I had a talk with my older brother last night about diversity in the world. Surely, we’re all unique, but when I told him my stance on friendship at a school where it seems that every person I meet is carbon-copy of every other person, he wasn’t surprised. I told him about the minimal amount of association I share with the people there because of this bleak reality. Of course, there is an exception. There always will be. As we spoke on the phone, I thought about a post I’d dedicate (of course with my brother’s advice) to someone who I wouldn’t dare label with loosely-used term as “friend.” Because of the word’s tangibility and misunderstanding, I choose not to have friends. The people I surround myself with have a more profound and substantial meaning to me. “Family,” more or less, but I haven’t quite found the word that efficiently replaces “friends.” I’m getting off topic; the person I’m referring to is Jared McSwain. As a writer myself, I am heavily influenced by his overall works and work ethic. It’s hard for me to find like-mindedness among my peers, and to this, I hold great value. I’m going to try, to the best of my “English-ly” abilities, to describe Jared’s impact on me.
I’ll begin by expressing the origin of my relation to Jared. I met him my sophomore year and immediately recognized that his leisure posture and radiated positivity account for distinguishable narrative. Over the course of the school year, we began sharing our written pieces with one another. I first gave him a link to my blog and asked for him to critique a few of my pieces. He did NOT hesitate to pile heavy criticisms on me. I don’t recall exactly what was said, but I know I didn’t take it well. I wasn’t used to such brute honesty in correspondence to my writings since I was a youthful wordsmith at the time. To this day, I’ve come to respect his admirable quality of impeccability.
Time passed and Jared shared his firstly completed novel with me. It thoroughly described the experiences of a group of friends consumed by an American pop-culture theme. I couldn’t tell you exactly what the book was about because I only read a few pages. America is my absolute least favorite subject to converse about, little alone, to read. I informed Jared about this and he told me THIS was the criticism he sought because he was targeting a specific audience.
From this point on, I came to and realized the relationship we shared. I knew what role Jared played in my life. He was the force that subconsciously pushed me to strive and succeed. Since he was well on his way to writing books, currently working on his second, I’m certainly urged to step up and keep up. This is the reason why Jared McSwain is held so dearly to my heart – because he made me force myself to surpass the standard level of comfort I was oh-so familiar with. With this lingering vantage point, I’m able to grow mentally and reach whatever I find to be success.
Jared, if you actually took the time to read this, I want to say thank you. My writings are not entirely as intricate as yours are, hooowweeeevvvveeerrrr, I’m not going to stop writing until they are – and then more. Stay based. WOO, WOO, SWAG!
Below are a few of his pieces…
The sky was burning, a fire, kindled by what I quickly discerned to be angelic figures, clad in the purest white robes, a hue inconceivable in the slightest in regular consciousness, was hovering over the great waste land, a great sprawl of desert and dry lands, observably once home to some grand nation as monuments, those of twisted steel and etched faces wrapped in banners of moral solidity, lay in the background, seemingly beyond the horizon, out of reach forever! The multitude of heavenly hosts zoomed towards me in an instant, forcing my body to the ground effortlessly, approaching my face; I began to grimace as the heavenly aura proceeded to become reality in its visibly tangible light. “What do you want from me?” I attempted to shield myself from the now blinding light, but the voice produced rang throughout all of my senses, assuring total dedication of attention to whoever was speaking. “In time you will meet yourself at the bridge and there you will cry and shout to all of the nations, but your rant will fall on deaf ears, but do not be discouraged true soul! You are the true medium, the prophet, the recorder!” The omnificent voice sent an uncomfortably rich vibe throughout my figure, and I fell back upon the stone-ridden ground, the dust creating a barrier around me! I opened my eyes and had returned to the position I went to sleep in, in my sheets, blue textile patterns stitched articulately on the silk comforter, my boxer shorts covered in sweat and my back fairly damp to match, a faint stench of salt additionally. “A glass of water and a smoke to calm my nerves,” I thought, and the combination was within quick reach, as the simple layout of the standardized apartment accommodated a bathroom, complete with a mildew enriched sink twelve feet away from the foot of my bed, my pack of Indian cigarettes on the rotted but still paint laden night stand to my left. I forced the ill-treated city coldwater down my gullet (fresh from the slightly rusted squeaky faucet), paused to look upon my face laminated by the wall light in the bathroom socket, taking in the sleak, greasy, and now matted- by- sweat dark brown hair falling forward to my bushed eyebrows, parallel to my pointed nose, of course I’m real, and quickly found my place upon the bed. I sat my pillows against the bed backboard and reached for my white lighter and smoke. A convenient flick resounded throughout the sleeping complex, a flame caressed the perfectly tight tip, I drew in a heavy breath, and was soothed with familiarity before any other emotions could intrude. “Was there any symbolism to this dream, or, as always, was it just a dream?” I decided on the latter. “Best not give it my damn two cents.” I pressed the charred butt out into the nearby ash tray, the black tar crumbled around and left a vacant impression amongst the soil-like matter, and reset my sleeping arrangements. Goodnight.
In the Graveyard
What is life? What is this that lies before me? Is it a legion of markers, gravel, granite, mica, embroided with deep chiseled letters, details of generations past? The night is cold, the air is sad, and, I am mad. It’s right next to the church, a tiny back lot of uncemented Earth the church purchased over a century ago, before the roads were paved, and the ground was still deep. The floods of ’09 saw the bodies rise out of their seemingly eternal resting place. Heads molded to the surface, hands breaking through. Apparently, it was some strange custom many a century ago to not use caskets; maybe not a custom; it was probably done out of lack of money; poverty, I suppose. We have always been a poor people, in the South, that is. Walk forward, deeper into the lot, face the names on the graves, the ones you do not know. So… this is the great result of man, to lay, six feet in dirt, and stone slabs covering our dilapidated eyes. That’s not what I believe, but it’s what I know to be definite. We fall before God, Jesus, and Heaven on faith alone; but, we all fall to the ground on pure reality. This is the result of the struggle, where I’ll end up, with or without a soft soul. Torment wrings you dry, regardless, I will die. Jason doesn’t know, how could he? He’s just a boy, small child, brain not near matured. That happens at 30. I’m not matured full either. The pastor says so, or, gives illusion like it. “God gives us wisdom and you have chosen the path of the righteous for his namesake. You are men wise beyond your Earthly years. Your treasure in heaven will be more than any you accumulate here,” he promised. He’s a good orator. Speaks clearly, doesn’t shout until God so wills. But, he too will be here one day, amongst the dead. I wonder if he knows it or not. I know it all too well now. Walk back through the gate, turn one last glare. The night is coming quick, the rain will fall, pray it doesn’t flood.
Fleeing the Scene
Faster on your feet, dammit Get on out of this damn Southern darkness- its not really darkness- to many smashed street lamps and left up Christmas lights to ever cease some illumination- but damn it, get near people. I’m alive, I don’t know what happened back there. Forgive yourself and forget-forgive and forget-live and let-dammit. How’d I even get here on this side street, why is it some misty out. Fuck this shit! There we go, Mickey Dees, don’t serve coffee this late, but, maybe a Coke and a Mac will get my head straight- grease for a feast- churning in my stomach- absorbing what lack of nutrition and the surplus of grease there is- God gotta get in there…. Good, an old black man in a bage over coat, green little wool cap, wrinkly old guy, sniffing blues as he drinks from his tea- ain’t got a lid on it, probably added more sugar- got the paper though. And, a middle-aged Hispanic woman, smoking animals in the opposite corner, a plate full of ketchup covered fries and dispersed chicken nuggets on that little wrapper they give you- didn’t know they could smoke inside- probably too late for them to care- won’t say anything. Just as preconceived, wide-eyed and startled, she put the butt out on her napkin and tossed the whole cig-paper combo away- I waved my hand to let her know it was alright. Placing my order-you can tell those kids don’t care- probably got a cat or a kid at home gotta go feed- its late- “What time is it?” “Uhhh its 3:05.” “Graveyard shift? You’re a little young.” “I know, but my boss don’t care ‘bout anyone anyways.” “Sorry.” “That’d be $5.68.” I aid her, got my feast and humbled myself in a little chair near the door. Couldn’t see out for the tint and evening hue. Just eat, relax, maybe won’t report this one.
From “The Good Man”
I never had laid eyes on such a woman. Her hair flowed harmoniously with her perched back, those lips pressed against my own, body shaking; her eyes were burning with an unaccountable passion! Then it was over. I took hold of my bottle, glistening in the morning sun with a puddle of whiskey left coating the bottom crevices, located my pants now ripped at the crotch seam from the prior nights intoxicated madness, and took to the doorway, turning once more to capture the world of lust and love I was leaving before the harsh world of reality seeped on. I pondered on Sam; had we scored as well? With a single mom looking for simple pleasure and escape? He had left with that blonde, dumb blonde probably A meeting at Fugazzi’s in lower Fortunate Hills had been our starting point, the underbelly of the suburbs of Georgia; once more we had split with women and booze on our breath, left in the bright morn to retrace our steps back to the other, or not.
The bottle was finished and Sam got up to pace around a bit before walking to the back glass door and, after gazing into the back woods for some time, began to obviously pray, eyes tight and rosary beads around hand. As he ended, I felt it necessary to begin my infamous inquiry.
“Sam, if God is dead, where does that leave you, the servant to the great dead man?”
“He’s not a man.”
“Fuck the semantics.”
“It’s not semantics; it’s critique for your statement.”
“So you’re saying man is mortal and God isn’t so I’m using the wrong appositive?”
“Sounds about right.”
“Well then, you’re a servant to a dead God?”
“There you go making contradictions.”
“How so Sammy boy?”
“He’s alive and well.”
“I call bull, how many years has it been since he done spoke, a thousand or two?”
“He speaks, people just don’t listen anymore.”
“I listen, ears wide open, and don’t hear a thing.”
“How can you hear over your drunken stammering?”
“He talks to me.”
“In my dreams; he sends a dove that whispers in my ear ever so softly.”
“And what does this divine dove say?”
“Keep breathing, in and out, and all will suffice in due time.”
“He says a lot more, I’ve been trying to hear, but most of the time I go deaf with my sin by my side, covering my ears, but his voice hums like a full symphony and chorus of Muses, inconceivable saccharine, inconceivable words, not quite words, but some language, probably of the spirit.”
“Tell him something for me.”
“You gotta do that yourself, yknow.”
“Still, tell him he’s doing a pretty shitty job from the looks of things down here.” Sam turned and gave me an affirmative but soft look with the biggest brown eyes that soothe a man’s soul in all time.
The silence that had begun was a silence of purity. In this life of grandiose schemes and repetition, everyone pathetically flips through their mental files scavingly, looking for something to say to please the other person or perhaps to offer reasonable conversation to kill time and any chance of judgment as one coming across a wierdin’; quite pathetic indeed, and they end up looking like a chicken with they head cut off, struggling to stay afloat like a bump on a log. You know you’ve got someone clever when both parties can just sit down and shut the fuck up in good silence. It’s a nice change, a slice of heaven, and love. And that was us.