Thursday, April 8, 2010

beauty's antithesis

something happens in a moment
before you have a chance to think
before you have a chance to figure it out
a suspension of time
a presentiment of the inevitable
it beats you to the finish line…

you’re sitting in your car
you’ve just taken a sip of your espresso
and you tilt your head
cock your arm just a bit
to set down the cup in its holder
the light is still red
and you’re waiting for it to turn green
there’s a grocery list in your bag
a list of things you need
to cook. and wash. and clean.
and the guy in the car in front of you
the first in a row of cars waiting
he tilts his head too
just for the splittest second
so he can talk to the woman beside him
his wife. or his mother.
or his daughter. or his friend.
just a flicker of eye contact
while they’re chatting about
their kids. or her cholesterol.
or her homework. or her new curtains.
and you see the light turn green
and you see him see it too
and you watch his head jerk back slightly
as he releases the brake
and you hear it before you see it
the splash of crunching metal
and you watch as the truck speeds away
leaving a cloud of rubble in its trail
but the car in front of you is still there
though it’s not quite in front of you anymore
it’s kind of tilted at an angle
               if you could see angles
‘cause it’s not really a car anymore
and you see the droplets
deep crimson and shiny
dripping like a random shower
pooling like lonesome rain
a little here and a little there
and you know…

your hand clamps over your mouth
in disbelief
and the tears prick your eyes
in revulsion
and you close them
you close your eyes
without a second thought
because sometimes
you have to close your eyes

when you see people going off like sparkplugs
               you have to close your eyes
when you see minds going mad like carnival lights
              you have to close your eyes
when you see bodies expiring like street lights at dawn
              you have to close your eyes

you deny these realities access
to the sanctuary of your heart
you deny these windows eternity
upon the walls of your psyche
because twenty years from now
they will unfold like a massacre in slow motion
while you’re rinsing an apple at your kitchen sink
or waiting for your tea kettle to whistle

you pull yourself away
and at that very moment
you are alone in this world

but there is a thought that won’t leave you
it clings like a circular saw to raw muscle
who allowed this to happen
this thought
most wickedly
it could've been me
thank god it wasn’t me
and just for that moment
you’re a believer in god
you’re in cahoots with the lord
and you have that retrospective
unshakeable expectation that
you will always be delivered from evil
just until you pass that heap of debris
not without those tears in your eyes
the ones that never quite made it out
and your senses half-shut
‘cause you don’t want
how to say it?
any more stimuli

we are enraptured by beauty
it was the first sacrament
it was the original sin
and this sight…

someone is dead
but that list in your bag is calling
someone is dead
but you still have to cook. and wash. and clean.
someone is dead
and you’d better catch that light
you’d better catch it quick
              while it’s still green


  1. Nevine this is wonderful.... I know that split second time, as i have watched it in another type of... death... god you covered it good...

    love it...

  2. Nevine...this brings up so many emotions, I was the victim of a hit and run, I was in a coma for was many yrs ago, but this piece, the words, the way you describe things, makes me see it from another perspective, the people who saw it happen to me...I never considered them before....

    so well done, beauty out of always my friend you amaze me.

  3. "but that list in your bag is calling"

    Such a harsh reality.

    How do we manage to go on with life after experiencing death?

    Intriguing title, intriguing piece.

  4. Dead strangers don't mean that much, do they?

  5. Experiences like that change a person for sure, whether they want to admit it or not. Those kind of images and feelings that you've capture don't go away easily.

  6. Certain moments in life can easily remind us just how fleeting it all is. We should appreciate every second. Its sad that we don't always, until we realize it is too late.

  7. i've lived this, not in this exact way - but lived it just the same.

    it is real - to be traumatized by the close death and able to lift our lives and move on to the mundane - we have to be able to do this.

    yet, is there some benefit from these brutal violators of our serenity and false security. can we learn to live as if "today was your last day?" really?

  8. Nev- how many split seconds in a day? and in each one a zillion facts altered forever. we are wrong to ever think life mundane and wronger to not be grateful for each moment. So much to think on. love the line about bein in cahoots with God!! hah!

  9. Nevine:

    Thoughts as these were disturbing me the past week. A stranger's death and one in our family is treated so differently. But life is life nevertheless. It could have been me! I can sense so much anger on the power of god here. This anger is contagious at times. But some higher power provides a source of comfort. All I can think is that my time has not yet come. I will also go one day, I know but not in a split second while others think: "It could have been me."

    Joy (in spite of hopelessness) always,

  10. Some Peep artists paint, others shoot photos, others poetically wax their sentimentalities. I know one who plays a violin--grin!

    But, Dear Nevine...YOU bring me to search my "purse" for the grocery list, plan the meal I'll cook, save time for laundry, and dish washing, etc...all the while one I do not know is dying right before my helpless self. You make me be THERE, with your words.

    For the record, I do not own a purse, do not cook--but I DID see a man get run over and killed by a monstrous sweeper on a nearly-deserted city street at 3 AM. (Cincinnati)

    You are superb, woman!

  11. This is a great post Nevine. We have a saying.. something like this "What a moment brings, a whole year cannot bring.." In a split second lives are lost, lives change but life must still go on..
    The problem is one cannot forget those images .. they keep coming back to the witnesses eyes..

  12. When my wife was pregnant with our daughter, more than 30 years ago, we were travelling into town on a Saturday morning. Someone we knew, overtook us on his motorcycle. A few yards ahead of us, his wheel caught in a broken drain cover and he was pitched into a lamppost, head first. Killed instantly. The images have never left us. The feelings were/are just as you describe.

  13. A truly tragic event. This poem is wonderful, yet haunting. And in it, you've not only captured the horror of witnessing such a thing first hand, but you've also captured the way in which it can dramatically change someone's life and how they view themselves. I loved reading this, it is very powerful.

  14. Ouch. This brings back memories I have not dealt with in a long, long time. A long ago accident that just missed me - stopped to help - I've always wondered what happened to those people - I had nightmares for weeks - to this day, I do not enter an intersection without looking both ways - ESPECIALLY right after the light changes.

    It has saved me more than once.

  15. Yes.

    "you pull yourself away
    and at that very moment
    you are alone in this world"

    I really like this moment of awareness cleverly buried in the racing mind of the narration. I think this is the focal point and ultimate meaning of the poem. Not sure if that was your intent. If not, please just let me enjoy its genius in my ignorance.


  16. I have been through such a state. I know we need to close our eyes at such sights. But sometimes they are closed just to thank God. While someone rushes to help the victim others thank God. Is this done? Is this human nature?
    Such images always bother us at every scene we encounter. I don't know what to say, but I won't close my eyes next time I see or hear metal crumble in front of me like the way u have described.
    The line that describes your last para would be "Life Goes On"

    A very powerful piece Nevine.



  17. Nevine, absolutely beautifully caught the feeling of being in your life while another's is completely in loss...well done.

    much love

  18. Sir Thomas – I think we’ve all witnessed different types and levels of this same experience. So it’s easy to relate.

    Steven – I’m so sorry to hear about your hit and run incident, and more sorry about your 2-month coma that resulted. There are things that haunt every one of us, and I can only begin to imagine how this would haunt you every time you are behind the wheel, or walking on the street. And the people who see things like this happen are often traumatized beyond repair, as well. This I do know.

    ConTemplate – Most of reality is not easy at all. And we all experience death before it actually delivers itself to us, we just often don’t think about it in those terms. When we witness death happening to someone else, we come closer to the meaning of our own mortality, and we learn just how it is that death operates.

    Secretia – Wow! That was putting it quite bluntly.

    Gavin – Or they just never ever go away, period.

    Eva – You’re absolutely right. Most of the time we take everything in life for granted, and just when we realize what’s going on, if we ever do, we’re over the hill.

  19. Kim – We do have to be able to do this… it’s our way of coping with the unspeakable. Is there some benefit? I’m hoping that we learn something or the other about death, or about loss, or aloneness. But whether or not we learn to live as if today is it is something I can’t answer. For myself, I don’t think so.

    Rick – Being in cahoots with God is sometimes just how I think about it when I’m put in such a position. I think it’s part of my guilt operating… my guilt at not having been the one hit by the misfortune.

    Susan – You’re absolutely right about the comfort, though I think this comes later, after we’ve had a few moments to think on it all. When we’re in the moment itself, we’re hit with so many stimuli, our first reaction is usually shock, followed by gratitude for having been spared. It’s selfish, I know, but it seems like an honestly expressed human response.

    Steve – And didn’t it stick inside you, Steve? I saw this, what I wrote about, saw it just last week. Everything in this poem is true. It all happened. And the thoughts, every selfish one of them, was real. And I hate myself for some of it, but hey, I can’t stifle my desire to survive. But those images will be with me forever.

    Naturedigital – You said it so well. We can’t shake the memories, because even years later, they come back and push themselves into our heads. And we’re left with those same feelings we had when the event had just happened.

  20. Martin – And I imagine the images will never leave me either. As I was telling Steve, I just witnessed this last week, exactly as I described it. I was on my way to the store to pick up a few things, and in one split second, everything happened, before I even had a chance to realize what was going on. The light turned green, the man in front of me started to go, didn’t look left, and a truck was running a red light at the intersection. I heard it, truly, before my eyes registered what they were seeing. I’m haunted, and I know I will be forever.

    Sam – Thank you. It’s true that sometimes we see things and want to pretend we didn’t see them. But what we see we see and it doesn’t go away. And you’re so right… it does change us forever.

    Lou – And I look both ways, too. The man right in front of me didn’t. And it wasn’t his fault for going when our light was green, but there was an idiot who was running a red light, and his idiocy cost two lives, and trauma for countless of us who had to watch, and I’m sure, to himself. You’re a lucky man, Lou. And I am a lucky woman.

    Gerry – There is no ignorance, here. I absolutely meant it like that. We feel alone when we isolate ourselves from others, though sometimes we do it as a coping mechanism. Still, it always feels as if we’ve delivered ourselves a hell of a lot more pain by doing it. We’re a confusing and confused race.

    Nipun – If you didn’t close your eyes at such a sight, you would almost not be human. It’s normal for us to close our eyes when we see something disturbing. How else to cope with the enormity of it all? And even when we close our eyes, there are other memories that haunt. Thank you for your always sweet comments, Nipun.

    Stacey – Thank you… though it’s an unfortunate reality.

  21. Oh Nevine!
    That's strange how sometimes we can seem quite indifferent to the world's misery, isn't it?

    In fact, if I were to be witness to such thing, i think i would need some time to gather my wits!

    Je t'embrasse très très fort. Have a nice weekend*******

  22. Nevine, you sustain a poem like no one else.

    Somehow two songs come to mind, Butterfly by Wintersleep. Oh, you should listen to it. And The Boy Who Lost an Eye by Steve Bowers. You can Youtube that one. I just recently saw him in concert at a small venue. He looked like a boy himself amongst the three more seasoned players but as it turned out, his timeless wisdom held it all down.


  23. I guess this did not really happen to you..
    but of course it does not have to happen to you...

    It just happens, and then there comes NEvive and writes about it, her OWN way, which happens to be the best way I know...

    I cannot so easily get rid of that type of guilt though..

    Sweet HUG!

  24. Yes, one better go on living, for it has
    been proven in front of our eyes that for
    the grace of God there go I.

    Nevine you are the Mistress of internal
    dialogue. So rich and believable.

  25. I was leaving a Detroit chess tournament years ago when I turned toward the intersection, drawn by the roaring grumble of a giant biker from a local biker gang twisting the throttle of his black and chrome Harley, gunning the engine and staring straight ahead, his eyes masked by mirrored shades. I thought he was the most fearsome sight I had ever seen.

    The light turned green and he launched toward the intersection like Satan breaking free of Hell.

    But an old woman in pink Cadillac didn't notice the light had changed and hardly slowed down as she crashed into him and kept on going.

    I stopped and stared as he and his bike flew through the air toward me. I can't remember if the bike hit the pavement in front of me first if he did, but I heard his back break as he slammed into the pavement and was stunned to see the Harley land upside down just a few feet away, it's motor still rumblin, wheels spinning as though the crash that killed its rider were just an inconvenience.

    The toughest looking man I had ever seen was taken out by an old woman driving a pink Cadillac. That told me something, but I couldn't reason it out as I stood there watching blood leak from the corner of the biker's mouth.

    Your poem brought all that back. Very, very well done.

    And yes, afterward I walked away with my chess board and books to study because I only had another hour before the next round of the tournament began.

  26. yes, it sounds so close to life & real, not just poetic, or from the imagination, alone!
    Great work of Art!

  27. Oh, I loved this,Nevine, how intense your words you used are!!
    You just made me think how things can change in an instant and you describe this so poignantly.
    Betty xx

  28. Cremilde - I've been trying to gather my wits, but it's been a challenge. Somehow, I am most haunted by the images of the entirely demolished car, just scrunched metal, and the blood that began to drip before anyone had a chance to register what was going on. Je te souhaite un bon dimanche, ma belle!

    Erin - Coming from such a seasoned and personal writer as you, I take that compliment most seriously. And I will google both of those songs; I'm not familiar with either one, but now you've got me curious.

    Dulce - The sad thing is that this did happen. I watched it happen last week. Writing about it is just to help me get it off of my chest, and to try and organize some of the thoughts I was having about all of it in the days following. But thank you for your sweet words, Sweetest.

    Cynthia - I agree that we have no choice but to go on living. But we just can't help but be hammered by the memories...

    Rick - When I started to write this piece, I wondered to myself how many people would be able to relate to it. One of the questions I asked myself about it all was "How many people have witnessed such a thing?" Based on the responses I got back, it seems I'm not alone. Of course, we all have different details attached to the accidents we saw, but the heart of the matter is the same. I suppose I feel a little bit better after reading your comment about your having to go study for your chess tournament. I felt like such a cad for my inability to do anything but think to myself that "What's the point of turning around and going home? I need to buy these things. I need them." It was the most elemental thought, the most primordial, in the midst of a present disaster. Thank you for sharing your experience, Rick. I really do appreciate it. Drawing parallels helps one to not feel so alone. Selfish, I know, but what to do?

    Smita - Thank you, dear. Perhaps it is the reality of it all that makes it sound so truthful...

    Betty - Things can change in an instant. Oh, yes. I know this all so well, now. Thank you, Betty.

  29. when it is our time, is there anyone to mourn our passing?

    a spit second longer, and it could have involved another vehicle...

  30. Oh Nevine, je suis vraiment désolée et triste que tu aies été témoin de quelque chose d'aussi affreux. Une de mes filles a vécu une tragédie il y a quelques années et je sais qu'elle vivra toujours avec ça dans son esprit, et ça me rend triste pour elle.
    Je crois qu'il y a des évènements dans la vie que l'on ne peut oublier mais il faut apprendre à vivre avec*

    Gros bisous et bonne semaine
    et que ta bonne étoile te préserve et te protège********

  31. Dear Nevine,
    I am so late getting here, after an awful week at work, then worse, a day spent trying to grasp the incomprehensible gibberish of the tax return booklet and horribly convoluted forms to fill in...

    But better late than never. As always your writing is exquisite, even when exquisitely painful, devastating even. Why do I so often feel like there is a connection there, a luminous rope heading off across the ocean, while reading your work ???

    Car wrecks and I are no stranger, if you have a moment do take a look at a couple of past posts which are indexed here :

    Then you will see why I said that... For years now I have felt that I'm living on borrowed time, and just trying to make the best of it; before another car wreck...

    And you are so right about the memories coming back, even 20 years later. When I was little one night a car went off the road down at the end of our street, took down a telephone pole. We heard the impact from home, and went to see what all the commotion was... I can still see it like yesterday, the broken glass, the blood in the dark, with red lights flashing and police radios...

    Take care and be safe...

  32. so perfectly put - been there in that split second before tragedy just not in that context. Beautiful writing, very enjoyable.

  33. Life is there and it ends in one second. Just remembering about our death make us AWARE of the precious gift we have. It is not our life. It is the LIFE we are given and taken.


  34. 'Like a circular saw to a raw muscle'....i can feel it dangling, still vibrating from the imapact....

    Very vividly you have taken me right to the centre of the event....though through my work i m almost there everyday watching the one who says goodbye and the other who can't say goodbye but must go away nevertheless.

    In whatever way it chooses to come will surely come watching us from the corners of the street, or just walking besides us ready to touch our shoulders.

    i see the others go .... and know that each moment that i live is extraordinary.... hoping that death will be my last orgasm.

    Well, Nevine thankyou for this thought provoking and moving situation that you offer us.

    You are always giving us the unexpected....i guess thats your trademark!

    Kisses to you my friend!

  35. LW - I do wonder about that serious question you ask. Realistically, I think I will be remembered for a short while, and then life goes on for those who must live it. And you are so right about that split second...

    Cremilde - Et je vais essayer à vivre avec ça, mais je sais que j'aurai des moments surprenants et pesants... Merci, Cremilde. Tu es toujours gentille. Bisous!

    Owen - We're all haunted by ghosts, and I know this one will haunt me forever. I will hop over and take a look at your post, Owen. And I know the feeling of being afraid, living on borrowed time. I've had close calls. Maybe there are angels somewhere out there who watch over us. And I wonder, sometimes, if they lose their attention for that certain life that eventually gets nipped in the bud. And Owen, you are ever sweet, so please don't feel pressured to stop in when you don't have the time. I know I have days where I can't do a thing but focus on work and other responsibilities. We all have life, and life comes before blogging... Thank you so much for taking the time to stop in, Owen. I really, truly appreciate it.

    Noelle - Thank you. I think we've all been in one split second or the other, so there is a connective memory there for most. I appreciate your stopping in, Noelle, and your taking a moment to leave your thoughts.

    Lorenza - Your comment made me think of Plato, who said, "To philosophize is to learn how to die." So true... every word you said.

    COL - Wow! I do hope that death will be an orgasmic experience for me, too. I'm not sure it will actually work that way, but if I can have it that way, then I'm in... lock, stock, and barrel. Your comments make me think... Bisous back to you, COL!

  36. dearest nevine! i am here today on the 23rd reading your words which are so prophetic in the loss of a dear friend of mine day before yesterday - he was walking down a city street on his way back to the office when he was struck and killed by a hit-run - in the blinking of an eye! the blinking of an eye! very riveting, your words, as always! and i've so missed them!

  37. Jenean - I read about your friend yesterday. I'm so sorry for your loss, and of course, for the loss of his family. Yes, life, so precious, is lost in the blink of an eye. And how sad that is - one never knows. I wish you peace, Jenean.


Your thoughts are deeply appreciated.