Unsolicited Advice to a New Butch (aka The Butch Poem)

June 14, 2011  |  on butches, poetry  |  48 Comments

There is more to you than this identity. It makes everything make more sense, and without it you might be lost, but with it you are only ever on one path. You contain more multitudes than that.

Dance. Cook. Read. Make peace with your body. Look at the stars.

Don’t make everything about you. Willingly admit you are wrong, even if sometimes you know you are right. Eagerly say “I’m sorry.” Easily say “I love you,” but learn to recognize your own worth. Keep the borders of your kingdom well-watched and flexible. Keep your muscles flexible. Climb mountains. Pick wild flowers, even though they wilt. Because they wilt. Don’t let people make you wilt. That’s doesn’t have to have anything do with you. Listen to their stories. Remember that we yell because we do not feel heard.

Make a list of ways you feel heard.

Learn how to partner dance so you can make your partner look beautiful, spinning and open-mouth laughing on the dance floor. Cook. Read. Make peace with your body.

Elevate the discussions over brunch with your buddies and use them to try out your date outfits. Downgrade your tee shirts to workouts and loungewear and upgrade your presentation. Make a list of places you can wear your very best suit that are not weddings or funerals. If you don’t have a suit, invest in a suit. There’s a reason it’s a classic. It’s okay to get it at a thrift store. It’s okay to stop shopping at thrift stores now that you know how to use money. Practice rocking a tie on special occasions. Make a list of special occasions. Thursdays can count as special occasions.

Remember that your lover craves your skin and friction and kisses not despite but because of your masculinity.

Dance. Practice cooking at least one impressive date meal and, if you like watching them put something you made in their mouth, teach yourself more. Read. Make peace with your body.   

Get a traffic cop vest, because you are stuck directing and deflecting in the middle of the intersection between male and female, and though the fifty-car pileups have mostly ceased, though they have cleaned the rubble from the ditches, though the seasons have faded the bloodstains on the concrete, you are still there, in the middle, while a pickup truck brushes past close enough to touch the hairs on your calf and a Mazda full of machismo is threatening you from the window.

Know you can survive this. Your body crosses borders most of them never question.

Dance. Cook. Read books like Stone Butch Blues and Dagger and Butch is a Noun and learn where you came from. Learn who else is out there in the world with you. Suspend your own stories and practice seeing another’s perspective. Make peace with your body.

Learn to recognize femmes, even if you don’t date them. They recognize you. When a girl on the subway gives you The Eyes, she’s a femme. When the only straight girl in the dyke bar says she likes your tie, she’s a femme. When your waitress jumps in on your conversation with your buddies to ask “so what’s a good drag king troupe?”, she’s a femme.

But two femmes in bed are not just waiting for a butch to come along (necessarily), so don’t laugh when someone tells misogynistic jokes in bad taste. Be a gentleman. Practice the art of consensual chivalry, always be on time, and remember: it’s better to have a cock and not need it than to need a cock and not have it. Always be prepared. 

When the girl you thought you’d spend your life with leaves you, know you can survive this. Pour the whiskey down the drain, keep your stovetop spotless, and delete her number from your phone. Move your best friend up to her speed dial spot and call just to say hi. Cultivate your friendships before your breakups so you are not alone.

You are becoming more like yourself than you’ve ever been. Trust in your own deepest experience. Trust in your own evolutions.

Dance. Cook. Read. Make peace with the supposed conflict between your breasts, your inner folds, your monthly bleeding, and your cufflinks, your swagger, your monthly boy-cut #4 and the razor-shave on your neck. You possess this innate ability to contemplate apparent opposites and hold them both; to dance with two seemingly contradictory things simultaneously—a talent most people can never perfect. But you can. And you are not alone. These mentors, this legacy, this lineage, this heritage, this style—this is where you fit, this is where you are not dismissed, this is where you finally get kissed exactly how you’ve always wished.

This is the process of blooming into whatever multitudes you are at the core of your being.

Look at the stars. Remind yourself how small we all are, how big your life is, how many paths you are exploring. You can do more than survive this—you can thrive in this.

a new “I believe” poem

July 7, 2010  |  poetry  |  No Comments

well, new to me. not by me, but by Rob Brezsny, who writes and sends out Free Will Astrology weekly. I always love my horoscopes through him.

this week’s:

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Have you added some bulk and stability to your foundation any time recently, Aries? Have you grown your roots deeper and asked for more from your traditional sources and recommitted yourself to your primal vows? I hope so, because this is a perfect time, astrologically speaking, to strengthen your link to everything that sustains you. You have a sacred duty to push harder for access to the stuff that builds your emotional intelligence and fuels your long-range plans.

in his newsletter this week he included an excerpt from his book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings, which I still haven’t read or picked up yet, but would like to eventually. the excerpt, below, is an example of an “I believe” poem, a list of deeply-held beliefs or commands for one to live by, like whitman’s preface to leaves of grass.

I like this one. I like this format, too. inspires me to write another one myself.

LUMINOUS TEASE

Change yourself in the way you want everyone else to change
Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks
Avoid thinking about winning the lottery while making love
Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it
Confess big secrets to people who aren’t very interested
Write a love letter to your evil twin during a lunar eclipse
Fool the tricky red beasts guarding the Wheels of Time
Locate the master codex and add erudite graffiti to it
Dream up wilder, wetter, more interesting problems
Change your name every day for a thousand days
Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues
Kill the apocalypse and annihilate Armageddon
Brag about what you can’t do and don’t have
Get a vanity license plate that reads KZMYAZ
Bow down to the greatest mystery you know
Make fun of people who make fun of people
See how far you can spit a mouthful of beer
Pick blackberries naked in the pouring rain
Scare yourself with how beautiful you are
Simulate global warming into your pants
Stage a slow-motion water balloon fight
Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos
Sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees
Plunge butcher knives into accordions
Commit a crime that breaks no laws
Sip the tears of someone you love
Build a plush orphanage in Minsk
Feel sorry for a devious lawyer
Rebel against your horoscope
Give yourself another chance
Write your autohagiography
Play games with no rules
Teach animals to dance
Trick your nightmares
Relax and go deeper
Dream like stones
Mock your fears
Drink the sun
Sing love
Be mojo
Do jigs
Ask id

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August 24, 2009  |  poetry  |  Enter your password to view comments.

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You Are Never Ready

August 5, 2009  |  poetry  |  5 Comments

Thanks to Alisha for introducing me to this piece of poetry by Nicole Blackman; it is precisely what I needed. It’s hard to find online, so I’m reproducing it here, in case you also need to hear what she has to say. See more of Nicole Blackman’s work at NicoleBlackman.com. This piece is reproduced from her book Blood Sugar, which seems to be out of stock from Akashic Books – hopefully not out of print, though, because I really must get my hands on a copy.

You Are Never Ready
Nicole Blackman

In four minutes you will be gone and I must tell you why.

When a star crashes, the angels are electrified.
Your life changes in ways you can’t imagine.

When your dreams are perfect, they run like machines and leave you dizzy.

When you first discover you’re dying, everyone seems to be saying goodbye.

When your dreams are perfect, they run like machines.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

There are people you have to leave behind, they just dirty up your mouth
they don’t value your treasure.

You fall down, you kiss up, you love them, it’s not enough.
They’re nothing special and you’re just a treasure.
If you had no magic here you’d be just like everyone else.
Imagine the tragedy.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

Love is like crying is like writing is like dying.
You’ve got to do it alone.

I know it’s tragic to be tender.
I know it’s dangerous to be kind.
I know it’s vicious to care.

Listen to me, I know what’s going to happen.

You don’t need a window, you need a fire escape,
you’ll need a skylight to get where you have to go.
I can’t tell you where.

And you dreamt that you were hollow
and you dreamt that you were whole.
Reconstruct what you remember
and it comes out in pieces.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

Those below you can’t hold you up
everyone is gone gone gone
everyone is gone gone gone
learn to swin alone learn to fly.

You must change your life. You are never ready.
You must change your life. You are never ready.

Cast them off like long rope and learn to swim the dark water alone.
Look up to the stars stars stars and know that this is your sky now.

lift your arms and go
step forward in Nureyev leap
blink fast and whirr over streets
hover over trees
speed past taxis
don’t even bother to wave
at the children who watch you
awestruck
brushing past skyscrapers
and looking up up
slip off the long skirt
that slows you down
and don’t look back to watch it
billow to earth
tell the cool jets and Superman
that you’re passing them
feel your hair stream back
with wind blinding you
forcing your dry mouth open
no one can touch you now
get out of this fucking world
as fast as you can.

Tachycardia

July 24, 2009  |  poetry  |  16 Comments
this is how I want you:

slow. deliberate. measured. languorous. torpid
bordering on excruciating, with kisses that
keep you counting the millimeters between
our mouths (six, four, three), counting
the breaths it takes before my hands
move from waist to shoulders up your
back (five), counting the heartbeats elapsed
to wrap my fingers around your upper arms,
tighten my grip, and press you back against
the wall (124 with occasional tachycardia). you

remember what it feels like to be overtaken,
don’t you, to become supple in my arms, to
struggle until you can do nothing but give over,
become empty for me to fill you everywhere.
because I know that’s what you want, that’s
how you forget yourself, that’s how I forget
myself too, perfect moments of being wrapped
inside you, safe, enveloped, protected, a return
to some place quiet and sacred where the red
burgundy sooths all with muscle and strength.

I will make marks on my wrist so I can measure
how far inside you I can reach, today, tomorrow,
now I can feel the underside of your heart, the
cellar door of it, I will pen the walls with beauty
beauty beauty until it radiates out of your pores,
graffiti seeping from inside. I’ve felt your fingers
thrumming my own atria, those upper chambers
of my heart with their glass doors and misting
humidifiers and weeping plants, I think you know

what it is you cultivate in my chest when your
knees go weak, when you sink your eyes
away from mine and slide back to check if I am
still holding you. I am, I am, my arms never leave
that curve of your shoulders, your hip, the way
you crush against me when I open wide, making
room for every inch of your skin against mine. you
quicken my heartbeats, not something I am used to,
but this means I can be stronger, pump more blood,
stay up even later, fucking and loving till dawn.

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Gloaming

January 2, 2009  |  poetry  |  4 Comments

I want you in the gloaming, in the grey / light of near-dusk, anxious to fade / the brightness of morning, midday, / the tragedy of sunset back into the / dim tones where we no longer strain // to see.

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My Father’s Son

December 3, 2008  |  poetry  |  25 Comments

Dad, were you wondering how I got here? How I went from that tree-climbing skinned-knee ragamuffin girl to this prettyboy? ... I never was your tomboy daughter, never got in fights with the boys in the neighborhood, never stood up to the bullies of my younger sisters. I was the artistic one, moody, on my own. Studying my peers as we metamorphosed into our adult bodies.

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