Friday, March 26, 2010

I come home wanting to touch everyone

The dogs greet me, I descend
into their world of fur and tongues
and then my wife and I embrace
as if we'd just closed the door
in a motel, our two girls slip in
between us and we're all saying
each other's names and the dogs
Buster and Sundown are on their hind legs,
people-style, seeking more love.
I've come home wanting to touch
everyone, everything; usually I turn
the key and they're all lost
in food or homework, even the dogs
are preoccupied with themselves,
I desire only to ease
back in, the mail, a drink,
but tonight the body-hungers have sent out
their long-range signals
or love itself has risen
from its squalor of neglect.
Everytime the kids turn their backs
I touch my wife's breasts
and when she checks the dinner
the unfriendly cat on the dishwasher
wants to rub heads, starts to speak
with his little motor and violin--
everything, everyone is intelligible
in the language of touch,
and we sit down to dinner inarticulate
as blood, all difficulties postponed
because the weather is so good.

-Stephen Dunn

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why We Hate

One reason we hate is that we don't see the full force of the other's situation. When I can't feel compassion whether I'm fighting with my partner or listening to a news item on the radio—I can ask myself, "What is it I don't understand?" The more thoroughly we can understand the source of pain—causing actions, the more we personalize the supposed evildoer rather than being caught in projection and assumption, which generally breed more misunderstanding and hatred.

- Diana Winston

Taking Off Emily Dickenson's Clothes

First, her tippet made of tulle,
easily lifted off her shoulders and laid
on the back of a wooden chair.

And her bonnet,
the bow undone with a light forward pull.

Then the long white dress, a more
complicated matter with mother-of-pearl
buttons down the back,
so tiny and numerous that it takes forever
before my hands can part the fabric,
like a swimmer's dividing water,
and slip inside.

You will want to know
that she was standing
by an open window in an upstairs bedroom,
motionless, a little wide-eyed,
looking out at the orchard below,
the white dress puddled at her feet
on the wide-board, hardwood floor.

The complexity of women's undergarments
in nineteenth-century America
is not to be waved off,
and I proceeded like a polar explorer
through clips, clasps, and moorings,
catches, straps, and whalebone stays,
sailing toward the iceberg of her nakedness.

Later, I wrote in a notebook
it was like riding a swan into the night,
but, of course, I cannot tell you everything -
the way she closed her eyes to the orchard,
how her hair tumbled free of its pins,
how there were sudden dashes
whenever we spoke.

What I can tell you is
it was terribly quiet in Amherst
that Sabbath afternoon,
nothing but a carriage passing the house,
a fly buzzing in a windowpane.

So I could plainly hear her inhale
when I undid the very top
hook-and-eye fastener of her corset

and I could hear her sigh when finally it was unloosed,
the way some readers sigh when they realize
that Hope has feathers,
that reason is a plank,
that life is a loaded gun
that looks right at you with a yellow eye.

- Billy Collins

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Being with Yourself

The practice is being with yourself, with actually sitting down and being in that space.... When you sit down, all that you’re exposed to is your own mind, there is nothing else. It’s no different really from being in retreat. I’m not trying to claim anything here. It’s just a natural process. You sit with your mind and in the beginning you don’t have much patience, and after years and years of doing this work patience begins to develop. Just to remain in that space and to let things arise and fade without having to grasp at them makes one realize that everything is already here, that no higher teaching is needed or to be grasped at. Things just come and go. It’s an endless process that goes on and on, and probably even after a thousand years it will keep going on like that.

– Robert Beer

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Sincere Letter of Support to GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN (R)

Dear GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN (R), of California’s 18th District,

Kudos, sister!  You came out of the closet as a gay man on Monday. I'm so proud of you!  “I am gay,” you told conservative talk show host Inga Banks. “ And so, those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long.” Brava, chica!  Congratulations!  Shame on you!  I'm with you all the way!

As a rite of passage in the life of a gay man, coming out is a watershed moment, for sure. It takes a herculean mustering of will and courage for gay men to be ourselves in a society that would prefer us otherwise.  I understand the shame and emotional anguish you surely felt in coming out as a gay man.  I do.  I have compassion for you in the midst of this very challenging time.  I get it.  I understand internalized shame, even hatred.  I wish we lived in a world where whom we love didn’t matter, where love could be love could be love, dude. I so do.

I see you, ROY ASHBURN, as the beautiful GAY MAN that you are as you sift through the detritus of your personal life and, now, probably your political career as well.  May you find pleasant comfort as you dance with these gods of disruption.  No doubt you’ll come out on the other side of this experience a very different person, more fully yourself for having been through the crucible.  It’s gonna be some journey, dude.  The ship has sailed and there’s no turning back.  I’m with you all the way, my brother.  I want what’s best for you.  I'm being serious!

Hold on, though, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN.  You’ve had your sugar.  Now it’s time to take your medicine.  As people smarter than George W. Bush everywhere will tell you, it ain’t never that easy.  One moment of honesty does not win you a get-out-of-jail-free card.  Okay, your honesty was refreshing, but dude, this whole thing stinks of death and decay.  And I’d like to tell you why.  It’ll give you something to ponder on your oceanic travels.

Throughout your career as a state legislator, you've been vehemently anti-gay.  You were in favor of Proposition 8, dude.  You do realize it was an initiative that defined marriage as a heterosexual union in your State’s constitution, effectively trumping a California Supreme Court ruling that legally afforded all of us equal access to the institution, right?  Okay, I’ll admit it appears citizens in your district voted overwhelmingly in favor of Prop 8, and, true-to-form, you defended your anti-gay record during Monday’s interview, saying, “I felt my duty, and I still feel this way, is to represent my constituents.”  But you're missing the obvious point, dude.

The voters of the 18th District, they’re not your constituents.  They’re some other fictitious dude’s constituents.  That guy’s a family man who once had a beautiful wife.  He has four lovely daughters.  He’s a lady’s man, a smooth-talkin’, cigar-smokin’, locker room schmoozin’, pussy-trollin’ power broker from up Sacramento way.  That's the guy constituents in the 18th District voted for. That's the guy they chose to represent their interests at the State capitol.  Not you. No… not you,  dude.  You’re the LAST person they would choose to represent them.  Dude... you deceived them.

And man, are they PISSED!

Your old friend Randy Thomasson, president of the Christian-based, said it best in a statement released Tuesday.  “Roy Ashburn should resign.  His lying, cheating ways have boiled over and the public's trust has been shattered.”  Dude, Randy’s right to be pissed off. He's trying to save California.  From whom, you ask?

From the likes of you, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN, that’s who.

How does it feel to be an enemy of Randy’s State?  How does it feel to know that you helped diminish your own civil rights by pushing legislation that defined you as a second-class citizen, that codified that abuse in your State’s Constitution?  Oh, wait... I guess it’s not really your State anymore, is it, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN?  It’s Randy Thomasson’s State.  The bewildering thing is, it always has been.  You’re just seeing that now from the outside with your nose pressed up against the glass.  It doesn’t look a thing like it did last week, does it, dude?

You see, Randy Thomasson’s State taxes you without representation, since you are not allowed all the constitutional benefits afforded your straight brothers and sisters in California and in states across the nation. Now you have a real reason to have a Tea Party!  Randy’s State creates, maintains and promotes the social reality where you’ve had to lie, hide, live in constant fear of being discovered, and deceive people by making them believe you’re someone you’re not. Randy’s State props up constructs where, not only do you have to suffer the abuse of others, you have to heap it upon yourself as well.  Randy’s State would have you believe you’re an awful, sinful person unworthy of the praise and adulation you’ve become so accustomed to.  Randy’s State tells you that if the world finds out who you REALLY are, it will reject you, chastise you, ostracize and deny you all the power and wealth you’ve accumulated for yourself.

What a fortunate reversal of fortune!

Randy Thomasson and his fundamentalist ilk are hateful, cruel, abusive pricks.  But then, you already knew that, didn't you, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN?  You've been working with people like him for many years, cutting country club smoking lounge deals to deny gay citizens their rights, feeding a culture of homophobia where the abusers are divinely endowed with the blessing, nay... the righteous DUTY to destroy their enemies.

Well... this is what it feels like to be on the receiving end of that kind of bullshit, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN.  Let it sink in for a while before you make your next maneuver in these treacherous waters. If you do, it can inform your tack in helpful ways.

Feel the embarassment in your very core.  Feel the shame slice you to the bone.  It's awesome and horrifying and it'll make you feel like you're dying.  Oh, you're not, don't worry.  It just feels like it.  Hang with the torment until it becomes familiar.  Sit with it, shine a bright spotlight on it, observe it from every angle until it becomes your friend.  Yes, I said your friend.  Talk to it, caress it, get close enough to it that it becomes your lover.  That's right, I said your lover.  Live with it for so long that you grow tired of it.  It is very boring after all... a real one-noter.

There will come a day when you realize you've spent one too many evenings with it, watching television in silence, taking it for granted, even forgetting it was there.  That will be the day you can pack it away.  Oh, you'll never be rid of it completely, and that's a good thing.  Because no matter how sick and tired you become of it, you'll always have a bit of appreciation for it somewhere, in some dark corner of the house the two of you shared for so long.  Why?  Because it will be the mother of your most precious child.  And you'll name that child Compassion.  As that child grows, it will teach you a lot about your world, about your gay brothers and sisters, in particular.  It will show you that pain and suffering is the ground you share with every other human being.  It will show you that the only thing that matters in this world is how we treat one another, dear, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN.

And that will be the day you'll have reached the other shore.

Okay, dude, this is getting way too real.  Sorry.  It's just that I have high hopes for you and, like I said, I really do want what's best for you.  But you've got a lot of hurt to atone for.

This may come as a surprise to you, but I understand how Randy Thomasson feels.  Angry, betrayed, bewildered, shocked, disappointed, vengeful...  You deceived your constituents, dude. That's is SOOOO not cool.  You lied to your gay brothers and sisters, too.  You hurt them in many ways for many years.  But the hardest thing for you to accept (believe me, I know) will be that you lied to yourself, dude.

You lied to "fit in."  You lied to gain wealth, power and notoriety.  You lied so the people who hold the keys to your brand of success wouldn't look at you and say "ewwwwwww."  Your entire political career has been out of integrity since the beginning.  You have led an inauthentic life, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN.

So I think Randy Thomasson is right in calling for your resignation.  I think it would be a great first step in a new life of integrity.  Step aside and go away to reflect.  Please, dude just go.  Stop trying to convince yourself that your job was to represent the constituents of the 18th District. They are not your constituents.  Dude, your people are all Californians who have ever been beaten down, despised, judged, abused, and denied their rights.  And the bewildering thing is, they always have been.

Representing your constituents is one part of your job.  Wielding power with wisdom, recognizing that what's right may not always be what the majority of your constituents want... that's also part of your job.  Defending those people in your district who are discriminated against, who have no voice of their own, that's also what your state's constitution calls upon you to do.  As a GAY MAN, SENATOR ROY ASHBURN, deep down inside you've always known that.  The difference is now you can't deny it anymore.  Now you have to live and breathe it.  You can be authentic.  You can find true success.  Hell, you can even be a great senator.  Anything less is death and decay.

So congratulations, shame on you, and I'm with you all the way, GAY SENATOR ROY ASHBURN!  These things can exist side by side.  It's not me being contradictory, dude.  No, it's not!  I can hear you now.  Just stop.  This is what it means to have a nuanced, healthy relationship with my brothers and sisters.  Try it.  You'll grow to like it.

And when Randy Thomasson and his minions run you out of town on a rail (and they will), just remember there are people who love and support you.  And never forget that there is such a thing as healthy shame.

Best to you,

Kert Hubin