One Hundred and Counting

I suppose I owe you all (or just owe myself?) a journal entry, if for no other reason than to commemorate this grand occasion: reaching 100 followers for my journal/poetry blog! I know it’s just a number, and I definitely shouldn’t start trying to measure some rating of “success,” but it feels like a little milestone despite all of that. Thanks to those of you who have put up with me since 2013, and to those who are just climbing on board: these are interesting times we live in.

I feel like maybe a recap is in order, a little summary to help guide you through the tangles and knots in this thread. It might give you some idea of who this Lord Rumfish person is, and with a little luck I might even drop back below 100 followers (I never said it would be good luck).

NOTEWORTHY TRAITS

1. Creative. Whether for good or ill, whether talented or lackluster, I just can’t stop creating things. This tends towards writing and gaming (many various forms of both), although recently I have been dipping into fashion, and even thinking about interior decorating/design and how the mundane spaces around the house could be given an artsy facelift.

2. Quixotic. I am a hopeless romantic, a defender of lost causes, and in many ways a somewhat ridiculous human being. Somehow I manage to balance this with other traits, including logical analysis. Humans are so conflicted and nonsensical.

3. Open-Minded. This stands in for a lot of other labels, things like “bisexual” or “independent voter” or “agnostic” or whatever. Part of having an open mind is challenging your comfort zone every so often; it doesn’t have to be all the time, but you’ve got to practice what you preach.

4. Depressed. Even though I try to see the world through rose-colored lenses, I have grappled with depression my entire life (I have had other diagnoses at other points in my life, such as Tourette’s Syndrome as a child, and social anxiety when I was in high school). It saps my energy, makes me sleep too much, and colors my worldview. If you are curious, I am unmedicated.

WHAT THIS IS

This is my poetry journal, my journal/poetry, my… somewhat-edited thought stream. I let my hair down here, but maybe not quite all the way. I have used this forum to discuss politics, economics, philosophy, dreams, my life (obviously), psychedelic rock, and whatever other interests motivate me such as writing, gaming, or edible wild plants. It’s a hodge-podge of stuff, not consistently one thing or another; on a good day, the “typical” entry would have a journal-y bit, and then a break for a poem that might be related to the journal writing.

WHERE I AM NOW

I am in the midst of a confusing and burgeoning romance that pretty well defies normality. All kinds of feelings are wrapped up in it, and I cannot go into prose detail; I’m likely to write a lot more poems and a lot less prose for that reason. If you like poetry about love, in particular messy forbidden love, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve also been experimenting recently with psychedelic imagery and beat poetry. With any luck I’ll also feel inspired at some point soon to talk about my eternal disgust for Herr Trump, and the impending nuclear winter that will make everything else pointless.

For old times’ sake, here’s a poem.

Half a page, half a page,
Half a page onward,
All in the volley of Dearth
Wrote the one hundred.
“Foreword, the Lord Rumfish!
Charge for the words!” he said.
Into the volley of Dearth
Wrote the one hundred.

“Foreword, the Lord Rumfish!”
Was there a man who wished?
Not though the headline knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs ought to make reply,
Theirs ought to reason why,
Theirs not to do and die.
Into the volley of Dearth
Wrote the one hundred.

Canon to right of them,
Canon to left of them,
Canon in front of them
Follied and sundered;
Stormed at with bot and sell,
Boldly they wrote and well,
Into the jowls of Dearth,
Into the hair from hell
Wrote the one hundred.

Flashed all their egos bare,
Flashed as they razzed an heir
Needling the gun-nuts there,
Heckling an army, while
All the world shuddered.
Plunged in the mirrors-and-smoke
Right through the lies they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the hairpiece bloke
Nattered and guttered.
Then they wrote back, but not
Not the one hundred.

Canon to right of them,
Canon to left of them,
Canon behind them
Follied and sundered;
Stormed at with bot and sell,
While Truth and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jowls of Dearth,
Back from the hair from hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of one hundred.

When can this gory facade
Ease off from Leningrad!
All the world wondered.
Honour the razz they made!
Honour Rumfish’s page,
Noble one hundred!

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The Ring of Truth

This poem comes from my days of working at a women’s clothing outlet.

We smile a friendly
– but nervous –
smile, and speak of our days
– cautiously –
while I compliment you,
you compliment me,
and I know very well you aren’t meant for me.

You point out your
(minor, adorable)
flaws, and seem grounded
– almost overly so –
for possessing such beauty.
You trust my opinion
For fashion advice,
But the sight of your skin would thaw glacial ice.

You seem familiar
– even intimate –
at times, and don’t consider your
(not-inconsiderable)
beauty’s effect, I can’t help but detect.
You’re lovely – and married – it’s plain to see,
So please, I beg of you,
don’t
tempt
me.

Italian Longsword

So, in the last couple of weeks I’ve started trying to learn swordplay, fo’ realz. A more recent friend of mine has made this possible due to having some training equipment ready and having some knowledge of what manuscripts are out there to learn from. We’re basically two interested students with no teacher, so we’re having to teach ourselves. I can tell you that the guard positions have cool names (Half Iron Door and Boar’s Tooth Guard are two examples), and that the footwork is really important if you ever expect to dodge, or to land a meaningful hit; it also helps you to not get knocked over unexpectedly. It’s also good exercise: training drills are one thing, but open sparring? Fighting is exhausting work! I quickly learned that using the footwork properly can reduce my “fatigue expenditure” by easily stepping out of the way of a thrust or swing; also, switching to a defensive posture gives you a moment to catch your breath after pressing an offense. As a side note: longsword in this context means a sword used in two hands (D&D players out there might call it a “bastard sword” which is a modernized name; while it can be used in one hand for some maneuvers, it is intended for two hands primarily). The traditional measure for a longsword was where the pommel of the hilt was the height of the wielder’s armpit when the point was touching the ground; a decorative “claymore” sword that I own is the right height for me (I’m about 6’4″)! I use a sturdy plastic sword for practice at the moment, which isn’t nearly as long but also less exhausting to swing around.

I wish there were better options around Kentucky for learning proper swordplay; groups like the SCA and similar organizations mostly put a nix on learning thrust attacks, which is extremely unrealistic. I’m pretty sure I could beat someone who was only using swing attacks with a long thrust to the belly, neck or face, thrusts are about half of the attacks in Italian longsword style. Also, thrust attacks were used to pierce the weak points in heavy armor, which holds just as true today as it did then (Kevlar is weak against thrusts). I don’t want an artificial fighting experience, I want to learn the practical combat styles people used to defend and kill with in the late medieval period. Either way I would get exercise, but somewhere between the historical interest and my desire to learn “the real thing” I appreciate this more than the other possibilities. I have also seen that friends and acquaintances have had mixed or distant reception from local groups, and that those groups (that are difficult to join and/or elitist) also don’t really have any good sword experts among their number either. I am left to study with my friend John, which isn’t such a bad thing.

I guess the experience wouldn’t be too dissimilar from trying to learn an exotic martial art in an area with no instructor. You learn as best you can, and you know it’s mostly for fun. However, if my life was in danger from anything less than a firearm and there was any sort of stick-shaped object nearby, it could be a practical skill too. ^_~

Step step
don’t cross the feet
step step
and then retreat
step step
don’t get in close
step step
counter the blow
step step
thrust to the chest
step step
Window Guard that mess
step step
thrust to the face
step step
you’ve won this race.

Affection

I don’t think I am
any less
affectionate now
than when I was 16
or even 10, awakening;
the theoretical model
still seems to ignite in practice.

So perhaps
what I mean
by the shyness you see
is my hesitance now
to unleash the damn thing.

For my love is an ocean,
vast and deep;
my love is an ocean,
ragged with reefs;
my love is an ocean,
with swells and sighs;
my love is an ocean,
you’ll drown in the riptide.

And I don’t mean
– I mean –
but I’d rather not mean…
that my love suffocates,
taking greedily,
knowing there’s a chance
you won’t be here tomorrow,
knowing there’s a chance
you might stay today,
knowing there’s a chance
of happiness,
I pounce;
I give back a stone
if you give me an ounce.

So it’s generous too
(in a desperate way),
but I’m scared now
to show it
to drive you away,
so I linger on
shyly
in glances
and blushes,
a few fumbled words
and long hesitations…
I wait to see
if
I’ll ask for your number,
say my clever line,
forget my failures
and
everything that could go wrong
this time,
long enough for you to possibly be mine.

My love is an ocean,
full of colorful pains;
my love is an ocean,
it could sweep you away;
my love is an ocean,
filling every sensation;
my love is an ocean,
dying of dehydration.

Frank’s Bachelor Party

So, this is going to be a somewhat explicit post. I’ve always held that this journal should be a place where my inner thoughts have a voice, and in this case I’d like to comment on my very first strip club experience. If that’s not something you’d like to hear about, please do not read further.

Ahem… the day started tamely enough. My friend is getting married next weekend, and I knew today was the day for the bachelor’s party. Somewhere in the back of my head I had this vague idea that strippers might be involved, although I know that’s sort of a stereotypical trope and we might not be the kind of crowd to go for that. The first event was at a bowling alley… just for bowling (I am no professional: I had a mediocre 94 and a terrible 66). Why must public places be full of such loud music? All the noise, noise, noise, noise! Anyway, that was okay I guess. We met up with a bunch of his coworkers and stuff, so I only knew a handful of people there.

Originally I had heard we would go over to another guy’s house for games like Cards Against Humanity and whatnot, but apparently the plans shifted and suddenly the group was scaling back to those who were willing or able to venture to Platinum Plus in Lexington. More than half of us had never been to a strip club before, and that’s out of the ones that were willing to go in the spirit of the event. An awkward car ride later, and we approached the low dark building with a glowing neon purple light making a subdued line around the outside. They checked our IDs of course, charged us $7 for the privilege of entering and we made our way to a table.

So, was it what I expected? Yes and no. Some naïve part of my brain had this distant hope of some classy anachronistic establishment that only played music specifically for each dancer with breaks in-between (in my head the band is live too) and had the smoky feel of a speakeasy. No, the music was loud and in-your-face much like a bar or a club, although the bowling alley earlier had conditioned me to it a little. There were bars along the edges of the room, seating in the main area, a smallish circular dance platform near the entrance to greet you with a girl who is halfway “cage-dancing” except the bars are spaced apart and made for mini-pole-dancing. A main stage further back had a bit more runway to it and, of course, the central pole (always comes back to the pole eh? Perhaps I should deconstruct the phallic and yonic imagery… just kidding). There were dark passages leading off from here to more private dance areas in the corners. All of the appearance pretty well matched my expectations.

We settled uneasily into our seats as a scantily-clad server took our drink orders (I got a White Russian for a whopping $7.50, and later some of the guys used some coupon to get an ice bucket full of Budweisers). There was a palpable sensation of self-consciousness among us; what is the protocol here? How much do you tip, and in which situations? No one ever taught me the savoir-faire and etiquette of strip clubs! The music was too loud for much commentary, so with an occasional half-shouted exchange I took in the show. Some of the girls… women… ladies… strippers… exotic dancers… *performers* duly impressed me with their athleticism. Seriously, I would not be very confident in my ability to hang upside-down from a pole, sit my torso up perpendicular to it and do much of anything sexy-looking in the process, even if I had training. It must take some pretty serious leg and core/torso strength to do all that. They weren’t all that athletic of course, and the less energetic/talented ones were a bit less mesmerizing to watch (this might just be individual performers, but I found that the more full-figured curvaceous girls had a lot more pole dancing skill and strength than their boyishly-thin counterparts). They would migrate from the main stage over to the little “cage” stage, and that was right next to our table so we spent more time watching those performances. In the meantime, sometimes a girl would come by and sit on a guy’s lap to tempt him off for a private dance. This didn’t happen to me for the first main stretch of time I was there, so I was left with my thoughts and half-shouted conversation.

As an aside, I didn’t have a boner during all this. Between the public setting and the uncertainty of my nearby peers I just wasn’t turned on in that way; it was more of a mental titillation. That all changed when one of the ladies picked my lap to cozy up on. I had been half-dreading the moment (although I would have been disappointed if everyone passed me over): I was worried the experience would come across like some professional porn I have seen, with flat or dead-eyed acting and a plain or lurking suspicion that she didn’t want to be around me. Instead, I could find no trace of disinterest in her tone, she was flirtatious, easy-going, intoxicatingly seductive and her smile and eyes seemed wholly genuine. She commented on how cute my shyness was and what a gentleman I was being, and well… if it was an act I ate it up. I had already halfway decided before I arrived that if the moment seemed right I would get a lap dance just to have the whole strip club experience, but this promised to be more than I was expecting in terms of feeling intimate. She talked with me a little first, harmless questions and giggles mixed in with innuendo, kisses on my neck and a flash of her breasts. It might have been her job, but I realized she might just be enjoying it too, she might actually like me well enough for the duration of our encounter. I really wish I could remember the stage name she gave me, but I only heard it once and that isn’t enough for my memory… I was also a bit distracted at the time between a few drinks and her intoxicating proximity. She made her offer for a lap dance, we ironed out the details of how to pay, and I had her lead me to the ATM to get some cash. It had a charge of $10 to use, but I knew it would be awful and price-gouging in that way and I didn’t care. You win this one, strip club business model.

She led me back to a dimly-lit adjoining room with lots of couch-type seating, where I could see a few other people getting lap dances. I put away my wallet, she had me take off her panties and then the show really started. She was intense, smiling with mischievous eyes and seeming genuinely turned on by me (I know it was working on this end). It wasn’t distant, and it didn’t feel overly routine or artsy (although I’m sure a great degree of craft goes into it); she was *right there* leaning against me, putting my hands on her, coming in for tease-kisses (she said, “I’m sorry, we can’t,” in reference to a real kiss, and her tone seemed to imply she would have preferred otherwise; she came in close for several of those, with me just barely kissing her bottom lip). If it was all acting, she had me fooled; is it really so strange to accept that she liked me well enough, that she enjoys her job? The lap dance was so much nicer and more personal than I ever imagined it being.

So, here is my other personal myth of strip clubs disproven: I always thought the experience of having a lap dance would leave me feeling frustrated since I didn’t get off, so my thought was, “What’s the point?” I can honestly say that’s not how it felt afterwards though. I felt euphoric and wonderful, it gave me the sort of endorphin rush that *real sex* does, I was lightheaded with pleasure and I felt satisfied. While a few of the peripherals of the atmosphere felt a little iffy, I can honestly say that *she* did not come across as “dirty” or “fake” or whatever, it felt like she went out of her way to give me a great experience and had fun herself. Mmm, I can still smell her perfume on my shirt… ahh well, I know it’s a one-time thing and I will probably never encounter her again. It’s been a dry spell for several years since I have been with a woman, and this little break from reality (or is it? It’s real, it happened…) …okay scratch that, this lovely vacation from routine made for such a wonderful comforting moment. I felt good about myself, I felt sexy and desired, and the majority of my brain is disagreeing with the little negative voice saying that it was meaningless because money changed hands. I have no illusions of love, but that doesn’t mean nothing positive transpired.

After the moment ended (it was a three-dance-long lap dance, she had me hooked), the rest of our bachelor party mobilized to leave not long afterwards. I am left with my thoughts, the scent of her perfume, and silence replaces the half-shouted conversation.

In a moment of anxiety,
through a field of the unfamiliar
and hazily half-sexy haunts,
an angel descended,
arriving on my lap
and offered me the very thing
I could not ask for.
She took me into her embrace, smiling
to see such shyness
and unguarded candor
juxtaposed with manners
and sweet desire.
She informed me that heaven
costs anywhere
from $25 all the way to $600,
and I choose an option somewhere between
Puritan and Mormon
as I learn not all price tags
invalidate the experience.

Socialite

Three days,
for three days I have chosen to be social;
tomorrow makes four,
there may yet be more.
I have dragged myself from the depths of dim Thule
And hibernal slumber into the hinterlands
To find my friends still waiting
– still friendly,
still waiting –
for my emergence from darkness
from thirty-one years of winter.

A funeral hardly phases me now, my aunt’s passing
Seems so nearly prosaic and predictable
That I haltingly stammer to a stop to study
myself;
What am I
thinking?
Doing?
Being?
Will I follow in her footsteps,
Struggling and striving
for mere normalcy, a few nights now of escapism
While I walk like a wound weaving between wastrel
and tragedy; can I take this cup, father?
Would that you could take it from me,
but I am not so naïve
and my worldliness wearies me even as I realize
so many have it worse
than
me.

Yet I push,
I push back the pall and palpitations
the embarrassment and blushes
and gather up my failures
to drag against them jangling like Jacob Marley
as I stubbornly refuse to sink into the saturnine
once and for all
(and all for one),
and strive to be happy as Desiderata decrees
as I hope against hope
I can beat me.