I’ve realized I have seen more Passion Plays than I knew. I come back, here, again. Today is another dispossessed day. News forms around emotions. I stopped believing in Saviors a long time ago. The ending is predictable. From above and from below, inside and out, this internalized desire for external validation starts feeling like an intentional defense. In 1971, James Baldwin said something will rest something will remain. Retraction survives in all this chatter. Context protecting accusers are familiar to me. I learned that language at home and in school. Resale is always at a premium. Redo. Undo. Redo again. Coffee and tiger’s eye stone, water, land and sky meet angled. This, now, is the everything I’ve ever wanted.
What a savage year. Calendar time and actual time disassociated. Let go or be dragged. I got dragged and then I let go. In this protracted state, I mended critical boundaries and broke open new patterns. I made the days useful to me. I wrote about cowboys while breathing in fire. I listened and was seduced. I transmuted silence, my way. Drowning in manufactured violence and drama, we held each other longer and tighter. I saw urgency extract exquisite ideas and leave behind ghosts still in motion. Recognizing that glitch, I give myself infinite permission to fail, to risk, to revive. I still believe revolutions are frenetic desires and armor myself contextually. Curiosity is my ideal pace. I follow cats and poets. I came into this world greedy. I need reminders when my body grips fear: be awake for soft pink sunrises and orange suns floating into fading darkness. It is my responsibility to source these personal validations and ritualize inspiration. Reflex grace. Find balance in distractions and create sacred ceremonies with your hands on my hips.
“with the evolution of awareness came the possibility that existence could be more than survival, or that survival could be more than a response to fear, and could include the encompassing of joy” — Jeremy Wolff, excerpt from the essay Thots on Pot
Northern Plains’ cottonwoods spread their seeds this time of year
thick as snow their white progeny coat lawns and 4×4 pickup trucks
a soft blizzard similar to the way Saharan dust reached Texas this week
both are dramatic
all that settling
(it’s probably nothing)
this feeling of apocalypse came on swift
like bad news
when adoration and permissions share the same open mouth of devotion
it is recommended that you consult your prophesies to justify blanket explanations
transpose unknowing into thoughts and prayers
a crash disrupts into eventual silence
I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
T.S. Eliot, from ‘Preludes (IV)’, The Waste Land and Other Poems
concerts of effort
sounds better inside a fragment
forgive that this starts out so slow
posting at me to me with me
I’m casual to realize
to follow your our vision
is to be organized into spacial moments — threads
a witness of curation
the: father son and holy spirit
faith is within your standing
some think it is earned
as for me I was taught to be innocent
later learning curiosity had its own beneficiaries
a lesson on just how few original ideas are assigned majestic
fueling dark appreciations for wild abstractions
until it is as uncommon as creating reminders to breathe
I know this all sounds strange
you can call it: new wave vengeance
“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
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
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.
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.
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.
experts have named our environment “rape culture”
fueled by an economy that exports & imports incertitude
funny how even the state’s gospel won’t accept no
even with a sovereign request
another way fringed borders bleed reciprocity
thick as oil as war as water
desire can transform anything
corporeal physics as vim and vigor
like soft kisses melting hard intentions
it’s why embodiment alludes enlightenment
& landscapes matter when our eyes close
horizons become their own grounding binary
pressure is a gilded warning signal
jouissance its own casual experience
how deeply our metaphors inform us
as angels, as deviants, as complicit
love is in here somewhere, or should be
She called exactly four hours after the earth stopped moving. While we waited for contact, wave after wave, we sat. Through repetition and capture, we learned how to stay constantly aware. It was a lesson worn familiar as the day when I gave my soul away. An unbecoming strategy for some; survival for others.
Protecting misgivings and intentional reactions, we spent our days building machines that ran on unrequited syllabic utterances. Flip back, back track, forward leaning free verses flowed as patterns, as privileged misdemeanors. Our hearts grew to beat metaphorically.
After pausing to ask how the earth breathes under the weight of concrete, she said act like you’ve been here before. It was a coded reminder of our legacy. A collective fantasy replicated endlessly in anticipation for moments we never took the time to define. For some, wanting more is our purpose.
“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
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.
“Use the power of man. Use the word. Fuck. The word is love.” – Kim Gordon
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.
“Between us we create a circle of something like worship, a ritual of mutual incarnation.” Mykel Johnson from “Butchy femme” in The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader
We declaimed those who seem to own their identities so easily while affirming our own temporary status through amateur gif porn, bourbon, and sunburns in the unlikeliest of places – like the bend of your elbow or the middle part running across your scalp. Furiously finding ourselves up against our will, again and again, we realized much later how these proxies for desire, unfolded along an axis of repression and deviance, were sublimated into online conversations and polished stories shared in darkened rooms that no longer play the music we recognize.
I have a memory of you exhaling this is it for me onto the back of my neck. It’s resurrected as I sat sandwiched between stores filled with cheap shoes, bed fashions, drugs and groceries. In my direct view a poster warns, Don’t think, know. Another flashback holds a detail of strategically opened windows that bragged to your neighbors about our business, which was more carnal than intellectual. Others wane simply as background noise. Some are so intimate they can only be expressed as secrets found in between the way we choose to embody vulnerability and the actual practice of being authentic or the way these specifics are mine to own and tell.
breathing, a song –
a strategy for calm
inevitable after such
We gather inside and treasure light. We are enamored with the hues of soft pinks and peach oranges that have lengthened during this seasonal rotation. Yes, we do have an agenda, a way of being, of feeling seen.
While shadows form, for they provide their own value of shelter and comfort, we scout for interdependence. We want transformation not assimilation. Our politics disrupt, express, reconceptualize desire and power. It’s a decentered practice. A rebellion.
What we seek is an acknowledgment of the complexity of difference and an orientation that does not ignore a reality that is relational. All of our connections, regardless of intimacy, physicality, and emotional depth are nonnegotiable and non-hierarchical.
“Because there’s 40 different shades of black…” Pavement Elevate Me Later
I promise to hold your gaze, even those that are unwanted.
Or the erotic retelling of my life as told through your eyes.
It is the specifics that matter when we confess. Some may believe that is enough. The confession is the means to the end. But what would happen if we thought of that release as the beginning?
Until that expositional moment, those words, thoughts, opinions are internalized truths that are ours alone to own and to hold. Now they are all of ours to absorb, to manage, to learn from, and to let go to make room for what we do not yet know.
Please forgive me. I did what I was told to do. I was bound to pick up bad habits after all those hours of witnessing evangelizing and attempts at redemption.
I was taught over and over again, no matter what I did, I was never going to be good enough. I was taught my body was not mine and out of my control. I am just now understanding how much obvious violence, subtle and insidious, is needed to give your soul away.
There is a primacy in this ritual of naming, recording, and distilling into something that only I understand. I won’t be so naive to think that a mirror’s only job is to reflect.
Geographies contain multipliers.
They are containers of dreams,
a space for visions.
“I make certain that my head is connected to my body.” – Minutemen, It’s Expected I’m Gone
At one point in the evening the phrase “prone to invasion” slipped past your lips. It tumbled forward and danced around until I realized it was a reference to Poland, and then it meant something else entirely different. At least that’s the way I remember it. The way my body froze at the gendered implications of such a legacy that is so ordinary and so common that there is no insurance to prevent it from happening. A form of dissipation found the moment when there is nothing to do but take the next breath. That kind of static state is familiar. It was the same sensation as when I recognized the end of the sermon was close because the preacher moved us towards righteousness and away from forgiveness.
This week the morning sky met the Bay by gently laying on top of itself. Low-hanging clouds smelled of cheap cologne, saturated with the kind of hope that only comes from peer pressure or digital capitalism or the start of a new year. The price of oil is less than $50/barrel which means the Financial District’s transactions have had less swagger. Instead calculated bets are placed on commodities like complex sugars, protest, Taylor Swift, and war. Pipelines born from speculative fiction landscapes are on pace to divide community from livelihood.
What if what I’ve been wanting is to find love in that space found between deep breaths? A capacity just beyond the quiet terror of behaving. A boundary traced around dangerous desires.
Our secrets are exposed as nervous laughs and sighs of hope.
Hope is the energy that fuels this story of how we got here, or maybe this story is really about how we have changed in the process of wanting more. If hope is the energy, then gratitude has been the structure from which we are able to draw breath on our own. I have finally accepted that this light, with its various hues of apricot, and if fortunate, shades of ripe grapefruit, warms by promising new beginnings.
This was a year of submitting, writing and then revising; asking for it because I wanted; and taking breaths so deep my lungs collapsed. There were days I woke up broken, days I did not know how to sustain vulnerability, and many more days I woke to an acute feeling of being alive, a feeling deeper than bruised bone. I was witness to fog so grey it pulled the blues from the Bay.
These dances, this rhythmic gradation of give and take, have transformed old fault lines.
Below are ten things I’ve learned during this cycle around the Sun:
the best decisions are the ones that fade the quickest
immolation through the act of pressing pen to paper is my valued haptic practice
the knowledge I have embodied was shaped by intimate failures
crosswalks can be catwalks with the right song in your ears
bravery manifested has exponential rewards and consequential risks
justice is a habit I can’t break
inability to forgive yourself is a cardinal sin
it is true that the world continues to revolve with or without you
how we see matters
I really enjoyed eating a blueberry muffin naked in front of you
This post is dedicated to nearly nine years of maintaining this space of inquiry and intentional deconstruction. I wrote to survive, to have a voice. Each sentence is an act of breath, a release of internalized tension and anxiety. This call and response has been my baptism by epiphany.
That’s why we’ve learned to trust the sources that are closest to us; we assume them to be less distorted. There is catharsis in hearing our own voices.
Internalizing warm winter light’s revelations and recognizing our shadows are valuable endeavors this time of year.
I’ve recently calibrated how I think about boundaries; setting them and maintaining them. Initially, I saw boundaries as limiting. They had been described as methods to protect and ways to feel safe but that assumes too much maintenance on the individual end.
I am left wondering who holds the accountability.
We grow up learning about consent and boundaries the minute we start breathing. We learn the hard way or not at all.
I now see boundaries as better ways to make choices. They are not barriers but starting points. The borders that defined my early existence – rural, isolated, working poor, father’s anger, mother’s depression, lack, distance – so clearly shaped my understanding of choice and, what was often the case denial, that I feel no shame in coming to such an obvious conclusion so late in life.
I wish only to revel in this renunciation of limits.