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“One who doesn’t trust enough won’t be trusted”
    ~ Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 23

We smile as the wet sand tastes our feet
While we gaze long across the glassy waves
Whose zealous salt spray kisses where we meet
Suggest to us the swim my spirit craves,
Though I have yet to enter this brave sea
Where eddies, tides, and creatures give us pause.
Still, secret fantasies I hold bid me
Prepare for a small loss of sorts because
The ocean’s pleasures may not be the same
That my imagination’s dared me think
As if we’d slice the waves and join their game.
She’ll surely not run quickly to their brink
With me. Could that time come? Well, where’s the shame
If smaller steps adjust us to this drink?
All skinny nerds like me would share my doubt:
Amazing women, like her, swim without
My kind. A swim’s not on her mind, old scout;
She only kids, as our feet splash about
In these calm shallows as though we’re devout.
Endearing is idiosyncrasy
We unfold as we wade here by the sea:
Her fears of murder by conspiracy,
My music’s visionary heresy,
And idle talk imbued subconsciously
With meanings not quite what might seem to be.
In light, my senseless fears we see flow through
To nonsense ends and so flow off my chest.
I’ve thus forgotten most such fears I knew
All but forgetting each such little test.
I’ve got more than sufficient fears for two
Regarding women; I’ll just do my best.
Should she deign but to love me, could not then
A loss of sorts become a trembling win?
How sensible’s the sadder end I dread?
Once handsome bucks have turned her lovely head
And off she’s swum let nature, when all’s said,
Have run its course — she’ll guiltlessly have shed
Herself of me like yesterday’s stale bread
If only she’s not swum with me instead,
The reason she’s by me thus far unsaid:
Her wish to give a homely nerd a shred
Of hope, of temporary thrill heart-sped?
’Tis fun first introducing swelled tides’ spread.
Seduction can be sated; once it’s fed
Its jaded “been there, done that” is soon pled.
What chance have we, if we discreetly tread?
A chance for love? A chance already dead?

I shall not lose him: he’s said he would be
That much committed, yet we’re swimming not.
I wouldn’t roughly pull him in with me
Though I lose patience as the sun grows hot.
The water’s fine: I wonder why don’t we
Cavort together there; no further thought
Is needed nor of course no further fear.
His crazed religion makes him from me pull
Just as I nudge again. Why else this care
That water’s to his knees? Is it not cruel
To long deny us both the healing touch
Of this calm ocean on us head to toes?
For surely he can’t worry all that much:
You see? Not one thing frightful here now shows.
It may be that too wild I appear,
That he would rather have things slow become.
I may have counseled of the dangers here,
Suggested it’s but for his sake we come
Toward these depths. Well, let’s make ourselves clear.
I’ll find where his confusion’s coming from.
I dare not criticize him; he is such
A timid soul — I’ll simply help him plea
His true volition, then things will change much!
I’ve made some space between us where the sea,
Reflecting for us, shows what’s meant to be.
Look straight upon these shining waves and see
Just what it is that you can do for me.

Ascension from the loveless, dreary place
To which I’ve been resigned these many years
Has slowly brought me to look on her face
In gratitude so deep it scarce knows peers.
Shall I splash in and know her state of grace
By being with her where the white surf clears?
It’s late: I’ve got a stolen last embrace,
To carry, with what chance at more for years?
Though soul connections may grow by the sea
Harsh sunlight withers dreams, leaves dreamers woken.
If she makes light of physicality
She may have thought her way need not be spoken.
As I stand dry upon the lonesome shore,
She speaks to me once more, at least, in token
Appreciation of what was before:
Reflections, fearful, shine where once we played.
Some leap of faith confronts her; I’d have spared
Her this, since faith’s not her pursuit. Dismayed
She’s dumped me for a faith I’ve scarce declared —
For who needs faith when I have my own vision,
Or had one once, in which she’d truly cared —
I wish she’d just admit why my heart’s broken.
This leap’s a weak excuse she’s had in store.
I’d never disrespect her ideation.
My thoughts, if be they sacred or profane,
Are mine. How could I cause the least frustration?
Some weirdo’s concepts are nobody’s pain.
I let her know my mind’s profoundly open
Like none she’ll come to know again, I’m sure,
And wonder as I gaze upon the ocean
How stiff I’ve seemed if she whom I adore
Denied I’d make all leaps for her. Has pure
Relationship held ever such compulsion,
Such pressure to have faith, such weight? Displayed
There on the waves, the image she wants aired
Abides. Between us lies a semblance made
From meek subconscious visions I once shared
All twisted to absurdity: a shade
Of Catherine the Great’s too-awkward horse.
It pressed into the bathing pool’s confines;
Its mistress drowned from friendly nuzzling force.
That’s but a myth; she’s shifting its assigns.
Thick years shall pass before I in due course
Shall recognize it — whilst I’ll write these lines —
As just a funhouse mirror, unprepared,
Portraying me though speaking with her voice,
Interpreting me falsely. I’ve despaired
By now. This day presents me with no choice,
For manifestly she’s called to declare
I must accept parched misery: she saw
She would’ve been pressed under had we swum.
As such a burden, I can but withdraw
To spare us both the sham from which had come
Her charge, my wrenched four-word response — the first
On love and our swim prospects we conversed:
She plays with love. So valid was the fear
That spells descent back to my place so drear.
Let flames of my doomed heart light that cold sphere,
That there I’ll find lost souls I can hold dear.
Has not her gravely solemn voice made clear
That I’ve brought bane and execration here,
That I forgot my place in coming here,
That I’m now desperately unwanted here?
Have I not known, throughout, I’ve been a mere
Diversion to her, and that off she’d steer?
My desolation knows one bit of cheer:
This break was easy for her, swift and sheer.

He called it love before we said goodbye.
Shall I contact him? What am I to say?
I hardly know what I could clarify.
He couldn’t think that all I do is play,
Though as he’s not asked, patience must I keep
About this quest, which is to reach the grail.
Why need I lay out reasons we must leap?
He surely knows this last crusade’s avail:
The deepest of commitments is the vision
Meant by those solemn waves. How soon shall he
Respect them? Does his confounded religion
Not state this rule, both for him and for me,
And hold that swims in breach of its provision
Incur an endless awful penalty?
Why draw blame from the church for what’s called sin?
One day I might need it to let me in,
Though that won’t happen soon. And even then
Can he respect what I believe within?
Could he believe I’ve meant to show derision
Through my hint that our leap could swifter be?
As time goes by, does he make no decision?
Does he feel pressured? Was my hint too free?
Does he not catch that Catherine allusion?
Does love not show itself most beautifully?
Does he not see ‘twas but at his first mention
I questioned his full openness to me,
To swimming, since he’d showed so much conviction:
Who’d first brought up the horse myth? None but he.
Whose fault is it the waves showed what they would?
Has he let go of me? Who swims alone?
How could I wish for that, and what’s the good
If he takes proud offense at what was shown?
Won’t he apologize? No accusations
That swimming outplays love can drown this song.
There’s no cause to abandon all relations
To prove a point that he well knows is wrong.
He won’t let us rely upon donations,
He won’t propose to see us scratch along,
He won’t let us give in to our temptations:
To tempt is sin, I guess, when craving’s strong.
When by and by we’ll cross paths, I can coax
From him another, less profound commitment:
Just keep in touch! If he’ll commit a hoax,
Ignoring me will cause us both resentment.
Once I’ve brought pain, a part of me desists
From letting go as readily as he,
Yet can I ever show true love exists
Where it’s unrecognized, except by me?
Does he act out retreat from faith? from life?
What part is he imagining for me?
Do I play sinner? teaser? grieving wife?
Which one of these could he take me to be?

I fain return to my old ways, veiled views
Of beauties who inspire from afar,
But she now rules this pantheon. O muse!
Pull forth from me great works O frozen star!
She still acts friendly, but what’s she to lose?
Unloving pleasant muses aren’t bizarre.
Their icy spirits serve a friendly game
Which in its turn can serve me, to remind
That I’ve long since consigned myself to flame.
In burning I spew light and warmth combined.
I’m but a fire of hell, since back I came
Its souls, with me, the dark and cold can’t bind.
I could be anybody’s friend but hers
Though I’ve made hell look easy. Say I’m back
In her life, and my love shows: what occurs?
Who needs another desperate attack?
Enough of onerous leaps, of watery graves,
Of nightmare visions cast midst brilliant waves
Incensed by faith that drowns more than it saves
To stave off misfits she for pity braves:
If one forgets one’s place she’ll thrust those staves.
Remember this: some hearts no one enslaves.
I’ll gladly skip this town; who ever craves
Past hangouts of past musings, rants, and raves?

I’ve wounded him. I might as well have said
Here, wrap your open mind ’round this fell sting:
I’m grateful that we never plunged ahead.
Since what I said connotes that very thing,
What wretched thoughts of me must vex his head:
He bared his neck and I took my best swing
Though in the moment at my feet he bled
I only felt that love was taking wing,
Sure that he understood it too. Instead,
He’s sure I meant to end a seaside fling
By traumatizing him, as though I’d dread
Just that which early led my heart to sing.
Suppose he wondered if he could be loved.
Some leap of faith he had! I’ve played the fool:
If my leap must have seemed the same, what’s proved?
That swing I took must have felt doubly cruel.
If I’d just known he put me to a test
I would’ve passed — with flying colors, too —
Yet so much time passed, ere I even guessed
At what transpired, that at last I knew
Pursuing him could do me little good:
Love hurts the most when it’s plain disbelieved.
Should I point blame at Catherine’s myth how would
A death-afflicted message be received?
What if I never shall be understood
Since someone bright as he is so deceived?
What if, each time I’ve done the best I could,
I’ll celebrate a love I need have grieved?
So undesired he’d been, he had the view
That stuck with him I would’ve felt repressed.
Is that the reason his subconscious drew
An image through which love was dispossessed?
If anything like Catherine’s myth is true
Then swimmers brave unwitting forces, pressed
At times — perhaps this from the depths he threw
Askance at UTI fears I’d expressed.
We both knew fears of water: of us two
Just he through myth their senselessness confessed.
True, ocean swimming’s not the safest sport,
Yet with it or without, this life is short.
I can’t believe two hearts in love must break.
I can’t believe my very name spells grief.
I can’t believe real love seems wholly fake.
I can’t believe the wages of belief.
How dare presumptions boldly overtake
The truth, whose stealth now bears no least relief?
Where Orpheus was warned, so unexcused
Was his impatience, why am I abused
For being just a little too enthused
In loving one who’d felt from love recused?
The heart misapprehended and refused
For how long struggles, painfully confused?

She’ll find another swimmer her right stuff.
As I too reach my shore, I’ll dare not tarry,
For dreams died as I failed to trust enough;
Bedazzled by reflections, I turned wary.
Her try at showing me to me was tough,
A burden of a sort no one need carry.
I’ll realize one day she’s seen keenly right
Through my dismay, my dark interpretations,
My mixed emotions goading me to write
Mood music in lieu of communications.
In time, I’ll on reflection face the shame
Of having tagged her the unloving kind.
If she forgives my misdirected blame
That won’t quench this regret: I was struck blind
To her intent, profoundly unaware,
Until through monkey business I’ve refined
Arcane traditions I’ll once bring to bear
While capturing in verse the years I pined
For love and faced rejection everywhere.
For starters, people born some years unwind
By throwing back your dross, you’d best beware —
As my dark vision’s what I’d left behind
My foolishness laid for me its own snare.
Not few before her played games with my mind;
With them responsibility I share.
Each day their deadly programming I find
I force it out to fade into the air.

Wherever you shall swim, in moonbeams go
For stark sunlit reflections serve few wants.
May those once far too serious yet know
Of gentler attitudes amongst their haunts.
When any touch of fear in dark of night
Becomes too heavy, let yourself be light.

Thanks always returns

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