I’m most definitely not a recording engineer, and I get pretty impatient with the edits, so it’s messier than I’d like it to be. But I’m trying not to let my perfectionism about my spoken word get in the way. Thanks for the request, Viviane – happy to oblige.
I recorded audio for this piece, download the mp3 if you’d like to hear me read it.
“I really like the way you fuck me.”
“I’m not fishing, really, I don’t mean it like that – I’m genuinely curious – what do you like?”
It’s slow. Soft and slow, a slow steady build which means I am ready for more before you give it to me: a rarity, precious, because I open so rarely.
A desperation in my pelvis, my cunt, to be filled, to be broken down, to be taken apart into molecules and slowly put back together.
Then there’s that feeling of opening. Desperate, again, a desperate opening, something becoming wide and hungry.
And it’s all so slow and steady. So rock-steady, so solid. Makes my heart burst in my chest and I want to cry out, beg, ask for more, please, please, more, deeper, harder, faster, more, make me feel. I try to bite my tongue, here in this space, try not to let the desperation show. It seeps through the cracks of my eyelids and fingertips anyway. I know it is not hidden. I cannot quite access it with my voice, yet.
Instead, this is what my voice does: whimpers. Moaning with every exhale because my body is at such a vibration that the mere passage of air through my lungs and throat and vocal chords and mouth will exert sound. I cannot stay quiet. Oh oh oh at the very least and then there’s low hums of sound like ohhmmm and I remember what my yoga teacher used to say about the sound of the universe spinning and I feel my heart in orbit. I feel my atoms in orbit and I’m distilled down to the very sources of me, pooling on this bed, this floor, leaning against this wall, wherever, and you’re watching my eyes and I can feel the way you look through me, into me, and I think, this is what it feels like to be seen and it’s beautiful.
I like the way you surprise me with dominance, with force, with a sting or slap or bite. I love the rings of teeth marks on my biceps and inner thighs, the marks you’ve left, they’re fading now and I wish they wouldn’t, I wish they would always be there, wish for layers and layers of these bruises in different shades of yellow and blue and purple and the tender pink not yet deepened into black. I wish I could point to each one and remember the many days it took you to put them there. One a day for a week. For a month. A new way to tell time, a calendar on my arm.
It is not a threat to my masculinity that you wear a cock. That you fuck me with it. It has been, it could be, but you make me feel so boyish, despite your palmfulls of my breasts and twists of my nipples and the ways you say “oh I love the curves of your body,” and I know you mean the femininity, my hips, the way my ribcage gently tapers, my round full breasts I hide with binding and jog bras and button-downs.
Despite this – or maybe because of this, maybe precisely because you acknowledge my very female body, maybe precisely because you see me, really see me, really witness my soft underbelly, the vulnerable girl side of me that I have worked so hard to overturn, override, you see me and acknowledge me, too, actually speak about my body – despite this, you play with my masculinity with such respect and reverence, and it lives in such a solid place in me now, that it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t contradict, it only affirms what I am already knowing in my body: the ways you witness, then acknowledge, then rejoice, in me.
Gently. With curves of her curled
like ferns nestled in wet moss.
A delicate fingertip like baby’s
breath, like a bluebell, like
a forget-me-not dangling
nearby. I memorized her breath.
The cadence, the rhythm. I
memorized her heartbeats, how
many pulses it took for her to turn
over, ask again in that language
of muscle for my warm thigh, my
open palm, my surrender into
the crook of her arm. She likes
the pillows. She likes the upper
hand where she can wake first,
start the coffee, start the morning.
This is the ritual of sharing a day
from start to finish, and I want to
replace her old red toothbrush, know
her schedule tomorrow, hear her mind
winding down before she – miracle! -
falls asleep in my bed yet again.
The fish needs to say,
“Something ain’t right about this
Camel ride -
Feeling so damn
Sex Without Love
How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health—just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.
“It is our decisions
who make make us who we are,”
she used to say to me. Sometimes
that is all we have. The ability
to decide. To choose.
Even with all the social
inequities, we all still
get the same basic things,
in this life here on this planet:
It is what we decide to do
that makes all the difference.
So what am I doing here?
What am I going to decide
to do with my time? What
are the particular ways
that I would like my mind
to grow and change
and evolve and work?
I do have some ideas,
but it seems like – that
age-old cliche – life
gets in the way.
I need focus. Laser-beam
steady focus, pointed precise
direction, precision. I’m not sure
how to gain or maintain that when
everything seems related to what
I want to do, where I want to go.
I’m not sure how to cut things out
when I so enjoy every aspect, the
book group, the writing group, the
drinks with friends, the parties,
the concerts – then of course there’s
the practical parts, the health,
exercise, eating right, taking care
of my body, then there’s money,
there’s my “career” -
all of this hanging in the balance
and I have to decide
what to cancel, what to prioritze
what to celebrate, what to remove
from this delicate balance
My poem “Me in a Nutshell” was recently published through NPR’s website This I Believe. The poem idea was inspired by a few other poets, namely Alix Olsen and Staceyann Chin, both of whom have poems where they use the repetition of “I believe” as a way to discuss their own values, personality, and approach to life & the world. I started collecting little snippets of sayings and philosophies and writing them all down in one place, and after a few years of letting these ideas stew, this poem came out.
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 want this to be special
I want this to be totally unique
it was only love.
And this is only a broken heart.