Still don’t know what Love means,
even after all these years.
When I was a kid, I thought
it was something like devotion,
like I was devoted to my parents.
But it wasn’t really.
As a teen I thought Love was
something like that emotional,
romantic and sexual connection,
that feeling of excitement
you experience when you touch,
or you get lucky enough to
press your flesh against
(or some other preposition)
the object of your affection.
As a father, it was all about
providing for and protecting
those people you’d call my loved ones.
I was never too good at any
of what might be Love, except
what actually could be obsession.
Maybe Love is all those things,
but I still don’t know for sure.
I am sure it’s something close
to what my brown-eyed girl gave me
just about her whole loving life.
But that’s dogs for you.
I took a line from Ray LaMontagne’s song Jolene and Annie Fuller’s prompt photo, closed my eyes and just wrote. The results are iffy, but the experience of discovery is always a blast. You might say I love it.
It is a painful thing can we do
to one another, this coexistence,
this dissonant linking of one
with a different kind of other,
this trust-but-verify alliance
of two souls who would love to be
in the state of this painful thing
we can do to one another,
Maybe opposites do attract,
clanging together with a magnetic
melding of positive to negative,
hard to pull apart, though
easily turned to repulsion
with just one turned back.
It is a healing thing we do
to one another when we lie
side by side, my positive
by yours, negatives turned
upside-down, out of sight
under the covers.
All that’s required to maintain
this alignment of sacred coexistence
is a harmonious linking, a common
face-to-face faith of soul-to-soul,
where heart-to-heart beat soft
against one another, holding, healing,
loving so strong it hurts.
I dreamt you allowed me
to hold you, and I did, as
I dreamt you’d want me to.
And I recall wishing
my skin was soft as yours,
my embrace strong,
yet tender, too.
My chest I pressed
against your back,
my hand caressed.
I needed to know
if heartbeats echo
or mirror-beat as one.
But this was only a dream,
one many nights I’ve lived,
in which I’m not the me
by dawn’s light I see,
but one you’d wish hold you
how you’d want enfold you
on those nights
it’s your dream to be held.
Sat down late this afternoon and along came this 100-word piece of free-written, stream-of-consciousness run mushily amok. Must be the approaching celebration of mirror-beating hearts and mated souls . Oh, and the imagined dreams of my dreamy imagination.
The crisp heartbeat rhythm
he’d hang pictures upon
dulled to a matte thing
reflecting nothing but
In its place,
an amber-light ache,
a cautionary Don’t
raising its hand,
a bleary ellipsis en route
to comma and then
the silencing dot.
In the white field’s
he thought of then,
of that, of her, of them,
of eyes, of laughter,
Of abandonment, of regret.
So he turned from them,
dipping his pen into the well
of almosts and sortas.
But what good were imprecise
words if they couldn’t
bring that face into
his inky hands again?
Nothing happening here today. Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. Move along. Move along…
They told me love is blind,
an assertion I think you can call
a canard, which is French for “duck.”
I’ve heard it said love will find a way,
which is quite the accomplishment,
seeing as how they claim love
is visually impaired.
They tell me love is in the air,
which, if we follow this shredded metaphor,
is possible only if we accept
that sightless duck syllogism.
I remember hearing love conquers all,
which is a pretty bold statement,
even for a geo-positionally blessed,
That guy sang how love is all you need,
and if all those sayings are true,
he’s probably right.
I never messed with love,
was bent low by my own lonely woe,
couldn’t listen to all the experts,
who toss around their aphorisms,
adages, epigrams and bullshit
like someone else’s money.
But someone has loved me,
which takes serious squinting,
if not looking the other way.
They found this ugly duckling
and conquered his cynical ways,
opening a window, then a door,
in his seamless dark heart.
Now love’s light shines both ways,
even if I don’t stand up straight,
which I find easier with every touch.
Seems love was all I needed.
Free write ramble because my inspiration spigot is stuck and needed a good wrench and twist. And what’s more poetic than a study of love? Even if it is looked at through my scratched-up metaphoric microscope.
The Cohoes Falls, frozen in winter.
As I count down these,
my dwindling days out here
in the country for old men,
I feel my life closing in
even though here the sky’s
so much wider and higher
than it was over the city.
Even with steely buildings
shouldering me on their
right-angle ways toward
this corner and that,
I always managed to escape
thoughts of fewer tomorrows
to the here and now
of the river the ancients
We’d wander from the anchorage
at Beverwyck to the falls
of Cahohatatea, in concert,
rippling like an echo south,
then north then south again.
I forgot it’s tune here and now,
where the trees shoulder me
toward another sundown,
whispering and cracking
like these old bones. Can I
head back upstream to my life’s
chiming Cahohatatea, perhaps
to drift on new echoes of this
old journey? The we can back up
to push off again tomorrow.
Cahohatatea is the name for the waterfalls where the Mohawk River drops into the Muhheahkunnuk, the Mahican name for the Hudson. Since I retired, sometimes I think the thing I miss most about working in Albany–Beverwyck to its Dutch inhabitants–are my noontime walks along that historic “river that runs in two directions,” its waters pushed back upstream by the tidal flow from its mouth at Manhattan.
The fog of love can blind
and change a man as much
as that of war.
While men can fall, unknown,
in war’s smoke of cannon and confusion,
it is in love’s bewilderment
that many men fall and are lost,
some becoming unknown even to themselves.
They may live on, these casualties
of the heart, but the child
who entered the fray most surely is lost
once battle is joined.
They can become enshrouded
in the atmosphere of swirling emotions
and blinding opacity to what’s real
and what’s heart-charging fantasy.
To come out the other side
of love’s haze into the bright light
of recognition that what was
once was oneself now’s become
half of some dual-bodied beast,
a cryptic Minotaur of pleasure
and pain, neither himself nor his other.
Perhaps that’s why the Greeks
deigned Love to be the offspring
of Beauty and War, as
dichotomous and oxymoronic
as any invention of man or god.
Love, assuredly the first and the last,
leaves its casualties staggering,
walking, limping or at gentle rest,
lost in its flummoxing fog,
its smoke made with the fumes of sighs,
from which no man or woman emerges
unscathed, unmoved, unchanged.
Nor ever wished to.
I’m in no way comparing the horror that is war with love. I am comparing the type of confusion experienced in the smoke of battle and how it changes people with that confusion and change experienced by those who fall in love, whether for good or ill. My thanks to The Bard for semi-agreeing with me in his fume of sighs quote.