when the lights come on…look down toward what shines

No one ever notices how many shades of red there are. We see a color and call it blue or yellow. But never Pacific Ocean blue or jaundice yellow. What about Malbec red or the shade of red one gets after being kissed for so long that lips have jumped inside another permanently.

We have been inside a dark room for three months. Winter has kept us hidden beneath grey and fog, but there is a flicker of light alerting us that spring is arriving. And so is love. And so is a renewal of body.

With Spring, notice the exchange of root for shiver. Exposed bodies, which have been hidden beneath scarves and chapped skin for so long. Collarbones and ears, no longer hidden beneath woolen toques.

When the weather warms, cars will honk at the ones who are walking, who stop at every red light to kiss. The sky will grow jealous and begin to rain on them.

When the weather warms, we will title the earth friendly again. We will invite it out for baseball catches and naps beneath its sun.

The days are getting longer and everything is coming out of hiding again. Like life. Like love.

how to take up space.

It can be difficult to spread out. To offer oneself permission to take up space. On New York City subways, men spread their legs, bang knees up against the humans on either side of them. I often find myself, pressing my thighs together, backpack on my lap, feeling like a piece of paper: crumpled. Lately, I look at these limbs of others and how they spread. Male. Female. Gender non-conforming. Transgender. There is a spectrum of bodies and there is no one way to present it.

you called my chest a slide/like a carnival ride/slid palms over the smooth and flat.

We apologize for the ways in which we walk around. Say I’m sorry when others bump into us. When we bump around inside ourselves, who do we apologize to? Spreading out is beyond just space. It is how one experiments with movement and presentation. Nothing is constant; nothing remains the same. Even maps must be revised and floor plans and weather patterns. Bodies continue to flux and should be encouraged to do so.

and in that moment of collision/our bones were genderless/we were shadows entering each other/we were a climax of vocabularies

Night in the Naked City Performance

Tonight, New York poets and writers get together to celebrate the language of this gritty, sky-scraping city and the surrounding boroughs. I will be celebrating the borough of Brooklyn through ukelele, lips and love letter.

Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia St. /NYC
6pm 
$8 (includes a drink)
 
Featuring:
Eric Alter
Steve Dalachinsky
Thomas Fucaloro
Aimee Herman
Matthew Hubert
Jane LeCroy
Eliel Lucero
Puma Perl

bloodstream

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”   ― Rainer Maria Rilke

I am still completely unaware of my blood type. I could be walking around with vowels or consonants; how much does it matter? We trace ghosts with the palm of our tongue and drip excess taste buds onto street corners that later get stomped into the concrete. There are more questions than there are answers, so I crush my calluses into each upturned inquiry. Some wonderings are better left unsolved. To live everything is to breathe into each moment. Tomorrow matters much less than today. Here is far more interesting than two weeks ago. And when you find yourself building stories with some stranger, remind yourself that none of us really are visitors anymore. We’ve all just been waiting for more doors to open and the magic of curious humans to walk on in.

what is the gender of your pen?

I recently spent a Saturday in a writing workshop trying to write like a woman. In the past, I have taken various classes that focus on gender or race or period of time or genre of writing. Anytime I approached a text or began a response to it, I never thought of myself as a woman reading this or a woman writing this.

I’ve called myself a queer writer. I’ve labeled myself as a gay writerI’ve called myself a poet. A performance artist. I’ve admitted to things that I used to be or formally was. But in all these years writing words down, I never took on that classification. I’d like to think that my genitals have nothing to do with what comes out of me. Though, I do not believe it is my/our genitals that classify our gender.

When we talked about where we write from and how our femaleness comes through, I said this: I do not write like a woman, nor a man. Actually, I don’t quite know what that means. If masculine writing is defined by grotesque language and overt sexuality, then how to explain the gloriousness of Kathy Acker, Lidia Yuknavitch, or Dodie Bellamy (just to name a few)?

I said: I think of a see-saw, with a man on one end and a woman on the other and I am balancing on both sides, sometimes in the middle. But I never get comfortable enough to sit down. I said that I write from inside my body, but it is a hybrid of genitalia and vocabularies (which I am still learning/gathering). I said that I honor the ones who came before me and the ones still around today, but it is the humans who took risks on the page that encouraged me to write. Humans: men, women, transgender, gender non-conforming.

We were encouraged to make a list. Of all the influences of women writers. As we went around the room, some of our names echoed and some learned of ones we’d never heard of. My rebellion wanted to name men as well, but I was trying to behave. But the thing is, I have been deeply influenced and inspired by so many male writers as well: Rumi, Pablo Neruda, Alan Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Charles Bukowski (that name might have caused a riot), Kazim Ali, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, James Baldwin…

But what I read out loud included some of these names:

Anne Sexton
Audre Lorde
Dorothy Parker
Diane di Prima
Rita Mae Brown
Dorothy Allison
Akilah Oliver
Eileen Myles
Sapphire
Michelle Tea
AM Homes
Kate Bornstein
Susie Bright
Gertrude Stein
Sandra Cisneros
Puma Perl
Cookie Mueller
Karen Finley
Marina Abramović
Ariel Gore
Eleanor Roosevelt
Julia Serano
Susan Sontag
Ivan Coyote
Anais Nin
…….

The list continues and never ends kind of like an ocean. To me, it just goes on and on until you reach something else.

Yesterday I said: I think about gender everytime I breathe. This is because for so many years I didn’t. I walked around in this body, ignoring what didn’t feel right. Trying to write my way out of the clog. To write is to read. And I am continually looking for writers that teach me, introduce new words and discourses into my brain, make me uncomfortable, stretch the boundaries and implications of writing. 

Beyond gender. Because it is no longer just male or female writers. We are far too interesting and complex to remain inside those boxes forever.

 

an unveiling of poetics, performance and collaboration

Tonight, watch how words can grow new limbs when poets, performance artists and activists come together to create an evening of creative exploration!

Bowery Poetry Club
308 Bowery/ NYC
8:30pm
$10

Poetry Teachers NYC presents an interdisciplinary event from a vocal, musical, creative, and performance art perspective. This event will showcase LANGUAGE moving through and from the body as different modes of communication.

With Performances By:
Daniel Dissinger
Aimee Herman
Megan DiBello
Eric Alter 
Audrey Dimola
Joyce LeeAnn
LaVonne Natasha Caesar 
Steve Dalachinsky
Kimmy Cunningham
Jatlin Gill Thompson-Thompson
Shawn Randall
Peter Rugh

well, what are you then?

Last night, you called yourself a dormant addict in a room full of humans wearing name tags and fetishes. When one of them asked you what you were into, you said, “Peanut butter sandwiches without the bread.”

You wandered around that room searching through poems hidden beneath piles of skin. One of them stood so close to you, you could smell breakfast on his breath, even memorized the pattern of his lungs extending and retracting.

On this night, you chose seltzer over whiskey and when there was nothing left to sip, you stole ice cubes and leftover limes sliced over glasses.

One of them wanted to kiss you. Another mislabeled you as woman and child-bearer. You looked all over for humans who had no ownerships to boxes, but many seemed in need of calling themselves something.

Finally, when someone asked, well, what are you then?, all you could say was, “Decapsulating.”

to wade or browse amidst the rubble of love.

Shame is the swampland of the soul.”    —Carl Jung.
“Do you ever want to make love to your own story? To the parts of you that you work so hard to grow? Are you able to sit on a rooftop of red curls and say, ‘holy shit, I built this?’ Everything you need is inside you already.”   —Rebel Diaz

I am trying to find the right angle to reach all of this. I’ve climbed ledges and dangled screams, watched dripped hollers hold onto exposed bricks, begging to be let back up. In the midst of love-making, I somehow felt the need to throw away the parts of me that have misbehaved. Everything I need may be inside me but some of it hides and some of it has curdled. How to get past all of that and closer to rebirth.

the urgency of risk.

Dear Rebel,

You urge me to write. Urge is defined by a seizure of  light in one’s body. It elevates one’s fingers to touch something or create something. Urge is a language of intimacy and conversion. Urges include digestion of vitamins and elements from soil. An urge can be placed beneath the curl of another’s hand. An urge can be an invitation of words. 

Rebel, I am eight days into this new age and something has dramatically shifted. No, it is nowhere near self-actualization, but closer to acceptance. I sleep outside of my nude now. I sleep alone most nights. I sleep with chest flattened by cotton press of yellow-yolk contraption. I sleep beneath the invisible constellations on my ceiling. I sleep wearing ten thousand genders like colorful kites tangled up in my torso. I sleep motionless; I sleep like a Pina Bausch dancer choreographed into whispered shoulder rolls.

There is an urgency for love. To find the map that completes my location. To pave the roads of my soul with the concrete from another. To close every drawer and cover each exposed shelf to make room for another. An urgency to move on. Last month, you made love to a river and I found (continue to search for) the complacency of my blood. We address our parts as revised elocutions. Urge others to do the same to make room for variants. There is no one way to this beyond breath.