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.
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.
I 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.