A circle of men


Take off your shoes,
your fashionable, overpriced,
smelly shoes.

Lay down your shield,
your “I’m in control,”
“you can’t touch me” shield.

Breath in the fire
of the burning sage.
Let it burn away the cares of your day,
your stories,
all that is not you.

Now, circle up, shoulder to shoulder
with your brothers –
truthful tiger, soaring hawk,
big fox and the others.

Look into their eyes,
their sensitive, serious, silly eyes.

Invoke the spirit of the grandfathers.

Your fear is welcome here,
as is your sadness, anger and joy.

Now, what are you
 feeling? What is your truth?
What is 
your work tonight?

Take a seat and search
for the line in the sand
you’ve been searching for all your life.

The line where the sun is confounded
and the moon re-awakened.
The line where you’re no longer controlled
by your preferences and preconceptions.

Sometime, possibly tonight,
you’re going to cross that line.


They say this is a safe place, a magical place,
a place where there are no judgments.
Bullshit. I judge each man
and each judges me.

Stan looks into the owl’s nest
where he lost his business, his home, his wife.
But, he won’t holler, weep or change.
He’ll just stay quiet until he figures it out
(and he’ll never figure it out).

George keeps a hare’s foot
in his right pocket
to keep away rheumatism and cramp.
Every week, he reports on his efforts
to refi his condo to save $100 a month
and how he witnessed his grandson win
another junior high wrestling match.
George will never be a leader
in the national organization
and he says he’s OK with that
(but he’ll never be OK with that).
He brags about the blowjob he got
twenty years ago in the parking lot of the Grand Canyon,
and how his latest life partner says he has nice buns.
As soon as he shuts up, I’ll go
out to take a piss.

Meanwhile, Ron, as usual, falls asleep.
He claims he keeps his eyes shut
so he can hear better
and participate better.
Desperate for clues
on the proper use of things,
he’s rich, lonely and without a job
or interests except hunting deer
and hunting, in vain, for a suitable building
to convert into a hot dog stand.


And me?
I’m no better off.
I’ve no place to hide.

The moment I open my mouth,
I can see it in their eyes –
they’ve written me off.

I’m miserable, they claim,
because I choose to be miserable,
because of the choices I made
(and keep making).

And tonight, again,
I’ll either kill
or try to please my father,
but either way, I’ll never earn his blessing,
no matter how many times I carry his corpse
across the desert,
searching for – and obscuring –
a little line in the sand.

About the Author: Paul Brucker, a marketing communications writer, lives in Mt. Prospect, IL, where "Friendliness is a Way of Life."  Active in the early 1980s Washington, D.C, poetry scene, he put a lid on poetry writing when he went to the Northwestern University grad ad school in a questionable attempt to think like a businessman and secure a decent income.  Nevertheless, he has succumbed to writing poetry again and has been recently published in "Audio zine," “Barefoot Review, “Borderline," “Crack the spine,” “Ink Well," “Orion headless” and the anthology, "The Pagan's Muse: Words of Ritual, Invocation and Inspiration."