Red Potato

Sometimes, foxes pose for photographs beneath banners that spell out Happy Birthday.

Sometimes, it doesn’t even need to be your birthday to receive a relic from a corn goddess with hair made from coiled coconuts.

Sometimes, trees plant prayers inside their branches so if you sit beneath one long enough, you may start to understand the meaning of life.

Sometimes, you need to stop apologizing and just sing (even with eyes closed). It will feel like every single letter, misdirected or never written, suddenly arriving in your mailbox. And you will feel loved and listened and raw and cut-up and cut into and kissed all at once.

Sometimes, you need to confront. Tell a stranger that secret of what you did years 26 to 34. Dispose of your body behind a dumpster where you found that blue chair. Present a barely understandable presentation on the dissertation of your trauma. Call it something unpronounceable. See who remains.

Sometimes, you need to walk until enough blisters form to replicate the mountains you gaze up at. And you will trip over at least thirteen prairie dogs and leave half your hair in a bathroom no one uses just to see how closely people are paying attention.

On the back of a poem, there is a recipe called Red Potato.

Sometimes you wonder if life is a recipe and all of this (the tragic, the repent, the lies, the leftovers) are its ingredients. And the more you breathe, the better it tastes.


Rainbow of Crows

for Jules and Rebecca and Jessica (summoners of wisdom)


None of this was here before, yet I can’t remember what you looked like without. All the hair on your arms got burnt somehow by July or nocturnal angels. You can call that scar a footnote to the rest of you. It doesn’t have to be tragic or metaphorical. Like that time you swam over disconnected limbs and tried to imagine the shape they used to belong to.

None of this is because of you.

One of the hardest parts about leaving is the moon is never available for a one-on-one and when you try to dial its number, all you get are the sounds of birds’ wings crashing.

Like an applause. Like the milky rust of a stubborn teardrop. Like a heat rash on the part of your body billboards tell you to flatten. Like the horizon on a fingernail. Like what happens when you emerge from a corn maze and at the end, a rainbow of crows.

Rather than Emptying/a Continuance of Being Full

“As the Moon Sucks Their Genitals” -Max Wolf Valerio


Sometimes how it ends is just the beginning.

When you wait for your name to be mentioned, but miss it because they call you something else like Lightening or Midwestern Corn Goddess or Razorblade City Ranger or Beautiful.

Walk east toward the nearest post office and visit your employer, otherwise known as Mailbox. Fly words dripping of sandbox and confetti’d poems toward the ones you want to know you.

There is a place called Rabbit Mountain where the birds have the highest self-esteem and there are so many curls hiking up its lush that you are momentarily caught. And you remain. Longer than you usually do. Oh, how good that feels.

Here, you don’t even need money. Go visit the tiger lilies. Pick as many as your hunger desires and digest. See also: amaranth, pin cherry, purslane, bergamot, goat’s beard and yarrow.

You are so desperate to feel loved that you walk onto the internet and start swiping. You think you find the one. They call themselves The Moon. On your first date, they latch onto every part of you, one at a time. You drink satellite and 5 billion years old aged skin. It is an evening where you forget about all the times you tried to leave. The next morning, in its place, the sun.


A Summoning

Apparently, there is a portal inside me. I am not sure what it looks like or even smells like. How big it is or if there are windows.

I used to think there were squatters, dirty needles, unidentifiable graffiti in there. I used to think there were bed bugs and restraining orders and malnourished rats in there.

But that was yesterday.

Today, I feel like maybe I have been referencing the wrong alphabet. Did you know that you can curl your fingers like caterpillars into palms and summon your life? Did you know that all you need to do is ask for something? With unwavering voice, just ask.

I am afraid of stairs with open spaces, bridges with shaky, wooden boards, leeches, red dye 40 (cochineal), getting locked out, getting locked in, airborne contagion, unemployment, writer’s block, our government.

I am afraid of myself.

I am serving myself a subpoena.

It says: Stop being so frightened of living.

It says: Don’t be so afraid of the wild beast hibernating inside you.

It says: Start falling in love again.

I am looking for what I lost

You travel across a country you have mixed feelings about to a land-locked state that taught you how to love, introduced quinoa, kale, and other healthy stuff you hadn’t consumed before, and you crack open your neck in order to see over mountains you’re too afraid to climb.

Whenever you leave, you contemplate what family really means. If you hadn’t given them scars, would they still want to address you. If you didn’t have a title like sister, would you still want to share a meal, a secret, a favor.

When you are alone, you eat slower. You read a book instead of picking conversations from teeth. You listen to the sound of your meal; you call it music; a sloshing around of calories and digestive regrets.

You consider having an affair because that is what people do when they travel. Until you realize that this is the first time in your life love feels like a tent: roomy, warm, with dark sky view.

What you lost: weight. enough skin to make others worry. your hair (it came back). You lost the ability to pretend yourself away.

Here, the architecture of earth is brown, flat, clean(er). Drugs are sold by name-tagged humans. Garbages come in many flavors: compost, paper, plastic, and the rest of it.

It feels easier here, but remember you are on vacation. Remember you can say no to everyone.

Is it so much easier to lose than to find. It is far simpler to travel than remain. We are kinder to strangers than the ones we grew up with. In other words, keep looking.

Tonight! Performance in Boulder, Colorado!!!




j/j hastain  &  max wolf valerio 

&  rebecca diaz  & aimee herman


Trident Book shop is located at 940 Pearl St. / Boulder, CO

 max wolf valerio.jpg  Max Wolf Valerio is an iconoclastic poet and writer, and a long-transitioned man of transsexual history. A chapbook Animal Magnetism (eg press) appeared in 1984.  Recent works include a collaboration with photographer Dana Smith, Mission Mile Trilogy +1;  poems in the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books, 2013). His memoir, The Testosterone Files (Seal Press, 2006) was a Lambda Finalist for 2006, and a book of poems The Criminal: The Invisibility of Parallel Forces is forthcoming soon from EOAGH Books in NYC.

 j:j hastain.jpg   j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j simply hopes to make the God/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning cycles of the moon. j/j hastain is the inventor of The Mystical Sentence Projects and is author of several cross-genre books including the trans-genre book libertine monk (Scrambler Press)Apophallation Sketches (MadHat Press), Luci: a Forbidden Soteriology (Black Radish Books), The Non-Novels (Spuyten Duyvil) The Xyr Trilogy: a Metaphysical Romance of Experimental Realisms, and Priest/ess. j/j’s writing has recently appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Apasiology, Lunamopolis, Aufgabe, and Tarpaulin Sky.

 rebecca diaz.jpg   Rebecca Diaz graduated from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University. She grew up in rural Minnesota beside the Red Lake River (in the ugliest county in America) and it taught her almost everything she knows about life and writing. She is a poet and fiction writer whose work examines the tributaries of language, healing, and spiritual practice. She has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Loft Literary Literary Center in Minneapolis, Intermedia Arts Program for Emerging Writers, and has received support from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board.


 aimee herman.jpg   Aimee Herman is a queer performance artist, writer and teacher currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. Aimee has two full-length books of poems, meant to wake up feeling (great weather for MEDIA) and to go without blinking (BlazeVOX books), and has work featured in a range of journals and anthologies including Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics (Nightboat Books)  Aimee is also a singer/ukulele player in the poemusic band Hydrogen Junkbox.


(just) visiting?

You are in your body. The simplest sentence with the most complicated meaning. You are never in your body.

The room is packed full of spandex and sweat, prayer flags and meaningful art, tattoos and body hair. You kindly ask your muscles to wake, knowing they’ve been in a slumber for months (maybe years).

The teacher begins with Mary Oliver and you realize you are in the right place at the right time for the first time in over four years.

Oliver wrote, “When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder/if I have made of my life something/particular, and real./I don’t want to find myself sighing and/frightened,/or full of argument./I don’t want to end up simply having visited/this world.”

Whenever you do yoga, it’s like you are on a first date with your body. You are tentative, yet bold. You want to push, you want to run away with this body that is suddenly impressing you, you want to hide.

The teacher reminds you to breathe. You wonder how long it has been since you’ve let your lungs free.

You contemplate the particularities of your life. Are you just visiting? What is the shape of it? How involved are you, really? Are you just visiting?

So you empty your pockets. Words fall out and you decide to create a cut-up of your meandering thoughts. Your brain is like a puzzle and you’ve been wondering for years if one piece is missing.

You think about that young person you saw yesterday, her arms covered in travel stamps. You feel dizzy trying to conjure up where you are actually from, where home is, the antonym of visitor.

When the class is over, your eyes are blurry. Your entire being feels wrung out. You run into someone you used to know when you used to be someone else. She tells you she has absolutely nothing to complain about. You want to ask her what it feels like to feel this way.

Maybe you are just visiting. Maybe you have never left. Maybe you have never remained.

Later, you walk into the rain and feel the drench of mountain juice on your skin, as the sky turns fourteen shades of blue and green and it feels like a song you used to sing or one you’ve been thinking about writing.