A bright side to a dark mind

You give too much of yourself
I put my heart on a shelf
You try to pry into my lies
I misdirect with covert spies
You ask for me to be real
I mask the way I feel
You claim no hidden agenda
I have contracted love’s influenza
You say I am a difficult man
I suggest you have a backup plan
You want me to talk more
I want to run for the door
You actually give a shit
I need to take another hit
You say you cannot do this again
I turn inward and allow my demons to win

I thought the time was right
A bright side
Eagerly searching
A dark mind


Highway Gusts

Hold on tight
Keep the hands at 10 and 2
I’ve heard this song before
Progressive, instrumental metal
That truck driver is an asshole
Speed up, slow down, stagnate
Calibrate, concentrate, compensate
How long has that deer carcass been there?
Exit 27 seems so far
When gusts vibrate my small car

Door No. 8

Don’t do it brother! WAIT!!!

So stubborn…
He pivots quickly and turns
Running blindly through poisonous fern

She went this way sister!

Too dark…too late…
She knows what to expect
What happens to him next
The echoes of footsteps
Dead carcasses on doorsteps
The sound of the banshee’s wails
A hex imparted by a wretch

I can’t see you brother!

He’s climbed the steps
Inching closer to the blood-red gate
The cries of mother
Having sealed his fate

The World is a Scary Place

I fear for you my boy
You’re not like the others
Do you know who I am?
Are you mindful?
My words are unlikely to resonate
Your development stagnates
So called experts label
Autism, Level 2, unable
To recognize human emotions
To understand kindness and devotion
I wonder if my sins
Have swept up with the wind
Strong gusts have brought us
To the shore of Autumn’s end

Solitary Senses

A new town
Without a friend in sight
A new home
Without a lamp to light
A new phone
Without a text to write

An old store
With rusty hinges on the door
An old rug
With aging hardwood floors
An old mirror
With vanity I adore

A new friend
Without a pot to piss in
A new car
Without the missing VIN
A new narrative
Without the proper pen

An old gun
With engravings degraded
An old lover
With feelings jaded
An old memory
With time has faded

Indian Springs

We sit on metal stools
Surrounded by nameless fools
Sipping aromatic libations
Discussing the big picture
Of God, of man, of purpose
Two Christians and an Agnostic
Delving into scripture

I don’t wish to fear God
I want to be inspired by him
We share personal stories
Perspective makes us cringe
We order another on a whim

What makes you happy?
Money is immaterial
In the grand scheme of things
Family, friends, and spiritual affiliation
Plays harmonious and soulful strings

Tales of darkness ties
The bonds of human suffering
Do you believe in nothing?
There are no lies
When honest men cry

The Stigma of Terminating my Paternal Rights

Originally posted to The Good Men Project

The date was November 4, 2014. It was an Election Day Tuesday. I groggily maneuvered my legs onto the hardwood floor and meandered towards the bathroom to get ready for work. My two-month-old son and my girlfriend were in the other bedroom. We had been sleeping in separate rooms since the end of her first trimester. The tension between us was palpable. My girlfriend’s mother had been staying with us to help with the baby and with her daughter’s transition back to work.

I entered the bedroom to check on my son and girlfriend. I peeked into the bassinet and saw a big smile. He was very active; his arms and legs would flail wide in the morning. I glanced toward my girlfriend who was curled up on the bed in the fetal position. She looked pale and exhausted. I asked if she was feeling well and she said that she was having pelvic pain and that she was going to stay home. I kissed her on the cheek and asked if I could do anything. She replied that she needed to rest. I nodded in empathy and went back to the bassinet to pick up my son and hold him for a few minutes before heading to work.

My girlfriend abruptly sprung up from the bed to her feet when I picked him up and said that I wasn’t supporting his head properly. Her mother, alerted by her daughter’s vocal distress, rushed into the bedroom from the kitchen and flanked my back left. I turned toward my girlfriend, showing my middle and index finger firmly supporting the center of my son’s head. She started to ease, claiming that she did not see my fingers supporting him from her angle. Her mother returned to the kitchen. I said goodbye to my girlfriend, grabbed my lunch, and went to work.

I returned home at 3:47 pm to find an empty driveway and an empty home. I received legal papers from a Sheriff’s Deputy a short time later and a forwarded text from my Aunt indicating that my girlfriend had taken our son and had left the state. She was heading home. We were not married and had no custody arrangement, therefore she was well within the law to cross state lines.

The next year-and-a-half was torment. I filed for child support almost immediately upon confirmation of DNA paternity. I was confident that infidelity wasn’t an issue, but I had to be sure. I spent thousands of dollars on an attorney that was young and inundated with litigation. We had no custody agreement and summoning her back to my son’s birth state was nearly impossible. I was fighting a losing battle in a system designed to destroy the father physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. I was drinking heavily and making bad decision to numb the pain.

I reached an epiphany in the Spring of 2016: I would never see my son unless I moved halfway across the county to be with him. A plan was needed, so I buckled down. I informed my ex vial email that I had made my decision to move out to the Midwest upon securing gainful employment. I didn’t expect her to reply and she didn’t, but I didn’t care. I moved in with my mom to save money. I applied for approximately 110 jobs total and I found the right one that placed me an hour away from my son. I embarked on my journey in December of 2016 and sent my ex another email, informing her that I had relocated to the area and wanted to talk about our son. She responded a week later asking me if I could meet her at a local coffee shop. I agreed.

I was served with legal papers again, with time with a No Contact order. My head drooped in sadness and disappointment. I was tired and I wanted the madness to stop.

Over the next six months, I witnessed profound changes in our lives. We talked about the past because it was the only way we could heal. She told me she left because of my anger and resentment and was afraid I would harm her. For the first time, my ears were receptive as I put things into perspective. I told her I wished events would have unfolded differently, but that I understood her reasoning. I apologized and asked for forgiveness. She said she would try. There was no malice in our voices. I needed Father Time, healing conversations, and an unwavering commitment to my son’s best interest to reach peace.

My son was diagnosed with autism. At first, I was in denial, but after reviewing medical records and spending more time with my son I accepted it. It did not change how I felt about him.

I witnessed how hard my son’s mother worked to give him a good life. She married a man that loves her and my son. He was with her when my son first received his autism diagnosis. They work together as a team to take my son to therapies and appointments. Together they provide a stable and loving home environment that every child desperately needs.

A couple of months ago I requested that my son’s mother meet me at a coffee shop to come up with an agreement. We had previously undergone legal mediation, yet we were both dissatisfied with the tentative agreement. She showed up.

I informed her that I wanted to move forward with adoption, something I new both her and her husband wanted to do since the beginning. I told her that I did not want to drag all of our families through years of court litigation and that I wanted what was in my son’s best interest. It was the hardest decision I have made in my life. The right decisions are oftentimes the hardest ones.

Every Sunday morning I am welcomed into the home of the woman I used to hold in great contempt. I greet her husband and flash my son a smile. We discuss his therapies and how he is surpassing all expectations. We talk about our week and I spend the morning with my son. I help him with counting, sorting, and hand-eye coordination. We read books, play with trains, and play in their backyard. The awkwardness we all experienced in the beginning has nearly subsided.

I acknowledge that once the adoption is finalized that she could prohibit me from seeing my son, but I don’t think it will happen. However, if she does, it is on her to live with. I have made peace with my decision. I also realized that I will not be financially responsible for my son, but I will help out anyway.

Parenting involves sacrifice and terminating rights is mine. My decision required soul searching, perspective, acceptance, healing, and love. We all unfairly judge each other based upon individual perceptions of a situation. I will be judged for my decision and I’m okay with that, but I refrain from judging others as best I can.

We are never fully capable of walking in another person’s shoes.