a calendar comes down and what remains but numbers as memories

home is in forest
stone’d heart beneath sand mites and beach glass
banjo beats rhythm into spider webbed fingertips

cities are strangers until first sip of au lait
or american(o)

grow hair out to match longing
cut into asymmetrical love letters

home is in forest
fires burn initials into trunks
later paper
but first, skin

Unplugged and Deactivated.

What would it look like to see something and not say something?

Sometimes in life, one must draw the line.

A little over a year ago, I joined a club that everyone was already a member of. It’s a club I don’t need to name, rather I’ll describe it in flashes:

I just made the best dinner for my boyfriend. [insert photo]

[insert photo of many other meals because it seems we are a society obsessed with what we eat and documenting]

Who wants to see ___________ with me tonight? LIKE for a response back

LIKE if you LIKE me

[insert photo of abs, cleavage, couple kissing, new baby, new outfit, new haircut, new new new new________]

And what finally ended my membership to this not-so-exclusive club:

[Here is me meditating: Insert photo] And don’t forget to LIKE LIKE LIKE because look at ME; I’m MEDITATING]

There was a lot of hesitation involved when I joined. It felt extremely uncomfortable to look for friends or “request” them; wait for them to “accept” me, maybe even reject me. Some “friends” DEfriended me, while I did the same to others. For over a year, I became programmed to react on screen. When someone upset me, I sliced poems onto the screen. When I missed someone, I voyeured and searched through photographs it felt awkward to view without permission.

Hours spent scrolling down, self-loathing and getting sick off the fumes of narcissism all around.

I am of the Encyclopedia Generation. My family would get a new volume in the mail every month or so and it was quite an occasion to sip the photographs of parts of the world I’d never heard of. Through these books, I learned about leprosy, wild bush women and various weather patterns I never experienced in suburban New Jersey. Only now, can we just type in a few key words and see massive amounts of photographs attached to these words and learn every thing there is to know about it. Things are faster; no need to look through a lengthy index or wait for next month’s volume to be shipped out.

When I saw a great movie, I called up one of my three best friends (sometimes on three-way conversations) and we’d talk about it.

If I got a great haircut (or devastatingly awful), I’d head on over to whoever’s house and reveal. We didn’t have the Internet, no social networks. Birthday invites were through the mail or handed out at school. If you wanted someone to be your friend, you asked them. (Gasp) In person.

For years, when mention of this “club” came up, people would be shocked to hear that I wasn’t a member.

But….but…how do you keep up with your friends’ lives??????? How do you know what’s going on????????????


Then, I gave in. Put up some photographs. Promised myself that only a slice of me would be enlisted in this club. No personal things such as: how that job interview went or who I just had tea with or who I am sleeping with or a photo of that peculiar mole on my left breast.

Though on stage I have absolutely no boundaries; on screen, I needed them.

So, I advertised shows and performances. I thanked publishers who published me. I put up a line or two of poetry I was working on. I made friends. I learned about events that I wouldn’t have known about.

I lost hours, hours, hours of life that could have been spent straddling trees, weeping at paintings in museums, or learning how amazing people are in person right in front of me without a screen between us.

My friend count is less now. The invites will probably dry up. The world of FACES on screen like self-published BOOKS of our lives will still exist; I just won’t be a part of it.

I have done this before. Gone cold turkey from drugs, sex, certain people and other behaviors. There is that natural mourning period.

But think of all those poems that got locked inside me because I was mesmerized by some photos of a friend of a friend who isn’t even a friend of that friend’s baby or dinner date or new apartment or or or.

2013, I am ready for you. The year before you offered me some beautiful, unexpected sights and offerings. I got a whole book of poems published; I moved into a new apartment; I finished my graduate degree; I met the most amazing poets, music makers, listeners and lovers.


I lost myself in there. As a kid, I wasn’t a part of many clubs. I wasn’t invited to many parties. For a little over a year, it felt kind of like I was a part of something. More specifically, I felt like I was one of the popular kids never without a place to sit and eat my lunch.

Now I know what it’s like. I can go back to being the red-haired wallflower poet. Still doing the same things, creating and exploring and loving……you are just going to have to ask me now to tell you about it.

Actually, not much has changed.

far away is where leaves may be found and they are musical.

New York is familiar now. I recognize corners and smells. My favorite still: west fourth street or grand army plaza on Saturday. And the scent of halal trucks stirring up the hunger in my belly.

New York is not exactly home, but it is where my mail can be received and it is where I write poetry and it is where love can be found and harm and passion and overwhelm and museum and music and memory and there is still new to be found there is still new to be found here.

New York is where I fell once, split open my chin and received nine stitches. New York is where I fell in love and fell out of love and fell in love again (and the pattern continues). New York is where I picnic and nap outside on patches of grass (where it grows) and study the moon at night.

But sometimes. Sometimes one must leave in order to remember that maybe it is more home than one is willing to admit.


Far away is where leaves may be found and they are musical.

Or perhaps right now, they look a bit more like this:

I do not have to travel very far to find this musical instrument beneath my feet. So, I dance above them and listen to their harmony. And if I’m in the right mood, I push myself on top of them and roll against their hardened veins and faded colors and smell Winter fumes seeping out.

When I travel, I notice the sounds all around me. In New York, honking and sirens and reveling and buses stopping and starting again and children and and

In the country, or where homes are bigger and transportation is above ground, I hear crickets and various multi-colored birds flapping their wings and tire wheels slushing against wet ground. I hear my father. I hear peace.

New York Brooklyn may be the love of my life: one that accepts my weight gain or moodiness, my mismatched outfits, my hairy legs, and my anxieties. But it is still necessary to go away sometimes to remember how good it feels to miss it.

Far away from Brooklyn, I’m listening to music. A band of leaves tapping against my window. Tree branch. Howl of wind. I’m having an affair (pre-approved) because New York and I are polyamorous. This state slows me down. Removes my schedules and routines. I am younger here and that’s ok sometimes.

how to feel.

I could never forget your birthday, since it shares the same numerals as mine. And our hair color is the same except yours is from genetics and mine is a mixture purchased monthly. You were an artist once. A painter. Your smile opened windows.


For several months, I had a pen pal in prison. He found me through the magic of technology and I accepted his request to write back. At first, I didn’t want to know what he did. I thought it would affect my words; however, I was extremely guarded in my language to him–asking more than telling. When he’d move beyond what I was comfortable with, I did something I rarely did in real life: I told him to stop; I said NO; I spoke up.

Then one day I looked. Nowadays, it is difficult to hide. Some want to be seen and some hope their secrets can be camouflaged in corners. When I learned of his crime, I started to imagine things. I grew angry and didn’t know if I could ever write to him again. My pen pal wrote about why he was in prison and often denied it. His long explanations of what really happened shook my skin. I felt haunted by his stories and his (sometimes) sexual grunting. Sometimes he would ask me about poetry. He wanted to know what I was writing about.

It’s severed now…stopped as suddenly as when it started. But I am thinking of bars again.

I have had bars on my windows in not-so-nice apartments. I have made some extremely dangerous choices. Yet, here I am with a mailbox and closets and a chain on my front door to keep the animals out and I have bills I can afford to pay and I’ve let go of all my addictions minus coffee and poetry and I have freedom and I have freedom.

Somewhere in a state where a federal prison lays, there is a woman who shared my birthday and hair color and didn’t she go to my birthday party several years in a row and didn’t I have a crush on her and wasn’t she like a firefly–glowing and magnificently unbelievable.

Some might say that all crimes are unforgivable. Oddly, I tend to forgive the wrong ones and hold judgement towards those I need to show more love toward. I don’t seem to know how to ration my hatred correctly.

This woman admittedly committed a crime that I cannot forgive. And yet….I think about writing to her. Why did I choose to commit different crimes?

Perhaps it is in this moment where I just do not know how to feel. What is the proper way to mourn someone’s freedom being taken away knowing she took someone else’s away.

In the movies, it’s easy to just find out where someone is serving their sentence, get searched and then suddenly find yourself across from the prisoner. Maybe you share a sandwich or sit in silence.

If I were to write to her, what would I say? Maybe I’d just want to bring her a tear drop saved from the many drips of salt that plunge from me. And I’d ask her to look inside it. Eat it. I’d say. This is what pain feels like and sadness and love and wonder and hatred and kindness. This is human. Are you human still? I’d ask. Am I?

how to remove the claustrophobia and turn it into a poem.

Awake to the sound of too much memory inside me, clogging up the zippers sewed into my skin called scars.

Before sleep, I heard a child speak about beauty. How it cluttered up her mind and confused her into obsession. When I was a child I wore pants until they fell off of me–threads becoming undone. I couldn’t wait to wear make-up and then when I could I preferred looking ghostly or homely or colorful only on the inside.

People rarely remain inside their disfigurations. They cover it up, melt it, insert or take away or laser it off.

My roots are showing; let me paint them a lighter hue. My belly is thickening. Instead of poeming, I’ll sit up and down and up and down and crunch and crunch and force tension to form.

How to live inside a moment. Really. Do we do this anymore? Are we present inside a sight? Though I drink coffee, I am also writing a sentence and catching up with a friend and reading a letter and washing dishes. How to remove the claustrophobia of multi-tasked rushing and slow down toward just one breath or bite or swallow or word.


First thing I notice when I am present is the haunting of black ink on my skin on my hand on the left one near my thumb. Reminders because my mind is so webbed, is so crowded is so removed from itself, I must write on my body to remember how to live or what to buy or what to eat:

fennel. pickles. magnets. newspaper.

I look down and notice my lap, covered in borrowed brown writing blanket. I look up and notice nude tree outside my window, bark wrinkled like elephant skin. I look inside myself and feel hunger, body gathering breaths, pushing them out like invisible babies floating into the air. I gave birth to those inhales and exhales. They are mine! I do not answer phone which rings. I do not click on anything outside of this box. I am singular-tasking. I am present. I am here. I am I am slowing down.

this is going to be rough (a draft)

The words. They don’t always come out clean and cooked in the middle. Oftentimes, they are too raw to move on. They are pink like beneath fingernails: part of the body that holds its breath the longest. Sometimes I want to lift up that tough keratin protein just to feel something new on my body. Untouched and perhaps a bit gooey.

I cooked a two and a half pound turkey breast yesterday with its bones removed. At farmer’s market on grand army plaza, I asked the farmer: how do you get all those bones out/ what do you do with them/ why do I feel so sad for its dismemberment?

At home, I marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil rub. Massaged it like my mom would do every Thanksgiving to the designated turkey. Kind of made a show out of it. Lifted its thighs like a trained dancer. As a kid, this later led to a bout of vegetarianism. I realized, though, that this odd treatment goes beyond edible animals. We do this to humans. We taunt.

So my turkey came out raw in the middle and I started to wonder if it was trying to send me some message:

You may look all ready on the outside, but inside you are unedited with poisonous bacteria.

The words. Sometimes they come out screaming someone else’s name who you haven’t thought about in years or months or moments. Guilt drowns the semi-colons and suddenly you are dealing with way too many run-on sentences staging a revolt off the page.

What to do when suddenly your fingertips have more control than the rest of you does?

The words. Sometimes they repeat themselves like a mantra or obnoxious scratched record. I keep writing about the body and performing outside this body and each day it feels borrowed. Who can I explain this to? And let’s not mention gender. Let’s just focus on skin right now. I keep looking at this flesh that’s like pale, popped bubbles, leaking energy. This skin is muggy. Rust will come soon. Then mold. What arrives after the mold? We can talk about these parts being wrong and sometimes they are and sometimes they feel warm; and sometimes no one knows how to approach them and sometimes I don’t know how to approach them. But let’s not talk about parts either.

These bones feel out of order. Someone needs to take them out. Reorganize them. Maybe the turkey will know what to do.


Sometimes it happens in a way we forget to recognize. You with a friend and your mouths are open, words arriving, weaving in and out of each other and the subway arrives without a wait. Without a delay. You both get on without acknowledging this moment: stepping away from the New York air into the dungeon of underground trains and not having to think about how long the pause will be.

Sometimes you meet someone. Here’s an image: you notice her bum or the way she laughs with vibrating lips or her accent or her haircut. Wrong gender? OK: you notice his collarbone or the way his pattern of stubble looks like a constellation you used to memorize or his neck, which is almost too skinny for swallowing and yet its strength is what impales your attraction. You’re not equipped for this. You are getting over someone; you recently lost someone; you are unemployed or just starting a new job and you are busy or you’re too tired or the possibility of allowing someone new to learn you is unbearably stressful. Yet here is this human and your body is magnetic when they are around, propelling you closer. And love? Love. Wait, love? Well, sometimes it happens when you just don’t want it to like breaths or weight gain.

Sometimes you have to travel over an hour just to receive a paycheck that is so low it seems spent even before you rip off the perforated parts. But you go back and forth several times a week; sometimes you feel like the earth is getting stronger but sometimes it feels like your language is lost or expired. You are weary and exhausted and you don’t even have enough time some days to take your medicine write your poems. But then you get a phone call because maybe you can write a cover letter and maybe all that time spent misusing your body and melting your mind led to these newer years of reclaiming your body and reengaging with your mind. So perhaps the paycheck will finally grow muscles and although your commute may be the same, think of all those books that can be read written just from all that waiting.

mathematics of beauty

Days do not end, they bloat. They infect. They fall down and get all scraped up and bloodied and then a scab forms and it gets picked at by a different day and then a new scab forms and then and then a scar. Days are like scars. Persistent and showy.

Today may be the final day of this earth. But enough about that.

On subway train where students are high off the fumes of Winter Break, I overhear a lecture on beauty.

Enter the Professor. Assumed (since he sits down for this lecture) to be about 5’11. Young but eager bones. Brown, short cropped hair. Brown skin. Narrow mouth. His shoes are scuffed. He speaks:

“She’s eighty-five percent Puerto Rican and the rest is messy. I’d say she’s a 7.”


Enter the student. Not me, of course. I am the observer. The auditor of this class. I’m not receiving a grade, so I just kind of sit, out of view.

The student is much shorter, also sitting. 5’4, maybe? He has on a handsome necktie and his pants are too short. I notice his socks, off white but once white. His shoes are newly polished. He speaks:

7 is good, right?”

Professor: If you got a 70 on your test, would you think that was good?

Student: Depends on if it was a hard test.

Professor: A 7 is ugly. She’s too short. Like 4′ ll.

Student: What’s wrong with that?

Professor: I know lots of 8’s but I’m looking for 9’s. 10’s don’t exist unless you’re reading like Maxim or somethin’. Those girls aren’t real though.

Student: I’ll take a 6. They’re fine too. What about half numbers?


And I immediately hate myself for thinking this, but….I wonder what number I am. If there is a decimal point, can I be rounded up and what number would I give myself?


Well, I’m not too tall, so there goes the 10. My breasts are small (thankfully…though I wish they were smaller). That would drop my number down for others but bring it back up for me. My hair is red like a house fire. Numbers up once again. Oh, but there’s all those scars. Numbers down. I’m promiscuous sexually open! Numbers are fighting each other. They remain in place. I’m well-educated. Numbers back up. But I’m guarded and have major trust issues and there’s all that trauma and and numbers are plunging. I’m clean. I cook quite well and I have a healthy appetite. Numbers up for the former but the appetite does lead to expanding body. I’m ok with this, though others may not be. Numbers down. I don’t like jewelry or expensive things; I prefer cheesecake and books. Numbers up (though some may want me to lay off the sweets). I don’t have a six-pack and my legs are hairy and I prefer Woody Allen to Tarantino and I don’t chug beer and and. Numbers are in the negatives! I love giving blow jobs but not to biological penises. I’m fatty. I’m impulsive. I’m moody. I’m I’m I’m…

not a number.

you are orange like that sunrise like the vitamins I forget to take

And when eyes first begin to arrive into a Thursday, there is recognition of love in the sky. Who made the sun loose enough to drip color around the clouds like that? That orange makes me forget who I am makes me forget I am headache’d and weary makes me forget to remember.

A beautiful Human/ Dancer/ Writer tells me to prepare for love. We are all in need of it about this time, she says. I forget to tell her to look up because that is where I find the best warmth and when I am in worry, up there is where I watch movies in the cumulo-nimbus.

But. Even amidst this sunrise, I am fearing. When I am trapped below ground in an attempt to go to work or go to go to, I panic about what haunts the ones traveling with me. What is their weapon? Is it just their newspaper? Is it their sleep? My breaths will not protect me from anything harsher than that.

In a diner on an evening when I treat myself to a supper of vegetable soup and broccoli rabe, I look around. How angry are these eaters and can they live inside their rage without action? Should I rush my swallows?

How safe are we really from each other from ourselves from the ones who forget to look up at that orange at that beauty-full sun.

I used to take several vitamins, pushed on me by a love very similar to that sky: vast, illuminating, hard to reach. Then the day would begin and I would forget. So I popped bites full of ingredients instead of capsules. I digested plates full of food instead of pills full on the alphabet. If I kept swallowing those letters, would I be like that sky? Would I be orange? Would I be strength?

I have come to realize that almost everyday, I wear a vest. Black. Old. Used. Some smaller than others. Some torn. One newly mended. I have come to realize these vests are my armor. Perhaps they can protect me from what I can not prevent. From the tempers of earth’s inhabitants.

We cannot all live in the sky. The sun has boundary issues and likes to feel like the only one. But we can shine down here too. And we can replace bullets with poems, slam them into eardrums without blood shed, and instead, awaken minds. And let’s not wait for tantrums to explode into buildings full of people full of life full of hope. There is too much death down here. So look up. Be mindful of that beating heart in the sky. Go blind for awhile. Blink the shadows of its heat against your face. Slow down. There is enough beauty up there. Now lets start making some down here. We are all in need of it about this time.

Find meaning in life’s traffic jam


To your right is a woman behind a counter at a diner. She had her hair pulled up because it rained last night and today and she decided not to wash it until the sky turned dry again. She has an accent from Greece and her waist smells like grease from the hug she received from the man who delivers food to the upper west siders on his bicycle. A two-piece suited man arrives with briefcase and anger. I want to complain to the manager but let me tell it to you because I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to so here it is: I ordered a turkey sandwich and there was very little cranberry sauce I asked for cranberry sauce and the fries were too fried and too much was missing to call it a meal. I don’t know how you remain in business. And when he left, the woman’s polite smile turned into a squiggle like a scratched out word and this is when she meets your eye because your were staring observing and your smiles lit each other on fire.

The fire is like a wheel– all orangey red like the best kind of grapefruit– and it transports you to a church. You wipe off the soot and smell of campfire-burnt-flesh but it’s okay because you have enough skin to lose some sometimes. In this church are a mix of genders and the ones in between without a slot on applications or birth certificates and you notice the one wearing animal skin on his head like a hunter and around his shoulders and against his thighs. And this hunter is kind and believes in gun control but his friend wears a placard that says only cannibals eat animals so this hunter stays on the other side of the room where photographs are permitted. Later on, Hunter walks up to where the candles are lit and reads a poem about not wanting to be here but having to be here because sometimes you have to be somewhere to understand how you got there (breathe). And he drinks from a paper bag and then turns it upside down because maybe the floor felt thirst and how nice to consider the wood sometimes.

The wood has no teeth, but if it did it would stretch out its knots to reveal its gratitude. Wood can be anti-social sometimes and pull away from other wood but when it is shellacked in gratitude, it can notice the beauty in other forms like bench or porch or swing or staircase. You are crying because this is a memorial service and you haven’t attended enough of these to have control of your tears and one hits the wood and this is when the magic happens. Your salt twists into the fibrous planks and suddenly the scent of earth is so potent that the Hunter stops speaking and everyone turns around to look at you. Your tears are contagious. Their eyes grow soggy too and the wood is now drenched and pulling away from itself and the earth is visible in a way it never has been before. It is honest and imperfect because holes equal imperfection, right? Holes equate to something missing or maybe or maybe or maybe it means wholeness because in this moment everyone noticed each other and words swirled up over heads like a linguistic tornado and how beautiful and how beautiful. And this is meaning.