Fossil Fueled

Everyone else rubbed UV protectant onto skin,

flirted shoulders with oncoming traffic and the wind 

while he walked to Prospect Park with suicide

note and kerosene, giving himself back to the earth.

There are days I think about setting my scars on fire

to see what new shape I might melt into.

There are days I grow numb trying to understand how

far down the trees' roots go or why letters in an alphabet 

like LGBTQ make people so angry. Just yesterday, I breathed in

eight million skin cells and the secret messages of squirrels.

Everyone seems to be on a diet of hate these days; I just want

to get through a day where tongues tie us into love letters not


the dormancy of sadness.

This body is a storm approaching or one just ending. This body is a gathering of ice and traffic accidents due to slippery roads. This body is approaching a summer storm. This body is a heat index of 89. This body is covered in dew and a mist slowly speeding over joints. This body is winded. This body is grey. This body is has been a haunt of melancholia

My body is a weather pattern.

I have depression, but it currently lays dormant inside me. I exist one moment at a time, kind of like the sun. Rising and falling. Sometimes in need of a hiding (behind clouds). Brighter on days that make up for the times I just feel far too dim to shine.

Sadness is not like a wound we are used to seeing. It does not always bleed and it isn’t contagious. It is not like the flu; there is no depression shot. 

We need to address that depression is not a cold. It is not a stuffed-up nose and achy bones that can be relieved with over-the-counter remedies. It is not a bad mood or a bad day. It is a disease that exists within the cellular structure of more humans than we can keep track of.

There is no one-size-fits all outfit for depression. It is worn differently by everyone. Some mix-and-match, adding on other complicating accessories such as drug addiction or other addictions. Sometimes it is very visible. Othertimes, it can be easily masked behind sunshine’y demeanors.

This earth can be a difficult land to live on, but it is beyond nature; it is how we are nurtured as well.

Recently, a young couple in Portugal fell off a cliff because they were attempting a photograph of the moment. (Otherwise known as a selfie)

Even when we are present, we are not (sometimes).

Sometimes we must forego sleep, wake at an hour that some are just easing into slumber, and travel toward the sunrise. Watch a moment without documenting it.

Recognize that so much of this sadness is also about a need to be somewhere at all times and just being present within yourself can be enough.

We should not wait for depression to puncture our eyes in order to pay attention to its voice.

Put away your cameras and be in a moment. Study the thousands of shades of blue that exist after sunset. Give yourself permission to cry….there doesn’t always have to be a reason. Sometimes life is just sad and sometimes bodies get closer to the edge than others.

But jumping takes you away from seeing the other side of this landscape. And it is vivid. And it is far too exquisite to translate into pictures (sometimes). And this translation of sad is still searching for letters.

Feelings aren’t selfish. And there are times where having these feelings leave no other choice but to leave.

Walk outside your front door. Check on your welcome mat. Dust it off, if it hasn’t been in awhile. Go out and buy one if there’s none already. Let those who enter your world know they are welcome to come in. This, in turn, creates a safe space to let you in.

an epidemic of suicidal

I never remember the first time; I can always recall the last.

It’s happening.

Younger and younger, humans are finding weaponry in order to flee from this earth that was supposed to seatbelt us in. Is it not tight enough to save us from our selves?

This earth made a promise to keep us warm, to keep us cold, to keep us. 

The humans are leaping off bridges and ledges and fire escapes. They are tying themselves away. They are flinging their organs into oceans and rivers. They are using bullets and powders and needles and starvation.

Have we run out of ways to scream help in the six thousand plus languages that exist?

I was fifteen. I was seventeen. I was nineteen. I was twenty-four. I was twenty-seven. I was thirty-four. There are band-aids and ointments. There are lovers that try to hold us in and there are medicines that try to numb us through. When I think about what has kept me here, I think of words:

father. poems. language. books. ink. the moon. 

But it doesn’t always just go away. We cannot just ignore the statistics and death notices. We cannot blame it on just one thing. So, what is the solution and how can we strap on restorative capes and save the ones who dangle.


In the summertime, I would wear long sleeves. I felt too defined by the scars that scraped away the anonymity of my past. When I started pushing the fabric up past my elbows, the questions would arrive. Lovers would ask me where the scars came from. Strangers wanted to know my pattern of cutting. I felt sarcastic and angry; I didn’t want to answer. I didn’t want to give anyone the power of understanding me. 

Now, I answer. Sometimes I do not even wait for the questions; I respond to the graze of others’ fingertips against the raised wounds. I unravel the importance of speaking. There is no shame in wanting to die when one replaces that want with a stronger attempt at remaining.

This earth keeps losing its humans to sadness. There are accidents and disease and contagion and diagnoses. It’s the ones who leave without notice that make me want to speak my story out as loud as I can.

We will never be without trauma, but we can travel toward a place within ourselves where translation pushes the grey into something less imprisoned.

How to create an epidemic of survival.

“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. 

an anniversary of dying

“Dying/ Is an art, like everything else./ I do it exceptionally well”    Sylvia Plath

Twenty years ago, I was writing her words in my notebook as adolescents do when they are in love.

     I  HEART  Jennifer  Christine   Sarah   Melissa   Gina   J’Nnae    Rachel

Instead of girls’ names in my classes, I was taking apart the poems of Sylvia Plath. Repeating lines into each page as though I couldn’t speak without her language reminding me how to.

When I was in high school, I mastered the art of almost death. And into young adulthood and adulthood. And I think about the grey in her mind and how many shades mirror my own.

Sixty years ago, she died. Turned her body into a meal consumed by gases. One month later, “The Bell Jar” emerged. How often did she think about what would proceed her. Did she trust that her husband would honorably publish what lingered. Did she trust her husband. Did she feel about love the way I feel: that it exists like paper– something to be written on and scratched out and revised and workshopped and blank sometimes.

I am alone in my bedroom, yet there are so many genders and bodies surrounding me each night. I choose who I sleep with. Rilke hides in the curve of my hips. But sometimes I need it to be Anne Sexton or there are those naps during the day where Bukowksi sneaks in and though we like our space, there is a lot of rummaging and coarseness. Kate Bornstein and I sneak stories into each other’s skin and Kathy Acker and Audre Lorde. When I want to be reminded how I think about my body, I read Dodie Bellamy as I cut up the parts that label me as one thing in order to become something else.

I have just a few pages left of Rilke, so I place Plath’s “Ariel” into my bag. With black pen between my fingers, I think about how we can speak together like ghosts. I thought we’d die together, then I hunted Sexton and planned to die with her. Now, I’m eyeing others who lasted a bit longer to see how far I can get.

a poem should not mean/ but be

a poem should not mean/ but be     — Archibald MacLeish

Early on,  s)he]  troubled those brave enough to listen. Teachers contacted hir parents, worried for hir safety. Suddenly, the poems were jumping off the page, growing sharp from tumbling through the air at fast speeds and forming sharp angles. These poems split hir wrists open. When  s)he]  was newly sixteen, several poems turned hir forearms into a gingham criss-cross pattern.  s)he]  horded several bottles of poems and swallowed over forty-two of various milligrams and side effects. Doctors attempted to pump hir stomach. s)he]  threw up the poems and they splattered against the floor like scattered bone particles.

In the years to come,  s)he]  began to experiment with various forms of poems, some digested through nose or ignited and inhaled.  s)he]  learned the power of serving size.  s)he]  grew loud, rather, the poems grew so loud, it was almost impossible to remain silent within the pain of hir body.

In an interview by a New York Times reporter after the release of hir third book of poems,  s)he]  said:

“Of course there is an urgency in my work because there is an urgency to live. I spent  years tearing into my body, swatting it away as though it were a swarm of mosquitoes. I wanted to make an imprint. I wanted to make an impression beyond the scars, beyond the jilted lovers. In life, I am a liar. A pretender. I am not very good at being alive. But when I write poems, or when I perform them, it’s like I’m taking a giant seam ripper and undoing every scar, every lie, every emotion. If I could only live inside my poems, breathe off the fumes of their intentions, I could make it. I could last.

think of poems as suicide letters

desperate medications

press into carbon and oxygen and choke


To exit: how it feels to be entrenched in these poems, write the pain of it, the journey, trauma, translated

hurt-songs, scar chants



{how to} walk off a stage or poem and be normal.




strap magnifying lenses against pupils                   detect hidden fibers defining each line




feel it before she dies and no clarity can be given.




Look away. Diagnose. Crush pills onto tongue repeat daily. Repeat daily. Repeat daily.

                                                                                                                Repeat daily.




Quiet the crazy creative emotive


a circular proclamation

I. Have. Skin.

This skin is slashed and bothered and sore’d and frazzled. This skin has been stapled and starved. This skin has been allergic and addicted. This skin has been plunged and punched and forgotten and framed.

Today, watch this skin bloat. Watch this skin bleed. Watch this skin get stuffed into pants too small now. Watch this skin get cold, shiver and slump into an icy rage. Watch this skin check out other skin. Like that woman’s skin with no marks of stretch with no abbreviations of death or lacerations. Skin smooth like the margarine my father would spread on my rye bread toast when I was a child and his etched heart in orangey-yellow butter substitute made the rest of the day seem OK to jump into.

Today, watch how I speak. Watch how I metaphor. Watch how I cower when you ask me how I am/ what I am doing/ what do I do/ where was I yesterday. Watch how I avert your stare when you want to know what I love/ what I am in love with/ what loves me. Watch how I segue back to you so seamlessly. Watch how I speak about my mother. Watch how I acronym men who are white who are middle in age who left that stain on my body like an oil spill of sewage. Watch how I shutter at my childhood. Watch how I practice atheism then go home and pray to your god named Ginsberg. Watch me speak about sex like I like it. Watch me explain my collection of condoms and then ask me why I neglect to use them.

Wrap your throat inside a menthol brag.

I wrote a poem today. I finished reading a book today. I kissed a girl today. I got hit on today. I got dressed today. I woke up today. I ate a meal today. I did not cry today. I called my mom today. I engaged in selflessness today. I gave a man a dollar and my apple and bought him a meal and he thanked me and maybe I saved him today. I did not cut today. I cleaned my apartment today. I paid my bills today. I said something really smart today. I got a great deal on a pair of boots today. I saw a celebrity today. I brushed my teeth today. I did not try to kill myself today. body.check out my body.what is this body

I got this collarbone. Check out these squares etched in my belly. Call them a six-pack. Punch your fist into my muscle. Check me out. I straightened my hair. No more knots to count. Check out its smooth. Check out its airbrush. Check out its glisten. Check out its aroma of fried curls. I got these cheekbones. Check out their starvation. I got this jaw, angled without excess. Check out my thighs. Check out the five-inch space between them. Check out their bones. Check out my ankles. Width of fingers. Check out my cunt. It’s tighter now. It’s reborn now. Check out my breasts. Look how they stare. Look how they freeze. Check out their shape. They are round. They are fucking perfect. Check out my smile. Check out my teeth. Whiter than my race. Straighter than my sex. Check out my ass. Check out my hips. Do you want this? Do you want this? Want to purchase this?

what exists besides the night where sunsets swell

I’ve formulated a hypothesis on the elegance of dreadlocks, dandelions and mailboxes.

I arrive home to heavy wooden door where walls welcome me in yellow and framed art. Now, my mailbox is shaped as a tabletop, no flag or key hole or hollow box containing echoes and spiderwebs. A universal table for each tenant’s envelopes, packages, magazine subscriptions. Before heading up two flights of dark-tree-stained stairs, I search through pile of rectangles searching for you.

Remember the birds? The pea pod. The feathers and wood shavings. Remember the music stuffed deep into the pocket of business sized envelope because you lost all yours and I wanted to send you something more romantic than a sunset: music notes and harmony.

There is a swell of sky in my belly. I am engorged with change, repetition of worry, unclaimed body in need of a devour.


I may be having a *secret* love affair with Anne Sexton. I held her up to microphone Monday night. She was slightly heavier than expected. I watched as she crossed one leg over the other as though left knee was the right knee’s lover. And perhaps I should not admit this. Perhaps secrets are meant to climb so deep inside a whisper that sounds become a hissssss. But…..but…

All she could talk on was suicide. Emptiness in walls, which are just slumped trees pressed into poorly postured beams. Oh, Anne. I have loved you for decades. I gathered up enough dandelions to turn this planet blonde, neon lemon scented oceans with daffodil-hued horizons. I even grew my hair long to cover you when we run out of sweaters and sheets. I grew so distracted by your sorrow, though, that my red grew confused, tangled and dreadlocked.

Anne, your lean.

Anne, your clutch of cigarette.

Anne, your need to gargle pills and red lipstick and poems.

I’ve no mail today, nor yesterday but I believe in tomorrow.

I’ll keep you in my throat, Anne.
And I’ll keep that other woman against my sternum.
And I’ll poem my way toward another evening where sun disappears into star formations.

things to do in a bathtub

how deep is your body

before hair grew in places battery-operated-razor-then-manual used to shave off, I would sit inside gray bathtub of large two-story house with basement and cobwebs and ghosts I called my parents—and pretend I was a submarine with tin-can belly and lips like a flask that hid inside soiled pockets.

before skin grew edible, sewing up its smoothness and smelling of wine when I picked at it enough, I would sing beneath the first layer of water’s flesh and hear the echoes of my unfinished voice merge with simmered air-sacks.

before learning how to properly maneuver a showerhead to resemble an open mouth with watering-can-tongue, I would squeeze tiny, yellow rubber duckie with small hole by its mouth to inhale water, and place against tiny, pink-ish, supple pussy with small slit between its lips to inhale fingers and gasp.

before I knew about nooses, pills, and vertical incisions, I took felt-tipped fingertips and placed against forehead as though textured with pores like a basketball, dunked down toward bottom of enamel tub until my lungs could not remember their function and then, I came up to the top where dry air meets wet deciding to try again some other time.

before developing a tolerance for fermented yeast brewed during the happiest of hours, I detached my jaws to resemble a kayak and paddled in water boiling away first two layers—

I drank dead skin.

I drank a bruise formed into a scab, one or two days away from falling off naturally,
which water pressure and my impatience tore off, watching it float into flesh-flaked tub.

I drank the juice squeezed from fuzz-free thighs.

I drank the shampoo rubbed into my scalp to eliminate tangles that never seemed to go away due to lack of brushing.

I drank the thoughts plunged into the deepness, including consideration of personal expiration date.

I drank until I had to pee it all out and then I did and I drank that too.

before I knew bathtubs can be big enough for two, I spoke in several voices that made me feel less lonely. I clustered my fingers together and curved my hands to resemble open mouths, talking. I made up varying lengths of time in which I needed to remain plunged inside the bubbled-liquid—
to burn away the badness, when wrinkles resemble something smooth again.

when tiny, yellow duck makes tiny, pink cunt come.

when I forget about the need for razorblades.

when I run out of songs.

when I am clean