threshold exhumed

“The hunger is something you dig a hole in yourself to bury.”          Kazim Ali

All of this was ripped. Part of something else.

There are words, which used to be part of other things and now reside as this.

There is a pelvic blueprint, reminding me that even an x-ray can lie.

There is a swarm of vegetables shaped into a heart, symbolizing healthy love.

There is a body that can not be called male or female, rather satisfied and comfortable.

There is earth.

There is an Italian cookie. A newspaper. Modern Love.

There are trees and water. There is sun. There is a city bridge. There is a fortune. There is hope.

This is my vision board. This blue square of paper is a guide of desires, goals, dreams.

When I think about what I hope to manifest, I feel overwhelm. For so many years, I have buried my hungers so deep behind bones, caging them in.

Who/what am I waiting for.

I cannot stop with just this paper. It is a visual, but the rest must come from me.

I hold my left palm in such a way that it sinks, fingers lift up as though being pulled by invisible string. My palm is a cup I can sip out of. It is a bowl I can eat from. I can subsist on whatever fits inside my flesh. Parts of my skin, dry, pulls. There is a web of creases.

I am growing stronger on the outside, but if I were to photograph my innards, what musculature would gather?

My vision blurs, shifts, squints, takes in.

What do others notice that I do not; what do I notice that others can’t.

I want to see myself in this paper. Hybrid body. Floatation device. Loved. Traveler. A climb toward.

Do we ever reach that moment where reflection matches what we want or think we see.

Tell me how to get there.


When I moved to Brooklyn the first time, I went to an open mic at a bookstore that seemed mythical to me. It was full of more queer studies books I’ve ever seen in one place. They had an erotica section that spanned more than just a shelf! They had a place for people to sell their homemade zines and an extremely well-stocked poetry section. Bluestockings will always be my favorite bookshop to visit. It is quite impossible for me to enter without leaving with at least one book.

In their mission statement, they call themselves a radical bookstore, creating a space that empowers all people. They “actively support movements that challenge hierarchy and all systems of oppression, including but not limited to patriarchy, heterosexism, the gender binary, white supremacy, racism, ableism and classism, within society as well as our own movements.” It is powerful to walk inside a public space and feel heard.

Within the past few years, I have been extremely lucky to have performed at this space several times. But what I have always wanted is to feature for this open mic, which lead me there for the first time. Hosted by Vittoria Repetto since 1999, the Women’s / Trans’ Poetry Jam & Open Mic encourages people to perform (up to) 8 minutes of poetry, prose, songs, and spoken word. I am deeply excited to be featured this month with Ilka Scobie.

Women’s & Trans’ Poetry Jam & Open Mike

Tuesday Feb 25th 7pm – 9pm

Feature Writers: Aimee Herman & Ilka Scobie

Aimee Herman’s poetics deconstruct the architecture of gender and bodies. Aimee experiments with the language of bones, crack them open, count the syllables stuffed inside, and smear what translates onto the page.

Ilka Scobie’s poems are written through the filter of being a feminist, native New Yorker, traveller and teacher.”A passionate song to the city in all its stripped down, scaffolded, merciless and brave beauty.” Janine Pommy Vega

$5 suggested donation

Bluestockings Bookstore     172 Allen St. NYC   (between Staton & Rivington)

letters written to my self on this day.

Dear Body.
I have been trying to rub you away like a rash
forcing you away from my bones.
Dear Breasts.
You remind me that I’m not       who I think     I am
I tried to explain to my mother, who gave me my first dose
That sometimes we need to knock on parts of our body
to see if anyone or anything   is really home
Dear Skin.
I think about finding a mate who can handle all these bruises burned into my osteoblasts.
A human who does not ask me to apologize for a past
that I chose and still confess to.
One who realizes the necessity of translating what existed into what exists.
Are scars just an alphabet that can be erased with proper creams and rubber-eraser tips?
What I was and what I am engage in a battle.
My body is a war zone, but it is also a skyscraper reflecting light and history.
My body is a question mark, but it is also a semi-colon separating my frayed parts.

Dear Amy (sic),

Here is the thing. I find you extremely persistent. You have a difficult time letting go of things. You fall in love so easily. And when you love, it scares you toward an exit sign. None of this is going to be simple. As wrinkles form and parts push their way off of you, you will still find yourself living inside skin that screams out new versions of itself everyday.

You are like a fancy phone: often running out of batteries, swiped at and (possibly) in need of an upgrade. But you are also like the moon: magical. And the sun: dangerously difficult to make eye contact with, but rewarding in your gaze. 

I am tapping you on the shoulder. I am trying to get your attention. I want to make you that mix tape you always beg for to remind you the importance of remaining.

1. The Winner Is, Mychael Danna and Devotchka
2. Comptine D’Un Autre Ete (La Demarche), Yann Tiersen
3. Sweetness, Pearl and the Beard
4. Home, Edward Sharpe
5. Colours, Graffiti6
6. I Will Wait, Mumford and Sons
7. Evelyn, Gregory Alan Isakov
8. Made to Love, John Legend
9. Dancing on my Own, Robyn
10. Quelqu’un’m’a dit, Carla Bruni

There may be a time when you look outside and start to see your self more. More and more people around you are presenting themselves in ways that represent their inside on their outside. This excites you. I know this because your face glows each time you see a human who blurs the boundaries of what a woman is or how a man should be. You are not so old that you are engraved and complete. There are so many more books you need to read and poems to write. So, can you stay? How about you stay?

Dear Scar.
I’d be wrong to promise no more siblings. We fall. We scab. New skin forms. A scar arrives. But how about I try not to give birth to anymore on purpose. 
Dear Gender.
It’s ok. You don’t need to footnote yourself. You can reference yourself as a punctuation mark. You have nothing to do with why your heart got hurt. There is someone out there who will love your awkward, your blur, your fear. You are expanding. How beautiful to arrive at a moment of clarity. Keep walking and you will find others who understand. State your boundaries, so there will be no more break-ins. Stop giving your key away. Move slower when trying to exhale out your particles. 
Not everything      not everyone       can be put inside a box, so start getting more comfortable with being outside. 

what is love but the language of how we evolve.

“Literature is love. I think it went like this: drawings in the cave, sounds in the cave, songs in the cave, songs about us. Later, stories about us. Part of what we always did was have sex and fight about it and break each other’s hearts. I guess there’s other kinds of love too. Great friendships. Working together. But poetry and novels are lists of our devotions. We love the feel of making the marks as the feelings are rising and falling. Living in literature and love is the best thing there is. You’re always home.”    Eileen Myles

We have come a long way. We speak on billboards and buildings and bodies. We love in order to feel. We read in order to remember. We speak in order to claim and archive the sounds. Of course these words are home because even if you did not write that, you may have felt it once. Love is like this. A feeling. A memory of that time or those times and the longing of getting it back. There is no such thing as writer’s block because as long as we are in thoughts, we are writing. The words hide, so seek them. Like love. He/she/they are out there. So walk outside and read the buildings. The caves have been stretched inside out. This allows room for light to get in. Be brave. Don’t wait for literature or love to find you

in the night of stars

There is paint everywhere. The moon has cracked into hundreds of yellows and if you squint, you’ll see stars bleeding out from its satellite. How many nights have you wandered beneath? Miles of rain, stretched out into measurable puddles, can never wash away what once was. And bodies swirl too just like this acrylic resin. We are removing and gaining new parts just like Van Gogh. He wrote letters too. When the evening slips behind a new day, all that glow that got you looking away from your dark, remains. Like love.

before they leave…tell them how they move you.

I am standing on line with three books by one of my favorite authors.

Earlier, she sat on a panel with three other writers talking about characterization and what makes a narrator likable or not. I was sitting in the front row with my jacket on my lap and backpack in front of me. I am excited and nervous to be in the same room as this writer.

As I wait in line, I think about what I can say to make her my best friend. I can’t tell her how great a writer she is. She knows this. How to personalize a compliment in such a way that it is full of words that have never gone together. I want to lift her eyes toward me and make her forget about the long line of people behind me. I want to tell her that I am a writer too and perhaps she could offer me words of wisdom. Notoo vague and demanding.

Suddenly, it is my turn and she looks at the yellow post-it we were all instructed to write our names on (to speed up the wait time). Her eyes never glance at me as she copies my name into her book followed by: Best and her name. In the seconds it takes for her to ink up this book, I think of ways to let her know how I understand the solitude of writing and how reading her stories make me want to turn my poems into chapters and write my own fiction.

I say some of these things, but she does not become my best friend. I never invite her for supper (like I did two decades ago in a five page letter I wrote to Janet Jackson, which I handed to her bodyguard at her concert in New Jersey). 

Living in New York, there are writers and creative folk all around me. Oftentimes, regardless of how many books or poems they have published, if their words stir me up, I become captivated and sometimes tongue-tied and shy. How silly, right? We are all just humans. But to me, when people are able to disrobe themselves through writing or music, art or dance, I am reminded to continue. We inspire each other. Or….this is what we should be doing.

So, get loud with the ones who remind you how pungent words and sounds and bodily gestures can be. Don’t wait for them to look up at you. Just speak.

More and more humans are dying early. Too soon, we wail.

Before they leave, tell them how they move you. So they can hear your love before it’s too late.

what is the beauty of your sick?

A beautiful woman blows her nose on the 4 train heading uptown and I am immediately attracted to the way she uses one hand to cover her nostrils with a thin tissue and the other to clutch a plastic container of soup. Her hair is perfectly blond and straight. Make-up floats over her skin like love poems. A thin line of black over eyes and something maybe called shimmer against her lids. Her lips are the shade of red my cheeks get during a winter walk.

I have been blowing my nose all across Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the end of each day, I refresh my handkerchief for another. Today’s is dark blue and yesterday’s was green. I remove my gloves and use two hands. There is nothing graceful or erotic about the way I extract the sick from my body. My skin is dry and my hair refuses to respond to coconut oil or conditioner. I wear no make-up or intentional threads to catch anyone’s eyes. This season stuffs me in. I am bound and layered. A poet sitting across from me might called me disheveled.

Many of us have become bears this season, hibernating until the sun reaches a more attractive temperature. It can be difficult to step outside when the wind knocks against our bones like an aggressive intruder. The ice continues to melt and reform and grow dirtier and dirtier with each passing car. I am trying to find beauty in all this cold and sick.

I think back on all the times during my least irresistible moments of weakened health. The ones who arrived to cook me medicinal meals: delicious Italian remedies or wonton soup from the nearby Chinese restaurant. The ones who rubbed oils on my chest to bring forth breath, read me poems until I found sleep.

My body coated in shivers and red. My mind, unable to capture coherency. The songs of my body, a choral of coughs and sneezes.

This woman on the 4 train is not hiding her sick. She sneezes into unfolded tissue and I watch her body seizure for a moment as it lets go of another round of germs. Sometimes it is comforting to be reminded that we are not the only ones feeling this way.

My sick is not beautiful and it is lonely these days. I make my own chicken soup. I research other antidotes. I notice the paleness coat my body and long for Vitamin D arriving from the sky, warming my skin.

now, what do you want to call yourself.

It is no longer one or the other. Humans have been peeling off the labels of malefemale for years now, arriving at new vocabulary and hybrid forms of what one can be. It is illuminating and awe-inspiring.

Recently, during a conversation about gender, my mom said: But I don’t have to announce I am straight. 

And I responded: Because people already assume. But imagine if you weren’t, and people thought you were. Wouldn’t you want to let people know they are wrong? 

So, we come out. To newspapers. To co-workers. On television. Online. To our lovers. To our friends. Over text message.

But it is never just one time.

When I came out at nineteen, I thought I was done.

Phew……that was rough, but they [my parents] seem to be ok about all this. Now I can just live.

But we are labeled in more ways than sexual orientation. I am no longer a lesbian. I am queer. And my gender is complicated and still arriving at a movement of letters. For now, I call myself genderqueer.

I am re-arriving at my body. Knocking my way in…ringing its doorbell. We aren’t as friendly as one might think. I am tentative inside of this core.

Recently, a popular social networking site called Facebook (which I am not on and would normally not give extra time toward, but learning of this made me feel a slight admiration for), added almost 60 different options for users to identify their gender. I was deeply moved. It is no longer just male or female. It never has been, but so many of us have been checking off boxes that were the lesser of two wrongs. Now, people can actually see their self-identified gender.

For anyone who has had a difficult time connecting to the ridiculous sign on the bathroom door of a public place, this is a moment of clarity. In fact, a few nights ago, I was performing in a bar where the female restroom identified itself with a high-heel on the door. I thought: I am not a high-heel. So, where can I safely go to the bathroom? How has shoe wear become our identifiable gender markers?

urlThe list is long, but it is even longer and will continue to grow. Here is what Facebook users can now choose from:

  • Agender
  • Androgyne
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Cis
  • Cisgender
  • Cis Female
  • Cis Male
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Cisgender Female
  • Cisgender Male
  • Cisgender Man
  • Cisgender Woman
  • Female to Male
  • FTM
  • Gender Fluid
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Gender Questioning
  • Gender Variant
  • Genderqueer
  • Intersex
  • Male to Female
  • MTF
  • Neither
  • Neutrois
  • Non-binary
  • Other
  • Pangender
  • Trans
  • Trans*
  • Trans Female
  • Trans* Female
  • Trans Male
  • Trans* Male
  • Trans Man
  • Trans* Man
  • Trans Person
  • Trans* Person
  • Trans Woman
  • Trans* Woman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transgender Female
  • Transgender Male
  • Transgender Man
  • Transgender Person
  • Transgender Woman
  • Transmasculine
  • Transsexual
  • Transsexual Female
  • Transsexual Male
  • Transsexual Man
  • Transsexual Person
  • Transsexual Woman
  • Two-Spirit

Recently, I have become friends with a human who is finding their way in and around themselves. They are transitioning from how they feel on the inside toward something more visible on the outside. I have begun to dig around inside myself toward what I have been feeling and finally they are offering me a safe space to do this.

I have been inside this body for decades. Finding the right word to name my feelings is enormously empowering. However, when we get past the labels, the hard part is daily translation. Some people wake up inside their bodies and feel complete kinship. Even love.

Imagine waking and feeling so lost, you wonder how it is possible to get misplaced inside something that has always been there.

Humans are incredibly complicated, constantly evolving creatures. We are incorporating new words into formal dictionaries. Boxes are being added as languages develop. The language of our body. Of our sexuality. Of our gender.

Be more open to people blurring the confines of male  /  female   because that list is going to continue to grow.

how transmittable is this feeling

A bar of soap stuns skin into thinking it can forget.

A shower of ice from the sky that closes all the universities and office buildings and that one person who forgets to listen. Walks outside. Slips on top of a shutter of melt. Remains fallen. Finds a love letter frozen beneath it all. Waits for the water to soften. Reads it. Says, I haven’t forgotten this.

Forget chocolate today. Give her a box of bones. Or a pamphlet full of your warning signs written in poetic stanzas. A fluffy teardrop that she can cling to at night. A bouquet of teeth. A bottle of whine.

Risk something.

In cupboard, there are three dates left. Cured, like caramel. You peel away their harvest with the strength of your appetite. What you want is something bigger. What you want is something promised. With food, you never have to practice how to approach it. With humans, you tend to walk away engulfed in starvation.

Today has nothing to do with love. Today’s currency is grandiose flirtations. How big are your flowers. How expensive is that appetizer used as foreplay for later.

A holiday shouldn’t be the catalyst that reminds us to say things or do things.

In the morning of two days from now, grab her wrist and spell out your wishes in imaginary shadows. Whisper a love letter into the tattoo he got when he was too young to think about aging. Sing a song that harmonizes fear and commitment. Make a mix tape full of songs that bleed stains of lasciviousness onto her floor.






you will be remembered.

Sometimes the past must remind us to remember what resides in our present. And when we lose someone who is present, it can be a knock against our minds to get louder and not forget. Maggie Estep was a writer who inspired me to scream. Her poetry and prose lead me to fill pages and call out my language onto as many stages as I could find.

You will be missed, Poet.