There’s a woman in the room

the zoom room

and a man in the room


his life was saved

by Robert Bly and “Iron John”,


the feminists had made men too soft

and we needed our own


so we could truly become

what it is that we already are.


Or something like that.


I have to admit I stopped listening.


That happens, y’know, in those moments

when everything inside your gut

first clenches up

and then reaches south

to guard your penis

as if your penis could be guarded

in a world where…


Well, there’s only one Lorena Bobbitt

and All the Rest of Them are Males!!!


As my daddy used to say,

“If you’re doing what’s right

both sides are gonna kill you.

The extremes always wanna be central.”


And that’s what my gut did.

It clenched.

And my eyes rolled back and glazed over

and I remembered being at lunch with

a beautiful feminist

who said I couldn’t come to the meeting





And again I have to admit

I didn’t quite hear what she said but one word did stand out.

Somewhere in that sentence she said,

I heard the word “separate”

or maybe it was “separat-ist”

but whichever it was

my gut clenched again and I said,

“But what do I do while you’re gone?”

and she said,

“Go fix some of the guys.”

And that’s when my gut reached south.

And she must’ve noticed ‘cause she looked at me


in that way that real feminists can

and said,

“Don’t worry, silly. You know we’ll be back.”

And then she caught a plane west

and married a minister

from the Methodists maybe

or the United Church of Christ (Jesus)

where they’re always busy,

her and Sarah Lyn,

raising kids with two mommies.


And did I mention her name is Nola

like that amazing Gulf Coast city

and her last name

before she changed it decades ago

was Dick?


And then we were there

in a coffee shop

in Oakland

near where Nola and Sarah Lyn live

and a dog and his guy come in

and the dog looks us over and smiles at the guy

and the guy asks if they can sit near us.

We say of course

and the guy asks what kind of day

this day is for us

and I say

any day Bob Dylan gets the Nobel Prize

for literature

has got to be at least a little okay

and the dog growls

and the guy says he’s not so sure,

and I say there’s always “Hard Rain”

and the guy says, “Well, yeah, there’s that”

and then he says that he used to work

for Bukowski.

I allow as how Bukowski could write

and he’s my grandson’s favorite poet

and he says, “Well,

just make sure

it’s the poems he likes

and not the Bukowski persona”


the guy says,

that persona part

was mostly a marketing pose.

“And tell him”, he says,

“he was a really nice guy,

with a work ethic forged in hell.”


And that’s when I remember my friend

who says


was Bly’s “Iron John”

but I don’t say it out loud

because I think the guy’s dog thinks I’m smart

and I don’t want to risk it.


And suddenly it’s now

and I’m back in the zoom room

remembering that Robert Bly,

the man who saved my friend’s life,

is the man,


the man ,

the man who said, “Zeus energy,

which encompasses


robust health,

compassionate decisiveness,

good will,

generous leadership.

Zeus energy

is male authority


for the sake of the community.”


Really now, where’s Iron John,

the wild man who helped?

I’m sure he’s in here somewhere.

Or did my patriarchal godsends

mistake him for a Socrates

and sentence him

either to exile

or else

to be eaten by a tree?

(“Totally his choice, my friend, totally his choice.”)


As my friend Dan

—whose tranny name is Plenty,

Sparkle Plenty—

might say to the God of all Gods,

“Call me, Zeus!

I’ve got the most perfect gal for you.

Their name is Leda

and they know this swan

whose neck

they’d really like

to wring until dead.

You feel me?”


But I’m afraid the zooming male will say,

“I mean, what the heck, my dude?

It’s no big thing,

just a kind of ‘Leaning In’,


for men,


And it’ll be everything I can do

to keep from saying,

“Yeah, alright,

a kind of ‘Leaning In’

for those men

those particular men

who for way too long have all been the ones,

the ones who were leaning on.”


But I really don’t want

the zoom woman

to think I’m a sensitive guy

who’s hitting on her

so I shut my mouth

and move on