nebraska (a short story)

The ladder existed in the middle of a field swarming with chiggers and ticks. It was a day in June I would have titled: denim cut-offs sky with acid washed pocket clouds, had I thought long enough.

Leigh did not like heights; she could barely stand on her tip-toes without feeling excerpts of vertigo.

This ladder was buried eight feet deep into the ground. Held by cement and sturdy earth. She told me she was doing this to get closer to the sun because—and here is where I must quote her, “because when we whisper our truths to the sun, they are burned into us like ritualistic brandings.”

photo by Raluca Albu


We had only known each other for twelve days and she announced her queer after an evening of shared mead. I can still feel the fermented honey drinking my tongue.

Where she came from, she told me, there is no room for declarations such as this. You are born into the gender you are assigned. You are to marry the opposite of what you are.

I told her that where I come from, they extended the land perimeters to make room for the additional boxes declaring the array of humans that exist.

Of course, I come from New York City.

I watched her ankles tremble. Even her blond hair shook like corn stalks in the wind. I stood at the bottom, ready to catch her, but I knew she wouldn’t fall.

And when she finally got to the top, she kept on climbing.

fell in love with wood, strings and fingertips

Dear Pancetta,

I purchased the first version of you in a small music shop in Cape Cod. We shared so many walks in Prospect Park where I’d hold you against my chest, which looked a lot different back then. You helped me find a slice of my voice that you harmonized to.

The second one of you was found in an even smaller shop in the west village where I had no idea I’d fall in love with a hybrid of you called banjolele. We had good times. Remember when we met that human peddling a recumbent bicycle in Washington Square Park. He listened to us softly sing together until I grew too shy to form words. He told us about his existence living in a commune in Staten Island and we almost took that ferry the following Friday to join up!

Pancetta #3, you are larger and I often bring you on stages and in bars where, even though you are underage, they still let you in. You’ve become like medicine for me, lifting my breaths to an audible moan when I am sad. You were an impulse buy, but perhaps the others before you were as well. You remind me to wake because you whisper your tunes in my ear. When I combine my fingers with your strings, I forget about all my scars.

Thank you for existing. All three of you and the others out there finding homes all over the world.

Love, Aimee.


Dear male-presenting human meditating on a wednesday when the sun was at its hottest in union square,

I wasn’t checking you out.

That is to say, I wasn’t looking to get inside your pants which were wide open, zipper down. I wasn’t interested in the way your body would feel pressed against mine. I had no interest in knowing how soft you could be. Or how…hard.

I had no interest in your mouth. Or your long hair whipping into mine. I didn’t care how many indents you had pressed into your abdominals. If your thighs were strong or weak, it did not matter.

I could not care about the color of your eyes or if they caught my stare.

I had no plans on learning whether or not you are a good kisser. Perhaps you have a tongue that can drip a thousand alphabets down my throat. I will never know.

What I could not stop noticing was the skin between your collarbone and bellybutton.

The human who sat beside me said, “I think that’s what your chest would like like.”

would look like…….

I couldn’t stop memorizing the ways in which your chest flattened and curved, shadowed by the sun. I was too far to calculate or memorize the drips of sweat from the heat, but I imagined they were there.

I curled my head downward toward my own chest. It was clothed in button-down shirt, tie, vest. It was flat until I touched it and then, the curve could be felt. The binder. The interruption of how I feel and what remains.

I watched you pray, Male-Presenting-Meditating-Human.

I watched you contemplate peace or life or maybe you were just napping with strict posture. Maybe you were wishing for a different chest……like I was.

Maybe you were wondering what it might be like to look the way you feel inside.

Guess it’s hard to know what you feel inside when all that is seen is your outside….

Guess it’s hard to show what I feel inside when the outside appears so different.




why (do) we walk away

It is late. The inside of my mouth is tired. I wait for the 6 train at the Broadway/Lafayette stop on a Thursday. My body feels like it is holding onto too many things; I agree.

The train arrives and I watch a crowd of people get off.

This is an active station, I think to myself.

I don’t question why so many people are getting off; I just feel immediate gratitude that there will definitely be a place for me to sit after a long, long day of standing.

I get on and notice I am one of four people. I inhale. This is a part of living in New York City. We are surrounded by smells, which often chase people off trains or toward the other side of the street. When I moved away for three and a half years, I missed these smells. Now, I realize I have become one of the many who bolt.

I look to my right and immediately notice a human who I’ve seen before. He is large is every direction. Even his hair is looming. He wears a makeshift cloak and has bundles of hair on his face. Like a tantrum of fur. He is not wearing shoes and he is speaking to himself. This last fact is no longer strange since so many people wear contraptions in their ears and are singing along or talking to the noise. However, he didn’t appear to be wearing anything.

There were no smells. He was just a human without feet protection trying to get somewhere.

If this were fiction, I might write that I sat beside him and asked him how he spent his day. If he was hungry? Would he like the rest of my cantaloupe that I got from the farmers market yesterday. I’d tell him it’s so ripe that it will melt in your mouth, so let it slide down. Maybe we’d laugh about how slippery it is, as though each piece was trying to escape our mouths. Maybe I’d tell him how cool all his facial hair is and he’d compliment me on my tie.

The thing is, this is non-fiction. So, I have to be honest and say that his presence scared me a little. At one point, he started banging his feet against the subway floor and bellowing. His hairy face made him appear like a lion. He wasn’t saying anything mean or even translatable; yet I felt like I needed to move.

At the first stop, I got off and switched trains. I watched two other people follow and switch. When I sat down, I noticed a human laughing with his friend and pointing to the other train car. Whispering about this other.

I realized I was no better than this person making fun of another. I walked away and abandoned this person just because he was loud. Just because he was using his feet to create sound. Later on when I switched trains to the 4, I spent the rest of my ride with an extremely loud proselytizer. He was far more scary, reminding everyone on the train who was waiting for us if we made the wrong decisions. 666, he kept saying.

That man with the roar on the 6 train was simply existing. He did not smell, yet even if he did, I know I’ve had days where the heat caused my skin to haunt unpleasantly through its aroma. Social class does not always relate to our scents, nor does kindness or mental state.

That man with no shoes on the 6 train was a six year old once. Maybe he was great at math and had a best friend he climbed trees with. Maybe he was married once. Maybe he is kind.

Why do we walk away so quickly from those who look different than us?

Real fear is real. If he was calling out hate or clutching on to a weapon, then he should be abandoned. But that man with a lion’s roar on the 6 train was just trying to get somewhere. He was harming no one. Perhaps that howl was his way of saying hello.

I will never know.

Big Words!!! Reading tonight!

I’m so excited to be featured at the great reading series, Big Words, Etc.! They’re back from a summer hiatus & sending it off with a great lineup & theme — I Love New York!

Come on over to Brooklyn…..take the F train to Bergen and head on in to 61 Local located at 61 Bergen St in Brooklyn. The reading is from 6-9pm.

There’s a $5 suggested donation to help pay for the beautiful space, but please feel free to donate what you can! The remaining proceeds will be donated to 826NYC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills.

Featured readers:
Stacie Evans
Aimee Herman
Devin Kelly
Dennis Norris
Thomas Pryor
& Cooper Wilhelm


how modern is this love?

Over 8 million humans live here in this land called new york city. It can be difficult to locate another who houses the same concerns as you. Or requires a similar amount of sleep as you do. One whose appetite is comparable to yours. One who votes in the same political party as you or understands the beauty of black ink pens over blue. One who has a similar work ethic. One who kisses as though your mouth unlocks theirs.

You ask around. In search of your other. Everyone keeps telling you to go online. They tell you to set aside some time to answer all of the questions, find a photograph worthy of getting someone’s attention.

Before you have a chance to type in the web address of this most popular dating service, you unplug your matchmaker.

You are a fan of typewriters and clock radios. Your pocket protrudes from your flip phone, which includes no internet or fancy ring tones. So you grab a piece of paper and favorite pen. You think about what you are looking for in a mate. Write down their coordinates. Various adjectives. Gender non-specific, though you prefer they are queer. Hope for a human who owns more books than technological toys. You ink out a list of feelings you might have around them: safeinspired, lusty, understood, cared for, satiated, full, understood, safe, understood, celebrated, challenged, safe. 

You write down some words more than once to remind you how important they are.

You roll this piece of paper up like a religious scroll. Place faded red rubber band from farmer’s market produce around it, to keep it from unraveling. You give these words time to surface.

Patience can be a difficult thing to channel when you are in search of love.

In the meantime, you stay off line. You enter rooms full of humans of varying appetites and politics. You travel. You exit your comfort zone of extreme shyness. You let go of the fear that you will never love again. You read. You listen to music. You make music. You write poems. You eat a lot. You cook. You learn new meals to eat and cook. You locate muses living in various parts of the country in which you live in. You take walks. You ride your bike. You travel over bridges on foot and bike wheel. You nap on benches. You strengthen your body through yoga and weight lifting. You locate the language of your body and give up various words like shame and gender conformity. You give yourself permission to live out loud even if that confuses others because sometimes inconsistent presentations cause others to feel uncomfortable. You masturbate until it feels good. You stop apologizing so much. You prepare yourself to learn the art and act of loving again.

Humans aren’t like parking spaces; we won’t run out. That mate written on that piece of paper is out there. You may have already met them. And after all that preparation, you will be ready this time.


notice what you notice on the Bowery (NYC)

graffiti_roofs_nyc_by_eligit-d5tklmw Chase men’s denim throughout [this] connection
grey and brown pigeon collects a love affair in the middle of the street
jumps toward traffic light when the green arrives
woman of red lips
swollen in window
I wait for her to notice me
she is mannequin
siren. horn. rubber against winter wet or confused spring
“what will you leave behind”
recover extension of organs
these are just lines
no one waits in them anymore
they are too busy
drawing them
a slice of orange
mural dripped into rocks borrowed for this moment
“there’s no constitution”
everything must go
woman in yellow neon runners
sits on groceries
rolling her addiction
a sink, an egg poacher, something called
a zen iced-tea maker
poet runs across street
this is the last time I saw her
ivy cannot be trusted
women wear pocketbooks as though they are men
slung over
branches like the death of Autumn in Liz’s garden
a yellow wrapper with twenty bites left of chocolate chip or raisin bran muffin
a pumpkin sacrificed for its color
these trees, like starved dancers bending backwards
these are the last of the leaves
notice the backs of her thighs
like lined paper
I have my words ready
do you think in haiku as well?
“I want this for breakfast”
I put my reflection of my body into her 
blue-sequined dress
even as a shadow
I am drag
when I have no one [left] to embrace
I notice everyone else is
this wind slants
yellow plastic caution drowned in Sunday puddle
“once you figure out what subway to take”
“should we do the softball pose? what kind of pose should we do?”

found he(art).

photo by Peggy Dyer

photo by Peggy Dyer

Some things are intentionally left behind. The trash cans are overflowing on this side of the states and one wonders why we don’t twist more metal into deepened cups where all this refuse can go.

But one person’s remains is another’s shelter or supper or scraps for what will one day be a coffee table or bookshelf. On the corner of Utica and Carroll, notice the umbrella cemetery. They huddle like stretched out bodies but maybe they can be refurbished as waterproof leg warmers.

Alternate your pattern of looking. The sky offers many rewards, but so does this ground. Here in Brooklyn, garbage can woo you. Stop and notice the plastic muscle beating on the sidewalk. How beautiful is this litter and does it make you want to search out another human to give it to?

Stories. Telling. A Performance.

Tonight, an evening of Storytellers. Poets. Activists. Educators.

Join Persist Health Project and come to The Space at Tompkins @ 75 East 4th St. NYC     8-9:30pm

Featuring: Puma Perl, Dominick, Aimee Herman, Lily Fury, Chance Krempasky, Synn Stern and Crystal Hayes.

For more information, go to:  Our Stories. Our Lives. A Storytelling Event.

this night leaks homelessness from each exit of air.

On the evening before we are handed an extra hour of minutes, I walk toward east fourth street for some poetry. In my teeth, are the dried mandarins that burst in my mouth with each clap of tooth. There is an applause of bites as I eat more until my tongue is too sugared to speak. I walk up the stairs to a bar with more red than in my hair. So many bottles lined up like stained-glass slurs. I order the cheapest beverage with Brooklyn in its name. It tastes like a hangover. One other woman exists in this bar. She is eating from several to-go tins and I sit, accompanied by broken-in red notebook and black pen. As people enter, what arrives as romantic are the dim shadows over faces. Another poet sits beside me and we roll our eyes around each other. In this light, we are both humans. My supper is this room. I want more of some things and push others beneath the ridges of my notebook. Wang Ping walks behind microphone with length of hair like letters from every lover from first grade to this one. So many words in every dark strand clasped together. She says, “Language…like woman…looks best…when free… naked.” And I want to weep toward this image of dialect on skin. Later, I purchase a stale eclair from a cart for an evening performance of drag and disrobe. I think about the ways in which I envelope my gender lately. On this night, I head toward a theatre for women and trans-folk. I make a small space for myself in a corner of small dressing room where nudity replaces handshakes. I bind my breasts in electrical tape and cannot stop fondling the flatness. When I paint my face, I am other. Two humans on this earth call me animal and I like this moniker of blur. These hours of waiting to go onstage are like curious drips of blood falling on my shoulder. I want to wipe all of this away; I want to run toward its origin. Later, I walk home. The glitter covering my face and limbs are my street lights. I follow my glow back to Brooklyn. Home is where hot tea waits for me. And a painter. A musician and bearded poet. I sleep alone, but my bed is full of the ghosts of others.