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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Bluff


Walking the edge of the world
Darkness descending overhead
Lights far below calling
With their siren song
Seemingly warm and comforting

Walking the edge of the world
Overburdened shoulders slumping
Cloths wet from rain
Muscles screaming their fatigue
No safe place to lie

Walking the edge of the world
Spider web silk caressing
Chitinous legs scrabbling across
Rictus grin screaming Why!
Why shouldn’t I jump?

It had to have been October.  As I think about it, it was October just before my twentieth birthday. I was walking in one of my favorite parks in Oregon, we called it the bluff, Promenade Park. The park starts at the top of singer hill and runs atop of the first level of cliffs in Oregon City. A good portion of the park is over the paper mill. At night when the mill is operational the lights and the steam are eerily beautiful.
I had been homeless for some time and I was running out of safe places to hole up. I had been breaking into peoples garages during the day to have a place to lie down out of the weather, summer was over. The few places that were undercover that I had gone to during the times at night when I would try to sleep had started to be watched by the police.
The drugs weren’t working, I couldn’t stay awake anymore. Not surprising I had been awake for over a week. I needed to find a place to sleep. First place I tried was this little park across from the library; it had a bathroom with a covered patio. It was raining so hard and I was grateful that it was covered. Finally, a covered place to lie! I closed my eyes and I tried to get to sleep but I kept hearing someone whispering. Consuming a large amount of speed over an extended length of time can cause paranoia and hallucinations. I started becoming convinced that the people living next to the park were watching me…so no sleep there.
By that time the rain had let up so I shuffled over to the Catholic Church, they had a park bench that you couldn’t see from the road. I got to the spot and found that the bench wasn’t too wet and that it was blocked from most of the wind. Getting comfortable was difficult but I did and was almost asleep when the sky opened up. Everything got soaked, my cloths, and my sleeping bag. I couldn’t stay there so I moved on.
I don’t understand the logic that led me to the bluff but I soon found myself wandering up and down the path. My body hurt so much. I kept walking through spider webs, whether they were there or not I am not sure. Feeling spiders crawling all over me was fucking creepy.
I stopped and looked at the mill and the beautiful lights and thought why, why keep going? A few months before I had reached out for professional help and been rejected, and shamed, my father had tried to help me but I was too sick for him to be successful, why go on? As I stood there cold, wet, homeless, and hopelessly addicted to drugs, I thought for the first time in my life about killing myself, throwing myself over the edge of the cliff to dash against the train tracks below.
At that time I felt I had no reason to live anymore, I wasn’t living. I have no Idea why I didn’t jump, I had decided to. And I am sure I would have but from one moment to the next my whole perception changed, and I wandered on.

Chris McQueeney  3/15/12   4:32 PM

This has been submitted to Where they have asked to have the holes filled in behind the poetry. Please feel free to check out what the other poets have offered.


Indigo said...

Amazing story Chris. The prose alone had a surreal fright to it, then I read the story behind the words...

I have those moments, I question why am I still here, so many times it could of gone either way. I'm glad you didn't jump. The world hasn't read enough of your words yet. (Hugs)Indigo

Brian Miller said...

i am glad that you did not man. the repetition works well in your poem man...and as to why you didnt i am sure there was reason, nothing is random...i am sure your story gives hope to some that read it....

Marbles in My Pocket said...

Great poem, and a familiar story. I've been to that edge. Not the exact place or time--a different story--but all the same in so many ways. Excellent writing; both poem and story; life is full of both, and I believe we have to share them--and it.

Dave King said...

My thoughts were the same as Indigo's reading this. It is indeed a totally amazing story and brilliantly told, but he human interest, the horror of realising what you went through outweighs all else. May you never have to face such again. Every blessing to you for the future.

Susie Clevenger said...

We are blessed you didn't jump that day..I understand the feelings that got you there. I had them and I did attempt to take my life. Thankfully my husband saved me.

Charles Miller said...

This poem and the story behind it, the context, bring to life each other. They are symbiotic in a way that makes each deeper and richer for their association. I must say that after reading the narrative of how the poem came to be allowed me to see more deeply into it.

Your personal story is riveting. Though I have lived on the street for a while as well, fortunately I was doing drugs at that time to the point where I felt paranoid in this way. I have felt paranoid but that was different from what you describe here. I also had some tenuous attachments with friends so I was not without shelter the way that you describe except for the time when I was with the carnival. I never did reach the breaking point that you describe. My despair was expressed in other ways, perhaps as destructive but not leading to thoughts of self-extinction. I hope all is going better now with you.

Andy said...

I'm glad you did not take that fatal step. Compelling story.
Appreciate your honesty in sharing. Hope things look a little brighter for you. Wishing you well, my friend.

The Painting And The Poet

She Writes Here Now said...

First of all, outside of this story--is it real or fiction?--you taught me two new words :). The second, "rictus" is one I am anxious to use immediately. I love what you did with it here. It's perfect for the context in which you placed it.

I love the way you wove the story and poem together. I went back and reread the poem at the end and I always appreciate writing that causes me to want to return to the beginning.

It sounds as if your story is a powerful one. I look forward to following it where it goes. The subject matter is one close to one of the things that moves me most--homelessness.

Claudia said... glad you didn't jump...this brought tears to my eyes...and is this why you call your blog wander without being lost..i love that you're not lost any longer..and that you're wandering on...hey...really thankful...and i mean it

Wander said...

@ all....thank for your comments. I have had an interesting life and am now ready to share it with the world!

Jira said...

I can feel the confusion and sense of being lost in your poem. You did a great job of conveying a feeling of overwhelming detachment for me. There are those moments in life when we're very much in tune to what is happening and everything is clear. And then there are those times when we can't understand anything. In your state of mind at that moment it seems that you were wandering in a detached fashion... perhaps if you had been more clear, you would have jumped or perhaps you would not have been there at all. Sometimes instinct takes over and we wonder how we end up where we are... sometimes it's a good thing.

(ps I can't seem to tell the system to let me subscribe to this comment string) :(