In the End

Part I

The Earth has died, but we are still here. Living.

What has been left to us is dust. Clouds of it erasing the distance and swallowing horizons whole. We have covered the windows and taped all the seams, yet the smallest of particles still find their way in. Piling in the corners and ensnaring bits on our bare feet.

The Sun has become more powerful. There is no longer a layer to protect us from it’s blinding rays, the power of it’s ultraviolet light altering everything in it’s wake. Within the Day the rays stretch over the land, piercing anything unblemished; radiation consuming the ground. Not even the dust can save you.

We have become accustomed to the Night. Only then is it safe to wonder beyond a door, be it armed with a filter mask, layers of leather upon your skin, and a heavy knife. Never forget your knife.

The oceans are incubators, filled with the toxic aroma of death. The shorelines stretch deep into the land, extending miles beyond their said origins. Storms rage upon them for weeks at times, creating acid rains and winds that pulverize any remains among the abandoned cities.

Humanity once cared for one another. But that care has been replaced with fear. This fear is not like what our grandparents knew. It is ugly and traced with anger, confusion, and blame. No one wants to live in this world, but no one wants to die in it either. Yet we are the ones who made it this way.

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In the Rain

This patter of rain
could lull me to sleep.
A warm dog at my feet
and the softness of a lantern light.
The night cooling with each drop.
I wish it to never stop.

Headache

The way
my head aches
from this medication
is nowhere close
to sedation.

The vessels
are swelling
in my brain.
Vibrating and undulating,
tightening into a tensile pain.

I never had headaches before.
The one or few a year
just a price for drinking
a bit more.
But now it happens
at least twice a day.
I just don’t think
I can bear any more.

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS – The Raconteurs

Eleven years. Eleven years of waiting. I know you’re a busy guy, Jack White, but I (and thousands of others) have waited so long. And then like the sun bursting through an endless grey sky – you and Benson and Lawrence and Keeler have delivered. And just like the first two The Raconteurs albums – it’s fucking awesome.

Help Us Stranger is the junior album from The Raconteurs and hot off the June press this year. And while I genuinely love every song on it (I’m obsessed with this band, truly), I decided on doing a little write up on “Thoughts and Prayers” – a title that carries some irony as a modern throwaway phrase as Jack White put.

Starting off with a very quiet and short piano bit that is then answered by a guitar, “Thoughts and Prayers” is one of the slower tracks on the album but carries more weight than most. Guitars continue to echo, creating a layering effect that is both eerie and calming. A deep synthesized bass joins in shortly, putting a solid base against the moving strings.

The lyrics then branch into some thoughts on the grim reaper without time, a sunless sun, a sleepless man who doesn’t own a clock, and the absence of friends. The first three verses finish with a useless prayer of hoping for another way to feel OK – but no action to resolve it.

A brief interlude of the melody with a new introduction of a screeching, down spiral of a mandolin and violin (via the Richie Sisters) follows as the next verses play out. Again we reach into someone’s thoughts on how people live, how to grow money, and writing letters. The latter referencing Sullivan Ballou who used to pen eloquent letters to his wife, one being only two weeks before the battle of Bull Run in 1861 – in which he was killed. In 1862, his wife would have received the letter and been in mourning (a good reason to be blue).

The lyrics then seem to get a little more desperate, being our protagonist thinks himself a cast away, led astray, and very much alone. Is there even any worth in making it to the end if you are the only one left?

Then the song dips into a very frantic and wild build with the mandolin and violin taking front and center. The trills and runs are building force pushing the song to its end.

The last verse is loud and present, reminiscing in a sense of what was and the gray that now is. Again, a prayer is said for a better way – asking God (notably a her) for assurance that there are reasons why it is this way. The song ends quietly on those last words, dropping to nothing.

So many meanings can be pulled from this one. For me there are two. The first is an apocalyptic scenario where the protagonist is the only surviving person on Earth. Everything (and everybody) has been destroyed by some unknown force and he is trying to find a positive outlook on this grim world that he must get through alone.

The second is the tinging of a person’s outlook on life, perhaps after a catastrophic and senseless event. They are counting the sad things in life, wallowing in the gray. They see the future as bleak and even death doesn’t seem to matter. It seems impossible to get back to even a sliver of happiness. Thoughts and prayers are just as useless, and they don’t change anything.

No matter how this song speaks to you, I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. Please take a listen of this charged tune via whatever your music provider may be. Don’t forget to check out the full lyrics below.
Enjoy!
________________________________________________________________________________
“Thoughts and Prayers” by The Raconteurs

How can the grim reaper creep
If he really doesn’t have the time?
And how long would you sleep
If the sun decided not to shine?

There’s a man who lives up the block
He doesn’t even own a clock
Sometimes he stays awake for days
He’s doing it his own way

I used to give my friends a call
Now there’s no one left at all
I think my father used to say
There’s got to be a different way
To make myself feel OK
Or maybe that’s just how he used to pray

And who cares how people live
If living’s all they got?
And who knows how money grows?
Drop a nickel in the pot

I wrote a letter down to you
Like I’m Sullivan Ballou
It’s a recipe for blue
Like it’s 1862

Maybe I’m just a cast away
Or a poor boy led astray
There’s no one left here to betray
The only child of the earth
Nobody left here to give birth
It’s hard to tell what that’s worth

I used to look up at the sky
Up at the beautiful blue sky
But now the earth has turned to gray
There’s got to be a better way
To talk to God and hear her say
There are reasons why it is this way

Exude

I came to the forest
to cry out my soul,
to let go of the emotions
that riddled me
and kept me from whole.

And the Earth,
like a sponge,
so willingly took it in.
Embracing the darkness and grey,
filtering again and again.

Unforeseeable

The things I can’t control
can haunt me beyond belief.
There was nothing I could do.
Utterly useless.
A dead weight.
But to watch as if on agonizing repeat.
There will be no stress release.
Wondering over and over,
cycling the why,
stretching the what ifs,
questioning the should haves,
losing to the I’s and me’s.
A complete self mutiny.

Just This Morning

I read the sentence three times. Again. Again. Again.

Life-altering injuries.

The words echoed in my head. I desperately sought to form them into something tangible. Something real. But right now they were just words on a paper. What did they mean? How much of life is altered?

My life?

Hers?

I sat the papers down and adjusted my glasses. Comforting was never the right word to describe a hospital waiting room. Stiff purple and black chairs with a grey carpet spotted with small yellow flowers. Sunflowers maybe? The walls were painted a dull white, littered with posters about heart disease and the latest wonder medications. And then one lonely window at the end. The shimmer of leaves moving just at it’s edge.

The soft clicking and murmurs from the nurses station caught my attention. I glance over and notice the surgeon bent over the desk, diligently directing a young woman about something. Every so often the woman quickly looks back at me as he talks. Her eyes feel like two black darts. I move in my seat, feeling the anxiety build once more.

The surgeon had been speaking to me a few minutes before. None of his speech had yet to register as he handed me the papers. My mind kept getting stuck on this morning. When we had both been at home, enjoying breakfast on the deck. The sun glinted on her hair and she was laughing.

What bothered me was I couldn’t remember why she was laughing. Was is something I said? Or her? She was so beautiful when she smiled.

But that moment rolled away as she left to run an errand.

Just going to the store, she said. She was going to plant some peonies today. They were just what they needed to finish the garden we had built up in the past year.

I have yet to see the car. Either of them. I now only what the sheriff told me. Head-on. Her car took the brunt of it. Ambulance to St. Josephs on 12th. They suspect alcohol was involved. The other driver had two priors.

I was screaming when I got to the hospital, at no one in particular. I just wanted to find her. Just the thought of her on a lying on a steel table, under the lights, her body relenting to the damage – it tore at me until my insides were on fire.

They have to let me see her.

I can’t wait.

She needs me.

I pleaded. I yelled. I cried.

I was wrenched with agony. They had seen it all before, I knew, but when you are the one breaking down, it’s hard to control any of it.

She has sustained life-altering injuries.

I shook my head, holding back the pain that once again welled in my chest. More of the surgeons words were coming through. The paper was beginning to make sense.

Shattered.

I held onto that one. Because the sum of this day felt wholly shattered. In seconds, my life was exchanged for another. And my wive’s stolen.

I winced and bent over, gasping for air as I began loudly sobbing once more. A flicker of movement on the edge, as the nursed dashed out to me. Gently, she moved her hand in a circle on my back.

“It’s going to be alright. She’s recovering now. Won’t be more than an hour before you can go back to her. I swear it,” she said.

I turned my head up, my eyes swollen and face aching from the tension. “She just wanted to plant some flowers. And now…n–n–now…n-n…” I stuttered and then stopped, unable to finish.

“It’s alright,” she repeated, “get it all out.”

I took a deep breath, feeling an emptiness rise within me. “And now she’ll never see them. Any of them.”