prominence

“writing…is a process of relying on immediate pervasive feelings, not an escape from them…”   — William Stafford, Writing the Australian Crawl. pg. 88

I’M HERE FOR LUCK. Louis Wain (1926)

I haven’t found a way to say I love you that isn’t complicated, so I practice loving you every day. Sounds of terrorized children broke through all those hours of visual noise. Hope is a map. A place to begin.

The distance of decades doesn’t always make things quieter. Calendars are more form than function. I learned early and repeatedly that love must be earned, and value is measured by others. An intimacy of detachment.

Addicted to seeking approval is one way of saying yes unconditionally. Instead, imagine a private collection of silent hymns. These days, I take care to mend memories as a way to create acceptance. A public chorus swelled.

Broken into speculative practices, writing things down reinforces pleasure and importance in tandem. Together, through famine and fortune, what stands out is love.  An oxygen where sacrifice is not born from competition.

Sunday, 4pm

photographer: Robin Cerutti

I think about the distance of fog
& find another way home
lost (as in damaged)
with all the sharp edges of a dog whistle
you left us nothing but absence — its own hope of escape

your mystery dominated empty spaces
so we reduced ourselves to survive
along pressure points (dislocated)
& under religion’s exploitation of bad luck
answers started rooting their own origins

in spite of darkness translating shape
light claimed its own space
showing influence (weighted)
we learned to feel
reverie

virtue signaling

                                                                     data are so emotional

Stéphanie Devaux ___________________________ . LosT. .fOr. wOrdS. …

Our inherited risks are not equal. This is an urgent incantation.
As visceral affect, I want to disembody and divest.

My father tracked weather patterns in free pocket-sized bank calendars.
Constrained, he archived basic data (temperature and precipitation)
occasionally punctuated with significance: two daughters born June 8th;
weight and height nearly identical.

His daily notes arranged into a practical devotion bound by time and repetition.
For point of reference, children and livestock born in storms were not isolated incidents. Shaping a landscape absent of variables, his pattern recognition became a survivor’s catalog.

Our futures signal forced reliance, an intimate risk. This is an urgent incantation.
As righteous affect, I want to feel god everywhere.

transference

and where
did that love
I gave
go?

Hannah Höch, Bouquet Of Eyes, 1930

arousal is an anchor
like empathetic inquiry
or side show hustles

echoed relationships
redirected
form finds its subject

we commit to process
over outcome, again
shift to abundance of solutions

technically we are identical
with differences called out
our unconscious a shared language

the news repeats:
rot
patterns

it is a drowning
a baptism
an act of mercy

rosemary

“But your pleasure understands mine.”
— Clarice Lispector, The Sharing Of Loaves

Betsy Eby (American, b. 1967), Rise, 2017. Encaustic on canvas over panel, 35 x 48 in.

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

smash and grab

Tell me, what’s the joy of giving if you’re never pleased?
— Blood Orange, Champagne Coast

Georgia O’Keeffe, Blue-03, 1916, watercolor on paper

the sun rises at eastern edges
yellowing twilight blues

when there is nothing
rest

if there were Christmas stockings
we always had an orange

persistence can feel joyful
is there another choice

we can be called to lead
or follow

how does that feel
really

imprints

“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

3.11.2017 Berlin

“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
enough
holding my breath into
darkness.

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.

participatory witness

Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light. —Theodore Roethke

Jean Baudrillard, Saint Clement, 1987, Giclée print on pure cotton paper, 60 x 90 cm

these broken pieces are their own ritual
spirals of coping mechanisms
apparitions

***

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

epiphany’s memory

Boston Post, Massachusetts, April 28, 1895

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

continental divide

“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

May 23, 2017 (9:09am New Mexico)

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

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

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.

necessary but not sufficient

“Act so that there is no use in a centre.” Gertrude Stein

zoso ross

those years embraced us ferociously
as fear and pride perpetuated dissonance

weights, a fog, referents

that way you feel inside my mind
not quite spiritual, more phenomenon

desires, a politic, intimacy

there is joy in unraveling
then there is curation of what remains

mindfulness

my needs are non-negotiable
my wants are yours

cleveland Nov04 (photo by Atlee)
Cleveland Aug04 (photo by Atlee)

the problem with the women in my family
we always stay too long

there is no inertia
hilltop clouds linger past what feels good

what we mean to each other matters little
if living presently, an influence of detachment

bend
forward

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.

cazimi

Hotel Villa Convento Nov15
Hotel Villa Convento Nov15
“This was love, to be eager for tomorrow.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adochie

I don’t know why we love differently. Why we are still able to find love.

There is an essential unfairness in you not knowing me.

In New Orleans, I observed the tourist’s shoes. There were also discarded squeezed limes, sleeping homeless bodies under quilts, and stray cats eating street meat. How quick things can go hard!

So instead, I collected curiosities like watching her eat giant grapes in half bites.

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

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.

spiral

“being devoured can make you cry” – Robin Coste Lewis

Beauty Bar Oct15
Beauty Bar Oct15

The earth is burning.
The jade tree hedges down the street are dying.
Stores release their fall line of sweaters, scarves, and jackets.

I have something to say, anything, nothing at all.
I write love letters in the middle of the night.
I think about your broken tooth, back, heart.

She spoke about representation and desire.
Our wars are a proxy for absence or relentless regrets.

I think we all
even you
want to escape
to start over
to be reborn.

Coatlicue state

wanting nothing more than everything

Mom Knows Now, L.J. Roberts, 2003
Mom Knows Now, L.J. Roberts, 2003 at Alien She, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, January 2014

all day windows look at each other
expert witnesses

breathless inside anxiety
our arms crowns

the days are hard, but ours
no longer so tightly holding on

country

The contents of the detained shipping container
(according to the public news)
were from the 1970s, from China
and filled with spoiled meat.

A story just as true as
finding your way home
after being in between
gone and disappeared.

labor day weekend 2015
labor day weekend 2015

One-sided wind blown trees tell their own version of the story.
The golden slopes another clue to the way force shapes.

What a divine disruption!

A moment when breathing in makes you bigger
full – more – when exhaling makes you smaller, less.

Counting blind spots, your breath, my exhalations
their frequencies filed under proportional commitment.
A revelation when patience for violence wore thin.

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.

perpetual motion

It’s harvest season.
Conscious of renewal,
we plan for what we need tomorrow.
This is the time of year to honor defeat
celebrate the shifting light
embody lived experiences
transform our perceptions.
We love fiercely, in this community.

Francisco de Zurbarán, Agnus Dei, 1635–1640
Francisco de Zurbaran, Agnus Dei, 1635-1640

 

crucible

It was the way you disappeared. There was a strategy to it.

beauty/duty July15
beauty/duty July15

I’d tile this chapter: collapsing just short of understanding. Every day forged into an act of hope, not to be confused with faith. The mountains, when revealed, were tucked into each other and clouds pale like bone. These people we’ve become feel unconsciously different. We are borderline confident.

more

"awake" Dec14
“awake” Dec14

Pink kissed hilltops fade into blue. Christmas is officially behind us.

Moose Lodge Dec14
Moose Lodge Dec14

The billboards sold women’s bodies, meat, and church services.

2014 winter solstice eve
2014 winter solstice eve

Roots as deep as family or the way light shines in flat distance frame this story.

"hint" 12-25-14
“hint” 12-25-14

The next phase is philosophical, a confessional epistemology.
Plan your resolutions accordingly.

friable

This time of year, I think about taking.

San Francisco Jan12
San Francisco Jan 1, 2012

trees & streets
don their lights
sun kisses ocean
transference of energy
there is comfort
in knowing
waves break
they bend
then dissipate

quantum entanglements

They walk like cowboys, recently dismounted.

ocean beach 7.25.14
ocean beach 7.25.14

Think about how many details we leave out when we tell stories about ourselves. Those intimate moments where spectacle meets nuance. All those ways we understand dimensions as coordinates – maps of contested margins. I don’t assume you read any of this, which is why I can be so matter-of-fact.

In fact every Sunday, until I found an alternative, I learned about the consequences of taking things literally, from a biblical perspective. It was my orientation to the world. Now, I find myself drawn to phrases like loving witness and learned that the prescribed strategy for getting out of disasters is to help yourself.

************

We are racing to the airport. I am anxious. She tells me her depression is incurable. So deep that strapping electrodes to her brain won’t help, or if it did, it would only be temporary relief. So deep that she can’t wash knives in the kitchen sink when the bottomless darkness sets in. She can see herself slashing herself to death, making the motions, trading hands to make the gestures of listening to those urges, one hand always on the steering wheel. She tells me she is no longer afraid to die and that is how she has been able to survive.

I want to believe this means you found a way to see light differently.

impacted

There’s no good place to start this except with a quote by Richard Hugo, “You owe reality nothing and the truth about your feelings everything.” I don’t have the right words to describe, accurately, my recent travels back east. The stories are too big, too real.

I tried to make room for these lived experiences in the time found between layovers. All those moving thoughts were supported by the background noise of airports and a soundtrack heard only by me.

I feel convinced by being witness to positive confrontation.

10-33 on HWY140 West artist: Joe Valtierra
10-33 on HWY140 West        artist: Joe Valtierra

I’m storing a memory of the way the drapes, golden velvet from the ceiling to the floor, complimented the Bohemian crystal chandeliers in a room filled with the flurry of selfies and power. A memory heavy with pomp and a lot of circumstances. I want to remember, at will, what it felt like when I belonged and forget about the reasons why I believed I didn’t deserve to participate. Those memories are tender and should be taken seriously.

And the moment when the lights came back on to reveal a staged show for my anticipated arrival? That memory becomes an apt metaphor for this post that leaves me realizing I’ve told you nothing but the truth.

habit

“But we can not move theory into action unless we can find it in the eccentric and wandering ways of our daily life.” – Minnie Bruce Pratt from S/He

San Francisco Aug12
San Francisco Aug12

I like how this quote has settled in my mind. I interpret the words wandering, action and daily life to my own understanding of who I am. I linger on the accuracy of eccentric to describe an intent of searching beyond the center and the active practice of valuing differences in order to evolve.

These days, long distance doesn’t have the same meaning.  Information travels faster than ever before, even heavy news from home moves nimbly.

 

 

It is important to find ways to routinely calibrate where the center lies; I need to be reminded of how far I’ve wandered. Control is no longer a theoretical exercise lost in mindless wrong turns.

We can’t afford to forget how much we give away. Establishing this habit is how we’ll remember the way home.

Oakland Oct13
Oakland Oct13

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

open heart

keep breaking your heart

She carries the sins of her ex-husband and her father
bearing the weight of her complicit silence and denial of violations
transferring her penance through strudels, kuchhen, usually prune, and dumplings, savory.

She assumed responsibility for our care, just as she had done for my father
sheltering all four of us in a one bedroom with galley kitchen
occupying our despondent abandonment with movie marathons, all rated restricted.

She predicted my mother was never coming back to us or to our father
revealing her own resentment at the possibility of having that kind of freedom
submitting to the sum total of stubborn experiences and lack of choices, obstructions.

dedicated to Nana

gossamer

Oakland, 2012
Oakland, 2012

Cracked sidewalks produce rhythmic codes
transmitted out and through our heels
worn down by the grooves of daily patterns

There was a phone call, a confession
I realize now how you were trained to respond to me
and paternal pride: you didn’t let that break you

I reminded you that we benefited from food stamps
government cheese, “meat” in a can, powdered milk
these too kept us from breaking

When we think of each other as resources
to mine and extract that which we find valuable
it’s important to think about the manifestation of those scars

Constellations of words, revelations, testimonies
forming their own codes
woven from exaltations delicate as gossamer

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

gateways

Skirt Split, 2004, Rebecca Veit
Skirt Split, 2004, Rebecca Veit

Belonging is a complicated emotion when you believe in evolution. Some are left behind, they were meant to shape you in that way, some never leave.

The process of memory making is based on the function of desire. Some are created at will, curated for that purpose, some are forged from static circumstances.

There is so much to fear and so much to gain when home is retrograde. Crystalized as realizations – remember preferring light to sun and syzygy to eclipses?

If I continue to remember, it guarantees I never forget. There were words said, words that hurt more than touch, and the origin of my continued resistance.

sine qua non

Artist: Cornelie Tollens Emotions, 1997
Artist: Cornelie Tollens
Emotions, 1997

We joke about taking it all the way as the planets revolve around us. Facing one another, like borders, we exchange memories as cash and carry each others extremes to calibrate our balances.

In What Is Found There, Adrienne Rich notes that the core of metaphors are “resemblance in difference.” And Gloria Anzaldua said, “The resistance to change in a person is in direct proportion to the number of dead metaphors that person carries.” There is much to explore within these spaces of similarity and syncretistic juxtapositions. Metaphors are essential ingredients, catalysts really, that shape how we will tell others what we see.

Navigating aspects of a culture, one that feels more about reading and performing than being, only partially explains my reoccurring dreams of stairs. Traveling east to the prairie to fulfill a mission that will close a chapter of home that has few memories that aren’t seeped in melancholic filters may be another immediate interpretation. It’s equally likely, and as obvious, this vision is based on that lost time in Chicago. The recalled memory is only violent sound: bones on concrete.

All these core stories want to be told.

poetics of witness

photo by B
photo by B

The town where I was born has a museum that specializes in local history. The museum’s fame was ownership of a found prehistoric fossil. This piece of stone was remarkably well preserved, the spine of the evolved animal clearly intact. It turned out this grand jewel, this generational crowd pleaser, was actually a piece of broken feather from the statue of Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux holy man.

Local assholes used to ram the monument with their pickup trucks knocking the bust of Sitting Bull’s head off its pedestal and they’d shoot into the Sacagawea monument for fun. We used to try to count all the bullet holes during those long summers we were lucky enough to visit my grandparents.

Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Pinky’s ranch was only a few miles from the monuments. Their house was a special and magical place. There were lamps that turned on by touching plant leaves and a dining table that was the go-to place to listen to the reporting of current events and visions of the future.

I remember summers where cousins divided themselves along the intractable wedge of Boy George’s sexuality while Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA blared from the back of pickup trucks that drove too fast down roads that were tire ruts imprinted on the rich prairie soil. We saw monsters rise from ponds and were oblivious to the violence around us.

I want to tell my dying grandfather that I will never forget that burned cowhide is the smell of money. I want to tell him that his house was a refuge, a site of culture and learning about a world larger than I could imagine. I want to ask him if he remembers the fossilized feather and if he heard any of those shootings.

tension of being there

artist: Love Light
artist: Love Light

Echos of news surround us.

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.

distilling my own resolve

If I tell you my identity, will you tell me what to buy?

Cleveland, OH (photo by Atlee)
Cleveland, OH (photo by Atlee)

Ask me questions. I want answers.

This time of year brings out a different kind of angst in understanding who I am. From pressures to BUY SOMEBODY SOMETHING to calibrating the dangers of assimilation (of all kinds), I appreciate everyone who has added to my voice and sense of agency.

I’m tempted to make promises that I can’t keep.

Oscillating between choice and denial has sparked new, and powerful, imaginary yearnings. I want that feeling of checking your assumptions; a feeling of being heard. Let’s practice justice everyday so that these memories are in our muscles, so that we are conscious when we fail.

Can you feel the rush for the end?

We report back different memories. Like when we visited her in the mental hospital and learned how tradition is precarious security. She sadly handed each one of us a painted gold angel made of plaster, which I still carry with me as evidence. It was the only thing she could provide to us, a product of her extreme sadness. You said we baked chocolate chip cookies in the industrial kitchen and have no memory of her angelic presentation. We both agreed that she was never coming home again.

How will you remember me?

disruption as destruction

Did you hear that?
It was the collective sigh of those who bear their souls to empty rooms.

This week I did everything I wasn’t supposed to do and everything I wanted. Sometimes they were the same thing.

On Friday, I spent the day in a space designed and curated to invoke imagination. The plan for action called for disruption not-so-cleverly disguised as profit. Some bragged about organizing “cockfights” and others advocated for righteous indignation. The ferocity of their arguments were fueled by unconscious privilege and unchecked assumptions about who would benefit from that specific vision of change.

A call to home confirmed this truth: struggle and hope are symbiotic. Like fog on a window produced from warm bodies and breath, redemption is a process.

heads and hearts

Do you think we can be radical anywhere? Even in spaces for the wealthy and in the streets?

I make positive: rejection and collaboration.

There are days where maintaining a perspective feels like a fascist project and other days when fracturing it feels barbaric.

I clear my mind: breath and absence.

artist: Endre Tot (1980)

Our public opinions are manufactured though seductive commentary and brazen keystrokes. What have we done by defining luxury as apathetic austerity? Oh Dakota, I thank you for those experiences to know how this rings true.

Operating from a belief of scarcity those who have – hoard.

The energy needed to perpetuate this obsolete system is fear, for which the supply is abundant. This is the real politics. For evidence, witness the events of dissent whose props were semiautomatic rifles and Chick-fil-A sandwiches.

Violence, blessed state violence, is the conduit for pro-life hypocrisy.

show me your secret

This is what light from a dying star looks like.

When the train emerges, I see the setting sun’s light accentuate
pastel houses and barren back yards.
I see beauty in the same way that blight and despair intensifies
hope and transcendence.
West Oakland West Oakland West Oakland

The softest and loudest parts of my body need my lips.
Show me your teeth and I’ll tell you a secret.
Tell me how you understand and what you see.

Narrating from experience connects but does not always bind.
I seek magic and want desire presented as enthusiasm.
I don’t need precise illumination just authentic submission to integrity.

I think about infinite loops
unwanted gifts
the golden rule
generating polyarchs.

This season of sun and sweaters is ironic and familiar.
The prairie landscape, a shadowless ocean of empty and quiet disappointments,
propagated an innate knowledge that light can be seen for miles
even in the deepest flat darkness.

this weekend never happened

The Angelus of Gala (Portrait of Gala) – Salvador Dali

There were places I was supposed to be this week.
Instead, I appreciated that my shadow was in front of me.

Living in bear country – a landscape of turn ons and fractured binaries –
I analyzed the world through a post-choice lens
and declared my love for the Datsun 510.

I remembered that 4th of July:
inappropriate miniskirt mixed with a zenith of vodka tonics
followed by a drive home powered by a miracle and freedom.

Reminders of where I used to be frame where I see myself now.
They are the optics that position an erotic that begets joy.

you said: punctuation is uncomfortable shoes

When you are so hungry that you’ll eat flour
delighted that the paste formed from your saliva tastes like a pastry
you can be confident that you have devised strategic rituals of survival.

Yellow light pulls through grayscale clouds
filtered above red, white, and blue institutions.
My thought of your death makes me think I need to get my affairs in order.

This isn’t the first attempt at this pattern of
push
pull.

Our bodies rotate, pivot and grind
undefined and repressed inside grooves
well-worn by culture, values and greed.

retrograde

A journey home is in my immediate future.

It’s like this …

But actually more like this …

It’s about looking out and seeing nothing and then learning how to dream.

confessions

photo by me

Erica Jong’s Is Sex Passé? rant was provocative. She certainly aroused me with her assertion that sex is a nostalgic trip for youth (she defines “youth” as mid-30s).

According to Jong, these youngsters are rebelling against their mothers old-fashioned quests for sexual liberation. She notes, “If their mothers discovered free sex, then they want to rediscover monogamy.” What does a rebellion of sons look like?

“Sexual passion is on life support” due to a desire to control the chaos in a depressing culture of war, conservative values, and persistent attacks on women’s rights. Ultimately, Jong calls for a feminism that unites both sexes which I wholeheartedly endorse. It’s her homogenous heterosexual perspective of rebellion (have babies) that I find limp and passé.

____________________________

I’m a singleton again (which unknowingly is a great segway from above). I stood at the nexus of nature versus nurture; evolution versus status quo. Intentions are questioned and desires to understand how we can be so different go unanswered. There are assumptions we both operate under which creates the distance. I miss her.

banal post #237

Dry. Sometimes words dance and tease but never reveal themselves to me. There’s pressure to perform but I’m not a competitor.

Today, I found myself participating in a meeting that had laughter and the intentional use of a thesaurus.

In less than 24 hours, there will be two.  I will be whole.

double spoon

found via jennilee.tumblr.com

I have a new address, new ID (with old address and sans glasses for some bureaucratic reason), and am living in my first apartment with a view; a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Leaving good friends, comforts, routines, and hard-fought marked territories has finally cracked the false bravado veneer that I had so carefully applied to propel myself into this new skin. It’s all part of the shedding process that has become my nomadic routine. There is familiarity in this angst.

Unwrapping newspaper from the coffee cups and strategically placing them on the new shelves that I should have wiped down but assumed were clean, reminded me of all the times we moved growing up. Making the makeshift bed crystalized how hard that must have been for my mother, four kids in tow. Annually, we’d pack up the horse trailer and drive from one nowhere to another equally desolate location.

With this innate and intimate knowledge, I unpack and find places to display the skills I’ve learned from the countless moves of my past. Like being double spooned, it’s going to feel familiar and comforting.

home

summer (photo by me)

Anticipation, trepidation, and a little joy – all the complicated feelings of going home.

It’s been over a year since I last visited the prairie.

Much has changed: the Iraq war is over.