“taking her into the bracket of her legs” –Tadeusz Dabrowskiwhales bleed to cover her lips there is more truth in the wingspan of her eyes, than in the word– elephants travel through lifetimes to bring her water owls question the night as she sleeps each limb, whispers like semi-colons separating her compact organs and through sound, she unwraps the historical implications of bound feet and hushed waists follow…
He touched the stars that only went half-way around right thumb and as he signed my name in his ink in his book of photographs; he wanted to know how much pain was involved.
He touched my thumb and I wanted to tell him that I carried around his book of lyrics when I was still contemplating death and just learning how to poem.
He touched my thumb and I wanted to tell him that I got lost inside the footsteps of heroin (the song) and his mirror (poem with sound) and I felt like if I could explain the logistics of my body (at that time), I might have described it as velvet’s underground.
He touched my thumb and asked me if it hurt and I wanted to make sure he’d spell my name right, so even though I had a yellow piece of paper with my french spelling, I still sounded out each letter.
He touched my thumb and I wondered if I should have pulled out a condom (of which I never carried at that time). Although it felt like we were engaging in something far more intimate than sex, this touching still could have yielded babies or bumps.
He touched my thumb and I counted the gathering of wrinkles on his face and each one was a song. And each one was a poem I haven’t written yet. And each one was a memory. And each one was an encore. And each one was a barroom brawl. And each one was a shot of whiskey. And each one was a broken guitar string. And each one was a posed photograph. And each one was a collection of decades drawn closed.
He touched my thumb and the line behind me did not matter. And the snow enraging the pavement outside did not exist. And my overdrawn credit card that I used to purchased his extremely expensive book of photographs was not a worry.
Because he touched my thumb. And suddenly every song he ever growled dug its roots into me. And who I was and what I did in that moment was dust. We said goodbye and the person behind me moved forward. I walked outside in blue coat and shaky skin. And that snow fell on my thumb and wiped his prints away.
Until I went “home” and listened to:
All of these tiny words just sit like squiggly soldiers on lines that are so thin, everyone who notices brings them meals. If you wake early enough, the moon will wait for you. Even in the morning, with crumbs of broken fasts on peoples’ lips, look up and swallow a shot of its satellite. This blindness is approachable just like cursive ink in abandoned notebooks. The moon and these poems are meant to be read. They are meant to be asked out on a romantic evening with jukebox hip-sway and bites too big to fit into tiny mouths so words are stolen by excessive chews. Tell the moon you dig its humorous curves. Tell the words you welcome permanent damage to your eyes due to squinting just to take in every verb and cross-out. Scrub the pavement with your knees as you bend your way toward prayer. All of this can be defining. All of this can be what love is.
Where does the length go. In the form of nearby au lait, I can recognize a shadow of curved moon in my coffee. And on this page, silhouette of fingers rushing from left to right. Shoulders are weighed down by this length and when too much is eaten too fast, locate the leftover bites in hair. She is called girl but what if she were called moon or shadowboxer or boxed letter carver. Jamaica Kincaid clarifies the don’ts onto a page and calls this Girl. Memoirs are written of childhoods called That Time I Decided to Turn Myself Inside Out. Bodies burn their way through pink or blue depending upon indent. What is this song? Is it feminine or masculine. How to remix it into androgyny. She wants to call herself hybrid. Call it robot poetics or cyborg breath control. How does this length go. The roots are body’s punctuation marks. Dots. Dotted. Flashes of instrumental melodies of scratched split ends. She doesn’t want to be called boy, but what would it mean to be treated as one. Grease stained and hard. And bulge. And top. And slicked back. And the one the one who begins. Cannot call these breasts, instead exhaled chest cavity. There’s got to be an other. Twenty-six letters in this English alphabet. How much money must I save in order to buy a vowel.
great weather meets the Bay Ridge Poetry Society
His accent curves through gaps where teeth once were. And we smoke illegal cigarettes in order to challenge the air of this cold October wind. He reads Neruda as though we are in church. My knees want to bend. They want to repeat these prayers. They want to sing out Hallelujah. He stops to call himself a part-time convict and when I ask him if his voice is contagious, he says:
It’s Kentucky and Alabama and gritty from harmonica.
This Southern Baudelaire gets onstage and claims percussion, keys and tambourine. His lips press against metal teeth. He breathes into and out. Repetition of grit from voice and beat of conjoined instrumentals.
“In the trailer parks, that’s where I got my first scar.”
And then he lifts right arm, bare because his sleeves end just above elbow. He points to where his skin slurs. Between each song, he philosophizes. Then, announces a love song.
“This next one is about my ex-wife,” he stumbles out. “Don’t ever marry your Philosophy professor. Can’t cook needles for shit.”
And I am listening. Bookended by handsome poet wearing stolen cologne and visiting Canadian with chocolate and bourbon breath, smeared in own version of musical narrative. I am wrapped in scarf and false leather jacket with notebook gathering up the dust of what exists in this bar. Just noticing. Just listening. Just arriving in this drunk evening of moon, electricity and lust.
“this morning when I left Toronto, the rain was so romantic/ it felt like it wanted to kiss me.” –Marina MArina.This is where it ends. Everything is still but your fingers. Save your lips for spines that are spider-webbed & ponder the gratuitous nature of posture. Your chords net the room into what could be the Brooklyn Bridge– an elevation of cinematic paces. Humans pose through silence and this day drips into our mouths like shared chocolate. We call this bitter because we may have eaten in the wrong order. The aftertaste could be cocoa or almonds or the apprehension of border crossing. All of this may be chewed with an ease of oxygen and coconut. Some things are just too heavy to place into palms. Mugs the color of men. Carved pumpkins and museum’d china. A song which is far too delicate to be called anything but the hum found in human. Spend a lifetime in search of the deepest, sturdiest spoon. Walk toward the wild ones. The hula hooper curving hips and diaphragm toward Blondie. Take in the noise of typewriter keys tonguing paper and carbon copied reminders of poems purchased on a day like Winter in Union Square. Interrupt a movie set and become and become. Eat peanut butter hidden inside of milk and dark shipped from a land-locked state further west. Notice the Autumn in her eyes on a packed subway and wonder how much each lash weighs and if you lifted weights with them, would you be buff like him. During the months in which we are (most) lost, an immigrant will find us, pick out each city-soaked splinter and bellow: staystaystay.
“It is not enough to cover the rock with leaves.” —Wallace Stevens
I recently told someone, that if I were to live after death, after all this time attempting humanness, I would want to come back as a rock.
As a child, I collected them. Even had a rock tumbler, which I never quite understood enough to use, but was meant to promote shine and polish to the grooves and curves.
I recently walked beneath the Manhattan Bridge toward the Brooklyn one and closer to the water. I stumbled over wet rocks and crushed shells, channeling the slowdown that is often forgotten in NYC. I threw these rocks into the water and listened to the rhythm of stones cutting into the language of waves. The view of circles forming. The shape of interruption.
These rocks felt more human than watching the “real” ones beside me, glowing behind their telephones and forgetting to notice the beautiful wet right beside them.
Sometimes, I walk around in a silent battle with myself and what I present. These rocks are simple and yet so deeply complex. They are hard and impenetrable, like me. Like me. When they are thrown, they bounce against other rocks or they splash. Rarely they dent. Their bruises are hidden. Like me. Like me.
What time is it.
Soon we are given back our lost hour and this makes me think that someone will arrive at my door and ring the bottom bell. They will have gold and red weaved fabric purchased for three dollars at summer stoop sale in Brooklyn. Inside, will be my 20’s.
Sometimes I feel an urgency to locate someone to root with. To impregnate me with poems that I birth out in painful contractions. Each time my water breaks, I will instruct my mate to leave the liquid alone.
I’ll need to pick out the sounds and search out the rhythm.
We will have tiny jars of spices we’ve dried out from markets. Footprints of travelers in each room of our home. The sky will wear us as though it were a giant envelope and we are letters.
I will sift through my 20’s, then stuff them into my pocket like loose change. No need to peruse much longer than a few minutes. To remember. To recall. Split second reminders of life. That one. That time. That dislocation of breath. That excruciation of movement. The pills. Dark. Water in handfuls or handshakes. Rain. Locked out of car. Break-in. Burnt sienna. Across country. Moonsongs. Malbec. Macaroni and cheese. The musk of that one. Bookshops and the fire that tried to remove 27. And then. And then.
On Sundays, I peel away the folds of newspaper and bring out the section of Styles. In it, Modern Love. Here is where I find my salt and inclination toward the romantic. Here is where I also view the ones who are looking to stitch themselves to another. A lover once asked me why I look at the photos of strangers announcing their marriage. I don’t recall my answer, but what I was thinking:
This loneliness is unsympathetic and I am searching for photographs to remind me of what [could] bloom beside me. And I search for something to recognize. And [maybe] I search for me.
There is so much music in here. And someone inside this note whistles a tune that wraps itself around my expanding waste. I translate this high-pitched air as an urgency to remain. Or persistence to see what waits.
Our someone is still out there. Or maybe….they’ve just arrived. What matters is that with each sleep we gain insight into the dreams of our lymph nodes. I’ve got one beside right breast and it reminds me to wait. And it reminds me to [always] touch the parts of me that fear. And one day, that mate will arrive again. Like a swelling. Like a reminder that even in urgency, there is a need for patience.
I never stopped.
Sometimes peach trees exist only to distract you away toward pockets and proposals. I should have stayed. I only lied when I told you that we have forgiven each other. None of this belongs to me anymore. My transition is about forging ahead after giving head. These scars aren’t from yesterday. I no longer bend like that. Staircases and fingers were my first trauma. Allergies are just an excuse to restrict and starve. I lost myself that day. Please. Speak up and sell your anger to the lowest bidder. Come over. My red hair is not an invitation for you to stir your misogyny into me. I’m the kind of queer that isn’t on a bathroom door. I hate labels but wear one sometimes to rip off and count the hairs pulled. One time I ran away for the length of five sitcoms. Packed grapes and a juice box, some tissues and paper. Climbed my life into a silver robot backpack. I turned around when I realized no one would notice. It scares me that you want to know. I am working my way out of sleepy veins and sculpting a word for this third gender contemplation. What I mean to say is if I could bind my way out of this body and into something else not called male but human or breathing,
I might feel more inclined to put on some lace and show you my hidden nude. Or: it’s just not as simple as a symbol. And: I am searching for a hairstyle that helps you understand me better. I forgive you. Sometimes we remain out of fear of getting further lost.