hiding in plain sight.

he leaned against the railing of a second story apartment, traffic sung with an inconsistent penetrating hum to the south. north, if you squinted, a white sheath upon the mountaintops glistened beneath a waning moon. two worlds he was drawn to, contrasting within him like the city that was home. cold January air clawed at his naked torso, yet he stood calmly, thinking. about her mostly, about what he felt. feeling was a curious thing, especially as we attempted to paint it in rationalizations. it was like love that way, at least flirting with it. answers weren’t easy when it came to feelings, not for him, without formula he mostly bandaged together customs from wherever his experiences found them, then used those customs as an excuse not to feel. he thought about some memories, instincts he should’ve followed, opinions he could’ve ignored. mostly he just thought of her, about how he wished he complimented her more, about all the times he wanted to do something for her- and didn’t- because it wasn’t his place. he was mostly sad he never had the courage to tell her much of anything, anything to do with how he felt. 

B.Alexander

 

closeness and mirrored breath.

she slept in his lap as the fire burned with a quiet roar across the room. he brushed his forefinger across her cheek, pulling and tucking a rogue strand of hair behind her delicate ear. he leaned back then, resting his left arm across the back of the couch and watching the snowfall illuminated by a halogen streetlight south of their second storey window. the cackle of the fire warmed him as it reminded of the biting cold outside. her breathing was soft, warm as it exhaled onto the inside of his thigh. her breast rose and fell with a calm consistency, playing odd symphony with the distant, windswept flakes. he had wrapped her in a heavy wool blanket and could feel the heat conducted across his lap, she hadn’t slept long, hopefully she would, he thought, his own comfort was less of a concern. what mattered was the closeness, even if it meant sleeping upright. as the fire dwindled he felt his breathing begin to mirror hers, although his eyes remained transfixed across and through the window, his mind wandered someplace further, thinking off and on about nothing as he ran the backside of his fingers gently up and down her shoulder. they stayed like this for a long time, up until he finally fell asleep, as he did, she began smiling, a gentle smile. one where the corner of her small mouth turned almost imperceptibly, beneath still closed eyelids, she had never slept, just gave the impression. she felt his touch which warmed and calmed her, he was the blanket, and there in his lap, there was nowhere she would have rather been.

B.Alexander

on wants and meditation.

he knelt on the floor, hands clasped upon his lap as if to meditate. the dull pain shot through his knees and ankles to ensure a distracted mind. another habit he glamorized and failed at, meditation was- for him- something poetic and essential. yet, whatever about it was essential, was also ineffective. he would sit and fidget, unable to quiet the world, let alone a restless mind. he was lazy, plagued by procrastination and, without someone to guide him, hopelessly lost. his skills drifted between an uncanny knack for digesting complex ideas, contrasted with a similarity puzzling inability to act on them. life, not unlike this meditation was a rumination on how to appear as his own ideal, without actually accomplishing much in the way of action. he was brilliant and fraudulent simultaneously. often he pointed the incoherence of his life across at others, imagining that they were incapable of understanding. he had a delusion not of grandeur but of himself, he hid from the things that should have been projected, hid from them in order to protect his charade. by now he had begun to focus on his breath, yet between the slow rising and falling of his chest, frequencies flittered across his consciousness. nervousness that others may see the truth that he knew himself, the reality he tried so diligently to hide.

B.Alexander

neighbours.

he sat bitterly thinking about the conversation. mulling over just how full of shit he felt. drowning in it. it seemed funny then, the chatter of following dreams and whatever other cheap bumper sticker slogans that defined his generation. dreams characterized by the consumption that plagued us, seeking stamps and approval. forgetting or distracted from utility, emphasizing a cultural upheaval that lead compass north to apathy. he realized that he was another cog in the problem, and although identifying and accepting were neighbors, it wasn't until now that he introduced himself. 

B.Alexander

 

in the fire.

‘of course. of course I pretended not to think about how- maybe- maybe it could've been different. most of the time, when I think that I have a drink, and then a few more, and then I write you a letter, and then I throw it in the fire. because writing it does me good, and reading it would do you none.

B.Alexander

better wouldn't come from me.

he sat there, unsure of what to say, yet sure it wouldn't help. this was his mistake, but as he sat, watching a tear roll softly down her cheek, pausing beneath her chin, he realized it was never that simple. she was proud, and it was that pride which was wounded, feeling as though it was in some way her fault. watching helplessly, grasping at how to comfort her, she laid back, rolled over and pulled the covers atop herself. he stared ahead blankly, looking out at the sunshine, far off behind the window pane. knowing she both wanted him to hold her and at the same time to leave. standing up he walked slowly around the foot of the bed and sat on his knees before her. tracing strands of hair from her eyes he kissed her forehead gently and holding his lips close to her skin, whispered that she deserved better. then, after sitting back for a second, despite himself, and her eyes silent plea for him to stay- he walked toward the door- not turning or pausing, because he knew better wouldn't come from him.

B.Alexander

as Miles played, you know. Jazz.

he sat there with a cigarette dangling between his lips- looking cool like you do- staring out at the night. lights buzzed, horns honked, tires screeched and he just sat. staring ahead with a sly smile like he was admiring something. see this had been a whole life, many of these nights from those steps, watching it all change, all adapt. he was grislier now, hands tougher, hair greyer, but these steps tossed the time aside, guided him back, back to the yesterdays. I just watched, not for the first time, the old man intrigued me. one day perhaps I'd go ask the questions to back up the story I had painted over these few years, confirm what I thought. but maybe not, maybe just now watching, his story could be my story. maybe I just needed to stare across at that mirror, from my side of the street, more than I needed to know anything real about his.

B.Alexander

on real life, or hallmark.

he watched from across the room, her long blonde hair fell behind her shoulders as she tossed her chin back laughing at something he was too far to hear. her blue eyes squinted, lips parted and teeth glistened as the light peeked in through the blinds and washed across her azure dress. she was new to him, they hadn't met, but they would now, he had that awful feeling in his stomach that comes when you start to lose control. that fleeting urge to know someone, laugh with them, to tell the joke. she caught him looking then, and this time, unlike most times, he didn't look away, he just smiled, and she smiled- a shy smile- then her eyes fell to the floor, and her hand reached delicately to tuck some hair that had fallen back behind her ear. he knew love at first sight was bullshit, never cared much for romance, but- until now- he had never seen her.

B.Alexander

letting go.

he sat there, unsure of what to say, yet sure it wouldn't help. this was his mistake, but as he sat, watching a tear roll softly down her cheek, pausing beneath her chin, he realized it was never that simple. she was proud, and it was that pride which was wounded, feeling as though it was in some way her fault. watching helplessly, grasping at how to comfort her, she laid back, rolled over and pulled the covers atop herself. he stared ahead blankly, looking out at the sunshine, far off behind the window pane. knowing she both wanted him to hold her and at the same time to leave. standing up he walked slowly around the foot of the bed and sat on his knees before her. tracing strands of hair from her eyes he kissed her forehead gently and holding his lips close to her skin, whispered that she deserved better. then, after sitting back for a second, despite himself, and her eyes silent plea for him to stay- he walked toward the door- not turning or pausing, because he knew that better wouldn't come from him.

B.Alexander

little lessons.

he watched the little guy kicking a soccer ball around the yard, must've been six by now. those six years had funnelled away so quickly they felt lost. after a lot of selfish living, he was ready to settle down, nothing he chased seemed worth running after anymore. now, he just wanted to love something more than himself. just then he caught his godson looking at himself in the front window. it reminded him of when he was little, to the times his old man would catch him doing the same. walking over, he tousled his little buddies hair and knelt beside him 'can you do something for me?' they looked at each other in the mirror and he saw a shy nod 'repeat after me' another nod 'what do you see in there?' he saw an eyebrow raise innocently 'a handsome boy with his whole life ahead of him' an inquisitive face stared up through the mirror 'you repeat that part' so he did 'and what are you gonna be when you grow up?' the kid looked down at his feet 'not yet, this is the important part' pointing into the glass they both made eye contact with themselves 'anything I want’, 'anything I want' both smiling, he stood up, pulled the soccer ball into his feet, looking down 'and don't ever let anyone tell you any different' 

B.Alexander

acid and menthol.

he sat alone in the hot tub, staring up at a cloudless sky, littered with infinity. a cigarette dangled from his lips as the drugs pulsed through his blood and danced in his brain. exhaling some of the poison he watched as the smoke fluttered, plumed and dissolved into the stars above him. music played softly somewhere in the background, in tune with the dissipating smoke. the water surrounding him shuttered and shifted moments after the waves beneath him gently rocked the boat. he observed the slow reaction of the secondary liquid as his eyes remained fixed on the ceiling. the cool menthol tickled his lips as the smoke hung again from his mouth. his mind wandered nowhere but above him, tracing new patterns in the lights. after a while his head fell back and rested on the surface, his eyes closed slowly and he let himself fall beneath the cusp of water, beneath the surface he opened them once more, stinging and warm, he saw a different sky now, a more muddled far off forever. it was easier to contemplate the universe, he mused, when it was harder to see.

B.Alexander

lost outside.

it's all these things we conjure up in our heads, our insecurities and unfounded beliefs. so terrified of being vulnerable that we close off to the best parts of life. the learning, the hard times, the questions worth answering. he knew he did it, knew he worried too much about what other people thought, about the brush the rest of the world painted him with. he wanted so badly to be in control that he forgot what control implied. that perhaps in wanting to grab hold of everything around him, he lost grip of what was within him, at arms reach. people he loved, achievement he desired, perception he craved. none of it was ever really in his control, because none of it had much to do with him. but he kept hoping, punching and grasping in the dark, unaware that the light he needed wasn't out there, it was inside, same as it always was, looking for a way to pour out.
 

B.Alexander

silence you can curl up in.

they sat back as time rolled away like the pavement. hours ticking softly to the sound of good music and a warm breeze that screamed like a howling wind as it rushed in through the passenger window. her hair danced along with that wind as she stared out at a new world, a new world to her at least. he tapped on the steering wheel to the rhythm of a guitar, that played, accompanied by a sharp harmonica, and an ugly voice that sung true and wise. he had seen all of this that was new to her, but they remained quiet, a special quiet that's unspoken and understood. the quiet you get when two people are absolutely comfortable together. he looked at her and smiled then, she might not've noticed but out the corner of her eye, and that made her smile. and then they were smiling, him watching yellow lines pour beneath the chassis, her as sunset fell softly with golden rays out to the west. both thinking about each other, with something to say, but choosing nothing, figuring it might speak louder.

B.Alexander

watching, drinking a good beer.


the walls were painted with darker tones, building mood through the dimming of the sun, frames would glisten during the day- blinding the room to the more intimate future of the evening- when sunlight fell, just the fixtures would illuminate. it had a similar effect as the sound, the light would spot above you, providing a depth of field for your focus. in the midst of this mess you could stare at the person across from you and become numb to the surrounding action. being alone he peered around at the unhappy couples, old friends, first dates, families and the personality of the room began to take on Pollack. none of these people knew one another, many wouldn’t even enjoy the group next to them, yet they chose the proximity in part to dull the feeling of emptiness they might have felt alone. the overwhelming nature was so steeped in stimulus that energies seemed to transmute throughout the space, connecting and distancing us from our reality. simply a reach for anything new, something contagious.

B.Alexander

      

on fun, and greener grass.

'I don't know if I can deal with it much more' his friend vented 'it's just fighting, just all this adult bullshit, controlling fucking nonsense, it's not much fun anymore' he wasn't the most qualified to chime in, this wasn't exactly his area of expertise, in fact that's probably where it was coming from. he was the person his buddy expected to nod and agree 'was it ever just fun though? was that ever what made you love her, that it was fun?' he was sincerely asking, wasn't exactly sure where he was going with this, his friend just stared 'I don't know, you know I don't. but when I see you two together, I always see a decade ahead. I remember when you met her, how natural it was, how perfect, I don't really remember fun. but I still see love. I see how she looks at you and how you talk about her to new people, maybe the fighting is just a couple trying to figure it out, two people testing whether this is a forever thing. fun is something I know, and it's bullshit, I would trade the immediate ease of fun for the length and depth of love. maybe it won't work, maybe it's not right, but don't confuse yourself into believing it will ever be easier next time'

B.Alexander

drifting.

outside was dark, snow drifted, wind sung, hustling through cracks in the old house. he sat with a bottle of scotch and stared ahead at the fireplace which lay dormant. part of him wanted to go grab his phone and hustle up some mistakes, the more dominant part wanted to be alone. whatever his demons they were fabricated, nothing in his life merited the pressure he felt in his chest, the recurring feeling that had him shut the world out. it was the thought of putting on a face and mustering the energy to entertain, nothing ever really seemed stimulating, it all seemed a little stupid. but then what was this, whatever he did alone, numbing rather than accepting and dealing with things. he picked up a book and began reading, his mind elsewhere, slowly plodding through pages as distraction messed with flow. after so long he just watched the snow, illuminated by the streetlights, fall. watched the chaotic mess of tumbling water, frozen into solid and completely at the whim of the wind. he felt closer to the snow then than much else, a bit out of control, a little frozen, able to see as he fell but not able to decide on which ground.

B.Alexander

 

dancing in knots.

she looked at him and laughed, that same laugh 'you know you can't just see me again, say hello, tell me you miss me and expect the shit to go away' he looked at her 'why not' earnestly, with a weak voice, his squinted eyes resting secondary behind that crooked smile 'are we just going to keep pretending that it all has to be forever?' his eyes poured into her. ’sometimes it isn't about a second chance as much as not wanting to do the first one over again' it was all heavier for her, although she never let on, she would take him back- in an instant- that was why she had the cavalry out. 'nothing is like the first time anyway, after that everything is another chance. you've always been afraid of something that could hurt, anything out of your control' getting up he walked toward the water, using the moonlight to scan the stones. 'you've always been afraid of loving anything that might let go' she muttered. 'I still love you' tossing the stone and watching it kiss gently across the illuminated lake. 'you love how that sounds' she was strong enough to absorb the blow 'you've never loved me nearly as much as you love the idea of me' strong. 'what's the difference' he wasn't playing as much as wondering. 'that you need to ask' they stood there, together and separate, both watching as the water composed itself, wondering about very different things, thinking at very different paces. she loved him before he knew what love meant and he grew up precisely when she stopped waiting for him. 'you'll miss me sometime' smugly, tossing again. 'I've always missed you, and that's the problem, looking back I can't remember what there is to miss' before she finished speaking he had stepped towards her, placed his hands around her ears, gently kissed her forehead, paused, and let his hands fall across her cheeks before turning back to the rocks. she stood, frozen, frustrated, silent. 'you missed.. that, for the first time in your life, someone didn't need you, they just wanted you, and that made you need them' he tossed the stone, too hard, watched as it skipped too far, and failed somewhere in the moonlight. before she could speak he had turned back toward the party, leaving her again, as he always had. she just smiled, not because he was right, or because it mattered, but because the moon looked beautiful and because whatever this was, nothing would ever make her feel as light as his touch, nothing would compare to their circular dance. and nothing would make her love him as much as he loved her now.

B.Alexander

of today, broadly.

someone had asked him what he thought of today, of the world, or his view of it. the outlook wasn't filled with much optimism, although the pessimism had little to do with what you might think 'what little progress we make is in the development of our tools, which we are slowly becoming tools of' he smiled considering 'our lives so caged by convenience that we hardly notice the moral confusion, a whole world of privilege looking for ways to either grow or share. and our sharing seems more and more like a desperate swipe at purpose for purposeless lives. trying to provide people with the resource to join the collective delusion. a landscape where the individual is characterized by broad statistics and predicted by its relation to the whole. a people free to do anything and so drowning in existential angst, overcome with information, yet choosing to consume genial nonsense about productivity and efficiency. treating ourselves as the machines we so carefully curate, consuming software updates to move us through a system that has little value to offer outside further restriction and customary passions. sheep being trod along though not by some ambiguous elite but the system itself. so what do I think about today, I think we've begun turning a wheel that cannot be turned back, that we are tumbling toward an empty and hallow existence with open arms. I don't see hope guiding as much as convenience, I see a hedonistic world in desperate pursuit of distraction.' so it goes.

B.Alexander

something like flirting.

he sat watching all the smiling, laughing faces, sunk into a couch resting along the wall, sipping a warm beer put in his hands so he knew what to do with them. it had been dark a while but he didn't figure it was late. the crowd slowly got larger as they do, and he just sat back, giving off a disinterested demeanour that left him alone. he was interested, though just in watching, as conversations murmured along he heard nothing and saw a lot. focused on subtle body language of the various pods that had collected. a hand on a shoulder, elongated eye contact, uncomfortable laugher, he categorized and brushed over it all. taking the last sip, he noticed a girl sitting on the kitchen counter watching him. she sat with her legs dangling, feet drifting gently, knees tight together and red sundress hanging loosely across her thighs. it was a modest, comfortable thing that made it impossible to miss her warm skin and long blonde hair. she was still looking as he assessed her casually, unabashed that he had caught her watching. he got up from the couch and walked toward the fridge, as he moved closer she finally looked down, probably more calculated than shy. he opened the fridge and grabbed another colder beer. closing it, he looked at her again, smiled as she smiled and sauntered back towards his seat. more calculated than shy.

B.Alexander

manic and her twin.

it was then, or now, when he appreciated the chaotic fits of manic that had come to define him. when he tucked away in the shadows the less exciting half of himself, more able in those instances to articulate the energy and delusion which prompted such action and focus. it was an intricate balance often thrown off by appearances, Jekyll and Hyde became difficult to distinguish. no one was ever let near enough to see the internal battle, it could be perceived perhaps, but his silence would always make it difficult to understand. years of masking his feelings left him but a caricature of himself, a carefully curated vessel of tastes and imagination, whatever he was publicly was just the precarious shell. the repression became clearest in his moments of darkness. solitude in these instances was both a blessing and a curse, he sought anything to dull the emptiness of these periods and as such they were littered with vice. he poured over books and paper in order to distract himself, words dripped vulnerably as he explored things buried, rummaging through cabinets of memories and experiences. reflecting as he shut out the world. it was all a part of his process, a necessary rebuke from the intensity that would creep back with the sleepless mania splitting his months. one wasn't possible without the other, they played at equilibrium, both in some way, wishing for the other.

B.Alexander