Archive for May, 2007

me in a nutshell

May 31, 2007  |  poetry  |  3 Comments

Related to the Life/Lines post, though not quite the same thing, I’d like to offer up my poem Me in a Nutshell which was an “I believe” poem. It uses many, many quotes from various sources, mantras of mine, inspiration, quotes (it ends with a different Mary Oliver line, in fact).

 It was published online at This I Believe through NPR.

Me in a Nutshell

I believe love is the closest we get to divinity
I believe in waiting patiently on the corner for the light to change
I believe in being kind

I believe that as birds fly, and fish swim, humans create;
it is our ‘natural’ mode of operation
I believe the opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation
I believe creative expression is a way to get to know
what we don’t know
that we already know

I believe in finding common ground and elevating the discussion
in wanting what I have and giving what I need
I believe in asking myself how it is that I will come alive
because that is what the world needs

I believe in keeping rocks in my pockets
to remind me to stay close to the ground
I believe stones and aerial maps of the ocean floor
teach me to fly
I believe to be free is not merely to cast off one’s shackles
but to live in a way
that respects
and enhances
the freedom of others

I believe in leaving everything and everyone and everywhere
just a little better off then when I found it
I believe when we let go of who we are, we become who we might be
I believe in paying my library fees

I believe in psychics, astrology, epigraphs
crossing fingers at cemeteries
lifting feet when going over a bridge
ice cream on the hot days
I believe in swimming at the glacier in the summer
and chomping icebergs like snow-cones

I believe asking for – and getting – someone’s consent is sexy
and knowing the pleasure you want and how to get it
is subversive and revolutionary
I believe gender and power and play is what makes the sex hot

I believe stretch marks and scars are beautiful
because they tell the history of the body
I believe the body is a temple to be worshipped
that we are not separate than the earth, but rather from the earth
I believe it feels good to shit outside

I believe in cranberries, avocados and cashews
in redheads and black ink
in leaving a trail on an unmarked canvas
in drawings on skin
in tiny yellow flowers under the chin to check if I like butter

I believe in watching the media, pop culture, consumerism,
and celebreality with a critical eye
I believe in turning off the TV
I believe in accessories: shoes, belts, bags, scarves, glasses

I believe growth requires the temporary suspension of security
in second chances and red balloons
I believe in wishing on the full moon and faery rings
and dandelions gone to seed and eyelashes
and shooting stars and lovers’ laughter and birthday candles

I believe very few people are actually out to get us
but are rather just distracted by their own
human-drama-bubble of daily life
I believe differences are the only way we learn
I believe intentions do matter
I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt
but still protecting the gentle red ribbed cage
around my heart

I believe you and I are not mistakes, we are stardust

I believe in unfolding my own mythology
like an origami swan
asking every day:
what will I do with my one wild and precious life?

“you do not have to be good”

May 31, 2007  |  poetry  |  1 Comment

The Poetry Thursday prompt today is on Life/Lines, which the Academy of American Poets did a collective project with and defines as such:

We each carry lines of poetry with us. Words that others have written float back to us and stay with us, indelibly. We clutch these “Life Lines” like totems, repeat them as mantras, and summon them for comfort and laughter.

Anytime I think of my favorite poetry, poems that changed my life, significant lines of poetry, I always, always, always think of Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. And while I can think of a dozen – two dozen – more poems that have profoundly affected me (Under a Soprano Sky by Sonia Sanchez, Eating Poetry by Mark Strand, Otherwise by Jane Kenyon, Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich), it is always Mary Oliver that I come back to when I have to name just one, and it is always Wild Geese.

At first, it was the opening lines:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

The simplicity of it. The miracle of letting go of suffering, and only allowing your body to “love what it loves.” Gorgeous. As if Oliver lept from the pages and plucked a diamond from my heart cavity and said, look. Just look what you have inside you.

But lately, it’s been the ending:

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

… that has really gotten to me. No matter how lonely or alone, or scared or tiny or uneffective you may feel, you still have a place in the family of things. You still have one particular little pinpoint of light on the map, on the earth.

I’ve carried this poem with me for a long time.

letting go

May 29, 2007  |  journal entries  |  6 Comments

I set a few goals for myself this past Memorial Day weekend, including: spend time with myself, finish the “unputdownable” (and I use that in a tongue-in-cheek way – have you noticed the upswing of use of this term in publishing lately? I think it’s rediculous, personally) book I started, clean up the apartment, go to the park and throw the frisbee around.And, perhaps most importantly: to go through the boxes underneath my bed.

My bed is up on risers, partly, I admit, because I like higher beds (better angles that way) but also partly because in my former three-hundred-square-foot-apartment-with-no-closets, I needed storage space. So when I moved in, much of those boxes that I didn’t have time or space or appropriate fixtures to unpack ended up shoved under the bed. Some of them, like boxes of old journals and boxes of photographs, will probably stay down there, or stay in ‘storage’ in general, but others I knew I needed to go through.

This is what I found:

  • Two boxes of clothes, including three sarongs, sarong pants, two Ani Difranco tee shirts, four spaghetti-strap tank tops with things like “cunt” and “fruit” on them, two Alix Olsen tee shirts, my letter sweater from high school, a sweatshirt from my pre-school (that was a gift after I left home, not from when I was actually in pre-school), and the blue “diesel dyke” jacket I used to wear nearly every day

  • A small shoebox of stuffed animals, small ones, that I’ve collected or been given over the years

  • Two boxes of CDs. This is a problem, actually, because I don’t have any CD storage unit anymore, and I’m not really sure what to do with the hundreds of CDs I have. I should probably go through them and rip them into digital music and get rid of them, at least half of them or so, the ones that I don’t really care to have, but my desktop computer is on its last legs, and needs a serious upgrade, so that has to happen first.

  • Hats – five baseball caps, one cowboy hat, one top hat from halloween years ago. I don’t really wear hats.

  • Two boxes of electronic chords and gadgets, including two (dead, I think) CD players, a landline phone (will I ever need one of those again?), CAT cabling, various power chords for who-knows-what devices …

  • Three shoe-boxes, what I tend to refer to as “memory boxes,” containing things like ticket stubs for concerts, movies, and plays; birthday cards and letters; notes from friends and lovers; notes-to-myself scraps of paper when I didn’t have my journal with me, likely scribbled at concerts, at museums, or bars; photographs; nametags or laminated passes for when I was a volunteer for theatre or film festivals … you get the idea. All sorts of scrapbook-type bits of paper, things I wanted to remember that I did.

Why do I save these things?, I asked myself. Partly, it’s for exactly this experience of going through them, remembering those fun events and moments of my life that were significant. I consolidated those three shoeboxes of memories into one larger hat-box sized box, and it overflowed a little, so I went through some of it, throwing enough of it away that it would fit. I’m kind of sad to throw them away, actually, because that act of going through the box is exactly the reason to keep it. But will that stuff ever be of value to anyone but me? Does that matter? I’m not much of a scrapbooker, but I suppose I could be, or perhaps I should be, if I want to keep all of this … stuff. Is that necessary, though? Do I need to keep my ticketstub for Ocean’s 11 and Border/Clash and Ami Lagendre’s dance performance from 2002? If I can’t remember that I went, were they really all that significant?I also ran into all kinds of notes from past loves, really sweet cards and thoughts and moments from those relationships. Why do I hold on to those things? Do I really want to go back to them, relive them later? I only feel sad, they make me ache a little. Do they really have a purpose, is there a need for them in my life? I’m not sure. I can’t really think of why I might need them. But somehow, I can’t quite let go of them either.

My impulse is to organize all this data, take the fragments and put them chronologically into a book, a scrapbook, and construct a life from them. I guess that’s what I always thought I’d do with them. But do I really want to spend time doing that? Obsessing over and organizing my past? What would that really do? I’d end up with a book, a creative scrapbook of some of the things in my life that mattered. Who would look at it, besides me? Would I even look at it?

I took some of the boxes down from the shelf in my closet, too. There is still more work to do with the boxes under my bed, but I compiled a few boxes, sorted through half the clothes, have two boxes now to give away or donate (if I can ever figure out how to do that here in Brooklyn).

a new place to visit

May 24, 2007  |  poetry  |  1 Comment
Poetry Notebook is a new project of mine (I know, I know, all these new projects. We’ll see which ones stick). Point being, I put the first poem up there, a prompt from Poetry Thursday to write a poem in dialogue, and I really like the result.

At first there was too much feeling so she
cut out her heart and fed it to a crying lion
cub. She meaning you. Yes. But the lion cub
was really her new kitten. She didn’t have
enough milk. Is that all? No, there were
other things she never had enough of:
greens, window blinds, validation. She isn’t
ready for summer to begin.
She likes the way
the branches make fractal designs in shadow
on her front door. More than the sidewalk?
Yes, and she likes the sounds her shoes
make on pavement. She likes the empty
space surrounding her to be wholly without
meaning. She wants to be alone. That sounds
overly isolationist. Sounds like freedom. And
her hands?
Her hands keep turning into
birds and flying away from her.

…. keep reading “the ending you don’t want to hear”

for a good cause

May 24, 2007  |  miscellany  |  2 Comments

So, the Masturbate-a-Thon is this weekend – Saturday, in fact. Why have I completely missed that May is (annually!) Masturbation Month? Usually I am well aware of this fact ahead of time. I have in fact participated in the Masturbate-a-thon three times in the past. I’d love to do it again.Also? On the Masturbate-a-Thon webpage is a fabulous little musical ditty by the Wet Spots: “masturbation, it’s okay, we all get to do it in a special way …” which then goes on to describe the different ways various animals masturbate … porcupines, a lioness, a spider monkey …

The Wet Spots – a “sophisticated sex comedy” duo – are somewhat infamous now from their YouTube video Do you take it (in the ass)?, so I was happy to run across their webpage & their other work.

But. Back to the subject at hand: masturbation.

I’ve actually been feeling somewhat scared & traumatized about masturbation lately. Don’t get me wrong – let me explain. Not to get too into my own private … um, practice, but I usually don’t really have any hangups or issues or blocks when it comes to getting off. I just do it, it’s pretty easy (I do know what I like, after all) and that’s that.

But lately? Since the breakup. I just haven’t been able to do it. Haven’t been “in the mood”, no, which is fine, I’m not rushing it, but sometimes I guess I kinda have been in the mood, or at least, I’ve been at home alone for multiple hours, which in a usual case scenario would involve me getting off, at least once.

But now … when I get turned on, I think of her. I still have so many bodily memories of her, of us together, especially when it comes to sex, which is where she was at her most raw, and where I was at my most … perfect. Everything snapped right into place. Jigsaw pieces. I knew exactly how to read her, how to respond to her body, her eyes, her movements, how to shift myself, how to take, how to give. I’ve never had anything like that, I miss it.

It’s hard to write that, actually. Hard to feel that grief well up in my chest. Impossible to feel it, when I’m also simultaneously trying to get off.

Her fantasies wove themselves deep in me. She tapped into so many things that I wanted, so much of my desire. It’s hard not to think of sexy things when getting off, and sexy things, right now, for me, are, well, her.

I’ll unlearn that, right? I’ll find other women attractive again, someday, somehow?

I used to walk down the street and just swoon, fall in love with every third girl, and it’s summer now, god, the strappy sandals and swirly skirts and bare legs … I have been so easily influenced by the sidewalk parade of femininity the last two summers I’ve spent here in New York City.

But this time? Barely. An occasional redhead catches my eye. An occasional perfectly shaped ankle, or swishing skirt. I even worry that if – when – I get back into bed with a girl, I’m going to freeze up, thinking of her (or saying her name, lord).

There really is a very small, small percentage of the population to which I am attracted. Femme women, yes, but even more specifically: poise. Legs. Posture. The way she looks when nobody’s looking at her.

I guess this comes back to a new resolution of mine, which is to date myself. For a year, approximately. I will be in an open relationship with myself, which means I am free to date other people too, but I am going to be my primary partner. I am going to focus on my needs, emotionally, creatively, sexually. I am going to take myself out to fancy dinners on occasion, to films, to museums, to days in the park. If there’s one thing this relationship has taught me it’s that I am good – good – at seduction, at courtship, and I am going to turn my own charms inward and see if I can sweep myself off my feet.

the ending you don’t want to hear

May 24, 2007  |  poetry  |  4 Comments

At first there was too much feeling so she
cut out her heart and fed it to a crying lion
cub. She meaning you. Yes. But the lion cub
was really her new kitten. She didn’t have
enough milk. Is that all? No, there were
other things she never had enough of:
greens, window blinds, validation. She isn’t
ready for summer to begin.
She likes the way
the branches make fractal designs in shadow
on her front door. More than the sidewalk?
Yes, and she likes the sounds her shoes
make on pavement. She likes the empty
space surrounding her to be wholly without
meaning. She wants to be alone. That sounds
overly isolationist. Sounds like freedom. And
her hands?
Her hands keep turning into
birds and flying away from her. Her being
you.
Yes. Do you love yourself? I don’t have to
answer that. It should matter. She has two
dozen different black shoulder bags, but
none of them are the right size. She is still
searching. She buys one every week, just in
case it is the one. It should matter. She has a
diamond stud in her nose but it doesn’t
matter. She wrote ten poems yesterday but
it doesn’t matter. This is how she stays alone.
Everything is red and newspapers are printed
on the soles of shoes, the backs of hands.
You
miss the point: bookcases are only
bookcases when they hold books. All of the
letters are lost and scrambled. Like the time
the pages flew from the car and got lost at the
ocean shore?
Yes. Pages flying floating until
they turned into birds. What’s with the birds?
Everyone nests, then everyone leaves.
There is truth in migration. If you make it.
What else? She cannot see her hands in the
dark. They disappear under the shelter of
the moon even when the moon is lifted in a
pirouette. She meaning you. And you.
Everyone leaves. Every relationship must
end, it is the nature of us. We are
impermanent. Even stones. What else would
stones be?
Immortal. Bounded. Discovered
on the backs of glaciers, in the hollow of
trees. Birds don’t need stones to nest. No, but
I do. Where are your hands now? Turned to
feathers, feathers, turned to down, stuffed
into pillows. Place your head here, carefully.

[After Richard Siken's poem 'Unfinished Duet' from his book Crush. Also inspired by Poetry Thursday's prompt to write a poem in dialogue.]

getting ready

May 22, 2007  |  journal entries  |  5 Comments

I think this will be the bird tattoo on my left shoulder, this summer. Or it will be something quite similar to this. I also want a red balloon (for an anti-oppression symbol) on the inside of my right ankle, and a white star (an old queer signal) on my right wrist. But. One at a time.

the prettiest girl in the place

May 21, 2007  |  dirty stories  |  5 Comments
“You,” I said, lips right next to her ear, the gardenia scent on her neck more tangible at such close range, “are the most beautiful girl in this whole place.”

The music thumped, colors from the lights fluttered. I’d been watching her for half an hour, since I got here, and had danced next to her for the last two songs. I couldn’t hear my own words but trusted she could.

She could. She flushed, bowing her head a little, looking up at me through her lashes. Tossed her thin, long blonde hair.

“Can I buy you a drink?” I asked.

She nodded, still shy, eyes flashing. Interested. “Vodka cranberry?”

I smiled – that half-smile-smirk with the soft eyes, perhaps my most handsome look – and returned to her with her drink, red, in one hand, my drink, Jameson on the rocks, in the other.

She sipped hers slow through a straw. Lips carefully placed. We drank. We danced more. Hands on her hips, watching the way her body spun and quaked. Such elegance in the slow curves. I spun her around the dancefloor and she followed. Brilliantly. Blue eyes on my face all night.

Wrists in my hands and her back up against the wall, mouth open. Open. Anything could happen here. The wall is sticky, the floor acts like it hasn’t been swept in years. Crushed under the bottoms of too many feet. Push her legs apart before she realizes I’ve cornered her. Take her by the hand and lead her outside the bar.

She follows, wordless. I light a cigarette.

“So,” I say.

“So,” she says, kicking at the brick building with the toe of her flat silver ballet shoe. Dark capri jeans folded nearly to her knee. A loose blouse, soft yellow, thin, revealing everything.

I smoke. Breathe. I’m not particularly interested in the cigarette. It’s just something to do with my mouth, instead of …

She leans against the brick wall and shifts her hips. Shifts her weight from one leg to the other. She doesn’t look at me. She waits.

Oh, god, I’m terrible at this part. Just stay calm. No expectations. Just me, and the prettiest girl here.

I say something (anything) witty. She laughs, a delightful sound. A reward for my efforts and I try again, which becomes again, which becomes dominoes and her eyes shine as she gazes smiling at me. She bites her lip, parts her mouth. Breaths in.

I flick my cigarette with my thumb and forefinger, sparks against the sidewalk. I take a step closer to her and gently let my hand touch her hip. She breathes into the touch, deep and sharp, breathes into the place where my fingers are touching skin. I circle her waist with one arm, she’s tiny, shorter than me, delicate. Her arms fall back from her shoulders like her hair, gravity pulling them down and against me who is pulling her another way, against me, to me, and her back arcs and I lean over her as she tilts her head.

I hesitate. Feel the space between us electric and alive. Then kiss her, light, a whisper of a kiss, air and spun sugar and she tastes like gardenia.

The thick blossoms of summer.

And it hits me: I’m single. One. Only me. There is only my own desire, my own life path, my own choices. There is only my needs, my intentions.

This is not to say I do not want someone, I do. But I am picky now. I know what I don’t want.

This girl, this lovely girl, the most beautiful girl in the whole bar, looks back at me and says, “Ready to dance?”

Oh, am I ever.

where I am

May 21, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

Love After Love
Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

a request

May 8, 2007  |  journal entries  |  No Comments
I’m pretty sure she reads this place. She never told me outright, but I’ve had hints. She could probably pretty easily find it, given the clues. I wish I could ask her, now, to stop.

If you are reading this, please don’t visit any longer. Let me go through this without your eyes.