Dangerous Romance

Love & Homicide in the Wings

A mere moth should never marry A too-pretty Fritillary:

Ay, anterior, posterior, She’ll always act superior,

And opt, yea, to co-opt her an Obnoxious Lepidopteran

To ransom her; by chance some’re Both fancier and handsomer.

Tears will roll like many pennies When he uses his antennae

So he really realizes Not all butterflies are prizes;

Though he scarcely found it scary Marrying a Fritillary,

Someday soon he surely will, her Arrogance the caterpillar

Of his innocent devotion Kill; its wings will know no motion.

Down the alleys ghastly, ill-lit, Flits, forlorn, the moth; to kill it

Is a mercy of the fires On his thwarted old desires—

Clasp a gaslamp, doomed Cecropia! Love you once believed Utopia

Ne’er loved you, never trusted That you weren’t just maladjusted.

Ah! Madame, your Butterfly, alack, will only stab you in the back;

The price of your hubristic pride Could well become Cecropicide.Digital illo: Another Moth Myth

Efficiency Expert

Digital illo: Bug

All Tied Up in a Bow

Tidy packages are not

the sole solutions I have got,

but of the puzzles in my path,

few fill me with such rage and wrath

as that I cannot seem to find

what I have lost from in my mind.

I’ve lost more thought than many hath;

Does that make me a psychopath?

Don’t fret, my pretties, yet, for I

am not a wholly rotten guy:

I’d bump you off, but you should know,

won’t (for certain sums of dough)…

and if you can’t afford the fee,

I’ll parcel you out tidily.

PessimOptimism

Graphite drawing: Self-Inflicted“Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” It’s part of my credo, I guess, and may well have been aided in its development by doing those hilariously futile duck-and-cover atomic bomb drills of the Cold War era. And the air raid drills—we lived in a Ground Zero area near several military bases, strategic coast, and a handful of Nike missile sites in those days—fire drills, earthquake drills, tsunami drills, and later when we lived in the midwest, tornado drills. You’d think we’d all have grown up incredibly paranoid after such stuff in childhood. But I think that besides being remarkably resilient, kids use logic on such daily puzzles far better than they remember how to do when they hit adulthood and have been taught their prejudices, and are much more easily distracted and blinded by grey areas.

I don’t remember ever believing that crouching under a flimsy little wood-and-steel desk would save me even from the shrapnel of shattering windows and imploding walls in the event of an attack or large-scale disaster, particularly since I imagined the desk itself would become shrapnel along with everything else in the atomizing roar of a bombing. Little and naïve though we were, we had gleaned hints of the enormity of such things from our beginning school studies of the world history of war (skewed to our own culture’s view, of course); no matter how grownups think they’re shielding kids by sanitizing and limiting the information the wee ones are allowed to see and hear, children are quick to notice the blank spaces where redacted information interrupts the flow of facts, and no adult is more curious than a child to hunt for clues as to what was redacted. Frankly, if there really is any use for an institution like the CIA in this day and age when practically anyone can find out practically anything with the aid of easily accessible tools like the internet, cellular phone, and, apparently, privately owned drones, along with all of the more traditional tools of spy-craft, I suggest that the crew best equipped to uncover any facts not in evidence would probably be a band of children all under the age of about twelve.

Meanwhile, we still have large numbers of people who think it prudent to withhold or skew the information passed along to not only kids but even fellow adults, giving out misguided or even malevolent half-truths or remaining stubbornly silent and in full denial about things considered too dark for others’ knowledge. And what do we gain from this? Are there truly adults among us who still think that even smallish tots can’t quickly discern the differences between a fable or fairytale, no matter how brutish and gory it may be, and the dangers and trials of real-world trouble? Does delusion or deception serve any purpose, in the long run, other than to steer us all off course in search of firmer, more reliable realities?

As I just wrote to my dear friend Desi, it seems to me that the majority of humans always assume a fight-or-flight stance in new or unfamiliar circumstances before allowing that these might be mere puzzles to decipher, and more importantly, we assume the obvious solution to be that whatever is most quickly discernible as different from self IS the problem. Therefore, if I’m white, then non-white is the problem; if I’m female, then male. Ad infinitum. And we’re generally not satisfied with identifying differentness as problematic until we define it as threatening or evil. This, of course, only scratches the surface—quite literally, as the moment we get past visible differences we hunt for the non-visible ones like sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs, and so on.

Unless and until we can change this horribly wrongheaded approach on a large scale, we’ll always have these awful problems, from petty playground scuffles right into the middle of the final mushroom cloud. The so-called justice systems of the world are set up and operated by the same flawed humans who make individual judgements, so the cycle is reinforced at all levels. Sometimes it truly makes me wonder how we’ve lasted this long.

Can we learn from kids? The younger the person, the more likely to blurt out the truth, whether it’s welcome or not. The subtleties of subterfuge are mostly wasted on children, who unless they’re engaged in happy storytelling for purposes of amusement and amazement, would rather be actively puzzling out the wonders of life than mucking about in search of evasive answers and duck-and-cover maneuvers. We might gain a great deal by reverting a little to a more innocent and simplistic view of the universe, one that blithely assumes that others are not always out to get us, that direness and doom aren’t lying open-jawed around every blind corner, and that the great powers of the internet and cell phones might just as well bear cheery tidings of goodness and kindness, and drones be removed from deployment as spies and weapons to work instead at delivering birthday presents to friends and packets of food to hungry strangers.

I’m not fooled into thinking any of this is easy to do, any more than any savvy kid would be, but I’m willing to believe it’s possible if more and more of us will commit to such ideals.

Ethereal Amours Heating Up the Interwebs

Infernally Yours

Thou mak’st me hot, O swain of mine, afire with passion, sure,

and art my furnace, blazing beau, so flaming your allure;

What is it getteth in my groove that thou hast, O my heart?

How heat I up, so quickly broiled, as roasting from the start?

Mayhap, thou sneaky Devil, thou hast dropped affection’s bomb

When I misjudged it literal and went to Match.com!Photo: Infernally Yours

It’s Not Always Bad to be All Tied Up in Knots—Beats Falling to Pieces

Digitally colored drawing: She Wore a Red Sash

Text: Such a Little Thing

Digital illustration: Cut Along This Line

Name that Malady!

Photo: Something in My Eye

Do I have Onchocerca volvulus, or is there just an eyelash stuck in my eye?

All Other Martyrdom is Naught before Mine

This harsh, persistent pain I have, O Doctor, tell me, please,
Can it be cured by some cheap salve, Or have I some disease
Beyond the scope of modern meds And pessaries and pills,
Like something Biblical in scope, One of those icky ills
You read about in magazines, See movies-of-the-week
About so frightful that you Realize that you’re a freak
To have such creepy plague, To be afflicted so, withal,
That even specialists will cringe And dash off down the hall
To hide behind their file Cabinets until you leave
Because they’re overwhelmed by the Bizarreness they perceive
Upon your person when they see Disturbingly displayed
Such malicious malady It makes them sore afraid.
What say, Sir Doctor? You detect My source of agony?
Who suffers worse than martyrs who Have papercuts, like me!

Photo: Open Wide!

Well, shut my mouth! Maybe that nasty odor wasn’t Trimethylaminuria, but don’t just give me the brush-off.

Things Seen and Unseen

I know I’ve talked here before about how easy it is to stop seeing what’s right in front of me because, well, it’s always right there in front of me. The ubiquitous becoming invisible, and all of that. But lately I’ve been thinking, too, about how often what I haven’t seen before gets automatically dismissed by my brain as non-essential because I relied on the part of thinking that makes instantaneous generalizations and assumptions and chooses to categorize things, as soon as it decides the new thing doesn’t pose a threat.
Digital illustration: Friendly Little Insect

While this rarely makes, in real life, the stuff of horror stories, as much as I like a rollicking scary tale at times, I am more concerned when I begin to wonder just how many things this autopilot state of mine makes me miss. Have I bypassed grand opportunities through lack of attention? Undoubtedly. Has my life been different than it could have been had I been more deliberate and thoughtful and thorough? Certainly. Are there people I’ve met whom I never got to know as well as I should have done, never appreciated as deeply as they deserved, never enjoyed the benefits of learning from them or being made better by a real relationship with them? That is unquestionably the hard truth.

Will I be smarter, moving forward, because I paused to ask myself these questions? That, my friends, definitely remains to be seen. I like to think that I’m teachable, but I know I’m also drawn to the easy path in life and often distracted by non-essentials when I should at least be watching where I step, so I’ll make no promises. If I do, however, happen upon any new and delightful things or, especially, people and recognize greater value than a passing glance would have registered, then I won’t consider myself beyond rescue in this regard. Plus, I might find in them the material for some fantastic fiction later on, if I’m lucky.