red line

Endpoint, paper collage, Annalynn Hammond

Dinner was the same: ground beef — a portion
of a six hundred dollar monthly salary — tomato sauce,
and elbow macaroni. That winter night, when he reached
for another helping, she noticed a thin red line
flowing from his thumb to his armpit. The blood infection inched
forward in proportion to the pounds of noodles, canned sauce,
and slaughtered cattle that filled our child-sized stomachs.
Weeks before, he cut his thumb skinning a dead lamb.
Orphans are draped with the skins of the dead to deceive
mothers in lambing season. A forced rebirth through the smell
of the familiar. When they left for the emergency room,
we watched the trace of their brake lights in the empty darkness.
As orphan bonded to new mother, we ate alone in committed silence.

blue noise

artist: unknown

Maybe if I loved her enough, my mother would heal. – Chana Wilson, Riding Fury Home

My mom officially disappeared from our family when I was thirteen. To be fair, she did not know she’d be leaving her four daughters that day either. When she left the house, she had packed nothing but her purse. Dispossessed, my memories are inscribed into a tight buzzing chest, rushed breathing, and anxious as self-doubt. These memories are my limbic system, the circuits of my mood board. I learned decades later my father took her purse as the only door out of the mental institution shut in her face.

The memories I have exist because I was there but that is as far as my truth can extend, the rest are now privatized myths. To be honest, my mom had been disappearing long before that fateful day. The silence in between seeing her was seasonless and evokes the dreamy concept of eternity for me.

It is true some winters the prairie grass reached taller than the snow drifts. To be obnoxious, you can read snow drifts as a noun or a verb. In that way, my teenage years were a righteous alchemy of oblivion and riot. I remember watching my mom’s need to earn her perfection and how she absorbed all his taking. I deducted a respect for witness and learned early that quiet violence swells. Infinite in its exhaustion, my realities are at best uncertain, which means I have the capacity to refine and revise.

I learned the art and practice of possibility from my mom. To be obvious, I owe my mom my life even if she wasn’t there for most of it. I let go of contempt for she also holds dreams of the horizon inside her.

long division

“Success is someone else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure.” — Ursula K. Le Guin, excerpt from her 1983 Mills College commencement address “A Left-Handed Commencement Address”

Shujiro Shimomura, Poster Design, 1929

Mental maps are flashbacks of intertwined stories not to be confused with flash-forward dreams like visible clouds in the night sky backlit by 24-7 traffic lights, or knowing you are looking directly at an invisible full moon. I am sorry if this specificity of darkness is dense and complicated. I have historically avoided anchors of place in my writing because it feels safer to drift unmoored. It is entirely possible I do not want you to find me.

My past has too many inconsistent waypoints to map accurately—my mother is an unreliable narrator and my father’s sense of direction was absorbed as gospel, narrow and aggressive. Gathered, these scattered memories take shape as a specific form of isolation. The truth is, wrapping myself in distance feels like home.

This dark and expansive landscape I pull from is as familiar as counting landmarks on long drives back home, de facto mile markers such as wind-sculpted trees, mirage plateaus, and the occasional 4-way stop sign scarred with casual bullet holes. My expertise in understanding subtle changes as a sense of direction was earned honestly.

As an identical twin, separation is a practice of abundance.  Do you recognize that gift in yourself?

Stars are born when clouds of gas called nebulae infinitely collapse. The center of this collapse, a result of carefully balanced external gravitational forces and internal rising temperatures, fuses into light brilliant enough to witness from Earth’s distance. In this nearly empty darkness, collapsing coordinates are not fixed either. All these simple steps broken into a discovery of self, in excellence and always in evolution.

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 in its toe

persistence can feel joyful
there is no other 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.