the necessity to connect.

Eyes scroll palms instead of sidewalk cracks and I wonder what would happen if we all spent a day foregoing text messaging and reminded each other that we exist through face contact and voice contact and in-person breaths.

We are forgetting how to connect without the use of electronic devices. We are moved by a human and the first question that often slips out of mouths has grown to: can we be facebook friends?

What happened to: Can we have a cup of coffee sometime and swap stories?

After so many open mics, poetry events and spaces where people share their art, I realize that we so often forget about the importance of in-person contact. By living our lives on computer screens, we are creating another version of ourselves, sometimes very different from the one that exists off-line.

What do we really know about each other. We can certainly learn a lot due to what one posts about themselves. Some feel the need to document their meals; some share links to global issues and world news; some post photographs of themselves taken by themselves; there are those that share poems or slices of their art; there are those that are in search of personal connections albeit through the computer screen.

I wonder what my words say about me.

Key words: gender, sexuality, identity, body, sad, human, love, words, poetry. 

But what version of this is me?

What am I not giving away; what am I holding back?

I know I have typed this before: UNPLUG.

And I know I am saying this not just to you, but to me as well. Ask a stranger (or someone you’ve known the name of for awhile but couldn’t list more than three things about them) for coffee. Reconnect with someone you may be FACEBOOK FRIENDS with but rarely–if ever–speak to.

There was a time none of this existed. And by this, I mean, TECHNOLOGY.

How did we connect before computer screens and text messaging?

Unplug and find out the answer.

courtesy of sadness

In the city, which never sleeps, it is difficult to find a napping New Yorker. Even on the subway, there are restless multi-taskers swiping away at their ipads and cell phones. Some balance laptops on laps, while others can be found with a thick pile of papers atop their thighs to prepare for an array of early morning meetings. New Yorkers are always busy and because of this preoccupation with always doing something, they tend to forget to notice what exists around them.

Underground, we seek out seats and balance the weight of gym bag and yoga mat and briefcase and backpack and pocketbooks the size of small suitcases. There are rare moments when the doors open and you have many seats to choose from. During peak hours (and in New York, all hours are peak), you must shimmy your way in and do your best not to let you hands wander; humans get very, very close underground.

Amidst this overcrowded chaos, there are moments where humanity exists in the most symphonic way. Look to your left and you may catch the little girl around 4 or 5 years old singing nursery rhymes to herself as her mom or guardian looks on. A guy at the end of the train seems to have forgotten that he is not in his bathroom, as he lifts bare feet up and begins clipping his toenails. I seem to be the only one in fear of a flyaway piece of hardened keratin. A female nuzzles with her lover: another young woman with a tattoo of a dragon on her forearm. Many act as though they cannot be seen and this is when we can catch bits of uncensored New Yorker emotion.

This is what I look for.

This is what reminds me that although we go home to different sized apartments (some have no home to go to) or engage in lifestyles of varied monetary styles, we are all here on this train together. Religion, race, economic background, or educational history do not matter.

The cover charge is the same for everyone: $2.50 per ride. As I look, I take out my red notebook and begin to write what I see.


It is impossible not to notice the color of May sky on her fingernails. Blue unlike turquoise or swimming pool or deserted-island ocean. Blue like the color of sadness. And she was crying. This young woman, perhaps around twenty-four or younger, had drops of salt falling from her eyes, brown like dug up earth. I sat across from her on the 3 train heading back into Brooklyn on a Sunday. It was early and it seemed like she may have been wearing last night’s attire: carefully ripped stockings, short black skirt that was neither leather nor linen. Cotton spandex mix? Her shirt was also black—true New York fashion derived from the allure of midnight: dark and slimming. Her hair was tossed up into a high pony tail/bun combination. I couldn’t stop staring.

Sometimes I really believe I am invisible as I travel underground from one borough to another. Brooklyn into Manhattan or Queens to the Bronx. Strangers stuck in a train with windows, which do not open. We involve ourselves in technological distractions: the latest popular downloaded game on fancy cell phone; rapper-endorsed headphones over ears blasting shuffled music; travel-sized electronic books. Some sleep. Some sneak sips of beer hidden inside brown paper bag. I have seen mothers nurse their babies and change diapers. I have seen fancy-suited proselytizers. I have seen guardians hit their kids. I have seen the beginnings of sex, heavy petting and deep-rooted foreplay. There has been vomit and piss and spilled meals and grime and rain all staining the floors and seats of these trains.

On this particular Sunday, I want to offer this young person a tissue. I want to climb in the empty orange seat next to her and hold her painted fingers as we sit in silence. I want to ask her what happened. I look around and wonder if anyone else notices what I am noticing or if they are stuck inside the NY code of contact to ignore, ignore, ignore.

Some occurrences on the subway elicit a response. Whenever God is mentioned, there is someone else on the train ready to retaliate. A man screams at his girlfriend and several people get involved to protect. A kid screams his/her way into a deafening tantrum and everyone rolls their eyes at once. But sadness tends to induce complete disregard. Perhaps it is so elevated in ourselves that it is too difficult to notice it in others. So, when this girl cries into her hands, she becomes deeply ignored. All eyes look away, except mine.

There are many rites of passage as a NYC subway rider. The top three that tend to eventually baptize commuters into “true New Yorkers” are: falling asleep and missing your stop, vomiting on the subway and crying while underground. I have reached all three and some more than once.

We tend to notice what we want to notice. Or sometimes we see what we want others to see in us. I notice the sad. When I am stuck on a train full of laughter, my eyes will gather steam from the couple at the far end who are nodding off, track marks on exposed forearms and twitching with each stop. Maybe I feel the need to notice the forgotten humans—the ones cast aside because they look crumpled or lost. The ones who smell. The ones disconnected through distracting electronica.

This particular woman still has the stain of Saturday’s lipstick on lips. I can tell it is from yesterday because it is darkest on the ends and far more faint throughout the rest of her mouth. I watch her take out cell phone and rub finger along screen. She is scrolling up and down, reading something. I imagine her reading text messages from whoever or whatever she came from. Perhaps she is reading something that birthed these tears. A text-messaged break-up? Her lips move as she silently reads from the screen. Her forehead squints into furrows. Her tears stop and now she looks angry. What is happening? She looks up and notices me noticing her. I look down because maintaining eye contact with this beautifully sad woman is far too intimate for me at this time of the day. I prefer being unnoticed or maybe I just enjoy having control over this noticing. It makes me wonder if anyone is noticing me.


no, this is just what happens when you pay attention to the life outside and in.

Bodies fold like tired laundry. Beds are no longer a necessity when eyes climb closed and the push/pull of subway lulls bones to sleep. We wear our coats now. Construction boots. Necks are scarve’d and skulls are capped by wool. How contagious is that cough at the end of this train. Would we still exist without cell phones or candy crush.

At 6:36am on Wednesday, the sky still sleeps. Call it eighty shades of black with planets that blink. If I hadn’t of noticed that chip in the moon last night, I might have forgotten why I look up so often. At 125th Street, the humans get off and suddenly that coveted blue bench is empty. I am book-ended by sleepy commuters and across, a man shakes his neck toward the music piped into his ears. I need no record or radio to channel the pre-recorded rhythms in my mind.

Outside, pigeons flap wings wearing reminders of breakfast: barbecue sauce, bones on their breath. I cannot explain why I call them my favorite bird, but maybe it is their flight. History as grey and white mailboxes or. Maybe it is the way they are ignored or shooed away. And aren’t the most beautiful parts of earth also what we tend to forget to notice?

planetary floatation device (a collaboration with Rebel Diaz)

for the humans building levees in Boulder, Colorado and especially for the one driving around wearing rebel cape

Boulder is under sacrament; what was inwardly gathering is making its way through the street. A city submerged and there is something about Boulder every time, something about its cracks and crevices that make it animate, alive, being. Makes me sketch my own body over its terrain, to lie down in its topography, the curves down my side along its front range, my belly its basin, my veins and sinew down over its expanding creeks. When it was burning, I too, felt the burn off of other, dead, dried out selves and with this

with this

with this

I feel the washing away of man-made. I feel a baptismal flushing over every man-constructed roadway, we were not symbiotic with land so what amassed is releasing, christening concrete, carrying free radicals downstream, toxins of manbuilt frothing up a layer of foam, crashing against magnesium levees. This is a language we have yet to learn. Is it wrong to root for the river flowing?  I am this bodycity, detoxifying. I am forgiven with its destruction, ashamed of the warming we cause

through this

through this

There are enough trees to build a boat around this earth and when we carve out the bark into planks of home, we can float ourselves out of here. Unravel the maps you’ve been hoarding beneath your tongue. Your spit is the lacquer that will lubricate the lacerations from this flood.  Follow me out.

and over

and over

Over there, a bearded human of glowing heart proportions steers a metal animal with rubber limbs and engine steam. Calls out to the ones who cannot swim to jump in jump in jump in. Listens to blue lips, lies down on blue shag of alone, takes time to heal. Another sits wide open, familyless, exposed in his empty room. The sky may be one giant cape to cover up what we’ve done but even the clouds cannot help but weep when reminded of this devastation.

so weep

so weep

so weep your creeks further, wider, over more than man-made, across aroma of Nebraskshit, 1800 miles to curly stoop made of crowned sediment and rooted in I-am-here I-am-here I-am-here (for you). Your water is biblical so wash away indents of childhood, remind us, we are the sacristy, the rooms which hold sacred vessels. Remind man-made of heart-made, of lying down in floods of reflection and loving it; remind us that these are the moments we should never forget


within each human, find salt, stone and strength

It can be difficult to bend.

At a certain age, knees knock themselves out like aggressive boxers. And as soft as this earth is from its deepest breaths, what we rest on can be like crushed up graves, digging into available bones.

You will love more than once. There may even be some months or years where you love many. Some will live beside each other and then there are the ones who live on islands too far to contact through wires and wails.

When you find a pattern in your sadness, look to your left and the one who has remained may be referred to as planetary partner or moon dweller.

Never apologize for all that salt traveling from webbed sight. Humans are meant to float into the fissures of body’s drips.

Ignore doors and windows. Remain…even when exit signs tempt you with their neon wander.

It can be difficult to contort into the kind of person who survives especially when the night is far too angry to permit you sleep. But bend. And breathe. And stay. All of this aids the elastic in you.