to the one with the red hair behind bars

Dear Jennifer,

I dug feathers from my pillow, sewed them to a piece of paper full of my words and lent it to the sky to fly toward you.

Two months have passed and I wonder if my language has reached you. I think about your red strands falling from imprisoned scalp, like breadcrumbs alerting the hours of your whereabouts.

Last night, you visited me while I slept. Perhaps this was your letter back to me. You were looking for something, which I tried to help you find. But. You never told me. What. You were looking for.

Somehow I understood because. I am so often in search of things that I’ve yet to fully name or even understand.

Without you asking, I lifted my shirt so you could see the ink on my back from when we traveled together at eighteen to tattoo shop.

“I had to change it,” I said.

And without having to explain, you understood my need to wipe away the femme-inity from skin to replace it with more of a hybrid.

I asked to see your angel [tattoo], but you had carved it away years ago.

Sometimes it is difficult to be good in a world of so much bad.

day 8: how to turn loss into a movement of yellow.

Dear J,

Remember that time. We twisted maps with tongue ring and toenail. We terrified whiskey. We tumbled down staircases from the push of childhood fists. We made mix tapes and love as though we were experts at music and feeling. We died seven times in the calendars we were together. Remember.

I want to sew you a quilt made from iron and calcium to strengthen the heave of your tear ducts and remind you that loss is also an arrival of life. Each breath dies upon exiting, but also becomes reborn with each inhale.

I remember hearing her voice once. I cannot recall if she called me or you pushed your plastic against my ear but I could hear the vocation of her smile.


I was recently encouraged to write a poem about love and I dug up an old one that lists every name that ever entered my body. That is, the ones I could remember.

Do you remember that Irish pub off St. Marks. I want to write a poem about the parts of speech that stung our livers far before the liquor reached us. How can skin flirt even when sad or lying. Even when it is mourning in such a loud way that swallows cannot be heard.

I never told you that I stopped kissing you because my favorite song came on your borrowed car radio and it reminded me how alone I needed to be.

I lost a tooth one month ago. Well, a filling. It arrived in my mouth after that evening I was with you. And I had fallen. Nine stitches. Do you remember.

I lost my middle name almost twenty years ago.

I lose hair all the time.

I lose weight in the wrong spots.

I’ve lost several friends due to my inability to be myself enough.

Remember that time. You started over in new city and found your way. Remember the courage you had to leave.

Loss is the end of something, but it also begins something else. Remember.

lovers in past tense.

Dear Rebel,

My fourth lover has left the country. She has been traveling since I first handed her my weakest muscle over a decade ago and now I think she is getting closer to settling. The last time I traveled with passport and backpack, I was just getting over the Canadian. I was on a hunt for language that didn’t hurt when I spoke it. I wrote poems beside canals with the haunt of red lights in the nearby distance. I almost got arrested for possession for hash that time, but it wasn’t mine, nor did it taste my lips; we were just exchanging words for stanzas.

You are traveling over pages and memories. I want to know what it was like to see his tattoos and smell his distance. Do lovers change shape once they no longer belong to us. Or do they always belong to us? 

My seventh lover (not counting the ones that didn’t count) was difficult to get over. I ingested medicine cabinets and poetry books, slapped starvation on my tongue and called my collarbone a rail for many months until I no longer needed to think about the disturbance of breaths and bruises.

We mourn and mourn until suddenly we can longer remember what it felt like to hurt. Are you there yet. I am there.

I recently met a human who reminded me that there is no one way to approach someone.

And I wanted to retort: there is no one way to love. Each time is different because we all arrive with varying marks and allergies and desires.

Rebel, we love differently because we are poets. Our kind of loving simmers and boils simultaneously. Our kind of kisses pass through megaphones.

It never gets easier, but it can make more sense. Some love spends months or years trapped in a lost dialect that neither lover speak. I am finding that when you meet someone who has studied the rules and historical lineage of phonics, you can stop. That is the right one.



Dear Rebel,

I am hoarding wine beneath my tongue. I’ve disarmed my hips for another and this one seems to be carefully slipping love notes inside the marrow of my bones. How do you nourish your memory. In what ways do you feed the scratch-outs on your soul. Eighteen years ago, I paid a stranger to press purple ink into my lower back through single-serving, vibrating needle. He joined circle and lines into a universal woman sign. I carried that female insignia for all these years, which slowly turned from friend to acquaintance to stranger. Are there indentations on your body that no longer belong to you, Rebel. Recently, I paid a guy from Bolivia to alter my gender marking. He told me all about the places he traveled to and the days he scarred his thighs with illustrations to practice being an artist. What would it look like to practice being human. Last week, I carried a rock resembling a tiny egg and an eight line poem by Vera Pavlova. She reminded me that if there is something to desire/ there will be something to regret. But in desire, there is so much breath. The weight of our exhales, Rebel, can turn our forearms into paved roads. Our shoulders into mountain tops. Our chests into stationary reservoirs. Let’s swim in all this burgundy lust, which can be found in Poets, Chefs, Former Monks, Music Makers and Hippies. We can climb our way toward the tallest tree top and swing from the branches of its origin. I am finally digging myself out of all these roots, untangling and recognizing the hybrid in me. Let’s eat up all these question marks and digest the answers that come.

but the mayflies fear no such thing

dear lidia.

I cannot begin to cite all the stars I counted on that night when the air felt more like the endings of autumn than august. Where I should begin is the digestion of home-baked high as I paddled in lung-inflated kayak in illegal waters of new york reservoir. The sun dripped on each shoulder as I felt muscles expand with intentional dig of directional ore. To enter memory and present-tense simultaneously.  Stumbled swallows and the ways in which I digest silence as though it is meat: I want more of it; I feel sick from it.

The mayflies, Lidia. The adults may live for only a few days and here they are, flustered and twitching around us. Could we be part of their final hours? They lay their eggs in water and then they sink. Perhaps these stars are the bulbs of light leading the mayflies to the bottom of lakes where their offspring wait. I have no such thing as bathing suit, Lidia. But we do not need to ask permission from this salt stream. Let’s just exist as one of them.

I should mention that I have a difficult time with authority, Lidia. We are given a warning when we trespass through a part of the earth that is still earth and I wonder why deer and cockroaches don’t give us humans these tickets.  They were here first. When the police want me to travel inside submission, I grow louder. I flex my underarm hair because that is where the rebellion grows. And I whip out weaponry of red, stained notebook. Got poems shaped as bullets or bullet-shaped-poems. Got mosquito-bitten ankles and I wonder if we were all just given one day to exist, how we’d trample. There’d be no time for fear.

so what else, then…….but to survive on the presence of now.

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 |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.



what has not arrived has arrived

What has arrived in me can only be defined as a loose poem. A sawed off slice of petrified wood announcing the arrival of stunted time. A promiscuous sleep. A bitten tongue due to acidic underbite of regret.

I have been carrying around a letter I wrote in my wallet for almost four months now. The sweat in July from my thighs moistened it. After a monsoon in August, it grew wet and stuck. Its pages grew delicate. Several days later, it dried, but now its corners crumble and some words dripped away. It’s for a woman who climbed into my pocket in the late Spring. A woman too tall to see the tops of trees; she converses with the missing pieces bitten out of the sky. She is mermaid-thin. She is mermaid-beautiful. She is a mermaid. Some things are easier admitted on paper, pressed into envelopes, interrupted by a stamp and mailed away. Some things are easier mailed away. In her letter to me, she studied the anatomy of her torso sucked dry by another the way one might devour a heavily marinated sparerib. Gobbled down in a good kind of way. In my letter to her, I tell her all my secrets or the one that matters most. The kind of secret that interrupts dinner parties and sexual encounters. I tell her what I’ve done and what has not arrived yet…….

[back-ordered] love.
a baby.
a heal.
a rest.

a let go. . . . .

My skin flakes off in fearful glances. Where did I come from? Why do I arrive like this?


I announce to a decoupaged dancer that I am contemplating a travel. I announce to a decoupaged dancer that I am worried that the sick stuffed beneath the fourth and twelfth layers of my skin–which has been lurking for years–is oozing out of me.

And then someone sends me a sunset. And then I drink a cup of coffee and burn away the bad thoughts corroding my throat. And then I write a poem. And then I kick a woman out of my bed. And then I isolate isolate isolate. And then I cry kernels of my childhood into steroid-enhanced boulders. And then I eat some more. And then I purge. And then I hum a song I made up while bike riding. And then I forgive myself. And then I change my mind.

if there was nothing to regret, there would be nothing to write

Move closer now.
Closer still.
Get there.

You would know what kind of tree sways outside my window. I call it macintosh because its green leaves grow from seeds and entice me into daydreaming of orchards. Life has become a routine of coffee.poems. poets.chocolate.singing on my way home from museums or bars or stoop sales or gardens.digesting paintings at the

Things I have learned while here:

1. there does not need to be water for a drown to occur
2. sorrow may grow inside sneezes and that is how it spreads
3. cockroaches can flatten like slices of paper
4. stand too close to a Keith Haring painting and a swallow occurs
5. dandelions on skin can forget the living
6. proof of poorness will lead to free mammograms
7. walls may be fidgeted against
8. there is restriction in skin tones and cellular phone plans
9. religion is just an excuse to separate stories and sin
10. I distribute my cells and secrets through French kissing

When was the last time your limbs were challenged?
How often do you change your sheets or your mind?
Do you think about me when you think about sadness?
When you think about lee friedlander do you think about me?
What did you eat for supper last night?
Are your lips dry from musical accompaniment of reed sucking?
Are you beautiful still?