Blue Moon by Jean aka Cielo

Every morning is the same. I wake with you on my mind. Every morning. This weekend marks the end of summer. There will be a BLUE MOON tonight. I will go to the beach, I will say my prayers and release my offerings under the moonlit sky. My dear Moonboy I miss you so much.

I trudge through the day, hazy and sad. This has not gotten any easier. The TV blares in the background, while I try to do the most menial of tasks. Everything takes on a new meaning. A new persona. A TV show ends, a boxing match begins, and the words “Dedicated to…” or “In memory of…” appear on the screen. A moment of silence. Another one gone from the world. But the show goes on. People put their heart and soul, “In memory of…” until the next episode.

“I feel better now than I did a month ago…” I said to my friend Anais. I know she has been going through her share of suffering over this mutual loss. “…But I feel different overall. My sensuality is gone. All of my senses–dulled. It’s like, I’m living but I’m not feeling. Not fully experiencing. My body tells me I’m hungry and I eat without tasting. There is no pleasure. It’s as if I’m moving through the world with a helium balloon of my self floating above me….”

I am not on solid ground. I am somewhere far away. Somewhere thinking of you. My spirit floating high above, like a Thanksgiving Parade cartoon balloon; above the crowds, looking out and over the sea of bodies. Where are you? Where are you? You have been plucked away from me. From us. I am suffering so very deeply. This level of sadness brings out the worse in me; the demons possess me. I want to vanish. Disappear, wake up somewhere else. Heaven. Disintegrate and float among the galaxies. My eyes and mind are clouded with the haze of tears, suffering, and disbelief. This is so wrong, so out of order… This is all a mistake… I talk aloud like a crazy person sometimes. Am I becoming insane? So dashed, I am numb. All these months later and my heart, my core still hurts so badly. People get tired of me; tired of hearing my professions and my sobs. They don’t return calls or emails anymore. They are tired. Life goes on. God Bless us all.

I stared at the moonlit sky. No the moon was definitely not blue, but the night sky was a velvety, midnight blue. Just like my favorite color crayon when I was a kid.

The moon is a superb brilliance. The rays of light create a luminous path on the ocean’s surface. I am hypnotized by this. This glistening, rippling path that seemed infinite. A path to the midnight blue horizon, far, far away. I pour a libation of bittersweet syrup. An offering to the Goddess. I whisper a prayer, as best as I can muster in my numbness. The ocean tides shift, and a wave comes rolling in and breaks my thought. I look down at the water that has washed around my feet, my shadow in the wet sand, the glow of my white shirt. And suddenly I feel you, ever so strongly. I look to the moon, and the blackness that surrounds, and the single hole of light piercing through the atmosphere. I imagined you in heaven; imagined you as the Spot Operator and the moon as your spotlight in the sky. You are shining the spotlight on me. As I stand at the edge of the sea, the black, white and midnight blue of it all. I am the Sideshow in this crazy Circus. How crazy this has been. What a tragedy. What a drama. The Artist died. Houdini. Young and bright and robust. Foolish and daring. The twist in the tale. This should have never happened. This freakish oddity. This terrible thing that I cannot get over. I am the Human Cannonball. I am the girl on the flying trapeze. I am the lovely assistant being sawed in half. I am the contortionist. I am the sad clown. The crash of the ocean waves plays the part of a roaring crowd of faces I cannot see, the Spirits my cheerleaders or hecklers I am yet unsure. I hold back my tears, and imagine myself as a sideshow freak swallowing a sword. There is a man and woman approaching. Lovers getting ready for a night swim. A small group of birds fly close above the waters surface, and then descend on the beach. I am distracted as I watch them hunt. I will look at birds, not at the lovers. I say thank you to the Goddess of the Sea, and say my goodbye to you my love. So many goodbyes. I could fill this ocean with my tears. “You used to call me Cielo… You said I was your sky, your eyes… Oh Tchak, I can’t see a thing these days. Please help me… May forever your spotlight guide me through the darkness, Moonboy… Love and Light on your journey, Baba.” I walk away from the stage and the roaring crowd, out of the spotlight and towards the boardwalk. I think of the BAC crew, and how Tchak loved the culture of the circus. Names of circus folk and stories attached to those names drifted through my mind. I wondered how everyone was holding up. I said another payer while I walked, wishing everyone well. I feel so utterly alone.

Final Morning Whisper

Aside

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Tchaka,

It was really hard for me to write after your accident.  I mean, I’d write a page or two, that was easy, vomiting my feelings onto paper, but the process of organizing artistic ideas, the way the painter paints his feelings without painting exactly what it is that is causing him so much pain or joy.  This poem that I wrote, it goes along with a short story.  Both are the first pieces I’ve written since you left us.  The story is about pain and loss, but its not about a guy who loses his friend and mentor in a bicycle accident.  The poem is not inspired by you or your life, it’d be a much happier poem if it were.  It is inspired by the pain of fighting battles against the world with the weight of grief heavy in the heart.  

 

Final Morning Whisper

 

The days continue on,

But the pain refuses to move,

or to even calm.

 

The sea is dying

 

It’s mistakes superate the surface,

Blood dripping from an open mouth.

Mountains move with avalanches

Rejections of purity,

Mocking our memories

Of harmless childhood snow fights.

The caves of the world are not empty

But our egos blind us

To the sanguinary regrets

That saturate the earth’s sacred chasms.

 

We do not allow ourselves

The knowledge that the blackness

Will one day swell

And swallow

All we have known.

We will not acknowledge

The horror that has happened

Until we hear

The final morning whisper

Of the last blood orchid.

 

-Captain Sparkles

I <3 Short Bus Sock Monkey

I was very tired and very hungover when I arrived in NY on July 17th, but I already knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to purchase some blank white T-shirts and draw memorials to Tchaka on them.  But I didn’t land in Penn Station until 5 o’clock and I realized I didn’t have time to stop at a Target if I wanted to make load-out on time.  So I stopped at the tourist shop and picked up two I ❤ NY shirts.  

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I did stop for some Krakken Rum and load-out had just started as I walked onto the lot.  I quickly borrowed a sharpie, crossed out “NY” and wrote “Short Bus.”  I was wearing the shirt when they stopped us a few hours later and had a moment of silence for the guy who had done more load-outs than most of the people there.  Later that night I sat in the cookhouse with the Ring Crew Chief and we drank Krakken as I drew the Short Bus and Sock Monkey.

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Recently I was working on a load out for Bruce Springsteen that started at 3am.  Around 6 or 7 as the sun began to rise I was piling stacks of metal girders into a steel bin.  The guy working with me looked at my shirt and said, “You shouldn’t wear that around here.  We hate New York.”  I thought about telling him it was a tribute to a friend who gutted and converted a short bus into a domicile.  I thought about telling him that Tchaka was from Boston and had been killed in NY, and how he’d appreciate the irony. I thought about telling the guy how Tchaka and I had done so many load-in and load-outs together and me wearing the shirt was a way for me to feel like he was still with me for every load-in and load-out.  But then I thought “What would Tchaka say?”  So I just shrugged and said, “I don’t give a fuck,” and continued working.
-Cpt Sparkles

 

at this time

At this time, one month ago. The doors were opened.
“Ms Segarra, It’s five minutes to five. Do you want us to start letting your guests in?….”
“What do you think, Tim?”
“Five minutes, Jean.”
“Okay then, five minutes please….”

The difficulty. The enormity. Today i held your wallet in my hand. Your beaten, well-traveled wallet. Tacky to the touch, it’s dust, dirt and grime that hold it together. It emanates so much of your essence. I held it to my heart. To my throat. To my nose. I inhaled. Oh dear God, another piece of you, gone from my fingers. Gone from my touch. Off you go, in the mail. To Boston. Goodbye again. So many goodbyes. Who understands me? Can I get a witness?

I stood in the bedroom last night. The dim light of the foyer shone through. I have not slept here since I moved back in, almost a month ago. This was supposed to be your room.
“I refuse to bring in my 40th birthday at the circus, Jay….” You told me.
“Come here and live with me. I’ll clear out all that stuff in the studio…”

“This was supposed to be for you… This was supposed to be YOUR room…” I said aloud. My voice echoed a tinny reverb in the dim light of the empty space. And the tears welled up in my eyes. Poured down my cheeks. Who knows this pain? I know some of you do. I know I can’t be alone in these feelings. I washed my face, washed away my tears. But they came again. Warm and salty and uninhibited. I have horrible thoughts in my head. Look at me. I’m 43 years old. A struggling artist. Working-class poor. I own nothing. I have no children. I have no spouse. I only have me. My spirit. My friends. My friends. MY FRIENDS! THEY are my gold. My treasure. My life force. My investment. I created a family for myself. Just as Tchaka did. We understood each other, we understood this need, that sometimes when the families we are born into are just too painful, too complicated, too disappointing, too DISTRACTED…. we create something else. Something that feeds our need. Whatever that need may be. It’s not that we do not love our bio families. It’s just that self-preservation prevails in some of us. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be the director of your own movie, the author of your own book. It’s okay to believe in yourself and make your own way. So for me, this loss is monumental. This is the unrequited love story. I am left here. I am left with a dead brother. And i feel so alone. This house is quiet. He’s not here complaining about “mutha-fuckas”, or laughing hysterically, and I’m not barking at him for dirtying dishes and clogging up the toilet….

I look around this apartment and yes–IN THIS PHYSICAL SPACE–I AM ALONE. I AM SAD. I AM SCARED.

On this day one month ago, my hands shook violently. My dear friend Alex showed up at my place, ready and willing to help. “One step at a time, Sis…. We gonna get through this…” He reassured. “How is this even possible? How does one DO THIS?” I thought. So I chanted in my mind over and over: “I have to be strong, for you Tchak, for Everyone… This day is to honor YOU, my friend, my brother, my love… God Bless us on this journey….”

I wanted to stab myself straight through the heart, join him in heaven. But what good would that do? Nothing. I was so aware of my pain. It was sharp and bright and loud. No way would I deliver this pain onto anyone. I DO have a mother and brother and aunts and uncles and cousins and so very many friends that would be hurt– hurting just like this–if i did something so stupid as to intentionally kill myself. But the darkness creeps into my mind. I’ve always been a little dark. But on that day, when I looked into the many faces of shock and sadness… I was quickly awakened from my morbid daydreams and into the nightmarish reality that was a funeral. A memorial. A tribute. My daydreams were foolishness. These people needed to know that everything was going to be alright. That we are ALL suffering. I tried to speak to every single person who entered that room. Shake their hand, hand a tissue, flash a smile, hug them, rub their shoulder, LISTEN. The honor of one is the honor or all. I’m really trying to walk the walk.

Oh dear Gods, Spirits and Ancestors, please give me–give us–the fortitude. Thank You. Amen and Ashe.
–Your Girl, Cielo.

Tchaka Is

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I don’t look up to many people.  My dad wasn’t much of a dad when I was growing up.  I looked up to my mom but she passed away before I left Arkansas for NYC.  I tried to look up to religion, find the wisdom in the purpose, but every time I told them who I was, they said if I didn’t change I’d go to hell.  I tried, in the name of God, to change, but I could not deny my taste in music, in art, in life.

I’m not saying that man should put all his/her faith in science.  It’s been wrong many times.   But some things are indisputable.  Such as the law of the conservation of matter: “Matter can not be created or destroyed, only transferred.”  There are still a few people I look up to.  Though they may have never met Tchaka, I look up to them for the same reason I look up to Tchaka: their wisdom, their kindness, their ability to listen without judging.  And I know there are people who look up to me.   And though I can never be half the man Tchaka is, I can do my best to live up to his standard.  And that is why I don’t say Tchaka was a good man, I say Tchaka is a good man.  Because he’s still alive, our physical limitations don’t allow us to visually see him, but if we look with our mind’s eye, we’ll see him everywhere.

For example: I went to help the BAC move from Queens to Rhode Island the day after I heard about the accident.  A couple days later we were in Rhode Island.  I was fairly intoxicated and there was an old Fire Truck parked outside the circus.  The town had brought it there for the kids, I guess.  Anyway, I was climbing around on it and decided I’d get behind the wheel and pretend to drive it.  I was playing with the buttons on the dash, because I thought “There’s no way they’d put a working fire truck outside the circus and not lock the door.”  But sure enough, I managed to turn the engine on.  So there I am, super drunk, with no driver’s license sitting behind the wheel of a running fire truck.

Thankfully, after everyone rushed over and screamed at me to turn it off, I finally figured out how to turn the thing off (it’s keyless)  and we left it alone the rest of the night.  The next day, when I was taking Bosko around to take pictures with people I decided I wanted a picture of him in front of the fire truck.  There were people sitting in front of it and I asked them “will it be okay if I take a picture of my little friend here in front of the fire truck?”

“Sure,” they replied, “as long as you don’t try to run away with it.”  They were completely joking, but they had no idea!

I looked at Bosko and said, “They’re talking to you, buddy.”

Right now, a lot of songs remind me of Tchaka.  This one in particular I play every day:

“Wherever you see a cop beating a guy,

Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries

Wherever there’s a fight against the blood

And the hatred in the air,

Look for me, mom I’ll be there

Wherever someone’s struggling for a place to stand

For a decent job or a helping hand

Wherever’s someone struggling to be free

Look in their eyes, Ma and you’ll see me,

You’ll see me.”

(Bruce Springsteen “Ghost of Tom Joad”)

Because that’s the kind of guy Tchaka is.  Wherever someone needs help, he’ll be there. Also, wherever someone’s having an awesome adventure, Tchaka will be there too.  Tchaka is the spirit of good times, and he’s the courage we summon in the bad times.  He’s the anticipation of a new day, and he’s the limitless possibilities of the dreams that visit us as we sleep.  He’s our angel in this life, and our guide in the next…

-Jay

month one….

One month later.
One month later, and time moves backwards while everyone moves forwards. It took so much effort and life-force to fill out the 50 thank you cards from the funeral. It was surreal and took a lot out of me. There are still so many more people to thank. I am forever indebted to everyone.
I am thinking of you; re-living memories, tripping upon reminders, desiring resolution…anxious and angst-filled. The check-ins have subsided; people move on with their lives, and here I am–still carrying the pain so fresh. Everything is upside down. My heart is beating, pumping life into my body. But I feel hollow, empty, paper thin. I am a tiny shard. But I am also a warrior. Somebody told me I am a woman now. I understand this. Profoundly.
My body is stiff, as if I am becoming a living dead myself; I can barely dress myself in the mornings. Look at me, Papi. I am a mess without you. There is so much work to be done, and this is such a heavy burden to bear. I know you don’t want me to suffer, but I still need your help, you are my Angel and I need you.
So many words shuffle and dance in my mind. So many thoughts of you. Past, Present and Future.
In the present, I imagine you are in the Spirit World, The Happy Hunting Grounds where life is easy and effortless. I imagine you are so very busy pontificating with the likes of our mentor Louis–you guys had a lot of catching up to do. And Brother Bartee, and Zizwe, and Sekou… you are rapping with oh so many heavy hitters of the movement. Sometimes I think you have no time for me; you’re off having more adventures as you did in life.
In the past, I used to be so mad at you, so irritated because you wouldn’t return my calls. I would get so stressed and worried–because goddamn you were so accident prone. How many scrapes did you get into? how many times did I get so upset because your crazy ass wound up in yet another accident, another fender bender?
“Your friend has a Death Wish…” an elder and confidant once told me, when I ranted about your numerous accidents.
“We all choose our own Death…” said another.
Oh how true. How so very true.
But I will reflect on month one with a new found wisdom. At the service, people added to their contributions with closing statements that rang out words like. “Tchaka taught me..” and “The lesson I learned from this is…” Well, What have I learned? What lesson did I come away with? Firstly, I learned that Death is sneaky and unpredictable. And just because we are young, healthy, vibrant–is irrelevant.  What is certain is that there will be people hurting when you’re gone. So what is your plan? Do you what a funeral? Memorial? Burial? Cremation? What are your debts? Account numbers? Passwords? Life insurance? How can we help? Because we the living need to know. Dealing with our grief is burden enough; now there is a service to plan for. And your debt. And your stuff. Help us to help you. Because this is hell. So the lesson I take away from this is: have a Living Will. It’s uncomfortable to think about, but please do it for your loved ones. You can download the forms online. Notarize and secure it somewhere. And let a trusted person know where it is.
Secondly, I have to agree with Tim is–Tckaka has taught me to forgive better, and love more. Now, Tchaka and I had this in common already, but certainly I can improve. And as Jay said, Tchaka didn’t complain much. Now for the record–Tchaka’s complaints went UP, so believe me, he complained A LOT in my presence. But that meant he had CLASS. And classy men are hard to come by. So I have to continue my life on that tip–BE AS CLASSY AS POSSIBLE. This is my third lesson.
So looking forward–through the fire and the pain and the sorrow and this hell that I am experiencing… I am trying my best to be more forgiving, more loving and more classy… and I will also update my paperwork so that my family and friends will not suffer as much as I have had to in the past month.
Thank You, dear Angels who have not forgotten, and those who still check-in. I appreciate you all.

So Many To-Do’s

I am still walking around–existing in–a fog.
For those of you who were close friends of Tchaka, those who “knew” him–then you know who I am. And you would know that we loved each other very deeply. They say your closest friends reflect who you are…. this makes me happy. For if Tchak is a reflection of me…. well then, shucks.

From the moment I met him, at the Pratt cafeteria (he and Ivan were interviewing me as a potential roommate)–I instantly fell for him. At the end of our interview, I began to chat candidly with him in Spanish, and he waited ’til I was done and said (with a chuckle), “That all sounds good but I don’t speak Spanish…”

Oh God, the everything we shared. I have stories that could fill a book. Where would I begin? How we rode bike together and he made me so mad because he’d zip away too quick. How we walked along the Brooklyn Promenade after 911 with his friend Ken Park; all of us staring at the columns of smoke across the river, sharing our deep sorrow in silent disbelief. How we partied one New Year’s Eve and I had busted my (fake) leather pants across my ass and he burst out laughing harder than I’d ever hear him laugh. He was in tears, watching me bounding up the steps in shame, him screaming, “YO SIS YOUR PANTS IS BUSTED! BWAHAHAH!” How I traveled so very many times to Boston from New York to visit him and his ailing Grandad. How deeply saddened he was those days. How I held his hand, caressed his neck during his loss when his Grandad passed. How I wanted to see him happy, but he always had a sadness behind his laughter and it rested beyond his eyes. I knew why.

How many gifts did I give you, Papi? You never wanted to accept any gifts, because what you truly desired was long ago denied. I knew you. And I spent nearly 20 years of my life dedicated to you. Always available. Your cheerleader and champion forever. Even in death. I will never giver up on you, Papi. You know this. Please help me to help you, accept the gifts that I and those who love you are willing to give. Thank you my love for all that you have done in life and in death. I’m here for you.

Since you have passed, I have thrown away the couch that was your 2nd home. It was too much to look at. I have since rearranged the living room; I had to. This place had too much of you in here for me to exist another day. You once told me that breakups hurt, loss hurts, but “one day it will hurt a little less…. and a little less…and so on….” Papi I want to believe you. I understand the way forward is with a broken heart. I am so very heartbroken without you.

And there were so many things we planned. So many things we looking forward to share with one another… So many To-Do’s. We were planning a big blowout for your 40th birthday–Strippers and all, baby! We were supposed to go camping. We were supposed to go to Mexico. You were supposed to come back AND make a comeback. Room to paint, draw, craft…. so many things yet to do.

To the man who could never get a break, to the man who was frequently robbed of what was rightfully his, to the man with the sad behind the smile–I am determined to place his ashes over the finish line. North of the Pacific Coast Highway. He truly deserves to hang out for the rest of days where he felt accomplished and happy. How could I possibly settle for anything less?

Here’s to a top priority on my To-Do list. I hope Tchaka will accept the gift.

In Love and Revolution– Your Girl, Cielo.