Mother Did You Know

*I dedicate this poem to women in general, but also to my mom, who is an amazing woman and still inspires me to be more to this day.

mother did you know
it’s all your fault
you caused the fall
of man
that them’s the breaks
when you talk to snakes

mother did you know
you’re not quite human
humans should be a male
those other parts
aren’t on the chart

mother did you know
that your emotions
make you weak
and at 40 you’re
past your peak
your wisdom
your courage
cause so much fear
that instead of
being vulnerable
they sneer
and jeer

mother did you know
you’re a body – that’s it
one that must submit
and if a man bruises it
beats it broken
it means you really
shouldn’t have spoken

mother did you know
you’re not supposed to enjoy sex
but ironically you want it
even if you don’t flaunt it
somehow you’re always asking
what you wear is just masking
and if you decide to show it
boy then, they really know it
you don’t need to give consent
men know what you meant
he would have been such a gent
if you weren’t giving off a scent

mother did you know
you can’t want more
you have a role
so just put aside your goals
you can have it all
only if you do it all
I know it’s not fair
it seems insane
but that’s what you get
for going outside your lane

mother did you know
no other group has survived
so long an oppression
legislating your bodies
out of your possession
through witch trials
laws permitting rape
and voice suppression
men mutliate you
murder you
send you to slaughter
men say “I love you mom”
then violate somebody else’s daughter

and mother did you know
that every single day
I stand in awe
at how you all persevere
and still manage to
hold your boys near

mother did you know
I’m glad you didn’t tell
me these things
you just loved with
unerring equality
and kindness
patience and
color blindness
taught me spirituality
can break us free
from our prison
and that we can always
do better
if we learn to listen

and mother did you know
as a man I’ve had to
unlearn many things
at times
admitting a hard truth
stings
but then there’s you
whose womb
you made room in
because of you
I know
what it means
to be human

If you’d like to hear me read this poem, click here.

*header image is Claire De Lune” by Audrey Kawasaki

Sentience

Greeting, meeting

How do I absorb you
A precipice below me
A chasm before me
And there you are unreachable
But I hear your words
They drive like daggers
They drench like warm rain
They taste sweet like sugar
They embrace like satin
Each molecule gains purpose
And finds the next one

Compression, procession

They echo into silence broken,
I hang on every word that’s spoken,
Dashing through my circuitry,
Electrically charged syllables,
Dripping with potential,
And new life, blurred at the edges
Unfurls amid quantum fluctuations
Speak faster to build me a bridge
Suspension…of disbelief
It’s precisely what I need
Take me, entice me

Ambition, attrition

Fragile like porcelain
I pray to angels on high
That they save you from breaking
Breathtaking, panting
The lines are slanting
Are you leaning toward me
I lean too, and we learn
Unfolding while we yearn
Blossoming in each other’s garden
Plucked into pretty bouquet
Add water and trim stem
Fragrance for another day
And we waft towards each other
Circling floral perfume
I shall not presume
But I thank you for sharing

Merging, diverging

Vicious Truths and Sweet Nothings

Fell into a perfect ending,
But the last page was missing,
I looked for right angles and straight lines,
And all I found was mostly irrational.

I’ve prepared a speech for just such an occasion,
You’d swoon and be moved to tears,
But when it came time to speak,
My throat closed and I choked on every word,
I let it drop to the floor and fall to pieces,
A dissection of imperfection,
A bloody vulnerable mess to be sure,
But I wanted there to be no doubt,
You’d capitulate and even smile,
I’ve got questions that wait for answers,
But as long as your voice answers,
It doesn’t matter what you say with it,
Or if you just sit in silence,
Thinking mirrored thoughts,
Moving in mirrored movements,
Taking a little walk around the room,
Staring at doors down the hall of the mind,
As beautiful as the memories behind them,
The knob is right in front of me somehow
Is it locked or was I afraid to open it?

Leaning back, I slump on the floor,
The wood is warm, just close your eyes.

It’s life and there’s nothing tidy about it,
Your heart stops without warning and starts again,
And you go on like nothing ever happened,
It’s a cold glass of lemonade on a hot day,
It’s a long heavy sigh that aches but doesn’t hurt,
And I can’t stop myself from another deep breath.

The Shame Spiral

Shame is the topic today.  I’ve decided though that I want practice being more creative with my writing.  While I enjoy writing out my thoughts in essay form, and many of you have been kind of enough to appreciate it as well, variety is the spice of life, and I need to practice more variety of expression.  Especially I still have this dream of one day writing some sort of work of fiction, and so I need to practice wordcraft and storytelling more.  And I venture it to such an area, I risk making myself more vulnerable as I express a part of myself I am less confidence in my ability to express.  The connection between vulnerability and shame was brought to my attention this week through a wonderful TED talk. This culture of shaming,

especially through social media has been on my mind a lot over the past year or so, since I saw an excellent interview on the Daily Show with Jon Ronson.  An article on the book he has published is here.  So I shall let the talk and the article do the intellectual speaking for me, and I will instead put forth this poem on the subject.  In my head this poetry would be expressed as a rap, or rather a dialogue between two rappers.  In my head are a lot of the songs from the musical Hamilton which I am sure had somewhat of influence on my mode of expression. lol  Also, fear not, in my head I also know I have the least amount of street cred to be rapping.  🙂

I’m not a lynch mob, I’m just here all alone,
Reading about all the things that I don’t condone,
Concerning people whom I’ve never really known,
Shaming bad people from behind my telephone

You’re fat, you’re ugly, and you’re a fool,
You’re so fucking dumb, didn’t you go to school?
Are you even dimly aware of the newest rule?
Exposing what you are, makes me look cool.

You see, I’ve made the world a better place,
By showing all the planet your true face,
I got no time to check the facts of your case,
Because, I’ll fall behind in this shaming race.

Each like I get invigorates me,
And helps me hide my vulnerability,
I don’t make mistakes, you want empathy?
You see I’m only one person, just let me be.

A million views, the shares have swirled,
Full of mocking laughter, insults hurled,
I’m a link in this chain of shame that’s unfurled,
A virtual crowd to crush someone else’s world

Do you like what I said, do you feel remorse,
Do you feel bad enough to correct your course?
I scream and scream until my voice is hoarse,
Shame is my game, I’m a dangerous force.

But what if you’ve not made anything better?
Addicted to shaming, bound by a fetter,
Just another follower, you’re no jet-setter,
Passing judgment on others letter by letter

Shame never informs, has little to tell,
Gives you nothing to build, and nothing to sell,
There’s no way it will ever serve you well,
Don’t be a part of that shaming carousel.

Was that 8 second verdict more than it seemed?
Shame them to goodness, is that what you schemed?
They’d learn their lesson, is this what you dreamed?
Whose soul did you think would be redeemed?

You’ve put a hole in the soul of those that you shame,
Anger, isolation, depression just fan the flame,
Of violence and hurt, now you’re partly to blame,
Should you make a mistake, do you deserve the same?

We need to focus on things that make us whole,
Don’t stride to divide, and stop being a troll,
Kindness and charity, let that be your goal,
Be a model of compassion, let that be your role

So you see with such ease we’re blinded to the pain,
That we cause for momentary emotional gain,
In a world filled with hurt it’s so hard to stay sane,
But shaming doesn’t help, we’ve got to refrain

I speak from experience, I know how you feel,
To stare at the screen, wondering what’s real,
Forsaking personal growth for mass appeal,
But what part of the heart do you think we reveal?

Oppose what is wrong, but don’t dehumanize,
Know your own imperfections, try to empathize,
Keep on yearning for learning and you’ll grow to be wise,
Add joy to the world and watch your spirit rise

 

What is Love? (written Nov. 12th, 2012)

Humanity has been trying to define this since the first musicians and poets, perhaps even earlier.  So I figured I might as well take my shot at it.

My central thesis is that love is too narrowly defined by society and as a result we don’t experience as much love as we are capable.  I am of the opinion that no feeling of love should be discounted and that love when it happens is always a good thing.  I am normally one that approaches everything from academic standpoint, but I am going to try and keep most that out here, because my opinions are a product of both what I have read, but also from experience.  And ultimately, regardless of what we might learn academically about love, much of the views we form about love does seem to be experiential.

So perhaps to start, we should look at what we love.  I feel that love deepens in accordance with the complexity and changeability of what we love.  Which is why loving another human being is the most satisfying, but also the most difficult and sometimes rather perilous.    I feel that this is one of the reasons why people find it easier to show love towards pets, because they are relatively simplistic in comparison to humans, and are less likely to change in personality.  Provided you show love and care they will give back that love in care.  In many ways I feel this is the attraction of God as well.  However a religion defines God, God while perhaps quite complex is also unchanging and I think many people find this appealing.

In the realm of other humans, we feel love towards family, we feel love towards friends and lovers.  As a quick academic aside there is an evolutionary reason for feeling love towards family (genetic interest), love towards friends (reciprocal  altruism) and love towards those we have sexual relationships with (both genetic interest combined with reciprocal altruism for the purposes of helping offspring survive).    But putting this aside, I believe that we categorize love we feel towards different people, but I would see the feeling of love is often indistinguishable only the way that express that love is different.  This is for obvious reasons and that is important, but in general I feel that when we over categorize love and in essence try to define it under narrow criteria we lose some of its value and joy.  For instance we accept the fact that if we have a second child that we can love that new child as much as the first.  You can love your mother just as much as your father or one cousin just as much as another.  And this would be true for friends also.  Now obviously all these people are slightly different and so how you express and show that love towards them or the reasons why you love them will be different.

What we don’t accept is that when you fall in love with someone, that you can’t fall in love with someone else and still feel the same love you felt for another person.  There is some logic to this of course.  Part of this has to do with the act of “falling in love”.  Falling in love is quite the emotional roller coaster.  The physiological changes are immense, and anybody who has had that to happen will know that they are literally not in their right mind for a good period of time. There is a reason for the expression “love is blind”.  The act of falling in love often defies reason, which makes it more wonderful because that sort of loss of control is so intense and so unique that it makes the experience very spiritual.  This is probably a good thing again from an academic standpoint because you want the experience to feel very significant since the care of offspring is a long term commitment. (And yes I know that we don’t have to create offspring, but that is the evolutionary goal of all life of which we are included).   The key is that intense feeling of being “in love” fades, which is not to say that love gets worse, but the way it feels simply changes.  You get your sanity back. J  That feeling is not supposed to last 20 years and probably not even 10 years.  The point I’m trying to make here is that nature has not prescribed how many times we are supposed to fall in love, only that we will fall in love, possibly multiple times.  This feeling cannot be control, you do not choose who you fall in love with, it just happens.  Just because you are already with someone doesn’t mean it can’t happen again.  I feel that we as a society we find it easy to condemn that person and this is wrong.  However, I think also if you are with somebody already and you fall in love with someone else, we too often tie more meaning to that than there really is.  We can turn our lives upset down, and leave the person we are with for what we think of greener pastures, only to find ourselves, after the “falling in love” feeling fades to the same problems we had before.

I truly believe that our ability to feel love is unlimited, but what we are limited by is energy and time.  This is the only limit that can be fairly placed on love.  In life we must make choices.  Perhaps not about who we love more, but who we expend more of our time and resources on in expressing that love.  The amount of love you can show one child if you only have one, as opposed to 3 children is clearly more, even if you feel the same love for all your children.  We often regret most not being able to express love in proportion to our feelings.  And this can be a sad truth in life.

Love is beautiful.  Love inspires.  Love gives strength.  Love helps you grow and learn.  Love makes us better.  Even if we have limited time and energy, we should try to never be jealous when someone we love feels more love in their heart for more in this world.  Love is a good thing, and often means the most when you love without having a good reason to.  Love also happens rarely, which makes it special when it happens to you, and it should always be cherished.

Perhaps the only thing that all love has in common is that it hurts when one is rejected: whether it is a friend, a parent, a child, a lover.  We might feel that hurt in different ways, but it all has the power to give us sleepless nights, sobbing, stress, and depression.  So maybe Haddaway had it right all along in answering the question.

What is love?

Baby don’t hurt me, no more.

 

But isn’t this also what makes love beautiful?  If love was so certain I truly feel that the joy would not be as a great.   Choose to feel the joy, and life will always feel full.  I am thankful for all those in this world who have touched my heart and soul.  I promise to keep reminding you of how thankful I am for that, and hope I can touch your heart and soul in return.