Christmas Fantasy

Tie me with a bow
and have me as a gift,
say you'll put me
at the top 
of your Christmas list

Pull my string
until they
come undone,
unwrap me
with your hands,
spend the night 
with me
by the fire,
so this Christmas
I won't be alone

Dance with me
in a snow globe,
stay warm with me
inside,
spinning in circles
while it snows,
your hands in mine

Hold me tight 
like a teddy bear
without thinking 
of letting go,
don't wait until midnight
to kiss me 
under the mistletoe

So tie me with a bow,
and have me as a gift,
kiss me by the tree,
close your eyes 
and make a wish
to have a 
Christmas fantasy

Funny Thing

You used to laugh at all my jokes,
kiss me on my nose,
say you never wanted nothing more,
looked at me and said I'm all you'd ever need;
you got down on one knee,
and I couldn't breathe,
I didn't quite know what to say;
by then it was too late,
you sealed me with a new fate,
before walking away and changing your mind on me;
something strange happened, we lost all the magic
when you pulled the rug out from beneath my feet

Left me standing in a white dress
like you couldn't care less
that you said I'm the girl from your dreams,
so I guess love is just another funny thing

Stared at you with stars in my eyes,
showed you my scars when I cried,
shared all the things I wanted to hide;
never attached any strings, gave you everything,
while you took what's left of me,
so I guess love is just another funny thing

Now I fall to pieces whenever you're near,
kicked me out like a stray cat that doesn't belong here,
and maybe I deserved that,
but I never asked you for anything,
didn't want your diamond in my ring,
so I guess love is just another funny thing.

Love Speaks

Love's language
unfolds in pulsating stages
wrapped in frantic heartbeats,
in lips locked tight
and downward eyes,
this is how
love speaks


Love's language
comes in silent phrases
and blushes across the cheek,
in smiles candid
and sideways glances,
this is how
love speaks


Love's language
arrives confused and dazed
and voices whispering sweet,
in words unsaid
and words undressed,
this is how
love speaks


Love's language 
turns with the moon's phases,
and promises secrets to keep,
during quiet spells
and through untimely Hells,
this is how
love speaks


Love's language
passes through years without changes
and stays its course through weeks,
in mouths unsatisfied
by their own sighs,
this is how
love speaks.

Frozen

We were driving
through Connecticut,
snow was falling down,
headed to our cabin
to get away from
this town

We were laughing 
in the car
over something you said,
sang our favorite songs
as you slipped a hand
on my leg

Winter always comes
with memories
and a chill,
the ache in my bones 
telling me how much
I love you still

Two figures skating
across the ice
in my mind,
a picture of us
frozen in time

We pulled in 
through the trees,
opened the door,
you read me poems
by the fire
in that voice 
I adore

We talked 
most of the night
about nothing at all,
fell asleep by your side,
and you carried me 
down the hall

Winter always comes 
with memories
and a chill,
the ache in my bones
telling me how much
I miss you still

Two figures skating,
until we fell 
through the ice,
a picture of you
still frozen 
in my mind

Dressed all in black,
I drive there alone,
see it all playing back,
smell the scent of
your cologne

The logs you cut
are still stacked
by the door,
the book we read
laying open on the floor

Winter always comes
with memories 
and a chill,
the ache in my bone
telling me how much
I love him,
how much I always will.

The Religion of Love

Religion is a loaded word. It is never a topic suitable for polite dinner conversation. When anyone does bring up the subject, everyone always has a strong reaction: either they believe in something, or they don’t. There is no right answer. At the foundation of any religion is faith, a belief in things unseen. Religion belongs to the realm of ideas where love is also found. Love, like religion, is a loaded word requiring faith to pronounce its existence. To do otherwise is to take love for granted. Love is the greatest intangible of all time. It can’t be measured, and when it is separated from feelings, nobody can agree on what love is, while simultaneously agreeing it’s an amazing, and even necessary aspect of life. Love tries our patience, and tests our faith. It changes our perception of the world.

Humans bear witness to love. The phenomenon of love is a centerfold in every culture and across human civilization. The appetite one has for love is influenced by a variety of factors, including religion, but it has been manifested over and over again throughout history, portrayed in literature, and it has been the subject of poetry. We are inextricably drawn to love as a deeply meaningful experience the way certain kinds of music pulls us in without ever truly knowing why. All kinds of moods color the word love from violent fits of passion and jealousy to entrancing states of euphoria and ecstasy. It drives strong women mad and spurs men to war. Crusades have been enacted in the name of love; it is a cause in and of itself, described as a battlefield and arena. Love is many things at once.

Love also has the ability to transform and change the way we see ourselves. Eat, Pray, Love combines these themes of love and spiritual transformation together in a memoir. Progress is hailed as a hallmark of our humanity, and humans are obsessed with attaining perfection being so inherently unhappy. Love alters perception and the world is seen anew. The promise of self-improvement becomes addictive and a way of life. Poetry offers models of love, while mythology and religion offer deities for worship. Love is expressed in poetry as a ruling emotion: “…there reigns Love and all Love’s loving parts” in Shakespeare’s sonnet 31, and “Love, that liveth and reigneth in my thought” in “Complaint of a Lover Rebuked” by Henry Howard. Love takes the place of a god in religion and is used to explain how someone could act the way they do in love. 

Falling in love becomes a practice in idolatry. Nothing else comes first when new love begins. It is the only thing on your mind keeping you awake at night. We kneel in worship at the altar of love, believing there is nothing better in life. Falling in love represents the culmination of human experience, ending in an eternity, or nothing at all. Dying in the name of love is used as a mode of expression to convey the depth of feeling. The idea of death is preferable to the thought of losing the one person we love the most. Love is fragile and we do everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t break. Nobody wants to stop falling in love, though very little is done to prolong the honeymoon phase that marks the beginning of a relationship.

Love takes faith, undivided attention, and commitment the way following a religion does. There are certain beliefs, practices, and rituals that keep love in a never-ending, flowing state. It is a source of life that stays in motion. True love is never inert; it is constant. Love is exhausting because it takes an unconscionable amount of energy to sustain. The process of love is similar to the way faith is described as being tested. It never only happens once. Faith is tested repeatedly. When grounded in anger, religion transforms into rabble-rousing, an energy that is only sustainable by the sheer number of followers. Love is a religion for one; it offers a land to inhabit when there is not a refuge anywhere else. This is how the poetry of love is inspired in solitude. It is created out of the same matter which maintains religion. It is a relationship, not love, that takes two, though love cannot exist without an object. Love without an object is the desire for possession. The expression “money makes the world go round” first started out with the idea of love. It is the insane desire to possess money, or something else, which tears people apart, with or without remorse. Love exists for its own sake whereas money is used as a means to achieve an end with other objects in mind. Love, above all things, is not made; it is created.

If love can be compared to a flame, then it requires kindling and stoking to keep it burning the way going to church reinforces faith, or attending a recovery program reinforces sobriety. In all cases, there are things that inevitably cause us to lose faith or stop going. The premature death of a loved one can cause someone to stop going to church as much as it can cause the next person to start going. In the same way, honoring the death of a loved one by staying in recovery can cause the next person to relapse. Love is born out of paradox, while faith is found somewhere in between yes and no. 

The principle of eternity plays a role in religion with aspects of reincarnation included. Love can be thought of as eternal in that it is reincarnated time and time again. Though details change, the underlying structure is the same. The permanent couple, bound by love, is rare, even and especially in the animal kingdom. Humans fall in an altogether different category. Monogamy is institutionalized whereas love is a free-floating concept bound by very little to hold it back as a force of nature. For once, love makes a departure from religion, another institution, and evokes godlessness, nonetheless still requiring faith. Love can only be eternal if it does not strictly belong to two people, whether an eternity represents a lifetime, or continues on afterward. If the sole aim of life is the continuation of life, then love plays no role at all in human affairs, and the meaning of human experience is reduced to sexual reproduction. On the other hand, love is simply reproduced, seemingly for no reason at all, except to prove that it exists at all.

There is no institution of love making it nearly impossible to believe love is something other than a force of nature left, for the most part, unharnessed. That love is a force of nature can be seen in the way people act with reckless abandon when in love. We are more inhibited to talk about love than we are to act, and to live is to act, even if the choice is to do nothing at all. To live a life of love is to walk a life in faith. Believing in love takes as much strength of will as it does to believe in a higher power, whether there was a Big Bang or divine creation. Love only holds us more accountable; religion, at least, offers the possibility of salvation and forgiveness. There is a lot about love that will always be unknowable, but it’s this nature of love that keeps its song alive long after we’re gone. 

I Know This Part

It's been a long
time coming,
and we're finally
here, looking at
the last pages
coming undone,
watching memories
of us replay
like old TV show
reruns

The bed is unmade,
there's coffee 
left to drink,
trying like hell
to get through the day
without stopping
to think

It never mattered
who you are,
only matters who I am,
swore I loved them all,
but nobody hits
the way you can

Never believed
you'd be the same,
but I forget 
who they are,
and still remember
your name,
the first time
I said it,
the air turned
to magic,
like kids again
the way that 
it happened

And I don't know why
the tears won't come
when I finally
have a reason
to cry; I guess
it's because I
know this part
the best, 
how to leave
when it's time
for goodbye

So I'm still
rolling with the punches,
turning black and blue;
if goodbye is goodbye,
why can't I walk away
from you?

On Love

Everyone wants to know what is meant by the word love. Curiosity is a part of human nature. It is an insatiable urge buried deep within the very marrow of our bones. Nobody is born knowing how to love. Most people discover their own definition of love by first learning what it is not. Curiosity about love usually comes from a place of lack and is taken for granted the most where it exists in abundance.

The risk involved with knowing what is love and what it is to love is to understand when what you are receiving is not love. To love is a choice and not an easy one to make. Too much attention is given on how to be loved. It is attached as a caveat after “how to love” each time. Self-interest doesn’t play a role in love. Love is selfless; love is other-oriented. Thought of as a gift, love is an act of kindness, intentional, not random.

Contemporary conversations about love use the word to mean “don’t judge.” Self-love is becoming more about embracing flaws and shortcomings, instead of encouraging growth. Coupled with self-care, ideas about love keep the emphasis on the self with dreaded phrases like “me” time cropping up.

The subject of love cannot be continued without first understanding what is meant when that word is used. Love has become entangled in so many other contradictory notions, it now lives on the fringes of collective consciousness in esoteric obscurity, in danger of being lost forever if not revived, and in some cases, revised.

The word love has been displaced by seemingly near synonyms that fail to capture the essence and nature of love: happiness, contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction. Love is treated as a commodity, a means to an end. Love, like medicine, is a practice, as much religion as it is philosophy, and in rare cases, an absolute miracle.

The truth is that love is a delicate subject. The word itself has lost its vigor and potency the way it is used so casually and so carelessly. When love is brought up, it’s attached to relationships, marriage, sex, or politics. For some reason, love always comes with strings attached.

Examining love in isolation, detached from context, and cutting those strings, which have so far held together a working definition of love, is what makes the subject so incredibly complicated, yet still worthy of contemplation. Maybe even more so.

Love, if mentioned at all, is talked about in whispers and conveyed through hushed tones reserved for church corridors. It is borderline taboo, another forbidding aspect which makes the subject endlessly fascinating. It is no wonder, then, that love is found in proximity beside destructiveness. The desire to love and the desire to destroy are equally strong in human nature. Taboos imply silence, and if not broken, compliance. To bring up the subject of love is to destroy the barriers of silence surrounding it, to transgress against the taboo, while others still remain inhibited by how to talk about love.

Love is growth, it never destroys. Hatred is fueled by anger; love is fueled by desire: a desire to love without expectation of receiving anything back. Love, like religion, is best when not forced on anyone. The message of religion should never be conversion. Love exists as an intangible structure, an invisible framework for living. Love is also life. It is the opposite of death and decay.

This is a departure from the idea that humanity’s deepest desire is to love and be loved in return. There is never a guarantee you’ll be loved, or even liked, no matter what you do, even if you conform in the strictest sense of the word. Love as a mindset promises renewed satisfaction, not a permanent state. It must be reached over and over again.

Love is not only about the capacity, the will and desire to love, but also the ability to express that love as a need, meaning more than to gain a sense of belonging, and then to do whatever it takes to continue satisfying that need. Love this deep touches closely with fanaticism and cultivating a life of love is tantamount to obsession, addiction. It is love detached from feeling, as a mindset and a way of life singularly-focused on a continuously renewing process, an end in and of itself.

It is love for love’s sake.

Written

Waking up
to a forgotten
dream, the words
slipping away,
fighting to remember
what she has seen,
what she always
wanted to say

A whisper 
meant to be
heard,
his mouth over hers,
breathing in each other
until it hurt

Needing space
to breathe,
and letting him go,
watching him leave,
then reopening the 
door

He went too fast,
she slowed down;
he hit the brakes,
she turned them around

History was written,
never meant for the
page, he always listened,
she never looked away;
an invisible story 
in the margins 
and left over
white space.

Love in Silence

We did not love
loudly at first,
chance having conspired
against us
and handing out
parts we did not
rehearse,
settling into
the silence
next to each other
on a park bench
with casual
indifference

Grateful
for a hiatus
and the sound
of cicadas
in the trees
to break up
the stillness
resting between
you and me
while we were
slowly swept away
in small degrees
by the simplicity
of it all,
four-word sentences
carrying us into
the Fall

We grew 
from out of
this silence,
creating for ourselves
an oasis different
from anything else,
having not loved
loudly at first,
but starting
at the end,
and working
our way
backwards,
until even the cicadas
couldn't be heard
over the joy
in our laughter.