These empty streets

i drove to my father’s house
in Massachusetts.
a group of us made a large
dump run for my step-mother.
we even pulled the old pool table
out from the basement.
i held onto one end as a neighbor
cut it in half so we could
fit it into the trailer
i felt a bit sad then

after everyone left
i stayed with my step-mother
and listened to some of
my father’s music
he was damn good
but gone now

i walked into each room,
a house i lived in
as a small child,
and walked around the yard.
so much had changed
but everything was the same

eventually i loaded my truck and
drove home on streets filled with
traffic, but i only saw blank and
empty faces, gawking and waving
unhappily at slow drivers

i wonder if they know they’re alive

-M. Taggart

poem – and it’s just fine

this empty feeling
greets me daily

it’s that simple

i don’t care to write
to go for my drives
to talk

although i do try
it feels fake

people text me
and call
sometimes i answer

i don’t feel sad
just empty

maybe this is just the
new me

and i grin because
no way in hell

I cleaned and oiled
one of your old
rifles yesterday
I wasn’t sure if it
would explode
I closed my eyes
and pulled the trigger
Passion filled my lungs
and my heart
You did that for me
Dad
And your rifle is
just fine

-M. Taggart

Our Self Embrace

You and I too, dream so well during the day
We can leave our eyes open-

It is noon. Inside a modest home stands a man. He is alone.
The man stands, or paces, or runs from his house.
It is said the man tried to explain to someone his thoughts

-There is a door directly in front us, the one with the rusted hinges-
The door knob is no longer in place, but hanging, not breathing.
Our dreams push forward and we follow them-
We stand in place. We do not see the door. The future has moved the door.
The walls have been crumbling for years. The tape under the paint on the sheet-
rock are no longer under paint at all. Instead the tape conquered the paint and took
position to watch the man stand and pace and run.

You and I too, dream so well-
I have been there. You wouldn’t understand.
The man inside the house spoke out loud.
Or possibly he had said that to someone.

The man turned from the broken door. He faced the crumbling wall, ‘Ready old friend?
I have lived, I have died, I have spoken to God and Jesus. Jesus was beautiful.
You wouldn’t understand.
Listen, this world is not our own. I have eaten from The Grapes of Wrath of which
Steinbeck wrote.
The heads will say I was not there. I was. I am now again.
And when alone, standing with society at my shoulders, I spit the seeds out-
Watch the cement grow new growth. Watch as the green grass feeds my truth-
A mouth twists full of anger- We’ve seen this mouth too many times-
Now, I stand near this wall and I watch time. Time which does not exist.
Though I do not show you, I have been everything. Death speaks to me through you-

As you stand now, before me-
And you aren’t the only ghost
Did you know I can..’

The walls became excited. Knowing the man would now pace.
And he did. He paced for hours. Sweat ran from his middle-back down.
The walls of the house were filled with holes. Not from the man.
Stains and foul smells filled the hallway. The rug, wasted, soiled.
A door at the end of the hallway hadn’t been opened in years.
Even the walls didn’t know what was in the room. Without the door opening-
The man paused, felt his hair turning fully gray and thinning, noted how fine it was
and continued-
‘Ah! I have ripped my soul from my beating chest, from the depths of my existence-
Studying my torture in my hands-
We truly know one another.’

The man ran from his house. The crumbling walls, tape, and even the paint, all saw.
They applauded his departure – not due to departures sake,
He’d now spit seeds

It was said the man ran from his house.

You think I stand looking at walls-
You and I too, dream so well during the day

-M. Taggart

***

Originally published on SpillWords Press NYC September 22, 2018.
https://spillwords.com/our-self-embrace/

Dedicated to my father. I stepped inside my father’s house for the first time in over 15 years yesterday. My father passed away on October 14, 2020.

poem / short story

My father passed on October 14, 2020.
I’ve put off writing. Something he himself
loved. My parents were divorced when I was two.
My earliest memories are not good.
I remember the phone call my brother and
I received, which stands as the pivotal
hardship to hamper my father’s talents to the
point of failure. Not that his creativity was a failure.
Rather that his determination to break through
dimmed. I may have been twelve, or so, years old.
My mother answered. She called for Chris and then
held the cordless phone toward us and said, “It’s for you.
It’s your Dad.” Chris looked at me and said, “Uncle Darrell
is dead.” Our uncle had lived with my father and his wife
for roughly 3-years. My father asked him to move out.
Lack of productivity concerning finding
a job and motivation to live well. My father gave his love,
and his home, to his brother long enough, he believed, and
it was time. A few months later Uncle Darrel hung himself
outside a three story building in position for morning traffic.
My father told us that he felt his brother’s soul go through him.
My father, very slowly, stopped trying. His talent landed him
on stage playing guitar with Aerosmith as a very young man.
It’s possible everything seemed so very easy to him with his gifts.
But it wasn’t easy. He had children. Hardship after hardship found
him and somehow I became published multiple times while my
father had not. Yet, he was the master story teller. I can’t tell
stories. I haven’t the ability. But when I sit to write it’s there.
I shut the writing off on purpose. To read is to think and to write
is to feel. Feeling is an easy thing. And while I don’t need permission
to live my life, I feel too much lately to write. Anyway, that’s what I
tell myself as I drink too much and step forward every day toward
a success I never saw coming as I call upon my father more now
than ever.

-M. Taggart

Love you, Dad.

May it be

My Dad told us we’d be different. That we’re Scottish and that we’d be barrel chested. I didn’t know what that meant. He told us that we’d be smart and not always understood. He told us lots of things that were hard to believe. He positioned us with confidence. His own creativity was taken for granted and I believe he wanted my brother and I to not let anyone take from us what might be ours in the space of creativity. I’d like to believe that we can all celebrate our differences including our talents. I’d like to believe it’s possible. I’m proud of you, Dad. You had the mind to be yourself. I’ll continue to do the same.

***
That is the exact post I placed on my personal FB page as a partial goodbye to my father. I share it here because I feel a sense of respect and friendship with many of you whom I’ve connected with over the last number of years. I know some of you care, or for that, thank you. And while for a time, I didn’t see my father as a child, and when I did it was once a week on Sunday, he still made an impact on my life. I loved him and still do. May it be that I see him often in his perfect rest. Love you, Dad.

It was my father who helped to give permission to believe in writing.

I prefer being transparent. I want people to know what’s going on.

Matt

Poem –

No one can find this location but myself.
It’s really not much to see. A cluttering of
leaves and trees. However, this image
knows me intimately. I stood in the woods,
alone and hurt and leveled my sight upward;
capturing my state of mind in a single image.
I see a number of memories in this photograph.
I feel an upcoming loss, with the practicality of
hope that’s been arriving in waves and leaving
me flat. A month long roller coaster teasing finality
as though it wishes to torture not only the host,
but all attached. Life is funny and hard like that.
I can handle the transitions while I continue to
pray for his freedom from pain; a curse which
claimed him from childhood on, as though an
unseen hood floated along with the best of his
talents only to dampen each achievement with
clutter. We’ll see what’s to come as ‘this’ will
never happen again, not even the leaves.

-M. Taggart