Love Play

It’s peace after war,
the clean up after
a storm,
new tallies on
the board,
forgetting how quiet
it all seemed before

When we’re here,
I don’t want to leave,
reaching for the same arms
that have both hugged
and hurt me

Fingers intertwined,
lips holding back lies,
passing the blame game
in the middle of our
love play

Cards out on the bed,
going neck-to-neck,
hands tied,
promises of this
is the last time

Our eyes meet
and our hearts bleed,
the stains of the past
on white sheets

Longing and loss,
a beautiful pain,
misfired shots in
a dangerous game,
right in the middle
of our love play

Love Medicine

I don’t know about you, but even being in love, sometimes I want to throw the whole man away and start over. Or be done altogether. If there’s a cure for love, I haven’t found it. Love has been called the “disease of the soul.” Disease ravages the body, deteriorates the mind, eats away at the flesh and cartilage, rots the brain, bones break, organs malfunction, and the heart fails. Sometimes disease is exactly the way I would explain how he makes me feel.

Nobody goes around talking about how afflicted by love they are, except for maybe me. He is an affliction. He causes me more distress than any other person I know. He’s lucky he’s worth all the pain and suffering I go through to love him.

And remember, I said afflicted, not inflicted. He doesn’t inflict pain on me; he’s not brutal. He is the pain. As an affliction, love becomes the dominating force on the body, mind (and soul) the way disease comes to dominate a person. I don’t think disease is supposed to be a metaphor for love, and if it is, it’s not a very good one. Humanity is the affliction, and disease is a metaphor for the way we treat one another. Five minutes on Twitter will convince you of this. Humanity is a cesspool and we’re all swimming in it. The fact that there are more and more books on how to treat people from other cultures and with different sexual orientations with respect is a case in point. We are failing the bare minimum.

TL;DR: The human race is diseased by hatred. 

What we really need is a little love medicine, a holistic approach to love, if you will, something that considers all the separate parts of having a loving interaction with another person. Love in this sense has a broad definition for how people are treated more generally. Disease, like people, need to be treated and handled with care, and preferably a lot of love. A big dose of it.  If humanity began in love, then it has regressed before fully relapsing, and the prognosis is utter ruin if something isn’t done about this soon.

I’m suggesting love medicine for everyone’s black soul. Medicine doesn’t always cure disease, but it does help to slow it down, alleviate pain, and send people into remission where the disease (hatred) is stalled, instead of progressing. Progress is always good, unless we’re talking about disease. Nobody wants to see a disease progress. 

Good health is taken for granted. Everyone, except for hypochondriacs and WebMD doctors, wait until they’re sick to get a check-up. Most people wait until a relationship is failing before trying to bother doing anything about it. Scheduled date nights don’t count as routine check-ups. Anyone who has spent some amount of time in the hospital for whatever reason knows about the discharge papers detailing a plan of care, or an ongoing treatment plan. These are for chronic conditions that continuously flare up and recur over and over again. 

Love and hatred are both chronic conditions, but very often are found to be comorbid. Either one or the other predominates. Not saying anything at all because you don’t have something nice to say is not showing love. It is demonstrating some superhuman level of self-control. Whatever is left unsaid sits in your heart and will tell you whether you’re afflicted by love or hatred. Hatred sits on you like a malignant tumor that needs to be excised immediately before causing any further brain damage.

Love isn’t a treatment plan. It needs one the way water needs to be treated and free from fluoride before we can drink it. There are certain ways to handle someone with love. Let me tell you that nothing drives my blood pressure up more than the love of my life. He doesn’t even have to say anything, just exist, and suddenly I need magnesium in an IV before I die. I find simply ignoring him works wonders for the both of us, otherwise I will get nothing productive done.

I’m a little wary of health nuts who eat a plant-based diet, drink organic juice, and pop vitamin supplements for dessert. I think they might be onto something, though. Ever since I started taking natural vitamins with Omega-3s (you can’t even taste the fish oil) and extra folate, I haven’t gotten sick again. It’s preventative care.

Preventative care is a little something like symptom-spotting in love. You’re not looking for the red flags dictating someone is just a shitty person in general. Don’t worry, it’s not always you. Anger issues usually carry over from one relationship to the next.

That’s not to say someone with anger issues can’t or shouldn’t be loved (maybe cautiously). Preventative care means spotting the symptoms that tell you there is something wrong with them, not you, and not the relationship overall. It means constantly taking a back seat to observe someone else in their own natural habitat as if you were a doctor.

I should probably put in a disclaimer for the fixer-uppers who chronically date people who are broken as some kind of self-interested project. These people are ticks. Avoid at all costs. Usually your issues obscure theirs, and fixing yours makes them feel better about themselves. It’s an illusion.

A relationship can last a long time on life support. Sometimes pulling the plug is best for everyone involved. I’m no guru or love doctor. If there was a prescription for love, I’m not sure what it would be. Xanax for the angry ones and Adderall for the lazy ones, maybe. Regardless, the question remains the same: do the benefits of the medicine outweigh the side effects? I personally find walking around all day angry and hateful brings me no joy at the end of the day. After a day spent in love, though, I sleep like a baby. Believe it or not, the former is actually easier. I can write three heartbreak poems with the same energy it takes me to write one love poem. When I look back at what I wrote, I am more pleased with the ones that are loving. 

A lot of companies have a “good faith clause” in contracts between two or more parties. It’s the legal equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath doctors take. A good faith clause means acting in the best interests of the other party, while the Hippocratic Oath is a doctor’s pledge to treat a patient to the best of their ability. Imagine if something like this existed between two regular people on the street. Sickness is not always visible. With the exception of physically violent relationships, verbal and emotional trauma, the stuff you can’t prove exists, does the most damage. There’s a lot of truth in the saying about what kindness can do to a stranger.

I’ve been in the serving industry for more than ten years, and most of the people who come in are strangers to me. One woman told me she was depressed and that being around me was giving her energy, “perking” her up. She undid months of mental anguish for me.

Over the years, I’ve hardened to the rude comments and customers I get. The fact that I’ve had to harden should tell you everything you need to know about people. The passive aggressive customers express their displeasure by tipping less. My favorites are the ones who complain about the food as if I’m the one behind the line cooking. The most egregious customers shout your name across the restaurant in faux familiarity or grab your arm when you’re walking past to get your attention.

These are wrong ways to treat people. You cannot touch someone any time you want, customer or not. 

Most doctors don’t hesitate to switch your medicine if the side effects are disrupting your daily life. If someone wants to leave a relationship because they’re unhappy, emotionally drained, or it’s otherwise past resuscitation, everyone waits for a better reason. Emotional wounds grow like cysts in a relationship that need to be surgically operated on. Even when they’re removed, the tissue stays scarred and damaged, not always in a place you can see.

If I had a dime for every time a boyfriend told me I was bringing up the past (red flag, FYI), I could retire right now. A holistic approach to love means taking these sorts of things into consideration when handling another person. A doctor reviews a patient’s medical history before offering a diagnosis and treatment. It doesn’t go ignored. No doctor has ever accused me of bringing up the past when I mention high blood pressure in my history. The fact of the matter is that people come with pre-existing conditions. Some people, like me, are more damaged than most.

Someone who never does the dishes or helps you clean is not a chronic condition. Your human is broken. You do not need a new one. If you ask your human to do the dishes and they refuse every time, you need a new one because now we’re talking about a power struggle. Someone who doesn’t take an interest in your well-being is a chronically deteriorating condition. Gaslighting is a chronic condition. Lying can be a chronic condition if he is opening credit lines without telling you. Laziness is not a chronic condition, unless your house is on the verge of being declared uninhabitable and condemned. Dressing like a hobo is not a chronic condition. Getting DUIs is a chronic condition. Getting drunk is not always a chronic condition. If he buys a dog and you didn’t want one, you’ll have to deal. Breaking down doors is a red flag. Going through your phone is a red flag. Throwing things is a red flag. Never listening is a red flag. Asking you what’s for dinner three times a day is obnoxious, not a red flag.  Boredom is not a chronic condition, no matter how much you hate sports. Compliments don’t cover bullet-holes. Cleaning the house is not a compromise for not coming home the night before. If he throws you outside naked and locks the doors, throw the whole human away, stat. Buying you flowers is always a waste of money, no matter how much you love it. They’re going to die. Both of you are wasting money together. Red flag. Gifts don’t prove the existence of love. Forever is a relative term. It is the long con. Diamonds have real market value. Throwing all his shit out when he messes up beyond the point of return will bring you all the satisfaction you imagine.

Again, I am no love guru. 

Love itself is not a cure. Love itself needs a cure, and in this sense, people become doctors (congratulations on the PhD in humanity) for someone else, monitoring their whole health on an ongoing basis. For people with chronic health conditions, especially major concerns like cancer, there is literature to educate the patient and the caregiver. Most of the pamphlets are dedicated to helping you learn how to support someone emotionally through their health, possibly an end-of-life, crisis. Nothing like this exists for love or even relationships in general. Broken bones might always heal, but they don’t always reset back to the same place twice. 

Love shouldn’t be in hospice before it gets attention.

Famous Last Words

Every now and then,
I wonder what it would
be like to see you again;
sometimes all I do
is think about you,
what you’ve been doing,
is anything new?

It’s been a while
since I’ve seen
your face light up,
I’m doing fine,
feeling a little stuck,
missing you more than
a summer night

When you’re on my mind,
the words stick to the
tip of my tongue,
it sounds so good
in my head,
but it always
comes out wrong

I never know what
to say;
famous last words:
I hope you’re
doing okay;
who knows that I won’t
run into again someday.

Mint Condition

We spent all summer
exchanging pennies for wishes,
until he imprinted on me
a new heart in mint condition,
the rhythm of every beat
falling together in sync,
pressed for time
and in no hurry to leave,
letting the freedom
of our minds change
at the drop of a dime
without a care,
collecting memories like coins,
priceless and rare.

3:17am

I see you in my dreams
and wake up to you
the way spring comes alive
after a winter freeze;
there’s no gravity in the room
and I find it hard to breathe,
suspended in time
between two places
in a familiar room
with unfamiliar sensations,
a voice in the dark
pulling me back to sleep,
still worlds apart,
convince myself in the morning
it was all a dream,
only to rediscover
you’re right next to me.

Ribbon

A ribbon tied around my finger,
a satin threaded reminder
that my hands have not
held all the things they could,
that my lips have not
said all the right words;
these hands have hurt
and these lips have lied,
and there’s a satin ribbon tied
around my finger to remind me
that last time I cried
because I broke a heart first.

The Lover

I cannot write when he is staring at me. He does this to me all the time. I have started and not finished two things now. That’s okay. I always figure something out.

I’ve got nothing.

I was writing about this lover business. You’d think being a lover would be the best place to be in the world, that sending nothing but love out into the universe is the easiest thing in the world to do. Who doesn’t want more love? Nothing could be further from the truth. Loving takes an ungodly amount of energy. Love is the only thing that is satisfying in and of itself; that’s why love, even when it’s not returned, is still fulfilling. Reciprocal love is best case scenario. 

If I could just forget him long enough, I could finish writing whatever this is going to turn out to be.

The lover, right. That’s me. I’ve been thinking about what kind of character this lover is supposed to be. Or who this lover has been. I suppose she’s gotten jealous. I’ve known about jealousy for a long time. Jealousy murders love. This is what I have known. I don’t get jealous often. It’s a hard emotion to describe, especially because jealousy can actually be a good thing, if it doesn’t take a hold of you and make you do stupid things that kill the love. Jealousy is when you really really don’t like something. Love is not possessive and jealousy makes possessiveness flare up. This is no good. Love cannot thrive under these conditions. I guess in some ways jealousy can make you feel like you’re inferior in some way, or it can feel like the other person, the beloved is superior in some way. This is how jealousy can be a good thing. 

I’m not really an expert on emotions. 

What I do know is that the beloved is not meant to become some sort of instrument for the lover to use as a means to an end. As a female, I know all about objectification. The lover is not acting towards an inert object. The beloved embodies a lived experience for the lover and the lover’s job is to find a way to fit inside of this lived experience, recognizing that their beloved is a fully formed and functioning human. The lover isn’t supposed to absorb their beloved’s experience like Kirby sucking everything in his path up. There are two worlds here, and the lover lives in their own world with experiences all their own.

The two of these worlds sort of melt together like crayons in a microwave. 

A lover, a person in love, can never be trusted to act sane. Nobody who has written about love has ignored the fact that love can and does sometimes border on madness. When the lover is completely consumed by the beloved, madness inevitably ensues. The lover is walking a finer line than the beloved. The beloved simply exists in the mind of the lover. The lover is the one who has to hold all these strings together without compromising the lived experience of another human or damaging the integrity of their own. It’s a very fine line. The other side of madness is when the beloved does not know they are a beloved, as is the case in the psycho-obsessed thriller You. That’s not how this works. The beloved should at least know they exist somewhere outside of their own plane of existence, that is, in my imagination. There might be a certain level of obsession, but I prefer single-minded focus.

That’s another emotion lovers can experience. She might be uncertain a lot because, well, this other person is living in my mind. That’s not saying anything about the voices which, I am told, are unique to my person. Not everyone hears the voices I do. It’s a feature, not a bug. These voices tell me to love him harder when I’m closest to letting go, and there’s this entire back and forth exchange I am fully aware I am having with myself. 

Until you get to the point where you are asking yourself why am I not letting go of you? Thus, a beloved is born, and you, the lover. External conditions matter very little, even though you’re very much aware of them. For example, I am poor. I have not a penny to my name. No dowry. No goats for sacrifice. Nothing to offer. This keeps the relationship symbiotic. The whole thing is a game of tug-o-war with yourself. Being a lover is a task, to say the least. Sometimes the beloved is not always cooperative. Sometimes they go off ruining the idealized version of them you’ve spent so much time and worked so hard to create.

Maybe the lover gets frustrated. The beloved will not just sit still and look pretty. They’re off living their own lived experience doing God knows what, and you’re holding all these strings together, while they’re busy cutting them away from you.

It’s not all kumbaya. There is never a point, though, where the lover feels like the beloved should be doing anything different. All is as it should be. Maybe it’s a little different when the beloved knows you’re the lover, and they know you’re off building worlds without them, but which they will inevitably become a part of because they have little to no choice.

Perhaps saying “no” would end things sooner. I haven’t heard that word yet, so the lover it is I remain. Nothing kills love faster than jealousy and hearing the word no. 

Mostly being the lover is exhausting because you are refashioning the image of your beloved in as many new ways as possible. It’s hard to say if it’s worth it because it just is. Love has no real clear objective. But a life without purpose has no meaning, and the beloved is there to supply that, the meaning. Everything I do is attached to my beloved in some way. I don’t walk around reminding myself I am the lover and this is what I must do. No. It is the beloved who takes up all of my mental space and energy. It’s second-nature at this point. I have learned how to live with this secondary presence anywhere I go, and the only time it’s really a problem is when I laugh too hard at only something the beloved would understand. People don’t like when you laugh hard without them. They don’t get it.

This happens at the grocery store a lot. A woman was picking out her Texas Toast garlic bread, and she dropped a whole bag of peas all over the floor. It’s not a “you had to be there” moment. It’s more like “you’d just have to be him to get it.” Frozen peas everywhere. Clean up in aisle three, please. 

The lover most certainly does all the work. The beloved just exists. Must be nice. Feelings like these crop up, but you beat them back. That is one place the energy goes. It goes to fighting against all of the bad, ugly things that creep up on you. Nobody has a day of thoughts filled with only rainbows and sunshines. You could though. If you had a beloved. He is blue skies and sunshine, all the time. Because that is how he exists. I made it that way. Love is creation. It is never destruction. 

That’s really not even the half of it. The other half would be where all of this mental work and strain turns into words on a page. It would be wrong to say my beloved is simply writing material, though, because he was good for something before there was ever any writing attached. Good for my mental health.

In conclusion, that is a lover. 

The Highest Shelf

He makes me happy
is such a simple thing to say,
people come and go,
but he’s been the one to stay
when the mask falls
and I’m still the same,
no closer to knowing
who I want to be
than I was yesterday

Getting to know someone
and seeing who they are
makes most people run,
but he’s never been far,
keeping the smile on
my face there,
leaving a broken heart
to itself,
in a jar on the highest
shelf, out of reach
for safe keeping,
and him the only
one understanding
it takes more
than time for healing.

The Beloved

My love life has always been a little unconventional, never more so than it is now. Traditionally, and in all the books on love I’ve read so far, the lover is male and the beloved is female. There’s absolutely no reason to make things more complicated than necessary. In this case, complicated is just the tip, for I, the female, am the lover, and my beloved is a man. I have found the one my heart loves, and he is my beloved because I love, love, love him.

That is my role as the lover: to love.

Love is always a threat to the status quo because lovers always want to build their own secret world nobody else is a part of, speak a language only the two of them know, and do things like swap pronouns when everyone else is happy to keep everything exactly the way it has been forever.

The beloved exists in the lover’s amorous imagination. Love implies a way of valuing someone. Unlike love, which needs to be learned how to do, valuing (or devaluing) someone else is universal among humans. Even the word “beloved” denotes more than a simple term of endearment. There is a value judgment inherent in calling him my beloved. It means he has a special place in my esteem. I regard him more highly than any other individual on the planet.

He is my beloved. He is in the perpetual state of being loved. By me. There is nothing he can do to stop me. I would have to choose to stop loving him, devalue him in some way so that he’s no longer seen as the beloved, or cast someone else in his role as my beloved.

That’s how this works.

The lover puts the beloved on a pedestal, not for worship, but as a way of fully concentrating the imagination on his suggestive being. The beloved becomes valuable through the lover. The lover attaches value to the beloved simply by committing herself to him. The amorous imagination is used to continuously affirm the value of the beloved apart from what the lover already knows to be true. 

Love is an attitude. Love is not merely a means of giving and receiving. Love is never practical and doesn’t have a clear objective. This is how love can come to border on madness. Desire doesn’t play a role in the bare-bones structure between a lover and beloved. Desire is wanting something for personal gratification. The lover attends to the beloved for who he is without the desire to make him any better he is, unless that is what he desires.

When love is an attitude, the amorous imagination steps in to downplay any negative thoughts about the beloved. My beloved is perfect, but this might not always be the situation. The lover might be aware that their beloved is not desirable to anyone else. The beloved is loved unconditionally. My beloved is also an Adonis, but this is not why or how he became my beloved. Whenever someone loves another person because of some reason or another, these become conditions for love. By adopting love as an attitude, love and the beloved are created. Love exists within the lover; it doesn’t come from an external source. The lover responds positively to the beloved, and in valuing him, makes him worthy of her love. This way of using the amorous imagination has been compared to alchemy. 

Without the imagination, it would be impossible for a lover like me to value the beloved as he is, my beloved. While he is real, he exists for me in another dimension just a little outside of reality. Stimulating the imagination is not the same as yielding to self-delusion.

If I’m perfectly honest, he’s pretty much my beloved because I’m obsessed with him.