Rubber Spatula

For Lidia Yuknavitch because her words stir me up in all the right ways and reminds me the importance of being a writing misfit

 

I was taught at an early age the importance of a rubber spatula.

The tilt and twirl of handle between fingers, and press of rubber against bowl to scoop and flip. The folding in and out and around of ingredients. A rhythmic movement like thirteen yoga positions all arranged at once inside a metal bowl.

As I grew older, I imagined this rubber spatula as the ingredients inside me grew, and I needed a way to bend them. Mix raw into cooked. New into old. Memory into memory. Hurt into pain into disruption. Scar into blood into raw into still.

All of the ladies on the cooking shows showed me how to use the proper tools to cook. Cut using sharpened knife, with fingers curled in. Never to overmix. Paying close attention to order and pacing.

I don’t recall who taught me how to hide. How to stuff. How to forget what burns like bile into gut. Like ignored tooth rot. Memory into memory into memory. Collecting a variety of instruments to anesthetize the wrong angles of body.

 

  1. Grab a bowl larger that your sixth impression but smaller than your list of resentments.
  1. Add sugar, salt, drain the oil from your skin which collects like tally marks of your improper diet. Throw in some flour too.
  1. Make room to analyze your kneading pattern: how you hesitate to pound, how you shape and batter. Search for elasticity.
  1. Bake, as you stir in your contemplations of what has been lost or forgotten. 375 degrees. Golden brown. Swallow after chewing.

 

I stopped being a girl when it felt like a slur every time I heard it pressed against me.

 

The first thing I burned was peanut brittle. Tied apron to ribcage to catch the spills. Crushed peanuts as though they were my dreams. Stirred sugar into corn syrup into salt into water. Watched the bubbles lift up, copper liquid screaming from the scald. Too late for the butter. When we forget to pay attention, incineration.

 

I tried to describe it as this:

It was when he ran his spatulate privilege

into my muted body that I knew I would

never be able to move the same.                

(You know what I mean)

 

Also Known As:

Tongue Depressor

Fly Swatter

Paddle

Splint

Propeller

  

When bathrooms had symbols I could no longer prescribe to, I cut out my bladder and folded it in as well.                                        

(see blunt end of shattered spatula)

 

Prep time: Forty minutes to an entire lifetime and then what?

[indigestion and disillusionment]

 

Help me to understand the meaning behind all this stir.

 

Excited to announce my new chapbook of poems

Thank you so much to Essay Press for publishing my chapbook of poems, carpus.

Carpus is a gutting of body, all the kicked up grit of gender and love and (mis)understandings of self

Thank you to the incredible editors who were patient and encouraging: Aimee Harrison (brilliant reader/editor), Travis Sharp (created the cover), and Emily Pifer (video embedder).

READ CARPUS HERE

Let me know what you think! Email me at: aimeeherman@gmail.com

Check out this video of one of the poems featured in the book:

 

how to fall in love with you

I didn’t always hate you, pink. I liked your jellybeans. Your Rainbow Bright hair. Your participatory hue after a summer sunset. I collected cavities from all your bubblegum. Cancelled my mistakes with your erasers. You sugared my lips with your cotton candy. I even liked my meat to look like you in the middle. I may have even pressed your synthetic pink threads against my young pink body, playfully rummaging my hands over all your pinkness.

But now it’s your voice which I cannot seem to get out of my head: high-pitched ponytail and knee socks. You tell me all your rules, pink. Who can wear you. Who can kiss you. And I just can’t eat your jellybeans anymore.

It’s not that I need to love you; I just don’t want to hate you so much.

So I locate your address and travel the distance to find you at home. Pepto Bismol shutters and walkway and door and I know it’s yours.

I search out the music in your pink, pink voice. Try to remember you coat my tongue and wear my lips and there are bits of my body all salmon-colored too.

Pink, I could love you if you weren’t painted on that tool kit, marketed specifically for you-know-who. And pink, I could love you if you weren’t so political. So militant. So girl.

Pink, maybe we could share a meal and eat greens and yellow squash and red, red beets and remember that a color can just be a color. Without wardrobe. Without gender. Without a rule book for who may approach you. I could love you, pink, if you stopped being so pink all the time and mingled with the rest of the far more open-minded rainbow.

Dear Hillary Rodham Clinton

first published on great weather for MEDIA

 

Dear Hillary Rodham Clinton,

I’ve been gulping oxygen as though it were chocolate chip cookies, reminding myself to inhale then exhale because it can be easy to forget to breathe in a time like this.

Of course I knew a woman could be president, it’s just that I kept watching more doors get built just to slam in their faces and I wondered if I could call myself something else in order to be more heard.

It should have been you.

No one ever asks a man to smile more or coif their hair in a way that is more “attractive” or dress in a way to lure more eyes or or or…

Everyone lies.

It’s not that I want to “escape” to Canada, it’s just that I want to live in a place where I can be free and accepted without fear of my civil liberties challenged just for being gay. Just for being a woman. Just for being.

It should have been you.

I wasn’t supposed to still be here. I think about this every day that I wake. All those times I tried to push myself off this earth and here I am and they call me teacher. They listen when I guide their minds toward questioning what they read/what they learn. Each time I enter a classroom, I am reminded of why I stay here because these students (so many of whom are being told they aren’t “American enough”) impress me with their beautiful resilience.

If a bully can win a job they are completely unqualified for, what does that teach us?

When I was nineteen, I said it out loud for the first time. Called myself a lesbian because I thought that was the only word I had to choose from. Never expected to get married because I wasn’t allowed. Didn’t ever think I’d fall in love with someone who encouraged all my vocabularies and eccentricities. And then in June of 2015, suddenly I was told I could get married in any state and I started to feel safe again. But then North Carolina happened. And then and then and then this

It should have been you, Hillary.

What to say to the person who is continually targeted just for being a woman. I want to tell you we need you now more than ever. I need to tell you that I am scared. For my students. For everyone who is being threatened with ‘a wall’. I want to tell you that amidst the false accusations and even some of the real ones, you made me believe in democracy again.

Now what?

Dear America

We are on a break.

This isn’t the first time we’ve declared the need to see other people, but what you’ve done this time, I’m not sure I can forgive.

America, your tongue is dirty. Your knees have not touched enough gravel and you smell. Not like New York City urine drenched, graffiti-ground-up-in-potholes, fourth-day-of-forgotten bath. More like your climate is beginning to disrobe and all our coughs are coughing up smog.

United States of America, you never ask me if it feels good when you touch me. You just lick my bones with your hate crimes and think it will turn me on.

I need space.

This isn’t about Canada, though I can’t pretend she’s not on my mind these days.

America, look at your hands! Covered in blood, slurs, misogyny, favoritism, forgetfulness, and all that locker room jargon lodged beneath your fingernails.

Your red, white, and blue used to turn me on. All you needed to do was wave your flag and I was ready. You’d whisper Eleanor Roosevelt or Rocky Mountains and I’d lift myself onto you. We’d rock back and forth to your mix tape of anthems.

America, there is no welcome mat big enough for you to wipe all your filth on. You’ve lost sight on what made you so beautiful once before. Everyone that came to build you up, with their stories of survival and hope, living out their Dream…….you now seem to have forgotten their names.

Shame on you, America. You’re nothing without the sum of all your parts.

Now I’m screaming out my safe word because it’s just too much to bear:

 P a s s p o r t

Check out this new anthology I have work featured in

Thank you to Candace Habte for encouraging words to come out on the topic of women and bodies.

Check out the anthology:  Theories of HER: An Experimental Anthology 

Because much like this book itself, women have layers.

Over 50 contributors from all across the world, and all walks of life, have come together as they share what it is to be her, know her, and to champion her. Like many other anthologies, Theories of HER is a collection of poetry, essays, literature and art, with contributors ranging from award-winning veterans to emerging writers and artists. But much like today’s woman, this collection is refreshingly unconventional. Each piece stands alone, while also merging together in a poetic tapestry that takes the reader through a lifetime.

More than that, Theories of HER attempts to give voice to the unheard and misunderstood. The writers and artists in this collection refuse to apologize for being women, for being male allies, for being gender non-conforming, for being the L, the B, the G, or the T, for being mothers, daughters, girlfriends, wives, lovers, single, childless, for aging in a youth-obsessed culture, for being politically incorrect, for speaking up, for preferring words to sound, or shouts to whispers…for simply standing in their truth.

Contributors

Adam Balivet, Aftab Yusuf Shaikh, Aimee Herman, Alison Stone, Ana “Temple” Abram, Andrea Tolbert, Ann Cefola, Brenna Harvey, Candace Habte, Chanel Heart, Christine Brandel, Cici Felton, Cinthia Ritchie, D. Vaisius, Daryl Sznyter, Deidre Dykes, Edward Palumbo, Edward Stettner, Eileen Velthuis, Elizabeth Yalkut, Erika Dreifus, Eve Gaal, FF Merchant, Grace Fondow, HanaLyn Colvin, Hannah Sawyerr, Helmi Ben Meriem, Janis Butler Holm, Jeanine DeHoney, JM, Kathleen M. Quinlan, Katrine Raymond, Kay Retzlaff, Kiara Marie, Kristie Letter, Kyle Liang, Maria Morrison, Maroula Blades, Mary Laufer, Maureen Flannery, Miguel Eichelberger, Nicole Fresh, Nina Martucci, Paul Hostovsky, Rachel Lallouz, Rebecca O’Bern, Rebekah Seagle, Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Sara Walsh, Sarah Y. Varnam, Siaara Freeman, Stephen Cavitt, Susan Holck, TCF, Tom Whalen, Tori Cárdenas, and Z.M. Wise

it can be so difficult to be alive, and then you find words to band-aid you back

I’ve been gulping oxygen like I used to gulp drugs in my twenties. I don’t know how to be. I don’t know how. I don’t.

And then, I drink coffee with a friend who reminds me why writing is a salve. And then I read words by misfit goddess writer Lidia Yuknavitch and my wounds suddenly feel less wounded.

 

Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Small Backs of Children writes:

“I hope that we write ourselves back to life. I hope that we double down on what we mean when we say ‘writer,’ so that the definition explodes and reconstitutes around writing as a socially vital activity, not a market-driven dead zone. I hope that when we step into our writerly lives, we can only come alive by and through each other, by and through our beautiful differences. I hope that ‘hope’ doesn’t come from looking up ever again, but from looking each other in the eyes/I’s. I hope we stand up inside our various languages with ferocious love and courage and that we aim for what matters in the world, whether or not anyone remembers our names. Let it be true that we wrote the world and each other back to life. Let that be the new book.

“We didn’t get here by accident. This is not a new brutality, it is a very old one, and every time it circles back around in a new form, we have to look again in the mirror and stand up differently ― writing can yet invent new forms of resistance and resilience in the face of brutality.

“And the wonder of that.

“And how this is our present tense calling.”