Tag: #IARTG

Do You Know This Man?

Do You Know This Man?

No? I knew him, not so well, some forty years ago…he was a habitue, a devotee, of the Phoenix neon night life, searching for parts of himself he lost along the emotional road from Appalachia: lost in an abusive and disoriented childhood; lost in a flawed and impetuous marriage; lost in the glittering promise of booze and women. Yes, I knew him, not so well, as he made all his stumbles along the way, losing not only himself but the connections to family and friends, to the people who loved him.

Yes, of course, I’m the man in the photo, and there’s a lot more to the story…hope you’ll read THE CRACKED MIRROR, Reflections of an Appalachian Son, by Billy Ray Chitwood.

Excerpts from “The Cracked Mirror…”

***

In the end, my story must be like so many others, a story of a simple kid who grew up eating emotional soup and spending a lifetime trying to digest it. There are no spectacular or heroic moments. I’ve been in the United States Navy, but I’ve never fought a war—except the one I’ve declared within myself. So I know not the pain of holding a bleeding comrade to my bosom as he or she gasps the final breaths. I know not the anguish of a parent losing a child in an accident, or, in war—unless losing a child to drugs can be comparable. I’ve loved and been in love, but I’ve never stepped far enough from myself to know the true and natural profundity of its happiness and joy. I’ve been born but never died—unless the demon of the past is segmented death. The prospect of dying scares the hell out of me—not so much the prospect itself, but the pitiful legacy that is left behind. I’ve known insecurity and fear, along with self-confidence, loyalty, and pride. There have been the sins, small enough, I hope, to keep me at least somewhere in the thoughts of those I’ve loved. At times I’ve longed for ‘Nepenthe,’ the drug mentioned in ‘The Odyssey’ as a remedy for grief, the potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain and sorrow. But, then, without some pain, can the soul truly seek refuge when the long journey is over?

***

The jail cell brought back sobriety and a stark reality. Sitting on a hard dirty ‘bed thing’ in the dimly lit, tiny barred enclosure, the demon thoughts came and possessed me. My world was disintegrating around me! The claustrophobic cell was my coffin of contriteness, a veritable symbol of my languishing life. There again was the ‘dark closet’ feeling within me, an anxious and suffocating hell! Grabbing at the bars I pitifully called out to the jailer, but no one came. Within the limited space I paced, stopped at the ugly stained wall, splayed my body against it, and tapped my forehead against its roughness. The jailer eventually came. He showed me a smile of compassion and told me that morning would come soon; then, I would be arraigned. The fitful night would pass.

***

It is Time that wears down the acts and deeds of man into something forgettable, mundane, heroic, noble, historical, and unforgettable. It is Time that leads us warily toward the greatest secret of all: That which lies beyond the dark veil!

***

“…There are men like you in the world, Prentice, through whatever kind of intervention, divine or otherwise, who must make us cry and laugh, who record for us the stirrings of the soul which we might otherwise never know.”

*

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Okay, here I am today, no longer chasing those windmills, still trying to figure out this ‘one foot in front of the other’ thing. There are times when it seems I’m pretty close to figuring out this grand production, but those times are little teaser moments to stir something in the soul…sort of like a dreaded visit to a doctor or dentist, getting the car repaired – feels great when you find out the blood pressure is normal (thanks to a little round pill), the teeth cleaning and exam present no new cavities, and the car now carries no shameful dent.

All in all, the rolling bluegrass hills of Kentucky, a good wife, an aging, lovable cat, great daughters and sons, have given me happiness and joy. The past still gets in my way at times in inscrutable ways…a misty longing or something valuable I’ve left behind. I’ve never abandoned my faith, though fragile it might be, and there are many more good days than bad,

With all this said, I’m still writing, still searching…guess that only stops when mortal time gives up on me…

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 14, 2019 ( From archives, May 22, 2015)

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Corrupted Memory

Corrupted Memory

*

Through the worn pages of a simple Past

My slow and labored steps wander

With memorable moments no longer

Relevant or necessary to invoke,

Always to return to Now, this moment,

Passing as I breathe and wonder…

What was it all about, these cluttered,

Fanciful swipes of frivolity and time?

What Muse am I to discern follies and loves?

The mere poetic nothingness in the more

Noble distribution in years of memory?

Still, the mind continues its laborious stroll

Down through the trough of Time

Beckon me onward down these dusty paths

To the utter halls, I fear, of Madness.

*

BR Chitwood – September 12, 2019

*

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Life

Life

Life cannot begin

Lest you live it!

Awaken your dreams

Get out of the pit!

Find value in you

Don’t seek it in me!

Look inward/outward

Set yourself free!

Awaken to sunlight

Though dawn be gray!

Expand your horizon

Give in to the day!

Create your mantra

To repeat on the go!

Steady your rhythm

Go with the flow!

Walk with sublimity

At a joyous gait!

Reach for the stars

Therein lies your fate!

At day’s end

Rejoice in your worth!

Finding love heralds

Your peace on Earth.

 *

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 9, 2019

*

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The Wonder of It All

-Art work by: Marcela Laskoski – Unsplash-

The Wonder of It All

There are many times in my life when that fickle finger of fate has poked me in both eyes, blind-sided me with its perfidious promises of ecstasy, left me with helpless despair and loneliness, leaving me to learn that each subliminal moment must be offset by its presence.

Exceptions to that neat little summary?

Of course!

It’s all there in the gene pool which we all cast our ‘wonder’ at its origin.

For some it will be a life of great achievements along with the countering obstacles that must come calling. For this group of blessed mortal beings they are capable of humbly dismissing the vagaries of their lives, able to accept treachery and deceitful moments. This group is also able to accept, acknowledge, and with humility thank the ‘origin’ for the blessings.

This group passes through those dark and light dualities with dignity and honor. They live their lives with a blessed and most generous blend of gene pooling.

For some it will be a life of second-guessing, a balancing of dark and light shades of their existence, chasing their windmills in the darkness, waking to grim awareness in the light, and cursing the very nature of their mock-up. This group can also with varying degrees reluctantly acknowledge and perhaps not so humbly thank the ‘origin’ for their existence.

This group passes through the dark and light dualities with not so much dignity, honor, and order.

Identify the first Group as ‘A’.

Identify the second Group as ‘B’.

Which group do you think will be the poets, the writers, and the dreamers among us?

Which group do you think will be the ‘Movers and the Shakers’, the Architects, the barons of business, the politicians among us?

The ‘Origin’ is known by some, believed known by others, not so much by many.

Ah, ‘The Wonder of It All’!

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 31, 2019

 

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All That I Am

All that I am

+

All that I shall ever be

Was gifted by an Intelligent Force

Known to me by many Names.

I choose to believe God is my Creator

A name given through the ages

By far-reaching tribes and Kings.

+

Through generations our experts

Plan and Experiment with the toys

Of my Creator, my God.

Each generation forms their initials

On the great book of records

With repetition and yearning.

+

Reaching ever out for the Stars

Seeking a nebulous wisdom

Of the unknown and forbidden.

Some with Generosity and Grace

Some with Furtive Motives and Guile

To suddenly come to History’s Coincidence.

+

Repeating Righteous Rituals of Fools

Only to find Doubled Knowledge in

Mainframe Madness for Space and Beyond.

Whose flags will be stuck in the aeonian

Mud of Mars and other Galactic outposts

To begin Civilization all Anew.

+

Deities and Desires freshly grown

Ideas and Mockery of Spoils left

On a Cold and Deserted Mother Earth.

When doth come the final planet?

When doth all of Life not matter?

In the Great Collosus of Death, Perhaps!

+

Then, again, perhaps I return

In yet another Incarnation to amuse

And Confound my brothers and sisters.

Ah, but that is not so bad, methinks

If love is there as well to greet me

In the Piano Bar of my mind.

***

Billy Ray Chitwood – September 1, 2019

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My Aching Back

My Aching Back

“Really? A ‘bitch and moan’ post?”

“Well, yeah, I guess one could call it that.”

“Tell me, Roscoe, do you think your followers really care that you have an ‘aching back’?”

“Are you playing my ‘alter ego’, Sidney?”

“Yeah, I am. Think about it, Roscoe, the few people – maybe – you’ve never met are going to read about a guy crying about his aches and pains. You will put them off, man! People want to read an interesting ‘flash fiction’ piece, short story, something that will be positive and uplifting, not about a hypochondriac who moans and groans about his ailments. People want entertainment, a murder mystery and/or suspenseful romance. Give them what they want, and you build your ’brand’.”

“Well, ‘alter ego’, you’ve given me ‘food for thought’ – don’t you just love ‘clichés’, Sidney?”

“No, I don’t. Clichés are dull and tiresome. At the end of the day, you should avoid them at all costs.”

“You just used a cliché, Roscoe.”

“How do you figure?”

“You said, ‘at all costs’ – that, my friend, is a cliché. In fact, you’ve used other clichés in these few moments we’ve talked. Earlier, you said, ‘moans and groans’. You said, ‘give them what they want’. Those are clichés, buddy-boy. Oh, and, you said, ‘at the end of the day’, another cliché.”

“Yeah, but it’s just the two of us talking here. There’s a difference, ‘buddy-boy’.”

“Did your Mama have any that lived, Sidney?”

“Oh, that’s vicious, and, not too original, Roscoe.”

“You said you were just ‘stopping by for a second’. Really, Sidney, don’t you have other places to go? I would like to finish my post.”

“Are you leaving those clichés in the post, Roscoe?”

“Yep, sure am. Oh, one last cliché, Sidney, ‘don’t let the door hit you in the ass’ on the way out.”

“That’s uncalled for, Roscoe.”

“You asked for it, Sidney.”

“Stay out of the ‘Cliché Pantry’, Roscoe.”

“Leave, Sidney, and take your clichés to the grave.”

“Sticks and stones…”

“Hasta La Vista, Baby.”

“Up yours, Red Raider.”

“Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, Sidney.”

“You already said that.”

“Happy days.” Door closes.

“That settles that.”

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 27, 2019

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Enigma of the Soul

   Enigma Of The Soul

How often do you use the word, ‘Soul?’ How often do you think about your ‘Soul?’

Mirriam-Webster defines ‘Soul’ as:

1. the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

2. a: the spiritual principle embodied in human beings, all rational and spiritual beings, or the universe

So, that’s enough, right? The two definitions pretty much say it all, and there are more definitions there in the dictionary if you want more.

‘Soul’ seems to me, though, such a huge word to be so small. Writers likely get the most use out of the word than the people who really work for a living — no anger, please, just adding a little levity here. Really, it seems to me that ‘Soul’ is not in too many mundane conversations. ‘Soul’ is usually saved for the philosophers, poets, preachers, Romantics, sentimentalists, and writers.

You can almost envision the literary expatriates who gathered in Paris between the period of World War One and the onset of World War Two…wtiters like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, John Dos Passos, Samuel Beckett, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Lawrence Durrell, Gertrude Stein to name a few — okay, okay, I’m name-dropping — but these were the people I read and studied in college and their lives got somehow interwoven with my own, with my ‘Soul.’ I can see them sitting at the sidewalk cafes talking in the afternoon about their writings, about how the devastation of war had impacted their lives. I can see them drinking the Bacchus liquids and debauching in the evenings, pausing in their fun and frivolity for serious and sober moments to discuss the condition of the ‘Soul.’

These were the people Gertrude Stein referred to as ‘the lost generation.’ Certainly, why not Paris? Why not gather in the great city of lights with so much art and beauty? It was the place to be if you were disillusioned by a world intent on war and destruction. It was the perfect place and time to discuss matters of the ‘Soul,’ and these great writers held those discussions in the finest style and with some of the most celebrated erudition prevalent in those days.

So, why do I post about ‘Soul?’

Guess it’s easy for me, an oldtimer looking back on his life, how he’s lived, somewhat of an anachronism in today’s fast moving digital world. ‘Soul’ is such an all-encompassing word. It holds such a fascination for me in these sunset years, but it has always held that fascination for me — guess ‘Soul’ for me is what writing is all about. We live, we pay taxes, and we die, but the ‘Soul’ offers us so many delectable scenarios of which to consider and ponder.

‘Soul’ is that defining part of us that we can’t pinpoint, can’t know exactly where it is, but we have to know that it is there. ‘Soul’ is everything Mirriam-Webster says it is, but so very much more. There are times when the directions we take as a world concerns me greatly. It is my hope that we can still take time, Paris or not, to discuss the implications of such an enigmatic and beautiful word.

‘Soul.’

Billy Ray Chitwood – 12/10/17 + 8/23/19

-Still Relevant-

(From the Archives, 8/12)
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Femme Fury Fatality

-Photo art by: Dennis Buchner – Unsplash-

Femme Fury Fatality

The sea from the balcony was glorious in its sunset pose. The brilliant yellow orb slowly dipped in the western sky, creating an unbridled inner stirring where phrases were worn closet clichés, feeble in rendering the poetic wonder of the Malibu scene. The heart and mind could never blend an appropriate coupling in describing a perfect utterance for a California evening in its sunset stages.

A lone couple walked along the edge of the slow-lapping surf with a beautiful Golden Retriever ahead joyfully leaping and romping in the choppy waters, chasing a large hard-rubber bone thrown by its master.

Melody Maybury stood pensively at the balcony’s sturdy stucco railing, engulfed in this splendid moment of another day’s end. There was a plaintive acceptance and gratitude for this ritual splendor. Delicate notes from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini played softly from the balcony speaker, and Melody could not stop negative thoughts from intruding on this magical view.

“He’s a bastard. I’ve known Jeff Germaine for three years and I’ve never called him that before. Get over it. He could be telling you the truth. If you feel that way, move on. Find someone else. This is a sad story so often told. There’s someone out there who is real and can love you. But, am I being fair to Jeff? We’ve had some close, wonderful moments together. Oh, Damn, why am I doing this to myself?”

 Her thoughts persisted, negative, positive, back and forth, good guy, bad guy. What about the wonderful moments?

The phone ringing from inside broke into her monologue, and she left the sunset beauty and went inside to answer. She closed off the surf sounds by sliding shut the door to the balcony.

“Hello,” she spoke into the speaker.

“Melody, it’s Jeff. I’ve got a problem.”

Melody was silent.

“Melody, did you hear me? I’ve got a huge problem, and I need your help.”

“Really?” She stiffly responded. “You need my help? You told me you didn’t need me just last night. I’m hanging up, Jeff. I can’t help you, the way we are now.”

“Wait, please wait, Melody. Don’t hang up. I didn’t tell you, ‘I didn’t need you’ – I was talking about our spat: ‘I didn’t need the spat’. I do need you in my life. I love you. Please, Mel, hear me, ‘I need your help’. This is urgent for me or I would not call and bother you with it. It involves you as well as me. Please, hear me out. If you want us to be finished, we can be, but wait, please, until you hear me out. Melody, are you there?”

“Yes, I’m here, and I’ll listen but I’m not promising anything.”

“That’s okay, Melody. I’m a ‘heel’, I know, but I do love you. I hurt you and I’m so sorry. It was just the heat of our argument. Please try to believe me. Here’s why the call. I’m in the Santa Monica PD locked up on a bogus charge, and you are the only one who can help me. Please, Melody, help me.”

Melody heard loud voices and a scuffle in the background.

“Jeff, where did you go? Jeff?”

“I’m here. There’s another guy wanting me off the phone. Okay, here’s the story… Last night, when I left – at your request – I went to see Donna Grayson to ask her to call you, to tell you we were not an ‘item’, never had been, and that she was being a bitch for letting you think I was playing house with her…it never happened, Mel, truly, it never happened. But she wasn’t home, so I stayed last night in a motel off the Hollywood Freeway, and today, after…”

“Jeff, Jeff…”

“I’ve got to get off the phone, Mel, this guy here is nuts, but please believe me. I love you and only you. Donna was dead when I arrived at her place, and the cops think I did it. I did not kill her. Don’t even think that, Mel. I promise you, I did not. Can you make some calls for me, Mel? Try to get Les Baxter to get me bail, to get me out of here, let the studio know. I just tried to reach Les and could not. I’ve got to go. This guy is all over me, wanting the phone. I love you, Melody. Always have, always will…”

There was a loud crack in the phone, apparently dropped to the floor. “Hey, whoever you are, get off the damned phone so I can get a dial tone.” A gruff and nasty voice, not, Jeff’s.

Melody put the phone back in its cradle, and her thoughts came jumbled, all disjointed for some seconds. She sat on the long sofa for several minutes digesting what she heard from Jeff. Was his story the truth? Was it true he has not been seeing Donna? Donna was dead. My God, Jeff’s in jail for killing Donna. What to do? Call Les Baxter for help. Santa Monica PD. Get Jeff out of jail

After several attempts, she reached Les Baxter and gave him the information from Jeff. Then, she called her Dad and Mom in El Paso just to talk, to tell them she loved them and missed them. She never mentioned the bad news about the fella she was living with.

*

Later, the next day after Les Baxter posted bail, Jeff and Melody sat in their lovely Malibu home, looking out the glass doors to the balcony and on farther west over the gentle incoming waves to another incredible sunset.

“Do you want to talk about Donna’s murder, Jeff?”

They sat on the sofa sipping cocktails.

“I’d like to talk, Mel, but civilly, not in angry bursts. You say you now believe that Donna and I were not an item. Do you honestly believe that? If so, I want to talk.”

“Just remember, there were some strong suspicions and…” She shrugged, “yes, yes, I believe you. Now, tell me what happened.”

“Hmm, okay, from the beginning. I left the studio early yesterday because the script lady misplaced the scene and Jackson Argenté wanted the scene perfectly projected so we were not allowed to ad lib the dialogue…it would have been easy to ad lib as it was not that long a script. Argenté as a director can be a real ass, funny guy at times, really serious other times. I rather suspect Jackson had some amorous monkey business up his sleeve, if you know what I mean.

“So, I left early and went to the ‘Club’ – wanted to play nine holes of golf and occupy myself with thoughts of you, how to convince you of my fidelity. At the club, in the Men’s Grill looking for a pal to play nine holes with me, I joined Avery Bascomb for a drink and forgot about golf. Avery’s the new guy from San Francisco. I introduced you two last week. He likes ‘Hollywood Gin’ as do I so we played away much of the afternoon until thoughts of you and our spat got into my brain. I began losing concentration and money. You know me, I don’t like losing, got a little angry, broke a cocktail glass, and cut my hand.

“I called Donna from the ‘Men’s Grill’ and asked her if she would call you and make you understand there was nothing going on between her and me. She said she would but needed to see me to show me something important. I balked but there was something in her voice that sounded most urgent. It was on my way to Malibu, so I decided to stop and see what her urgency was.

“Her entry chimes went crazy on my third attempt at getting her to answer the door, and they wouldn’t stop…kept on chiming. Why wasn’t she answering? We had just talked on the phone. She would not have left, knowing I was coming to see what it was she wished to show me. The chimes were driving me nuts. They just would not stop chiming.

“So, I looked through the side door-window and saw her lying in a pool of blood there on the edge of the ‘great room’ and the entry hall. I was reaching for my cell phone to call the police when the siren wailed loudly just a few yards away, like, the cops turned the siren on when they saw me stepping away from the entry.

“I looked down and saw the blood from my cut at the ‘Men’s Grill’ and so did the two cops who were answering an apparent ‘red alert’ call from Donna. The cops opened the unlocked entry door and went to the body, checked for vital signs and there were none. The cops arrested me on the spot and took me to the Santa Monica PD. I screamed all the way about the ‘Men’s Grill’ glass breakage and my cut hand. They listened intently to my ‘Men’s Grill’ story, my calling Donna, but they had to take me in. They believed me but had no choice, they said… I’ve got no idea what it was Donna wanted to show me.

“That’s my story, Mel, and it’s the honest-to-God’s truth. You’ve got to believe me. I couldn’t do anything like that. I don’t even like playing bad guys in our movies.”

“I believe you, Jeff. We will get through this. I’m sorry I doubted you. The mind can do some crazy meandering at times. The cops can easily check the ‘Men’s Grill’ for proof of your alibi. That should be enough for them to drop the charges, don’t you think?”

“Hopefully. They won’t find anything in Donna’s place that can incriminate me. I was only there the one time with you.”

“It’s all going to work out, sweetheart. You’ve told me everything, right?”

“Of course, I have. I’ve never lied to you, Melody. I love you.”

*

As trials go, Jeff’s was a breeze. The judge appeared, called the two attorneys to the stand, whispered a few words – actually, quite a few words – and the lawyers returned to their respective seats.

The judge picked up his gavel, slammed it down on the wood and announced: “This case will not be heard for insufficient findings. Case dismissed.”

Later that day, movie director Jackson Argenté was arrested for the murder of Donna Grayson, his longtime secret paramour. His fingerprints and other evidence had been found at the murder scene. It was believed by most reports that Jeff just happened on the scene at the wrong time.

It was later noted in newspaper articles that the movie director had managed through extortion and payouts to keep other affairs and angry dispositions from print and media in general. Jackson Argenté was known to have a violent temper, with eruptions quite often.

The final chapter was written when Jackson Argenté was found hanging from a crude tangle of clothes tied around his neck and somehow connected to a ventilation duct.

Jeff Germaine and Melody Maybury became husband and wife in August that year and honeymooned in the south of France.

Of course, they lived happily ever after.

Billy Ray Chitwood – August 20, 2019

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Who Am I?

Photo art by Henk van de Goor (Unsplash)

 

Who Am I?

A mere presence of blood, bone and flesh,

Collecting restless moments of time and

Memories in a swirl of delusion and desire…

A damaged derelict recording with all the

Misspent nights of neon lights and wonder,

In Bacchus search of some nebulous Nirvana.

A casual fool of vacuous vector shaping images

Fraught with a dilettante’s dribble and dash

For a delectable dalliance in Delilah’s domain.

Who Am I?

A Mockery to the wise and worldly. A clown

Dressed in gaudy colors, shouting his foolery

To all who would listen in the Devil’s Den.

Who Am I?

Surely by now you must know me!

Who Am I?

Come, sweet damsel,

 join me in a drink,

 and I shall tell you all!

 

-Billy Ray Chitwood – August 12, 2019-

 

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Believe

©Believe

Believe in the miracles inside you,

Have faith in the God who shapes your dreams,

Walk tall, to yourself be true.

 

Abide obstacles strewn along your way,

The nagging naysayers of folly,

In confidence walk each day.

 

Should not your wishes find

Fulfillment at the journey’s end,

Look skyward with peace of mind.

 

You have given in honest measure

That most noble part of your tender soul

And, in reward, heaven’s treasure.

 

So, believe in wonders yet to be,

Passing through life’s many gates

On your way to eternity.

 

©Believe

 

©Billy Ray Chitwood – August 6, 2019

 

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