The Shitty House at the End of the Street (Poetry)

Five days a week, sometimes six,
As the train carries me back home,
When I’m passing through Belaskoenea,
The train leaves behind an old brick wall
And a view opens of a working-class street,
At the end of which you used to live.

Every time, a hollow ache fills my chest
Because you will never be here again.

Their walls are dirty with downward streaks
From decades of rain releasing the grime.
I forgot in which of those apartments you lived,
But I had sat against the wall, on dried piss stains,
For the chance to hear you play the guitar.

I avoid remembering my past;
My brain bombards me regularly
With everything that I’ve done wrong,
Or that has gone wrong on its own,
So I don’t need to put any effort
To recall those series of painful moments
That involve failures and disappointments,
But nothing that feels like happiness.

Through writing I create new memories,
Which feel stronger than the real ones,
As if I were hacking into my brain
To take advantage of its primitive functions.

Even when I am at work, or trying to sleep,
Your ghost now haunts my desert spaces.
You make your presence known every day
By leaving traces on my mind.

I close my eyes and I return to that day
When we sat in front of each other in a restaurant
As we shared our first meal on top of Monte Igueldo.
I took a photo of you that I would have cherished
For a thousand lifetimes.

I remember when I woke up early in the morning
And I walked up to the second story of our house
To enjoy my warm coffee on the balcony
That overlooked the neighboring, wavy countryside.

I remember when I witnessed you walk down
Towards the library at Hondarribia’s old town
To join the attendants of a writing course,
And how proud I felt because you had dared.

I remember you sleeping next to me on a bus
That was taking us on an eternal journey.
I feel your warm hand in mine
As the sights of Cantabria pass us by.

I remember when we took a walk at night
While cold, thick raindrops fell on our heads.
We stood in front of a wooden fence
And we gazed upon the distant lights
Of an industrial city you had never seen.
Tears ran down your face, and you told me
That all the pain had been worth it
Because we ended up right there.

The back of my eyes burn
And I have trouble breathing
And I want to hide in the dark
Whenever I recall what I did to you.

In one dream, you and I were alone together
On this silent island floating through space.
We talked about our lives, shared stories,
And discussed how we could change.

Away from reality, away from the world
Where humanity gathers to destroy itself,
Those who live inside their imaginations
Are always alone.

My life has become a small room
Without windows or doors.
In this little cell of emptiness
There is only noise and pain,
And no one inside except an echo
That repeats itself over and over.

I’ve never missed the skin I got to touch
Like now I miss yours.

How much longer do you plan to stay?
Please, just leave me alone,
Disappear from this rotten world.
I can’t afford to keep crying anymore.

In the end, it’s a good thing
That you never existed;
Reality never got the chance
To ruin you.

‘The Shitty House at the End of the Street’ by Jon Ureña

My Face Against a Revolving Grindstone (Poetry)

Yesterday I struggled through a hard workday.
Working at a hospital is hectic, chaotic,
Which is especially fucked for someone like me
Who requires peace and quiet to exist properly.

The barcode scanner for an electrocardiograph
Suddenly stopped working.
The electromedical service was handling the ticket,
But the emergency department needed the machine;
They demanded us to look for another barcode scanner,
Which turned this issue into Our Problem.

During my last contract, we had spare barcode scanners,
But now not even the guy who handles the inventory
Knows why those barcode scanners have disappeared.
In the end I had to snatch one used for the vaccinations.
Although Philips will have to fix the original scanner,
We will likely never get our replacement scanner back.

When I started working at this hospital,
I was a thirty something years old ex programmer
Who never found a stable job in the private sector
(I wasn’t a hit with supervisors who weren’t technicians;
My solitary weirdness made those women uncomfortable)
And so ended up slaving away as a cog for the government.

First, I wondered why the fuck would I have to handle
Random machines like scanners, faxes, wristband printers,
But because most things contain a computer chip,
That makes such machines Our Problem.

In otolaryngology, a phone ceased to work
(We are in charge of phones; they connect to the network),
Which meant that the associated computer wasn’t online.
Everything was properly plugged in the network rack,
So I had to pursue the maintenance guys to fix the issue.

The phone’s location from the inventory was incorrect,
So the maintenance guy failed to find it,
But he also failed to told us he hadn’t found it.
For a few hours we had no clue what the fuck was going on
Until I managed to locate the specific maintenance guy
And direct him to the exact room that contains that socket
(He would have found it easily if he had asked around).
Turns out the whole thing wasn’t any of our business:
Someone had cut the hidden cable during construction.

One of my coworkers updates
All his tickets without punctuation
And with barely any information
About what he’s done to solve them,
So when he failed to fix
A serious network issue in the ICU
(Which mostly contains victims
Of the Chinese biological weapon),
My boss made me responsible
For resolving that guy’s ticket.

Turns out his updates were incorrect, maybe deliberately.
One read that the corresponding switch port had traffic,
But I found out it wasn’t plugged at all.

As I stood close to the ICU, in front of the network rack,
That has a tangled mess of cables nobody wants to handle,
Some random guy came from behind me
And then touched me without my consent.

“I don’t know what you came here to do,” he said cheerfully,
“But if you solve it in this disaster, you are a champ.”
I just stood there silently, never bothered to look at him.
He insisted, but eventually he got annoyed and left.
Nobody asked you to bother me, you fucking prick.

I got the associated computer online.
My boss said he had suspected
That my coworker hadn’t done shit,
He just intended to pass
His ticket to the maintenance service.
This coworker is a childish,
Annoying prick that nobody likes
(He’s the kind who just repeats
Mindless jokes from TV,
And when he gets bored,
It’s our job to entertain him),
But the bosses can’t do shit
Because he’s in a worker’s union,
And in the past he had called over
Some of those shady goons.

Two other computers were offline in anesthesiology.
The ticket’s info about the PCs’ location was incorrect.
When I finally found the user who had complained,
I discovered that they had produced at least two tickets,
So someone else must have been handling the other one.

As this nurse person guided me to the room in question,
Which would have been very hard to find otherwise
And is located past two doors that needed to be unlocked,
The nurse tried to make me empathize with her problem.

(She spoke slowly and carefully
As she wrapped both arms tightly around me.
Like many nurses with which I have dealt,
She sought the comfort of such contact.
Then, while standing right next to my ear,
She whispered how much she enjoyed my smell.)

She said they had moved a Zoom meeting to another room
Because the associated computers had been offline.
I didn’t pretend to care, and I could tell it annoyed her.
I’m never there to make you feel better; I fix machines.
Besides, I truly don’t give a shit about your problems.
I work because I need to pay for the privilege to exist
(Although I don’t even want to live).

In any case, when I finally found those blasted PCs,
I found out that someone had already fixed the problem,
I guess whoever handled the redundant ticket.
But I was the one person superfluous in this situation.
I had bothered to locate those rooms and listen to that girl
Just to waste my time and energies, and get paid for it.

When my dodgy coworker came for his shift,
He got nervous because I had handled his ticket.
Although he knew that our boss had passed it to me,
He still bothered me to figure out everything I had done,
And feigned surprise that his updates were incorrect.

In the middle of all this, my boss had called me
Because he and another coworker were travelling back
From dismantling the emergency vaccination stations,
And needed me to unload PCs, printers and phones
(I’m reasonably strong, so I’ve been a go-to guy for this).
We took that shit from my boss’ car and put it in my cart.
Later, I nearly sprained my back lifting a big printer.
I’m always exhausted, in my thirties, far from my prime.

(Nowadays, my body aches constantly,
My joints hurt, my head hurts,
My neck feels like a twisted pretzel,
So does every joint.

The world outside is dark and cold,
A place where mystery lurks
And sometimes death arrives.
Inside is warm, lit, clean, and safe.)

I have always been uncomfortable among humans.
When I was a child, I harbored the delusion
That one day I would find people I would like,
But the more people I met, the more I disliked everyone.
Once I worked at offices, I wanted to avoid most humans.
Now that I work in IT, I nearly loathe humanity.

Working with people always makes things worse.
We are a bunch of retarded apes
Who have no business making big plans,
Especially these civilization-wide restructurings
That originate from certain weasels in academia,
With all their grandiose political hypotheses.
We will suffer through horrible catastrophes.

Yesterday’s workday should have had a saving grace:
My contract would have ended, I would be free
To finally rest from having to work full-time,
Which always drains all of life’s strength from me.

But two hours before the workday ended,
I got the equivalent of “your contract is extended.”
So now I’ll have to endure through two more weeks
(And later on maybe more, I never know)
Until I can finally stop waking up at six in the morning
And some weeks returning home at eleven at night,
Not to mention all the garbage I endure in between.

Our secretary asked me whether I had made plans
That having to continue working here had screwed up.
I stared blankly at her. Plans? Other people make plans.
I merely adjust to the loads of shit that life throws at me
While I try to steal time to write and play the guitar,
Which are the only activities that keep me alive
(Besides masturbating).

All my coworkers and bosses complain about working,
And repeat that they have been ready to retire for years;
Still, some intended for me to be happy and grateful
When I had just been told that my vacations are cancelled.

I’ve never landed a stable job, never had proper vacations;
My vacations are whatever period of time is sandwiched
Between when a contract ends and the unknown moment
In which my phone will receive the dreaded call from work.
Ever since I learned that I’ve gotten fucked again,
I’ve felt a hollow ache inside my chest.

Besides, this job at the hospital won’t ever be stable;
You need to speak Basque to get hired permanently.
I hate the Basque language, it’s fucking ugly and useless.
Nothing it produces is valuable as far as I’m concerned.
All of my teachers chastised us if we spoke Spanish,
And none of them even knew how to teach it properly.
I don’t require it to do my work, it’s just about politics.

When I think about my following weeks,
I picture a dirty boot pressing my face
Against a revolving grindstone.

(A couple of days ago I was back in Whiterun.
I had to temper an iron dagger at the grindstone
Mostly to befriend dear Adrianne Avenicci;
Whenever I find or steal an ingot of refined malachite,
I will finally get to craft an alembic in a forge,
And if Adrianne likes me enough, she’ll let me use hers;
Money is too tight and I’d have to pay her otherwise
(I usually wouldn’t mind paying her; she’s got nice tits).

Once I get my hands on a fancy new alembic,
I’ll finally dissolve in it my alchemical ingredients.
They will allow me to learn about magic archetypes,
Which will become the sources of a series of theses
That will allow me, in days, to come up with new spells.
Those are bound to help me survive in the wilds;
Days earlier, I merely crossed the bridge from Markarth
When a big elk pummelled me into a paste.

I’m a puny Breton who wants to be a mage,
Although I haven’t even learned a single spell,
And I can’t afford to pay a bodyguard’s wages;
I bought a dog from some stablehand,
But the damn mutt and his Dwemer leg barely help.

None of these issues trouble me much, though,
When I can stand on top of the steps to Dragonsreach
And gaze down upon our city bathed in the sunset,
Including the Cloud District and its lack of pussy;
A myriad of sights that look so fucking good in VR.)

Yesterday, when my workday finally ended
And I walked out of the hospital complex
As I wondered why I bothered with anything,
My mind went numb until I reached the train.
Once I stood in a crowded passenger cab
And looked forward to a forty minutes long ride,
I remembered that it’s always been the same way.

As a child, for a few years I had my own bedroom
Where I read, recorded a pretend radio show,
Wrote, drew comics, and daydreamed.
But my mother didn’t like her two sons,
And wanted to free a room to create a new kid.

She convinced me into moving to my brother’s room.
As a seven year old, I didn’t properly understand
The kind of sacrifices I had signed up for.
From then on, until I became eighteen years old,
I was treated like an unwanted guest in my bedroom.

I couldn’t listen to my music nor watch what I wanted.
I couldn’t concentrate enough to read nor study.
My fragile mind requires silence to retain its sanity,
But my brother wanted noise to drown his thoughts.
Thanks to him, we slept with the radio and TV on.

I never rested enough, I was never comfortable.
I read my books as I walked through the streets.
I had to enter into random apartment buildings
To hide in the darkness and silence between floors.
Nobody was around me, nobody could touch me.
My heart pounded, hoping that no one would notice,
But in the solitude of such dark places, I was free.

Not even the weekends belonged to me;
A narcissistic cousin that my brother liked
Forced his way into our house every Saturday,
And he believed it was my job to entertain him.
Years later he even flirted with my then girlfriend,
Which was my excuse to get rid of the prick.
He suggested I had to forgive him for whatever,
Because we are technically related by blood.

Whenever I brought up to my mother
That I was suffering in my brother’s room,
She always repeated a variation of the same thing:
“You gotta understand it, he has problems.”

For her, if nobody mentioned a problem, it didn’t exist,
Like when she denied our sister was stealing shit
To pay for the hashish to which she was addicted
(Her own Muslim boyfriend was a drug dealer,
Not to mention an adult when she was a minor,
Which is legal in my country if the minor is willing;
Who knows what crazy shit my sister was involved in).

My mother denied it, but she still hid my valuables.
She didn’t even tell me she was hiding my stuff,
Which caused me to think my sister had stolen it.
I found my gifted jewelry years later, in a drawer.

(To be fair, as a teen I was a thief myself.
I stole books and manga; no internet back then.
My worst theft was part of a cousin’s wages
When my mother forced me to visit them.
I stole it to feel that I could affect something,
And I spent it on books and random groceries.
I regret that one, I couldn’t handle the guilt,
And I never stole anything ever again.)

Even with the people with which I hung out,
Or the girls I ended up romantically tangled to
(I wouldn’t have dated them if I knew myself better),
I always felt I would never stand on solid ground;
I remained at the mercy of turbulent currents,
And I had to struggle to keep my nose above water
While trying not to sink into psychotic madness
(If only my parents had done their fucking duty,
I doubt I would have turned out this rotten).

I was told to believe that everything was fine;
I just needed to put up with increasing anxiety.
But I’d rather live under glass and slowly starve
Than be suffocated and drowned in shit and lies.
Somebody please shut me in a box full of nails.

This morning I woke up at six in the morning again.
I managed to revise a whole scene in the train
(I hope I’ll get to upload my novel in a week or so).
Shortly after eight, when my workday starts,
I had to grab a RJ45 cable and a Patchsee light,
Because another network connection had failed.
After I took the rack key, our secretary laughed
And said that she always saw me carrying cables.

A couple of hours later, my boss called me in
To assure me that Saturdays are paid individually,
And that he needed me to come to work tomorrow
Because the new coworker was mostly useless.
But he fucked up and asked if I wanted to,
And I said that I would come if I was ordered,
But that otherwise I badly needed to rest.
Thankfully, he immediately changed his tune,
And now I have to deal with his awkwardness
Because I refused to sacrifice another day.

I’m looking forward to finally crafting
That blasted alembic at Adrianne’s forge.
That’ll help me survive in the wilds
Where monsters roam and prey is scarce,
Before I can return to our quaint little town
Where all the houses are built of stone,
With wooden doors and iron hinges,
And windows made of thick glass
So I can see my loved ones’ faces
And let the sunlight in
To warm my bones
When winter comes.

I need to wake up at ten to drink a coffee in peace
While I sit in my boxers to write whatever comes.
I need to walk into the woods with a folding stool
To play my guitar until my blisters pop.
I’m sick to my core of this fucking world,
And the only thing I truly yearn for is to die.

‘My Face Against a Revolving Grindstone’ by Jon Ureña

Revised: ‘I Wish I Were Wet’

I’m at the last stage of revising a novel I wrote mostly in May of this year, and that I intend to publish on online retailers. Meanwhile I’m also going through the poems I’ve written, because I have realized that they could be distributed into three distinct ebooks, which I will also self-publish in the future.

This time I had to revise ‘I Wish I Were Wet’, which is mostly about the art of writing and my personal fears about becoming sterile. This was one of those poems in which I mostly updated the punctuation and then cut out a few sentences here and there and added a few more. The rest is reading through the text a couple of times while listening to your inner voice, that alerts you about the opportunities to sharpen the sentence by exchanging a verb for another or deleting a few words.

The link is below.

I Wish I Were Wet

A Human Like Them (Poetry)

If I’m lucky, in a few days I’ll be unemployed.
I will be able to dedicate myself to writing,
And I will limit my exposure to humans,
Because above any other hope and goal,
I just need to be left alone.

For the first time in any job,
I’ve tolerated my current one enough
That I think some coworkers are fine,
In the sense that I can deal with them
Without wanting to kill myself.

I’ve had interesting dialogues with some,
And I can stomach the opinions of a few,
But no matter how closely I work with them
Or the personal details they readily shared,
I clearly avoid getting close to any of them,
And whenever my contracts have ended,
I have never missed any of my coworkers.

I wondered whether I had ever missed anyone.
No matter what kind of person they were,
They all seemed to have disappointed me.
I no longer retain the echoes of how it felt
To be in a romantic relationship that lasted.
I don’t know if I looked forward to seeing them
Or if I dated them because that’s what you do.
They never were interesting enough to me.

When my longest one ended, it hurt like a bitch;
I found myself wandering to known places
Like a beast following the instructions in its genes,
But in a few months, those aches faded away,
And I identified that trial as withdrawal symptoms:
I had become addicted to the pleasurable feelings
That trying to fulfill life’s purpose provides,
But it was just a run-of-the-mill addiction,
Like with any other drug.

I never felt an impulse to socialize,
I didn’t want to go to bars or parties,
I just wanted to get lost in my imagination.
Interacting with people made me antsy,
Not just because it caused me anxiety,
But because humans are fucking boring.
I could have been daydreaming,
Or assembling a fictional story,
Or remembering some show,
Or just enjoying the silence instead.

As a child, I struggled with unlikely nemeses:
I had to be wary of tender-hearted ladies,
Usually teachers or social workers,
Who loved words like ‘compassion’ and ’empathy’.

The teachers resented that I was alone,
So I needed to be properly socialized.
They wanted to add a good deed to the list
(It seems to me that feeling like a good person
Is for these people another kind of drug),
So they pushed me towards other kids,
Whether they were loners or settled groups.

I could have been spared meeting such kinds
Like a kleptomaniac and pyromaniac
With the strangest tic I’ve ever seen,
And who either killed himself or OD’d
Before he reached the fabled twenty seven
(To be fair, he wasn’t that bad of a guy,
Just doomed and truly fucked up,
But it doesn’t mean I wanted to know him);
Several girls who used me as a prop,
As in ‘look how good I am that I deal
With this gross, worthless, retarded loner’;
An overcompensating, anorexic girl
Who derailed every conversation
To remind people about how fat she was;
Coke addicts and hashish traffickers;
A boring sociopath who stole to steal
And hurt others for the plain fun of it;
A jock for who bullying was an instinct
Which he obeyed without malice,
And he was also a lying sack of shit;
A malignant narcissist who became a politician,
Who tried to ruin my life for many years
Just because I stopped hanging out with him
(Luckily he took himself out of the way;
He crashed his car on his way to a meeting).

There were others I either have forgotten
Or my brain has ended up blocking out,
But my point is that I first met those people
Because some soft-headed fool
Who wanted to feel like a good person
Smiled as she pushed me towards someone.

The less I say about social workers, the better.
In my experience, they are all Grade A morons
Who mostly see the world in ‘positive’ prejudices;
I had to be a good person, a social worker said,
Because I am a high-functioning autist.

You are also a good person by default to them
If you belong to other protected demographics,
No matter the horrible crimes some commit;
Start having babies of your own, idiots,
And stop babying adults.

Maybe I wouldn’t distrust humans so much,
Nor be so anxious whenever they are close,
If I had gone through good experiences with them,
But when even romantic partners have exploited
The very private pains I shared in confidence,
I just want them all to fuck off for the rest of my life.

Today I ventured to watch a movie at the cinema,
Which I had avoided since this virus thing started;
I have little interest in the garbage Hollyweird spews
(They don’t want to tell stories, just propaganda,
So I gravitate towards manga and anime instead),
But that new Dune movie seemed decent enough.

The movie was fine, the people were shit;
A group of tweens talked the whole time
Although adults kept shushing them,
But it’s true, these generations are hopeless;
They know they won’t get any consequences.
So I had to endure the rest of the movie
While I fantasized about walking up to them
And pushing their eyeballs into their skulls
(I often daydream about murder for relief).

Afterwards, as I walked my way home,
I tried to avoid the noisy multitudes
(I felt like I was being strangled
By a bunch of screeching cats)
As my brain wondered pointlessly again
Whether I’m a human being like them
If those people truly enjoy such tumults,
Are eager to surround themselves with others,
Want to get romantic partners, and have kids.

When I was a child, I thought they pretended
That they enjoyed interacting with people;
That’s what they were supposed to do,
Like my mother, and teachers, insisted to me.

Now that I’m much older, a grumpy man
That girls sometimes refer to as ‘sir’
(I hope they mean it in a daddy sense,
But it hurts because I feel eighteen inside),
I have accepted that I lack a part of my brain
That in others makes them want to socialize.

I guess those humans act like nature intends,
And most of them are properly happy,
While I’ll always remain an alien creature
That can’t connect with this species.

I’m a society of one, if such a thing exists,
And when I die, this whole history ends.
A man alone can never change a thing,
But I guess I can keep writing.

‘A Human Like Them’ by Jon Ureña

Revised: ‘Fly on the Wall’

I’m at the last stage of revising a novel I wrote mostly back in May, because I intend to publish it as an ebook. In the meantime I rearranged my poems into three distinct books. I’ll also put that stuff on online retailers as ebooks.

I’m going through the poems contained in the first of those poetry ebooks, to fix their punctuation (I have no clue why I ever thought that doing away with periods when writing poetry was a good idea) and hopefully expand and sharpen them. This time I worked on the poem ‘Fly on the Wall’, mainly about an old amateur rock band I loved. I didn’t need to expand it in any way. I cut out a few sentences here and there instead.

The link is below.

Fly on the Wall

Revised and expanded two minor poems

I’m at the last stage of revising that novel I wrote in May, which I intend to release as an ebook, but in the meantime I’m also going through the poems that will be contained in one of three poetry ebooks that I’ll release in the near future (certainly once ‘My Own Desert Places’ is up on Amazon).

This time I focused on two old poems, some of the first ones I wrote. The one about tennis isn’t that good, although I like it well enough, but I think I ended up improving the second one significantly. Both are about obsessions I had.

In any case, ‘If Only My Penis Were a Racket’ is silly, ‘A Magician and Her Assistant’ is heartfelt. The links are below:

If Only My Penis Were a Racket
A Magician and Her Assistant

I Will Never Drive a Big Rig (Poetry)

I rely on taking breaks from the world to endure it,
Whether through sleeping (despite my insomnia),
Writing, or through the wonders of virtual reality;
Today, a Saturday, I woke up so exhausted,
And mentally drained from a long week at work
(I’ll never get used to returning home at night),
That after eating I only wanted to take a nap;
My mind remained foggy and sluggish,
So I knew I wouldn’t write anything of value,
But I didn’t want to sleep through the day,
So I returned to my comfort game in VR,
Which consists on driving virtual trucks around

Due to how my brain works from birth,
I’ve never learned to drive;
My mind takes flight by itself,
And when it returns to reality,
I have to reacquaint myself
With whatever I was doing

I’ve talked with other autistic people,
And some understand what I mean,
But others are driving safely to this day
(Then again, autism seems to be caused
By atypical pruning of neuron connections
In babies’ brains as they develop,
Producing different overall configurations)

(There was this guy who crashed many times,
And who got his driver’s license revoked,
But he had taken so many drugs in his youth
That he now suffers from epileptic seizures)

My point is that my wiring is all fucked up,
And I rarely know how much I care about things,
Except maybe for food and shelter and sex
(And VR also helps with one of those things)

My mind takes flight even when I try to focus;
I don’t think anybody has noticed at work,
Although I keep being absent in conversations,
But my inability to stick to reality
Constantly ends up with me rear-ending
The poor bastard who was driving in front of me

Thankfully this only happens in video games,
Such as when I’m driving a virtual truck,
But if I was able to drive my own vehicle,
I’m sure I would crash in less than a week,
Or maybe I would obey my nagging thoughts
About driving straight, full speed, into a wall

(Besides, I’ve never had a stable job;
I rarely know if enough money will come in,
So I can hardly justify buying a vehicle
When the public transport is so good here)

Learning to endure my lot in life
Has depended on me facing the reality
That I’m equipped with two different brains:
One the analytical, slower one on top,
And the other the primordial, bestial brain
Which takes most of the decisions for us
While the analytical brain makes up a story
(So it can keep telling itself that it’s in charge)

Immersing myself in VR is a constant reminder
That although my PC is producing the world,
My primitive brain is deceived easily,
So I get to escape for a while from my life
Because my stupid brain is convinced
That I’m a trucker driving through Europe
While listening to popular tunes
(From annoying modern music
To the rock classics from decades ago,
But all of them feel good while driving)

When you’re trapped inside a truck cab,
You stop thinking about your problems,
And if the right song ends up playing,
It’ll make you feel like you’re on the road
With the wind blowing through the windows,
As you drive across the plains of France
While the sun shines in the sky,
And the beautiful landscapes never end

(But the VR journeys always end,
Because I have to return to my real life,
And I need to remember to eat and sleep
If I want to continue driving a truck
In the virtual reality, where I am king
Of the highway, and my trucks rule the land)

Driving a virtual truck fills me with nostalgia
About a world I haven’t experienced in reality,
That involves sitting inside a huge metal box
Which would explode into mush any human
Who was stupid enough to walk in front of it

My virtual trucks make me feel powerful and free,
And like I could drive to the ends of the Earth,
If I could afford all the gasoline it would take
And if my trucks wouldn’t break down so often

Being a trucker sounds like a blissful life,
But many things sound good when imagined;
In reality, you need to sleep at fixed times,
At random rest areas frequented by weirdoes
Who may decide to break into your truck,
And I doubt that the deliveries pay enough,
Or else most truckers would be filthy rich;
They don’t seem to have much luck at making
A living off their trucks, although they are kings

Still, I want to drive through the desert
While listening to radio stations,
And singing along to the music,
And worrying about being abducted by aliens,
(And coming across ghost hitchhikers,
Or sasquatches that crossed the road)

My mind would keep drifting away from reality
While I thought about the important stuff,
Like how to repair my truck’s engine,
Or when I should pick up the next prostitute,
Or whether I should become a serial killer

When my mind would return to reality,
I would have crashed into a telephone pole,
And there would be suspicious splatters,
Huge and red ones, dirtying my windshield,
But luckily I wouldn’t have died,
So I would keep driving around town
Till my truck started to smoke;
Then I’d find a motel room
Where I could spend the night

(I would be woken up by a loud alarm clock,
And I’d start my day with a cup of coffee,
Then I’d drive my truck back to the shop
For repairs, or to get a new one)

I never became a trucker,
I will never drive a big rig,
And those are my biggest regrets in life,
But maybe there’s time to move to Brazil,
Where I could rent a truck and drive straight
Into that goddamn Amazon jungle,
To be the first to cut it through
With my huge metal box I’d sit in,
While I listened to the radio
And failed to see another person
For days at a time
(Unless I drove into them)

My brain feels like shit today,
But I’m a failure if I don’t produce a text,
So I wrote these words that I hope you enjoyed;
Now I can return to my virtual trucks
And my virtual life, which is just as real
As the one I live in (although it’s not)

‘I Will Never Drive a Big Rig’ by Jon Ureña

An Untethered Life (Poetry)

Years ago I stored a permanent memory:
My latest relationship had ended badly,
And I was standing in a random street
While I looked down at my two feet;
I suddenly felt that the tethers
I had allowed that person to attach to my skin,
And that tied me to another human being
Wherever in the world she happened to be,
Had been forcefully severed,
And I found myself like a stranded astronaut
Drifting through the black void,
Unable even to radio back home

Ever since, I’ve refused to let anyone
Tether themselves to my sensitive skin;
All I’ve learned from my intimate relationships
Is that I wasn’t born for any of it
They were just there as an excuse for me to live,
To enjoy life while pretending to love them

(Besides, what a romantic relationship provides
Isn’t worth the demands and the humiliations)

Real human beings are far too complicated
For someone like me, who’s only ever loved
Either the broken or the monsters
(Most of them fictional, some I made up)

Human beings are bound to bother you,
And if you lack the instinct to interact with them,
They only steal your time and energy
That could have gone into writing,
Or anything better than dealing with them,
Such as idly browsing the internet;
I only want people when I want them,
Otherwise they should go away

(I still fantasize about fucking
The many attractive women
That I come across any given day,
But that’s the hormones speaking,
And VR is very good at solving
That age-old problem)

This week I’ve been working afternoons;
By one and a half PM I want to take a nap,
But I have to traverse my city
(Which has become merely a container
Where dozens of nationalities push each other),
Get on a train, and later on take a bus,
So I can work at an office doing shit
That I couldn’t care less about

At the end of the month I get angry
Because the government steals
Hundreds of euros I need for myself,
So it can fund my country’s suicide
(Or more appropriately, its murder)

And I only care because I have to live here
(I couldn’t begin to figure out how to leave);
I’ve already had people trying to break in,
And a woman almost got raped nearby
(The neighbors beat the culprit up);
Just two things on top of the usual shit

I make my way back home
At eleven PM at night,
And I usually just stare up ahead
So I don’t despair at the chaos,
And the hopelessness of our future

I guess it’s different for those people
Who look around and feel connected,
But wherever I look, I see flat images,
Ones that don’t elicit any feelings
(Any positive ones, at least)

Walking through my workspace,
Or any of the streets I pass through,
They remind me of movie sets
Where important movies had been filmed,
But that have been abandoned to rot,
And the people who remain around
Keep cleaning and repairing the sets
Without knowing why,
And without a single clue about
What it all means

At work, I keep looking at the time
As the hours tick by;
The years have gone by so fast,
And I’ve wasted my youth,
My entire life,
Waiting for a phone call or email
From people who never contacted me

I’m working through the second full-length revision
Of that novel I wrote in May, about the ghost woman,
But it advances slowly, and the process is painful;
Those scenes feel like memories from a past life,
Moments that I’ve seared in my brain
Because nothing in reality makes any sense to me

I wish I could delude myself into going back,
To live vicariously through their fictional lives;
I’ve never cared about my own,
For as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to disappear

(I’m just waiting to be shot down
By an army of soldiers and policemen,
And when they finally find me,
I’ll probably get the same treatment I gave others)

Why go on living if you know
How pointless your life truly is?
How much pain and suffering
Are worth enduring?

(You’re just a pawn in someone else’s game,
A piece that no one cares about,
An object to use and discard,
A tool to satisfy the needs of the powerful)

I only have days in which such questions burn me,
Or those in which nothing manages to matter;
That’s unless I can distract myself
Through writing my way out of hell

None of the stuff I’ve written
Has ever amounted to anything,
But I can be proud that I tried my best,
Even though I knew I would fail

I have no choice but to continue on
To try and escape from my misery
And the future I don’t want,
Which will surely come true
(I hope I die before that happens)

And I do all of this shit
Because I may as well

‘An Untethered Life’ by Jon Ureña

A Ghastly Scar (Poetry)

My broken brain forced me to endure
Another one of many sleepless nights;
I rolled in bed, drenched in sweat,
Assailed by dredged up memories
And painful thoughts brought back to life

Only in such moments I recall this one girl
I briefly hung out with during middle school:
She was lanky, always wore her hair short
(It got wild when it grew to chin length),
Her eyes were too big for her face,
Her mouth puckered up awkwardly,
And when she talked, her voice sounded weird,
Like she swallowed air before speaking

Maybe because she sensed we were similar,
She attempted to become friends with me,
But she struggled to hold conversations;
All she did was talk and talk nonstop
As her words rambled around in circles
Like a child struggling to tell important stuff,
And yet coming out like incoherent gibberish;
Her speech reminded me of the sound
An old cassette tape makes when it is scratched

Whenever we met, she would act all cool,
Spouting smart talk that didn’t ring true;
I could tell she wasn’t happy,
But she kept trying anyway,
In an attempt to fool others
Into thinking she was fine

There was something desperate
About her smell,
And it annoyed me

She was falling apart inside;
This awkward girl, like me,
Was never able to fit in,
So I guess she tried to hide
Her emotional pain with fake smiles,
Because she couldn’t stand how she looked,
Or how she smelled or sounded,
Or how her brain made her feel so bad

Maybe to explain herself,
She wrote me letters on notebook pages
And filled them with elaborate drawings
Which she colored carefully
With her toxic-smelling ink pens

I’m not sure if I ever read those letters
With the care that she maybe deserved,
Because during those times I struggled
To even hold on to my sanity,
As an undiagnosed autistic teen
Who had to ditch plenty of classes
Due to anxiety, paranoia, bullying,
And a depression built into my brain,
As well as issues with auditory processing;
I felt like a wild animal captured
And trapped in a cage

I was the classic autistic case
Of a kid who does great in school
(Mainly because I spent my time
Either reading books or writing stories),
Until his peers begin developing socially;
The autistic kid’s grades quickly collapse,
Because his mind is already struggling
To process the rowdy, savage beasts
With whom he’s forced to share a classroom

I was a shy, quiet, anxious teen
Sitting alone in a corner
By a window, scribbling away
On notebooks that I hid from view;
‘Autistic Ghost’ would have been
My perfect superhero name

I’ve retained three memories of that girl:
The first one is her sitting next to me
As she struggled awkwardly to talk
(And I can’t be sure of the accuracy
Of any of the memories I’ve stored;
I read that our brains rewrite
Aspects of every memory
Whenever we access them,
So the best way to keep them pure
Is to never remember them at all)

The second memory is me standing
Close to the entrance of that school
When that girl came out bleeding
From a gash in her forehead
Which was bathing her face in blood;
She was being dragged by her armpits
By two pale-faced, female classmates

The next day I learned
That during arts and crafts class,
A well-known delinquent stoner
Had been twirling around
The handle of a paper guillotine,
Which ended up flying off
Until the blade of the steel cutter
Pierced the girl’s forehead vertically
From the hairline to the brow ridge

A different girl from the adjoined classroom
Had been taking a shower after gym class
When the shower floor collapsed,
Impaling the soles of her feet
With ceramic shards
(I was also loitering near the entrance
When they dragged this poor girl out,
So who knows how many times
Such unlikely disasters happened there)

We went to a working-class middle school
That would produce the next generation
Of retail clerks, civil servants, druggies and suicides;
A year after I graduated, a riot broke out:
The principal was beaten up,
Desks were hurled out of the windows,
Plenty of students got arrested
(I imagined the police shooting round after round
At young people in the playground)

(Why do I keep recalling
All these traumatic events?
Does PTSD work this way?)

The stoner who disfigured that girl
Was the popular, bad boy kind
That many teens were swooning over,
But I remember that he stunk like pot,
That he got arrested during a skiing trip
(I think he tried to sell hashish to the locals),
And that as an adult, he was the one
Who ripped my ticket in two
Whenever I went to see a movie;
He always hung his head low,
But I thought he was lucky:
At least he could keep that job

My third and last memory of the girl
Is glancing at her from a distance;
Her forehead was bisected
By a wide, purplish scar,
Like one left by a major operation
Where they had to open the flesh
To implant metal on a broken bone

(I imagine her,
In an attempt to hide it,
Drawing in black paint
Over that ugly wound,
Like the unhealthiest smile,
As if to say,
“See, you’re not alone”)

I don’t think I ever saw her again,
And I don’t recall any of her words;
My teen years had been so miserable
That I gave up every memento of them:
Stories, drawings, photos, letters;
So whatever this girl had to tell me
Ended up ripped in pieces
And thrown away into a trash bin

Soon enough I forgot her name,
But whenever my brain dredges her up,
Only during my many sleepless nights,
I picture her awkwardness and her scars,
Her desperate attempts to connect with others;
The pain I feel when I think about her
Reminds me how my own life ended
The same way hers did

I wish I could figure out how to google her,
To at least confirm what I always assumed,
That I would come across her obituary,
Which would be the last time
That anyone would have mentioned her name;
One day someone I have forgotten about
Will do the same for me

(Those letters are here again now,
Generated by my broken mind;
I can see that handwriting clearly,
Haunting me like a ghost

Her last letter went like this:
‘You can forget about me now,
I will no longer exist
Don’t try to reach out to me again,
Forget that I existed at all’

Like so many others,
I’m forced to remember her
For the rest of my life)

In hindsight, I wish I could have sat
Side by side with this girl on benches,
Even if we said nothing at all,
Because I think she felt the same way,
And that our pains were the same,
And that she would understand
That I wasn’t different from her

I’ve come to understand myself,
Now that I’ve gotten this old,
And I know that if I could go back
And spend time in her presence,
I would yearn to return to solitude,
Because no amount of goodwill
Has ever been able to change
What this monster demands of me

New experiences snick the surface
Of my clinically depressed brain,
Turning their memories into scars;
After I have endured for many years,
I’m left with a mesh of crisscrossing cuts,
So I can roll around in bed, drenched in sweat,
While my brain reopens some scars
To make them bleed again

‘A Ghastly Scar’ by Jon Ureña

The Princess of the Gutter (Poetry)

I entered my thirties as someone
Who had failed to get a stable job,
Who had worked for minimum wage
Programming corporate websites,
Which involved typing away non-stop,
Being pressured into working overtime,
And leaving the office at around five PM

As I waited for the train to come,
I daydreamed about walking forward
And dropping onto the train tracks below
(Why not? Why was I alive at all?),
And when I finally got home
Around six and a half PM,
Often I went to sleep immediately
(Or passed out when I sat down),
So I could wake up the next morning
For a new workday to drain me dry

One of those jobs I quit because
I couldn’t tolerate the stress
And exhaustion of those work hours,
I was fired from another one
While I was on medical leave
Due to anxiety and depression,
And the others either let me go
Or didn’t hire me after the trial period,
All of them with a creative variety
Of ‘you can’t work well in a team’,
Which would be fair and all
If working there had involved teamwork,
Instead of me sitting alone at a desk
Programming whatever they told me to

(I’m a terrible worker, I admit it,
Unless I’m interested in the subject,
Because I only care about my obsessions,
And I will work as little as possible
If I can get away with it)

The last of those cases was back in 2015,
When my immediate boss argued angrily
Against the supervisor that didn’t hire me
After a trial period I got through a center
For adults on the autistic spectrum;
That supervisor I hadn’t dealt with
Stated the cookie-cutter phrase
As the reason why she wouldn’t hire me:
‘You wouldn’t fit in with the team’
A more accurate assessment of my abilities
Would have been ‘We’re better off hiring
Somebody else that has less problems’

I had spent six months of my life
Programming their intranet for free
So I could add that bullshit experience
To my curriculum vitae,
Although no employer who reads it
Would consider hiring me

(Their HR person wanted me to be proud
That my effort reduced their work time)

Anyway, I had given up on ever making it
As a regular member of society
(In which I never felt I like belonged);
I spent most of my days reading,
Writing (very little those days),
Playing video games, playing guitar,
Or masturbating

As I was busy hating my life,
I was called from a center that deals
With adults with severe disabilities,
To attend some half-assed, bullshit course
About developing social skills for work

During the initial interview for the course,
One of the counselors offered me a job
At a workshop, in the assembly line;
Leaving aside that I didn’t want it
(I try to avoid working in jobs that
Would make me want to kill myself),
The tremendous din of those workshops,
As well as how loud some workers are,
Would clash with my auditory disorder,
And my IBS would make me stop the line
Every forty minutes or so to take a shit,
So I decided to pass on that opportunity
(If you can call an opportunity a job
That wouldn’t pay me enough to live;
I hadn’t become that desperate yet)

They justified the government grants
By setting up a course that would teach us
How to talk politely and behave professionally,
To learn how to face life’s challenges
And become integrated into the workforce

Modern society believes, and is forced to,
That everyone is equal in a diffuse sense,
The same way a religious person believes
In a god that is just a construct
From which they derive their sense of meaning
Without the need to question or analyze it;
The gods are not omnipotent,
So if we don’t believe in them,
Everything collapses into absurdity

(I’m not willing to accept an existence
Where different people must be treated equally;
People are born with or develop
Wildly incompatible needs and abilities)

The supposedly well meaning idiots
In charge of organizing these courses
Put people with physical injuries,
Severe intellectual disabilities,
Severe “social” disabilities (autism),
And even a jihadist without disabilities
(Some shit about risking exclusion)
In the same fucking course,
Which made it utterly worthless;
I was furious at the state we were in
As a society that I had to deal with it

(We wasted half of every class
Hearing how our society was terrible
And we should think about converting
Into a more compassionate religion,
As if I didn’t already hate this civilization
For forcing us to tolerate this garbage)

Anyway, during one of the breaks,
I skedaddled as usual to read alone,
Sitting at an isolated bench
As my earphones played storm sounds

But that day someone walked out
Of the nearby workshop,
Where a bunch of disabled people
Sat in front of an assembly line
To assemble machinery parts

It was a beautiful woman
About twenty five years old,
Who wore a workshop uniform;
As she shuffled to the bench
Located right in front of me
(Maybe seven meters away),
She was sobbing like a child
As if nobody could hear her
Or nobody would care

(I immediately thought that she cried
Because her life wasn’t worth living)

When she sat down,
Her shoulders drooped
While the streams of tears
Dripped onto her lap

She looked like those women
I passed by as I walked through
The fanciest neighborhoods
Of the capital of Gipuzkoa,
Where well-off women strolled
While they held their shopping bags;
I would believe her if she had told me
She was an actress preparing a role

I sat there gawking at her
While I held my breath;
There was something epiphanic
In how such an incongruous woman
Sobbed like an abandoned puppy,
As if the world had left her behind

I wondered how broken she was,
And about her kind of brokenness
(Nobody would have ended up there,
In a facility up in the hills of Donostia,
If society hadn’t decided to hide them)

Someone else came out of the workshop:
It was a hirsute, ugly man in his forties;
He was missing most of the hair on top,
But I remember tufts of thick back hair
Peeking out from the collar of his uniform

He hurried up to sit at the bench
Next to the beautiful, sobbing coworker;
I think he asked her what was wrong,
While she trembled
And her chest convulsed,
Then I heard her thin, broken voice,
Trying to cobble a sentence together
As if her brain was cleaved in two;
The words were incomprehensible

(It made me feel that life is a lie,
A farce that we’re forced to accept,
And I wished that all the pain
That was in the depths of my heart
Was so intense that it would kill me)

It might have been cerebral palsy,
Or a myriad other disorders or diseases,
But whatever the cause, she was broken
To the extent that she knew
That she could freely sob in public
Like a ghost wailing in the night

The hirsute coworker put his arms
Around the sobbing woman’s shoulders,
And as he cuddled up to her,
He spoke to the crying beauty
With tender words

He stroked her head
And kissed her temple,
Like a lover does
To comfort their beloved,
While she wept and wept

(That man was the ugliest I’d ever seen,
Because he was the one hugging her
When it should have been me)

I still wonder if she knew,
If she was aware of her limitations,
If she was a bright woman
Trapped in a brain unable
To put together coherent sentences,
Or if she had been blissfully spared
By her severe disabilities
That degree of sentience

(I hope she was stupid,
As dumb as a wild animal,
So she wouldn’t understand
The kind of hell she lived in)

What I learned from attending centers
For disabled people who can’t get jobs,
Is that most human beings are spared
Having to come across the people
Who would disturb society
With their misery

‘The Princess of the Gutter’ by Jon Ureña