A Natural Escape

Photo: sun-surfer.com

It had been a while since the ravages of 
life exiled you to a cabin in the woods.
Unyielding swells of memory rolled in the
dark solitude that first night, drowning
you in apparitions of failure and regret.

At sunrise, you slip away from languid ghosts;
venture outside to rouse your senses with the
crisp, cool air. Each care-free step a strange
prologue to the siege you fear may come; your
mind’s betrayal fuels the craving for escape.

The howling of loons echoes across the lake, 
its sweetness draws you out. On the dock
you sit, breathing deeply in; the clamour of
birdsong and leaves rustling in trees distills
the torments that often drive you to the brink.

Day after day, you witness the sun dance on water –
it’s how the stillness became your friend. You crave
the darkness to glimpse the stars, and bask in the
onslaught of beauty in unexpected things. Ghosts
are powerless against the peace that nature brings.

A Toast For The Times

Bacchus - Peter Paul Reubens

Abject ignorance – an illness afflicting the masses 
sets in as innocence sleeps, with blinkers on eyes,
having succumbed to old swill in modern glasses,
regaled by fables rich in hatred, delusion, and lies.

Buzz-words belie the blood dripping from hands;
smooth out cracks in the logic to polish the floors,
venerate execrable deeds, which garnish the walls,
extol crooked frames, lining windows and doors.

Charlatan name-drops Jesus, suspends disbelief;
praising craven ambition, the gospel of our times,
he raises a cup, “Nostalgia and bromides for God!”
A fraudulent toast, to cruel spirits defiling a mind.

The Long-Awaited Goodbye

Letting Go - Simone Held Deviant Art

Photo Credit: Simone Held – Letting Go, on Deviant Art

Subtle are the cracks they excavate in
consciousness – to sabotage a mind;
the breach widens with every daunting 
twist in life’s unyielding plot we find.

They unleash such vengeful captives,
disturb the peace as they take flight.
A heart feels for the wrongly accused,
foolishly indulges in their plight.

In pursuit, repression and denial
apply cruel logic to dry the eyes.
Fugitives ardently deny their guilt –
flimsy grounds sustain fresh alibis.

Wisdom wades into murky waters,
offers up an emotional defence,
“They meant no harm in picking up
the sordid pieces after these events!”

The inmates’ revolt, it seems, was just;
each suppression wrought more shame.
We embraced before I let them go;
as they dispersed my freedom came.

Pantomime

pantomime

Photo Credit: herochan.com

Children swoon over tycoons.
A pagan court jester who suits up
to play hero with ecumenical flair,
conspires in a plot behind
the scenes, to cast mankind
in a foul, Manichean air.

He stirs the flock
into a lather, deftly
tickles their fears;
what villains a shrewd
mind invents, to keep
rubes in good cheer.

In the pantomime show,
a shameless huckster
who deigns to be star;
must bring dogs and ponies,
while holding his nose,
if he aims to go far.

The masses ignore simple facts:
tyrants in clown-drag are merely
a prelude to subsequent acts.
The truth is, for years to come,
players bring down the house,
take the money, and run.

A Mountain of Evidence in the Gender Wars

The gender wars are a hot potato and I don’t tread into those waters lightly. But the other night I was inspired. So here it is feminists, may you tar and feather me for the latent misogyny that I unleash. Since I am a Western man it’s likely I’ve done something to deserve it. It’s what I was trained for, after all. So here I go.

Before I proceed, I think it’s fair to lay out exactly where I stand on the issues that demarcate the gender divide. First, I am a man, and therefore not a woman. Second, I am male, and therefore not a female. I know I could be either a woman or a female if I really wanted to, but I don’t; not that there would be anything wrong with it if I did. There are many days I really wish I didn’t have a penis, so I totally understand why a dude would want to rid himself of the crippling appendage. It’s like our tether to chaos, at times.

I think there’s a few things we can all agree about the differences between the sexes:

1. Males can’t have babies.

2. Females can’t have an erection, and don’t live in perpetual fear of getting kicked in the balls.

3. Men are socialized to be knuckle-dragging cretins who desire to conquer, dominate, and ultimately destroy everything on the planet, including the planet itself.

Other than that, until today I would have said those were the only definitive, universal differences between the sexes. Then, I went in the kitchen and saw this:

Men Can't Do thisThis is the pile of dishes my partner made today. ‘Pile of dishes’ doesn’t do justice to the masterpiece that is this, um, pile of dishes.

Okay, my partner is a woman, which I don’t object to. I happen to like women who are female, and the point of this blog post is to highlight something distinct about females who are women. Or, females who aren’t men. She’s a woman with a vagina. You figure it out.

She made that pile and I’ve never ever been able to produce anything like it. The other day I tried to match the feat, and broke a really nice gravy boat in the process, which wasn’t cool. Like making babies, gingerly stacking a pile of clean dishes is yet another thing men can’t do which makes us that much more stupid and depraved than women. We’re just a bunch of knuckleheads who need thirty square feet of counter space to lay out an evening meal’s worth of dishes so they’ll dry.

I have scientific proof. My mother, my ex-wife, my ex-mother-in law, and now my partner (the female woman) all have been able to erect mountains of dishes that spanned vertically into the stratosphere. When I do dishes I can’t do that, and I’ve never seen any man’s pile of dishes come anything close to what you see pictured here. Men tend to make Mongolian steppes of dishes, not Mount Everest.

My ex-father-in-law was mentally and physically incapable of doing dishes at all. He only ate from dishes and piled them in the sink on top of the other food-encrusted dishes. In reality, I think he probably did that to get under the skin of my hectoring ex-mother-in-law. It’s no wonder they are separated. You learn a lot about a couple from how they navigate the touchy subject of dishes. I knew they were doomed years before they split; my ex-father-in-law was completely whimsical with his dishes, quite frankly.

My grandfather put his dishes in the dishwasher and didn’t believe in piling them up – either dirty in the sink or clean in the dish-rack. But he was a great cook. Man, I miss his Fettucine Alfredo. He and my grandmother used to stand on either side of the dishwasher as they filled it up after a great feast. They were in the kitchen, dishing with each other until the day my grandfather died. He went to the grave after forty-eight years of marriage, having licked his plate totally clean when he left us.

The Hard Road

Life uproots, carries you away, and sets you down before a hard road. A loved one is diagnosed with cancer. A dear friend passes away, suddenly. Your children are diagnosed with an incurable disease. Your marriage fails. Your family is torn apart and gone forever. In a flash, the fragments of a life you’ve threaded into a contented whole comes undone.

A mural of the future you harbour in your mind’s eye slowly dissipates. Its radiant features start to fall from vision one by one, until you are left with a tattered canvass. Where once you envisioned vivid, bright vistas and dances with joy, there are wistful shades of grey and sullen days. You wonder, will the colours of my world ever again sprinkle my mind with images as brilliant, as sublime?

You wish something monumental could be done to reverse the course of events. You’re a shrewd fixer, fashioned a way through torments of the past. But life is indifferent to your measured response, your brave face. It’s too vast for pithy words; too big to tuck in a box. Too cumbersome to leave your heart untainted. You have no choice but to take what it gives and feel how it feels.

Here’s the grace: the ebbs and flows often carry blessings. But they are robbed of their might by ingratitude and blindness before they are dispersed to the recesses of our mind. We aren’t overtaken by bliss as readily as we are enveloped in sadness. Cling to your joy as ardently as you can, don’t allow it to subside. Consume it as if it were your last meal and lick the plate clean. If you don’t, when handed a bitter pill your joy never again tastes as sweet nor is as easy to find.

Yet, moments of bliss do not leave scars to remember them by. The weight of the world’s tragedies disembowels, striking when we are least prepared to fight, when we consigned the onslaught to our imagination. It arrives with the catastrophic force of an asteroid crashing to earth, leaving widespread ruin in its wake. The trauma of our misfortunes is their immensity, their cruelty and caprice; how easily they penetrate our defences against the assault.

It’s not so easy to move on, to believe the palpitations in your heart will subside over time, when you are left with a void as deep as the sea. They say to go on living we must allow our wounds to heal, to accept the scars they leave. It does no good to pick away at our scabs, to prolong the sting of suffering. But when life’s tragedies occur – when they fail to make sense – the urge to ask ‘Why?’ gets its pound of flesh. It’s a picking not easily ceased.

Having had to lick a lifetime of wounds, we hope wisdom overcomes the upheaval around the corner, when we find ourselves travelling down one of many hard roads. We hope it will consume less of us each time we confront what unfolds. That the moments of joy in between will shield us from the havoc unleashed by the storms we weather. Maybe next time, the pain will be less all-encompassing, even if the journey is wicked and seems without end.

The hope is life’s calamities don’t leave me too withered to suffer the next siege. I fear being emptied out entirely by the struggle, until there’s no man left to fight, no soul left to scar. I am propelled forward by the will to learn how supple the heart is, and where it breaks. For now, it is enough.