Sunday, October 8, 2017

Feral

Your eyes are wild
What contraption
Beats your heart?
I imagine steam
And Pistons
And cranking gears.

You know,
Everything is made.
Even wild things
Like you.
There is always
An inventor
In some mad laboratory
Even if that inventor is
Yourself.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

It Has Been Beautiful

There is a pain in my body
That feels like a demon
Trying to escape
There is a pain in my body
That feels like a demon
Trying to escape
Why do I hold tight to this pain?
Why do I cradle it like an infant?

I see God in the garden
Opening like a flower
I see God open his petals
In the garden like a flower
Look at the rain drops on his stem
What is it that is feeding him?

And it has been beautiful
But I must let this demon go
I have learned from my scars
But I must let this demon go
It is not fair to him to keep him
Now that he is fully grown

And it has been beautiful
But I must join God in the garden
I must open towards the same sun
As God in the garden
Oh let the rain come down
And water all of the flowers
In the garden.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Other Ways to Say I Love You



Me (eyes full of passion): I love you.

Her (eyes full of passion, voice sultry): I have a suspicion that, it may be possible--with an undetermined statistical probability--that somewhere in the general vicinity of where we currently are standing--give or take a vicinity--that there may be one, or possibly several people, who are feeling an emotion or emotions either precisely, or relatively similar, to the emotions and/or emotion that the words you employed just now are typically used to describe. I mean, I'm not not saying that this hypothetical person or people just proposed doesn't feel the same way that you have suggested you feel, and I'm not not saying that they don't not maybe potentially feel those feeling about you, but it's possible I'm saying other things which may or may not refer to different issues or causes, or also be in response to different emotional experiences. Do you know what I mean?

Me: ah, baby. That's so sweet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

I Light a Fire



I light a fire for you,
Not with a stick
Or a rock,
But with my soul
Which suddenly exists
Because you touched it
However randomly
With your own
Internal flame.
Light me up.
I am here.
Ready to burn.
Ready to illuminate.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Alphas

Men, with no authority over anyone else,
Kicking their dog, reprimanding their dog,
A little toy breed that is
Unable to afford a gun license,
But is fully able,
To validate its master.
Simply by being small.
Men, yelling at their wives,
Teaching their boys not to cry,
Teaching their girls that their future husband
Needs to be their king (not by words: by action)
Sitting down
Pot-bellied after mowing the grass
Drinking a beer and watching the game.
He will hit mom tonight.
The world told them, 'Make your kingdom!'
But they have no kingdom.
They work jobs that do not lionize them.
The bosses they listen to get younger
And younger.
The world told them in a whisper,
'You alone are qualified!'
But what has this wrought?
No promotion.
Kid is a fag.
Talk radio.
Beer.
Beer.
Beer.
Men: but on the inside, boys.
And they were beautiful once,
But those days are gone.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Surrounded

I am surrounded by ghosts,
My body is a map of their travels.
Every scar, burn, stretch mark,
Every pound of flesh that expands their map
Is guidepost. Is landmark. Is roadside attraction.
See here? When I flex my forearm, made firm by labor?
This introduces a long blue river to the map.
When I am surrounded, I imagine erecting a dam,
Building a fence or wall,
Drilling deep into the blue that comes with flexing,
And I feel comfort in the idea of retreat.
Yet I move forward,
Through discomfort and on to understanding,
Until the river disappears,
And the landscape
Returns
To uninterrupted flesh.

Friday, August 18, 2017

There Is No Space Between Us

One night, when I was the manager at the Drop Inn Center, I had to kick a very large and aggressive man out of the shelter for sexually assaulting one of our female clients.

Typically, when you are kicking someone out of a shelter, or having a difficult meeting with them--one where you suspect their ire may get up--you make sure someone else is present, and you are in a place with very clear exits.

I was about 28 at this time, and cocky. I would often do one-on-one discipline/exit with a variety of unpredictable characters.

I didn't behave differently in this situation. I asked the large man if I could talk to him, took him into the lobby of our intake area--where it was just he and I, and the only exit out of the room was through him. I told him the news. He didn't deny it. He looked down for a second, and then locked eyes with me. "So I'm out, right?"

"Yes." I said in a neutral tone.

He stepped up to me, and put his chest in my face. Our bodies were touching.

"You're in my space." I said, suddenly feeling the weight in the room.

"There is no space between us." he said.

What followed involved me trying to get away from him, him following me, chasing me, cursing and threatening me, telling me he was going to break my back (and I believed him). Eventually a more seasoned co-worker got hip to what was going on, and slid himself between the two of us, coaxing the man outside with a cigarette and the observation that, 'You don't want to go back to jail, man'.

I had a tall pair of brown work boots that I always wore in those days, and I was literally shaking in them.

I learned from that lesson--I am a hard learner: rather than following good advice, I usually need to leave a little blood on the floor before I find myself accepting basic wisdom--and from then on, I had someone else present during those tough conversations. I also worked on my delivery, and built up some empathy for the people I interacted with.

One thing that has stuck with me above all else from that night, almost in a kind of spiritual way, was that ominous threat: "There is no space between us."

Over time, as I recovered, I learned to respect what a cool line that is. When I would tell the story of that night, the impetus of my telling would shift from, 'Man, that was scary, and that's how I learned to not act like a cowboy', to 'Damn. That was an absolutely awesome and terrifying line. I wish I could pull off that level of intimidation in a pinch!'

And the line shifted even more after that. My son was having a bad day one day, and didn't want to talk to me. I gave him his space for awhile, but he seemed really down. I did some deductive reasoning, sat down with him on his bed in his room, and proposed my guess as to what might be bothering him. He looked at me, teared up, and hugged me. He asked me how I guessed. "There's no space between us', I said.

It was a transformative moment.

I have had the opportunity to use the line a few more times since then, but it has also become a rallying cry and motto with me and the boys. Whenever we are separated for awhile, we say it to each other: 'There is no space between us'. Whenever we are feeling lonely in this world, we realize we are not alone, because there is no space between us.

It is funny and strange how we are able to use life experiences, and appropriate language that was intended in a wholly different fashion, to build and move forward.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Social Work Conversations

A young black client of mine recently told me that he didn't understand why other black people hated white people. 'Slavery was forever ago, and there are white people like you out there, so why are they mad?'

My response? 'Don't let me off the hook.'

It's so easy to see a fairly evolved white person as an ally. But ask yourself what it costs a white person to be an 'ally'. The answer is that it costs nothing, and the reward is great. If I'm not a total open racist, I get rewarded for it. I'm 'woke'. I don't have to answer for systemic discrimination. I told this kid that I was glad he liked me, and I like him too, but don't let me off the hook. What do I do to change the system other than posting something on Facebook every now and then, or show up at the random rally? I am not your ally, because while I may be concerned about the way the police treat you, or by the way you have to work extra hard to access the privilege I glided into, what have I given up? I'm being rewarded for honoring the basic lessons we all learned while watching Sesame Street, although I haven't put in half of the work. Yes, young man, don't let hatred cloud your heart, but please understand that I am not your ally. I am a white man who has benefited from a system designed to promote my race and gender, and although I may like you, I will never give up my own position for you, and I will only help you until it cuts into my own bottom line. Be your own ally. Don't look for others to boost or improve you. Don't let hatred and anger make you ugly, but be realistic: I am not the one who is going to boost you to the next level, and I will never give up my position in order to advance your own.