what is the beauty of your sick?

A beautiful woman blows her nose on the 4 train heading uptown and I am immediately attracted to the way she uses one hand to cover her nostrils with a thin tissue and the other to clutch a plastic container of soup. Her hair is perfectly blond and straight. Make-up floats over her skin like love poems. A thin line of black over eyes and something maybe called shimmer against her lids. Her lips are the shade of red my cheeks get during a winter walk.

I have been blowing my nose all across Brooklyn and Manhattan. At the end of each day, I refresh my handkerchief for another. Today’s is dark blue and yesterday’s was green. I remove my gloves and use two hands. There is nothing graceful or erotic about the way I extract the sick from my body. My skin is dry and my hair refuses to respond to coconut oil or conditioner. I wear no make-up or intentional threads to catch anyone’s eyes. This season stuffs me in. I am bound and layered. A poet sitting across from me might called me disheveled.

Many of us have become bears this season, hibernating until the sun reaches a more attractive temperature. It can be difficult to step outside when the wind knocks against our bones like an aggressive intruder. The ice continues to melt and reform and grow dirtier and dirtier with each passing car. I am trying to find beauty in all this cold and sick.

I think back on all the times during my least irresistible moments of weakened health. The ones who arrived to cook me medicinal meals: delicious Italian remedies or wonton soup from the nearby Chinese restaurant. The ones who rubbed oils on my chest to bring forth breath, read me poems until I found sleep.

My body coated in shivers and red. My mind, unable to capture coherency. The songs of my body, a choral of coughs and sneezes.

This woman on the 4 train is not hiding her sick. She sneezes into unfolded tissue and I watch her body seizure for a moment as it lets go of another round of germs. Sometimes it is comforting to be reminded that we are not the only ones feeling this way.

My sick is not beautiful and it is lonely these days. I make my own chicken soup. I research other antidotes. I notice the paleness coat my body and long for Vitamin D arriving from the sky, warming my skin.

an ejaculation of visibility

This may have been the longest journey of my life. Searching through the wreckage of memories and indentations to decipher what it means to be beautiful.

At a local cafe, I still taste red velvet cake on my tongue as I leaf through discarded “men’s magazine” with blond-haired breasts woman on the cover. The theme of this issue is: America’s favorite things.

I searched for:
peanut butter
black ink pilot pens
summer rain storms with rainbows at the end
love affairs
french-pressed coffee

All I saw were various breasts attached to similarly shaped/hued women wearing strings and strips of fabric.

Tomorrow night, I undress my mind and attempt to translate an array of memories and movements in a show called: ejaculating beauty

For over a year, this performance piece has been formulating on various sheets of paper, and within these past few months, I have begun to fully understand its meaning.

What is my first memory of beautiful?

Growing up, it was always about my hair, which was slightly less red and what some may have defined as…….dirty blond. It was long and curly, and had I not been so restless, I may have had a future in shampoo commercials.

My grandmother begged me never to cut it. But. If I ever did, to save it and give it to her.

Strangers would tell me how beautiful my hair was.
Everyone wanted to touch it.

I was being upstaged by my follicles.

So, I did what any sane person would do, remove the part of me that got all the attention.

I thought: If my hair is gone, they will notice my words more.

When I cut my hair, something shifted in me. I realized I had been hiding behind it. Once it was gone, all of me was visible. Or, it felt that way. So, I began to cut other parts of me in order to sever the screams on my skin that only I seemed to notice.

None of this was very helpful.

A lover tells me I am beautiful, but this word has been so misused that it is difficult to gather up its intentions and accept it.

Airbrushed faces on magazines and billboards are called beautiful.
That woman on the 4 train with exposed bones and belly, flatter than the paper I write on, is called beautiful.

I call the earth beautiful, sometimes.
On days where trees reenact a Pina Bausch movement.
That moment she found a heart-shaped rock on the beach in western B.C., amidst thousands of others.
The feeling I get when first drip of coffee teases my tongue and slides down my throat.

This is beautiful to me.

I am trying to be visible in a way that re/defines what beauty even means.

I am covered in mosquito bites.


(I’ve been told) one breast is slightly larger than the other.


I’ve got freckles on my skin from too much sun and not enough sunscreen.


I’m emotional and unsettled and moody.