The Legalization of Love


Measure two humans marinated in childhood trauma discourse. Add in a heaping scoop of resistance, fear, curiosity, desire, and a pinch of ready.

Build a bar or cafe or library or meeting place where people can walk through doorways freely. With windows. Several bathrooms. Strong, but not aggressive, lighting. Paper tablecloths.

Stop blinking. Get used to the way eyes begin to scream, begging for a nap. But you can’t because suddenly there is a human who makes you feel color blind. Because everything you look at is suddenly the color of them.

Introduce your fingers to theirs. Let them fumble against each other. Call this holding hands. Call this an opportunity to read the morse code of their calluses.

Swap stories, spit, and recipes.

Fill each other’s mailboxes with letters because you each like to watch your words in flight.

Leave your toothbrush at their house. A week later, carve a poem into their pillow and let it submerge into their knots.

Learn how to kiss for the first time even though you’ve been kissing for decades. Even though some even called you good at it.

Run away. Because that’s what you do. That is how you communicate that you are scared. Because you are feeling something.

Allow yourself to be found.

Kiss some more; learn how many freckles sit on their shoulders. Tell them the weightiest secret you’ve ever kept and feel the mass of your body shift.

Get used to what it feels like to be heard. To be understood. To be loved. Without cracks or disclaimers.

Read a newspaper; learn that even though you’ve been human all this time–just like everyone else–suddenly the law opened up to include you. And this person whose hand you hold, whose mouth you’ve memorized but still learn from, whose brain cells are like fireworks you are in awe of, this person, your person, is the one you stand beside each day. And even with the government involved, you still tempt each other’s wild. But now you call them spouse. And you still call them friend. Partner. Pen Pal. Love.

this is when we had to wait

originally published on great weather for MEDIA


I am younger than this moment. Maybe six or four or eleven years old. Tilted against my mother’s hip or arm outstretched for free sample of stale cheese or aged meat: there I am. Can you find me. Hair fainter than it is right now and much curlier. Longer, of course. My grandmother always begged me not to cut it. Why do we choose to forget how to listen during the times we should most.ah

I grab a ticket made of paper with a number on it and then stretch eyes to a neon screen. There are at least five numbers between the one I have against my palm and the one in lights. We must wait.

Of course, I am at Food Town or Grand Union or whatever New Jersey supermarket will accept the most coupons in this moment in this memory. My mother and I are at the deli counter purchasing processed animals and curds of milk. This is before I lost my ability to remember.

This is when we had to wait.

Remember this? When tickets told us when we could place our order. Doors, which closed and locked, led us far away from phone calls because phones were attached to long, windy chords attached to walls. Texts were on paper, not screens pressed into our over-priced pockets.

This is when we had to wait.

I remember—back when I still could—that I had a pen pal in Operation Desert Storm when that was the war of the moment. I felt strange curling my letters into cursive moments, telling this man—this soldier—about my day. Silly snapshots of lunchtime and unrequited love. Fighting with friends and the mess of my home life. I would wonder what my words felt like for him, when his sounds and mine were so divergent. Then I realized that was the point. We need to be reminded how others live in order to understand how to survive the war you’re in. And we are all in some sort of war. War of mind. Of body. Of political disagreements. Whatever the cause or title may be.

I would wait for his letter to get dropped off into my mailbox by the diligent postal worker. Sometimes, by the time his response reached me, I had forgotten what he was responding to. He’d answer questions I forgot I had even asked him, but the wait was always worth it.

Perhaps we have overlooked the importance of patience. Pausing for an answer. Breathing before pressing out our responses.

I’ve recently challenged this wait even more by exchanging war hero with deceased poet, several decades past his last moment of breath. I know that I will never get an answer back this time—that it is more than just waiting—instead, this time it is about remaining inside the questions. To know that sometimes words are most important when they are written, even if no one is around to read them.


that time you took your shirt off

It was a Thursday and the sky was a shade darker than your silverware. You took your shoes off and slung your fingers inside each one as you let your toes feast on the sand, full of cracked shells, twigs and occasional cigarette butts and remainders of glass.

You were with the one you love. The one who searched for the perfect spot to rest blue bed sheet and stack of sandwiches to house your testosterone-fueled appetites.

You placed your sneakers on the corners to hold the sheet down, took a deep breath and inhaled the Atlantic. You kept it in your lungs until you had to let go. All that salt. Waft of seagull wings swirling down your throat.

You look around and see bare breasts and strings of fabric covering up the other parts. You love seeing bodies being celebrated, uncovered and unapologetic.

You look at your lover, who is blinking in the ocean.

And then. You remove your Batman black t-shirt. You remove your binder. You are bare chest and excited nipples.

Your lover removes his t-shirt. Then, binder. He is bare chest and hairy nipples.

You leave your green bandana on, which hugs your neck.

You leave your gender behind for an afternoon at this beach, which is far more gay friendly than the one you usually go to. Several hours later, when you both decide to ride bikes for awhile and explore the nooks, you shake off the sand on your skin, flatten breasts back beneath binder, with Batman t-shirt back on.

You think about Nebraska. Skinny dipping beneath that dark sky. Allowing yourself to be self-conscious for only fifteen seconds. Then, recognizing that these humans– these poets, these artists, these magic makers– see past what your parts look like and recognize you simply as human.

Nudity can be like a shout-out: Hey, look at me! Look what I got. This is what I am!

Nudity can also remind us and others that we are not what we think/feel we are: Hey, forget all this. It’s just the scaffolding protecting the best parts, the parts you cannot see.

On a Friday evening, one day later, you walk on stage and tell a story that is yours, but in someone else’s voice. The audience does not know that it is another human speaking on behalf of your memories. Sometimes it is easier to relay the messages of your mind through a different medium: oil painting, collage, choreography, sculpture, song, poem.

Even all those times you were in various stages of nude, the audience never really saw you.

Then on Saturday, several hours later, you wonder when you might finally take that scaffolding down.

a door, opening

Dear Pen Pal,

They are just shapes. Squares. Angles. Equations. Ninety degrees. Trees turned inside out and shorn of hairy leaves. Decades of breathing taught me they were doors.  

dôr ]  :  A sign of entering. A revelation of more. Barrier of protection.

One lover told me I was like one of those metal doors at banks with thousands of coded locks attached. Said I was unapproachable, impossible to open and enter.

This is a lie, pen pal.  I am the one who has called myself this.

Doors can be painted in bright hues, some have awnings above them. Some have stained glass slits of sunshine’d colors coming through.

Doors can be heavy. Some can be see-through screens with aeration.

Doors can be purchased from hardware stores; doors can be made from found wood from backyards or the bush.

All of this is a metaphor for you.

Humans can be doors that upon twisting that knob of language, adventure and magic is born.

Humans are like doors in that they are tall & safe & protective & calm & still.

It was just after 7pm (or so) and a door walked through a door wearing a cap and suspenders and a room that had no meaning suddenly grew grass, acres of hyacinths and wildflowers of impossible colors.

This door was you.

We are surrounded by doors, which are doors. We are surrounded by doors, which are humans. Those who remind us to walk through, to get out, to wander. To explore.

How lucky. How beautiful. That I have fallen in love with the most booming of doors to ever welcome me through.


a moment on your mouth.

I was asked to write about the state of your mouth.

(and by asked, I mean, compelled)

I was asked compelled to write about the state of your mouth and the adjectives that arrive are: earth-bound, orchestral, hungry, polite, southern, like a pastry.

I was compelled to write about the state of your mouth as though it is a kingdom. A nation of skin and exhales. A confederation of spit and jaws.

I was compelled to write about the state of your mouth as though it contained rivers, bicoastal oceans, twelve reservoirs and a creek to wade in.

Your mouth is a compilation of love letters.

Your mouth is a completed volume of encyclopedias, the kind delivered to one’s door and full of illuminating photographs and unchartered territories.

Your mouth is an unlocked secret.

Your mouth is a mailbox, delivering care packages full of rice crispy treats and home-baked cookies and licorice and books and black ink pens and decoder rings.

I was compelled.

I was enthralled.

I was deliberate.

When I signed up (without end date) to study the correspondence, the choreography of the movement of you.

pi(e) day

“Why is the word yes so brief?
it should be
the longest,
the hardest,
so that you could not decide in an instant to say it,
so that upon reflection you could stop
in the middle of saying it.”

—–Vera Pavlova

Yes…..  In less than an instant, that syllable fell off my tongue like an autumn leaf ready for its winter swan dive. We are born into these bones which fluctuate and fondle skin, but sometimes it takes decades to learn the impact of understanding what they can do. Yes…..  There is a contraption called photo booth where humans crawl into tiny spaces and pose for unannounced clicks. Here is where love can be found. Yes…..  At what age were you when you first learned of this mathematical constant? It is irrational and infinite. Behind you, someone whispers: like love!

Yes…..  There is no such thing as forever. Even words run out and what we are left with are sounds or their echoes. But. When it runs out, you make more. Like pie. Like love. Like this.

(how are YOU) meant to wake up feeling?

Experiment #362: Go to your book shelf. If you have a designated poetry section, go there. If not, well, quickly make one, alphabetize according to author and pause. Perhaps it is time to introduce a new book to your shelves. Go to your “H” section. Can you make some room?

Now, (bare with me), purchase a copy of my newest poetry collection, meant to wake up feeling. You can find it HEREOr HEREOr HEREOr even HERE.

Take a deep breath. (I always do when I purchase something on the Internet).

Next, I want you to email me. Nothing fancy. Just something like: Hey, I bought it. OR: Did what you said, now what?

In your email, give me your address and I will send you a personalized letter. I know what you’re thinking: I’m going to put you on some mailing list. Nope. Or I’m hoarding addresses to publish in well-trafficked bathrooms. Ummm…..nope.

I think there is nothing more intimate than giving away one’s handwriting. (OK…..maybe there are a few other more intimate things….) Taking the time to use ink or lead to write words on paper, stuff into envelope, with a stamp! and then mail it??!?!?!

After you purchase a copy of my book, I will write you a REAL letter. A good one. With lots of words on a handmade card. And a stamp, of course.

So…here’s my email:

Looking forward to hearing from you!

tell it like you remember

It was a Sunday, but it may have been a Thursday. It was cold enough to forget what sweating felt like or it may have been summer. There was a rainbow in the sky or printed on someone’s shirt. There were birds flying toward another patch of sky. Or it may have been empty.

There was a pile of letters on the ground as though a postal worker had fallen and all this paper represented the remains.

Someone sprayed graffiti on a building or fence and it read:   Never Fall. In Love.

You had just eaten a lunch of seventeen sandwiches or cold soup or it may have been breakfast time and all you ate were coffee grounds and haunts from sleep.

It was sometime after 8pm. Before midnight and nowhere near 11pm.

Everyone you passed smelled like buttercream and anise. Frosted black licorice. Your tongue was sore from licking itself.

You were not in love for the first time in over a decade.

Your teeth were like picket signs in your mouth in search of a cause to bite into.

Someone may have asked for your phone number. Or your order. Or if you could move aside because you were blocking an entrance.

Did I mention it was cold out?

It was definitely February. Probably March. It wasn’t October.

There was talk of poetry or philosophical medical jargon.

Someone was playing an instrument or it could have been the finely-tuned chorus of harmonized voices in your head.

Nope, definitely some strings.

You were wearing elbows and fingernails.

No one kissed you but you could taste the breath of another on your shoulders.

At some point, your wrist reminded you that time is never important. Numbers only exist for those who can add. Sometimes time is just about what your appetite and eyes call for.

There was a rainbow and it existed in three hundred and thirty-four shades of burgundy.

day 14: a punctuated affair

There is something deeply romantic about punctuation marks. They direct; they gather momentum; they are like fingers beckoning.

Several years ago, I was wooed by a question mark. This stunning curvature twisted around me and we made love without answers. We crossed borders on our tiptoes, twirling our tongues over mountaintops and forest hikes. I proposed marriage to this question mark and we spent our days researching our way toward a comeback.

But what started as alluring, slurred into frustration. Breath became an elongated interrogation and suddenly we found ourselves apart.

On a Thursday morning while coffee spilt into my mouth, I looked to my right and immediately felt the heat emanating off an exclamation mark. I was captivated by the volume of their speech. A week later and they plunged their screams inside me and questions were no longer a part of me. I gave up on wondering. I gave up on trying to understand what suffocated inside me. Instead, we yelled. We wrapped our skin inside howls and shrieks. This love was exciting, but. Overwhelming. And unpredictable. At times, unsafe.

We parted and I realized how difficult it can be to get over an exclamation.

I had an affair with an M-dash. This floating line asked me to undress it as we found our way inside a tiny bathroom stall in a bar on Delancey as we both tried to forget the haunt of our significant others. This extra-long dash was taller than I and so beautifully feminine. I gathered up their soft. They stained my neck with red and blue. It was only that night, but I could feel myself expanding.

I had been searching. I had an idea of what I was looking for, but could not seem to find the right shape. I met a period, but they were too controlling. I almost thought I had met my match with a comma until I realized we were in search of different ways to pause.


On a Sunday. Past the point of cold but not exactly warm. New York City. Lights. Overpriced whiskey. A semi-colon walked into the room; suddenly, I could feel the elocution of my lungs. And for once, I felt at home in my body. Perhaps because I was seeing another so comfortable in theirs. We spoke and even in our shynesses, I had a sense that I had finally met the other half of my sentence. An independent clause.

There is a pause inside us and a need to (be) complete as well. This is what is so beautifully complicated about a semi-colon. We are complete without the other half; and yet, so much more profound and elucidated by the other.

day 13: coiled music.

dear pen pal,

I uncross my vocal chords to sing you a song about turtle shells. Did I ever tell you about the time I hunted a fence? Followed it through three cities just to see where it curved. And do you know where it stopped? Then, I tripped on a train track playing a Miles Davis song on a loop. And I forgot all the words, so I just hummed. Dance with me. Grab my dimple and make a wish. Tell me this can last. Tell me how sore you are from breathing in new york city. And then there is that infamous story of onion skin and when you got to that tiny core of spice and unlatched seventeen tears; I counted, so I can cite this number as real. Hey, you are flint. You occur from history. You arrive at my destination and I’ve been lost. How do you reach that key. That note of soprano snuck behind your tongue of alto. I can sing sometimes too. So, I stretch out my freckles like a ribbon of elipses and call out the chorus. And repeat. And repeat. Until you sing along.