for Virginia.

photograph by Trae Durica

photograph by Trae Durica

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.

day 2: silence the silent treatment

To be wild is to make honesty primal, to not edit out the smell of spit and smoke and the street fruit. To be wild is to let my body levitate when you look at me the right way, when you hit me hard on the street, to be my mouth or my fists, or both—probably both. The wild don’t build fences; we let the worms and ivy and rats and love in.”   ……..Thomas Page McBee

Dear New York City,

So…..I am giving up on my silent treatment. I think we should talk. I think we should take a walk around Prospect Park and see if this relationship can be saved. Remember that time I collapsed against your sidewalk in Brooklyn and you stole my chapstick. And you took some of my blood and you shattered my chin, New York. And that beautiful woman took me to the hospital and nursed away my wounds. New York, it was all your noise which brought on my hysteria. And why is everything here so expensive and small?

Hold my hand. Let’s remember that time you led me into that sweet nap as I rested on thick tree trunk, collapsed onto grass. And when I woke, you surprised me with three turtles basking in the water beside me. You were trying to hint that you can be a hippie too.

I don’t mean to be so mad at you all the time. It’s just that sometimes your smells are less romantic and the fumes of urine and waste carve their way into me. It is difficult to escape.

You hate eye contact, New York, which I have a difficult time with. I want you to hold my gaze. Can you do that just this once?

New York, I am going to try not to think of other cities when I am with you. It’s unfair and doesn’t allow me to be present. I can’t truly be yours if I am longing for another.

Your rats will always frighten me. But your graffiti reminds me to be unafraid to look up and around. Art is everywhere. And you never cease to amaze.

Don’t let go of my hand, OK? Let’s give this another round.

the plants are clumsy but in this light, there are enough travelers to call this a formation of music.

photo by marina MArina.

photo by marina MArina.

This city beats its traffic into us. Of course you would call it percussion and I might call it a thunderbolt of forests parading like a holiday of bark and moss. The light caught me at an angle of sobriety and solitude. You never knew me when I was aggressive with my liver. You wouldn’t have liked me when I handcuffed my ankles to strangers and removed my gender in order to survive days. After you left, I noticed a human reading “The Bell Jar” on the 4 train heading back to Brooklyn. I wanted to ask her if it was her first time or fifth and if I had approached her, I might have mentioned that the last time I read it, I tried to kill myself. I am not a fan of warnings or patterns, so I watched her and read along, wondering what risk we were taking. All of this reverb causes my skin to faint into the shadows napping behind my veins. Some of us engage in an annual faint. I’ve fallen once and now I prop myself up against borrowed guitars or humans tall enough to climb my heels away from concrete in order to reach the weather in the sky.

home – o sweet home – o

dear brick and streaked wooden / dear ghostly walk-up / dear burnt-up confessional / dear stacked & sturdy studio

Yesterday, I house hunted for a closet called one bedroom and memorized the view of pigeons scooping out their yawns.

Fifteen years ago, I lost hand-carved flip lighter with built in gasoline pump off drunk roof from drunk fingers forcing it to its death.

Six years ago, a grove with fern and paw prints.

Four years ago, composted meals from seeds stuck together like bodies birthing roots.

Two years ago, an addict and his blood replaced paint and refuge. Dripped his skinny breaths into wallets and extracted. Thirty-seven poems stolen and money from an occurrence better left undeclared.

Twenty years ago,  a swimming pool and barbecue and built-in-family before the fracture. A bedroom painted purple where screams suffocated behind hoarded pill bottles and there was blood here too — wiped before it could be unraveled.

Five days ago, I built a callus on my pointer finger from strumming invisible songs. My wrist grew phantoms from the reverberations of rhythm.

Thirty years ago, my words were less ruptured and gender was a word existing decades later in a way that would wind my hair in circulatory patterns & cause my body to feel puzzled and unglued.

Tomorrow, I will twist my ankles like a cursive Q and there may be a teardrop so big and illuminating it resembles a disco ball and yes, it rotates down face and into the first crease it catches.

Right now, all I need is this ink and enough bricks to keep me warm and if closets are big enough to hold my breaths–full-figured and agoraphobic, then I can live here. Amidst the crowd. The graffiti steam. The urine and judgements like chain mail. Window-less views of obstructed earth. I can do this.

dear sun-dried cinder and spikes/ dear brownstone beauty / dear stained glass glare / dear exercise regime of fourth-floor climb / dear new york / dear new jersey / dear borrowed bedrooms/ dear denver / dear nooks where sleep existed beside against and alone / let me know when I am home. 


home is where is where is where?

(for adam)

A jackhammer in the distance and I turn the music up. Everywhere, urine reminds me that not everyone has a home to piss in and sometimes we need to sit inside that. Home is cramped, shared living space with mice and mold.

Home is pigeons professing poetry against my window. Home is underground and scraped sky and art painted on brick walls, dripping. And when I am here, I am away or want to be or need to be. And I’ve tried to run away for three decades searching for this home inscribed on greeting cards and etched on doorways. But within me is a vagrant and I am searching for the address hidden inside my body.