Thank you. I mean, I was not expecting this. This comes at such a deep surprise. I am just shocked! I am so, so shocked. Me. You called my name. I was really ready for you to call someone else up here. All those other women/writers/artists/poets/queers/scribes. So talented! They should be up here. Really. Really. I am just blown away. Blown. Away. Shocked. Did I mention how shocked I am?! (beat) What? Oh. This? Well, I happen to have a few notes down. Some names. This piece of paper happened to be in my pocket. I mean, I guess I just carry it around for moments like this. You never know, right? Well, I was nominated. So, I should be prepared a little, right? I’m shocked! I just didn’t expect to…oh, the music is already starting? OK, just…just let me name off some people who you don’t know, people who I barely acknowledge throughout the day. Let me mispronounce my agent’s last name. Give me time to thank people who I have yelled at due to overstress and lack of manners. Can I just thank the person who made today possible? I mean, that person who liked me before my name was in lights, on books, on stages, in auditoriums, followed by four stars and praise? (beat) Oh, umm, I forgot to write that name down. Well, how about I thank my teachers who I never appreciated at the time it mattered most: when I was in their classroom. Wait. I need to thank my parents who I tend to forget about on ordinary days and well, I guess I often use them as fodder for my writing. You know, no good writer had a happy childhood. No one wants to hear about family dinners or a supportive, non-threatening mother. Oh! I should thank my partner. Not the one I’m with now. The one I am really in love with. I’d like to thank the mistresses, the ones who filled my bed when all I wanted was an orgasm without the conversation. Can I thank them too? I’d like to thank all the ones who helped me to workshop this into something so much better. Taking out those semi-colons definitely made a difference! What would I have done without you! I should thank my best friend..umm..well..I guess we don’t really talk much anymore. But…but..it’s just because we are all so busy and. Shocked. I…I am still so shocked. I was not expecting this! (beat) Oh, the music is getting louder now. Well, hold on a minute. I need to thank my publisher. My mentor. My babysitter. Planned Parenthood for sliding the scale down to something I could afford. I’d like to thank my barista. My driver. The 24-hour bodega that always has what I need. So many people to thank! I said my parents, right? And my wife? Well, we will probably separate after this. That always seems to happen, right? Who else? Shocked! (beat) Well, I can barely hear my own voice now. That orchestra is quite loud. I’d like to thank the orchestra. And..and..my trainer. Thanks for telling me to stop eating. Emaciated looks great on me, don’t you think? Oh! God! I must thank God. None of this would have happened without God. (look up) Forget world peace, a cure to cancer, AIDS, those other diseases. You prioritized. I got this award! Thank God!! Thank God. Bless you all!
I’m not the _________________________ you think I am.
Does this hairstyle make me look fat does this fat make me look fat?
The past is too present in my future.
Don’t touch me where I’m not perfect (don’t touch me).
I deserved it.
The scars are a reminder of who I
Whose experience is this?
If you judge me because of my past then you need to judge my present.
How can I be a feminist and still hate myself?
How can I be an atheist and still believe in something?
If you want to love me, turn off the lights and turn my volume down.
Cough out memory and press chalk around discharge to warn others of the imprinted trauma.
Ever regret an animal? Ever regret eating an animal? Ever regret being treated like an animal?
I fall in love with shadows because they don’t talk back.
I am ready to cut again.
I have a fetish for language and food.
When you called me a bitch, I wanted to bite my fingernail off and use it as a disposable knife to cut your ignorance out.
I am afraid of men.
I am afraid of white men.
I am afraid of middle aged white men.
I can tell you aren’t listening.
Screams are not enough to save the dying.
I thought I deserved that disease.
I want to know who I caught it from.
I think I know who I caught it from.
My body is a stain too resilient for bleach.
I think I’ll just follow my shadow home and see where it leads me.
I want to notice the ones who go unnoticed.
Three days ago, a human, with lips like Saturn’s rings, taught me how to tie a perfectly eloquent double windsor knot on a necktie. The following day, I sunk my legs inside black pants; covered my torso in button-down striped shirt; put on my favorite vest; then, grabbed hold of striped red tie and began my first solo attempt.
For me, neckties replace necklaces. (The Payless version of) combat boots or converse replace high heels or fancy female shoes that make a clicking sound when making contact with the ground.
As I huddle onto the 2 or 5 train for an hour in the morning, I am able to notice the various creatures sharing my morning commute.
I am confident in this moment of tie-bearing. And I wonder how many of us with disorganized scowls so early in the morning feel like we are dressing in the way we truly want to be….
* * *
At a poetry reading featuring transfeminists, the room is full with blurred genders. I hone my mathematics skills as I count the partially-shaved heads, three-month-old buzz cuts, faux hawks (not as many as once before), and one redhead with wide-angled ears, small lips and a remarkable double-windsor.
There are also humans with long hair, some in dresses, and I wonder if they feel as noticed as the others. Or, are we really noticing each other or just comparing our levels of queerness in competitive glances.
My queer rhetoric is spotty, full of several holes, still being stitched and fondled into something more substantial or visible. It is often during these days when my body feels like a warzone (translation: menstruation) that I am angered by my parts. I want to rebel against the hushed red discharge.
Maybe I want someone to call me sir during this time to combat the
flagrant fragrant woman in me.
Maybe I just want someone to go up to me and tell me how remarkable my tie is and follow that up by saying:
You are handsome…like a double windsor.
I treated myself to a small cup of hot cocoa on 3rd Avenue in the Bronx on the way to work. One dollar yielded a steamed beverage and reminder that I am an outsider in the northernmost borough I have been flirting with.
“Do you want sugar?” said the man elevated on truck also selling pastries and bagels.
“No, thank you,” I answered. “Do you have soy milk?”
“No. Just regular milk.”
There was an awkward pause and I told him to just throw in a little bit.
He handed me my hot cocoa, wrapped up in two small napkins; I handed him a dollar.
“Soy milk in the Bronx?” he said with a smirk.
There is something special about this place, which is the fourth-largest in land area of the five boroughs, the fourth most populated, and the third-highest in density of population. I’ve gotten the best coconut ice ever from a sweet woman pushing a cart of various flavors. That first lick revealed a true sense of palm tree treasures. I’ve yet to experience the Botanical Garden or the Wildlife Center. There is also the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage!
It all begins with a paper cup full of powdered hot chocolate (the best kind), which opens up my eyes to the beauty of this Bronx.
A full-figured tree pushes its belly out at me outside tallest window in Brooklyn. I am gaining weight as though it is an Olympic sport. The threads of my underwear have come undone and each strand has become like a hair tickling my inner thighs. What are these monsters loitering against my chest. You call them breasts; I call them heavy and without wisdom.
Go on. Attach yourself to either one and drain out its mass.
A young woman in my class tells me she prefers being fat. She is far happier without bones scratching against subway seats. I notice the way I have been sucking in my stomach for over two hours and the way that hurts my skin’s feelings.
Breakfast does not have to occur only once in a day. I eat until I get it right. Supper is consumed three times.
When a woman brings me a small box of salted caramels in the late evening, I take small bites. When she is gone, I eat the rest and sleep against the contrast of sweet and salted stains upon my lips.
Let go of my nipples; instead, please bite into my hips. They are far meatier and less confused about whether or not they should really be there.
My diet consists of eating food.
I dream. Last night, I could not lift my face. My legs unlocked themselves from each knee and just stopped agreeing with my steps. My hair dripped fat like slightly undercooked bacon. My shoulders were marshmallow’d. I awoke alone in a bed where my body missed its protective layers. I ate another chocolate.
If I photograph my lunch, will you stop asking me what/if I ate today?
how to love bloat/ pink creased stain/ rorschach
pain against sex act/ what it means to bleed art/
her body is a museum
of modern expressionism
On a Sunday evening when Autumn arrives in leaf exhales and wind-blown winces, a uterus discharges an outburst. There is pain far deeper than knuckle crack or papercut or chosen bout of starvation. There is a shift of weight as stained sheet gathers beneath distended body. “How about some hot cocoa? Shortbread?” There is a monster of pain pulling ribs away from each other. An invisible hammer lunges toward each vertebrae. Hair is no longer curled or red; it is gathered by ghosts and torn away from rooted home. Boil water and funnel into bottle in the shape of plastic kidney. Press against belly. Burn away the waft of agony. There is wisdom in blood dripping into silicone menstrual cup suctioned between legs. There is a bully hidden inside the drips which drop onto grey lace underwear staining away its sex quotient.
knees beside your shoulder
breath in swallows
look up the word freckle in the dictionary
harmless brown patch
genetic like grass from soil
the bathtub grows arms
when body dips inside
smooth porcelain container
she is gulped oceans
sing me awake
turquoise & promises
nightlights & pillowcases
belt loops & pulled zippers
manatee falls in love with elephant
swim toward new species
hunt grey swim
your memory is of August trees
to be left or to leave
drunk off preserved time
Here is what I’ve done.
There is a ring. There is a sliced-out scream from forearm. There is a love letter. There are many love letters. There is a collection of bodies stained inside my underwear. There is a preference to live out loud on computer screen rather than in imagined silence of mind. There are sexual perversions hidden beneath bed. There is a collection of condoms in bathroom, bedroom, backpack, and back pockets of pants. There is a memorized poem about sofrito, chapstick and razorblades. There is a woman. There are many women. There is a man. There are disposed hairs growing inside knots. There is drug addiction. There is food addiction. There is sex addiction. There is an addiction to addiction. There is some gender stuff. There is an experimental approach to genitals and orgasms. There is a stolen memory, stuffed inside a sock drawer. There is an envelope of money. There is an unclassified stain. There are many stains. There is a revision of memories. There is a pile of notebooks. There are maps of directional patterns on tiny pieces of paper in pockets. There is a tambourine. There is a mix tape. There are many mix tapes. There is a passport. There is a phone number for a man that is no longer alive. There is a Fidgeon. There is an orchestra of padded bras, stockings, and false
eyelashes identity. There is a purple vibrator. There is a history of mental illness. There is a pattern of lactose intolerance connected to lovers. There are lovers. There are many lovers. There is a soul mate. There is an un-mated soul. There is a remixed version of childhood. There is a pause. There is a hole. There are many holes. There is this life uprooted from poems and whispered assumptions and how about we workshop the time I lost my mind. Tell me I use too many semi-colons; tell me my imagery is too abstract and distracting; tell me I need to have a beginning middle and end…when I don’t even know how to exist chronologically?
when I inhale, I use my tongue
There is a brunette woman with a silver ring in her nose, collecting light and dust. Her lips bounce together biting into a strawberry. I should be listening to a lecture on research, language and the art of composing sentences. Instead, I quietly digest the seeds of her flesh, darkened grains of hereditary smoothness.
Memorize the stain of stewed tomatoes or chili peppers. My stomach grumbles toward her teeth, strong enough to rip open fruit and thoughts, still marinating from the night before. I am studying the linguistics of her throat. She sets all utensils and dishes on fire. Her hands are strong enough to replace porcelain dishware. Her fingers are slender chopsticks sliding food between fingers.
Her shadowed skin is stained.
My arms were beginning to hurt. I was pressing them so closely to my side that I felt like a butch Barbie doll masquerading as a femme, walking stiffly.
A song came on and the raspy, computer-edited voice of a pop star chanted out: put your hands up/put your hands up. And everyone’s hands went up while mine hot-glued themselves to my sides.
This is not you, I kept telling myself all night. I am wearing high heels that are binding my toes together and I feel one step away from falling and why can’t black, high-top Converse sneakers be an acceptable choice of footwear at weddings?
My lumpy skin is pressed into place inside a black dress that I keep telling myself is masculine. However, that dark purple suit I tried on was far more hunky though challenged my economic class far too hard.
My rebellion…my ME‘ness remains hidden beneath my arms in the dark blond strands that run out from my skin like eager marathon runners.
At a wedding full of red-lipped beauties and breasts cascading out of low-low-low cut dresses, I am an anomaly. I almost pass. A stunningly tall woman compliments me on my shoes. She starts listing off multi-syllabic names of designers.
Are those Floreasdfasdfasfd Hserernasdfk shoes? His latest Italian line? Where did you get those? she asks.
Payless, I mutter.
As we all take the dance floor, I am feeling sexiest when I am dancing alone, jumping up and down, being messy with my dance moves and losing myself in the rhythm of the song. Suddenly, I feel my breasts stage a runaway as my bra lifts up, pressing against my breasts in an awkward and uncomfortable way.
All I can think of is: I can’t even wear an undergarment correctly.
While I give my suffocated feet a rest, I sit at my assigned table and watch everyone. I realize that these women in dresses are also humans housing their own insecurities and that as they take over the dance floor, it doesn’t really matter who’s eyebrows are threaded or skin airbrushed or legs cut up from shaving with dull razors. They are most beautiful because they are letting go.
In fact, it doesn’t take long before they remove their uncomfortable heels and exchange them for flip-flops.
After several hours of judging myself, I unpeel my arms away from my sides. I dance harder. I lift my arms a little higher. I take my shoes off and let my bare feet feel the cold, slippery floor.
The next morning, I was back in “butch gear” or just gender-less threads that make me feel as close to comfortable as clothes can make me feel.
Sometimes it is fun to dress in drag, or dress up as others might say.
Sometimes it is important to pay attention to these moments when we ask ourselves: who am I dressing this way for?
This hair beneath my arms and on my legs and covering other parts of my body is for me. When I press powder on my eyelids splashing on a color like sparkled grey or blue, that is for me too. When I pack a cock in my underwear on a night alone, just to walk several blocks in my neighborhood, that is for me too.