J a n u a r y   2 0 0 4

Guest Writer

First of five parts ...
The funeral pirate
by Troy Eggleston

“This mingy lore
from angry sea
tells of fate,
a wicked seed,
and buried deep
within the weed
the funeral pirate
waits indeed.”

here were two and one needed to go.

The left saw things with a vibrant flush, all things dry excluded. It was the colorful one. It was the one that applied a glossy brushstroke upon all that it filtered. The clowning optimist, always dancing and philandering with the weak and weary, offering repose to the lows that attached themselves like angry barnacles upon our stubborn anchors. It was the right's exclusionary rival.

It was my concierge at times, pointing toward a much-needed fire exit. "Get out! Now, you unconscious fool!" But it was rare that I did not crave the burn. Making the majority of the hours spent together nothing more than unbearable promenades across the gut of my cynicism, a fraudulent opus.

The strings. All those ridiculous happy strings. How deafening the joy! How dare I confiscate the inner struggle, my suspicious loathing. And all for the sake of a sickening raised flower or an embellished sky. Beauty resides in simplicity.

Simplicity rots in its own device. Such terminal endearment, proposing all is well in all that is. The left was a cryptic beast belying my instinctual prowess. We are built to suffer, built to break down. That is why I wore a patch. A thick black patch, dark as absence, solitary as refusal, shielding any light that might creep in and whisper its lies with sweetened breath.

My right bore likeness to this decision. With wry crooked smile, the left was held captive, perpetually staring into its own elementary acts of kindness. It was forced to seek from within, while the right led with outward vindication. Its grainy vision stifling the most picturesque of human endeavors, weighing them down like a thick sulfurous metal. It observed and concluded all within the same glance.

Its bitter indictments were hard-fought discoveries derived through ripples of inexperience, wrought with impulsive critique. The right preferred a struggle, yet it was far too impatient to endure one. It felt that all true things are born from struggles, and a hard-fought war is better than no war at all.

Occasionally I did have to call upon the gracious insight of the left, though reluctantly and momentarily, before rainbows and pleasantries began their ridiculous swirl.

In fits of horrific depression I would take it off, the patch, for the better half of a day. My eye would be sticky and red, immediately cowering like a guilty dog upon any shred of light. But such as we are all born to do what it is we were meant to do, the left would shower its fanciful glitter, its prolific forgiveness upon all that it witnessed. The inspiration beguiled me. People who knew me well, although still at quite a distance, would often remark that I was much more pleasant without my dreaded patch. Such an observation for a monkey.

"A childhood accident," I would scoff. "A cruel guarding of fate."

"You look like a mean pirate," my nephew would whine to his precious red-cheeked mother. He would hide in the closet each Thanksgiving, frightened by the very thought of having to sit at the same table as me.

How I loved gnawing on the dark meat of the turkey bone, penetrating the marrow, while drooling a thick stew of gravy and saliva upon my collar.

"Arrghh." I would say. "I'm just a searchin' for me soul, matey. Have ya seen me cobwebbed spider-infested soul, boy?"

He would cry and scream, asking his mommy what a soul was and if his uncle's was rotting. Little fuckin' mamas boy.

I did not have the courage to steal like a true pirate, though. My thievery lay within assumption. I stood behind the world, laughing at the backs of its bi-pedal condition, while all my whims internalized and stretched at the cord that was thinning, that eventually snaps in everyone.

Looking back, there were choices. If I denied myself a righteous path, it is only because I am human. We are a species enlightened by greed, evolving in a deranged circle. We open and close our very own flesh just to grant ourselves a few more years of bitter breath. It seems a confounded rehearsal. God must be a skeptic by now, watching all of us toil in our own ruin.

"God," I ask, "but who is he not, the soil confined?"

Staring out of my window I realize I was once young ... but, nonetheless, I also realize that I can recollect in mordant verse for this eternal page.

But that is not my purpose. Not what I was meant to do.

I am here to warn the world of its idle consumptions. I urge all to take hold of that which is true. I no longer have the option to see the light that resides in our creation. I can only see the scars. The proliferation of my woes bend my spine.

Even when witness to the dearest smile of an infant, it is purely mathematical. There was once balance in what is now a horrific sideshow of guilt. I cannot say I have tried, for whatever that may mean is left up to the opponents.

Now that I am old I have an excuse. I am a defeated man. Yes, I had options. I could see the anxious light emanating from anxious stars. But I focused on their toxic gases, swirling in haste. I cannot rehabilitate the bad, and the good has perished.

I am writing now with a very distinct distaste on my shriveled tongue. I have witnessed tragedy. I am remorseful tragedy.

Beware young rebels, beware.

E-mail Troy at leonchester@cosmo.com, and see his previous efforts in our archives.

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