Too often and like too many others I have
suffered silently choked by your words your callous stares,
Your ‘cheer up cheer ups’ your verdicts of self indulgence
Your condemnations of angst
But no more, not for him,
For the man who made me laugh,
Made me smile,
I will not stay silent for Peter Pan.
Oh captain, my captain,
I’ll say it plainly.
Robin Williams fought every day and today he lost. There is no comfort for him, no afterlife, just robbed time, just broken hearts, today the devils win. The shadows that asphyxiated him, the black that paid no heed to success, fortune, or fame. The invisible illness, the change within his mind. They took my hero and strung a noose around his head, they dragged him, beaten and bloody to the stocks and placed the rope around his neck and gave him no chance to speak, no dignity, no solace, they only promised that life was worse than nothing, and nothing is what they offered.
So many of us will not look into that abyss, will not dare allow it to rise and up fill us, and chill us, and gape at our mortality, our fragile happiness, that is why you call us weak, self-indulgent, liars and losers because the alternative is horror. Yes I will bend and buckle and break, I will kneel my head, avert my eyes, hold my stuttering tongue, will allow the heat to suffuse my face and your words to echo on my bed, and the tears to leak from my face, I will let you tell me I am not enough, but I will not let you tell that
To Robin Williams.
My first Peter Pan, you cocked that mobile phone before I knew what lawyers were. Stood bewildered among children, you were like the adults who crushed me till, you flew, you fucking CROWED, saw bright balls of goo where no food was threw it around never in my life have I seen a meal that looked as tasty as that.
You remembered how to fly again, bangarang my friend. The pan arises, the hook sinks. I saw hook at least ten times and love it still.
So you look Peter Pan in the eye and tell him he isn’t ill.
I never had a friend like him. Never had anyone who could be there all the time, who could take it. Who could stay the night, it was too much, day after day when I didn’t recover, hour after hour whilst I still cried. He never had a friend like me.
They taught him between jabs, between trips to the bar, between white lines and whilst he cried the demons taught him what matters, that people lie, that old men think they know what’s important, what life is made of; money, exams, rules and regulations, what to wear and say and do and when lest you become different. Robin took all that darkness and within it he found hope. Maybe he couldn’t be happy himself but he’d be damned if he did not try to make you laugh instead.
So when Robin whispered the dead men’s words and said, Carpe Diem, he knew you had to seize the day because those days when you can, they won’t come all that often, and when they do when you beat back those snarling fucking demons you gotta leap up, gotta make them all laugh, and all those lines you wrote in tears you’ll unleash them on the rest. The despair in their eyes inside their heads, the depressed we can see them, can smell the enemy on you, and Robin fought like Peter Pan, his sword, his sword was laughter, he was a knight, a bright white ball of happiness man that man burned away your misery because he knew, he knew, how bad those days could get.
Oh captain, my captain,
I will not say rest In peace because you did not die at peace, you were killed, you were murdered and me and mine will not rest either. Will not pretend we did not lose a brother in arms, a friend, will not bow our heads in shame, will raise our fists, not our glasses, will do the best we can; we’ll make ’em laugh, we’ll make ’em sing, we’ll dance our dances, write our plays, we’ll swing with the best of them, we’ll take it on the chin and get back up, one more time, one more time, again and again Robin. I promise you I’ll write a bit harder, I’ll try a bit harder, I’ll get up one more time more because I cannot let the demons know they’ve won. They don’t get to win, not anymore.
The father on screen. You made Will Hunting love. Made him feel human, because despair and loneliness can make one kind, makes one brave, makes one bold enough to stand and speak and laugh and joke because those that live in darkness, know the value of the light and the secret to create it. You said it’s not your fault till I believed because it isn’t our faults dear friends. We lost one of the best today. So I will not say:
Raise a glass,
Rest in peace,
I will not claim
It is now easy,
Bow your heads,
Mourn and walk away.
That is not our way. It never has been. We do not move on. We do not forget. And maybe we will never be whole, never be healed, never know peace and too many of us will die too early in this war we fight, we fight every day so to all the ignorant, selfish rest, to all the others too afraid to face someone else’s suffering, that do not accept what this is like, that do not know how daily despair tastes, to them I say laugh on, laugh on, laugh at our jokes that is what we do, but to you my brothers and sisters, captains and comrades, you know who you are, you that forget you are legion, today or tomorrow or right now you are surrounded but to you I say in my hero’s name:
Fight on, fight on, fight a bit harder for him.
The demons do not get to win.
Show them what we are made of. Put on your red noses. Throw on the clown shoes. Hell forged, battle born, our smiles are scimitars, our bright eyes shields. Sing your soul out. Cut out pieces of you. Fling your pain upon the canvas, take the shadows and make balloon animals out of them. Dance to wake the light, burn brighter, to make up for the star we’ve lost today. Fight on, fight on, for the fallen, the fallen, for our
Captain, our captain,
Do not let him die in vain.
Today I look back at that poem I posted before and already I’m starting to hate it. All the things that aren’t perfect, the rhythm, the rhyme, word choice. Et cetera et cetera.
It’s a common thing, I know so many of you have the same doubts, maybe not about your writing, but of all the things you wish you were better at.
There is this unhappy thing I wrote, a long time ago when I was incredibly depressed. It is all I can do sometimes- write, when I have these black moods during which there seems no point at all. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am, it’s the only way I know how to fight back. I ask the question: What happens next? And then I answer it.
And I realize that might not make any sense.
You see sometimes there is a mountain in my head. A massive, cold mountain, with blizzards and comfortable caves and a moaning wind that will not cease. Sometimes it is a dragon who I know well, and all I have is a rusty sword and a wooden shield. Sometimes it is a place, sometimes a person. All I know is I am terrified that I might not make it there. Or that when I do I will fail.
I do not usually show people the words I write about that thing. After all the words are so far from perfect, and what if it is embarrassing? But that is not the point. The point is to climb It.
Sometimes It is a mountain.
Sometimes It is A Tower
A man dreams of a tower made of steel and glass, filled with the kind of shiny windows that reflect the world around it like some strange mirror.
A penetrating edifice, warping reality inside of it, till the clouds themselves dance slowly across it’s titan form. The tower is so smooth, the tower is so new, so modern, the tower is human, not natural at all. It stands at the top of an impossibly tall mountain, and wind and blizzard whip at it’s babel-like form for eons and eons, and still it stands, this office building, this monument to human progress. The climber makes it to the peak of the mountain, only to find this smooth, steel tower, revealing his reflection- what a weathered climber he is, how small, how incredibly tiny, in front of this vast challenge.
Impossible to climb.
No handholds. No help. What is at the top?
He did not come so far, leave so much behind, and hold on for so long just to sit in it’s shadow.
So he grabs hold of smooth glass, and presses his legs against the sides of the steel bars, and slowly, so slowly, he pulls himself upwards. It takes him almost an hour to make it a few meters, he keeps sliding down. He continues, waiting for a night that never comes- there is no more sleeping at the top of the mountain. Each time he see’s his own cheeks puff, his own muscles strain, reflected by those glass windows. Each time he falls.
Lying in the snow, he redoubts his efforts. With cunning learnt from years of climbing he finds the tiniest handholds, the secret imperfections, and he makes it higher, and higher, leaving the summit behind. As he climbs he see’s into the windows, now transparent. What he see’s lashes at his heart far more than the blizzards he encountered below. Scenes from his life, friends long gone, now inside and warm, with families, with love, with success and security, these scenes right in front of him remind him of what he cannot have, what he does not have. He screams, pure agony, pure animalistic pain, and collapses back down to the ground. Has it not been enough? Is it not enough to contend with shadows? Is it not enough to have fought his own reflection every day, to strain and rise with no one to watch or care. Now he must also be taunted by the happiness of others, over and over again, he must feel his solitude.
The climber collapses on the ground. Snow begins to fall. Coating his body. He wonders at all the white piles around him. He wonders at all the others that despite it all made it this far, only to be forgotten in death, only to lie buried in snow, white piles for others to stumble over, reminders and warnings for the foolish. Then the climber remembers. He is not foolish. He gets up. He is many things. He thinks himself weak, and he puts one hand on a hold. He thinks himself broken, as he jams one cold foot against a bar. He thinks himself different and cursed and unable to be like all the others, as he lifts himself above the snow. But he is not done. Not yet.
The climber uses his fingers to smash holes in these windows to other people’s dreams and his own bad memories, small fractures to allow for grip, which cut into his palms, till the blood flows like tiny streams down the side of the titanic tower. Upwards he goes, and upwards. Here there are no caves to rest in, no checkpoints to mark his progress. Here he either climbs or falls, and the climb is so far, and so long, and no one else cares.
He peers into a higher window, one he hasn’t seen before, and what he see’s cuts him far deeper than the cold he usually contends with. The climber’s hands fail him, and he plummets again to the ground.
This is it. This is the end. He lands with enough force to break. And break he does. Shattered on the peak of this mountain he thought would lead him to peace. His body useless. As are his dreams. A thousands jagged pieces, each a reflection of a battle lost- a desperate shard taken as a lesson, heaped on a pile he called hope, telling himself that all the suffering was worth something, anything, that the pile would mean peace, that if he could just put all the pain together it would amount to something beautiful and it would all have been worth it. Now he lies, broken, and slowly bleeds.
A distant cry travels up the mountain.
The climber turns his head. It’s a cry of pain. A cry of anguish. He knows it well. He has emitted the same noise from his own mouth far too often. Someone else is in pain. The body wishes to die. The climber will not allow it. He remembers the jagged lessons, the way he put them together into something resembling a dream. He has trained himself to piece together hope, thus he shall piece together his body. The cry is that of another. He is not alone. Others suffer. He has not met them, but he knows them. He looks at the rope he used on the mountain, and promises himself one last thing. The rope is not useful, not on the tower, not here at the end.
But if he could bring it to the top and throw it down, then his brothers and sisters could use it, to help themselves. The climber slowly, so slowly, gets back up. His arms are not as strong, having been shattered in the fall. He carefully winds the rope around himself, his useless arms flapping in the wind.
He looks up at this vertical behemoth, this shining example of everything good and warm that he cannot be a part of. He considers smashing through the window, but he knows, that was never his way. That was denied to him at the outset. Some are brave, they climb because they dream of peaks, because they are the trailblazers, the pioneers who will not settle. Some climb because they need more, and more, and more, until death they are driven, always to seek more, and they are the ones that drive the race forward, these ambitious leaders. Some set their sights so high, and do not turn away, and work, with others, towards greatness. The climber is none of these people. He is a coward.
Because some are being hunted. They are chased, forever, wherever, by dark demons for reasons unknown. They learn, from an early age, to run. To run, and run, and never look back. Sometimes they are cornered, and forced to fight, sometimes they lose, and always, always they carry the wounds of these battles.
The climber has run all his life. He has trained for this. And right now there is only one thing left inside of him. Something more than hope. Now he knows that there are others like him. That they are crying for help, as he has done before- that they wish they had backup, that they are alone, so terribly alone. He hears them below, shouting “Where are you?” And he has one thing left to say.
He shoulders his rope. He must secure it to something high.
He runs towards that vertical tower. His footsteps stop sinking into the snow. He runs and runs, till he reaches the base of that steel tower.
His feet leave the ground, as he runs up it. One step, two, three, thirty. He does not stop, running against the gravity of his darkstar, defying physics, straight up he runs, his eyes fixed on the top, his arms trailing uselessly. His mortal heart beats, a drum sounding like a call to arms, all he can hear are the drums. Step after step, so fast he doesn’t have time to fall. Past old friends, past old memories, past lost loves, past easier choices, past life, past fear, past it all, upwards and upwards, he is almost three quarters of the way there….when he see’s her.
She’s happy now. She’s married. She has children and they are all smiling. Everyone is smiling.
He falls. Plummets down to earth.
He thinks he hears laughter. It’s the tower. The tower is laughing. It has finally won. Don’t you know? It asks, don’t you know how many of you fools I shake off everyday? Count the deaths. Count the ones that do not make it. You are another mistake, and I am ridding you from my perfect world.
The voice gets quieter, the farther from the top he falls. The ground approaches. The climber tried. He was not strong enough. He was not fast enough. That is the way of the world. We do not all win. As he comes near to the ground he thinks he hears other voices, those from far below.
Help. Please. Help me. Where are you?
The climbers thrusts his broken arms to either side, and learns one last lesson.
His broken arms, shaped by pain- he flaps them, harder, faster, till the ground itself is held at bay. He aims himself at the peak of the tower. He say’s “I’m coming.”
Looking up, at the enemy so far above. “I’m coming for you.”
He’s trained for this his entire life.