how to seek asylum from the clots in which we are made from

Dear Kazim,

Several years ago, I dripped some of my cells onto a manuscript of poetry for a class I was taking called ‘The Long Poem’ . The title of the collection, on blood and the tantrums of memory, traced several disordered blocks of thought that gathered from the language of blood’s memory. It didn’t feel like a choice when I cut open my arm again in order to drip my body’s paint onto the cover. I marveled at how dark my cells were and how they splattered into various shapes like maraschino moons.  My lover at that time didn’t understand why I would harm myself in this way. I tried to explain that these poems derived from my body, so why shouldn’t I honor these pages with the freed plasma from within.

Kazim, you wanted to know what lives between the inhale and exhale. I’d like to answer you that I think it may be love. Or I think it might be strength. No, it must be hunger. We are vehicles; we are animals; we are mechanisms for history. We are meant to repeat the patterns of breath control in order to make room for translation. So we translate and we reconfigure and we analyze and we grow.

This earth is one giant waiting room, Kazim! We take our tickets and wait in and out of patience. We begin as strangers, then remove our clothes and climb inside each other’s wombs and crevices in order to understand our selves better. I am finding myself through these humans I find shelter in. They remind me that these poems are breathing for me and through me and with me. I just want it to be my turn, Kazim. But…as I wait, I find that the adventures continue. If I left, I would never have met your words, nor the human who introduced me to them.

The clots unsnarl. I drip my cells onto each city block. I search out my next sanctuary and poem my through each nanosecond I breathe in.



all of this will soon be past.

“If this life isn’t enough/ then an afterlife won’t be enough”      -fanny howe

Dear Kazim,

There are presents to be received when remaining in the present.

You wrote, “The body is like a day: it begins with the darkness of evening, ends with the ebbing of light.

I say to you: Within this wander, I recognize who remains. That in this present, my past exists like swollen gifts. Some I sense the need not to open. Some I must not only open but rummage and fondle. Kazim, I am tangled. The knots wrestle themselves into my hair and my loins and even in my words. I like your sense of beginning in the dark in order to travel toward light.

There are these humans hovering around me: a music MAker, a soul sister, a brother, several lovers, the satellite that exchanges shapes each night, a Rebel, a father, a gender warrior. Each one tells me in their language how to remain. How to remain.

Kazim, you remind me: “If the plot of my life is writing then I have nothing but time.”

What is this rush to unpack my boxes. Perhaps I need to wander in order to remember what it feels like to be still. The writing exists in me; this earth has many desks and “rooms” that permit and encourage our creativity.

A traveling human tells me that all we really need as writers is time. Space is everywhere.

Several months ago, I met a woman who wore earth on her skin. One day, we sat beside each other in a room full of others and we painted. We were each given blank circles and asked to fill them in with our souls. With our souls, Kazim. Can you imagine this task? So, I painted a tree with branches of words and she combined colors into a womb and sperm and there was dark and light and I could smell her tears even before I noticed them bungee-jumping from her eyes. In this human, I saw hope that even in such sadness, there is desperation to live. To remain. Before I said goodbye to her, I gave her a tulip, which someone else had given me. This flower is like youI said. Alive. Watered. From the earth. And breathing. And giving. And giving. And giving. 

it’s been in *here* all along

Pay no mind to the dripping roots, which dangle from each limb. I’ve been dug up but I have some time left to search for a stretch of earth to replant myself in.

A beautiful woman named Audrey serves me a fresh-baked spiced muffin and cafe au lait. Tells me spirituality is everywhere. Calls me fire. Tells me that the poet in me is a fighter. I will give you a book, she says. And I’ll mark the spaces that you’ll want to read twice. This book will take a year to read. Maybe longer. Come back, she said. (As though she sensed my inner EXIT sign).

Young red-haired boy named Rainer asks me for my autograph at a secluded island where poets gather. In turn, I ask him for his. We curve the alphabet into each other’s notebooks and admire the spread of our names like a slow leak.

For several days in a row, the moon drips out of sky and saunters toward me. Tells me that monsters exist in hallways and dreams and some look like three-legged creatures and others masquerade as housemates. I house the moon’s glow within my pupils and between my fingers. I find that home is no longer attached to an address, rather housed inside my hips and the drips of my mind.

Human out yonder calls out to me through the wind. Curls their language into mine and we create long-distance music together. Another home: inside watchtower as we watch each other breathe through moments of remembering.

But if you leave, remember to leave a note. Remember that the poems on your flesh are not enough to explain all this. All along, these mailboxes and square footage have all been distractors. The real residence lays on your tongue. With each spoken word. With each admittance of pain or panic or promise or please.

spirituality of kinetics

Dear Kazim,

The wind huddled against my back in the earliest hours of morning. I call this an encouragement to remain. Turbine tickles my spine. Tell me about your clarity.

You wrote: “I am a man with many arrows inside me, each pointing in a different direction.”

I wonder how many arrows exist in me. When the wind gets involved, does it dishonor the direction I should have gone in?

Kazim, there is so much lust in me lately. Might you call it impure if it exists for the moon or that banjo ukelele I plucked in tiny music shop off west fourth street? Even this wind raises my skin into an erect question mark. I am unsure of where I should go from here. However, what I do know is that I do not need a home in order to birth these words. A wise human recently reminded me that spaces exist all over this earth to hug me into another sentence or stanza.

There is so much music surrounding me: Howl of wind. Percussion from moon beating against my hazel. You in my hands with your words and hunger– not for food but for more prayer.

Over in the midwest, two lovers say goodnight to each other as they split into different time zones. On the east, a poet contemplates a jump from unstable home toward collapsible tent. All of this is just another page marked as necessary. As you find your way through hunger, I find mine through displacement.



but this must be why.

Dear Kazim,

You called the body a planet. Wrote: [In] all its strange parts, the wisdom tooth, the cerebellum, the epithelial tissue, the clavicle. Every single part functions together. 

Last night, I fondled the moon with my eyes, while dangling my calves on the edge of a jump. I think I might be Pluto: cold and taken away. I remember when that planet was asked to leave. Imagine existing for so long and then suddenly you are pushed out. Called dwarf. All rock and ice. Called chaotic. I know of the twists that exist within body. It is a constant distortion of perspectives.

As I pack up the lives I have lived in material form, I recognize that none of it matters. Many years ago, after returning from a long trip, I came home to find mold dripped into my journals. Water, arriving from the cracks of a window, kidnapped many of my written words. Though I still have these notebooks, they still smell of this fungus, which is birthed by damp warmth.

And some of my clothes exist from two decades ago during the years my body was still growing into itself. This, of course, continues. I have threads from ex-lovers and strangers, purchased from stoop sales across the earth.

Kazim, if I could only carry five books and leave the rest behind, I’d carry you. And Lidia. And Vera Pavlova. Ham on Rye, of course. And I’d somehow create a hybrid text of Rumi, Kathy Acker and j/j hastain.

We consume far too much. Is that why we must fast? To recognize the importance of what it feels like to be emptied?

Yesterday, I mentioned you to a student. He is observing Ramadan like you. He said: When you finish the book, tell me why you think Muslims fast. I feel close to the answer, but I feel even closer to translating my own need to strip my body of all these things.

what happens to you.

Dear Kazim,

As you walk through this day as though it were an infinite hallway gathering wisdom from its length, I travel beneath the plaster of earth. Underground, I contemplate how hungry I am for home. An old man once asked me: where is the place I call home? 

In that moment, I was sitting with my knees together, surrounded by other writers in a classroom with no windows. Everyone else’s answers could have been found on a map. I could not help to say: My bodyMy body is my home. 

But even as I spoke this, I knew it not to be true. I was still searching for my coordinates. My own body’s map was water-logged and torn. It was faded and almost unrecognizable as a means for being found or locating an elsewhere. However, I spoke this as my answer because it was my hope to feel home in this construction site.

Kazim, I am moving again. Change of address; new route; another attempt at peace. This residence I leave now is cracked like sharp confetti hitting  me into bruises and tears. I may need to lock all these boxes and things up into a rented square with no windows as I roam. I need to air out this body until I understand it as whole.

The moon last night pushed through a curtain of clouds and called out to me. REMAIN!

I breathed in its romantic shadows and fierce eye contact. This lover changes shapes each night, but it never tells me to go away. The moon flashes me through this darkness as I begin my walk toward elsewhere.

Kazim, you wrote: the day is a hallway I am/ walking through

I respond: this Brooklyn is a fist challenging / my breath control 


o el camino solemne del cuerpo empedrado

The stone is grey and freckled with eastern dust. Kept in pocket, it cuts hips. In hand, it digs into palm. When touched, it enhances the heat of who holds it. The stone is trauma’d. It has been displaced and prefers not to talk about its previous amputations. Do not catalogue, organize or nickname the stone. The stone has been shoved into fires of coordinates that stretch beyond state lines, territories and provinces. The stone has been used as a weapon; it has deflated bone. Notice the blood stains against its minerals. The stone cannot keep a lover; its historical uprooting disallows dialogues on monogamy or the existence of marriage. The stone has been a perch for others, glued into walls, walked over by callused feet, and licked by ocean.  The stone is rib’less and gender’less. Call it androgynous, but the stone refuses to pick a side or sign or stagnant approach to infrastructure. The stone is a danger to itself and others; it has seen too much. Never mention the time the stone ********. Just do not mention that, please. The stone suffers from phantom limb syndrome, though its legs have never existed nor arms or approachable neck. The stone is sad. The stone has no womb, yet yearns to engage in the exercise which publicizes fertility. The stone is without race or religion. It’s color exists from the salt of earth’s breaths and fumes from sun. The stone is still in search of its god. The stone does not conform to any political party and yet this stone is queer. And yet this stone marches for the freedom of others and yet this stone is still. And the stone meditates. And the stone chants. And the stone is in search of its ceremonious existence within its scarred and scared packaging. 

an examination of collapsible tent or nomadic bone structure

There is no permanence when home is found in nooks of humans. If you call her a wanderer, then at least you are paying attention to the flap of lashes slowing down. Sleep here for a night. Here is defined by Pluto and that cold beast no longer exists so this is why you are sleep-deprived. And this is why you are bruised. A new woman with lap and highly educated tongue tries to court your childhood away. And maybe your queer is defined by who you spread your legs to but mine is defined by bookshelves and the way my brain gathers when I’m near them. Far from view, where only fires get a drift of that strumming pattern, a human searches for oars big enough to paddle through ocean of birds. Imagine winged water. Imagine salted teeth that heal with each bite. Yesterday, a man grabbed my arm in order to read the drip of skin that is unscarred. That reminds me, I cannot afford this, but there will always be nineteen cent noodles and edible mushrooms that grow in freezers and I can suck the sweat from my hair when there is no water left. Or faucet to receive it from. Or you can build a bridge with your newly gathered gender, strength of army. And although war may be collecting on the other sides of this, a body finally surrenders and walks alone toward the truth of what existed all along.



the religion of this.

Tell me how it feels to be looked at like that. When your paint is so dramatic, eyes step beyond the taped line. Risk of getting thrown out of museum is worth it just to see that tiny hair– trapped for one hundred and eighty years– caught up in lonely greens and browns. Contemplate how that human called your body’s origin: a violin. What are your parents. What color are you if I dripped you open. We can be allegories on this earth as everything in sight tilts toward our fright. Let’s pretend we only just started to exist. They called my blood stained glass, bent fingers into each other, prayed toward my carbon dioxide. Today, I give away four tablespoons of urine to analyze all the haunts that have ghosted their way in. What is so spiritual about discharge. Owls and graveyards and ruin and I dreamed I had to explain why my wrists have blurred. How to mute the dread of tomorrow, which reeks of the day before and the one which will arrive two days from now. And taciturn and monsoon’d. There is a motif for prayer and it looks like a four-stringed instrument & curled voice of poet pretending how to live. Wonder about monks. Wonder how to rely upon four minute allowance of dress and razor and mercy and water strainer and needle. Wonder how to practice abstinence of appetite, while abstaining from all practices of celibacy. And if one cannot be holy in its intimate form, how to be a hummingbird.  Forage shade as though it can be eaten and when all of it is gone, sleep inside the orthodoxy of dark.

“today I talk myself into staying”

This freedom is ugly. It is blistered, having walked for centuries; there is no remedy for this ugliness. How to survive in a world where pigment is a devastation, forcing other hues back into the soil or behind bars.

Poets gather to memorialize another from their tribe, while on the other side of this city, Humans gather to stomp out the reek of atrocity. What is the scaffold of race. How sturdy is its wreckage. Carve us out of these bodies and our bones are of the same dimension. Why must skin create such a need for weaponry?

Up north, another young one dies because its body grew magnetic as breaths grew lured by drugs. In moments right before death, we may contemplate our past path. There are bathtubs and trees and sharps, but weapons go beyond the ones we point and click…..

I almost died once. And then again that other time and the one before that. And then there was that most recent trip. But I remain because I am employed to this body. It is my boss, my co-worker, the chief executive operator, the secretary and treasurer, the president. There is no paycheck beyond the currency of laughter, health, deep-rooted learning, love and lust, sight, taste and smell and and and.

Sometimes there is a moment when we feel the need to search for exit signs. Or, we see another who does not look the way we look and it confuses us. We are biased against one another; we are biased against ourselves. We loot and rummage and there is so much destruction that we often forget to notice the moments of beauty: swirling of skin that may be different than our own but still tastes the same and still speaks in music notes and poetry.

I am saddened by the thinness of freedom in this country on this continent in this world. Bodies are bloated and yet liberty is starved. I want to weep for the ones who are serving time for crimes they did not commit; I want to weep for the ones who are not held captive but need to be; I want to weep for the ones we vigil for.

Today, I am trying to talk myself into staying.