the length of a week
hands into bruised fights
the length of a week
the length of a week
hands into bruised fights
The past is a space of eternal occupation, a place to shout violent things and lust for an afterlife. The present is active and in transit. What was is now future. For today focus on the perceived differences of a winter sun, how dedication can become a shroud, and the way throats absorb sound. Traces of a map, a line to pursue. Such directional shifts define evolutions of time. As the ocean laps shorelines, patterns artificial as intelligence bind like curses. Our days flare dandelion sunlight.
Our bones are built of spirals. – Joy Harjo
our wildest prophetic imagination
has led us here: a shattering of sex
calm & concentrated
I saw two waves lock
like elk horns
truth of feelings
as charm offensives
as wet feathers
smoothness is both a measure and a lack of roughness
I have no body; the “I” writing this has no body: not in the old way. Zones. Pressures. Here a structured tension there an underlying ache. Vital signs. Phases of disquiet not clearly demarcated from areas of peace. — Laura Mullen, “Spectograms (projected autobiography),” Complicated Grief
Revolutions are frenetic desires. Seams stretch tight.
familiar stimulation: swelled power and impulse
Violence precedes peace when knowledge becomes ransom.
negative space: culture is public negotiation
Men speak in abstraction. Their distancing performative.
economies of scale: underwhelming demands for mass hysteria
Intuition anchored. Solicit.
“And whereas one of my students asks a visiting poet about education vaguely getting at what is worth pursuing? The poet suggests looking at whatever is/was missing in one’s life and begin there. So many nods in the room around that table they acknowledge it too. In the missing: power.
— Layli Long Soldier, Whereas (page 67)
The day Ronald Reagan died – June 5, 2004 – I absorbed the news of his death with reverie as his life was exalted by talking heads and famed acquaintances. Their rhetoric ultimately resting within that exclusive canon reserved only for legends. Crowds swarmed to pay their respects to an American actor.
In another breaking newsfeed, and still witness to a grand spectacle of publicized grief, I was transfixed as a captured tiger dangled from a helicopter high above Santa Monica, California. The majestic predator swung inside a canvas sling that looked more like a collective omen akin to a nursery-rhyme cradle.
The events were not related according to the news, yet the Overton window had widened just enough to propagate rumors into exaggerated false equivalencies. After all, time had shifted in unexplainable ways that leap year. Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” had convinced many that something had happened.
Less than a month later, the spacecraft Cassini reached Saturn (a planet associated with karmic lessons). Some speculate that Reagan’s recently released spirit had guided Cassini as it traveled the critical distance to fulfill its mission. As poetic murmurs, I gather these soft shapes into vivid memories. A gesture of truth.
“But your pleasure understands mine.”
— Clarice Lispector, The Sharing Of Loaves
at 39,000 feet clouds rose like mountains
fading to dark as the blushing sun set
then black as the thinnest winter ice
we learned to turn our wheels into those slick black icy slides
when done correctly, such surrendering was active evidence of a survivor’s effort
in spring, we planted rosemary to remember our deepest buried beliefs
we harvested fresh-picked bundles and revised our most shadowed secrets
like wanting nothing but distant empty horizons and bodies that do not betray
we sculpted altered thoughts and declared them working dreams
trusting that our shared wishes for a braver future were coming true
we gathered sacred
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
— T. S. Eliot
2017 notes to 2018 self:
These are my centerfold memories — the lessons I opened to over and over again. The specifics are tenderized images of evolution unraveled, then a consecration of release. As tipping points and space to witness, revision expanded bravery and abundance shifted structures.
My past experiences have been arranged into possibility bright as desire’s capacity to make power transparent. I exorcised ghosts to bankrupt suffering. I transitioned from shame to justice. I bartered verses delicate as externalized validation. I owned my name and its history.
Absorbing only credible echoes, I dreamt I was safe and expressed joy religiously.
I wake curious.
Tell me, what’s the joy of giving if you’re never pleased?
— Blood Orange, Champagne Coast
the sun rises at eastern edges
yellowing twilight blues
when there is nothing
if there were Christmas stockings
we always had an orange
persistence can feel joyful
is there another choice
we can be called to lead
how does that feel
Geh in der Verwandlung aus und ein.
[Be conversant with transformation.]
— Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonette an Orpheus
i believe in omens
and my own ability to shatter and reform
— Jill Khoury, excerpt from “Sixteen”
oh righteous revelry
please indulge this faithful attempt to clarify
so many modern relationships still lean feudalistic
as nobles dance to blue note promises & scheme for eternal life
it rings visionary to trust what is mine was never yours to take
a redundant mythology now inadequate as waning winter light
temporarily, we sense an emerging surrender to the hushed hues of sexual panics
on a grand scale psychic interiors were smoothed flat like apathy or political truths
there was a collective ache for a state of respite from all this revolutionary suffering
as conviction loops into endless realities it is our sacred duty to carve out revelations
we are only possible when testimonies illuminate just beyond the sharp edges of darkness
“There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped in time.
Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly exist?”
— Don Delillo, Cosmopolis
the light, not yet warm, opens our days
we commit to memory that hope is best performed as a cognitive process
and remember: stars align themselves through proximity and gravitational pull
collapsing distances to violent midwinter visions
questions seep: how did I not know I was in danger
violations stacked delicate // soft brushes with unwanted space
this tail of the past curls comfortably around itself
scared animals return home, even if home is unsafe
as time sinks into litanies simple as joy is serious
our narrative clearly has a beginning, middle, and an end
because our holy bodies are sites of quantum consciousness
we swagger in possibility, we pull intuitive threads to unravel
I. spam is a language and a strategy
II. our hearts are rabbit holes
I. interstates *need* mirrored billboards
Inflections reflect emphasis, and opening and closings. Some days I think being ___ is the best way to survive. An existence spread. That feels aspirational in vision and phonetically embodied. A form of capacity. Or dispossession. A bridge as much as a boundary.
our stories rush towards truth
details sharpened into mouthfeel
violence ritualized as cadence
ancient patterns worn thin like contempt
or: how we are all subject to trafficked ideas
still — even skies can break down, softly
our distance to attention is a deceptive magic
you learn clarity prefers to love with purpose
this seduction a result of (re)producing evocations
curation guards to protect what others bury
a claim to territory disassociated and devoured
persuasion is found wedged within such righteous exclamations
our daily interruptions have turned personal
yes, it is profitable to reproduce moods
softly familiar to the saturation point of haunting
“The sun and the moon call out, as it were, and the oceans call back. The oceans aren’t passive listeners but partners in an energetic conversation – resonance – that ultimately accentuates or diminishes the tide.” — Jonathan White, Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean
“She’s keeping time with a mystery rhyme.” — Jesus and Mary Chain
I am still learning how to perform quick good-byes.
Never witness to a proper and graceful exit
during my formative years (too young to protest)
we were more often forced to be unreliable hostages.
My history is threaded into core tensions
twisted thick as exploiting hospitality
and deep as ignoring consent. We would wait
silently at the host’s kitchen table in our winter coats
hoping with the start of a new story
that time would naturally come to an end.
Those years I learned how to be quiet
holding my breath into
I want to crack open, carefully
pull out ghosts and obsolete angels
examine where sweetness gathers as illicit responses
and rush into and out of why feeling loved is dangerous.
Private as thoughts
temporary as shorelines.
“And is is strange how experiences blend and enhance each other.” — William Stafford
It is not that what I know today is necessarily different from what I knew yesterday, or that I have replaced prior knowledge with a brand new extended spectrum of understanding. It is more subtle than a transaction, more gracefully defined as complexity. This feels like transformation. A shift.
Love fits into this equation as a multiplier. The critical variables that come next are a matter of routine, a particular and conscious genre. A ritual.
There is always more. A compilation.
Two weeks have slid through me.
An older German man likes to greet me by singing his favorite melodies from 1960s American pop songs. Our connection is assumed to be familiar on those grounds. Other connections have taken longer to root, to find their own casual and wandering paths. Most often I simply smile, to show submission to a foreign tongue, and repeat my English phrases so we can entwine in a hopeful vernacular.
There is a mutual desire to be understood.
Mornings are typically dark and grey, thick with clouds that never leave. There are, of course, exceptions. Some days find swirling pink clouds opening their hearts to promises of illumination. The void of this work has been filled when silence is created from conscious expression. An expression that most days outpaces language’s translation of experience.
This poetic examination of Audre Lorde’s teaching, and by extension her methods of poetic practice, has strengthened the tender edges of my own belief of how change happens – personal, political, and everything in between. I feel marked with new annotations at the outermost areas of my known history. My knowledge is shaped into intentional practices around work, love, and living a conscious life. I have discovered purpose inside complex layers of wanting evolution. I can see, now, how those borders have always been informed by an interior landscape, whether I owned this fact or not.
This is a truth we all share.
The Audre Lorde Archive materials are predominantly audio recordings. Everyone I love is dreaming while I’m awake listening to student’s chairs scraping wood floors, birds chirping in public chorus, and occasionally a truck will rattle the open classroom windows as it barrels down the city streets. The digitized tape recordings also capture nervous laughter when Audre Lorde refuses to center whiteness – and white discomfort – in Black women’s lived experiences.
She asks the students, who are there to learn about poetry written by Black American women, “What is it you want to come from this investment?”
Because “what you want will help influence what you get.”
She names her expectations and her intentions: “What poetry will demand of you…is that you will not do it [experience Black women’s lives] comfortably. You will have to get involved or you will not get anything out of it.”
“I am here because poetry is crucial to me. It’s not merely what I do, it’s a way of living. And I believe it’s a way of living that can strengthen every person who takes part in it. I think that it is a crucial way of living for women and [inaubible]. I think that self-conscious recognition of our feelings are one of the primary ways of making the stuff we need to move through our lives. I think poetry is the visual actual recreation of this stuff in a way that can be shared and used. I’m here because I want to examine this body of literature which is very important, and I feel vital to me, in conjunction with the rest of you. … That’s why I’m here, because I’m greedy, because I’m curious and because I believe I am an endangered species, the same way each one of you is endangered.” — Audre Lorde, 1984, Black Women Poetry, Frein Universität Berlin (Audre Lorde Archives)
Establishing mutual visibility – we are all endangered species – through honoring of complexity creates an awareness, an opening, towards strengthening our respective relational capacities. I learned this personally from two wildly different yet equality vulnerable experiences this past August. What is beyond those lived experiences, and this specific poetics inquiry, is an embodied confrontation of feelings. It is a requirement of authentic participation in any relationship – from self to the project of a just society.
“…personal has become a very negative word for a lot of people…but how do you feel? Do you feel objectively? How is it possible to feel other than personally? You can feel personally about things that are very large and outside of yourself, but is it possible to feel objectively? There’s nothing wrong with the personal but I want to tell you, yes poetry is personal, it must be. It is the first place you start but it does not remain there. We [poets] take what is personal, we take what is experienced and we make a bridge, hopefully, to your experience that is different. That is the magical and wonderful quality of poetry. That it can arc across differences. It’s one of the few ways we have dealing with what is genuinely different between us. One of the key ways of making something creative out of that.” — Audre Lorde, 1984, Black Women Poetry, Frein Universität Berlin (Audre Lorde Archives)
“It is part of my work that I came to do and I don’t have 300 years any more than you have. I am interested in doing my work because it satisfies me on a lot of different levels, and part of my work is coming here saying to you – how are you doing yours? What is this work we are dealing with have to do with your work as a white woman, as a white German woman, as in who you are. … I am not an angel. I cannot descend upon you with a magic wand. I cannot transform you. I can throw out those things I know and invite you to make some connections. I invite you to use them for your life.” — Audre Lorde, 1984, Black Women Poetry, Frein Universität Berlin (Audre Lorde Archives)
The weight of that investment by way of personal invitation is strategic. Her liberation, theirs, and mine cannot be separated. Other class conversations have pivoted on global tensions of climate change, gender-based violence, and nuclear escalation. It is remarkable that our shared reality has us waking up to and living under the same violence today.
Thirty-three years have slipped through us.
What dreams, or as Lorde calls them “emotional blueprints,” must we encourage beyond political formations?
How might you use the weapon of active examination – and poetry specifically – to not only envision what is possible but also perform your and my liberation?
I am resisting the temptation to neatly capture this first week in Berlin. I confess my vulnerability by way of distance. I am unwilling to decouple place (Berlin by way of California) from the messiness of culture (as a white American woman engaged with a slice of time: West Berlin in spring and summer of 1984).
What follows is an early reflection of my first week of poetics inquiry at the Audre Lorde Archive.
Most of my assumptions of German culture are from a bias of chosen childhood memories. Specifically, my formative connections to Germany were through my step-grandmother. She sprinkled German phrases into her conversations as often as she baked us strudel and kuchen. From what region or context she drew from, I will never know. When I was 7, my grandfather died. My connection to her after that was denied for reasons unclear as a child but strongly enforced. It was a loss of relationship I was not allowed to question.
My perspective is also informed by way of being a temporary guest in Berlin. I own that the edges of this synopsis are both mutable and, at times, concrete.
It is familiar to write from this place of confliction and tension. With discipline, I have weaved disparate experiences and their connections for over a decade. In this way, my writing practice feels as ordinary as a Sunday morning.
Audre Lorde said, “Poetry is a way of life.” I know the intimate truths in her declaration. She continues: the first lesson of being a poet is that you have survived.
Bruised, battered, bent, you have survived. It is now your right to use what you have survived, to learn from, to communicate with, to move beyond. You cannot do that unless you bring it to consciousness, to usefulness. We have survived so much more than we can admit. — Audre Lorde, May 6, 1984, Creative Writing Workshop, Frein Universität Berlin (Audre Lorde Archives)
I understand the use of “we” as mutual and collective. It is also in reference to her essays “Poetry is Not a Luxury” and “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.” This intentionality of internal excavation and her ethics of a shared future is a deep source of power for Lorde.
It is an unapologetic position that requires a method of dealing with difference in a creative way. A way that moves us beyond what we have been taught is possible.
Lorde believed that poets must “evoke past the particular experience [in the poem] to make connection across difference.” An emotional response is an integral purpose of a poem.
The dignity around that exchange is dangerous territory depending on one’s position in patriarchal, racist, heteronormative, and classed cultural systems. As Lorde often said, “Poetry is one of the most subversive uses of language there is.”
The emotional teeth of poetry is, according to Lorde, “to move us to action and living.”
To explore experiences poetically is inherently political. Lorde spoke often of how “socialization robs us of our language.” How the poet makes meaning of their lived experience and that active translation to the reader is the transformative power of poetry. It is why Lorde chose to use poetry as a weapon.
I do not believe either in poetry or in the actual fact of our living..that change occurs externally. I think that it occurs both poetically as well as socially slowly and internally from the inside out so that in fact any larger movement and larger change must happen first of all within the people who are involved.” — Audre Lorde, May 10, 1984, The Poet as Outsider, Frein Universität Berlin (Audre Lorde Archives)
This collectived and creative organizing is now ours to envision and evoke. This is our mutual survival.
[A]s my mother used to say, if wishes were horses, women would ride.
— Elspeth Probyn, Outside Belongings (62)
The prompt was bold: how do you embody whiteness? My heart froze knowing that some of my truth has no accessible language.
So I thought about how we grew up nowhere, or more accurately, we lived around no one. A place where you learn orthodox norms, where conformity was practiced as integration. A place where we conversed in churches or homes, and almost never on the long road in between.
The days take flight and return again.
My writing practice captures moments, and contain all kinds of shadowed referents, insurrections, and commitments. There’s a way this claiming expands space to repurpose perfection. A response to how surviving trauma from decades past seeps into what I believe is real and how I frame what is just. I’m not afraid to tell you why my fears are justified. I have a story to let you know why this is true.
I am left wanting. I know dissonance can also be harmonic despite its agreed upon definition. There’s room in that idea to breathe. To release orchestrations that dance around forgone conclusions.
Weeks ago, I wrote: don’t let me forget where I came from and the day before that: resistance to belong a furious understanding. I read these reminders, now, as culturally weighted influences. Next week, I will be in Berlin. A city that embodies trauma and healing’s relentless journey. A city where Audre Lorde taught, organized, and loved. A place of intentional inquiry.
cache culture is a collectivized monograph of intentional inquiry. A place to find my way in contemporary American culture. A place to expose how my gendered body has historically been named as white. I post curated moments that reflect culture and place because that’s where belonging takes root. My roots grew deepest in South Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and now California.
Berlin’s calling and its collective response is another cache.
I will be carrying William Stafford’s advice with me, but one of many influential guides on this poetics inquiry.
“We all share, in art. And to be worthy artists we must be ready to look around, give credit where we feel it belongs, help each other maintain that sense of community that will maximize whatever vision we are able to find and share.”
We found each other in an unwrapped state, a simple & delicate discovery. Inhabited defenses had worn thin from surviving years as compounded days. We did not dare admit how deeply we believed our working poor bodies had betrayed us. So we let touch carve its own messages. We found mutual influence in those scripts.
Weary from earning credits to fund a future not designed for us, we took respite from all that manufactured exclusion. We hustled accordingly. In reciprocated seduction, a feedback loop was internalized as a request: have we earned this?
Decades of surrender to such indulgent, as in generous, voices now finds a meditated willingness to forsake finding definitive answers from exposition. Today’s passing landscapes & their formidable distances no longer automatically produce the same fears. Illusions whose progression had previously enjoyed blending into a chorus of learned temptations. As new rituals envelope our evolving existences, like being witness to twilight’s ease, our time together has become dedicated privilege.
These shadowed elements, mostly past & some future, are their own repressed celebrations. It’s been a pleasure to give when so many took. We are tender & brave every damn day.
Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light. —Theodore Roethke
these broken pieces are their own ritual
spirals of coping mechanisms
I’ll give you something to cry about was a challenge, a threat, and a promise.
Your unmasked emotions always carried a visible regret.
These thoughts came through, wide-eyed and unaware of their tardiness.
Flowing the way water finds the least resistance, crooked and illogical.
first there were wild-maned horses on frantic wide open horizons
followed by scratched, then abandoned, lottery tickets turned city sidewalk confetti
both are remembered as tender memories so as not to tear open violently
in the same way a new moon rising is full darkness and as obvious
as even the smallest bird creating their own shadows in flight
drawn from the month of August 2017: the dramas of poetry
Internal struggles are creative escape. A quiet move to form a space where survival is shown joyful. Today this emanates as imagination externalized into poetry, an archaic organizing structure. I find active comfort in writing. A motion that has desperation as its wings. I write because it feels good. Not from a place of fear, but from a deep place of longing that has expansive connections. I write because I love.
I could try to name all the details, get them just so, while also aligning them to a truth I’ve silently cultivated. Yet dear reader you will bring yourself, whole and fractured, to my exposed interpretations. When I write about light, darkness, or a combination (such as stars) I may try to steer you in a direction that makes sense – to me – but you will pull yourself along freely, or not. All I know is how much you desire days that open themselves.
I believe that kind of desired stillness can be found in a “good” poem. A temporary place of collaborative movement where desire meets an experience that shows effort.
I witnessed the sea lion lay still and bloated. A murder of crows took fur and the wettest pieces of its eyes. Obscenely exposed, tender in its inability to no longer defend itself from harm, there was both stillness and flurry of excavation to what the crows found most useful.
The truth from that image is not mine to tell. My privilege as a writer is to show. May I be so fortunate to connect you dear reader on another experiential plane. Not forcing but gently holding together a moment of stillness, an honoring. And I may tell you one thing as I adeptly show another disparate possession. That gap is not mine to control. I owe myself only the structure and integrity around the truth of this moment.
I evolve. I decompose. I exist here.
*** *** ***
*** *** ***
curated from the near past: self-immolation
Fixing fences is a full-time job and a hard way to make a living.
Those edges forming a territory where scarcity implies there is something to want.
It is not absence or loss. There is a lack that is wide, open and expansive.
This lineage has been stored as power taken –
a binding agent of trauma and songs shared in darkness.
Fear becomes us like the secret textures of a thousand trees.
If it’s true that perfection is a scarcity never to be fully actualized
my life was first performed where sin delighted to now wanting love when wrong.
This claiming is mine and its purpose is to make meaning.
The train moved at a pace to witness private glimpses of backyards.
As this specific story unfolds, I wait for retrograde dreams.
This is a collectively sourced confession.
In the distance, cars traveling the freeway became an auditory illusion of waves successively breaking on a transitory shore. The vehicular friction of simultaneous opposing directions creates a lullaby of persistence. Out of that euphony, a collective future sways.
Scientists agree that’s why our horizon is in flux.
I am from a place where personal belief in immortality shelters empty and expansive isolation. A place where desire modestly tucks itself into sanctioned quiet spaces. Its slow release is championed as strength, a virtue. Imagine all that repression sharpened into secret symphonies. How the fantasy of that released deviance dances in mortal bodies designed to betray through lust.
We return to where we came from.
There is purpose in the orchestration of such retrograde energy. As that motivation braids itself to creative practice, my habitual search for external validation has gone missing. This translation, more joy than sorrow, is a different remedy for endurance. The harvest is ready and yielding.
peach sunrises softly open the day
inside plastic filters our light
outside the wind transfers blessings
we map these mutual relationships
independent to distance or space
interdependent we expand boundaries
may we witness all this effort as inspiration
allowance was silenced after permission
prohibiting an illusion of shared innocence
our girlhood pasts had both ponies and mystery
subjected to believe in gendered tensions
demand a reaction to keep pace with anticipation
as reworked verses are dropped every Sunday
wanting can be better than having – Andy Warhol
so much depends on the sincerity of others
this war on trust
is a future performance
fragile like sugar cubes in a thunderstorm
your social context is showing
sacrifice becomes dramatic interpretation
when binaries are bound in whiteness
a gap between
1. the maximum amount that something can contain
2. the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something
the Midwest anchors to Sunday morning morality pitches
while frozen hams slow cook in roasters or crock-pots
tables are pre-set and ready for Jesus’ spirit to share grace
did I not mention the middle broke wide open?
after graveyards were found beneath children’s playgrounds
those who were most paranoid contested language and grief
birds adjusted their crescendo to the neighborhood noise
maintaining community by adding beauty to the conflict
as gray clouds rose full and heavy from night’s darkness
oh shame, your capacity is not bound by any treaty or confrontation
that’s why working factory walls are painted white on white on white
churning out spirals of soft sounds as redemptive promises aggravate
all these gently held moments are where silence performs
when fascination becomes bound to the collective
or right before we discover ceremony is ours to prove
And it’s sad
And it’s true
– REM, Oh My Heart
waves mimic earth’s rise and fall
a frequency known as home
hills slope at similar angles
nearly invisible expressions
fog settles thick as love
a passive reflection
place contours memories
the body an unreliable narrator
The best training is to read and write, no matter what. Don’t lie with a lover or roommate who doesn’t respect your work. Don’t lie, buy time, borrow to buy time. Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write. — Grace Paley
the distance between desire and longing
is roughly equidistant from rest to action
an example of survival often mistaken for apathy
she sewed buttons into her hair
a dramatic effect predicated on a mastery
of threading security into her technique
as we battle for restoration
peered juries declare in tandem
forcing over-reliance on pardons
such concealment illuminates justice
that eclipse is yours to influence
subtle benedictions common as moon rises
clasped at necklines embraced
we speak in tongues to express tenderness
as memories perform an illusion of loss
if we watch we learn and heal when we feel
the universe is singing this to us
a liminal space respectfully observed
do you notice that split-second pause after exhale
or how quiet rushes consciousness to expand
it’s also true that none of my heroes claim success
revise what can be made useful tomorrow
“the fact that these things are not formulaic means the possibilities are real”
— Sharon Salzberg
our land no longer provides honey
bloated on milk, we seek new
we explore edges of distant formations
a remote past when the sun burned outward
flares reached us as freckles and light’s ease
another kind of mastery and extension of reflection
the sun went dark when it could no longer perform
release undulate fornicate rewind redo
burn then take the ashes and digest their precision
such erudition is the faint route
returning to influence confirms proximity
waking up to darkness pauses feelings of safety
a bitter fragility of posture and circumstance
we fall asleep oblivious and discern love as temporary
forgetting how blue skies kiss fading moonlight
those who stay philosophic and curious are reborn
thoughts released are worth more than when preserved
I gather myself in folds and layers; heaven is here, today
We’ll let you guys prophesy
We gon’ see the future first
— Frank Ocean, Nikes
our houses red-tagged fragile
a state of taking up too much space
an absurd strangled feeling
broken into atomic structures
we forget the stars survive above
business owned is personal
witness morning’s stillness
how the days pull forward
swallowing quiet movement
“you might as well answer the door, my child, the truth is knocking.” — Lucille Clifton
the hand’s sensitive intelligence
a found erotic reference
dangerous as a nation divided
beggars and thieves and other
whispering cacophonous choruses
our fears spill into codes
a new kind of Reconstruction
stumbling into mosaic beauty
he said the issue is not opportunity
while we stay flat footed, even in heels
summer jackets hide shame
in that way, it is easy
what is beneath the surface begs
remaining grounded has a sinister side
backlash by way of prophetic referent
Dystopia in real time is not like the movies. We’ve digested so much spectacular violence we know no tender alternatives. Fighting feels so good. The characters we play on screen form dead weight on the streets and sink us in our bedrooms.
Persistence is extractive.
As surf buries smoothed rock, we turn the calendar page to July. We spread like picnics under cloudless skies. Our flesh a moral document scrolling beyond politicized reach. After all, the bottom line is always evolving.
Sea levels have always been inconsistent.
Ideological battles are taken for granted outside a schema of pursuit. This adoration, a relationship of necessity, remains prone. A curious posture. Abuse is normal. Its purpose is to feel. Subtly is weaponized.
Perceived as commodities, we trade.
Auspicious tensions act as purifiers for taste, a basic sensation. Our judgements psychic protection. Didactic fracturing agitates into frothy comfort. Perceptions gain value for their ahistorical subjectivity.
Aspirational dissent is the chorus and the bridge to —
If we listen carefully, joy is elegance reproducing itself into near future referential fits and starts. Inspiration is a slow bleed. Murmuring into abruptions delightful as salt penetrating unhealed wounds. An intimacy as ancient and poetic as opiates or fire.
This could be a gentle misreading of the present.
A refugee’s opinion proportionally is sleight of hand. When
recused, these facts may mean what they mean and nothing more.
In all this consistency, wave after wave, repetition thrives.
Our worth worn thin from constant caress and co-conspiracy.
Identified as politics, we fray like threads and break thinned lines.
Collective bodies form margins, front lines, or could be imaginary
shorelines draped in motion as graceful as the absence of regret.
These are our redemptive spaces splayed into a radius of sovereign roots.
Wherever I go they quote people
who talk too much, the ones who
do not care, just so they can take the center
and call the plans.
— William Stafford (excerpt from Deerslayer’s Campfire Talk)
sifting accents, hardwood hustles, and transitory migrations
this is a time for wild-from-abandon imagination
blame the devil or self-manipulation for this perception
like the draw of a well positioned salt lick
he spoke of competition for promised visibility
extending territory by adjusting the frame of domination
even though desire and loss are higher forms of inspiration
we feel motivated by such assurances
taking all of this as seriously as reflections that have no anchor
if it’s true there is more hope in intention
let that reality bruise
Have you noticed the ports are heavily guarded?
Sea-salted windows cast sun shadows.
Layered cloudy fog entwined itself.
Such magnificent light!
We regenerate like tides.
As often as unjust references stick
to justified historical consequences.
This is not about you. Please stand back.
Relentless as waves and immeasurable as release,
we stand on shores carved by power.
Oh yes! We do want revolution.
In these dreams, we are holy reverence.
“I knew the tension in me between love and power, between pain and rage, and the curious, the grinding way I remained extended between these poles – perpetually attempting to choose the better rather than the worse.” — James Baldwin
I read all the names of the sacred rivers and creeks
as roadside memorials blurred into permanent mile markers
horizon x distance = distortion
horizontally speaking it was a longing
pressure folding into seductive resistance
when you knew you were in trouble, what did you do next?
these days and for some time since
I move with spiritual abandonment
neglect now atmospheric radiance
habitual as landscapes
my divided thoughts are pulled to you
It’s not about truth. It is about faith. An orientation where the future has cult status. This brand of dislocation has been exalted to attract maximum anticipation.
keeper of promises
a prophetic mothering
finally overcome, the sun pushes the moon to perform
Our bodies warm with use.
Your eyes close in respect.
Private consumption whetted.
This is my origin: he celebrated our birth with strangers while she bled alone. As romantic as it may sound, this is not an apology.
“Pale with the secret war of feeling.” — Charlotte Brönte
If there is something you need to say
say it now. We all have a way of moving
ever so gradually to our respective corners.
Misfortune finds the deserving; a symbiotic betrayal.
Extractive in nature, asking for what you want exceeds
loyalty. Linear in scope, this practice is my liberation.
Lips seek softness.
Teeth form defense.
What are the standard deviations of love?
Light’s capacity is to fill darkness.
Protect me from what I have learned.
May all justice be transformative.
At the end of the day
desire always wins.
Tender hooks of undulation.
This is the start
a necklace of trees
the Chewuch River a soundtrack
borders carved by water’s edges
even the earth has curves
Then a door shuts
trapped in a windowless room
between bites of lunch
he argued the benefits of his pyramid scheme
this time the lure was perfume
previous closed door conversations shilled
vacuums, knives, and fire extinguishers
now shadow length memories
and quiet like fire
woven tight as narrative
From country darkness to city light
the water still glitters wickedly
we find each other in this way
our collective hardness
now exhumed as memorial
we are living loudly
an anthem and ritual that always repeats
“The deep is in riot, the coastline is quiet…” Archers of Loaf, Chumming the Ocean
the entrance is always different
always dramatic, the clouds look bruised
chaos its own predictability
then a King of Cups tarot card was pulled
light appeared filtered as if from inside a cathedral
poetics expand silently like prayer
temptation deserves awareness
that feeling: listen
unwound to their most fragile state
this is ephemeral revelation
what weeping hearts we have
always moving like the ocean
a perpetual reclaiming
use gravity to resist
soft tension its own function
an opening, a fulcrum
expansive horizons essential
unraveling tragedy into inspiration
slowly peeling oranges on a Sunday morning
relax into that knowledge
wrap yourself into me
a dreamers life
sunsets are starting to look Pacific coast again
pink light lengthening its reach
as clouds become incarnations of stampeding horses
(apocalyptic if that is your orientation)
the crown of flowers was her own creation
made from remnants of first-date napkins
forming a graceful relationship to reciprocity
those echoes found delayed in repressed rhythms
where she returns to these kinds of questions
as murmurations as stimulations as exchanges
(our intimacies measured by exhale)
she dreamt in currency, in time
scaling up as undoing: euphoric
this consecration mine and yours
I’m here in a room and I have things arranged.
I have them likened to code, so they can often be changed. — Karate, Bass Sounds
I haven’t found the perfect way to describe you
sincerely shouting victories is something else entirely
the sun rose bland and round
that space between sky and water
absorbed all this energy
such openness feels chosen
I taste frustration on your breath
advancing in spirit and stature
aggression is its own logic
he hit you for the same reasons
he hit us: for your own good
a model of volatile benevolence
in political frameworks, the body does betray
waking up becomes a compulsion
reengineering you get what you ask for
I send this postscript as an invitation
News cycles are dominated by Russian dramas.
No one mentions rape in context anymore.
We’ve taken solace by decoding mass rhetoric.
I can imagine you beautiful and calm.
Our wandering like scrolling.
This landscape so literal.
Receipts as evidence as expressions.
Fisted conclusions neglect.
A rote search for light in darkness.
Time stretches into manufactured units.
By heart standards, this feels eternal.
Populist hyperbole interpreted as desire feels
Some argue identity is residual.
You know it by its attributes.
These compulsory dreams are viral transfers.
Motives unmoored as debts to consent bloom.
Layered political pontifications soothe like lullabies.
I dare you to find love in this absence.
Liberation aside, how does this make you feel?
Inductive reasoning seduces. It penetrates.
Yes, this conversation is a calculated intermission.
Wait. This is my understanding of your manipulations.
A respite of obviousness – of borders unarmed.
Let us, both, reductively fade into this capture.
Is irony the binary of literal?
Receptivity is a form and function of power.
Tree tops soften from light’s pressure as rays break to bend.
Collusive collaborations are their own manufactured commodities.
This contemporary capital vision is a muted song from the past.
Borrowed promises, fallowed lives, and lustful rationalizations are systemic desire lines, whose paths of consequence are worn clear. Your biases are showing. Bad.
We, all of us, are reclaiming pleasure.
Things are so intimate, so personal, these days.
Tensions and conflicts splayed.
We leave literary marks as evidence.
On whose authority is the question we need to be asking.
A different way of understanding omniscience. Please validate.
My sacred spaces need me.
We ignore the narrator by only focusing on the frame.
The city moves, bends, and swallows.
An act of congress, a coming together.
He presented himself to me. I kissed, gently,
his upper thigh. Curated outfits, a collection of pants
and blouses, roll past me. Lunches bounce inside bags.
I keep writing to feel around the noise. Reinvested
memories, commitments, and occasional flashes of violence.
Internalized scandals are my own reputation to manage.
The train was crowded. No one could complain
about unwanted touching. I imagined her hand
moving slowly, without detection, up and between
my legs. Her fingers, warm and steady, found
their destination. Leaving behind permanent
invisible notes, secrets scrawled on the inside.
Messages shared as rumors as indisputable
associations like light shining through solid objects.
Make me laugh so I can stop breathing in this sadness.
There is suspicion around all this effort. Parcel out the doses.
Not all poems are meant to be serious, or anything at all.
The ocean is self-conscious in that healthy enlightened way.
Gratitude notwithstanding how this will unfold is mine to own.
Each admittance a proxy for loving so deeply.
Frames are other’s dramatic interpretations.
Never forget water dissolves rock and values aren’t talking points.
Your subjective reputation precedes you, so does your community.
Create your own triplines. Let go of tipping points. Launch reflexive debates.
Send shock waves of radical thoughts, mythologize perversions, and make hope relentless.
Narrate yourself beyond binaries. Imagine yourself unbought.
It’s familiar. A disguise as common as the East Bay Bridge wrapped in a nest of clouds. We learn early to reinforce reductionist tendencies into a path of least resistance. They deny rules have been written down. We witness endless unrequited anticipations.
Promises of love remain unfulfilled. Your acts of caring were abusive. An informant, linguistically speaking, is the expert of a community. When I tell you the sun broke the clouds, spread them, cracked them open I want you to believe me.
We harvested each other. Consent became an avalanche. Absorbing your urges felt like being wanted. It was a match. A pattern. Magnificent corruptions of circumstances. I woke up afraid and believed I was loved.
These edges are sharp yet relaxed as confidence.
My hand holds your fist. Repetition an arc.
Self-care is self-defense.
“Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives.”
— Audre Lorde
orange light bled into blushed red brake lights
waking the tranquility of a blue twilight hour
everyone rushing to a place
at the exact moment the sun rose
the commuters yawning mouths were filled with so much light
they could never sleep again
imagine a current reality unlike anything that has come before
no subjugation to centuries of procedures [power]
convenience of thought no longer pre-loaded
machines are programmed to know their intrinsic worth
let’s create an interpersonal relationship to this dissidence
residual evidence of a royal tableaux has been mounted
antiphonal echoes are becoming a chorus of indivisibility
fragility is birthing all of our revolutionary aspirations
public disobedience an intimate illumination
we bend towards an obvious luxury of survival
our radical fantasies are spreading
good news is shared like bread
I want to put you in a light that will hurt your eyes – Polvo, Feather of Forgiveness
He said he was going to take a walk around the block to clear his mind. Stretch his legs. Escape. He never came back. A map of states’s preferences for corn or potato chips forever frozen on his desktop screen.
Battle for references, a retirement to the absence of —
On Wednesday, I was reminded artists should “support each other religiously.” This community-level policy is seductive, whose root is “to lead astray.” Oceans of context transfer nervous energy. Is thinking out loud unprofessional?
Partisan frames explain our borders, infilled voids.
It’s come down to semiotic analysis of utterances. This weekly cathartic release looping endlessly to create a low frequency hiss. A similar process to the way valleys take the weight, form, and shape of foggy mornings or as secure as refuge.
Isn’t history just repetition and accumulation of power and influence? This is about understanding why you feel so wronged. Don’t you know it takes the Sun and the Moon to make the tides? It’s also true that roaring cats don’t purr. In this specific instance, it is either roar or purr. There is no both.
Cities showed up 6-figures deep. A people’s definition of amazing. Folks are asking if this is another revolution for a problem with no name. Pre-conditions find themselves in dispute along with feeling safe, not comfortable, but safe. You do not have my permission to share this. Pussy is on sale.
Expressions exchanged, uploaded, tagged. Bravery, morality, aggression slants.
Today we celebrate 44 years of codified privacy and personal (white) choice. An axis of origin. To be fair, there’s no standard agreement on how many simultaneous wars we are fighting. Drama should be reserved for love. The noise, the roaring noise, has been the most reliable of our tensions. Hair-triggering sensitivities. Isn’t it ironic?