“Push button to stop the train”
her wide open as the sky tattoo
following clouds shaped exactly like breaking waves
“Push button to stop the train”
her wide open as the sky tattoo
following clouds shaped exactly like breaking waves
The sky is mute.
My palms soft.
The future broke.
Your hands found me wanting.
Shared recognition creates intimacy
when the public body is an impulse.
Wild as blessings, and just as sacred,
I come wide, spread open.
Living a literal life
is an obedient life.
My feed is deepfake informative
so I reduce truth to metaphor.
Wandering ribs is a radical referent.
We’ve been promised what does not exist.
Birds bob and sway
above the frothy noise.
This may be the exact amount of now that I can continuously absorb.
deposits of memories make a body
or a pulpit
Despondence, according to plan, is a fevered imagination.
should I revise, again
or stay as is
After all, even light has its own form of pollution.
if attention is the beginning of devotion
then acknowledgement of witness is where I will begin
from street level view, I am an island
a butterfly, hummingbird, & a dragonfly
float through smells of rotting oranges
jump cuts of urban landscapes
in complimentary opposition
the people bartered & exchanged energy
an elegant observation of intimacy
cleaving to an aesthetics of division
loyal to self & other
in chorus, our mutual true horizons were laid visible
quote is Mary Oliver from Upstream: Selected Essays
a series of lines / unbroken
as promises they hold their value
remind me, again, what constitutes forgiveness
where hypocrisy fits in context to perfectionism
in a universe of endlessly revised incarnations
most mornings I stare out the kitchen window
wishing I was moving at the speed of a morning commute
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
my jaw has been clenched shut for three days
in a trance, I wait
sounds of skateboards grinding concrete float
common as the sun rising above distant freeways
this is a scene framed by palm tree ascensions
bus stops concentrate waiting strangers
wanting lives that respond versus react
a wish more violent than fading starlight
fear-riddled dreams are an intuitive compass
the future is bigger than we can ever pretend
metaphors swell as waves of silent witnesses scroll
in transit, temporary, I thrash
we practice small-scale empire building
our bodies conduits of conquest and currency
there is an untouchable light
when reflections of past experiences
pull from distance and probable cause
no longer placid as orthodox perceptions
our over-reliance becomes reflex
we just assume mornings start new
repeat until you believe
what survives in me
i still suspect.
–Sonia Sanchez, “Fragment 1”
time signatures bridge memories spread wide, open as my early childhood landscapes
we moved most often when work got too hard or you simply wanted a change of scenery
self-destruction a competitive pursuit, or why my syntax lacks a particular kind of self-love
I found an aesthetic: beg
more of a grasp than a hold
& I define how tight
shattered pieces create the best whole
naked sounds vibrate the loudest
most thoughts end
drawn from the month of August 2017: the dramas of poetry
Internal struggles are creative escape. A quiet move to form a space where survival is shown joyful. Today this emanates as imagination externalized into poetry, an archaic organizing structure. I find active comfort in writing. A motion that has desperation as its wings. I write because it feels good. Not from a place of fear, but from a deep place of longing that has expansive connections. I write because I love.
I could try to name all the details, get them just so, while also aligning them to a truth I’ve silently cultivated. Yet dear reader you will bring yourself, whole and fractured, to my exposed interpretations. When I write about light, darkness, or a combination (such as stars) I may try to steer you in a direction that makes sense – to me – but you will pull yourself along freely, or not. All I know is how much you desire days that open themselves.
I believe that kind of desired stillness can be found in a “good” poem. A temporary place of collaborative movement where desire meets an experience that shows effort.
I witnessed the sea lion lay still and bloated. A murder of crows took fur and the wettest pieces of its eyes. Obscenely exposed, tender in its inability to no longer defend itself from harm, there was both stillness and flurry of excavation to what the crows found most useful.
The truth from that image is not mine to tell. My privilege as a writer is to show. May I be so fortunate to connect you dear reader on another experiential plane. Not forcing but gently holding together a moment of stillness, an honoring. And I may tell you one thing as I adeptly show another disparate possession. That gap is not mine to control. I owe myself only the structure and integrity around the truth of this moment.
I evolve. I decompose. I exist here.
*** *** ***
*** *** ***
curated from the near past: self-immolation
Fixing fences is a full-time job and a hard way to make a living.
Those edges forming a territory where scarcity implies there is something to want.
It is not absence or loss. There is a lack that is wide, open and expansive.
This lineage has been stored as power taken –
a binding agent of trauma and songs shared in darkness.
Fear becomes us like the secret textures of a thousand trees.
If it’s true that perfection is a scarcity never to be fully actualized
my life was first performed where sin delighted to now wanting love when wrong.
This claiming is mine and its purpose is to make meaning.
The train moved at a pace to witness private glimpses of backyards.
As this specific story unfolds, I wait for retrograde dreams.
This is a collectively sourced confession.
We’ll let you guys prophesy
We gon’ see the future first
— Frank Ocean, Nikes
our houses red-tagged fragile
a state of taking up too much space
an absurd strangled feeling
broken into atomic structures
we forget the stars survive above
business owned is personal
witness morning’s stillness
how the days pull forward
swallowing quiet movement
what weeping hearts we have
always moving like the ocean
a perpetual reclaiming
use gravity to resist
soft tension its own function
an opening, a fulcrum
expansive horizons essential
unraveling tragedy into inspiration
slowly peeling oranges on a Sunday morning
relax into that knowledge
wrap yourself into me
a dreamers life
sunsets are starting to look Pacific coast again
pink light lengthening its reach
as clouds become incarnations of stampeding horses
(apocalyptic if that is your orientation)
the crown of flowers was her own creation
made from remnants of first-date napkins
forming a graceful relationship to reciprocity
those echoes found delayed in repressed rhythms
where she returns to these kinds of questions
as murmurations as stimulations as exchanges
(our intimacies measured by exhale)
she dreamt in currency, in time
scaling up as undoing: euphoric
this consecration mine and yours
News cycles are dominated by Russian dramas.
No one mentions rape in context anymore.
We’ve taken solace by decoding mass rhetoric.
I can imagine you beautiful and calm.
Our wandering like scrolling.
This landscape so literal.
Receipts as evidence as expressions.
Fisted conclusions neglect.
A rote search for light in darkness.
Time stretches into manufactured units.
By heart standards, this feels eternal.
Populist hyperbole interpreted as desire feels
Some argue identity is residual.
You know it by its attributes.
These compulsory dreams are viral transfers.
Motives unmoored as debts to consent bloom.
Layered political pontifications soothe like lullabies.
I dare you to find love in this absence.
Liberation aside, how does this make you feel?
Inductive reasoning seduces. It penetrates.
Yes, this conversation is a calculated intermission.
Wait. This is my understanding of your manipulations.
A respite of obviousness – of borders unarmed.
Let us, both, reductively fade into this capture.
We ignore the narrator by only focusing on the frame.
The city moves, bends, and swallows.
An act of congress, a coming together.
He presented himself to me. I kissed, gently,
his upper thigh. Curated outfits, a collection of pants
and blouses, roll past me. Lunches bounce inside bags.
I keep writing to feel around the noise. Reinvested
memories, commitments, and occasional flashes of violence.
Internalized scandals are my own reputation to manage.
The train was crowded. No one could complain
about unwanted touching. I imagined her hand
moving slowly, without detection, up and between
my legs. Her fingers, warm and steady, found
their destination. Leaving behind permanent
invisible notes, secrets scrawled on the inside.
Messages shared as rumors as indisputable
associations like light shining through solid objects.
Make me laugh so I can stop breathing in this sadness.
There is suspicion around all this effort. Parcel out the doses.
Not all poems are meant to be serious, or anything at all.
The ocean is self-conscious in that healthy enlightened way.
Gratitude notwithstanding how this will unfold is mine to own.
Each admittance a proxy for loving so deeply.
Frames are other’s dramatic interpretations.
Never forget water dissolves rock and values aren’t talking points.
Your subjective reputation precedes you, so does your community.
Create your own triplines. Let go of tipping points. Launch reflexive debates.
Send shock waves of radical thoughts, mythologize perversions, and make hope relentless.
Narrate yourself beyond binaries. Imagine yourself unbought.
This suite of dreams found the deeply conscious.
Formerly languished tertiary emotions unfolded
into a familiar and comforting serial thriller.
Absorbed as volition, rapid moving transformations,
these dreamy stories have been thick with meaning
personified by you, his posture, and breathless repetition.
Looping back to vorfreude, I weave my own meaning.
At climax, I am literally haunted in mind and body.
Multi-sourced sensations are now hardwired connections.
It is there, that specific detail, translation finds traction.
The earth shook itself awake this morning.
With a low-key grumble and heavy embodied motion
our unnested Russian cat dolls fell, one by one.
The unnerved mountains had no comment.
We took a collective breath as clouds lined up like teeth
and moved gently to memorialize our survival.
As witness to the sublime, we occupied time.
Santayana, the philosopher, said history is nothing but recorded dreams.
The poet Stafford said divine is more of a claim.
Those stanzas are now trending.
There is a way to be in this world and this must be it.
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
The day starts with blessings, with sacred reminders of what I know and why.
I’m grateful for the person who tagged “gender fucked” on the border of east and west bay.
This form of witness bears repeating.
I start packs on Sunday, bleed on Tuesday, and plan for French Fridays.
There are four core love asteroids: Amor, Eros, Psyche, and Juno, also the queen of Heaven.
There’s a desire to write from a place of softness, from sentimentality.
To record; to repair.
Make visible; resolve.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself,
beloved on the earth.
–Raymond Carver, Late Fragment
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
aspirations of distillations
the clouds reflected their own rapture
in cycle omens
impact a function of proportion to intent
mountain passes carve telluric love notes
as ecumenical bridges span our heartaches
that morning the eclipse darkened light
the back of the truck carried bright yellow fans
spinning like lemon slices
An embroidered pillow littered the interstate
along with an unpartnered shoe and other items
mostly unseen like kisses blown into ocean currents
(small reminders dividing our morning gaze)
I am worth showing up for
bound by all those quiet erasures
pulling towards shame in order to remain prone
a worship of sorts, a ritual formed from survival
a lous péché miséricorde
an intimate maxim linking mercy to sin
suppressing repressed domination > perceived value
as artificial as the light and politics we are surrounded in
All my dreams have wound around need.
This time of year the radiator sings at night. The gray mornings are carbon copies of Cleveland’s skies. Those years full of bravado that only darkness holds or youth demands. To the east, the pastel light spins out into easter yellows, baby blues, and softened ripe peaches.
I watched him dip his boots into the fountain, one at a time, muddied from the urban forest he was paid to curate.
When we talk about the work be explicit.
Do you care
We all have somewhere to be
someone to hold (ourselves mostly)
accountable for what happens today.
ersatz lace and ruffles
the waves embraced me
* Hard to Find by American Analog Set
“show me how to love and I’ll show you how to beg”
– Lullaby for the Working Class
anthologies of thought curated by universal themes:
resiliency, worthiness, credence
move from punishment to acceptance
towards complexity or, if fortunate, erasure
say yes when you beg
when you solicit
open inward (like a prism)
intimately filled with your effort
Technically speaking, reflections cannot absorb.
We are even in that regard.
Some memories start with an act of god.
They have become sacred.
How graceful we can be with that nostalgia.
Lest we forget our worth depends on it.
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.
She told me she cut her hair short:
she “didn’t want to look corporate”
I faced west.
You laughed softly
off to the side
watching me embrace myself.
think of nothing
other than silence
in the city that knows only how to challenge
rotate at your own pace:
the rhythm of an anxious heart
every weekday morning
we follow each other’s red lights
and stupid stuff it makes us shout
oh dance with me oh don’t be shy
oh kiss me cunt and kiss me cock
oh kiss the world oh kiss the sky
— Pixies U-Mass
The Pope sold out Madison Square Garden this week.
It was spectacle, indoctrination by hypocrisy.
Earlier, his message of misogyny delivered to a divided body politic.
Our rituals are to find each other
to worship sacred altars
at those soft edges of mercy.
The body twists, inertia its own reward.
It’s more exciting
when you believe
there is no purpose in life.
Nothing destined; nothing gained.
I like words that can be soft
like peach preserves
saved for cold winter mornings
over hot buttered toast.
Words that mend hearts.
It was the way you disappeared. There was a strategy to it.
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.
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.
Anniversaries happen every day.
Be careful or they will accumulate and sneak up on you.
There is a seriousness in being misunderstood. Last week, the public radio station reported on our “confidence crisis.” Nobody trusts the government or banks anymore. I think we were supposed to be alarmed. Another story attempted to convince us that moving tar sands oil is “safer” through pipelines than by railways, while acknowledging all the recent catastrophic train accidents in one breath. This was propaganda, an advertisement.
The heart quickens when analogies are spun out into oblivion. As true as as a bitter cold wind can freeze lungs, the time spent open, prone, authentic is time spent joyously. Believing in miracles once in awhile, mapping out the pace between moments, followed by memories, and finally settling into a pattern is a good life to live.
Yet we are taught when there is space to take up, do, and where there is profit to be made, make.
Those in power demanded dark blue tile with a million gold specks; 14k gold stolen from the Sierra Nevada goldfields.
To be scalable is to be flexible.
Wedding rings hang outside car windows left open to let in the warm winter breeze. Expositions of racism flare, burn, and spread. Secrets, held between breaths, were left behind in paid rooms. Stories about love and risk and reward are threads. As William Stafford ends The Way It Is, “You don’t ever let go of the thread.”
Sloping power lines dance above me as the train emerges from the tunnel. I follow them. We race across the flat industrial landscape that ebbs and flows according to the cheap demands of consumers. Wires bend and sway to impress passengers whose eyes adjust to the glare of the setting sun, a palette of light stretching from peachy pinks, transparent blues, and burnt oranges. I listen for that moment when we all take a breath, a collective reminder of where we just came from. Our cadence influenced by a retrograde perspective, a point of view that manipulates distance. Even the trees, with their fading leaves and tender roots, know this isn’t enough.
There must be more. Surely we can look for opportunities to eat cake with our coffee; search for an afternoon to visit the ocean and stay until the last light disappears; discover different angles to reveal new patterns; listen for rhythms that break hearts so we can be rendered tough enough; restore a belief in a future that can both afford to make mistakes and is strong enough to allow for change. These delicate moments of revelation, quiet and embodied, should be stored in bulk and kept tucked behind corners waiting to be shared, especially when the light feels heavy.
When so much is in front of you, the only way out is up.
Burst of orange bombs shatter the tranquil skyline
was the only thing I could think of last week
to describe the sunrise over the Financial District
after traveling three years across the East Bay Bridge
a witness to its new construction and now its destruction.
I wish I knew how to say good-bye to you was a way
to compartmentalize desire after watching a worker
steal bites of their lunch for breakfast. Always realizing,
or is it remembering, that these feelings are not new.
Wedged between these thoughts, the radio told me the Swiss
had bought the leading producer of the heartland’s chocolate
in between stories of Syria, Iraq, and economic forecasts.
A confession of a shocked customer revealing they weren’t
going to stop their daily routine no matter who owned production.
These truths are a way to understand how gravity influences
our daily lives, a routine showing progress and distance.
I don’t want to alarm you.
The house is empty and without running water.
An escape tunnel is being built,
a series of connection points.
We will live underground again.
The shawl looked forlorn;
socks draped over the freeway fence.
Morning commuters wove patterns
inside lanes designed to maximize tension
lulling casual passengers to the hum
of wheels hitting mile markers.
He said, “You need to put your breath behind it”
as she told a story about a place in New Mexico that contains light
found between the spikes of cacti and rotations of tumbleweeds
hues of yellow, orange, and blue if you knew how to look for it.
Keep your words soft and sweet in case you have to eat them. – Amish proverb
We are tired; it is June. We are at the midpoint of a rogue year. As I rest, I am forming a plan. This plan is just beyond my horizon, like those childhood summer storms we saw coming days in advance and were the most talked about event weeks after they blew past us. Those summer storms a result of collisions, of mixing extremes, of letting go. Perfectly orchestrated chaotic conditions that result in epic reverence, a beauty best experienced first hand. These are the kinds of moments I’ve been hoarding as the day’s light provides sustained warmth and has exposed vulnerable possibility. It’s a ritual, a strategy bent towards inspiration with hopes of reinvention.
title credit: line from A Ritual To Read Each Other by William Stafford
this time of year
the graffiti changes
curves are softer
shadows more gentle
every line an opening
to center our attention
*German for “in everyday life”
My horoscope told me to “travel somewhere far enough that the air smells new.”
Which is what I did last week –
there was also “travel somewhere far enough that the light feels soft”
which was where I am now.
His words struck softly against my skin,
This is where I took the architect.
After being dropped off at the top of the hill,
I tasted metal as his grey truck accelerated back to his real life.
When I got home, you danced for me
after presenting a 15-week plan for our future;
I noticed there was no time scheduled for compromises.
This is when I knew I had found the good side of a habit.
After reading your poem, written the moment when I asked him for his middle name,
I cried. I remembered that day the elevator stopped working and how long it was broken.
Beneath these domestic ceremonies,
minivans crush dry leaves into the dust we wipe off our TV.
It is cold enough to see breath.
Predictions of an epic winter storm never materialized.
I should have known better; California you are a master of hype and fantasy.
The visual meditative state of witnessing exhalation suspends guilt
and reflects action.
Traditionally, this form of indulgence is transitory
for this purpose it feels good to think that transgressions can be forgiven.
In a darkness that only winter can afford, I took a new bus route home.
A route born from too many walks home alone
knowing $2.10 was the price to suspend the need to control, a different kind of letting go.
Transported past houses with illuminated front rooms
I internalized why deserve is a word that triggers so many strong memories.
These desperate opportunities of wanting more are not a crime
yet I hold them like a criminal.
Is the tipping point when the perfume on the back of your neck smells familiar to me?
Muscle memory contains the same difference between perceiving versus seeing.
The pornographer demands uncompromising attention to detail;
we should all be so aspirational.
“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
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.
The blood drops formed a heart on the park bench. It was a sign to take risks.
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
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
“I’m never sure if I have gender dysphoria or species dysphoria.”
– Pat Califia, “Identity Sedition and Pornography”
Pomosexuals: Challenging Assumptions about Gender and Sexuality
She asked me if you needed to be a member of this club. The underground room, painted a menacing lavender color, swelled with embellished somatic complaints and measured breathing. I said ” we can make our own” as she looked past me and walked away. On the way home I wrote: it’s subversive to write down your thoughts; they rob god of his agency.
This is a fire sale. Everything must go.
I thought of an intro that went something like this: I wanted their hand inside me. This was before I heard that they asked you what you like to do on Sundays. This story has no gendered subject which makes some literally nervous, like hushed admissions or overemphasizing for dramatic emphasis.
I want to ask you to imagine what it feels like when every choice you make is conscious.