dragging gender through the track marks of punctuated body

Found and feeling this:

“The hard part of realizing and accepting your own gender is trying to explain it to people who have never questioned theirs.”

I was trying to explain the punctuation mark called period ( . ) to a student of mine.

Use it when you are done. When you have completed your thoughts and you’re ready for another, I suggested. It is the end of one thing, which begins another.

So then of course, I think about body. Will I ever reach a time when I am ready for that period…a time when I can say: it is done. Complete. I understand it and now I am ready to begin something else. 

We are more like exclamation marks amidst a crowd of questions. We must be loud and stern and sure. But what if we are not.

What if when you ask me what it means when I call myself queer, I answered:

I just need to give myself room to understand what all this means. Queer is my elipses. 

I search out my body among others. I want to know that what have exists elsewhere.

I sit beside a human with the backdrop of sunset and concrete fountain and notice hair on their legs so I let mine exhale in their direction.

I speak about breasts with another and want to understand what it means to want them there or not want them there but still have them touched.

When I am asked what it means to perform in drag. I say:

I cannot choose between masculine or feminine because neither feel enough. So, I create a hybrid of both and all and that is my performance.

All of this feels like weaponry. But it doesn’t need to be dangerous or threatening. It can be powerful and conversational. I want my body to be a dialogue that allows space for opinion and observation and reconfiguration. Stares can be heavy, causing discoloration to the skin. If you notice something like a scar or rip out of space, search out some words and ask me what it means to live like this. But then but then but then be prepared to answer it yourself.

finding time

It was there all along. And everything waited and everything remained. Sometimes you have to retreat with another to remember to remember that existence exists beyond love affairs and sweat. These hours are fleeting; so how do you want to suck on them to arrive at the strongest taste.

Sometimes you have to give it up. There are only so many memories minutes in a day. Ration the tears, the swallows, the gallops of gluttony. Some don’t come back. Most will never return. When you feel something drip on your head, it may either be a pigeon’s exit wounds or a reminder to look up.

The only thing you really need to do today is breathe.

an introduction of sound

Sometimes, one needs to walk outside of comfort zone, whether it be scooping out the wounds from a body to give voice on a stage or sitting across from another beneath a late night New York City sky. Life is meant to be understood, but these understandings take time. I translate one part of my body and then it changes its mind and suddenly I have to start all over. This is ok because this body isn’t on loan; I don’t need to return it by a certain date. We have some time to get to know each other and change directions.

I told someone once, I walk outside my comfort zone each time I wake up.

So, here I am. Up. Awake. Aware that just the other day, I allowed myself to feel music coat me in a way that was always private. Took my ukelele on a trip into the city. We rode two subways together. Got bumped a few times. Walked beneath the slowly setting sun. Listened to poems and then shared a stage together.


photograph by Zita Zenda

photograph by Zita Zenda

After I plucked my uke, she remained on my lap, offering me comfort with her wooden curves. And then we went to a comedy show. And then we shared a meal with a beautiful woman who we wrote a poem with. Then we listened to the roar of Patti Smith. There is music to living. To remaining. I guess sometimes you just have to introduce more sound to it all.


It’s all in the way that you stand. You can choose to chase the fall or risk burnt shoulders and fall asleep beneath the sun’s smother. I’ve got the Hamza River on my side. I play hide-n-go-seek with its depth. I tap its tender water and bathe away all that loneliness echoing against body. 13,000 feet beneath Amazon River and you can find me holding my breath long enough to uncover secrets. When you are ready, meditate on what arrived to make you pack up so quickly. I’ve rid my life of suitcases; I’m attempting to remain. Darling, when you think of me, can you ring? Can you flap your bones toward my river? I’ve got four shadows. There is an omen hidden in the splash. Rocks and sea glass wait for your eyes, which is deeper than brown and more like mirror’d earth. I can only float for so long; the weight of this paper against body splinters. There is a waterproof map, a steering wheel, some empty bottles and my hands. All of this waits for your hold.




Sunday stage stumble

After my bike ride to nearby cafe, where I straddle NY Times, cafe au lait and sun.

After Prospect Park love affair with grass and toes.

After some poeming.

This is where I will be performing on Sunday, May 26th between 4-6pm (perhaps  perhaps   with my ukelele named Pancetta Bruscetta):

great weather for MEDIA‘s Sunday open mic @ The Parkside Lounge

317 E. Houston St. NYC

$2 donation to this fantastic local press (They do this EVERY SUNDAY!). Two drink minimum (any drink–with or w/o booze attached)Open mic first. Bring your poems, your dissected words!I’m featured alongside Terri Muuss, who is the author of Over Exposed and former host of the Manhattan poetry series Poetry at the Pulse. As a motivational speaker, life coach and social worker, Muuss specializes in the use of the arts as a healing mechanism for trauma.

Should be a great Sunday!!!

a howl of sleep

In the distance, a dog barks. It is 1 am. It is 3 am. Round it to 4 and then 5 and I wonder how long one can howl before sound is drained.

This is New York, I whisper. Why is no one yelling.

Where is its mother/father/owner? Does it hunger. Is it cold or too warm or fearful of the evening sting on its fur. Is it tied too tightly to fence or thirsty or in need of a meal. Is this dog howling for its mate?

I feel angry at this dog for taking my sleep away and yet I also recognize our kinship. I have been howling for months. One could argue: years. In search of. Hungry for. Longing. Lost.

When the dog breaks away from its noise, I worry. My body begins to settle back into sleep and then its bellow arrives once again. The cries extend longer. Louder. Deeper. There is desperation in each push of sound.

I had a lover who led me into an alley once and told me to scream.

It feels good to let out the screams stuck inside our bodies. And there is no warning attached to these yells or fear. It’s just one giant, screaming exhale.

Sometimes one needs to extend all the rage from the body– the screeching music– in order to move on and through a day or moment.

It is dark and I cannot differentiate one rooftop from another, but I still push my way through my tall window and hop onto the roof of the apartment below. It is a far jump, but my lack of sleep removes my fear of height/injury. The bricks are uneven and they become like a ladder, which allows me to climb down further. I follow the footsteps of this dog’s howl. I am getting closer. It’s like thunder–when you count to notice whether it is moving nearer or further away.

I am almost there, I say out loud.

The moon points through its neon and though the dog is more like a moving shadow, I know I am upon it. It howls. I howl. We mourn and cry and remove our body’s losses together. Our tones differ. Mine is less deep, but more desperate. We rarely permit ourselves to just let it out.

The sky fills with our wails and I feel like the air is hugging us. We are going to be ok.

In the distance, another noise joins in. Not a howl, but more like a yell.

Shut the fuck up! says an unseen voice.

The dog and I continue just a little while longer. There is comfort in the acknowledgment of our screams. When my throat begins to hurt and voice grows smaller, I begin my walk back. Up the bricks. Onto the roof. Through my window. Back to bed.


a festival of instrumental rain

Cellos can be flesh eating when held upright. I want to write a poem from my body. Done before. No. I want to write a poem from the point of view of blood gurgle or lung expansion or the tilt of thighs when handled by another. I want my body to verbalize how it feels when someone walks inside it. Rain drops on window’d eyes; blink blink blink away the sky ejaculate or welcome in welcome in its beautiful aggression. Bangs may only be worn by those who are straight-follicled. Percussion can be learned by excessive practice; bang against bang forward bang in a pattern body begs to be bruised in. Call that the music of skin changing colour. Harmonize the salt the drip the toe crunching the scars that make the others not want you like that the callus the wrist bone the boners the turn-on of heart when heart loses battery the arrival the arrival you are arriving, right? Right. Take out your ukelele. Bring it outside. The rain will pause when you search out a shadow burly enough to call umbrella. Now play. Now sing. Now call out your love letters to the only one who has remained past the past.

to slow down amidst pattern(s) of express

for M.M.


That first cough of language. Whether dyed in a hue of flirt or poetics or musical accompaniment of jukebox song. When you know. When you know because your body is churning like a washing machine and limbs feel close to understanding their lineage.


That time you saw me minus all my scars and I saw you beyond gender prescription.


“Hey, when you were on stage and you talked about hair, I thought about my own symbiosis and how often I felt the need to disturb its length and texture. Hey, you spoke my language. Hey, I love you beneath that wig and the glitter that will travel from your skin to mine later tonight and how about I show you what I mean by all this through my ability to remain. Hey, your erotics reveal tragedy in a way I can orgasm to and I haven’t been able to touch parts of me because I just didn’t know how to approach the distance. Hey, I’m so grateful you failed death and I need you to be alive like the moon, even when it needs to hide some of its parts; it still glows and you glow.


That moment right before experimentation of addiction. Choose from any of the above. To be able to say: just don’t.


Every time I have sipped on a body that I chose to learn. The fluency of flesh and how sometimes it feels like a floatation device, saving me from this drown.

the erotics of scar tissue

Many years ago, a woman grabbed my arm at a poetry reading. She rubbed her thin, bony fingers along my textured forearms and told me they looked like an art project.

The lines are so even and perfectly slanted, she said. Did it take you awhile to get it like that?

And I wondered if this was foreplay or irony or naiveté or ignorance. How to respond to any of those?

I yanked my body out from her grip and stared. We were in a coffee shop in a town overrun by mountains and patchouli-drenched hippies. A young dreadlocked boy was on stage. He sounded out a poem about his mother and newly dead turtle. The entire place could have been on fire; all this woman cared about were the coordinates of my scars.


I am driving in the only car I’ve ever owned, which is now in the possession of a mechanic’s daughter. My green Honda Civic with cigarette burns from that time and accumulated hours of sex in the back seat and a tape deck and discarded post-its of directions from all those other times. Gas tank reads: fill me so I head to the cheapest gas station on route 9. New Jersey still does not trust their drivers with gasoline, so I roll down the window and ask for $10 worth. I hand over my currency and the man with moustache or stubble or grease on his face (who can remember) asks me where all those marks came from. It is summertime where nude limbs are necessary and all I can say is: Sex.

Years trying to make others more comfortable pushed the trauma out further and all I am left with are disjointed reasons and shame. And they’ve spread through the years past arms to shoulders to belly to hips.


They are the first thing I notice when they are noticeable. All the bodies pressed against me have given me their scar stories because their version is far better than the assumed ones. And with each narrative, ownership is engraved further.

It’s love when I let you touch them; it’s trust when I tell you how each one arrived; it’s long term when I can be honest with you about the last time.

It’s not so rare anymore: the occurrences of scars.  Sidewalks are uneven and loved ones hit and there’s all that running away that causes so many to fall and crack open.

Someone new at some point is going to see them all on my body. The disrobe will be in slow-motion not for erotics, but from fear. But when I meet someone who calls my body a map or cracked open sky or simply: earth because it is alive and giving and collaged with shapes and sounds, all those scars will blink open. There will be no need to hide because without them, I wouldn’t be here. . . . . . . .

Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.Scars are a language learned only by breathing.