We are no better than bonobos,
defining ourselves by who we screw
and how often, as if everything we are
is distilled to those few inches of skin
and what we do with it.

No nun, but as an experiment
of self and perhaps an insulation
from pain, in my 20s
I belled celibate and free of relationship,
as if snapping that thread of mutual joy
led to something better than lonely

But it didn’t, and I learned it is less
who we love than that we can at all
that is the miracle
of this being human together.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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51 Responses to Bonobos

  1. annotating60 says:

    Susan really powerfully done.>KB

  2. brian miller says:

    to love and be loved is def the miracle…and that goes well beyond the physical…but yes there is a time it seems we are ruled by our passions & their tick ,marks…smiles.

  3. Lori Lipsky says:

    Potent and touching, Susan.

  4. claudia says:

    loving and being loved is a miracle – in my teens i was mistaking sex for love and learned only later that it goes way beyond

  5. Confusion here between sex and love, I fear. I’ve never assesses myself by how many women I’ve ‘had.’ I’ve defined some of myself by how many women I have been important to, and how may found me important, at any level. Friends, lovers, confidantes, the most important.
    I think that’s what you’re trying to say. So we agree.

  6. Very true and meaningful. We have to figure it out and self-definition is a lifelong struggle. It took me until this past year to understand what unconditional love is and I’m almost 40. It’s embarrassing really :).

  7. First stanza really pulled me in– I love the comparison to bonobos, the bounce in the verse, the implications. I too once tried celibacy for a year or so, but it never got me very far at all. ~cheers, Jason

  8. Laurie Kolp says:

    Love this, Susan… especially that wonderful last line!

  9. Stan Ski says:

    Trouble with being human together is that it takes two… and we’re just too competitive most of the time…

  10. ihatepoetry says:

    As someone who loves and admires the great apes, I almost took umbrage at this poem, but couldn’t. You make the case admirably, esp here:

    “that we can at all
    that is the miracle
    of this being human together.” — thanks

  11. Mary says:

    Being able to love is definitely a wonderful gift that we humans have…..but I am sure the apes have some special ‘gifts’ too. Smiles

    • I agree fully. In fact, I think that a mother ape that keeps nurturing and caring for an infant that has died for many weeks afterward says quite a bit about their ability to love, as well.

  12. ayala says:

    Love is a miracle, lovely write.

  13. kaykuala says:

    Being alone has its benefits but it takes great will power! Being in the order has the added discipline and restrictions to contend with. Love and care is the ultimate! Nicely Susan!


    • Thanks, Hank! I agree that being alone is difficult; however, I have always enjoyed solitude…

      I prefer all things in balance, when we can live that way.

  14. Grace says:

    That we can love is a miracle at all ~ Good to see you Susan ~ Smiles ~

  15. Well said–and so beautifully–esp the final stanza

  16. shanyns says:

    Very good Susan. A relatable read and finely crafted.

  17. howanxious says:

    I guess passion is also a constituent of love.. But that is true; love is much more than just a fulfillment of physical desires. Love is emotional; it is metaphysical, it is spiritual…
    Intense writing…

  18. janehewey says:

    it is less who we love than that we can at all
    you’ve struck a fine nerve here, Susan.

  19. nico says:

    Yeah, the desire to mate is pretty well explained by evolutionary theory–getting my genes into the next generation and all that. But love–what can explain such a miracle? Great job!

  20. powerful poem Susan.

  21. Linda Rogers says:

    Such beautiful words,Susan. It does blow the mind at the magic of love and being loved. It’s the best gift we can receive.

  22. kelly says:

    I think it’s hard to appreciate love when we are young and trapped in bodies ruled by lust. The understanding comes later. An honest, universal write.

  23. This comes from deep down and speaks a deep truth!

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