THE MEANING OF LIFE

He came with love in his heart for every living thing. His innocence had been untouched and his light force shone so bright that crowds gathered to see him but, more importantly, to feel his warmth. By gazing upon him they were somehow changed. “Was this the Messiah?” they mumbled to each other in hushed tones lest they be deemed blasphemous by some. For some can find darkness in every hope, every wish, every prayer.

And when this man spoke it brought some to their knees, others to tears. It was as if the calmness in his voice could heal every hurt and fear that had weighed them down and they were now somehow lighter.

The taking away of such anguish even brought back sight to the blind. As if all they had needed was to believe in something and were being granted the ability to see the world anew. Men who had walked too many lonely dead end loveless roads and were now crippled, found that they could walk again. And after those first awkward unsure steps they inched closer and closer to him growing more confident and accepted with each one until they were in his arms, and the safety and strength  of unconditional love made them sob for the joy of each precious moment. Time that they had, until now, misinterpreted and cursed for their burdens, and wasted, was now rediscovered and rejoiced over. All things were possible again.

In his face they saw no judgement, no impatience, no pity, only love. And his love became contagious among the people and they sang his praises.

He had not come to destroy the Romans, or hand out weapons, or preach hate. He was here to give meaning to our lives. What was the meaning of life? Love. For love opens the door to joy. And its light extinguishes all shadows.

But there were those, the shadow people, who were angered by us learning the meaning of existence and saw that this teaching could undermine their power over us. For they ruled by fear and threats, both of which were rendered insignificant when the masses walked proudly in the sun again unchained from their own mental limitations.

So they arrested this man, this dangerous man, beat him, whipped him, ridiculed him and his suffering, and sentenced him to an agonising death for the crime of telling us to love and forgive each other.

And in his final conscious moments he forgave those who had plotted his death, and the ignorant who had killed him. To this day it remains the greatest triumph of the human spirit.

Perhaps he was drawing evil into the light so that the world could recognise its face?

 
(C) Frank Howson 2019

Painting by Frank Howson (c) 2019

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WE DO WHAT WE DO

We turned the jungle
Into Park Avenue
I remade my face
Till I looked like you
I killed my brother
Now I bear this scar
We know everything
But who we are

It’s none of your business
What’s it to you?
We follow orders
We do what we do

We praise the traitors
And we rendezvous
We exchange secrets
And call it a coup
You broke my spirit
When you stole my heart
Now where do we end
And why did we start?

It’s none of your business
What’s it to you?
We follow orders
We do what we do

We burn our bridges
And we kill our fire
You have trashed my name
You make a good little liar
I have your photo
Here beside my grudge
You were my jury
Now I be your judge

 

(c) Frank Howson 2019

artwork by Frank Howson (c) 2018

THE ACTRESS RESIDES

She could’ve been a star but she sold too short. She gave easy access to the bottom feeders and the psycho time wasters. People whom she thought had a name. Trouble is, their names only opened doors for themselves. Philanthropic enterprises were not on their radar. Only the unveiling of what everyone else had already seen and widely circulated reports about. She grew to get off on the feeling of being humiliated in such a way, and so, it continued all the way down.

Soon she was the name on everyone’s lips and didn’t care that a snigger followed it and then a derogatory remark. After all, she was famous, wasn’t she? Well in some circles it was true.

She began expanding herself into diminishing returns and thinking she was making ground. Love, or what she could make of it, became opportunistic and as reasonably priced as the discounted dress she could manipulate some romantic fool to purchase for her. It was a good life as long as you didn’t look up and see that you were actually going backwards.

She could fake sympathy but not loyalty. She was continually shocked that people thought she’d betrayed them, but the truth is it never crossed her mind. She also had difficulty playing characters as she was already playing herself, and it was difficult wearing two masks at the same time.

She thought Empathy was a boring village somewhere in France. A place she had no interest in visiting. Why? What was in it for her?

Each day she checked her face for any signs of age, that dark angel that waited in the wings to signal her demise and herald the harvest season for the new crop of pretty young things.

She feared that her destiny was to play the cynical boozy floozies a la Gloria Grahame. She began weeping at sunsets.

Life was cruel when you thought about it so she ceased thinking about anything other than herself. In her mind she was already a legend and had convinced herself the whole world was waiting to see her next move. In reality they had no idea who she was.

To further take her mind off things she’d fall in love with crude men who played supporting roles and would abuse her. But she always kept a longtime, long suffering romantic male friend to run back to and hide the shame in his arms that she’d been exposed to the spotlight of her circle.

As the years of the same rolled by and her ability to be noticed when she entered a room diminished she became more and more erratic and her tantrums grew larger and more devoid of any valid logic, causing bemused onlookers to suggest, in whispered tones, that she needed to be in an institution for the insane and creatively gifted.

But instead she chose to be stripped naked by big rough men in the back seats of second hand cars. They would calm her by whispering beautiful lies in her ear that she was safe and still beautiful. Each one of them murdering her a little more.

To those who truly cared about her, or more accurately, the person they thought she could be based on the evidence of zip, it became too painful to watch her downfall.

So, they looked away.

The story went on but this is where it ends.

 

 

(C) Frank Howson 2019

LOVE ME TO DEATH

I’ve been holding out
Thinkin’ you’d let go
But your shadow tails me
To faraway parts of my heart
In those dark rooms you call home
Me? I’ve stopped waiting for our Messiah’s return
And watch the football
As well as all the moves you make
In your quest to break me with jealousy
But haven’t you hurt me enough?
Don’t you feel pity?
Sometimes?
For your pathetic victims
Whose only crime was trusting you enough to love?
You could’ve warned me
But I guess you didn’t love me enough to do so
Or perhaps it’s more fun
To see a fool stumble
Fall
And get up with nowhere to go
His dignity in tatters
As you snigger at his back
Don’t you know I can’t go home anymore?
My parents are gone
There’s nowhere I can turn
No unconditional arms to hold me
When I break
No comforting whispers in my ear, “It’s alright, darling…It’s alright”
So forgive me
If I’ve become tough
And distant
And my eyes glaze
When you want them to connect
I just fear that one tear
Could burst the dam
And I may not be able to stop
And that would be embarrassing
At any age
Don’t you think?
I remember every word you ever threw at me
I wear them like scars on my skin
Each stab wound
Designed to teach me
How mortal  I am
You almost loved me to death
But it’s cool
I ain’t complainin’
The crops look good
And it’s rainin’
Nothing to fear
Unless it floods
I just watched another cowboy movie
To get my mind off you
But it came out all wrong
And reminded me of us
The good guys got away
The credits rolled and they played a song
A cheap one
And I got to wondering
Just who the savages were
History is written by liars
Then over-written by Hollywood hacks
And this is our foundation for everything we hold to be true
Thus
They have rendered us insane
Born into bullshit
Then fed it on a daily basis
Our judgements and decisions
Are bound to be inadmissible
But that doesn’t stop us
For our skin is white
And superiority is thy name
Although our house of cards is crumbling
I don’t blame you, baby
You were poisoned at birth
Just like me
We just got it all wrong
That’s all
And sometimes when the surface noise dies down
And I am calm enough
To reach inside of me
And find the best of who I could be
I still love you, baby
I still love you
And care
For you

 
(C) Frank Howson 2019

 

photograph by Vanessa Allan

THE ARROGANCE OF ENTITLEMENT

I knew her
Long ago
When the world made sense
And people listened more to their hearts
Than the spewing of ill-conceived words that never come close to what we mean to say
But back then
In the silence of that half-dark room
I loved you
More fully than I had loved anything
You were sweet
Always smiling
Tender
Caring
Creative
Alive
Open to all possibilities
And in my mind’s dream I leaned closer
And our lips kissed
And for a moment we were one breath
If I hadn’t been rendered a coward
From too many failed campaigns
On foreign battlefields
I would’ve taken you there and then
And perhaps the overpowering
Tenderness I felt
Would’ve erupted into a savage brutal act that would’ve reduced
You to pleading for mercy
As your whimpering became sobs
Confirming the declaration that man has
Once again killed the very thing
That gave him life
In my haste to act gallant
I lost you
And bearing the mark of Cain
I left your house that night
Cursing the moon
And the unmanly man
Whom you laid beside each night
Whilst thinking of someone else
Perhaps he did too
I walked many blocks
At a pace that identified me
As a madman
And yet I couldn’t escape myself
Finally
Dissolving into a dark doorway
Where I unzipped and had you
Just the way I imagined you
Wanted it
These are the rituals of
Broken men who feel too much
Who have paid so highly
There is nothing left
But shameful acts
That reduce you to something they can understand in their
Degradation
Years went by
As they do
And we met again
On a street corner at night
We smiled that smile
Pretending we hadn’t changed
But it only fooled ourselves
Your tenderness replaced by a reserved sadness caused by disappointment in human beings
My longing now disguised as a wisdom that brings no one any good
We walked through Chinatown
Talking not touching
Two fugitives from ourselves
Finding refuge in a familiar place
To eat, drink and seek common ground
In the truthful silence of things too intimate to voice
Gradually
The small talk gave way to the bigger stuff wine can produce
And you told me you had been taken
By a master in Germany
And that he had made you do unspeakable things that shocked you whilst liberating your wildness
That raged like a stormy sea until you screamed your release and found yourself naked, spent and calm
Your true self had been on display
For all to see
And it excited you
Teased you
Possessed you
Coveted you
With lust
Until you found the power
And scent
Of the hunter
And cried out for the kill
Jolting you back to reality
Although you now uttered some regret for the forced exposure
I could tell you needed to be unleashed again
Publicly paraded as the whore of Babylon through crowded rooms c
Beyond shame
And humiliation
To become god-like
Laughing with abandonment
Taunting your captors
To use you in a way that takes you by surprise
The slave as exulted queen
Demanding full attention from everyone
Mouths and hands
Everywhere
As you laugh hysterically
In the face of who you could’ve been
Missing among the timid procession of the already dead
As you damn the wasted years
Where you once lived by rote
And other peoples’ standards of polite society
And now you tease me
Whilst probably teasing yourself
And tell me you are ready for your lesson
And need to be stripped
And chained
And conquered
So you can feel the sweet bliss
Of unbridled imagination
And be set free again
Liberated
Weightless
Taken again and again
Until you lay calm
High on the satisfaction
That I have now seen everything you have
And are
And am one with you
Cradled in my arms
Your protector now
Desire subsided in you
And with dawn it becomes clear
That God is a woman
And conceived and gave birth
To all living things
Including the darkness of that bottomless well
In which all possibilities
Eternally spring
And there is no such thing as shame
Only the acceptance
And praise
Of who we are bold enough to become
I hold you
I expose you
I taste you
I take you
To somewhere where there are
No names
No shyness
No recriminations
No inhibitions
Just bliss
That we have found ourselves
At last                                                  In this darkness where I have made my home to maximise my advantage
I only feel with my hands now
My heart is closed to ignorant insults and taunts
And I see things so much clearer
Now I am blind

(C) Frank Howson 2019

LOVE WAS HERE

TAKE THIS MAN
WHO ONCE STOOD PROUD
AND TALL
HIS EYES HAVE SEEN
ALL HIS KINGDOMS FALL
WHILE THE BLACKBIRDS PECK
AT HIS HOPES AND FEARS
HE CASTS HIS MIND BACK
TO WHEN LOVE WAS HERE

SEE THAT WOMAN?
SHE ONCE CARED FOR 
THIS MAN
BACK LONG AGO
WHEN SHE HAD A PLAN
BUT PLANS LIKE DREAMS
ALWAYS DISAPPEAR
DOES SHE STILL REMEMBER
WHEN LOVE WAS HERE?

NOW WE TURN OUR COLLARS
TO THE WINTER CHILL
NOTHING IN OUR HANDS
EXCEPT MORE TIME TO KILL
I RETURN AGAIN
TO OUR FAVOURITE PIER
AND TO ANOTHER TIME
WHEN LOVE WAS HERE

WATCH THE MOON
IT CAN BETRAY YOUR TRUST
BEFRIEND THE STARS
ONLY IF YOU MUST
THEY WILL STEAL YOUR HEART
IN THE FALL OF A TEAR
YOUR ONLY MEMENTO 
OF WHEN LOVE WAS HERE


(c) Frank Howson 2018



 

THE PRICE OF LOVE

“Hello Pooky.”

“Good morning, Schmooky.”

She had this theory that couples who called each other cute nicknames had lasting relationships. Unfortunately, like most theories, it was as effective as a feather-duster at the Alamo. Still, the memory of that naïveté still brings a tear to my eyes. It was a sweet, divine, beautiful season of delusion that also had its days of overcast skies that foretold a gloomy downpour neither of us would have the strength and wisdom to withstand. We were not Romeo and Juliet but rather two clowns in a touring circus that had seen better days. Still, we performed each show like our life depended upon it. And, looking back, it did. For neither of us would ever be the same.

At our best, on those nights when the planets aligned and the stars indulged us, we stumbled into the zone where it was real and unbridled and passionate and our fears had failed to conquer the best in us.

But you made me laugh, you gave me joy, your smile filled me with life.

“I’ve never seen two people more in love,” said one spectator.

Like the pathetic thespians we were we ate up any good reviews and dismissed the ones that were not. Perhaps we loved too deeply and such a thing can make every wound seem like a fatal diagnosis.

“I could’ve…I should’ve…I would’ve..” These words will haunt me all my life. Words that had been so good to me in the past now conspired to arrange themselves in sentences that spewed from my mouth before my heart could edit them into the beauty and respect she deserved.

We had both been broken long before that night we met on the Titanic. Broken in different ways but concealing our hurt and damage, smiling with all the bravery of idiots who have lost everything but continue to gamble what they have left in the hope that their luck has changed. And that God is compassionate enough to smile upon them.

I was hailed as your hero and love of your life and then, when rendered vulnerable by your praise, you killed me. I slowly bled to death in your arms, the Madonna and child. The fatal wounds delivered to my body, my heart, my ego, my dreams would prove to be inoperative.

What monstrous demon whispered in your ear and filled your thoughts with a negative view of our future together? Whoever it was, they lied to you and have been proven wrong. Although that fact rewards me with little pleasure this far from paradise and too many years lost. So much of us lost too, and yet, we go on. Pantomiming the actions and feelings expected of normal people. But old soldiers don’t smile, they weep when they sense no one is watching.

And now, in the winter of my vulnerability, age, recognising its cue, attacks on all fronts and I fall again and again carrying my cross to the Hill of Skulls.

I am still awaiting the right dawn for my resurrection. But you will not recognise me in that early morning mist, for I look younger in my defeat, having laid down the heavy responsibilities and weight of love.

Love came at such a cruel cost. But I would gladly pay it again for one day of being whole and loved and wanted once more.

But I only attract those who fear life and take the joy out of every situation. They ignore your financial loss but bemoan every penny they have spent on themselves. In many ways they are already dead. Like me. And so we make our home in this darkness. A cold, lonely place that has iced the veins to happiness.

 
(C) Frank Howson 2018