Alright, we will start with the first, “A Mess of Me”.
Really, to me, these poems are all about the somewhat complicated relationship Cassie and I once shared. It was a friendship fueled by…a lot of things. We needed each other. We both had neglected hearts, and though we hurt each other on multiple occasions, we were there for one another when no one else was. Don’t take that as a time thing–there were certainly times we weren’t there for each other. It was more of…emotional spaces. Places in our souls we wouldn’t share with anyone. Places we felt vulnerable. That was really the heart of it. We each allowed the other into the most vulnerable parts of our hearts. It isn’t an easy thing to do, and if you’ve ever done it you’ll know. It took time. So, now, you can apply time.
My point is, however, that we held a bond outside of time. How is that possible? Well…late night phone calls. Teens don’t need much sleep anyway, right? (They do. Parents, make your kids get proper sleep. It’s important.) You wake up, you go to school. Interactions are blurry, filtered through insecurities related to all of the open eyes and ears around you. Adults, the bane of our existence, ready at all times to silence any sort of conversation, regardless of how it could affect us to have finished, to have had that time, that exchange of words one can only share with those they hold close. After school? Parents, either forcing us to do things we didn’t want to do, or coming home early to interrupt, as if the sunlight of the dying day were etching a warning into our skin, “whatever safety you feel, it is temporary, and I will see to it.”
The moon. It gave us a light in the darkness, to be cliche. It realized, even in the shadows, there are those that need a night-borne warmth. This is where we hid. This is where we convened. Cassie was probably always the initiator, calling me in the dead of night. I would awaken to a ringtone I had set for her number alone. Either my heart would race, or my mind would set aflame, depending on the luck of the draw when it came to my mood. I would respond angrily, and Cassie would joke until I was in an okay enough mood to talk. Or, I would respond sweetly, so relieved to hear her voice, her true voice. There is something to be said for hearing the voice of a person so dear to you, when all other sounds are far away and asleep, when all lights but the moon’s have finally decided to give you space, allow you peace. It could be nothing at all, that we spoke of. It could be the most meaningful string of sentences ever related. It really didn’t matter in the end, because it was all equal. It all occurred in our world. No one could touch those words, and no one ever did. It was the one piece of our lives that wasn’t ruled. Our secret. No one and no thing had command over the beginning or the end, aside from our physical capacity. It was a world outside of time, inside the space between our hearts.
The problem oftentimes was…well, hormones. Among other things. I wanted more out of the relationship, ignoring the clear signs that this would, in fact, ruin everything. Cassie knew this. Both sides of it. She used it to her advantage at times, and I fell for it. There is nothing to hold against either of us there, mind you. We were kids. We were kids who were in love with the idea of someone else being there, who would truly be there. She experienced loss like I could never imagine, and abandonment beyond. I had no one but my mother, who, for a time, emotionally abandoned me for a man who hated me. No other friend could understand. No one knew the kind of loss Cassie had been through, and certainly any male friend I told about my problem would respond with something along the lines of, “maaan, I would just beat the shit out of him”, as if I could punch away the one person who let my mother live without the aching hole of loneliness. No, we were two kids–people, really. Only limited by our age and, consequentially, developmental processes–who finally found someone to trust. No matter how angry we would get at one another, how painfully we would lash out…we still knew we had each other. Through the failures and the silences, if the world were ending and asking for blood, we would die for one another. And, at the very least in our minds, this was more than anyone else on the planet was willing to sacrifice for us. I wish I could explain the feeling…but true love, in all its various forms, has always proven difficult to translate.
I believe that covers it, at least enough to understand what I’m talking about when dissecting these poems, which weren’t even written by us. Our phones seem to be pretty wise, or the universe in all of its infinite randomness just so happened to make sense for once. Here we go.
“I wanna be the best friend
and you can be
a mess of me.
and I never repent your heart.”
It is important to note that this first poem is one of two voices, mine and hers. This part, I believe, is in my voice. I would profess to want to be the best friend to her, forever and always. For that to happen, she would have to deal with everything that was me and my issues with commitment. It is clear, here and back then, that I wanted more, even though I would say I only wanted friendship. One has trouble hiding their heart, especially as an awkward teenager. The last line goes into how I believe I never hold it against her heart that it never reciprocates these “hidden” emotions.
you know “that” would never dream.
You have to be the god of me
to be a mess
Mother is my life.”
Her voice. In response to mine. “That” being the idea of me never holding it against her heart, she clearly knows is not true. I expressed anger towards her many times, and some of these times were certainly due to the frustration with our relationship not going where I thought I wanted it to go. She is at once putting me in my place, and consoling me. It would never “dream”…she keeps it in the night, our safe space. “to be a mess” in this poem translates to being in a fullblown relationship. To be in a mess with her, I would need to be the god of her. I would need to be everything and beyond to her. Which, whether she knew it or not, was simply something I could never ever have given at the time. Not even a little bit. “because, God–” she shouts to the heavens something that is the most true part of her soul. She needs redemption. “Mother is my life.” Motherhood, her mother, her being a mother. All of these things, in one. It spells death and life intertwined within her timeline, on multiple occasions. She needs to be a mother, to be the mother she never had, to give a child the life and the love a child deserves. Otherwise, her heart will never truly be whole. As such, she professes this to me, knowing full well I am not the man to help her realize this yearning in her soul.
“You will make my day,
(God bless her).
and, I hope you’re happy too, because,
Both of us. The first line is hers, the second mine, a soliloquy. The rest are shared. She lets me know that any particular day will be made brightest because of me, but as a whole, I am not the one to light up her entire life. I concede this, hoping the God she may or may not have faith in, blesses her as he/she has failed to in the past. We both realize the other is not truly happy, and that we can only do so much for one another at this point. Time has passed, clearly. But we assure each other, that happiness will be found, at some point.
“You came, you.
So I could be happy too.”
The old Harry Potter/Voldemort duality, but much more sweet and much less “rawr I’m a bad guy look at me and my evil!” Both of our voices. Thanking one another for their respective existence, for coming into being as nothing more than who we truly were as naked, vulnerable individuals. If not for the time and secret space we shared, we might not be alive. Yes, we lack true happiness where things stand. But, despite that, because we had each other at one point, and still do to some extent, we have a real chance at happiness. We helped forge each other’s hearts to live this long. The poem ends with mutual appreciation.
Now, onto the next poem. The response, “Those Games”.
‘Those Games” really is a response to the feelings I felt that went without reciprocation. It is an acknowledgement of her desire to be what I wanted, and also that she could never be that, or trust me to fulfill my role that would be much needed in such a partnership.
“I wanna play those kinds of games.
That’s been my life.
I was wondering
what you want.”
The first line on its own is a playful response to me wanting more. Emotionally, sexually, she acknowledges it, and lets it slide away with neither reciprocation or, really, true affirmation. Maddening for the teenage boy, necessary for someone who wants the love of a nice young boy but doesn’t want to push him away by outright telling the sensitive little miscreant, “I do not want you in that way at all, not even a bit”. Then, she laughs a humorless laugh. Her life has been a series of “games” for her, because all she can do is play her part and hope she survives. She says and does things she doesn’t truly believe in, just to survive. It is truly a modern and tragic appropriation of the human condition, in all its unfortunate failings. She allowed me the knowledge of this pain, the existence of it. Not the full story, but the effects. It was all she could part with. I was lucky to have that much. Then, she addresses the real problem with my “desire”, but also asks a question from the modern day us. “What do you want”, teen Billy? What do you really want? What can you provide, in exchange? How do you think it could work? You haven’t considered it much, have you? Just your dreams. Blurry, unrealistic, unsolidified feelings. “What do you want”, modern Billy? What do you want out of life? What drives you now? I am as lost as you, and as one whom I allowed so close, I was just wondering what you thought of life, and of your purpose within it.
“…and then I get home and honestly,
I think it’s best to
listen to your heart, and
…a lot of patience.”
She falls back into her comfort zone. Her home. Her family, with her reliable husband, her adorable child, her faithful dog. A perfectly non-perfect zone of normal life. One must simply listen to their heart here, let it release its secrets. Then the soul, and the verb form of soul, “To afford suitable sustenance”. One must fuel the patience in this regard. It may, and will, take a while to find what needs to be heard…but the pause. The pause gives pause. Even she is not certain. What if no amount of listening, renders her dreams truly heard?
and we have a lot more than “once”, so
I can just stay by you and I love you–
I just don’t think
I’ll ever play this game, though.”
She explains her point of view on the entire issue of “us”. We have had more than one altercation, concerning this issue. I told her my feelings, and she hugged me, telling me she didn’t want to lose me as a friend. The time we were on the phone, and everything I said was right, and the way she said “…Bye”, with a slight pause, with a voice that said, “in this moment, on this day, I am yours, and you are mine”. The time I was in college and we confessed more physical feelings. It all dances around, teases the notion, of a real, tangible, all-the-way connected relationship with one another. Because of this, all that we have weathered, she knows she can trust me enough to stand by me, to always feel confident in looking me in the eyes and saying, “I love you”…it just goes back to the game. The game she played with me. Now we playfully call back to that. It isn’t a game she is playing anymore, and…the true form of the game? Us, actually together? It isn’t something she will ever do. Hell, it isn’t something I would do. I’m sure, reader, you want to know why. Well, let’s look at the next lines. The final lines, of both poems.
“I was just hoping to get to
the secret of the world.”
We…were unlike anything else to one another. The secret meeting in the moonlight. The unresolved curiosity. The lovers who were not lovers, yet loved deeply still. This part can actually be from both of our voices. We saw true beauty in one another. Unending. Something we saw nowhere else. The secret of the world, written between late night conversations.
So, the answer?
The answer here is the answer she gave my silly desires.
No. No, and. Do not ruin true beauty just because your base desires long for more. If you want to find what makes life beautiful, keep looking. The secret of the world is written there, somewhere, in between the lines. Let your heart break, let pieces that should fit together fall apart. Nothing is so simple. Love is the path to the secret of the world, but what they don’t tell you is all of the twists and turns love can really take. Let them. Let love, in its infinite beauty and chaos, leave your life in its wake. Keep doing that, until you find the answer we are all looking for. And then–only then–report back with your answer.