14 Jul
Posted in: Poems
By    Comments Off on A Distant Chime Goes Off

A Distant Chime Goes Off

that-was-thenI had a visit yesterday from, well, you could say an old boyfriend, but our relationship was more significant (and more complicated) than that…at least the effect of the relationship on me was more significant — and more complicated — than that. I’m not sure I could say the effect was the same for him, although clearly whatever effect it had was long lasting.

It’s been about 7 or 8 years since I saw him last — since I spent a significant (and complicated) weekend with him in Germany, where he lives — and before that, it had been more like 15 years since I’d seen him, and before that….well, the whole thing started more than 30 years ago and while it did not exactly continued, it did not exactly finish either. (The photo is of us, in Italy, about 20 years ago.)

So why am I posting this on Dharma Town, you might ask. Where’s the Dharma in it? I’m not exactly sure. It has something to do with my ability now to be able to recognize deeply ingrained habit patterns that have been playing out in my life over and over (which is karma). And something to do with wanting to acknowledge what’s changed for me over those past 7 or 8 years — my ability now to be aware and present for what’s actually happening and what I’m actually feeling about it (which is mindfulness).

And now, for some reason, this too feels like Dharma:

What Narcissism Means to Me
by Tony Hoagland

There’s Socialism and Communism and Capitalism,
said Neal,
and there’s Feminism and Hedonism,
and there’s Catholicism and Bipedalism, and Consumerism,

but I think Narcissism is the system
that means the most to me;

and Sylvia said that in Neal’s case
narcissism represented a heroic achievement in positive thinking.

And Ann,
who calls everybody Sweetie pie
whether she cares for them or not,

Ann lit a cigarette and said, Only miserable people will tell you
that love has to be deserved,

and when I heard that, a distant chime went off for me,

remembering a time when I believed
that I could simply live without it.

Neal had grilled the corn and sliced the onions
into thick white disks,
and piled the wet green pickles
up in stacks like coins
and his chef’s cap was leaning sideways like a mushroom cloud.

Then Ethan said that in his opinion,
if you’re going to mess around with self-love
you shouldn’t just rush into a relationship,

and Sylvia was weeping softly now, looking down
into her wine cooler and potato chips,

and then the hamburgers were done, just as
the sunset in the background started
cutting through the charcoal clouds

exposing their insides–black,
streaked dark red,
like a slab of scorched, rare steak,

delicious but unhealthy,
or, depending on your perspective,
unhealthy but delicious,

–the way that, deep inside the misery
of daily life,
love lies bleeding. 

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