Is there a cure?

“Words change depending upon who speaks them; there is no cure.” –Maggie Nelson

 

You say it is uncomfortable. Words are a puzzle without illustration guiding you in and it would be so much easier if we stopped changing our minds about what we are.

You say there is a choice and when you throw those two letters up in the air, you just cannot fathom why heads shake and bodies want to hide because choice should not be determined by strangers.

You say pink or blue but not both and never other shades such as taffy or aegean or flamingo or admiral. You say that department stores separate their fabrics for a reason.

You say there is a book which decides what words mean and one cannot change meanings without consultation but but but.

What would happen if we just stopped worrying about inconveniencing others and spend a day, week, month, hour, rest of our lives living inside the vocabulary, accessories, music of who we are determined by the source that matters most: ourselves.

This Empty Bowl

from Sara Ahmed’s “Living a Feminist Life”: “An empty bowl that feels like an accusation can be the beginning of a feminist life.”

 

Inside, I put pieces of my hair that appear like loose, bloody windstorms. But isn’t it still empty? I use plastic scissors, because I want my fingers to struggle, as I cut away every claim on my skin that has been denied. I place that man’s voice who asked me why my arms were so scarred. I told him: I tried to kill myself. He said to me: You didn’t do it right. But isn’t the bowl still empty? I place laughter–my own–when fingernails like shovels dug beneath armpits behind knees to tickle. I shouted NO! because it was too much. You kept on you kept on because I was laughing. My NOs got folded in somehow. But isn’t it still empty? I practice expository essays each morning to train my voice into a deeper chord. Use punctuation and footnotes and even an alphabetized works cited to show the archival of trauma. Placed into bowl, but you said it just repeated itself. Isn’t the bowl still empty? I electrocuted my fingers and wrists in order to dig out the wiring trying to disconnect us all. Took photographs of all my stretchmarks because society seems to think they are extinct somehow. Mailed you the history of starvation to explain my discomfort with Western fasting culture. Removed the airbrushed bruising on my brain from every drug I ever used to help me escape. Put into bowl. Watched it disappear. Isn’t the bowl still empty? What does it look like to finally be full?

 

 

how to talk about love when it stops talking to you

The floor of your voice smells like slow-dancing globes

trotting over scratched-up versions of songs

I used to know the words of but now

can only whistle because it hurts to pronounce the reek of retired

love stops swarming around me like honey hungry wasps wishing for foreheads to sting,

and do you remember when I hijacked the music video of your loins

but it happened so quickly that what you used to love

to kiss

blurred its way out like an erased track—

that hidden song you had to wait through twelve minutes of silence

to listen to.

Drunk

You hid your empty bottles behind your teeth because you knew I’d never check there. Your fingers tasted of bitters and bitter and it is so difficult to kiss a drunk because their mouths are always occupied. But last night, I knew time had touched the nooks of our skin because your eyes were river phoenix blue and and mine were the ones stumbling, drunk.

A Kind of Practice

You measure out everything that circles. Like pills without the aftertaste side-effects medical coverage. You decide you have practiced long enough. You decide your local news feed could benefit from something like this. You decide not to swallow yet. Instead, you hold all these circles on the tip of your tongue, some guerrilla themselves down your throat. You have been searching for the cleanest options, you’ve made too much of a mess these days. You slide the tiniest questions behind your fingernails for them to find. You masturbate one last time using only toes and elbows. You briefly wonder what they will say, how they will pretend they knew you. You trace the expected size of their teardrops on your thighs, look at the oxidized moon one last time and become consumed.

A Separation (or Dismembered in disHarmony)

After the divorce, they split everything in half: torso, curdled hazel, garden soil brown, knees, the scars you inherited, the scars you gave her, fourteen moles carefully severed, chapters forty-seven through fifty-two, books (you requested all the endings; she begged for the acknowledgments), the ghost of your uterus, the ghost of her sex drive, that time that time that time she gave you, that time that time that time you never got to, grid paper, the tags they used to tag the buildings they crawled inside, half a song (mostly chorus), cracked voice, swollen cartilage, library card, flint, James Baldwin, pile of uneaten hair, invisibility cloak (barely noticeable). They grew their arms long enough to carry, to carry. Walked six years in different directions. Dropped what they had when they could no longer speak footprints. And then, started over.