Tag Archives: love

Old Tunes

21 Aug

 

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By L. Stewart Marsden

It’s Sunday, and raining once more in the mountains. I was working on “Girl from Ipanema” on a baritone ukulele, the instrument I leaned how to play before the guitar. It suits the song.

Then I began to mess around with chords, and struck on an old tune I used to sing years ago. It’s in A Minor.

We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord …

A very simple Jesus Freak song many of us sang — around a campfire with hands locked; at some churches.

Many of you are familiar with it. Now an old, vanishing tune and lyric, and probably rarely sung — certainly not in the highly polished Christian services of today. But then, we weren’t highly polished in our theology back then.

Smile! God loves you! was the mantra of the day.

“Good News for Modern Man” was the well-worn pocket New Testament translation then (even though the Baptists didn’t seem to like it because references of blood were not in it).

We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord …

No theology of politics. You weren’t more Christian if you were Republican or Democrat. Male or female. Black or white. American or Hispanic. Northerner or Southerner. Rich or poor. Well-educated or not. Spoke in tongues or — well, maybe you were.

And we pray that all unity
May one day be restored …

Like I said, it’s an OLD song with an OLD message …

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love …

Not by our might.
Not by our vote.
Not by our stand.

More like Stephen, who preached and was stoned to death by angry and righteous Pharisees and Sadducees.

In the movie “The Mission,” the priest is horrified by how his flock take up arms to protect themselves. He and several others take up — metaphorically — banners of love and march into the fray. Powerful.

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians
By our love.

Gandhi is purported to have commented, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. You Christians are so unlike Christ.”

Well, we say, Christ died for sinners, as if to exonerate us.

True. And also true is we would prefer mercy over justice for our transgressions. I certainly would.

But, like the Pharisees and Sadducees who ended Stephen’s sermon and life, justice is something we would hand out to others readily. At least I would. If I’m honest. Can’t let those sinners get away! I suppose I’m not that different from the folks who attend Westboro Baptist Church. If I’m honest.

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

This isn’t an indictment of the Christian religion, rather the hearts of most Christians. I always heard going into McDonald’s doesn’t make you a hamburger.

It’s an indictment of me. Have mercy!

Tall and tan and lovely and handsome
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes you by
She passes go “Ah!”

Easier to sing than the other song. No indictments.

Tempers Fugit

14 Apr

Tempers Fugit

By L. Stewart Marsden

 

Through my years on this earth I have been amazed at the quick conflagration of emotion. All types of emotion. Anger, lust, sorrow — the merest spark sets them off as though each was pure ethanol. Sometimes there are no bystanders to get singed in the explosion. But sometimes there are.

My surprise is not only regarding others, but myself as well.

I remember when I was a Tweener — twelve or so. Acne-ravaged, hormone-driven, I was attending a Boy Scout Camporee. These were gatherings of hosts of Scout troops within a council to camp and show off and compete various skills. Campsites, fire building, cooking, lashing, signal flags, personal fitness. Rough and tumble hearty competition Lord Baden Powell looked down upon with great pride.

It was night, and dozens of troops were huddled about campfires that spit sparks into the chilled night air. I was restless, and was spying other troops in order to see how they were set up. One or two Scouts from my patrol — the Flaming Arrow patrol — trailed behind.

For no reason I veered through a campsite and through the actual campfire, stomping on the glowing oak and pine coals with my heavy-soled hiking boots.

“Hey!” yelled one shadowed scout from the unit. “What’re you doing?”

I carried a walking stick — a low-hanging branch snapped from one of many pines populating the camping area. The scout approached me from my backside. I gripped my stick and swung it around behind me, striking the kid in the face, slicing his cheek.

Blood immediately spurted. More scouts from the unit burst from tents to his aid and some ran at me. I took off into the shadows and darkness, my minions close behind. The shouts from the attacked unit fading as I dodged into the surrounding forest and headed back to my unit. I felt like a marauding Mohawk, my painted face and balded head infused with a warrior’s mentality.

I could not begin to tell you why I did what I did. I was both mortified and elated. My heart thumped a thousand times a second, and I felt such power surge through my pubescent body.

On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

No problem with the physically strong part. Especially with the element of a hidden weapon and utter surprise. I didn’t think about what God and my country thought about my actions. I was Presbyterian, and pretty much everything about God was preached in a vague Scottish brogue from the pulpit by Dr. Watts. Scout Law? A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Twelve. Like the Twelve Commandments. Or was it ten? Okay, then two were extra. So I chose to drop kind and courteous. Worked for me.

If you have never felt the infusion of anger run throughout your body and mind, to release mind and control to the rage of a tsunami, you have not lived. You cannot understand the anger and lack of control — or rather the submission to the control of something so large and overpowering that to resist is pointless.

Have you?

Sure you have. You, the corporate executive. The tenured school teacher. The pious Sunday School teacher. You all have.

And if you were truly honest, you would admit to the exhilaration that abandonment results in.

The problem, of course, is the aftermath. The clean-up.

I took the woman I was head-over-heals in love with to a party. A house filled with people I sort of knew, but felt no real connection with. The music was loud, the rooms elbow-to-elbow crowded. The alcohol flowed generously. The cigarettes spewed noxious and delightful clouds of smoke which hung in the air.

My woman disappeared. I began to search for her, and climbed a staircase to the second floor, where I found her with several other party-goers who were sharing joints. Their eyes were half-lidded with content. A lava lamp pulsed and glowed from the corner of the room, beating out red-hued light onto the ceiling.

She looked at me and smiled, and extended a short snub of a joint to me and beckoned. “Come join us,” she urged, her brown eyes glazed and inviting.

But the invitation had the opposite effect on me, and I exploded in anger, left the room, descended the stairs and bolted from the house.

She followed.

“What’s wrong?”

I couldn’t say. Everything was wrong. This was not me! This was not her!

And I slapped her. Open-handed across her face. Hard.

And I left. Left her hurt. Left her alone. Abandoned her. The person who caused me heartaches during my Senior Dance at the school I attended when her mother drove her home. The woman who looked like Sophia Loren to me. Who played Bonnie to my Clyde. Who grabbed me in the back seat of my car one rainy afternoon and pleaded with her eyes to go further.

But I loved her. I could not see her as a sexual object. The Playboy monthly playmate who extended across a three-page color spread. Smiling. Promising. Tempting.

When you love someone, they are angelic. They are pure. They are perfect.

So at my advancing age I still wonder at those rivers of lava just beneath the surface. How they poke through a fissure in the crust of emotion — spew fire and bile that arcs and illumines the night air. What is that? Why is that?

Do you know what I’m talking about? Scratch the surface. Just a little. I believe you do.

Where does that stuff come from? Do you know?

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 14 April, 2015

30 to Love

14 Jun

 

 

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30 to Love

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

Mom had two holes in one.
Dad didn’t have any.
They played and they played and they played and they played;
She had two,
He had none.

Two to none.
Thirty to love.

And, they did.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 14 June, 2014

Commitments

15 May

 

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Commitments

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

What’s a four-letter word for “sex?”

What? That’s in there?

I got it. M-A-L-E.

Oh. Not what I would have put.

Well, it’s gotta fit sideways and up and down.

Now you’re just pulling my leg. Why do you do those?

Keeps my mind sharp.

Must be working. You certainly put all the other men to shame — and I mean that loosely.

You mean shame loosely?

No, men.

So, you think I’m hot to trot, do ya?

You have a sharp mind. Like you said yourself — the body is a bit on the dull side of the spectrum.

I don’t see too many Miss America’s out here.

Yeah, well, it’s not cause they’re not trying. Everybody is tucked or boosted or dyed or injected anymore.

Not you, right?

That’s my secret to keep, and if I told you . . .

You’d have to kill me.

Well, the truth might kill you. I won’t.

So, whaddaya think?

About what?

About us.

What’s to think?

Well, here we are on the patio. I’m doing the crossword and you’re — just what are you doing?

Cross-stitch.

Yeah. And it’s nice and cool here in the shade. Whaddaya think?

It’s nice. And cool.

And comfortable?

Okay, where are you going with this?

I’ve been wondering the same thing. We enjoy each other’s company. We have fun together.

I’m not looking for a commitment from you.

I never said you were.

And — look — after three failed marriages, I don’t have it in my heart to disappoint another man. Why are we getting into this? I’m perfectly satisfied the way things are now. Aren’t you? (Pause) Well, aren’t you?

I was married forty-five years to one person.

I was married thirty-eight years — just not to the same person. I’m not the kind of person who commits long-term. Does that bother you?

Are you committed to me? Are we committed to each other?

I can’t speak for the we part, but, yes — I’m committed to you. For the time being.

Ah.

You want more?

Well —

I can’t give you more than that. One day at a time. After all, this — whatever we have here — is your fault.

My fault?

I was perfectly fine with my harem of dottering old farts until you arrived. And then you upset the apple cart.

Did I? How?

Oh, aren’t you the one! You know exactly how. You aren’t like any other man out here. And you know that, too — you’re just baiting me.

So, I’m unique, am I?

As unique as one can get.

Until the next unique guy shows up.

What?

You heard me.

Gad! You’re jealous about somebody that doesn’t even exist yet! Jealous of another man at The Glens, I can understand — even though I just told you no one comes close to you. But you’re afraid some senior stud muffin’s gonna show up and I’ll dump you.

(Pause)

Maybe.

Jeesh! So, what the hell kind of commitment are you looking for from me? Marriage? If so, that’s one helluva proposal you kind of didn’t make. And that’s not gonna fly. So don’t go there!

Look, I never had to worry when I was married — you know — about my wife’s commitment. She was always there for me.

That you know of.

What do you mean?

As far as you know, she was pure as the driven snow. A veritable icon of trustworthiness.

Are you saying she wasn’t?

I don’t know. I never met the lady. But I can tell you that every happily-ever-after story has this big part that no one knows about. That’s why country music is still around — there’s some cheatin’ heart behind closed doors and buddy, I never promised you a rose garden.

I knew everything about her.

Right. And I’m a virgin.

I don’t like this — what you’re saying.

What I’m saying is that I’m committed to you. Probably the same as your wife was. But I don’t live in a fairy tale. I know who I am. I know my tendencies. I’ve been straight up with you from the beginning.

I know.

I would also think, after forty-five years of marriage, you might want to spread your wings a little at this point in your life?

I don’t spread wings.

Right. The straight-laced guy. Boy Scout. GI Joe-faithful-to-the-end-God-Bless-America-baseball-loving-red-blooded-boy-guy.

What’s so wrong with that?

Nothing! I can hardly wait to read your memoirs!

You want me to be more exciting?

Not for me! For YOU! I want you to be more exiting for yourself. Make a bucket list, for chrissake. Go on a cruise and forget to get back on the ship at some exotic stop. Get a tattoo! Buy a sports car convertible! Get drunk and wake up on the beach!

That’s not who I am.

How the hell do you know? Ever sky dive?

No. It’s dangerous.

C’mon, you could choke to death any morning just taking all those pills you take. Ever go to the horse races?

I don’t gambol. I live on a fixed income.

Yadda-yadda-yadda-yadda! Do you hear yourself? What’s the most exciting thing in your life?

You are.

I’m sorry — I don’t want that responsibility. I do not want you to depend or rely on me to be why you get out of bed in the morning.

Actually, you’re the reason I can go to bed at night. I’ve never slept this well before.

That, too! Ooh! I was afraid this would happen.

I shouldn’t have said anything. I should have just let well enough alone.

Yeah, you shoulda! But you didn’t. You had to bring it up.

I’m sorry.

You sure are. I’m starting to see the cracks.

Cracks?

In the armor. Not so much the shining suit anymore.

Wait a minute — how is it I’m at fault for needing you — and that’s not okay — but it is okay for you to have these unrealistic expectations of me being the knight in shining armor? Explain that to me, please!

(Pause)

I can’t. I’m a woman. We have these expectations that are seeded in our minds as little girls. Every love becomes Sir Lancelot. Every love fails us.

I didn’t fail my wife. We were married forty-five years.

Sure you did. But she didn’t say anything because she loved you.

Yes, she did. And I loved her. So, what goes around comes around.

You’re going to make me cry again.

Did you love them? Your husbands. Did you love them?

Oh, I suppose I did — however deep or not-so-deep. Maybe it was infatuation. Maybe it was their power I loved. Or their money. Maybe it was my little girl need to love.

So, now you’ve grown up.

Now I’ve grown up.

And you don’t need to love.

I don’t need the complications. I don’t need someone who worries I’ll meet someone bigger or stronger or richer or more good-looking and then split.

Is that what happened?

I was like a butterfly. Like Scarlet O’Hara. It was hard to land on just one flower or one person for me.

Well, people can change.

And, spots are spots, my friend.

So that’s what I am to you? A friend? A friend only?

No. More. But a good friend is really hard to find, isn’t it?

Yes.

(Pause)

What’re you doing?

I thought I’d check the yellow pages for a listing.

I don’t think they have a category called Friends, or Commitment.

That’s not what I’m looking up.

What then?

Skydiving schools. Have you ever sky dived, by the way?

 

 

Copyright by L. Stewart Marsden, 15 May, 2014

 

 

Working backwards

8 May

 

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Working backwards

by L. Stewart Marsden

 

So? You’re here. Why?

Okay, this is not going to be easy. But it has to be said.

I hadda feeling when you called I had done something wrong.

You didn’t do anything wrong.

Why the sour face?

Okay, I’ll just jump in. We’ve been talking and —

Hold on. Who’s we?

Me and the others. The children. We’ve been talking and —

Let me guess — about me.

Will you let me finish?

Sorry. Go ahead. I won’t interrupt. Please — go on already!

We’ve been talking about what’s going on with you and —

Wait! What the hell is going on with me? Something I don’t know about? Who didn’t tell me? Did I forget to tell me?

The fact is that you’re getting older and —

And what? You’re not getting older? God forbid we don’t get older ’cause, you know what that means! Okay! I’m sorry! I won’t interrupt again. Continue.

Yes, we all get older. But you’re getting older older.

So you’re getting the good kind of older, but I’m getting the bad kind of older?

Yes, in a way. Like Grandma.

Well, her kind of older killed her. But she was 97-years-old. So you think I’m getting the kind of older that killed your grandmother? I’m not even close!

Please listen! This is hard! We all have noticed that you’re beginning to forget things.

So who doesn’t forget things? You telling me you don’t forget things? Tearing around with those kids doesn’t affect your memory from time-to-time?

Of course it does. Yes. I forget things. But we’re talking about last October kind of forgetting.

(Pause)

That was one goddam time — and I was under a lot of stress with your mother and everything. Hasn’t happened since. Not even close!

But it could. It could happen again.

God, all things are possible. The earth could open up and swallow this whole neighborhood, for that matter!

Please. We would like to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You’re almost eighty.

Yay for me! Put the candles on the cake and blow everything to goddam hell! So why the hell are you here? Go ahead and read me my sentence — you guys seem to have already tried me and found me guilty.

We think — we believe — it would be better for you to sell the house and move into a nice retirement community.

Oh, shit! Send me off to the old folk’s home! Close the door and let Nurse Ratched take care of me! May as well put a gun to my head and pull the damn trigger!

(Pause)

There are some very nice and progressive retirement communities. We’ve looked at a couple and —

Damn! This isn’t just talk — this is full steam ahead and man the torpedoes with you guys!

You don’t have to get so upset.

You’re right! Hell, my children set about to plan the rest of my life — without even asking me to join in the discussion, I might add — and want me to change dramatically the way I live — and I shouldn’t get upset. Yeah, I don’t know why I’m upset. Why should I be upset?

Okay — I’m sorry. We should have included you.

You’re damn right!

That being said, we didn’t. You said we want to change your life dramatically. Hasn’t it already?

How?

Mom, for one.

We were married forty-five years. Every morning we said good morning. Every night we said good night. She gave birth to you kids and we raised you. I thought we were raising fine, upstanding people. But now, I don’t know. So when she died, of course I was going to have to adjust. That’s how it is. Someone is there forty-five years, and suddenly not? That’s an adjustment. A helluva adjustment. And dramatic.

So, what do you do all day now?

What do I do? I get the hell up, fix breakfast, read the news, work in the garden. What kind of question is that?

Do you play golf any more?

Hey, half my foursome is in the ground. And Harry has Alzheimer’s. I can’t even call him on the phone because mostly he doesn’t remember me. Keeps thinking I’m a phone marketer and hangs up.

Do you get out any?

I walk the neighborhood every once-in-a-while. Getting out is over-rated anyway. What is this with the Gestapo interrogation already?

In a retirement community — not a retirement home — you have neighbors all around you who are your age. The one we looked at has a 27 – hole golf course which you can play anytime you want! There are hot tubs, and activity buildings. You can learn to dance or paint or even play the piano!

I went to summer camp when I was a kid. I couldn’t stand being with kids my age then — why would I want to live with a bunch of white-haired farts now?

C’mon! It’s not a camp. And, everything you need — shopping, grocery stores, restaurants — they’re all a short golf cart ride away! You won’t need your car, even!

Wait! Now you want to take away my car?

If you move into a retirement community, you can keep your car. At least for a while.

There it is! It’s like that Monty Python sketch where one knight is hacking away at another. First the arm, then the other arm, then the legs — like I said — just take a gun and —

WE DO NOT WANT TO TAKE EVERYTHING AWAY FROM YOU!!! (Pause). We love you, and we worry about you!

You don’t have enough to worry about now you gotta add me to the list? I’m an item on your worry list, for Chrissakes! Get me taken care of and cross me off the list. Let me tell you something: LOVE is NOT what you and your brother and sister — and their wife and husband — are doing here!

I’m sorry. This is necessary.

Love is NEVER having to say you’re sorry! I read that! I saw the damn movie even!

Okay, then, I’m not sorry. Selling the house and moving into a retirement community is the best thing your children — and I might add, grandchildren — think could happen at this stage to you in your life. You may not like it now. You may think we’re ganging up on you and forcing your hand. But, believe me — you will thank me down the road. You will.

So, where’s the gang?

What?

The rest of them?

They sent me. I’m the spokesperson.

You drew the short straw.

I drew the short straw.

(Pause)

Okay. You caught me off guard. Way off guard. It’s not like I’m in love with this house with your mother gone. It’s bigger than I can manage. God, I don’t know how she did it. All I had to do was go to work every day and come home and watch football and play golf. And, you are right.

About what?

October. I was scared shitless. I never want that to happen again.

I don’t either.

I know.

I know.

This isn’t going to happen overnight, you know. And I can’t do it all myself.

You won’t have to. And, I’m glad you said that.

So . . .

So, what?

So, you got any brochures on that retirement community?

I love you.

Yeah. I know. Me too.

 

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 8 May, 2014

The Love Trap

25 Mar

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The Love Trap

by L. Stewart Marsden

If love’s a pit in which you fall
is it possible at all to scrape and claw
your way back to the top?

Or is it more a dark abyss
which, entered into quite amiss,
was thought to be a safe and shallow drop?

Those first few pangs of laboring love
are portents to the struggles of
idyllic joy ‘gainst stark reality.

For no mere mortal here
can stave off doubt or hide from fear —
to think love would exude such falsity.

There is yet no like emotion
whose depths compare to vast, deep oceans
that swell and crash upon the heart’s lone shore

And, pounding quite relentlessly
erodes the will to be left free
like castles in the sand and nothing more.

So as I stop and consider this
and how the innocent first kiss
can lead to such an endless spiraling down

I sound with all my will and might
my troth to fight such future plights
that would force me to my knees upon the ground.

So please, if you’ve an ear to hear
take note when love approaches near
lift up your guard — be wary to the end,

And do not trip or slip or fall
if you can, avoid at all expense and say,
“Can’t you and I stay just friends?”

Are You the God?

12 Mar

 

Are You the God?

by L. Stewart Marsden

As I lay me down to sleep
and pray “Are you the god who keeps
the lonely and the broken-hearted
close and safe?”

Forgive me — I’m a bit confused
o’er how we win and how we lose
this game of love that
you continue to vouchsafe.

As I lay across the stone,
the altar where you stand, alone,
with knife raised high
in clench-ed fists

I wonder why it’s come to this —
the edge of an unplumbed abyss
where all who fall
will go unmissed.

It was a part of what you made —
and sprang to life the day you bade it
to only spiral down
from its inception.

Why you trusted such a pearl
to those of us whom you knew were
completely filled with
failings and deception.

Are you the god who rips out hearts
to raise them pulsing in the air
until at last the beating stops —
the blood no longer flows?

Are you the god who turns, departs
and leaves behind the life he started,
sadly shaking head and heart
who once, forever goes?

That Cesspool We Call Love

7 Mar

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That Cesspool We Call Love
(a song in progress)
by L. Stewart Marsden

I think you all know just what I mean, yeah, yeah
That love is never ever so clean, yeah, yeah
And that it’s got to be seen, yeah, yeah, yeah
for what it really is.

Uh well it always starts out so nice, yeah, yeah
And comes at a really cheap price, yeah, yeah
But you’ll end up paying up twice, yeah, yeah,
for what it really is

Chorus:
You go around once
and you go around twice
like a merry-go-round and round and round
and you grab for the ring
and the pleasures it brings
until that merry-go-round slows down and down
and you end up singing the blues, yeah, yeah
you end up singing the blues

because you ain’t as sly as a fox, oh yeah
but you’re as dumb as a bird-brained dove, oh yeah
and what you think you have got
is nowhere nearly as hot
as it slides down that slot
to that cesspool we call love, yeah, yeah
that cesspool we call love

© Copyright, Lawrence S. Marsden, March 7, 2014

From courting to court

23 Aug

Ne’er the intent
in midst of the dance —
romance rules the moment —
the moment is now . . .

Somehow
unconsidered
when skin presses skin
and the will to resist
has stretched paper-thin —

The leaping and spinning
leaves senses heightened
but dull to the facts
that
courting can lead
lovers into the court
in more than one case.

Seems such a waste of
loverly energy.

Little Monkey

10 Nov

Little Monkey
by L. Stewart Marsden

Little monkey
clinging fast,
fearful that the time
won’t last.

Wond’ring why the
change in things;
so desperately
she tightly clings.

Little monkey
gripping tight,
fearful of the
coming night;

Burrows deeply
in my side;
wanting safety,
trying to hide.

What a comfort
with you there;
I’ll take you, clinging,
everywhere.