Ten years ago, you had a difficult time with serving sizes. Back then, you hoarded cocaine and one-night love affairs. You collected envelopes of gashes. Ten years ago, you were being cyber-bullied by your memories. You changed your phone number and the shape of your skin in order to hide from your shadow. You feasted on potholes. You grew an enormous amount of debt as though this tab was like a garden you were watering. You lost feeling in the lower region of your body. Ten years ago, you shaved everything. Ten years ago, you fondled paralysis of your heart. You stopped trusting men. You fell. Do you remember that? You traveled with bar napkins against bloody chin because the weight of panic threw you down. Do you remember that you found new places to hide the slashes from the anger which only grew louder from all the drugs? Ten years ago, you got into a knife fight with the other half of you. You filled out only half the application for a restraining order against your vagina. * Ten years ago today, you began planning for a future you were contemplating against. You applied to university in a state you never lived in, hoping for a re-do. You found words, which felt too kind, to describe your journey and intention to study. You got a phone call from a voice you did not recognize telling you that you were accepted to university. You decided it was time to get clean again. You threw bad habits into garbage and threw heavy bag of trauma into Brooklyn dumpster. You started writing more. You decided what could be left behind and what you wanted to remain with you. You cleaned out your phone of names, which haunted your ear drums. You decided to choose poetry as your drug; it was a lot cheaper and though it left you fiending for more, it was free. And did not leave you with nosebleeds and blackouts. You drove over two thousand miles. You still made some mistakes, but when you fell, there was a lot less blood. You got your degree. You learned how to collect months and then years of sobriety. You gave up collecting things. You still have a difficult time with serving sizes…..though now, it’s just coffee. And words.
Monthly Archives: February 2015
I fold myself as though I am traveling inside a suitcase. My limbs curl and bend. I want this day to have nothing to do with me and everything to do with the humans around me. The snow has lost its shine; it has aged and curdled. A pigeon ice-skates, trips on a bundle of discarded city. And though this wasn’t supposed to be about a pencil, several hours later, a poet hands one to me. It is unsharpened and new like my body once was. Before the pencil, a woman on the 4 train heading uptown talks about peppermint tea and her dislike of hot chocolate. She talks of the heft of cold climbing beneath her layers. She whispers out a love letter to the Islands where she grew up and memorized recipes. After the pencil, a moon in the shape of a question mark or a slurred howl. After the pencil, a crack in the sidewalk with laughter oozing out. Closer still, and a knock-knock joke jammed between one square of concrete and another. Before the pencil, a gentleman of elder status, peeing outside of a park in chinatown. He is wedged between two shopping carts in the shape of a home minus chimney and foyer. After the pencil, a puddle of curious shade of yellow patronizes the city street. Before the pencil, a kiss so magnificent and hungry, that skin gains thirty-seven pounds from its embrace. Somewhere, though it is unclear where and when, possibly seventy-four years ago, you see her. With long sullen face, I smell the soot of words wafting off her palms. It is Sunday and there are no parties to prepare for or meals to measure. Simply, a pencil to purchase at eighteen mile long bookshop. But it was never really about that pencil.
Experiment #3,403: Create a word that hasn’t existed before this moment. Break the rules with crashing two words together or make a sound birthed between your lips for the very first time. See what arrives.
Traumasement – (noun)- the hidden area of one’s mind/body where haunting memories are kept.
Winter. Several years past millenium. I sit in style of meditation. Swallow fist of hangnails and crooked knuckles as I unhinge clasp toward traumasement, peel away cobwebs like puffs of sticky smoke and begin to address. Begin to read the footnotes of misery.
Here, in the traumasement, I sniff dust like invisible particles of cocaine, coughing up bloody remnants of the bones of my memories.
You did not get raped. You are not allergic to dairy; therefore, you may eat that strawberries-and-cream sundae without fear of gut explosion. You were not interrupted while walking home that day by two men, in tinted brown car, alerting you that you dropped something. You did not say I love you to the first lesbian to ask you on a date. These men in scratched aluminum car did not persistently tell you: Yes, you did. Miss, you dropped something. You do not have a difficult time reading Proust. Here is when you did not grow confused and then angry when these men in bass-blaring car continued with: Miss, you dropped a conversation. Now, c’mon and get closer and talk to us. You’re so pretty, Miss. No, you definitely did not grow flammable when those men thought they had your permission to be gendered and bothered. You never tried to give yourself bangs. You are not plagued by indigestion every time you remove your clothing. You have absolutely no problems being intimate. You never eat dessert for supper; you wouldn’t dare. You have no difficulty calling yourself labels like woman or alive. You feel completely understood by the humans who think they know you. You are not uncomfortable by the thought of celebrating your birthday. You have no desire to afford a mortgage one day. You definitely don’t want to get married. You were so relieved that time you weren’t pregnant. You have forgiven _________. And _________. You are not clothed in sixteen layers of phobias. You definitely do not hesitate to breathe sometimes. You did not collapse on that Brooklyn concrete and find nine crooked stitches in your chin the next morning. You are really OK. You are not looking for a remedy. You are clean. You can definitely get through this. You can get another try; there is always a do-over.
what it is to write.
I was in high school, year nine, when teachers started to wonder about the dark in me. I was eating Sylvia Plath and Lou Reed, collecting pills and scars.
At a school assembly, I read a poem which caused my guidance counselor to call my parents. Back then, I didn’t know words could be a diagnosis. I had no idea words could be a precursor to prescriptions and social workers.
It’s the tale of so many poets’ stories.: Depression. Drug addiction. Suicide attempts. Social anxiety. A walk-on role by Homosexuality.
I heard a writer say, “Good writing doesn’t come from happy childhoods.” But I want to believe that we don’t always need the backstories. Our imaginations are massive enough to create our stories and poems.
When I run out of words, I dig my fingernails into the root of a scar found on forearm, hip, between thighs and rummage around until letters come out. This is a metaphor.
When I run out of words, I go to my bookshelf. Pull out Kate Bornstein. Pull out Vera Pavlova. Lorca. Neruda. Miranda July. Ivan E. Coyote. Audre Lorde. I scratch out their words and sniff the aroma of magic coming through. This is literal.
What it is to write.
I have been diagnosed and hospitalized and “treated” and analyzed and medicated and rehabilitated and tested. The pills gave me dry mouth, increased anxiety, nausea, increased thoughts of suicide, fatigue and irritability.
The side-effects of writing? Awareness, realization, acceptance, ease of overwhelm, validation.
When I tell people I am a poet, they say: better find a day job. I want to explain to them that there are different versions of currency and poetry may not pay my rent, but it keeps me alive. Twenty dollars in my pocket won’t.
There are days I feel as though I am not allowed to call myself a writer. These are the days I fall asleep without a puddle of words at my side. These are the days I feel dry.
And yet to others, I am able to say: Thinking is part of writing, so if you thought today, then you created.
I get lost a lot. I’ve never had GPS at my disposal. I’ve got a flip phone in my pocket (features including only camera, calendar and calculator). So, I often turn away from where I am supposed to be. But maybe humans need to get lost more, in order to feel more found. Maybe more humans should write without disclaimer, without waiting for a place for these words. Let poetry be your diagnosis. Let language and its looseness be your symptoms.
Let ink and paper be your geography. Your map. Then, you’ll be ready for travel.
new year speaking words.
Thank you to Bruce Weber for co-organizing the annual ANYDSWPE, Annual Alternative New Year’s Day Spoken Word / Performance Extravaganza. This is a video from January 1st, 2015. What a great way to begin a new year.
beneath the curtains of your body…
Experiment #71: When it rains, you might notice a collage of confetti’d water altering your view. Walk toward your nearest window. Preferably the one beneath the hardest-working cloud. Stitch your eyes into one of the drops collecting your attention. What colors do you see? Green. Faded red. How cold is the window and how does your body react when you touch it?
Remember that time you cried so hard that one of your lungs pushed its way up to beneath your rib cage and your chest grew taller? And your breaths felt as though they were imprisoned or housed inside a barred fist. It was springtime. Remember? And everyone around you was dry. It’s like your body had become this cloud of salt raining over your limbs.
Beneath the curtains of your body is every weather pattern that ever existed and a hybrid of several that we aren’t used to seeing together. Open that window. I know it’s cold; yes, it is wet too. But just slide it up and scream out your weather pattern. Scream out your temperature. Your precipitation. Allow the air to breathe you in.
(how are YOU) meant to wake up feeling?
Experiment #362: Go to your book shelf. If you have a designated poetry section, go there. If not, well, quickly make one, alphabetize according to author and pause. Perhaps it is time to introduce a new book to your shelves. Go to your “H” section. Can you make some room?
Now, (bare with me), purchase a copy of my newest poetry collection, meant to wake up feeling. You can find it HERE. Or HERE. Or HERE. Or even HERE.
Take a deep breath. (I always do when I purchase something on the Internet).
Next, I want you to email me. Nothing fancy. Just something like: Hey, I bought it. OR: Did what you said, now what?
In your email, give me your address and I will send you a personalized letter. I know what you’re thinking: I’m going to put you on some mailing list. Nope. Or I’m hoarding addresses to publish in well-trafficked bathrooms. Ummm…..nope.
I think there is nothing more intimate than giving away one’s handwriting. (OK…..maybe there are a few other more intimate things….) Taking the time to use ink or lead to write words on paper, stuff into envelope, with a stamp! and then mail it??!?!?!
After you purchase a copy of my book, I will write you a REAL letter. A good one. With lots of words on a handmade card. And a stamp, of course.
So…here’s my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking forward to hearing from you!
the currency of concern.
“A body holding its own dusk/ That is what a predator is, mostly.” –Elizabeth Robinson
A body shuts down. It is night and there is only enough room for airplanes and crickets and moon and sleep.
Here is how it goes. The author sits wearing wet hair and long underwear. Breath of peppermint and coffee, barley and long-distanced lover’s tongue. Outside, one could pretend it is spring, but it is too cold to title it as such. The author has consolidated their loans; the author has consolidated their bones.
Monthly payment does not match bank account and when asked how many members in family, suddenly one sounds synonymous with failure.
A body searches its contents and recognizes only the stink of bones, but cannot recall if that is actually what they are called. It is a time congruent to morning.
It can be immensely humbling to prove one’s poorness. There is enough food in cupboards and shoes to wear and enough options of laundered clothes to fill a drawer and closet. Hot water and heat paid for by unseen landlord. The author can even afford capers, but chooses to wait for tax return.
However, the amount owed far exceeds the amount author owns and on this morning of unzipped blue denim sky, the author cries store-brand version of tears and swallows store-brand version of oxygen.
A body exhales and spits out the dust of agony.
This is not about educational tabs running over. Nor is this about economic class or the woes of a poet in search of a space safe enough to wrap skin around. This is not about what plagues a body. Nor is it a prompt for pity.
This may be about what it feels like to occur. To be the one folded in the corner of rooms wondering why every circumstance is a reminder of what you do not have.
How to populate with only words. How to birth without heteronormative consumption.
Here is how it goes. The author hikes toward the closest mountain found within the nooks of mind. Digs torn-up fingernails into soil that is highlighted by the sun. Fondles the pebbles and branches, which feel like found currency. Puts loot into pockets. Continues traveling up. Up. Higher. The author pretends to be unafraid of heights; the author does not look down. Up. Higher. Until. The only thing that matters is the wind. The curves beneath each step. And the way down.