As a Kid I Called it Duck Tape

Every morning I put myself together with duct tape and fear. I double and triple-wrap to hide the black hole in the center of my chest. Some days it holds. Most days it won’t. ¬†Under the tape I’m empty and formless, a squirming hogpile of failures.

Everything hurts. The thought of forming a sentence hurts. Talking to a stranger hurts. Emailing a friend. Walking the dog.

I crawl back to the bunker to dress my wounds. I flip on the television to drown out the voices in my head. I pet the chihuahua to prove to myself that I’m still capable of love. I rearrange the stacks of duct tape I’ll need in the morning.

7 Replies to “As a Kid I Called it Duck Tape”

  1. Your writing is amazing. I’m a Ground Control of sorts in San Diego and heard about your blog through a friend. Most of my practice is with guys who have similar experiences and the way you describe your experience is crystal clear and so similar to what I hear on a daily basis. I presume you’ve already discussed things like this, but the guys I work with have found Mike Lew’s Victims No Longer to be a big help in the beginning. Also, working in group therapy with other men has been very beneficial for many of them. Finally, has lots of resources and connections. I am so sorry to know that you’re hurting and wish there was something I could do to help.

  2. Mike, as an avid fan of your former bloggishness, I have really missed your presence on this page. I stopped stopping by earlier this year after a long-while of no updates. I assumed that events in your life had just taken you in an entirely new direction. I hoped that it was a happier direction since your last few entries had been heartbreaking. On a lark today I clicked on your blog via Joe.My.God’s blogroll, and lo and behold you’re back. But the direction you’re travelling does not seem as happy as I had hoped. I am sorry to read between the lines of these last few month’s posts. We have never met (I wish we had when you were in NY) but I am really feeling the feelz for you man. I hope things turn upward — and soon. Maybe (it’s July now) they have, or at least eased up a bit. If you’re ever in need of a new set of ears, hit me back.

    1. I’m much the same. I hadn’t checked in for some time and was dismayed at the direction of your life. I maintain hope, however, that this dark night will yet bring a dawn.

  3. Michael,

    Like so many others, I’ve been a fan of your writing for years. I truly hope that you’ll find a light, no matter how dim to guide you out of the blackness you find yourself in. Below is a poem from Mary Oliver that I read as a mantra when it feels like the walls are closing in. Your assessment is correct, sometimes you can’t forgive, but you can always walk away. Mary showed me how. I hope her words inspire a new viewpoint. May peace, self love and hope find you once more. I’m rooting for you!-G



    Welcome to the silly, comforting poem.

    It is not the sunrise,
    which is a red rinse,
    which is flaring all over the eastern sky;

    it is not the rain falling out of the purse of God;

    it is not the blue helmet of the sky afterward,

    or the trees, or the beetle burrowing into the earth;

    it is not the mockingbird who, in his own cadence,
    will go on sizzling and clapping
    from the branches of the catalpa that are thick with blossoms,
    that are billowing and shining,
    that are shaking in the wind.


    You still recall, sometimes, the old barn on your
    great-grandfather’s farm, a place you visited once,
    and went into, all alone, while the grownups sat and
    talked in the house.
    It was empty, or almost. Wisps of hay covered the floor,
    and some wasps sang at the windows, and maybe there was
    a strange fluttering bird high above, disturbed, hoo-ing
    a little and staring down from a messy ledge with wild,
    binocular eyes.
    Mostly, though, it smelled of milk, and the patience of
    animals; the give-offs of the body were still in the air,
    a vague ammonia, not unpleasant.
    Mostly, though, it was restful and secret, the roof high
    up and arched, the boards unpainted and plain.
    You could have stayed there forever, a small child in a corner,
    on the last raft of hay, dazzled by so much space that seemed
    empty, but wasn’t.
    Then–you still remember–you felt the rap of hunger–it was
    noon–and you turned from that twilight dream and hurried back
    to the house, where the table was set, where an uncle patted you
    on the shoulder for welcome, and there was your place at the table.


    Nothing lasts.
    There is a graveyard where everything I am talking about is,

    I stood there once, on the green grass, scattering flowers.


    Nothing is so delicate or so finely hinged as the wings
    of the green moth
    against the lantern
    against its heat
    against the beak of the crow
    in the early morning.

    Yet the moth has trim, and feistiness, and not a drop
    of self-pity.

    Not in this world.


    My mother
    was the blue wisteria,
    my mother
    was the mossy stream out behind the house,
    my mother, alas, alas,
    did not always love her life,
    heavier than iron it was
    as she carried it in her arms, from room to room,
    oh, unforgettable!

    I bury her
    in a box
    in the earth
    and turn away.
    My father
    was a demon of frustrated dreams,
    was a breaker of trust,
    was a poor, thin boy with bad luck.
    He followed God, there being no one else
    he could talk to;
    he swaggered before God, there being no one else
    who would listen.
    this was his life.
    I bury it in the earth.
    I sweep the closets.
    I leave the house.


    I mention them now,
    I will not mention them again.

    It is not lack of love
    nor lack of sorrow.
    But the iron thing they carried, I will not carry.

    I give them–one, two, three, four–the kiss of courtesy,
    of sweet thanks,
    of anger, of good luck in the deep earth.
    May they sleep well. May they soften.

    But I will not give them the kiss of complicity.
    I will not give them the responsibility for my life.


    Did you know that the ant has a tongue
    with which to gather in all that it can
    of sweetness?

    Did you know that?


    The poem is not the world.
    It isn’t even the first page of the world.

    But the poem wants to flower, like a flower.
    It knows that much.

    It wants to open itself,
    like the door of a little temple,
    so that you might step inside and be cooled and refreshed,
    and less yourself than part of everything.


    The voice of the child crying out of the mouth of the
    grown woman
    is a misery and a disappointment.
    The voice of the child howling out of the tall, bearded,
    muscular man
    is a misery, and a terror.


    Therefore, tell me:
    what will engage you?
    What will open the dark fields of your mind,
    like a lover
    at first touching?


    there was no barn.
    No child in the barn.

    No uncle no table no kitchen.

    Only a long lovely field full of bobolinks.


    When loneliness comes stalking, go into the fields, consider
    the orderliness of the world. Notice
    something you have never noticed before,

    like the tambourine sound of the snow-cricket
    whose pale green body is no longer than your thumb.

    Stare hard at the hummingbird, in the summer rain,
    shaking the water-sparks from its wings.

    Let grief be your sister, she will whether or no.
    Rise up from the stump of sorrow, and be green also,
    like the diligent leaves.

    A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world
    and the responsibilities of your life.

    Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away.
    Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

    In the glare of your mind, be modest.
    And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.

    Live with the beetle, and the wind.

    This is the dark bread of the poem.
    This is the dark and nourishing bread of the poem.

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