Dress-up Soldier

I have been a wife, twice.
and I have worn
both husbands’ clothes,

But the frayed, gray
army sweatpants, brown
T-shirts, faded
cammies & spit-
shined boots –
those are mine.

Or were. They are rags
gone to memory now.
Still …

Battle dress is different;
not like normal clothes.
It cannot be borrowed,
or assumed,
or appropriated.

Uniforms can only be earned.

Please do not wear
that outfit

if you, yourself, have
not broken in the boots.

(Camouflage isn’t comfortable,
and gods know
it isn’t cute.)

But it means something
that is not

by Karen M. Seeley,
copyright 2014


Data Days [or, Borrowing Laughter — written Aug. 16, 2014]

Laughter is the proof that we are people,
according to some cultures. A ‘first laugh’ party
— one for each baby — is
traditional in at least one tribe.

But down we forget [as up we grow]
how to truly laugh.
To break open the smile, release the breath,
push from the diaphragm and LAUGH.

indulging in sheer delight, till ribs and
cheeks seize up happy pain

Why does laughing, nowadays, feel as though
it has become (like so many
other human acts)
a lost art?


Well-intentioned Advice (Aug. 15, 2014)

Poems from a Nuthatch: No. 2

“Well-intentioned Advice”

Heart and brain assume their varied guises –
masks to shield and front them through the day.
Semblances that tortured soul devises
to cleave a path through atmospheres of gray.

When sounds and colors serve but to decoy
the hungry spirit panting after truth,
“the doctor’s in” is certain to annoy
when empty chair is set by vacant booth.

Passing strangers cluck and wring their hands,
certain they know the sovereign remedy.
But angry pilgrims turn to unknown lands,
seeking a space that fosters sanity.

If you would see a mind regain its might,
uncage the bird, and follow it in flight.


Traits and Training: Observations of Modern Life

Self-selection: “Spies in the blood,” or the mysteries of attraction?

So let’s talk about what we see and hear. It’ll be fun. And we can begin with couples:

Most couples are striking for one of two things: their similarities or their contrasts. Some, particularly in long-term couples, are notable for both. There are times when I think my ex and I are like that – both radically alike and startlingly different. It gives one to pause, as my grandmother might have said.

What are the polarities that unite and/or separate couples? They are many: physical, mental, and spiritual factors all have bearing. Age, background, gender, looks and money are just some of the dividing lines that can join or separate us.

To be continued …

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 …