In those happenings by John Sullivan|Poetry | PAROUSIA Magazine

In those happenings:
The immediate intimacy of a night’s traveling companion.
The ease of revealing selves without consequence.
While closely distant in adjoining seats.
And the miles sail by.
And the eyes grudgingly slide shut.

Now escaping the fog of a traveling sleep.
With reality coming at the sudden sound of a needed stop.
For her to go somewhere – for some reason.

Now the same thing that gave you the liberty to speak.
Brings a sense of parting-grief.
And you may say goodbye.
But what to?
Other than the convenience of a passing distraction.
Creating an undesired emotional attachment?

Now the happenings are again en route.
For her and for you.
But without her.
No longer sharing her influence.
Or the common experience of hurtling through gravity.
Against inertia.

Now it’s just you – and the train seems empty.
Though congested with the faces and movement of unknown souls.
The friendly bypass body-collision.
As the car shudders from the friction of the rail.

And there’s that faceher.
The one you know you could know.
If she weren’t going somewhere, for some reason.
And you could delay your movement.

And not just through space.
But from now to then.
Because movement is not a prime reason.
Not a cause, an effect.
Operating under the authority of the time.

It takes the prime motivation/cause
To overcome inertia.
The movement starts somewhere.
At some time, in somebody.
For some reason, to some destination.

So, this apparent chaos of steel fighting friction.
Sheathing flesh.
Hiding souls.
Concealing motives.
Known only to God.
Goes on

Careening through the sublime and indifferent.
Making no distinction for either.
And the place is incidental.
Whether Los Angeles or Las Cruces.

Doesn’t matter.
Just different dirt
Trod by the flesh.
Wrapping souls.
Concealing reasons.

And when you get there.
That great northwestern city.
With feet to the sea
And the heart of a volcano.

The space is alien.
Conspicuous, but unknown.
You run through the rain in a darkened city.
To the homogenized hotel room.

That face again -in the elevator.
Different body – same smile.
The 14th floor is too long and too short.
And she is gone again.

But you saw her before -at work.
Or doing gardening at her home
While you walked by.

And you weren’t looking for those eyes.
Too busy moving ahead in the day.
With too much for the feet to do.
For the eyes, mind, and body to focus.
But now she is here.
Which will become there.
And you can’t stay.

Later she’s downstairs in the dimly-lit lounge.
With a clear drink (probably scotch).
She smiles and waves at you.

You want to move over with your Irish coffee.
But you wave back
Feigning ignorance of her desire for company.
And praying for/hoping against her movement to you.

And there’s no way this moment could ever be repeated.
The drink will never taste this good.
A mild buzz will never seem so other-worldly.

And the fantasy of her voice.
Laughter, intellect, touch.
And the smell of her skin.
Will not be improved upon.
Even equaled.

So your mind projecting.
Stop/go/stop to your feet.
With no conductor.
Save your judgment.
And realized motivation.
Overriding her possible intent.

You could be an hour of conversation.
And 14 floors from:
Exquisite experience.
And deep regret.

Something says:
“Is this what your lives have been leading too?!”
This…what? – It is not real!
Is life this incomprehensible?

To so easily give your flesh.
Holding your souls.
To a flash of instinct.
Masquerading as real.
And now this formerly sublime.
Is reduced to a point of moral scholasticism.
The personal presumption, or a pastoral lecture.
To knit your souls to each other
OrTo push against every desire in your bones
And then away from the fogs of happenings.
Into the land clouds of Puget Sound.
And the feet move from your mind’s propulsion.

The decision of the battle won or lost.
Or even what is victory or defeat.
Is determined not now.
Not later.

But when the mind said to the feet.
“I must escape this stillness.
And go to another place.
Evoke my will to be unknown.
For reinvention.”
And maybe she will be there.

And whether in the lounge, you did – or you didn’t.
The choice was already made.
By the design of the new invention.
And the planned integrity of its form.

Concealing the soul.
Wrapped in the flesh.
Appraised by God.

By not planning.
You plan.
By ignoring motives.
Your internal malevolence is magnified.
And even if you win.
You’re only not losing.

Because of the self.
Tunnel-visioned only to the now.
Lays claim to Heaven and earth.
To possess creation.
It amplifies its authority.

Denying Divine sovereignty.
Over your bodies.
Feigning ignorance.
Ignoring motives.
Accountable to your revised romanticism.

Now you stare at her number.
And wrestle with this conundrum.
Rationalizing your conscience as organic,
Freudian – whatever.
Your superego is twitching.

Wondering why if this happening.
Or what could have happened,
Was apparently so good.
Then why the deep ache here?
And to other things of sweet flavor,
But bitter aftertaste.

And you wish in that benign way:
That God may not see you.
Except when you need Him.
That you could live on earth.
While claiming Heaven.
Astride the great wall of division.

A child of redemption.
And the player in the schemes of this sphere.
In which that face no longer plays as a beautiful adversary.
But as sweet respite.
As if we could go back to Eden.

But on your return, the train wheels squeal sharply.
Then staring over the trestle into the abyss.
My God -IT could happen!
You make the deal.

From the moral clarity rushing in
To confirm your status as mortal
The weakening of your ankles
Gives strength to the direction of your feet
The reinvention of self gives way to the original form

Not a movie star or moral paragon.
But this fallen creature craving Divine favor.
And human approval.
Spiritual comfort.
And physical release.
Balancing the cost.
Living with this on-going cognitive dissonance.

And the train rattles on.
And you with your petty moral plight.
Sit here with the luxury of a personal dilemma.
Even with temporary victories.

Because she will always be there.
Whether you’re married and happy.
Or single and proud.
Divorced and recovering.
Or 80 and lucky.

She’s Bathsheba.
And the Virgin Mary.
Your greatest tithe.
And the secret theft.

Appearing at the supermarket.
The lawyer’s office.
Your job, the PTA meetings
The gym, the church.
And always…in your mind.

Whether you ignore this or not.
Whether she is a person or a fantasy.
Or you become that to someone else.
Whether you ascend to greatness.
Or descend to depravity.

“Flesh is flesh”.
And from your animated dust.
To those resting in tombs.
Formerly laying claim to heaven.
And pronouncing judgment on the earth.

If you are 80 and lucky.
You still mark your time by a clock.
Your life as the past.
And the future as a possibility.
Wondering what this deep ache might be.

Ignoring abundant grace.
Considering it luck.
Pacing your hardwood floor.
Looking into the mirror for your former youth.
Lamenting its loss.

Now she stares back.
Un-possess-able and never repeatable.
And after all of your restlessness.
Your re-inventions.
Your travels.
You see her as a regular companion.

In your victories – and defeats.
Joyous claims to heaven.
And curses to its creation.
A child of grace.
A Victim of the fall.

To rest only when.
the feet can ignore the mind.
Because it sleeps.
Leaving only the soul.
Transcending its flesh.
Breaching eternity.
Appraised by God.


John Sullivan lives in Phoenix Arizona. He holds a Masters Degree in Mass Communications and Bachelors Degree in Political Science -both from Arizona State University. He has worked as a freelance writer and academic advisor for an online university.


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