Dusk (expansion of Circling)

When I came in you came to me
and you were trembling; I liked it.
When I stood behind you
and leaned toward your neck,
your arms shook; I liked that too.
When you lay on the bed
trying not to look at me
your legs were, in slow motion,
opening then closing; I liked that more.
When I told you that all I wanted
was your complete surrender
your body arched up from the bed
involuntarily.
You knelt above, naked,
and pulled your hair across me.
Your hair hides your face.
I had to reach
and push it aside to pull your mouth to mine.
Your eyes flutter open against your will
when I tell you the only way to get what you want
is to look at me.
Our awareness narrows to my face
almost touching your shoulder.
I trace my fingers more slowly than possible
down your spine, when I reach the top
of your ass you open your legs
another surrender, another access granted
I trace down your cheeks then sudddenly spank you
you gasp and make the sound I love
somewhere between complaint and arousal
a sound full of promise and desire.
I mold my hand to the back of your thigh
sliding around and finding your wetness
dipping in my fingertips,  bring them to my mouth
anticipating your full taste later.
you reach over and pull a pillow under your hips,
offering yourself to our ritual.
I ask you, do you belong fully only to me?
You say, you know how I hate
that question, and I strike full force
with the stiff-fall flogger on your ass,
you make that sound again;
you say, yes, I am yours, David.
I lay down the flogger and, retrieve your day- collar,
an antique bracelet, silver and mother of pearl;
you have been wearing it when we go out
without any prompting now.
You hold out your arm for me to fasten it on your wrist.
I say quietly in your ear,
you know that my possessing you
is what you want
so why would you ever think
you could go back to not having this?
Your breathing quickens.
I give you permission to roll over
and the look in your eyes,  full surrender,
full acceptance,  melts my heart
and brings me to full erection.
The room eventually grows dark
and we are, for the moment, complete.
Even now, in this moment, your surrender
stirs my heart and my arousal,
and when next I see you,  kneeling,
coming into my bed desiring my pleasure,
I will again claim you, my sub and my Beloved.

What sex coaching is really like

I am talking to a dear female pastor friend
about sex coaching, our first session,
exploring what she needs to work on.
She bravely sought me out, and I know her
to be so naive about most sex things
that even though she has a gay son
she has had to ask me three times
what the letters in LGBTQIA+ stand for
although I do kinda like what long-time local activist
Gene Elder called it, Gay BLT.
We talk about barriers to intimacy.
She said, I don’t like my husband’s beard much,
it tickles when he kisses me.
I said, have you asked him to trim it,
cause yeah, if I were dating him Grizzly Adams
beards aren’t my thing much either.
She said, yeah, he won’t. I asked,
how does it feel on the inside of your thighs?
she said, why would he be putting it…ohh!
Do people really do that? I thought
it was only something in racy novels.
Yes, they do, I said, has no one ever
gone down on you? She turned bright red in the face,
no never, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to,
I said, well many men like to and I am one.
She says, TMI. I say, well we are going
to be talking about sex together and
I want to ask consent to share
my own life as a way to help you
learn what is possible. She agrees to allow that.
We talk some more and I discover
she has never had an orgasm. She isn’t sure
how she would know if she had. She is 67 years old.
I ask, do you get aroused seeing your husband’s cock?
She said, you mean his thing? Yes, the word is cock,
she said penis, I said, say it, you will feel freer, cock,
she said c-c-cock. I said was that so hard.
Her voice changed to be that of a little girl,
that’s what HE called it. Who called it?
Granpa. I ask her a few more questions.
Goddamn, the first session and I uncover
trauma and abuse. I am not a therapist
and I am not qualified for this, and goddamn,
I see what might be the connection, this woman
who was my mentor in ministry, one of the bravest
most compassionate women clergy I know,
who has fought against patriarchal discrimination in the church
her whole fucking career, and who has never had an orgasm
quite likely because of granpa, because he told her,
never touch yourself down there, that’s only for granpa.
How old were you? Five, she said.
I am glad granpa is dead so I won’t have to go to prison
for killing him. Goddamn abusers, goddamn it.
In case you are wondering, and you should be,
even though I am not telling you enough
about this woman for her to be identifiable,
I do have her consent to tell her story.
As a sex coach, consent is the foundation
of everything; consent is not just for sex
but for hugs, even having a conversation.
I learned this the hard way as a pastor,
They told us in seminary that we should assume
that someone who has had a loved one die
wants to talk about them. They were wrong.
I stepped in that more than once, asking about
a recently dead spouse or child. When people want to talk
to their pastor they will let you know. Now, it is true
for most people,that if you have a friend
who has had someone die, and you are wondering
if you should talk about it, you should.
But a pastor is not a friend to parishioners,
we can’t be, there has to be a clear boundary
and consent to talk or else we are not trustworthy.
Maybe you’ve noticed I say we, and you remember
some poems I read over this past year about
surrendering my orders as a deacon in the Methodist church.
I have realized that just because some church full of queer-hating
misogynistic patriarchal bishops and mostly male pastors
thinks I am not fit for ministry because I have sex
as a single man, I don’t think that,
and I know for a fact that I’m a good preacher,
a good pastor, and I am not going to give that up
because some narrow-minded church men think
I should not have sex. Fuck that. I like sex.
So I am realizing that there are a lot, a lot, of people
who have been wounded by the church
like I have and often way worse, which brings me back
to childhood sexual abuse, and ministers, and sexual repression,
and my being a sex coach, and a pastor,
and I am wondering, is there a place for a spiritual community
of queer, or kinky, or polyamorous, or sex-positive people,
or people outright molested by church people,
specifically designed to be safe for them to be themselves?
I guess starting that is up to me. Fuck.
I’m back to sitting with my pastor friend
as she tells me things about her sex life
she has never told anyone, even her husband,
and she had never had sex when she got married.
I am honored to be in this sacred space with her
to be entrusted with this confidence
and witness to her courage and I give her some homework:
a video course on female self- pleasure;
a daily practice of learning which of her
non-erogenous zones are the most pleasurable;
and journaling (we pastors love that) about it all.
So, if you’ve been wondering what sex coaching is like
well, that is what it is: holding space, compassion,
non-judgment, asking the best questions you can
and letting your client discover that in reality
they had the answers inside themselves already.

Cantos for R

1
You ask me, are any of our texts poems?
They could be, and this one is;
if poetry is the essence of experience
you send me an exquisite two-word poem:
pussy throbbing.
The poetry I have most with you
is enfleshed: your hand
in the small of my back, your other
grasping my hair, pulling my motion
toward what brings your climax.
The poetry of openness, you at my table
the spaciousness of less conversation
living a few hours together at dusk
in the quiet of my house, and my bed.
I can and probably will text you poems
but, my dearest lover, the poetry I most desire
is you in my life and my bed and my heart.
2
we dance, a fully-free primal
ecstatic dance time, two hours
with simple rules: you may only
touch yourself but no one else.
a huge crowd, people allowing
their full erotic potential
to translate into movement
energy moving through the crowd
women sitting on the subwoofers
pressing their sex
into the corners of the cabinets;
I dance with dear friends, coach colleagues
people that, if we lived closer,
might have been lovers but now
we have moved beyond that;
it has been almost the entire two hours
since I lost you in the crowd,
then I move into an open space
and you are there;
we dance not touching per the rules
but energy passing between
you hold out your hand to move away
holding the space above my outstretched hand;
I put my hands across my heart
and then you do the same;
tears begin to flow, for the exquisite
connection we now share;
allowing each other space
not being a couple, not clinging,
choosing deliberately
when to come together
has opened a new way to be;
these tears are my heart
overflowing the corners of my eyes

Day-end

I’ve said a lot of things that weren’t true.
It’s not that I was lying,
although there has been that at times.
It’s mostly that I didn’t know myself
so I said things that weren’t me.
I wanted someone to like me
so I spoke only the parts of me
that I thought would catch their fancy.
I wanted to feel like I mattered
so I left out the trivial
forgetting that life is lived in tiny bits:
the fluff left from brushing my lover’s hair,
the things in the kitchen drawer
that there aren’t quite enough of to categorize;
the feelings that pass through seeing a blue heron fly,
and how my energy surges when you touch my arm.
I desire to arrive at the end of my days;
no, wait, forget grand gestures, I desire
to arrive at the end of this day
a little richer from the tiny things:
sunlight coming through the spaces in my blinds,
remembering your lips on mine last night
and anticipating that again when next;
the pleasure of slowly, over the course of a day
preparing for dinner, for tomorrow’s work,
tiredness in my muscles, sweat and effort.
I want to finally be able, at the end of this day
to know my own truth fully enough to speak it.

Cantos for G

As you have become
more present in my life
you are less in my longing
and more in my being;
the poems of separation and desire
transformed to poems
of skin and smile and touch.
*
I make the brackets and such of wood
to install the $2 wall-mount lamp
I got at the thrift store
for your side of the bed
when you are here studying;
I text you a picture and you return
a heart-eyed emoji.
It’s my eyes that are full of hearts.
[note: both these were modified and incorporated into 17 Verses for 4]

Re-entry

We chose to add distance
to see what was essential between us,
and let the rest fall away, packing material
discarded into the recycle bin.
Consciously uncoupling, we barely talked for weeks.
It hurt at first, because I did not understand,
for some time I thought it was the end,
I flailed around like the skunk on my porch did once
backing into cacti then picking out thorns,
sharpening words to methodically
talk you back into the comfortable patterns
until I felt the truth of my body
that I needed this as much as you
that too much closeness had robbed me of my power
and diminished the electricity
tamed it, turned it into routines of dinner,
walking your dog, going to events, watching movies.
All those things are lovely, things I want
but not at the cost of the torrent of sparks
that opens now each time you come to me
the blast furnace door lifting
molten metal rushing out, heat between us
your skin against mine, your hands touching
the places you find both familiar and strange at once,
pulling me into you, looking at me as best you can,
eyelids fluttering in the winds of our connection;
our needs are the same, and become real,
a root connection, and also belly, and heart.
Six months ago I thought we were as deep as it could be;
I knew nothing; it is beyond my being left of the slash
or you the right, my surrendered one;
all modes merge into simply us,
I grow more and more translucent
power channeled through me
into heat under your fingertips
and your radiance shining through me
into the rest of my life, my other lovers,
my work, this poem, dear friends, everything new.
I have filled my life until now with pretension and bullshit
trying to be someone I am not, someone others
might find worthy, someone interesting
or at least not massively vanilla;
I ask myself, what has this gotten me?
failed marriages, relationships that have no real presence,
The result has certainly overreached the cost
I have lots of experiences of disconnection and loss,
well, fuck that, all I want now is to really be here,
in my body, in my heart, connected with whoever I am around
roots in the earth, sprouting amazing flowers
the deep red Autumn-blooming species tulips I have
still in my garden from 30 years ago
or the sticky burs from the weeds,
I am flower and bur, weed and cultivated plant.
I have had amazing sex and boring sex,
deep love and surface infatuations,
dearest friends and people who pretended to be.
From every time, every person, something is left.
The quality of each connection
is more on whether I am there than whether they are.
No love is ever lost or pointless.
As a child I was told ‘Honesty
is the best policy”, but really,
it’s the only way possible for me to be with you now,
exposing all of the pains I have carried for decades,
both of us doing that, letting it slide away into nothing
owning who we are, flawed, knowing
that we can still hurt each other despite intentions,
and still, each time we connect now
is like the first time, the joy spiraling out,
no more routine or expectation
letting go of what might be, of plans
or what I thought I desired for the future
my thoughts dissolving into vapor, floating away
into this moment, and the next, and the next.
You seldom make puns, but you called
our first sex after the time apart our ‘re-entry’,
with all the images that conjures erotically, but also
the spaceship coming back to ground,
flaming in the atmosphere, radio contact
momentarily lost, those journeying in it
alone but not alone, as it is in the isolated
calm and peace of my bed, the quiet
I have cultivated in my house for my lovers
in which I am immersed as I write this;
in front of me, in the window shelf,
is the lavender ceramic pot holding one of my orchids
the pot open for air and water to pass through,
nourishing what is inside without constraining it,
holding closely but lightly, the way, my beloved,
I will hold you when next we meet,
the way I hold your life now in mine.

newness

drunk on you, your words
push clouds of scent
frankincense and orange
penetrating the secret fortresses
I thought no one knew of
softness sliding across my skin
my ears burn with your thoughts

*

I lean into your car window
to kiss you again
this could go on forever
I pull away sooner than I would
so that I can pull away at all
I want a time
when there is no constraint
honey on your lips, all of them
that I lick off luxuriously
your eyes inches away
terrifyingly, completely safe
fierceness melted into surrender

*

My skin has its own memory
better than whiskey
more real than ice cream
flames licking up the wood
consuming the bush this time
even though I hear a voice
speaking my own thoughts
before I have them.

*

salmon morphs to rose
violet at the edges of grey
then almost dark
reminds me of your hair

*

talking, you hold your hand out
to take mine; such a small thing
and unaccustomed for me
I see something blooming
a secret flower, perhaps,
and want to cup it gently
in my hands, waiting to see
what it becomes

*

I stand in the clearing
you hide in the bushes
peering out, desiring
to come out slowly
and take silky treats
from my hand

Cake at Midnight

You come over for our date, supper,
conversation, then you study,
about 10 I crept into the bed next to you,
your books on your lap, and I lay there
and watched you surreptitiously, the concentration
on your face not unlike how you look
when your arms are around me, and your legs.

My heart is overflowing looking at you
remembering a couple of days before that same look
but not from you studying, and I drift off to sleep,
about 11:45 you are putting your books away
and I wake up and remember we never had dessert
with supper, and although I would like a different dessert,
my favorite thing to eat, I thought once
that if there was pussy-flavored ice cream, or maybe
seasoned salt someone could make a fortune on that
but of course it’s not just the taste,
it’s also the scent of arousal, it’s the softness,
sounds and movements, my beard getting soaked,
well, I digress, this night you are as exhausted as me,
so I cut two pieces of the lemon-rosemary birthday cake
you brought me from your weekend in Austin,
where you had a second date with the man
you had been chatting with, which was fun and also
a little awkward, cause there were those first-time-sex things
and he was perhaps embarrassed because he hasn’t contacted you again,
and part of me was sad for you about that
and part of me was, like, fuck yes I’m your Daddy
don’t forget who takes care of you, Princess.

So we sit at my little white pine dining table that I need to build
a new top for, but I am loathe to because I have had it literally
for 42 years and even though my ex-wife tried to ruin it
by leaving it outside for months after I had left,
before I could come get the rest of my things,
the joints between boards in the top have opened up a little
and it’s not exactly flat, well, when I was 42
I was getting a little looser and less flat myself,
she thought she was getting back at me with this,
like, I’m not a woodworker who made it in the first place?

Still, this table is meaningful to me in ways a new one wouldn’t be.
I remember all the women and a few men who have sat with me,
eating love made visible in food I cooked, drinking wine, 42 years ago
Simi Rose’ of Cabernet Sauvignon, I thought I was so sophisticated
for having a “real” rose’, then later on German wines, Ausleses mostly,
because, let’s face it, I grew up Jewish on Mogen David
and sweet wines are where it’s at, even though now
I am more likely to get a good Madiera
when I go to Maverick Grill with my other partner,
or like last night dinner, an oloroso sherry, deep brown and intense,
and now lately I am finally getting back into reds,
Rhones and Riojas, so I keep putting off remaking this table,
with all the memories that are embedded in the top
like the few remaining tiny pieces of glass that are also,
from where my ex threw my favorite deep cobalt blue
citrus reamer at me and it shattered on the table;
tiny fragments of blue glass still sometimes cut me slightly
when I clean, which is fitting, I am still cutting myself
against memories of the relationships that did not end well,
wishing that I had been a more compassionate person then,
but fuck, I had to live through hell to get to the beginnings of compassion.

We sit at that table, not really talking, there’s no need
your love is so obvious and I am enveloped in it
and all the little bits of glass embedded
in my skin are slowly being pulled out of me,
iron filings drawn to a magnet,
by the warmth you exude when you look at me,
tears welling up in my eyes;
my gratitude even more in that moment
that you did not know me in my asshole years,
when I was so self-unaware; all the others who have sat at this table,
the memories, mostly good, of who they were
and how I felt about them, cannot in this moment
even begin to approach what I have with you,
eating cake at midnight in our underwear.

Life routinely turns itself upside down:
You come into my bed, your head on my shoulder
opens long-unrehearsed paths, each time new,
my Princess and lover and heart’s delight:
I meet someone unexpectedly and they fit me
in ways I never could have imagined two days ago,
my power flares and spreads out my extremities
sparking from my fingers into her palm,
tigers and lilies and the unknown becoming real,
my thoughts cannot keep up with sensations;
the certainty I had 42 years ago
has given way to only a willingness to let go
of what might be and live in what actually is;
I know less and less each year;
but I do know some things:
on the other side of despair is clarity;
on the other side of heartbreak is joy.

60

I had my 60th birthday yesterday.
Over the weekend gifts showed up:
unexpected and delicious time with my lovers,
a party surrounded by friends,
phone calls from people in other places
who love me, some new earrings,
my Princess saying at pillow distance
I love you so much, Daddy.

I have been thinking about past birthdays.
I hadn’t written about this before
until a couple of weeks ago on Facebook
when the actual day was there, mid-September.
Three years ago, two weeks before
my 57th birthday, I went to a meeting
of the personnel committee at the church
I served, and they told me they were reducing
my salary by 40% for the next year,
that I wasn’t worth the amount of money
they were paying me, that I was ineffective
despite the same people telling me the Sunday before
I was the best music director they
had ever had there. I went home from the meeting
and told me now ex-wife and she yelled
and said I had ruined her life, I had made her
move to this shit-hole of San Angelo
and now I wasn’t even going to have enough money
to pay the mortgage, which of course was factually wrong
and she threw things at me, my grandparents china
she was eating off of, two plates broke,
two more out of the 16 I used to have, and she hit me.
Not the first time she had hit me either.
As a friend I have now says, why did you stay
when you weren’t even getting any pussy?
I know now, but that’s another story
and another poem, perhaps.

So that night, I went in the bathroom
and got out all the pills, the leftover opioids
from dental and surgical procedures,
and put them in a line on the countertop
a total of 11 bottles, see, the expiration date
which had passed on some didn’t matter for this,
and I looked up on my phone what the overdose
for each one was, and I had about 80%
of what was needed for three different kinds
so I figured that together it would be enough
plus they all had acetaminophen mixed in
to keep you from taking too much, but it wasn’t relevant
if I killed my liver, so I opened up all the bottles
and lined them up, and wondered how many
I could swallow at once, would I get halfway and decide
not to finish or not be able to keep them down
and have to go get my fucking stomach pumped.
I was thinking about that when a colleague
who knew what I was going through at the church
with the allegedly Christian assholes there
and knew I had the meeting that evening, he texted me,
hey David, how are you? and I thought how I didn’t care
if my wife would be hurt and distraught and angry
if I ended my life and that anyway I hated my life with her
anger all the time, no sex, her hitting me and yelling
but that there were other people who would care
and did care, and I sorted out the pills
into the different kinds that they were
and put them back in their bottles and put the bottles
back in the cabinet and went out into the living room
where my wife threw a book at me literally, and hit me again.
I was ashamed of this for a long time.
Now I know that I am not responsible for my abuse
that I stayed with her because of childhood patterns
I was not the master of, I never learned how
to be in a relationship in a healthy way before
and I don’t blame her now, she was just as unconscious
and hurting, we all are in some way, so that now,
when I wake up every day more and more conscious,
I am deeply grateful that my life is amazing and glorious.

Three years later I am in a place where I would not
ever think about that again, I know that for truth
because I was that distraught again recently
when I thought one of my lovers was leaving me,
and it didn’t cross my mind to end my life.

So this birthday, I am fucking 60
and alive and in love and joyous
and have women and men who want
to be in my bed and text me that often.
I am surrounded by love, I have more sex
than I have ever had, except for that two year time
when I was 24 and 25 when I picked up
a different woman or sometimes man almost every night,
I estimate a total of 600 people, not bragging
because I’m not exactly proud of this
I survived it and this was in the early 80s
and many of my friends died of AIDS,
I did this without caring about my safety,
kids, don’t try this at home,
until one morning I woke up next to a woman
who was clearly my mother’s age, whose name
I couldn’t remember, and I decided I was done
with anonymous fucking but in reality it never was joy
it was pain, self-medicating through my cock
so now, when I can handle everything in my life,
when I am becoming more self-aware and conscious,
I can say with truth that I have more love than I have ever had.
This past weekend I was surrounded
by lovers and friends and even some family,
and if there ever was a good way to start a new
birth-year, goddamn this was it.
Somebody at my party said, 60 is the new 30,
fuck that, 60 is the new and perfect 60,
60 is the light streaming down when the sun
comes out from behind rain clouds, 60 is the taste
of the ripest strawberries and bitter chocolate,
60 is my lovers eyes, each of them in their turn,
at the other edge of a pillow, their hands in my hair
telling me what they want to do to me,
60 is knowing that each day I have left
is irreplaceable and lovely and perfect,
I”m not even looking ahead to see what might be,
today, right here, now, is enough.

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