Never The Man

Never The Man

if you don’t ask

you won’t get –

no one says no

if you don’t ask –

often what you get

you didn’t ask for

 

I felt

I was never the man

my father expected me to be

I was never the man

I saw on TV

in movies

I would never be up to scratch

I would always be less than

all those guys who were real men

 

I would never be a real man

with sweaty rough-and-tumble garb

of that sort of pride

would never be mine

even if I wore that garb

it would a costume

a disguise

to hide my heart

 

the man I was 

was someone 

who strove not to be defined

contained by definition

so I lost

the comfort of the acceptable

an acceptability

I never asked for

 

I felt was was never the man

my father wanted me to be

not that he wanted me to be like him

but to be the man he wanted to be

 

I was never asked

if his expectation a good fit for you

I wasn’t aware

that I could say no

or that once I started to choose

the definitions 

that I hoped would suit me

that I’d have to constantly be adjusting

to make the shoulders fit

to make the pants crease properly

but by losing the comfort of the acceptable

I found the ease of being me

 

This starts with with a variation on the internet meme – if you don’t ask the answer is always no – an exhortation to less fearful in making our hopes clearer. What troubles me about this is that it is too easy to ask for what we think our culture wants us to ask for – things that supposedly make it comfortable for everyone – or at least more comfortable for the majority.

 

I grew up with the cultural narrative of what boys are & what they want to be is men – not ‘want,’ because ‘want’ has a sense of freedom of choice. The dominating narrative is too narrow to allow for choice. Even as laws changes, morals change, the majority is so uncomfortable with changes they feel attacked not enlightened.

The man my father expected me to be was not his fault – he fought a war that defined his masculinity in a culture that equated masculinity with physical prowess. You faced violence with violence – bullies were bested & defeated. As a kid I never questioned that equation but never could face violence with violence, hence I would never be a real man. I probably hated myself more for being a ‘coward’ than for any other reason.

So growing up has been a process of recognizing, questioning and putting those heteronormative notions of masculinity in perspective – the constant adjusting of shoulders. Not something I asked for but something I couldn’t refuse to deal with either. Today I have the ease of being me, most of the time. But I know enough ‘real’ men to know even they don’t have as much ease as I do.

 

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Simplicity

Simplicity

I can’t remember

the last time I owned

just one of anything

such simplicity 

was never allowed me

 

I try as best I can

to possess less

to be less owned by what I own

when something new comes in

something old must leave

by leave I mean

must be gone

not merely stored away

but donated shared given away

thrown away

reduced slowly

 

but becoming less attached to things

isn’t the way of this world

even though we’re told

things don’t matter

we get judged

by things we acquire

told that if the house burns 

be grateful to be alive

you can’t take it with you

but

you might as well enjoy it while you can

We live in a wasteful culture in which to say you have enough is admitting defeat. Not to want more means one is settling for less than they deserve. This constant seeking is so subtly supported one often doesn’t know where the messages are coming from.

 

Watch any TV show & notice how often the same outfit is worn? In some shows the leads never wear the same clothing from episode to episode. Yet we rarely see the characters shopping for clothes. I recently saw a headline to the effect that so-and-so big-name-star was seen wearing the same outfit they had on last week. Clearly someone’s career is down the tubes.

One of the things that runs through the 227 Rules is a strong anti-capitalistic stance. The perfection of a spiritual path lies in not allowing things to control one but allowing for the need for things i.e. the robe. The push isn’t to transcend but to limit how things constrain us. Sounds easy in theory but in practice it isn’t so easy.

If it weren’t for these 227 prompts some of these thoughts would probably enter my head. I am, like most people, numbed by the constant urging for more to even notice the constant urging for more. Worse yet numb to the consequences, to the fear of being judged, left behind, in the wake of those spending their way to identity & satisfaction. My consumerism is controlled by my finances. I can’t pretend that when I win Lotto Max I won’t indulge in some mindless, foolish, spending. Sometimes Daddy likes a new pair of shoes.

 

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Serenity

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas. This is where I ended up with 16. Not to carry wool along with oneself for more than three walking days.

Serenity

I couldn’t think clear

for days

that seemed like weeks

weak with those thoughts

sorting resorting

each thought clouding things

even more

even more

each thought building on the last

another tangent

another possibility

murkier than the last

yet refusing to quiet

without the noise

it was if life would end

the lost was proof of direction

the confusion was proof of intelligence

the stupid are never lost in thought

the complicated are the bright spots

glimmering in the dense mist

of one idea   one notion   one misstep

after the other

clarity was for the simple minded

the intellectually challenged

 

it wasn’t easy

to remain so invested in this

sorting and resorting

but without it there would be

no one here

just a blank stare of serenity

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Confirmation

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. This is the first of the 2 aniyatas: Not to be found alone with a woman in a remote place that can arise suspicions about a sexual intercourse.

Confirmation

kissing her

was unexpected

she had told me

my bed had appeared in her dreams

 

I was pretending

to be interest in women

claiming a bisexuality

to allow for a safe passage through life

at a time

when that was necessary

 

there were enough suspicions

about my sexuality already

launched in grade school

carried into high school

suppressed by fear

then by the bottle

 

intercourse with a woman

was bandied about like a flag

a boy scout badge

to announce

hey I’m a normal guy

I like chicks

 

but that sex was a remote possibility

until she had that dream

she made it come true

for herself

no one knew

no one suspected a thing

except for me

who finally knew

intercourse with a woman

was possible

but not a place I wanted

to return to

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Taste Test

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. This is the last of the 13 saṃghādisesas: 13 Not to spoil the confidence and the consideration that the people have for the dhamma.

Taste Test 

It was a mistake

to look at his music collection

I just prayed

that none of it would be used

as background music

tastes I don’t share

don’t care to share

his love of musicians

of songwriters

I don’t take seriously

safe banal tepid stuff

so middle-of-the-road

I’d want to hit the next telephone pole

rather than listen to it

 

his taste in music

came as a bit of a surprise

as we were compatible

in so many other ways

he asked me

was there something I’d like to hear

this is his favourite

am I familiar with it

and I said yes but let’s not bother

we don’t need distractions

which he agreed was a wise choice

 

I didn’t offer any opinion

didn’t denigrate his taste

or rather the lack there of

I wasn’t there for music appreciation

I didn’t intend to let anything

disturb

distract

from the momentum of the opportunity

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Sacred Site

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Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks

6 Not to build a housing exceeding 2.70 metres by 1.60 metres (2.95 yards by 1.74 yards), without the agreement of the saṃghaa, and doing harm to living beings, or not providing enough space to turn around it.

samghaa=community

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Sacred Site

this sacred site

is in our way

it isn’t sacred to us

your infantile regressive

belief system

will not stand in the way

of our profit line

a profit line that doesn’t respect

the land you’ve drawn your line in

do protest

the publicity is good for us

for those who won’t put up

with your emotional blackmail

your sacred temple has served it purpose

we will obliterate

your temples churches mosques library

loot the museums

sell your sacred relics

to the highest bidder

they only have monetary value

as worthless receptacles

of superstitious weakness

all these walls will coming tumbling down

the bigger the more dust

nothing lasts

so why preserve these frail mementos

make way for money

for might

faith needs no vessel

your heart is sacred

for as long as it beats

then you too become a worthless vessel

to be ground to dust

16-fire-02

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Chalk It Up To Experience

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. This is another of  The 13 saṃghādisesas. I’ll probably be including a version of this one in my March feature – https://www.facebook.com/events/149545348875710/

26drawersorange07

*3 Not to have an ill-mannered conversation with a woman.

Chalk It Up To Experience

‘don’t use that tone of voice

young man’

grade seven

the visiting maths teacher

the one the guys in the class

called blubber boobs

‘oh oh blubber boobs this afternoon

hope she can see my homework

over those blubber boobs of hers’

 

she came to our school three times a week

Miss Dunlop

we also had a Mrs. DeMoine

who came twice a week

to teach us French

we called her Madam to her face

and Mizdam behind her back

Miss Dunlop was another story

with her small waist

and gigantic breasts

 

she was berating me

I hadn’t written my homework

in the strict form she required

I can’t remember my reply

nor can I recall my tone of voice

perhaps I had slipped into

that school yard sexual intonation

we used when talking about her

erasing the blackboard with her boobs

there’s chalk on them there hills

 

I stood silent before her

after she ordered me

not to use that tone of voice

I couldn’t even apologize

not knowing how to control

how I sounded

I did know it was pointless

to ague with her

like my mother

winning wouldn’t get me anywhere

all I’d prove

was that I was a smart mouth

not that I was smart

 

Miss Dunlop taught me well

it’s better to be thought stupid

than it is to prove a pointless point

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The Beginning of Wisdom

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks

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This is the last of the 4 pārājikas

The Beginning of Wisdom

silence

is the beginning of wisdom

silence

often passes for depth

so iI’ve learned

to keep my big mouth shut

not even speaking

when spoken to

delaying the opportunity

to opine

to give others the chance

to say enough to hang themselves

I’m well hung enough now

so there’s no need

to show that off by hanging myself

by having you

hang on to my every word

what gets imparted by my silence

isn’t my problem

it’s a real silence

it claims to be no more than that

it echoes your expectations

not my implications

if I have nothing to say

I do just that

if I have something to say

I keep it to myself

I’m not thoughtless

just thoughtful

not going to take up your time

so you have more to use

to display the breadth & depth

of your profound expansive realizations

I am wise enough to admit

that

I am merely saucer

to your bottomless well of endless wisdom

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