Private Property -- Men Confess Why They're Br...



It is said Women sprang forth from Venus,
Masterpiece of class, species, and genus.
And they reach for the stars,
Unlike Men, sent from Mars
Who must filter each thought through a penis.


June, 2013



Mom and Dad, around 1952

Mom and Dad, around 1952

When the cancer had eaten its fill,
Little was left of Dad.
He was diminished
And oh, he had been handsome
Just ask Mom
She recalled wistfully his dark hair
And fine looks vaguely reminiscent of Elvis
A real catch
To me, he was ruddy and practical
Middle aged paunch and square glasses
But the disease made us both liars
He was shrunken

I was fourteen, the years in my life
Equal to the months in his death
I was fourteen, primed for my moment
In the spotlight of adolescence
But really of little use or effect
In our current circumstance
Which was dire
My brothers were older
Practically men
I couldn’t drive to hospital visits
Or take on part time work
Fourteen was a nuisance who still needed tending
Who couldn’t be trusted
Or leaned upon

When the end could not be postponed
There arose the matter of clothes
My brothers were excused
Because they could drive
Because they could work
Practically men
So this was my job
After all, what fourteen-year-old girl
Doesn’t like to shop
For clothes?
We spoke in a secret language:
Easter is coming, said Mom
And Dad needs a new suit
She knew the code
The clerk knew
I knew

I sat on a stool in the corner
Watching the arrayal
Knowing the casket was ready
A drape of ivory satin
A touch of dogwood carving
Our clerk was equal to the task
Offered up tweeds, checks, herringbones
Double breasted and single
How do I look? asked Dad
So I pictured him dressed and
Resting against that satin pillow
Forever after
In charcoal
Or navy

When the suit had been procured
Wine-colored and plaid
It was the 1970’s
Just ask anyone
We turned our attention to dresses
From the only posh shop in our rural town
A real treat
This time there was no secret code
After all, what would be the point?
We’d grown tired of pretending
And asked for something funereal
The sales girl was honored

You might wear this outfit again
She suggested helpfully
And oh, I scoffed
What woman would wear again a dress
That had seen her husband sent to the life beyond?
We would burn them
Mom’s sedate black and white-jacketed ensemble
With mine of light blue and green
Burn and bury the memories
Salt the earth afterward
But of course we didn’t
There would be no fire
No liturgy
No rite

When those days had passed into the past
Little was left to say
We were exhausted
And needed to move ahead
As survivors must
The funeral clothes occupied awkward space
Between artifact and awful reminder
My brothers, who had simply called on existing garments
Lost their leisure suits to merciful obsolescence|
Mom’s widow costume reverently wrapped in white tissue
Put away, neither seen nor forgotten
My blue and green frock donated to charity
But there is plaid
In Heaven



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





We are Creator and Creation
Both the artist and his art
Our first, lush days painted like frescos
Into flesh still wet and new
Sometimes Botticelli, sometimes Bosch
Swirling fusions of shapes and hues
Ever and always a work in progress   
We are tattooed by mistakes   
False starts and regrets
The burned skin then displayed to all
Equally revered and reviled
By the circumspect eyes of patrons and critics
So achingly beautiful, so grievously lacking
Paradoxical and juxtaposed
I stare at the easeled mirror
A reflection of my handiwork
Itself balanced precariously on a pedestal                                                    
Earnestly carved of self-mined marble
Transfixed by the veins, I chiseled deeply
Bloodied my hands and rendered the column
All in the name of articulation
The human gallery is a carnival, a spectacle
Strewn end-to-end with masterworks
Each piece an opus, every creation a rhapsody
Yet one by one, they crash to the ground
Knocked from their underpinnings
By hecklers, by vandals, by fellow artists
Imperfections and faults exposed
Yet despite motive, hunch, or vision
No matter the inspiration
There is one great equalizer:


We are given charge of a subtle palette
Then, tempered by our sameness
Must bravely reach toward exaltation



It’s a cannibal town:
A place with dark secrets
Where tall, stately manors
And storybook cottages
Carry out deceptions.

Hidden by flirting, calico curtains,
Obscured by the pastel piety
Of  bathtub Madonnas,
Savages await the chance
To feast upon their own.

With an appetite for rumor and innuendo,
They gobble down everything placed before them,
Unconcerned by worth or shame,
Unaware that they have not been nourished,
But rather, diminished by careless consumption.

Feigning polite chatter, vampires
Walk these tree-lined streets;
Thirsty for scandal, aroused by pain
Pausing only to spit out bits of flesh
Shredded along with simple truths.

And the anguish of those devoured
Goes unnoticed, as always—
Unimportant.  Inconsequential.
Carried away on the breeze
Like the benign music of windchimes.



Once, I was a stone.
Simply shaped,
Dipped in earth tones—
Yet foundations were built
On the strength of my shoulders.
A lifetime of days
Has etched my surface
Left me lined and faceted—
What was stone turned to glass,
And therein lies my secret:
Handled carelessly, I’m
Likely to break—
But when caught
In the sun’s rays,
Oh, how I shine!



She feels the pull of four heavy horses,
One tethered to each trembling limb.
With great, cup-shaped hooves they paw the dirt
And quivering, await the signal—
The signal to begin her ending.

Still as a photograph, she lies awake
Willing her molecules to cling together
—Please God, just a little while longer—
As she tries to conjure the music
That will calm these wild-eyed, heaving beasts

Threatening to tear her piece by piece,
Straining at twisted harnesses of
Fear, mistrust, anger, and bitter regret.
Already her seams are starting to fray;
Already her edges begin to blur. . .

How did this nightmare come to be
From childhood dreams of sun-dappled afternoons
And pony rides on sleepy, sway-backed roans?
She could swing so high her toes touched the clouds—
But the return to earth is cold and dark as blood.

Steady, she begs her body, steady now
And counts the long moments between each breath
IN   two… three… four; OUT   six… seven… eight—
Her eyes are shut tightly against tears,
But her mouth still echoes bile and Prozac.

A few hours more and daylight will come,
Her fists will uncurl, the horses will stand down;
Reduced to nothing more than vapor
And the wish that tonight’s slumber might be
Accompanied not by a dirge, but a lullaby.