Tag Archives: love

Causality

3 Jan

Causality

It’s an odd place to live in

the universe

when you’ve got causalities like

making brownies ’cause your toes were numb

or deciding you’re going to live

because you’re going to die.

We learn to love hurt

because love hurts

and it’s more painful

when you hurt love.

We try not to,

but that’s not the way causality works.

Not when good intentions pave the road to hell

or maybe just divorce,

since we’re not really sure

we aren’t just giving ourselves hell anyway.

You can have pain from nonexistent things.

There are phantom limbs, after all.

Why not all those other extensions?

– for Patrick

A Car And A Cute Old Man

9 Dec

Today, I met a cute old man. He was not by default cute because he was old. I have met a lot of old men, and many, many of them are not cute. A lot of them are crotchety fuckers.

But this old man, he was cute. He barely had any hair left, just a brush of white and wiry remnants as his eyebrows, and a U around his head. His skin has the yellow tinge of an elderly Philippino. He could have been stern, if his mouth puckered more. But it didn’t. He was not stern. He was not intimidating. He was like a really old uncle, maybe a grandfather. Something non-threatening. The sort of old relative that would call you dear and not mean it demeaningly.

Oh, I met him because he was my Lyft driver.

So I got into the car, and we made chit chat as is opening procedure for taking a Lyft. I asked how long he’d been driving, he told me he’d been up since 6 am. I commented on how early that was, and he mentions, nonchalant, that he’s hoping to make enough fare to head home early and take his wife out to a nice dinner.

Okay, this dude is like seventy. That’s already frickin’ adorable.

So I try not to making squeeing noises out loud and merely respond how that’s sweet. I ask how long he’s been married. He answers – 44 years.

Holy. fuck.

I ask how they met. He tells me that they both worked in the same government agency, back in the Philippines. “We met in the office and… that’s how it all got started.” His voice winked, even if he did not.

He launches into his whole story. He tells me how he and his wife, they worked at this agency for 25 years, but before they retired, his wife wanted to pursue her real profession for a while. They moved to Chicago and “were trapped there in the snow” for twenty years, so she could be a chemist.

Finally retiring, they moved to Florida. He tells me how, having saved up a fair amount, they gave their remaining assets in the Philippines to their daughter, which he pronounces further endearingly as duo-ter. But… he stumbles over himself, for a few seconds. He’d started to explain how he has a daughter, but… the stumbling and backpedalling came to a stop, and he tells me, “I had a son, but I lost him when he was nineteen.”

I don’t want to ask what lost means.

My driver, he pushes on and tells me about his duo-ter, now 44 (my innuendo-center starts cheering internally and wink-wink-nudge-nudging the man), lives in Okinawa with her eight-year-old son. She’s serving as a pediatrician in the air force – they paid for her school, she works for them the same amount of years. She’s got two left.

My mind immediately starts praying that Okinawa stays quiet for the next two years.

The old man’s talk meanders back to him and his wife. He tells me how they tired of Florida’s weather, so they moved to Los Vegas instead. It was cheaper there, anyway. They rented a three-bedroom house for just $700 a month. My roommates and I are renting a three-bedroom apartment for more than that.

But… the old man, his voice becomes closed and quiet, “Los Vegas was my downfall. I had never gambled before in my life. But I got myself stuck at the slot machines. I lost all our savings. I… I squandered everything.”

I can hear the shame in his voice. I would not have been surprised if he’d started to cry.

“But I told my wife,” he goes on, “I told my wife, it’s not too late, I can earn it back. Well, not all of it, but some, enough…” He spends several more minutes reciting a litany of “I did a bad thing” and “I needed to make it better” and “I was contrite, so I could do it.”

They moved out to Santa Clarita. He started driving for Lyft. That is why he is a driver, to try one car ride at a time to rebuild the life he intended for his wife – and himself – to have. To make good on his statement that he is contrite. He tells me how sorry he is for what he did, how grateful he is that his wife is with them. “I think she still loves me,” he said in a small voice. “I love her very much.”

We reach my street, and as we pull up to my curb, he turns to me and with a somehow beaming face tells me enthusiastically, “I hope all your ventures are successful!”

I tell him that I hope he has a nice dinner with his wife.

Missing

29 Sep
Missing

There was a time

when you and me

were a single word,

and all I heard

in the beating, fluttering earth

was the breath

of you next to me,

when my curves fit yours

because that was home.

My body’s lonely now,

now that you and me

are two different words

and I can’t hear you anywhere

in this silence,

because I don’t remember what it felt like

to hold your hand anymore,

because you decided that anymore,

you didn’t want to hold me.

Poem: Dark One

14 Jul

Dark One

I worry I am too much chaos. You stand there, in your sweet and indeterminable beauty, and you think I am frail because you see me cower. But I am only crouching, trying to hide from you my soul as it glowers.

I am a stormy soul, oh light one. I worry I might obliterate you if we were to crash together.

Insanity so easily swallows up naked possibility.

I’m worried we would go insane, if I tried to swallow you.

But you are so tempting, you over there with your soft breezes and gentle kisses blown at me with a wave. Your fingers chide my suspicion so cheerfully.

I am fearful to wave back; I do not trust my darkened sensibilities. They can so quickly snuff a greeting so bright as yours.

Ah, but you might taste so sweet, as I devoured you…

And the end of what you promised – well, death need not always be a wretched case.

But would it be so easy for me to say that then as I watched you limp away, wounded?

Poem: The Anger of a Lamppost

8 Jul

Love’s a terrible thing
when you’ve been reduced to a scheduling item –
the emotional equivalent of a lamppost,
lovely and terribly convenient to have around,
but not exactly a high emotional investment.
Sometimes you don’t even notice
when the bulb’s gone out.
And then the stretch of putting it off and putting it off,
always meaning to attend to the deadness in your room,
but so much a second thought
that such a nonessential scheduling item
stays dead,
for months,
until finally you know you’ll never put a bulb back
and say fuck it,
then throw it in the trash
so you can get a different, shinier lamppost.
I did not like being that scheduling item.
My bulb left broken for much too long,
even though you kept saying that one day,
things would be brighter.

Stubborn Is

7 Jun

Stubborn Is

Stubborn is going to the beach on a cloudy day,

eating burnt toast or cold eggs that crunch.

Stubborn is doing dishes in scalding water,

grabbing for the soap even as your hands flinch.

Stubborn is staring back at opaque eyes.

Stubborn is pounding a deadened heart.

Stubborn is fighting the battle you’ve already lost.

And stubborn is going on,

refusing to press the off button.

Or stubborn is pressing the off button,

refusing to go on.

You are a ghost, you see.

31 May

 

You Are A Ghost, You See

You are a ghost, you see.

You haunt me not so much

in the traces of your life littered

among the foundation of mine,

the trinkets and bestowals of a love

I once thought was true.

No; your memory is nothing so easy

as those leftover tangibles I can hide in a box.

It is the phantom of you, that I cannot abide;

the ephemera of your mannerisms

that now color mine;

the cadence of your voice that carries on in my conversation,

because the pattern of my words had learned to follow along.

It is the beating and the rhythm,

the hand gestures,

the faces,

the little movements of my existence that had come to keep pace

with yours.

You haunt me in my very viscera,

the way that my tendons line together

and the circles my joints make when they move.

People, we come to mirror the thing that’s most before our eyes.

And even though you are now gone

I cannot rid myself of your reflection.

You are a ghost, you see,

and I am your phantom.

Flash Fiction: The Wind is a Liar

25 May

The wind is a liar, an elusive suitor who will murmur sweet nothings as he passes by but remains safely intangible for you to ever manage to grasp. He may have you all he wants, but you can never have him. Not really.

All you’ll ever have are the murmurs. A small gust of discontent blowing in the back of your consciousness, left there by some too-strong beat of your heart or flutter of your mind. You let him in. That was the only way to trap him. To catch that one breath, leave it blowing about somewhere in your memory.

It’s the only way to hold onto him.

The sweet caress of a moment’s breeze will say that he loves you. But the wind can never really hold you. The suggestion of an embrace is nothing but a cruel trickery of the senses.

Because should you ever turn to embrace your lover back, you will find there were never any arms about you in the first place.

You will swear they were there.

But that was never true, dear one.

Perhaps you will be one of the few that insist.

And then, oh pretty lover, the wind will have made a liar out of you, too.

Flame

30 Apr

Flame

Love should not be a burning flame
for a flame can be blown out;
one wind misplaced, a breath astray –
and then no more but doubt.
You watch the smoldering wick burn down
to nothing more than ash,
and you wonder and wonder again and again
if  this lighting was too rash.
You got too close; the flame too hot
for you to stand there long.
But you had hoped, again and again,
that this candle would prove strong.
Love should not be a burning flame
for a candle dies when the wax runs out,
and you’re left with nothing but a puddle of tears –
and those cannot smolder doubt.

Joy

20 Apr

I hear that it’s a holiday – a holy day – today. I hear it’s called Easter.

I don’t know what that word conjures up for you, when you hear it. A Midwestern-bred Catholic who decided to expand to the larger term of “Christian” in her early college years and now claims no grand ability to judge the Ultimate Truths of the universe, calling herself no one dogmatic label but saying she is open to learning, to questioning, to experiencing, and to revising ideas – the word “Easter” conjures up a lot of rather disparate images for me.

Countless Easter baskets, each of them packed with neon green and pink and purple plastic shavings, filled to the brim with garishly designed chocolate-encasing wrappers, maybe even some of those 25 cent plastic Easter eggs you can buy at every discount and drug store right around this time of year. Probably some horrid but oh-so-delicious chocolate mockery of a rabbit. (Seriously, why do those things even exist? “Here, kiddo, today’s all about celebrating new life, NOW RIP ITS HEAD OFF WITH YOUR SALIVA-DRIPPING TEETH AND FEAST UPON ITS CORPSE WHILE ITS MELTING BODY SMEARS ALL OVER YOUR FACE!”)

Uh, yeah. Easter baskets.

There are images of family parties that pop up, too. Somebody – usually my grandmother, I think – probably made a ham. Not that I’d be eating it, thank you very much. There would be some Easter egg hunt, little plastic capsules filled with quarters and dimes and HOLY FUCK THIS ONE HAS FIVE DOLLARS strewn around the front yard or the backyard or the living room, if the weather were too wet or the adults got too lazy. I’d participate for maybe ten years or so, then help moderate for the littler ones as I got older. (“Hey, three-year-old cousin, stick with me and you’ll be good to go. I’ve got inside information.”)

For a long stretch of years, there are images of church. Me and my younger sister and my mother and every other female there decked out in our best dress, many of us probably having bought a new one just for the occasion. (Why are Easter dresses a thing? Why must small children be bedecked in white fluff and nonsense that they’re only going to complain makes them uncomfortable and probably get grass stains all over within five minutes? Why don’t we all just wear jeans? The day’s about freedom, yes?)

A lot of those years, the church-going was fairly mindless. You went to church on Easter because that’s just what people did. It was like stopping at red lights or eating soup with a spoon. That’s just the way things worked. You stood outside in the cold (because of course Missouri would decide to revert back to freezing temperatures instead of the spring it had been inching toward – I mean, wouldn’t want to overheat the occasion or anything by venturing above 60 degrees Fahrenheit…) and waited for a really long time and got really bored and then you went inside and the adults around you mumbled some stuff and belted some songs and went through this routine of sitting and standing and kneeling and sitting and kneeling and standing and burning weird-smelling stuff and generally doing lots more waiting and being bored…

And then in my first two or so years of college, there was nobody around to tell me I had to go to Easter mass. Or even what Easter mass to go to. I went because at that time, I wanted to. I went because the Catholic and then broader Christian faith held meaning for me. Helped me get through the fucking large amount of hurting I was going through at the time. A day where I could go to the Pentecostal church the next suburb over and throw my hands in the air and sing as loudly as I could in a room full of people clapping their hands and waving their bodies and smiling at me, at each other, at the ceiling past where they imagined their God to be, where we could make noise and stomp our feet and feel things because that’s just what we wanted to do, just how we wanted to show our belief and our thanks, and whatever we brought to the table, our God would find that acceptable? Would find it good?

I went to that kind of mass for a while.

And now, Easter, being a word associated with that set of religions that I’ve become not entirely sure about… it brings up flashbacks of scenes of doubt and anger – at the God I had been taught to believe in, at the men I had been told to believe. Discomfort and hesitation, because the book I was told to put so much stock in had some passages that seemed to not make sense, or to exclude people I knew were damn good people, better than a lot of the Christians I knew – more loving, more supportive, more accepting, better parents and spouses and partners and friends, sometimes even better believers – I was being told that I was supposed to “pray for their souls,” because they were sinning. Or something like that. There was a whole sector, multiples sectors of human life, human experience, that had so many rules and regulations, many of them seemingly arbitrary, that the joy there… just died.

I thought Easter was explicitly about the opposite of joy dying.

My journey of faith and un-faith and re-faith and not-quite-faith and whatever the hell the proper words for the dynamic spot of saying I don’t know all the answers and I’m just going to love and serve people and celebrate this earth and its inhabitants as best I can and hope that any deity out there will look on and understand my story, understand that I am doing the best I can in the place I am at – I don’t know exactly what to call that, but the story of getting there is long intricate and person and complicated, and that’s not exactly what I’m trying to talk about here.

What am I trying to talk about? Well, now that you’ve got an incredibly long backstory, what I’m trying to say is that I hear today is a day called Easter. A holy day. A day of celebrating that we humans, with our quirks and differences and imperfections and doubts and diversity, are free and loved. A day of celebrating the joy that can be in life.

So. Whoever you are, however you are, I wish you joy today. Joy in being completely you, without boundaries or prejudices. Joy in loving as fully as you can, without any disapproval from lookers-on. Joy in being who you are, how you know you were created. Male, female, transgender, gender queer, intersex, agender – whatever the word you understand for yourself. Straight, gay, lesbian, hetero or homo, pansexual or asexual, questioning or certain or experimenting or just trying to be okay – because I’m pretty sure that’s what we’re all doing, the entire human race, just trying to be okay – whatever your titles or creeds or other arbitrary delineations we draw between us who are all made of skin and bone and muscle, hearts and lungs and brains and hands: I wish you joy. In being you. In being free. In being loved.

No conditions. No reservations.

Only joy.