Marbles

Tell me

Does it embarrass you

That your son fancies lovely things?

He’s not a brick breaker

Like his father

Or his father before him

But he wears the seasons

On his fingers and toes

Occasionally

Should the mood arise

And he knows

That you’re a product of your era

And he cannot blame you

Nor is he inclined to

But the blood’s

A little thinner

Between you now

The heart has to

Pump a little harder

Now

The lashes sting

A little less

Now that they’ve become

The yolk to your egg

The routine

And he has all but

Lost his marbles

In a panic

He tries to collect them

Like little bits

Of a rolling sky

That used to be blue

For him

For me

J’ai tombé amoureux 

I have fallen in love 

with the face of charm 

One of many guises 

All of which I’ve learned 

and worn 

I have fallen in love 

with a specter 

Shallow and pale 

No color to your eyes 

Empty and uncommitted 

I would poison myself 

with the bite of an apple 

Picked from your tree 

Grown especially for me 

If you called it candy 

or if I knew 

It would still be my wish 

if it made you happy 

I gave myself to you

thinking 

You’d give me back whole 

but you left me a shell 

A faint resemblance 

of my former self 

So here I lie:

Deflated, 

draped over the sofa

My heart in your mouth 

Smiling until you take the leap

and swallow 

Because I have fallen in love 

with a nightmare 

Who scared me awake,

and who cradles me 

back to sleep 

I leave tomorrow

I only sleep with men of substance 

I only give myself 

to scholars 

You’re committed 

And I’m a wanderer 

But he knows 

And I leave tomorrow 

He’s in South America 

We’re in the Atlantic northeast 

Pulling creases from silk sheets 

Popping glocks at the summer breeze

You’ve lived this version of me 

nearly three times 

and that calms me down 

As I rub knots from your back 

and ask about your students 

This is not subject to change 

And I am feeling OK

because I’ll walk away ahead 

I’ll get off on your intellectual capacity 

knowing there’s a brain in your skull

Not just fire trucks racing 

to paint your girth 

You’ve done well for yourself 

And we may not speak again 

But I know that I’m capable 

of building a story such as yours 

Now having been tangled up 

with you 

What’s in a Label?

Where do you find labels? Hugging soup cans; hanging out on the side of boxes of food; adhering to household cleaning agents; representing recording artists, but that’s not the kind of label I’m referring to. 

What’s the purpose of a label? To explain the ingredients of what’s contained therein. This is good so that you know what you’re putting into your body, at least in the case of food. If you’re ingesting household cleaners, that’s a problem, and there’s a number you can call. But in the case of multi-purpose cleaning agents, the product labels graciously let you know what you’re using to remove stains from fabric or smudges from glass. 

But when do labels have a place otherwise? People don’t walk around with price tags on their foreheads, or calorie counts wrapped around their forearms. The answer to the question: They don’t. 

Words are everything, and when you really think about it, their sole use is a designation. It’s a natural inclination to wonder what something you’ve never encountered before is called- whether it be a concept, something existential, or something tangible, like a coat. 

But with designation also comes restriction. There’s not quite such a thing as an open-ended definition, and even if there were, it’d be unsatisfying because as humans we gravitate towards the linear. We throw descriptions into the confines of a box, and anything that won’t fit cannot be used as part of the definition. Therefore, though labels can be useful, they’re also quite restrictive. Water is called ‘water’ in English, but that’s as far as that word has that meaning. In French, it’s l’eau. In German, it’s das wasser. These kinds of designations are helpful insofar as they identify things. But what’s to be made of the intangible?

Sexuality. Race. Diet. Heredity. It’s all about perception. Labels are used to define these concepts but they’ve also been used to confine them, as well. Someone whose ideals and beliefs are in line with those of feminism is called a feminist. But that word has stirred up a considerable amount of controversy for the misconception that a feminist is a woman who detests men. And to what do we owe that controversy? The label, feminism. Why isn’t it possible for someone to adhere to those morals and not have to identify as a feminist? Without the label, the concept essentially doesn’t exist. It would simply be what somebody believes in, no holds barred. If there’s no name to the face, it’s difficult to imagine that something could be considered wrong or offensive. There’s no such concept until it’s defined. But conceptualization does little more than squeeze ideas and patterns into groups, disparage, and separate. When you separate, you segregate. When you segregate, effectively you quarantine, and quarantine zones are conducive to conflict. 

That man over there wants to marry his boyfriend of nine years, but he can’t, because gay marriage in his state is illegal. Being gay is wrong. But what if he’s not gay? What if- and I know this is a long shot, but bear with me- he’s merely human? He’s fallen in love, and that’s wonderful. Why slap a label onto that? 

And that woman over there is a devout theist. She loves God and wants to devote her life and time to Him. But she can’t do that without being called a bible thumper. Why mark her?

Because of the concept of homosexuality and the label of ‘bible thumper,’ the woman in the second situation is assumed not to be in support of the man in the first. All theists are homophobic. That’s what labeling does- it bridges the gap between individuality and generalization. Try to look at each circumstance as an onion- there are countless layers. They aren’t all the same, solid, hollow block. The same goes for theism, sexuality, vegetarianism, feminism, etc. Ironically, I’m using these designative terms to express my disinterest in them. But if these things weren’t conceptualized, the terminology wouldn’t exist, and my purpose for writing this would be moot.

I call myself this, because it is what I was taught to call this ‘thing,’ this ‘circumstance,’ this ‘condition.’ But the only necessary designation is human, because I think it is safe to say that we all can identify as that. (Unless you can identify as a turtle, in which case always be a turtle.) The rest will become obsolete once we treat people as people, and not as things, or circumstances, or conditions. 

A Few (876) Words On Sexuality and Self-Discovery

I went to the post office yesterday and noticed that they now offer Harvey Milk themed postage stamps. Maybe they have for a while; I don’t know. I rarely go to the post office because I rarely send packages, because I don’t have any friends.

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I’m kidding.

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Half kidding.

Okay, I’m done with that.

We’ve been progressively prying our minds open wider and wider in favor of same-sex marriage for years. Earlier today, this wonderful little bit of news popped up in my Facebook newsfeed:

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Way to go, Fourth Circuit! Blue and yellow have slowly but surely been wiping the board across the country over what once was red. I hope I live to see the day when same-sex marriage is so common that it’s naturally accepted, much like interracial marriage has become.

But that begs the question: Why is sexuality such a prominent thing in our lives? People assign a public label to the most personal human capacities. What’s more is that society places a label of importance on them, as well. This has led us to believe that we have to exhibit perfection in every aspect of our personal lives for the sake of the opinions of others.

If you aren’t a size 0, you’re urged to cover up, because somebody might not like it.

If you’re not white, you’d better not move into a predominantly white neighborhood, because somebody might not like it.

If you’re a practicing Christian, take note to use discretion when you go out to spread the word, because somebody might not like it.

Similarly, if you’re not straight, you really should take caution while publicly displaying affection with your partner, because somebody might not like it.

No matter the circumstance, whatever you do, whoever you are, whoever you love, somebody might not like it. This ‘somebody’ always seems to take precedence over your own convictions. This world is far too caught up in other people’s business; that’s why tabloids are so wildly successful. I can’t speak for other countries, but Americans are too eager to learn what goes on in the bedroom of celebrity couples, or which famous person has been charged with tax evasion, or which celebrity chef may or may not be plagiarizing recipes. And it’s all the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever witnessed.

That’s why the ‘issues’ of same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, or age disparity in relationships are even considered issues. They really aren’t problematic. The people are problematic. They cause more roadblocks on the way to personal happiness and contentment than anything else on the planet. They’re concerned more with preventing other people from doing things that go against their personal beliefs.

There’s a proverb that suggests to live and let live. So why can’t we do that? Let other people do what they want. Remember that what you believe in isn’t what everybody believes in, and that’s OK. That’s what makes this world beautiful: it’s a gargantuan melting pot of colors, sizes, shapes, cultures, languages, belief systems, lifestyles, and practices. I’d rather recognize the beauty in the difference than fight for unanimity.

Ever heard of the Self Evident Truths project by iO Tillet Wright? Check out this video:


 

Whatever rules you live by, please be aware that the same rules do not apply to everyone. If you’re a strict vegan and don’t ingest any sort of animal byproduct, that’s absolutely and 100% fine. But your neighbor might not feel the same. Your parents and siblings might not, either. As long as they support you, what does it matter if they don’t share in your convictions? I know how easy it is to be so passionate about something that you just want to spread it around. Excitement is infectious, this much is true, but don’t be disappointed or feel obligated to ‘convert’ other people to your side.

Going back to the prevalence of sexuality, I tend to feel that too much emphasis is put on sexual preference. To explain further, I don’t consider myself a gay man. I’m simply a man who happens to be gay. Sexuality is a single facet among thousands of others. There’s no need to treat it as some outstanding anomaly; treat it as you would anything else. Who you love does not define you; there’s no reason to accentuate it. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have pride or that you should hide it, however. That’s also not to say that your right to marry shouldn’t be fought for. Press on, and the battle will be won. It’s sad that it’s become a dangling carrot, of sorts.

But being anything other than straight is a mere part of who you are- it isn’t all that you are. On a broader scale, there are so many layers and complexities to every human being that it’s impossible to define by a single attribute. You can pick and choose which aspects of your life you want to represent you, but it’s counterproductive to try to define yourself. To define would be to squeeze inside a box, and we thrive best outside of it.

Do whatever makes your heart content; so long as you are kind, the rest shouldn’t matter.

Be who you want to be. Know that you’re limitless. Preach love, not hate.

If You’ve Ever Felt Slighted in Love

I was fifteen feet behind you
at the walk
The buoyancy of your head
and its tendency to swim
in the current of
my sightline stream

I saw you hand-in-hand with he
whom I’ve taken
under covers
Came up for air, only
partially alive
I got quiet,
She noticed

I called out to you
in my head
but I
hadn’t been thinking loud enough
since the most
I felt from you
was the bitter air
given off
by the glacier on
your shoulder

I realize now
my mistake:
I dug my teeth into
your neck
deep, but not deep enough
Drawing blood, but not
enough
Your eyes went dark
but the blue
came back

The blue came
back

I couldn’t coax you
to my side
of the universe
Not even by wolves
dragging you by
your apprehension

You wouldn’t budge

I took little
bites
out of your heart
Replaced the void
with bits of
my own
But the science
wasn’t right
algorithm incorrect

Now you’re in photos
Happy
crow’s feet
Two men who
took me from within
Left me wilted
without
to grow into their own

Together

The Ambiguity of Dating in 3 Segments

Let’s get one thing out in the open:

I’m gay.

I’ve never taken a high interest in the bar scene. That’s not to say Buffalo doesn’t have a decent one; the drinks here are too cheap to warrant complaining. It’s simply never been somewhere I’ve been eager to hang out. Sure, I’ve been to bars plenty of times before, and to clubs. I’m always accompanied however by a close friend or relative. My point is that I don’t see bars as a conducive environment to meet someone.

It seems to be much easier for heterosapiens to meet organically than it does for us. Maybe I’m mistaken. But if you pick out any one person on the street in a neutral area (meaning nowhere particularly gay-friendly), it is more likely that they are straight than gay. This is because fans of the opposite sex outnumber those of the same sex. That being said, because I don’t rely on serendipity to bring mine and my future potential mate’s paths to cross, I utilize online dating as a means to meet other men. This way, I know that every profile I come across displays a man who is both interested in men and single. Right?

Wrong.

Each person involved in an open relationship should probably be aware that it’s open.

I’ve admittedly struggled in the past to accept and support the concept of an open relationship. I personally choose to practice monogamy, and for the longest time I couldn’t get my head around the idea of someone who doesn’t. However, if it works for you, and you’re happy, then by all means.

People often seem to think it is acceptable not to keep your partner in the know about how you’ve decided to open your relationship up. It isn’t. Stop it.

Case in point: I’ve come across profiles of good-looking guys who seem grounded and stable, and listed under ‘relationship status’ is ‘single.’ So I start up a conversation. Things seem to be going smoothly, until I’m abruptly informed that he is actually not single, is committed, or even married, and his boyfriend or husband doesn’t know about his still-active online dating profile. What? Why would you do that?

Again, I’ve come to back polyamory 110%. But what I can never bring myself to support is a lack of honesty among partners. It’s not cool. Being honest about intentions from the get-go is so much easier, and keeps everyone informed, all of the time. This is another point I will get to following the next paragraph.

I know I shouldn’t judge someone’s way of living if it doesn’t affect me personally. Except it does often affect me if I’m misinformed that you’re single and assume it’s true. To quote Paramore, you can’t be too careful anymore.

Intentions should probably be clear from the beginning.

Why does it seem so difficult to find someone else who shares the same hopefulness that I do to find a long-term relationship? I know it isn’t easy, but the process is excruciating. All too often I’ve seen guys listed on various dating websites and apps that I’ve used whose profiles all contain some variant of the following statement:

Just out of a LTR/newly single/newly divorced and just looking for friends. Nothing serious.

So, your boyfriend maybe broke up with you yesterday, and your immediate reaction is to create another new account on OKCupid? What that proves to me is that you’re fickle as all hell. What kinds of friends do you really expect to find on a dating service? I can’t imagine anyone ever actually wanting to be a rebound. Sidebar: those who are committed and appear on these services as ‘just looking for friends,’ you’re not fooling anyone. You’re greedy and looking for some buns to place your overcooked wiener between on the side. I’m not even sure what that means. Maybe I’m a bit jaded; I am simply following the guidelines in my copy of the Idiot’s Guide to Being Forever Alone. 

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I digress.

There is a very big disparity between what someone is open to, and what they’re looking for. Oftentimes someone who is open to a relationship but isn’t looking for anything serious will not be able to fulfill you if you’re actively pursuing a relationship.

I was recently dating a guy who I really liked. I enjoyed his company very much so. On our first date, I learned he was previously married and divorced. In his own words:

I’m really looking for good friends. Someone I can hang out with at the end of the day, and then go from there.

I was honestly a tad disappointed that we weren’t necessarily looking for the same thing, but I appreciated his honesty. I continued to date him, and at the end of our second date, he kissed me goodnight. I was surprised in the best possible way, but also confused. Is this normally something friends do? Doesn’t seem like it, I thought to myself. It made me believe that he felt the chemistry I did, and that he certainly felt something more romantic budding; something deeper than a friendship. After our third date, he left for vacation to Key West. When he returned, I saw him out one night, drunk, dancing on and kissing other guys. I felt confused and hurt. Even though we weren’t technically together and he was allowed to do whatever the hell he wanted, I felt disrespected. I have this theory that if you genuinely like someone, you wouldn’t let yourself do things like that. Even so, I didn’t want his little display to ruin something potentially good, so we had a fourth date. Although it went well, I soon realized that I think he was just biding his time and having fun with it. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I was beginning to fall for him, though, and he didn’t appear to be taking things between us as seriously as I was. Maybe I should’ve confronted him about how he saw our little dalliance developing, but I refrained. I backed off, and I haven’t heard much from him since. I think that’s closure in itself.

The ambiguity of the entire thing, while some may have found it exciting, I found it somewhat misleading and I had a hard time enjoying myself. That brings me to my third and final point.

Those who have no expectations are probably doing it right.

Dating is supposed to be fun, no? If you don’t have any expectations and simply enjoy the ride, it goes more smoothly, and you avoid disappointment. I know several people who are very much like petals in the wind, so to speak. They go with the flow, wherever life may carry them, and are easily excited and stimulated by new adventures and the unknown. I am not one of those people. I like to know what’s going on. I’m happiest when I know where things are going so that I don’t have to play the guessing game. The only time it’s remotely entertaining is in the form of the children’s suitable-for-all-ages game, Guess Who? If the rules of dating were similar:

What’s my date like? Does he have freckles? Glasses? Is he bald? Does he have a big nose? A hat on? 

All the while you’d be overlooking profiles that don’t fit the descriptions of the questions you’re asking. The last one remaining is your date! How fun. And it would guarantee you a date, which is a feat in itself these days, it would seem. I’ve encountered more men who are less open to going out for dinner or coffee than they are willing to invite me into their bedroom without being able to tell me my name.

But as long as they kiss me while we’re fooling around, that must mean they really like me, right? Right.

I think.