Portrait of a Lady, Titian

Fooling Around, part two: what we choose to see and hear

If every book is a love affair, every poem is a flirtation. Dallying with Donne, yearning with Yeats … and mumbling “What the fuck?” along with Millay. I have a tendency to read biographies of my favorite poets, though, and then I tend not to like them too much as people – or maybe in a family sense more than a romantic one.

Songs, now, are just straight-up sex. Billy Joel and I have been intimate in every possible way, except in person and mutually. But that’s his loss … ahem. I digress. But music: hell yes, and as much of it as possible. Ditto dancing.

And yes, all of these things seem like infidelity, don’t they, in a sense? Or they did to me, since my ex and I didn’t do them together. My taste in books and poetry – he has no time for poetry – and music were at best tolerable to him, and I think my dancing embarrassed him, though I only danced in the house. Still do.

I have given far too much thought to the anatomy of fidelity during the 15 or so years it took me to fall out of love. (Here I must gently restate that my original aim with “dayzha” was to process separation, as in marital separation. Need to change that pesky “about” page again soon.)

The various meanings we attach to fidelity have a lot, I think, to do with today’s fractured relationships – well beyond marriage, but certainly including marriage and other romantic partnerings. “Semper fi” (or fidelis) is the Marines’ motto: “always faithful,” and we as humans (I believe) have a deep need to be faithful – to a creed, a belief set, a person, family, community and so on. It’s part of our need to belong.

But we also need to be individuals, each of us a single thinking machine inside a bone skull, driving a human body through a lifetime. On a crowded, overly connected and now seemingly social-media- and reality-show-based planet, the conflict between belonging and being has gotten mighty weird.

So we fool around. We fool around being ourselves, seeing what we choose to see and hearing what we choose to hear, feeling guilty because those we should be (and want to be) faithful to just don’t approve of us when we’re ourselves. Sometimes. So we make up versions of ourselves – faces to meet the faces that we meet, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot.

To be continued …

books

Fooling Around, part one

I’m a bookworm – reading was my first addiction and remains my drug of choice. So when the now-ex made a particular book-related suggestion — “Let’s get rid of all the books” — I felt like Cuba during the missile crisis.

This was before we decided once and for all to dismantle the unibrain, back while we were toying with downsizing to tiny-house living and staying together.

It’s a slight exaggeration, more of a minor embellishment, to say that books are my primary and often only luxury, and I am death on dog-earing and dote on dust jackets. Books are Important in my house, wherever that house is.

But my guys, even when they’ve been readers – and “my guys” basically means about five real relationships, so not a broad sample there – are down on my books. One who never made the “real relationship” category – sorry, Dave – told me once that reading was antisocial.

It’s not, but it’s adulterous. Good reading is flat-out cheating on your significant other, and it’s perfectly acceptable. You can sit or even stand there fully clothed, motionless and silent, and have your brain obscenely entwined with another’s naked thoughts. Pure sin.

So I kept the books, and gave them all a thorough but gentle cleaning before the move. I sit surrounded by them now, and I feel at home. And loved, and sinful.

It’s a good day.

train trestle

Hard to Find

This world is worse than cruel, and lags behind
Its men and women chasing after gold –
Today is bleak, and you are on my mind.

I dream deep forests, called from days of old
But wake to car-choked streets and news of deaths.
(This world is worse than cruel, and lags behind.)

Today is bleak, and you are on my mind.
Red lips and dark lines signal, everywhere –
Comfort and surcease are hard to find.

Noise and reason ’gainst each other grind;
Gears catch their edges, stutter, spark and bind.
This world is worse than cruel, and lags behind.

Those dreams of gold shine brightly to the blind
Populace. We run against the times –
Today is bleak, and you are on my mind.

We eat the world in nibbles, to the rind,
Then turn and pitch the skin into the trash.
This world is worse than cruel, and lags behind.
Today is bleak, and you are on my mind.

(August 2014)

breaking ranks

Not one key Word [breaking ranks]

Not George and the dragon.
Arthur with the sword,
not just Shakespeare or Plath
Changing Woman or arrow cutters
but all the world’s poets
stories
and storytellers
and definitely both sexes

are singing from woods
dunes
mountains
temples
idols
“dumb” animals, even,
with their wounded eyes.

We are all trying to save the world.

Let’s do it.

Now.