Friday, December 4, 2009

Pragmatic Use of a Blog? What!?

Strategizing means of self-promotion is real new to me in terms of my writing and art, but here goes. If nothing else, this blog can and will serve as a temporary space for updating my public performing, speaking, and publications.

So here are the most recent happenings:

I co-edited and have a piece I'm really excited about in the first of a series of beautiful zines from Femme Family NYC. This first one is on Coming Out as Femme and has work from Damien Luxe, Alysia Angel, Sophie Rogers-Gessert of Shameless Photography, Princess Tiny and the Meats, Taueret Manu, and Bevin Branlandingham among others.
You missed the slammin reading and release at Bluestockings Bookstore, but you can still purchase the zine online! Zines are available via paypal, $8 for hardcopy and $6 for download- visit http://www.femmefamily.com/home.html for instructions.

Next, this Sunday, December 6, I will be a panelist at Gather, "a community builder/social platform for lesbian women in their 20s and beyond to come together and discuss their issues." at The GLBTQ Center in Manhattan. This "Gathering" will focus on the coming out experiences of queer women from a variety of backgrounds and stories. Gather is open to folks of all genders and sexual orientations so be there!
The Center
208 W. 13 St.
New York, NY 10011
5:15-7 Room 312 (not elevator accessibly)

Lastly, I am very very excited to post that I was asked to fill a performance spot at Cupcake Cabaret hosted by Bevin Branlandingham this Sunday, December 6, (yes, I'm like a double-feature, follow me from one event to the next).
The very talented Alysia Angel was scheuled to perform her poetry, but due to illness couldn't make her flight from Olympia, WA. I give you this background info because I feel reaaly honored that I came to mind to fill the spot of someone so badass.
I will be reading some new and some old work and will maybe wear gold lame?
More importantly I am thrilled and a little terrified to be sharing the stage with four AMAZING performers- Spoken word by Femmecee Bevin Branlandingham, World Famous *BOB*- extraordinary burlesque performance artist and storyteller, Dave End- Meandering genderfabulous queer musician, and Miasia, BREATHTAKING Queer Fat Femme belly dance! (I hear you haven't really seen belly dance until you've seen Miasia).
So come on down and eat it up!
CUPCAKE CABARET
doors at 8p, show at 8:30p, $10-$15 sliding scale (proceeds go to performers)
45 Berry St @ N. 11th, Brooklyn
L to Bedford or G to Nassau



Don't be surprised to find another post before Sunday evening about how I'm surviving my nerves at this suddenly stunning jam-packed weekend...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Excerpt from Hope Springs

I have yet to write about the Hope Springs Women's Performance and Poetry Retreat that I attended this July, but it seems that an excerpt of the writing I did there is a fitting prologue to whatever I write about the retreat in the future...

The assignment, (as facilitated by Rosemary Daniell), was to "write your story," but using the second person instead of the first. "Your story," was a concept up for your own interpretation... I have always written in the second person when I was most struggling so this exercise satisfied:

You are a little drag queen dressed in giant yellow and fucia prints at a dirty street fair on Delancey street, and once the ferris wheel stops and all the goldfish in plastic bags have cursed another day without being won, you go home and climb under the sheets between your godfather and his new boyfriend Angelo. You are taken with the lightbulb plugged into a cheap Flamnco dancer doll in a red dress and the clock in the kitchen with a hologram of the last supper on its face.
You make little worlds in empty liquor boxes in the basement of the restaurent where your dad cooks. You sleep in lots of beds between lots of men and you don't ever really consider the concept of a straight man until older boys start directing your hands. You dance with trannys ans queens at AIDS walk, refusing to take advantage of the stroller- four year old feet walking eight miles unphased. People die fast and all at once and the only men left want things from you and throw furniture at your mother.
You buy Bette Midler albums and dress as Marilyn Monroe and Lypsinka for the PS3 halloween parades. You get kicked out of your cousins suburban slumber party after a Michael Jackson fan tape featuring that little blonde boy prompts you to tell the other six year olds the four ways to contract HIV.
You kiss girls. Often. You were Doc Martens on the first day of middle school and assume that some day you'll really understand why both Bessie Smith and Abba can keep you from burning deep holes in your wrists. Your dad comes around sometimes and tells you, you only think you're a dyke because you're too fat and ugly for men to want. You empty the liquor boxes into your own mouth before making worlds inside them.
Mostly now you make bedrooms with sand on the floor and santos on the walls.

Experiment?

I hadn't planned on/never have posted this or any other video of me singing, but this is me playing at "Fire Sign" by The Gossip in bed at the end of a long day- enjoying the partial loss of my voice- makes me less self-conscious about the strength of my breath, etc.
All week I've been teaching vocals, body-image/love workshops, and helping along with general mayhem and glory at the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. A lot of the volunteers at Rock Camp are involved in the DIY women's punk music scene, (i.e. For the Birds Collective). They do great stuff, but I spent a lot of the week figuring out how I could translate their feminist DIY approach to, "just start a band," into the context of my own desired aesthetics and abilities...
video

Monday, August 3, 2009

Femme Bitch Top

If you don't know about Tribe 8, allow yourself the masturbation-quality experience of doing a little research. I'm angry tonight- brimming, hot. Wanting bad, just for the sake of satisfaction. I feel like my sexuality has been neglected and tempered lately.

Sometimes music is the closest we can get to where we really need to be...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home

This video feels like home. New York senator Tom Duane wrote me my college application letters. Seeing him now, years later, it is the closest I have come to the in-the-name-of-love rage that filled so much of my childhood during the throws of our family and community living their last months with AIDS. I could have waited a bit to regain composure and better articulate this swell of feelings, but there's nothing I can say beyond what he said in this session. My most core love and gratitude to Tom...!

Arbus

Recently someone told me that my work is like written Diane Arbus... Word?! I can't turn that one down... (And ever since I've been craving some time behind my camera). Often enough I feel like I come to writing when and where I can't afford the art supplies an image in my head requires. And of course, writing is what I go to for the pictures I imagine in motion.
So if you've never seen any of Arbus' work, here's your start- keep on it!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Prompt: Masturbation (In Progress)

Getting Over

To when the finger loses understanding of the switch and can’t
manage to off
To my chest and shoulders cramped from the
conflict— forcing the hand always down
and the chest concave against breath
Body parts not believing one another
To picking up the phone, check email, write poems
and love letters against the buzzing
To my vision gone white and hazy and

To excess of sustaining
muscle ache of holding
bitter taste like full from more
than I knew I could eat or
Excessive draining of the sex and sensation
from my body—

Which is to say, I can’t tell the difference between hunger and bloat.

My skin reckons itself
Only two choices—
Set the hands that dare reach out
with a hungry palm aflame, or
burn myself from the inside in

If I keep on like this
I’m likely to be ash on gold sheets by morning

Redefining Home (old-ish piece)

If You Find Yourself On Christopher Street

like most places
you’ll see it best
if you bring a child. a child
will see fantasy
where there's kink, say
Mom,
you'd look great
in that dress
with a small paint on dirt finger
pointed to a chain link frock
with built in ball gag

a child’ll keep you from
wanting to be
half wasted spun out
too charming or sad
to be 86ed by 3pm
on a Monday at Ty's—

if you're a girl
find a girl's hand to hold
buy her Icees at Rivoli or
if she has a sense of humor
the Deli on the corner of Hudson
where the cabbies go
has giant sour pickles
in a jar on the counter

buy her a rainbow belt
or pleather harness
from the bangladeshi guys
across from St. John's Lutheran
or be that kind of lesbian—
buy her a smudge stick
or piece of amethyst
at Stick Stone Bone then
go get her palm read
by the gypsy next to

the Pet Store Cat still alive
magazines still glossy
no new stars etched outside
the Lucille Lortel
guy that looks like Spock
hasn't been in the window at Hangar
McNulty's still has rare teas
and fine coffees
Leather Man NYC still
has the best window on the block
and there's a handwritten sign
for 10.00 poppers on a paper bag
taped to the door frame of
do any of these porn shops
have names?

Bead Store gone
Record Store gone
Candle Store gone
Lilac's gone to Jane Street

let the losses go.
keep your back
to Stonewall,
your eyes
to the river.



swing her hand
find elegy or procession
at the vigil.
drop a flower off the pier
for the lover's left over
who can't stand to be here
another year

closer to the river
better the game of
find the undercover

closer to the river
better the smell
of salt water and bois

closer to the river
hold her hand tighter
swagger deeper
hold your ground

closer to the sunset

closer to boarded windows

closer to the angels

and you'll need them.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rather than or in addition to punching glass



"Find your work and do it"
"Find your work and do it"
"Find your work and do it"

And there is so much work to do.


And the explosion feeling is not enough
And the knowing you're going
to school and work and friends tomorrow
makes your scalp scream
And the weeping and reaching your hands up to the rain
feels like barely a muscle inching into the stretch it needs
And your sisters are not close enough
And if they were you don't know
if you'd best fuck them or pound on their hearts or kiss their eyelids
or just look at them
And say I love you
sister
And I am sorry
And be silent without bursting
And you don't trust a single word that ricochets off your skull
but do know that
there is so much work to do
And so find your work
And do it
And it begins with trust
And from where you stand now
with your fingertips grown wetter
And your face grown wetter
And your jaw begging to know itself
a looser thing
it seems that if you do it
the work
it will end just where it begins
And you will trust a little better
Not without fear
But because of it

Resurrection

I want to not give up on this thing, but I don't know what it's resurrection will look like... For now, for the sake of tending neglect, here are a few loons based on postcards:

So throw me
To the docks and let
Me eat algae

They ask, does
The carpet match the drapes
Curly and blue?

I got off
To tank girl comic books
In third grade

Your nails are
Like elephant trainer barbie, so
Fungal and pink.

Darken the brow
Pinch the tit, and charge
A little extra.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NaPoWriMo day 7

Yes yes I owe a big back log of 2-6. I was at a conference without internet/computer access and haven't had time to transcribe from my notebook to typed...
But so I don't fall entirely from grace, here's today's:

Trade Routes

reeds replace piers, though surely
it's the other way around- this sharp
dip of ground to water is what
i have come for. haven't come for
anyone in weeks. i am
beach glass or river, serving
my own ware down to a less transparent.

Hudson is a raging mosilium- I
fear infertitlity watching the movement south.

highways are not coincidence. railways
long were trailways, these paths already
cleared. my body has dammed a most basic motion-
this path is in plain sight if you
know how to look for it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

30/30 Day 1

My prompt: A ten line poem based on a question/answer writing exchange I did with a friend on Tuesday morning

If I Forget to Strike


it’s no secret you’ve resorted to me as I’ve no hands
to strike back and it takes only simple charms to temper my tongue.
a snake and a man— you’ll lull me like brief evolution.

if a crowd gathers mistaking us for show, we’ll follow the pulse
of a worn woman’s liver to the bar in the next town’s crumbling center—
i’ll listen for the breathe well in your heartbeat—
a path for the slither until a small child leaps without looking down.

i can only hope
to be a shark or elephant
next time.

Madame of Motion Makes Moves



Belly dancing is going to save my life. It is that simple in a way.
After class this week, (my third ever hour of belly dance training), my teacher came up to me and in her bubbly, Rosie Perez-esque way told me that I better not stop because she'd never seen anyone dance like that off the bat.
I can't pretend that being good at it doesn't help how much I am loving it. It's huge to feel like my body is doing something "right."
But beyond this, it is the satisfaction I am getting from having a place where I can actually feel my bravery- in my muscle and fat and nerves- my body.
Aside from a few months of West African dance while I was living in Ohio, I haven't taken a dance class since I was maybe thirteen. Too much trauma- I couldn't feel myself let alone look at myself move. This year, like most years, I made it my resolution to start dancing again. A half hour into April, I am dancing everyday with classes on Saturdays.
I look in the wall to wall mirrors and am shocked that my body looks strong and tall and thick and not deformed. In fact it looks damn sexy and familiar. I tell my teacher the hip scarves are not one size fits all, I identify as fat and a dancer and she hears me.
And I dance hard. And it makes me feel like a whole person .

And so in the name of motion and push push push I have made a big ol commitment:
April is my birthday month. It's also national poetry month.
As an Aries and a poet, I am going to get a little linguistically AG on my own ass, aka I'll be doing NaPoWriMo: 30 Poems in 30 days.
Stay Tuned!!!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Portraiture

Of late, I spend a lot of time imagining self-portrait. Transformation of my external. Documentation of contortion. A way to see what I look like with myself as I am have a harder and harder time understanding my time alone. Proof that I am solid and here and now- it has been hard to trust that. Maybe I can get a gig or two that'll find me enough money for a digital camera as I have nowhere to develop film right now.

Here is an interview in two parts of one of my two favorite photographers in the world, Nan Goldin:



Monday, March 16, 2009

Unexpected Diggin It

My poetry class and I have been bonding over the Oxford Book of American Poetry, (edited by David Lehman), which we fondly refer to as, "the brick." It is brickish, and I think it should come with a set of hands to knead my back on the days I drag it to school and therefore work and wherever else I end up on a given night. I initially railed against the task of reading an entire brickish poetry anthology, but it's turning out to be pretty delicious...

There are pieces I get half way through and then give up on. There are whole poets I give up on. Louise Bogan was one said poet whose pieces I was not particularly turned on by. Oh so contained. Oh so shrouded in eh. And then there was this piece, Evening in the Sanitarium. I considered that maybe I only dug it because my expectations for Louise were low, but after a few careful readings I decided that her contained poetic posture did something perfectly earie to the setting of a woman's sanitarium, (the setting for the piece below). Her poetic posturing- the enjambment, the bare-bones notions like "a little" in line four- is nearly a sanitarium in its own right. And so, caught wholly off-guard, it seems I dig.

EVENING IN THE SANITARIUM

The free evening fades, outside the windows fastened
with decorative iron grilles.
The lamps are lighted; the shades drawn; the nurses
are watching a little.
It is the hour of the complicated knitting on the safe
bone needles; of the games of anagrams and bridge;
The deadly game of chess; the book held up like a mask.

The period of the wildest weeping, the fiercest delusion, is over.
The women rest their tired half-healed hearts; they are
almost well.

Some of them will stay almost well always: the blunt-faced
woman whose thinking dissolved
Under academic discipline; the manic-depressive girl
Now leveling off; one paranoiac afflicted with jealousy,
Another with persecution. Some alleviation has been
possible.

O fortunate bride, who never again will become elated
after childbirth!
O lucky older wife, who has been cured of feeling
unwanted!
To the suburban railway station you will return, return,
To meet forever Jim home on the 5:35.
You will be again as normal and selfish and heartless
as anybody else.

There is life left: the piano says it with its octave smile.
The soft carpets pad the thump and splinter of the suicide
to be.
Everything will be splendid: the grandmother will not
drink habitually.
The fruit salad will bloom on the plate like a bouquet
And the garden produce the blue-ribbon aquilegia.
The cats will be glad; the fathers feel justified; the
mothers relieved.
The sons and husbands will no longer need to pay the bills.
Childhoods will be put away, the obscene nightmare abated.

At the ends of the corridors the baths are running.
Mrs. C. again feels the shadow of the obsessive idea.
Miss R. looks at the mantel-piece, which must mean something.

1938

Monday, March 2, 2009

Feeling of Want in my Belly

What I'm craving this morning:



And of course, if I am stirring with want to hear Toshi, her mama, the honorable Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon follows in suit...



If ever you have the opportunity to see either of them live, do not miss it. It will change you, joy and chills!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Excusing yourself from eye contact so that you can better hear.

There are days like this. That begin with little love things. And end with loving me so little.
There are days when I am so tired. And the word "so" makes me cry.
Maybe there is love in crying for myself.
There are days when my body is a full place. When my body can't stand up anymore- has to sit down on the subway steps. Walk away- cry when I think of how much I want to be followed. Sometimes I walk away because I know how, but I want you, want you to follow me. A hand on my back.

If you are 22 and terrified that spending your days studying Christ's martyrs may well be your best preparation for the future:
Let yourself cry on the subway, do not wipe your tears.

Crave someone else's words, even though you know yours are enough. Ache at their absence. Their absence everyday, not just today.

Breathe loud enough that you can hear it.

Knead your stomach with both hands so that it does not turn heavy and to stone.

Feel unsure of yourself as a writer- when there is this much to purge, how do you formulate anything but confessional enjambment?

Do not panic when no one answers the phone.

Tell the truth.

Worry about how honest you are- when other people compliment your vulnerability, let yourself cry for it. Not to qualify their compliment but to show them that it hurts like hell.

Fuck being embarrassed to hurt in front of the people that hurt you. Be a trauma survivor- not know whether it's ok to want that same person to hold your hand, shoulder, head, spine.

Let the hurt be what's hurting you right now, not the everything that's wrong with you nothing will be ok forever and never hurt.

Believe hard and fast in guardian angels. Be needy with them.

Marvel at how beautiful your deep eyes concerned face is in the subway door reflection. Don't feel bad if it reminds you of the boy that saw you crying after you were raped and told you how blue your eyes looked. Be patient with your associations.

Hold your memory tight. Touch it with kindness. Do not do not inflict it with violence. It is your memory and it needs you as much as you need it.

Know that it's ok if you wish someone were watching you in this moment- tears on big eyes, no red lipstick, soft black shirt, grey cardigan, deep purple lace briefs and gold on wrist and ears- because you know how unbearably sexy the combination is. Because you know you can be hot even when you're a hot mess.

Be in awe of how much of your body you can feel. Know that that is change.

Be content with the paradox- proud at the way your body is cycling its own energy to save your ass, and hurt that you are so strong.

You don't need to know what to do with your strength. But do not offer it up as sacrifice, holy or not.

Love Things for my Heart

I have always been good at collecting small love acts- little tricks to keep me in touch with the bigger than me universe.It is through acknowledging that I am good at doing little love things for myself that I am able to look my big loves in the eye. Truth is I am a big mover and shaker of myself, brazen, hard-ass, tight-holder of myself. More and more I feel like I am doing a good job of letting myself be whole. And the little things really help me own up to it when I am otherwise afraid to take on an identity of self love for fear that I won't be able to sustain such an identity.

Social workers used to make me sign contracts with them consisting of lists of things I could or would do instead of "injuring" myself, which of course only meant injury so far as the eye and the system and their supervisors could see. I hated that those lists were contracts, but even as a first and second grader I had made lists of love things for myself. Litany-like secrets that I was preparing to break out of my fucked up violent, silent, secrets family... For example, I am acutely aware of my spacial and physical surroundings because as a small child I had games for taking in space. I moved around a lot and had a hard time really feeling where I was... I would often see myself standing behind myself watching. It still happens. So I always make a mental map or note of the spaces I'm in- patterns in the floor, art on the walls, books on the shelves.

My love thing lists are not about alternatives to "injuring" myself. As often as being preventative, they are about holding myself after the fact. Knowing how to come home alone after a one night stand and get in bed with Tar Beach or Eloise. Knowing how to get myself the fuck out of the house for a walk. Knowing how to tempt myself with treats- set down the shard of glass from my forearm and go buy a coconut. Draw in meetings or in class when rage rises close to the tip of my tongue. Visit the river. Visit the ocean. Just get on the subway and let the world move me if I'm too tired to do it myself. Know the right music right now...

Study the patterns in the floor.

So here are some Love Things from the past week:









Saturday, February 28, 2009

(Mis)Translation

I was recently introduced to the "mistranslation" exorcise and have immediately and grateful added it to my list of cathartic-save-my-own-ass activities... The exorcise is to take a poem in a language you do not know, (it may be helpful if it's based in the same alphabet, but then again would be a different and amazing exorcise with an alphabet you don't know), and to translate it line by line, based only on the looks and phonetics of the words and letters in front of you. I was given a poem in Finnish which I know nothing about- not even how it sounds when spoken. Forcing myself to focus on something I knew nothing about and couldn't criticize myself for not understanding was an amazing moment of freedom in my day...

By Merja Virolainen

Sain sinut vain yöksi,
silmänräpäykseksi, pariksi.
Senkin vain leikimme
kotia varjojemme kanssa,
minkä se kesti,
pelko painautui kainaloon,
yksinäisyys rakasteli minua.

Niin tulin siunattuun tilaan:
kannan lasta sinulle, kipua.
Nuku sinä, nuku,
minkä yötä kestää,
niin et kuule, kuinka se varttuu,
soi jo isona lantion
kaikukopassa,
vahvistuu, pikku prinsessamme,
huutaa kylkiluuni kruununa,
suu ammollaan kuin taivas,
imee lävitseni kaiken
mitä kuulen, näkee mitä näen,
kasvaa, oppii elämään.

Mirror, Violent Lie

A saint and slut, your veins
Simple paying-- parasitic
Sink veins like mine
Katya, you're vile, me I am cancer
Meet me, say to castrate
Pelt it, pain it, kindly loom
Your saint has robbed, castrated my minute

No tiny saint slut tit
Can last, so sing it quick
None can sing you, none
Meet me, you talk me, castrate, ah...
No instrument could kill like your veins
I go in sleep, insomnia, lay on me kind, passive
Will you pick up a princess name
Or hit, kill, croon, ah...
Your animal craves temperance
Me, I'm only laying here curled
My cunt, naked my name. You
Count, open-- vein alive.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Fish

This is seeking a title... Help a sister out...


Do you eat fish?
Eagerly
And if I fry it?
I’ll watch
So I uncoil the newspaper
Unearthing translucent
Roots where bones were

My father taught me this
To bait the hook carefully
Held his hand out and plunged
The barbed metal into calloused flesh
And I followed, scarring small palm
A lesson in respecting what you alter
Ocean at your knees

The spiced fish oil is spitting
From red pan
She sits quiet and stares
Bites her lip
Do you always cook topless?
Only when I cook fish
Does it feel as good as it looks?
I approach her at the kitchen table
Spatula in hand
Bring my stomach
A minefield of grease spots
Chest glimmer
And let her inhale

My grandmother could whip a cigarette
Out of a man’s mouth
With the fly end of her rod and line
She made a living this way
On a floating pedestal
Crimson lips and corset
Baiting men
Rather than fish

The table is a cacophony
Flounder intoxicating
Small bowls of kiwi kumquat lime
She bring pomegranate seeds to her tongue
How does it taste?
Like Riis beach
Fishy?
It should be
Do you want more?
Always

Friday, February 6, 2009

Almost Poetry Poker

As another class activity my tiny Brooklyn College poetry class all brought in poems we liked- Marti, Plath, Pinero, Lorde and others- and cut each line out to throw in a mixed up pile. We each pulled 8 lines from the pile and spent five minutes writing a poem that incorporated the 8 lines we'd selected. Here's my piece, ripe for revisions, (other poet's words in italics)...

Cinder Song
Hana Malia 2009

In my tomb of green leaves
Our body wears the smile of accomplishment,
Because I has you under surveillance y I has you slick chlorophyll mood light
We, bright jungle eyes with cocaine nose- cocaine nose
In our thighs burnin cocaine holes
Baby, don't check your reflection in still river run
Don't need to see your acid face
Scorch lines, deep stretchmarks snake
Like river run, river run run
that that that stands erect in the spirit's glare.
Stop. We ain't seen sun
Canopy got us green flesh
Cocoa thigh lovin
Baby, your shit is spinnin, your marks are stretching
to the point of bursting. Hush,
here, grip this steering wheel I've gripped before.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Response to Lorde

As a class assignment, I was asked to take a poem, quadruple space it, and then respond to each individual line of the poem in the open pace below. It was an exercise in letting go of the whole piece- in writing without knowing where the next line would come from or go. I expected it to be disjointed and awkward, but it came out as what feels for me like a true honoring response to Lorde's piece, Litany for Survival.
I suspect this is at once a poem for myself and my mother in these days where thoughts of closeness to her make my skin burn...

What We Know in Winter (temporary working title)
by Hana Malia 2009


for you who finds rest in concrete cracks
laying, seemingly floating just above a bed of nails
like they are orderly lines of school children.
for you who believes you are too much to be swallowed down whole
the welcome of rape- if no means no what does silence mean?
who fucks when you're bleeding so the mess has a name
on the avenues between sunrise East River, sunset Hudson
flailing and coiling
both fetal and nearly gone
pleading with a lover's strong back for
a moment more than right now.
you must have been breastfed to want the insides this bad-
the cycles red and inevitable
the release unbearable

for you
who knows no uncertain moves
wrinkles, stretchmarks have etched soft skin
you do not trust food to settle you
this kind of peace
this too honest tale
become mantra on tongue
in your children's sleep
this faltering straight line,
they were never meant to survive

and when the winter is not over you forget
today will be short
when the days get longer you fret
how fast your hair will grow
and when you are naked you beg for burlap coverage
turtlenecks make you fear the indoors
when your children leave you cook large meals
can only take small bites
when someone has your hip in hand, you imagine
its inevitable droop
when you are at the mercy of your own hands, you are sure
they will be the last
and when you finish in only small quiet breaths, you are amazed
at how naked a person can be
when no one else is looking
but when you cry out,
you are unconvinced

so it is better to sing into your thick pillows
remembering
this moment, just now
is enough


Litany for Survival
by Audre Lorde


For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed
futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid

So it is better to speak
remembering
we were never meant to survive

When Little Boys Call You Fat Albert

I am watching PBS, and Phillips just said, "I do know one thing, Cass Elliot died a very happy woman."
It's been a rough week for this fat girl! I will make myself find the time to write about it this weekend, but for now, for my own peace, I channel Cass Elliot and Beth Ditto




Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Because Who Needs a Gay Bookstore on Christopher Street?

In Response to the below article, featured in the City Room section of the
N
ew York Times yesterday:

We will call this part of the "economic crisis" and crisis in publishing and independent retail, but anyone with their eyes open, anyone who has made a life in The Village knows this is something more- Queer communities are losing space in this city turned open air mall. Chelsea, the Village, Harlem, Hell's Kitchen, Park Slope- neighborhoods that once housed poor people, people of color, queer people, have been consumed by glass encased condos inhabited six months a year by tenants with no intention to invest in the streets below their oh-so-private doorman dwellings.
As queers are being busted in video shops, kicked out of their neighborhoods, and then commodified in The Village Voice via the new Queer Brooklyn Hipster Girl aesthetic, (see photo expo on Choice Cunts), we need to keep our eyes open. When the last LGBTQ bookstore in NYC turns into yet another British Boutique on Christopher street, it is time to get angry! Don't let the dismantling of queer space go unnoticed or un-noted!


My beautiful, ever on-point friend Parhom Shoar responds:


It's a different time. The US has always been a capitalist country, but today's hyper-capitalism is unprecedented. Aside from the obvious impact on our quality of life, our culture is being eroded in the sake of profiteering. I can't say this is done with any specific malice, it's the nature of the economic beast.

As you say, NYC is being ... turned into an open air mall. So much of the appeal lies in the cultures that have been organically created in the city over the years. When such things as basic as the subway are part of what makes the city what it is, and that's even being neglected, well...

I don't think that it's something the queer community could stop by fighting back. It's a much greater systematic problem. That needs to be addressed by all layers of American society. It's not just a queer issue.

To which I say:

All true. Maybe I am just hearkening on the fact that early queer writings and community projects saw queer issues as everyone's issues and vice versa- as third world issues, class and race issues, age issues, environmental issues. And so perhaps if the infinitely sized capitalist beast abstracts our vision with it's breadth- small things like Oscar Wilde- immediate spacial and community changes, are a way to see something tangible about the ways capitalism and imperialism have completely altered the scope of queer politics, (we are now isolationists rather than coalition builders).
And also, like I said, I posted this article so that "marriage" and other short-sighted movements don't bind us to the point where the negations of our history and infrastructure, "... go unnoticed or un-noted."


February 3, 2009

Venerable Gay Bookstore Will Close

Oscar Wilde BookshopThe Oscar Wilde Bookshop, at 15 Christopher Street. (Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

The Oscar Wilde Bookshop in Greenwich Village, which is believed to be the oldest gay and lesbian bookstore in the country, will close on March 29, its owner announced on Tuesday, citing “the current economic crisis.” The announcement came nearly six years after the store was about to close, only to be given a last-minute reprieve when a new owner bought it.

The store was opened in 1967 on Mercer Street by Craig L. Rodwell, who was influential in the gay rights movement. It later moved to 15 Christopher Street. Mr. Rodwell, who inspired similar owners of gay bookshops around the country, and who helped organize the city’s first gay pride parade in 1970, died of stomach cancer in 1993.

Then, a store manager, Bill Offenbaker, bought the store. A third owner, Larry Lingle, bought the store in 1996.

In 2003, after Mr. Lingle said he could no longer afford to keep the store open, Deacon Maccubbin, the owner of Lambda Rising Bookstores in Washington, agreed to buy the store and keep it afloat. Then, in 2006, Kim Brinster, the store’s manager since 1996, became the store’s fifth owner.

The bookstore, which currently occupies a storefront not much bigger than a typical Manhattan studio apartment, became a landmark institution for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

Ms. Brinster wrote in an e-mail message to customers on Tuesday afternoon:

It is with a sorrowful heart that after 41 years in business the Oscar Wilde Bookshop will close its doors for the final time on March 29, 2009. We want to thank all of our customers for their love and loyalty to the store over the years. You have helped make this store a world wide destination and all of us at the store have enjoyed welcoming our neighbors whether they are next door or half way around the world.

In 1967 Craig Rodwell started this landmark store that not only sold Gay and Lesbian literature but also became a meeting place for the LGBT community. Over the years it grew into a first-rate bookshop thanks to the loyal, smart and dedicated staff. There are not enough words to thank these dedicated booksellers for making the OWB one of the world’s finest LGBT bookstores. I feel very honored to have gotten to work with them.

Unfortunately we do not have the resources to weather the current economic crisis and find it’s time to call it a day. So thanks to all who have been a part of the Oscar Wilde family over the years, you have truly been a part of a great global community.

The store said it would continue to take orders through e-mail and through its Web site until mid-March. Ms. Brinster said the store would extend special offers and discounts to liquidate its inventory.

“What a shame,” said Martin B. Duberman, an emeritus professor of history at Lehman College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, when he heard of the store’s closing.

Professor Duberman knew the store’s founder, Mr. Rodwell, and wrote about him in his 1993 book “Stonewall.”

“Craig struggled very hard,” Professor Duberman recalled in a phone interview. “He had no real backing from other sources. It was pretty much always hand to mouth. In the early years, some people objected because he refused to carry any pornography. He eventually relented, though I can’t tell you how long it took, but I’m sure that helped him move from a marginal life to at least a semi-prosperous one.”

Professor Duberman called the store “clearly pioneering,” saying, “It demonstrated for the first time that it was possible to own a bookstore, however small, that catered to a gay public. At the same time, by its very existence, it helped to demonstrate that there was such a public, which in turn might well have had some influence on gay writers – suggesting that there was an outlet for that kind of work.”

The current owner, Ms. Brinster, who is 51, started as a manager at the store in 1996 when Mr. Lingle was the owner. Raised in Texas, she moved to New York City in 1979 to get a master’s degree in religious education at Fordham University and later worked as a letter carrier until moving into the book business.

In a phone interview, she said sales had declined by double-digit percentages, compared with a year ago, each month since August. On Tuesday, she noted, the store had only two paying customers.

“People are hemorrhaging, and we’re no exception,” she said. “People really are nervous.”

Ms. Brinster said the economy “is worse than it was after 9/11.”

Independent bookstores have faced relentless challenge from big retailers like Barnes & Noble and online book sellers like Amazon.com, and there is growing interest in electronic books. Ms. Brinster also estimated that some two-thirds of the store’s customers were foreign tourists, and said the decline in the value of the euro — and the general reduction in tourism — had hurt the store.

The store sits below two apartments and above a massage parlor. Ms. Brinster said she paid $3,000 a month in rent, which she said was already below market value.

“Even if we were rent-free it wouldn’t be enough for us to cover the bills we have,” she said. “This is one instance in New York where it’s not a case of the landlord gouging the tenant. Our landlord has always been remarkable with us.”

Saturday, January 31, 2009

2am: Chats on Poetry When No One's Watching

meis this your poem?
Diana: nah
i wish it was mine!
me: I thought it was...
which means that at least to me, I think you have the skill to write this poemDiana: oh snap!
me: honestly, I think you have the skill to write something way deeper than this
Diana:
yea i can write deep it just doesn't sound pretty
pretty
me: not all poetry sounds pretty
you can work on that part of it
it's the complexity, the layers you offer up that are the core, the shit that really matters
because you could have a bunch of people help you make something shiny
but if the core of your piece is a kind of flimsy metaphor for something, pretty doesn't really help
Diana: I don't think I layer well either
me: from what I've seen, you can get a bunch of layers/connecting pieces into one poem
you just need to work on allowing space for each piece
making sense of how they unfold
Diana: explain that a lil further
me: like, I think your brain makes good connections between parts of your (and other people's) stories- you see the way small moments relate to some of your big bad truths. And I think good poems consist of tiny moments or stories that hold within them something heavy- a big pumping organ right in your middle
so a good poet write a good poem
by unraveling the story, the momentary scene
to get the listener/reader to the point where they realize that they're not just hearing the moment
Diana: ok i see
me: but the bigger, heavier thing hidden in it
Diana: yea
me: so, from what I've seen of your work
you have an eye for the tiny moments
you just need to not be afraid to get to the full unveiling
to sort of deconstruct them til you're down to the big bones/truths
Diana: what would the full unveiling be?
the truth?
me: the full unveiling is when the story just sort of falls to the side and you are left with what the story tells about your life/your truth
and then really good poet can like really trip you out by telling the story, peeling the story away little bit by little bit
so that you don't even realize the story is falling to the sides
and then boom
there's the real shit on the inside
and then, they end it by grabbing the story up off the floor, and rebuilding it almost instantly so that it's intact by the end of the piece
and you're not even sure what happened or the difference between what makes a moment any different from the big bad whole...
that's actually to me a huge part of what makes Rachel McKibbens so damn amazing!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OPP: On Poetry in Progress

NSA

1.
Boy with the scars across your chest,
Deliver me from my own frantic fingertips
Into the fisted hand of temptation,

Run your tongue across the
Red purples of my calves
Where I have graced them with the sharpest
Angle of scissor, licked them clean,
Hot metallic swallowed down hard.

Why waste time with gloves and the
Shift. Shift again from my back to my knees
Finding the angle most open
To your wrist,
When we could go to the kitchen
For a butcher knife and carve
A few of the words we’re looking for,
Into my inner thigh?

2.
I have agreed to strings detached
No fibers promised between us.
To whatever convenient words find us here-
Pervert

You are my lover, not my love.
Take me,
Command me,
Taste a little piece of my-

Don’t mind the torn threads at my Achilles heel,
Dragging from my feet, collecting dirt
And the puddles we’ve left on your bedroom floor.
While they are no measure
Of the space between us,
I have never been able to hide like you-
Behind suspenders and dark wood.

3.
I will be your high femme sex cat,
The girl who wants too much
A mirror
The girl who is too much,
But I’m not leaving anything at the door.

OPP: On Poetry in Progress

That What Sticks

Mexican everyday afternoon valley rains,
You should know- there is a formula
To falling apart unnoticed
Small girls study it
Eat themselves- pieces of bread
Or find the food they need on inside bones
That they’ll lick clean
After he leaves in the morning.

Afternoon rain, this is a formula
You have not studied
And it hurts you.
You must learn to swallow the word, Always,
Hold it in with breath and belly!
Because too many visiting feet
Stay dry. Thankless.

If I were loose mountain mud I might love you,
Because I’ve loved like that before,
Weak in the knees for the constancy of bruises
Always the size of a boy’s middle and index knuckles,
Always brief and torrential.
Blue yellows that will fall off, and rain
That will drip down to an unseen molten core.
Could we be any more stable?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poetry in Progress

(Not yet titled)

I mean it to be beautiful. Thin lines,
symmetrical, cascading down
my left forearm. A path of intention.
Mirror my right arm, all tattoo. I need it
to mean something like that-
a calculated inside out
of the this I know. I believe
I am controlled- poem,
sculpture. I lack the tools- a something exact.

He stopped me in need of a light
and like so many others,
took hold of my forearm. Six hours
I tell him, yea, the cyclone,
paid half price, no, that’s the only one
on my arms. But he’s already
got my left wrist. He’s running his hand
along my scabbed flesh. You cut yourself
he says, voice soft and sweet.
I am looking at his ink, my lashes
inching up forearm to his bent place, trying
to avoid his eyes. Beautiful boy,
your track mark is still bleeding out.

I haven’t opened my fridge for weeks.
It is something dead. Capers like
kidney stones, and Mom,
the smell reminds me of you-
head on the toilet bowl
each morning. Now your teeth are falling out
and my cauliflower has turned brown and drips
inside its bag. There are safe things,
air tight. Peanut butter, mustard,
apple sauce. Everything else will have to go.
I’m sorry about the Tupperware.

Femme Fears: Something Somewhere has Cracked

So any of y'all reading this are along for the ride when it comes to my process of finding a voice and boundaries and structure for this blog.
This is a shot at something new... I seem to have been shying away from the "post from the gut" in exchange for a more expository, developed, patient post, (though nothing has gone through multiple drafts). This will be a tale from the gut- what's happening right now, without retrospect or time to articulate and catalogue it.

Yesterday a friend noted on her perception of me this past New Years Eve. It was a hard night to cap off a year worth weeping and dancing for having survived... The handful of people still at my place come midnight humored me in my favorite New Years Eve activity, "Rosebush," which requires going around in a circle and sharing your Rose- something positive/joyful/exciting/liberating, your Thorn- something hurtful/hard, and your Bud- something you are hoping for in the day(s) to come, (in this case based on the whole year, but can by done for just a day or week or specific event). Not everyone there knew each other. People were shy and fractured into their tiny social comforts, but once I started the game everyone said some amazing, honest shit. I had been walking around like an open wound for the week or two prior to that night. It was the first time I really talked about my year- my self. I cried. I used words. I drank. I felt safe. I couldn't have been any other way- I had no capacity for or agency in my own opening and closing.
So when said friend noted how that felt like the first time she had ever seen me that open, it was all I could say to simply explain that connection does not come easily to me. Because I so resist connection to myself at the same time as wanting it and reaching for it and eating it up more than anything.

Today, after having that conversation, something , somewhere cracked. The connections- small and simple- were coming at me in loads... A B train conductor held the train to try to talk to me. I got hit on by a girl who talked me up about MTA history and my hair on the freezing cold Shuttle platform. The man who played a drum for me from Franklin to Prospect Park all the while hustling me to get up and dance to his beat. All within a span of 15 minutes or so.

People talk to me all the time. I'm known for it. We had actual tallies in high school to quantify the number of strangers who got up in my space for any number of reasons on a given night. But tonight was different...

My guess at some of the why:
Somehow I seem to always forget that activism and organizing around shit in my heart and belly is an act of vulnerability an honesty if I let it be. So when I threw my hat in for some organizing with NY based Femmes I went in pretty stoned against and afraid of other Femmes- of what it would feel like to relinquish the binds of intimidation and competition. Critical as always of my Femme identity.
Tonight was round two of Femme organizing. I felt better, more comfortable. Softer. More present and grounded and articulate. More trusting in my right to share that space. And I imagine it's because of this that I left feeling tremendously full and revealed.
I was full but not heavy. Revealed but not terrified of being seen. This may sound affirming and liberating. It was. And it also hurt.
Allowing myself to go and locate myself and have questions and listen hard meant tremendous risk. Because being with all those other Femmes and so really, all the intersecting shit that has found us as Femmes, means seeing parts of yourself in other people that you maybe wouldn't have revealed to yourself tonight. I might not have let myself think about me as a survivor, but allowing myself to be present when someone else brings it up means it becomes part of my night.

So it seems seeing each other will take tremendous courage.

There is something about this that does not allow for words. But this is what I know. Intuition can kick your ass. Because you can be so damn right in the way you feel someone. You can look at someone and have something hard beat behind your bellybutton. And you can almost hear the same beat in the stomach facing yours. It's not romantic. It's prophetic maybe. And wordless. A deep breath to sustain eye contact. Knowing that you know a lot more than makes sense... Something has cracked for now, making for a hairline space for the storing of big connection.

Tonight I felt something thick. Not fluid or easy to move through. And I think I liked it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What a Way to Wake Up!

Synthesis of my life? Yes, I think so.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Repost: Audre Lorde Project on the Presidency


Click here to link to the full text on the ALP website.

An Excerpt:

On the 23rd annual Martin Luther King Day, the Eve of the Inauguration
Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the weeks leading up to the election, we held discussions with community members about the financial crisis and people’s hopes and fears for the election. What people talked about is very much a map of the current conditions that are front and center in our communities’ realities. We talked about the stagnation of real wages, an understanding that the ratio of people’s income to expenses has gone down for the last thirty years, meaning that even when people earn more over time, our money pays for less. We talked about an unprecedented level of imaginary profit made by a very small number of people, and the cost of deregulation on homeowners, poor and working class people; and the deepening gap between the rich and the poor in the global south due to free trade agreements, structural adjustment policies, and currency speculation (http://economicmeltdownfunnies.org/).

We identified the impacts of these issues on our communities locally: people feeling trapped in jobs that they are afraid to leave; the rise in homelessness; the decrease in small businesses; gentrification (the process by which higher income households displace lower income residents of a neighborhood, changing the essential character and displacing original residents of the neighborhood) and the decrease in affordable housing; less resources for education and an increase in military recruitment; rising scapegoating, racism, transphobia, depression, hopelessness, and crime. We talked about the budget cuts which are affecting all of our organizations, and how in many ways homeless LGBTSTGNC people, especially younger people, elders and people with disabilities, are feeling these cuts to services most immediately.

As we hold these hard realities among others, as LGBTSTGNC People of Color based in New York City we identified some of the policy and movement commitments we will make during the next period...

It warms my... Heart?

Oh Athens Boys Choir...
Oh tiny queer world...
Go to LOGO online and vote for "Fagette" on the Click-list Top 10
This warms my heart and other places a decent girl like myself doesn't name. Really, after a year of masses of queers down on their knees pledging to be good, clean, law-abiding homosexuals, this video puts a smile on your deviant, pervy, chubby cheeked face!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Touch Me Somewhere Different: Tenacity for Erotic Hope

I need to be touched.

This year has been so many encounters that found me all kinds of touched, but quickly crashing when my clothes were back on. I've been taking on lovers who I left in the dark about my intentions- the ways I was using their hard working forearms to feel out my own shit. To push my own buttons.

Because sometimes it's not enough to trust that heat radiates- sometimes you need to know that you can get right under the fire and breath just the same.
This is ok- it's part of the deal. When I don't know where I'm at in my capacity for give and take, it suits me well to just jump in- and not everyone I fuck needs to know why I'm there. I sure as hell don't know all or any of what they're seeking beyond what their hands grab at.

These are reasonably safe people and I think that if nothing else, we know that we are seeking one another in part, for the questions we won't ask. And even more so, the answers we aren't demanding.


This turns me on. This is a necessary process.


So sex can be consent without being disclosure... Ask me what I want but not why- and then give it to me.

But what about the person reading this and thinking, I need to be touched too. Maybe you're having sex, maybe not. And maybe it's really hot. But maybe, when I say there's a tenacity to want to be touched somewhere different, you feel a small fire somewhere...

It seems I want a friend who knows their own need to be touched as just that- a practical, wet, necessary remedy for when the body becomes such stone that no part of your day can penetrate you. That your heart and muscles and very sense of hunger gets lost behind your body's turning in on itself. And so I am allowing myself to imagine that there are brave, hungry, sometimes hurting people in my community who, without seeking a relationship, are looking to disclose as part of consenting and talking dirty. People who want to hook up under the guise of-
"I am playing with fire- it's going to be hot and I may or may not be able to handle it. This will not be a performance. This sex will ask questions and try for answers. And that's why we're having it."

Don't get me wrong- I maintain my interest in and passion for lovers with whom I maintain a distinct emotional distance. There are plenty of people I want to sleep with but don't want to share with. But there are also people I want to or have shared with, and have been turned on enough by what we share to want to manifest it in anapologetic sex.

It seems that this begs the question- how is this different from the makings of a relationship? I mean, NSA sex and dating is able to be that because you don't divulge too much. But I am deciding to at least try it out- try believing that sharing my shit, the shit that gets stored up and toxic or stressful in my body can be shared without moving away from NSA. And that the idea that it is too fine of a line between it and a formal relationship is made a bit bolder, a bit thicker when one considers this:

We assume that emotional honesty is a direct line to a relationship because we have been taught in so many ways that you share your hurt in the more or less passive hope that the person you share with will make you better. We often don't name the conditions of this help- we offer ourselves up to an abstract idea of healing with blind faith that the other person won't further injure or manipulate us with what they know. Still, we are handing off the agency over our healing to someone else's vision of what healing looks like. And who wants to engage in that kind of utter and relatively irresponsible surrender without the guarantee of some sort of committed connection?

But in my vision, I know exactly the mode of healing I am looking for and asking for- I am sharing that which needs touch for the express purpose of having you touch it appropriately and well informed. This is not about surrender and I have no need or interest in having to figure out how to hold someone else or be held by them- I want to tell and be told directly rather than go into a relational process not knowing exactly what I'm looking for.

I am bent on finding a way that knowing why we're fucking can be just as hot as honing our individual selves like dirty little secrets.

Now how do I find others with this tenacity for erotic hope?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Poem: September 2008

Ode to Hurricane Hanna

The red jellyfish are torn to bits
like thousands of used tampons
washing up
salt bloated
and tragic-
A piece of paradise
Gauguin left out
but surely had the colors for

You are dead bloated cattle floating
through streets
that have long been Caribbean dessert,
soaked through and through,
never managing thirst quench
or crop.
Maybe you only mean
to add fish flavor
to next week’s batch
of dirt and shortening.

Later, a proper send off
for the geek,
face painted pied piper
and the brown kids
tripping entranced
over toxic sea foam
and the riding backwards.

Better than fireworks
and insistent rhythm,
the Ocean takes wing
over the day Astroland
probably didn’t close, again.

In the safety of a taller city
I find you lashing at MOMA’s windows
a paper-thin-waterfall
casting new shadows
on Brassaï’s Paris.
The Gelatin print,
dyke bar secrets
feel even
wetter.

I will break a woman’s heart
and then,
keep her dry
under an umbrella
and you will fade
to morning wind waves


overcompensate, overlash, overwash
the timid bully we both have been.



Credit: Brassai, Paris

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fear of Abandonment

I fear abandonment. I make art. I scream. I accuse my abusers- my parents, my lovers. I write them beautiful, violent poems. I sketch them with fiery hands in pages of my notebooks. I watch the movement of my own blood following gravity down my forearm toward my fingertips from spaces where my skin has been opened- moments where my mouth could only remain closed despite the need for release. And in all of these acts- I bleed, I scream, I sketch- a hysterical fear of abandonment.
Are you reading this and imagining a mother or girlfriend who runs away, leaving me alone and aching? These are neglects I know well, and so do not count in my arsenal of comrades- persons or things I feel close enough to to fear abandonment by.
Instead, I seek the resilience of and therefore fear the departure of others who find solace in drawing, stunning poetry, and shards of glass to flesh. What if I am left alone without these fierce, aching young people who, without being close, offer a reflection of myself?
I don't mean to be cryptic. On Christmas day I got an e-mail- haphazardly sent to a random collection of people connected to Camp Kinderland, the summer camp I attended as a child and worked at thereafter, informing us of the death of a woman a year older than me. Suicide. She had been my first best friend at camp and gone on to be intimidating and cliquey in the years to follow. It's been over a decade since we were really friends.
It hit me hard. It stuck to my insides. It sat in my stomach.
Because I was barely holding on by the time Christmas came. I had been spending days alone on the jetties of Coney Island, trying to find safety in the constancy of waves meeting shore, and a reason to stick around. Suicide has never been melo-dramatic to me. It has been a reality sorely situated in everyday decisions. For me, it is symbiotic. It was made clear to me from a very young age, both verbally and otherwise, that I was my mother's reason for staying alive. In fact, my first summer at Kinderland, the July I spent looking up to Emma, the young woman who is now gone, my mother attempted suicide. She drank a bottle of poisonous chemicals meant to kill infestations of bugs. She snuck out of the ER covered in charcoal and bile and walked home down seventh avenue in Manhattan poisoned, dehydrated, maybe only kind of alive. This is a lived decision in the life I share with my mother and our lives apart. It is spending middle school with best friends in the children's psych ward at Saint Vincent's hospital. It is not smoke and mirrors. It is terrifying. It is simply there.
So tonight I sorted through the handful of websites that mourned Emma's suicide and celebrated her creative powers. We haven't been friends for years and still I feel hurt and small and abandoned- there's one less being to carry the aching-young-creating fire. Where is the lesson that more of us need to survive? That we need each other even without knowing each other?
It seems that there is a dangerous edge created by working to understand and humanize suicide and self-destruction. There is nothing hard for me to understand about the fact that she is gone. And that is a brilliant reason both to keep on, and a lack of reason not to let go.
Suicide is not a consideration for me today but I will not call it, "nowhere near me," today. Because feeling its closeness, its literal heat against me when I heard about Emma was a kick in the stomach- a reminder of how close this always is. And how essential it is to recognize its presence- to look it in the eye- to know it enough to relate to it as its equal.

There will be more on this, but for now I'll raise her up by sharing the organization donations in her honor are being made to:
http://www.poetsinneed.org/
And a website exhibiting some of her art:
http://picasaweb.google.com/emmabeebernstein/

John O'Donahue wrote for Emma,

May there be some beautiful surprise
Waiting for you inside death
Something you never knew or felt,
Which with one simple touch
Absolves you of all loneliness and loss,
As you quicken within the embrace
For which your soul was eternally made.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Maneuvering the Right Light

I have been afraid of this for so long...

Those who know me know of what have been referred to as my, "Frida-esque," journals- pages of racing subway thoughts, scraps of newspaper, photocopies, and drawings. With the weight of so many of these notebooks carried under arm or on back, I am afraid. What happens to the pages? The record? How does this abstract on-line, who-the-fuck-reads-this-space change my relationship to the recording of my thoughts?

I have essentially spent years researching blogs- their aesthetic, their boundaries, their use toward career networking, their passive aggression. And I have asked myself a million marketing questions. Here are the fears:

Giving away my thoughts without the intention of specific receptors
Having some knowledge of who does or who may read this, how do I avoid the temptation to use this space to communicate things to individuals without owning up to the fact that I have them in mind?
That this will be a form of dissociating from my feelings and thoughts
Plagiary of my creative work

The list goes on and I came to the conclusion that there was only one way to find out. The more I wrote about it, the more I realized that this would naturally mold itself very differently from what I write in my journals and that if anything there will be some creative exchange between the two spaces. With some peace and willingness to take on this new medium, I was left to decide its purpose.

I recently finished my final project for a poetry class, (pictured below)- three sets of poems, one about me, one about another woman- a woman I did not know but somehow knew intimately; Baby Ruth- a famous fat lady, Aileen Wuornos- the subject of the film Monster, and Aisho Ibrahim Dhuhulow- a thirteen year old girl stoned to death last year. The idea was a way for me to connect to my guilt over how stories that don't belong to me so fiercely trigger my own self-destruction and unleash the injured power therein. It was a way to validate my inability to stop or even pause the synthesizing and cyclical connecting that makes for my system cataloging that which I learn and see and ingest.


My hope is that this blog will be a continuation of that validation both for myself and those who read it...

It is also a very scary attempt to relinquish some control over how the world sees and knows me. Lately I have been crippled- physically and emotionally sick- exhausting myself in my constant tactical maneuvering of the most flattering light. It is an attempt not to compartmentalize and contort myself, showing people convenient parts in convenient moments- like the fat girl who wears all black and then leaves her breasts as revealed as possible as though the rest of her body becomes negative, inconsequential space. It is a commitment to reveal my process of consciousness- to allow readers to see me stumble on my way to an understanding.

It is a space to be unapologetically female, fat, queer, femme, sexual, angry, creative, unsure, unresolved, a survivor of violence and abuse, a woman struggling with depression and self-destruction, a person struggling to survive and to connect.

This excerpt from a larger piece of mine, sums it up from here on out:

And sometimes
I say to a poem
" Yes. Please. Tie me up.
I have no safe word-

just let me catch my breath."