horizon note

Huseyin Sami, Cut Painting (Light Yellow), 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 183 x 152 cm.

I’ve never had the same address for long. My current streak is seven years. I’ve far exceeded all prior knowledge of living in one place. I am as far west as I’ve ever been, which means my reverence for home has changed. Somewhere between this nostalgia and the truth is the hard edge of acceptance.

In all this stillness, I forgot how to let go.

So I start over.
Again.

As a habit, writing is its own method of reckoning. An ecstatic attention to spirit. A positive deviance. Specifically, I want to create a feeling of communion. I want this feeling in spite of its dominant religious significations.

The concept and practice of being “reborn” was an early fascination. I’d watch my father make his way to the front of the church and confess his weaknesses. Our sins were made public. We wanted to believe, as much as he did, that each confession was his last. His liberation bound so tightly to our survival.

I choose to keep these collective epiphanies to remember how far from home I am.
_________

*horizon note = the beat or pulse underlying the whole of the poem (Denise Levertov)

processions

“…I believe our survival demands revolution, both cultural and political. If we are to survive the disasters that threaten, and survive our own struggle to make it new—a struggle I believe we have no choice but to commit ourselves to—we need tremendous transfusions of imaginative energy.”

—Denise Levertov, from her essay “Great Possessions,” January 1970

Angela Pulido Zorro, The ordinance of a history that arranges itself in a loop, or how to spell a scream, 2014.

It is February. I think about ruts carved into thawing prairie soil—how violence echoes. I pull your sleeves right side out every time I do the laundry. Shapes of familiar ceremony.

In March, rusted satellites fall to the ground. I find the ocean, again. A litany of land and shoreline.

Then May repeats to the present day. Silver glints from in-flight airplanes catch the attention of wandering minds. Our elegies no longer unconscious prayers.

The frontlines have finally reached us.

field notes

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about “and.” — Sir Arthur Eddington

“you found the clit,” april 2018, san francisco

I. virtual systems

we have learned to covet reflective virtual objects
on occasion, we can still recall vibrations of analog sounds
in a digital world fueled by fossils & compounded fabrications
I wrap my arms around you as car alarms blare songs of protection

II. echo as residue

our preferences fill shapes generated by algorithms gone wild
authenticated searches find radical stability
a looped sacred ceremony

III. curation

corn, cowboys, & cattle
broken buttons
violent light
[classed units of measurement or why it matters I want the horizon to never end]

a 21st century dream

I am at war with the obvious. —William Eggleston

artist: Todd Norsten

I get nervous when people start talking about wanting to own things:
land, houses, ideas.
This present moment feels like freedom,
a highly volatile state.
In my dream, I walked US-Highway 12.
I passed community banks flush with bartered dreams
and gas stations promising consistently low prices when paying with cash.
The ghosts all drove cars and didn’t bother me.
Lucid, I believed I was back in Berlin. I was brave.
I woke to trees taller than houses.

tautology, as a fault of style

“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

April 2018

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 gaslighting
    like wildfire
        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

Sunday, 4pm

href=”http://robincerutti.com/#/portfolio/people/mirrors/7″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”> 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

the pace of light that finally reaches you

artist: Robert Roth

born from a place stubborn as time
untamable as the patience of trees
a place whose history begins with land stolen then plowed
now transformed to weed-filled lawns anchored by rusted swing sets
as early-to-open Main Street bars drown committed repentance
a place where there’s nothing left to let go
where abandonment is a reluctant hero
& stacked clouds convert prayers into myths
like there can be no forgiveness for sins
we commit against ourselves

dirty light

“The shutters were stuck. Then I grew absent minded.”
Des Moines Register, Iowa, July 3, 1938

stretching beyond monetary value: this is more freedom than security can buy

if I wake up open to what will unfold
I am ready to claim I had a good day
specific as memories stored in the creases of expanding curves

& still         I rescue myself when hope feels violent as an open hand
where fortune’s fault line is externalized validation
nested into dreams of trying to get somewhere
my body craves stillness

I press the coffee before anything begins

remember when we took turns burning wishes into the folds of our stomachs?
it was the safest place we could think of
no one dared touch us
there

I heard you took my name
and sewed it into your eyelids
stitches fragile as trusting strangers & friends
an exquisite waltz like light shining in distant flat darkness

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

monograph

 

[A]s my mother used to say, if wishes were horses, women would ride.
— Elspeth Probyn, Outside Belongings (62)

New Orleans, October 2017

The prompt was bold: how do you embody whiteness? My heart froze knowing that some of my truth has no accessible language.

So I thought about how we grew up nowhere, or more accurately, we lived around no one. A place where you learn orthodox norms, where conformity was practiced as integration. A place where we conversed in churches or homes, and almost never on the long road in between.

The days take flight and return again.

My writing practice captures moments, and contain all kinds of shadowed referents, insurrections, and commitments. There’s a way this claiming expands space to repurpose perfection. A response to how surviving trauma from decades past seeps into what I believe is real and how I frame what is just. I’m not afraid to tell you why my fears are justified. I have a story to let you know why this is true.

I am left wanting. I know dissonance can also be harmonic despite its agreed upon definition. There’s room in that idea to breathe. To release orchestrations that dance around forgone conclusions.

Weeks ago, I wrote: don’t let me forget where I came from and the day before that: resistance to belong a furious understanding. I read these reminders, now, as culturally weighted influences.  Next week, I will be in Berlin. A city that embodies trauma and healing’s relentless journey. A city where Audre Lorde taught, organized, and loved. A place of intentional inquiry.

cache culture is a collectivized monograph of intentional inquiry. A place to find my way in contemporary American culture. A place to expose how my gendered body has historically been named as white. I post curated moments that reflect culture and place because that’s where belonging takes root. My roots grew deepest in South Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and now California.

Berlin’s calling and its collective response is another cache.

I will be carrying William Stafford’s advice with me, but one of many influential guides on this poetics inquiry.

“We all share, in art. And to be worthy artists we must be ready to look around, give credit where we feel it belongs, help each other maintain that sense of community that will maximize whatever vision we are able to find and share.”

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

front lines

Eskimo Polycrhome Wood Maskette, Alaska, c. 1880

In the distance, cars traveling the freeway became an auditory illusion of waves successively breaking on a transitory shore. The vehicular friction of simultaneous opposing directions creates a lullaby of persistence. Out of that euphony, a collective future sways.

Scientists agree that’s why our horizon is in flux.

I am from a place where personal belief in immortality shelters empty and expansive isolation. A place where desire modestly tucks itself into sanctioned quiet spaces. Its slow release is championed as strength, a virtue. Imagine all that repression sharpened into secret symphonies. How the fantasy of that released deviance dances in mortal bodies designed to betray through lust.

We return to where we came from.

There is purpose in the orchestration of such retrograde energy. As that motivation braids itself to creative practice, my habitual search for external validation has gone missing. This translation, more joy than sorrow, is a different remedy for endurance. The harvest is ready and yielding.

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

find a way

It’s sweet
And it’s sad
And it’s true

– REM, Oh My Heart

December 31, 2015
Here
waves mimic earth’s rise and fall
a frequency known as home

Here
hills slope at similar angles
nearly invisible expressions

Here
fog settles thick as love
a passive reflection

Here
place contours memories
the body an unreliable narrator 

Here
we are
whole

tender data

Sioux Falls, South Dakota Nov16

I.

It’s not about truth. It is about faith. An orientation where the future has cult status. This brand of dislocation has been exalted to attract maximum anticipation.

II.

keeper of promises
a prophetic mothering
finally overcome, the sun pushes the moon to perform

III.

Our bodies warm with use.
Your eyes close in respect.
Private consumption whetted.

IV.

This is my origin: he celebrated our birth with strangers while she bled alone. As romantic as it may sound, this is not an apology.

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.

holon

Christian Furr, That My Heart Should Explode with Tenderness (from the Juissance series), 2015 Inkjet with hand painting in acrylic with diamond dust on linen
Christian Furr, That My Heart Should Explode with Tenderness (from the Juissance series), 2015 Inkjet with hand painting in acrylic with diamond dust on linen

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

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

with(out) you

artist: Kourtney Roy
artist: Kourtney Roy

underneath the ocean
a quiet roars

we all have an edge
soft margins with sharp centers
fiercely contoured boundaries

we sanction ourselves
we insist love is provocative
as we make our homes museums

every day and every night a tender eve
books left marked to forever hold place

divination

I’m going to ride your heart – Bleached

south dakota dec11
South Dakota Dec11

Have you noticed our conversations are almost always about safety?
Will you listen to that fear? Will you listen to my need?

fighting what feels natural
what has been conditioned to feel good
finding providence
hard-won wisdom

What imagination led us here?

he said practice creates habits
a reference to his dangerous life,
a prophetic retrograde

risk & reward

photo by orange_and_tangerine
photo by orange_and_tangerine

the mountains found solitude
spooning each other to hold their gaze
while hills white from not-yet-risen clouds
were in contrast to the Bay warming blue

grateful for forgiveness and forgetting
time as construct, a gravitational force
wrapped around desire, momentum, abundance
absence has pulled your energy elsewhere
away from me

every day we show our stories by waking
under cloudless skies as nests of nests
of birds clamor and inspire the cat,
a product of us: neglect and minimal care
unencumbered with material fancies

all this and things undiscovered
guide our personal rhythms (fulcrums/hips)
like how our body’s most graceful state is to be at ease
unlike that first summer we drove across country
with every possession we assumed we would need

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

pleasure triggers

“show me how to love and I’ll show you how to beg”
–  Lullaby for the Working Class

Trotsky_Nov11
Trotsky_Nov11

anthologies of thought curated by universal themes:
resiliency, worthiness, credence

Trotsky and I_Nov11
Trotsky and I_Nov11

move from punishment to acceptance
towards complexity or, if fortunate, erasure

bedroom_Nov11
bedroom_Nov11

say yes when you beg
when you solicit
open inward (like a prism)
intimately filled with your effort

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

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.

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.

Sunday

We waited together inside the bus stop. She told me teenage boys filmed her instead of letting her know her car was on fire. This is after we both agreed Jaguars were the coolest because of their hood ornaments.

When she walked off the bus, she said: be careful with who you bring into your house and watch who they invite in.

$65 baby jesus
$65 baby jesus

June15 7:39pm
June15 7:39pm

suffix

“Because there’s 40 different shades of black…” Pavement Elevate Me Later

Found at the Melodee 2-28-15
Found at the Mel-O-Dee
2-28-15

I promise to hold your gaze, even those that are unwanted.
Or the erotic retelling of my life as told through your eyes.

2-15-15 1:12pm
2-25-15 1:12pm

I.
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.

II.

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.

III.

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.

IV.

Geographies contain multipliers.
They are containers of dreams,
a space for visions.

It’s where we found and honed our instincts.

labile

4th Ave, Mobridge, SD 2013
4th Ave, Mobridge, SD 2013

The house was repainted a primary blue.
A particular shade like an ocean warmed from the morning sun,
after low-flying clouds have burned completely through.

Reflections from our long walk down 4th Ave flicker and flare.
They are housed around details told as stories
we shared about resisting our familiarities.

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.

memoir

Sioux Falls, SD Dec11
Sioux Falls, SD Dec11

In a book that has nothing to do (at least not in an obvious way) with Nietzsche, I learn that he believed “philosophers tend to write their memoirs in their theories.” That feels like a well-known secret, an existential tenet.

That’s probably why I write about light so much. The sharpness of every one of those mornings when I realized I survived. I was alive. My breath my own. And rhythms. The way give and take should be an invitation. And the different shades within sadness. Understanding how much we had to absorb to get to the point of saturation. And the violence around silence.

Sept 26, 2104 6:55pm
Sept 26, 2104 6:55pm

There’s so much to tell you which is another way to say: vulnerability. Have you thought about how the intimate architecture of being out of body serves a purpose and the faith it takes to manifest this into pleasure? Why failures can quickly become ways to feel safe? I want to ask questions that lead to answers, or at the very least have a chance to form structure to a conversation.

In the end, this is simply a way to theorize this week’s memories into something concrete, into something I want to remember. I want nothing left but the details of how deliberately the sun slipped behind the ocean horizon and how the blue darkness now holds all my wishes.

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.

dispatch no. 359

Oakland 2013
Oakland 2013

As the sun sets California Orange, I am grateful for the Post Office. This is a dispatch so I will keep it short. I wanted to say the only difference between elegy and eulogy was the degree of reflection. Also, I learned that I should ask more questions before saying yes; the word agamy is an apt descriptor for me; and setting plans in motion is its own thrill.

blue above, blue below

“the body breaks, your needs consume you forever” – “Else”  Built to Spill

Sam Francis, Untitled (Marko's Rain) April14
Sam Francis, Untitled (Marko’s Rain) Hirshhorn, DC April14

we were slow to feel spring’s arrival
catalogs of ideas laid fallow
buried beneath quiet desires
soft as breath resisting exhalation
easy as misinterpreting epoch for epic

just last week the sidewalk read:
this is the point I lost all hope
only to be rubbed away days later
absorbed into our patterns as unchecked tension
doubts deep as distance begets neglect

lost in our own understanding
of wanting nothing
except to fix these regrets
after seeing how strong resistance can get
enduring over and over again

finding instead all those ways we feel unafraid
how gestures become routines
pleasure as a way of practice
reflections of asking: more
wanting that space between witness and memory

finding the pace of rest

My horoscope told me to “travel somewhere far enough that the air smells new.”

North Bend, WA 2014
North Bend, WA March14

Which is what I did last week –

North Bend, WA 2014 (selfie)
selfie at North Bend, WA March14

there was also “travel somewhere far enough that the light feels soft”

DMV$EL Oakland March14
DMV$EL Oakland March14

which was where I am now.

Adieu Oakland March14
Adieu Oakland March14

sexual politics

a psychology of place
the most traditional pride we have
imagine policies centered within body sovereignty
what we desire is liberation

battles rage at the community level
common ground can be found between neighbors
structural violence is a domestic issue
what we desire is love

take my hand
it will tell you
everything you want to know
what we desire is more

holy accord

The blood drops formed a heart on the park bench. It was a sign to take risks.

Oakland, Autumn12
Oakland, Autumn12

We recorded a 4-track EP in the just vacated bedroom
a sweltering Ohio afternoon where rhythm and breath
became an archive of calculated structures –
bridges that spanned across bruised childhoods
finding similarity that escalated our emerging independence

Years later as the electric bus hummed
snapped
buzzed
then quietly accelerated
its fading noise triggered new ways to say the same thing:
foggy windows a result of leaving warm beds
spread legs transitioning from suffering to kindness

These quiet disambiguations of faith
and its partner optimism
underscore an intimacy that needs a chorus
and a choir of communion

love

artist: Michal Chelbin
artist: Michal Chelbin

There’s so much going on and still the government sleeps.
America’s culture is the world’s expert
in finding innovative ways to not treat each other kindly.

I am saturated.

This time it is different. I know what it means when stakes are raised.
I want to break through this meta narrative and ask you a question.
Do you know what love is?

I do.

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

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.

hot spring nights

california sunset
california sunset: as seen through a bathroom window (May13)

If I told you there are members of our society
who want to regulate menstruation,
will you finally see their strategies of brutality?

Hot spring nights remind me of
places where towns have edges.
All of us carry desire and violence.

Eyes like mouths, wanting:
dirty pillows, tight skirts, faceless crowds;
negatives transformed into positives.

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.