True Story

I once loved a woman much smarter than me,
And also a better musician;
She had a quick wit, and a good turn of phrase,
Plus one healthy share of ambition.

I know while she’s richer than Midas these days,
Her talents remain, unabated:
Yet she has a spot in her heart still for me,
That idiot that

She once dated

Worth The Sacrifice

Just because your sacrifice was betrayed,
Didn’t mean it wasn’t worth it:
What we give for love is always more important
Than any regrets we might have over who we have given it to.


“Sacrifice” is an important part of relationships. Since none of us has the time, resources, or energy to do everything we might desire to do, life is always a series of tradeoffs. With families, the number of choices becomes greater and the need for tradeoffs more acute.

Where problems typically arise is that we view relationships through the lens of power dynamics: or, said more simply, everybody wants to have their own way. We all know what it is like to be inconvenienced in a social situation by that one person who stubbornly wants everyone else to do things their way. But we are all born like that. We want what we want.

Morality, however, has long taught, around the world, the importance of sacrifice. To give up what we want for the good of our family, or village, or country, or even the world.

It’s not that sacrifice is good for its own sake – doing that is just pointless – but for the sake of others.

Too often, however, people in relationships come to see sacrifice as a sort of a contest, as to which one of them has given up the most, sacrificed the deepest – essentially, who has been the biggest martyr.

If we are making sacrifices to try to win a contest, we probably won’t win, and we will almost certainly sacrifice the wrong things.


When a marriage or long-term relationship ends, the temptation is to view whatever was put into the relationship as time wasted. That is the natural human reaction: it is also, very often, wrong.

We cannot know going into a relationship how things will go. None of us can really see the future, and no matter how confidently people pretend that they knew all along how others’ lives would turn out, they are almost certainly being disingenuous. People change, people grow, some people fight with circumstance and lose, and others just get lost along the way. Physical, mental, emotional – all of the forces working at these levels are complex, individual, and subject to rapid change. We just don’t know what the future holds for anybody.

We just don’t know.

So, since we can’t know if a relationship will blossom or, ultimately, wilt, that doesn’t mean we should be upset for tending the plant as long as we could.

Or for grieving it as long as we need to.

The Other Side of It

My ‘feeling hurt’ has made you quite defensive,
You’re angry that I fell in love with you;
I had no right, because you never loved me,
I realize all that now. But still, it’s true

That I must grieve a dream that only I had,
And grow hot in the foolishness I feel;
To know that what I came to hope and cherish
Was nothing in your eyes,
And never
Real

Love Spasm The Third

When my ex left, our youngest was
But three years old – alas –
So I would take him daily to
A little pre-k class

The girl who worked there was so young
But seemed to like the way
I’d sit with him – and other kids –
Beginning every day

So, finally, I asked her out
And she said that she would
So I drove out to get her
When she said it would be good

And she came out to meet me
Well before I’d left my car;
And it struck me, so I asked her
Before I had gone too far

Exactly just how old she was
“Um, twenty” – her head hung —
She looked up, her eyes pleading
Asking if that was too young

“Oh, no, no – you’re age suits you”
That was all I thought to say
But I knew I wouldn’t go on
Any further in this way

So post-dinner, I told her
Gently, how much fun I had
And then I took her back home
To her mother and her dad

And said, “I will not lie to you:
I will not call again,
But if I may, I’d like to say
To you now, as a friend:

You’re beautiful and charming,
And if ages weren’t in play,
I’d probably want to call you
From the end of the driveway.”

But she was not placated
As we both felt something strike:
The pain of liking someone
Who it is
Just wrong
To like

Remembering My First Real… Kiss

I was sixteen.
I’d just been dumped
By a girl I wasn’t actually with
And who was using me
To get something else

The beautiful neighbor girl
From across the street
Had tried to tell me
This would happen
But I didn’t listen

I knocked on the neighbor girl’s door
Because I needed a friend who understood
And we talked out in my front yard
As the night grew darker
And the wind blew colder

This neighbor, who was a stunning beauty
[Actually, she still is. You know, Facebook]
As we finished our conversation
Impulsively kissed me.
It was incredible, my first kiss.

Why, I’ll never know.
It certainly never happened again.
I made as regular a practice as I could
After that time
Of kissing girls
And that kiss was one of the top four, all-time
At least, until I met my wife

Occasionally, now,
When beautiful neighbor girl (now woman) and I
Trade pleasantries online
I think about that night

I don’t know why she did it
But when she kissed me
She lifted my spirits
In such a way that
They’ve never really come down again


 
(“Remembering My First Real… Kiss” – 8-7-2014)

Now, When I Remember You

To tell the story of a life
Takes many pages, many words;
To tell the story of a love
Takes every bit as long

The you I saw in summer fields
Beneath an endless weightless sky
The you I felt in tenderness
The softness of your skin, a sigh

For now, when I remember you
There is a novel in my mind;
The beauty of your memory
Is always young, and brave, and kind

There’s beauty in the world, I know,
But I thought I had lost it then:
You walked into the room, and I
Became the mindfulest of men

But this – this was not me at all
This was all you, and love; it was
A type of wakeful dreaming where
I did not want to wake, because

Your magic was in everything.
If ever a man loved, I did:
I cherished every moment, and
I lay awake at night and bid

The minutes slow their very march.
To lengthen time, our time, so much
As possible; to see your eyes
To stroke your hair, to softly touch

Your skin beneath your summer dress.
To love you there with all my heart;
Your words of warning in my ears
That love is short and lovers part.

A life, my life, what is it now?
It’s just a cold and fading fire
A soon forgotten flickering
Of what was once raging desire

And all for you, my long true love –
Who taught me wonder in the night,
Whose hand I took to cross the bridge
Of leaving off and doing right

The day is closing in, and I
Put down my pen, and rest a while –
For now, when I remember you
I shiver once, and lastly
Smile


 

(“Now, When I Remember You” – 6-25-2015)

Filling Station

Once
A woman and her husband
Stopped at this place

She, eight months with child
He, thinking about walking out
And the drive had been a tense one
Old wounds reopened
Fresh hurts on display

And an old couple was there
At the same time
Laughing while they pumped gas
They asked her when the baby was due

She said, “One month.”

The old man asked her husband
“Are you excited?”
“Nervous,” was the reply

“Don’t be. Just remember:
Loving someone
Who loves you back
Is the greatest thing in the world.
And your child
Will love you back.”

Forty-eight years later
The woman is no longer young
She stands at this abandoned place
Her young granddaughter in tow.
“What is this place?” the little girl asks

This place?
This is where your grandaddy and I

Decided to stay in love


 

(“Filling Station” – 8-15-2014)