an ode to my furrow.

My therapist calls it a crease. As though my forehead has overslept after a night of tossing and turning and now it needs heavy-duty ironing. And yet, I like this noun. Perhaps I can call every fold and fumble on my skin a crease.

When I sit, that is not fat forming around my belly. They are creases. All those scars on my forearms? Creases.

My lover stores poems in my creases. But the noun chosen is furrow. Sometimes it is used as a verb: “Your brow is furrowed and I like this.”

I am unaware of when it happens. This noun of waves or verb of worry.

I furrow on the subway. I furrow when I make love. I furrow when I am in my nude, in the bath or upwards in shower. I furrow when I am eating a meal that steals all my words. I furrow when I am reading. Perhaps this is my resting face/place.

Creases or wrinkles or excess of skin does not have to be a bad thing. In fact, I quite like my folds. Media tells us to be smooth, but I like people to know I’ve lived and continue to do so.

My body tells the story of me when I am too shy to.

My body does not allow me to skip pages. Every inch of me speaks out my history. I like this. It reminds me I have one.

So, I’ve got this furrow that for a brief time was covered due to a poor decision called bangs. 

I was recently asked (by my therapist) to think of a part on me that I can say I like. For over a week, my answer was empty.

Finally, I know.

I like something about me.

My furrow.

to amy (sic) of ten years ago today.

Ten years ago, you had a difficult time with serving sizes. Back then, you hoarded cocaine and one-night love affairs. You collected envelopes of gashes. Ten years ago, you were being cyber-bullied by your memories. You changed your phone number and the shape of your skin in order to hide from your shadow. You feasted on potholes. You grew an enormous amount of debt as though this tab was like a garden you were watering. You lost feeling in the lower region of your body. Ten years ago, you shaved everything. Ten years ago, you fondled paralysis of your heart. You stopped trusting men. You fell. Do you remember that? You traveled with bar napkins against bloody chin because the weight of panic threw you down. Do you remember that you found new places to hide the slashes from the anger which only grew louder from all the drugs? Ten years ago, you got into a knife fight with the other half of you. You filled out only half the application for a restraining order against your vagina.      * Ten years ago today, you began planning for a future you were contemplating against. You applied to university in a state you never lived in, hoping for a re-do. You found words, which felt too kind, to describe your journey and intention to study. You got a phone call from a voice you did not recognize telling you that you were accepted to university. You decided it was time to get clean again. You threw bad habits into garbage and threw heavy bag of trauma into Brooklyn dumpster. You started writing more. You decided what could be left behind and what you wanted to remain with you. You cleaned out your phone of names, which haunted your ear drums. You decided to choose poetry as your drug; it was a lot cheaper and though it left you fiending for more, it was free. And did not leave you with nosebleeds and blackouts. You drove over two thousand miles. You still made some mistakes, but when you fell, there was a lot less blood. You got your degree. You learned how to collect months and then years of sobriety. You gave up collecting things. You still have a difficult time with serving sizes…..though now, it’s just coffee. And words.

do-over

You did not get raped. You are not allergic to dairy; therefore, you may eat that strawberries-and-cream sundae without fear of gut explosion. You were not interrupted while walking home that day by two men, in tinted brown car, alerting you that you dropped something. You did not say I love you to the first lesbian to ask you on a date. These men in scratched aluminum car did not persistently tell you: Yes, you did. Miss, you dropped something. You do not have a difficult time reading Proust. Here is when you did not grow confused and then angry when these men in bass-blaring car continued with: Miss, you dropped a conversation. Now, c’mon and get closer and talk to us. You’re so pretty, Miss. No, you definitely did not grow flammable when those men thought they had your permission to be gendered and bothered. You never tried to give yourself bangs. You are not plagued by indigestion every time you remove your clothing. You have absolutely no problems being intimate. You never eat dessert for supper; you wouldn’t dare. You have no difficulty calling yourself labels like woman or alive. You feel completely understood by the humans who think they know you. You are not uncomfortable by the thought of celebrating your birthday. You have no desire to afford a mortgage one day. You definitely don’t want to get married. You were so relieved that time you weren’t pregnant. You have forgiven _________. And _________. You are not clothed in sixteen layers of phobias. You definitely do not hesitate to breathe sometimes. You did not collapse on that Brooklyn concrete and find nine crooked stitches in your chin the next morning. You are really OK. You are not looking for a remedy. You are clean. You can definitely get through this. You can get another try; there is always a do-over.

the currency of concern.

“A body holding its own dusk/ That is what a predator is, mostly.”  –Elizabeth Robinson

A body shuts down. It is night and there is only enough room for airplanes and crickets and moon and sleep. 

Here is how it goes. The author sits wearing wet hair and long underwear. Breath of peppermint and coffee, barley and long-distanced lover’s tongue. Outside, one could pretend it is spring, but it is too cold to title it as such. The author has consolidated their loans; the author has consolidated their bones.

Monthly payment does not match bank account and when asked how many members in family, suddenly one sounds synonymous with failure.

A body searches its contents and recognizes only the stink of bones, but cannot recall if that is actually what they are called. It is a time congruent to morning. 

It can be immensely humbling to prove one’s poorness. There is enough food in cupboards and shoes to wear and enough options of laundered clothes to fill a drawer and closet. Hot water and heat paid for by unseen landlord. The author can even afford capers, but chooses to wait for tax return.

However, the amount owed far exceeds the amount author owns and on this morning of unzipped blue denim sky, the author cries store-brand version of tears and swallows store-brand version of oxygen.

A body exhales and spits out the dust of agony.

This is not about educational tabs running over. Nor is this about economic class or the woes of a poet in search of a space safe enough to wrap skin around. This is not about what plagues a body. Nor is it a prompt for pity.

This may be about what it feels like to occur. To be the one folded in the corner of rooms wondering why every circumstance is a reminder of what you do not have.

How to populate with only words. How to birth without heteronormative consumption. 

Here is how it goes. The author hikes toward the closest mountain found within the nooks of mind. Digs torn-up fingernails into soil that is highlighted by the sun. Fondles the pebbles and branches, which feel like found currency. Puts loot into pockets. Continues traveling up. Up. Higher. The author pretends to be unafraid of heights; the author does not look down. Up. Higher. Until. The only thing that matters is the wind. The curves beneath each step. And the way down.

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.

an interruption of sorts.

“If we catch only a little of our subject, or only badly, clumsily, incoherently, perhaps we have not destroyed it. We have written about it, written it and allowed it to live on at the same time, allowed it to live on in our ellipses, our silences.” –Lydia Davis

First, decide if it is unfinished. If you speak no, then you are wrong. How can anything be done if everything which surounds us is a draft. This air has been circulated and past along and will never exist the same.

All of this is a broken silence.

Interrupt the fragment of your tongue. Barge into your sentence with a sequence of yawns or teeth-clicks.

Everything has been done before but not right now in this moment like this.

Discontinue judgement that the salt staining the outsides of your eyes is misbehaving. When your friend confesses they permit only one day per year for tears, interrupt them with a squeeze. Insist upon the need for emptying. Otherwise, there’d be no room for any of us.

Even patterns deserve an interruption. Diet your hair and cut away some weight. Not everything on a body needs to be symmetrical. There does not need to be a reason for elbow pads or bandages.

Travel — down a different block or past state lines. Interrupt your weekly session of chores. Pretend someone is following you.

And at the end of an evening, say goodnight to something else. Not the moon or your lover. Kiss goodbye the wood keeping you warm at night. Or whisper ‘i love you’ to the window panes or vents or the cat which bellows when the dark arrives.

Interrupt your gratitude for those which rarely get noticed.

 

here is how it will happen.

You will receive health insurance for the first time in eight years minus one summer.

A human dressed in a different version of queer than you will ask: “So, how’s your gender going these days.”

And you will smile because there is something so rewarding about breathing sometimes and you will inhale so deeply, you can taste your organs.

“Everything is still forming its bones,” you answer. “There are some things that are getting louder and some things that are feeling stronger in me.”

When you mention hysterectomy, you do not announce the time your professor at the university near the mountains thought you already had one due to the way you were writing about your blood and carved out structure.

You want to cry the moment your lover tells you, “I imagine you wearing the chest you dream about, not the one that greets me each night.”

You hoard that free coffee, owed to you on punch card from favorite cafe, housed in your wallet. You want to save it for a time that celebrates something you’ve been longing for.

You will revisit a lover who loved you when you were still searching for the instruments to carve out the vocabulary of your thoughts. It will be like time never passed and you will relocate that smile you had before that time you used to pretend away. You will kiss a map of all the years onto the palm of the others’ hand.

“But do you even want to figure all this out?” says the one dressed in warm and sleep-deprived.

This? Is it something to figure out or untwist like knots of curious yarn,” you answer.

You’ve got too many turns in you, so you say: “I’m just looking to feel alive from all my angles. I want to play seek, rather than hide so much.”

Here is how it will happen.

You will stop locking yourself away like a diary with blank pages. You deserve to be read.

You will kiss and you will opposite-of-rhyme and you will read enough books to feed your eyes. And you will whistle even in the winter when your lips shiver. And you will wake. And you will wake. And you will stay.

words which can now be found.

Thank you to Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal for publishing my poem, texture of a mushroom. This is an excellent publication that “celebrates the commotion of liminal space.”

Click on the link above to read the poem and listen to the audio version as well!

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.