I’ve realized I have seen more Passion Plays than I knew. I come back, here, again. Today is another dispossessed day. News forms around emotions. I stopped believing in Saviors a long time ago. The ending is predictable. From above and from below, inside and out, this internalized desire for external validation starts feeling like an intentional defense. In 1971, James Baldwin said something will rest something will remain. Retraction survives in all this chatter. Context protecting accusers are familiar to me. I learned that language at home and in school. Resale is always at a premium. Redo. Undo. Redo again. Coffee and tiger’s eye stone, water, land and sky meet angled. This, now, is the everything I’ve ever wanted.
“Know that you are prior to the first day you witnessed.” —Nisargadatta Maharaj
Audre Lorde was light years ahead when she said our visions begin with our desires. These fragments glitter. I integrate language queerly. This seriousness is earned as the contemporary moves at the speed of drones.
Some still apply ancient alien theories to the present.
I want off this boring ride.
cache culture is a collection of intimacy and a consecration of infinite justifications. My Sunday best. I source symbolic actions because they structure the silences I see between each chosen word. I am an active witness.
Finding the shape of darkness, I rejoice. That means light is at the edges.
I don’t swim away from
the greedy snapping of breath,
but my throat…well,
terror owns each kiss.
stanza from “Here” by Amber Flora Thomas
As waves of morning light
survive extravagant centuries
I follow a thread of words
primary gravity safety
broken just enough to fit in
Thursday was a broken conversation.
My voice silent as the air around me.
Buried and born again,
I made the day useful to me.
Friday was open secrets.
My voice tuned the melody of a cable car.
Found ideas inside words,
I made the day useful to me.
Saturday was repetition of witnessing.
My voice cracked open at its spine.
I made the day useful to me.
Tomorrow will absorb sounds
of irresistible landscapes
each graceful expression
making the day useful to me.
I. spam is a language and a strategy
II. our hearts are rabbit holes
I. interstates *need* mirrored billboards
Inflections reflect emphasis, and opening and closings. Some days I think being ___ is the best way to survive. An existence spread. That feels aspirational in vision and phonetically embodied. A form of capacity. Or dispossession. A bridge as much as a boundary.
our stories rush towards truth
details sharpened into mouthfeel
violence ritualized as cadence
ancient patterns worn thin like contempt
or: how we are all subject to trafficked ideas
still — even skies can break down, softly
our distance to attention is a deceptive magic
you learn clarity prefers to love with purpose
this seduction a result of (re)producing evocations
curation guards to protect what others bury
a claim to territory disassociated and devoured
persuasion is found wedged within such righteous exclamations
our daily interruptions have turned personal
yes, it is profitable to reproduce moods
softly familiar to the saturation point of haunting
The best training is to read and write, no matter what. Don’t lie with a lover or roommate who doesn’t respect your work. Don’t lie, buy time, borrow to buy time. Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write. — Grace Paley
the distance between desire and longing
is roughly equidistant from rest to action
an example of survival often mistaken for apathy
she sewed buttons into her hair
a dramatic effect predicated on a mastery
of threading security into her technique
as we battle for restoration
peered juries declare in tandem
forcing over-reliance on pardons
such concealment illuminates justice
that eclipse is yours to influence
subtle benedictions common as moon rises
If you are a private poet, then your vocabulary is limited by your obsessions.
— Richard Hugo, The Triggering Town
It’s a fact. Cycles sync. It is October, 2016. The word pussy is in our mouths again. Full and heavy bodied, it’s paired with a specific violence as naturalized as an inherited ownership tone. This is the fetishized frequency of law and order.
*** you’ve got to stack it so it’s stable – Low, No Comprende ***
So this is what whiplash from a mass capture of imagination feels like. A forced common image. Pussy, for now, functions as an ironic partisan anchor, while still maintaining its gendered significations.
What is the whole of this historical objectification of our parts? Patriarchal logic argues that this violence of disassociation is necessary and even desired. This detachment is inherent in our economic theories, consumer-based language, and mass-produced representations.
We learn, repeatedly, there are far more serious and urgent issues to concern ourselves with than ritualized gender-based violence. We are dismissed. We are told to question less and obey more.
*** underneath this hood you kiss, I tick like bomb – Perfume Genius, Hood ***
We perform this idealized creed through a perpetual liturgy of demure expressions in a culture that protects mobs of high-volume denials. This contemporary shrill masculinity is socially recycled into discourses that tap into an idolization of individual perspective. For most, this illusion only creates isolation.
Manipulating the dark side of vulnerability isn’t a new strategy to win elections, or maintain control. What feels different this Presidential election cycle is the dredge of cultural material to mine and the hypervoyeurism that has been produced. Public and private boundaries are as unstable as our contemporary understanding of when virtual becomes reality.
As we bare witness to the misogyny that rages beneath all our sacred institutions, may the soundtrack to this ride to November include Magnet by Bikini Kill.
I’m keeping this advice on a loop: I’ve got the love that’s strong and not weak.
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
waiting to burst
low-flying clouds hang
this city visualizes virtually
while dreams bloom in analog
our breath is always moving
the pace of trees bending to find light
confession is my way of speech
the faithful will recognize these signs
she asked me about grief // I thought about honor
“Art has to be disturbing.” Marina Abramović
He wrapped his hands around her throat and told her she was good.
This was their mutual understanding.
A feeling of being surrounded in pleasure, an abstraction.
A chorus bleeding into verse, chorus, and back to verse.
Then, and now, a reminder that metaphors are not to be taken literally.
My mouth went numb from atrophy.
When prompted, not quite coerced,
revelations of agency were produced.
Or maybe this could all be about the light or a phrase turned into image –
Camile Paglia is a seductive writer. She also is very aware that she’s entitled to her opinion.
Camille Paglia Takes on Taylor Swift, Hollywood’s #GirlSquad Culture is a slope of cascading arguments. She urges a broad demographic of “women in Hollywood” to “aim higher and transcend a narrow gender factionalism that thrives on grievance.” Paglia does this by reminding us of the past is a way to demand better of the future.
She maps “squad” as a term and concept to 90s hip-hop culture.
Arriving at a boundary of solidarity, she challenges the reader to not be tricked into defaming masculinity. She connects masculinity to strategies that have avoided “sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.” Is this what being a man feels like?
It’s an interesting charge for us to study the “immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history,” which assumes male bonding has been productive and that production has been positive. This is where her contradictory ahistorical argument wanders into abstract proposition.
Yet Paglia’s scolding tone is enticing and visionary. “For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts.” Let us be blessed and count our fortune to be in a squad that is “about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects.”
What is driving this iteration of the gender wars propensity to want to thrive on grievance? Is it the emotionalism or the sexual jealousy that Pagila names?
Connection, collaboration, and bonding (which requires affection and trust in order to be safe and healthy) are the inherent politics of any community-oriented experience, regardless of gender assignments. It is a shame those practices have accumulated such heavy and fractured gendered prescriptions.
Kept in the Hollywood gaze, as Pagila has strategically framed, the reader is reminded, as consumers of said culture, that supporting girl squads can be a way towards “expanding female power in Hollywood.” Let’s hope that power doesn’t replicate the same product as the boys.
unravelling builds strength
misogynist men keep wives to seed the next generation
we is first person plural
as a twin, this feels political and personal
oh haven of somatic resilience
what if lust is a reaction of little understood consequences?
we are our own private property – B
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.
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.
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.
Are you the aggressive one? The one I ask for?
I never finished bell hooks book about love.
The body speaks. A language born of vigilance.
An effort that does not deviate. In the same way
cyclical is about more than repetition and less
becomes obvious. Those times when scarcity
is a luxury of desire (thought) or when home
is opposite of feeling (being) love. Seasons nested
between gaps of wants, things you don’t need,
taking without realizing its cost.
What is left behind in this wake?
A free fall. A slow fade. A disclosure.
What is it that makes us different?
Tracing boundaries of shared recognition.
I read the words “indulgence in loss” after absorbing the previous passage “and that kind of indulgence is understandable, but it’s regressive.” Regressive had been defined as, “when you celebrate something you know you’re going to leave.” (William Stafford interview)
Haunting thoughts dance between those words – a performance perfected through practice.
William Stafford notes what a person is shows up in what a person does.
Those habits are manifestations.
No longer abstractions, unable to able to hold my breath, I surrender.
“Because there’s 40 different shades of black…” Pavement Elevate Me Later
I promise to hold your gaze, even those that are unwanted.
Or the erotic retelling of my life as told through your eyes.
It is the specifics that matter when we confess. Some may believe that is enough. The confession is the means to the end. But what would happen if we thought of that release as the beginning?
Until that expositional moment, those words, thoughts, opinions are internalized truths that are ours alone to own and to hold. Now they are all of ours to absorb, to manage, to learn from, and to let go to make room for what we do not yet know.
Please forgive me. I did what I was told to do. I was bound to pick up bad habits after all those hours of witnessing evangelizing and attempts at redemption.
I was taught over and over again, no matter what I did, I was never going to be good enough. I was taught my body was not mine and out of my control. I am just now understanding how much obvious violence, subtle and insidious, is needed to give your soul away.
There is a primacy in this ritual of naming, recording, and distilling into something that only I understand. I won’t be so naive to think that a mirror’s only job is to reflect.
Geographies contain multipliers.
They are containers of dreams,
a space for visions.
It’s where we found and honed our instincts.
“I make certain that my head is connected to my body.” – Minutemen, It’s Expected I’m Gone
At one point in the evening the phrase “prone to invasion” slipped past your lips. It tumbled forward and danced around until I realized it was a reference to Poland, and then it meant something else entirely different. At least that’s the way I remember it. The way my body froze at the gendered implications of such a legacy so ordinary and so common there is no insurance to prevent it from happening. A form of dissipation found the moment when there is nothing to do but take the next breath. That kind of static state is familiar. It was the same sensation as when I recognized the end of the sermon was close because the preacher moved us towards righteousness and away from forgiveness.