shopping for facial hair.

(photographs by/of Ana Mendieta)

We sit on a saturday in a part of brooklyn where farmers gather and, with coffee and crushed-up pretzels on our breath, we shop for facial hair. You wonder what it will be like when yours grows in; I wonder what it will feel like against me.

There are men with six o’clock shadows at noon and there are men with beards long enough to braid or bunch up into knots called dreadlocks. There are men with grey stuck to their dark. There are short ones and red ones. There are beard/moustache combinations. There are intricate moustaches that curl up and those which curl downward.

I gaze at the hairs you’ve got, the ones I’ve named, the ones I’ve poem’d about.

We sit on a bed sheet in the middle of brooklyn bridge park on a thursday where humans wait for outdoor movie to begin and, with ice cream and curried popcorn on our breath, we shop for facial hair. You wonder if yours will have interruptions of silver like you’ve got against your scalp; I wonder what it will be like to kiss you with new texture against your skin.

There are thick ones and beards like confetti sprinkled over cheeks. There are hipster beards and shadows of ones still growing. Facial hair becomes like cloud formations for us, as we search for images we see in each one.

I shop for chests. Wonder what it could be like to have a shirt that fits me exactly the way I long for–without intrusion of curve below collarbone. Men take off their shirts this time of year and we lust after the shape we desire on ourselves.

We point to the ones with slight musculature. I notice variations of nipples and ones with hair like a standing ovation all over chest. I tell you that maybe one day I’d like to have that one or that one. You tell me that however my body exists, I’ll be just as handsomely beautiful.

We sit on a concrete bench not too far from the chanting Hare Krishnas on a wednesday in manhattan and, with pickles and no-sugar-added sour cherry juice on our breath, we shop for our gender, ripening against our bones. You tell me that tomorrow, if I decided to wear a dress, you’d look at me just the same.

With our painted toe nails from that time we sugared our tongues with rainbow ices beside neighbor’s garden, we search the crowd for others like us. The ones experimenting with all the ways in which one could exist.

sometimes we forget the ways in which we dent this earth

For Dan.
The Cuban-American performance artist, Ana Mendieta thrust her  bones into the earth to see what shapes she could make with the weight of her.

I often think about indents. I think about the ways in which we impact others or others impact us. How often do we actually speak up and share the ways in which our shape is changed by others.

When I am deeply moved by another, I tend to fill my lungs with silence. I exhale seizured language (shaky and discombobulated).

At a recent open mic, I was moved by the openness of a poet that seemed as though they literally dug into the crumbles of their scars and transcribed and transcribed. I opened my green notebook and began haunting the lines with language influenced by another. I should have told them how they moved me. How I wanted to turn off the microphone after they read because I just didn’t want the reverberations from their sound to be interrupted by another. I should have mentioned to them that it is so difficult to say how impact arrives.

It kind of feels like a dent. Like a gasp of life, bruising.

If you call yourself creative, then it’s fair to say that you’ve gotten roughed up a bit in life. It is in these spots of pain that often creates the surges of inspiration within someone.

This is why it is so necessary to say to another: you move(d) me. Thank you for existing with ink in your fingers and loose paper by your side. 

how do you exist

I enter into a classroom built by a prison-enthusiast. The shape of our learning today is circular and I stare into the faces of students with my forearm on their desks.

Intimacy is defined by the reveal of first time of menstruation and the ways in which I handle my sad.

I explain to a young warrior, with periwinkle-dipped fingernails and a mind with more stories than hours in the day to recount, that amidst all this sadness, there is beauty.

There are footprints, which follow me everywhere. Between the toes, sand. The sound of heels against Brooklyn pavement, like shells crushing toward a new formation. I can only dwell on the grey for so long, then I fondle the magic of life around me.

I’ve let go of the pills. There are none in my wardrobe and my pockets are empty of anything sharp, outside of keys that allow me entrance into safe buildings.

But sometimes I do think of gathering up handfulls of incantations that end in the illumination of my shadow looming.

“How do you exist?”

“How do you love/ how do you know to love?/ how to know when love is safe enough to sit inside and remain?”

/ / /

Allow time each day to cry. For the length of one pop song or three television commercials or a bike ride from one part of (insert place) to another.

Regard emotions as friendly reminders that you are still breathing, still existing, still searching.

Love tastes best when it is delicately placed on collarbones or shoulders. You can feel it by the way it makes everything around you seem like a Broadway version of life: glittery, loud with bodies dancing to the rhythm of language, musical.

Remain. Not because others ask you to, but because there are way too many poems (songs, stories, paintings, thoughts, sounds, movements) still birthing their way out of you to leave.

how to feel.

How thick is this noise and will it moisturize the pain in my throat which gasps and splices me into tiny jagged selves.

I feel like this:

photograph by Ana Mendieta


as I listen to the northern forests of Canada

And I contemplate fingers thrusting against guitar strings, which are far less demanding than humans.

There is nothing left to feel, so dig shadows out from inside wall and learn the coordinates of conversational spackle.

I have memorized your day. The weather is beaded and sweaty. How much smaller can we insist our talk to be?

How about amused. Can I feel amused.

I’d like to feel devoured. Can I feel devoured.

Will you write a poem with me/ will you sit beside my scars and tell me about the last time you wept due to the brilliance of semi-colons and peanut butter sandwiches/ ask me to sing you to sleep even though I forget the words/ remember that dessert carries far more importance to my day and ask me out for a supper of ice-cream/ make love to me on bed of New York Times and let’s see what happens when the ink exchanges mediums/ ask me about my day before it begins/

I’d like to feel sober. Can I feel sober.

No: I’d like to feel heard. Are you listening.