graceful omens

America in time of war (September 11, 2018, Mission District, San Francisco)

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

no lightning, no danger

ocean : prairie (photo by edwardatlee)

a series of lines / unbroken
as promises they hold their value

remind me, again, what constitutes forgiveness
fairness                     and faith
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

sounds between notes

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


N Ocean Beach, July 20, 2018

As waves of morning light
survive extravagant centuries
I follow a thread of words
primary   gravity   safety
broken just enough to fit in

august is a glitch

my jaw has been clenched shut for three days
in a trance, I wait

Nathaniel Evans, 2015, A Message [oil on canvas]
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

false urgency

Julio Larraz (Cuban, b. 1944), The Fourth Amendment, 2014. Oil on canvas.

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
uninterrupted       extraordinary
repeat until you believe

radical ellipses

what survives in me
i still suspect.
–Sonia Sanchez, “Fragment 1”

Thanksgiving 2007, Seattle, WA

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

Christmas 2003, Mobridge, SD

I found an aesthetic: beg
more of a grasp than a hold
& I define how tight

Halloween 2017, Berlin

shattered pieces create the best whole
naked sounds vibrate the loudest
most thoughts end

no false modesty

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.

***   ***   ***

Oscar Bluemner, Sunset of the St. Lawrence

***   ***   ***

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.

bleeding around existence

We’ll let you guys prophesy
We gon’ see the future first
— Frank Ocean, Nikes

artist: Maurizio Cattelan

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


august 2008

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.

Russian gossip

We ignore the narrator by only focusing on the frame.

Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, “The Promises Were So Sweet,” digital print on poly satin, 2010, Great Plains Art Museum Permanent Collection.
Hulleah J. Tsinhnahjinnie, “The Promises Were So Sweet,” digital print on poly satin, 2010, Great Plains Art Museum Permanent Collection.

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.

Seattle (2008)
Seattle (2008)

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.


San Francisco 2011 (photo by Eric)
San Francisco 2011 (photo by Eric)
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.

cut on the bias

adipocere, hand embroidery on natural linen
adipocere, hand embroidery on natural linen

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

I must (screen capture by Atlee)
I must (screen capture by Atlee)

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.

Port Angeles, WA 2007
Port Angeles, WA 2007

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.

Florence, Italy 2008
Florence, Italy 2008

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?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself,
beloved on the earth.

–Raymond Carver, Late Fragment

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

tiger dreams

ocean beach Dec15
ocean beach Dec15

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

erotic plasticity

behave_Elizabeth Isley
Behave_Elizabeth Isley

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

follow the signal underneath the noise

All my dreams have wound around need.

Nov 22, 2015
Nov 22, 2015

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.

pleasure triggers

“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

Trotsky and I_Nov11
Trotsky and I_Nov11

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

quiet hearts

Berlin Aug14
Berlin Aug14
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.

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.


She told me she cut her hair short:
she “didn’t want to look corporate”
like me.
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
blinking, random


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

July 4, 2013 (Oakland)
July 4, 2013, Oakland (photo by Atlee)

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.



April 11, 2007 Port Angeles, WA
April 11, 2007
Port Angeles, WA


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.

Richmond, CA Aug15


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.


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

mind sweeping

Anniversaries happen every day.
Be careful or they will accumulate and sneak up on you.

come on baby Dec14
come on baby Dec14

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.”

Marina Abramovic & Ulay, Breathing in - Breathing out, 1977
Marina Abramovic & Ulay, Breathing in – Breathing out, 1977




Oakland 2013
Oakland 2013

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.

Oakland 2013


Divining Gloves by Ako Castuera
Divining Gloves by Ako Castuera

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.

nothing left out

sunset SFO June14
sunset SFO June14


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.

following the wrong god home we may miss our star

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

im alltag*

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”

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

no one wins domestic wars

Oakland Jan14

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.

Oakland, Jan14


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

San Francisco Aug12
San Francisco Aug12

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

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



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

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

Oakland Oct13
Oakland Oct13

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
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

respond and resolve

“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

selfie, Aug13
selfie, Aug13
Exeter, NH Aug13
Exeter, NH Aug13

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.


artist: alfredo piola, atlas
artist: alfredo piola, atlas

Her fingertips graze the sides of buildings
quiet marks claiming her territory
suggestions of boundaries
constricted territories
a pathology

There is a series of memories filed under trust
under the general category of vulnerability
ways of being
active manifestations
an embodiment

Like water is to wine, it takes faith to expand
beyond perceived limits and social protocols
enduring epiphanic baptisms
charting margins
my testimony


Oakland, 2012
Oakland, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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.