Last year’s fire season wasn’t the first time
I took my breath for granted.
I had been choked before,
by father and daddy alike.
My body memorizes such feelings with appreciation.
This way of knowing a matrix, a structural ethic.
As fire’s light establishes rapidly diminishing distances,
tradition finds strength in time passing.
Our days are paced aggressive, a seasonal norm.
History is recorded furiously as language reflects
fractured frontlines. Be worried.
These western fires will reach you, soon.
I almost never buy in bulk, although I appreciate the expression of commitment. My lack of bulk desire is rooted in one of those childhoods funneled through scarcity politics, of all kinds: spirit, body, voice, resources, access, stimulation. My earliest taste of cultural politics were synthetic extractions grounded in epic narratives of fatherly protection. A practice endured through sacrifice.
There was a seduction to all that nurturing, an attention and encouragement to focus on one’s most intimate self—the soul. If followed correctly, there would be saving.
In all that repetitive redemption, there was a sense of safety—false as it was. I ache for those early feelings of learning about abundance. When the simple was profound, like the sound of snow falling.
These days are starting to feel retrograde, astrologically speaking an illusion. My dreams are looping, again. I’m taking all these memories, the bulk of them, and feeling nothing but an offering to grieve for what was taken, withheld, starved. An invitation of acceptance, a different kind of suffering.
“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
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 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
“But your pleasure understands mine.”
— Clarice Lispector, The Sharing Of Loaves
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
“The sun and the moon call out, as it were, and the oceans call back. The oceans aren’t passive listeners but partners in an energetic conversation – resonance – that ultimately accentuates or diminishes the tide.” — Jonathan White, Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean
“She’s keeping time with a mystery rhyme.” — Jesus and Mary Chain
I am still learning how to perform quick good-byes.
Never witness to a proper and graceful exit
during my formative years (too young to protest)
we were more often forced to be unreliable hostages.
My history is threaded into core tensions
twisted thick as exploiting hospitality
and deep as ignoring consent. We would wait
silently at the host’s kitchen table in our winter coats
hoping with the start of a new story
that time would naturally come to an end.
Those years I learned how to be quiet enough
holding my breath into
I want to crack open, carefully
pull out ghosts and obsolete angels
examine where sweetness gathers as illicit responses
and rush into and out of why feeling loved is dangerous.
[such a sky and such a sun
i never knew and neither did you
and everybody never breathed
quite so many kinds of yes]
— E.E. Cummings
We’ve come undone, cumulatively, in the same way that Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring warns. Ruled by misunderstandings, which is to say we are ruled by no one in particular, norms are large-scale projects of self-consciousness. It’s public infrastructure.
The ocean goes nowhere except to meet itself.
A private sensation, a mix of urging and friction.
Days bleed into opinion. It is not enough to simply be.
All this pressure to perform as heaven’s rewards remain on layaway.
I want to be inside that pejorative energy. Transposed survival.
Cut. Then paste. Seasons as witness to predictions that light seeks light.
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.
We gather inside and treasure light. We are enamored with the hues of soft pinks and peach oranges that have lengthened during this seasonal rotation. Yes, we do have an agenda, a way of being, of feeling seen.
While shadows form, for they provide their own value of shelter and comfort, we scout for interdependence. We want transformation not assimilation. Our politics disrupt, express, reconceptualize desire and power. It’s a decentered practice. A rebellion.
What we seek is an acknowledgment of the complexity of difference and an orientation that does not ignore a reality that is relational. All of our connections, regardless of intimacy, physicality, and emotional depth are nonnegotiable and non-hierarchical.
our days have been brighter
an optics, a behavior, of being awake
this year’s declarations:
* occupying neutrality is poetic nuance *
* embody love as deep as it can go *
* shame has subjective exchange rates *
* judge listening and justice as actions *
* what feels good and safe is happiness *
* it is ok to change your mind, to leave, to quit, to cry *
* apologies and forgiveness are patterns of endless appreciations *
It’s harvest season.
Conscious of renewal,
we plan for what we need tomorrow.
This is the time of year to honor defeat
celebrate the shifting light
embody lived experiences
transform our perceptions.
We love fiercely, in this community.
“I had only one thing to say. I was so terrified of saying it because once I said it, would I still have anything left to say? To have so little to say. To insist on speaking. To create a silence every time we speak. To know all this and do it anyway. This is as close as I can get to saying what I mean.” — Jenny Zhang, Hags
There’s probably a disclaimer in here.
The streets did not scare me.
Every coffee had a spoon.
Museum translations lacked details.
Gold, fine porcelain, silver settings,
swords, myths, transferred power.
Remember intangible moments,
hoard the way light hides shadows.
Repeat until this is a song,
a rhythm that leaves room
for forgiveness. Retracing outlines
of curves and coveting lines
that dead end. We’ve sold out
of what’s needed
to mend broken hearts.
Violence supplying demand,
the brutality unavoidable.
Endless summers folding
into winter’s waves. Wishing to
stop long enough to synch breath.
It was the sound of rushing, the way the ocean pulls into itself.
Falling and rising, gravity is an indicator measuring distance.
In Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry, Louise Glück admits, “I liked scale, but I liked it invisible.” Starting from a place of invisibility, a sense of safety, yet maintaining perspective resonates deep within me as winter slowly transitions into spring.
Water in West Virginia is deadly and smells like licorice for hundreds of thousands. In fact, over 300,000 people have been forced to drink only bottled water; the chemical spill’s impact contained within a complete and conveniently round number. Bodies, specifically women and girls’ of color bodies in comas, are illusions for a culture that still claims to value human life. National discussions center the paradoxical, for those in power, concept of growing gaps. Shrinking safety nets catch only the most tenuous of “opportunities” for those who have learned how to survive within the thinnest of margins. Pop stars and Fox news package feminist rhetoric in digestible byte size narratives that keep gender politics profitable.
It feels endless, this parade of brazen hypocrisy. There should be no surprise that we opt out behind private screens, devise elaborate rituals of denial, and post selfies to curate what we wish to be. It’s within this scale of manufactured hopes and inside the disposable commodities of dreams that we strive to find community, love, value, and joy.