When you open my fridge door
it smells like kimchi.
Sour, garlic, aliveness.
Some people think
you should keep the kimchi
in a separate fridge.
I’m not sure why the living stuff
should be separated out.

On a rock in the woods

Her hair was heavy in my fingers;
as heavy as the full weight
of all the tears I’ve ever held back,
as soft as them running down my cheek.
My fingers delighted in that weight, that softness;
still unaccustomed to Joy,
I am gathering in my edges,
letting the remembered weight of hair
anchor me fully to the earth.


We lay there, the night we met.
I was big spoon, my left hand
cupping her right breast.
She asked me about my marriage.
I revealed shame, bruises.
She said, you don’t have to live like that.
It’s only now I can see,
tree pushing through the canopy,
branches longing for the light,
that that sentence was the seed
from which everything since has unfolded,
leaf upon leaf,  foliage of a new life.


Soon after she left,
I was making the bed
and I smelled her on the sheet.
Last night I had texted from the other room
that’s my favorite thing to eat
and I don’t mean that generically
I mean YOURS is my favorite.
She said, shut up, which translates
I like that you said that
and I don’t know how to react.
It always interests me
that someone so completely themselves
self-sufficient in ways I envy
has trouble receiving positives
so I just keep doing it
you’re gorgeous, you’re so fucking brilliant,
and hope that someday
the flood of praise
will be unresisted.

One Born Every Minute

I’m sitting on a  bench at the back of the sand
shaded by a tree-sized beach grape
low dunes covered with unfamiliar yellow flowers
An egret stalks around the other side of the bush
intent on unseen prey
some small bug or another
Down the beach my Beloved stands
feet sinking in wet sand
as she peers intently at something in the water
offshore, some people with more money than sense
have grounded their rented cabin cruiser
on a sandbar, somehow thinking that 50 feet out was deep enough
soon a tugboat shows up to stand watch
the server in the restaurant we went to later
says this happens once a week
the tugboat charges 375/hour and shines the rubes on
telling them they just need a little more high tide to come in
that if they pull them off now it would damage the hull
I love that the tugboat operators make a living off their stupidity
my sense of wanting to stick it to the man
gets to come out and play
so 9 hours later at 375 per, the tide has come back in
and the cabin cruiser floats free
owing the tugboat operator thousands for doing nothing
not to mention whatever the late fees
for bringing the rental boat back late are
I wanted to swim out and tell them I have a bridge for sale
but mostly in this moment I am watching my Beloved walking away
and remembering how her ass felt
bare against my hand this morning

Jack and Jill

I learned a new euphemism yesterday:
buttering the corn.
Yes, I’m talking about self-pleasure
choking the chicken
spanking the monkey
blowing your own horn
waxing the carrot
which, I admit, are all terms I have never used
it sounds painful, and like, why is tight better anyway?
I bet many of you are already uncomfortable, so
I might as well make it more so, yes,
I’m talking about: masturbation.
I remember when I was in high school
( and, this isn’t going where you think it is)
and in orchestra class, to get ready for competitions,
we had professionals from the Houston Symphony lead section rehearsals;
there was one girl in the cello section, and he sent her out of the room
and said, ok guys, vibrato is like a jacking off motion,
as if she didn’t know what that was, or he was just embarrassed
to say it in front of her, or thought he’d get in trouble possibly,
but I could have assured him she knew exactly what that hand motion was
and was quite proficient at it,
or like the time when I was married and my ex and her friend
did dining reviews for the newspaper, and we went to this Chinese place
and he ordered something with pickled shrimp,
and the chef, a woman, came out and leaned in close,
and said, cannot cook that, it is too big the pickle,
and made a large male-self-pleasuring motion with her hand
and ever after when we ordered something that they didn’t have
we’d all say, in unison, it is too big the pickle and make the motion
so anyway, I can tell you
that there are as many ways to shake hands with Dr. Winky
as there are people alive on earth,
I looked up euphemisms and that was one I had never heard before,
and, we used to say, 90 % of people masturbate and the other 10% are lying,
but I have actually met a few people who really don’t, and I can’t figure that one out,
even evangelicals who think they’re going to hell if they do, do it,
they just feel guilty as sin afterwards, and as a coach I have to deal with that a lot,
so what I have to say to everyone is, damn it, let’s drop the accumulated shame
about masturbating, because the health benefits alone are phenomenal,
and, for women who have difficulty orgasming, it is the major assignment
we as sex coaches give, I mean, it’s a practice, and how are you going to know
what your body likes unless you actually practice?
I bet most of you, cause I know it’s true for me, still tend to masturbate
the exact same way you did when you first discovered it
and you know, that’s something to be curious about,
do you use your dominant or non-dominant hand, and why,
what kind of touch, how much pressure, is it fast or slow,
but really, try a different way, or a different touch, or hand,
or use a toy, and there are male toys too,
if you’re too embarrassed to buy one in a store
you can mail-order them, and, what about
non-goal oriented self-pleasure, is it really imperative
that you have an orgasm every time, or could you
set a timer and just see what feels good without needing to ‘finish’
so many variables you could be curious about;
I think it is vital to throw out the goddamn religiously imposed shame
that so many of us hold onto even if we’re not religious
it is culturally embedded, just like not talking about
how much money we earn when in other cultures that’s totally accepted,
so, yes, I do masturbate, and you don’t have to imagine that if you don’t want,
but my kinky side is happy for you to if you do,
and I know some people will say way way TMI, but really,
our thoughts are not actions and thinking about other people’s
sexuality and sexual practices is not creepy in and of itself,
only when it becomes intrusive or coercive or threatening,
of course there is a difference between privacy and openness
and I always, as you can see, err on the side of openness,
and I’ve had this discussion with clergy friends who say that
modesty is the most Christian approach, but don’t we all know
how modesty can be turned into manipulation and shaming,
and, if this is making you uncomfortable, perhaps I would suggest
that you get curious about why that is, and how you could free yourself
from that residual shame, because, we all deserve to fully own
every bit of pleasure these limited, finite, slowly-always-dying bodies can give us.


Perhaps I push the covers off. Too heavy. Perhaps I slide my feet
into the slippers a former lover gave me. I cannot not think
about her for a moment. Perhaps I open the container
and smell dark roast beans. Perhaps I grind them.
Water boiling already. Pour over.
Perhaps, the ritual complete, I sit at my desk.
Perhaps I message my Beloved and my Princess.
Perhaps the birds are singing the same songs
they have sung before memory.
Perhaps there is good work for me to do today
and I will not accidentally harm my hands with tools.
Perhaps my heart will not shrink. Steam rises.
Perhaps I have been sitting here always,
not present in this moment, not holding this coffeecup,
not breathing, not sliding into my skin,
until the birdsong merges into my hand and the steam
and the sharp, bitter liquid in my mouth,
until perhaps ends and I am now.


In the morning she said,
I love it when I find
one of my favorite underwear
on my shelf in your closet.
I’m lying in bed, unusually,
normally I’m up making coffee and such
but this morning she had to leave
for a work thing, bra non-optional
sleepily watching her struggle with it
unaccustomed since pandemic
her back to me like when I first knew her
and she was shy to disrobe, perhaps not believing
my verbal appreciation, she still says,
when I say she’s gorgeous,
‘shut up’, but I know it’s halfhearted.
I’m not sure if I hear the door closing,
lock turning, in dream or reality,
drifting into drowse mode again,
remembering last week, how she said
sitting at my table over breakfast,
bacon is like the obnoxious Dom who wears
brand-new black leather and has to tell everyone he’s a Dom
He goes straight for the spanking every time,
except that since then I have reread our dating app questions
and now I know she likes spankings,
and I forgot that this date until just now,
my palms slightly longing for the sting,
it’s not just her erotic imagination,
she makes me laugh so, like when we decided
to have breakfast for supper this time
before she came over, talking it through,
and she said, so we’ll have plancakes,
or when I had said, you’re the hottest woman I remember,
and she said, that’s sure an old guy pickup line.
When she calls me leaving her meeting later
I remember how she said that if I got sick
she would take care of me, and would when I”m old,
not to worry, but what I am mostly thinking
is that I wish I would be there at her house
when she got home and took her bra off,
and wondering, because I hadn’t looked earlier,
which are her favorite underwear.

Ghost Supervision

Her ghost stands on the back patio
while I am mowing
pointing at spots I missed.
So I flipped it off and said,
listen, bitch, never again
am I going to allow you
to steal my joy.


The last time that she hit me
finally broke the exoskeleton of my heart
I  had built it up slowly
Adding small bits of chitin
A crazy-quilt of polysaccharidic protection
There were often barrages
of rocket-propelled words,
canisters of diminshment-gas
shaming IED’s,
but years of accretion
had hardened my inner being,
I did not feel her attacks any more,
an achievement made possible
by not feeling anything.
Then at the final blow
all I had squirreled away
all the anger, self-loathing,
somatic anguish, began to flow
leaking out of the crack slowly at first,
gathering momentum as the dam eroded
until the torrent was beyond bearing.
I became afraid to cry
for fear I would never stop.
Eventually  the storm passed, the waters leveled
and though the valley of where I had been was flooded
I found myself standing on solid ground
surveying the detritus of half my life
determined to salvage nothing
of the dreams and vows floating in the muck;
From this outcropping, my footing increasingly secure,
cool breezes of love, acceptance, flourishing,
flow all around me.
In front of me
lies a road I could never have imagined,
freedom to become myself,
populated with one’s smile as she sees me approach,
another’s kiss through scratchy beard,
a third’s head on my shoulder, her hair soft in my face.

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