30 April, 2021

"Tenderness" by Stephen Dunn

"Tenderness," by Stephen Dunn, from Between Angels

Back then when so much was clear
and I hadn't learned
young men learn from women

what it feels like to feel just right,
I was twenty-three,
she thirty-four, two children, a husband

in prison for breaking someone's head.
Yelled at, slapped
around, all she knew of tenderness

was how much she wanted it, and all
I knew
were back seats and a night or two

in a sleeping bag in the furtive dark.
We worked
in the same office, banter and loneliness

leading to the shared secret
that to help
National Biscuit sell biscuits

was wildly comic, which led to my body
existing with hers
like rain that's found its way underground

to water it naturally joins.
I can't remember
ever saying the exact word, tenderness,

though she did. It's a word I see now
you must be older to use,
you must have experienced the absence of it

often enough to know what silk and deep balm
it is
when at last it comes. I think it was terror

at first that drove me to touch her
so softly,
then selfishness, the clear benefit

of doing something that would come back
to me twofold,
and finally, sometime later, it became

reflexive and motiveless in the high
ignorance of love.
Oh abstractions are just abstract

until they have an ache in them. I met
a woman never touched
gently, and when it ended between us

I had new hands and new sorrow,
everything it meant
to be a man changed, unheroic, floating. 


07 April, 2021

The Art of Play

📸: @themichaelkushner
💄: @perspectivebeats

When we were young, creative play came easily. 

Children are used to looking at objects for what they can be, instead of what they ARE, at face value. 

Think of your inner artist as a child—a child at their best *and* their worst. At their best they lose themselves in play, they look at the world from a perspective of pure possibility, their innocence is a superpower unburdened by failure and fear...

...But that inner child can *also* be uncooperative; it has wild tantrums, gets upset, shrivels under neglect, and thus needs to be shown attention, care and above all: love. Your inner artist needs to bust-out and be silly AND be shown loving forms of structure.

Remember that Play is an essential part of being alive—for all creatures! All animals PLAY as a form of practicing for life’s necessities. Lions “play” at hunting, to be in shape for when the kill is truly on. So too must we!

This bottom-line-obsessed shaming of Play is not only a detriment to the very “productivity” our society holds so dear, but we do extraordinary damage to our psyches, with invisible, but very real scars.

So pick up the paintbrush, journal, craft kit and crockpot; sit down at the piano, or indulge in an imaginary world for a moment or two. Play is part of who we are. And to my theatre-maker pals? Remember: “it’s called a Play for a reason.”


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