Idol and Idolator (creative nonfiction)

“The idol belongs with the idolator.’”
-Rumi, “Sexual Urgency, What a Woman’s Laugh Can Do, and the Nature of True Virility”

Rumi is great and all and it makes me wonder about how much we forgive in the name of assholery… Or how much assholery we forgive in the name of great art, because Rumi is ate up with it. I’m not usually one to judge figures of the past by the standards of today, but some of this stuff is really offensive to me as a woman.

Here’s this poem all about penises. The captain’s penis. The Caliph’s penis. Big erect ones splitting a lion’s head in two. Little limp ones withered by a mouse fart or whatever. Rumi waving around his big spiritual penis most of all that is probably erect and flaccid at the same time because such is the nature of all things being all things at the same time and he’s a mystic so his dick gets it, but then, also in this poem, this beautiful woman who gets passed around like candy.

I don’t know if candy is right. A temporary diversion.

The one guy has her and the other guy wants her and so the one guy gives her to the other guy to avoid war and the guy who is supposed to take her to the other guy has sex with her on the way, loses interest, then sends her to the other guy after all. The other guy can’t get it up so, in his great dickly magnanimity, he passes the woman back to the intermediary guy thus showing, in Rumi’s opinion, true virility even though he was sending her back to the guy who had sex with her in the tent and then lost interest and passed her on. That’s why the magnanimity was dickly.

At least the woman laughed at the Caliph’s dick. Win one for the chicks, but that’s the only win.

What if this idol doesn’t want to be idolized by your member? What if this idol doesn’t want to “belong” to anyone, or with anyone?

The Egyptians believed the statues of their gods to actually be inhabited by their gods. Would you pass Isis around as a party favor among her idolaters? Man, would she ever nail you for that and make sure you were never capable of nailing anything again.

I hope that when this woman laughed at the Caliph’s limp dick that it stayed limp forever. Serves him right.

We women sure to get tossed around a lot. I’m not a feminist, but lately I’ve been paying attention to how many women are getting murdered on the news, morning and evening, by their male partners and it makes me sort of a feminist for a minute. Were we made for that? Were we made to be tossed around because a lot of us are light enough to toss?

But then, even those of us who are not light enough to get tossed, still get tossed.

My brother in law once told this story in uproarious laughter about a 270lb hooker who was raped and, I mean, why didn’t she just sit on the guy or something?

I wonder if stone goddess idols weighing 270lbs or more know to sit on the men who try to tear them down.

-M. Ashley

Missing Frank Bidart (poem)

Oh my poet-y friend… how I have missed thee.
I have missed myself defacing your books with
Purple ink notes like, “Love it!” and “Scary.”

Remember that time I humiliated myself on a
Plane pompously overblowing poetry to a
Stranger who turned out to be a PhD in poetry

My nose in your book
My ass on my shoulders
Me talking out of it

But then you were there for me
For that—for my ass face too
And my starry eyes for you.

-M. Ashley

Falling in Love with The Tin Drum

80019-coverI was assigned The Tin Drum spring semester of my junior year in college, but what would become the love of my life in novels was uninteresting to me then, when it was made a chore.

But I did at least start reading it then, of course. We always start out with the most productive plans for that sort of thing. So many pages a day, I told myself, and I would be golden by the time the paper rolled around. I lost track of it during the week and had to catch up on a Saturday—a beautiful Tennessee early spring Saturday when the air was warm but the sky was gray and lovely. There was a concert called Spring Rites going on at Alumni Lawn, one short, curvy path from my window. I stood up in my bathrobe and cranked the window open to let the air and music in—to make the duty of reading more pleasant.

It became pleasant. It became so pleasant it began to scare me. I began to fall in love with the language, with the off-center, with the dirtiness, with the grit and grime and beauty of the pit. There was a piss joke and sex in a potato field. There was a mental institution and a singing midget. It was like a circus of the grotesque, the kind I would pass with my nose up at a carnival—the kind that would have my heart beating loudly if a lover were to drag me in by the arm and force me to be human for the few minutes it took to walk through it.

I stopped. My lips were starting to feel full and my sex was tingling. It was too rich. It was too much. I was too young and I didn’t know then, what I know now, the eroticism of fine writing.

I left the book unattended for the rest of the semester, but when it was over, moving away from Nashville for the summer, stopped at a dusky motel on the drive home to California, I picked it up again. Something had told me to pack it in my overnight bag. It seemed fitting to pull it out there, to engage again in our dirty affair on sheets that would illuminate with spreading galaxies if under black light.