The Man With the Straw Heart

163628_184781778209612_7680246_nThere once was a man with a straw heart who loved the people around him more then he could fathom and certainly more then he wanted to most of the time.

He saw their attachment to the material world, saw how they cared more for personal gain and trinkets then the people around them and although it filled him with fire, fire enough to burn his straw heart for only a moment at a time, and then he forgave them.

The man watched as love and friendship were tossed aside on arbitrary conditions of survival no longer needed, saw them cling to damp perverted animal skins like the caveman clung to the torch to scare away the night and sighed.

For him his love of the world was a mystery; to him the world was cold as ice, no one wanted to know him, no one could get close to the toxic strands that fell from his straw heart, weeping like a wound.

In reality this was only his love of all around him pushing the infection out, cleansing it and protecting the gift he had, which was the gift ever boy receives but a ‘man’ soon forgets.

He wanted to rage in the fire, to pick up the toxic strands of straw and set them alight. He could not be loved, he could not be free of either the blessing nor this curse so he would make himself burn bright.

The man could stoke the fire, prod it to create down-bursts of fiery action;  to make them hate him, but never could he set it ablaze, never could he hurt someone else for longer then a brief flash of rage.

Around him the world still turned and the people drank and sang and made love in the streets. At night they went inside their homes and held those closest to them, but never was he let inside to sleep away the loneliness.


Night was when he lived, when the rest were asleep he dreamed and wondered and sought peace. When the world was at the rest the temperature of the Earth rose as they slept, curled up next to their wives and daughters; fathers and sons.

It was almost like being allowed to exist, there in the realm of monsters and those who are not taught. The vibrations changed and even the water stood still like black painted glass, reflecting the endless night sky.

As the sun rose the world became colder and colder with each awakening mind, each soul that arose and kissed their loved ones and felt renewed with purpose and poise, such is the nature of those inclined to be included; such is the nature of man.

At night his straw heart would settle; at day break it would start to weep again.

Worse still in the light why he slept the people would come, they would come and rap on his windows, they would come and bang on his doors. They knew he knew things, they knew he loved them and they would come to him with the worst of their crimes, the lowest of their lows.

So he would set them down and say the things he never heard, make them the potions his lips would never touch, create for them a road he knew he could not follow them on.

His straw heart would finally alight in these moments, these were the only time he was truly alive; fixing these holes in the hearts and minds of men.

Sometimes the wounded make the best healers.

Occasionally, when these feelings of life spread out of the sessions and out of the night into the day; he felt emboldened by belief, drunk on hope and madly in love with the dawn.

He would traverse the town, back and forth, rapping on their windows and knocking on their doors.

Most would not answer at all, some would open the window an inch or the door a crack and make promises…others would feign ignorance that he had held their hand in darker times and preach to him about the light he could not touch, saying he must find it to gain entry.

So he would wait till dark and march home, the mixture of fire and light and hate and love so strong it came out his pours like fuel.

He never shined brighter then those times, everyone could see him and knew he was deadly fire, never to be touched.


One night after one such time, he saw the black painted glass of the water and it spoke to him as it always did, as the moon and the trees and the animals did, the only things that ever really trusted him.

It asked him to dive in and put out the fire but he refused, why put out this fire when he had put out so many blazes for so many other people before?

Let them see him burn, this is not only of his creation, for he would never burn in their homes, he would never burn near their children and he would never ever burn in their sacred hearts he loved so much.

The water and the sky and the Earth knew that he knew, that he saw and they were worried because to see was to be easily deceived. To be whole was sometimes to be broken and he was broken indeed.

He told the water he wanted to be pushed so badly into the pool because it was all he knew, it was the way things were always done. He told them he was scared of the water, terrified to wade into it because they already wanted so much from him and none of it set his straw heart alight, none of it ever filled him with righteous fire.

So he waited till sunrise and left, telling the natural world around him that he loved everything here, every single little thing very much, but love was no longer the way of the world while empty comforts and material prerequisites ruled the roost of man.

Time passed as it always has and always will, gears turning eternally towards collapse. One day a sound was heard unlike any other that had ever been heard in the town before, a cry so loud and so powerful that some held their hands over their ears.


It came from the direction of the water and they all rushed down to it, running and tripping and falling over themselves to see what spectacle could cause such a disruption of routine.

When they finally reached the edge of the water there was a line of black ash darker then the starless night sky leading right into the water and there, right in the middle of the body of water was a loose collection of straw, floating there in the sun.

Later some would say the man with the straw heart had finally burned, consuming himself; others would say he must have jumped into the water and finally put out the flames.

No one knew because he was never heard from again as far as anyone knows and never seen by another soul. However there is a pretense among man to see the unusual and pass by the normal, so who can tell where this man now resides, perhaps he is even here now…

Thomas Spychalski

2 Responses to The Man With the Straw Heart

  1. This… This is beautiful, man. I love it.

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