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)

we live promised lives

June 2018

And then will come my turn toward considering the poem as a set of strategies.
— William Stafford, You Must Revise Your Life

My aesthetic genealogy is borrowed from a working poetics. A magpie practice of creative slanted interruptions. One of my favorite writing habits is to post on Sundays. Years ago I discovered this practice as a way to reclaim time lost to benign neglect and take back a day formerly dedicated to church services that framed ideal bodies as those willing to give up their souls.

Forgive this brief editorializing break. I’ve wandered to the edge of today’s subject.

It is safe to assume the forensics of great writers are investments in process.

For the last twelve and a half years, I have traced the shapes of memory — collective and personal — in this wide open space. I have anchored active examination into subtitled weekly posts. I curated evidence of expansion through parallel interpretations and feel for traction inside line breaks weighted by punctuation’s invitation to pause. I am aligned when tone reflects visual structure.

This time last year I was organizing myself to study Audre Lorde’s time in Berlin. Today I want to capture my emerging intention to study William Stafford this fall. The boundaries of this poetics inquiry are a promise to continue to carve out curious time. It is an extension of how conscious practice cleaves to the promise of honoring spirit. I aim to explore and investigate Stafford’s pacifist approaches — specifically conscientious objector — to writing poetry, his teaching methods of writing poetry, and his graceful rejection of competition.

Our days are urgent as parents wait for children to find them. Climate and change are conjoined into violent denials. Stafford practiced creative resistance strategies during WWII and the Vietnam War.

What might we borrow to alter our endangered lives?

speculative practice

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

T.S. Eliot, from ‘Preludes (IV)’, The Waste Land and Other Poems

Motonaga Sadamasa (Japanese, 1922-2011), Untitled, 1965. Oil and synthetic resin paint on canvas laid down on panel, 91.6 × 116.7 cm.

concerts of effort
sounds better inside a fragment
forgive that this starts out so slow
posting at me to me with me
I’m casual to realize
to follow that, your, our vision
is to be organized into spacial moments — threads
a witness of curation
the: father son and holy spirit

faith is within your standing
some think it is earned
as for me I was taught to be innocent
later learning curiosity had its own beneficiaries
a lesson on just how few original ideas are assigned majestic
fueling dark appreciations for wild abstractions
until it is as uncommon as creating reminders to breathe
I know this all sounds strange
you can call it: new wave vengeance

to transgress

Margrethe Mather, Billy Justema Wearing A Kimono, 1923

The past is a space of eternal occupation, a place to shout violent things and lust for an afterlife. The present is active and in transit. What was is now future. For today focus on the perceived differences of a winter sun, how dedication can become a shroud, and the way throats absorb sound. Traces of a map, a line to pursue. Such directional shifts define evolutions of time. As the ocean laps shorelines, patterns artificial as intelligence bind like curses. Our days flare dandelion sunlight.

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

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.

cracked

Christmas fell on a Sunday, as ordinary as on a Tuesday.
Wants were absence so we honored each other’s realizations.
A modern birth narrative.

Cleveland Dec05
Cleveland Dec05

Liturgy presupposes witness as its baseline function.

Transitions have made you partisan.

escape
escape

Dancing as walking.
Sidewalks are walls.
Stoplights are lamps.
Eating as warfare.
Bombs are poems.

We find comfort in staying warm and undefeated.

bow to the middle

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center. –Kurt Vonnegut

November16
“Last year. Last night. I’m tired. Let’s fight.” – Superchunk Yeah, It’s Beautiful Here Too

I was radicalized. Force-fed ancient beliefs. Required to center sin instead of self. Drank from an endless well of false promises – an afterlife.

Then I learned the sun holds all our light. Holy fact: sunsets are 8-minute delayed images of an absent sun. Divine visuals of calculated perspective.

Beg for satisfaction. Wring hands and gnash teeth. Look past stains of neglect. Ordain historical trauma as profit. Prick arousal.

One morning, after I left, I walked into buttery light. The City coated in its luminescence. Clouds billowed pink and shone unconsciously.

Acknowledge how ghosts bleed out.
Embellish for clarity’s sake.
Honor nothing but this subtle effort.

purpose

Los Angeles 2012
Los Angeles 2012

Summer, by academic and capitalist time, is over. The light, the light, the light shows phenomenal nominal change.

There are silences bestowed and silences unbecoming. We are taught we are broken: mind, body, spirit. This evangelical conservative belief that the future is not yours is an organized robbery of imagination and self-determination.

Conceptually, we must collectively conceive our own destinies.

die vorfreude

She called exactly four hours after the earth stopped moving. While we waited for contact, wave after wave, we sat. Through repetition and capture, we learned how to stay constantly aware. It was a lesson worn familiar as the day when I gave my soul away. An unbecoming strategy for some; survival for others.

Protecting misgivings and intentional reactions, we spent our days building machines that ran on unrequited syllabic utterances. Flip back, back track, forward leaning free verses flowed as patterns, as privileged misdemeanors. Our hearts grew to beat metaphorically.

After pausing to ask how the earth breathes under the weight of concrete, she said act like you’ve been here before. It was a coded reminder of our legacy. A collective fantasy replicated endlessly in anticipation for moments we never took the time to define. For some, wanting more is our purpose.

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

enough

“We need, each of us, to begin the awesome, difficult work of love: loving ourselves so that we become able to love others without fear so that we can become able enough to enlarge the circle of our trust and our common striving for a safe, sunny afternoon near to flowering trees and under a very blue sky.” – June Jordan

August 7, 2015
August 7, 2015
The truth?
I knew a long time ago.

I shouldn’t deny that I don’t practice conscious love. I do.
All those times when I said no.
All those times I said yes.
All those times worth was mine to know.

July 12, 2015 (photo by Atlee)
July 12, 2015 (photo by Atlee)
“Use the power of man. Use the word. Fuck. The word is love.” – Kim Gordon

over OK Feb16
over OK Feb16
Overhead, the backyards had pools and trampolines.
A land of only oxbow lakes.
A land where delayed gratification is a religion.
A land where there is no sympathy for the devil.

ceremony

Look how much you
love me. Little maps.
from Bruises by Leah Horlick

Berlin Aug14
Berlin Aug14

The clouds formed an amphitheater
over a city transformed, a super city.
Its atmosphere thick with performance
and domination within its own limits.
Listen to the bubble pop pop pop.

Queering our gratification
– delayed to a frothy anticipation –
is an economic ritual with historical reputations.
Golden greeds and lusts as deep
as the veins that financed this spectacle.

Ceremonies of repressed aggressions
baptisms unfurling (catch and release)
physical bodies manifesting, hands cupped,
entertainment as reward and pleasure.
A violence that feels good.

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.

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

center

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.

bleeding boundaries

there is a futility in capturing light
when all orbits have remained the same

SLT, CA May15
SLT, CA May15

form fitting
(grounded in our bodies)

watching their sway,
thigh gaps, strong arms,
weak eyes

sugar pine may15
sugar pine may15

the golden light was not yet warm
creating fog that caressed just the tips
of downtown, driving west, away from
the dismantled bridge
a vanishing mile marker

emerald bay may15
emerald bay may15

 returning to what we know
a team of horses, a blush of boys
all self-referential codes aside
revision is a type of prayer
a methodological desire for revival

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.

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.

pulpit

It’s not enough to believe.
How do we prove?
These exchanges
fleeting as tasting my faith on your lips
become testimony
evidence born from revelation:
bending, passing, and breaking
to fit inside what I know.
Speaking with a tongue of transgression
while learning to repress secrets,
a performance of submission,
tactics a result of hearing that
suffering yields eternal reward.

“It’s baked into the cake”

Today’s title is a reference to the fact that we all know Mitt Romney is a Mormon. The point being that we (ahem…liberals, progressives, nonbelievers, etc.) shall not question this part of Mitt’s identity lest we look intolerant towards another man’s beliefs. Put away your critical thinking hats people; this is a non-issue.

We do not want to mix church and state.

It’s a fascinating internecine contest. The fascist moralist’s position is precarious which is why they declaim so loudly, and so often. This political project, played out on a very public stage, is struggling to remain coherent as words like “polygamy” and “open marriage” are googled in the middle of the night in small midwestern towns – once closed minds swirling with possibility of alternatives. Oh heteronormativity, the depths of your ironic power seems limitless.

The recent Komen pink scab fiasco and their whine about not wanting “our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics” is another internecine conflict. The pink frosting of Komen’s “politics” has been well documented as saccharine. It is, after all, baked into the cake.

I will make myself really clear so that you do not wander in the darkness – the commodification of women’s bodies is the real politic. Komen’s philanthropy wrapped in counterfeit feminism was exposed and quickly sussed out for its deceit. That abortions could be associated with screening for breast cancer uncovered one truism: women’s health is still controversial. Let us hope that each time we see the ubiquitous pink, we question intent and ask the hard question of who continues to benefit from such commodification.

To quote Wild Flag, “I like the way you make me understand.”

Ford, Moms, and Gay Rights

The One Million Moms organization (a project of the American Family Association) has decided to suspend their boycott of Ford Motor Company for six months – in less than a week’s notice of announcing their latest threat on America’s moral fabric. They met with a group of Ford dealers on June 5th and decided that the dealers were making a “good faith effort” in addressing Ford’s support of homosexuality.

So go ahead and buy that Ford Explorer or the Super Duty Beast (their terminology, not mine).

No need to worry that Toby Keith’s, “Ford: King of the Mountain,” jingle is full of subliminal homosexual agendas. For now, America revels in the awesome boycotting power of a million angry moms.