the one about mouths

“Your mouth is a liar,” she said. She could no longer forget his teeth and the way they were like squares of concrete with someone else’s initials etched in.

“You know my mouth. It has sung to you for years. Don’t you remember the first thing you said to me on that afternoon during that month of that year?”

“I want to eat your song,” she answered.

“What happened to us?”

“Your lips trembled and you slipped fourteen lies between my lips.”

“I apologized.”

“And you left. You left your tongue on the kitchen floor of someone else’s apartment and–”

“But I got it back.”

“But it never moved the same.”

“Sometimes people need to leave in order to remember how to stay.”

“I’m looking for someone who can stay long enough to forget how to leave.”



the bone structure of yesterday.

“you’ve got to burn
straight up and down
and then maybe sidewise
for a while
and have your guts
scrambled by a
and the demonic
you’ve got to run
along the edge of
you’ve got to starve
like a winter
you’ve go to live
with the imbecility
of at least a dozen
then maybe
you might know
where you are
for a tiny

—–Charles Bukowski, from Bone Palace Ballet: new poems

Where you are may include obscurities but if the footnotes are still attached, one may find clarity in what is further explained.

Where you are may be damaged or sprained.

Where you are may require a chest x-ray or formal apology.

Where you are may include a defend of language and after all the booze has been broken into, you may mumble out: ‘you’d be surprised what stalks inside bodies’.

Where you are is a desert in the west of what is central. You thirst for articulate shoulder blades and coffee.

It was only yesterday, when you offered up your waist waste. It was intimate only because you read that poem but in all of your nude, you realized that line breaks and italics can be far more intimate than exposed bones. A spectator will call this a rough-up, when you finally come to terms with the discrepancies on your body and come out about what is no longer true about you. And it’s ok if you decide to forego political vocabulary and just call yourself human from now on. Where you are is forming. 

a grim arithmetic

“It is not a matter of words for things. Rather it is a matter of distance between the word and the thing” (Nathalie Stephens).

It is not a matter of the limbs of speech, rather the foliage growing from it. 

1. Pasts are like bones. They grow and rip shards of internal bruising from within. When is the right time to disrobe. When is the right time to tell a new lover about the time you _______ or _________ and how about when you used to ____________ and almost ________ because of  ____________. My baggage is mismatched and crumbled. It has been stolen and lost, but always finds its way back to me with pieces missing.

2. Sole mate < or = to soul mate. There is so much fear in learning how to kiss a new mouth. Some lips are dressed in whale fat and others are waxed and peppermint’d. I can love beyond the parts. What I search for now is to find another who sees beyond mine.

3. Stop asking what she is. It is not always one answer; it is not always a word that has been assigned sound.

4. I desperately held onto love as though it could just exist through and with one person. And then, I met another. And then another after that one. When we think love is gone, there is (always) another human breathing up earth…on their way to you. Just inhale and be ready.

5. Pass (verb) 1 move or cause to move in a specified direction:/ change from one state or condition to another: . / die (used euphemistically):/ go past or across; leave behind or on one side in proceeding: / go beyond the limits of; surpass; exceed:/ come to an end……../ / / It does not always have to be this or that. There is so much empowerment in the “other” and in the “in between” exploration of all sides. When I bind [some of my] parts, I am just trying to allow room for silence. Beyond the masculine, there are syllables that have no gender.  [I’ve spent over three decades trying to pass and I am just now figuring out that none of it made sense for a reason.]

6. Everything that came before today is a rorshach’d survival stain. That is, memories are like lovers; they never really leave us.

7. How to love or lust away from what hides behind zippers and skin.

8. Do not wait for death to remember them.

9. Before supper, burn fragments of what must be left behind and what needs to remain.

10. Gorge on the kindled harassment of stanzas that question every entity on [your] skin; this is what happens when the only thing left to distract are pronunciated infernos.

you can be mountain and i will be skyscraper

Dear Rebel.

Johnny Cash sings to me from a Brooklyn cafe. Somewhere in the walls, he lifts himself through circular cracks called speakers and haunts me into this letter. Are you writing. A woman on the 4 train with dark roots and red-drenched locks asked to read my shoulder today. I watched her from the Bronx into Brooklyn, read local newspaper out loud to her partner. I first grew distracted by her voice, which sounded carved out and scratched up like acidic-graffiti on subway windows. I watched her mouth move, a bit sunken in from lack of teeth, slowly sound out each word. With invisible straw between lips, she sucked up each syllable, then looked at her partner. That’s from a book, she said.  I can tell. I wanted to tell her that humans hit the height of their beauty when they are reading. Humans who swallow literature in ways that sometimes cause indigestion or sometimes create strain in the gut. This is the stun of cognition.

Rebel, I wonder about the state of your mountains: the peaks of earth that grow inside you. Perhaps I can lend you some of my bolts and windows. My glass is streaked but so is this planet. How about you throw ink into the air and let the wind bring your liquid permanence toward this side.

Johnny twangs his teeth into knee-slapping rhythms and I’ve put on some weight. It is either a baby or a prose poem gathering dust inside my womb and I may need to whisper into my body that I am not a fan of over-population, and much prefer the narrative of metrical structure. Can we yurt soon. There is a home that is red on a street made of crowns and it waits for me to insert my key. I think about what home has meant to me this past month of wander. Suppertime with a human who has reintroduced to me the importance of starting over. Adventures with a three-year old who notices everything that gets lost once you reach a certain age. Sleeping in a room where a pile of bags remind me of impermanence. There has been love and some wanderings of grey. Contemplations of exi(s)ting. Rebel, I will cook you kale and poetry. We can drip coconut oil from our curls into a cast iron pan and devour the days that cling to our twists. I’ll keep my windows open.

how to carry news

If you want to know who died, visit Facebook.

Apparently, news prefers socially networking sites to telephone lines or knocks on doors or even letters in the mail (which is becoming an extinct gesture).

At a reading of poetry and memorializing, I learn of someone’s recent death. Apparently, when you unplug from one outlet, a fire breaks out, burning the ability to hear about such things.

When I die, I do not not NOT want to be a Facebook post.

I want a pigeon to break into my home fly through the vacant space from an open window in my bedroom or kitchen. If I had time to prepare, perhaps there would be a plate of barley for it to feast on before finding me beneath a pile of language (poems). There may be blood or just invisible deflated breaths all around me. After gorging on grains, the pigeon will study me for awhile, make sure it understands my story, the summary of my final moments. It may even snip off a strand or two of my hair with its beak. Then, this pigeon will fly toward the ones who matter. The ones who called me just because it was a Tuesday not because it was my birthday or because it was their’s. The ones who loved me. The ones I poemed with. The ones who knew why I ran away so much.

You will not need internet access to hear of my news. You will not need to be on Facebook to find out about my death. Maybe it will be mentioned in a newspaper, but you don’t need to have a subscription or even be literate. Just wait and the pigeon will reach you.


Ways to connect to find out to deliver news in my lifetime have ranged from: pen pals to walkie talkies to tangled and coiled telephones connected to walls to cordless phones with extra channels to overhear nearby conversations to chat rooms to beepers to cell phones to skype’ing to gossip to computer screen stalking.

The thing is, I have this tiny book, which holds my stamps because I much prefer writing letters to seeing your six-packed torso stamped on computer screens. How can we bridge the gap from those who wish to unplug but still be aware of the life outside windows to the ones who’s bodies have become flesh-covered outlets never without a built-in personal assistant, GPS navigation, and high-speed Internet.

For now, I guess I will just be the last to know things. Or maybe I need to ask more questions or read more newspapers or just be around people more. Sometimes I do miss the photographs, the narcissistic boasting, the slices of poetry and analyzed political protests that are constantly fed to these social networks. But I can also walk outside and see this too. Out loud. Wearing lungs and sweaters, rather than (not so hidden) advertisements.

how do you exist

I enter into a classroom built by a prison-enthusiast. The shape of our learning today is circular and I stare into the faces of students with my forearm on their desks.

Intimacy is defined by the reveal of first time of menstruation and the ways in which I handle my sad.

I explain to a young warrior, with periwinkle-dipped fingernails and a mind with more stories than hours in the day to recount, that amidst all this sadness, there is beauty.

There are footprints, which follow me everywhere. Between the toes, sand. The sound of heels against Brooklyn pavement, like shells crushing toward a new formation. I can only dwell on the grey for so long, then I fondle the magic of life around me.

I’ve let go of the pills. There are none in my wardrobe and my pockets are empty of anything sharp, outside of keys that allow me entrance into safe buildings.

But sometimes I do think of gathering up handfulls of incantations that end in the illumination of my shadow looming.

“How do you exist?”

“How do you love/ how do you know to love?/ how to know when love is safe enough to sit inside and remain?”

/ / /

Allow time each day to cry. For the length of one pop song or three television commercials or a bike ride from one part of (insert place) to another.

Regard emotions as friendly reminders that you are still breathing, still existing, still searching.

Love tastes best when it is delicately placed on collarbones or shoulders. You can feel it by the way it makes everything around you seem like a Broadway version of life: glittery, loud with bodies dancing to the rhythm of language, musical.

Remain. Not because others ask you to, but because there are way too many poems (songs, stories, paintings, thoughts, sounds, movements) still birthing their way out of you to leave.