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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Holding Pattern

Nyberg Mess of Blues

Silence a welcome respite
as the world’s tragedies carry on
without you.
It does not last, of course, this quiet as thin as the skin
of a drum.
You consider desertion
on its plastic hanger, how quick the fix.
But you ache for the succor of absolution
in its supple cloak, to have it fold around you,
ceding the demands of atonement.

Continue reading “Holding Pattern”

Truth Or

But lies were for people who didn’t believe in the future. Who saw only an endless stretch of present without consequences or change.

– Yoojin Grace Wuertz, Everything Belongs to Us

One day the ground begins its thaw.
The blind things just below the surface shift
in their sleep.
4.5 billion years and nothing has jarred the rock
from its grinding rotation.
We know this much: even if we hold it to us,
even if we drive the stakes to pin it in place,
what’s old will slough off.
Continue reading “Truth Or”

Human Pyramid

Moki Green

In the photo, he grins up from the base of a human pyramid. He occupies the exact same spot I did in my last pyramid, which was, oddly enough, just a few weeks ago. Bug’s blonde surfer hair sticks to his flushed face as he balances another boy on his back. Eight kids, two counselors, and a big field of green.

His first day of camp, and Bug had already found his place in the pack.

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Permission

Pissarro Family Legend

We are allowed to love ourselves.

We are allowed to show up. We are allowed to take the compliment even when we fall short of our own standards.

We are allowed to determine the standards.

We are allowed to talk about how hard it is to love ourselves. We are allowed to enjoy our own simple company. We are allowed to release our grip. To revel in the small days. To have just one or two good friends.

We are allowed to think of our family, whatever its shape, as worthy of a crest.

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Right Side Up

playground

Face down. Flung across the bed. He cries and cries, body shuddering with sobs. Something has happened outside.

I heard about it first from an upstairs neighbor who called me after witnessing the melee from her balcony. Then two little girls, teary and clutching each other, filled me in on oh-so-many details of Bug punching one of them. The bigger kids arrived in a pack to corroborate.

My boy, the one who hits.

My boy, the object of this witch hunt. Hiding somewhere. Shunned.

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Plant Anyway

corn shucking.jpg

He  drops his backpack by the door and heads out. Whether the temperature hovers at freezing or rises to a swelter, he and his friends find each other. Sometimes I block the way and steer him back to his violin for a round of scales. The neighborhood kids bang on the door every three minutes, “Is he done yet?” They loop around the breezeway on bikes and scooters. A few come up barely past my knee. A few are already shaving. When he’s free, they all charge off down the hill, hollering ever-changing rules to an ever-evolving game that winds through this labyrinth of stairwells and parking lots.

I shut the door and head to the kitchen to rinse out the lunch containers.

Divorced at 37 and still single at 43, parenting a surly tween, stuck in the suburbs, jammed into a 5-story development abutting a freeway, and working a desk job for a paycheck that barely covers groceries while a white supremacist and a Russian oligarch run the White House.

Continue reading “Plant Anyway”