25 Men, 50 Dates, 4 Months

online dating

The first one tells fart jokes.
The second refused to vote for Hillary.
“I just couldn’t,” he says. “Too dirty.”
The third brought a gun to a spat with his wife
and now visits his kids supervised.
The fourth hates his parents still, over four decades in.
The fifth – well. The fifth moved his folks
into a condo down the road so his girls could grow up with them close.
The fifth leads the pack for several long laps.

The sixth – or maybe seventh – mansplains the origins of mansplaining.
The eighth – or maybe ninth – a white guy who dates only white women.
The tenth, still married. The divorce is almost final. Almost.

The teens get jumbled. It’s hard to keep track.

The programmer an hour in
blushes when he admits he loves poetry and once came alive on stage.
The IT guy started a new job today
and also, it’s his 50th birthday.
When the slice of bread pudding appears, candlelit, he laughs in surprise
then cries.

Remember the fifth? He flies to Vegas then San Diego.
He offers an extra ticket.
The schedule never aligns. It never will.
His voice catches when he says goodbye.

The twentieth has a record.
40 days in the clink.
DUI.
He says his proudest thing
is that his son
has never seen him take a drink.
The twenty-third calls the mountains his church.
The twenty-fourth, he finds the next question to ask
inside the answer to the first.

I fall in love a little every time.
Even with the one so anxious he stutters
only three syllables at a stretch then goes mum.
He showed up. He tries.

Every one a brother.
A beating heart, a map of scars.

Fart jokes, I chuckle.
Mansplaining, I spar.
The one who curses his parents shares the breach of faith no child should bear.
I sit with the boy still aching for atonement.

I stop bothering with the question “What are you looking for?”
The only answer is this
here.
Listen. I will hold you now. Exactly you.
This is the promise I make
as you work yourself up to revealing
one corner of the half secret
invisible ink on onion skin
tucked in behind the script.

And this, the prayer:
That you will know yourself boundless.
That you will know you are loved.
That whether or not you find
what you think you want,
you will feed your heart’s hunger
on what we plant
here
together.


Image: Hanna Barczyk for NPR

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Kill the Babysitter

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Here comes the babysitter. You’re pumped. His appearance promises a night of board games, TV, living room dance parties. He’ll make mac & cheese for dinner and skip the broccoli entirely. Turn up the volume on bands you’ve never heard of. Dress up like a Sith Lord and let you annihilate him after a protracted battle that covers every floor of the house.

You may pass several hours draped in sequins and spiked on sugar. Playing, yes. But for show, not for keeps. Playing for this night only. Playing with the door closed.

The babysitter has one job: keeping you safe until your parents get home.

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Your Then To Now II

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Five and a half years after the first.


My friend and I walk through a spice shop. We pull corks from jars and hold them up to our noses, gasping with delight, recoiling in alarm. Paprika, ginger, barbeque rub. The woody sawdust of galangal. Tarragon’s foresty tang.

She tells me about last weekend’s terrible date. The fellow kept fishing for a flirt and grabbing at her hand. She didn’t push the hand away. Didn’t tell him no. She is young. She is still worried about being alone forever.

I wonder when she’ll figure out that fear of the unknown far outstrips the actual miseries we meet? That the ways we guard ourselves becomes our true devastation?

I wonder when I will figure it out?

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Soon The Return

Paci Nunzio
Nunzio Paci

Picture the vines creeping from his collar.
The stem snaking.
The petal pink and thick as a human ear unfurling from the place his cheek should be.
Pollen-pouched bees yellowing as they gather
what he was always bound to become.
What comes next.

This is our revenge.
Those of us he mounts to build the crystal barricade,
its pearled locks and curtains
thin as whispers and thick
as what stands between dimensions.
He designed it all to let in the curated glow
and keep out everything that makes the light.

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Lacing Into

May 24, 2013

He twines black ribbon around his wrist. With a yellow strand, I mirror him. Weave slips around the thumb and passes through open channels between fingers stretched wide. Twice around and across, the dressing lays itself over the bumps of knuckles where once we counted days of the month. He is finished with both of his before I am even halfway around the first. His fingers turn my hand and graze my left palm just before mummifying its living flesh beneath warped satin dressing.

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9pm Curfew

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“What would you do if all men had a 9pm curfew?” She asks the world.
The world responds.

I would walk at night with music in my ears.
I would shop for groceries after my kids are in bed.
I would stay late in the lab.
Lay on the grass and see all the stars.
Lay across the warm hood of my car.
Sleep in my front yard all summer long.

I would not carry my keys like claws.
I would pitch a tent beside my favorite waterfall.
Run on the trail until my legs give out.
Sleep where I land.
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