Swallowing the last gulps
he set down the now empty can.
Balanced precariously on the corner
of the old dark coffee table.
There was the hoped for solace
that drink normally brought.
This night it evaded him,
drifting away on the wind.
The exhaustion remained
as the eternal night dragged on.
And sleep resided on some
far away distant shore.
The silent darkness of a house
that used to be called a home.
Persistent voices screamed loudly
driving him into the black of night.
He stood next to the tree
barefoot in the cold grass.
Houses dark lined the street
the world asleep in peace.
His right hand on the baseball bat
as if an old man in need of a cane.
Thought of why flashed in his mind
and were just as quickly gone.
This bat she had placed near
the front door in case of need.
A weapon close at hand she argued
just felt comforting and right.
Holding the handle with both hands
enjoying the feel of the wood.
Fingers curled around the handle
as he felt the violence rise within.
His heart beat loud in his ears
blood coursing through his veins.
Surges of energy careened in his body
his muscles tensing in silent expectation.
The world slowly faded from view
and before him stood only the tree.
The trunk stretched upwards yet anchored
by roots hidden deep in the ground.
Branches of leaves alive others dead and dry
stories of a life’s experience and dreams.
Each branch and leaf a turning point
of moments cherished and regretted.
The leaves held tight the emotions
accompanying each memory remembered.
Lifeless branches revealed little
of faded memories over the years.
He stared up into the tree’s canopy
branches morphing into memories of a life.
Built on hope and desire for the future
then wholly lost as fate conspired against.
The frozen silence was then shattered
a loud crack as the bat struck the tree.
He swung the bat over and over
as each memory blazed before his eyes.
The tree quivered so slightly at each blow
strong against the vicious onslaught.
Each swing fueled by grief and rage
over what was lost, never to return.
Memories flashed as the bat sliced the air
until his shoulders began to ache.
The repeating collisions of shame and loss
blows of wood on wood slowly splintered.
Continuing as the fury rose inside
a volcanic eruption long held in check.
From within the depths of the earth
driving him past the limits of exhaustion.
The cascade of blows finally slowed
the strength waned as the bat fell.
Gasping for breath his head down
the bat lay motionless in the grass.
The tree silently mocked his unsuccessful
and feeble efforts at destruction.
He fell to his knees in despair
before resting his back against the tree.
The trunk had willingly absorbed the blows
of the merciless rage and anguished attack.
He sat quietly through the night
a husk of a body physically shattered.
Fatigue blunted the throbbing pain
a small respite from the voices.
The sun soon began its ascent
as light crawled out of the dark.
Revealing the dawn of a new day
he sighed and moved so slightly.
Shoulders throbbed, hands and fingers
stiff and aching clenched in claws.
His mind and heart laid naked
to nonsense questions with no answers.
The mornings light grew brighter
unhindered by a sorrowful heart.
Looking down at his stained hands
covered in murky crimson of dried blood.
Staring he heard the angels whisper
of innocent blood that was once shed.
The ultimate sacrifice long ago
to revive the crushed hopes of man.
A small smile played on lips as he raised
his face to the warm glory of the rising sun.
~Mark Schutter ©2016
*This was originally written as a short story or flash fiction if you will in October 2011 and I have revised it into a poetry format. Thanks for reading. (The original story can be read on my previous blog > Tree of Memories – Maleko ©October 2011)