Poetry is included in this edition to add to the richness of this material, and hopefully to add to the experience of the men undertaking men's group work using this handbook as a guide.
Poetic expression is of course very subjective, but for me is the 'language of emotion', where an idea, a mood, a feeling can be encapsulated in a few lines and so achieve an expression it might otherwise not have had. This for me is especially helpful when exploring issues from the past that I only now have an opportunity to work on and understand.
The themes chosen attempt to reflect 'relationship issues' and experiences, and more, some of the poems explore the mythic and spiritual dimensions of life, a place that I have come to through my men's work. Perhaps some men will have had similar experiences and perhaps some of these poems explore typical situations shared by many men, and may be profitably shared in a group setting.
If these words inspire or assist some men to connect to their feelings and 'language of emotion', whether through writing, or sharing, or reflecting - if so, then my purpose is achieved. Read on and enjoy.
Note that all the poems in this edition are written by the author. More poetry is available in a companion volume to the handbook - 'A Man's Journey - Poetry for Men and the Women who care about them'.
~ Poetry ~ Poetry you haven't written, is not poetry - it's an invitation. The poetry you write, is a beginning - and more than this, perhaps it is ten thousand beginnings - who can tell?
~ Never Written ~ A poem never written is a grief with too many tears uncried, a joy with too much bliss unfound, a heart afraid to beat in case someone might hear. Are these feelings? Are these thoughts? Can you hold a pen? So- why do you wait? Be assured, a simple pen can hold the gulf of your soul, even until the last ebb, and I will meet you there on the shore happy to see you chasing after it - How we will laugh!
~ My Shoes ~ And the man said to him, "what you need to do is…", or was it - "what you should do is…", or was it - "you know what your problem is…". Then he said to the man - "Thank you for your wisdom - you seem to know a lot about me. Tell me, what did I do yesterday? What do you think I might do tomorrow? Can you tell me about my mother, or father? - or their parents - or their issues? If you haven't walked in my shoes, how can you really know about me, and what I need to do for myself?" "Maybe your advice is really meant for someone else? Perhaps it's meant for you? May I return it to you? Because right now, I just need you to listen; and then I will listen as you speak, because I'm sure you know yourself a lot better than you know me.
~ My New Rules ~ My new rules don't include giving myself away - no one respects what is cheap and easily replaced. My new rules don't include having to earn your love because, sooner or later, my pockets will be empty and my heart too heavy. My new rules say it's ok to rest when tired, and even to sleep in the middle of the day if my body wisdom says so - and everything else? - must wait. My new rules say it's ok to listen to the dark imaginings of my unconscious mind - as it crosses my dream threshold - to tell me my timeless truth - now not forsaken. My new rules say it's ok for me to have all my feelings, for they inform and fill out my life, and tell me who I really am - and they don't have to be suppressed to go along with someone else's plan. My new rules say it's ok to repose in nature, and enjoy its energy and beauty as it touches my deepest self - and I do not have to bend it to my will - like some desert storm wind of hate. My new rules say it's ok to live for myself - to let go of your expectations, to be who I really am, not a shadow man, like too many others, who when you look in their hearts - you see no distinction, or granularity, or colour, just flat, dark, empty shadow space, walked upon by too many others, as though pushed over and told: 'Stay there and don't move until I tell you to!' And they shrink and stay flat, through fear. My new rules say it's ok to say what's going on - for me, after all, there might just be someone who may want to listen. And I wonder how many screechings and scrawkings and complaints I will hear from people whose ideas I've challenged and confronted and trashed - because their coddled wants and needs have been forsaken by my new rules.
~ Honour Your Tears ~ Honour your tears, they come from a deep place - a universal well - an underground connection that we all reach down into. Do not hide your tears - as much as you need to weep, I need to see you weep, to know that my depth is no mistake. Do not wipe your tears - this feeling is as true as any other, and perhaps the beginning of them all; there is no shame braveheart, stand, and be seen. Do not fight your tears, each of them is an already fallen warrior that you knew well, like a brother; Now he rides in glory, across your face. Honour your tears.
~ Hold Me ~ Hold me, not with your arms, that is too tight, it repels me. Hold me, not with your ego, grasping and wanting, never satisfied, that suffocates me. Hold me, not with your eye, it judges too harshly, and disallows me. Hold me, not with your body, it swallows me, and I disappear and lose myself. Hold me, not with your mind, for in its labyrinth I become a minotaur. Hold me, but with your heart, and its simplicity, and all else shall follow. But you know that is not holding at all, and so you cannot do it, except by supreme act of will; a gift most difficult to give, but ever wanted.
~ Direction ~ Scarcely was I moving before moving frightened me. So then I stopped again, and rediscovered the fear that had originally told me to move. Perhaps a new direction? - I thought; But no, that way lies fear too. I have stood still long enough to know that this place holds my death. But ahead, and in which direction, lies my deliverance? 'They' cannot tell me, I have asked. Some said they knew, But they were wrong, for me. Some others, wiser, said they could not say, for me. And they simply wished me well, and good luck. So I was left with myself, and my wish to know, and my fear. And my fear came from inside, so I had to look at that place, and confront what I had tried to move away from. And my fear was a small child, lost, alone and abandoned; how easy it was to love him, and help him, now that I can see him. I love to watch him play now, and he lets me play too, but he always picks the game. One day he says, when I'm bigger, we'll play one of your games, but for now see if you can catch me! And somehow, the direction we go together, doesn't seem too important anymore, after all, it's just a game, and we're having fun.
~ Forget About You ~ There is no such thing as a broken heart; I created all of who you were, out of the longings of my imagination - There is no such thing as a broken heart; You just came along to fill the gap, something I thought I was ready for - There is no such thing as a broken heart; It was my need, and I built you up in my mind to be all that I wanted - There is no such thing as a broken heart; It was just coincidence that we met like that, just a strange chance encounter, it means little - There is no such thing as a broken heart; Really, it doesn't matter that it was you, it could have been anyone else - There is no such thing as a broken heart; This feeling is just a codependent weakness I have, I'm only holding onto it for security - There is no such thing as a broken heart; You see, it won't be long 'till it's all under control, because I know there's no such thing…
~ Circles ~ The circle of compassion needs a starting point - The circle of hope is stumbled upon along the way - The circle of love is a friend who joins you at your invitation - The circle of vision is renewed at every step - The circle of fear grows smaller and disappears - The circle of enlightenment expands and joins with all others as you choose. You are the center and the universe moves with you, as you move with it.
~ Love is ~ Love is a feather that startles then caresses then eases the hardest hard heart into softer compassionate action. All there is to do is - love.
~ Allow ~ Allow me to be lost - just once. Even if I mistakenly call it 'Love'; I do need to lose myself, and I seem to have picked you. You said 'OK' - maybe you were losing yourself too - falling through space with a kundalini snake wrapped around our bodies, it was blissful, and terrifying. (She doesn't like 'No' - not that I could have ever said it…) You woke up first, and I'm still falling, with none of the bliss, and all of the terror; and I realize I'm still lost, and wait to hit bottom. Will I allow myself - and find a way - to catch me as I fall?
~ Enlightenment ~ Enlightenment is an elephant, held at many places, by many blind men; but he is strong, and she can carry all of us, if we can hold on. But if you let go, don't fret, another will be along any moment, for this path is often used; His steps already shake the ground - Listen, she trumpets her arrival excitedly knowing that we wait for him.
~ Together Apart ~ In relationship, do we really learn about togetherness? - or separation? - the truth of separateness, of individuality, of unmet desires and expectations, of inadequacies and disappointments - the brief joy of union, the long grief of letting go? In my choice to know you I am confronted by our stark differences, our uniqueness makes us real, but will ever divide us; What then is relationship? - if not the wisdom of letting go?
~ Making Love ~ Making love isn't what two people do alone in a darkened room it's what one person does privately in their heart but then it is not to be hidden away but to be shared at that place where it is hardest to share at all Else we reap the wild wind of our fear and mistrust if one of us at least does not begin to make love.
~ Intimacy ~ Which version of intimacy works for you? Sex is ok - but don't talk about it? Feelings are ok - mine, not yours? What I want is ok - not what you want? Is it time to tango once more? - in a minefield littered with rotting concepts we are unable to bury?
~ Truth ~ As the world shrinks the new religion is the re-merging of all religions, back to the center where you and I stand, where we will discover more than ourselves. Truth is not absolute except in the moment before the next, when it changes, as you do, except in your heart. Therefore, know your heart And a broken heart is thus the cracking of time through to eternity - and the splitting of Truth, through to a deeper truth, in a tighter place at the apex. To love is to say 'yes' to that fall - to love is to know the broken places - knowing that you are what heals and binds them.
~ Scared ~ You are so beautiful, that I don't want to even touch you or know you in any way, or even really fantasize about you in-case in-case it isn't true, your beauty I mean; what if underneath that so so sublime veneer there was even a hint of some kind of ugliness - I couldn't bear it it would destroy me - I need your beauty - and nothing else - I need to believe that beauty exists, and maybe it's unfair to pick on you - but your beauty is the possibility of my beauty, and I can't destroy that, after all, what if beauty were to reject me?
~ Here to Heal ~ The sins of the father and the mother are not really sins at all. Of course they would want the best, for themselves, their sons, daughters; then - was it denied, or unattainable, or an unknown thing? We struggle, though circumstances, fate itself, may seem to deny us. We try harder - and lay claim with our cries to our human destiny; "Ours is to suffer!" Yet - nothing is denied, and we are not meant to suffer. I believe ours is to uncover the mystery of the unknown. To seek - discover - reveal - share - what? Truth! Your truth - no one else's. This is the fair wind in the storm of your life. Be not content with anything less - in its ignorance only here have you failed. I can forgive all else - and I struggle to find compassion for ignorance - for it means you never even tried. Was it not important to you? On the scales of your life what was as heavy as your Truth? Yes, I am afraid that I will forget; this is my Truth.
~ Don't Know ~ If you don't know how to, or even what to love, and bless - start with a pet, a cat or dog, and pour out your love to it, remembering first to respect its being, and its wishes and needs and frivolities. Love is all of these things - and you the lover; and every time that being comes to you it brings its joy and peace and serenity and a teaching - Love. It knows your inner spirit and inherent worth and slowly you will too. This is all there is; the beginning, the middle, and the end.
~ Eyes ~ Within the eyes of a child shines the bright light of the future. Is it not sad to see a child whose eyes have been dimmed? Give that child love. Within the eyes of a man we see now the light and the dark - but does he? Is it not sad to see a man lost in the shadows, swallowed in the dark that is - hidden from a brighter unknown? Encourage him. Within the eyes of the old man we see now many colours and a deep cavernous yearning - reflecting what might have been - waves of regret… Or perhaps a stillness - and an ever present knowing - deep and simple and patient Holding? Give him your time.
~ Remembering ~ I don't need to sell my soul my ego has already leased it, and thinks he owns it, thinks he's in control. And so he takes me to hell, says he knows what's right, and will fight for it, will even kill for it. Until I remember humility, the sacredness of all things, and their rights, to existence, and acceptance. And when I remember I ask my ego to walk one step behind me, - to put down his sword; This feels like heaven. And when I forget, my ego steps in front of me without me seeing, - and his sword is drawn and ready; This feels like hell. So each moment is simply one of remembering or forgetting. It starts with me - not you or him or them - always with me. Love is a remembering. Am I ready to remember? - It takes effort - this too is easy to forget - or avoid - or deny - or refuse…
~ There's Two Sides ~ I could stay in my room and avoid all relationships, interactions; or I could learn about love. I could trust you, become vulnerable, and maybe be hurt by you; or I could learn about love. I could fight and argue with you, and try to get what I want; or I could learn about love. I could be jealous and grasping and want you for all of myself; or I could learn about love. I could blame you and get angry with you and even hurt you in many ways; or I could learn about love. I could condemn you, vilify you and even destroy you in my resentment; or I could learn about love. I could do all of these things, and more; or I could learn about love. And it seems to me, there's always two sides.
~ Bridges ~ This struggle, this pain, we ask: "Why?"; and: "What is it for?". In the moment of my fleeting purest insight I know it is me seeing the limits of my thoughts and understanding. And these turmoil's are the bridges to another place. I can choose to stay on this side and spin in the vortex of my own confusion or after I've had enough of nausea and other pain I can walk across - even though it is a bridge shrouded in fog to nowhere - 'know I not where'. This choice I make to face this fear to grow. Now I must find others who can help to show me the way to myself.
~ All are Welcome ~ Do not think you have not been invited, You have. But there are things you must do, obligations, requirements, duties, and these things keep you from the celebration. But tell me, who do you do these things for? For your family? Yourself? - Your friends? Is your gift freely given? Or do you sacrifice yourself - and have resentments? Is this how it must be? What is your deeper wish? - Dare to wish it! Freedom? And what would you do with freedom? Would you not find your greater self there? And would you not find even greater gifts in that place, that you might return with and share? Accept no limitations! For your lesser self is no substitute for the depth and breadth of your possibilities. This too love asks of us. This too we must speak when asked, for it is only through fear of our greatness that we manifest loving obligations to keep us small. So - be great! - Be incredible! And share your totality!
~ Where you Stand ~ Do not think you do not know the way, you have only forgotten. At any point you only have to stay still long enough to allow what was to catch up to you. By standing still you say to the external world 'I will know you - in my stillness'. These forms we see say there is only ever change, but what of the unchanging heart? This alone was, is, and will be; hold to it - and the universe will come to you - where you stand.