As I Recall…

Clyde was threatened by the specter of memory. His very existence in jeopardy from a fear caused by the memories of all those he associated with, thought of, and knew. The memories of friends. The memories of lovers. The memories of everyone remembering someone other than him. Remembering someone better than him. We can never measure up to memory.

There were his parents, whose memories of his significantly older brothers overshadowed everything he did. Clyde’s parents married later in life, for a second time each. In the prime of their lives, with their first loves, they raised sons. Sons they dearly loved. Sons they remembered fondly. Idyllically. Sons who hung the stars and lit the day sky. Sons who became friends after their parents met. Sons who died together, tragically, not-drunk-driving. Clyde was the replacement. “Why can’t you be more like…” The chorus of his youth, Greek tragedy-style. Imitate the brothers you never knew. His existence under the roof of his parents had only that purpose – replacement. Ultimately, a failure. He ran away young, haunted by memories not his own.

There was Janine and the memories of her 15 previous lovers and 2 former husbands that weighed on him every time he saw her, went down on her, made love to her. Clyde wasn’t old-fashioned, prudish, or judgemental, but reality sometimes overshadows those things we’ve held dear. Called by the wrong name (a time or two) in the throes of passion. Reminded occasionally, usually while drunk, of the sexual prowess of certain former lovers. Fearful of the concepts that uncertain men roll around in their minds when not otherwise occupied – “am I enough to satisfy forever, especially when compared to…,” “am I good enough for her to not look elsewhere…,” “am I handsome enough…have money enough…smart enough…sexy enough…interesting enough…everything enough?” He’d never had any indication that anything was wrong in their relationship, but the memories weighed on his soul. He contemplated leaving daily, taunted by memories not his own.

There was his best friend Brent, whose previous friends were much better looking, wealthier, funnier, and of course, most importantly, much better wingmen when out at the bars. Clyde spent most of his life married, and then a disinterest in relationships so intense as to be unhealthy overwhelmed him. He loved conversation, particularly with attractive (and hopefully) intelligent women, but that didn’t translate into buttering up hotties for Brent to bed later. He worried that Brent would move on, befriend a better wingman, inspired by memories he loved to recount of conquests out of his league.

There were, finally, his children, whose memories of their recently deceased mother were the focal point of most of their conversations with their father. Memory cleanses. Or rather, perhaps more accurately, when trying to cope with devastating loss, rewrites the past, which becomes a picture book to fondly gaze back on. The conversations were on repeat, day after day, as they acclimated to the new situation of living with their father. But the dialogue reminded him only of one thing – the lie that wove itself through the marriage, ultimately causing divorce. His memories of that deception clouded his every interaction with his children, placing her above anything he could hope to build with them.

There were also his own memories. The memory of Clyde. Unable to recall mundane things, like the name of his waitress, his favorite bottle of wine, a birthday, even the name of a book – he was, however, cursed with an inability to forget certain experiences. What had he seen, done, and heard? Ask him, and with the right prompting he would be engulfed in the memory until joy or pain had run their course. His memory worked similarly with books – never remembering names or details (until conversational situations reminded him), but he could talk about the story forever. The actions of life, like the movement of a story, he was unable to forget. Even if the order of memory was often corrupted, the words and images were burned into his brain. Perhaps words stuck because of his obsession with reading and writing…regardless, primarily pain remained. Parents disappointed, adults disobeyed, love lost, lovers crushed, siblings betrayed, progeny abandoned. His own memory, more poignantly than that of other, was killing him.

Yet day after day he awoke, certain (yet not prepared) to create another memory that he’d be unable to forget. Unable to excel. Unable to moderate. Unable to fail.

Unable to forget.

Cursed be he above all others who is enslaved by Memory.

Memory takes the place of brothers; Memory takes the place of parents; Memory brings us war and slaughter, hate and love, pain and fear, life and death.

I both remember and do not remember; am mad and am not mad.

[inspired by 2 quotes from Anacreon]


I wish I could do something good important with the time I have left but I have not managed to do anything good to this point in my life so I figure the chance of changing that now is pretty slim especially considering

I am a sociopath or perhaps a psychopath I am not sure if my particular ailment comes from the genetic lottery which is entirely unfair to everyone alive even if you manage to hit the jackpot or if the sustained beatings about 11 years or belittlings or extreme expectations disappointments took their toll on my under-formed personality and eventually I cracked I have no way to know they say we are the sum total of our parts experiences included so it could be a combo of bum genes and slightly below ideal situations

Emotions are a thing foreign to me I would say the last genuine emotion I engaged was when I was in the eleventh grade which was 20 years ago and even then the emotion was centered entirely on me what I wanted what I thought I needed what I messed up threw away ran away from


So it obviously was not a genuine emotion rather a pouting temper-tantrum feeling sorry for myself but then of course there were many things which happened after that at least could should have elicited emotion high school graduation marriage child #1 college graduation good job child #2 child #3 graduate school child #4 graduate school graduation priesthood child #5 divorce

more specific

If I were to meet an emotion on the street I fear I would have no idea what I was facing I would be the most xenophobic asshole on the street running fearing killing what I neither know nor understand and then after divorce apartment job I had the chance to have what I told myself I had wanted practically since the first big breakup

[Note to friends – please remember that I largely write fiction, so don’t read too much into anything categorized as FICTION on my site. Thanks!]


[As I said last week, I wanted to put up an example of my writing that is more recent than the poems I’ve posted recently – here is a short story (flash) that I wrote just a few years ago. I hope you all enjoy it!]

She won’t go to the doctor for the diagnosis that’s sure to be bad for lack of convenience. Too much to do. Shows on TV that can’t be TIVO’d. Words in the search that can’t wait to be circled, and won’t find themselves. A chair to keep warm. Bills that don’t exist yet must be paid on time. Grass to monitor the non-cutting of. Baths to not take and Depends to change and slowly walk to the outside garbage can to deposit.

Eighty-two years is a long time to live. A lot goes on in that life of ‘following my military man around.’

“My mother came over one day to visit. She was out talking with me while I hung the wash on the line and I said something about my ‘kids.’ My mother shook her finger in my face and said, ‘Don’t you raise kids – you raise children!’” [finger shaking in the air, eyes glistening with tears that never fall]. I must have heard this on a daily basis in the years of vascular dementia as I moaned something about my own ‘kids.’

Staying in somebody else’s house because she can no longer live by herself – again, that’s just not convenient. Things aren’t the same in someone else’s house, even if it is your favorite son. For one, that damn daughter-in-law changes the TV channels too much. And listens in on phone conversations with the lawyer and the ‘out-of-town-children-that-never-come-to-visit-anymore-but-want-to-put-me-in-a-home.’ And complains about a lack of showers and insinuates something stinks.

Burying a husband of 60+ years is also not convenient, but when the bush-hog flips into the lake and crushes him against the dam [drowning was too damaging to the heart to even consider, we’ll never talk about it and it won’t ever be a possibility—instant death doing what he loved while painfully dying of cancer and a radiation seared prostate that never heals keeps the imagery happy] then there’s nothing left to do but hear the honor guard shoot and plant him in the ground. He’d love the image of planting, having worked a garden for as long as anyone left alive can remember. The minister, a grandson (18 great-grands to date!), gave a light-hearted eulogy that focused on accomplishment and autobiography and how a man loves a woman. Perhaps that’s how a funeral should be — no talk of abuse/alcohol/anger/war/death/anything-bad-at-all-especially-a-painful-memory-dammit.

Having your driver’s license taken away by a man who sees you for a few minutes every few months (but wears a nice white coat and has some paper from University Medical Center that gives him all the power) is absolutely not convenient. Now who will go check the PO Box? The mailbox is there at the end of the drive, but the mail is directed to the PO Box, and not the house box. No one should actually know where you live. Do you realize how much time it takes to cut your name and address off of every piece of mail you get and then shred it so no one will know where you live? Or steal your mailing address?

Now the cars will sit idle and the oil will thicken and the plates will expire and the insurance will run out or get cancelled. And what about emergencies? What do you do when you can’t drive and the only person around is the youngest son who still delivers pizza (at 40+ years of age) and really just visits for the free food and the cash and running water and a/c?

Age, perhaps, is the ultimate inconvenience in life. When you can’t remember and you can’t move or go or come and you just feel so tired all the time but can’t sleep. The grass keeps growing. The fences fall down. The dust piles up. The tractors and equipment rust in the rain. All that was once so precious to so many slowly decays with the passing of time and the neglect of care. The material things, and the intangibles.

Preparing for the next phase of life is not convenient either, especially if it’s a place we never wanted to go. Especially if it’s for death. There’s just too much to think about and plan out. What am I going to do with all my stuff? Who gets what? Who wants what? Who’ll be potentially disappointed and who won’t care? Too much inconvenience—doctors and lawyers and paperwork and decisions. Right now there’s too much living to be done to think about moving or dying. Too many years to remember and forget.

Perhaps when times aren’t so busy there’ll be a chance to work these things through. And hopefully [maybe this one will even get a half-prayer to help it along] hopefully, one day there’ll be a more convenient time to die.

Matthew Jackson