“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
- Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.”
- Leo Tolstoy
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
-Frederick Buechner, Beyond Worlds: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith
Finally the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul…”
1 Samuel 16:1
A familiar reader will undoubtedly realize that the zeal or passion in these daily posts is losing strength and momentum. Perhaps it wasn’t zeal or passion at all that was driving it though. It would be quite reasonable for me to admit that it was depression and fear that captained the ship. I want to say that “longing” played a part in that but I’m not sure if that’s appropriate. The threats to quit writing yet continuing to do so is problematic. If it was depression or fear that drove it, that is gone.
I waited and waited in the darkest of nights and now it’s all stars - it’s all God. My grief has healed me. The Lord has spoken to me and informed me that I have mourned long enough.
Cautiously I proceed in hopes that I can help light your pathway to an even stronger loving. Dear God! I hope you land on the shores I’ve landed on, where:
My spirit leaked from the wounds.
A whole spirit pooled.
I rose from the carcass of my torment.
I stood on the brink of heaven.
And I swear that Great Territory did quake
When I fell, free.
-Gregory Corso, Transformation & Escape (excerpt)
This wraps up another cycle of offerings from Hoarsely Cry.
Volume IV Playlist:
1. The Smiths . I Know It’s Over
2. Russ Colombo . Just Friends
3. Charles Bukowski . Alone With Everybody
4. Beck . Lost Cause
5. Johnny Cash . Mr. Lonesome
6. Gregory Corso . Last Night I Drove A Car
7. Red House Painters . Katy Song
8. John Lennon . Love
9. Percy Bysshe Shelley . Time
10. Angel Olsen . Spring
11. Black Heart Procession . Till We Have To Say Goodbye
12. Leonard Cohen . That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
13. Emily Dickinson . We Outgrow Love
14. Fugazi . I’m So Tired
We Outgrow Love
We outgrow love, like other things
And put it in the Drawer -
Till it an Antique fashion shows -
Like Costumes Grandsires wore.
Cicada No. 3. Oil on wood panel . 48" x 48" . 2020 Amos Oaks. Photo by Brian Scott Pittman
“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
I was never able to say “goodbye” to her. I said “please don’t go” more times than I can count. I said “farewell” because I didn’t think it had as much permanence to it. I never knew how to say it. She had planned an elaborate “goodbye” for years. But, last night, I was finally able to deliver a proper “goodbye”.
In August of 2017 I delivered a threat of divorce in an outlandish display of wanting attention and attempting to create shock and drama in a situation where I was gaining no ground. To me, it was just one of many arguments that would blow over. Three days later, I was asked when I was going to leave. That’s when the begging started. I was shocked that she took that threat seriously and even more shocked at how thrilled and relieved she seemed to be at the prospect of a life without me in it. I continued to beg through the rest of August and on into September. But I had ignited a fuse that refused to be snuffed out and agreed to her demand for me to be out by November 2.
For years, she had asked me to paint a portrait of her. This was something that I was never comfortable creating because I felt like I could not do her justice and that my insecurities would shine through. As soon as I was alone, I started to create that painting. It was complete just one day before Valentine’s Day 2018. In my mind I had fantasies of her melting away - gushing over the painting and falling back in to my arms. What I didn’t know was that she had moved her boyfriend In across the street from her and my daughter the very month I was ejected from the house. This was news I didn’t learn until the summer of 2019. It was worse than the separation and far worse than the divorce for me.
Full of hope and excited with this lovely work that included her holding our cat and blooming peonies, I loaded it up in my vehicle and drove to her place. As I was walking up the porch steps, she just happened to be opening the front door to let the dog out. “The stars have aligned!” I thought. She looked at me oddly and asked what I was doing there. I explained that I had brought Valentine’s Day gifts for her and my daughter. She looked at the painting oddly and gave a grunting chuckle. That was about the only response I got from her.
She divorced me in August of that year. One year later she was packing to move away. I had not really completely gone through everything in the house and offered to help her pack and move. After she was gone, there was still quite a bit of cleaning up for me to do. I did one last sweep of the attic and discovered the painting - face against insulation and covered in lint from a broken dryer vent hose. A bit sad about the complete disregard for the painting, I went home for a long walk. The evening was heavy with the shrill mourning song of the cicada. I came back to my house, sanded her image off the wooden surface of the painting and drew a cicada on it. Several days later, I wrote a lament titled “Cicada”.
In December 2019 I started working on 14 different cicada paintings and collaborated with a small group of musicians to compose an orchestrated “life-cycle” piece that would accompany the poem.
Last night I had an event - a showing of these paintings with a performance of the poem and orchestration. This illustrative group of images were a journal-like display of my life in a very intimate setting. The small venue was shoulder to shoulder with around 120 individuals. Some of these folks were very near and dear to me. Some folks were acquaintances. Some were people I’d never seen before. But everyone there felt like family. It felt like a support group of people who had come to rejoice that a life was no longer dormant but was emerging - a life that would sing a shrill song and have a moment to make a positive lasting impact. It was my moment to give a proper “goodbye” to the girl who I gave my heart, mind, and soul to for 26 years.
There were so many things concerning me that she wasn’t wrong about. She would tell you that I am dramatic. I can’t even say “goodbye” without making a production of it.
“Your time may come. Do not be too sad, Sam. You cannot be always torn in two. You will have to be one and whole, for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
The album “3” by The Black Heart Procession was released 19 years ago. I had never heard a dirge so hopeless in all my life. I had been in a bit of a rut with my musical selections and had no particular life soundtrack at the time. It is tragically funny that this became my soundtrack. Reason being, I tend to romanticize what we “had” in our marriage. I do that because it had so much good about it that I always felt outweighed the bad. The problem was that the bad was never addressed. She refused intervention and the problems only stewed until they finally boiled over.
This was also a time when I was trying to find a way out of my job of intense labor as a sub-contractor in the construction work force. I’d been involved with it for a decade and I was over it. My former wife did not care what I did in life as long as it generated an abundance of wealth. The wealth never came.
I have a very vivid memory of spending a day demolishing a metal fire escape that led from a second story apartment in a multi-unit house that I was in the process of turning back into a single family home. After a great deal of pain, frustration, and exhaustion, I sat at the top of the threshold with my legs dangling over the void where the escape had been earlier that day. The Black Heart Procession were lamenting lost love in the background. I was well-aware then that I was in a loveless marriage - 16 years before it was over. But I continued to have a relationship, a job, a way of life that was detrimental to me, to her, to our children. I sat on that threshold and wept for a very long time.
The looking back is so unhealthy. The looking forward is what I do now and God! how refreshing that is! There is a line in today’s offering, “Till We Have To Say Goodbye” that mourns, “But you’ll never know this life till you have to say goodbye.” I always saw this song, like most songs on this album, as completely lost and hopeless. But viewing life through rosy eyes, I now take that line as gospel. If I had not finally been able to say goodbye, I would never have had the ability to move forward - to put myself in a position to know this life. And this is a life I look forward to living.
"Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear."
-James 1:19 (MSG)
"A man should never miss an opportunity to keep his mouth shut."
-David Eddings, The Treasured One
"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming."
I am looking forward to cold weather moving out. I can't wait for warm sun, flowers, green grass - rebirth and renewal. A time of resurrection, new life, new hope. I'm headed out of an emotional winter right now. I have absolutely no interest the "beloved" any longer and still don't want to get into those details, but the essence of the situation must be explored today.
The events that took place last weekend - revelations that made me loathe the one I used to love - were so full of nerve-wracking drama and involved a rather large circle of individuals. I lashed out at many of these folks because I missed an opportunity to keep my mouth shut. I allowed my tongue to lead. A dear friend of mine often calls me "Mr. Reactionary". I do many things without thinking them through. I am very spontaneous with ideas, actions, decisions, and my tongue. It is unfortunate and one of many negative traits I continue to iron out as I move out of winter. In my reaction, I assumed things about friends related to my turning point and said things to those friends that I immediately regretted but it was too late. I've been putting out fires for two days.
I met with a very dear friend last night who was crushed by my assumptions and my stern reprimand. There was immediate forgiveness from this individual and we were able to iron things out but there will be a scar...you don't forget stuff like that. Alas! But I'm leaving it behind with everything else I'm leaving behind. I cannot continue to allow Mr. Reactionary's past decisions to haunt me. I've been forgiven.
As far as lamenting love lost, I just can't do it. The daily posts have been so stale. There is no heartbreak to ponder any longer. This is something I thought I'd be working through for at least another year but it's like pulling teeth at this point. I keep threatening to quit but keep having individuals encourage me to keep posting. Even last night, the friend I met up with for my apology informed me that they had just been through a breakup. On a road trip taken this weekend (when my reactionary self sent out the scolding) they had listened to the mix CDs. One disc in particular hit home for them and a choreographed event was played out in their mind from the 1st track all the way through the 14th. Stories like that make me want to keep it up.
I realize today's post is a drag. It is dull, boring, and doesn't really stick to a single point. I'm just trying to wake up from my dream - I'm thawing out from a very long winter. I am learning lessons and I'm so excited to move forward. I can't and won't lament the one I used to love any longer but I'll always have nostalgia for everything that came with the first few months I laid eyes on her. The fact that her innocence is so long gone is more heartbreaking than anything now.
This past October, I traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to see Cigarettes After Sex. While in town, I went shopping for records. Angel Olsen's newest album, "All Mirrors", had just been released. I went to the turntable bar at Shake It Records to give it a sample. About 15 seconds played before I lifted the stylus, took the wax off the platter, and returned it to it's sleeve. It wasn't because I was unimpressed - I was in love with it and knew I was buying it without needing to hear another note.
At the time, I was still in a pretty sad state. I was blown away by the lyrical content of this album and thought, "If I had the ability to write songs, this is the album I would have written for my life right now." It was uncanny. My poor daughter rolled her eyes at me daily because I played it over and over and over and over again. I'm still playing it. Without a doubt, my favorite album in the past 3 years.
Today's offering - delivered at the end of my longest and most disorganized post to date - is "Spring". Track 5 from "All Mirrors" lands exactly where it should on this gorgeous album. If you have a story of redemption and hope send it my way. I'll pick one to share on the site. If chosen, I'll send you your own vinyl copy of Angel Olsen's "All Mirrors". If you don't have a turntable, I'll send you the download code and keep it as a back up.
As spring reveals itself, I pray you find the love that will never leave - plant it in your heart.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Unfathomable Sea! whose waves are years,
Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe
Are brackish with the salt of human tears!
Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow
Claspest the limits of mortality!
And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,
Vomitest thy wrecks on its inhospitable shore;
Treacherous in calm, and terrible in storm,
Who shall put forth on thee,
“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
- Anais Nin
If you navigate to Hoarsely Cry for daily devotion, you may have noticed I skipped a couple of days. There is a wonderful reason for that. Like magic, I have been liberated of heartbreak. This isn't a joke. I don't have the energy to explain why or feel the need to go into the details.
I no longer wanted to write daily thoughts on here even though it had become part of a daily routine for me. It was something I looked forward to and it was a practice that was helping me to realize my sadness was not nearly as great as I portrayed it in my writing and offerings.
This blog had nothing to do with my freedom. It was actually something the former "beloved" did. So, cheers to her for her poor decision making!
As I was about to delete the website, my daughter asked what I was doing. When I explained, her response was, "Don't do that!" She told me that she enjoyed seeing me write and really liked the collection of music and quotes and other projects. She let me know that she saw a change in me once I started writing.
So, for now, I'll continue to curate heartbreak. Not for me though - maybe for you. I hope that something in here soothes your heart. I hope you understand that you will rise above this seemingly hopeless situation.
I do understand that I am the recipient of an emotion that needed a good death. I realize that I am surrounded by people who are full of life - people I truly love and who truly love me.
“There must be different kinds of loneliness, or at least different degrees of loneliness, but the most terrifying loneliness is not experienced by everyone and can be understood by only a few. I compare the panic in this kind of loneliness to the dog we see running frantically down the road pursuing the family car. He is not really being left behind, for the family knows it is to return, but for that moment in his limited understanding, he is being left alone forever, and he has to run and run to survive. It is no wonder that we make terrible choices in our lives to avoid loneliness.”
-Charles M. Schulz, You Don't Look 35, Charlie Brown!
The image in today's post is from This Charming Charlie. This genius series was birthed from the mind of Lauren Loprete - replacing the captions in text bubbles of Peanuts comic strips with song lyrics from The Smiths.
“Error regarding life necessary to life. - Every belief in the value and dignity of life rests on false thinking; it is possible only through the fact that empathy with the universal life and suffering of mankind is very feebly developed in the individual. Even those rarer men who think beyond themselves at all have an eye, not for this universal life, but for fenced-off portions of it. If one knows how to keep the exceptions principally in view, I mean the greatly gifted and pure of soul, takes their production for the goal of world-evolution and rejoices in the effects they in turn produce, one may believe in the value of life, because the one is overlooking all other men: thinking falsely, that is to say. And likewise if, though one does keep in view all mankind, one accords validity only to one species of drives, the less egoistical, and justifies them in face of all the others, then again one can hope for something of mankind as a whole and to this extent believe in the value of life: thus, in this case too, through falsity of thinking. Whichever of these attitudes one adopts, however, one is by adopting in an exception among men. The great majority endure life without complaining overmuch; they believe in the value of existence, but they do so precisely because each of them exists for himself alone, refusing to step out of himself as those exceptions do: everything outside themselves they notice not at all or at most as a dim shadow. Thus for the ordinary, everyday man the value of life rests solely on the fact that regards himself more highly than he does the world. The great lack of imagination from which he suffers means he is unable to feel his way into other beings and thus he participates as little as possible in their fortunes and sufferings. He, on the other hand, who really could participate in them would have to despair of the value of life; if he succeeded in encompassing and feeling within himself the total consciousness of mankind he would collapse with a curse on existence - for mankind has as a whole no goal, and the individual man when he regards its total course cannot derive from it any support or comfort, but must be reduced to despair. If in all he does he has before him the ultimate goallessness of man, his actions acquire in his own eyes the character of useless squandering. But to feel thus squandered, not merely as an individual fruits but as humanity as a whole, in the way we behold the individual fruits of nature squandered, is a feeling beyond all other feelings. - But who is capable of such a feeling? Certainly only a poet: and poets always know how to console themselves.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits
There are days when I hesitate an explanation of the offering I present. There isn’t a single song, poem, art project, quote, or passage on here that can’t stand on it’s own. I should shut up, but I ramble on.
I absolutely love Gregory Corso. Perhaps Shelley’s influence on his work is what does it for me - making him my favorite of the Beats. (I once memorized most of “Bomb” for a poetry class in 1999. That’s something I’d like to revisit. For what purpose, I’m not sure - to impress and/or bore folks at dinner parties?)
“Last Night I Drove A Car” is a heartbreaking piece that is weighted with self-interest, lust, destruction, and a careless existence. It hints remorse but ends with untroubled emotion that refuses to be held accountable for a narcissistic future.
My entire present was born from the fruition of egocentric being. I look back at all those I knocked down and my heart is full of sorrow.