Forms of Love

She hugged me yesterday, and I could feel
Affection in the pressure and the length;
A smile on her face, a “welcome back,”
A bit of something that I’ve known awhile —

Between the lines, where friendship makes its home,
Is something fragile that, somehow, survives:
Between such lines as needs be, and must be,
Is what our worlds are made of, if we live
In anything like honor or respect —
In anything like loyalty at all —

She hugged me yesterday, and I remarked
On her new haircut, which I liked a lot;
Asked if the holidays were kind to them,
In forms of love appropriate for us

The Dark Side of the Bay

On the dark side of the bay,
I was raised, then moved away;
Long ago, another life,
Now, I visit with my wife.
Days are full and thoughts are ranging:
Years go by, the world keeps changing —
We lose people, or lose track:
Some go on and some go back.

I was wounded once, and broken.
Here, in memories unspoken
I see I was raw and wild,
Scarcely more of man than child,
Full of loneliness and rage
I could neither keep, nor gauge.
Wanting more, but oft despairing
Of real purpose, or real caring.

Now amid the lights and glamor,
Near the traffic and the clamor,
I wish only I had known
What ensuant years have shown:
There’d be yet a better day,
Once I’d left the dark side of
The bay

2017 : September

September loved me,
Claimed me for her own;
Her gold-and-orange
Scatterings, well known,
Were strewn across a trail towards the sun,
A trail towards the sun, and hidden things.

September beckoned,
Heeding, then, the call,
I gamboled or
I gambled into fall,
The difference is great, when all is done,
And I was tangled in the hidden strings —

    For when the curtain fell,
    I was alone:
    September moved
    To claim me for her own.

What is it we
Give up when we give in?
Why’s there no end
To what should not begin?
Why do the days and months turn into tears?
And why are all our hopes mixed in with fears?

September knew
The answers. Being coy,
They stayed beneath
A canopy of joy,
That covered up, quite perfectly, the score,
That thing we seek, when are seeking more —

    And so, across the autumn,
    Came a cry:
    From trees that wither,
    Leaves that fall, and die,
    That though September loves us,
    It lets go:
    It’s all there is,
    Or all that’s ours to know.

September claimed me,
Took me on the cheap,
A waking horror
There, beneath the sleep;
But only those
Who’ve felt the light can know
About the burn that’s there
The glow

Destin Beach, Florida

A place, a time, a memory.

The day was ending soft, the night had nearly come
I met you near the dunes, and put my arm
Around your shivering shoulders, as the breeze
Blew the autumn wind and slightly moved the sand

You, a matron now, whose children could not
Imagine as a girl, walked exceeding close to me
The smell of your perfume in every part of my
Being, and sparks coming off of your sweater

And as my hands moved through your hair
There by the darkening Gulf, we were

All that we could be

As the sky grew darker and larger

And we

Faded out of sight

Someone Wrong at Exactly the Right Time

She was a track star, a straight “A” student, and she did everything right. So right, in fact, that she yearned to do wrong; to be wild, to let go, to grow up.

I, apparently, was someone wrong at exactly the right time. Suspended from school for fighting and cutting classes, talking back to the teachers, saying whatever I thought or felt. I had started a process of giving up on what I had believed in, a process which was to last more than a decade; but I was seventeen, and I didn’t care.

So, we ended up together: for almost a year and half, even into college. She held onto me for that while as a way of showing she wasn’t just going to read off of the family script anymore. And I wore her like a prize: look, you all said I was nobody, but she’s with me.

We poured almost every drop of nascent passion we had into each other. I say ‘almost’ because, it turns out, we each had someone on the side. She had a boy from another school she saw at track meets. I had a girl who took piano from my old teacher. And so it went, until she ended it because she’d met someone else.

That was more than thirty-five years ago, and she’s still with that same “someone else”. I bounced around from girl to girl, then woman to woman, trying to find someone else who fit my maladapted behavior. Still, for years, I thought about her. It wasn’t that she was the most passionate love I’d ever had, although she was more-or-less the first. It was that she made feel like a better person, while she felt like a worse one — which was what she was after, at the time. Her fundamental decency, however, she could never really overcome with me, nor did I want her to.

But even though I was only a step for her on the road to who she wanted to be, she saw something in me; and even after a breakup, and all the heartache that entailed, she left me with a gift: the realization that I could, after all, be with somebody, and both of us enjoy it. We were not meant to spend our lives together, but I learned a lot from her and our interaction; eventually, we both realized (although her much sooner) that running from who we were was never going to change who we were.

So I have my memories of her; I see her, thoughtful, sitting down by the water’s edge, dreaming of something, something she had yet to find, but that she did find. And I also realize, that I loved her, not just for what she did for me, but because I took delight in her, and wanted her to be happy even after we split.

For love is like any other type of activity, we only get better at it by doing it.

Fateful Night

A pizza place. A group of guys
And girls from local theater;
We went out after our first show,
And I had drunk a few –

The song playing was “Red Red Wine”.
We stood beside the jukebox there;
I told her I wrote songs myself,
And she could hear them now

If she came over to my place.
And she said, “yes,” so off we went.
I know that I’d had too much beer
For me to be so brash –

We’d known each other many weeks –
She’d flirted with me oftentimes –
But all of my attention had
Been elsewhere at the time;

But now, alone and feeling right,
We went back to my place and did
As many men and women since
Have done in such a case –

I didn’t know (I couldn’t know)
The heartaches there in store for me,
How difficult a job we’d have
Raising children together –

If I gone home straightaway,
Or drank a Diet Coke, instead –
I’d have no sons, and I would be
A different – very different – me

= = = = =

(… a prompted post …)