Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cut the red wire & hope---the bomb doesn't blow

Candler Mountain Skate Park, Lynchburg, VA

In my life there's been heartache and pain
I don't know if I can face it again
Can't stop now, I've traveled so far
To change this lonely life


I wanna know what love is...

Some have heads bowed, some eyes closed, several stare at the ceiling tiles, how the coffee colored water stains break the symmetry of ordered squares --- and as the music plays a chuckle starts somewhere.

I am dating myself. Months later they will do a skit and everyone will laugh at the night we did a meditation on Foreigner---but the question remains.

----

He is flipping desks and tossing chairs like an audition for the role of the Hulk in the new Avengers movie. A middle school girl cringes in the corner, arms clutched to the panda on her shirt, lips quivering around her braces. A cocoa colored girl starts to keen a broken lullaby, seeking soothing. The rest hug the walls, the furthest they can get from---

Panic has the teacher in a choke hold, eyes open to the devastation but unmoving---unable to process the connections between the science lesson and the rage erupting from the boy. Forgotten worksheets flutter through the air, carpeting the floor. He is screaming. She is keening. Everything is broken.

----

A bird trills in a tree by the track as we sit in the soft clover, a pile of little white flowers grows in front of him---snap, snap, snap, he breaks them off at the neck.

I read the letter, creased with sweat from his back pocket. 'I think of you at night before I got to bed and when I wake up. When you touch me I feel alive. Please hold my hand at lunch. Talk to me in gym. I want to know you more.'

And then she didn't, when he tried and he doesn't---understand her, or love, or why everything crumbles as he holds it---snap, snap, snap.

A gym class carves the black circle, shoes slap the black. Short shorts, matching shirts emblazoned with the school name. A few in the back walk--just trying to catch their breath. The coach from the other side of the field yells, 'Come on. Run. You can do better than that.'

Snap, snap, snap---the question remains---as we muddle through abstract answers in his concrete world---questions we ever only grace with the tips of our fingers. Snap.

written for Imperfect Prose.

lyrics to 'I wanna know what love is' by Foreigner.


71 comments:

Suz said...

my favorite song
touches that spot in everyone,
I think.
Such great writing, Brian
it has a natural rhythm that one cannot be taughtu
you are a treat to read always
subject matter...heartbreaking

Myrna R. said...

This kept me waiting, anxiously hoping it wouldn't explode, that bomb that our youth (adults too) carry inside. I like how you build the tension here. And glad that really, there is hope.

sheila said...

it is so hard to be a teenager...so very hard.

Magpie said...

It all goes together so perfectly...the title, the picture and your words. Being a teenager is hard work.

happygirl said...

Why is self control so much harder to find these days? Why do we think we can act out and say whatever we want whenever we want? This was a tough read for me. It shouldn't be so tough to be in school.

Helen said...

I love it when you touch that place in my heart ... the place that remembers, it's a safe place now.

Nikki said...

survival mode at its finest...those teenage years.

and you brought it back for me here.

great write, Brian. very moving.

lifeisaroadtrip said...

A meditation on Foreigner...My niece is graduating from high school this year. She is so excited. And here I sit...missing my youth.

Sue said...

The fact that it made the skit is evidence that they loved it.

=)

PS. As for me, my college years were more angsty than my rather sheltered high school ones. But we can all relate to that song, one way or another...

Pat Hatt said...

Teenager like the Hulk
Just not with the bulk
Good comparision there
As most do that and even swear
Glad that is all done
Although it was fun
Would not want to go back
Give me a heart attack

kaykuala said...

A teenager in her own way. Helps in us reflecting of old times. The lyrics of Foreigner make it all too real. Great write Brian!

Hank

Claudia said...

oh heck...this took me back to my teenage years...one of the songs i identified most with at that time was "love is a battlefield" - haven't enough fingers and toes to count all the dramas i went through...there are no easy answers and being a teenager isn't easy and even more difficult if you're one with a difficult background...good he has someone to talk to who has enough courage to leave some of the questions open..sometimes it's not answers you need in the first place but someone you can trust

manicddaily said...

So sad. Thinking a lot about unconditional love and hard it is for people that don't have that baseline. Hard for everyone, but that makes huge difference. K.

Lisa notes... said...

Foreigner fan here.

The snapping and the not being loved--evidences of a world gone awry. Praying for connectedness between the boy and Love. I know you're a piece of the rope between the two.

lori said...

Ah, Foreigner and ugh on unanswered love. I can really feel his struggle resonating through your words. At first I couldn't help but be amused thinking of that song playing. Reminds me of a situation from jr. high that I recently apologized for thanks to the wonders of social media. Nothing easy about growing up.

Sub Radar (Mike) said...

The trials and tribulations of the teenage years, we've all been there.

Fred Rutherford said...

Very clever Brian. Love the way you wove your words around the foreigner lyrics. I think everyone liked them at one time or another. Some really nice references mixed in here as well. Very neat. Thanks

Daniel said...

I think I kind of get this one. If you do one little thing wrong, kaboom!

Brandee Shafer said...

I used to have a Foreigner tape. I'm wondering why she bothered to write the letter...or if she wrote it at all. Kids are crazy...all those hormones. I remember teaching 6th grade and talking to one rotten kid in the hall when I looked up and saw that two other girls were fighting. Hair extensions flying across the room. Ugh. I couldn't deal at all. I'm so proud of myself for making it through a year.

janae said...

I am completely intrigued with the line: "I am dating myself".
...
This articulates the elusive, the unspoken pain, the "snap, snap, snap".
...
thanks, Brian

tony said...

OH! I Was In There With Them.....

Daydreamertoo said...

The kids these days are in such a rush to grow up. I hate, hate, hate with a passion these 5/6/7 year old beauty pageants where the girls are dressed up to the nines and so much make up on it's scary. Kids ought to remain as kids for as long as possible, until they're minds are a bit more mature and able to take on the load of adults. This smacks upside the head on many levels. How much stress some kids are under and of how they sometimes 'snap' and go berserk, taking out their anger and frustrations on their school mates and teachers by bringing a gun to school and shooting anyone they see.
Life is hard, and yes, some don't know what love is and that's sad.
Gritty, real, write Brian. Love that song (btw) :)

Shanda said...

Aw, those growing up years are so hard. I wish there was a way I could keep my 3 college age kids from experiencing any more hurt. But they have years to go. I pray they find the hope.

hedgewitch said...

These three vignettes really push the song refrain's question--we all want to know what it is, because it has so much power over us, more than anything, especially as children, but really, always. Your prose here shows that in its quiet contrasts, and the snap snap snap is chilling. (hey if you ever find out the answer, let us know.)

Tara Miller said...

This is such a hard age - especially when boys have to work through these emotions and see the world differently than others. There's so much pressure and stress in the world today its nice to have someone to walk this path with and lean on.

turtlememoir said...

this is tight, Brian

it seems to me, the real questions are always the ones that get short shrift, and i wonder if it isn't because so few of us have ever gotten a proper handle on the answers... still, it would be nice if we could get past ourselves enough to hold another's hand while s/he's bleeding inside

Secret Agent Woman said...

Young love is so tough, so confusing. Then again, so is older love.

Robert J. Gerryts said...

My thought as I came here, "If this is waystationone then it must be Wednesday" Seems like I'm tying my weekly cycle to a distant group of thinkalikes.

Great piece here Brian. I teach therefore I am, so stories about kids and school always grab me. Nice.

^.^ said...

I fired my coach long time ago ... much better, I'd say ...

Heaven said...

Those growing up years are very challenging and full of anxiety and questions. I like the breaking and snap, snap, snap sounds in the three scenes ~

Happy day to you ~

elizabeth said...

Wow, you've captured the angst, anxiety, anger perfectly.

Mary said...

"Why everything crumbles as he holds it" -- sometimes you find just the right phrases to describe a situation! But oh so sad. Early love experiences are just hard. Period.

ayala said...

Teenage years so hard and complicated...nice write, Brian :)

Betsy said...

very clever the way you wrote this...singing that song now...

jen revved said...

Amazing... I'm thinking V-Tech as I read this... what explains that fevered alienation and need for acceptance? I know it well and for some of us it takes a long time to get that we are each responsible for our own happiness, even within the cave of a life sans friends. xj

Tara Pohlkotte said...

These years, we all hold them tight under our thin surface, don't we?

Jannie Funster said...

Another killer poem.

Wouldn't go back to growing up for anything. It's tough. So glad it's far far behind me.

Yet we all have to go through it. Our kids will. And they'll be just fine, because they have us.

LOVE the voice of that Foreigner guy!!

I like the detail of the panda on her shirt.

xo

Dolly@Soulstops said...

the picture and your words...can feel the anguish of these teenagers...glad that you can offer hope, Brian.

suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} said...

brian, this conjures ghosts and so many stories. fantastic.

emily wierenga said...

A cocoa colored girl starts to keen a broken lullaby, seeking soothing. The rest hug the walls, the furthest they can get from---


i'm pretty sure God lives in your eyes, brian. the way you see the world... it's vision that embraces.

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Barbara said...

Love that song and love how you connect your little snippets, bringing them all the way around. This one opened a little door and let a memory slip out.

CiCi said...

That is a tough age, working hard to gather nerve to reach out and then to be rejected. It seems that the younger generation does not respond well to being told no. To not getting what they want. Instead of being taught by example and by instruction from parents, young people are not shown the tools to use when they do not get what they expect.

ds said...

Oh, there is a lot in this--not just adolescence and unrequited love, but misplaced, unknown (in a sense; have no better word just now) rage, in the snap of the flowers. Powerful stuff sir, and far from "imperfect."

a soulful life said...

Wonderful, fragments of landscape here, both emotional, figurative and real.
Great piece.

a soulful life said...

Wonderful, fragments of landscape here, both emotional, figurative and real.
Great piece.

Ratatouille,but Of Course! said...

"I think of you at night before I got to bed and when I wake up. When you touch me I feel alive. Please hold my hand at lunch. Talk to me in gym. I want to know you more..."

Hi! Brian...
Wow!...That was a very nervous[quite edgy}] read as I waited to find out what the outcome would be...{It seems to be a case Of unrequited love.}

What very descriptive words Of poetry[Of a situation]...Tks, for sharing!
deedee :-/

Ratatouille,but Of Course! said...

"Cut the red wire & hope---the bomb doesn't blow" [The Title and the image]

Compliment your poetic words...too!

Zeba said...

I no longer know how to comment on your posts. They have a way of moving me into moods I didn't think I was capable of touching.

Valerie said...

Loved this, Brian, but I didn't love the teenage years.

Pauline said...

"questions we ever only grace with the tips of our fingers."

maybe because we don't know the answers either

as always, strong, well drawn images and emotion. how do you do it time after time?

Dave King said...

Just how can you submit that to somewhere entitled "Imperfect Prose"? Beyond my understanding! I don't remember much of that from my own childhood - Boo Hoo! But I do remember seeing it all unfold with regard to our two children. (I don't think the songs were conducive enough in my day!)Oh, sorry, forgot to say: brilliant!

SueAnn Lommler said...

Powerful and disturbing all at the same time. Breaking from reality, lacking self control. Has to be frightening for everyone.
Hugs
SueAnn

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

The fact that you used this song for this particular life prose, well I feel it keenly.

I know that feeling that explodes, and I understand those kids who find themselves physically reacting to that feeling.

God only knows what each person is experiencing inside. And God be with them today!

the walking man said...

I figure as long as no one was hurt in his rage then rage on, get it out, for in holding it in comes the destruction of the being and the freedom needed for finding love.

Maybe you should have listened to Ziggy Stardust.

Luke Prater said...

i felt quite sad reading this. And had the Foreigner song in my head as a soundtrack too, of course, which takes me back to teen years listening to classic rock the radio (I'm not quite as old as that!). Great write on a difficult topic (one that is hard to pull off sans the cliché)

ladyfi said...

Brilliant writing on the heartbreak of love.

Laurie Kolp said...

Poignant, heart-wrenching really. Middle school love is so misunderstood... my daughter's just getting into that.

Christine said...

This is my second visit here, from imperfect prose. Very nice--as was the other write--but it makes me so sad. This is one of the reasons I homeschool my four. It shouldn't be this hard to grow up.

Nancy Franson said...

The only thing harder than being a teenager, is being the mother of a teenager trying to navigate a world that makes little sense, where people often act out of cruelty or stupidity or both; all the while hormones are raging.

Ticking time bomb, indeed. Heartbreaking, exhausting work, parenting teens. Best handled with compassion and prayer.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Teen years are the hardest years of our lives-- We haven't lived long enough to have experience or the tools to deal with so much that's thrown at us.

This was a sad one, but beautifully told.

jj

Misty said...

Loved this.. While so many miss there youth I was the one hugging the walls. Teenage years are hard and confusing. Beautifully illustrated with your words.

chromapoesy.com said...

Wonderfully spun, so moving. I do hope you play with the erasure poem, I'd love to see what you'd do with it.

mrs mediocrity said...

oh my. wow. this is perfection.

sometimes i think it is amazing that we manage to survive those years.

your writing here is just incredible.

william said...

I agree such a fabulous song mate, and you did it justice in this great work.

Alecia said...

So glad those years are behind me, I would never want to return to them, except to do some things over,then go right back to being a grown-up again:) Such hard confusing years. Love back then, seemed all consuming. Life or death.
You were able to catch it beautifully.

Kim Hyland said...

Such tension and emotion. This roller coaster is my life most days with three teens in the house and two just launched and only a text away. The DRAMA! But I'm so glad it's mine. Your words help me see the beauty, the potency of feeling, the hope. The privilege it is to walk it with them. Thank you, Brian.

Annmarie Pipa said...

I watch this unfold before my eyes...so much easier to be 50 than 16!

path of treasure said...

Oh- that song, brings back memories.
The teen years are so hard. This is heartbreaking. As usual though-- a wonderful write.

Goofball said...

I didn't know you had writen the lyrics for foreigner...I'm not surprised you did ;)

Syd said...

Being an adolescent is hard. Between an adult and a child--wanting something but not understanding what.