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
yea i can write deep it just doesn't sound 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


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?

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

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.

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 (

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

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:
And a website exhibiting some of her art:

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."