The lyrics

(for two voices)

It’s just a thing.
Just a thing.
We did the research.
We measured it.
Don’t bother to write, to sing.
It’s just a thing.

     But
     when we held each other
          naked to the waist
     the skin over our hearts
          pressed close—

That’s just pheromones,
chemicals,
your
oxytocin
receptors
firing.
We did the research.
We measured it.
It’s just a thing.

     But
     when we held each other
          naked to the waist
     the skin over our hearts
          pressed close—

Chemical messages,
firing of neurons.
We did the research.
We measured it.
It’s just a thing.

One’s as good as another
when you need release.
They’re all the same—
a nuisance, really,
disruptive to your work,
your contribution to the economy.
Go out with your friends,
spend your money.
You’ll be fine.
You’ll function smoothly.
You’ll be able to play.
It’s just a thing.
Just chemicals, just neurons.
Don’t bother to write, to sing.
If it’s really a problem
you can take this pill.

     But when we held each other
          naked to the waist
     the skin over our hearts
          pressed close
     I felt…

     That skin
     is a sacrament. That body—

     a sacrament.
     Did I desecrate it
     with my grabbing hands,
          the hands of a thing,
     my animal lust,
          the lust of a thing
     that’s been told
          all its life
     that it’s just a thing?

     Did I desecrate,
          or was that
          worship?
     I don’t know.

     But my neurons played
     a transcendent music
     and even if that
     was just a thing

     I will give it the lyrics
     it deserves.

The man I want

The man I want is smart enough
to think in metaphor
and reason by analogy.
He reads.

The man I want has a dangerous
lean to the left.
He’s quietly spiritual, with hope
but not delusion.

The man I want likes conversation
better than TV. He likes to sit around
late at night, talking. He wants to be
my friend.

The man I want loves music,
old and new.
He’ll dance with me
to the band or the DJ.

The man I want has calm confidence
and understated style. Women notice him.
He’s reasonably fit. He cares how he looks
but it’s not an obsession.

The man I want likes sex. He really likes it.
He’s good at it — or if he’s not,
he will be! He smells and tastes
amazing: his chemicals fit mine.

I really don’t mind whether he’s rich or poor
or whether he smokes or drinks—
but the man I want puts people
ahead of money and substances.

He’s kind to animals, to children,
to his mother. The man I want forgives mistakes,
holds no grudges, but he doesn’t let anyone
push him around.

The man I want knows his limits,
how to say no, when to say yes—
but he’s not perfect. When he screws up,
he says sorry.

He has the courage to take a risk. He’ll consider what a woman
might like to do, then call her and ask her out.
The man I want knows that the woman he wants
will respect that kind of strength.

Of course, he’s exactly the man
I like to think I’d be, if I were male.
He needs company and action, but the core of him
is shy, self-centred. He also needs solitude.
The man I want will share himself, but only
if he knows he won’t be ridiculed,
and that he won’t be trapped
by the other’s needs.

Someone said be prepared to give
the things you want to receive.

If I am blessed with the man I want,
and if I can earn his trust,
these are the things I will do my best
to give:

the embrace and release
of a powerful heart,
the resistance and surrender
of a strong body,
the push and pull
of a flexible mind,

and the unconditional love
of a soul that understands.

How the fuck would you feel?

On a street of dead lawns, security grilles
bricks through windows
where St Vincent de Paul’s have moved out
because of crime

I’m thinking about soldiers and guards.
Fire stakes, nine-tails,
gas chambers, rape camps,
waterboards.
Detention centres.
Deaths in custody.
Cell suicide. Paddywagon murder.

Along the footpath a young woman
pushes a a stroller.
A little boy toddles behind her.
He strays too close to the road
as two-year-olds will.
She grabs his ear and drags him back.

Another few driveways, he strays again.
She picks him up by the hair
and the other ear,
lifts him through the air,
dumps him next to the stroller,
walks on, staring at the horizon.
I can hear him howling all the way up the street
as he toddles bewildered after her.

I want to cross the street and get in her face with
‘Oi! How the fuck would you feel
if someone did that to you?’

but I suspect
she already knows.

(First published in Creatrix)