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Thunder Pie | Things We Told Ourselves

How many lies do I tell myself in the course of a single day? One? Five? Hundreds?


“Conflict is the beginning of consciousness.”
— M. Esther Harding

What remains are the remnants of a bird. It is evaporated more or less. There are a few downy feathers that weigh nothing and there are the bones. The skin, the blood, all the guts and stuff, it’s all gone. I am in the attic staring at three dead birds, but mostly just the one. The rottenest one, I’ll call it. The deadest one if you go by rate of decay, which I guess I do in this case.

There are the three dead birds up here plus a live one that keeps buzzing my head. It is panicked. It is is freaking me out. Beneath the window are the starlings that found themselves in here but could not find a way out.

This, I ponder momentarily.

Imagine that kind of terror. That kind of lost. Alive yet, but quickly running out of ideas. Short on food. No water. There’s room to fly a bit, still in the end it’s useless. They smack into the window over and over again. I watch the live one doing it. He flutters against the glass and the soft flutter of his wings close to my head- and then the sudden PAP! on the glass- is unlike any other sound I have known. It is a sharp crystalized death rattle. It pings with hollow desperation/ like the first chunks of Alabama rain heaved at the house right before the winds/ right before the sirens go off and the world rises all around us.

Three dead birds under the window, broken necks, laying in the sunshine coming in from the west. I guess they couldn’t spot the beams of daytime coming in through the very same holes that allowed them entrance. Holes that must have whispered some kind of witchy promise at them as they sat there on the high gutters and watched the street below. Watched my kids riding their bikes, maybe. Or watched my dogs taking shits out in the yard.

I don’t get it. It seems so easy to me now. They could have followed the light/ reversed the seduction/ walked back the lie/ and hopped and popped their tiny bird body back the way they came in. Out into the open afternoon. Back to the world.

Fly, you fuckers.


But no. Instead they went in the hole into my house only to never leave again. Trapped. Scared. Uncertain. Forlorn and then ultimately resigned to the unimaginable.

All hope is lost.


Into the glass harder than before. Balls to the wall. Sink or swim, bitches.

Then that’s it. Dead bird.

I open the window so that maybe this live idiot will find himself out but I doubt it. I suspect I will come back in a few days and he will be laying there by the other three. They are my dead birds. I’m leaving them to decay so that just the skeletons are left. Maybe the wasps eat them, I don’t know. Maybe the living birds come down and poke at the carcasses when every other option seems to fade.

Later on I will present the complete and perfect bird skeletons to my wife as a gift. She loves dead animal bones and so do I. They will become art. They will hang on our walls. Or maybe on yours. They will be available on Etsy, their bones will. Fragile bird skeletons carefully mounted in gothic frames. They’re worth more dead than they ever were alive.

Poor little bastards.

How many lies do I tell myself in the course of a single day? One? Five? Hundreds?

The answer is impossible to come by, but I wonder anyway. The passing of time, for me, has led to a reckoning of sorts. It’s pulled me in a direction in which I am starving to see myself from outside myself. In order, of course, to understand myself better within myself.

Ahh, but that is the old riddle, isn’t it? That sweet familiar crisis of age. Man passing through the selfish years of youth and adulthood has to exit the fresh forest at some point. You can’t just bum around in there forever all hopped up on hormones and lust and hunger. At some point, if you are to survive with any kind of poise or grace, then you have to exit the hot attic where everyone is fucking and making deals and swindling themselves into job promotions and doomed relationships and record contracts and mortgages and new cars and fucking kids they’re not even remotely sure they are ‘ready’ for. You have to go back the way you came from/ back to the small lit hole/ back up your mama’s poon maybe if you are a real loser/ or else back out into the world with a changed perspective.

Older, more banged-up, your rocker panels splattered with the mud of a zillion ditches, you roll down out of that humid electrified sky room and the first half of your life is over: just like that.

Any return to the room will lead to nothing. Just boxes of old photos from when people still printed them out, old mementos you have hung onto that no one will ever give much of a damn about. Wrinkled concert tickets. Bent Christmas cards from your dead grandmother. Loose baseball gloves you don’t remember ever even using but there they are and maybe they have your kid skin in there somewhere and so you better keep it.

Chuck it and a part of you might die.


Toss the old yearbooks you never ever open and then what?

You throw away your young firm body? You take all that teenage melancholy longing and you smash it on the edge of the trash can like some shitty ancient Avon decanter? You crack the head off a 70’s pheasant and you just walk away from the symbolism? From the heavy, heavy past hanging round your neck?

I don’t know. Don’t look at me. But also: yeah. The answer is yeah. Yes. The answer is yes.

I come down out of the whorehouse loft of my yesterday and I stand on the street with a dead starling in my fist and I am squeezing it like a fidget toy, dog, and I look up and down my road and where are you? Where is anyone? The whole goddamn town seems empty. Dust Bowl. Tumbleweed weird and dog shadow scary.

Everything I ever told myself about myself?

I don’t know if I was lying to myself or what.

I throw some emails at my own mom here and there but the tones are all strange. Mine are steeped in trauma and the short-tempered fire of a human being desperate to be seen/ heard/ and believed. Hers pull up to the curb of accountability and then speed away again like a getaway car. I try to tell her what I have been through. She only wants to remind me that I screamed at her a few times. Now she is fully immersed in the web of cult leader and she will never break free. And me? I’m left feeling like I lost my own mom to the same person who has done so much other damage to me and my wife and our world.

Our thing- me and my mom’s- is so broken now. The outsider entered the perimeter long ago and it has taken me a long time to realize that there’s nothing worse than outside people when it comes to your nuclear family. I regret so much. I regret so very fucking much. I wish I could have stomped it out when I first smelled the smoke, but these very unique and particular sorts of lost souls are strange. No one could have predicted what and who this person truly was. Love especially, or the inflated idea of it, as it turns out, it can blind a person. You end up feeling confused and unsure/ so many little things not adding up/ so very many incidents of wildly mad behavior and they make you think it’s all YOU. I ended up- for years- trusting a person who only wanted me around in order to outsmart me/outfox me/ trick me/ fool me/ trip me up/ and most of all: hurt me in so many ways on such a regular basis that the end result is that I believed that this was what I deserved.

That Serge Bielanko deserved to be told that he is weak, insecure, without purpose, and poor like a child who needs to be taught by a master

I cannot even begin to describe in words the extent of the mental damage that all of that has had on me. Or on my family, my flesh and blood family who also have been charmed into believing that they are truly loved and understood by a person who cannot love or understand anyone. It is all a game for these types. And it is a game they have been playing for so long that it is reality for them. Every single day is a new hand of cards that they simply must manipulate into a win. By any means necessary. That is why they seem so jovial and sharp and complimentary to you. That is why they appear so successful and together and worldly wise. It is because they are fantastically talented at creating a world for them to operate in that is merely a storefront, my man.

In the back of the shop though/ behind all of the bright and shiny awesome things they appear to be dealing in/ there is the real proprietor, sitting alone with their thoughts/ focused on one (maybe more) particular person(s)/ one very specific source/ one human being with a name and a social security number and probably a bank account and whatever/ one clueless man or woman (or child) who more than likely feels the ever-tightening noose that the proprietor holds in their hands.

Jesus fuckig Christ, you would not understand unless you have been through it. It’s like surviving war. Or sexual abuse. Or Not even the best psychologists can wrap their head around the absolute true narcissist. So me and my mom sure as hell couldn’t either.

And so it goes and so it went. People break themselves open in the name of love but sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes the adages and platitudes lose their meaning. The passing days bring ugly moments, scarred memories. Starlings congregate in the trees along the park, singing loudly, flicking their heads this way and then that way, and all the while you are texting back and forth with your flesh and blood/ arguing your point/ trying so hard to explain your pain even when you don’t have the words. Not even one of the words. Because, as it turns out, they don’t make words for that level of hurt.

They just need you to not mention it.

So you don’t.

You move around truth and you move around reality and you lose sight of who you were once, as a kid, on your bike, wind in your hair, crescent moon rising up in the light purple evening as you slow-peddled your way back home/ dried summer sweat cool on your brow.

Ice cream boy/ free beautiful child, I do suspect that they have stole your heart.

But in all of that, what crimes have you committed, my man? What injustices have I brought down upon the heads of the ones that I called my family?

What injustices have you brought down upon the heads of the one that you call yours?

What good does it do to let so much go, walk down a rough river trail into a period of reflection? Is it possible to discover your own accountability in this life where perhaps there was none before? At what age is all hope lost?

How old do you figure most people are when they lose their ability to achieve higher consciousness? Or to even give a fuck about holding their one true history in their own two hands and peering into it so deeply that they begin to recognize their own flaws instead of merely blaming everything on everyone else?

Is being perpetually defensive a survival mechanism cover-up? Or is it the carefully honed skill of a certain type of person? A type of person who is so damaged by their own experiences in life that they have become experts in the art of gas lighting and deflection?

Again: I have no clue.

But I am out of the attic, I know that much.

I have sensed the air on my skin again. I have tasted invigorating dusk once more. I barely speak with my own mother, my own brother, and I blame it almost all on them. On someone else. On the ways of idiots drowning in their own self-pity.

Have I lied to myself about my role in all of this?

Have they lied to themselves about theirs?

And does anyone even give a fuck?

Like/ at all?


Is anyone out there?

Does anyone else ever deal with questions like this?


“Dead black bird symbolism is just like the black color in association with the unconscious, of the unaware. Seeing this type of bird means you have some unresolved tension that you need to take care of. It could be that you keep holding on to something that is hurting you.”
— from Dead Bird Symbolism and Meaning: It’s Time For Change and Transformation


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Serge Bielanko lives in small-town Pennsylvania with an amazing wife who’s out of his league and a passel of exceptional kids who still love him even when he’s a lot. Every week, he shares his thoughts on life, relationships, parenting, baseball, music, mental health, the Civil War and whatever else is rattlling around his noggin. Once in a blue Muskie Moon, he backs away from the computer, straps on a guitar and plays some rock ’n’ roll with his brother Dave and their bandmates in Marah