Learning How to Jump

Every bridge I have ever jumped from has talked back to me.

The story of my body has seven alternate endings and a fold-out atlas stapled to the middle. It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but when I turn to the page I want, it is missing.

The first time I jumped, it was several hours past midnight. Somehow the sun had confused itself again with the stars. The sun fractured into neon confetti and fell from the sky. As I jumped, what appeared to be illuminated starfish stuck to my skin. I survived with two scraped knees and a cracked tooth.

Have you ever spent an afternoon weeping over the dismemberment of Pluto?            I have.

The story of my body can be unwrapped in chapters, but they are disordered, of course.

The second time I jumped, the cables and bolts from the Brooklyn Bridge came undone. I slid down, down into the water and climbed toward the ocean’s floor. I ate lunch with a mermaid with braided buildings in her hair. She begged me to stay forever; her voice sounded like smoke and hummingbirds in love. When I ran out of oxygen and conversation topics, I floated back up dripping a trail of salt and sandwich crumbs.

A True Story

previously published by great weather for MEDIA


A redhead walks into a bar and orders a drink.

“Barely iced, please,” she says. “Pulp of ginger. Fourteen cherries and a love note rim.”

The bartender with hair of yellow only partially understands. Hands her a see-through glass, taller than the tallest finger with enough liquid inside to qualify its worth at five dollars.

She pushes it aside and repeats herself.

“Barely ginger,” she says in a sour tone. “Pulp of a love note, please. Fourteen iced cherries and rim.”

The bartender stares.

If she weren’t so thirsty, she’d have noticed that his eyes were the color of Michael Jackson’s birthstone, if he were still alive to claim it. He used to be her favorite singer before. Before. Well, you know before.

“Maybe you can explain to me what flavor you are looking for. Or perhaps let me know the ingredients?” the bartender inquires.

The redhead, whose eyes are a color that cannot be compared to any singer or song for that matter, says, “Rhizome and bamboo. Like what cannot be reached or licked. Winter. Not December 28th or even week three of January. March 9th. Straddling morning and afternoon nap. The most romantic syllable, which has never been pronounced. Oh. And fourteen cherries.”

The bartender tastes irate on his teeth and does not know how to proceed.

So he hands her a glass. This one about as tall as one and a half thumbs pressed together. He begins to touch every bottle saluting him from behind. He removes each cap but leaves all the liquid inside. He stares at her with his Michael Jackson eyes as he slowly touches his heart—or where he learned it lives in his body—and rubs his finger tip over the circular rim. Then, without blinking, feeling the sting of too much air on his cornea, places fourteen cherries—one at a time—into his palm, slowly dropping into the glass.

He waits for her to drink it. Or push it away. Or tell him he is wrong.

The redhead leans over the glass and sticks out her tongue. It is not exactly pink. She carefully licks the rim and then just remains there, as though her tongue is telling her a story with its taste buds. She leaves the cherries alone. And then, walks out.

this may be the real thing.

“if i could be who you wanted/all the time…” –R H
I think I might have inhaled you/i can feel you behind my eyes –S
all along it was a feeling of fevers/ and this dizzy weaved circles of you/ even before and now  –A H
I can’t change/even if I tried/even if I wanted to  –M L
that I would be good /whether with or without you  –A M
how about this sleep that weeps through the feathers/ there are more doors and this floor has let loose its save   –A H

When is that moment where we decide to announce a feeling. So often we enter rooms full of humans of varying strengths and genders, inclinations and dents. How about we address the ones who cause our limbs to remember all the ways in which they can bend and speak.

I enter a room full of strangers. I was not invited, but brought along by a friend who was. I find a corner to lean into and spread my web of skin to cover me. I imagine myself as invisible, even with this hair and these poems on my skin. When I first notice this human, it is as though I am remembering my birth. It is as though I am taking my first breath, my ribs expand into a smile that only my flesh can feel. My eyes finally understand their parts: cornea, macula, iris, retina, optic nerve. I channel kundalini and hope that my exhales will be inhaled by them.

I let go of magic years ago, but in this moment I wonder what hides between us that can be turned into realism.

Label (noun):  small piece of paper, fabric, plastic/ sewn into garment/ instructions for care / classifying or clarifying phrase applied to a person or thing/ identifiable marker

I let go of these years ago. The only times I choose to label myself is to stick over the incorrect ones forced on me. My attractions to humans have wavered like Winter and can no longer be tracked or understood. It just is. I arrive at an attraction due to the words that speak out from their mouths rather than the shapes on their body that tell me what they are.

So this human stands beside me and cannot see the web I have threaded around me. I notice their lips, darker than mine. Not from lipstick but from the pigment of their family tree. Their chest is flat like I want mine to be. We speak about the competency of caffeine and efficacy of gender. Their hands are veiny like the most beautiful trees tangled by flexible branches. I want to ask them to use my dimples as a P.O. Box; to write letters and slip them in there. I want to tell them that I cannot be found on screens and much prefer paper. I want to hand them the stamps I keep in my notebook and extra pen and paper (not skin this time) and we can channel the decades when there were no outlets. I want to ask them to write me their morning. I want to ask them to sew me into their evening.

want to.

Instead, our knees remember each other even though this is the first time.

Instead, I eventually leave and write several poems that I wish had been birthed earlier.

I let go of magic many years ago. Too many hearts squeezed like lemons, burning open wounds. The pain of muscles trying to let another in. And then…..the eventual…..let go.

In the first hours of this new Winter, I search for them. Call out a line-up of lips and knees and hands and tongues, because I can recall the way they licked their top lip when they were cooking up a new sentence. I have become a sleuth. Sometimes one needs to be in order to believe in what Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote about.


Find meaning in life’s traffic jam


To your right is a woman behind a counter at a diner. She had her hair pulled up because it rained last night and today and she decided not to wash it until the sky turned dry again. She has an accent from Greece and her waist smells like grease from the hug she received from the man who delivers food to the upper west siders on his bicycle. A two-piece suited man arrives with briefcase and anger. I want to complain to the manager but let me tell it to you because I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to so here it is: I ordered a turkey sandwich and there was very little cranberry sauce I asked for cranberry sauce and the fries were too fried and too much was missing to call it a meal. I don’t know how you remain in business. And when he left, the woman’s polite smile turned into a squiggle like a scratched out word and this is when she meets your eye because your were staring observing and your smiles lit each other on fire.

The fire is like a wheel– all orangey red like the best kind of grapefruit– and it transports you to a church. You wipe off the soot and smell of campfire-burnt-flesh but it’s okay because you have enough skin to lose some sometimes. In this church are a mix of genders and the ones in between without a slot on applications or birth certificates and you notice the one wearing animal skin on his head like a hunter and around his shoulders and against his thighs. And this hunter is kind and believes in gun control but his friend wears a placard that says only cannibals eat animals so this hunter stays on the other side of the room where photographs are permitted. Later on, Hunter walks up to where the candles are lit and reads a poem about not wanting to be here but having to be here because sometimes you have to be somewhere to understand how you got there (breathe). And he drinks from a paper bag and then turns it upside down because maybe the floor felt thirst and how nice to consider the wood sometimes.

The wood has no teeth, but if it did it would stretch out its knots to reveal its gratitude. Wood can be anti-social sometimes and pull away from other wood but when it is shellacked in gratitude, it can notice the beauty in other forms like bench or porch or swing or staircase. You are crying because this is a memorial service and you haven’t attended enough of these to have control of your tears and one hits the wood and this is when the magic happens. Your salt twists into the fibrous planks and suddenly the scent of earth is so potent that the Hunter stops speaking and everyone turns around to look at you. Your tears are contagious. Their eyes grow soggy too and the wood is now drenched and pulling away from itself and the earth is visible in a way it never has been before. It is honest and imperfect because holes equal imperfection, right? Holes equate to something missing or maybe or maybe or maybe it means wholeness because in this moment everyone noticed each other and words swirled up over heads like a linguistic tornado and how beautiful and how beautiful. And this is meaning.