Dear 2019 and the years before that,

I learned that the color of a bruise is synonymous to the sky right before a storm. And just like the sky, the body can thunder and lightening itself until it is unrecognizable.

There are billions less birds flying above us. Instead of the flapping of wings, we hear clouds tangle and cough like flu victims. I walked around the Metropolitan Museum of Art and lost count of the humans wearing face masks. I held my breath for as long as I could. What are we really breathing in?

Blame it on the squall.

I learned that articulating the correct pronoun can save a life.

Sometimes the most difficult decision one can make in a day is to turn off their Internet.

Sometimes the second most difficult decision one can make in a day is to exist for twenty-four hours and post zero photographs of what you ate.

Learned how to embroider; learned how to walk outside; learned I can stay inside; learned how to say no; learned how to leave without causing a scene; learned how to sit still (even if just for five minutes); learned how to approach my body (carefully, as though we are meeting each other for the first time);

I still have no idea who I am.

On January 1st, I will not eat differently.

On January 1st, I will not join a gym.

On January 1st, my scars will not erase themselves away.

On January 1st, I will have still done that.

Haruki Murakami wrote, “Most things are forgotten over time. Even the war itself, the life-and-death struggle people went through is now like something from the distant past. We’re so caught up in our everyday lives that events of the past are no longer in orbit around our minds. There are just too many things we have to think about everyday, too many new things we have to learn. But still, no matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever, like a touchstone.”

I learned that I don’t have to forget all of this, but I don’t have to carry it every day. I can live amidst war, even when it is inside me. I can search for peace amidst the screams and slashings.

Sometimes, just saying hello to a stranger can save a life or at least remind each other that we are visible even when we are not trying to be.

hello (dear 2016)

Dear 2016,

I know. It’s too soon. It’s too soon to sweep you up as though we were two souls growing fat and thirsty in anticipation for each other. We just met. I will disappoint you and you will make me long for the year which just ended.

But how about we touch a little. Like over-the-shirt fondling of secrets. I’ll give away my four favorite vocab words and you can give me a sneak peek of August or even March.

You can mention I’ve gained weight–my mirror already told me so. You can tell me that I will forget how to breathe properly. And I will tear up. And I will scream open my seams and need repairing.

You can mention that grey hair only one person knows about and the fact that I lie about the length of my sorrow.

I get it. You’ve gotten a lot of requests. Expectations, you clarify.

Everyone wants you to be better than last year and the ones before that.

I want you to be limbless, so you couldn’t possibly pick up a gun or handle weapons of any sort. I want your mind to be like a disengaged jaw–wide open– to people of all colors of all religious beliefs.

You want me to back off when I beg for a hint of November’s results. I just want to know I’ll be safe. All the queers and gender non-conforming folks and the wombs of the women who need full access and rights to their body.

You tell me that it’s just the first day. The earliest hours. How can I possibly know all this? you say.

I know. I just…I cannot handle more blood coloring up the black-and-grey newspapers. And all this warmth feeling up the earth. Should I worry? How can I protect it?

I hear you. I mean, I sense your invisible fingers prodding me. Begging me toward patience. But. 2016, can you just sneak me a little hint? How about Hillary? Or the Syrian refugees? What ever happened to those girls, stolen by the Boko Haram? Do we find them, 2016?

Can you…can you tell me about the rising cost of living? We need more affordable housing, 2016.

And how will you protect our speech and how will you pay better attention to the warning signs of terror and how and how and how will you resolve all the bodies buried and left for dead, suffocating our soil? Tell me.

We are all struggling for breath, these days, 2016. How will you fix that?

I know. I’m sorry. Yes, I see that line of people behind me. Wanting to know. Begging for answers as well. But. But I just need to know….will I figure myself out this year? Will translate the ghosts and hidden cupboards in my body? Get this gender dislocation in order? Is this the year? What? Can I not inquire about myself just a little? I didn’t think you’d answer. I mean, I didn’t think I’d make it to you. But. Here I am. Here…we are. So, tell me, 2016, how are you going to save us now?

new year.

Wake. Remember that there is a new date now. It may take you awhile to get used to this. Breathe. I know you know how to do this, but be present with each inhale. Do not make any excessive promises or commitments like weight loss or gym membership. Just arrive in this new year. Be kind to yourself and recall that these first few months can be difficult. Walk toward bookshelf. Choose a book you haven’t touched in awhile. Go to page 47 or 132 or whatever page your fingers stop on. Choose a word that your eyes first connect to. Repeat it out loud as though it is your name. This is your prayer. Infuse it into your sentences. Use it as the first title of your first poem of this new year. Or inscribe it in a letter to someone you’ve forgotten to call.

Go somewhere where you are welcome. Where you are acknowledged as human. Go somewhere where you may feel inspired by the sounds you hear. Go somewhere where you can feel nourished. Go somewhere where you can learn; go somewhere where you can teach.

Be present.

Today, from 2 pm to 12 pm, there is a marathon poetry reading, Shadow of the Geode, at The Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe at 236 E. 3rd Street in NYC. This is their 21st Alternative New Year’s Day Marathon of poetry. Stay for an hour or come for the whole experience.

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.

and so it begins.

Movement. When I think about what leaks from last year into this one, this is my noun. So is pausing. And remaining.

Dance. Deep inside the cacophony of bones, there is a chorus. It still clears its cellular throat. It is tuning up to see if new strings must be added or any need to be removed. It wants to call itself percussion for its yawn. This cavern is not from boredom, but from lack of breathing. I may have gone a whole lifetime not breathing correctly. Even in all my nudities, there are things I have not shown. I am searching for the flexibility to allow me to see the places on my body that have been hiding all these years.

Locate (verb) / Location (noun). Home is not necessarily a place with windows and rent payment. Let this be a year I find it within myself. All these carvings and graffiti notations. Where does the compass of my body direct me to go.

Love (noun). I know you have been alive in me since I could speak you. But perhaps all these years I have been mispronouncing your syllable. I want to be ready for you when you strike me with your toxins. I want you to be ready for me, so my vocabulary is growing. I am studying the stones of this body for you, love. I am renaming every particle of skin for you, love. I am preparing my stories so there will be no more secrets for you, love. And nothing will be left behind because moving forward means gathering up all the leaves that have left us, flattening them for preservation, putting them away to make room for new birth. 

And so it begins.

Unplugged and Deactivated.

What would it look like to see something and not say something?

Sometimes in life, one must draw the line.

A little over a year ago, I joined a club that everyone was already a member of. It’s a club I don’t need to name, rather I’ll describe it in flashes:

I just made the best dinner for my boyfriend. [insert photo]

[insert photo of many other meals because it seems we are a society obsessed with what we eat and documenting]

Who wants to see ___________ with me tonight? LIKE for a response back

LIKE if you LIKE me

[insert photo of abs, cleavage, couple kissing, new baby, new outfit, new haircut, new new new new________]

And what finally ended my membership to this not-so-exclusive club:

[Here is me meditating: Insert photo] And don’t forget to LIKE LIKE LIKE because look at ME; I’m MEDITATING]

There was a lot of hesitation involved when I joined. It felt extremely uncomfortable to look for friends or “request” them; wait for them to “accept” me, maybe even reject me. Some “friends” DEfriended me, while I did the same to others. For over a year, I became programmed to react on screen. When someone upset me, I sliced poems onto the screen. When I missed someone, I voyeured and searched through photographs it felt awkward to view without permission.

Hours spent scrolling down, self-loathing and getting sick off the fumes of narcissism all around.

I am of the Encyclopedia Generation. My family would get a new volume in the mail every month or so and it was quite an occasion to sip the photographs of parts of the world I’d never heard of. Through these books, I learned about leprosy, wild bush women and various weather patterns I never experienced in suburban New Jersey. Only now, can we just type in a few key words and see massive amounts of photographs attached to these words and learn every thing there is to know about it. Things are faster; no need to look through a lengthy index or wait for next month’s volume to be shipped out.

When I saw a great movie, I called up one of my three best friends (sometimes on three-way conversations) and we’d talk about it.

If I got a great haircut (or devastatingly awful), I’d head on over to whoever’s house and reveal. We didn’t have the Internet, no social networks. Birthday invites were through the mail or handed out at school. If you wanted someone to be your friend, you asked them. (Gasp) In person.

For years, when mention of this “club” came up, people would be shocked to hear that I wasn’t a member.

But….but…how do you keep up with your friends’ lives??????? How do you know what’s going on????????????


Then, I gave in. Put up some photographs. Promised myself that only a slice of me would be enlisted in this club. No personal things such as: how that job interview went or who I just had tea with or who I am sleeping with or a photo of that peculiar mole on my left breast.

Though on stage I have absolutely no boundaries; on screen, I needed them.

So, I advertised shows and performances. I thanked publishers who published me. I put up a line or two of poetry I was working on. I made friends. I learned about events that I wouldn’t have known about.

I lost hours, hours, hours of life that could have been spent straddling trees, weeping at paintings in museums, or learning how amazing people are in person right in front of me without a screen between us.

My friend count is less now. The invites will probably dry up. The world of FACES on screen like self-published BOOKS of our lives will still exist; I just won’t be a part of it.

I have done this before. Gone cold turkey from drugs, sex, certain people and other behaviors. There is that natural mourning period.

But think of all those poems that got locked inside me because I was mesmerized by some photos of a friend of a friend who isn’t even a friend of that friend’s baby or dinner date or new apartment or or or.

2013, I am ready for you. The year before you offered me some beautiful, unexpected sights and offerings. I got a whole book of poems published; I moved into a new apartment; I finished my graduate degree; I met the most amazing poets, music makers, listeners and lovers.


I lost myself in there. As a kid, I wasn’t a part of many clubs. I wasn’t invited to many parties. For a little over a year, it felt kind of like I was a part of something. More specifically, I felt like I was one of the popular kids never without a place to sit and eat my lunch.

Now I know what it’s like. I can go back to being the red-haired wallflower poet. Still doing the same things, creating and exploring and loving……you are just going to have to ask me now to tell you about it.

Actually, not much has changed.