open-sourced feelings

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

Barbara Kruger (detail) LA2015

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

reduction

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

dangerous

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.

post-truth

Did our information channels cross? What did you see?

Detroit Nov16
Detroit Nov16

I saw acceptance as evolution or, for some, defeat.
Our blended memories equal parts resistance.
These metaphors really are literal representations.

Over strong coffee and homemade kuchen he said,
America does not have a culture of grief.
For some, this is our language, stories, solutions.

There is nothing in this city that is soft.
Nothing but words that flow from behind your teeth
and the background rhythm of your always working heart.

Working all sides of the angle honors a process.
All conversations end unless you want to move forward.
Value silence found around figurative positions.

The screen read: baptized by boundaries.
I looked for dignity after that simple interaction.
Theories, as perception, in parsimony and in exhale.

op-eds

just because they know your name doesn’t mean they know where you came – cat power

august 13, 2016 7:48pm
august 13, 2016 7:48pm

I rediscovered grace through curated understandings
some spoken, explicit, but most often held in breath
in glances and in rhythmic exchange of metaphors
a particularly classed communion

quiet clung to the lake’s edges
marred only by wandering hymns and mornings with thunder
I thought about all those places that made us
an acceptance of motion as hard-luck blessings and raptured devotion

this is the tenuous nature of belief
in effort, a maintenance of fallibility
oh holy day: in haste, but with love

__________________________________________

in haste, but with love – Raymond Carver’s closing in an unpublished letter to Bob Adelman December 13, 1987

satori

“So (re)invent us, still weeping the solutions we came from, imagining ‘things’ would be fine if only a single interpretation could be shared, meaning enforced.”
Laura Mullen, Complicated Grief

Golden fur and morning light warms calmly.
Energies, swirling, occasionally oppressive
as unconscious as the way we sell love.

The mural reflected a range of fruits found in this region,
geographic signifiers, orbs of light and juice. Positive
transformations expressed through practice, ritualized execution.

Repeat, forcing action. Asking for it, suppressing.
The real economics of what we dream, imagine, and desire
divided, found between centuries of exclusion, forced space.

Think about how resistance is holding what remains.

enough

“We need, each of us, to begin the awesome, difficult work of love: loving ourselves so that we become able to love others without fear so that we can become able enough to enlarge the circle of our trust and our common striving for a safe, sunny afternoon near to flowering trees and under a very blue sky.” – June Jordan

August 7, 2015
August 7, 2015
The truth?
I knew a long time ago.

I shouldn’t deny that I don’t practice conscious love. I do.
All those times when I said no.
All those times I said yes.
All those times worth was mine to know.

July 12, 2015 (photo by Atlee)
July 12, 2015 (photo by Atlee)
“Use the power of man. Use the word. Fuck. The word is love.” – Kim Gordon

over OK Feb16
over OK Feb16
Overhead, the backyards had pools and trampolines.
A land of only oxbow lakes.
A land where delayed gratification is a religion.
A land where there is no sympathy for the devil.

noble silence

we are our own private property – B

"NG BABY" May14
“NG BABY”, May14

The voices most common to me end with the sound of a question.
It’s that curl at the end, a curiosity unspoken.
There’s a particular consciousness when I hear that familial cadence.
Prompts that possess risk and assumed uncertainty.

Yale Ave N, May14
Yale Ave N, May14

The sun was an escort that morning.
A morning with purpose and mummified mandarins.
This and other routines becoming orientations –
a private relationship with temporality.

somewhere over WI, April14
somewhere over MI or WI, April14

In silence, I see violence.
In breath, I think sex.
In the pornography of my dreams,
you know you can’t fuck me like that
and then act like I’m fragile. That is
a subtlety best reserved for detachment.

born again

He tells me everyone has a god-shaped hole.

His accusation that my hole was filled with everything
but god was profound, if only for its blind accuracy.
The contents of that enclave signifying nothing beyond
a persistence to reject his god that does not know love.

Wet ice formed on frosted car windows that late night I prayed
for him to save me. We were finally on our way home from somewhere
staying longer than they had wanted. Leaving behind one tension,
that kind of politeness, for drunken silence, his version, not ours.
Barbed wire fences reminders of distance from road to ditch.

There is mystery in how we got here.

Joanna Pallaris, L'aquoiboniste_Waiting
Joanna Pallaris, L’aquoiboniste_Waiting

reasons

She told me she cut her hair short:
she “didn’t want to look corporate”
like me.
I faced west.
You laughed softly
off to the side
watching me embrace myself.

wake

Are you the aggressive one? The one I ask for?

San Francisco Dec15
San Francisco Dec15

I never finished bell hooks book about love.

Cleveland Nov03
Cleveland Nov03 (photo by Atlee)

The body speaks. A language born of vigilance.
An effort that does not deviate. In the same way
cyclical is about more than repetition and less
becomes obvious. Those times when scarcity
is a luxury of desire (thought) or when home
is opposite of feeling (being) love. Seasons nested
between gaps of wants, things you don’t need,
taking without realizing its cost.

Rome March08
Rome March08

What is left behind in this wake?
A free fall. A slow fade. A disclosure.
What is it that makes us different?
Tracing boundaries of shared recognition.

stand back

Oct 23, 2015 3:33pm
Oct 23, 2015 3:33pm

Three years ago today, it was a nearly nude fashion show, and four years ago doing my own thing found itself on a “good things” list.

Do you know if the richest cities face west? What if we found settlement in a such a place?

Weeks form around us. Patterned reconciliations, memories of bus rides in other cities, different exchange rates. Those were my hard gained needs.

From your perspective, I cannot exist. Shifting your vengeance, a cruel blindness, that’s the type of aggression I inherited now abandoned for gentle privileges, useless hardwired knowledge, plotted along sensitive geographies. Navigating scripts, a dialect of claimed silences, lulling like waves like violence like survival. We have always carried this resistance, this method of rapture.

means

 

April 11, 2007 Port Angeles, WA
April 11, 2007
Port Angeles, WA

 

It’s more exciting
when you believe
there is no purpose in life.
Nothing destined; nothing gained.

discursive thoughts

Kiss me hard before you go / Summertime sadness – Lana Del Ray

8-6-15
8-6-15

I remember the red, blood red, carpet.
The sun, both setting and rising,
made the western facing room feel that much warmer.

I remember the heavy dining room table,
a dark honey wood, with majestic claw feet.

This is where we were forced to cry,
to talk about the weather, money, crops.

7-4-15
7-4-15

This was the house where I realized that speaking up meant salvation,
a deliverance of blame so that others could go unpunished.
It also meant wooden spoons broken across our bodies.

There were dinners of noodles, meat, tomato sauce.
It meant mom was able to go the store.
I was grateful to have something else added to the endless supply of ground beef.

6-26-15 "fuck new money SF"
6-26-15
“fuck new money SF”

The driveway was circular,
it went nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

The dogs were treated as workers.

The horses were tall, smelled of earth and hair,
their soft velvet noses stiff with whiskers.

master & servant

that feeling when you are rendered invisible
that process when you have no ability to move forward
that entrenchment when you know everyone is battling each other’s evils
that line around and that territory where power thrives

14th St & Rhode Island Ave NW, DC

cat cafe Jan15
cat cafe Jan15
Norman, OK Feb15
Norman, OK Feb15
ax the rich DC March15
ax the rich DC March15
hot toddy NYC March15
hot toddy NYC March15
xolo April15
xolo April15

original reissue

How did I get here? A place where there is allegedly no there there.

Claremont sofa 2 Nov14
Berkeley Nov14

“No one will answer your prayers until you take off that dress.”
– perfume genius, learning

Claremont hotel Nov14
Berkeley Nov14

Power can be negative or not. You choose.

safe harbor

Is it a luxury to be clueless?

Burlington Hotel
Port Costa, June14

Our obsessions:
movie star faces
desired glares
validation.
We dream of different reasons
to perform the same routines.
Money is not enough of a lure.
We have been poor before.
Status is not an option.
We have been poor before.
In order to believe in tomorrow,
we occupy contrasting spaces.
That is what we are trained to do.
We have been poor before.

pulpit

It’s not enough to believe.
How do we prove?
These exchanges
fleeting as tasting my faith on your lips
become testimony
evidence born from revelation:
bending, passing, and breaking
to fit inside what I know.
Speaking with a tongue of transgression
while learning to repress secrets,
a performance of submission,
tactics a result of hearing that
suffering yields eternal reward.

repudiation

It was the sound of rushing, the way the ocean pulls into itself.
Falling and rising, gravity is an indicator measuring distance.

12.30.13, San Francisco, CA
12.30.13, Ocean Beach, CA

In Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry, Louise Glück admits, “I liked scale, but I liked it invisible.”  Starting from a place of invisibility, a sense of safety, yet maintaining perspective resonates deep within me as winter slowly transitions into spring.

Water in West Virginia is deadly and smells like licorice for hundreds of thousands. In fact, over 300,000 people have been forced to drink only bottled water; the chemical spill’s impact contained within a complete and conveniently round number.  Bodies, specifically women and girls’ of color bodies in comas, are illusions for a culture that still claims to value human life. National discussions center the paradoxical, for those in power, concept of growing gaps. Shrinking safety nets catch only the most tenuous of “opportunities” for those who have learned how to survive within the thinnest of margins. Pop stars and Fox news package feminist rhetoric in digestible byte size narratives that keep gender politics profitable.

It feels endless, this parade of brazen hypocrisy. There should be no surprise that we opt out behind private screens, devise elaborate rituals of denial, and post selfies to curate what we wish to be.  It’s within this scale of manufactured hopes and inside the disposable commodities of dreams that we strive to find community, love, value, and joy.

entropy

day sleeper Oct13
DAY SLEEPER Oct13

The room had been painted a soft pink, the color of the inside of your mouth. A mouth that holds all the words you never release for fear of getting what you deserve; a sensitive fear that is a result of not knowing what you are worth.

We told each other only what needed to be said. I should have asked how you make happiness last and when you knew you wanted more than what is in front of you and when you let go after believing you’d never get it.

In the same way light forms around bridges, we move around our own barriers gracefully and with purpose.

This is, and always will be, the art of surviving.

____________________

She takes a loaf of bread, the shape and size of a toddler’s skull. Holding it vertically, she carves a slice two-fingers thick with a plastic butter knife. She stops mid-slice to answer her ringing phone. It was a friend whose name she had forgotten. There was no hello or how are you, just the beginning of a story about watching a man on the airplane lick the inside of a Ziplock bag clean. An erotic retelling of licking the insides over and over in an attempt to taste the way hot plastic feels when it melts from sitting in direct sunlight, an unconscious exhibition of witnessing solid shifting to liquid. She took the moment when breath makes silence to hang up and finished slicing her bread.

___________

Last year I abstained
this year I devour

without guilt
which is also an art

—Margaret Atwood

aspirations

Commercial Street, 2013
Commercial Street, 2013

The light speaks for us.

We wear its imprints
deep as the surface
hoping for reinventions
with each returning cycle.

I am amazed at how often confession
translates into awareness
how often are we prone
expressing suspensions of disbelief.

As drowning is to immersion
against wills
forging testaments
this season of warm light
floods my most intimate
unspoken ambitions.

waves of transgressions

In the silence of consciousness I asked myself:
why did I reject my life? And I answer
Die Erde überwältigt mich:
the earth defeats me.

I have tried to be accurate in this description
in case someone else should follow me. I can verify
that when the sun sets in winter it is
incomparably beautiful and the memory of it
lasts a long time. I think this means

there was no night.
The night was in my head.

Louise Glück | from “Landscape”

looking beyond the horizon
looking beyond the horizon (May13)
where I dreamt
where I dreamt (May13)
downtown middle america
downtown middle america (May13)
grandpa's house
grandpa’s house – now abandoned (May13)

I want to lay to rest what I saw and felt when I went home almost a month ago. A home that was a desperate sanctuary during those teenage years of economic struggle, maternal abandonment, and good old fashioned repressions of thought, body, and spirit. I feel compelled to honor those sharp memories of family, community, and those intimate transgressions between loyalty and independence.

I’m old enough to know better that I should not force this process of internalization and still I desperately want to name these experiences. I don’t know how to own them.

The endless landscape connected by bridges and resistance shaped my core sense of self. I returned with an embodied joy in knowing conscious disobedience yields revolutionary results. I may have adorned myself with fancy theory and identities that I have fought to name in my own words but the class I was born into, that binding agent of perspective, is unescapable.

For now, I distilled these details:

  • my grandpa did buy a car with only silver dollars (two cars in fact!)
  • my value was defined by others who did not exist (husband and child)
  • survival is predicated on silent obedience of unquestioned rules
  • broken sidewalks paved a geography of constrained despair
  • if you look up and out, the clouds will guide you
  • I’ve always been this way
  • the consequences of choice matter and language continues to fail me

holy impressions

photo by Atlee

I am trying to accept anxiety as a strategic friend, trust in my capacity to create my own joy, and loudly maintain routines of comfort. I hold these current active desires like the traces of an embrace, gently and with intent.

Light’s influence is what I most like about living here. This newly discovered perception acts as a solipsistic aperture. This writing space, especially lately, has become a catalog of such impressions. Every week I try to encapsulate the mundane pieces of myself in hopes of illuminating and also distilling my meditations; a brave attempt to honor grandeur of thought.

Writing is a numinous process
similar to those seconds between lightning
and then thunder.

I’ve been marinating in the honesty of Dorothy Allison’s Talking About Sex, Class & Literature. Allison’s penetrating words have triggered this post: “Traditional feminist theory has had a limited understanding of class differences and of how sexuality and self are shaped by both desire and denial.” This statement so acutely supports my obsession with desire – for others, for choices, for pleasure – that my mind shut down with the impact of this truth.

Allison eloquently and systematically breaks it down, “It has taken me most of my life to understand that [running away or closing up inside yourself], to see how and why those of us who are born poor and different are so driven to give ourselves away or lose ourselves, but most of all, simply to disappear as the people we really are.”

Writing forces me to not run away. Today I write to remind myself of this verity.

spinode

artist: Derek Vincent, found: seeing is believing
I’m straddling multiple milieux and not sure where I stand, or where I want to stand. I observe the rich who have crunched numbers and have boldly disclosed their inflated aggregate. You assume you are worth $(x) yet the system has created arbitrary values built on exaggerations that maintain the system you now want to stand against. It’s not about this magical number that puts you within a false dichotomy, it’s about the choices you’ve had access to and the consequences of those (non)decisions on others. It can be seductive to join the chorus and perform survival. Are you prepared for how personal these politics will hopefully become?
___________
The digital divide is wielding an analog medium. The poster and marker are the tools that are dismantling the master’s house. I want to feel the weight of the paper in my hands and experience the conscious deliberation of choosing the right words for such a finite space. What message will I display that identifies, defines, and separates me?
____________
Audre Lorde states, “For the erotic is not a question only of what we do; it is a question of how acutely and fully we can feel in the doing. … In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”

out classed

 

presidential view

 

I’m feeling the tension of transparency. Talking points are not on a spectrum of disclosure.

Sometimes I wish I had the luxury of ignorance but that sounds incredibly pretentious.

I fear the (inevitable) numbness of privilege that’s associated with moving up a class. There are doubts tangled around every conversation and the heavy dread of diminishing self-confidence is illogical but still it lingers.

Assumptions of belonging are dangerous.

Watching those with privilege and wealth access opportunity and exercise their option of choices while ignoring the reality of the majority is a melancholy pursuit. Do you spy what I spy?

Did you feel your heart sink when the rich white man uprocked the evening designed to honor women? The crowd cheered; some even had tears. The injustice was ignored because of the $100k donation and the women danced on the sacrifices of those who had come before them.

Perhaps what I’m really feeling is the tension of working within a broken system where hope is a commodified ideology. Or it could be the looming holiday season of forced consumption. Or it’s the slow realization of not fitting into a place that was never designed to accommodate you in the first place.  There are many hypotheses to consider for the sadness of consciousness.

day business or running money

artist: gilles krivich, found via hard feelings blog

A few things I learned yesterday:

1. crows have memories that last forever so be nice them

2. interactions with young, like 13 years old, boys are beautifully brave

3.  when analyzing information, look beyond the obvious and start there

4.  finding oneself in spaces where you can literally feel a tension or dynamic should be internalized and remembered like a crow

5. there is nothing better in this world than a west coast sunset

reflections

artist: Marcus Gaab, found via Feature Shoot

Can one self-diagnose narcissism? And does that diagnosis have any validity?

I’m currently reading Women Without Class: Girls, Race, and Identity by Julie Bettie. It’s heady in its theory and grounded in its politics. Read Chapter 2 for some seriously sexy theoretical breakdowns on class, gender, and race.

Women Without Class influenced me to bring up class as a reason why my work environment doesn’t allow for diverse thoughts or voices at a team dinner. It was a loaded leading question, a set-up, and I bravely walked into the weeds. My opinion was met with an awkward silence which was to be expected, which is why I said it. When you ask questions, you should to be prepared for any answer if you assume people are telling you the truth.

Deflecting constructed status and coercing self-reflections sometimes feels like a narcissistic project of intense proportions. When does such navel gazing result in momentum?