Friday, March 20, 2009


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.


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

O fortunate bride, who never again will become elated
after childbirth!
O lucky older wife, who has been cured of feeling
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.


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: