Tag Archives: patriarchy

No Excuses

I wake up at last, sweaty and deadly.
All the specifics of my big bad dreaming
have been erased, but I know it was all focused
on what I will do or will not do for
my own satisfaction.

Ancient, Biblical, archetypal;
clothed in the flushed skin of my history,
choking on fragments of mythology’s
crude dictates: I don’t kid myself
into some sense of personal nobility.
Not after that. Not after the angry
and wanton night-swamp
I just waded through that has left me
drenched in stink and horrible to behold.

This is a shamefaced confession,
not a boast: if I had been an apple,
if I had been The Apple in The Garden,
I suspect I’d have fallen into her hand and left her
with no choice but to bite down and learn.
There would have been no coaxing,
only coercion. I know this because
as beastly as it is to say it,
there has never been any need
for demons to make it happen,
to turn a man toward Evil. A whole
order of civilization, a machine
of enforcement, has made this happen,

and this morning I rise and swear to do my best
to shower, cleanse myself of it as best as I can,
scrub off the long wet dream of domination,
and forget about looking for a snake
as an excuse for my being a serpent.

Neither Dad Nor Jethro Gibbs

Originally posted 10/26/2010, originally titled “Thirty Mescalero Men.”

My father
gave me 
my first knife
when I was six.

A man’s 
only half a man
without a knife, 
he told me then.

On a TV show
the tough but fair Marine
schools his team
on his Rules.  

Rule Number Nine,
he reminds them, is 

“Never go anywhere
without a knife,”  

which is

my father
would have said.

At fifty four I keep a box 
of more than sixty knives
under my bed
and never leave the house without one.

Some of the knives I carry
are old — I still have
my first, which was old
when I got it — 

but some are new,
and I cannot say

I’ll never buy another
or stop adding to the armory.

By all the rules 
and lessons I have learned
I am at least 
thirty men,

but I feel certain that neither Dad
nor Jethro Gibbs

would believe 
I’m any 
of them.

The Real Man’s Approach To Painting

Originally posted 8/29/2010.

you say
you’re material?
I say you are
my material.

you are pale
to be written upon, 
tough to be 
stitched, taut to take my paint.

I’ll get on you, canvas.
no backtalk, 
no ticktock or ripsnap 
when the wind gets at your back.  

mine, canvas, you’re mine.
I’ll sail you,
wear you,
cover you in my vision.

when I’m done
everyone’s gonna know 
who hit you.