As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Michael Utzler – Poetry

I Live

Bleed and suffer,

More than a collection of experiments,
More than failed effort,

A heart beats warmth in swollen veins,
Blood and plasma,
Fluids that confirm,

Revolution never sought,
An epiphany of thought found,
This holds meaning,
Nothing else,
Just now,

Life a progression,
Only the falling a footstep,
As it passes to be remembered,
Nothing came before,

Evocation of the past,
Marshals only faint remembrance,
Ghosts lingering in the shell of something dead to me,
Faint, blurred and nearly gone,

An abstraction of the mind,
Another nude horizon of possibility,
A blank page,

Life is now,
Words erupted from the wounded nucleus of sentiment,
Spiritual extraction of pain for the dissertation of knowing,
What the soul might be,

I live,
For the knowledge and prestige,
Of clearing the slate,
Wiping the residue of tainted existence,

Concentration is a severe test of perseverance,
As I perform for a few gracious thoughts from a heart lacking selfish motives,

The beautiful purpose of a stranger,
To expose a famished heart,
Slowly pulsing,
Pounding defiantly against death,
Beating the raggedy tempo of something broke,

Harsh reality written in legalese,
Penitentiary time doled out without pity,
Punishment set as deposit against unforgiven mistakes,
Years of anguish,
Sacraments to authority,
Lonely spans of ponderous thought atonement for impulse,

Holding onto the frail anticipation of dreams,
Which, is as intangible,
As real freedom,
Love poured concrete as a desire,
Is elusive to hold,
Regardless of covetous thoughts of unknown lovers,

The corroboration of facts,
Articulates my loneliness,
And stone scribed convictions tremble habitually beneath the yoke of adversity.


The hard breaks of life come,

Descending with the chaotic and turbulent beauty of a storm riding the horizon,

Fate swiftly exposing the wishful lies we tell ourselves,

As dreams become the thin threads of fantasy we cling to in the dark seconds of solitude,

We relive the failures of moments lost in our yesterdays as the shadows lurking within us,

Cast doubt on our best laid intentions.

I have felt the hard, cold break of shattered perception,

Felt my heart crumble with remorse in the silence of loneliness,

I’ve crashed and burned,

Fell face first into the depths of despair even as I tried to hold tight to my sanity,

I told those I loved that they meant nothing as they sheltered me in their love,

I denied the truth,

Spoke lies in the light and pushed affection aside with no regard for those whose worlds I tore apart.


Shattered perceptions



The words we speak and the deeds we commit in the hope of living,

Of feeling the elation of freedom,

The act of breaking the chain and walking away from the obligations, that bind.


The hard breaks always come,

And we tear at the seams and fall from the grace of self stated perfection,

We fall faster and faster until the friction ignites our fears and we burn,

We burn at both ends of the darkness until we are nothing but the fear,

Nothing but the failures and busted commitments,

We burn until the heat becomes more than our substance can withstand,

And all we are, become the ashes of desires untested,

The bitter taste of shallow promises made and broken.


The hard breaks of life come,

Shatter us and burn the essence of our beings to ghostlike images painted in the dust,

We become the ashes of burnt yesterdays,

But from those ashes we return,

Risen with life like a phantom of the future,

In the calm aftermath of defeat we become a symbol of faith,

A fierce image of redemption, the hope of better days.


From the hard breaks of life we become the living memory of a myth,

Again and again we rise,

Life from death,

Fire to ash and from loss to freedom,

Reborn like a phoenix in the night.



The sound of graphite gliding across the blank page is an addiction,

The rhythm of my heart is bound to the stroke of the hand holding the pencil,

And I pay tribute for the melody of the softly sung song,

Constantly with the lines drawn from the traumas of an unstable mind,

I scratch out images with patient regard, despite my restless nature,

Despite my need for instant gratification

The empty parchment is an exodus from everything,

My life, lived in breaths of imagination and exhibited in the finished product of my labors,

Proof of life,

Proof undeniable that I was here,

That I live,

Yesterdays and tomorrows I see at the edge of my jaded perception,

Thin and elusive,

Like the tendrils of cigarette smoke caught in the filtered rays of the rising sun,

Today in itself, blinds me to the truth it seems,

I see it as the record written in fragmented statements

The stifling result of all the times I said “someday”,

The someday that never came and the days I let slip,

The faltering steps I took in the wrong direction,

The staggering ballet,

Of an ego intoxicated juvenile to the drunken square dance of a lost man,

They culminate in the seconds that span my mind like eternity,

In the silent passage of rare solitude,

The past, the future and the could be run loquaciously like a conversation of lovers,

No stumbling words or uncertainty,

Just the grace and fulfillment of a lifetime of practice,

The years spent wiling away the hours waiting,

Always waiting for something,

Fear remains a strangely distant abstraction even as I picture the hungry times,

Hunger, gnawing at my guts like an animal in my belly,

Home and family consisting of a brother, a father and all my worldly possessions in a backpack,

My mother another abstraction,


Less at moments than any memory I could conjure,

Less than the fickle and fictional desires I scribble on accepting surfaces,

I say I’m addicted to the sound of graphite,

Because I tired of the countless sentences I spoke starting with the word someday,

Someday I won’t be,

Someday I will be,

Someday somebody will love me,

Someday I’ll not care what hurt the world holds for me,


I won’t remember the hard times the most,

The beat up, beaver fur Stetson and the pictures of a barbequed single wide,

The clarity of pity seen in the eyes of passers-by and the shame of having to beg the populace for spare change,

But the choice was always charity and shame,

Or feeling the pain of hunger tearing away the excuses for not begging,

I’d always say someday it won’t be this way,

Someday there will be no more panhandling with the old man’s hat,


It passed and my someday changed,

Someday became just another day passing,

More unwanted realities,

More pain,

Some self-inflicted,

Some just there,

Someday became my excuse to do nothing,

Be nothing and strive only to keep my head from sinking below the surface,

I was not living just barely surviving,

Not quite drowning,

All the old some days,

Are now yesterdays and not much more than the crusted lesions rendering my dreams impotent,

Someday I know in the quiet voice of a paintbrush,

In the sincere promises of a mechanical pencil,

In the fine line of my teetering thoughts,

That I will find the exit from the repetitive recital of someday,

Maybe, my attribution to living in the grips of addiction is just another excuse,

My enabling thought to escape,

To be a fugitive of my responsibility,

To let my world crumble and disappear into shadows and shapes,

The future and brittle hopes lost in the vanishing point of my framed expectations,

Or maybe it is just another someday uttered in helpless devotion to failure,

Someday I won’t need to hide behind a prepped canvas,

I’ll set aside my brush, pencils and charcoals and absorb the life I tried desperately to ignore,

Yeah someday I might recover from my soul sick addiction,

My crutch, for letting years pass, steadily by,



Mike_UtzlerMichael Utzler – Born, June of 1979 in Gallup New Mexico.  I am a member of the Navajo Nation.  Much, if not all of my art is a product of circumstance.  Following a less-than-ordinary childhood, I spent a number of years on the wrong side of locked doors.  In those years I was filled with resentment, shame, and I felt unworthy of anything.  And it was there, I suppose, behind Constantina Wire Fences and concrete walls I found myself.  My soul, some would say, emerged from a blank piece of paper and a black pen.  Everything I hated about myself, the world and my environment became irrelevant when I was immersed in the imagination.  Admittedly at first I was far short of even a novice artist.  But through years of trial and error, through pain–staking hours of frustration and no formal training, I began to develop my own unique artwork.  To date it is still evolving with the more often than not reflections of my tribal heritage.

(photo credit: Diahndra Grill)

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