Bleeding Hearts 2

He found her crumpled and discarded
Just waiting
As though for a strong gust
To sweep her away
Or for a lighted match
To consume her

 He found her curious and compelling
And perfect
As if constructed from
His own missing parts
Or bits of brightly colored
Broken glass

 She was dissonance and eloquence
Surrounded by crimson velvet cords
And flashing yellow lights
Yet he reached out one wishful hand
Until, fiercely, she withdrew
A frightened anemone

 Too soon the words formed in his mouth
And would not remain hidden from her ear
She swatted at the syllables, though he longed
To capture them like fireflies in a jar
To marvel at how they sparkled:
    —I care for you.

 She wept:  “I’m damaged. I’m incomplete.
What do you want from me?”
   —I’ll take what I can get.
She dared:  “You’ll take what I give you!”
   –Whatever you give me– I’ll take it.
A promise was made

 He kept his eyes down and his hours busy
Just smiling
At how the sidewalk cracks
Led straight to her door
And how his morning coffee
Was dark like her voice

She trembled; he dreamed of the time she would
Tremble around him
So mercurial; she was silvery slick
And always changing
But true to his promise
He remained steadfast

Through days that pulsed with her heartbeat
And nights haunted by her ghosts
He breathed it all in
Watched her eyes for angels
Until there in the tickling grass
She rested her head on his shoulder



An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation

I have nothing to add to this girl’s words; they need no help from me.

An Open Letter to the Church from My Generation.



How do you conjure sleep to your bed?
Do you justify?  Do you rationalize?
What will hush the cricket on your shoulder?
Will you cross your heart and hope to die?
Step carefully, now; there’s rubble everywhere
In this disaster of a world we’ve created
My good intentions, your misperceptions
Shards beneath our bare and bloodied feet

God knows there’s bitterness to share
I keep a bowlful at the table to flavor my coffee
Those scenes replay as an endless loop
Until the words echo with the pounding of my heart
I pump each vivid detail through my veins
Then feel them crawl like spiders beneath my flesh
Tell me you’ve held the poison in your mouth, too
That your tongue is cracked from the taste of guilt

We sat at cross corners, avoiding each other’s eyes
You concealed the weapon as I dumbly spat out bullets
Who knew your aim was truer than your intention?
Now I’m unraveling faster than I can knit
Bleeding out and reaching out and crying out
While you look for shapes in the clouds
And brush away my words like specks of ash
It’s funny; I never took you for a bastard

Gently, snow falls and numbs the earth
Mesmerizing, anesthetizing, sanitizing
Hush now, it says, and rest quietly for a while
With a turn of the hourglass all will be renewed
In my dreams I lie naked in the drifting whiteness
Lulled into a cool and tranquil hibernation
Until I awaken at some yet unnamed time
A gladdened soul in a gladdened world

A world where you and I have never met



My father was a man.  My brothers are men.  I’ve been married to a man for nearly 30 years, and I spawned a male child.

No one gets out of here alive.

If through no means other than association, one might think I’d have come to understand men quite well by now.   Truth be told, however, my knowledge regarding those of the male gland can be summed up in two statements:

1.  In Man World, something is fun only if it a) makes noise, b) hurts, or c) smells bad.

2.  The basic difference between men and women is this:  Women wear black because it’s versatile, slimming, ageless, seasonless, sexy, and classic; men wear black because they think it’s navy blue.

Sensing many women might be lacking even the slightest comprehension of what goes on in the male mind, a popular men’s magazine offered to shed some light on the subject.   The article’s author, himself a man, claimed there are 15 basic fears harbored by all men.  They are:

*Hair in the drain (going bald)
*Getting caught noticing another woman
*Super Nanny
*His father’s death
*Her tears
*Being a lousy lover
*Not being a god to his kids
*Living paycheck to paycheck
*Beautiful women
*Getting naked
*Not seeing his kids grow up
*Public humiliation

Wow—that’s a pretty daunting list.  Who knew men bore the burden of so many insecurities?  But I sincerely appreciate the writer’s effort to educate us women, and it only seems fair to return the favor.   So what scares a woman?  Here, in no particular order and compiled by me and my research department (the women I eat lunch with), is a partial list:

*How we look first thing in the morning  No matter how alluring she appeared or felt the night before, a woman dreads her early morning visage.  Greasy hair, puffy eyes, blotchy complexion, sour breath . . . intensify those charms with a bladder loaded for bear and the result is something we’d rather you not see.  That’s one reason many women aren’t interested in early morning romance . . . who can feel sexy in that condition?  Besides, there’s vulnerability in letting him see you in such a raw state.  That’s something we’d rather save for later in the relationship, such as when we’re in the delivery room giving birth to his baby.

*His silence  It’s no secret many women like to talk out their problems.  It’s a system that’s worked for us since the dawn of time, and we see no reason to change.  But in a cruel joke, the goddess created many men who prefer to suffer in silence.  They disappear to the privacy of the den or workshop to stew and putter, leaving us to wonder why we can’t just talk about it.  Oh, we know our men are just cooling off and allowing time for things to smooth over.  So what are we afraid of?  We’re afraid that in all that silence he’s contemplating a breakup or secretly wishing we would come and fix things with just the right words.   We’re afraid because that silence of his can be deafening.

*Hair issues  For women, hair is the source of endless drama.  The hair on a woman’s head is her crowning glory, and her body hair a lifelong enemy.  A man’s fear of going bald is nothing next to a woman’s; at least society accepts a bald man.  In fact, men as varied as Yul Brynner, Andre Agassi, Billy Zane, Michael Jordan, Vin Diesel, Patrick Stewart, and Cal Ripken Jr. have proven they can be attractive even without hair.  A woman, however, can never have too much hair on her head.  On the other hand, the shadow of a moustache is like the kiss of death.  Hair on your toes?  Ugh.  No, from the time a girl enters puberty she will shave, sugar, and depilate.  She’ll submit to the stinging electrolysis and the painful bikini wax—even the full Brazilian wax job.   Hair scares us.  We’re scared to lose it from our heads and grow it on our bodies.  Either situation is a self-image crisis!

*Bra or swimsuit shopping  Nothing make a woman feel less secure about herself than stepping into a harshly lit dressing room with an armload of garments designed by sadists to make her feel lumpy and inadequate.  She just knows it’s going to end badly.

*Our own girly bits  Those appendages and accoutrements which make us female are so prone to breakdown and malfunction an entire medical specialty is devoted to keeping our stuff up and running.  One body part or another is always developing a suspicious lump or oozing an unpleasant discharge.  Mammograms, pap smears, D & C’s, steel stirrups, cold specula . . . all scary stuff.  But not as scary as what could happen if we don’t submit to these uncomfortable but necessary health care procedures.

*The Other Woman  She’s around every corner, she’s waiting at every social event, she’s the new hire at your husband’s office, she’s someone you’ve known for years.  She’s out there, and she’s waiting to take him away from you.  And if you and your man are in your forties, you can bet she’ll be half your age.  The bitch.

*Guy stuff  We’re smart.  We’re employable.  We’re accomplished.  We’re worldly.  But many of us feel downright stupid when you start talking about earned run averages and single malt whiskeys.  We can’t name our favorite historical battle, can’t rattle off who was named MVP of Super Bowl Whatever, or tell what car was first to use an electrical ignition system.  We can’t recite the plot of The Dirty Dozen or prove the best way to defend ourselves during a zombie attack.   What really scares us is that you can.

*Ruined relationships  A woman’s world is defined by relationships, and leaving a trail of fractured friendships, broken romances, and estranged family members is a sign of failure.  Oh, we know it’s not possible, or even desirable, to get along with everyone all the time.  But since conflict resolution and comfort giving are seen primarily as feminine traits, something must be wrong with a woman who’s followed through life by a wake of hard feelings.

*Finding purpose  The path of our foremothers was predetermined.  They reached puberty, got married, managed a home, and reared however many children nature chose to send.  It was hard work, but it was in the cards for just about every woman.  Nowadays, women struggle to find meaningful careers and balance them with the demands of their personal lives.  Yes, we know men have always wrestled with job stress and God bless them for it.  But culturally speaking, the whole thing’s still rather new for our gender, and the thought of never meeting our destiny is scary!  Plus, guys, you have to admit no one ever argued that the fall of the American family can be blamed on the emergence of working fathers.  That’s a heavy thing to lay on us.,

*Ultimate Fighting Championships  This is a concept so scary to women, most of us lack the words to describe our aversion.   Can there be any doubt this debacle was some man’s idea of fun?

*Getting naked  Most women enjoy a relatively narrow window of comfort for getting naked in front of someone else.  It’s likely to be soon after our 19th birthday, perhaps between 7 and 8 pm on a Tuesday.  That’s about it.  The rest of the time, the thought of letting another human being—especially a male human being with amorous intentions—see us in the altogether can be extremely disconcerting.  We’re painfully aware of our flaws (even the ones invisible to others), and usually prefer to keep them hidden by clothing or dimmed lights.

*Gravity  As the saying goes, Rome fell and one day, Honey, so will you.  After the age of 28 or childbirth, whichever comes first, nothing on a woman stays in its original location.  Our eyelids, jowls, breasts, bellies, butts, and knees all start to sag in what can only be explained as a terrible design flaw.  And since we can’t all pay to have our droopy parts relocated, the fear of gravity and its effects contributes heavily to the previously mentioned fear of getting naked, and to the next item on our list.

*The gift of lingerie  Unless she happens to be within that previously mentioned narrow window of comfort for getting naked in front of another person, nearly every woman cringes at the thought of opening a gift from her man to find some lacy, transparent, completely impractical garment.   Yes, we know it’s the thought that counts.  Yes, we know in his own way he’s trying to be flattering.  But good lord, does he really expect us to strap on that silly deal he found at Skanky Ho’s “R” Us?  And does he think that when we do, we’ll look like the woman he saw in the Victoria’s Secret catalog or perform like the one he saw in a porn movie?  Does he realize we’re going to feel like a right fool when our non-surgically-enhanced, non-airbrushed parts are flopping around with nothing to support them but a couple of pasties and a few , strategically placed lengths of floss?  Now that’s scary!

*Sex  OK, this one’s a wash.  I don’t think either gender holds a monopoly on bedroom insecurities.  Everyone suffers from performance anxiety, no one wants to pale against the memory of a former lover.  Life would be easier if we’d just cut each other a break, but because we’re humans that’s not like to happen any time soon.

*The whole mother thing  This is it:  the big ticket item, the whole package.  Motherhood is the queen of all womanly fears.  It represents the biological purpose of being female, and is at the core of our most intense human connections.  And a woman doesn’t even have to be a mother to experience mother-related drama.  There’s the fear of his mother.  Deep inside, women are afraid they will never measure up to the woman who raised him—especially in his eyes!  Then there’s the fear of becoming your mother.  That fear has nothing to do with love.  Even a woman who idolizes her own mother will die a little on the day she looks in the mirror and sees her mother’s face, opens her mouth utters her mother’s favorite platitude, or realizes she just bought a handbag that would look at home on her mother’s arm.

Becoming a mother affects each and every aspect of a woman’s life until the day she dies.  What’s there to be frightened about?  Motherhood is beautiful and natural, right?  The fear is of not knowing how to be a mother!  What if I don’t bond with my baby? What if I’m too strict or too permissive?  What I have no more sense than God gave a goose when it comes to parenting and I ruin this perfect little heaven-sent angel?  Being a mother, even a first time mother, is supposed to magically transform a woman.  What if it doesn’t happen?  What if motherhood swallows up my relationship with the man I love?

So there you have it: fifteen things that can scare the bejeezuz out of even the strongest, most capable woman.  My crack team of researchers and I invite your comments.  What have we misjudged?  What have we left out?  What scares a woman?


The rock where you stand is cold, and it’s desolate;
How many times have I stood in that place?
I know the mistrust in your eyes, the hesitation in your smile,
How your heart pounds out a litany of questions,
And pain expands your lungs with every breath.

Solitary is the path walked by the broken-hearted;
Where bodies draw inward to protect wounded souls,
Where scar tissue grows thick beneath endless granite skies,
Where simple pleasantries are stopped at the door
And melodies are silenced.

You offered your life, your love, your world,
Gifts that were neither wanted nor deserved.
So you clutch tattered shreds of brightly colored papers,
Knowing you threw the prize after a dream
That would never come true.

But look up, dear friend, look to the sky and see
The silvery moon softly smiling to light your way
Until the sun reaches down and warms your tear-stained face.
Fluttering leaves scatter your cries to the wind
And the universe calls you home.

Take another step; that rock beneath your feet
Was built layer by layer, made substantial
By those who walked the solitary path before you,
Just as you now pave the way for those
Who will arrive in their time.

And that aching heart, ever faithful, ever hopeful,
Still pushes life through the tributaries
That keep your river’s current flowing fast and strong.
That’s you, my friend: more than strong enough
To weather the storm.

Put these memories in a photograph album;
Keep them in a chest of fragrant cedar–
In time this pain will pass into the world of shadows
And in its place will be your reward;
All you ever wanted.



Now and then I catch myself staring
At your hair curling under your hat
Time and again I just start daydreaming
What makes your jeans fit you like that

I’m the person who makes things happen
At my hands problems are solved and decisions made
Until you stroll by and spin me off my axis
Only you can change how my game is played


Baby, you’re a game changer
A rearranger
The one who stops me in my tracks
Baby, you’re a scene stealer
A big dealer
The one who makes it hard to hold back


I’ve been on my own for quite awhile
Doing the grownup things that grownups do
But I swear I’d throw it all away
For a chance to wake up next to you

What you do with that sneaky smile
The surprising grace of your hand
As you brush the hair away from your face
Those moves leave me completely unmanned


Baby, you’re a game changer
A rearranger
The one who stops me in my tracks
Baby, you’re a scene stealer
A big dealer
The one who makes it hard to hold back


When you’re not around, I’m in control
My thoughts are lucid, my speech eloquent
Not this idiot who can’t string two words together
While standing in the light of your presence

Something that radiates from your body
Puts me between God and the devil
Lord knows I don’t have time for this sort of thing
But both my heart and my will are fragile


All I know is you’re a game changer
And my game needs to be changed
All I know is you’re a scene stealer
Baby, come and steal my scene

Change my game
Steal my scene
Save me from
This old routine

Change my game
Steal my scene
I’m tired of being
In between




It’s just costuming–
All this flesh that covers my bones.
You look in my eyes, share my thoughts and laughter,
And know the me beneath it all.

It’s just stage makeup–
All these faces I show the world.
But you see the one that really matters;
It’s you who gets behind the wall.

I traveled here from long ago,
Devil at my back and wind in my face.
The road hurt my head and left me holding
Souvenir memories I longed to erase.

Clouded vision twisting my path,
I wandered under endless blistering skies.
But my feet knew just where I should be
And carried me on toward the prize.

Life isn’t black and white;
Sideshow colors flood my eyes and mind, while
Sleight of hand turns my best intentions
To circus acts for angry crowds.

It’s only funhouse mirrors
That make the dance look deceptively simple.
But you see my missteps, help carry the weight
And raise me high above the clouds.

A ticket you bought years ago:
A front row seat to my high wire act.
No matter how often I stumble and fall,
You never want your money back.

Dress me in a red clown nose,
Put me in tights and a sequined cape,
Watch me traipse round the center ring
And attempt a thrilling escape.

It’s just a sideshow, after all;
Just a hot air balloon ride.
Still my heart and arms are filled with you,
There’s nothing here more real than you.

When I finally stumble offstage–
Face smeared with sweat and greasepaint–
You gather me up, call me a star
And somehow, I believe it’s true.