Writing Happy – Jasper Kerkau

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In my next life I want to write happy, funny stories of weekends that went off without a hitch, photos of back-slapping with funny hats and exotic drinks. I will have a happy, quirky blog chronicling my life of leisure and success. I can’t write those stories, it isn’t my life, and if it were, I wouldn’t be able to write about it. My writing comes from dark places of hunger and pain. I find words peaking out of restroom in the middle of the night, face pressed against the cold, glossy door. Gasping for air, fearful of shadows. There are no words to be captured in neatly set tables, left-overs and urbane exchanges dumped in the trash; my words are born of starvation. I sat in front of the computer for ten years in my martial home, patting my protruding belly, waiting for something profound to say. Nothing. Blinking cursor on blank document. It is pain that drives me, wakes me up in the middle of the night, sending me under the bed with pen and paper to scribble out secret passages detailing stinging fear and loss. I waited on inspiration for a decade in a happy house, and it always managed to sneak out the side door gracefully, leaving disappearing footprints. With each new notch I find in my belt, I find out more about myself. I discover illicit secrets and explosions of ecstatic emotion that give way to words falling out of mind, through fingers, into the world.

Jasper Kerkau (8/14/16)

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I am my Father’s Son – Jasper Kerkau

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“You are a runner with a stolen voice. And you are a runner. And I am my father’s son.” (Wolf Parade)

The weather is changing. In the morning I can feel it. It is just a matter of time. Eventually a cold wind will blow away all the dank humidity. I think about running, my lost passion. Before the bad back, before the squeeze of domestic responsibility, I would put on my running shoes on a cold Sunday morning and run until I had exhausted my legs, lost my breath. It was exhilarating. My life transformed when I was running; it was the action from which all good things sprang. I could never envision a life without it. Of course, I didn’t visualize the obstacles life would put in my path.

Years ago my mother gave me some dusty mementos of races my father ran in the early-eighties. I never thought of him as a runner. Later in life he had a big belly and was a connoisseur of indulgent, greasy meals. He labored at times going up stairs and seemed frail. I wondered why he quit. Thought that perhaps if he wouldn’t have stopped running his heart would not have exploded two weeks after retiring in his late fifties. I thought of him as I ran. I felt close to him. Understood what he went through getting up on an early Saturday morning and facing down a half marathon. Perhaps I understood him in a way that I never did. It was something that we had in common all these years after his death.

Like my father, I stopped running. Life happened. I think the end started with a back problem that eventually became an excuse. I slid into a life of leisure. The drive vanished. Again, I understood him; the distractions, the work, the family all became more important. Suddenly, it became easier to stop running. I wonder to myself if he ever felt the guilt, pined for the long runs,  or the silent meditative runs when all the problems of the world seem to be held at arm’s length, at least for an hour. If he would have lived to an old age, we would have those conversations. We would realize that we have a lot in common. Maybe we would have a laugh and realize that I am my father’s son.

Today, as I eagerly anticipate the first cool air, I think about him. I also think about running. My life fell apart; unlike my father, I was not able to hold it together. Now I have half a family, smoke constantly, and find myself given over to the same indulgent meals—though I have not yet fallen prey to the protruding belly. I don’t know how to fix everything, but I am sure that the only thing I can do now is take action, put one foot in front of the other and spend hours chasing the silent meditation that led me out of the darkness years ago. It is so far away but so close. All it takes is action, putting on the shoes, grabbing a water out of the refrigerator and start running.

Jasper Kerkau (11/29/16)

Everything Wasn’t Enough – Jasper Kerkau

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Laughter echoes down long hallways, gives way to arguments and eventually more giddy children’s laughter. Plastic toys are left in my restroom, socked feet bouncing on beds, falling down and I scream from the other room. There is silence that eventually erupts again with the delight and carefree abandon of childish glee. I bury my face in my hands at my desk, waiting, waiting, always waiting for everything to change, for the laughter to eventually stop, the shadows to take over, the long unwinding of a life built on endless toil–nothingness.

The sword of Damocles looms over me. My skull anticipates the shattering strike; blood and fragments of bones mixed in a concoction of death. My fate sealed by icy hands. Alas, they have come to purge me of what is left; they have come for my children. They have come for my words; a blind witness, left with the bloody rags of silence, childless, suffering for the sins of my oppressors. Blood upon blood upon blood. They relish in feasting on my fear and devour my heart, desperately trying pull the fruit of my loins from my bosom. Am I vanquished?

Splayed on cold table, I am pulled apart slowly. My eyes affixed on the past, the mistakes left in closets among unmatched shoes and discarded summers. It all rolls off of me as the they slowly drain my life, whisked the children away, leave my words fatherless, left as an empty vessels that once held such promise. I could have been better. I could have been better. They smirk and guffaw, standing over me with forks and knives, waiting to dine on my soul, exposing their vicious appetites. Will everything be enough?

There is something inside me that is immune to their illicit desires. I hear the hymn of sacred souls, the chorus of magnificence sang from distant places, songs of hope and sorrow. Each voice carries its own unique message of personal salvation. I am not alone; they cannot destroy my sacred vision, the words sewn with the sinews of travail and perfect love into each verse. I am a writer and a father, with undying affection for my children; the words create divine tapestries which can never be wrested away from me. They will live long after I am gone.

I stand steadfast in the light, accompanied by the remnant chosen for the articulation of suffering, their special dispensation due to the ability to speak the secret language of the universe, their affliction decoded and turned into consecrated arias. The shadows will eventually flee, leaving me vindicated, left to tend to my words, nurture my children, guard them from the profane hands which seek to drag them into the dark places, strip them of their beauty and joy. There is nothing that can stand against truth, innocence, and pure love. I hear a voice in the darkness, fingers intertwined with my own: “I love you daddy.”

Jasper Kerkau (1/19/17)

Writing isn’t going to save me. Jasper Kerkau

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I thought that writing would save me. This peculiar predicament. Awash. Catatonic drive home. The horror of entering my home, oh the deafening silence. Voiding my soul. Buried in failure. My salvation—the pen? I believe in the magic of words. The youthful passion only takes me so far. The hole is much too deep. In a dizzying display of personal failure and grief, I peel back the layers looking for some form of redemption. And yet, I end up with religious disappointment. I write and I still can’t find my way. I write and there is still a hole inside me. I write and I am still in the same fucking place, beset by a future that is obscured, desolate. For some reason, in my forties, I believed that writing would save me the same way it did at seventeen. There is too much water under the bridge. It is too late for me. Love may be the only redemption, the only hope. But, my inner struggle is an illness—a disease. Keeps me at arm’s length. I am on a horrible journey that may someday end. I just don’t know what I will have left at that point. Writing isn’t going to save me.

Jasper Kerkau (9/14/16)

 

Touched by the Light of the Universe – Jasper Kerkau

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I was touched by the light of the universe. The soft embrace of love, driving back the demons of self-doubt, bringing forth the beauty and laughter that alluded me. It starts with belief, hope and transcendent possibility. I never knew it could be like this, always arm length away from the essence.  But, now I touch the soft pedals of life–feel the warm sun on my face; the icy landscapes transform into tranquil gardens of abundant life.

It was always inside me, obscured by the faceless horror and bad conversations giving way to transgressive motivations. I touch her face in my dreams, feel her embrace, the warm energy of a selfless connection. I lost so much time. I lost so much time. The horror show is over; the war has ended. The stinging sensation of dull, throbbing failure no longer matters. I shrug off the dragons and dark angels lurking in the shadows-I live in light, beholden to the universal forces of good, forged in the promise of goodly things. My calloused soul has been healed by the salve of the promise of a future that I never knew existed. The light of the universe touched me with her soft hand, her soothing voice driving back all of my secret turmoils, my private misery.
Jasper Kerkau (9/26/16)