The lustful man’s lament

Do you reserve your love for me?
Yes, my dear, I do reserve my
love for you, but not you alone
I’m afraid.

I gave little pieces away
to some beautiful flowers whose
petals I collect in a jar by my bed.

I also – ashamedly – give my love
away to this dark abyss. I sit on
the edge and I throw little pennies
down to the bottom.

A penny might not seem like much,
but when you throw one or two
everyday of your life, it starts to
add up.

When I throw a copper piece now,
I can hear it hit all its brothers and
sisters with a metallic clank.

It reminds me of something, the noise.
It reminds me that while I want to give
you all of my everything, there’s a
small fortune sitting at the bottom of a
dark pit, that says otherwise.

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Other than me

It came in the mail.
A simple white envelope
containing one white card,
stating that you will be married
on the 21st of May on a farm
in Southwestern Ohio

to someone
other than me.

 

-TS

Follow me down

What makes someone worth following?

This question was posed to me (and a group of other men) one night at an event we call “Bourbon and Cigars.” The meeting has become a ritual, something we can count on; a weekly rhythm for men to gather and discuss life over spirits and smokes.

Who do you follow?

This was another question that succeeded the first. The men around the fire were silent for a long time; looking off into the distance to the sun setting over the West Side of Cincinnati.

“My father,” one man said after quite some time. We spoke about parents; about the roles of fathers versus mothers, if we, as men, were looking more for male leadership in our lives over female leadership. We spoke about the difference between people we look up to and those who we believe are worth following.

I thought about my dad. How I followed him as a child. How he taught me what he knew. I thought about his patience, his level-headedness; how I felt safe when he was around.

When I became a man, the image of my dad was tainted. My parents divorced. Now they don’t even speak to one another. My dad can’t even say my mom’s name. This question of who I follow caused my stomach to turn a bit.

I didn’t give my answer right away. Instead, I thought about how I don’t particularly want to follow anyone at the moment. Being a follower has almost become a bad word in our culture. We should be self starters! We should be completely independent! We should be free from any power over us! I am my own man, I thought. An army of one.

After battling in my own head, I thought about my mentor. How I met him when I was in grade school and did in fact follow his lead throughout middle and high school. What made him worth following?

Well, he is committed to service:

My mentor has been involved in the ministry of Young Life for over 20 years. He made a commitment when he was in college to mentor high school kids and share life with them and tell them his truth; how he found peace in the Gospel of Jesus. He has devoted his life to helping others; his impact is undeniable. He has reached thousands of young men and women through his humble service.

The Bourbon and Cigar crew talked then about imperfection; how it’s hard to follow anyone because we are all so broken. I said that the people worth following will undoubtedly screw up, but what makes them worth following is how they respond after.

There are two men in particular I’ve seen in my life that are worth following; my mentor and my grandfather. I thought about both of them and came to a realization – I have never seen either of them screw up. I do admit, I have put them on somewhat of a pedestal, but truthfully, they have been uncommonly consistent in their pursuit to live uprightly.

My mentor is steadfast and reliable. His “yes” means yes and his “no” means no. I am also certain he loves me. My grandpa was positive and uplifting every single time I saw him. His words were seasoned with love. His actions were compassion (the noun felt better there for some reason). I knew he loved me. He also loved his wife well.

(Aside) I don’t see many men that love their wives well. I don’t see men who inspire me with how they serve their wives.

So these were the themes that surfaced through the conversation around the fire. In my opinion, the people worth following are the ones who serve others, serve their families, and as a result, serve whole communities.

Also, people worth following, love well. There should be no question in your mind, that the person you are following, loves you.

The Impulsive Heart

Curse you! Oh, heart of mine.
You led me back to same place
and promised this time
would be different.

But it’s not. No, not at all! The
same place hurts just as bad as
I remember. Dare I say, it hurts
more!

Curse you! Why do I listen still
to your wayward ways? Your
fickle second-guessing leaves
a wake like crop circles pressed
into a field.

You wait ‘til I’m downtrodden.
‘Til I’m nothing but dirt on boot’s
bottom, then you wrench and
writhe. Oh, you are wretched!

You are corrupt. A ruthless
dictator who wants nothing less
than complete control. You leave
me emotionally bankrupt, then you
make me take out loans.

Curse you! Oh, heart of mine.
Curse you again and again.
For I have believed in you too long,
like the abused returning to her abuser.
Curse You!

When You Speak

The thundering voice spoke today
You spoke today
I have been waiting
And today I listened

You said few words
But I heard them
You said, “Do not worry”
And then You said it again

I worry Lord
I worry ‘til there’s no more time left in the day
I worry and believe lies
I worry Lord

But today you said, “Do not”
So with my hands out I say, “Ok”
I will try and listen
Even though tomorrow I may not

Even though tomorrow, I’ll forget
And wrap myself up in all these lies
Until they are familiar
Until they become my friends

But today you said, “Do not”
And today I say, “Ok”
I will not worry today
I will believe in You alone

I will fight with the breath left
I will stand and face it
I will love
I will love You, God

Show me what You will
Show me Your will
Show me, Lord
For I will not worry today

Not after what You said

The Need

Waiting at the bus stop.
Shiny new shoes.
A pressed pair of shorts.
A crisp collared shirt.
And a backpack full of all the nonsense the teacher told you to buy.
You look the part.
Heck, you feel the part.
But there’s this nervousness that’s bursting inside you.
Will they like me?
I mean will they really like me?
I sure hope they like me.
The future of a thousand playdates rests on this first day.
And it doesn’t really change much from here.
Shifting in an office chair.
Will they hire me?
On one knee hoping.
Will she say she loves me?
Sending them on that very school bus.
Will they even need me?
We beg for love from the moment we tie our shoes until
we wither away to nothing in a hospital bed.
We are needy.
Crying out for attention
Longing for affection.
Hopeless shipwrecks that have washed up on shore.
But we are united in this need.
It’s not just some of us who are like this.
It is tied to the human condition.
The want, no, the need to be loved.
I saw a little boy get on the bus today.
He had his shoes tied up so tight and I thought, there
goes another circle in motion.
Another loop in a long chain.
But for some reason today, it made me smile.