to the one with the red hair behind bars

Dear Jennifer,

I dug feathers from my pillow, sewed them to a piece of paper full of my words and lent it to the sky to fly toward you.

Two months have passed and I wonder if my language has reached you. I think about your red strands falling from imprisoned scalp, like breadcrumbs alerting the hours of your whereabouts.

Last night, you visited me while I slept. Perhaps this was your letter back to me. You were looking for something, which I tried to help you find. But. You never told me. What. You were looking for.

Somehow I understood because. I am so often in search of things that I’ve yet to fully name or even understand.

Without you asking, I lifted my shirt so you could see the ink on my back from when we traveled together at eighteen to tattoo shop.

“I had to change it,” I said.

And without having to explain, you understood my need to wipe away the femme-inity from skin to replace it with more of a hybrid.

I asked to see your angel [tattoo], but you had carved it away years ago.

Sometimes it is difficult to be good in a world of so much bad.


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.


Dear Rebel,

I am hoarding wine beneath my tongue. I’ve disarmed my hips for another and this one seems to be carefully slipping love notes inside the marrow of my bones. How do you nourish your memory. In what ways do you feed the scratch-outs on your soul. Eighteen years ago, I paid a stranger to press purple ink into my lower back through single-serving, vibrating needle. He joined circle and lines into a universal woman sign. I carried that female insignia for all these years, which slowly turned from friend to acquaintance to stranger. Are there indentations on your body that no longer belong to you, Rebel. Recently, I paid a guy from Bolivia to alter my gender marking. He told me all about the places he traveled to and the days he scarred his thighs with illustrations to practice being an artist. What would it look like to practice being human. Last week, I carried a rock resembling a tiny egg and an eight line poem by Vera Pavlova. She reminded me that if there is something to desire/ there will be something to regret. But in desire, there is so much breath. The weight of our exhales, Rebel, can turn our forearms into paved roads. Our shoulders into mountain tops. Our chests into stationary reservoirs. Let’s swim in all this burgundy lust, which can be found in Poets, Chefs, Former Monks, Music Makers and Hippies. We can climb our way toward the tallest tree top and swing from the branches of its origin. I am finally digging myself out of all these roots, untangling and recognizing the hybrid in me. Let’s eat up all these question marks and digest the answers that come.

the poetics of vandals

They are removing this. Someone somewhere decided that hands are convicts in need of a punishing. All that paint that got fired from cocked fingertips will be erased. Sometimes buildings are protected like bodies, but someone always gets in. Call it a rummage. Call it a bomb threat. Call it infiltration of societal disintegration. At some point, skin gets written on like tagged windows or carved benches. On arms, pronounce the nicknames of suspicious life. On thighs, there are syllables that should have been forgotten but in all these scribbles, stories allow room for the movement. So move.