallahassee, it became my full-time home. After spending way too long in college (it took me 8 years to graduate and then I spent a short time in graduate school), Jackie announced to me that it was time to get “a real job”. I looked at the Tallahassee paper online classifieds and thought I found something in which I had experience. I had done some graduate work in the School of Information Studies and had worked as a student assistant in two of the libraries at F.S.U., where I had learned keyword indexing for online search engines. The ad in the online classifieds was for an “Indexer”, but did not give a job description. When I went for the interview, I impressed the supervisor with my summary of the task of his “Indexing Department” by using the name of one of my graduate courses: “Information Organization”. I got the job and my jaded trainer summed up the task a little differently: He said “we move shit around”. So, I’ve been “moving shit around” now going on 10 years and am now the administrative assistant for a different supervisor. I’ve enjoyed working at the leading legal publisher for cities, towns and villages across the country, Municipal Code Corporation, which just happens to have its headquarters right in “good, old” Tallahassee, Florida. In my free-time I squeeze in a little creative writing on WordPress. I am Gordon Sinclair Bowman III, known on WordPress as “gsb3”.