a tale of two jennifers

Beneath a plastic wrapped swingset. On my bed in a basement in New Jersey. Tall and thick. Strong and thin. Shaved. With moustache. From Freehold. From the Bronx. One was heterosexual. One was newly queer. One is married now (perhaps). One transitioned (I wonder).

I tend to write about my first time but never the third time or the last time or the time that never happened or the time I still think about or the time that almost ruined me.

How have I evolved in this sex life and how many of them still think about me or our time together.

I have no idea where they are– even in this world of constant knowing of where everybody is and what they are eating– so I will guess or gather enough words to create a story in my head.

Two Jennifers– one almost after the other– plus the one I never got to because her lips preferred boys’. This particular Jennifer bared her back to me one day on route nine when we were feasting our flesh on needles and ink. Her boyfriend purchased her a fairy and I called myself a woman on my lower back with a circle and cross.

I loved her before I even knew what that meant because in those days queer existed in banned library books and in closets. There were no clubs, only bullies lurking in cafeterias.

Years later, I’d find her, briefly before she got lost again. Behind bars. Locked up.

The Jennifers led to a queue of others: women, some whose names I memorized, some of which I never needed to learn. The Jennifers led me to my first orgasm, experienced far later than I care to explain. The Jennifers introduced me to french kissing and fingering and fondling above and below clothing.

After the Jennifers, I found love several times. Each time growing bolder and thicker and LOUDER.

Sometimes I wish I could find both of them. Let them see me without the smoke and inebriation. We could write a poem together, share a meal. We can scratch each other’s bodies with hieroglyphics–translated into SOS signs. They may be surprised I stopped drugging and I may be surprised they both practice heterosexuality now.

There was that time. Neither of them were there, but the smell of their memory was. In that state I never thought I’d travel to. In a tent or on a mountain or maybe we were straddling a rented mattress or eating a burrito or perhaps reading Sexton or shivering melodies or burrowed in a sleeping bag or hiding out from agendas or letting go of gender roles in a sulphuric cave.

And everything I had learned from the Jennifers– and the ones who followed soon after– no longer mattered. Because bodies steeped in (real) love let go of choreography and you know it’s real when there is silence. No moans. No dirt speak. Just crickets or dog bark or toenail scratch against ankle or yelp from the good pain.

Maybe it’s best we lose track of people because memories cannot remain static if we are FACEBOOK friends, chronicling lives through stalked computer screens. I like remembering the Jennifers as how they first looked to me. Young. Because I was. New. Because everything then was. Real. Because even if I’m the only homo left, our bodies created music created lessons created history. Even if just for me.

how to feel.

I could never forget your birthday, since it shares the same numerals as mine. And our hair color is the same except yours is from genetics and mine is a mixture purchased monthly. You were an artist once. A painter. Your smile opened windows.

***

For several months, I had a pen pal in prison. He found me through the magic of technology and I accepted his request to write back. At first, I didn’t want to know what he did. I thought it would affect my words; however, I was extremely guarded in my language to him–asking more than telling. When he’d move beyond what I was comfortable with, I did something I rarely did in real life: I told him to stop; I said NO; I spoke up.

Then one day I looked. Nowadays, it is difficult to hide. Some want to be seen and some hope their secrets can be camouflaged in corners. When I learned of his crime, I started to imagine things. I grew angry and didn’t know if I could ever write to him again. My pen pal wrote about why he was in prison and often denied it. His long explanations of what really happened shook my skin. I felt haunted by his stories and his (sometimes) sexual grunting. Sometimes he would ask me about poetry. He wanted to know what I was writing about.

It’s severed now…stopped as suddenly as when it started. But I am thinking of bars again.

I have had bars on my windows in not-so-nice apartments. I have made some extremely dangerous choices. Yet, here I am with a mailbox and closets and a chain on my front door to keep the animals out and I have bills I can afford to pay and I’ve let go of all my addictions minus coffee and poetry and I have freedom and I have freedom.

Somewhere in a state where a federal prison lays, there is a woman who shared my birthday and hair color and didn’t she go to my birthday party several years in a row and didn’t I have a crush on her and wasn’t she like a firefly–glowing and magnificently unbelievable.

Some might say that all crimes are unforgivable. Oddly, I tend to forgive the wrong ones and hold judgement towards those I need to show more love toward. I don’t seem to know how to ration my hatred correctly.

This woman admittedly committed a crime that I cannot forgive. And yet….I think about writing to her. Why did I choose to commit different crimes?

Perhaps it is in this moment where I just do not know how to feel. What is the proper way to mourn someone’s freedom being taken away knowing she took someone else’s away.

In the movies, it’s easy to just find out where someone is serving their sentence, get searched and then suddenly find yourself across from the prisoner. Maybe you share a sandwich or sit in silence.

If I were to write to her, what would I say? Maybe I’d just want to bring her a tear drop saved from the many drips of salt that plunge from me. And I’d ask her to look inside it. Eat it. I’d say. This is what pain feels like and sadness and love and wonder and hatred and kindness. This is human. Are you human still? I’d ask. Am I?

practice insignificance

(excerpts of a letter for *C)

[you ask]: What do I listen to?
When I write, I often listen to Bon Iver. There is a haunt to his voice and the instrumentation that surrounds him. However, I’m always looking for something instrumental to move me through the lines. Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah makes me lose my breath.

[a sliver of time]
It is almost midnight and I am gathering up the final moments of a day. Night is raining above me. Crazy, crazy, maddening rain. I cannot see because my glasses are coated and my hair is caught on my face, but an umbrella would have just ruined it all. Because then I wouldn’t have felt the squish of rain in my shoes or bath of sky on my body.

What did you do wrong? Tell me about your isolation. Tell me about it in a way you’ve never allowed yourself to describe it. How do you handle loneliness? What interrupts your silence? What led you toward me?

You want to know my favorite color and movies and you are hiding out in a square without knobs or windows and I am hiding out inside this body that has me locked up.

And you want to know if I shave my pussy but then you want to know about (my) god.

And you want to know about my dreds [sic] and your insignificance reminds me of reminds me of reminds me of

You’ve learned how to light a cigarette with a single battery and how to masturbate quietly.

I want to tell you that I used to rub a pillow between my legs until I decided what gender to go for.

*
Maybe later.