Don’t Advertise Your Man (#fiction)

photo of two women sitting
Photo by Jopwell x PGA on Pexels.com

VII

You have to be careful. I mean, you have to watch what you say. It’s easy to think everyone will see things your way, but you never know how they’re going to take things.

That’s what happened when she went to talk to Valerie. She wanted to get some things off her chest, and she just knew Valerie would be sympathetic.

Valerie was sympathetic. Of course she was sympathetic. What kind of friend wouldn’t be? And Valerie enjoyed, maybe enjoyed isn’t the exact right word, listening to other people talk about their sexual problems, so she was bound to be a good listener.

So she unloaded on Val. She talked about how her husband was supportive and everything, but the sex was too burdensome. She told Val how he had a slow fuse and could never just “get to business.” She liked a sort of “stick and go” approach, but he always made a big production out of everything with lots of cuddling, kissing, and holding before ever getting around to the good stuff. By the time he was ready, she had lost interest. You know how it is?

Valerie certainly knew how it was. Valerie understood the dynamics all too well because her husband, too, was a “stick and go” kind of person. He never cuddled her or kissed her or stroked her at all. He just went at it, had his orgasm, and fell asleep.

So, as Val listened to her friend sort of just describing her frustration with the burdens of too much kissing and cuddling, Val got a little turned on. Her fantasies were racing through her mind. She’d been lost in a kissing desert, and now her friend was describing a sort of sexual oasis, and, man, she’d like a good long drink.

So Val was a good friend, and a good listener, like I said. She shared stuff about her life, her sexual past, which had a bit of trauma, too, and her frustrations with marital difficulties. She listened intently. She made herself vulnerable. She offered warm hugs and encouragement.

Once she’d set her friend off in a cloud of mutual support, her own needs and fantasies drove her straight to the telephone. She was tentative and nervous, but desire is sometimes greater than fear. “Hi, I was just talking to your wife. She said you really enjoy long, deep kisses, just like I do.”

In Defense of Vile Rottenflush (#poem)

Screenshot 2019-05-24 at 12.51.15The venerable X. J. Kennedy used a poem about “vile rottenflush”
to illustrate bad poetry in his seminal textbook,
Introduction to Poetry.

The poem, he explains, was submitted to the equally venerable
Paris Review, but he does not credit (blame?) the author.
The poem about vile rottenflush, he clarifies, is too personal
and subjective to speak to anyone other than the person who wrote it.
He says, “the author has vented personal frustrations upon words,
instead of kicking stray dogs.”

Who am I to question the wisdom of someone
as accomplished as X. J. Kennedy?
I only know that I remember the phrase “vile rottenflush”
four decades after first hearing it. Also, I think the author of “vile rottenflush”
had witnessed a death of someone much loved, and anyone who has watched
the most cherished people in their lives die might understand the poem, after all.

I think this because the poem also mentions “corpseblood” and “ghastly stench.”
No one forgets the smell of a soul leaving the body.
And no one forgets what they see when life is flushed away.
Perhaps “rottenflush” was a novel way of avoiding the now
clichéd references to “putrefying flesh.”
Perhaps it is a way of reminding the readers
That our blood will cease to flow, pulse, and pump,
Only to be left to pool, drip, and stink.

The author of “vile rottenflush” might be accused of being too direct,
But not too personal. Which of us will not overwhelm
Post mortem viewers and handlers with our own
Ghastly stench, reducing them to cries or horror
As they see their fate clearly in our eyes?

On The Curious Lack of Hyphenation for English Americans (#poem)

IMG_0420America is a land of hyphenated identity—
A melting pot, as it were, of cultural identity.
African-Americans and Asian-Americans, of course,
And gay-, Muslim- and Native-Americans are a force.

But Americans are also Irish, Welsh, and Scottish.
We have Germans and Swedes, but no Americans are English.
Strange, the English travelled to America to set up colonies
Take the land, kill a few million people, and do business in tea.

The English brought the Africans and many other immigrants,
But not one person, it seems, became and English-American.
Today’s Americans think the English lost the Revolutionary War;
The winners were English, too, but no one remembers that far.

So the white Americans who remain are of European descent,
But they are simply called American with no adornment.
Only if they want to declare they come from the original colonists
Will they call themselves Anglo-American with a nod and a sniff.

The Unintended Consequences of Complimentary Behavior (#poem #NaPoWriMo)

He made a clumsy compliment,
And it was taken for an insult.
Immediately, he tried to explainScreenshot 2019-04-03 at 08.02.28
The misunderstanding, but
He was told to “stop digging.”

And so it was.
He wasn’t in love, exactly,
But he admired her
Constantly and consistently.
He spoke highly of her to colleagues
And mutual acquaintances.

Hoping to eventually mend the rift,
He overcompensated with kindness,
But she seemed to recede further
In the distance with each step
He tried to take forward.

And small mistakes can have
Grave consequences. They say
The entire universe is a mess
Because Brahma was too drowsy
During the act of creation,
Which is an important lesson
For fertile but untutored lovers.

And as the universe tends to replicate
An original error exponentially,
So relationships can create
Great webs of resentment
And confusion. Even chaos.

It was all right, of course.
He found other jobs and
Other social and vocational
Networks away from her gaze.
He found a wife, passed his
Own genes on to unsuspecting
New persons peering into
Brahma’s mistake for the first time.

After her divorce, she heard of him
And his relative success and wondered
How such a ham-fisted and socially
Awkward dimwit could carry on.

But we do carry on.
Brahma hasn’t had a nap
In eons, and light travels to our
Eyes from the furthest reaches
Of space, just so we can experiment
With clumsy compliments.

Exit Strategy (#poem)

“… come out of the wardrobe, cross the line of the rainbow and be who you want to be!” Dona Onete

After encouraging him to explore his “other side,”

She said, “If you leave me, I will tell about this,

And you will never see your children again.”keeping promises.jpg

And so it began—a desperate life locked

In a wardrobe guarded by a severe overseer.

Each tentative act of self-expression

Quashed in a confused melee of frustration.

He lived an inauthentic life of duplicity under duress,

With progeny held for ransom in

An unending act of passive aggression.

He lives behind a mask—

A promise keeper and provider—

As a pillar of the community,

A propagator of traditional value.

A leader is born in shame,

As he passes judgment on

His fellow sinners and wanderers,

He builds influence and takes on followers

Until his identity cracks,

And the anti-depressants fail

Along with his attempted suicide.

From hospital, he reads the headlines.

Everyone knows his name.

His warden and manipulator is now moot,

So he lifts himself off the pillow

And squares his shoulders

Before facing the inevitable question:

“If you were so miserable,

Why didn’t you leave?”