and don’t forget to exercise

Apparently, my body is changing.

Years ago, things I ate disappeared upon final bite, whereas now, the weight of what I eat lingers against particular parts of my body. My eating habits really haven’t changed, but I am unapologetic of what I ingest (my body / my choice) though I am a fairly “healthy” eater.

I crave farmer’s markets and the vegetables they sell with soil still stitched to their rind. I crave quinoa and brown rice and avocado and peanut butter. I yearn for meat sometimes and always bread. I love cake and rainbow cookies and chocolate. I don’t really have restrictions and diet-er is a word I’d never want to label myself, in addition to heterosexual or republican.

I am aware of the bones hidden beneath thick layers of loose skin. I don’t really need them to jut out to remind me they are there.

My memory is ruptured, though I am quite sure there was a time my belly was perfectly flat and I had no cellulite or stretchmarks or what is commonly referred to as a “spare tire”. That time can also be referred to as as years 0 through 11.

Billboards of women reveal hipbones and breasts so perfectly erect and elevated. There are no hangnails or beauty marks moles or calluses on toes or oversized labia or crooked, coffee-stained teeth or pimples.

We are inundated with smooth, tiny, emaciated, bony, and breathless.

So I hide what I’ve got until I realize I have to show it to let others know what else exists.

One of my breasts is slightly larger or smaller than the other and my toes are long (they have been described by lovers as monkey-like) and I am a scar covered in body I have many scars and when I smile, some of my teeth are crooked and I don’t have a six-pack or a two-pack or any resemblance of a container of defined belly and I have cellulite behind my thighs and sometimes 1 or 2 hairs grow on my tits and I wonder why they choose that spot and my ears are large and my earlobes are meaty and and and and

I didn’t forget to exercise, I just choose to write poems instead.

an engagement with apologies

I’m sorry to arrive at a rumor with exposed fascia and crutches.
I’m sorry I’ve grown an aversion to the scent of your voice.
I’m sorry I ate the leftovers of oxygen and sewing needles.
I’m sorry for the grey intruding on my red and the need to bleach bleach bleach.
I’m sorry my knee is unwashed yet eloquent in its demand for summarized empathy.
I’m sorry you feel the need to hide your diet of dairy, gluten and cardboard boxes.
I’m sorry I still think of you right as I’m about to fake an orgasm.
I’m sorry the tree outside my window has faded posture and sap envy.
I’m sorry about the time I asked you to stop loving me at a diner in Western Massachusetts and that song came on that often infiltrated 80’s movies and then you handed me a bag of all the things I ever gave you minus that anthology of Latin American literature.
I’m sorry those people got stabbed on the J train.
I’m sorry about all those scars you find distracting on my forearms and the invisible ones on my hips.
I’m sorry about your fear of heights, spiders and middle aged white men.
I’m sorry you only call me when it’s a holiday.
I’m sorry about that time.
I’m sorry about your childhood.
I’m sorry I snuck inside your evening, stole a piece of your smile and left the reek of my secrets.
I’m sorry it had to end that way.
I’m sorry it hasn’t quite ended.
I’m sorry your beard distracted me & the way your small hands didn’t approach me made me want to approach you.
I’m sorry my gender confuses you.
I’m sorry I prefer sports bras to push up and itch.
I’m sorry I think about my vibrator when you touch me.
I’m sorry about preservatives and peanut allergies.
I’m sorry you’re sick.
I’m sorry you feel the need to document everything to remind people you are alive.
I’m sorry I stopped speaking to you.
I’m sorry you hate me in that way.
I’m sorry dogs don’t live longer than humans.
I’m sorry stamp prices went up.
I’m sorry your train was delayed.
I’m sorry your coffee wasn’t warm enough.
I’m sorry I didn’t come.
I’m sorry you don’t get my poetry.
I’m sorry you thought I was interested.
I’m sorry you took the time to read this.

You are gluten free; I am eating books now.

My tongue is coated in recycled paper cuts and I’ve grown accustomed to indigestion upon reaching the final pages.

You search labels, count calories, drive ten extra miles to catch the bakery on the corner that uses coconut flour and sugar substitutes. I remain still in this corner of the earth chewing like a rabid monster as chapters slip into my mouth and sentences slide down my throat.

You have diagnosed yourself with celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and a wheat allergy. I have diagnosed myself as a glutton for fatty words.

You are okay with corn, tapioca, rice, potatoes. Sometimes you use nut flour or quinoa. You dream about amaranth and millet. I am fine with Bukowski, Sexton, Acker, Delany. Sometimes I take a break from novels and poems, and read non-fiction. I dream about hybrid prose and Lidia Yuknavitch.

You do not wear lipstick. However. You investigate mouths before you kiss them for signs of gluten in lipbalmlipgloss. You leave your envelopes open for fear of its gluten glue. You fear you fear you fear cross contamination. I do not wear lipstick. However. Sometimes I push it into my lips like a bully and then I kiss the table of contents because I want the wax and emollients to leak into the elipses leading to page numbers. I leave my zipper open for easier access when I’m enthralled.

You just finished your meal of gluten free bread full of rice and legumes and almonds and xanthum gum and corn starch and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. I just finished a memoir about water a memoir about testosterone a novel about how he lost her a book of poems about crossing borders a memoir about sex work. You need a napkin to wipe your mouth; I need another bookshelf.

What does it mean to be human?

“Camping Memories – Role Swap In The Shadow Of The Narrow Gate”, 45 × 72 cm, iron etching, printed from two black and one and one color plates next to each other, 2011 by Tibor Egyed. 


I awake to snow on rooftops and a skull swelling with head ache. My body is demonstrating against myself. In the night, someone must have pressed their fists against my thoughts. They leaked all over my bed. Through my sheets. Into my mattress. Ruminations stain the seams of sewed fabric. Even my pillows got drenched. What is my body trying to tell me?

I read an article by the comedian, Roseanne Barr, and she tells me to stop complaining about the size of my body. She writes, “Half the world is starving; the other half is trying to lose weight…Blabbing about weight loss is disrespectful to hungry people.” We are approaching resolution time and I am guilty of crafting lists longer than my legs, forcing out promises I often break before the end of the first month. People go on cleanses to prove that they can, but I wonder what would happen if we left our refrigerators outside as a communal offering. There would be no rotting fruit, forgotten and eventually thrown away. Nothing would go to waste because there is always someone out there who will eat what you won’t.

I am going to forego my list this year and just…LIVE. Instead of writing down:

Go to a museum
Bike around Prospect Park
Knit a scarf
Bake bread
Call someone I haven’t spoken to in over a year
Make art
Lose weight

I will just DO these things without announcement, without paper commitment.

What does it mean to be human?

I am bloody and burned and bloated and bewildered. I contemplate and procrastinate and waste and waste and waste. I complain and contribute and conspire and forget. I mess up and I’m messy.

With just a few weeks left of this year, I meditate on these months that have passed. What has been written, read, seen, heard and learned. Without a list, I am boundless now.

And I will honor my body in realistic ways. When it feels heavier, I will give it time to move slowly and hug away its insecurities. Nudity is best when it is given space to be honest. There will be no more sucking in in my future.

Being human is to just commit to being in this. Inclusive of the sad, the overwhelm, the moments where you just want to live outside the body. Like love, it wavers. And I am guilty of this.

Barr says, “Start from within.” I can do this.

an unapologetic ode to food and bellies

notice the way stomach retreats like a hushed prisoner for over two hours and the way that hurts skin’s feelings

A woman walks on stage where even the microphone has a cup holder and she tells a story about her lifelong love affair with cake. Even when she speaks this word, her lips walk further away from her teeth, which part like you hope your lover’s thighs will, and you realize this is more than gluttony; this is true desire. The large, rectangular speaker hangs just above her to the left, projecting each word, which is never a whisper. She is not impersonating a vegan, nor bragging about how her latest cleanse makes her feel even more alert. She is emptying out her pockets, pressing hollow wrappers to the wooden stage. Calling out calorie counts like mathematical poems.

Her belly is soft. Not that I touched it. Not that I was close enough to brush against it. But the way her cotton shirt rubbed up against her stomach allowed me to see its suppleness. I realize I look at bellies a lot. I look at a lot of things, but especially this part which has never been soldier-like for me: firm, regimented and tough. My belly is more like a toddler: squirming and fidgety. It has never been flat, but I’ve also never had a routine to push it into a different shape.

I have a memory of kissing a woman many women and as hands move toward my stomach, it suddenly becomes a turtle, retreating inward. I become king multi-tasker as I pay attention to the language of our tongues swirling and breath bending and skin melting, while waiting for that moment of her hand against my…

This is the moment where I suck it in. All of my breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The snacks and desserts. The second helpings. The late night binges. The sneaky spoonfuls. And as I find somewhere else to put my belly she says:

Why are you doing that? Let it out.

And I wonder if her noticing means she does it too?

There are certain parts of our body that society wants to be flat, while other parts are asked to be rounded out. And I want to request a recall of these expectations.

I, too, like cake. And when I go to a restaurant I like to look at the dessert menu first to see what I am working towards. When I am eating a meal, I am often thinking about the next one. I do believe we have set too many boundaries on eating.

Boundaries…expectations…constraints… harassments…obsessions.

Maybe we just need to talk about it more.

When this woman told her story, I laughed because it felt like mine.

What happens from birth to the beyond-years where food becomes some kind of enemy or the friend that you are really close to, then get jealous of and start gossiping about and then ignore and then lose contact with. What I mean to say is: we aren’t I’m not being honest here. I’ve got some food issues. I’ve got an eating disorder or, disordered eating. There is some chaos in my body, in my eating habits, in the ways in which I qualify my meals.

Maybe we I just need to leave my belly where it is.

* * *

utilize flaps of skin like extra pockets to place grocery lists and recipes

memorize the texture of cellulite
bounce of kernels
un-popped beneath skin