Shooting again

One killed, three wounded,
the headline said. Obscenely,
momentarily grateful it wasn’t more.
Hating that my brain did that.

What does it take to be a MASS shooting
now? more than 4, more than 14 dead?
Is there a critical mass of dead needed?
Maybe the critical mass of a man-made almost sun
over a Japanese town decades ago.
I think about other kinds of mass shootings.
Oscar Romero, shot during Mass.
One dead, but the course of everything changed
a church turning inward on itself
for fear of an expansive future.
Jews, including, I only know by omission
of their names from future records,
probable distant cousins of mine,
because I was born and raised Jewish,
lined up in front of a pit in Lithuania
and shot, in complete Nazi efficiency
so that their bodies fell into the pit
without piling up too close to the edge
(This scene is not imaginary because a Christian
villager described it completely nonchalantly
to an American soldier in 1945;
we wouldn’t want to have to dig the pit
any bigger then, you know).

The same old same old. Hatred of people
not like us, Jews and gypsies and queers
and none of that has changed since 1945
or 1845 or her and now or whenever;
the current president has only brought out
into the light what has always been there,
what Jews and people of color and queer folx
have always known,
that there are white people who refuse
to acknowledge our humanity, and what
all of us still know and feel in our bodies:
fear of the darkened street after a drink out
when I have gone out sparkly and obvious;
fear of the small town policeman
pulling me over for no real reason;
fear of the people who hold power over my work
whose Facebook page turned out to be full
of white supremacist, anti-gay, anti-Muslim crap;
and nothing bad has ever happened to me personally
except the looks and jeers and namecalling
but you can’t compare trauma and say whose is worse,
fear and contraction have landed in my body
and lie there, festering, waiting to pop up as harsh words
to someone I love dearly, completely without cause;
I want nothing more than to excise them all
all the old words hurled at me, all the looks
from disapproving church ladies about my sparkle
I want to take a deep, long, curved knife
maybe that Biblical pruning-hook
that spears are supposed to get beaten into someday
and carefully carve that pain out of me,
out of my arms and chest and thighs
like the former lover whose pain was so great
she did that over and over, leaving scars on herself,
the only way she could feel alive

I know no way to end this, to stop the cycle
except for all of us, a little bit each day
being kinder to each other,
listening behind the other’s words for their reality

and so I beg you, for the sake of those people
lined up in front of that pit, about to die,
for the sake of the soldiers whose hatred allowed
them to dehumanize people whose religion was different,
for the sake of everyone who has been shot
or beaten or lynched or just given bad looks
for being different, and for all those
doing the shooting and beating and lynching,
see, that’s the really hard part of this,
for all their sakes, tomorrow, and the next day,
and the next, until it becomes in our inner bones
and ligaments and blood an ineradicable habit,
every day for as long as you still are breathing:
just add one more kindness to your repertoire;
restrain the irritation;
smile at the harried mother in the store;
because, I believe, admittedly without any proof at all
except the truth my heart speaks to me
when I lie awake in the middle night
that each smile, each restraint, each kindness
is one less bullet.

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kiss

I wasn’t expecting
that kissing you
would be so easy

I wasn’t expecting
that putting my hand on your neck
would feel pleasurable

I wasn’t expecting
that I would be
thinking about you

I’m glad for the unexpected

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False Doctrine

I read some poems a while back
at an open mic in a bar
and I sucked.

Lots of ways to say that. One friend I had
who is very prim and proper, wouldn’t use the word suck
things “Hoovered” or sometimes
if she was really upset, “that vacuumed”
I could have said, I blowed.
But let’s stick with the word suck.

I like that word. It feels like something I can own.
I’ve sucked at lots of things
in my life. Being a school-teacher,
being a husband, being calm and secure in meetings.
Sucking is something I’m used to.

I didn’t used to be used to sucking.
My ex-wife said, women don’t like to do that
they just do it so they won’t lose their man,
But even at the time I knew she was wrong
because I had a girlfriend, before I met her,
who couldn’t wait to get my zipper open.
So yeah, I like to get sucked.
and I am with women who like to do it,
thanks be to God.

I bet you think that’s an odd thing to go to,
when I’ve switched to talking
about oral sex, thanks be to God.

I used to be a pastor.
I say used to be, because the powers that be
in the church I was part of
found out that I like, among other things,
being sucked, that I liked fucking,
that on occasion I liked flogging someone
and tying them up, consensually, of course,
and a lot more, and I’m single,
and the rule-book says single people have to be celibate,
and I said, on my blog, that’s a stupid rule
and I’m not going to follow it
and so I broke their rules and
they did what they had to do
and asked me to resign, and I did
because I’m trying to live authentically
and I don’t fit their rules.

But anyway, I like sex and I am in love
with a few amazing women,
being polyamorous in my orientation,
and the church is messed up
in my opinion, (which is only that)
about sex and about love and about real intimacy.
It’s one thing to live your conviction
that sex is good and sacred even outside [gasp]
the narrow bounds of hetero marriage,
but it’s another to say so publicly
and I went too far in that to be ignored,
so I am no longer a United Methodist deacon.

When I was in seminary, I went to a Presbyterian seminary,
right about then the Presbys were arguing
about whether gay and lesbian people
could be ordained, and they voted yes,
and half of my class came out.
And some churches took their toys and went home,
left the denomination, and how stupid is that
because the Presbyterian church uses a call system
for their pastors, if they need a pastor,
people apply and are interviewed and hired,
and no one can force a church
who doesn’t want to to hire a queer pastor.
But they left, and the same thing
happened in the Lutheran and Episcopal churches,
and is about to in the Methodist church,
and they all wonder, they spend hours and weeks
wondering and studying and having conferences about
why young people don’t want to come to church
or why gay and lesbian people don’t want to come to church,
and that is such a waste of time, it’s totally obvious
that no one would want to go someplace where the leadership
doesn’t and can’t ever look like them;

so I was in seminary at that time, and I saw
a tee-shirt that one of my classmates had,
and on the front at the top it said:
Everything Jesus said about Sex,
and there were two Bible verse listed, two,
and on the back it said at the top:
Everything Jesus said about money, greed, and the poor,
and the whole back of the shirt was covered in tiny print
with Bible verses, over 200,
and still, the church in general is way more
worried about who fucks who
than who is fucking over who.

But I am convinced, from everything in the Bible, even,
that the Divine is way more worried about who is fucking over their
sisters and brothers than who is fucking who consensually.
I think this because I think the Divine is about love,
the Divine is love, and love, at least among humans
and that is all we can really know,
(because anything we say about the Divine is mostly incorrect)
among humans, love craves to be expressed;
and if the Divine really is about love
and really is, as Christian theology says,
three persons in one, in eternal conjoined bliss,
mutually holding one another completely in union,
then the Divine is polyamorous
and having one continual creation-long energetic orgasm.
You can see, probably, if you ever went to church
how this could be considered false doctrine.

And so, because of all this, I am no longer a fucking preacher
but I am now, and will always be, a preacher of fucking.
Can I get an Amen?
[that’s an inside joke for any
of my former colleagues who might
be reading this…]

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Alive

I am alive.
I am in love and I am alive.
I am in love with three completely amazing women
and I am alive; I am a fully queer, bisexual, and polyamorous man
and I always have been, even when I denied that;
and for anyone denying some part of themselves,
out of fear or shame or guilt, I ask you to let that go,
and be fully your beautiful alive self.
While I write this I am sitting in my house, the house that once was the seat
of my marriage, which I never expected to end, which was
at least partly, good and happy, and partly terrible and anxious and scary
and I survived that and I am alive.
I am theologically educated, and desire to share
my direct experience of the Divine
and I have the tiny little degree card from seminary in my wallet
to prove that when I am talking to people in bars,
and in spite of everything wrong with religion I am alive.
I am a church musician who doesn’t give a flying fuck
about the church but who still wants,
when I can, to move your soul with beauty,
and I am alive most completely when I am making music.
I am an ally to everyone who is oppressed or shamed
for being sexual and alive
and in love with whoever they want to be in love with.
I have been kicked out of the church I served for 16 years
as a pastor for having sex as a single man
because they are so afraid of pleasure
that they can’t handle it except by controlling it
and for promoting false doctrine, which consists
of telling the world pleasure is our birthright, and I am alive.
I love women, everything about them, their feel and scent and kisses
and minds and hearts open to me, I am bi and have been,
more than once now, in deep like with a lovely man and I am alive.
I am alive all the way, in my skin and my muscles
and my fluids and my bones,
in where my energy starts at the root
and where it channels out the top of my head.
I am alive in this moment, right now,
and right now, and right now.
I have woken up from a deep 30 year sleep
of complacency and despair
and I am alive.
I am here right now, seeing each radiant one of you in your place
feeling your energy, feeling the world,
and I am no longer willing
to be asleep, to be half-dead;
and I want more than anything else in this world
for every one of you who is asleep
to wake the fuck up and be alive.
We are all alive
and if you have even one bit of passion
for your life and being alive
then you can’t help but have this same mission
to wake up the world.
I am, this whole past year,
for the first time maybe in my life,
here in the moment,
and in love, and in pleasure.
I am alive.

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3 AM

I wake up at 3am.
It’s not the first time;
3:13 and I are well acquainted,
3:27 is an old friend.
I turn on the rain sound app,
fake thunderstorms on my beside table,
recorded rain on some other sidewalk.
My skin remembers other nights,
ones with yours against mine,
your hair across my chest, silken,
or was that her fingertips,
Pressing into my arm, barely tightening.
In the middle night, in the darkness,
all my lovers accumulate into memory;
my desire for you not exactly physical,
the connection between us not a function
of blood vessels engorging, but memory,
and in my mind’s eye,
I hear your pleasure, each moment of that,
reduced and concentrated into sweet syrup,
imagining all of you, together, heads on my single shoulder,
as rain rolls off my roof to the ground,
and sleep comes back, finally.
In the morning, eyes gritty,
I text each of you, one at a time,
Sweetheart, Beloved, Lover;
another day opens, another chance
to move closer to each of you,
and undo together all the past wounds
that make us think
there is any space at all between us.

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Spillway

Heart so full it spills out of my eyes,
we walk; I let my finger
run down your spine to the hollow
above your jeans, that last time,
too long ago, I had pulled
from the ankles, down your legs
exposing lace and paleness;
and underneath your talk of work,
family, friends, house paint color names,
Forest Mint, Early Periwinkle,
underneath I hear the same voice
earlier husky with desire, wordless,
that opens in me sensations
I thought were gone, never to return.

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Shimmering

From one reveal to the next
there is a hard inevitability
like the glint of the obsidian’s edge
slicing open my heart
like the glimmer of grandmother’s diamonds
on my littlest finger
I slide forward into new skin
the feel of yours against mine
mine suddenly awakened in a burst
my fingertips running over your scalp
lips hovering, almost grazing
and letting complete or nearly so strangers
see into my darkness, the conchoidal shimmer
of the edge slicing into my awareness
taking away the old, glitter running
down the waste chute, going into
the oblivion of what’s already done,
and when I open myself, let you see me,
I stand shivering, sometimes scared,
always better at the end
than when I first let the knife strike my skin.

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In the flesh

Some days I find
I am smaller than I desire.

Some days I grow so huge
that I encompass all my loves.

But what I desire, my dearest,
is to be in my skin:

to feel your fingers fully
when you touch me,

to feel the blue-gold threads
connecting your heart to mine,

to learn to be enough
not too little or too much.

Then, then, it will be
just you and I,
seeing each other fully, completely,
and, at last, without fear.

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Triptych (or, this could have been three poems, but it isn’t)

We are texting most of the evening
politics, daily events, nothing deep
and I am thinking mostly
of the feel of your leg pressed
between mine, skin to skin

I am out of town working
you text me a picture
of yourself standing near
the door of my bedroom
my heart melts

We talk on the phone at length
your family, your work,
I tell you I want to take time
three days away, or four
and I hear desire in your voice

All my lovers interweave
in one evening, in different ways
energetic patterns embellishing
my otherwise solitary life
into deeper and deeper joy

I am made new each moment

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Joy, again

Driving to a nearby town
I feel electricity surging
my chest full and opening
thoughts of multiple loves
alternating, lifting me

Sitting in the coffee bar
an older gay couple
are deep in conversation
their care and affection
palpable, transparent

I rejoice that I am alive
in a time where they
can be open and out
where I can love many women
and talk about that with friends

and there is a world
of ugliness and hate
all around, still
how dare I, some ask
be overflowingly joyous?

I know only one remedy
for hate and evil
to live as full of joy
as I am today, and tomorrow
to do that again

I wish for you, all of you
the same electricity
the current of deep love
running up your spine
and filling your eyes

with the liquid of awe

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Wine Bar

I sit across from you
hearing your words
feeling something else old
slide beneath, rustling
in the bushes, and the old,
old impulse to try to fix
what can’t be rises in me,
I push it away, blue-gold threads
of energy tangled up between,
a useless thing, because of course
you are not broken, not in need
of any fixing, just momentarily
paused, contemplating your life
the butterfly perched briefly,
a bird in mid-flight;
leaves moving in the wind,
all things are just a ripple;
but if you would allow it,
friend I love, I would enclose you
and make a space where
for a flight’s-time, for the length
of the wind’s movement,
you could be at peace.

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Choosing

I have had you on my mind;
you sent me your hurt and anger
I want to honor that and hear you.
I want to change how we are together.
Old patterns to unravel for me,
for you only you can say.
But I so miss your skin,
the warmth of your smile,
your mouth on mine.
I could choose to focus
on complimentary wounds
to make this only about
how far there is to go still,
on the work we have to do
in the space between us.
I am not denying that is real.
But I want to choose
to think about our joy,
our laughter, our desire,
the brush of your hand
on my cock, or mine
on your nipples. The way
you tease apart everything
from my body to my words
and find inside their true essence.
You said comfort isn’t sexy. Oh,
my lover, you are not seeing
what comfort is for me;
your hands and your eyes,
your mouth and your heat
pressed against me.
If you were here now,
I would take your head in my hands
and kiss away your doubts
and let your tears flow as they must
until all that is left within us
is fire and golden sparks
and then, then, I would show you
what comfort truly is.

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Delight

When we text I hear your voice
on the screen. I see your smile
elusive and gentle; I can almost
smell your hair fresh from the shower
you take when you arrive each time,
your shampoo by the tub edge.
Once, only once, I opened it
hoping to smell you, but of course
the smell of your hair is more
than anything that simple.
It is the weight of your head
on my shoulder, your arm across me,
your face against me, your body
relaxed in a way I envy. There are
so many ways you have been present
to me, but sweetheart, the past few weeks
your texts checking on me, knowing
I might as well be climbing
the jungle gym at my long-gone school
for all the maturity I have demonstrated,
your texts that never judge or chide
just ask me gently, are you, are you,
being the man you really wish to be?
The answer is, perhaps, sometimes,
when your head rests on my shoulder.
Then, yes, I will start finally becoming.

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Divorciversary

Across the room, my three
lovers, my delight, comfort,
and Beloved, sit, close together
in conversation, about what
I don’t know, unnecessary to know,
and I see from a distance
mutual respect and admiration
and you, all of you at once
look up at me, and in your eyes
I see myself reflected, for a moment
as you see me, through the lens
of your affection and love
and suddenly my heart
is entirely too large for this chest,
I am dizzy with joy and humility
that all of you love me,
that my life has brought me
through every bit of anguish
to this point, this evening;
the rest of the room of people
oblivious to my revelation,
to my certainty that my desire
to grow old with each of you
is an adventure only beginning;
I am larger than I can be,
and coming back to myself I find
your eyes, and yours and yours,
where I get lost repeatedly,
now are places where
I am finally, completely found.

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Unexpected

It’s your presence with me
that I most crave,
however you show up,
sometimes exhausted
from work and school, sometimes
in a mood, sometimes with
health concerns no amount
of my wishing can overcome;
and sometimes, sweetheart,
you show up in your body
and we end up skin to skin
lips to lips, your eyes looking
into mine, my heart glowing;
my body responds to your desire
time changes some, and after
your head rests on my shoulder,
your breathing sliding into sleep
and I have a sudden view
of time compressed, my much older self
still here in this moment,
hearts connected still, then,
and I lose whatever words
there might have been
to tell you how that feels
so instead, I rest my cheek
against the softness of your hair
and listen, gratefully,
to each breath you take,
because that is another moment
you lie in my arms.

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Ladybugs

You text me that you
had a dream about her
I was looking for endearments
to use with her
and you felt uncertain
of the ground under our feet
of the space between us
but that when this happens
when the twinge starts
you always come back to desiring
what makes me happiest

I tell you that I desire for you
to meet and, though I do not dare
speak this, to fall in love with,
your handsome Spanish-speaking
accomplished dance lead
and that this brings up in me
the less-than, the feeling
that when you find him, when
you are in his arms, he will be
everything I am and more

You tell me, you can’t imagine
ever deciding that I am not part
of your life, that word ‘ever’
rings in my heart the whole day
and still is, days later;
your affirmation that my place
in your heart is steady, even when
inevitable change comes,
dries out the quicksand
under my feet, that had been
slowly oozing up my ankles

I have this image of your heart
a sphere of gold-blue-violet fire
swirling fiercely but calmly
your brilliant radiance, and within,
your deepest pains hidden away;
I dip my hand in, reaching
toward where your hurts live
gently pulling and coaxing til I
hold them at last in my hands
to weep about, and then to release
into the air, butterflies
ladybugs, painted buntings of remorse
and grief and shattered time
flying away, lightening our hearts
with the beauty of their flight
then, finally, the places where those hurts
had lived, become free, at last
to hold only complete joy.

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Sphere

I tell you in a text
that I am overflowing
from the obvious concern
I saw in you when I was sick
that if I had any doubts at all
about how you feel those are gone.
Your reply is one word, Heart.
Over the past few months
it’s just been single words
that have pushed out
the edges of my heart
Heart, Okay, your sign off xoxo.
My heart has long ago outgrown
my chest, it is a golden sphere
surrounding all of me
and I reach down through it,
the sphere, golden from you
and blue from me, colors swirling
together, I reach down
into the oldest wounds I have
touching their edges through
blue-gold energy, the color
of my toenails this week,
and the edges of the wound
are all i can bear to feel,
and I lie in your bed, sobbing
your arms around me, your voice
whispering in my ears that I am safe.
What is love if not this?
Your willingness to witness me,
holding my reintegration
without judgment, neither of us
knowing who I will be at the end,
trusting the universe to give us
beauty and joy beyond measure,
Joy that, each day already, is
beyond all the beginning decades
I have so far lived.
I sit and write this, the feeling
of being held and loved by you
the feeling of your body against mine
resurfacing, tears running down my face
and it is only a few hours
until I can once again hold you.
Someday, someday my beloved
the tears will be done and possibly,
just possibly, my radiance will match yours.

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Home

the back of my hand rests
on the napkin holding tortillas
your fingers curled around mine
each thumb to the other’s little finger
I am focused totally on you
to the best of my capacity
and this is uncomfortable for you
I say, my desire for you
is for you to fully receive
this amount of love
we speak of desire and love
you say, I am afraid
of being submerged, of losing
myself, and I totally understand
I say, my therapist asked me
a decade ago, why I got married
I said, I loved her, and he said,
that is not usually enough,
most people have other reasons
as well, and I admitted
that I had hoped she would help me
be accountable to being the man
I thought I could be but that it didn’t happen
and he said, did she give you any reason.
and I told you, now, in this moment,
that what you had said earlier, in our pleasure,
that you desired that I be more fit,
that you had not said ever to me
for fear I would be hurt, had landed in me
as deep love, as the reason I need
to go beyond my own will to do this
to be fit and healthy for me,
for you, for what is between us,
for the length of our desire
to go on and on into old age together.
later sitting on my back porch
with coffee, your legs resting over
the arms of both our chairs
we talk about our deep desires and fears
about what our future might hold
about what home is and isn’t
and I thought, but still did not have
the courage to say,
my home is where you are

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Seafood

We sit across the booth
a feast between us
and I look in your eyes
and see longing and space and calm
and the gift of being able to fully be
just myself. Earlier you told me
you have good hands
when I stroked your back a little
and I said, you don’t know
the full extent of that,
and you said, I’m sure, and even though
I was not seeing your face
I heard the smile in your voice..
We move toward one another so slowly
on my part, not daring to risk
what I know will be a real connection
with an advance that overwhelms
your energetic spaces.
You drop me back at my house
and I lean into the window
of your car and kiss you
and as I walk to my door,
my energy surges up toward
the cloudy night sky
and I feel you still behind me
sitting in your car.
and I wonder, what do you see.
I have so much to learn
about taking in your compliments
and letting them reside in my muscles
and skin and bones and mind
and, heart, their true home.

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Creole

You said, you look nice

I had been sitting at your kitchen table
so much like ones two generations past
cutting onions, then celery, then
red bell peppers, then parsley
the scent of each a cloud around me
putting them in the pot, adding
tomatoes and spices
starting the rice, sipping wine with you
at the end, putting in the shrimp
bringing the bowl of Creole to you
at your table, candles and music

And you look at me, radiance
streaming from your face
so immensely beautiful and strong
and vulnerable and afraid to meet my eyes
and tell me that I look nice

These moments when all else falls away
and we are just present
your hand in mine, fingers curled
around the others, pulling slightly
and I have to ask you to unpack
what it means that I look nice
but of course I already know
I just want to hold your voice in that moment
our language a creole,
both body and heart
languages mixed in one
sometimes even
with common vocabulary

Later I wake predawn, sobbing
from a dream of loss
not knowing really, but something old
passing through me, throat constricted
stomach drawn up
you move in your sleep and place
your arm across me, tears streaming
into my ears, your slow
sleep breathing in my ear.
The room gets light, birds singing
your face, differently radiant
in the dawn light
whatever passed through is gone
and now there is the day, our work
and the unforgotten feel
of your fingers in mine
the wood of your table against my wrist

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Joy

at first I couldn’t place
the feeling stealing through me
the placement of the energy, in my chest
the relaxing of my shoulders
and then I recognized it
for what it was: joy
joy infusing my skin
joy sneaking into my heart
joy staying with me

there is nothing of easy grace
about this joy, it is hard won
nights and afternoons and mornings
of weeping, moments and days of despair

and then I see your eyes, and yours
hear the voice of each one I love
read the messages of dear friends
feel your hand in mine, each of you
that has held my hand through darkness

joy has no end
joy I leave with you
the greatest of these is joy

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Eggplant

Is the couch
purple, you said
Eggplant, I said
and laughed
Everything the ex used
in decorating the house
was a food color
walls lemon and tangerine
lettuce in the bedroom
She did all the cooking
because after a while
I grew weary of the food critic
never taking a break
You sit at my table
and say, this tastes good
If I had ever
ever
heard that when I was with her
you wouldn’t be here now
I’m glad, so glad, for the pain
that with you I now get to heal

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wall

You lie looking at the ceiling
silent
as you said
you’re sad most times
there’s a wall
maybe the great one
or maybe not Chinese
but more Berlinesque
down the space between us
I reach up and take away
one brick
there are lots of them
but I have
forever

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trust

The past intrudes in odd ways
mostly, with reason, that now
everything I say is filtered
through a lens of my past
indiscretions and hurtfulness
the pain I have caused you
as much as I would desire
my dear lover, to start fresh
fresh isn’t happening, it can’t
and so I say something
that again is a fuck-up
and we get crossed
and I am irritable
and, oh lover, that is the last
way I ever, ever want to be
with you, when what I desire
is your skin alongside mine
and your mouth on mine
and your heart to mine

How can I unwind all this
so that what passes between us
is what truly is, and not
my imagined versions of past hurts
amplified into today?

It always and only starts
with my attention, my intention
and when I am solid in that
as solid as I desire to be
as solid as you have been
then I will no longer, I dare hope
speak anything to you
but my heart’s deepest truth.

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middle night

Waking up alone
I still feel your presence
the heat of your skin
sliding against mine
in memory but real

there is a particular way, that,
when I say, come closer,
you move a little bit at a time
across the bed and then
suddenly you are against me

your leg over mine
it is that slow sidling over
the movement of your body
along the pathway of the sheets
that fills my desire

and then I lie with your head
on your pillow but on my shoulder
and I see the landscape of your neck
all the things about your skin
that you resist calling beautiful

and my heart longs for you
to see yourself as I see you
in that moment, perfect, complete
all the lines of your skin
exactly as they should be

I want to trace each one
deep into you,
and hold your uncertainty
with both hands, like one holds
a baby bird fallen from the nest

when will you rest your heart
completely, o my heart,
in my hands at last?

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one word changes everything

I said
I have been building a room
four walls, floor and ceiling
a room where you can be
enclosed by me;
and you have been going in
and out of the door
for months now.
We have been dancing around
this, that you are mine fully;
that it is your surrender
that I most desire.

Today, I said, today
is the day to decide:
Will you come into my room
and let me make a place
where your soul can explode
in spectacular blossoms
where you can become
your best self?

You were silent for a very
very long time
my hand laying against your scalp
grasping your hair
breathing slowly in your ear as
your body trembled.
I said your body knows the truth of this
You said, all this is in your head,
that’s not enough, I need to feel
your passion.
So I drew you against me, hard,
your nipples grazing my arm
still holding your head
and my leg over yours
against your heat
and I said, is this what you need?

You were silent for a very
very long time
and when I had nearly decided
my holding space and labor,
my self-work to build a room
of integrity and clarity
were in vain, you said
quietly,
Okay.
Nothing will ever be the same, now

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recovery

Knowing that you lost everything
in a flood last fall, knowing it in my head
but then seeing it with my own eyes
seeing how little of the past is there
that you have a couch and a bed
and the rest might fit into a dozen boxes
with room left over, breaks my heart, and then you say,
well, most of it needed to go

what I desire, my lover
is that there will be the same
overwhelming flood between us
that all the things we know we need
to dismantle, put out on the curb
to be hauled away forever
will get washed away in the irresistible power
of the love we have now

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wishes

I wish the women in my life
vibrant and alive, one and all
would see themselves to be
as radiant as I see them

I wish everyone who feels shamed
for being older than the magazines
would look at their beautiful, well-loved hands
and see how many lives they have touched

I wish the friends who doubt their actions
and wonder if they will carry the day
would see themselves as competent
and stand up, today, just a bit straighter

I wish the children who sit alone
because they are different
would rise up and shout
look at me, I am glorious

I wish the old man
standing on the corner
had a son to come
and gently lead him home

I wish all the horror
and pain of the world
would vanish
and joy would flood our hearts

I wish that I did not have to ever
wish any of these wishes

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desire

sometimes we can’t talk easily
but this time, lying together
the words came,
and I asked, did you desire me
you said, my desire isn’t much there
for anyone

you apologized, more than once
for how things are with you right now
but oh, my sweetest love,
that is so unneeded, all that I want
is you, however you are

your head on my shoulder
your eyes gazing at mine
your hair against my face,
sweet from the shower;
and to know that
as much as you do anywhere

you have a place in my house
my closet, my bed, my heart;
and that now it is only a few days
until I feel again your hair
against my face, smell again
the scent of your shampoo

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afternoon

you gave me a gift
this past visit
of letting me just
be present

touching you, walking
together in a museum
making dinner
listening to music

the gift of being in my skin
for a whole weekend
and so much so, that,
although my mind desired

to feel my skin against yours
another time, you held me
and we drifted easily
into sleep

When I next see you
then, my lover,
your skin and mine
will remedy that oversight

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healing

joy rises from the root
bubbles out my heart front and back
into the world, taking with it
long-forgotten or never-known
scarred memories and flawed enclosure
of my mother’s arms, and all the others
who were her surrogate;
who, had I only been aware
might have been deep loves but instead
were just the target of my fear and pain;
and my heart cannot help being
open, regretful, that I never saw
in those multitudes of eyes
their deep blue and golden true selves

but now, my dear loves, I see you,
I see you; and what wonder
to be enabled to witness your identity
moment by moment unfolding
into the glory and radiance
you were born to embody,
the heat of your arm searing my hand;
the light shining from your eyes
unflinchingly illumining, finally,
my better self emerging from the fissure
reborn over and over

the first time around, the unaware part
my life went down wayward alleyways
but this time, however much time I have left
I get to nudge and cajole my reluctance
into not turning my back on the world’s pain,
or on yours, and who can say whether the tears
are joy or sorrow or both at once;
but, my heart’s desire, as I see them
fall on your arm, feel them on my face
at last I am fully here in my skin
present to whatever we discover together

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Dateline

my pillow is wet beneath my head
an invisible fist presses down my chest
joy and sorrow are so minutely separated
one can slide into the other
at the sound of a song
or the absence of your touch

so it seems to me, despite the idea
that these feelings simply happen
and pass though us, (and I know
this is true, and my body knows also)

that if the daylight line between
joy and sorrow is so slim, well, if I can
and since I can, I choose joy;
and the tears are the same
the pressure on my chest the same
but oh, my dearest love
nothing else is at all

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reveal

At dinner, I let you
read something I had posted
feeling massively vulnerable
as your eyes scanned my manifesto
I saw your cheeks flush
then you looked up at me and said
no man had ever held
a container for you
ever
energy was pouring out of you
toward me
and my eyelids were heavy
with the desire to be
a breath away from yours
but we are moving slow
which I also desire;
later I kissed you
just a touch, slow,
like our whole process

this is so sweet
and lovely
to find a space
within me
where you are safe
breaking off the rough edges
of my impatience
turning it into a slow, slow song,
adding a voice to the structure,
deep joy possibly looming;
and somewhere in me,
in some place I can’t name,
along with everyone else
already moving together toward
something we haven’t defined,
a new path opens

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Paths

Every time I drive a certain route
I drive frequently to a nearby city
there are new and different blooms
at every level, ground and treetop
and the pale green of new mesquite leaves
the perpetual dark green junipers
the multiple grasses that later
will be golden or brown or grey

Every time I lie with you
there are new and different ways
you touch my heart and my skin
at every level, softly and deeply
and the touch of your hand on my arm
on my shoulder, on my back
will one day also be both
as familiar as the landscape
and as new as each spring’s growth

The blessing in this is that
this is true for all the yous
that I lie with, whenever that may be
and my heart continues to expand
making room for new touches,
new words, new glances
at all levels, rewiring old pain
into complete and total joy

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another Spring

Walking out in the backyard
the flowers you planted years ago
are still blooming this spring
this space, which I dug and you planted
I have now inherited alone.
I never expected or planned for this
that I would have to leave you,
that what I thought was for a lifetime
was only a third of that;
seeing the bright buds beginning to open
i have to suddenly sit in the grass
tears flowing down my face
it feel like a loss, like what was
so heavily invested in by both of us
is just thrown out, dead
on the compost pile; and yet
no love is ever lost or wasted
I know this in my body now;
I now have love again,
and perhaps you will too;
but that is not my path
to wander or wonder about anymore;
for now, I simply walk the flagstones
we both set into the back of the garden
so that the alstromeria my mother lovingly tended
that came from her aunt’s yard in Lake Charles
and who knows from where before that
could be cut, brought in, placed in a small vase
which now sits on my shelf, ready, waiting
for the blooms to begin soon, while in my heart
love blooms again, what I thought impossible
now tripled and quadrupled
and in my body this flows upward from the ground
out all of the rest of me into you, and you
and you, all of you gathered in my heart.
I no longer have any illusion
that I can know how long these flowers will bloom
or how long my heart will remain open
but I do know that open, blooming, fading, dying
is all better than never having tried.

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Truck

you were going to meet me
for an anxious medical appointment
but were late
there is a drink named after you
at your favorite bar
called, waiting for you
well, it’s waiting for
(your name)
but I won’t put that here
yet, but
I love that
I love waiting for you
so then we went for coffee
to debrief
about many things
and I asked for ten minutes
to sit in your truck and touch
before you took me back to my car
and you said, but my windows aren’t tinted
so I kissed you
I said that the things you had said
to me
a few nights ago
burst my heart open
and you said, there’s one more now
you said, drive safely
there is someone who loves you
waiting at home
I am still rippling in the energy
that started up my spine
when you said that
looking in my eyes;
I am still needing to wipe away
the tears of that

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Gratitude

Uneasy night, disconcerting daytime;
alone in what seems at times
too big a house; at others
the walls close in, straightjacketing;
and I know alone is what I need
but multiple longings preoccupy
my thoughts. my skin, my eyes
finding things in each room
that remind me of someone
I won’t see for a day, week, or more;
and thoughts run their inevitable
greasy course to the end
where I am unworthy, undesired

and the only thing that stops
joy being cancelled by dread
is gratitude

so I will myself to stand here, now,
in this place, this time
grateful, overflowingly,
for every moment of love
that has come my way;
but most especially
for those most recent;
for the hands and skin and eyes
that tell me beyond even my own
shadows of doubts
that I am desired, cherished
and at the last fully,
unconditionally, seen.

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Uncertainty

I swim in waters I cannot see through
I hear between the lines
and hallucinate that I know
what you think
or that we can ever really know;
and the water is murky, not in a way
that makes me feel icky
but just with suspended silt and debris
of my life and yours and all of ours;
and I want to know what is ahead
and I want to know what will be between us
next week or next month
or at the end of one of our lives;
and I sometimes dream
unbearably sad dreams standing
at your grave and wake up sobbing;
and then I see your eyes
and you lay your hand on my shoulder
and I grip your back, turning
as we dance, and each step of that
still totally uncertain to me
and I wish that I could only
hold all my steps with that much openness
and be in your life the lead
that can make room for the other dancers
and swim sleekly and gracefully
into the uncertainty of the next stroke

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More Longing

after a few days, and it’s been
more than a few days now
your voice on the phone
isn’t enough, when reality sets in
and I am looking at the calendar
seeing what I have to do the next few days
and the days I will see you next
aren’t even on the same row.
I hold this longing in a special place
it’s too much to focus on
but too precious to put out of sight
it has it’s own shelf where I can
set the lighting on it just right
dust it as needed
adjust what other pieces sit near it
and someday that shelf
will be completely and finally
smashed to bits
I will take the ball-pein hammer
and break the longing shelf
out of my interior room
because then, my love
you will be a breath’s distance away

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Frustration

I long to be the one
who can ease away your frustration
at the world, the doctors
who don’t take the time needed
or who you can’t even see
and I long to hold you
your head on my shoulder
stroking your hair
sending all the tension away
but I never can send it all away
and that’s real
and I long to, when you say
things you wish could change
so that we could be together more,
to be in front of you
pressing my finger to your lips
to silence the words, and maybe the thoughts
that are less-than
because, my sweetheart
you are so much more than less-than
so much more than what frustrates you
your radiance blooming from your skin,
your face, words, touch
and when I was scared in the night
I remembered that radiance
and the glow of it on my ceiling
eased me into sleep
the way it will again tonight
and the next night you are here
and on and on

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Return

things are changing and shifting in me
sometimes faster than I can call them out
I need to be an auctioneer.
we have a misunderstanding because
of this, my body reacting to energy but looking like
the old stuff you don’t want to be around
and a space opens between us
that I recognize from my marriage
a space of less-than, of where-are-you
and it fills me with momentary dread.
and then my body settles and I know in my skin
you are not her, you are a blazing heat
warming my interior, my fingertips too.
over the next two days the space narrows
and then is gone, evaporated
like the nothing it really was
a hallucination of my fear and past.
we talk over drinks at our table in the bar
you slightly uncomfortable at my focus
holding my hand despite friends around
willing to be seen for yourself with me.
we talk about what is and what could be
the outlines, the boundaries, the desires
and your heat flares from your eyes and your smile
and i imagine in anticipation, soon,
the heat of you pressed against me
washing away all the small everyday doubts
the way last night’s rain, so long awaited
leaves the air this morning
with a slight tang of ozone and smell of wetness

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No way to help

I hear my lover’s voice on the phone
it’s been a long time since it was in person
and I hear her exhaustion
the boss from hell is not a joke;
my heart breaks a little
I want to make it better
but I can’t, except, when,
next we are together, I hold her
in my arms, skin to skin,
and kissing her lips, and neck
and breasts and more
show her again that love
is not only a word

Valentine’s Day revisited

Fact: My father died on Valentine’s Day 2001.
Fact: I have been doing a shitload of personal work.
Fact: I barely have it together some days.

Knowing I am going to die
is the last gift of his life
that my father gave me.
If we all really knew that,
if we felt it in our skin,
then we would not take lightly
things that matter,
we would not allow injustice so blithely,
we would not give in at work to pressure to conform ,
we would not fail to make that hard phone call
to a friend who has lost someone dear.
I am going to die
and everyone I love is going to die,
some of them before me, leaving me
heartbroken and grieving,
and it seems completely paradoxical,
but because of this,
I am full of joy now every day,
every day more than the last,
joy in my beloved’s skin against my skin,
joy in the beauty of simple things
sunsets and wasps and drizzle and weeds in the garden
and because of this I can affirm,
which might seem a stretch away from death,
that my beloved has the most magnificent ass.
She has an ass I had only dreamed about before
but never actually seen on a woman.
The rest of her is hot as hell too
but it’s the ass that gets me
and I’ve always been a boob man.

I hear locker room talk about a woman
being a great piece of ass.
I don’t know what’s wrong with those guys.
I don’t want just a piece of her ass.
I want all of it.
The left side, perfectly shaped; the crack,
well, we all know where that leads,
don’t tell me you don’t like that
and then the right side,
just as perfect as the left but very slightly rounder.
No, don’t give me just a piece of ass.
Give me the whole thing,
and yeah, I’m not stupid,
I know that’s a turn of phrase
about getting laid, it just seems
like a particularly unhelpful one.
I say, the whole ass
and nothing but the ass.
She has an ass to die for;

see, that was all about death after all.

One of the women’s empowerment groups
she has worked in for some years
instead of talking about women as beautiful
talk about them as radiant.
I love that. I can barely think of any women
I have ever known who weren’t radiant.
When I was a pastor I did hospital calls
and one time I went to see a woman dying
of liver cancer, and she was there in the hospital bed
holding the hand of her daughter
her skin completely bronze from liver failure,
mostly medicated, and when I read to her
the psalm that starts, The Lord is my Shepherd
her face became radiant. My 84 year old
former piano teacher, when we have lunch now,
is amazingly radiant, still thinking and making music
and continuing her career
as a scholar and musician. The lover I mentioned
the one with the magnificent ass, turns 65 this year
and she is one of the sexiest women I have ever met;
age has nothing to do with radiance,
and I hear over and over from women
when they look in the mirror that they don’t like
this or that about the way they look
and I want to tell you, all the women hearing this
or reading this in this moment. every one of you is blazing
with radiance, in your eyes and bodies and minds
and pussies and hips and bellies
and thighs and arms and hands
and don’t let anyone ever tell you differently
especially men who aren’t vulnerable enough
to know that their power begins in knowing their own death.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit around
thinking about funerals all the time.
I’m more likely to be thinking about things she has said to me:
that when I arrive to see her, her skin tingles;
that with me she knows she will climax;
that her desire for me is constant.
I’m more likely to be in the moment,
feeling the warmth of her skin under my finger
as I trace along her spine down to the hollow;
I reach around her and circle her nipple,
she presses back against me, her ass,
the fucking magnificent one, rubbing my cock
she reaches her arm back and circles the back of my neck
with her hand, and with the other
pulls my hand to her pussy, pressing my finger
in between the lips, already wet, and I bring my finger
to my mouth to taste her, anticipating how easily
I will enter her, how her body will move in longing,
how she will sound as I lick her.

Sex and death, death and sex, two sides of the same thing;
I’ll take both, thank you.

Bombardment

Words have been bombarding me
all week. difficult words, painful words.
my church, the Methodist church, has been the victim
of a carjacking by people who in the end
only want to wreck the car after a brief joyride.
The words coming out of this, heard over and over:
“the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with the Christian faith.’
Men, of course men, standing at microphones and saying publicly,
parents if your child is gay you should pray that they die before the get to puberty
so they don’t ever have sex and don’t go to hell.
or other men suggesting that gay people should be drowned.
what does it even mean to have Christian faith if it leads you to hate.
When I’m feeling a little less awful intermittently
I wonder, how long must one practice homosexuality before you get it right?
But those are the words my church remade again, 40 years on, into church law.
My church has been taken over by bigoted white men,
bigoted white men who cannot abide that my bisexual, sparkly self exists
or for that matter that any gloriously queer person exists
as if it’s contagious, queerness; I say, if only…
There have been consequences for me, but not horrid ones:
no one has thrown me out on the street like so many parents of trans kids have;
no one has beat me up in a parking lot for being out and open;
no one has taken my job away unless you count the last two churches
that fired me for speaking out against their injustice;
I”m pretty fucking safe in my privileged bisexual middle-class life.
but they, my former church, can’t abide me. It should read in the rules:
The practice of honesty and transparency is incompatible with the Christian faith.

So what I have to fucking fight with are words
fighting against the patriarchy,
fighting against the definition of so -called biblical marriage,
that’s their code word for one penis/one vagina;
I ask them, which version of biblical marriage are you going to go for,
one man, a woman and her slave, that’s Abraham,
one man and two sisters, that’s Isaac,
one man and no woman, that’s Jesus,
if, as you insist, he was like us in every way,
then either he had sex or we’re not supposed to do it at all;
or maybe if you’re a teenage boy
you would go for one man, 600 wives
and 1200 concubines, that’s Solomon.
yeah, fucking ignorant people who read what they want to
in the Bible and ignore the other parts.
They take 6 little passages and make them be the whole story,
and I wonder, why those, why are they not on a rampage
against people who wear clothes with two kinds of fibers mixed
because the Bible calls that an abomination too,
why is it lesbian and gay people that you are so afraid of
and not the clothes you buy at Walmart and Neiman’s;
why aren’t they all gung-ho about selling their daughters into slavery
cause that’s right there next to the parts they quote about us.
And there are already bishops in the Methodist church expelling out gay pastors
and two young lesbian couples in a Methodist college campus ministry
tried to kill themselves
and this is what you have sown, you hateful bigoted white men,
and I am only hitting the tip of the iceberg of my anger,
at bigoted white men who shoot down young black men
in their grandmother’s backyard for being black with phone
and who stop my dear friend who is part Hispanic
every time she crosses back into the US
and one time strip searched her
‘because you have a suspicious name’
and every other thing that all of you know about,
every act of hate.

What I’ve been doing here is called a lament in the Bible.
Laments are for those times where the current is intermittent
and the light bulb is flickering and we don’t know
how to turn it on all the way or what the fuck to do next.
Laments are for when everything has turned to shit.
I always think of that cartoon that has a guy asking Jesus,
when are you going to do something about injustice,
and Jesus answers the guy, funny, I was going to ask you the same question;
but the people who wrote the Bible didn’t buy into hopelessness
and so all the laments end with hope except one, psalm 88,
and I have been reading it because I am not fucking ready to have hope;
I am only ready to sit in grief and let my lovers hold me and comfort me
and to finally own publicly yes I am bisexual and queer and gender queer;
if my queer clergy friends can risk everything to demand justice from our church
then the least I can do is be honest in public about who I am

but that damn hope shit keeps coming back even when I don’t want it
because even sitting in lament I know, beyond any doubt
that I am beloved of the Divine and everyone else is,
everyone hearing these words and everyone who never will
everyone who loves someone and everyone who doesn’t
everyone straight, queer, trans, cis, nerdy, handsome,
everyone afraid or courageous, vulnerable or shut down
everyone I have not in some way named out of my blind spots
you are all blossoming, unfolding into the brilliance of the Divine in you;
bigots and haters want to hand you a pair of pliers and say,
it’s in your best interest to cut the wires to the bulb,
but if we can all remember that we are Beloved
we can instead all put in a little bit of extra current
and the bulb will flicker just a little less.

Ambiguity Reigns

Someone I was dating last year told me, “Doms don’t go down on their women, they demand and get head”. Really?

Such categorizations of what “Doms” do or don’t do is just so much wasted effort.

I love my subs, and yes, I love to eat their pussies. And I’m fucking good at it.

And sometimes I order them into play situations and set the scene. And other times I just am in bed with them and still domming them totally, no scene, nothing but our in-the-moment control/surrender. And one lover is not defined as sub to me, we are just together in the moment in high masculine/feminine polarity.

I read a lot of things here making absolute statements about what a particular type of person.Dom/sub/master etc is or isn’t…

If we all could give up the need for absolutes, imagine what beauty and joy we could have in this world, if we could accept ourselves and our partners just as they are and go from there in deepening our relationships…

I move in the religion world a lot, and the need for absolutes is what has fucked that world up; the inability to tolerate ambiguity is the province of fear.

If you are someone who has a difficult time with ambiguity, try letting some in and see if that doesn’t make every muscle in your shoulders and upper back relax…

Life is too short to let fear rule you.

Fun Poly Date Times

Yesterday was my regular date night with W…we had an afternoon in bed then a lovely dinner out.

And part of Polyamory for me is that I can be with an amazing woman and be missing my other amazing women at the same time.

So as we were getting ready to go out to dinner, I texted J and C and we had some messages and again later, and they both told me they missed me too.

Sparkly, huge, expanding heart…

And then at dinner, we were talking about how we both want to become more regular at our partner dancing practice, and she said, I want to dance more, but sex gets in the way….

And my other loves both texted me something fun and light about the same time and I realize, from posts I read here and in FB groups, how damn fortunate I am to have three self-aware, well-boundaried women in my life and my bed…

Is It Innate?

I have seen multiple takes on whether being Dom or sub is an innate thing, something that we just ARE and discover.

I know it’s like that for me. Like sexual orientation, I am just built this way. I’ve tried to be other things, from sub to switch, and I was terribly unhappy and never felt at home. When I realized that I was Dom, and began doing specific exercises to develop that, things exploded (like that image? 🙂 )

I am learning to do partner dancing. Being a good lead is domming your partner. I am a preacher; preaching is domming the congregation. I am a church musician; leading congregational singing is domming them with the organ. I am a teacher, of various things; being a teacher is domming the classroom. and so on….

As a Dom I naturally attract subs. Even before I knew what I was doing, before I fully recognized this in myself, I was attracting subs. Even if we never enter into a D/s relationship, they are subs. It’s just the polarity of attraction. I admire and enjoy the company of Dommes, but there’s no spark between us…

Then there are those in the greater kink community who think it’s not innate, that it’s a role. I won’t dispute that with you and I”m not looking for arguments here. But I would like to hear cogent reasons why that’s the case for you, if it is…

Let’s talk…

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