Catching Flame

They couldn’t say what started the fire
But the two of them found themselves
In the middle of it

The dry kindling of their desperately dull lives
Caught flame
Burning
Out of control

And she didn’t care
For once she didn’t care what
Other people thought
There were no other people
There was just her
And him
And this bed
And feeling

And he, he had tried
To do things the right way
He wanted to live
Like this, like now
And she was warm and wild
And he found it in himself
To give her everything she was wanting

And the fire raged
And roared
And destroyed everything in its path
Lapsing finally, in the early hours
To nothing but
Smoke

And the charred remains
Of what their lives had been

It Isn’t Me

Truth is pure and clear.

When lies get messy, truth is pure and clear:
I know it isn’t me you’re looking for.
No matter who “you” are out there – or here –
I’m not the wings or wind that makes you soar.
You gaze out, wistfully, and wanting more —
While I, this lifeless thing exist, that you
Can pass a million times, and just look through

Mind Is Just A State of Age

Confused.

When very young, I was confused
Exactly who was who

When starting school, quite overwhelmed
With all there was to do

In junior high, I was depressed
About the other sex

In high school, I sank lower in
All life’s other respects

I tried to join the Air Force, but
That didn’t go too well

And college raised more questions
That bewildered me, as well

Like how to earn a living and
How to become grown up

And why you should stop drinking after
Your beer’s been thrown up

My early working years, chaotic
New quirks came to light

Like: while I’m good at math
That doesn’t mean my checkbook’s right

And dating was disorienting
That game, so unreal

Like how you must pretend
Your heart’s desire’s no big deal

But somehow, I got married, and
Perhaps oddest of all

I had to learn to hold her purse
While standing in the mall

And children are confounding, they
Are so mixed-up inside

Because, of course, they’re just like us
Completely mystified

I did divorce, that’s all a blur
She wanted someone other

The day your wife merely becomes
Your ex, your child’s mother

Remarriage and stepchildren brought
A new type of chagrin

To realize your ill-equipped
For the role you’re now in

And now, I am past fifty-three
Retirement is looming

And life’s complexities will grow
At least, I am assuming

Because our minds try to make sense
Out of what is too great

We sometimes only stop to breathe
The second
It’s too late

The Girl, The Surf, and Other Things

I always considered myself to have been a total disaster as far as dating went until I met my wife. Many of my ex’es however, have strangely fond memories of our time together. Not all, by any means: but a surprising number seem to have thought it time not entirely thrown away.

In a way, that shouldn’t surprise me, since most of the dating stories I have recalled or recounted over the years were positive ones. I know I dated some duds, and I know I was a dud to some of the people I dated, but the stories about dating I best remember were about good, nice experiences. In most things in life, the good and bad get all mixed up together, but sometimes, there is much more good than bad.

For instance…

I was nineteen years old, living in Florida, finishing my second year of college. Some old high school friends who then were at Auburn told me they had a friend they wanted me to meet. “She would be PERFECT for you,” they said. They brought her down during the Spring break when many of us would go back to our parents’ houses. So a bunch of us met up: my Auburn friend and his girlfriend, three other guys, this woman, and me. We started out going to a restaurant near the beach.

Well, my friends weren’t wrong, she did seem pretty cool to me: however, she seemed pretty cool to the other guys who were also there unattached. So, one by one, we would each talk to her, and I remember thinking as we walked out of the restaurant headed to a bar out on the beach that this was probably going to be another one of these occasions where this one of my friends, (we’ll call him “A”) would end up with the girl.

But that isn’t how it worked out.

While we were looking out of the bar window at the dark surf (you just see the white foam of the waves closest to the shore in the lights from the bar) she mentioned that she had always wanted to swim in Gulf of Mexico at night.  “Let’s go, then,” I said. “It’s still cold,” the other people chorused. I looked at her.

We went.

The others took their drinks onto the beach. She and I removed some (not all) of our clothes and got in the water. The Gulf of Mexico never gets terribly cold, but it was very bracing. She and I mostly just laughed at the silliness of it: bobbing up and down in the surf in the dark, trying to see each others eyes (it was a cloudy, moonless night). We were more-or-less invisible to our friends, but they could hear us laughing. Later, we found out that these same friends all thought we were doing something else out there.

We weren’t.

The decision got made thereafter (in the manner of inebriated people) to go to late-night miniature golfing. She and I sat on a bench, drying off with beach towels around us, while the others played mini-golf (also in the rather raucous manner of inebriated people). We sat and quietly talked for the forty minutes or so we were there. Since our two Universities were only about four hours apart, we left with the promise that I would come up and see her at school sometime soon.

And I did. But that would be another story, one that doesn’t have a happy ending. But about that night, there is a lot I remember:

I remember thinking she had an amazing smile.

I remember the shocked look on our friends faces that we would go swimming like we did (Floridians aren’t exactly Minnesotans when it comes to cold).

I remember sitting there at miniature golf, wishing the evening wouldn’t end.

I remember that I liked the sound of her voice, a musical kind of (cultured Tennessee) accent I had never heard before.

I remember us holding each other’s forearms in the surf for stability as we gently rode the waves up and down.

I remember the feeling I had getting back in my car, that I had someone to look forward to seeing.

I remember my friend “A” slapping me on the back and saying, “Good job, tiger.”

As it developed, that relationship went bad and it got bad, but it wasn’t bad, if you know I mean. Bad rarely cancels out good; it does sometimes, I realize.

That night was special to me. I don’t know if it will seem special to anyone reading this. But I liked her, and I had the nerve to go after her. And she chose me among that group of guys. Even if it was just for a night, and even if the night did not include any of the things people associate with adults dating. It was a night that mattered to me, and, in my twenties, those were few and far between.

couple, sitting

i’m not all boys, so i am not
the one who must have hurt you…

i’m not all boys, so i am not
the one who must have hurt you –
i’m honest, and i’m loyal, and
i would not just desert you

if you could see you through my eyes
i know that you would feel
that what i’m saying is the truth
and all of this is real

so try me out, we’ll take our time –
i know that you’ve been burned –
and that, for you to trust me is
a thing that must
be earned

= = = =

photo credit : © Godami | Dreamstime.com – SKETCH.The Couple. Photo

The Mistakes I Made

The mistakes I made were many
I gave you less than you needed
I asked from you things you didn’t really have to give
But I took nothing from you, in the end

You loved me as best you could
And I loved you the same way
But love couldn’t answer
In our case

For while we may be not be able to buy love
In this world
Love, itself, is unable to buy

Anything