court and spark

i was wondering the other night if i had forgotten how to write something other than poetry. poetry used to be just a side thing, something to get the juices flowing or unwind. or, at its best, to give shape and tribute to my muse, the feminine. it’s really become my main outlet in the last month or so. not that poetry doesn’t work, but it’s helpful to have the balance of mediums. not to be in he middle, but to be in many places at once, to do many things at once. almost like cross-training.

my last piece of prose that i had posted was nearly 3 weeks ago, which for me, is like, a year. so i was wondering aloud to myself last night. “are you hiding?” there was a pause. “yes,” i answered “i am.”

i have been through some shit in the last month. haven’t we all, right? for me, it took something, or at least borrowed something.

there was a trial. a two week jury trial in federal court, downtown los angeles. the legal matter, in which i and my family were plaintiffs, had to do with love, death, money, lawyers, sex and lies. i’ve been embroiled in the case for a year and a half. the whole time i have been unable to write about it, legally and spiritually. but now i am free, and yet, i don’t feel the need to just tell the whole story right away. i need some space and time and room. to marinate in the self and watch my perception of everything change and settle, into a place of clarity, or at the very least entertainment. cause it’s all entertainment. god’s comedy, tragedy, romance. we all have many parts we play and nothing is as serious or as light as we imagine. everything is free, we are all free, and yet, that freedom has a price.

so as i sat with my family in court and watched as eight jurors took in testimony and evidence about insurance and love and loneliness, i couldn’t help but see the tear in the fabric. we have developed so many systems and ways to keep order. but it is all an illusion. we are always in, or on the brink of, chaos. but it’s so beautiful, and sad and ugly, all at the same time. it can break a heart to think too much about it. but it will harden a heart to deny it, to forget that there’s such things as pain and injustice.

the woman who was the defendant and cross-plaintiff in the case that was being tried was an ex-girlfriend of my mother. my mother, who died unexpectedly in february of ’08. they broke up in 2004, but they had been together for ten years prior to that. a lot of road to travel. i think about my twelve years with my almost ex-wife and can feel that time bend and shape itself. it’s more than the days and less than the years. but every one of my family and our friends, as well as people we didn’t even know, would hear the story of this woman, my mother’s ex, and could only curse her; for what she has done to my family, to my mom’s memory, to my mom’s fiance and to our legal system.

i had no curses that i could muster, no venom i could spew. her lawyer said ugly things about us, like how my mother and her children were never really close and even as he tried to spin the truth and game the system the only thing i could find for her was sadness. i felt pity for her, i still do. over the last year as things progressed and got worse, as the lies started growing and the sins became greater, my sympathy only grew.

you see, we have so much love in our family, so much togetherness. family means something greater than language can communicate. so i think seeing someone act like this angered my family and friends. it made them feel attacked, their sensibilities threatened. their idea of what is right was being murdered by this woman’s relentless deception and lack of morals. but i saw it differently, or at least from a different perspective.

i saw a lonely woman who must have had a rough go at it her whole life. who never had that kind of love and respect from her family. someone who was driven by a sense of the self that began on the outside and worked itself inward, instead of beginning inside and blossoming outward. i don’t think she is evil. in fact, i don’t think she has the talent to be evil. i think she is simply backwards, layered deep in a form of shallow reality that belongs on television. bad television.

as i toyed with this theory, sitting in the court pews, i remembered back to her relationship with my mom. i remembered that this woman always wanted to be an actress. she spent a lot of my mom’s money and put all her own attention and time towards trying to become good at being something she was not. it struck me that after a lifetime of failed attempts, this was her last chance. this was her big break. in this courtroom of her peers, she wasn’t seeking a legal conclusion, but acceptance as a performer. she was playing a part: victim, hero, lawyer, outcast. it was a meaty role and she had worked her whole life to get here. this was her chance.

i thought of all the attempts we made to settle the case, all the agonizing with our lawyers about what she could be thinking. no one could figure out what she was doing. in thirty years our lawyers had never seen anything like it. she was clearly not going to win (no evidence, motive, etc.) and she must have been spending a fortune on the case. 88% of cases get settled before trial. everything that was happening was against all reason. it was as i saw her sitting at the opposing council’s table, where usually only the lawyers sit, with a sharp armani outfit and a $1,000 attache case, that it hit me. this was why she never settled. she may not be a lawyer, but she wants to play one on tv. it all clicked and i felt a lump in my throat and a twinge in my heart. how completely and utterly sad. what a poor woman.

when it was her turn on the stand, i almost couldn’t look. she bounced up to take her place and was a perfect caricature of the bubbly blond girl next door, she even giggled. i almost thought, “hey, maybe she’ll finally pull off a good performance.” i know this is what she had been waiting a year and a half for; this is what she had planned the whole time. it was all to get here and play the part she had always wanted. but in lieu of an oscar there would be a not-guilty verdict and a cash award. she was ready for her close-up and was still a good twenty years younger than norma desmond.

but in the end it was a trainwreck. three sentences in she got caught in a lie, which led to another lie, etc. and where normally a lawyer would cut off a witness trying to talk to the jury,ours let her go and she dug a deeper hole for herself than any lawyer could have done. in the final analysis, it was a perfect performance. not the one she had planned, but nonetheless it was as artful as any i have ever witnessed. it helped secure a unanimous jury decision in under two hours of deliberation, for our family and against her.

and maybe i am not sorry for her, but i don’t hate her either. it is almost impossible to hate someone who doesn’t even realize who they are. and even as i write this i have only hope that she will somehow get closer to who she is and to what her real character is. it’s not in a script or in an us magazine. it is in the pores of our sole and in the truth that can never escape the lips.

and while this is only part of the story, it feels good to step out and tell this little part. it feels good to write again. mostly it feels good to be loved enough that i have no hate to spare.


  1. neato-bandito
    fluent, masterful, a delight to read.
    such concice description of her taking the stand
    as visual as a movie

    “to marinate in the self”

  2. Your so freakin’ articulate and interesting in your writing. Everything you write is so introspective, conscious, & balanced. It’s spell binding. I don’t give away compliments easily, so please take this personally: BRAVO. WELL WRITTEN.

  3. This work spawns the emotions inside the reader. Reading it word-per-word makes one feel the pain the author feels when he is discussing the situation.
    The work was well written; when a writer can make the reader “feel” thru words, makes the work well done!

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