“Looking for Bobby,” or Losing & Finding Ourselves


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Ismael_Nery_-_Nu_no_Cabide,_c__1927 Wiki CommonsMay is short story month, and in celebration I’m posting a short story I wrote years ago and published in an online journal, Bareback Lit. Unfortunately, the story can no longer be read on that site.

It’s a strange little story that plays with how we identify ourselves and each other, and how we lose and find ourselves in those identities. It’s not a story to “enjoy,” but I hope you find it interesting.


By Deborah J. Brasket

Bobby is bad. Just turned seventeen, he’s big and mean with hands the size of basketballs. Not that he plays basketball. He likes the clean, straight edge of a razor or knife better.

Bobby is loose. His long sharp bones seem to hang in his tight skin; and when he walks, he dances.

Now he runs. Behind him the drugstore, the cop, growing smaller and smaller. And the sun, the morning sun, soft on his back. Before him races his long, clean shadow, his sharp legs slicing through the sidewalk like knives through butter. He smiles at the image, then turns, darts down an alley. With a quick glance behind him, he spreads long, powerful hands on the top of a wall and scrambles over. Dropping lightly, he pauses, crouched and coiled. His small dark eyes sweep up and swallow the neat back yard, the little house before him. The screen door gapes open like a black hole and he springs for it, entering. He jerks the door close behind him.

“Out boys! I told you kids to stay outside for awhile!”

The house is dark and steeped with strange, myster­ious odors. Bobby hesitates, his breath big as watermelons and hard to swallow. A taste like blood. Soon his hard, dark pupils grow soft and fat with the darkness absorbed. All around him rush shapes, objects, unfamiliar. Bobby jumps.

“Greg! You hear me? I mean it now. Just git on outside!”

Slowly, stealthily, Bobby approaches the open doorway and the voice behind it. He places his hand on his hip pocket, feels the hard shaft within, and then swings forward to fill the doorway.

The room is draped against the light. Only the glow of the TV and the woman’s pale skin can be seen. She sits curled in the corner of the couch, plumped up like a big pillow, one bare leg tucked childishly beneath her. Bobby grins.

The woman glances up, annoyed. Her round eyes grow rounder as she takes him in. “Where’s Greg?”

“I dunno no Greg. You just sit quiet little mama and you won’t get hurt.”

“Me sit quiet? That’s a laugh! You’re the one making all the noise!” Her plump legs unfold and she pads toward the TV, turns the volume up. “Sorry, but I’ve been waiting all morning to watch this. Go ahead and sit down though. It won’t be long.” She smiles, curls up into a ball again on the couch.

Bobby flicks a wet tongue over his lips. Smart ass, he thinks. He strolls over to the TV and yanks the plug from its socket. Now there’s no light but hers.

“Well, that’s a fine howdy-do! Guess I do watch too much TV, though. That’s what my husband says anyway. Thinks I spend all day parked in front of the tube. As if I had the time! But those soaps. You watch them once and you’re hooked. All those lives running out every which way. And you got to ask yourself–how will it all end? You never can tell which way a life will turn, can you?”

She sits now on the edge of the couch, elbows on knees, her wide pale face caught between the palms of her hands like a moon among clouds, watching him as he stands there with the plug in his hand.

“It’s all right now. You can sit down. I won’t bite or anything.” She winks. “I can see you need to rest a spell. How ‘bout a Coke?”

Bobby flings the cord away and springs to a crouch, whipping his knife out in an instant where it lays now in his hand like a living thing.

“Who you think you talkin’ to, woman?” he says, eyes narrowed to slits. “You see this here?” He turns the blade so that it catches a stray beam of light, making it dance in his hand. “This here’s my own special baby. My very fine and lovin’ lady. She do anything for me. She like nothing better than to decorate little ladies like yourself. So you sit there real quiet-like and don’t get her riled none, hear?” Bobby’s feet move, restless, beneath him. The knife feels like a fish, cold and slippery, in his hand. And this woman like a deep, round pool.

The woman gives a startled little laugh. “My! You’re quick-like, aren’t you! You remind me of my brother. He was wild like that and all. Always springing out at a body! And look what’s come of him!”

Bobby snorts. “Lady, I may be a number of things, but I promise you this, I ain’t nowhere near like your brother!”

“Why sure you are! Look at you. You have his mouth—— corners all droopy, like his smile fell down, I use to tell him. He never did like to hear me say that. No sense of humor. You don’t want to turn out like him, though.”

“That a fact?” Bobby says. “So? Just what happened to this all-bad bro’ of yours?” he demands, curious.

“0-h-h-h, you wouldn’t want to know,” she assures him, shaking her head slowly, her round eyes grip­ping his and never leaving his face.

Bobby’s knife slips from the light as he feels the room moving back and forth beneath him. He gives his head a shake as if to free it. With an effort he lifts his knife.

“You one crazy woman, you know that? Why don’t you shut that fat face awhile. In a little bit, I’m gone, and you ain’t never gonna know I was here at all. See?”

“Oh no you don’t!” she says firmly, rising. “You can’t stay here one minute more with that knife in your hand. Heaven’s! You’re not that much like my brother! The mouth maybe, and the funny way with your feet like you’re going to fall flat on your face, and your eyes. . . maybe. But no,” she adds decisively and strides past him toward the front door. “This won’t do at all. I have two little boys to think about. Why, if they should come home now and see you here like this . . . why, I don’t know what they’d think! It’s bad enough on TV. But in their own home?”

She opens the door, holding it for him. The light on the lawn is dazzling, rising in waves of green. The sidewalk lays across it like a white-hot poker.

“Go on, now. Go home where you belong. Take a nice long nap. You’ll feel lots better.” Bobby steps out into the light and shakes himself free from the cloying darkness.

“Git, now!” she shoos him away with the back of her hand. “And for heaven’s sake, put that knife away! Remember what I told you about my brother!”

Bobby shoots away from her touch like a bullet.

The noon sun is hot and intense upon Bobby’s head as he slows to a walk. He studies his shadow laying in a fat, round puddle at his feet, fishes it for lost images of himself. That crazy broad! He tries to laugh but can’t quite manage yet, can’t quite figure out how she failed to know him. But he ima­gines how he’ll hoot when he tells the others. Tells them how this crazy fat lady mistook him for her brother, tried to sit him down and feed him hot chicken soup and cookies for lunch. They’ll get a kick out of that one! For they know him well. Even the young ones know all about ol’ Bobby and his dancing, blinking blade!

He feels better now and begins to run, his knife reaching out before him. He feels his blood pumping through his veins, pumping so fine and fast it would like to cut loose without him.

He’s almost to the corner when he hears a sound behind him.

“Freeze! Hold it right there!”

Bobby grins. At least the Man knows him. He stops and turns. The sun dancing on his knife blade seems to leap from his hand like a fish.

Slowly Bobby slips into the pool lying like a shadow at his feet. The splash is the sound of gun fire. Cool, cloy­ing arms reach up to grab him, pull him under. He breaks loose, struggling for the surface, for the light, for some forgotten image.

Lying in his own dark puddle, Bobby looks up to see the fat sun wink. And close its eye on him forever.

To Mother the World


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Painting_by_Manoj_PaturkarThe novel I am working on is about relationships between mothers and children and all the ways that is expressed, from the most fearful and destructive to the most trusting and freeing. So I’ve been thinking a lot on this topic lately.

A passage that had a huge influence on my understanding of what “mothering” is, or could be, is found in the Tao Te Ching (CHXXV):

There was something complete and nebulous

Which existed before the Heaven and Earth,

Silent, invisible

Unchanging, standing as One,

Unceasing, ever-revolving,

Able to be the Mother of the World.

This Mother of the World, of course, is Tao, the all-pervading, all embracing, unchanging, and unceasing. It’s the thing that evolves, supports, nurtures, protects, and provides space for its “children,” all individual being.

A tall order for a mere human.

Yet something about that passage spoke to me as a woman and mother. It drew within me the desire to embrace my children in that spirit. And I found the mothering of my own two children improved immensely when I was able to step back and project in some way this more expansive sense of mothering that allows them to feel loved and supported without all the worries and anxieties and criticism and fear that accompany a mere human sense of mothering.

This mothering is not as personal, intense, or myopic, as the latter. It doesn’t hover, it doesn’t obsess, it doesn’t fret. It frees them “to be,” and is based on an immense sense of trust—in myself, in them, and in the universe at large. In God, or Tao, or some divine presence or higher power that embraces all of us, and gives each of us the capacity to mother each other.

This is not to say that I often meet this ideal. Far from it.

But I know that I mother my own children best and make fewer mistakes when I’m able to embrace them in that larger, more expansive way. And it feels more natural, less constricted, to mother that way.

I find this kind of mothering works best when all-inclusive. When I embrace all around me with the same mothering spirit. Not just my children, but all children, all people, all things—my home, my community, my work—even the individual objects that fill the space around me and the space outside my window.  When I’m able to actually feel and identify with that potential, to “be” the “Mother of the World.”

Mothering, I learned, is a capacity that anyone can embrace: man, woman, child. You don’t have to be a mother, or have children of your own, to mother the world. When you adopt that stance, all things become your children to nurture, cherish, support, love—to help bring to their full potential.

Here’s wishing you all a lovely day of “mothering.”

Poets on Poetry: Mark Doty, Mackerel & Metaphors


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fishes-421346_640One of the things I love most is writing about writing, unraveling the creative process, how the mind at play works.

Mark Doty’s essay Souls on Icedescribing how he came to write a particular poem, is a fascinating example of that. He put into words something I’ve long felt and toyed with–how certain images, feelings, experiences will strike me as singularly important. Somehow they seem deeply relevant to the world at large, as if I pulled hard enough and long enough at one of these loose strands I’d see how it’s all connected and, in the process, unravel one small corner of the mystery that underlies the universe.

Below are parts of the essay that spoke so eloquently to me, but I highly recommend reading the whole thing at the link above.

It begins with Doty “struck by the elegance of the mackerel in the fresh fish display” and how this sighting prompted his poem “A Display of Mackerel.”

“Our metaphors go on ahead of us, they know before we do. . . . . I can’t choose what’s going to serve as a compelling image for me. But I’ve learned to trust that part of my imagination that gropes forward, feeling its way toward what it needs; to watch for the signs of fascination, the sense of compelled attention (Look at me, something seems to say, closely) that indicates that there’s something I need to attend to. Sometimes it seems to me as if metaphor were the advance guard of the mind; something in us reaches out, into the landscape in front of us, looking for the right vessel, the right vehicle, for whatever will serve. . . .

I almost always begin with description, as a way of focusing on that compelling image, the poem’s “given.” I know that what I can see is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg; if I do my work of study and examination, and if I am lucky, the image which I’ve been intrigued by will become a metaphor, will yield depth and meaning, will lead me to insight. The goal here is inquiry, the attempt to get at what it is that’s so interesting about what’s struck me. Because it isn’t just beauty; the world is full of lovely things and that in itself wouldn’t compel me to write. There’s something else, some gravity or charge to this image that makes me need to investigate it.

Exploratory description, then; I’m a scientist trying to measure and record what’s seen.”

The poem follows. See how his plucking at one loose thread leads to the unraveling of a whole universe of ideas.

“A Display of Mackerel”

They lie in parallel rows,

on ice, head to tail,

each a foot of luminosity


barred with black bands,

which divide the scales’

radiant sections


like seams of lead

in a Tiffany window.

Iridescent, watery


prismatics: think abalone,

the wildly rainbowed

mirror of a soapbubble sphere,


think sun on gasoline.

Splendor, and splendor,

and not a one in any way


distinguished from the other

—nothing about them

of individuality. Instead


they’re all exact expressions

of the one soul,

each a perfect fulfilment


of heaven’s template,

mackerel essence. As if,

after a lifetime arriving


at this enameling, the jeweler’s

made uncountable examples,

each as intricate


in its oily fabulation

as the one before

Suppose we could iridesce,


like these, and lose ourselves

entirely in the universe

of shimmer—would you want


to be yourself only,

unduplicatable, doomed

to be lost? They’d prefer,


plainly, to be flashing participants,

multitudinous. Even now

they seem to be bolting


forward, heedless of stasis.

They don’t care they’re dead

and nearly frozen,


just as, presumably,

they didn’t care that they were living:

all, all for all,


the rainbowed school

and its acres of brilliant classrooms,

in which no verb is singular,


or every one is. How happy they seem,

even on ice, to be together, selfless,

which is the price of gleaming.


My Top 25 Binge-Worthy TV Series


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TV PhotoFunia_26d32

It appears to be all the rage now, binge-watching favorite TV  series. Especially with the advent of Netflix originals, where a whole season of episodes is dumped at once for our viewing pleasure. But even before that, many of us were renting complete seasons on DVD to watch in the comfort of our homes. It’s the antithesis of traditional network viewing with episodes spoon-fed to viewers once a week for short periods of time while shoveling in five-minute commercial breaks every six minutes. It’s enough to make you want to unplug network TV. And many have.

Some critics are calling this the new golden age of TV, where thoughtful, complex characters, riveting plots, solid story arcs that span the series as well as each episode, and quality production values matter. The Sopranos is frequently cited as the beginning of this golden age, and still often tops critic’s list for best all-time TV series. Breaking Bad is a new contender for the top spot, and several others are shaping up to be worthy competitors.

I’ve jumped on the binge-watching wagon, although I usually limit myself to 3 episodes per week. I like to give the shows time to percolate between viewing, and since I watch TV only on the week-ends, it gives me something to look forward to, when hubby and I can kick back and enjoy the sugar rush.

Here’s our top 25 binge-worthy TV series so far, in no particular order expect for the categories listed below. Some are highly acclaimed, some are just fun, all are addictive.

Complete Series Available

The Sopranos

Breaking Bad

Six Feet Under

Big Love


The Shield


Battlestar Gallactica


The Killing





The Borgias

Boardwalk Empire

Series in Progress


Downton Abbey

Orange Is the New Black

House of Cards

Game of Thrones

The Americans

New and Promising


Black Sails

True Detective

I have to add a couple of other note-worthies that I didn’t include above: The PBS Horatio Hornblower series, which came out in 1981 and is only available on DVD, and The White Queen, based on the historical book series by Phillipa Gregory, which unfortunately was cancelled after one season.

What have you been watching that you can recommend? Anything included here? Anything new? I’d love to hear what you think.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy these as well:

Popcorn, Anyone? My Top 100 Movies Challenge

20 Favorite and Most Influential Books

Sexy, Smart, Sweet, & Soulful


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outlander_612x380_0Finally! I found what I was looking for when I wrote the post Speaking of Erotica, a “steamy love story that has depth and substance.” I wrote:

I am seeking something that stimulates and satisfies in a deeper way than what I’ve found so far. A story that explores, perhaps, at least to some degree, both the sensual and spiritual nature of desire, arousal, and consummation. After all, sexual and spiritual pleasure, power and transformation are parallel journeys on the road to fulfillment. Both are precipitated by strong human desires for union with the Other. Both, arguably, are what shape us as human beings.

Each journey involves deep longing for something beyond the individual self. Each requires trust and receptivity, surrender and self-sacrifice, tenderness and devotion. Each gives way to passion and delight, awe and wonder, ecstasy and bliss, love and transcendence.

Each seeks the Beloved.

Strangely enough, I read the first three chapters of the book in question and put it away, thinking it wasn’t what I was looking for. And I might never have returned to the book if it hadn’t recently been made into a cable TV series that I watched on Netflix. The film took me beyond the pages I had read and showed me what I had missed. Now I’ve finished the first book in the cult-classic series and have begun the second.

Yes, you guessed it. The book is The Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, a time-traveling historical romance set in the 1940’s and 18th century Scotland.

The book isn’t as literary as I’d originally hoped and the prose sometimes dips toward purple, but it makes up for it by some truly beautiful writing and by turning the romance genre upside-down in so many interesting (and sometimes disturbing) ways. Our hearty hero, for instance, is younger than our heroine and he’s a virgin to boot. It is he who is lusted after by the villain rather than our heroine. And she, far from being an innocent is an experienced, strong, deeply intelligent woman with a fierce mind of her own, which, sadly, gets her and a lot of other people into a lot of trouble. Yet, while she puts herself into situations where she must be saved, she does an equal amount of saving herself.

Still, the characters are nuanced and complex, including the villains, and the plot turns in unexpected ways that add the depth and substance I was seeking. And the romance that blooms between Claire and Jaime is not only steamy but sweet and tender and, yes, soulful, in the way that Whitman writes with such lust and love for life in all its many intimate and erotic forms.

The Outlander series has been around for a long time and has a large, devoted following. I’m surprised I hadn’t come across it before.

How about you? Have you read the books or are you watching the Starz series? If you’ve read or watched Game of Thrones, chances are you will enjoy these as well.

Here’s a fun and sexy music video that will get you into the mood for romance.

Primary Wonder & A Bell Awakened – Two By Levertov


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DSCN0032 (2)The whole purpose of life, of this extraordinary experience in being, is to be awake to the wonder and mystery around us in all their myriad forms. These two poems speak eloquently to that need.

Primary Wonder

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.

And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

Variation On A Theme By Rilke

A certain day became a presence to me;
there it was, confronting me–a sky, air, light:
a being. And before it started to descend
from the height of noon, it leaned over
and struck my shoulder as if with
the flat of a sword, granting me
honor and a task. The day’s blow
rang out, metallic–or it was I, a bell awakened,
and what I heard was my whole self
saying and singing what it knew: I can.

Both by Denise Levertov

A Walk to Point San Simeon


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DSCN0119Recently my husband and I and friends took our dogs walking out to Point San Simeon, just below Hearst Castle off Highway One. We’ve lived on the central coast of California nearly all our adult lives, and visited this area often, yet it’s the first time we’ve walked to the point. It won’t be our last. It was one of those breathtakingly beautiful days, and the scenery was stunning. Well worth sharing a few photos with friends.


We took Highway 46 over to the coast, the hillsides sprinkled with wild flowers.


Along the way we catch glimpses of the ocean . . .


. . . including Morro Rock.


Here’s a view of San Simeon Bay, with the pier and a peek of Hearst Castle on the hillside.


A closer view of the Castle.


We start our walk on the beach looking out at the point.


Here’s where the trail begins. Looking back at the beach and pier.


Friends on the trail.


Back-lit pines.


Wild flowers and fallen oaks.


Some of the largest and most spectacular Eucalyptus trees we’ve ever seen. . .


beautifully sculpted . . .


and inspiring . . .


wayward philosophers . . .


. . . explorers . . .


. . . and poets.


Finally we reach the point, complete with a lone fisherman and an elephant seal sleeping in the half-shade.


In case you missed him in the last photo.


Dazzling shades of blue around the sea-washed rocks on the point.


One last backward glimpse of the pier and beach as we head back to the car.

DSCN0283We take the back roads home past Hammersky Vineyard and Inn . . .


. . . past vineyards and grazing horses . . .


. . . past live oaks and wild flowers . . .


. . . to reach the tree at the bottom of our driveway (you can see our roof-line at the far right edge). I never fail to feel blessed by the beauty of the landscapes where we live.

Whitman – Where the Sensual & Soulful Merge


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Paradise_Lost_16Walt Whitman is indeed that poet who sings the body electric, who shows how the sensual and the soulful mirror and celebrate each other.  I’d almost forgotten how it’s done. This is what I was looking for in my last post, the kind of sensuality that sets the soul on fire.

From Song of Myself


I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my Soul;
I lean and loafe at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass.

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes—the shelves are crowded with perfumes;
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it;
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume—it has no taste of the distillation—it is odorless;
It is for my mouth forever—I am in love with it;
I will go to the bank by the wood, and become undisguised and naked;
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.


Urge and urge and urge,

Always the procreant urge of the world.

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always sex,

Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life . . . .

Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul . . . .

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,

Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest. 


I believe in you my soul, and the other I am must not abase itself to you,

And you must not be abased to the other. 

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat,

Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best,

Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning,

How you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d over upon me,

And parted the shirt from my boson-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart,

And reach’d till you felt my beard, and reach’d till you held my feet.

Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the argument of the earth,

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,

And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,

And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,

And that a kelson of the creation is love . . . .


She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank;
She hides, handsome and richly drest, aft the blinds of the window.

Which of the young men does she like the best?
Ah, the homeliest of them is beautiful to her.

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you;
You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room.

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather;
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them.

The beards of the young men glisten’d with wet, it ran from their long hair:
Little streams pass’d all over their bodies.

An unseen hand also pass’d over their bodies;
It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs.

The young men float on their backs—their white bellies bulge to the sun—they do not ask who seizes fast to them;
They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch;
They do not think whom they souse with spray.


I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul,

The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me,

The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue.


From I Sing the Body Electric


I have perceived to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,

To be surrounded by the beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,

To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?

I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea . . . .

There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odor of them, that pleases the soul well,

All things please the soul, and these please the soul well.


The skin, the sunburnt shade, freckles, hair,

The curious sympathy one feels when feeling with the hand the naked meat of the body,

The circling rivers the breath, and breathing it in and out,

The beauty of the waist, and thence of the hips, and thence downward toward the knees,

The thin red jellies within you or within me, the bones and the marrow in the bones,

The exquisite realization of health;

O I say these are not the parts and poems of the body only, but of the soul,

O I say now these are the soul!

* * *

 I could have added many more lush lines, but I’ll stop here. If you haven’t read Leaves of Grass lately, I highly recommend.


Speaking of Erotica . . .


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320227916_e6d5fc518e_ocreative commons. . . have you read anything hot lately?

Perhaps it was the convergence of Valentine’s Day and the release of Fifty Shades of Gray (the movie), but I’ve been on the look-out for a really hot romance. Something literary. Not the so-called mommy-porn “Gray” aspires to. Nor the BDSM that seems so popular these days. But a straight, steamy love story that has depth and substance. I have yet to find what I’m seeking.

It hasn’t been from lack of trying though. I read “Gray” back when it first came out just to see what the hoopla was all about. But I couldn’t get past the first three chapters–the writing was so silly, the characters so unbelievable, and even the sexual tension between the two seemed tepid at best. Nothing to keep me turning pages.

Since then I’ve revisited some “steamy” romances I read in my youth, only to find them sadly lacking. I’ve surfed through pages of reviews of erotic romance and downloaded a few e-books onto my Kindle (thank God for Kindle—this is what it was created for!). While some were fun reads, and others hot enough to steam up my reading glasses, all left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied.

I am seeking something that stimulates and satisfies in a deeper way than what I’ve found so far. A story that explores, perhaps, at least to some degree, both the sensual and spiritual nature of desire, arousal, and consummation. After all, sexual and spiritual pleasure, power and transformation are parallel journeys on the road to fulfillment. Both are precipitated by strong human desires for union with the Other. Both, arguably, are what shape us as human beings.

Each journey involves deep longing for something beyond the individual self. Each requires trust and receptivity, surrender and self-sacrifice, tenderness and devotion. Each gives way to passion and delight, awe and wonder, ecstasy and bliss, love and transcendence.

Each seeks the Beloved.

I can’t help thinking that the first journey, that’s seeded in sexual desire for oneness, is what prepares us for the second, to step outside ourselves into something that subsumes us. And I can’t help believing that the two journeys can overlap or coincide. That the parallels between them have deep significance.

Maybe this kind of recognition is too much to ask for in an erotic romance. But I’m still looking.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading hot romances? Anything you’d recommend?

Happy Valentines Day – Celebrating Lasting Love


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“The Turning of the Tide” by Charles Dana Gibson

I’m reprinting a post I wrote two years ago, the first to be Freshly Pressed. Hope you enjoy it.

They say opposites attract. That was true when my husband and I first met. I found in him everything I felt missing in myself—he was strong and brave, adventurous, self-confident, practical, capable, a man of the world. I was shy, timid, uncertain of myself, a romantic, an idealist, inexperienced. I was a senior in High School. He was a marine returning home from two years in Viet Nam. I thought I had found my soul mate, we seemed to complement each other so well, like two halves of a whole, yin and yang.

The truth is, we were just what we needed at the time. This dark, moody often angry young man who could also be so sweet and loving fulfilled a romantic yearning in me to sooth the savaged soul—Beauty and the Beast, after all, had always been my favorite fairy tale. And he was sorely needing the sweetness and innocence he saw in me, after the things he had witnessed in war. We fit together perfectly in each other’s arms. We still do.

Virgin Islands27But now I no longer believe in soul mates. I discovered that all the things I was attracted to in him, that seemed to be missing pieces of me, were really undeveloped parts of myself, and a sense of “completion” could not come from outside me but from within. Once I realized that and began to discover that I too was strong and brave, adventurous, self-confident and capable, I no longer yearned for a soul mate. I could stand upright and free even while fully committed to our marriage. We did not need each other, but we chose to be together. We were committed to creating a life that we both could love and enjoy together.

I had always loved what Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet had written about marriage, and came to see the wisdom of his words:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness. And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart. And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” ― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Virgin Islands19I also came to realize what Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift From The Sea” wrote:

“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

And finally, I whole-heartedly embraced what Madeleine L’Engle in “The Irrational Season” wrote:

“To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take . . . . If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation… It takes a lifetime to learn another person… When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.”

IMG_4093 (4)My husband and I celebrated our 43rd anniversary last week. Here’s what I’ve learned about lasting love:

That marriage is a journey, not a destination, and the way will be hard, and filled with obstacles and challenges and heartache. That real love is not “true love.” It’s not a given. It doesn’t come ready-made. You have to fight for it, you have to work for it, you have to shake it out from time to time, and mend it and keep adding stitch after stitch, row after row, if you want to make it big enough and strong enough to last a lifetime.

Our marriage quilt is a tattered thing, but beautiful in its homeliness, in the places where its obvious rips and tears have been mended over and over again, the places where it’s grown thin and threadbare and had to be reinforced, as well as the places where it’s warm and soft and scented with memories that bring deep pleasure.

Loveliest of all are the stitches we are still sowing day by day, moment by moment, hand in hand, together.

I will end this series of posts on love and marriage with the last love poem I wrote my husband, a few years after our marriage had almost ended.

It is a simple, playful poem, meant to please a man who is not a lover of poetry, but loves the woman who writes it.

To Dale, On Our Twelfth Wedding Anniversary

Sometimes you ask me if I really love you,
Like the answers hid behind a lock and key
You are my love and all the world must know it
For it’s scattered ‘cross the land and half the sea.

There are winds and waves much sweetened by our pleasure,
Rocks and sand well smoothed by hips and thighs,
Grass that grows much greener from our nearness,
And trees that rustle still with sated sighs.

If you climb a certain stream that flows near Big Sur
You’ll find a rock well made for lying on,
It knew our love before it was made sacred
And longs to feel our lover’s urge again.

While high along the rugged spine of Baja,
Where boney cliffs fall far to find the sea,
We saw the world stripped bare of all but beauty
And we alone like Adam and his Eve.

The moon once tipped the hills beyond Coyote
And laced Conception Bay with fluorescent light,
We swam out naked through those silken waters
Where you would me round your hips and held me tight.

And cupped within the palm of Virgin Gorda
Lies an island and a secret, sandy cove,
Where we waded from the sea like mating mermen
And stretched upon the sand to prove our love.

The wind once made an early morning visit
As we rolled upon a hook in Carib Bight,
While sweeping down the hatch it caught us naked
And added its cool breath to our delight.

Now wind and sea and rock and tree can tell you
The answer that you say you do not know,
You are my love and all the world’s a witness
For its sung wherever winds and waves do blow.

NOTE:  This ends a series of posts that originally were supposed to be part of a series of love poems to celebrate April as National Poetry Month. Eventually it morphed into something else–a memoir of our marriage, or an anatomy of love as it evolves over time. Below are the first four posts in the series, which seem to cover  married love in all of its manifestations:  Innocent love, erotic love, disappointed love, love lost, love renewed, and love that lasts. 

Silly Little Love Poems, Unloosed at Last

The Geometry, and Geography, of Love

Love’s Duplicity

Love Lost, and Renewed


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