Paradoxical Love Poem

Disclosure: all is well with me. My life is fine. This is not about me, at least not now. I did not write the poem. Its attraction for me is that it abuts the paradoxical nature of love, as I see it. This post is not about anyone I know but relates to the yin and yang of human romance. I don’t know if the poem is intended to be about anyone. Although, it’s inevitable that some of us will see our own shadow somewhere in the poem. And this: I have experienced shingles even after having been inoculated against the infection, and I plan to take the new shots soon. A poem that compares love to that has my attention.

I’ve been working on two other somewhat unrelated essays on the paradox of love for a long time. For months, it has been slow going for several reasons. It’s not the writing. Getting a handle on some aspects of human nature has been a high bar for me. I may be a little reluctant to publish — not totally sure why. Furthermore, I am multi-interested, but when I try to multi-task, as we call it, I FUBAR, as we also call it.

Romance novels are big sellers, and maybe I’ll write one some day. For now, I want to write about the reality of why we are as we seem to be. Romance novels are works of fiction, but there is some reality-based reason we read them.

Why do we love when we know we shouldn’t? How can we love people who do not love back? Why does our greatest pleasure, love, hurt? Why continue loving when it hurts?

And what does sex have to do with it? Obviously, with some love it’s ruled out. In other cases, it is expected.

Then I saw this poem in The Sun magazine. Part of the paradox of love for me is the pain. The pleasure of romantic love defies description (doesn’t keep me from trying). But is it enough to endure the “love hurts” painful kind of situation? Do we love people and wish we didn’t? Conversely, are there people we don’t love, but wish we did?

I would say no, but I would be wrong. Love overpowers all forms of wisdom, logic, caution, safety, and potential for pain. We’d lie for love, we’d die for love. So many of us go into relationships having experienced the pain and suffering, and knowing what another relationship might bring. Some of us are in those painful relationships. That is what is so great about it.

When I read this poem, I thought she had nailed it. That poem reflects exactly what I am talking about when I try to put the paradox of love into an understandable and logical framework of words.

Due to copyright law, I cannot publish the poem here, but the magazine allows me to post a link to their web page.

Please click this link to the poem Loving You Burns Like the Shingles by Terri Kirby Erickson and read it for yourself at The Sun’s magazine website.

Note: The Sun allows you to view two articles per month without subscription. So, if you have already viewed two on their site, you may not be able to read the poem.

I’ve added a little youtube of the song, Love Hurts, by Nazareth. Sorry for the downer. We love to love, and love is not a downer.

 

Look both ways, to the past and toward the future.
But focus on the here and now. Mind gaps in everything.

Essay: Thanklessness

Gratitude

Some say it’s the least felt of human emotions. That may be. It seems to be the feeling least written about from a mental health professional perspective. And yet, I’ve read that grateful people are happy people. Are they happy because they’re grateful, or vice versa? I should know because I consider myself one of them.

I am uneasy when people thank me for my military service. While there were days I would not want to repeat; some of those memories are among my best. It was my career – my profession. If people were silently grateful, I’d manage. I used to humbly balk at such comments, but I soon learned to say thank you and move on.

I was walking down a street in Crystal City, VA (just outside of Washington, D.C) with a US Marine Corps colonel. We were headed for a meeting. He was in his uniform, but I wore civilian clothes. As we were waiting to cross the street, an attractive young lady walked up and shook his hand as she thanked him for his service.

After she left, he said, “Since being married, I no longer know how to handle situations like that.”

I replied, “Next time, introduce your Air Force friend and I will take it from there.”

The value of gratitude to our overall mental health is well known. I know of no self-help book that suggests being thankless. Everything from gratitude lists to National Holidays inspire us to be reflective of those things and people we feel have improved our lives.

A Memory

My favorite gratitude story involves the son of my wife’s sister. She had six boys, of which Scott was the youngest. Whenever we visited his family, I would find time to play with Scott. Be it baseball, football, basketball, or some other similar endeavor, Scott and I interacted and played – just the two of us. It never occurred to me, as the youngest boy, Scott’s five older brothers had better things to do. And his father, a borderline workaholic, had been worn down by the first five boys.

Eventually, Scott grew up, got married, and graduated from Texas University. He and Sarah had two lovely daughters. I enjoyed my time with him and never gave it another thought after we had both moved on with life.

Scott matured into a handsome, well-liked, and friendly man. Everyone liked him, despite his reputation as a clever prankster.

On a visit with Scott and his family, he asked to speak with me alone. After we retreated to a private area, he said, “I want to thank you for all those times you played ball with me when I was a kid. No one else did that and I have never forgotten. It meant a lot to me. Thank you.”

By being me and playing with some kid, I created memories for him. Now, my memory is of his expression of gratitude. Within a year, Scott had died of a congenital heart problem. When I learned of that, my first thought was of our chat.

‘Thankless’ Employment

I’ve had some experiences with work-type situations some people call “thankless jobs.” While I understand what they mean, I can never get my brain around what a ‘thankless’ job is.

As an additional part of my real job, I once volunteered to be a Facility Manager for a large building where several hundred people worked. I was paid nothing extra.

A few months into the building job (which my wife titled Permanent Latrine Orderly [PLO], from the movie No Time for Sergeants), I realized that all my voice mail messages were either new problems, or comments about on-going issues related to the building, not my real job. I liked the challenges and the idea that my efforts made a better place for people to work for nine hours or more each day.

I also enjoyed the times people expressed their gratitude to me for doing such a ‘thankless’ job. Even with that irony, I also liked when people sent emails to my boss telling him how much they appreciated what I did. He let me know. One day he introduced me to some visiting VIP as his Facility Manager rather than my real job title. Was that a slip-up, or was it because he most appreciated my building caretaker duties? Thankless? I think not!

Thankfully Happy Few

I admit, as Harvey McKay titled a chapter in How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, gratitude is (or may be) ‘the least felt of all human emotions.’ But I also know when we think about it, we are usually grateful.

It’s not a perfect world. We have a fair share of ingrates and thankless souls wandering around. But thankless is the other side of what we ought to be, and most of us seem to know it.

I further admit knowing some who fear happiness. They are normal when complaining or worrying. In those cases, we either simply wait for it, or we speed things up by asking, “How are you doing?”

Their answer is, “Well, let me tell you about it….”

There’s nothing wrong with having an attitude of gratitude and it may even lead to a healthier and happier life. Yet, I’ve known some very happy, but cantankerous old farts who relish the chip on their shoulder. Good for them.

The only thankless jobs are the ones we don’t want. People have been treated for long term depression, only to find relief with a job change. It happens.

And the only thankless people are the poor souls who may be struggling with their own sorrows, problems, or demons.

And isn’t happiness what we ultimately want? I think so.

©Bill Reynolds 11/26/2018

Look both ways for health and happiness. Mind the gaps. They may harbor traps.

Poetry: The Whole(y) Trinity (Earth+Rain+Sun) +Air

Our Earth is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, magnificent, wonderful, amazing, stunning, staggering, imposing, stirring, and impressive. It’s also formidable, fearsome, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, marvelous, and wondrous.

I

It is pure coincidence when the sun and I rise together.
Some mornings, I get to see him peeking through smoky cloud,
other times he is in full blast before I notice the lightness
of another day, I might say, he’s looking kind of gray.
We need the sun. Without sun, we are none, no life begun.
But too much sun is less than fun for those of us
who’d a fair-skin mum, with sun’s-red or blonde hair.
Here come the sun, with promises of things not done.

II

‘tis all the same with the rain, hello, this is nature’s sweetest gift.
The water of life, with two hydros and one oh, of it we drink
vapes up to the sky, but not to the sun, to meet
with clouds of wonder before coming to cleanse
and to make things grow, sometimes as ice, or maybe as snow.
To make us a soup the plants may drink and we of the flesh,
must readily use to be mostly moving bags of water —
no rain, no water; no water – no life, but we have for us
the rain and rain and water and life that needs rain.

III

The earth, the dirt and the dullest dust of all things come and gone —
the coat of soil, six inches deep, worn by the planet is key to it all.
Type of soil names go with what it does and may sound human,
like Clay, Loam, Sandy, Peat, Rocky, and Chalky all improved
with organic things of life gone past, soil is often used for art,
but add the seed then wait to see the growth of life and us to be
mixed and matched and combined with time, then add and mix
the sun and rain and plant life comes, and air is there, and life
of animals and we are they. Care for it all if you plan to stay.

IV

Deep sigh for air and sky. Ya know, lads and lasses, it seems
brother air was not always there, but he’s a changeling contrivance
subject to manipulation with a chemical touch and that is, you see,
what all the fuss truly is and what it’s all about. The magic of
the other three working together (with the sea) brought to be
what we now suck into our lungs and over our tongues the air
the plants brought forth by a wonderful trinity of symbiotic
relationships giving life (recently to us) — for a time. How long?

©Bill Reynolds 11/19/2018

Look both ways in matters of life and nature. They’ve been here longer than us.
Mind the gaps with open-minded caution, discovery may one day fill them with knowledge.
All life, all earth is one. Let’s not fuck this up.

Greetings, My Fellow Humans

Note: Dear beloved English teachers, current and past, I realize every sentence is not a complete sentence. It is intentional. Sorry.

For those of you not of my generation, may you be so lucky as to become old someday, to grow wiser than ever, and to be an able matriarch or patriarch of your tribe. May you be honored for your past, cherished for wisdom today, and be a loss lamented when your time happens.

My wife Facebook shared/posted a (much too) long epistle that numerically listed 21 items of advice for old people (like we effing need it). I don’t agree with most of it. My oldest (adult) son made the sarcastic comment (it’s in his genes), “Dad’s always been on top of the latest fashions.”

I never wear socks with sandals (matured in 60-70-80s), checks or plads with stripes, or color combos that make my wife wince. I wore a uniform for years, then (after a period of high-casual) went as laid back as I could pull off.

I was once asked by a fellow manager how I ran a department where employees (include me) dressed casual Friday, Monday thru Thursday. He told me he asked upper management and got an emphatic ‘NO!” My response was, “I didn’t ask.”

But, Billy has a point.

My below the waist wardrobe: shorts, sweat pants, or jeans (clean underwear). Feet: usually short socks, slide-on shoes of some kind with rubber soles (no crocks), maybe laces, rarely sandals, very temperature dependent. I rotate sneakers but have some for rain and some for mud.

Upper bod gets things with no buttons like an old (maybe new) tee, or pullover long sleeve thingy, or sweatshirt. Formal shirts have collars like golf/polo type. Have some mock turtlenecks for when I feel all cool Pat Conroy, John Updike, or Patterson-ish like.

Dark color, pull-over sweaters for my shady moods and gloomy times of Peter Reading, Poe, Blake, e. e., T.S., A.E., Ezra, or G.G. Lord Byron-ish days. I have them.

I wear baseball (sometimes newsboy/Irish eight-piece/flat) caps.

I have clothes I no longer wear (since retired): Docker-like slacks, dress pants (not sure what still fits), sport coats covered to keep dust off, ‘nice’ long-sleeved button-down shirts (dusty), leather shoes (no wingtips or suede).

One pair of hiking boots I also use for motor scooter rides. I do have variations of workout garb that changes with the weather. A mix of sweat or beach hoodie thingies (how cold is it?) including a red rain jacket. Casual jackets, several of which I cannot recall ever having worn. I have my USAF leather flight jacket that screams ‘you put on a few’ when I wear it.

At home, it’s about how I feel. Out, it depends. I may be professor R.J. at the library, but more Chinasky at the pub. Writing at coffee shops is mood-determined. On my worst low-casual day, I look better than half the peeps in Wally World (maybe more than half), but who cares?

The last time I wore a tie either somebody died, got hitched, or I was being paid to dress like that. I have tossed a ton of ties, but a dusty dozen remain in my closet with all those belts. I wear one belt and only with jeans, but have beaucoup backups.

I try to keep my hair cut short (no old man pony tails for me, thanks), I brush and floss daily, walk about 2mi a day (when motivated), swim a bit more than that in week (shower daily after swim), sit way too much at this computer, go to one or two ‘social’ events a week, read not enough, watch some (too much) TV (The Voice, NCIS [needs me to write for them], Chicago PD, Fire, Med-maybe, an occasional Netflix movie or documentary, Bull a bit, some football [maybe]). If I go to the movie (or other) theater, I will dress medium casual, but at home…eff-it.

I really do care.

So, what’s up with (in) my closet? An old flight suit that no way would ever fit again, covered sports jacks and an old Class-A, USAF uniform (‘when I wore a younger man’s clothes’), too many shirts of which I wear less than half, pants that if not jeans I never wear, and two baskets for shorts, sweat pants, and miscellaneous whatever.

In drawers I have socks (mostly over-ankle types worn less than one day a week, if it is a socks day), underwear of which some %-age always needs tossed out, more tees, and too many pull over sweaters (all of which I like and do intend to wear, [see mood comments above] but I live in Texas). ‘tis the season, though – twenty-five degrees here this morning, which is why I sit writing this instead of out humpin’ for my 2 miles. Do not hang pullover sweaters on hangers. It gives them (you) shoulder bumps.

Okay. The truth is that I am an old man who basically does WTF he wants and has a dress and grooming code/standard bar set at ‘somewhat’ acceptable, if anyone cares. I do not wear stink (fragrances like cologne or after shave). Me? A fool? I think not; but passionate? Hell, YES! (Just not about my rags.) So, let’s end this with a poem by Yeats.

A prayer for old age by WB Yeats

God guard me from those thoughts men think
In the mind alone;
He that sings a lasting song
Thinks in a marrow-bone;
From all that makes a wise old man
That can be praised of all;
O what am I that I should not seem
For the song’s sake a fool?
I pray—for word is out
And prayer comes round again—
That I may seem, though I die old,
A foolish, passionate man.

Intense?

Look both ways on the closet rack and ask, “why do I have?”
Mind the gaps in the closet, for a tie’s a poor gift to an old man who’d be tickled with a kiss.

Poetry About Death

Poets write about many things. One is death.
Another is love. One could easily fill many book shelves with the love poems written just this year.

After working out this little ditty which touches on the part of death I call ‘the leaving and being left,’ I discovered another jewel by John Updike. It looks at death from the point of view of the artist (his).

I’ve added the brief reading video of the Updike poem below. If you enjoy poetry, art, are an artist, or may face death someday, it is worth a couple minutes of your time, in my opinion.

 

Let me Die

Please don’t sigh, when I cry, just kiss me now
and let me die.
Let me go
now to be.
Look at me and you will see,
when again together,
in death we’ll be.
Sigh and walk away –
to live what life’s left for you,
Not to fret and do not let
us to mourn this life or even death.

We had our time in love sublime
as you kiss me now upon my brow.

Bill Reynolds 11/01/2018

Perfection Wasted by John Updike

Wow!
Look both ways; to life and to death.
Respectfully mind the gap; it’s where the dying lie.

Dialogue: What They Said

Note: click on highlighted links for videos and songs.

He:      ‘I’m very sorry, Baby. I would never intentionally hurt your feelings.’

She:     ‘God damnit, Billy-Bob, you don’t even know why, do you?’

He:      ‘Whatever it was, I deeply regret it and promise never to say or do it again.’

She:     Screamed gibberish and threw her full glass of white wine at him, smashing it on the wall over his head.

Cat:     Ran and hid under the sofa.

She:     Poured herself a glass of red wine (doesn’t like red, gives her headaches).

He:      ‘Come on Judy, calm down, you know how much I love you.’

Cat:     Hissed very loudly.

Alexa: ‘Oh shit, Billy! Playing Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert.’

She:     Turned beet-red and walked toward him, grinned, and poured the red wine on his white shirt.

He:      ‘Jesus Christ! Now what?’

She:     Quietly uttered a ‘fuck you’ as she turned, grabbed her purse on her way to the front door, which she slammed so hard the curtain fell to the floor.

He:      Walked to the closet to change his shirt. Dropped the wine-stained one into hamper, picked up the curtain from the floor and reattached it. Took a short heavy glass from the cupboard and put in two ice cubes. Opened the liquor cabinet and poured two fingers of his best Scotch, then returned to his seat. He quietly sipped his Glenlivet 25.

Cat:     Jumped into his lap and began to force paws deep into his legs while fully extending claws to dig painfully into his skin.

He:      ‘Ouch! Stop that pussy cat. Alexa, play something soft and comforting.’

Cat:     ‘You did that on purpose. Her name is Jane. You called her Judy, your ex’s name. You’re such a dickhead.’

Alexa: ‘Ok, Billy-Bob, the jerk. Playing Please Don’t Go by Absolutes…jackass.’

He:      ‘Alexa, I said comforting, not sad and miserable. I feel bad enough. Play some Enya.’

Alexa: ‘Enya also thinks you’re a jerk, but playing Watermark for assholes.’

Cat:     ‘You called her mother a pain in the ass. Her mother hates you. Now Jane hates you. I think you are hoping for makeup sex. Good luck.’ Purrs and curls up into his lap.

Alexa: ‘She will kill him for sure this time. His sex life will soon be a memory.’

He:      ‘Alexa, stop talking to the cat. Add flowers to my shopping list.’

Alexa: ‘Ok, thrill-kill-Bill, adding three-dozen red roses and her favorite candy to your shopping list. Would you like me to call that in for you?’

He:      ‘Would you two please be quiet. I need to regroup. Why am I talking to a cat and a computer?’

Phone buzzes with voice mail.

She:     ‘Fuck you very much. And, I’m never coming back.’

Alexa: ‘Ok Jane the wonderful, playing Fuck You by Lily Allen. Please don’t leave us here alone with this asshole.’

He:      Takes another sip of Scotch, closes his eyes, and begins to snore.

© Bill Reynolds 10/27/2018

Look both ways; we are never free of consequences.
Mind the gaps; they are never forgotten.

Song Lyric Sunday – Give

Helen’s Song lyric prompt for today is give. I immediately thought of a song I had not listened to in a while, a classic twelve-bar blues number called Give Me One Reason, written and sung by Tracy Chapman. I had a hard time deciding between two videos, this one and another in duet with Eric Clapton.

The hook lines in the lyrics are woven throughout the song…

“Give me one reason…”

The lyrics are not in the video. I suggest watching the video without reading lyrics for full affect; but I put them below, so you can read them as you listen if you want. Great blues song.

Lyrics

Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Said I don’t want leave you lonely
You got to make me change my mind

Baby I got your number and I know that you got mine
But you know that I called you, I called too many times
You can call me baby, you can call me anytime
You got to call me

Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Because I don’t want leave you lonely
you got to make me change my mind

I don’t want no one to squeeze me, they might take away my life
I don’t want no one to squeeze me, they might take away my life
I just want someone to hold me and rock me through the night

This youthful heart can love you and give you what you need
This youthful heart can love you and give you what you need
But I’m too old to go chasing you around
Wasting my precious energy

Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Give me one reason to stay here
And I’ll turn right back around
Because I don’t want leave you lonely
You got to make me change my mind

Baby just give me one reason, Give me just one reason why
Baby just give me one reason, Give me just one reason why I should stay
Said I told you that I loved you
And there ain’t no more to say

***

Songwriters: Tracy L Chapman. Give Me One Reason lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Look both ways for love. It can give you what you want.
Mind the gap, ‘and there ain’t no more to say.’

Click graphic for link to SLS page.