Desire 


I won’t rest, I won’t stand still
I’ll do my part and say my fill 
Turn my deed away you’ll see

Though how can you have faith in me

I wasn’t won’t and can’t break free

From fraught and fated history 

A reckoning has come to be

A fate that I shall never see

Too just ain’t for Me you see

No borrowed oppression fantasies

And no one should have sympathy 

For what it is I’ll never see 

never meant and shouldn’t be

Still there is something never told

Bout me from one who wouldn’t know

See parts of me are heaven bound

Trust they are just what you’ve found

But true still is the wanting weed

Turnt easy to the pleading reed

Nature changed in a subtle breeze

To something I can never seize

A light internal burning fire 

Unleashed amidst a burning pyre

Combustion sparked from glint of these

To a guiding wanting leading me

One truth that none can ever tell

For words a gentlemen ever quells

That spoken by the craven beast 

Leave truth unburdened from the least

Though gentleman I surely am

No gentle ten can sooth a man

Whose truest measure is the choir 

That sings to put out the raging fire

Of this good men speak all in jest 

Subverting diverting a mortal quest

Compelled by nature to conspire

The worst we are to quench desire

Civility misunderstood 

By those that wish to know what good

Would come from slinking ever low

Deceiving those they wish to own

It is not so simple for good men

Goodness comes from deep within

Where it fights with thoughtless wonder

To beat out that which divines hunger

Wish the willow you may scream

Hollering in endless fields serene

My body is not mine to drive

Nor is vital and alive

A steady steam releasing pressure

That nothing I can do can measure

I see and hear and respect your pleasure

And hope I win this war forever 

Floating Fleeing 

Now I’m not one to drink it proud

And neither do I think out loud

But never you should confuse this
With any of the unearned bliss
Chances are my thoughts aren’t deep
Sitting  staring at the deep
So shallow laid upon my palm 
Entice my stupor renounce my calm
Cause volumes all that’s left in hand
Controlled by feats of former men
Who once were something vain and dumb
When then again are brought among
I still know that you and me
May always hope but never see
The future that we fear for thee
And act as if its born to be
Death and dying will encroach
What left upon this orbits brooch
For us to lay on life a meaning
That wasn’t sent and isn’t leaning 
Toward you or me or she or them
Just bouncing floating in a hem
Of god that’s never meant to be
Connecting all from you to me

Sprung from a gilded crib

The lies she told were pretty things

Built upon Gossamer wings 

A mother shielding you with fibs

That fell into your gilded cribs

For all that may or may not be

Those lies were signs so tenderly

Placed upon your waking conscience

Protecting both you and she

You sadly never learned the truth

Heard nothing that could change in youth

Neither did it come in time

Nothing could befoul the rime

That left you lonely in make believe

Given to faith in fairies

Never did you challenge these

Not you or all the maids in waiting 

Hired, acquired assisting the dream 

That lied to you and can’t come clean

For truth is not a binary thing

And yours is yours a solitary sing

What love was lost behind the lie

I’m certain were insistent whines

The love that gave you meaning when

The lie was given you instead

Is all the more regretted now

By all the people passing by

Through windows you have seen a world

Black painted, tainted with the swirl

Of never knowing or wanting or being

A thing that truly ever had meaning

But charming we are told you are

By you and 2 in 5 who parse

Your virtues and arrive askance

But certainty replaces chance

Never will you or them rely on

Virtue without spinning transaction

Neither will you cede your fitness

For you were once a golden child

Before time left and took you with it

There’s not a lot to go on here

I’m frankly feeding gaps with tears

A thing to which you seem to aspire

The feckless and phony false bravado

Unable or willing to let it slide by

For yours is important and all should know it

The west wing won’t ever forget  you owned it

transactional evil may render residual

But nothing you offer will ever fill 

The hole that fills with garden silt

That lies amid the heart you are sentenced

Not wielding to fitful efforts to patch it

The heart indeed is a lonely hunter

Somewhere a quiet man balances the bluster

That seeps from you now without soul or fire

Just the daily reminders that nothing gets higher

One day it will end and you will be dying

Not dead but not living

Surviving to search for 

The cameras and lights that left with our savior

Whose visage I can’t summon just yet

Who will emerge into spaces bereft

Of love, empathy, decency, respect

I don’t much know it matters much

I’ll do my part, work and give and such

To reap the plants our parents sowed

When yours were hiding from your throes

We all will have what you want most

A legacy built by all you boast

But never ever did you fathom 

The love you’ll leave in wreckage’s wake

We’ll pick it up and you’ll insist

That this was what you meant in jest 

But we will know that all you cling to

What’s left of the morsels you once would cling to

Is not exactly balanced genius

Yours is more a broken looper

Coming round a collective stupor

Its now just like it’s always been

Never what you thought you were when

You never left your gilded confines

Stayed to long inside the fault lines

Now truth is mixed with pleasant feelings 

Reality a simple thing to deal with

For just as long as it may take you

To fool yourself that this you meant to

Not ever bothered by your madness

Who knows how much you even fathom

For yours is not a dismissible life

Like Nero your name will linger

On tongues that wag long after you squander 

A life you coolly leveraged for waste

Convinced you hit a Birthday triple 

Still standing precisely on third base

In the end..

For me it won’t be a question 

I won’t consider our connection

The love I’ll feel will not be new

I’m the lucky one for knowing you

Close my eyes I’m standing on toes

Reaching for the hugs you gave me 

Striving for the love I’ve taken

Eventually I’ll know it in my bones 

That the love you gave was mine alone

So special did you make me feel

That never did I want or reel

From blows I fought that never came

And loves I lost for not a thing

In the end it won’t be like that

You have seen to giving me

A taut and tough security

No in the end I’ll never wonder

Of all the love I’ve thrown asunder 

No in the end what I’ll succumb to 

Is did you know how much I loved you.

The Sport of Writing

‘I mean, c’mon. It’s his focus. I mean look at him. He’s really flowing you can tell. it’s in his posture. Some people say body language doesn’t mean anything, it’s all hokum. But fuck that. He’s on fire. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this.’ Flip Barton pronounced.

Burt Hartley, arms folded let it fly past. Who’s to say, really. Without anything else to go on he could be right. And there was no denying the motion. That was fact. It might all be gobbledygook, but it was certainly coming out pretty quick and fairly steady. Still, he wouldn’t concede. For all that the talking heads credited to ‘process’ there was not real direct line you could spot in the moment, especially watching on TV. In a crowded bar no less. 

‘I don’t know man. Maybe.’, said Burt with the air of an arbiter entitled to an opinion on the matter. ‘I mean there’s no denying the pace. That said, pace is not correlated with quality. Some guys have both, but it’s a fools game to presume causation. More often it’s correlation. That said, I’m more struck by the focus. He seems oblivious to his own context. A passenger on a journey of his own making. If nothing else, he’s certainly lost in it.’

  They’d been arguing the point for years. Simple analysis versus informed interpretation. More often than not the odds favored Burt. He was the one with some context after all. His novels weren’t trendy, though they had an audience. Not a consistent one, but a big enough one to be sure. Besides, his two short story collections had won awards and were nearly perfectly scored on the aggregating sites. 

‘A passenger on a journey of his own making? Really.’ Flip wasn’t one to let that kind of puffed up nonsense just float. 

But before Burt could even turn his head to try to save face the air left the room. The noise had stopped and the afternoon crowd here for the Scriptships were stunned. 

‘Well, that’s a first.’ Flip said, eyes locked on the screen over the bar.

Liston Maize was frozen at his keyboard. 

‘Listen to Parnell. If anything I think his pace is picking up.’, said Burt. ‘I mean, shit. That’s focus. Show him.’ 

‘Are you kidding me. Maize has never edited in a first draft before. Is he reading or deleting? Jesus. What a disaster.’, said Flip.

After a few minutes the ambient noise of the day drinking revelers who had hoped to see a truly competetive match succumbed to the simple pleasures of day drinking with like minded friends as the network scrambled to make the analysis of a match already decided compelling. 

Back in the booth Flip and Burt continued the dance they had been dancing for years.

‘Truth is there’s been signs.’, argued Burt.

Flip laughed. ‘You’re going to try the ‘called it’ maneuver on Liston Maize melting down in the Pen Ultimate. Honestly man, come on.’ 

Burt chuckled. ‘No, but that’s fair. I’m just saying, he hasn’t been ‘Liston Maize’ in years. I’m not saying I saw this coming, but come on, we can’t be that surprised. I mean, he’s out of shape, he’s drinking again and did you see how early he went to the glasses. He’s like late 80’s Kareem or mid 80’s Stevie Wonder. His best days have been behind him for a while is all I’m saying.’

Flip had long since given up their fantasies of writing competitively. Or rather they had put them away in their drawers and on their desktops. Still, it was a national pastime to imagine yourself on that stage. 

‘I just wish they’d move it from Oxford. The south is rich with writers but putting it there permanently dismisses the New England School. And even the suggestion that it is insulting to the Yanks is laughable when you consider the western traditions. Sure they ain’t as long, but Hollywood was recruiting early and that sweep spread the word out west. What about the cowboy poets.’

They both smiled. The long days journey had them now squarely in the midst of the night. Boozy and bored they knew that when the ‘Cowboy poets’ were argued for they’d reached the end of their evening. 

It was like that every year. Not the extraordinary and disappointing fall of a great like Maize. No, this competition, this historic day for watching creative intellects perform was a part of the fabric. No amount of stories about PED’s and drug fueled creative binges was ever going to stop the masses from indulging in the sport of it all, the pageantry. And surely, for Flip and Burt a night like this would fuel weeks of midnight toiling, play acting like the masters. It would fuel months of hope as they worked to create anything that might give them a moment in the sun. A moment that would never happen for the tens of millions who dreamed. But the dream was the prize. The work was enough. And until next year, well, they’d have a lot to talk about. 

The Opportunity Lost: Boys and Sexuality

To be frank, there is no place for my voice in the reckoning society is going through. I can fancy myself as inclusive as I care too. It won’t change the fact that I am afforded a single key hole through which to see and interpret the world. I can be educated, empathic, open to new ways of thinking and sensitive to the different world others see and it doesn’t matter. I am 44, male, white and middle class. I am as full of blind spots as anyone else and as imbued with the confidence inherrent in a man who has perhaps done good things but who has also been the great beneficiary of a world that has tilted toward him. What I can speak to is the perspective I have. As silly as it may sound now, I think I should. Because I was raised in a world that has produced and provided the elaborate permission structures that have allowed all manner of vulgar and vile atrocities to be laughed off, smirked at, dismissed and tacitly supported when not explicitly permitted. So I say my piece aware it is a tiny and possibly unhelpful observation, sure it will reveal unknown blind spots. I’m hopeful there is a grain of fresh perspective in it and accepting of the likelihood there isn’t. 

Male sexuality is to be feared. That is fair. History is replete with wreckage left in its wake. It is a blunt tool wielded too often, far too often, by brutal craftsmen and it is capable in its cruelest, bluntest form of destruction. It has been used to destroy  women, children and men. Wielded as power to subjugate and deprive. Yet it is given to each and every one of us. As such it’s important to be aware of its potential for harm and we should be incredibly cautious. 

This sucks. This is true and it sucks. Why does it suck? For a fairly obvious reason, actually. A reason that is far too often ignored. 

Sex is the porthole to intimacy for so many men. Connecting with other human beings in human ways, in face to face open ways, is not what so many of us are good at. Even those of us that appear well mannered and socially fluent often struggle maintaining relationships in those rare instances when we can initiate them. For many of us the actual physical act is the truest cure for the deep seeded, existential loneliness we live with daily. It truly is access to the divine beauty of the human experience. Not every time, but sometimes. And when it’s not it is always an expression of love in some form. Sometimes its the functional day to day love we give just by being there. Other times its the silly joyousness of sneaking around your kids to care for each other, to give to one another. Sometimes its to comfort and sooth or stoke and enliven. Unfortunately we rarely talk about it this way. I think we should. I think it would go a long way, over time, in reducing the great numbers (far greater than I ever knew) of men who wield their sexuality so overtly and aggressively. A nice side benefit might even be increased personal fulfillment. 

Our world is in the midst of a reckoning around the brutal sexuality we have tolerated, hidden, obfuscated and even celebrated since long before my first, nascent stirrings while sneaking under the coffee table to look at the parts of the JCPenney Catalog I didn’t know I shouldn’t have been scanning. I felt no shame lying my body heavy on the carpet. It felt good. I was five. I quickly learned I shouldn’t be doing that. I learned I should not want to feel that. I learned to sneak it. Innocently exploring sexuality unaware of the word ‘sexuality’, guided solely by native, natural instinct. I don’t actually recall how I learned it, I just did. I sadly would and probably have thoughtlessly facilitated the same type of realization for my own boys. 

The persistence of male sexuality in all it’s unpolished, garrulous, often aggressive insistence is something we can’t turn our heads from. That’s a sentence that has proven false yet still it feels important to state. Like ‘All men are created equal’ or ‘you will be insulated from repurcussion and you are encouraged to inform HR when you feel you have been harassed by a superior.’ These statements are presented as observations but perform as aspirations. We in fact have turned our heads from the day to day, inch by inch indecencies and do so by rote. We have proven to be pretty good at turning our heads from far more than that. From those offenses that cross several lines at once, up to and surpassing criminality. Ignoring transgression has been the norm. In fact very often, prior to this specific moment, and still in many cases in this moment, we seek to poke holes in the victims story immediately so as not to have to deal with it. 

Its going to be hard for any of us who are of a certain age to deny some level of complicity. Probably far more complicity than we think. Even us good ones. All because of a vile and crude understanding of the powerful, near universal sexual immaturity that our culture, western culture, has institutionalized in men. 

Testosterone comes with many things and aggression and competition are certainly prominent among those things. They are not the only thing, mind, but they are prominent and naturally occurring. We exercise all manner of power in seeking to satisfy the dumb, basic urge to have sex. What we have become in so many other areas as a species since the cave dwelling days is startling in comparison to how little it would appear we have evolved in this area. We have adapted, appropriating new methodologies to achieve the clubbed-head outcome, but we have not evolved far from it. That’s sad.

It is not as sad, not nearly as sad as it is for the countless women and girls and boys (and some men for that matter)  who’ve had to navigate a world of near constant predation. I can only imagine, am only just now starting to realize how the world  is for so many, a world where there is very little benefit in trusting anyone. I am not sad for these men finally being held to account. But I am sad for the ones who are navigating childhood and are seeing ever more evidence that this natural occurring thing, this pleasure that forms out of thin air and in their bones, is not to be discussed, explored, thought about or talked about. As if holding it at bay is the best way to process emerging sexuality. Make no mistake, it is dangerous and hurtful and capable of causing calculable and incalculable damage and it should be repressed. Which of course to some degree it must be. But unless you’ve been the 7th grader arroused by nearly every damn interaction with anyone of any type, meaning even just having seen someone from across the schoolyard or accidentally seen the poster of the girl in the spandex gym clothes who is only there to sell your mom yogurt, and known you couldn’t stop your thoughts and your bodies reactions, you’can’t know what it’s like and how terrible you can feel about your bodies insistence.

No one wants to hear the nascent yearnings of the adolescent boy. That’s the problem. We run from the subject, we tell them to ignore this one thing they can barely control. Worse, we tell them to funnel their energy into sports. Great. Go channel this into war games with winners and losers largely determined by physical dominance. In fact be loyal to your teamates at all turns and work together to ensure you deceive, dominate and defeat your opponent. Good. WTF. I love sports, but it is a bit too broadly applied, this universal supplication to boys being involved at all times in it. 

The reality, one I’m frankly more aware of intellectually than I am emotionally, having been raised in a manner greatly fearing and rejecting my teen, male sexuality is the photo negative of the sexless sexiness that is constantly being put on teen girls. Except in the case of girls they seem to be far more engaged in at least the healthy exploration of feelings and relationships. Well, at least they are until all of it is taken from them by one of us viewing the world as a territory for acquisition, dominance and accrual. 

We need to start talking to boys about the beauty, the human nature of their own sexuality. We need to try to get them when they are being overrun by hormones and lack of judgement and act to civilize them. Don’t underestimate the male libido’s wily conceit. It arrives when full physical power does and before consistently sound judgement does. It is an evolutionary positive despite the chaos it can cause society. Who’s more likely to contribute to the growing of the species more efficiently than a horny teen after all. We need to not hide from this Mack truck of hormonal insistence that is sprung on these guys and we need to help them through it. 

Boys need to know that sex is communication on a deep, even transcendent level. They need to hear that it isn’t a game to be won. There is no value in the numbers and tallies. The value is inside the conversations and flirtations, it is in the moments  when you learn why she laughs and what moves her to tears. It is in the physical comforts of intimacy when we are feeling pain or comforting those we care for. It is in the note you write to cheer that special  person up and yes, it is in the kisses and caresses and fumbling eagerness of overpowering desire. And it is in the maddening misunderstandings and uncomfortable conversations. It is in the showing up and staying through the discomfort. It is in the thrill of the urge as much if not more than in the satisfying of it. 

Young men would laugh out of discomfort in being told these things. They’d say something typically stupid in many instances and dismiss the teller as irrelevant. So what. They do that with everything. They are teen boys. But we can’t keep going on forever ignoring, fearing, rejecting and judging the unavoidable sexuality of adolescent boys. Its a necesarry ingredient in making monsters of men. I don’t have answers and don’t know how we can make a world that embraces and fosters a fuller understanding. But I dream of one and hope it arrives in time for my own kids. 

Funktified 

Surely we have lost our way

Losing songs we used to play

Lost and looking for some balance

That some of us took for granted.

Hurlyburly. A stumbling mass.

Drunk, angry, fat from greed.

Not greed that ever stole from me

But looked me rather in the eye

While pumping furiously

Bleeding me dry

There she goes don’t ever look down

Nothing to see, no flag on the ground

Never forget we are the royal ‘me’

Don’t question your curated liberties

Don’t worry. No. Worry. It’s better for me

Keep drinking and striving forever ahead

Not sleeping, so tired and easily lead 

The danger in difference is never wrong

But don’t ever sing the different song

Don’t speak of union and harmony

Shout defiance and cradle the misery.

For you and me and them and us

Are born of swirling and sparkling dust

And to that dust we shall return

Pulverized by gears we built to burn