FOUR YOUTHS ON FIRE
(based on a one act play; Wasted, by Joel Bowman,
Deb Caton and Eric Schwartz. In 1995 the play was reworked
by Eric and Matt Cobb and performed at Insomnia Theater in 1995)
Four youths on fire
The fire hidden by walls
soft walls of care and comfort
Environmental numbness if you will
Set ablaze by the city
Pace unbearable and senseless
An intense friction of wills
ignited the souls
They caused a silent slashing
and a powdery splashing
and four youths
into an antiseptic hole
We never take the blame
for the twisted youth
but we take the credit
for the good ones
like soldiers and sheep
controlling their sleep
we mold our sons and our daughters
Four individuals fires
Four young lives in the grinder
Throned in jade and marble
and copper and steel
Steel, a boy unmoving
he only bends with intense heat
Copper can be shaped
he's malleable and easy to please
but he can be beaten down and easily replaced
Marble is very hard
very hard and cold
But once inside her
you lose your mind
in the backwash of her simple designs
Not so with Jade
Beautiful to look at
but cold to the touch
And without polish?
Just another green rock
Glowing indecisive rocks
cold to the touch
but warm to the eyes
but what are eyes?
Mere playthings of the light
So we, in our ignorance
Handed them a man
a man we thought could help
And perhaps re-sow the breadcrumbs
so they can find their way back to us
But this man has no gift
A soft man
with a chrome heart
King of the Litany!!
Rote memory and paper thoughts
with his circles and squares
inky bugs and twisting stairs
trying to crawl inside their mind
like a fat man trying to crawl through
a hole half his size
but a funny site
So they laugh
the fires laugh
often times to his face
but in his circles he tries to beat down
Let me descend on the circle for you
Steel kicks back
he lights a smoke and tries to laugh
at the probes that reach behind his eyes
He tries to rub off the feel
of the knife against the steel
"Stop scraping at my soul"
He screams to confirm his voice is real
"How can I recline
from the backyard of your mind?"
asks the man.
"I wasn't even far enough inside
to drag a corpse to light."
Steel flicks an ash.
"I'm as deep as a spoon
but it's far too far to try"
Jade rolls her eyes
the insinuation of a lie
Steel quickly throws his hate her way
"You think it's funny?" Steel snaps
"Let's crawl inside your mind
and see what your corpse looks like"
Jade just smiles it away as she does with all her pain
because she knows this won't last
"If I have my way"
comes the voice of Jade
"You'll find a note
beneath my swinging feet someday"
Copper bends out of shape
a look of panic on his face
"What will the note say?"
Jade puts down her guard and says
"My dear friends in fire.
I've looked forward to this wire
And I'll pray you understand
It was very hard to breathe for a while
But the fighting ceased
The stars increased
and I dropped this fleshy cage like a skirt."
Then she pushes up her armor
and lets her scars say the rest to them
"These are fingers, these are knives
these are masks and these are lies.
Now put that in you "spoon", Steel
then shut your mouth and eat your meal
Because me and my scars have nothing more
Copper sits in silence
feeding knots with
but through eyes like
this all seems too unreal
"Leave me alone! Dont even try!
I refuse to show you the light side!
The dark side is all you get
So leave me alone.
Just be content."
Then he inhales
and tries to burn away the insides he doesn't like.
Marble coughs and all eyes rest
"I've been trying to save the world
Now I just want to submit to it.
To let it win.
To let it cover my fever
and my battle scars
I've stood on this edifice so long
I've grafted myself to the spot
When I'm ready to dive
Don't get up, world
it's only me."
"You've never found" the man asks
"Somewhere in your mind, at some peaceful
mellow time, that there is some vague purpose
dancing about outside?"
"This God thing," Steel says
taking the floor and turning heads
"Seems like such a miscalculation
for the apes and all their race
I've never found peace
in something much bigger than me
with the power to mold my bones
to how it wants them to be
so I choose disbelief
cause it was something I could not see."
The man calls it "Faith"
"Just a dull and fruitless journey
to a cold and sterile space"
Then Steel lets a distance
spread across his face
Frustration cascades over the man
"As long as I have been mining these caves
and shooting these waves
none of you have left me a trail
How can I be your savior if you won't
give me what you want saved?"
"I don't want to be saved!" bombards the voice of Jade
"I don't want your redundant refrain.
I just want silent acknowledgement of my pain."
Then the circle ends for the day
nothing vanished, nothing gained
But the four fires meet
and option for the street
On an excursion back to nature
they find a means to an end
they find wheels and speed
as much needed seed
for the fruits of freedom
They take the car and run
The wind picks up
it's so very cold
sunlight wrap around
The darkness slips by
with a howl and a roar
revealing to the fires
freedom has many doors
They laugh and yell
and try their damnedest
to outrun the wind
But the dragon gives up its fight
because a twisting tree
leaps up into the night
When the last sliver of coiled metal fell
the fires flicker and check themselves well
With a cracking voice Steel cries,
"Is there anybody there? I can't see there's
blood in my eyes!"
Copper takes his hands off the wheel
he reaches over and touches Steel
"It's alright" he says
"The worst is past, but I think we lost
something in the crash."
Marble moans for her own cognition
there is silence from Jade
which confirms their suspicions
that they lost a quarter of their strength
Fear paints their faces white
they bolt from the car and into the night
leaving Jade immobile and silent
Speech isn't easy for a time
Darkness grips their passionate hearts
and drips guilt and defines their parts
in the crime
Murderer, Driver, Deceiver, Thief
Javelin words echo
and ricochet inside locked mouths
as they clamber over the hill of shock
into the hollows and holes
and scurry like moles
into dark places
where they lick their wounds
and build their tombs
Coppers voice shatters the gloom
"Straighten me out friends
you're the only hope I have left
Don't turn away
the silent hulk is creeping."
"How can I help?!" Steel bellows
"I have no tools. All I know is how to bend the rules
and fail tests.
Here I am
All that's left
is a taste of blood and an
empty pack of cigarettes.
Don't look to me."
An ironic icon to the last
"Children's games we've played and replayed
But we must sleep in this bed we've made"
crimson sweat drips off his hands
"And you, my pretty little enigma
who are you to spank and scold
It doesn't seem that your conscience is
made of gold."
Copper shudders at their tone
an unsquelched venom as hard as bone
he reaches their frequency just to be heard
"There seems little air here"
The passions cool for he is right
the chill is threatening and the air seems slight
"We're choking ourselves down here
in rock bottom.
Were deeper than we know
and our petty fray
is no way to survive
Is there water down here"?
is there a warm gust of air?
Do we have more time to find
our way out of this slime?
Or is it all just heartache and crime
at rock bottom?"
Steel retreats, he knows truth
when he sees it
Marble comes down from her place in the clouds
and plants herself in the earth
Two glances equal an unannounced apology
and two nods show silent acceptance
Silence and darkness are the catalysts for friendship
and barriers soften
"I haven't had knots in a while" Steel puts forth
"I was taking the drugs of my seclusion
and was dumping them endlessly on my resolution
until the pain was a dull throb behind the eyes.
And that goes away with lies
Marble smiles to the alloy boy
and takes his hand for a time
"So long I have been digging this ground
Eating this muck and mire
I knew I'd either find my way home
or finally reach the fire.
But my hand came to rest on an object
lodged in the mud
It was moist and warm to the touch
but it was turning cold
So I unearthed the fleshy thing
and found it to be
"But the mud protected me
Kept me from harm
I don't know if I want you holding me.
Love is a frictionless, gelatinous barrier
stone is the only bulwark.
I appreciate your kindness
but the mud is my home."
Then Steel tensed again and slipped back into shadow
Unaware of the power he holds
Copper never before felt this
a pounding in his chest
and his breath coming in fits.
"Dreamers are the fools
and sometimes I feel I am the last of my kind.
Underneath a table
I found the words "I Love"
scrawled in ink or blood or wine.
But they touched me
though they'd never see
a child in tears
far from home
alone and stoned
and looking for a hand in the dark.
She never took my heart.
And now she is other than we
and she can never hear me."
Steel rises as Copper crumbles
and rests his hand on Coppers head
"It may be hard to believe
but your heart was blazoned on your sleeve
Your words would have been nothing but affirmation."
Marble agrees and checks her own sleeve
and shakes off the strange warmness of Steel.
"She would have dropped from the ceiling
all the same.
You couldn't have gotten that out of her brain.
Your love would have been nothing more than a stain
Jade moans and wipes blood
out of her eyes.
Her hand moves about the backseat
and comes to rest on a cooling
Marble is indeed cold and silent
Next to Steel, Copper stares dreamlessly
from behind the wheel
Fear grips the girl
her companions do not stir
She shrieks and hurries from the car
Darkness follows suit
as she leaves the metal tomb
has brought the islands in to sit
about the coming days of penance
Unaware that they had slipped beyond the cycle.
They are very much afraid
at the tear stained entrance of Jade.
Marble approaches her in quiet
we thought you'd left this world
alone and cold
and it hurt us
forgive us for leaving you
You were so silent."
Jade says nothing
"I'm sorry I haven't told you before now
but I love you"
Steel moves his hand to let Jade move in
but his pale bluing hand slides right through her skin
His gaze moves to Copper who stands
stunned and speechless ignoring truthshe won't address
then the rug is pulled out from underneath them
The wind picks up
it's so very cold
sunlight wrap around
Marble drops her gaze
"We never walked away"
Copper laughs in disbelief
his only antidote for grief
"Why am I so tired now?"
He glances at the blue tint of his hands
and lays down on the ground
Steel stares at the fading stars
and feels his body for his scars
but they've gone
Marble stretches out on the ground
enjoying the serenity she's found
then she's gone
The ground wears away underneath Copper's
He too has left this place
Jade and the cruel world vanishes
from Steel's sight and he's alone.
"I never thought
on those lonely, blazing nights
that anyone cared or anyone cried
I never thought you were watching
I never dreamed you were there
but here on this landing
half way up and half way down
I see there must be more
that this metal boy ever allowed for
I don't think any of us really wanted to die.
But maybe it's better in the sky."
The stars and moon kept watch
on the place where they departed
until the night died at the horizon
chased away by the sun returning to the sky
like a mother coming home to a child's mess
"What happened here?! I can only guess"
And the Earth was patient with
the flowers that marked the site
and with those who stood and wondered why