what it means to be a pro

I sat. Every week for two months in a room which was home to a university I wish I had gone to. I stared at other humans who shared the rhythm of my story. At one time, we had all been in similar rooms, moving our bones in similar ways. And for these weeks, I wrote.

I wrote about parking garages; I wrote about love; I wrote about sex; I wrote about gender. I wrote about writing these snapshots out of me. My words became the strongest bar of soap, cleaning me out.

People want to know what it means to be a writer. What it means to call myself other sometimes. What it means to say non-pro. What it means to be a poet. What it means to be queer. What it means to be human what does it mean to be human.

For all of these, I am still figuring it out.

At the end of our time together in this intimate workshop, we gathered up our pages and they magically (with the help of many talented folks) grew a spine, table of contents, ISBN and a title. Our words birthed itself into a book.

pros(e) was published through the Red Umbrella Project. These are (some) of our stories.

So I’m in a book, does that make me a pro? I meet people everyday, some I actually talk to. Some I just breathe in through observation and eavesdropping. I digest their stories and the sounds of their bones cracking into sentences and songs. Their bodies are books without the blatant table of contents and index. We are all pros just from moving each day.

You crack a part of your body open and blood arrives and a wound and scar and all that is a chapter. You fall in love with someone you weren’t supposed to but it happens and each day you kiss, you slam paintings and orchestral music into each other’s mouths. This becomes a prologue or interlude or footnotes.

We are all books. We are all writers. The words have stained us and some choose to leave smudges alone, while other’s choose translation. Regardless, the words exist.

So…..write it. Or blow it into an instrument. Or smear it onto a stretched canvas. Or cook it into a meal. Or impregnate it into your lover’s body. Or fold it into a paper airplane and send it on over this way.

where to find your breath

First, remove city clothes. Jacket. Scarf. Jeans. Shirts. Socks. Breathe.

Look at clock. It is early. You are early. Aren’t you always early. Grab borrowed mat and walk back downstairs. Choose position. Toward back and to the left. You always tend to take this spot. Fold knees and stretch bones a little. Breathe.

The people start arriving. Teacher introduces himself to you. He is a he. Tall and soft. You notice the others. Older and younger. Curved and skinny. You are surrounded. A cocoon of stretchers. Breathe.

The music begins and it’s not moans or harmonium hums. You notice this track from the radio. When class begins, the pop songs twist into something more traditional and the elongation of body / mind has begun. Breathe.

He tells you to hold this position and look in front of you. You notice. You notice the woman right in front of you with sheer leggings and thong and you feel dirty and like an impostor and everyone else is in the moment of their bodies and you…you are mesmerized by the body of this other. You don’t belong here. Breathe.

You are a warrior amidst the dirty thoughts swirling in your mind and there is no room for a hard-on in yoga class. Cut it out. Twist to the other side. Blur your eyes. Do not look. Practice mindfulness. Practice restraint. Breathe.

You are getting warmer. From inside the sweat, find anguish, wrung out. Find sadness. The grey. The longing. The mourn. Downward dog into plank pose and you are hardening. That is called strength. That is called resilience. This is the time you often get weepy. Allow whatever surfaces to color your thoughts. You are yellow. You are burnt orange. You are lime-green. You are charcoal. Breathe.

The lights are going to sleep now and it is darker. He instructs you to lay your body down, slowly. With intention. Palms up to the sun that waits for you outside behind night sky. Let bones rest into the earth beneath the concrete and brick and subways and filth. The soil exists beneath all of this. You are soil. You are of this earth. Breathe.

You want to cry now because you have slowed down your day enough to do this. To take your body out, remove its layers, be vulnerable amidst other mindful humans. You’ve let go of worrying about being one of them. You are not wearing the same costume as them, but beneath the cotton you are all the same. Just skin. Skeleton. Construction of bones. The woman in front of you is flat on her back and her exposed panties are hidden. You forgive yourself for your dirty thoughts, stained only by your own self-judgement. He instructs you to slowly move to your right side and then lift your body up into a sitting pose. Palms up once again. Eyes remain closed, watching the darkness within yourself. The rooms. The memories. The flashes of time clocked inside your limbs. You chant and notice the extra room in your lungs. You bow to the earth, to him, to the woman, to the others who shared this space with you. You bow to your body that is weakened but holding on to strength in this moment. You bow to this space. You let go. Breathe.

for cause of disturbance to lower half of body, see page 394

They’ve begun to run.

Run. Body.
Spandex. Body.
Make a mix tape to scream away those pounds. Body.

Winter wrangles air like an aggressive lover. Ties up ankles and wrists and blows frozen exhales against chin & tongue & earlobes. Whatever is exposed will be taken advantage of out here.

Wallets get stuffed into lockers the size of tin lunchboxes/ while the humans rummage around in rooms where bicycles leave no tire marks/ but miles may be reached just from heavy pedaling.

At this age, I am afraid of breaking a hip.
At this age, I worry the sound of my worrying will frighten the young ones away.

They’ve begun to run.

Because December offers too many options for pie and meat comes in so many different flavors and what are belts for but to encourage adjustments and tomorrow? Tomorrow there will be a cleanse. No dirty foods allowed.

They have begun to run.

See the ones with tattoos over scar marks like shark gills.
These lines are how my breaths escape. These lines are my coordinates. These lines are so I don’t forget what’s inside me.

Oh. Body.
Check out that Blood Clot, aggressively bold and voluptuous.
Check out the Gender Peculiarities on that one. Rub against the blur.
Suffocation through trauma? See pages 91-773

Spill homes into center of floor. Dance.

They have begun to dance. See?

Place do not disturb sign against ribcage or a little lower. A little lower. Lower than that. Lower. Create an infection from dissection of cracks. Of streaks. Of discolored disfigurations. There will be there will be a sequel to this bone structure.

Sneak preview: starvation
Sneak preview: a disrobe.
Sneak preview: an amputation or a haircut.
Spoiler alert: relapse.
Choose your own adventure: an experiment with sexuality.
Cliffnotes: Human runs away the sad off body. Eight marathons just to sweat off ages eleven through sixteen. An addiction to corporate-sponsored-spandex. Diet consisting of sharps and monsters. Socially networked social life. Silence. Harassment of fevers.

Advancement of education or mind bruises into a larger size.

Remark on the gratification of filth.
Cite your sources.
Utilize footnotes.
Keep running.
Or dance.
Include works cited page.
What about a table of contents.
See page. See page. See Body.
Run. Body.
Hide. Body.
Suck.It.In. Body.

For cause or reason for irritation, note all of the above.

no words left but cold

All evening, The Body grew confused. Throat swelled into a shape difficult for swallowing. Imagine augmenting mouth to take in the height of the moon; its diameter is daunting. Prepare for sores to grow where lips tear. Tongue will grow spotted like endangered hunter, torn up from predator cells.

Voice got lost somewhere inside the wind. This hurricane is bony and battered. Its turned on by shrieks and the murmur of shredded roots. This is happening too quickly.

Nose remembers fuel forced inside it on those days all those years and when music came wrapped up in plastic, plates became square with liner notes. Oh there was red and blood burrowed inside tissues inside pockets and eyes lost their meaning and oh sleep hid in dresser drawers. Now nose is crowded and where is the exit sign and when cartilage crumbles what is left.

A human boils water flavored by vegetables, stolen from soil and alphabetized on grocery shelves. Human shaped as wo(man breathing out bits of masculine and indulging in the aroma of all of it feeds The Body slowly using chest as cutting board to lean against. Human inhales sick body cold body bloodstream of coughsniffcoughblowsniffsniffdrip. Behind every swallow is an orgasm or sensation of humbled skin shaking like an aged car part. Chills whisper all over Body and its temperature is winter’d summer or autumn’d spring what does it matter it is moody.

Sip up the powders and pills and medicinal suppers meant to induce drowsiness and memory loss. This Body is barely breathing but when it does oh it kind of sounds like tire wheels or asthmatic paper.

No words no words no words no words but it is cold here but it is lonely in this Body covered in spasms and fatty disease. What is the complaint. What is there to inhale that has not been experimented on. What is the necessity to take in earth when all that is left is contagion.

stretchmarks may be used as rulers when stranded in hardware store

How aware are we of what happens below our mouths? Below our chins? Beyond neck….past collarbones….the sloped hill of our bodies….how closely are we paying attention to the quiet language of our skin…are you in need of an appointment…when was the last time you had a pap smear, colonoscopy, have you recently had a stroke you were unaware of…is your eyesight blurry…how many taste buds can you decipher…are there strange sores around your mouth…how scratchy is your throat or belly…are you eating enough…check your scalp…check the calluses on your feet…are your heels cracked…smell your wrists/ do you detect an infection…how frightened are your roots…do your ankles swell…check your std/ has it flared again…how heavy are your bones in the morning…are your knees cracking…have your shoulders curled inward…what color is your urine…how often do you pee…what color was your skin last month and how does it compare to today…are you tracking your menstruation…how many pairs of underwear did you ruin from your blood…how often do you bleed…is it thin…what is your diet…how often do you walk away…how many sexual partners have you consumed/ are there stains…what is beneath your fingernails…what are your habits…how often do you consume coffee cocaine prescription pills alcohol…are you addicted to consumption…how many stitches have you received…have you removed all your cavities…what do you mean you don’t have health insurance…is your liver shaking…what swells inside you…have you filled out the paperwork…how crooked is your spine…what is your income do you have income…are your knuckles exposed…state your family history of diseases…what are you previous diagnoses…are you taking any medication…do you have frequent nose bleeds…what is the minimum you can pay out of pocket…how often are you out of breath…list three emergency contacts…have you signed a waiver…does anyone know you are here…who will drive you home…how often do you feel this way…who is your primary care doctor…sit still…stop crying…is there someone you can call…you are going to need to fill out some more paperwork…what is your mother’s maiden name…why are you crying…do you understand what this means…do I need to call in an interpreter…how long have you been feeling this way…

determine the need for cross pollination

Bones. Fat. Veins. Scar. Scratch. Roots. Mother. Remnant. Scar. Flaw. Fat. Wrinkle. Liar. Homo. Thighs. Daughter. Hazel. Curls. Knots. Scar. Fat. Fondled. Wrinkle. Knuckles. Belly. Fat. Callus. Flaw. Hurt. Angry. Scar. Scar. Scar.

things to do
things to think
things to catalogue

perhaps an appointment must be made to regulate blood cycle
hair growth in hard to reach places
interruptive coughing sprees
and that lump

how fat is fat is fat so fat

photo by francesca woodman

photo by francesca woodman

when you notice my fat fat fat
fondle it
suck out its glycerine and
use as lubricant


it is spring now and trees end their monthly rotation of nudity in honor of yellow leaves, sap and wind