Poetry: How it was

 

we were wine drunk in a sad state
rain fell softly, our feet bare in tall grass
we discovered and devoured everything
it was a time, I wish we could go back to

a place that no longer exists
nothing is the same
we are not the same
like rain runs off an old tin roof

we did our best
we were all winging it
without a book of instructions
we loved and tried and cried

sickness taught us about mortality
and of time
of right and of wrong
of a balance of life based on mystery

life gave us as much as we took
we were brittle, we were broken
we looked deep to encompass pain
to draw a circle around it and around us

the circle around us, that was grace,
I, just a boy, you, a girl, we
to each other, every boy and girl
we had ever had and lost

we wanted to leave, to not exist,
to go leaving no tracks or marks
to be forgotten and not followed,
we yearned only for us to be

we wondered how to live
for ourselves and for life and
because we believed
in each other as one spirit

we wanted to see the sky,
to go home, but how ?
we did not think past us
over our shipwrecked lives

everything was falling and not falling
the next toehold in life was
sore tired hearts and bodies
of the children we were, we are

we lost, unsure of what was real
we didn’t know what to do or to write
or to say or to ask, to only feel a sad
liberating acceptance of a deeper sadness

we were stripped of a dignity in life
of all things tried and failed
all the love we’re ever given
can be invoked long after it’s gone

I’m here
we are here
in this moment, this place, a time
when once there was this: us.

©Bill Reynolds 1/21/2019

Look both ways, but love the past we’ve lost to the cosmos.
Those gaps are gone, sadly.

Essay: Romantic or Realist?

Disclosure on me:

I’ve been told that I’m a sensitive man. Given the smiles and nods around the room, it was intended as a compliment. The unstated enigma was that men normally are not.

I was recently told that I am a romantic (noun) because I’ve written romantic (adjective) poetry. The person who said that was laughing at the time because in her view, that is ironic. She claimed the higher ground of a realist (noun) partly because she was on her third (two bad experiences) marriage. This time to a man who was quite ill, adding to the reality of life.

The poem was about the dreamy desire of a (real) woman who was not in a happy, romantic relationship. It was my interpretation of her romantic dream – how she wanted things to be.

I responded that I accept who and what I am, that one can be both romantic and realist (definitions-dependent), and that a romantic realist is a thing in art, if not in people. Realistic art does not necessarily point to a realist artist. A writer of romance literature or romantic poetry need not hold personal romantic views. But, she was partly correct about me (does not know me well).

Most of this is because people attach my writing to my persona (or vice versa), which is okay, but what I write is not always me and certainly not about me. Often, I write about the world and people or things I see. In this case, my poem was about someone I knew who is struggling with life and her circumstance – her dreams and desires, perhaps pushed beyond the limits of practical reality.

Once bitten, twice shy

I believe that we learn best from the most painful lessons of life. We recall shocking or painful times well, if not always accurately. For my age group, it might be when JFK, RFK, or MLK were shot, among others. I suspect that the lady judging me formed her view because of her personal life experiences. That’s fair enough. But given the number of times I have found myself speaking in defense of reality and things as they truly are, a true romantic I am not.

The paradox

I haven’t posted about the paradox of love in a long time. I’m uncertain and struggle with what to say and how to say it. What will people say or think? I worry less about my writing and more about the subject or content. I sometimes wonder if I wrote about crime (I haven’t) if the FBI would show up at my door with a search warrant. But let’s give this a go even if I admit to the romantic leanings of a realist with both feet planted in the real world.

How long is long enough to love someone? In both quantity and time, “I love you now and I will forever (time), to the moon and back (quantity).” Is one day or night all there is? Is 20, 30, or 50 years enough? My mother died about 30 years ago, but I still love her. I’ve been married over 50 years, and my wife and I love each other.

I write about the Paradox of Love, loosely basing some of what I say on a book of the same title by Pascal Bruckner. I add my observations and limited experiences (in the worldly sense mostly, but I love many people, most seem to love me back). There is no shortage of material on this topic, many experts, and hundreds of ways to look at it.

The paradox to me is when love is added to the learning mix of life, painful lessons do not seem to stick. For some, the devastation from damage where love is involved is virtually unrecoverable. Yet, I have seen many times when the paradox of love allows us to move on with life and with love. Once again, “I love you forever…we love each other….” For me, that is the paradox. The human relationship quandary. However, as with the lady who labelled me a romantic, we may move on with less romantic naivety.

The human condition

Yet, love is forever until one of us blinks, looks away, wants more, samples greener pastures, or simply decides it’s over. Then all bets are off. Forever isn’t quite so long as we thought, right? None of that for better or worse shit, it must always be better and continually improving. Bore me and you’re gone. Then there is the ubiquitous found someone else. I admit to being dramatic here, but I’ve seen ugly romantic breakups and divorces. I could add friendships, but I am focusing on romantic love. What makes it work so well for many, yet repeatedly fails for others? Why?

I get it. The human condition is imperfect, and these things happen. People in love can, and do, fall in love with others. How many times do we love before we spend a lifetime with someone? Some people are polyamorous (one is not enough – a blog for next time).

Rarely is it okay with the other person to act on this. And if we do act on it, often all the shit in hell piles into the manure spreader and is sent flying (shit storm). On the bright side, without all the misery involved with love, over half of country music’s best crying in yer beer tunes would have never been sung. That’s also true for much R&R, R&B, and opera. I enjoy romantic comedy, but there’s room for tragedy in my mind. And is pain not the best teacher?

Free love – by the book

In his book, Bruckner describes the 1960s liberation movement (mostly civil rights, anti-war, and feminism) as a time of “free love” (especially within hippy groups but certainly not for all). No commitments, openness and a willingness to share even the most intimate and sexual experiences with others. That still goes on, I suppose, but without all the publicity of post-1950s drama.

Many good things came from the movements of the 60s: improved equality (woman, people of color, others), better human rights, music, long hair, care for the environment, and others. But the oxymoron idea of free love was not one of them – fortunately, according to Bruckner and me.

Free and open sex is just that. And love is also just that, meaning it is neither open nor free (e.g., she/he is mine). While I can’t speak for anyone else, and certain groups (religious, LGBTQ, cultural) may see or experience this differently, the romantic love two people may share could be about the most powerful emotional human force we possess. But, (and my idea of the paradox is) it is also among the most destructive.

All my exes live in Texas

A friend of mine who had been married several times, looked at me one day and informed me that her latest husband told her that he no longer wished to be married. Obviously shaken, she further confided that she had never loved him. I didn’t ask her (or him) if he felt the same way.

After the divorce ball was rolling along, he asked to reconcile (meaning he’d been dumped). She declined, which pissed him off, and it was not a nice, amicable divorce after that. The third thing she told me was that she was sure that she was not good at marriage. A difficult time followed for her, but that was mostly recovering from financial and ego damage. In time, she survived both and eventually remarried a guy after a long partnership (News update. I recently learned they divorced, and she is engaged to a new man).

Which are you?

To love and to be loved are wonderful things. Romantic me. To love often may also be wonderful. To be the couple in my poem is indeed romantic, but is also realistically feasible. Yet, to love comes with great risk and personal vulnerability. Remember, even the realist was on her third marriage. What is this human condition I call the paradox of love?

My original post on the paradox of love was over a year ago. It is more about the book than my thoughts. Read it by clicking here. You can read the poem that started this by clicking here.

Look both ways in romance and reality.
Be especially mindful of gaps in romance and real world relationships.
Live and learn, love and learn. Risk love, always.

 

Note: paradox synonyms; contradiction, contradiction in terms, self-contradiction, inconsistency, incongruity; oxymoron; conflict, anomaly; enigma, puzzle, mystery, conundrum, dichotomy, and incongruity.

Essay: Shit Happens

  1. My mother said, “What did I ever do to deserve this?”
  2. My wife looked at my adult son and said, “Everything happens for a reason.”
  3. The minister looked into the eyes of the congregation and said, “There is no such thing as a coincidence.”

I forget the exact contexts and situations.

To my mom I would say, “You did nothing to deserve cancer; no one does.” While there may be reasons someone gets cancer, it is not punishment for being not good enough or for being bad. However, it is no joke that a lot of people think like this because of religion.

To my wife I say that most things have a cause and effect. Many things happen due to natural causes, environments, and special situations. Some things are random and have disastrous outcomes. Shit happens.

When someone is fired from (or not selected for) a job, and they later get a much better job, that is good fortune probably assisted by the fact that the person is well qualified for both jobs and it is fortunate that they snagged the better one. The opposite also happens. While such a comforting phrase may bring minor, temporary solace; it is not true that everything happens for a (supernatural) reason. A spiritual being causing a temporary problem to bring about a happier or sadder outcome fails any common-sense test.

To the minister I say that coincidence may not mean exactly what you think it means. According to one (MW) dictionary it relates to coinciding of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have a connection. Better words might be random, arbitrary, pointless, haphazard, or desultory.

Whether one believes in a god or not, and regardless of the influence of any god, those words exist because things and happenings can be random, pointless, and desultory.

I recall reading a poem in Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones: Spiritual Answers to Psychological Questions by the late Father Benedict Groeschel. The poem of unknown authorship is titled “The Weaving.” The last of three, eight-line stanzas goes,

At last, when life is ended,
With Him I shall abide,
Then I may view the pattern
Upon the upper side;
Then I shall know the reason
Why pain with joy entwined,
Was woven in the fabric
Of life that God designed.

While the poem is beautiful and weaving as a metaphor for a life designed by a god is useful, it also points to the unknown reason for the suffering in life. It implies that we will find no reason until after death, and then only if we are in heaven with the deity who will, presumably, make it all clear. In other words, it makes no sense.

I prefer this outlook from the song “The Sad Café” by the Eagles.

***
Now I look at the years gone by,
And wonder at the powers that be.
I don’t know why fortune smiles on some
And lets the rest go free
***

Shit happens. It’s not our fault. Blame it on whatever imaginary entity you choose. That may be the only reason you ever find.

© Bill Reynolds 1/10/2019

Look both ways for the reasons in life, but don’t accept not knowing—wonder.
Mind the gaps, they are real, but may be overcome with knowledge.

Song Lyric Sunday – New

I Want a New Drug
Huey Lewis and The News

While I was driving home last Friday, I was trying to guess what Helen’s song lyric theme for today would be. It is New (as in New Year).

Some people would mark me a fan of the blue-eyed soul genre. The list of artists who fit that category seem to fill my iPhone. I selected “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and The News; written by Huey and guitarist Chris Hays. I think this is more of a pop rock-soul dance tune.

An early 80s success, this is what Lewis had to say about writing it:

“I was driving to my lawyer’s office when the idea came to me. I busted in his door and said, ‘Bob, give me a pen and paper!’ I then literally wrote down almost all the lyrics. When we tried to write music to it, we kept missing it. We had a version of it that Mario and I wrote together, but it just wasn’t good enough. One day Chris called me and said, ‘I got it!’ He came to my house and played the lick, and I sang my little lyric and we put it on tape. It was five minutes.”

There was a bit of litigation over the Ghostbusters (you can hear why) issue, but that was reportedly settled out of court.

The words are in the video clip. However, I’ve added text because the fast-paced beat moves them by quickly. The theme is in title, verse, and the name of the band. Three versions of this dance song were released.

Oh
I want a new drug, one that won’t make me sick
One that won’t make me crash my car
Or make me feel feet, feet, feet thick
I want a new drug, one that won’t hurt my head
One that won’t make my mouth too dry
Or make my eyes too red

One that won’t make me nervous
Wonderin’ what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
When I’m alone with you

I want a new drug, one that won’t spill
One that don’t cost too much
Or come in a pill
I want a new drug, one that won’t go away
One that won’t keep me up all night
One that won’t make me sleep all day
One that won’t make me nervous
Wonderin’ what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
I’m alone with you
I’m alone with you, baby

I want a new drug, one that does what it should
One that won’t make me feel too bad
One that won’t make me feel too good
I want a new drug, one with no doubt
One that won’t make me talk to much
Or make my face break out

One that won’t make me nervous
Wonderin’ what to do
One that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you
I’m alone with you
I’m alone with you, yeah, yeah

Songwriters: Christopher John Hayes / Huey Lewis
I Want a New Drug lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

If you’re wonderin’ what to do, look both ways.
Bust into your lawyer’s office to mind the gaps.

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

Song Lyric Sunday – Girls

Of course! Last week Helen cast the theme of boys. Today, it’s girls (oh hell yes!). I get to show y’all one of my favorites.

Picture me (older n’dirt), my son (40-something) and grandson (preteen), all rockin’ out to one of Opa’s (‘at’s me) major tunes. Here we go:

“Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeh
Let me remember things I love”

The qualifying hook is the fourth line: “Barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight.” (makes Opa smile)

Please enjoy a great video of “Green River” written and sung by John Cameron Fogerty. (Green River lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company).

 

And hey….

Look both ways and mind the gaps, lest you get lost.
“An’ if you get lost come on home to Green River/ Well, come home”
Whoop!!!!

Click graphic for link to SLS page.

 

Po’ Poetry – Blatant Babble

This is the first of two unpolished, stream of consciousness poems without form or structure. It’s a mental rant I experienced. I can’t explain it, other than to say I was in the kitchen when the thoughts hit me like three pissed off Muses. I went to my computer and wrote them. I think it is a poor man’s poem, thus the Po’.

***

Good enough is not more shit of a leader’s pass, or the lesser of a prompt leading to a dump. Enough. Is it done? Submittable? Ready to rock primetime or roll in a sty? A thought, a dot, to words and to arms, concludes with brains on pages to be sniffed up into minds with more thoughts and dots. Or, not to be. More snot than thought. Did sniff think shit don’t stink? Good enough is a lie that will have to do because this the tragic end-point that leads to death by less than. What then? Bless the sweet little pickled brain of poisonous brine leaking worthy words of wisdom. Applause. I came, I saw, I failed; I came again, I dumped, they cried. It stinks. It’s good enough. Let it go. Unforgiven consciousness of the unconscionable!

 ©Bill Reynolds 12/13/2018

***

Look both ways with random thoughts.
Be mindful of blatant babbling gaps.
Good enough?

Poetry: Love Down a Great Stairway

She walked into the majestic hall glowing with womanly confidence,
her body flowing gracefully, moving like a soft breeze across the floor,
all eyes looked as her light summer gown flowed on and off her soft satin skin
as it shed her refreshing scent, filling the air with the aroma of orchids.

He looked up to her as she briefly paused at the top of the grand stairway
as all sounds in the hall ended for him and he felt his heart fill his chest
with brightness and the promise of soon feeling her divinely elegant touch,
as he studied her footsteps gliding down toward him, his desire piqued.

Eyes on her, he rose up without consciousness of his actions, as he left Earth
and entered into a world of enchanted love and impassioned romance,
soon their eyes met and all visions of reality left their unconscious minds,
instantly they were face to face, then hand in hand, and finally heart to heart.

“May I have the honor of this dance, most lovely and pleasant flower?”
“Of course, mon amour chérie. You are the universal eternity I seek.”
The orchestra stopped playing, but everyone heard the heavenly music
of lovers in love as they moved effortlessly, gracefully to the dance floor.

©Bill Reynolds 12/06/2018

Look both ways, but dance arm in arm into the gaps of eternity.