day 2: silence the silent treatment

To be wild is to make honesty primal, to not edit out the smell of spit and smoke and the street fruit. To be wild is to let my body levitate when you look at me the right way, when you hit me hard on the street, to be my mouth or my fists, or both—probably both. The wild don’t build fences; we let the worms and ivy and rats and love in.”   ……..Thomas Page McBee

Dear New York City,

So…..I am giving up on my silent treatment. I think we should talk. I think we should take a walk around Prospect Park and see if this relationship can be saved. Remember that time I collapsed against your sidewalk in Brooklyn and you stole my chapstick. And you took some of my blood and you shattered my chin, New York. And that beautiful woman took me to the hospital and nursed away my wounds. New York, it was all your noise which brought on my hysteria. And why is everything here so expensive and small?

Hold my hand. Let’s remember that time you led me into that sweet nap as I rested on thick tree trunk, collapsed onto grass. And when I woke, you surprised me with three turtles basking in the water beside me. You were trying to hint that you can be a hippie too.

I don’t mean to be so mad at you all the time. It’s just that sometimes your smells are less romantic and the fumes of urine and waste carve their way into me. It is difficult to escape.

You hate eye contact, New York, which I have a difficult time with. I want you to hold my gaze. Can you do that just this once?

New York, I am going to try not to think of other cities when I am with you. It’s unfair and doesn’t allow me to be present. I can’t truly be yours if I am longing for another.

Your rats will always frighten me. But your graffiti reminds me to be unafraid to look up and around. Art is everywhere. And you never cease to amaze.

Don’t let go of my hand, OK? Let’s give this another round.

the plants are clumsy but in this light, there are enough travelers to call this a formation of music.

photo by marina MArina.

photo by marina MArina.

This city beats its traffic into us. Of course you would call it percussion and I might call it a thunderbolt of forests parading like a holiday of bark and moss. The light caught me at an angle of sobriety and solitude. You never knew me when I was aggressive with my liver. You wouldn’t have liked me when I handcuffed my ankles to strangers and removed my gender in order to survive days. After you left, I noticed a human reading “The Bell Jar” on the 4 train heading back to Brooklyn. I wanted to ask her if it was her first time or fifth and if I had approached her, I might have mentioned that the last time I read it, I tried to kill myself. I am not a fan of warnings or patterns, so I watched her and read along, wondering what risk we were taking. All of this reverb causes my skin to faint into the shadows napping behind my veins. Some of us engage in an annual faint. I’ve fallen once and now I prop myself up against borrowed guitars or humans tall enough to climb my heels away from concrete in order to reach the weather in the sky.

the arrival of autumn: a cinematic romance

Cue the music. Send in the woman wearing lips as though they were born out of a Kandinsky. Mouth painted in hue of red that makes blood blush. What’s my line? asks the moon. It exists wearing a sweater vest and sheath of wool but from down here all that can be seen is its blinding gaze.

In New York City, everything is romantic. Even the scent of urine. Because when a beautiful woman is against you, the nose smells only blues and jazz on her breath. The cement is covered in a carpet of crushed leaves. We make music with each step. And there is nothing wrong with this air no longer sweating against us. When the body shivers, it reminds us how moved we can get.

Doesn’t this feel like a Woody Allen film? I will stutter my tongue down my throat; you will write poems out of intimate disasters like finely tuned recipes. All of this can exist on a couch somewhere during overpriced analysis session with accented human reminding you that life is meant to feel dog-eared– battered but emphasized.

We will eat differently now because of allergies and dietary restrictions, but here in New York City, everything can be a substitute for the real thing. However. Beauty will always exist as its truest form when the moon stretches and the light is just right to notice. To notice. All the red in this world.

an introduction of sound

Sometimes, one needs to walk outside of comfort zone, whether it be scooping out the wounds from a body to give voice on a stage or sitting across from another beneath a late night New York City sky. Life is meant to be understood, but these understandings take time. I translate one part of my body and then it changes its mind and suddenly I have to start all over. This is ok because this body isn’t on loan; I don’t need to return it by a certain date. We have some time to get to know each other and change directions.

I told someone once, I walk outside my comfort zone each time I wake up.

So, here I am. Up. Awake. Aware that just the other day, I allowed myself to feel music coat me in a way that was always private. Took my ukelele on a trip into the city. We rode two subways together. Got bumped a few times. Walked beneath the slowly setting sun. Listened to poems and then shared a stage together.


photograph by Zita Zenda

photograph by Zita Zenda

After I plucked my uke, she remained on my lap, offering me comfort with her wooden curves. And then we went to a comedy show. And then we shared a meal with a beautiful woman who we wrote a poem with. Then we listened to the roar of Patti Smith. There is music to living. To remaining. I guess sometimes you just have to introduce more sound to it all.

far away is where leaves may be found and they are musical.

New York is familiar now. I recognize corners and smells. My favorite still: west fourth street or grand army plaza on Saturday. And the scent of halal trucks stirring up the hunger in my belly.

New York is not exactly home, but it is where my mail can be received and it is where I write poetry and it is where love can be found and harm and passion and overwhelm and museum and music and memory and there is still new to be found there is still new to be found here.

New York is where I fell once, split open my chin and received nine stitches. New York is where I fell in love and fell out of love and fell in love again (and the pattern continues). New York is where I picnic and nap outside on patches of grass (where it grows) and study the moon at night.

But sometimes. Sometimes one must leave in order to remember that maybe it is more home than one is willing to admit.


Far away is where leaves may be found and they are musical.

Or perhaps right now, they look a bit more like this:

I do not have to travel very far to find this musical instrument beneath my feet. So, I dance above them and listen to their harmony. And if I’m in the right mood, I push myself on top of them and roll against their hardened veins and faded colors and smell Winter fumes seeping out.

When I travel, I notice the sounds all around me. In New York, honking and sirens and reveling and buses stopping and starting again and children and and

In the country, or where homes are bigger and transportation is above ground, I hear crickets and various multi-colored birds flapping their wings and tire wheels slushing against wet ground. I hear my father. I hear peace.

New York Brooklyn may be the love of my life: one that accepts my weight gain or moodiness, my mismatched outfits, my hairy legs, and my anxieties. But it is still necessary to go away sometimes to remember how good it feels to miss it.

Far away from Brooklyn, I’m listening to music. A band of leaves tapping against my window. Tree branch. Howl of wind. I’m having an affair (pre-approved) because New York and I are polyamorous. This state slows me down. Removes my schedules and routines. I am younger here and that’s ok sometimes.

an aftermath of color

What is found outside are car alarms collapsing into sound. An eerily glimpse of sunlight and bird chirp and shadow casting of branch against small rooftop and leaf shimmy and church bell.

What is also found are the wanderings of water with no other place to go than haunt the tunnels and potholed streets and unconscious tree stumps.

When light is taken away, what is left. What may be plucked from the darkness.

*shapes of candle flickers
*tracing laughter with tongue and fingertips
*making love or masking love or marking loath
*words stuck onto unseen walls with spit and torn books for when the light arrives again

* * *

Sirens have been consistent throughout this storm. All this wind. All this name-dropping. Sandy. Sandy. Sandy. When will the humans be allowed underground again, Sandy. Where did the homeless ones go if you’ve added to that number and the shelters are full. Where are we putting them, Sandy? Everyone keeps talking about the food they are cooking, the food they are eating, the food they are stuffing up their full bodies and I wonder how many welcome mats no longer have a porch to nap on. And I wonder how many photographs got washed away.

A woman in Staten Island gives birth as the death toll rises to 50. A new baby fits inside the palm of a young mother’s hand while funerals are planned with no way of getting there.

People wander streets mourning the dead, mourning the corpses left in the street, held captive by police tape.

Say a prayer. One you’ve never practiced before. One you’ve been saving for a time like this. Say it twice. Keep saying it. Stick it into the ground like a rooted seed. Wait for it to grow into something. Like a new house. Or a sturdy bridge. Or a roof. Or a fourth wall. Or a staircase. Or a walkway back to the city that never sleeps that may need a nap after all this…

an ode to Allan Stewart Konigsberg

On New York Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I notice a film crew. It is sometime between 9:30 am and 9:45. I am wearing sleep between my eyes even though I’ve showered and coffee’d. My legs are parted and I am straddling a heavy beast of metal, gears, rust and squeaks called Heleanore the bicycle. I slowed down because I always do when I see a wardrobe truck, table of catered food, and a slur of wiring and lights. I am thinking about work, the exhaustion of being a worker and…then…I…see…

There were two main things on my list to do before I die:

In March, 2012, BlazeVOX books published my full-length book of poems, to go without blinking

…and on 25 October, 2012, I crossed #2 off my list: meeting seeing Woody Allen.

Somewhere on that residential street, you can find my heart– that literal pumping muscle– in a pile of yellow, orange and red leaves because I am quite sure it leapt out of my body.

I. Just. Stared. Got. Off. My. Bike. And. Watched. Him.

I thought about what I could say so that I wouldn’t be seen as just another “fan”. Instead, a future friend or someone he might call on Sunday to drink coffee with and talk about our favorite NY Times articles. I’m not looking to run away with him or have a romantic tryst. I’d just like to share a peanut butter sandwich on pumpernickel bread, maybe a Dr Brown’s root beer soda and some stories.

If I wasn’t on my way to work, I’d have remained in that spot all day. Instead, I breathed him in, waited for him to look over (which I am quite sure he did!!!) and notice the frizzy-haired redhead. Then I shakily biked off.

As I ride the 5 train toward the Bronx, I reflect on what I would have liked to have said to him…..

Hi. Hello. Welcome back to Brooklyn. I live here. Well, I live about six blocks away. What made you choose this area to film? How is your health? I mean, you look great. I was just wondering. I really enjoyed To Rome, With Love, though I must admit that my top three favorites in order are Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Play It Again, Sam. I didn’t think you were filming in New York anymore. Where is your favorite place in New York to eat? Does Soon-Yi call you Woody or Allan or Stewart or…? What are you reading right now? Do you like peanut butter sandwiches? How do you spend your Sundays? Women who I’ve attempted to flirt with have said I look like you. Perhaps they didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I was flattered. How do you balance marriage and kids with your creative life? I make everyone I fall in love with watch Annie Hall with me and they usually love it just as much as I do. Do you still talk to Diane Keaton? Have you read her new book? Do you think I look like you? I write poems. Do you ever read poetry? What is your biggest regret? Are you a morose character? I think about death all the time even when I’m in the throes of an orgasm. Where do you feel most inspired? My dad met his idol, Milton Berle, on an airplane and it wasn’t such a positive experience. Do you idolize anyone? Is there anything you’re afraid to speak out loud? How often do you cry? You always get the girl in your movies; I always lose the girl in real life. How non-fiction is your fiction? Can I give you a poem? Can I make you a sandwich? Can we have lunch together? Do you really not want to be part of a club that would have you as a member? Yeah. Me either.

transplanted allergies

I treated myself to a small cup of hot cocoa on 3rd Avenue in the Bronx on the way to work. One dollar yielded a steamed beverage and reminder that I am an outsider in the northernmost borough I have been flirting with.

“Do you want sugar?” said the man elevated on truck also selling pastries and bagels.

“No, thank you,” I answered. “Do you have soy milk?”


“Skim milk?”

“No. Just regular milk.”

There was an awkward pause and I told him to just throw in a little bit.

He handed me my hot cocoa, wrapped up in two small napkins; I handed him a dollar.

Soy milk in the Bronx?” he said with a smirk.

There is something special about this place, which is the fourth-largest in land area of the five boroughs, the fourth most populated, and the third-highest in density of population. I’ve gotten the best coconut ice ever from a sweet woman pushing a cart of various flavors. That first lick revealed a true sense of palm tree treasures. I’ve yet to experience the Botanical Garden or the Wildlife Center. There is also the Edgar Allan Poe Cottage!

It all begins with a paper cup full of powdered hot chocolate (the best kind), which opens up my eyes to the beauty of this Bronx.

sometimes you have to lie to tell the truth

I am moving.

I never really owned any traditional luggage: matching bags with wheels and retractable handles. It’s always been backpacks and garbage bags.

Perhaps I will just gather up enough books to keep me occupied until I can replace them, a toothbrush, my notebook, black ink extra fine pilot pen, an extra change of clothes and a map.

Just me and my bike and an open rode where schedules and student loan hauntings are past tense.

I will collect community at each state line. Queers who look beyond my spotty gender. Poets who want to write with me. Strangers who will drink a pint of beer beside me and reveal the unabridged version of their lives thus far.

There is no rent on the open rode. Just highway signs and fields of grass where I can carefully lay my bike (Heleanore Herman II) and sleep beneath the aroma of stars.

The complication of love and its demands and my inability to commit will be dust. Thoughts will move from fragment into complex sentences due to lack of interruption and complete awareness of unplugged surroundings.

No cellular phone.

No internet.

No television programs.

No social media outbursts.

Just air…the wild beasts hidden in trees…and the ones napping on porches.

* * *

I may miss New York, and the 8 million people clustered inside of it.

I may miss my Saturday morning Farmer’s market at Grand Army Plaza, where I purchase dinosaur kale, carrots, beets, tomatoes, peaches, apples, cabbage, yams and a morning treat of blueberry or strawberry rhubarb muffin. I may miss that patch of shade I tend to lay in where I rest my bundle of New York Times. I may miss the nap I often spontaneously take after the sun lures me to sleep.

I may miss the New York Times and my weekend subscription.

I may miss all those poetry readings and the brilliant minds I’ve met off stages, gathering at various cafes, theatres, bars.

I may miss this home in Crown Heights where I have memorized my bike routes, the pattern of scents wafting, the pigeons with barbecue sauce dripping from beaks.

I may miss the sunrise here.

* * *

Sometimes, you have to lie to tell the truth.

I am afraid to remain because what if I really can’t make it.

What if there is no job for me.

What if (my) community is just a shadow blurred from lack of commitment.

What if New York doesn’t even notice I’ve gone……………..

long-term relationships or dissecting my fear of monogamy

I have been inside quite a few relationships.

I’ve gathered up miles, kisses, spoke the word love more times than I can keep track of, and find myself at this certain age feeling the wrath of commitment.

Forget another.
Forget the idea of girlfriends, partners, wives, lovers.

I’m talking about myself here.

I have a difficult time committing to me.

And oddly enough, this constitutes as my longest relationship.

Granted, it’s kind of hard to walk away from me.
(And I’ve tried)

Over two years ago, I got involved with a gender-unconfirmed lover with wide angled bones, graffiti’d thighs, and an unyielding adventurous spirit that never sleeps.

This lover has breath of apple cores.

This lover has many other lovers.
(I guess we are polyamorous.)

This lover speaks more languages than I can keep track of and I tend to feel inferior to this lover’s infinite knowledge of art, music and history.

This lover is moody, though I am too.

And those times when I feel overwhelmed and want to run from all of this,
this lover unpeels the sky and throws the moon up there, extra bright, for me to notice.

Hard to compete with that.

This lover……this…..this lover’s name is New York City.
Nicknames include: Brooklyn, NYC, the apple, my city, my home, the grit of the east.

We’ve gotten quite close recently, but suddenly I find myself looking for more of a commitment.

This is where it gets complicated because I don’t need to be exclusive with New York…..I just need to know that I am wanted.

So, I am pressing this into the earth, as loud as I can get…..
competing with the sounds of police and ambulance sirens
and ladies with curlers caught inside their hair screaming at their own lovers
and subways screeching against the tracks from down below
and car traffic with disgruntled 9 to 5’ers
and the birds outside my windows
and pigeons scraping their beaks against chicken bones left on sidewalks

as I beg this city
with infinite possibilities
this lover
this partner of mine
to ask me in the thickest accent I have memorized and cannot do without
to stay
persist just awhile longer.

In this land of rainbow’d buildings and elevated parks and benches everywhere and more food than one could possibly consume in a lifetime, I find myself thinking of past lovers:
called Denver
called Boulder
called Victoria
called Vancouver

as I romanticize my life then.

Brooklyn, NYC, the apple, my city, my home, the grit of the east,

I can no longer afford you
why do I feel so lonely when I am surrounded by millions of people
if I could just find a job here that would explain away the student loans and overpriced education
could you just send me a sign that reminds me how phenomenal you are?

I really, really want to be monogamous with you, New York.