you can be mountain and i will be skyscraper

Dear Rebel.

Johnny Cash sings to me from a Brooklyn cafe. Somewhere in the walls, he lifts himself through circular cracks called speakers and haunts me into this letter. Are you writing. A woman on the 4 train with dark roots and red-drenched locks asked to read my shoulder today. I watched her from the Bronx into Brooklyn, read local newspaper out loud to her partner. I first grew distracted by her voice, which sounded carved out and scratched up like acidic-graffiti on subway windows. I watched her mouth move, a bit sunken in from lack of teeth, slowly sound out each word. With invisible straw between lips, she sucked up each syllable, then looked at her partner. That’s from a book, she said.  I can tell. I wanted to tell her that humans hit the height of their beauty when they are reading. Humans who swallow literature in ways that sometimes cause indigestion or sometimes create strain in the gut. This is the stun of cognition.

Rebel, I wonder about the state of your mountains: the peaks of earth that grow inside you. Perhaps I can lend you some of my bolts and windows. My glass is streaked but so is this planet. How about you throw ink into the air and let the wind bring your liquid permanence toward this side.

Johnny twangs his teeth into knee-slapping rhythms and I’ve put on some weight. It is either a baby or a prose poem gathering dust inside my womb and I may need to whisper into my body that I am not a fan of over-population, and much prefer the narrative of metrical structure. Can we yurt soon. There is a home that is red on a street made of crowns and it waits for me to insert my key. I think about what home has meant to me this past month of wander. Suppertime with a human who has reintroduced to me the importance of starting over. Adventures with a three-year old who notices everything that gets lost once you reach a certain age. Sleeping in a room where a pile of bags remind me of impermanence. There has been love and some wanderings of grey. Contemplations of exi(s)ting. Rebel, I will cook you kale and poetry. We can drip coconut oil from our curls into a cast iron pan and devour the days that cling to our twists. I’ll keep my windows open.

oh canada

Here is to to the entanglement of your united

Welcome in your new…..the ones who fled from the restrictions in order to gather up sturdier freedoms

Light up your sky with songs of electricity

Feed the ones who have gotten lost on the days that came before this

Gather up each other’s language / call out your mother tongue and slip it into the narrative of the aboriginals here before you

Bellow French, Kaska, Ojibwe, Comox, Cree, Arabic, Abnaki, German, Punjabi, Sekani, Haida, Mohawk, Tagalog, Tamil, Mandarin, English

 

Tell me of your province, in particular your territories. Drip your inlets, fjords, reservoirs and aquifers. I want to swim in your British Columbia and kiss the salt that hops aboard your ferries

Happy Birthday, Canada / Make a wish

 

tilt your naked toward the ugly and squeeze out reformation

Much of it begins out of something else. You read it; you noticed it on a Tuesday stuck inside that book everyone has been telling you to pick up. You captured it inside the fist of your pupil, punching the air with that dust-collecting stare.

It started like a dribble of compare.

He spoke it in his language, which was yours until they frightened it out of you.

In order to go on, turn body into the only carnival ride you could commit to. Like carved-out pills or shy spaceships, they call it tilt-a-whirl. Shake out your biology, your apologies, the startled cause of your sick.

Forget the fur and wool, step into plaster and caulk. You may only be kissed when the wind storms away the layers of your lips from the past seven years.

It’s not that you’re ugly. You just don’t have enough symmetry to warrant air-brushing and notice. Take travel-sized sewing kit to the death in you and seam-rip it away.

 

storm’d

That rain out there sounds like applause. The leaves and traffic, scattered grass and monogrammed concrete are all performing stunningly tonight. An encore suggests the city listeners are appreciative. The ones with the box seats are the poets, the fearless squirrels latching onto plaid-pattered screens, pigeons with slippery wings and breath of barbecue steam. Deep inside that puddle beneath your window, a curl floats like an emaciated tugboat. Engine of railroad lineage. Propeller curves and footnoted presence in books and dream sequences. This does not have to be a tragedy. Nor will there be a prologue or feast of sequels. Each storm is its own language. Also inside that puddle is a limb. Cannot call it arm or third of leg. It is collaged and hungry, sipping on rainwater from imaginary straw made of molecular mosh-pit. There is a table of contents decoupaging the skin. How lovely how odd how wet this all is and then clothes come off because synthetics leave too many imprints and reminders of factories. The earth desires nudity, so it drenches; it floats umbrellas away from wrists and curled fingertips. This should be a performance. This should induce romanticism. We should be triggered by its miasmic reminder of the last time.

an anniversary of dying

“Dying/ Is an art, like everything else./ I do it exceptionally well”    Sylvia Plath


Twenty years ago, I was writing her words in my notebook as adolescents do when they are in love.

     I  HEART  Jennifer  Christine   Sarah   Melissa   Gina   J’Nnae    Rachel

Instead of girls’ names in my classes, I was taking apart the poems of Sylvia Plath. Repeating lines into each page as though I couldn’t speak without her language reminding me how to.

When I was in high school, I mastered the art of almost death. And into young adulthood and adulthood. And I think about the grey in her mind and how many shades mirror my own.

Sixty years ago, she died. Turned her body into a meal consumed by gases. One month later, “The Bell Jar” emerged. How often did she think about what would proceed her. Did she trust that her husband would honorably publish what lingered. Did she trust her husband. Did she feel about love the way I feel: that it exists like paper– something to be written on and scratched out and revised and workshopped and blank sometimes.

I am alone in my bedroom, yet there are so many genders and bodies surrounding me each night. I choose who I sleep with. Rilke hides in the curve of my hips. But sometimes I need it to be Anne Sexton or there are those naps during the day where Bukowksi sneaks in and though we like our space, there is a lot of rummaging and coarseness. Kate Bornstein and I sneak stories into each other’s skin and Kathy Acker and Audre Lorde. When I want to be reminded how I think about my body, I read Dodie Bellamy as I cut up the parts that label me as one thing in order to become something else.

I have just a few pages left of Rilke, so I place Plath’s “Ariel” into my bag. With black pen between my fingers, I think about how we can speak together like ghosts. I thought we’d die together, then I hunted Sexton and planned to die with her. Now, I’m eyeing others who lasted a bit longer to see how far I can get.

the sexual harassment of poetics

My poems made you want to call the police. They made you feel the need to cover yourself in band-aids because I was ripping at you. Hard to ignore the wounds that arrived or maybe they were night lights gathering into your skin to remind you that discomfort can be illuminating (at times).

You reported me. Called my poems too political too sexy too overt and disqualified them from literary. I am listening.

You told someone you felt sexually harassed by these poetics jailed inside a book and titled and called homework. I hear you.

*

It was Kathy Acker that first sexually harassed me, from her book purchased at a used bookshop in Brooklyn many many years ago. And I saw the words Blood and Guts in the title. Followed by High School and I knew that I needed this. And I had been looking to be wounded. To feel extracted. And she did this.

Harass: 

harass |həˈras, ˈharəs|

verb [ with obj. ]

subject to aggressive pressure or intimidation /    make repeated small-scale attacks on (an enemy)

*

When I read Kathy Acker’s hybrid discourse, she pressed her sex into me aggressively and intimidation was only felt by the need to do it too. The desire to scratch pages with my childhood to see what shapes could emerge through words.

Many years later, I found myself sexually harassed once again by Lidia Yuknavitch. And I felt attacked in a way that woke up every crease in my body. Every shadow’d cell. Her attack did not draw blood, nor was it violent. Her attack was like a language’d lung machine, inflating my breaths.

Maybe maybe I want to sexually harass with these poems. I want to push. I want to remind. I want to take back. I want to recall and patch it over and graph it like a math whiz and I want to unzip myself out of this costume of shame and scream out all the expletives of my body.

A Human recently asked me why I feel the need to write about some of the parts of me that are so dark they could burn away the constant sun.

I said:

If I don’t write about it, then it exists only to haunt. So, I write it out and speak on it and spit it into the air and press it into microphones and I nude it and I masturbate it into the ears of anyone willing enough to listen. The moment we worry about who we are going to offend is the moment we change it. This is the moment we edit. This is the moment we ruin the why.

*

Dear Student in Long Island who had to close my book of poetry,

You may leave it closed. You may burn it. You may use it as a coaster. You may call it filth or disturbed or combative. All of this is ok. But I wonder if you could do something for me. Write down what arrived in you. And when you name an emotion, what birthed it out and what does it smell like. Describe the reek of your discomfort. Write outside of this ache / of this nuisance of reactors in your body. Write yourself into a poem and teach me a lesson or tell me what it means to feel so angry by words you had to refuse continuation. Describe what is ghostly to you. Write until you feel something. Write until you feel something so potent, you start to question the existence of stop signs and please and thanks yous. This is when you begin to speed inside the language seat-belted into your soul. This is when you unclick that belt and float inside the discomfort of your stories of your memory of your literary stench of your sex. This is when you let go of line breaks and rhyme and academia and the philosophical explanations you grew to believe. This is when you get lost inside the crumbs you’ve dropped around you all those times you attempted to understand the earth and your existence in/on/around  it. Pick up a crumb. Write about it. Write about what it makes you feel. Harass yourself. That is, be the subject aggressively pressured or intimidated into THINKING. Into FEELING. Into QUESTIONING what exists.

Call this an attack or title it living. Title it the art of breath distraction or extraction or the opposite of extinction.

want you to feel something from these poems. I want you to feel pushed. Tell me about the dent. Or tell it to your pages. Just tell it.

Love,

Aimee.

how native is your tongue

Two small Hispanic men walk onto the 2 train with a guitar and accordion. Their faces turn into spotlights beaming happiness, as their fingers begin pressing keys and plucking strings.

I have no idea what they are singing about, but it doesn’t matter. It is 9:28 am and I am being serenaded on my way to work in one of the most beautiful languages: Spanish.

I have fallen in love with Spanish tongues, slurring curled letters into my ears. When I speak, I don’t always pay attention to where my teeth go or if my tongue touches them or if my lips grow into a tiny circle instead of a pushed back parallelogram.

When I am on the subway, my metro card turns into a passport and I become a world traveler. I hear Portugese and Mandarin. I hear Patois and Hebrew. I hear slang and hybrid variations. I wonder if I stayed on long enough, if I could learn enough to call myself trilingual.

I have swallowed a lot of almosts. I almost learned how to properly play clarinet (though I really wanted to learn drums). I almost went to culinary school. I almost got married. I almost lost my life a few times. I almost went to Germany. I almost memorized a poem. I almost fainted the other day. I almost left Brooklyn (again).

In high school, I almost learned Spanish, but I was too preoccupied with trying to die and learning how to understand the directional pattern of my awkwardly growing body and some stuff about my mom and … and … and …

I’d like to practice my tongue roll. I’d like to learn how to read Neruda’s original work, without its English translation. I’d like to sit on the 2 train toward work and not only hear these men singing, but understand them as well.

I’d like to be bilingual.

in defense of mo(u)rning

Wake up.

This may be the moment limbs remember their reasoning.

Perhaps they are sore, mosquito-bitten and hungry.

If bed is empty, but for one, the sheets are far less disturbed.
If bed is joined by another, prepare for disarray.

Allen Ginsberg whispers: first thought, best thought.
And this is when fantasies of coffee, poems and (sometimes) masturbation arrive.

I gather up my body like a thick folded newspaper…more specifically, the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

I feel bloated by words leftover from incomplete dreams and ink drawn on me from the previous night smeared all over my knees and bendable parts.

Good morning.

Coffee boils in pot, while my nudity retreats to the bathroom to break the fast of my bladder. I take cold showers now and enjoy the immediate rise of goose bumps on my flesh as the temperature shocks my heated skin.

As I wash myself, I mourn the day before. I sing made-up songs (poems) about women who used to wear the inside of my panic. Or, I whistle a story about the time I tried to eliminate all mornings, experimenting with days full of evenings instead.

Good evening.
Good day.

The heat is troublesome and I want to engage with this day through gestures, rather than sounds.

Today, I leave Brooklyn behind and enter a classroom full of poets and readers.

Today, I engage in the language of metaphorical discovery.

speak your voice, pirate

I could be on the top of this earth, testing the width of my thigh span. Perhaps my right leg grazes Colorado and left leans against Missouri. When a body sits on an airplane, pressed between window’d seat and neurotic woman studying the “idiot’s guide to buying a home”, one may notice how square everything is down below.

There are perfect right angles and circles and everything is fifty shades of brown.

In this moment, I am so close to first class I can touch the curtain separating our economic differences and breathe in their high-thread-count-upholstered seats.

How many times have I fallen in love this past week? Safe love. The kind of love that needs no explanation or physical representation. The kind of love that remains in silence.

1. miso ground into a dressing over arugula salad with edamame and beets.

2. the lizard doing push-ups on Anne U White trail in Boulder. Even this tiny creature contemplates it’s own arm strength abilities– this is simultaneously sad and charming.

3. a young boy on his way toward second year of life and all the reminders of how two moms are so much better than one.

4. an attraction between cross-genre genders/ slur of denim’d hips and mutual vests on opposite chests/ eyes greener than sun-soaked moss/ a lick of lips as though preparing them for mine/ teeth large enough to bite into my language/ a flirt/ a missed connection/

5. everyone is trying to flatten themselves away! My stomach refuses to section off into six separate packs. Instead, I channel these mountains, which are far sexier in their curves than the flat screen door pushed close to get here.

6. boy raises money to remove breasts and I am in awe of his awareness of body. What gets to stay and what impostors must go? I’m still taking inventory of this body.

7. the couple who collide due to persistent photographer with bones made of magic fairy dust, sparkling beyond manufactured flash. The ways in which love can be seen, can be pressed, can cohabitate. I want to copyright the three beautiful versions of love I got to gaze upon in order to find some of my own.

8. that deer.

9. that cafe au lait with soy milk slinking down my throat and pressing me into wide awake-ness.

10. and what if I were to mention hym again? A mouth traveling miles before the first word emerges. Engaging in topics like coffee and hormones, and stimulants like caffeine and boners. I should have asked about preferred pronoun, so I’d know the proper way to press gendered human into this poem.

11. miles. voices. lawns. gardens. drag kings. poets. and a pirate that somehow lives inside all of us because we are all just choosing our own adventure within the shapes and colors and dialects around us.