Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

poetry

love loving love

[from strange horizons poems]

in this blistering pace of the day, this life
all that is missed or lost or unremarked upon
all the moments we didn’t stop
and pause in prayer of affirmation
what gets lost?
what loves go unfound
unspoken
ungifted

i am certain in my last days
the joys i have celebrated will out balance the dark times
or, i am certain
that given the chance
starting at this very second
that I could begin
to tilt the balance towards
more love poems
towards more love moments
towards love
period

pointing this direction of my life
i can choose my targets
i have opportunities so clear as this
given the choice
given this life, and this pause
given everything i do and everything i’ve yet to do
if i choose with intention
i can aim my arrow
towards a deeper appreciation
of love loving love
and being loved back

01/2015


it’s me and the coffee cup today

OFF-montrealmorning

[from strange horizons poems]

it is often what i leave out of the picture
is what i really want to tell you about
the images and shapes just behind my screen
the consciousness i call me
filters hard against the dirty messy stuff
a few gems get out
when i’m tired or not paying attention
but i’m letting you know
the images you can almost see
in the photos and selfies
contain the heart of the matter
i’m digging
i’m trying
but i am often afraid
and i shy away from cutting too deep
into my own exposure and isolation
i’m reaching out in this way
but there’s so much left beneath
so much to crack open and share
but if the connection is not secure
if the contact isn’t full-bandwidth
i know
i’ve been there
a lot of the subtleties will be missed
and the message gets muddled
in the words i select
in what i’m willing to try for
i’ve grown a bit weary
of the attempts at binding myself to another
it’s what i live for
it’s what i’m dying for
it’s what i lack
in my constant seeking
for syllables to convey my love
brilliance
intelligence
worthiness
and she’s missed again
by a mile
the target was undeveloped
and my shotgun approach
was taken full force in the face
and i scared another potential
off frame
and again
it’s me and the coffee cup today

11-1-14


in my blue bedroom

[from strange horizons poems]

there is a blue that binds us together
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.04.14 PMme an d u

a blue so blue
it hurts
my fingers
to t y p e this
just so you know

a blue that reminds me of the time without you
and beds and nights of ocean cool
and a blue so cold
so pure
it felt like i might be dying

with      without you
or any thought of you
didn’t exist yet
in my blue bedroom
before u
arrived

3-9-16


alone for the day

montreal-alone

[from strange horizons poems]

even the cold here is love
you are as close as bye
maybe sleeping
maybe leading a room of sleepers
maybe i’m dreaming this
you
us
how would i know
what point in time would waking deliver?
no one can translate the french
i don’t need words
only sounds
and this perfect glass of water
to remember
our triumphant
hello
just over a year ago

has the dream continued to rise all this time?
and the love
continued unabated and strong

how can i comprehend
this warmth you have wrapped around me?
and these dreams
made real

2-25-16


i can only tell you how much i love you in two languages

montreal-stairwell

[from strange horizons poems]

it’s not enough
i know this
words don’t contain enough life, love, living…
they are just here
on the page
crying out to be with you
in you
feeling what it feels like to be next to you
i would give this second
and every one after it
to find my way back to your side
at this moment
you are moments away
and still
i can tell something is missing
as if a part of me
is strapped on your back
in your backpack
as you rush up the escalator
and into your day job
meetings

i will hold
this space
this empty joy
alone
until you return
and give me
back the piece
or at least rejoin
my heart
together
with
you

2-25-16


loving you in many distant cities

montreal-a

[from strange horizons poems]

as we rush apart
finding our niche
and comfort
to prepare a kiss
a pressed hand
a longing from across the room
i see
and miss you
immediately
knowing you are mine
here
and just a heartbeat away
and still i crave
your laugh
and sparkle
returning
soon
returning
forever
returning
joy

2-25-16


mvd2.0

off-hearttree

[from strange horizons poems]

something about your heart doesn’t make sense
a desire beyond all desires
a part of your soul you don’t understand
but are drawn to
the thrill, the chase, the capture,
the loss, the love, the sadness
it’s all in there at the beginning
and if you spot the one you’re looking for
no amount of distress or baggage
will keep you from
giving it your best shot
communicating freely
loving wildly
being reckless
bold

don’t hold back when the winds of love arrive
the storm approaches and you can lean in
or run with the dust and rain

ours is the way of brave things
kisses like arrows of fate and joy and excess
piercing the veil
of loneliness
hope
and
desire

the poetry of desire has created the maelstrom
a belief in myself
in my power to call in what the universe demands
of lovers
and answering the call
who am i to hesitate
when the time opens up and says forever
i am good to go
perhaps for a year
perhaps for a lifetime
i have only lived this far
i do not know
but i feel

you have awakened the life in me
of potential and possibilities
lying together
side by side
strokes and cuddles
smiles
and groans
as we seek the hand
push back against the night
with laughter
longing
and
full
fill
ment
of
the
we

2-5-16


her surrounding love

illig-framed-2016

[from strange horizons poems]

just above her wrist
there’s a sweetness
that only i know
a place behind her thigh
that i hold on to
and the left neck nibble
drives her to laughter
no matter what mood
might be passing through
i cannot imagine
a more perfect union
flawless in our imperfection
fitting in our wants
reverent in our needs
she keeps me in her pocket
when she leaves
she keeps me wrapped up inside
warm

2-1-16

image: framed, by Ed Illig ©2106, used by permission


more than a love poem

mylove[from strange horizons poems]

a love day
to celebrate the year of changes
growth
kisses
and deep understanding

seeing you again today for the first time
i am reminded how easy you are to adore
that first laugh infected my heart
pulling me out of a slumber
brave and strong

aspiring to stand beside you
true
open
vulnerable
seen

reflecting back
brief moments of joy
and belonging
together

1-15-16


Confronting God Alone, After Divorce

OFF-jesus-necklace

We are the rebound and rebuilding of our past loves and losses.

I’m certain that I prayed to God to save my marriage. More than once or twice. I would’ve done nearly anything to keep my little family unit together. I counseled with my minister, I shouted out loud at the heavens, I wrote prayers that sounded more like love poems. And nothing…

It was a time for miracles and togetherness. One shiny family, orbiting God, and giving thanks along with lots of giggles and screams.

Turns out, somewhere, a bigger plan was being put into motion. Praying for the repair of something broken might not have been aligned with the plan. Who’s plan? What plan? And when would I know the rules and routes of the plan? I knew very little about any plan, and I was getting pretty snarky in tone as I pleaded with my higher power to fix things. I wanted them fixed the way I wanted them. I had no idea what was in store, but I had a lot of living and self-discovery ahead before I would catch a glimpse of my bright future.

My then-wife and I got really spiritual about the time we decided to start “trying to have a baby.” That means we ended all birth control and had a brief window of joyful and bountiful sex. It was the opening up to the possibility of a child, or children, that was the big Ah ha moment. We had some woo woo things we did, like talking to the baby in the womb and going to birthing classes. And we prayed and said thanks all the time. Life ahead appeared to be full speed ahead.

In less than a year after being married, we were gifted with the first child, a son. Once again, our lives were transformed as we surrounded him and each other with a warmth that only comes from some kind of spiritual grace. We were aligned, in-tune, and in-communication with God, capital G, for sure.

Through toils and snares we tried again and were given a baby daughter this time, to fulfill our pair, one of each, our unimaginable fortune. For years and years the kids took all of our energy, all of our creativity, all of our focus, and a lot of our time. But we were happy for the transformation in our lives from self-important to parents. It was not a sacrifice to tell friends, “Sorry, I can’t come see the movie, our kids are working on an important Lego fortress and I’ve got to help.”

I was devastated and depressed and God was nowhere to be found.

It was a time for miracles and togetherness. One shiny family, orbiting God, and giving thanks along with lots of giggles and screams. As it turned out in our case, the bliss didn’t last. And after a series of events, none of them catastrophic, we agreed to get a divorce. In spite of our love for each other, and our love for our kids, the love of our relationship had wained. Perhaps we didn’t focus enough on each other as we were praising and singing to our children. Perhaps we didn’t pay enough attention to our own individual needs. But in the Spring of 2010 we were no longer a family unit, we were two houses and two kids and two single parents.

That’s the moment I came face to face with my own relationship to God. It’s not like I went looking for some spiritual revelation. Actually, it was quite the opposite. I began to crumble under the loss. The nights and days without seeing my kids was torture. All the years we had spent as one unit, to be locked out of my own house, outside the circle, and given about 30% of my parenting time back, was akin to being turned into a zombie. Lucky for me, I had family in town who took me in. I had recently lost my job, and had no money for an apartment, and no desire to find one. I was devastated and depressed and God was nowhere to be found.

Except when my kids arrived. Everything changed when they were around. My little girl snuggling and asking me to chase her around the house. My son hard at work on some project or another, rather stoic and aloof. And me, trying my best to put on a brave face. I was anything but brave. I did hold it together, somehow, but there were times when I was actively trying to give up. That’s what depression is: giving up. Of course, when you have kids, there is no such thing. I suppose you could run off and vanish from their lives, start over in Montana or something. But without that option, the future was here, in the same town with my ex-wife and my kids, trying to hold it together at school functions and holiday kid swaps.

Somewhere in that period I went through my dark night of the soul. I had joined a divorce recovery group and we were supposed to write out our “anger letter” to our ex. I started out at about 10pm, with a fairly tame rant. By 3am I was on fire and fuming. This anger was the energy and turning point that expelled the depression from my heart. And even as I was writing the words to her, I was also expressing my anger at God, at “the plan,” or “his plan,” if that’s what you want to call it. I was fuming mad and I was going to get it out in every way I could.

Depression, the saying goes, is anger directed at ourselves. Well, I had un-targeted myself and was shooting sparks at God and my ex-wife and all of her friends and the friends who had abandoned me… I was just plain mad. A bit “mad” actually. But the anger sure got me motivated and un-depressed.

In the process of this rebuilding, if we listen for spiritual guidance, what we hear is our own hearts, our inner spirits.

During this period, one of the weekly chores of the divorce group was self-care, or doing something that helps you feel better. I started an Aikido class and began learning how to get thrown down on the mat every afternoon. And I didn’t think much about God except during the quiet times, when the kids were away, and my Aikido hadn’t burned all the fire out of my day. In these moments, staggered between loneliness and the potential of growth and energy I was cultivating that I began to pray again. These prayers were much more like love poems. Like Rumi as he called out to the beloved, I was also seeking a beloved. I still had a long way to go, but I began to hope and dream about being with a woman again, and the possibility of even falling in love again. Hard to imagine, but easier to pray about.

In the quiet moments, I do think my higher power was listening. Maybe it’s just the higher power in me, but the praying, and love poem writing began to soften the anger just a bit. The driving force that got me up off my ass was not very conducive to finding a date. I was pretty far from dating material, but I was at least beginning to think about my quality of life when I was the “off” parent, when the kids were not with me.

Looking back at this time of rebuilding, strife, prayer, Aikido, and living with my sister, I can sort of imagine the roadmap that got me here, to today. I can acknowledge that my marriage to the mother of my children was not serving either one of us, for whatever reason, and in the moving on I was given a new lease on happiness and even love. All of those fractured years, after the divorce, I spent building new ideas about myself, about what was important to me, and keeping the focus on building my now time-limited relationship with my kids.

Today the love poems are arriving en masse for a woman who has arrived to wake up my sense of God once again. “How could I have known?” I ask her, playfully. “That all of that shit would crack open my creative spirit again, and that from these prayers and poems I would find you.”

She still smiles at my pontifications and says, “Those that fired us, brought us here.”

We are the rebound and rebuilding of our past loves and losses. And in the process of this rebuilding, if we listen for spiritual guidance, what we hear is our own hearts, our inner spirits. It is in the listening that I was able to hear what aspects of a relationship were important to me, and what things I would like to avoid in the future. And while there’s not guarantee, the woman of my dreams is sleeping beside me these days, as we flow through the happiest moments of our lifes. Even when my kids are not with us, the joy between us… Well, isn’t that God, in a way.

Love = God.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: santo cristo tile image, mary anne melo, creative commons usage


a love poem so big

off-girlrace

[from the collection nyc m]

my hand
is stronger resting against the small of your back
my vision
brighter because of your warmth and illumination
this ease is not effortless
but won at the failure of many other paths and loves
what joy
your joy ignites
and smiles that smiles reveal

if i roll back the videotape
examine evidence of love in my life
even one year ago
my heart was pouring out love poems
my broadcasting network was crackling with energy
all theoretical
all imaginary, hoped for, aspirational vapors
i simply willed you into existence
by the force of my desire

a love poem so big
so open and honest
that you could not help but fall for me
the moment the last syllables crossed your lips

no sequence of words
no love poem divine
is capable of capturing the transformation you have brought
though i might try
over and over
to exclaim

love love love

is a word that pales in my mouth when i try to express myself
the ashes of my former lives are scattered seaward and wide
the nights of soul’s dark, no longer faced alone
and this very second
i know nothing
and everything
at once

and it began with a kiss from you
a signal
an opening
a fire
still growing in heat and light

this is what i mean but can’t say
with words
today
or tomorrow
or ever

7-12-15

image: race for a lifetime
, creative commons usage


may i be gentle always

off-tiffany[from the collection nyc m]

may i be gentle always with you
as i cradle your hand in mine
to support your living dreams
and dreams yet unborn
enthusiasms come and go
i stay steady as a sunbeam
warming at the touch
giving you a lift
stroke
glass of water
kiss

7-7-15


along the beach

uber-mlovesj-sand[from strange horizons poems]

as her hand entwines with mine
i can see and taste the future joy
as an unending laugh
or ecstatic embrace
even as the sand is coarse beneath my feet
i know the softness of her love
the way she has cracked open my
everything
even things I did not know
have split open in loving her
the salt of her skin
the heat of the sun
still radiating from her chest
as she arcs into me
with

one

clear

yes

all in the clasp of her fingers
the squeeze and tickle
home i feel
beside her
inside
and outside
and along side
her
and her big heart
worn in plain view
with a quirky smile
and sparkling mischievous eyes

she has captured me back
taken some dream
and brought my little boy to life
and she holds tightly
and pulls us along the beach
faster
more joy
more love
more sun

if it feels like too much
at some moment
i pause
she stands steadfast
manifesting all she promises
adoring with intention
to be here
be present
and bask in some mutual
glow

this is everything
this moment
begins with each breath
as we walk together down the beach
once lost and alone
now full and close under the solstice moon


the art of holding hands

[from the collection nyc m]

how our fingers entwine says a lot about the state of our connection
someone who doesn’t hold hands well… not an option
if you know your love language is touch
the hands will be a bit tell for you
is there a mutual reaching out
does she touch back or pull away slightly
is there a grabbiness or playful flexibility in her
it tells a lot more about her than you know
and when you find the match
another empathic soul stretching for god
and the love found between two people
as a prayer and song of thanksgiving
the hands will constantly be seeking a join
a comfort and calm in the casual wrap
the playful hand within a hand
the single finger grip
or entwined one by one
it’s almost a roadmap for love-making
this holding of hands
between two people
who cannot physically get any closer
yet desire
some entry point, some warm wire of communication
that only a hand-in-hand can provide
plenty of love transfers over the air, the eyes, the sounds and words
but the touch of a warm hand, cold hand, dry or moist hand
gives entry
feedback
clarity
to the connection
and expression of another’s
sensual desire

6-25-15

off-lovewatches


walking in nyc

off-ringhands

[from the collection nyc m]

and in the million faces passing
there are beautiful women
and how different
how joyous i am to see them
not for hunger
but for confirmation
that my love
the very love
holding my hands
is the love of my life
there is such a difference
when a man is hungry
vs
satiated
satisfied
and humbled by the love
that transcends beautiful faces
and the calm
in my heart
now
relaxing in the warmth
afterglow
that never ends

6-23-15


into the heart of the sun

OFF-tinymartha[from the collection nyc m]

if i were more excited
more alive
more in love
i’m not sure
i could remain on the planet
any longer
i’m fairly sure
that one more epiphany
a word choice or sound
might do the trick
i think
as i imagine how i’d go
it would be
as if in a hot air balloon
with no balloon
and no sound or flashes of fire
i would float
above this majestic mess
and continue on my way
until the air ran out
or the sun
sucked me in to its heart
with a smile and a song
even in losing everything
even you
i would know love
peace
and joy beyond measure
that’s how i feel
everyday i wake up next to
my
most amazing
girl

6-22-15


sky high

[from the collection nyc m]

how can the sun be so high
the sky so bright
this early morning
in the city that never sleeps
is the coffee better
is the water and air
loaded with excitement
the dreams of 8 million souls
packed together here
is the day more excited
to shine on
and warm
the bones of bums and poets
a like

6-23-15

OFF-jmc-morninghigh


splendored

[from the collection nyc m]

and what if i were to tell you
to actually let. you. know.
for sure
that love
in all it’s many splendored splinters
is true
that it’s still possible in your life
no matter
no time
no hurt
has taken away your potential to love
we ache for the oporutnity
to pour ourselves into another person
and sometimes we forget
we have that person but we miss
we slip into something
other than
adoration
but even then
even now
in this second
you can turn it around
you you you
can take a breath
make a change
and keep yourself
angled in the right direction

it’s not easy
i’m not trying to kid
or sell you a load
but i am here
to at least deliver the good news
love has struck
right here
right in this very moment
and you are now witness
to a great moment
a longing beyond ages
a fracture that felt unrepairable
two people
wandering wondering questioning
and in
a
split
sec.
ond.

finding something so
pro. found.
deep.
clear and present
that the time stretched and compressed all at once
and we knew
knew
just knew

everything since that moment has been a confirmation
a testing without testing
a smile and tickle
a laugh and launch toward what we had almost imagined
unattainable
but we never gave up
not completely
never lost sight
and
in this second
right here
i can only tell you
that the love of my life
took 52 years to show up
to deliver me
from sadness and aloneness
to
this
fine
moment
completed
whole
and
happy

6-21-15


love times five

OFF-love-times-five

[from the collection nyc m]

word and hand
finger and smile
you are here
and all the world
is rushing by
oblivious to the transformation
taking place
right here
between us
underneath the daytime stars
in and around
strawberry fields
of joy
this

moment

is the last

moment

we will spend
this far away
as we surge forward
into
a new
relationship
status
a
new celebration
for our friends
of what we’ve known
since
the week
we first kissed

6-21-15


and know i love you

OFF-monkey-coffee[from strange horizons poems]

though i can’t see now
what i’m supposed to be
alone and happy
i don’t understand
how you’re not with me
was i dreaming

it’s not right with my world
i hope it’s right in yours
without me
it’s not okay with me
may you be okay and strong
without me

i was holding you
when it first revealed
you were leaving
there was no recourse
no rebuilding life
you’d decided – for me too
if i tell you now
that i love you still
would you hold me
now that you have gone
i’m in a better place
loving someone
and i don’t know what
the future holds
i’m rebuilding
if you hear my voice
just ignore the words
and know i love you

song idea: 6-14-15


the hunger

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.04.14 PM

[from strange horizons poems]

in my hungry state i’m more agitated animal than man
lack of food or companionship get me buzzing a bit
as if each young woman is part meal part plaything
i know it’s not right
i can feel when all is not right with my world

and then…

in a flood of torrential proportions
the transformation occurs
in the act and arms and embrace
an alchemical phase change of every cell in my body
from a negative cool charge
i am flipped on
warm, hot, positive

only one thing can burn away the hunger
and the hotter the fire, the hotter the friction
setting electrons, every electron, in motion
reorienting towards due north
win
yes
home

when i am empty i roam the desert like a predator
full i become more kitten than killer
and in the seconds and minutes that follow the feast
a new set-point can be established
an imprint of what “really good” feels like
again

at last
finally
even just for now
enough
full-joy mode

1-20-15

image: headless lovers, ludo, creative commons usage


entwine and twirl

off-santafefire

from strange horizons poems]

i want to fill your mouth with words
and your mind and blood with dangerous thoughts
passion run amok, the burning desire to rub again
into the feeling, the heat, the joy
a love poem that echos your name
will be what wakes you up every morning
in your arms i am powerless to stop the flood
the song, the symphony, the dreams
the now and here are alight with our laughter
and i only have to dip my hand in the flowing stream
of us
and the poems write themselves
this is what *we* feels like
an unhenging of doubht
an upending of sorrow
and the burning energy
at 3am
calling us to entwine and twirl

5-23-15

image: snowing, hernan pinera, creative commons usage


in her little toe i find an expression of love

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 10.02.42 PM[from strange horizons poems]

what if what if what if
the hardest part about this whole thing
this whole world wide living loving thing
is actually finding someone to love
someone to really pour yourself into
a flexible person who bends when rough patches arrive
comes at problems with joy and energy
to be joined in
not always understood or reasoned out
but just joined
and what if what if what if she is here
and this quest has been fulfilled in this moment
what then
what joy could burst forth
what symphony awaits
as we warm up our instruments
tune and retune
stretch and press into the heart
and then drop it all
to be together
close
skin

pause

repeat


v 2 m

v-2-m
i am certain i didn’t know
going into this new year
that by valentine’s day
you would be embedded
emboldening me towards love
and hope and dreaming
only of you
i had no idea
where
i have no idea
what’s next
and for now
that is thrilling
fearlessly seeking someone
with all my skills
diving in
and breathing deep
of what we might become
here at month
one
of
becoming
us
1-13-15