His bones are powder; at night, she gathers them like a dandelion corsage and rubs them into her aches; he snores angular love affairs; due to jealousy and prior commitments to mania, she scratches hate crimes into his skin in retaliation; his aging hair a snowdrift; she parts her thighs and climbs onto his Winter because someone once told her midnight orgasms are like warm milk; his veins are paralyzed caterpillars; she plucks them out like bloated guitar strings, flosses between each tooth and finally falls asleep inside the river of his blood.
It happened (again).
Another stranger presses their curiosity against your scars and another bruise forms.
You arrive home after an evening where the sky offers no view of buildings competing with the birds and airplanes. The bruise is shaped just like that reoccurring dream you’ve had since childhood. You wonder if you should start wearing long sleeves again. You wonder if you should ice your limbs in a bathtub until they can barely utter any vowel sounds and then sever them completely.
It happened (again).
You mispronounce a word, use the wrong verb tense, forgot how to properly use a semi-colon, couldn’t remember the seventeenth president of the United States, had no idea that reference from that news story from that day, had that food stain between your teeth the entire day, wore your shirt on inside out, couldn’t remember how to get home, was corrected once again by your loverspousepartnerroomate as though mistakes can no longer happen quietly.
It happened (again).
You just wanted to know what it felt like to kiss, so you pressed your teaspoon lips against their tablespoon, pressed your skinned knees against their grass stains, pressed your fragments against their run-on sentences.
It happened (again).
You lost track of time and it was wonderful. Drank enough raindrops to count as hydration and conversed with a sparrow about immigration reform. You decided to be religious for a day, and prayed to the treetops. You sang hymns into squirrels’ bellies and asked for forgiveness from the worms you used to sever with your footsteps.
It keeps happening.
You forget your lines. You fall out of love. You overeat. You simply have no energy left to pick yourself back up. Your hair tangles in ways that are irreversible. You wonder if anyone really knows how to love you correctly. You break another toe. You sprain your tongue. You walk outside without proper uniform but then the sun fills in the lines of your goosebumps, asks you to remain even when no one else is, grabs hold of your hand, and in the scorch it leaves behind, you venture on.
I’m excited to perform some poetry and music at York College on Friday, May 4th for Project: (Her) Voice. Celebrate the stories that need to be heard.
5-8pm / 160-2 Liberty Ave / Jamaica, NY
Health and Physical Education Complex / 1st Floor
Each time you try to understand how it got there, it changes shape. This eggplant. This deep winter storm sky on your left thigh. Color of your childhood bedroom before everything in you grew too dark to see. Maybe you fell in your sleep, emerged, all without remembering. The impact of dreams. Maybe your bones grew angry at your skin. A fight toward bruising. It would be beautiful if it wasn’t about a frozen blood clot. It could be an art exhibition. Ink blot or Rorschach investigation into mind. It could be a message from your knees. Your palms try to rub it away. This curious stain. This morse code of suffer. And in the morning when you wake, with ache on your fingertips, you look toward the bruise and it is gone.
Everyone else rubbed UV protectant onto skin, flirted shoulders with oncoming traffic and the wind while he walked to Prospect Park with suicide note and kerosene, giving himself back to the earth. There are days I think about setting my scars on fire to see what new shape I might melt into. There are days I grow numb trying to understand how far down the trees' roots go or why letters in an alphabet like LGBTQ make people so angry. Just yesterday, I breathed in eight million skin cells and the secret messages of squirrels. Everyone seems to be on a diet of hate these days; I just want to get through a day where tongues tie us into love letters not tombstones.
First published by great weather for MEDIA
Dear Holden Caulfield,
I lived inside your manic mind briefly, though long enough to feel hung-over and raw. There are good things, which come out of having terrible long-term memory. I forget endings of books, beginnings too. You won’t find me quoting movies or historical dates. I have gaps in my memory that I’ve simply grown accustomed to. Sometimes it’s better to forget; then, everything feels like an unexpected surprise.
So when I recently reread The Catcher in the Rye for the tenth+ time, I smiled and reacted to Salinger’s words as though I hadn’t digested them before. Of course, this is just like winter, right? Our bodies have to readjust to plummeting temperatures as though we’ve never felt negative degree Fahrenheit before. Snow—at least the first fall—is like an enchanted repainting of our landscape. We bury ourselves in it and slide down its slick ice. We create three-piece men with carrot noses out of its ingredients.
Everything that has existed can still have elements of surprise and newness.
I convinced myself my fractured memory was a fault, something to be embarrassed about. However, it allows me to find thrills in reruns. Forgetfulness has become like a cure for ennui.
There is simplicity in The Catcher in the Rye. There are no explosions or surprises. It’s kind of like a Frank O’Hara poem. We’re brought into the head of someone referencing people we don’t know, yet suddenly want to care about. Walking around New York City during hours I usually sleep through listening to jazz, drinking too much and searching for ways to feel alive.
I spent most of December too afraid of my blank imagination to write. Instead, I listened. I cried. I ate too much. I searched for meaning in the frigid air at Coney Island. Actually, Holden Caulfield came with me that day. It was Christmas. I was alone by choice and felt completely emptied of any tangible, creative thoughts. My mind was terribly, terribly dark. So I went toward the water because that is where the answers are. I could barely look up because the wind was so fierce and cold, but I listened to the music of the Atlantic, inhaling the salty air merged with Holden Caulfield’s alcoholic exhales. I collected shells and bought some stale donuts. I realized that sometimes what we write doesn’t always come out at the time we need it to, or in the way we want it. Each word is a shallot. A tiny onion with so many layers, that you sometimes need to keep peeling before its quite right.
When I finished the last page of Salinger’s book, I felt sad to leave Holden. I liked being in his head. Although it was in those last words that I became closer to finding my own. To being ready to try again. To write.
Sometimes, music comes in the form of a pill
a turquoise-and-white maraca of side-effects
and in its oblong, in its hard-to-swallow
you become who you were