Saturday, December 17, 2011

Far From It

Every morning I tie
a capelet of sorrow
around my neck,
letting the velvet
plush, as dense as
a cattail’s, weigh down
my shoulders,
my glance~~
even now,
when Grandmother fluffs
her feather bed,
and the ground hugs
a comforter of white.

I measure time in bowls
of tea,
like Goldilocks testing
her tongue:
Too Hot!  Too Cold!

And each night
I fold paper cranes
into my sleeves,
bright and jagged
as the sorrel
and frisée,
still green
in the snow.

Designed to fail

And so I befriended a little boy
and he trusted me and I him.
We’d tell each other stories
from our day;
mostly true,
some pretend.
He told me of the backyard,
the dirt world,
the little berms of daisies
and snail swirled ponds.
And I gave him my wisdom
of the grown-ups:
how we think that they’ll
never lie or let us down,
but inevitably they do;
they’re designed to.
And in that moment
of disappointment,
we bow to them,
and acknowledge
their broken muddiness,
as also our own.

Later, I heard that his family
was moving away.
I didn’t know where.
I stood on their vacant lawn,
trying to remember my number
to leave for him on a receipt,
a cookie fortune in my pocket,
a cracked toy tractor plastic piece.
It began to snow and I still could not
write the number where I could be
reached in case of emergency.
Even if I did remember,
wouldn’t it get left behind,
somehow, only to become
a scooting gutter canoe
in the thaw.

 Oh how, oh how
I didn’t want to let go
the sticky frog summer
of his smile
when he saw me.
 Oh how, oh now
to know
a phone line would never come
close enough
to save me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Never Trust a Sailor on Dry Land

The Addict and Me, Part IV
Never Trust a Sailor on Dry Land

Back to the romance, as it were.

We arrived in town.  I was smitten.  S. stood in the blazing sunlight outside the bus station in his suit jacket and jeans, a cigarette dangling, backpack slung to one side, joking with his mom on his cell, smoky blue shades over his brown eyes, just the right combination of urbane and offbeat.
Mom held court at a local coffee house and we went to meet her there.
She got up from her table that held a small pile of Smithsonian’s and newspapers and other journals.  She took off her reading glasses and gave me a warm hug.  I liked her immediately.  Mom was lively and chatty and I watched as S. brought his energy up to match hers.  But she was a mountain stream in spring, a freight on the open rails; she kept rolling.  S. began to flail his hands in agitation as he tried vainly to interject.  I instinctively reached my hands across the table to hold his, to calm him.  His mother had about a hundred suggestions on what we should do.  I hadn’t eaten anything but a scrap of a donut for about six or seven hours and was famished.  This brought approbation from her.  What was S. doing?  Here his guest was about to faint from hunger.  Mom described a few places nearby and their menus, at least what she would order.  There was a nice deli down the street.  The ice cream parlor on the corner also had sandwiches and soup, perhaps.  Didn’t they have soup?  Would I like some soup?  We could also go to her place in the foothills and have fresh Colorado peaches and ice cream.  S. and I finally decided to go to the deli.

At the deli I ordered an Eggplant Parmesan sandwich and S. got a Rueben.  We sat on a bench outside as I inhaled my sandwich and S. called his sister.  She had just recently had a baby, her first, the first grandchild for both families, and they were all getting together at a restaurant for dinner.  S. was too nervous to eat his sandwich.  I didn’t know it at the time, but he was nervous about my meeting the baby.  He thought that since I didn’t want children of my own that I hated them.  It wasn’t true.  In party situations, pets and babies are practically safety nets for the socially awkward.  At the restaurant, I politely said hello to everyone and then got down to cooing over the baby.  She didn’t or wouldn’t judge me or ask me any embarrassing questions.  I could just smile and hold her little fingers while the grown-ups talked.  Since we had just eaten, we didn’t stay for dinner and as quick as we were in, we were out. All was well in my eyes.  I was entering S.’s world and I wanted to know everything about him.  There was so much I didn’t know, so much which would take a long time to understand.

S. and I had planned to go hiking in the Rockies the next day, so we had to make a grocery run to get gorp and such.  I love grocery stores, especially in new places.  I find fruit and vegetable displays mesmerizing, even if I’m not buying any.  Here was a large bin of peaches for less than a dollar a pound! The butter had a picture of an elk on it!  I needed some coffee and yogurt and granola for breakfast. We picked up some gorp, but I also wanted chèvre and crackers. We needed to buy a knife if we were going to get cheese.  I had promised to call in to a friend back home who was worried about me flying off to see some guy I had met on the internet.  So, while S. was off hunting for a small paring knife, I called my friend and told him everything was fine, S. was just off looking for a knife, ha-ha-ha. 

In my mind, everything was fine.  I was having a good time.  But as I started to look at dried fruits and nuts, I could see that S. was getting fidgety.  “I just can’t stand fluorescent lights for too long.” he said.  OK, we could go.  He apologized again in the parking lot, “I needed to get out of there; it was taking too long.”  As we drove back to his place, I wanted to put my hand on his thigh, his knee, something; but I felt a wall had gone up.  He was silent. 

He had a small room in a house with space enough for a desk and a bed.  We put groceries away and climbed on the bed to watch a movie.  There we were, inches apart on top of the covers, but those inches felt like a wide gulf.  I saw his eyes start to flutter shut and I thought, “Now!  I could just lean over now and quickly kiss him.”  But he soon opened his eyes and kept stiffly far away.  I didn’t dare breach this gap between us.  He looked almost fearful.  When the movie ended, I left to go to my motel room and sleep.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Posh Puja

Darjeeling Train Tracks in the Himalayas

Come by train, my love,
Your heart straining
through the rusting heat of Delhi,
From the dust rise up
And come
To a lake in Kashmir,
Beneath the Himalayas~~
I’ll be waiting.

Follow my voice,
Whispering your name,
Soft as pashmina,
Through supple fields of semolina.
And we’ll embark,
Shikara together~~
Your feather cockaded,
My pale orchid veil,
In the green-grey rippling
Silk moiré waters,
We’ll shyly eye each other’s reflection.

There we’ll filigree sigh,
the air, crushed pearls between us;
The rosewater sky will deepen to dusk.
A single gold thread of light will bind us.
I’ll touch your feet with mine,
Your hands, I’ll clasp.
Under the red canopy,
Sheltered together,
The heavens will shower us with flowers
At last.

A Shikara docked on Dal Lake, Kashmir

Monday, December 5, 2011

Your Name

I want to hold your name
As a book I keep reading—
Hands aching into the night.
I want to pin it in my hair
A bright shining jewel—
Wear it round my wrist
A jangling charm.
Let it follow me adoringly
Then lead me like hounds,
Ebullient and braying,
Into the woods
Where frozen I crouch,
Your name
Like a secret
In my mouth.

May 2007

Love the Fearless Artist in You

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Are you rocks or roots, now.
Clumps of dirt from heaven
Drum down and drown the yellow pine.
Black thorns and shriveled hips
Bristle under the grey skies.

A box of chocolates,
A heart held
In sweaty palms,
Slubbed red ribbons tied thick,
A handprint left
A slight shudder
On lily silked flanks,
Lupines and Anise Hyssop kisses
Uprooted and crumbled,
Drawn from the elk-flecked meadow,
New & sweet, spotted like a fawn,
Sleeping soft shallow breaths,
A whispered promise to the crook of a tree,
No names carved,
Only an impulse

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Shelf

The Row of Spotted Dog Guardians
The Soulful One       

OK, kitty-cats, here are some pictures of my book shelf.  I live in a very small house (600 sq. feet) and had to lose a lot of books to make the move. This used to be a very small closet, but ex-boyfriend converted it into a built-in bookshelf on this side and a walk-in bedroom closet on the other.

I had to include close-ups of my little Japanese friends.  I was hanging out with some people who were avid collectors of vintage stuff.   I decided that I would limit myself to one specific thing.  I bought my first pair of Japanese Spotted Dog Salt and Pepper shakers at an antique place on Clark Street in Chicago.  They are not terribly rare, or expensive, or collectible, but they make me happy.

Hmm.  Bookshelf notes:  I didn't want to post these because I seem to have such a hodge-podge of things.  Some pairings make me laugh.  "The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair" rests on top of Edward Gorey's "The Doubtful Guest."  "The Immoralist" is atop "The Ethical Slut" which is above "The Heritage of Russian Verse."  (Oh, dear.  I considered polyamory for a minute, once, but it didn't work out.  I can't even manage monamory.)  I've got lots of short stories and poetry.  Much Rilke, of course.  And unfiled cds here and there.  A Zeppelin boot below Billie Holiday and Aaron Copland.  Rostropovich. Yup.  Ooh, there's some Rory Gallagher.  I might listen to that right now.  "This is the Empire State Express . . . "  Yes. 
"The Golden Notebook" I "borrowed" from a housemate twenty years ago and have never finished.
The Barthelme I had forgotten about until I read a poem that reminded me of "The Falling Dog" and I had to pull it out to re-read:  "Yes, a dog jumped on me out of a high window.  I think it was the third floor, or the fourth floor.  Or the third floor.  Well, it knocked me down. . . ."
Anais Nin's "Delta of Venus" is rightly beside Meridel Le Sueur's "Ripening."  Sylvia Plath has the ignominy of resting next to three books on Dachshunds while a vintage postcard of deer in the northwoods falls out of its frame.
A Christmas cactus grafted from my mother's pokes into the frame of the bottom shelves which house photo albums, some music books (Italian Arias?), and hidden behind an oversized book of children's stories is a lovely picture book entitled "The Female Portrait in Russian Art" which leans on Helmut Newton's "Sleepless Nights."
Well, I guess that about sums it up. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Next Right Thing

My neighbor came over to give me tomatoes
and some basil sprigs from his garden.
He seemed agitated as we stood in my yard.
He petted my little dog Bela as I held him
and then he touched my arm
as he said goodbye:
“I have to go make dinner.”
I have to go make dinner for my girlfriend,
for my loving partner
that you don’t have
and in our nice cedar-sided house
with our friends who come over
for barbeques and beer on weekends,
unless we’re camping,
are we camping this weekend or next,
maybe next.  Can you look in on Lola Kitty?

He petted my arm.
It has been so long since someone has touched me,
caressed me.
I went into the house and cried.
I’m trying so hard to do the right thing.
The post-it asks:
What is the most compassionate thing
you can do for yourself right now?
I consider a beer and the couch,
and crying it out,
but I do core exercises and yoga,
followed by a half hour’s meditation outside:
blanket down, blank me on the green green green.

Back inside I check some poems online.
There’s a post on Hemingway at Key West,
and I recall my trip there
with boyfriend long gone,
arriving at the grenadine sunrise
with the roosters and the cats
and being swallowed by something in that house
some feeling came over me under the draping crystal
chandelier, as my hands passed over the field guides
that lined the shelves going up the white washed stairs,

and then to Cozumel
where I was horrible:  anxious and bitchy.
I just wanted a decent cup of coffee
I just wanted everything to be perfect.
I didn’t know.
I didn’t know how to live.
I want to make amends.
I apologize to the air,
poor boyfriend,
to myself:
I’m sorry,
I didn’t know.

And all that is gone.
It seemed that I used to go
places and do things.
Now I just stay at home.
I’ve gotten so much better, though.
This morning I, perfect me, who
glides through life with ease and grace,
knocked over and broke a full cup of beautiful Mayan coffee.
I didn’t cry, or swear, or try to blame the dogs.
I just mopped up the brown and jade shards
and made another cup.
I didn’t know
I could do that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


The Marble Topped Table from my mother's house last summer when I intended it to be an art workspace. 
A Collection of Postcards spread on the table after an impromptu antique mall outing.
The Table Today:  some books have moved in and a blank comp book awaits.

The Picture on the wall by my computer (in the same room):  My mother at the Indiana Dunes in the mid 50s.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Bristlecone Pine Thrives

I have to thrill

at the sight

of your rose gold flats

beneath the Chiavari chair,

your warm scarf of silk orchids

and lilies draped there.

The gift of red orange

bittersweet vines

you twined in your hands

now wreath the lamp

and I wonder at the

soft rise of your breasts

above the white flowered

flow of your belly

beneath my hands 


the timeless give and take

 of your breath,

at rest.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Flame in Snow

for Jillian

Quiet flame,

mountain azalea,

all the little bones

of your fingers fan dear,

unhooking pale crinoline butterflies

hammocked  under old growth


Crank down that window

as you breeze through the forest

and inhale the luxury

of the least expected.

From behind plumes of lace,

the egrets which edge your face,

from the swamp of the car,

the smudge pots of then.

Now breathe in skeins

of canopied light,

your heart a phoenix,

a brass cornet,


singing high.

Even the waxwings

know who you are.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Along an Avenue of White Elms in the Sun

yellowing at their tops,
how I would too
change for you,
in a glad wave
curl up
to your voice,
warm-dark oscillation,
my green edges
bending to yours.
I asked only for open eyes
before the night’s wild shards
brushed over.
And I see.
I see with my hands
reaching up
to touch dear limbs
ageless aging,
all beauty,

Monday, October 17, 2011

At the Club

Open the temple gates unto my love,
Open them wide that she may enter in,
The sacred ceremonies there partake,
The which do endlesse matrimony make,
And let the roring Organs loudly play
                  --Edmund Spenser from “Epithalamion”

There is a certain feeling,
A visceral vibe,
You know it’s going to be a good night.
The DJ is spinning,
Spilling treasures ebullient onto the floor.
Crossing over Jordan,
No worries or dangers or cares
On that bright shore.
No poisonous pairs
Looking to wheel home a third.
The men are all clumped dark and far
Away, skulking at the bar.
The night, the dance, belongs to the girls.

Eyes kohled, hair hennaed.
Fantastic-lashed pastel petals glitter.
Grown-up schoolgirls
Catholic short-skirted.
Azerbaijani princesses girded
With black leather bras
And leopard poly skins.
Goth nurses twisted hair
Ghostly openly stare
Black and periwinkle wide.
High strapped booted tight
Atop heels of consequential height,
All are lost in essential delight.
Rose attar, neroli, clove,
Patchouli, musk,
The garden roars
Cinnamon, jasmine, sandalwood.

And all, we all are such touch whores,
Endorphin freaks demanding more
Wordless promises petting, praying:
You won’t hurt me, I know
You won’t hurt me.
Only comfort to cut the pain
Connect reassure another smother
Shyly asking with hands brushing
A shoulder smooth
A breast caress sweet
In Drum & Bass
House trance bump ass
Scratch vinyl slick.

But our romance ends
When the needle comes up.
The smoky remains,
A tremolo echo
That lives only here
At the club.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Will we make it to the Ball?

We've been a bit delayed by some mending that needed tending.
   Got a bit of gin and tonic, though.  Hope to see you all soon!

Check out all the action here:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Distaff Side

You come on
aflame and rolling
through a room,
from slack-hips
to paint-blistering fingertips.
A flickering St. Christopher
blazes high above
your breasts.
My lip catches the crest
and drags across,
running the length
of your shoulder,
unsealing that envelope,
pulling smolder~~
An ash-borne crumbling acrobat,
glancing off
fawn-brushed thighs,
threading silk slung
pink crinkle crinoline loops.
Speckled marble balustrades melt
under the weight of sighs.
Waxwings beat aflutter
and down-dive.
Flywheels shudder
off singing sinews’
sympathetic cries.
Satellites luminous
and expire,
Shunted down dusk alleys
of defunct desire.


come, charming spoon,
so thin & elegant,
silver thrilling,
cold and brimming
with sea cockles
from warm plush
cream and green
bits of moss
scrubbed clean.
and butterfly
do we then
their shells
that wing
our lips
who then is the pussycat
who then is the owl


On your way home,
on the wooded,
hidden path
to your door,
where flagstones jut,
you told me,
in that careless mess,
where that rod of re-bar
sprouts menacingly
for no reason,
you saw the sudden yellow
of an aspen leaf
in the last light,

in your breathless,
in your silence,
that golden

I knew.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Accepted Rejected

Jimmy Page
Well, so, uhm, I'm published, I think, and also not.
My entries into the Rattle Poetry Contest were all rejected, but something I sent to Unadorned Press was accepted for publication.  I took the Rattle rejection rather hard.  I had lots of support (and one guy at work who said, "What, do you think you are that good?"  To which I got to reply simply, "Yes.") from you all here and in FBlandia and my local writer's group.  One person in my group had been a reader for a small press.  He told me that it was easy to discard the stuff that was poor, but among the good works the decision process of what made the cut was more arbitrary.  Often times pieces he would champion wouldn't make it.
The Unadorned Press situation is cloudy.  I had sent them two poems and was informed of acceptance by being tagged in a photo on Facebook.  No email message,  no indication of which poems were accepted.  I have a feeling that this is a very small press, maybe just one guy in New Hampshire who, if I send him $5, will send me what looks like a plastic file folder for a term paper with my work and about ten other poets.

So, the question remains:  What do I want?
And that is where I am right now.  I was reminded by my writer's group that I do have an audience, I have readers already.  And for that I am grateful.  What would being published or not being published change about that?  I still feel this sort of desire to be acknowledged and given a stamp of approval by some unknown "them."  Meh. 
And, why the picture of Jimmy Page?
It's a fairly arbitrary addition to this post, but when I was trolling around the interweb, I came across this picture on someone's page of "Things I Like" or some such, and I thought,  "Yeah, I like that, too."  So,  just a random picture of Jimmy Page reading someone's horoscope in a random world.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

in that bed with Dena

There where you stir the sugar insufferable,
incessant, you stir it.  Hard crystals dissolve,
handfuls of blazing white go milky and soft,
hot blue lips lovingly kiss and sing radiantly under
your copper.   Your ping hammered kettle turns solid
to liquid.  Melting chains form as you work
the Rosary {Sotto Voce} Queen of Heaven
The Mysteries                            Joy & Pain        
                        slowly added,
washing down gems, precious blessings
And the turmoil slows, bubbles slack and link,
dragging like school-less summer days, shoe-less
in hot amber.  Sticking all the little tics,
once thrown high as branches,     hair whips
               rain sheets and lung-lust cries,     
                        click clipped as
                   errant bugs and bees.

You are on the fault line.           Plates are shifting.
Under the sweet bunch grass, a Vireo gray and small,
secretive you whistle          then listen.
The colors change        The desert painted
               Tongues of flame
    waver in your wild white eyes:

                    You hold
                        Waiting waiting

                   Pinching the grain
                       The salt
                   The pink rose
                   The tiny blade
                       The straw
              The stone
                               You drop

Thursday, August 11, 2011

no cigarettes at all, no champagne on your birthday

For Stacy

My dear girl,
I don’t know any prayers for the dead.
I can only burn the cedar wood
as the arbor vitae is engulfed in the last light,
then blow out the candles,
exhaling your name.

Osiris resisted you once before
as you were lying intubated
and mummified after your accident,
but now he sucks the lime
and bleeds green for you.
Sweet stalks of wheat
line your vessel for the other side.
Moss roses crown your curls.
The Mourning Cloak butterfly,
in clinging ink shadows,
falls from its fluttering sky
as I place loosestrife
and hyssop
and the last of the warm day
lilies by your pink bauble face,
kissing you good-bye.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Contests & Competition

I took the big (for me) step of submitting a few poems to a contest and a few more to an open call for submissions to a small press.  I haven't submitted anything for publication in 30 years or so when I had the temerity to send my works to Poetry and American Poetry Review.  My rejection notices commented that my style was clever, but scattered, or some such.

Yesterday I was jumping around like a bug on a hot rock, hastily editing and formatting poems to email by deadlines of August 1st.  I felt as though I were submitting tax forms.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that I had "done it right."  Today I wonder what all my anxiety was about.  I felt the fear of judgment, that my work wouldn't be "good enough."  I felt the fear of finality--is this the final edit, or could this poem use more polishing?  So, I'm left with questions about what I want, why am I doing what I do.  I don't have high hopes of "winning."  It was important for me to just take this step and see what happens. 

I was pushed into doing this by a friend who is always telling me to submit my work, that my imagistic style is what the market wants.  I don't know.  What is the market?  Is it a closed system of incestuous MFA logrolling?    I think online blogging has changed my market.  I enjoy reading and following blogs.  Small press and self-publishing seem to make sense.  If you have an online following, why not sell them your chapbook?  Why not find a like-minded soul who can illustrate it?  

Anyway, curious about other's thoughts on this.  Yesterday, I felt as though I were sending my children off into the netherworld without sweaters or galoshes, but today I am thinking, "What's the big deal?"  Either I get published by a small press or a magazine, or I don't.  Does that change what I want to do?
I still want to work on my craft.  Posting online and getting feedback and support and reading other blogs is the most helpful poetry workshop I've been in.  
I'll be pulling some poems from my blog that I've submitted.  Thank you all for reading and commenting.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Mesmerized by the lustrous glittering beads,
the sweat on your upper lip,
damselflies alight and rise again,
spiral in a haze,
haloing~~blue green grey.
You keep rowing.  
I'm handling diamond-backed snakes
and speaking in tongues to the sun.
You keep spitting out problems,
tricky equations.
Tell me Tell me Tell me
What’s the sum?

I’m trying to reach out, to get there.
Between incessant strokes,
I screw up my eyes to a blackboard,
but decimal points are fluid,
pages in a magazine, fragrant ink motes.

Backwards floating,
Catalpa brushes my neck
and I remember how to breathe
out loud.

Unlocked, your yellow pine wrists
and your green apple pulse twist
through me.  Your sorghum kiss
Drips into my heart
Which opens,


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Madame X

Sitting here tonight, heavy summer air
sagging at the screen door,
in my plunging black slip,
single fluorescent lamp lit,
a bit of sunburn blushing my pale edges,
dodging flits of furred moths
and watching the pendulous
crook legs of the harvester
spider work the small arc
of the crown molding,
I think of the long gunmetal rows,
the back stacks, where I’d sneak
deep in the library to listen to opera:
Prince Igor, perhaps,
large headphones strapped on
heavy and green with a black coil,
waiting out the light until closing.

And while the boyars wailed
I handled the old spines close at hand:
a slim set of faded turquoise Chinese Love Poems,
a thick, glossy, mis-shelved John Singer Sargent
with its jacket slightly torn,
in which I might chance upon
a card, a fuchsia 3”X 5”
tucked in a page where you had written
two or three lines about me, unmistakably:
the chime of my laugh,
or the tangle of my thin silver
earrings, small hammered
glinting pieces
which invariably you’d feel
compelled to straighten
in your desire
for order,
squinting through the slow
pale curl of the Marlboro Light
dangling from your lips,
your soft hands
easily smoothing the twists.

Common Nighthawk

I used to be flesh and blood,
but now I ghost down streets
gray-cloaked by dusk;
no weight to my muted feet.
When did I fade out and husk
to a thin hollow reed.
A blaze of Canary grass
gathered up so warmly once,
now strewn down,
feeling only the twilight sound,
the rasping, invisible skree
of the nighthawk calling me.

Comparisons only lead to overstretching

(A found Rhyme Royal, kind of)

Stretch to a point where you feel a mild tension.
Do not bounce!  Breathe slowly, rhythmically.
Any stretch that grows in intensity is an over-extension.
If possible hold onto something and keep your knees bent slightly.
Be relaxed in your mind and body:  breathe easily.
Interlace your fingers and gently pull backward.
Hold only the tensions that feel good.

Read more Rhyme Royal at:  dVerse Poets

Sunday, July 24, 2011

St. Louis Blues

Bricky, Bricky City,
Lawyers begetting Lawyers,
Police-issue pistol grip heels
Pump & Sway,
High-rise glinting the catenary curves
As Saarinen’s Gateway broaches the West.

Beleaguered at the frontier of your chair,
Pan-Am Blue,
I escalator,
Ratcheting in bumps,
Beautiful & bifurcated,

Plummy soft we polymer
Ashiver, Half-clad.
Can I pull the shades of your sudden cement-buckling sigh?
Can I trace the thudding plush halls of your heart,
While my own laps your thighs thickly,
Slow & full,
The Mississippi itself.


The Addict and Me: Part III

Some Back-story

I feel that I need to plug in some details here.  How is it that I’m off on a bus with someone I had never met; yet longing for a deep romance even after I had decided (or some part of me had) that was impossible?
(I’m also going to have to give that “someone” a name, for the sake of clarity.  I’ll call him S.)
I first met S on MySpace.  I was dissatisfied with my life and saw MySpace as a way to open it up, to meet new people, to reignite my long dormant writing “career.” Also, though I wasn’t quite aware of it, I had a story to tell that was burning inside of me that was aching to blaze out in the open.  Wow.  I had no idea how transformative this little step would be.  I felt lonely in my pastry career.  I felt lonely in my life.  I had a boyfriend, but I was feeling the limitations of that relationship.  We were companionable, but I couldn’t talk to him about all that interested me.  I needed friends, and there were friends a-plenty awaiting me in cyberspace.

S was one of the first people I met online.  I was immediately fascinated.  He liked my Sarah Vaughan on my page.  I liked his Rachmaninoff.  We were both pastry chefs, voracious in our taste for music and food.  We loved the same movies.  We were addicted to crossword puzzles.  We both wrote poetry.  I could hardly believe it.

Our first phone call was odd.  I felt that there was something wrong with him, but I couldn’t quite figure it out.  He wasn’t connecting with me in conversation.  It was as though he was just talking into space and not to me.  I was relieved, actually.  He was just a guy, a quirky guy whom I could befriend.  It would be all right.  My relationship with my boyfriend wasn’t in danger.  A week later, S told me he was an alcoholic.  Huh.  OK, I knew that there was something awry.  I didn’t exactly know what an alcoholic was, besides someone with a drinking problem, but I accepted it.   Then he got sober.  What a change!  He called me after an extended weekend rehab.  We had a wonderful conversation; he opened up and started sharing with me.  We talked about God, about Jazz, about the Twelve Steps, about being free and living life openly, without fear.  I found myself being drawn closer to him.  I realized that I was hungry for just this kind of connection.  He seemed surprised that I didn’t have this with my boyfriend.  “Is it just about sex, then?”  S asked, and that notion hung in the air and troubled me.  I was afraid of the answer.

Within a few weeks of meeting online, I asked him for an intimate friendship.  As I typed the words, I felt both the danger of it and the improbability.  Could I have what I wanted?  My heart was longing for a confidant, someone to whom I could tell my story, to whom I could show my true self.   I said that I wanted an intimate friendship, and I did, but I didn’t trust that it could be, or if it could be, I feared that it would inevitably be sexual, and I wasn’t looking for sex, I had that, I wanted something more.  He said that he wanted the same.

For me, MySpace was an incredible workshop for poetry writing.  I had felt the interest in writing re-blossoming in me just prior to signing up.  S wanted to read my work.  I began posting poems.  It wasn’t long before I had several regular readers and I had, at one point, about 150 subscriptions.  It was crazy.  It was heady.  It was great.  For the first time I had an audience, for the first time I was in a writing community.  I felt the opening up that I had wanted.  I began to tell my story in poetry and I began to open myself to S in conversation.  I had sincerely hoped that my opening up would open up something in my relationship with my boyfriend.  He was constantly telling me not to cling to him, to find other interests.  I think he thought I would take up knitting, or some other quiet hobby, instead I jumped on MySpace and begin to make friends all over the world.  I couldn’t shut up about it, either.  I told my boyfriend excitedly about all my friends.  I was writing all the time, or reading others’ work.  Boyfriend was not enthused about poetry which to him was just “words on a page” which would never make me any money.  He also feared that I wasn’t writing about him. (And, I wasn’t.)   He was jealous.  He felt the split between us coming long before I could conceive of it, or accept it.  I told boyfriend about S.  I didn’t want to be dishonest.  I didn’t want to cheat.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  Anyway, boyfriend said that S sounded perfect for me.  Yup.  That’s what I thought, too.

And even though I was trying not to, I began a courtship with S.  I had never been in a situation like this before.  I had never met someone so perfectly matched to me with whom I could talk and talk for hours.  We had so much in common and so much to learn about each other.  So, I strayed.  It seemed inevitable.  And after my boyfriend broke up with me (Surprise!  I was shocked.  I didn’t see it coming at all. ),  S and I began to talk openly about love.  It was bumpy, but the beauty of it all for me is that I was able to practice being in a relationship the way that I wanted to be.  I found out that I was able to address issues as they came up.  Each time something uncomfortable came between us, we were able to talk it out.  I had so much fear of rejection, of doing, or saying the wrong thing.  S let me say what I had to and then took time to process it and then talk it out with me.  It blew my mind.  I kept thinking that each revelation would be the deal-breaker—my attraction to women, my ill-tempered ways at work—that something ugly or incomprehensible in me would make him turn away, but what I found was myself growing stronger in each instance I had to speak my truth, even with my fear of rejection shaking strongly inside of me.  I was coming into myself.

In the autumn of that year, S and I started to make plans to meet in the spring. I knew that I wanted to have sex with him and I had to tell him my big, bad secret:  herpes.   Even typing it now makes me anxious.  OK, I spilled it out.  I told him straight up and he handled it beautifully.  He thanked me for my honesty.  He told me that he loved me.  He told me that he would have to get back to me, because he had never had to deal with something like this before.  I let him go and process it.  I was ecstatic.  I had faced my big, bad secret and it was accepted.  I was still loved!   Or so I thought. 

Was this the deal-breaker at last?  S got back to me:  How would herpes affect my ability to have children?  Wow.  Would this be the deal-breaker for me?  Children?  I was almost 46 at the time.  I had never considered having children in my life.  I didn’t think that was likely to change.  I felt my beautiful dreams of my perfect romance crashing.  I crashed.  I couldn’t be his perfect woman.  I couldn’t give him what he wanted—children—and I didn’t know why.  It just wasn’t inside of me.  I didn’t have the desire.  My fledgling sense of self crashed into the rocks.  I cried and cried and hated myself for not being “womanly.”  What was wrong with me?  Suddenly pregnant couples appeared everywhere I went—many of them Asian women with quiet careful white males shepherding them. They were so smug and so perfect in their little precious cocoons.  And I was stung over and over by the sight of them:  You’ll never have this.  This will never be you. 

A few weeks went by.  I processed my stuff with the help of my therapist.  She helped me see the situation more clearly with the drama toned down.  I was who I was.  There were things I could not change.  So many times in relationships I had tried to remake myself to please the other.  This time I just couldn’t.  S was who he was.  Alcoholism was a big deal.  Like herpes, it wasn’t going to go away.  It had to be faced, too.  Even if I had wanted to have children, did I want to have children with an alcoholic?  We didn’t match up.  We had both met our deal-breakers.  What did my truth tell me?  I said it quietly in my session:  I cannot have a romantic relationship with S.

S and I talked a few days later.  He told me more about his alcoholism.  I didn’t know how serious it was, how he was near to checking out of life a few times.  He told me he couldn’t have a romantic relationship with anyone at this point in his life.  I nodded.  We were honest with each other and it felt good.   We decided to be friends.  I had a funny feeling inside of me that I would have trouble keeping that distance, but, at the moment, all was well.  I had made it through.  All was not lost.  But I still hung on.  I couldn’t let go of the connection.