Because my instinct is to punch
to keep arm’s length
while yours is to hug close
which for a boxer means safety
and for a wrestler means takedown.
I have no technique for body
slams, no low center of gravity,
my strength is my arms shoulders
wrists knuckles, my strength in my
fearless slams against a wall. See—
even there—I am too careful
with my skeleton to have ever sought
a singlet, a blue plastic mat, and
I use walls instead, ropes, gloves.
But I let you tackle me, buck-eyed
in Santa Monica ferris wheel lights
in front of the crash of ocean that
slowly, slowly laps away stone
mountains, even though the first
sideways takedown whiplashed
my neck and I never learned
how to fall, because somehow
I knew how you’d hold me
against your heart
(after the fourth time)
and how I’d let you.
After the poem “The Last Time I Slept in This Bed” by Sara Peters
If you’ve ever ripped apart your own body
in order to find the missing sugar cubes
you are certain you once stored
in your throat, you know what it feels like
to stay too long in a bed that no longer
comforts and enshrines you in a velvet
black sleep, allowing your individual
download and collective restart.
Once you find the point of entry,
pray it open until it is a gaping maw,
a cavern as wide as the world, that could
fit all of your broken hearts in just
one glimmer of rainbow. A silver needle
can stitch that right up. Every scar
on the right side of your body, every
stretch mark on your left. You have
no reason to stay, unless you are
secretly tied to the moon and unable
to stop her shine from creeping
toward your wrists when the velvet curls.
It is not an original practice to wallow
in grief, to become stuck thigh-deep
in tar wearing cement boots. Don’t
smash your own feet with sledgehammers
to move on. Maybe instead just insert
the tip of the parasol, let it sink
until you can work it deep
under the surface of all that has you
held back, and open it. You can use it
as the easiest magic carpet. You can bet
that spring will come as the world turns,
as she always has, for the entirety
of this planet’s thoroughest days.
Your body remembers
how to split open a peach
on the seam
with your teeth. With
and another slice of whiskey.
Cleaved palm heart
like a matricide, nothing
the silence and side-eye
can ever overcome. Ever
is a long time. More
like to be for now,
as the universe spins
her giant eye
of centrifugal force
like a tilt-a-whirl. None
of us fall off. None
of us split open
until we are forced
to. For some reason
we value our innocence,
our intact virginity.
But there is a method
of pottery mending
that fills all cracks
and breaks and repairs
with solid gold,
and proves then
that by breaking a thing,
one makes it even more
than before. On a good day,
could be like this. We
could be even
at the broken places.
Your body remembers
back before your feet
touched the floor
when you sat down,
after your first hairs
began to grow, what
it felt like to sit
down after the first
Like a gap that
Innocence is unnecessary
for worth, wisdom, and
wiles. Scars are required.
All those risks and
in our rafters,
making us try harder,
do it again, better
this time. Your body
knows what to offer.
Knows where your
place of power lives.
Knows how to exchange
breath with the earth.
Knows how to pray. Not
like a night hawk stalking
a shrew but like
the holiest of holy wells
and a thousand-year trek
of your people
that allows you
to reach one
perfect pocket-worn pebble
out over the very center
of the mystery, and
In my last apartment, none
of the doors shut completely. I
hung hand towels over the tops
to make the seal tight enough not
to open with just the slightest
push. In this new apartment,
the doors all latch firm shut, but
I keep crashing into them, throwing
my shoulder into the wood, touching
them with my toe, a small kick,
an elbow, a slight push, expecting
them to open. Though the truth is,
they would all open, eagerly,
with trembling pleasure, if ever
I uttered the softest request.
To Love You
An adventure for which I
have been preparing, long before
we met. A practice in honesty
with myself and others. A crow
bar opening my ribcage wider
than I thought it’d go. A pill I swallow
to make all the colors brighter.
A zipline I can’t let go of for fear
of plummeting back to where
I’ve already been. A breakfast
in bed, lazy, perfect on a weekend.
A heartbeat to which I can count out
a 4/4 rhythm and always
carry a bass line. A harmony.
A tune I can almost make out of
a song I know so well but can’t
quite remember. A return to
myself. An exercise in becoming
supernova without exploding.
A crazy idea that just might work.
An adoration. A prayer with my whole
body, starting at my lips. A midnight
candlelight canopy garden of treasure.
A menagerie custom made for me.
A secret I hesitate to share because
I want to cherish it enough for the
whole world. A promise, but I’m not
yet sure for what. An anchor in my
marrow. A pen full of ink and not
enough paper. The slick oil of finger-
prints on glass. A smooth river stone
large enough to balance on one
foot. Lit birthday candles that won’t
blow out. A hike into the shady forest
with a picnic and a fairy tale. Your skin
shined with sweat. A relief. A tribute.
An ache that fills me more than any
ache should. A symphony of leaves.
A choir of hiding places. A quilt from
old tee shirts. Look, that’s from my
first concert. You saw that same tour,
but we didn’t know yet
what that meant, either.
At the Northern Exposure kink conference in Anchorage earlier this month, Sarha, our 2013 IMsL and one of the producers of the contest, asked if I’d like to do a short performance set during her weekend finale, the seven deadly sins dinner.
I was lucky enough to land on “lust.” So after a salad (course of envy), halibut, perfect creamed potatoes, and asparagus, the strawberries with melted chocolate came out, and they called me up to the stage.
“The Right One”
These poems are actually kind of … well, old. I wrote them early on when I was living in Seattle, which was probably at least ten years ago now. They’re both on my spoken word album For the Record which was released in 2005 (and is online through bandcamp if you want to listen to it or buy it). The first piece, “Gender Architecture,” is also known as “the boots piece,” and there are some parts of my theories about gender that I’m not sure I still agree with exactly … no, it’s not that I disagree, maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t put it that way, at this point. The second piece is still one of my favorites to perform, especially because of the way the beginning starts, where it’s made to sound like I’m just still casually talking to the audience but then I launch into the poem. It’s kind of a surprise that way. And when the audience energy is good, it’s so, so sexy.
I’d really like to do more spoken word. Adding that to the list, and trying to strip away other things that aren’t as satisfying.
My mom received a letter
from the person who
got my dad’s eyes
after he died.
My assumption is that
flesh has no opinion
of its own, so
they don’t now look
at Chinese food all-you-
can-eat buffets and salivate
taking a few extra General
Tso’s chickens, just because
my father did.
I assume also that
everyone tends to call weeds
did not become their favorite,
did not become that
which scatter the hill
outside this person’s kitchen
window, did not become
part of the visual jokes
of forgetting. So what
will happen? What’s it like
to see through another’s
eyes? And if we meet,
if we cross each other
unknowingly on the streets
of my small hometown,
will there be a confusing
moment of recognition, when
they look at my brown hair
brown eyes slightly expanded
waistline femur bones just
a little too long and I’ll
write them off as curious
about my unconventional
presentation but they’ll
get a flash of a six year old’s
birthday party, a velveteen
green dress with white
tights and polka dots, a cake
in the shape of a hot
air balloon, and they’ll
shake it off, isn’t that
funny. I won’t see them, but
will you recognize me, even
just a little?