day 10: body as a project

The following is from a project I took part in called Body Stories. I was asked to free write about my body. This is what fell out.

You can click on the link below to listen. Also, the transcript is below as well.
Is Zero a NumberTranscription

Is there such a thing as fat free? And what are the good fats and is my fat good fat? Only when I was a baby, was my fat caressed and ok’d. My mother unfolded my layers before bath time to reach my folded skin. When I was in middle school she told me someday I’d reach 100 pounds and that is when everything remains. Stretchmarks. Cellulite. Things are looser now and how far along are the muscles? Big is too big and small is not small enough. MATH: Zero is not a number is zero a number? I am recognizing reflections in my skin. Nineteen years of age. Twenty-six. Thirty-two. I eat what my body tells me to. Not NY Times diet trends or my mother or lovers. My belly is schizophrenic and sometimes I am ok with these voices and sometimes I want to starve it away. Girdle it gone. So now I am thirty-four and my thighs are blurry and layered with guilt and years and I am in search of a mirror that that not mislead me. Today I am nude longer—ok in my hair and dryness and flabby and the flesh that refuses to harden. All of this is comforting. There was a time I think maybe I wanted to hide so I added more. What is left? I am a chalkboard of rejected menus—dust still soaking the air, reminding me what I’ve tried, attempted, lost track of. Scars. Scars. Here. Over here. Beneath here. And the worst are the invisible ones. And the worst ones are the ones that have been here the longest—birthed new ones—scars’ offspring. I am my body’s bully. At this age, my mother just reminds me to eat as though I’ll forget. She always wants to know what I am having for supper—maybe because it has been so long since we have had it together. Her body is my future body is her body my future? Diabetes. High cholesterol. Thyroid issues. Sad skin. Medicated, depressed skin. Liver spots and aged neck. And this is my future? If my body came from hers, is that my future?

I never grew up in a house where it was all about, “You must look a certain way,” but, in a really normal way, if we gained or lost weight, it was acknowledged. Everything in our cabinets was fat-free, or sugar-free – diet everything. My mom was in Weight Watchers for a time, and my sister was in Weight Watchers for a time, and that’s how it was. When I was growing up, and I was starting to create all of these scars on my body, then I became so embarrassed of my body and I never showed it. And so, for me, my body’s story is that I have scars on my arms, and they’re not going to go away. In a way, I think it’s important that I still see these scars because they’re a part of me, and they remind me of where I was at one point, and where I’m really not. Our bodies are evolving. They don’t stop. It’s like shedding skin. We’re shedding all over the place and it’s kind of beautiful.

we arrived in this naked

There is no idea but to cover up or clarify how those folds got there.

And if belly is soft then explain that a baby once grew inside it or if breasts lack complacency, make sure to convince them that it’s from feeding or genetics. Or lie about exercise regime or explain that work hours overlap possibility of sit-ups or weight lifts.

Bodies are like snowflakes are like fallen secrets pressed against windows are like reflections are like sharp implements are like dangerous exaggerations are like predators.

And in a room full of humans, take note of the shapes that take shape within the shape of a space.

Ninety-degree angles and triangular justifications and octagons and rectangles and its been awhile since my body existed inside a classroom where numbers were examined but I’m quite sure there is a reason for all these symbols and figures to differ.

I disrobe and replace mirror with an audience / distract eyes with poetry so stretchmarks are an afterthought.

But don’t all our bodies stretch and without those marks couldn’t we assume that body as one of static…no movement…no evolution of self?

It’s ok that you notice the blurry lines on my body. The ones beside the scars. The ones that arrived as I arrived into my bones.

We all began as nudes. As empty. As exotic folds. Put away your irons and embrace the wrinkles and grooves.

Clothes are just an accessory; what whispers underneath is the truth of beauty.

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.

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.

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.

violent receptacle of speech


I’m not the _________________________ you think I am.

Does this hairstyle make me look fat does this fat make me look fat?

I’m ruined.

The past is too present in my future.

Don’t touch me where I’m not perfect (don’t touch me).

I deserved it.

The scars are a reminder of who I was am.

Whose experience is this?

If you judge me because of my past then you need to judge my present.

How can I be a feminist and still hate myself?

How can I be an atheist and still believe in something?

If you want to love me, turn off the lights and turn my volume down.

Cough out memory and press chalk around discharge to warn others of the imprinted trauma.

Ever regret an animal? Ever regret eating an animal? Ever regret being treated like an animal?

I fall in love with shadows because they don’t talk back.

I am ready to cut again.

I have a fetish for language and food.

When you called me a bitch, I wanted to bite my fingernail off and use it as a disposable knife to cut your ignorance out.

I am afraid of men.

I am afraid of white men.

I am afraid of middle aged white men.

I can tell you aren’t listening.

Screams are not enough to save the dying.

I thought I deserved that disease.

I want to know who I caught it from.

I think I know who I caught it from.

My body is a stain too resilient for bleach.

I think I’ll just follow my shadow home and see where it leads me.

remove all curtains: breaths are meant to be fatty and uncoiled.

A full-figured tree pushes its belly out at me outside tallest window in Brooklyn. I am gaining weight as though it is an Olympic sport. The threads of my underwear have come undone and each strand has become like a hair tickling my inner thighs. What are these monsters loitering against my chest. You call them breasts; I call them heavy and without wisdom.

Go on. Attach yourself to either one and drain out its mass.

A young woman in my class tells me she prefers being fat. She is far happier without bones scratching against subway seats. I notice the way I have been sucking in my stomach for over two hours and the way that hurts my skin’s feelings.

Breakfast does not have to occur only once in a day. I eat until I get it right. Supper is consumed three times.

When a woman brings me a small box of salted caramels in the late evening, I take small bites. When she is gone, I eat the rest and sleep against the contrast of sweet and salted stains upon my lips.

Let go of my nipples; instead, please bite into my hips. They are far meatier and less confused about whether or not they should really be there.

My diet consists of eating food.

I dream. Last night, I could not lift my face. My legs unlocked themselves from each knee and just stopped agreeing with my steps. My hair dripped fat like slightly undercooked bacon. My shoulders were marshmallow’d. I awoke alone in a bed where my body missed its protective layers. I ate another chocolate.

If I photograph my lunch, will you stop asking me what/if I ate today?

how to find metaphor in my belly folds

I can call it wavy like my hair right now, pushed into ponytail to control the mess of knots.

I can call it lumpy like gravel road leading toward mountaintop.

Should I call it sloppy?

{now I’m judging it}

I keep talking about bodies.

White male professor suggests I choose something else to ruminate on.

enough already

But perhaps I keep preaching until I get it right.
I haven’t gotten it right, so I continue.

Woman touches my stomach while bloating my mouth with her tongue. I flinch, suck in, cannot relax now.

Woman wants me on top of her, wants me to straddle her hipbone.

How does my belly look to her, I think.

How can I choreograph my body to look its best at all times?

What is (its) best?

I remove my shirt.

I am left with bra and tattoos.

I remove my bra.

I am left with sweat and hair.

I wipe away the sweat.

I am left with skin.

photo by Francesca Woodman

photo by Francesca Woodman

I think back to moments when I felt most beautiful.

Several summers ago, canoe trip in Western BC, Canada. Watching my body grow strong with each stroke. Dancing naked beneath the sun and moon, while pup trampled land that felt deserted and discovered.

Having my scars traced and kissed by a woman and sharing stories of how each one got there.

That time on that stage when I announced who I was and allowed my nudity to be an understudy to the language that announced it.

When she noticed the hair beneath my arms and asked if she could kiss me there.

I feel beautiful when I don’t apologize away my flaws.

My body is an animal feasting on weather patterns and love and sadness and my body is an emotional landscape of splattered paint. My body is a Rorschach and it’s OK if we all see it differently.

My body is meant to be (re)interpreted and (re)translated and (re)minded everyday that it is meant to fold and flap and creak and stretch and feel excessive at times.


My body can be excessive. In its hunger demands. In the ways in which it wants sex. In the ways it demands to be touched or ignored or pressed against.

So, I scream out toward the west and see how far my vocals get. Wonder about all this obsession toward smoothness and flatness and thinness. I am going to keep this extra five pounds. I am going to allow this belly to be flimsy. I am going to turn around when you ask to see my bum and not hide the fact that cellulite gathers.

You can call me a tree.
With rings and ridges and splinters and rough spots and smelly parts and sap.

You can call me an elephant with curious skin.

You can even call me beautiful and I will try not to question it.

And I will try not to question it…..

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

concerning the body

photograph by Francesca Woodman

when in a pinch, go to the body.







Distribute cells like religious literature traveling door-to-door
or bed-to-bed
or mouth-to-mouth…

Call it intimacy called art called plasma called sex called kiss

Called lonely
Called misunderstood and forgotten.


Tell me.
Tell me
Does this
shirt make me look

Does this
make me look

Does this
Does this
make me look

Tell me.
Tell me
Does this
make me look

Convince the body
that outside, a sky chews on skin


Three calories are burned when toilet seat is pushed back into its natural state.

Fifteen minutes of laughter melts away three bites of carefully digested chocolate bar.

And semen, primarily water, boasts of its trace amounts of almost every nutrient our body needs
and contains only five calories per serving!

The liquids extracted from a woman:
Calorie free.

On a Sunday,
I go for a walk
in Prospect Park
and notice a skeleton
doing sit-ups.

Blond haired complexion,
breaths thicker than the skin collapsed over her bones.

I watch this skeleton with a belly ring but no belly
move up and down,
grabbing at skin, invisible and grey.

I watch this skeleton in black spandex
and pink tank top
and pony tail
and ankles the size of wedding rings
count to herself
—lips moving—







wait: size zero?
How can anyone fit inside a number that means
nothing at all?

I walk away because I cannot digest this
skeleton of a former body
attempt to create a six pack of lines
on skin stretched too thin to understand.

I wonder about the length of her mirror
misunderstanding her shape.

I think about the strength of corpses
and tally the distance
between weight and beauty


I know,
I have bothered you with sharp implements,
strangers’ hands mishandling you

I have stuffed you into over-priced bras and denim

Called you feminine
then, changed my mind.

Called you masculine,
strapped down and hidden.

Called you beautiful,
then attempted a runaway.

Lineage of entrails
Gendered bloodline

Got confusion
Got alarm
Got discoloration of sex

This night grows thick
and love looks best on scratch paper.

So, we try and scratch ourselves away and watch what imprints remain

if only I were not so afraid of heights;
I would climb up there
push your neon strip between my thighs
and whisper inside your pockmarked skin:

love me. love me. love me.