Saturday, December 19, 2015

It's been a while...

Just dropped in to make sure this thing still works. Big happenings on the horizon. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Because I Am Too Tired To Write More And It's 80 Degrees @ 11PM

Paradise is hidden by the horizon. You know it's there, but it does you no good until you see it with your own eyes. Until you walk in its fields. Until then Paradise is something hoped for. And hopes don't always become reality. And so I choose to keep walking the road of struggle. Striving to overcome the obstacles I place in my way and the obstacles put there by others. Chasing that horizon knowing that Paradise may not come to me, but if I can get close enough in this lifetime to taste the same winds that pass through its fields then that will be good enough for me.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Another Poem for Poetry Month

Poetry Month is almost over so I thought I would share this poem that found me this afternoon. Perhaps a reminder that we're all in this together.

A Prayer For This House

In one room of our house
a church bell rings through
the air.
In another room
the morning call to prayer echoes
out of ancient speakers.
The mourning cry of old women
and unborn children
breaks the silence in the hearts of
strangers down the hall,
and the loss of every person
we've yet to meet
makes this house feel just
as empty as it did
before we chose to live here.

Copyright Sylvester Alley 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Short Poem For Poetry Month

The Shadow You Left Behind
By Sly Alley

When you left in the morning
your body departed from my presence,
but your belongings and I sat and watched
the shadow you left dancing on the wall.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Pain and The Struggle Becomes Our Fuel

[The following blog stems from a conversation with a friend in which I conveyed this thought: "It's a strange struggle to move emotions from the surface and bury them. I've gotten good at it. I think that struggle is part of what fuels the creative drive." These are the notes I produced elaborating on that thought.]

I'm starting to think that I can overcome most things in two or three days. That doesn't mean that I'm not haunted by them after that. Some things you just can't shake from your soul. They stay with you forever. But this affords a choice. Do you let it crumble you, or do you use that weight to strengthen your soul? Either way there is a pain involved. And now that I think about it there are many pains involved. The pain from the initial scenario that requires one to bury feelings and emotions. The act of swallowing those emotions that are, at times, too big to contain within one's self causes pain. Once they are compressed there is a pain in keeping them in their place. It often requires an amount of self control that few possess. At times all of that pain and struggle are for the greater good. Many people define a hero as one who lays down their life so that another may live. I would add that sometimes a person should do more than lay down their life, they should lay down their soul so that others may heal their own.

But how does enduring this pain and struggle benefit that one who swallows their feelings? That one gains a fuel to push through life. If you have endured so much don't think, "It's so bad! I just can't endure anymore heartaches!" Use that past to say, "I have suffered much and still I stand! No bullet or blade can cut me down!"

The artist gains a doorway to inspiration for her art.
The lover gains a new level of understanding.
The diplomat learns to wield new tools to face the problems he seeks to solve.
The pain and the struggle becomes the Fuel of Life.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Of Music and Memories

A few years ago I went into a self imposed exile to the worst place a kid from Oklahoma could go. To this day I'm not really sure why I went to Texas. There is a large part of me that feels it was necessary, yet the part of me that keeps telling me it was one of the worst mistakes I've ever made in my life is the one that seems to resonate the loudest in my heart. There was a bit of romanticism and familiarity involved. My grandfather's grave was a 15 minute drive from where I lived for the first 6 months of my stay, and it was in a place I was very familiar with considering I spent a lot of time with him in his final two years on this earth. But in the end, the main reason I went into exile was to attempt to figure out what it is I am supposed to do with this life I've been forced into.

Up until this point I had been working in a field that requires one to spend more time on the road than Bruce Springsteen. Anything that makes you live like a rock star makes you party like a rock star. And therein hides the danger. It only happened once in my time on the road, but I was in a town where a man that shared my profession died in a hotel room. I overheard his "friends" scheming to get out of town before too many questions got asked and before the body was cold. It took me a month or two after this incident to figure I should really take a look at the life I was facing. In fairness, there are a lot of people in this profession that are not going to meet the same fate that young man did. But still the possibility made me rethink what it was I was going to do with my life, and a few months later I was living in Waxahachie, Texas. I had traded hotel rooms by the week for a rent house by the half-year.
I had hoped that by removing myself from the things that had become too familiar in my life, I would have some clarity and focus enter my field of view. This was easier wished than done. I found myself struggling with the responsibilities of the settled life and trying to shake off the carefree lifestyle the road had drawn me into.

My small house in Waxahachie was about a block from the railroad that ran along the south side of town. At night I would sit outside with a bottle of Buffalo Trace whiskey and a few beers for chasers. I would turn out all the lights to my one bedroom house, sit on the porch, and embrace the sky. To me that was the one thing in Texas that made me feel comfort. I could see the same stars and constellations that I saw as a child growing up in small towns in Oklahoma. 

In those days I was pretty low. I made it to work, though most days I didn't feel like walking out the door. There were two albums out that I would listen to every night. From the time I got home to the time I passed out on the couch, bed, or floor I would listen to these same two albums. I purchased both of them at Hasting's in Waxahachie.

The most important one that helped me bleed through those strange nights was Bob Dylan's "Modern Times." As I type these words I am listening to "Workingman's Blues #2" and I still recall the hopeless feeling of loss that haunted me. "I'm listening to the steel rails hum." A line that takes me right back to hearing that train roll down the track. It felt like my short life was flying by, just like that train, going somewhere that I knew not. "Meet me at the bottom / don't lag behind / bring me my boots and shoes / You can hang back or fight your best on the front line / sing a little bit of these working man blues." Dylan's words helped me to work my way back to those front lines. "Nettie Moore" also holds a meaning to me. I won't go into it here, but if you listen to it you can figure out why.

The other album that pulled me through, and one that I played before I sat down to stare at this once blank screen, was Lucinda Williams' "Live at the Fillmore."

Those were strange times. Long nights of self reflection and self destruction and hoping that was was built in its place was an improvement. Asking myself those unanswerable questions. And tonight, I felt like revisiting that time to see how far I've come from that point in my life and how far I have yet to go.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Highways Flew By...

I just returned home from a long weekend in the Colorado Rockies in a place called Union Park.

The feeling that several hundred miles and an extra 9,000+ feet of elevation can instill is something that is hard to describe to people who've never experienced the mountains. It's one thing to see pictures or videos. It's another to drive through the mountains. It's something spiritual to pitch a tent in a place that is void of any artificial light (not a radio/cell tower or house in sight), highway sounds, or generators from some Texan's 28' Fleetwood Mallard (IF YOU WANT TO SLEEP IN A BED AND WATCH TV GET A HOTEL ROOM LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!).

The picture below was taken as we first entered Union Park. It's about 9 miles from the main road to our camp and the terrain makes the drive last about an hour.

Union Park is the kind of place that allows a person to shed the weight of paying bills and looking for the cheapest gas in town, if only for a little while. The next picture was taken looking to the east northeast from the edge of our camp. The field in the foreground is carved up by small streams and beaver ponds. There is far more water here than the picture shows and contains the best trout fishing I've ever experienced. You don't catch a lot of large fish, but you catch a lot of fish.

A few of us decided to take a hike to a lake about 2 miles away and a thousand feet above out camp. None of us had been there before so it took a bit of navigating to get there. About a mile and a half from camp we stumbled upon the remnants of an old log cabin near a small stream. 
The lake sits at a little over 11,000 feet above sea level. There were a couple of campsites that showed sign of recent use. A raft sat on the dirt under a foot of water. Until I saw this lake, it was hard for me to imagine a place more secluded than our campsite. The next time I come to Union Park I plan on camping here at least for a night (even though the night before we broke camp a myself and a couple others heard a Mountain Lion screaming nearby).
So, here I am. A short week of classes ahead of me and I'm trying to figure out what the Clint Eastwood speech was about (this took place on the way to the woods and I have yet to view the video), and looking forward to football season. Every team could stink and the season would still be more entertaining than the coming's late...I'll save that noise for next time.