My city of Wayne burns quiet tonight.
The skyline stands distantly muted, not illuminated bright in the hopeful colors once shining down in a comfortingly familiar palette through the gloom. Maybe it is the persistent haze of the unnecessary recent spring rains, soaking the city grey and threatening to anger the creek gods. Perhaps it is the grind of this expensively lingering isolation finally catching up, the bills coming due because even though the world might be soon end, apparently the electric bill still has to be paid on time under threat of another tangible disconnection.
Whatever the reason, it is so very here dark tonight.
At least there are always the beers and other little helpers conveniently on hand, consumed shamefully in the shadows of those not quite as high high-rises. They are the only option available on this dreary Sunday overnight to help shout down the darker angels of my creative nature. Or to help block the static background noise long enough to allow room for a more meaningful muse to flow as freely as the whiskey pours repetitively into this dirty, reused glass.
And the songs are still playing somewhere, too. They help to fill some of the void of another numbered night partially sequestered from the rest of a familiar humanity just out of my reach. They provide voices of artist release in the wilderness void of my blank desolation, singing out in perfect pitch accompaniment to my own hesitant words so earnestly sung on another rotating page.
I get caught hard in the lyrics, as I spend another overnight on my guard, again standing that sleepless watch, in an unsteadily drunken pace, as the lone silent sentinel witnessing as his city dies one by one. It makes me wonder why the most beautiful creations often must spring out from the destruction of something else. And then, left alone in this smoke-filled room full of horrifying literary exposition, I wonder if that sacrifice is even really worthwhile.
As I mentioned before, it is all just temporary. Even though there might still be that lingering longing inside for a lasting permanence beyond a simple today. Even though there is still that hurtfully sensitive yearning for a lasting comforting touch and dependably cemented coupling foundation. Even if it means working the whole of a lifetime for just a hint of that promise, selling an exhausted soul in unbalanced exchange for that single temporary taste, so tantalizing seductive and fleetingly elusive.
But there aren’t ever any lasting, permanent promises in this sickly, wheezing world so desperately clinging to an overproduced ventilators last pump. There is just the ridiculous randomness of luck, or the fickle final nature of the unpredictable fates left to make the ultimate call, bestowing either bountiful graces or tragically predictable struggles predeterminedly set from the moment of an inconveniently unexpected birth.
The best that we can do is to try and find that next smile. Or to laugh a way through the engulfing darkness. Or, if indecently lucky enough, maybe to find that next love to fill in those spaces with a perfect gentle caress and the whispered endearments shared to redefine the nature of these seemingly endless nights.
A love that actually sticks and lasts longer than a selfish promise broken the very instant the shine started to fade and the real-world grind of it all becomes so starkly evident. A love capable of weathering the full brunt of a pandemic storm, becoming stronger and somehow heathier for the sake of experiencing a mutually beneficial disinfection. A love that is ultimately immune to the siren-song false words and hollow charms of passing strangers that, despite all the plotting and scheming and lies seductively told, never quite seems to work out to anyone’s genuine satisfaction. Or to last longer than the disingenuous rush of that next first kiss caught suspended in a heatedly dishonest moment selfishly stolen.
Though I am caught in the first shadows of another loveless night come calling, I know that the sun will eventually rise above this hesitant little flyover town. And maybe those first rays will bring that permanence so desperately craved over these past 64 days and nights. Maybe it will bring those new smiles into the world, burning bright with the hopeful, yearning exuberance instead of this petty, infectious little plague that still has everyone so on their guard.
But now, in this moment, that dawn still feels so very far away. And sometimes, when it grows this dark, and the heart beats grows this fallible, there is little choice left but to set the world on fire, just to watch it all burn. And then to dance manically alone in the sustaining light of those flames flickering against the night.
If I am lucky, and those often-uncooperative fates take their pity upon me, perhaps I will find something meaningful in the ashes (she) left behind. Maybe there will something salvageable found in the carbonized remains of my former self sifted clean in that first pale light of another early morning rebirth rising. Maybe, like the well documented cycles of the mighty impenetrable forest, an occasional fire will ultimately prove cleansing and beneficial to future new growth and the upcoming generations not yet seeded.
My City of Wayne burns quiet here tonight. And I am the one solely responsible for those flames.