Thursday, February 19, 2015

What the World is Missing

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“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each man’s life a sorrow and a suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The heart of an armored man
is a big and beautiful thing,
built as it was in the
small and vulnerable body
of a once sweet and tender boy;   
it glows now inside the bunker
behind the puffed out chest
of the man he has become,
treasure of a superhero
who was once nearly annihilated,
deeply hurt and betrayed by,
maybe once just disgusted
or deeply ashamed
or backed into corners
over and over by
the behavior of his parents,
and the rings of his small and earnest
hammer blows still echo
against the metal of his
hastily erected bunker.

And that boy who relegated
his wounded heart
to the darkness of that bunker
has guarded its secret tenderness
faithfully ever since, blowing on the coals of it
as if in a dragons lair,
determined to keep the fire
of his joie de vivre alive at any cost,
growing so beautifully on the outside of his body
but maybe not so much on the inside,
allowing only the most carefully
chosen few to see behind the forged metal
and into the walled off red chambers,
lobbing grenades and fiery explosions
in the form of judgment and expectation
at random passersby and even
close family members who dare to encroach
upon his carefully marked out territory.

Believing his sensitive heart
will stay secure with enough
muscle and ink, a loud voice
and big engines, big boots and
deadly weapons, rigid opinions and
the uniform of the kind of men
who make things happen,
he labors under the delusion that
surety and safety are actual real things
he could count on, if only
he could find and count them,
and he greets each of his problems,
large or small, with overblown adrenaline
and righteous indignation,
believing, it seems, that he’s
the most important person in every situation
and especially in his right to an easy
existence and a smooth ride
through life and is defiantly determined
that since he believes he deserves this,
he should therefore
most definitely have it,
regardless of his fire breathing tendencies
and its impact on others,
regardless of the shrapnel and the smell
of burning flesh he sometimes leaves behind him.

And even so,
he is dizzyingly sexy and commanding
the way only truly confident men are,
and the way men who have,
- oh, somebody’s got to say it -
fairly large cocks, but he is, alas,
the kind of man who works and plays
so hard that he leaves no room,
especially in his own mind, it seems,
for questions about his own existence
or his view of life,
who appears so certain that everything he believes and
everything he says is true and unquestionable,
that there is nothing new to learn
about the world or his place in it,
and especially nothing new about
the unchartered territory
of his wildly beating heart or the hearts
of those around him.

Clearly he has forgotten his true purpose
as a man, if ever he knew it:
to protect and guard as a superhero would,
oh, not just his loved ones but the Earth itself,
Mother of Us All, and everyone on Her,
to use the power of his very own heart
to lead and to change,
not just take what he wants from the world
but to bring, to serve, to heal, to protect,
which he often does anyway and does well
while forgetting the reasons why.
Sometimes he remembers and then
golden, glowing cracks appear
in the shabbily forged metal of that
thrown together bunker,
times when he’s making love, perhaps,
with that sweet and special someone
or in un-witnessed moments
with his trusting and adoring child,

or in an unguarded moment alone at dusk
when his relegated heart clamors for attention
in the form of thoughts and memories
and feelings of longing too vivid
and wonderful to ignore, overwhelming
in their insistence until he
gets a hold of himself, for God’s sake,
or reaches out for intense yet fleeting
sensation in the physical world
-noise, movement, sight, taste, touch -
to make it stop,
to ground and steady himself
when his interior world seems
such a flimsy, insubstantial place;
but when the liquid Light of his glowing heart
and the rhythm of its steady beat
beam through the cracks,
its warmth and energy and
ability to protect is the glorious
rapturous color of summer sunsets

but sadly, those moments are just
a gossamer glimmer, a hint out of the corner
of his eye and the eyes
of those around him of the deep and real
and enormous power of the steadily
beating heart he hides from the world,
wrongly believing it a rare and weak thing
to be so easily and unexpectedly
hurt, or moved to tears by joy or sorrow,
or by the touch of a faithful woman,
the pure love of a child, the wish
upon a star or the music of patriotic splendor
or even dumb commercials
that breech all his walls, flooding the dark cave
of his secret and sacred
sanctuary, not knowing how deeply
the world needs his wild heart
to burn as boldly as the sun
and light it up like a quasar.

For GK by Suzie Jones, February 2015

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why I Love Football

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From the moment it begins I am hooked
by the pomp and circumstance
by the over-the-top pageantry and larger-than-life
Bose-inspired, John Williams-infused
surround sound announcing:
"THIS IS IMPORTANT STUFF 
HAPPENING RIGHT HERE SO
YOU BETTER PAY CLOSE ATTENTION!"

It helps that I adore men in uniform
especially these gladiators tricked out in
modern-day versions of 
Roman Coliseum Fashion,
in uniforms that enhance the shape 
of broad shoulders and small waists,
muscular thighs and the outright
grab-ability of (some of) those asses.

I respect how undistracted and hyper-focused
these men are, deep inside the
Football Compartment of their group mind,
competitive and testosterone-laden,
aches and pains a mile away
covered by adrenaline and God knows what else
cooked in the Big Pharm Labs of 'Merica.

Caressed by the roar of the crowd, 
I love the backslapping, the pig piles,
that ridiculous and comical rooster dance
that's beautiful to watch no matter which
player's crowing and those celebratory leaps
to smash chests which you will never see
women do.

I deeply respect the lack of pity, self- or otherwise,
and how those tough-guy, black and white-garbed refs
wear their belts like construction workers
undisturbed and fearless, totally comfortable
on the field and in charge of all those crazy, 
doped up warrior dudes who run like banshees
smashing and grabbing, grunting and yelling,
thrilled to be alive.

I love the tattoos and long hair,
how there's a rule for everything, how mad
these men and boys get when they break one, 
and how everyone knows they did, and 
how those flags flutter in earnest and whistles shrill 
hard for both major and minor transgressions. 

I have even begun to understand the point of cheerleaders
who bounce up and down in their seductive little outfits
telling the world they are good for one thing and
one thing only and Lord knows it's not a conversation 
requiring brains, except the kind that ends in bed
and yeah, ok, I'm a little bit judge-y still but the truth is,
and I will deny I ever said this except under the worst kind
of torture, there is something primitively appealing
about beautiful, young, sexy women
who relish being beautiful and sexy
unabashedly cheering on those 
hardworking, young, and sweaty men
who relish hard work and sweat. 

So you see how I adore those warriors on the battlefield
enveloped by the roar of the crowd and
The Voice of the Announcer,
hands over patriotic hearts as they sing
Our National Anthem before heading into battle
with a few non-lethal weapons: 
determination and thick skin,
heavy bones and deep muscle,
youthfulness and vigor,
athleticism and teamwork,
the willingness to suffer for the larger goal
of beating the other guys, of killing them even, 
safe in the modern reality that
nobody actually
dies. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

On Men, Love and Politics

2 comments
Not so long ago I was having an issue with my car, some minor inconvenience I did not want to deal with, and said to my 30 year old son, mostly sarcastically, “Man, I sure wish I had a boyfriend who would deal with this shit.” 

And My Son Who I Adore stopped walking, came back to my car and leaned in, and with all the seriousness he could muster, looked me in the eye and said, “Ma, that boyfriend you’re wishing for would probably love a home cooked meal in exchange.”  And he gave me THAT LOOK.

I laughed at him and his comment, and at his knowledge of me as a non-happy chef/domestic goddess, but the truth of it filled me with dread.  I decided right then I am probably better off just staying single, because if that’s the bargain I have to make – a meal for some car repair - somebody’s going to get short changed (The Guy) and somebody else is going to cop a big fat resentment (me).  

But my little car dilemma has pointed out the fallacy in my thinking. I mean, I’m apparently walking around with the delusion that most men like to fix shit.  Not all of them do. I mean, I knew a man once who said his favorite tool was his cell phone because he could use it to fix anything – plumbing, electrical problems, auto repair.

And then there is the question I’ve been asked recently, right in the middle of a date, which proves that some men also walk around with delusional thinking.  And the question is this:

“So…do you like to cook?”

Each time I’m asked this, I know it spells doom for any possibility of a budding relationship, and signals a deep divide between my worldview and his worldview. And just for the record, I would never ask a man while on a date, “So…do you like to fix shit?”

The question of my enjoyment of cooking seems harmless on the surface and a way to get to know me, but I dread this question.  I’m sure if I were a woman who actually liked to cook I might welcome it, anticipate it, and answer it with an enthusiastic yes, maybe even ask what his favorite dish is. But for someone like me who does not particularly enjoy it, who is mediocre at it at best, it’s a loaded question.  And it’s loaded not just because I am not at my best in the kitchen, or with anything related to domesticity, but because of what it says about the man asking it and what he might expect from me if something developed between us, and in truth, about how inadequate I feel in this area of life.  Domestic goddess I am not.  Cooking just takes so much time! And so does housecleaning! And food shopping!

I mean, really, I was raised with the idea that women have far better things to do with their time than cook and clean and shop. This belief is both a curse and a blessing.  It’s a blessing because I know I have value to offer the world and to other people beyond what I can do for them on a physical plane – I mean, I am more than a woman who has clean, folded towels at the ready, some yummy treat I’ve saved in the freezer just for your visit, or the proud owner of a clean floor you can walk on barefoot (full disclosure here: I am not now this person and probably never will be).

But it’s been a curse because when I am engaged in either of those activities, cooking or cleaning or food shopping, I feel slightly demeaned and resentful, because instead of being cooped up with domestic chores, I believe I should be out on a long hike, or ministering to some lost person’s soul, or you know, frolicking in some other way that women are now allowed and encouraged to go do.  And the additional aspect of this curse is the noticeable lack of clean towels for guests (which are few and far between anyway), the empty fridge, and the existence of that floor you should definitely not walk barefoot on.

The last guy who asked me the ‘Do you like to cook’ question was someone I was very attracted to, physically speaking, and I maybe wouldn’t have minded cooking for him once in a while if it ever came to that. And because of that attraction, I was initially willing to overlook a few things in the interest of, um, fun.  But this was a man who, as it turns out, defines himself as a ‘redneck.’  This is hard to fathom, since the man grew up in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, so how redneck could he truly be?  What’s a redneck, anyway? I looked it up:  Southern, white, and uneducated.   Yet when he told me this little tidbit about himself, my first question was, “OK…so does this mean you know how to use a chainsaw?”  

His answer was yes, of course he can use a chainsaw.  I confess I appreciate this skill in a man, on a visceral level, despite the fact that I don’t have any real need for it in my daily life - and as a side note, I think it would be wonderful if this was how men feel about women cooking.

And when he asked me while we were playing pool what I think about guns, I realized his ‘do you like to cook’ question and his self-definition as a redneck (and um, his Harley, did I mention the Harley?) was maybe part and parcel of something bigger going on.  Like maybe some kind of agenda for his potential lady friends, some big old hoops I was maybe going to be expected to jump through.  But my answer to him was, “Oh, I don’t have a problem with guns… as long as they’re not pointed at me.”

He just laughed.  

This was a new experience for me, dating a gun owner, a person with the worldview of a gun owner.  I mean, every Saturday morning I hang out with a stable and welcoming crew of truly wonderful people – mostly men, a couple of women.  These are bright, articulate, witty, gentle, kind, progressive, open-minded, affectionate, thoughtful people. We have a lot of laughs and give a lot of hugs and our conversations range from the truly mundane to the deeply spiritual.  So if any of them announced during our Saturday morning coffee time at Starbucks that they’d bought a gun, I would assume they’d suffered some recent trauma – a home invasion, a car jacking, a school shooting – that had twisted their worldview from one of relative safety and benevolence to one of danger and evil.  None of them would buy a gun simply to exercise their right to own one, or to ward off some impending doom.  It would be a reaction to something really, really bad and really, really scary that had already happened, not something really bad and scary that could happen at any moment because the world is a bad and scary place.  Do you see the difference? And I am pretty sure they are mostly not stuck on playing specific gender-based roles in their respective relationships, at least not in any conscious ‘this-is-how-it’s-supposed-to-be’ kind of way, as if any other way was wrong.   But my redneck friend is pretty much a walking cliché and owns a gun because ‘you never know what might come in the front door.’  I feel sort of sad for him, living life behind his armored heart (and that is a subject for another blog post).
 

Anyway, during our last telephone conversation, my redneck friend with the completely divergent worldview began channeling Archie Bunker on steroids with a large dose of Rush Limbaugh thrown in for good measure. This was a very painful, disheartening experience for me [sniff] and told me everything I needed to know about him, to wit: that I would be much better off never allowing him to come through my front door again (the one and only time he did was to pick me up for our date). I mean, for a woman like me who is not domestically inclined and who is deeply progressive, a statement like this: “You know what’s wrong with this country, this disaster of a country? You know what fucked it up royally? Well, I’ll tell you:  The loss of the American housewife.” ….well, that kind of statement perfectly highlights without any ambiguity that he and I don’t even inhabit the same planet, never mind have a similar worldview. That kind of statement just simply spells….d-o-o-m.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Terminal

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The day I knew for sure 
I was going to die 
I lay myself down in the grass 
under a birch tree 
and watched the clouds 
drift across that color of sky 
that makes my throat ache. 

Oh, it's not that I discovered 
some terminal illness brewing inside 
some horror of a cancer 
I would conduct a losing battle with, no. 
 It was just this: 
Some day my life will end. 

I mean, it was just a moment 
of acceptance really, 
nothing dramatic or emotional 
just a willingness to let it in
to stop fighting this 
truer-than-anything reality 
that being human means 
being terminal and there is nothing
in the world 
I can do about it.

I would die 
and more importantly
I would not get to see and experience 
everything in the world 
I so deeply want 
to see and experience.




So I lay under the tree and 
felt the earth turn on its axis
just the two of us, the tree and I
hanging out on the grass 
out in the middle of space

out in the middle of nowhere special
out in the middle of the universe
or maybe on the outskirts of it
and watched the clouds
drift across the endless blue
of that amazingly beautiful sky
and let my heart break.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Woman at the Window

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...could see the blue of his eyes
from her second-story window and 
his long, dark eyelashes, how his salt-and-pepper hair
had that tousled yet within the bounds of conformity 
kind of look, a look that requires 'product'
which he used deliberately, she could tell,
even to go to work every day with the guys
he used it, tucked in his shirt to go haul asphalt and talk rag time, 
even then it was important to look good.

The woman at the window could tell he was totally
the alpha male amongst his peers
wherever he went, anytime there was a question he
was it, even as he lifted the hatch on the back of the truck to let
the slippery dark tar slide into his wheelbarrow,
his movements meant something, they said something,
I'm it, they said, you need never want another thing now, 
I'm here, even as he walked that wheelbarrow to just the right spot
and dumped it carefully, moving slowly and with the ease
of a dancer, the fluidity of his movements almost feminine,
in charge of himself and everything he touched
comfortable with the physical world,
on top of things.

He had the kind of body, she could tell,
that the Greeks built into statues, preserving forever
the lines and curves and planes in all the right places
and as the morning's work
warmed him up, he took off his long sleeved shirt to replace it
with the short-sleeved one he'd worn over it
and she softly breathed an "oh thank you" 
to all the gods that ever were for bringing her such 
a lovely, beautiful gift to begin her day.

Even the ink on his arms and on his back
was in all the right places and 
he took a while to put his shirt back on
draping it casually around his neck for a bit
as if he knew he was being watched and admired
as if he recognized out of the corner of his eye
and in that place in his belly that recognizes such things
the shape of an appreciative woman leaning into the window
with her arms raised and the sunlight streaming in and the ink
on her own arm feeling shiny and bright
like a beacon beaming out her attention. 

She wondered for a moment, as she saw his shirt come off
as she watched him bend over the wheelbarrow
holding the handles to lift its fullness with ease
happy to be there and not anywhere else
his body just waiting to move wherever it needed to next
what it might be like to run her thumbs down that deep V
on either side of his belly button
to place her palms on the flat of his chest for just a moment
to run her fingers over his lats and his waist
to feel his perfect ass and the solidity of his thighs

and in a parallel universe
say twenty
OK maybe twenty-five
years ago
that woman at the window tousled her own hair
gave it that just-climbed-out-of-bed look, then
very deliberately and with forethought 
put on her most sparkly earrings, darkened her lips with a slick swipe,
slipped into her slinkiest nighty and only that and 
walking barefoot and
with clear intention
stepped out onto the porch.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bubbles

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I love the way 
you love me,
the way 
your words and
your touch
fill my heart
with frothy bubbles of
Fizzy Lifting Drink. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Batting a Thousand

1 comments

I have to tell you, I am not exactly batting a thousand in the online dating arena.

I mean, so far I’ve been propositioned by…mmm…maybe six 20-something year olds, all of whom expect me to take them seriously as candidates.  I mean, I know exactly what they think they’re auditioning for, but seriously, if that was all I wanted, I certainly wouldn’t be looking for it online.  And although they do strike me as brave souls, I have not encouraged them in any way.  One of these, ahem, ambitious young men spent some time via email trying to convince me that age doesn’t matter, but what he doesn’t know is that in his case his…ummm….. youthfulness would be the very reason I met him, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

I’ve also been approached by men who have absolutely no business approaching women, romantically or otherwise. They are just fucking creepy, and I’m sorry to be the one to say that, but they just are.  I don’t respond to them, ever. 

There have also been several who seem pretty normal, which has kept my hopes up of meeting a decent guy, but the conversations just kind of peter out, and they wander off, probably distracted by some shiny new object in the shape of a girl, and so I just sit tight and watch them go.  Gone are the days of me chasing men, waving my arms around saying, pick me, pick me!  I’m too old for that, and besides, who has that kind of time?  

And then there’s the guy I swear is someone I recently dated, whose profile sounded exactly like him – self-centered, disgruntled, kind of whiny and needy, annoyed at women and the world in general for not giving him what he wants, and full of little thoughts and anecdotes that sound like lies.  And when he emailed me to say how sexy he thinks I am and to ask if, P.S. could he send me a photo via text or email (he’d taken down the one of him in dark shades and a hoodie), I told him politely if formally that I’d read his profile and did not think we’re a match. I also said that even if we were, I wouldn’t want him to send me anything because I think a public photo is much more straightforward and honest.  He replied and said that I sounded  - get this - condescending and uppity. Uppity, I tell you!  Uppity.  As if I have stepped out of my defined role as, what, the Little Woman who does what she’s told?  Holy crap.  Uppity. Yeah, he so totally had the wrong girl.  Like I’m going to give my personal contact information to a guy whose hiding behind very dark glasses and looks like he carries extremely sharp knives?

I have been on a couple dates in the real world via this online dating thing, but alas, no sparks.  Not for me anyway, but in each case I was asked out again. And the atheist engineer guy who wore a tie to our coffee date (?!) who puts haiku in his software code notes was super disappointed when I turned him down for a second date.  Said stuff like drat, and dang and darn.  No really, he did.  Said if I changed my mind to give him a call.  But…first of all, the guy’s an atheist (what was I thinking?).  And worse, he had a porn collection he kept with his books, all of which were sorted by category. I mean, I know this because he had photos of his two very full, very tall bookcases online, and when I asked how they were sorted (because who collects that many books without lovingly caring for them?) he listed things like mystery, adventure, sci fi, computer books, etc. and porn.  Now, in a general sort of way, I have come to accept the fact that no American male anywhere has never watched porn, and in a general sort of way I have sort of mostly no problem with keeping your favorite flick on hand for…well, you know what I mean… but to have a collection? To have that collection sorted?  Um, yah, I’m sorry, but I’m just not that evolved. 

Oh, I haven’t mentioned the Irishman who – oh never mind. It’s not worth it. Suffice it to say, when I disbelievingly read his texts to my ex-husband, he just shook his head slowly with his eyes closed and said, “He has no idea who he’s dealing with.”

I am not entirely sure how to take that, but in a weird way, it’s kind of encouraging.