how to be found

originally posted on great weather for MEDIA


how long until/ the limbs become/ just/ skin’s memory 


I travel west to contact every doorframe and window hinge I have ever touched. I want to know if they remember my fingerprint configuration. I need to know I am impactful.

In my pocket are three words I did not know before three days ago and one references a fruit I have trust issues with: aubergine. I contemplate renaming myself this word because I like the sling of its third syllable slapping tongue against roof of mouth. Is it ever too late to retitle oneself?

My mother calls me while I am pretending to write and she goes off script. She tells me my uncle has passed away. How long until a body loses its shape? And what shape does it become? Death lay there in his body for at least three days until. Until.

How to be found.          Out.

While living in suburbia, as a teenager with a license, I walked out of my psychology class one day with a mission to drive to my favorite park and hang myself. I was without weaponry, but I much preferred DIY techniques anyway. No one noticed when I walked out, right as the teacher—with three day beard or lipstick on teeth, I cannot recall—was offering a lesson on fight/flight and the biology of mental illness (or perhaps something completely unrelated). Slowly, I walked through the school parking lot to find my car, which really my sister’s, and it was red with only two doors. If I listened to the radio, I would have searched for Nirvana to scream his suicide notes into my ear.

This was the 90’s.

This park I liked was small, with evidence of duck excrement littering the ground like confetti. I did not care enough to watch where I walked; I just wanted to find the perfect tree to keep me elevated.

I ask my mother how he died and she does not know. I use a word like autopsy because of movies and over-saturated crime television programs like CSI and Law and Order. I need to know that even after addiction and depression, one finally reaches an age of understanding and stillness. I need to know I won’t want to revisit that tree with DIY weaponry when I am in my sixties.

I was fifteen when Kurt Cobain died. Less than one year later in 1995, I will try what he succeeded at, choosing pills and knives over shotgun. When Kurt died, everyone around me draped themselves in capes of flannel. When I die, I wonder if everyone will dye their hair red or just head to work because. Because. Why not.

On my travels west, I reach a doorframe found in an old school house, now called apartment complex. I licked the doorknob to see if it still tasted of me. All I can report is my tongue felt like pocket lint and pennies for the rest of the day. There was no sign of recognition.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an American commits suicide every 12.9 minutes. In the course of writing this, at least four people have died.

I ask my mother once again about an autopsy, sounding out each letter slowly. Don’t you want to know? I ask. But I know that I am really asking me.

The last song Kurt Cobain recorded with Nirvana was titled, “You Know You’re Right” and I wonder if we ever really do. The lyrics haunt like the loudest lover you never could get over.

Kurt growls, “No thought was put into this/ I always knew it’d come to this/ Things have never been so swell/ And I have never failed to fail.”

The tree refused to elevate me on that day I casually escaped the confines of high school. Instead, I carved my name into a bench that faced a manmade lake. I contemplated what I was contemplating. Almost twenty years later, I look up that lake on the computer, and find that it has a yelp page. People express joy for its vastness; a perfect place to picnic; a spot for fishing or handholding. I ponder submitting my thoughts on the trees and how they may have saved my life that day, when I might have contributed to the census of Americans who end their time. How many stars would I give and would I mention that I used to think this park was a perfect spot to die, but now I just think it’s the right place to remember how to be found.

day 31: new titles.

The year of Lost and Lost.

The year of Lost and Found and Lost.

The year of Fumble and Foundations. 

The year of Poetry.

The year of Lust and Linger.

The year of Trying and Trouble. 

The year of Struggle and Rehab.

The year of Yearn.

The year of Relocation and Reconfigure.

The year of City.

The year of Loans and Loss.

The year of Letters.

The year of Wishing.

The year of Books and Borrow.

The year of Music and Making.

The year of Movement and Magic.

The year of Listening and Learning.

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.


on the way to you
was writing verses about you
done with writing realized
was headed in the wrong direction
……Vera Pavlova  (Translated by Derek Walcott)

So instead of inserting your name against the one inch line where words go, I added mine. I have spent these months learning my way out of your presence, but it is my own that has left me this alone.

Last night, I sat beside another and we spoke about forgiveness. When your syllable came up, I could feel the noise of your teeth and spine. This used to make me curdle, but I am learning that to move on, one must move through.

There are humans out there walking out of marriages. Leaving children behind or stains of sterling silver on fingers. A poet recently asked me if I ever wanted to get married again. Again. As though I have already. And now I realize that I have. If marriage is a union, I have engaged in such. And if the opposite is separation, I have felt that as well. So would I do this again? Yes. And no. I am housed inside that no, until I forgive. All this time, I thought it was you, but it’s been me all along.

I need to forgive me.

Years ago, I traveled to the Netherlands, hunting. With weaponry of tiny red notebook (given to me by a handsome dreamer) and black ink pen, I spent every day searching for something in me to care about. I wrote poems with strangers, smoked pot with a beautiful German who gave me strict directions that life is about getting lost. Maps are meant to be written on, not listened to. He told me lost is where one is found. So each day, I hopped buses and walked new streets, misplacing direction. I gathered stories by people in need of sharing them. I ate an expensive meal with a stranger who wanted to know all about poetry and life in New York. I sang a memorial of candlelight and tears in a church. I was desperately trying to forgive all of my selves.

None of this is easy and when love leads us on, it is distracting. And terrifyingly beautiful.

I forgive you.

All this music I distract myself with and the food I fondle with my teeth and tongue and the poems and long walks in cracked air and the conversations with strangers and the ways in which I grow addicted to chaos and grey……..leads me here.

Just a few days ago, I articulated [one of] my trauma[s] into a box and sent it toward the west. I am writing my way out of these bones. Metamorphosing into something I can connect to and trust. All those years I called myself an atheist because I could not believe in myself (so how could I possibly believe in an other).

I’ve inserted my name into this meditation. Repetition will lead me forward…closer to who or what I want to believe in. A different kind of union between self and love.

where were you before you got here.

“A liar can reproduce the feeling that a wilderness does. In Sufism, ‘the pupil of the eye’ is the owner of each member of the body, even the heart, and each part becomes a tool under its lens. It is in and through and with the pupil of the eye that the catch locks between just-being and always-being. The less focused the gesture, the more true to the eye and the heart it is. You are progressing at one level and becoming more lost at another.”       –Fanny Howe.

Here, I move forward. From this distance between gender of collarbone and gender of calves, I am noticed. I notice.

Everywhere in this body, trees. And all the branches that curl around me attached to the others are not attached to me.

All this skin– that will soon be paper– drips of rain and afternoon excursions. Sap replaces blood. Grass is my footwear.

I am itchy, but wait for a darling poet to lean against me, and rub out my knots.

This quest for love has gotten me lost again. This map is torn at the corner and missing a slice of middle america.

I’ve used my passport enough times to understand how to present it.

I’ve been hired as a muse. I get paid to read poems and _________ .

How many clicks of heel or appointments of analysis or carvings of life into flesh to prove containment of love for myself.

I asked them to fall in love with me again but my letter got lost and they keep moving further and further into the wild. There is no internet access in the ocean.

Meditate ten minutes every mo(u)rning, then fall asleep from the germs housing a riot in your body. Awake eight days later to lunch of salt-water diet and handkerchiefs.

“For some persons, meditation, contemplation, prayer indicate that there is an emptiness already built into each body and it is that which (paradoxically) makes them feel at home in the cosmos.”     –Fanny Howe.

How not to get used to all this. Stop reading local newspaper and internet scroll-downs. Stop passing by handsome humans without asking them for coffee. Make the first move sometimes. Live inside present-tense, realizing the past can still guide you but does not have to define you. Where there is empty can be filled. Do not wait for another to fill it. Every breath is a possible movement toward self-kindness and forgiveness. This body does not have to be labeled. It can gather up a respective blur from each intentional push away from gender-normativity. And when love is found, they will appreciate the way your bones articulate their political movement. There is no such thing as stopping. Everything continues… continue on.

false memories.

I have been dreaming. There is a camel bent into a mathematical quandary. It carries Latin in its hump, hungry for the lost languages bartered away. In this one, I am woman and when I drip sun from between thighs, I learn of pregnancy. I have been warned. There is a hanger made from desert sand and railroads which gut me. Here in this part of brain stem, blood gasps into clouds of self-cleaning exhales. I am getting married to a midnight roofwalker. On our first date, she eats the revolution out of peaches and spits them into nearby satellites. Without words, this music becomes a biblical rant of slayed tongues. These are all facts and they have been documented into stained-glass soliloquies lies. How far along is this education. How tender is this snowstorm which buries several men and preserves the sick they have yet to learn in their bodies. There is a cracked spine, deliberately severed in order to use the bones for ores. When all that snow melts, someone will need to lead us out from the cold and drown. I meet a woman dressed in passport and what I thought was lipstick now calls itself Syrah. She gathers up everything that falls from me and we head into a cloud shaped as instruments. Her kiss erases every scar from beneath my body. And then knuckles rap against front door and I am told that there has been a mistake. With fingers stretching miles, this human unzips me out from all the skin keeping me in and transports me into another torso. This is where you were meant to live, they speak. The blood is still warm and my limbs appear in tact. But the cells are harder here and though there is blood, I do not bleed as frequently. And yes, I still have hair, but it covers me more. And here in this body, I am called elsewhere. How much of this is believed; how much of this is drunk. How many books must be read in order to understand the symbolism of announcements. Are you a doctor of your skeletons, yet.

The Absence of Presence

The following is a guest post by the phenomenal fiction writer, Jenna Leigh Evans (with a forthcoming novel due out SOON). When I first noticed Jenna on a summer afternoon surrounded by writers, I knew she would be in my life for an extremely long time. She has since become my soul sister. I admire her strength as an artist, human, woman, and survivor. These are her words……


Presence: It Began With, and Returns to, Chimney Pots

From my kitchen window, I watch the fan that juts from the roof of the building next door. White steam is gusting from its round black mouth. When the wind blows, the steam dances wildly before dissolving. The sunlight is pure, naked white – the last days of November.  Every structure is edged in dazzling platinum, and the small clouds above the water towers and the elevated subway tracks are likewise haloed in bright white light. Now a squirrel appears on the fire escape, surprising me.

There were vents and fans on the rooftops across from the apartment where I spent my early childhood. From that kitchen window, too, I would sit and stare when I was lonely. The variety of shapes – those with caps like mushrooms, those that resembled the steam whistles in cartoons, those that spun briskly or lazily revolved, those that were only tubes poking up – was intriguing, and I was hypnotized by the mystery of their purpose. Maybe once I asked what they were for, but if I did, I don’t remember it, so I must have wanted not to know.  Like many children, I read books set in a long-ago London, and I perceived these totemic protuberances as chimneys, or related to chimneys.

2i. Absence: Absence Defines Itself in Every Moment, Repetitively Yet Inventively

She, herself, is quiet by nature, but her absence can’t shut up. It calls attention to itself as punctually as a pre-recorded announcement on the subway or the airport. But unlike those monotonous admonitions about the white zone being for loading or unloading of passengers only, it custom-tailors each announcement just for me. I observe as I walk the dog down Baltic Street: golden gingko leaves frilling against a deep blue sky, the last leaves of November. For a split second I enjoy the sight. But it’s been whole minutes since her absence last announced itself, so it can’t help itself. It simply must add AND YOU ARE NOT TOGETHER TO WATCH AUTUMN DEEPENING. I try to combat this terrible fact by trying to be present — but the present is now composed of absence. SO MANY WONDERFUL MEMORIES OF WATCHING AUTUMN DEEPEN TOGETHER, absence continues. WOULD YOU LIKE TO RECALL A FEW RIGHT NOW? This is how I end up staggering back toward my apartment minutes after having left it. Her pretty hands pulling open a milkweed pod, setting the floss afloat.

2ii. Presence: And on the Topic of Gingko Trees,

This was the last day of the gingko trees. They have been dazzling this fall. They were the last to turn, still flirting with green until the first hard frost, and then all at once unfurling like a hundred dancing girls in golden kimonos unfurling a hundred thousand golden fans. Even at night, under the sodium streetlights, they make me stop in my tracks and stare. The sidewalks beneath them are soft heaps of uncountable riches. They are given to creating sudden, magical tableaux. For instance, the other morning on Bond Street, I came upon a white car wearing a garland – an enormous drift of leaves had gathered just so at the base of its windshield, a tidy yet luxuriant crescent shape. Yet there was not a single leaf anywhere else on the surface of the car. Spotless and holding its circlet of golden leaves, it looked like a bride on its way to a fairy wedding – this homely, boxy white car.

3i. Absence: I Had Been Doing Great, Even Though the Store Was Playing Christmas Carols

Today absence first hinted with me fleetingly, peeking out coquettishly from the beauty products aisle at Winn Home & Beauty. I had figured it might find me there; I could even be said to have gone looking for it, in that browsing in old-fashioned dime stores is a thing we both love, and she particularly likes Winn Home & Beauty. But the other option was a chain store notable for the rageful incompetence of its staff, which would have been purely masochistic; so off I went. I reacted to the sight of the pink packet of Beauty Gloves, with their 60’s-style cartoon of a beatific sleeping woman wearing white cotton gloves, as though it were an electrified fence. Snatching up the relevant item on my shopping list, I skirted blindly out of the aisle just in time to escape specific memories.

3ii. Presence: And I Say to Myself, What a Wonderful World…And Then I Have a Panic Attack

On the walk home, one thing after another revealed its beauty to me, almost aggressively. Stately old brownstones love an autumn rain, as drops leave pendants on all the most elegant objects: wrought iron that’s patchy with rust, sycamore trees wearing waistcoats of English ivy, fancy gourds and pumpkins arranged on brownstone stoops, yellowing bamboo fronds arcing over wooden slats.

These magnificent sights began to give me the sensation of being a wild animal that wakes up in a zoo. Recognizing confinement, desperate for a home that has vanished and been replaced with something else altogether. I tried to reason with myself while walking up Douglas Street, but only returned to the same crushing facts as usual. Then I got mugged by reality. I stood on a street corner, shaking, panting, clinging to a pole. This is really happening, this is really happening.


5ii. Presence: an Embarrassment of Riches Cuts No Mustard

It’s interesting to spend an hour trying to come up with something that feels present enough to write about it. To be surrounded by the world, to have had a pleasant walk in the park with a friend, and have nothing special to say about any of it – it’s surprising, but that’s life. I told myself, you should not be embarrassed to start with the teapot on the table, its fat cream-colored body belted with an orange stripe, with the spray of fir and hard red berries in it.

Nor is there any shame, I told myself, in feeling that for the second time in a week, the high point of your day might be the view out the kitchen window. Bruised, moody purples and red-browns, glazed with silver.

6i.  Absence: I Believe They Were Called Romper Stompers

When I was a child there was a simple toy made of inverted yellow cups attached to long green rubbery cords. That was the store-bought version — you could make your own out of cans and string. The point was to stand atop the cups, grasping the cords, and walk. It was surprisingly laborious, and if you got good at it, the payoff was discouragingly low. At best you scraped around with a clomping, high-stepping gait, hindered and concentrating hard on not tripping.

Walking the dog at four o’clock, every step forward shot a jolt of physical hurt into my heart. I felt as though there were cords attached to my feet and threaded through my chest, each step buckling my knees, threatening to take me down. I forced myself to go one step further, one step further, but young children were being walked home from school, filling the air with shrill cries met with quiet, deliberate responses. Plans were being made for supper. Everyone was going home.

6ii.  Presence: After the Pot, But Before the Tranquilizer

I am so cool, I have really lived, so even my pain is cool, even the fact that I’m a mess right now is cool, even the holes in my coat are cool, even my backache is cool because it’s from writing, good writing, I’m a good writer, I have a certain kind of iconoclastic slightly fucked-up cool, I am completely awake, I am the fox that slinks through your yard, alive to the night!

closure: (n) shutdown; termination, discontinuation, cessation, finish, conclusion; failure; informal folding

Four more weeks of this and then you will be rebirthed into new date and new month and new new. Humans resolve to lose weight (during this time) and they join a gym instead of working out their sexiest body part called brain.

We are on a desperate seach of how to properly end this year. With booze or boys or favorite lover. What music to play and what hors d’oeuvres to serve. At a cabin in the woods or in an overcrowded club in Brooklyn. With hundreds of strangers or one other or just yourself.

You line up your goals for the new year in a neat row like diligent soldiers. If you have time for organization, you alphabetize them. If you care enough, you prioritize them.


Some things must be taken from one year to the next. That jagged vocabulary on your body from every fall and attempt at leaving. Your roots (coming out of scalp and family tree). The pain from broken relationship. The mourning of lost friend or family member. Your crooked teeth (unless you have dental insurance and a low pain tolerance?) Your moodiness and sex drive. Your overworked schedule. Your lactose-intolerance. Your sense of humor. Your cracked heels.

Perhaps this is the year you let go of habits: biting on nails, midnight binges of food or cocaine, falling in love too easily, promiscuity, loneliness, and _____________.

Perhaps this is the year you meet that soulmate. And you are going to be stunned because they look nothing like the ones before. And this may make you nervous; use those shakes as an instrument to drive you further in.

Perhaps this is the year you grow closer to the language of your body. You may make some changes. You may get some stares and questions. But how marvelous to live all these years strangled by question marks and now to replace them with a new punctuation mark.

Perhaps this is the year you further your education through formal classroom settings or self-diagnosed syllabus of specified materials.

Perhaps this is the year you birth or make a baby. Or unplug from all your gadgets. Or cut all your hair off. Or get something else removed.

Perhaps this is the year you finally use your passport again. Or go camping in woods many miles from your own. Or taste something new like fenugreek or lipstick.

You’ve got some weeks to figure all this out. And you’ve got time after that as well. Nothing needs to be permanent. We aren’t, so why should our resolutions be.

this is where stars go to die

You thought it was a shooting star. You thought you could squint your eyes into a version of evening and wish upon and wish upon and wish upon

You thought this is where love derives from

You thought this is a sign from planets to validate your existence

You thought     this is beautiful

You thought this was a necessary explosion of transported lust

You thought this was a sign of romance and rust of musical movements


This is actually the death of plasma and gravity

This is just an American-made jet fighter

This is a collapse

This is just a calculation of patterns

This is an adventure of sky and planets and you are trespassing

This is actually just a whisper of meteoroid

This is just a British drama with or without laugh track

This is just a novel

This is an airplane full of over-worked travelers and screaming babies and some guy who is flying away from his life down below

This is just a song by Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Elliot Smith before the stabbing

This is an explosion of heat and third-degree burns and unless you can donate your skin, stop watching

This is just a scratch in the sky

This is strange and innocuous but also toxic and may cause permanent damage

This is just a bully of light

This is just a formation not an evolution

This is just a repeat from yesterday’s indigestion of cloud consumption

This is not beautiful

This is not marvelous or made to help you arrive at a conclusion

This is not love did you think this was love this is never going to be about love

This is not smashing; this is just smashed

This is drunk

This is sky addicted to flash

This is just sky

This is just a light

This was never going to be about wishes or wishing; you can remain down here for that.

i have no long-term memory.

My body is keeping secrets from me. There is film inside that needs to be developed, but the negatives have become warped and runny. I recall yellow and Jasper and hide-n-go seek and my lack of interest in scrambled eggs. I recall a birthday and cake baked in ice cream cones. Remember Wednesday and first kiss in blue Honda. Remember dressing up as Charlie Chaplin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s voice taking over mine.

What is lost. What is that whisper. I should have taken Latin that time it was offered. I should have scooped out the derivative of all these ghosts climbing inside me.

I recall drunk and cut. I remember Geoffrey and Enya. Andrew’s hanging and that time the net covered my entire body with restraints on wrist and ankles and I guess that is how to handle crazy. Please don’t ask about my origin. I am unsure of continuance or nurture. Washington must have chopped down my family tree.

This black penny placed on cobblestone, steps away from Manhattan Bridge and artists climbing in and out of fabric, reminds me to search for reminders. Perhaps if these clouds were not cooked against my organs. Perhaps there is a reason to neglect the gaps and cracks of window-pained hippocampus. Perhaps there are some things meant to be lost.