Moments #2

Out beyond the fields behind the elementary school, there were seasonally transitory ponds that attracted various wildlife, such as ducks and frogs. This is where the fanged ones lived. We never went out there; the farthest we’d go was the edge of the ball diamond, where the adults would put up markers to let us know where the outfield ended and what counted in tee ball as a home run.

Dominick, my friend, told us that his older sister had gone out there once, and the fanged ones had gotten her and eaten off her hands and feet, and now she was stuck at home. That’s why none of us could ever visit Dominick at home, because his parents didn’t want to make a spectacle of their poor disfigured daughter.

I acted like I was too cool to believe such a ridiculous story, but I always had a believable explanation at hand as to why I couldn’t go any farther than the edge of the ball diamond, especially not in October, when the wind got cold and the night came just a little bit too early.

— ptkh 04.24.10

the unspoken wall

she’d seen the unspoken wall every day,
and every day she’d wondered
how to take it down

a wall between him and her
a ghostly veil
that shimmered at the edge of her vision
yet invisible
when stared right at

she told herself
it was the wall that kept them apart
she told herself
that he knew nothing of it

and this made her cry

so she told him of the wall
and he told her of the wall
and it fell
onionskin in the wind

and then,
they drifted apart,
having nothing at all
for all that they’d shared
all that had kept them together

had been

the unspoken wall

— ptkh 04.22.10


In the distance: Gunshots.

In the foreground: A young girl crouches by a gutter grate, poking leaves from last autumn in between the cast iron bars and listening to the plink-plink-plink of pebbles falling into the water down below. She is black. She is wearing a school uniform. Her hair is in pigtails, held in place with bands of silver elastic featuring red plastic balls.

Overhead: The sky is gray and foreboding, late afternoon, between the time that school lets out and the time that parents come home from work. When there’s work to come home from, which is less and less common these days.

Underground: The rhythmic purr of a city’s heartbeat, a city seemingly unaware of the cancerous infection that continues to spread down its streets.

For the moment, though, none of that matters to the little girl pushing leaves and pebbles through a sewer grate.

— ptkh 04.21.10

Moments #1

At the end of a long pier, beneath an autumn evening’s sky, over the water that was growing chilly with the coming winter’s winds, in between two otherwise unnoteworthy moments in a constant stream of mentally photographed breaths, as a skip in the fabric of a thumping monotony of similitude, I saw on the island on the other side of the river, just out of reach, my first pair of naked breasts, attached to a girl four years my elder, her head thrown back, her hair tugging downward as her hips thrust her upwards, her hands splayed on the waist of an unseen beau whose grunting I could hear over her own, and even so and despite their metronomic cadence, all I could focus on clearly were those nipples, superficially like my own but topping as they did those mounds of legend, peaks which in retrospect were pimply bumps contrasted to the myriad silicone balloons I’ve seen in the interim but which at the time were alpine in dimension, peaks which have visited me repeatedly as they did later that night when, in the privacy of my own bed, biting back noises so my fellow campers wouldn’t hear, I did what all teenage boys ought to do in their beds while thinking of such things.

— ptkh 4.20.10

Raise High the Gondola Oars

The day JD Salinger died,
I was standing near St Mark’s Square
watching the pigeons attack
a tourist
who’d been too reckless
with a handful of seeds.

The weather was overcast,
the clouds hung low
like marshmallow soufflé,
water in the distance slapping against
idle gondolas.

A brawny Venetian
on his way to the kilns
bumped me out of the moment

and the erstwhile silent ruckus
buffaloed my senses again.

— ptkh 04.19.10

Poem for Somebody

I drew you a picture
in colored sand
and let the wind blow it away.

I hope it landed at your feet
and that you could still make out the traces
of what was meant to have been.

I sent you a message in puffs of smoke
that mingled with the clouds
that rained on your sunny weekend afternoon.

I hope you’ll forgive the intrusion,
my intentions were good,
and you might’ve gotten sunburned anyway.

I mixed the remnants
of the Easter egg dye
and froze it just for you.

I wrapped it in silk
and imagined a rainbow
pulled out of the brackish gray.

I sent you a gift by parcel post,
a brocade vest with fringe of goldenrod,
bound up in a jolly red bow.

And though I forgot to address it,
I know you’ll get it soon.

… but tell me if you don’t.

— ptkh 04.18.10

Being this man (introduction)

This was the only post of a blog called “Being This Man”

There are many articles on how to be a man, what a “real” man is like, and similar topics. These articles are generally reductionist and sexist. I chose the title of this blog because, while I intend on discussing issues of manhood in USian society, I want to strive to avoid the implication that what’s true for me, a male, is true for all males. I strive to speak only for myself.

I am a pragmatic egalitarian. I believe that, anatomy aside, men and women are not innately bound to any specific roles or requirements. However, because we are raised differently, and because gender identity is so central to the way in which we perceive ourselves, we face different obstacles. The end is the same, but men and women have different starting places and, hence, different routes there.

I have a young son. I would like him to grow up with more balanced perspectives than I had, just as I grew up with more balanced perspectives than my own father. This is part of the impetus for me setting these thoughts down, so he and other boys of his generation can learn from my experiences, if they choose to do so.

I am not perfect. While I strive towards certain values and expectations in this blog, I may stray. I hope my readers will keep me honest. I ask that people express themselves with dignity and civility at all times, and I will strive to do the same. Also, I welcome people to offer their own topics or offer links of possible interest, via comments or private email.

Welcome to my thoughts.