The first words tattooed on my body were from a poet born into 1906. She wrote about the mischief of women being writers. I liked having this imprint on my skin– kind of like a warning sign or how syllables can be trouble-makers. Over the years, other words have implanted themselves on my body. Some are visible to readers, some can only be felt burning their way from beneath my skin.

Michel Foucault and Hélène Cixous joined in. Recently, it felt like the right time to finally have some of my own words on the outer layers on my skin.

It is a Saturday in Brooklyn and the heat is like a flirtatious lover batting its lashes against my freckles. I am biking along the beautiful path of eastern parkway. After a recent, unfortunate brush with the law alongside handsome poet, where we found ourselves accosted by three police officers lecturing us about the law we broke (running stop light) and subsequently writing me an overpriced ticket, I now STOP at all crosswalks and RED lights.

My red hair–resembling a giant puff of smoke earlier in the day–was tamed in a giant mess above my head and these words of mine slowly peeked out from beneath short-sleeved shirt.

Human on feet, stops beside me and says: I like your hair color.

Thank you, I say.

And your words. Can’t see them all, he says.

I lift up my sleeve a bit and let him read; I like to promote the encouragement of pronunciation.

He reads my words out loud and says, Cool quote.

I’ve often wondered what starts a quote. What makes someone’s words quotable. I hear a lot of things each day that move me, but they don’t often make it to immortalization.

I want to ask him what these words mean to him and I want to know what they make him feel. As a writer, so much of this tapping of letters onto screens or scrolling of letters onto pages is done in private. I don’t always feel the reaction or hear what thoughts are birthed out of these sentences or stanzas.

My body was read way before I had all these words on my skin. I was asked questions quite frequently of what my scars meant, where they came from, how new or old they were. I thought: if i’m going to be read in this way, i may as well give them some words to sound out.

I’ve been opening the windows to my body a lot more– airing out my language. Inspired by love. Inspired by healthier breaths. Inspired by new humans I’ve met who remind me how necessary it is to speak up and out.

My body is morphing in ways that are exciting and frustrating and I like that even in this frame that I’ve lived inside for over three decades, I am still finding new rooms to walk around, closets and drawers hiding lots of loot.

These quotes are a way to remember how often words surround us. Some stick on and remain, while others get crossed out, replaced by more up-to-date language.

My body has been a monologue for a long time. Now it is looking to dialogue. Now it is looking to ask and answer questions. It is coming out of hiding. It asks and yearns to be read.

wound collector

We met on a heatwave where our freckles floated right off of our bodies and it took several blocks before we could find a sturdy bench to house all of our moistened, loose skin. She asked me questions like: when was the first time and how long before the last and what feelings did it release in me and how does it feel when people touch them or ask about why they exist.

I rested each arm– one at a time — against the cold, soiled concrete ledge. She wanted to know about my tattoos and loved the way that they appeared like sliced-up stories on my flesh. She kept apologizing for her camera. I told her that I no longer apologize on behalf of my bones, so she shouldn’t have to pardon the plastic used to point and click me into focus.

All of these things are how they are supposed to be, I said.

She photographed my creases. The places on my forearms and wrists where I tried to disconnect. I was going to mention my hips to her, but they were so quiet, I forgot all about them. While I remained still, the mosquitoes took advantage of my sugared sweat. I watched welts pop up like internalized kernels, which began to itch my skin into a new color.

We stopped calling this summer a week ago, I screamed out to the slender flies. These scars are mine; they are not meals, only poems now. 

This was the second time today I converted my scars into sentences.

Before we parted, we hugged and I wonder how much scars weigh and which one of us is heavier. She told me the color of my red is so beautiful and suits me. I wanted to tell her the aroma of her history moved me in a way that would drip into many poems to come.

“today I talk myself into staying”

This freedom is ugly. It is blistered, having walked for centuries; there is no remedy for this ugliness. How to survive in a world where pigment is a devastation, forcing other hues back into the soil or behind bars.

Poets gather to memorialize another from their tribe, while on the other side of this city, Humans gather to stomp out the reek of atrocity. What is the scaffold of race. How sturdy is its wreckage. Carve us out of these bodies and our bones are of the same dimension. Why must skin create such a need for weaponry?

Up north, another young one dies because its body grew magnetic as breaths grew lured by drugs. In moments right before death, we may contemplate our past path. There are bathtubs and trees and sharps, but weapons go beyond the ones we point and click…..

I almost died once. And then again that other time and the one before that. And then there was that most recent trip. But I remain because I am employed to this body. It is my boss, my co-worker, the chief executive operator, the secretary and treasurer, the president. There is no paycheck beyond the currency of laughter, health, deep-rooted learning, love and lust, sight, taste and smell and and and.

Sometimes there is a moment when we feel the need to search for exit signs. Or, we see another who does not look the way we look and it confuses us. We are biased against one another; we are biased against ourselves. We loot and rummage and there is so much destruction that we often forget to notice the moments of beauty: swirling of skin that may be different than our own but still tastes the same and still speaks in music notes and poetry.

I am saddened by the thinness of freedom in this country on this continent in this world. Bodies are bloated and yet liberty is starved. I want to weep for the ones who are serving time for crimes they did not commit; I want to weep for the ones who are not held captive but need to be; I want to weep for the ones we vigil for.

Today, I am trying to talk myself into staying. 

a tale of several beautifuls

Blame it on symmetry. How near are her eyes to carefully constructed bridge of nose. Does she starve. Are her hips like the horizon, without fault or curve. Is her skin more mocha than medium rare. What blooms in the months outside of spring or autumn and when the leaves go away, how sturdy are the branches. Does your grass wilt or does it arrive like green erections plunged out of earth’s pores. Blame it on what distracts us. Call it brushed air. Call it removed particles of mistake. Her smile is white and heterosexual. His hair is without recede. That home is window’d and gorgeous due to its skylights and built-in 401K plan. Does her cellulite show. Does your health plan cover the creams you will need to rub it away. What is your routine. How many chemicals have attempted to peel away your skin; I think you might be beautiful under that fifth layer. Keep ripping at yourself. Scoop out and where there is tunnel, there is possibility for better. Blame it on tents and drawers and the tenacity of lies. Collocate implant with imbalance. Remove your girdle now. Help the redheaded dancer with her zipper and linger your looks at the way she folds like love letters. Quietly ask if you can dance your language into the cleavage of her mind. And the other one with painted eyebrows, thicker than the remorse from your 20’s. She is beautiful too. And that graffiti’d church that might be a bank now or was but has become a collaborative celebration of dripped paint now. And her nipples. And that cloud that kind of looks like your best friend from tenth grade. And that fence, painted turquoise. And your neck. And that meal you fed me when my palms were too tired to lift and curl. And that Wednesday you fell asleep inside me. And that rooftop garden. And the smell of patchouli you snuck inside magazine. And your sodium. And my blood. And that too.

i want to pretend away the cupboards

Here is the challenge. I want you to tell me why you do this. Explain in clicks and coughs exactly how you got your neck to wrap itself inside that silk.  I am going to press my mediterranean wrists into your suburban ones. It is too much of a commitment to ask you for your reasons, so I’ll spill fire-soaked whiskey in your lap to gauge what type of communicator you are. Your ankles are showing and I thought those were shadows from Sunday or gardening, but it seems you only offer up select parts of your body to sharps and grooming. But aren’t you a woman and can you tell me in advance when I am allowed to touch them. Beneath the crinoline and itch, far beyond the striped slacks and even the panties, which can be worn beneath boxers and stuffed behind the fibrous and burly, is a cabinet. OK, call it closet. Shelving unit? I know you store your tax returns there and collection of parking tickets. I know about the love notes from that artist who drew you in black ink swirls in barrooms across Connecticut. You hoard stamps and amputated limbs from rejected family trees. Your inconsistencies make others uncomfortable. You will need more wood to build more shelves to hide more things to keep more lovers. I want you to drink that. I want you to drape your body against mine like an evacuated corpse. I want you I want you I want you not to look like that so much. All I am really asking is this. Don’t politicize your gestures. Don’t flatten what should be lifted and gawked at. Don’t hide your pretty. Don’t raise your arms. Don’t you want to be hit on? Don’t you want to be aggressively handled by eyes that validate the performance of your beauty? Now, put all that away. Get out your potpourri and smell it up like flowers like baby powder like well-how-girls-should-smell and make things easier on yourself. It is better this way.

we arrived in this naked

There is no idea but to cover up or clarify how those folds got there.

And if belly is soft then explain that a baby once grew inside it or if breasts lack complacency, make sure to convince them that it’s from feeding or genetics. Or lie about exercise regime or explain that work hours overlap possibility of sit-ups or weight lifts.

Bodies are like snowflakes are like fallen secrets pressed against windows are like reflections are like sharp implements are like dangerous exaggerations are like predators.

And in a room full of humans, take note of the shapes that take shape within the shape of a space.

Ninety-degree angles and triangular justifications and octagons and rectangles and its been awhile since my body existed inside a classroom where numbers were examined but I’m quite sure there is a reason for all these symbols and figures to differ.

I disrobe and replace mirror with an audience / distract eyes with poetry so stretchmarks are an afterthought.

But don’t all our bodies stretch and without those marks couldn’t we assume that body as one of static…no movement…no evolution of self?

It’s ok that you notice the blurry lines on my body. The ones beside the scars. The ones that arrived as I arrived into my bones.

We all began as nudes. As empty. As exotic folds. Put away your irons and embrace the wrinkles and grooves.

Clothes are just an accessory; what whispers underneath is the truth of beauty.

What time am I?

my blinks are blue and dripping midnight
two trillion time zones just between eye lid and upper lip
molecular pendulum swings proteins & hunger

breaths triggered by a.m. or p.m.
tiny patch of cells like controlled machines
make me yearn for breakfast

blame moon once again for theorizing body
or rhythm of sun staining worry into skin
because it is evening and more of a bully then

those are not freckles but dust from
convulsing stars
settling like photographs into my skin

it is 2:21 somewhere
and this somatic mechanism
makes me want to lose track of its duration

how to remove the claustrophobia and turn it into a poem.

Awake to the sound of too much memory inside me, clogging up the zippers sewed into my skin called scars.

Before sleep, I heard a child speak about beauty. How it cluttered up her mind and confused her into obsession. When I was a child I wore pants until they fell off of me–threads becoming undone. I couldn’t wait to wear make-up and then when I could I preferred looking ghostly or homely or colorful only on the inside.

People rarely remain inside their disfigurations. They cover it up, melt it, insert or take away or laser it off.

My roots are showing; let me paint them a lighter hue. My belly is thickening. Instead of poeming, I’ll sit up and down and up and down and crunch and crunch and force tension to form.

How to live inside a moment. Really. Do we do this anymore? Are we present inside a sight? Though I drink coffee, I am also writing a sentence and catching up with a friend and reading a letter and washing dishes. How to remove the claustrophobia of multi-tasked rushing and slow down toward just one breath or bite or swallow or word.


First thing I notice when I am present is the haunting of black ink on my skin on my hand on the left one near my thumb. Reminders because my mind is so webbed, is so crowded is so removed from itself, I must write on my body to remember how to live or what to buy or what to eat:

fennel. pickles. magnets. newspaper.

I look down and notice my lap, covered in borrowed brown writing blanket. I look up and notice nude tree outside my window, bark wrinkled like elephant skin. I look inside myself and feel hunger, body gathering breaths, pushing them out like invisible babies floating into the air. I gave birth to those inhales and exhales. They are mine! I do not answer phone which rings. I do not click on anything outside of this box. I am singular-tasking. I am present. I am here. I am I am slowing down.

this is going to be rough (a draft)

The words. They don’t always come out clean and cooked in the middle. Oftentimes, they are too raw to move on. They are pink like beneath fingernails: part of the body that holds its breath the longest. Sometimes I want to lift up that tough keratin protein just to feel something new on my body. Untouched and perhaps a bit gooey.

I cooked a two and a half pound turkey breast yesterday with its bones removed. At farmer’s market on grand army plaza, I asked the farmer: how do you get all those bones out/ what do you do with them/ why do I feel so sad for its dismemberment?

At home, I marinated in garlic, parsley and olive oil rub. Massaged it like my mom would do every Thanksgiving to the designated turkey. Kind of made a show out of it. Lifted its thighs like a trained dancer. As a kid, this later led to a bout of vegetarianism. I realized, though, that this odd treatment goes beyond edible animals. We do this to humans. We taunt.

So my turkey came out raw in the middle and I started to wonder if it was trying to send me some message:

You may look all ready on the outside, but inside you are unedited with poisonous bacteria.

The words. Sometimes they come out screaming someone else’s name who you haven’t thought about in years or months or moments. Guilt drowns the semi-colons and suddenly you are dealing with way too many run-on sentences staging a revolt off the page.

What to do when suddenly your fingertips have more control than the rest of you does?

The words. Sometimes they repeat themselves like a mantra or obnoxious scratched record. I keep writing about the body and performing outside this body and each day it feels borrowed. Who can I explain this to? And let’s not mention gender. Let’s just focus on skin right now. I keep looking at this flesh that’s like pale, popped bubbles, leaking energy. This skin is muggy. Rust will come soon. Then mold. What arrives after the mold? We can talk about these parts being wrong and sometimes they are and sometimes they feel warm; and sometimes no one knows how to approach them and sometimes I don’t know how to approach them. But let’s not talk about parts either.

These bones feel out of order. Someone needs to take them out. Reorganize them. Maybe the turkey will know what to do.