dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘sex’

Still More RED Between the Lines

Continuing work on “The Sonnet” is a bit slow, but I have progressed more in the past week than when I first conceived to write this poem. I have a better sense of how to connect the subjects. That helps.

The obvious connections of love and marriage between King Solomon, the priest Valentine, and the return for the Saviour for His bride, the church, do not necessarily make it easy to pull them all together into one poem, one sonnet to be precise.

Occasionally I like to reference the bread and wine in my poems in some way that fits as a remembrence of what Christ did for us. I was thinking I would like to do that with “The Sonnet” as I don’t think that I have in any of the other RED poems. In one of my notes, I have I Corinthians 10:17 referenced for the last two lines. This refers to many believers making up the one bread, the body of Christ as it refers to the Church. But the many are individuals. I am one of those individuals.

Then I began to think about the first time I read the Song of Solomon. The US Navy had transferred me to Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, I was a new follower of Christ. I grew up in a small town in western Michigan with only one church in town. Charleston is often referred to as the Holy City because there is almost a church on every corner. I had no idea where to go.

So on my first Sunday in Charleston I went to The Battery, a park at the tip of the peninsula of Charleston, to sit and read my Bible. Sitting alone on a bench under the shade of the oaks, I opened to the Song of Solomon. I had never read it before, never actually heard any sermons on it. (I grew up in the one Baptist church in town; not that it was never referenced, I just don’t recall it.) And I know I blushed. I was a young sailor. I got the sexual references. And there by myself I blushed.

Thus I decided to start “The Sonnet” with me and try to conclude with the many as one.

Here’s the first stanza so far:

In the Holy City with faith’s fresh start,
on a park bench–alone, with blushing shame
I read Wisdom’s Song sung from sickened heart
plagued with fever of most vehement flame

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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RED Pornography

Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt

Wandered into the neighborhood
for a bit of self-indulgent window shopping.
Dimly backlit, the wares displayed behind glass:
     living life-like mannequins
     in varying casual pose,
     some in seemingly bored posture,
     stripped to the bare essentials–
     no fancy window dressing–
in window upon glowing window.
The glass returns a vague reflection
emptied of vibrant hue,
subdued by the colored lights
on the other side of the glass.
Tapping for attention…
     slide-stepping to the next window
     occasionally tempted to tap back,
     toying with the intimate decision of purchase
     euros burning a hole
     heart becomes engorged
     beating against itself
     an assault of valves
     a battle lost to the head
     peeking into window after window
     deeper and deeper into De Wallen
     rounding a corner that dead ends
     to nothing,

but a used condom left leaking
on the edge of the end of the sidewalk.

I have been avoiding this post. The topic is not pretty. Not something discussed in polite circles. Certainly not lengthy sermon material. Embarassing. Shameful. And I have personal experience–something I have struggled with off and on throughout my adult life. Pornography and masterbation.

Rosse Buurt is a red light district in Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. This I know only from research, I have never been. But I’ve been on the internet. And as a young boy, I glanced through the glossy pages of magazines the neighbor kid snuck from his dad’s workshop. I’ve allowed lustful fantasies to roam through my thoughts. It’s all around us in the media and programming and advertising. And it’s all empty. It drains creativity and confidence. It leads to nowhere.

Anyone familiar with the teachings of Jesus knows that he spoke against lust. He also spoke specifically against masterbation as well. (He did?) Check out the sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 27-30. Verse 27 addresses physical adultery. Jesus ramps it up to just looking at a woman (who is not your wife) with lustful thoughts–a matter of the heart. This coincides with pornography, which is all about looking and thinking and fantasizing. Jesus offers a solution in verse 29, pluck out your eye! If you can’t stop, get rid of the instrument causing the offense. Then he offers the same solution in verse 30 for the hand. Why the hand? Yeah. You get it now.

Of course no one wants to mutilate their body–poke out their eyes or cut off their hands. So what’s the solution? It’s a matter of the heart. But the eye needs to see and the hand needs work. Set your eyes upon Jesus. Work works of righteousness. As the writer of Philippians encourages, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED, shall I compare thee…?

All but two of the poems for RED are complete: “Red: Revelation”, which will be a sort of summary of all; and “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ”. The former is not complete because I want to wait until all other poems are finished. The latter is not done because I want to frame it in a sonnet, and for me that is not an easy task; strict forms are not what I normally do.

When one thinks of sonnets, one tends to think of Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Browning. Big names. The bar is set high. And so it should be. The topic–intimate love, marriage, consummation–is worthy of being set in such a lofty form. But, alas, I have never written a sonnet. Seventeen lines of iambic pentameter. With a rhyme scheme. And a volta (a whata?), or turn, that is supposedly essential to a sonnet. This is a heavy commitment for setting pen to page. As it should be. So is the topic.

I normally write free verse. No meter. No rhyme. Occassionally, when the topic merits, I will use an appropriate form. At least attempt the form. This poem will attempt to compare the “Song of Solomon“, a book about which the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba is quoted as saying, “All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies”; the martyrdom by beheading of the Catholic priest Valentine for performing marriages of young Christians in Rome; and the marriage feast of the Lamb, the return of Christ for his bride, the Church.

So, yeah. I haven’t got this one done yet.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Persian RED

“Cheap Valentine” speaks of love being truly unfulfilled; whereas, its companion poem “Ghazal: Of My Love” celebrates love to the fullest.

But what is a ghazal?

Pronounced ‘guzzle’,  it is an early Arabic/Persian form. We’re talking early, like around 900 to 1300 A.D. or before, depending on the source you read (see Bibliography). The main theme of a ghazal is that of love, erotic and/or mystic. English poets seemed to have taken an interest in the form in the last quarter of the 20th century, giving their unique twist to it.

The form itself is very specific (most “forms” are). I’ll give you the basics as I understand them. A series of couplets, usually 7 to 15, though no set quantity; each couplet should stand on its own, meaning it could be a poem by itself. Each couplet ends with the same word or set of words, a refrain. The refrain is actually repeated in both lines of the first couplet. Before each refrain is a rhyme; therefore, each couplet second line rhymes. The final couplet contains a reference to the poet–their name, pen-name or nickname, or a play on their name–something to form a “signature”.

These are most of the structural rules of a ghazal. There are others related to rhythm and meter and other matters, but you get the idea. I think I captured the essence of the style.

Here’s my first attempt at a ghazal, the companion poem to “Cheap Valentine“. Two of the couplets incorporate imagery of Indian/Hindi dress, style, and culture. Of course, red is the traditional color of Indian wedding dresses. Another aspect of early ghazals is the incorporation of much drinking of wine, so I started there. I hope you enjoy.

Ghazal: Of My Love

To the wine cellar! Tap into the kegs of my love!
Drink deeply! Drink deeply! Down to the dregs of my love!

My love’s a basket of fresh, ripe fruit—aromatic
pomegranates and apples, dates and figs of my love.

Crimson lehenga hugs her hips, tapers to her toes.
Satin holds tightly together the legs of my love.

Hand painted embroidered dupatta hides her bosom;
a true sign. Highly favored, the world brags of my love.

See how my arms are stretched taut in an open embrace.
Look closely at the holes made by the pegs of my love.

Scott has received the invitation sent to all.
Come. Come and drink freely at the feast, begs of my love.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Bibliography

Avachat, Abhay. “What is a Ghazal?” http://smriti.com/urdu/ghazal.def.html 21 February 2015

de Bruijn, J. T. P. “Gazal i History” December 15, 2000 Encyclopaedia Iranica February 3, 2012 http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/gazal-1-history 21 February 2015

“Ghazal” AHA Poetry http://www.ahapoetry.com/ghazal.htm

“Glossary Terms: Ghazal” The Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-term/ghazal 21 February 2015

“Poetic Form: Ghazal” American Acacemy of Poets http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-ghazal 21 February 2015

The Cost of Mis-RED Love

Cheap Valentine

I made a Valentine card for you
out of construction paper and glitter.
I cut out an imperfectly symmetrical heart,
with an equally imperfect duplicate
cut in the center,
and super-glued it to the inside
over a wallet sized photo of you.
I composed an unknown poem for the occasion
on the facing page,
written in a sloppy calligraphy—
seven quatrains of slant rhyme
expounding on things known
and unknown only to me.
I signed it using my nickname,
as neatly as I could,
because I wanted you
to be able to read it.

You took it as a come on
and took me
in more ways than I
thought possible.
When you were done,
you rolled out of bed,
bare feet on the cold floor,
and walked out with a knowing backward glance.
You called from the kitchen and
asked if I wanted anything.
Not once did you
mention the metaphor
the card represented.

I may be sharing a well-protected man-secret here, but sex is not the most important thing to a man. It’s true. Look how casually and wrecklessly we deal with sex–inappropriate comments and conversations, premarital and multiple relationships, pornography–we cheapen it. Things that we hold in high regard, things that we treasure, we protect, we share sparingly. For a man that is his heart.

Think about it. As men, we are often called out because we keep to ourselves, we don’t share our emotions, our dreams, our innermost being. It’s because the giving of these is more intimate to us than the sharing of our bodies. And the denial or misunderstanding of this giving, this opening up to another individual is more devasting than being rejected sexually.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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