14 ways of looking at New York

  1. Fall is absolutely my favorite time of year. Fall is New York’s very best season. Let me always visit New York in the fall.
  2. There are so few dogs in New York City. This makes me inexplicably sad.
  3. I can’t write about New York without talking about New York as an ex-lover, as a former sanctuary that now is only causes pain when I think about it.
    a) It is easier for me to be in a relationship with NYC when I’m alone. My favorite times here were wandering the city alone, engaging, observing; the smells, the energy, when my attention is really devoted to the city. Maybe I am monogamous with cities. Maybe I should live in a city that has no soul such that I can have richer human connection.
    b) Sometimes it feels like NYC is the root of all of my bad decisions, all of the ghosts that haunt me.
    c) … Something as of yet unarticulatable.

  4. I ache for the past, but I don’t miss the drama.
  5. I miss New York City. I could live here. Could I live here? It’s not as scary as I remember. Except the fear, destruction, dysfunction are lurking under the surface, I know they are.
  6. And then I walk around a corner and the entire wall of some high-end sunglasses store is a motherfucking SHARK that is about to attack and I will never survive here. And I can’t even take a picture because your phone is dead and this wouldn’t translate.
  7. The bar for what behavior is “crazy” seems so much lower. “Well, that dog [on the subway] looks well fed, even if it is wearing a superman halloween costume (though it’s well past halloween) and has a pacifier around it’s neck. That homeless woman muttering to herself whom it’s attached to probably treats it okay.”
  8. The cliche of it all. Cabs honking in Times Square, traffic stopped in the intersection as the light changes. A thick male Jersey accent yells: “Shaaaat Aaaap! Knaaak it aaaff!” And everyone around me laughs. “That was perfect!” a woman with a Long Island accent next to me quips.
  9. I think I should only go to musicals alone. They make me cry and cry and cry. They are always, always worth the money. I never regret it.
  10. When the exit is at the opposite end of the train platform, I feel like an amateur.
  11. When someone passes me, walking faster than I am, on the subway platform or sidewalk, I feel like an amateur.
  12. I love New York. I’m not sure I realized it.
  13. I hate New York. I could never afford to live here again.
  14. Maybe if I lived here again, I wouldn’t be trying to figure out all those things I figured out the first time: gender orientation butch/femme lust/longing how to fight how to fuck how to heal how to survive. Maybe the next time I’ll have a vision for how NY and I could collaborate, and I wouldn’t become this hollowed out version of myself, waiting for a strong wind to blow down the Hudson and reanimate me.

I just need to use you.

morningContent warning: Power dynamics, ownership/property play.

Sometimes, I just need to use you.

I don’t know how to describe it: Those times when I wake up and your skin is just right there, you’re not allowed to sleep with clothes on anyway and this is exactly why, so that my hunger stirs the moment I wake and realize that your skin is already under my hands. This particular morning I woke with you behind me and immediately wanted your dick in my ass. I rubbed against you, and you got hard. “You’re hard, aren’t you,” I teased. You woke up and moaned. Ready. Always ready, for whatever it is I need, whatever it is I want to take. It’s what you most want, isn’t it? To be told what to do, to be taken, to be used in the ways that I need. As much as that can be hidden in sex, or desire, or kink play, the same need in you would be filled if I decided you would now only be my footstool and never speak, or be my pet curled up on your little pillow bed in the corner, or my sex slave chained to the bed. I own you, and you know it.

It helps me that it’s what you want, because it is so what I want, but I never thought I’d have it. I never thought this craving for devotion in me was going to be allowed, I never thought I could degrade and humiliate and own and worship and demand in the ways that I can with you. I was always too much for other partners—needed too much, demanded too much, expected too much. I’ve said it so many times, but I am still surprised by how much I feel met with you. You step up, you show up, you don’t shy away from what I need, you don’t let my insatiable hunger scare you.

Or maybe it does scare you, a little. Because you know I’m bigger than you, not exactly stronger but certainly when I throw my weight around I can make you do what I want, what I say, what I need. Not that you would need to be physically overpowered. You’d go willingly, shakingly opening all your holes and skin and mind and will to me, even if it makes you shiver and cry. You are so good. And you like it, I know you do. You can resist all you want, but it doesn’t make the outcome any different. And when you gush and come so hard you drip down my thighs, I know you like it.

That’s what you did this morning, isn’t it. You did just what I told you, and you liked it. You took it just how I told you. You gave all that come to me, because it’s all mine, everything you have is mine now. And I can use what’s mine, I like to use it for exactly what it’s for. And this is what you’re for, isn’t it: To be taken and used, filled and opened. You’re all mine, and this is what I need.

“I wish I could show you … the astonishing light of your own being.”

astonishing

I read so many things about queer folks and trans folks and genderqueer folks about dating and sex and how the person you love doesn’t love you anymore and how you really want the new binder or surgery or just ran out of your HRT dose or how your heart is breaking or how fucking good your sex was last night or how lucky you are to be in love or how hard long distance relationships are or how abusive M/s and D/s can be or how much you crave something other than what you have or how you’re being overlooked for some good thing yet again. Every day I read the internet, read read read the internet, my Tumblr feed full of college students and poets and dirty pictures, my Facebook feed full of my most favorite people in the world and at least 2,000 people I’ve only met once and had some sort of desire to connect with deeper, I read Twitter and all of your briefest of thoughts about what’s going on in the world.

(I don’t read RSS anymore. Do you? It seems the overabundance of social media has replaced following specific blogs and reading everything they write. I am much more inclined to see what link ten of my friends has shared and click through to read that article, regardless of the source. We are in the internet age of the group blog, where things go viral, where good writing has so little place on blogging platforms but rather blogs are built with bullet-pointed bolded subheading lists, bite-sized revelations we can easily quote. Little nuggets of truth and wisdom. I don’t know what to do with my “real” writing in the online blog world that only values (virals) those. And see, I do it too, only listing my bite-sized social media readings, not any significant articles. So interesting, how morning habits evolve.)

I think about you, my people, my tribe, my lineage, my students, my friends, my lovers, all the time. I read through what you’re saying and I want to sit down with you, I want to say: Hello, how are you. What’s going on for you today? How is your heart? Are you going to make it to the next holiday, your next birthday, with more dove-grace and courage than the last one? Are you building anew the ways to remake yourself? Are you gathering tools so this world doesn’t crush you?

I guess I am. Sometimes I think that’s all I ever do. And while it’s you I am reading, your words and thoughts and heartaches between the lines, your hard-ons and dripping soaking through pleasures, your mouths open yawning gaping hungry, your words screaming hoping for someone to listen, really it is that inner kid of mine that I am looking for, listening for, my fourteen year old self who was shattered by the process of coming into an adulthood with no models, no context, for what I was becoming.

So I read all of you, but really I am listening for the ghost of her, and I see her everywhere.

All that is to say that when I read your words, this Hafiz quote always comes to my mind: “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”

I wish there was some way I could show you the astonishing light of your own being. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish I could show myself that, too, on my bad days, on the days when I am betrayed or betrayer and struggle to live with what I know I’ve done. It’s all projection, you’re all mirrors for what I am trying to tell myself, I know that. And I know the struggles. I know it’s not that easy. I feel it too. I straddle the worlds and some mornings cannot get out of bed for the softness of the sheets and the purring cat and the empty space next to me. I am no stranger to having one’s chemistry betray one’s ambition, I know how it feels for one’s body to be the thing standing in the way of everything else.

But still: there is light. I know there is. (There has to be.)

And when I can see it … oh, it is, it truly is nothing but astonishing.

Where I Come From

1.
mother of northern lights
magic beacons that dance across
the sky. me, four years old,
eight years old, nine ten eleven,
fourteen and bleary and in
the middle of some intense
dream-panic about my grown
future how will I ever
what would it mean
I don’t understand how
sheets pulled back, boots
thrust into my hands
before I can even
understand that I am now
awake, she says look
up. look at the sky

2.
mother of tidepools
she was the one who taught me
to overturn the flattest, widest
rocks to see what was underneath.
always a world, a tube worm
that makes a home grain by
grain of sand, a limpet
like a little hat, a barnacle,
a blenny. there are as many names
for sand hoppers as there are
hoppers themselves. starfish
like the deeper waters—sun stars,
count the legs, brittle stars,
delicate as their name. and
katy chitons, elusive like
the popular girl who never comes
to my birthday party, but
every once in a while if you
look hard enough, she’s looking
back.

3.
mother of temperate rainforest
mother of goat’s beard
mother of sitka spruce
mother of western hemlock
mother of nurse logs, nurturing seedlings
mother of douglas fir
mother of where christmas trees come from
mother of sensible rain boots and mud
mother of old growth
mother of conifers
mother of a canopy
mother of black bears
mother of glacial erratics
mother of muskeg
mother of karst
mother of the roadless expanse
mother of the tongass

4.
mother of fields of wildflowers
chocolate lily and fireweed
wild iris and lupine
dogwood and buttercup
bleeding heart and tiger lily
fiddlehead and wild chive
columbine and beach pea
cow parsnip and cotton grass
dandelion and forget me not
foxglove and parnassus
queen ann’s lace
fern leaf gold thread
shooting star
yarrow

5.
mother of hiding
attention brought too many
coat hangers. too much rage-filled skin
downslope river was barely comfort
when attention stretched icy hands
to find where you had tucked yourself.

it was better to be invisible

6.
mother of owl pellets
baked for hours in the oven
until they are so dry they fall
open to reveal bones of shrews
who once ran away from their
mothers in the middle of
the night with only the full
moon guide through the forest

7.
mother of music
of harmonies and guitar
every morning, NPR
from the alarm still playing
for the snake or the dishes
when she leaves the house
hands too small for guitar,
so she picked up the mandolin
in another version where she
was not so terrified of the energy
that comes from attention
she would have been a back-up singer,
on tour with the big boys,
caretaking and harmonizing
until coming back home
listening to pacific ocean
waves for hours, lapping
away at mountains

8.
mother of the first day of school
lunches and lunches
and lunches and lunches
long past when I was left
to fend for myself for
all the other meals. always
meeting my teachers, always
saying, I don’t care about
the grades, as long as you’re
doing your best. “best”
is often way more than
what I wanted to do, but
was always what I wished
I was doing.

9.
mother of bats
two. stored in her freezer
and they tour annually
to the classrooms of the
elementary schools, look
this is a bat’s wing, this
is how big its skull is.
don’t dig too deep in there
for the orange juice, she warns.
you don’t want to unwrap something
by accident. a creature too
hard to bury when the ground is
frozen, waiting for the spring
for a proper grave. but the bats
are special, because if
reincarnation is real (and
she thinks it is just as
possible as it is not possible),
she wants to come back as a
fruit bat, the only
vegetarian mammal who flies.

10.
mother of snakes
on the new york city subway,
she pinches her fingertip
like she has a hangnail,
but it’s a snake tooth,
embedded. edwina the snake
bit me, she says, and
pulls back the sticky
plastic case of her ipod,
carefully places the tooth,
and pulls the cover back
over it.

11.
mother of the flume
long and flat and as babies,
one of us was always losing
something over the side.
ravines and mudslides
when the winter runoff
started to thaw. only
two boards wide
when I was a kid, when
gym class assigned a
round-trip run, too bad
if you don’t make it back
before the lunch bell,
you’ll just be late.
twenty years ago they
added two more, and
railings. she still
goes up there every day,
with her camera and
her baseball hat,
running up the mountain.

12.
mother of pebbles
we could sit for hours
listening to the waves
coming in, the occasional
boat or car speeding by,
not even shifting from
that one spot, and still
our hands never ran out
of rocks to sift through.
smoothest baby mountains,
worried away by the sea.
everything crumbles.
she likes the egg-shapes,
I like the flat ones
that fit in my palm
my pocket, the perfect place
for my thumb when I need some
ground. she says it’s because
there is no earth in my
astrological chart. I think
I like to have something
to do with my hands. she’s
always wanted the perfect
quartz all-white egg shape,
just less than palm size,
with one black stripe.
she’s still looking.

IMG_1393

Bored Kinkster Blues

You’ve been an out and proud kinkster—a submissive, let’s say—for years and years. You’ve done all the things. You’ve tried everything. You’ve done all the events. You’ve been done at all the events. You’re bored. Or jaded.

Or both.

But … you still love kink. You still love playing. You wish you could get that thrilling high from scenes like you used to. But you have so many things to do, a job, a life, hobbies, kids maybe, a demanding cockatoo. How can you prioritize your submission now, with all of that? Especially when you’re basically done going to the play spaces and you teach workshops dammit (or used to) so you don’t really want to attend them and “the scene” sucks anyway and is full of people young enough to be your children or jailbait or you just run into all your exes that you have no bad blood with but you’d just rather not.

What do you do? How do you get back to it?

Well, if you want my opinion—and you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this—that’s it, exactly. You get back to it. You re-prioritize your kink identity. You go back to basics. You schedule time (if that is the only way!) to fuck or play, and you make it happen.

You cultivate what the buddhists call a “beginner’s mind,” a place of newness and neutrality where your pride in your well-developed kink identity can be set aside for you to discover what’s real and new and true right here, right now.

At one point, this kink identity was a seriously important part of you. You grew it from a tiny seed in a culture that does not support alternative sexuality identities. You built a little cage around it for it to grow safely and not get smushed. You tended to it. You fed it with nutrients and leather contests and safety classes and play partners and safer sex supplies and yummy-smelling gear. You plucked the fruits and ate them hot from the vine. You paved the way for others. You made an impact.

Maybe you found a Big Love, maybe it didn’t last. Maybe it did. Maybe you’re broken hearted and single and miss your submission like a friend. Maybe you miss it and you’re still with a Big Love lover, but the world has you both pulled in all kinds of directions and when did you decide a mortgage was more important than new floggers? But yeah that happened.

Here’s my advice: Keep going. Start where you are, which is not some new baby-green sprout but a sturdy tree, something with glory and wood and shade. Something with shelter and structure. But each spring you still have to figure out how to leaf again, how to flower, how to dance with the bees and spin seed down down until it finds a divet of soil in which to nestle.

Start where you are, start over. Start again. Go back to basics. What’s it like to kiss for hours? How much can you feel your body when you are touched, when you touch? What nerves have fried from overuse, what nerves need a jolt to be awakened? What’s it like to be deprived of senses and have every hair follicle on every patch of your skin lovingly caressed, tickled, suckled?

What do you need to awaken that submissive desire that used to course through you like spring runoff as the winter thawed? What needs to heat up? What needs to aliven, envigorate?

Sit down and ask yourself. Take the time to interview that part of yourself that is sleepy-tired and now small: how would you like to grow? Use a guide (this is what people like me are for, this is why I take appointments with people, I have ideas, I can support you). Use a buddy. Give it a go with your Big Love and rediscover those parts of you that are different now, are no longer fresh and unknowing, but are wise and kind. Be kind. Especially to yourself. Ease your toes in the water, ease your ankles in the water, ease your whole self down into the water and rest. Submerge for a rebirth.

What really matters now? This is where you are. You are anew, you are invigorated with the knowing of life and of self, you are eagerly ready for your playful submission to come up and out in new ways. Now is not before. You are not who you were. You are better, more full. You are years and hundreds of sleeps and hands worn down and skin gone long unbruised. You are ready for something new. You have all the answers already, I don’t need to tell you what to do, I don’t need to give you advice.

You just need to act.

Submissive Playground’s summer session is almost sold out, and today is the last day to register! There are limited spots left—sign up now and reserve your spot: submissiveplayground.com

PS: The image is from rife’s “Prioritize Your Preference” kinkster roadmap. Download the full image in the Submissive Starter Kit.

What It Means To Love You

Good morning, boy

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.

Gender, Poetry, and Smut: Current Recommended Reads

I have stacks of books on my lists to tell y’all about, and so many other things to write to you about that I often don’t update you with what I’m reading. But, I know some of y’all are book nerds, so here ya go. Some beginnings of my attempt to get through this backlog.

And hey, who knows, maybe it’ll be a perfect last-minute dark-time-of-the-year holiday gift for somebody.

bk-butch bk-troubling bk-excluded

Butch Geography by Stacey Waite (Tupelo Press). A poetry collection … I read the review over on Lambda Literary and ran out to snag my own copy. It really is as beautiful as the review says. Waite writes with precise language and beautiful turns of phrase and enjambment about gender, navigating the world as a masculine of center person, and love. If you’re into gender and butch things and poetic words, this is for you.

Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetics TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson (Nightboat Press). This anthology includes a wide range of poets, some examples of their work, and some statements (“poetics”) of their purpose and intentions behind their poetry. I find those essays in particular so compelling. The whole thing strikes me as very academic, so there is a lot of theory and big, fancy words that I feel like I could squint and strain to understand but I just kind of don’t bother (unless, you know, I really want to), but even so, I love reading the words and seeing two of my favorite genres—genderqueer theory and poetry—come together. Fascinating—and, as far as I know, the only book of its kind.

Poets include Samuel Ace, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Micha Cardenas, kari edwards, Duriel Harris, Joy Ladin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eileen Myles, Trish Salah, Max Wolf Valerio, John Wieners, Kit Yan, and more.

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive By Julia Serano (Seal Press). I’ve said for years that I consider Serano’s first book, Whipping Girl, required reading, and this, her sophomore publication, is likewise just as essential. Feminist and queer movements can be so exclusive, can reproduce all sorts of misogyny, racism, transphobia, transmisogyny, classism, and dozens more -isms—I have experienced and witnessed so much of that first-hand, and it frustrates me, as someone who is deeply committed to feminist and queer movements. And yet … sometimes I have no idea what to do about it. Serano puts forth all kinds of theories and concepts that I really like—the first one that comes to mind is explaining feminism through the concept of double standards. Keep up with Serano through her blog, where she’s got information about book signings and readings, and where she’s been posting excerpts and definitions of terms she coined or is using extensively in this book. It’ll give you a good sense of the tone and concepts included in Excluded (see what I did there? Ha ha!).

bk-bbe14 ble14

Best Bondage Erotica 2014 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press). Oh! It looks like this is technically released January 1st, though I did just see that Rachel received her box of copies to send out to Amazon reviewers (get in touch with her and get a copy of the book in exchange for writing it up on Amazon!). I’m not sure what the last Best Bondage Erotica collection was that I read … maybe I haven’t read any of them? I’ll be honest, I’m not very into bondage—but that’s partly why I absolutely loved Laura Antoniou’s introduction to this book, which basically said, “Uh, I’m not that into bondage.” Hah! Cracked me up, and also, I identify with that. “I’m much more into power,” Antoniou writes. Yeah, me too. And yet … and yet. She goes on to explain the value of these stories, and I admit they kept me turning pages. I particularly loved Kathleen Delaney-Adams story “Tart Cherry,” but that’s because I am a sucker for a kinky femme bottom who knows what she wants. Still, it’s beautifully written and sweet and dirty, and it stood out.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, edited by Kathleen Warnock (Cleis Press). There was a bit of news about this year’s BLE collection, and while I have a lot of questions and confusion and thoughts from that article, I don’t really need to go into that here. I mean, I am kind of the lesbian erotica cheerleader (despite having complicated relationships with both the words “lesbian” and “erotica”). But still, I come back to BLE year after year, I submit my stories, and I always, always look forward to reading it. This year, the story I submitted is the kick-off piece, the first one in the book (thrilling!), and I was lucky enough to be part of the release party here in San Francisco and hear almost ten of the stories read aloud. I think this year’s is a good collection, well-written and well collected, though there aren’t very many stories in here that I’ll be going back to for jerk-off material, mostly because they aren’t Daddy/girl or heavy BDSM based (which tends to be what I seek out these days—I know, SHOCKER). Still, Cheryl Dunye & Sarah Schulman’s script for the full length campy porn Mommy is Coming is included, and that’s fascinating.

Actually, speaking of Mommy is Coming, here’s the trailer:

Um yeah. Definitely recommend that one.

Aaaand that concludes this current book round-up! What have you been reading lately? Anything good to recommend?

Two years with Rife

When I think about the past two years, and trying to put some sort of something together to explain how it’s been, I think in photographs. That one where he’s picking raspberries with his bare hands, crouched in his brown tee shirt, raspberry juice running down his wrists, pink staining his tongue. The one where he and his dog are surveying the moonscape of northern Yukon right before we turned past the “Welcome to Alaska!” sign. The one he called “doing important boy work” where he was sitting in a jock strap and nothing else on the porch at the ranch writing in his leather boy journal, writing reflections on tasks for me or writing about feelings of service and submission or writing a book report, I don’t know what the task was, but I’m sure it was important. The one with his dimples in that orange-red light that I looked at over and over before I really knew him.

I’d put together a collage post, an essay in photographs, but that doesn’t feel good enough, because who knows what you’d see. Maybe you’d see what I see, all the sweet boy tasks and dimpled smiles and creating art, but you wouldn’t see so many of the other things: the quiet contemplation, the complexities, the intensity of inner landscape, the artistry, the precision, the majesty.

It’s not easy, this intimate loving. I don’t know how it could ever be easy. It’s a practice of stripping away blocks, stripping away defenses, reminding myself over and over to let in, take in, open up, drop that protective layer. What a horrible thing to do, and how beautiful. What else is there, really, than to let someone see who I am as true as I possibly can.

This is my best truth, I whisper to him over and over, with each breath, while I sleep, while my lips touch his fingertips, while my key fits his lock. Right now, I am ruined. Right now, I am running. Right now, I am ruminating. Right now, I am rubber bouncing away. Right now, I am rumbling. Right now, I am rushed. Right now, I am a ruby shining. Right now, I am rusted through and I fear one touch will crumble everything. Right now, I just need you to hold me, take your hand and put it there, hold me from inside.

I have loved enough to know not to make grand declarations while I fall. I know I have said the same things, again and again. Falling always feels like that: brand new, awakened, like nothing else ever before. And it’s true. This time, it’s green green in all her shades, babygreen and lime and chartreuse, fresh mown grass, pine and spruce, fern and jungle, tea and olive, so many options. Let’s spend the life of our relationship cataloguing all of the hues and saturations, all of the chroma and light, every kind of value there may be. Let’s memorize the hex and RGB codes and recite them in each other’s ears when we need to remember the secret language in which we speak. This green that is growth and renewal, from budding seed to moss covering the old growth. Every stage, none more valuable than the other. None needing to be hidden. No forest does their mourning in silence, hidden away in holes or caves. Trees fall out in the open, unapologetic. This is my direction. I will now lay down to rest. We heard that great snap on the outer point trail and both looked to the canopy: which one would it be? The clear sound of tree death echoed, but it took a moment before falling. Like a ball bouncing tall tall tall and then less and less until the sound waterfalls. The tree was a waterfall as it descended, mortal, unrooted.

This is what happens. Unrooted I descend, mortal, and no one to be worshipped. And yet he does it anyway. So devoted, he whispers, and I whisper it right back. My noblesse oblige, my responsibilities, the placement in his life I continue to earn daily as I am to be and act from my best self. The deepest of forest greens. Living with him seems small compared to owning him.

I don’t know why I crave the power I do, nor does he know why he craves the submission he does. We puzzle, we theorize, we study, we muse. And we give to each other in these ways that we have always craved. Something in me didn’t know what I wanted was to own, to master. The verb, the job title—not the honorific, not yet (maybe that will come later). But as I study this path, I realize I’ve always been on it. Always been trying to encourage something more, and making do with my own limitations.

I’ve been making offerings my whole life, holding up gifts, looking at paths and asking if they wanted to walk it with me. This is the boy who has taken my hand and said yes. This is the boy who showed me paths he’s discovered, too, but had not yet walked, knowing the essentiality of having another with him. This is the boy who has been offering, over and over, to take more if they wanted it. I want more. I want the edge. I seek the razor on which we can both balance. I seek the calling to be my own best self. I seek one who will stay at my feet not because it serves him, but because it serves me. That is a fine line of difference, but makes everything change.

Right now, I am shining in the oldest forest, crackling descent to the earth, digging up rubies. Doesn’t green shine brighter when there’s red around? Isn’t my heart just oh so ready to pour this blood into the earth? Isn’t there so much more to love than heartbreak? Isn’t there so much possibility, when puzzle pieces find each other? Aren’t we so ready, so prepared and ready, to live our way to the answers, live our way to the creations of our quiet, deepest callings?

I don’t know what happens next. But I know this is the beginning of year three, and I’m listening. I choose.

What It Means

1.
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.

Gaping Yawp

I’m ripe with danger and loss. Others have told me I hold violence like I’m cultivating a babygreen seedling, but I never believed them until now. You could try to pluck me from the tree but it takes no force, I will fall off into your hand. Don’t make a fist, juice will spill down to your elbow, stain more than any wine. And then the loss of limbs, branches destroyed by beetles and careless swings of an axe. A bronzed arm over the mantle because I asked you for it, and you said okay.

Harbor: choose anything but harbor—more like a cauldron. We boil and toil and burn from the inside out. I am no refuge, no dirty inlet with a dike sheltering from sea monsters. I am the sea monster, I am the barnacles on the underbelly you have to dry dock to deal with. I thought I was more for you than you ever received from any cracker jack box, more than a surprise plastic toy, don’t you know how to decipher my usage? But I lost the instruction manual long before we met. Threw it into the surf. Burned it at fahrenheit 451. My trees grow weary of giving up their paper so easily, but they have nothing else to give.

You gave me bloodlust, a hunger for the darkest taste of me, and there’s no turning back. I can’t undo the danger I offered up, my ripe organs eager for your piercing. Give me more. Open up an apple sideways so the seeds make a star. Dive into the honey thick with bees and sunshine. Liquid greens, that color of new growth, any time the daffodils die and birds start turning one glassy eye to the tundra of the north. Come to where the herring are abundant, bubbles caught in the air waiting to explode in a gaping yawp of need. Don’t we all have it, that bottomlessness, that sexy darkness that links back to when we were born. Birth is the real loss of the only time we are truly one with another. Isn’t that, under it all, the only thing anyone ever wants?

Video Poems: “Gender Architecture” and “The Right One”

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.

“Gender Architecture”

“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.

“How Poetry Saved My Life” Reading with Amber Dawn (& me!) on Wednesday in SF

I’m reading as a special guest for Amber Dawn‘s San Francisco book release party for How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir this Wednesday night, May 22nd, at 7pm at the Modern Times Bookstore Collective.

Sub Rosa remains one of my favorite novels that I’ve read ever, and definitely in the top 3 in recent years. She received a Lammy in the lesbian fiction category for it and it is well deserved.

I haven’t finished How Poetry Saved My Life yet, in part because every time I start reading it, I read it slowly, taking time with each word, and I put it down often to jot down my own poetical thoughts. It’s inspiring.

“I’m asking you to entertain that wish I made earlier. To treat this like a two-way conversation. My dear reader, you’ve caught on by now that this is not really about sex work. Sex work is only one of many, many things we learn we are not to talk about. Sex work is only one of many things we’ve been asked (but never agreed) to keep silent.
This is about the labour of becoming whole … Locate yourself within the bigger, puzzling, and sometimes hazardous world around you. You are invited to do this work.”

I’m working on a new piece, chewing a lot on the connections between poetry and sex work, between gender and sex, between desire and language. I think there are so many overlaps and connections and I’m striving to connect the dots in a poem for Wednesday (tomorrow!) night.

If you’re near the Bay Area, please come! I won’t be reading much more before I head up north for June & July, so this’ll be a rare appearance. And you really want to hear Amber Dawn read from this new book—trust me!

howpoetryAmber Dawn reads from and discusses her new book, “How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir
*Joined by Special Guest Sinclair Sexsmith*
Wednesday, May 22nd: 7PM
Modern Times Bookstore Collective
2919 24th St (at Alabama)
www.mtbs.com

Amber Dawn’s acclaimed first novel Sub Rosa, a darkly intoxicating fantasy about a group of magical prostitutes who band together to fend off bad johns in a fantastical underworld, won a Lambda Literary Award in 2011. While the plot of the book was wildly imaginative, it was also based on the author’s own experience as a sex worker in the 1990s and early 2000s, and on her coming out as lesbian.

“How Poetry Saved My Life,” Amber Dawn’s sophomore book, reveals an even more poignant and personal landscape―the terrain of sex work, queer identity, and survivor pride. This story, told in prose and poetry, offers a frank, multifaceted portrait of the author’s experiences hustling the streets of Vancouver, and the how those years took away her self-esteem and nearly destroyed her; at the crux of this autobiographical narrative is the tender celebration of poetry and literature, which―as the title suggests―acted as a lifeline during her most pivotal moments.

As raw and fiery as its author, How Poetry Saved My Life is a powerful account of survival and the transformative power of literature.

Sinclair Sexsmith (www.mrsexsmith.com) is an erotic coach, educator, and writer. They write the award-winning personal online project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Sex, Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net, have contributed to more than twenty anthologies, and edited Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica. They travel frequently to teach workshops on gender and sexuality.

Amber Dawn is the Lambda Literary Award-winning author of Sub Rosa, as well as a filmmaker, and performance artist. She’s appeared at dozens of universities and literary festivals, both for readings and to sit on discussion panels. She is often invited to speak on topics such as “writing from the margins,” queer identities in writing, and sex-positive writing. She also leads creative writing classes with high-risk youth and/or sex workers populations. She has toured three times with the Sex Workers’ Art Show and is the former Director of Programming for the Vancouver Queer Film Festival (VQFF). Her website is amberdawnwrites.com.

Cornea (My Father’s Eyes)

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

the wildflowers
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?

Love Is Trying Anyway

Love is generous. Love is incomparable.
Love is not quantifiable, but
we put numbers and words to it anyway,
because that is our nature, to strive
to express the unexpressable. Love
is letting go. Love is holding
gently. Love is allowance, gratitude,
cheerleading. Love is fluidity, not
rigidity. Love is dishing and sharing
excitement. Love is knowing
no one person is your everything. Love
is persistence and patience and
reassurance. Love is sincere apologies
and fucking up and knowing
you have the space to fuck it up again,
and knowing you have even more space
and support and tools and skills
to try harder. Love is lonely, sometimes,
because you have room to be alone. Love
is smothering, sometimes, because
you have desire to be close. Love is
coming together and going apart
a thousand times a day. Love is learning
to recognize the difference. Love is
asking for what you want. Love is
practicing to be bold and courageous,
sometimes, when we can. Love is
curled under the covers when
refuge is needed. Love is gross
and body fluids and waste and
old moldy salsa jars in the fridge.
Love is the light through the east
window just right on a winter afternoon.
Love is wrestling with deep contradictory
truths. Love is feeling the fear
and doing it anyway. Love is reconciling
daily, sometimes hourly. Love is a golden
bubble bath and a white washcloth
that smells like jasmine. Love is
making a special trip to the store
for eggs and cheese and root beer
and coming back to find no one home.
Love is checking in twice. Love is not
having to explain every feeling or
misunderstanding. Love is planting
a garden
and not knowing what will come up,
what will blossom,
what will bloom. Love
is trying anyway. Love is risk.
Love is undefend,
undefend, undefend.
Love is asking yourself if this
is an act of war or an act of
god. Love is self-soothing
and taking on the world, sometimes
for more than just yourself.
Love is crying alone. Love
is determination. Love is possible—
it has to be,
I chose to believe that it is.

To Do While Grieving List

1. Shower ever day. Even if you have to cry through it.

2. Put on clean clothes, even if they aren’t your favorites. Or do laundry, and wear only your favorites.

3. Behave well toward Kristen. She loves you, you love her, even if you are numb and can’t remember.

4. Write. Because it heals you. Because you can’t do anything else. Because it makes the most sense. Because it is your deepest practice, your deepest craft.

4a. Take a class, make some art, take up time.

5. Run. When you want to get away from yourself and these emotions, get them out of your body. Go back to boxing class. Take out the anger on something else.

6. Grow the fuck up. Behave like an adult. Stop the self-pity. Stop the over-indulgence of your feelings. Stop taking yourself so seriously.

7. Read. Read poetry if you can’t get into long things. Read indulgently. Read grief memoirs and buddhist philosophy and ttantra and open up to healing. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to heal today. Read more.

8. Work. Set reminders in your phone for appointment times because you can’t keep track of time. Calendar everything. Make work a priority. Finish projects. Make art. Focus on this, if nothing else.

8a. Don’t publish over-indulgent blog posts that attempt to tell the “whole story” and draw some conclusion. Write poetry. Write about feelings. Write about love and sex and grief and loss and abandonment, how scary it is to watch Kristen bloom, and how much it matters to let her. Learn what over-indulgent blog posts look like, so that when you do write them, you don’t hit “publish.”

9. Go outside. Feel the earth. Drink water.

10. Pray. You are not alone, even though you feel you are. Faith is when you see no hope, and you do it anyway. Times like this are why we practice. Lean on your practices. Everything is temporary.

11. Behave well toward yourself. Take care of your body. Eat well. Nourish. Buy a fancy new soap so showers suck less. Make a list of your favorite foods, then eat them. Start watching a new TV series when you can’t be in your brain anymore. Be alone when you need to be. Practice impeccable self-care. Forgive everyone, and maybe yourself most of all.

How To Unlearn Patterns

I am a series of
stories and stories and stories
I tell myself and others
secret truths and whole-hearted lies
until they are more me
than the skin I wear. Some
stories are collectively lost, looking
for a home. Some stories leap
with fists locked tight enough
to fuck, some stories weep
and unravel the fabric of my
baby blankets. I am desperate
for meaning. Something bigger
than my wild and precious, stupid
little life. Some context for my
bleeding throbbing heart and cunt
and dick. Some balm for
this ache of mortality, of perfect
imperfection. Take me on as your
protege, graveyard; take me on as your
benefactor, temple. I seek to build
monuments to and out of love. I seek
to make meaning. I seek to make
movements. I seek to sit still, to smile,
to blink, to put pen to paper, to tell all.
Shh, listen. My story has gone out
to play.

The Beat of a Second Heart

I’ve started crying on airplanes. It used to be ginger ale, now it’s wine. I probably should have eaten more than a bagel, should have had more for dinner last night than a whiskey flight and a kiss, but now I am crying and beginning to hear the beat of a second heart in my chest.

I am exhausted. I’d like to sleep for a year. By which I mean, I’d like to turn down my consciousness in order to have some rest. My rest has not been deep enough, has not penetrated my bones. Too much has happened in the past year. I opened up my chest from the back and wings sprang out, and now I cannot wear my shirts or binders or coats or old patterns anymore. Nothing fits. I am running, running to catch up with myself, when really I’m supposed to be flying. Why else would I have these new tools?

But sometimes my pen won’t move. I love and love and love, aching to make sense, make meaning, make love with my every movement, and sometimes all I can do is collapse because I’m overfull and not full enough. An underactive nervous system prone to depression and shutting down, a blank page. Still I ache and move and nourish and detox and meditate. Still I feel this pulsing in my chest, faint like something coming from within the walls, this second heart beating and every once in a while blinking a tiny little light like a pulsar star. I want to build. To do something with all of this love and throbbing energy and heat and pure life force I am lucky enough to have. I hope to never forget to be grateful for every breath of air I magically take in, every moment of reception, penetration, release, surrender, power. I can’t help but course it all through my every vein.

I am starting to cry on airplanes. It is a place I can rest, so high above my email inbox and big loves (I count five) and the ground floor surface of earth’s crust. I am lightheaded up here, stripped of the daily needs of the world, and when I drop down under my days I find this ache. This exhaustion. This ongoing fear of misunderstanding. This curse of a body, of mortality, of injustice. I haven’t reconciled. I miss the clarity and discovery of youth, of innocence. I’d like to make sense of so many things, like how the black holes grow within us and what it could ever take to fill them, like how stone can trickle away through consistent gentle water, like why humans destroy each other from the inside out. I can’t seem to find meaning in wars, but still I engage, sometimes late at night with the ones I love most. Sometimes silently stowing my own cocks in empty boxes unworthy. Sometimes desperate sorrow. Sometimes the silent blank faith of the line without the next word.

The first day I had wings, it was awkward and inconsistent. The second day I toppled over, top heavy. The third day my errands were effortless.

I guess that’s all I want. Less effort, more sweetness. Less struggle, more radical empathy. To cry because it feels good to release, above, hurdling through the sky, the taste of wine on my tongue.

Oh Hi! I’m Reading in NYC This Week

Hello Internet! I’m still here. I posted very little in January because I spent most of that month working on the Celebrating the Body Erotic for women workshop which happened this last week in New York City. It was beautiful and moving and intense and heart-wrenching and I might’ve seen a vision while we were doing one of the breathing exercises and it went incredibly well and I’m glad it’s over. It was very time consuming.

And now I’m gearing up for basically a full month of travel. It’ll probably mean I’m posting less this month, too. In fact, I’ve been so busy that I can’t even seem to finish the February calendar to post here! I have a lot of gigs this month—Columbia University in NYC, American in DC, Smith College in Northampton, the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle—and I’m looking forward to them. I’ve been home since early December and I’m starting to get stir-crazy. I like that this little life I’ve been working on takes me other places. I love New York City (is that the first time I’ve said that? Possibly) but I can’t be here all the time. I start to feel so disconnected from the planet.

But I’m still kind of recovering from the workshop. All that energy work takes it out of me. Today, all I’d like to do is eat some dahl with spicy pickled mangoes and watch documentaries on the couch. I’ve given myself the last two days off, basically, to recover, and today it’s Back To Work time.

This week, before I go off to my travels, I’m doing two big readings in New York City. I haven’t really read poetry since Sideshow ended, and while I don’t have a ton of new poems to share, I am digging through my pieces and excited to get up and practice opening my heart on stage for a while. I love the Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 book so I’m looking forward to hearing more of those pieces out loud, and listening to some of the boys from Best Gay Erotica 2012 too. Plus, there will be a singles mixer! Come find a Valentine’s date.

I can’t seem to decide what to read tonight at the Queer Apple/Inspired Word event … I still have a few hours, so I’m gathering up the options. Looking over the poetry I’ve published here, there is certainly not too much that is recent. But I don’t mind dusting off some old pieces. Probably I’ll read the Butch Poem. Probably I’ll read The Right One. I’m not sure what else. Any requests?

Queer Apple: NYC GLBT Life in Poetry & Prose + Open Mic

The Inspired Word performance series is excited to present a new event that will become a regular part of our calendar, Queer Apple: NYC GLBT Life in Poetry & Prose, featuring some of this city’s best GLBT writers/performers – Sinclair Sexsmith, Christa Orth, Ocean Vuong, Samantha Barrow, Kestryl Cael Lowery, Kelli Dunham, Brandon Lacy Campos, and Jessica Halem. In addition, there will be a 12-slot open mic (4 minutes each slot) to bring your own GLBT experience to the party. Must be GLBT themed. A night of transcendence of words through narrative, poetry, and humor, hosted by Aimee Herman.

When: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012
Where: 116 (formerly The Gaslight Cafe)
116 MacDougal Street
(between Bleecker Street and Minetta Lane)
Downstairs Lounge
Manhattan, NY 10012
(212) 254-9996
(917) 703-1512
By subway, take the A, B, C, D, E, F to West 4th Street-Washington Square.

Doors open for sign-up @ 6:30pm
Show starts @ 7pm
Cover Charge: $10
RSVP on Facebook

Find a Valentine at the Best Erotica Reading

Need a valentine? Wear a heart if you’re single! Come hear some hot smut! Readers include: D.L. King, Ali Oh, Julia Noel Goldman, Anne Grip, James Earl Hardy and Greg Norris! More to come (so to speak).

7pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center
172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
Lower East Side
RSVP on Facebook

In Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, women are looking for a little bit of everything: love, lust, and that special someone who brings both to bed. Lammy-nominated editor Kathleen Warnock and this year’s guest judge, acclaimed sex blogger Sinclair Sexsmith, have curated a collection that is waiting to lay bare your deepest desires. Best Gay Erotica 2012 captures the tension and raw energy of man-on-man desire in this collection of the hottest, freshest and most literary erotic fiction of the year. Editor Richard Labonté (and guest judge Larry Duplechan) share their tricks of the trade in this outstanding volume of craftsmanship and cockmanship.

Based in New York City, KATHLEEN WARNOCK is a playwright and editor whose work has appeared in several editions of Best Lesbian Erotica.

SINCLAIR SEXSMITH (mrsexsmith.com) runs the award-winning project Sugarbutch Chronicles at sugarbutch.net. Her work appears in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme and Take Me There: Transgender and Genderqueer Erotica, among others. She is the editor of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 and Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica.

School Boy Valentine

I’m a school boy, in between
unsure of my body’s edges under
my skin, sliding a valentine

between the slots in your locker.
You are the valentine. Or
you are the one who watches

as I cut out hearts from red
construction paper. I’m the one

the teachers ask to stay and talk,
not because I’m bad at school
but because I wear too much

black. You’re the one who sees
full color spectrum in the sparkle

in my eyes, who waits for me
on the merry-go-round after band.
We spend nights in the cemetery,

halfway between our houses, trying
not to let unfinished spirits take

over before we start our own
lives. You kiss me in the dark hall

by the locker rooms. My pink
slip falls from my hand to the floor.

The “Bring Down the Chandeliers” Winner

… is #23, Sabina! I’ll contact you individually to follow up.

Hope you all get a chance to see Tara Hardy perform, please do seek her out. Sabina, I hope you enjoy the book!

Sabina mentioned Tamiko Beyer as her favorite, another queer femme poet of whom I am a big fan. Tamiko read at Sideshow last year, and I’ve seen her perform a few times around the New York area. Actually, I have a piece in the literary journal that she edits, Drunken Boat, that you might recognize called Rocking Chair Blow Job.

Mentor Series: Tara Hardy & Her New Book, Bring Down the Chandeliers

Tara Hardy has been a mentor and influence of mine since I first saw her perform in Seattle in 2000. I then went on to be one of her students for about five years, studying at Bent: A Writing Institute for Queers, where I eventually became a volunteer and substitute teacher, and where I learned a ton about performing, chapbooks, writing, queerness, butchness, femmes, and all sorts of other life things.

Anything But God by Tara Hardy, one of my favorite pieces of hers:

Her new book, Bring Down the Chandeliers, is published on Write Bloody and is brilliant. I have many of her previous self-published chapbooks, so I recognized some of these poems, but even familiar with her work I was thrilled to see them re-made and re-imagined for this new collection. I love how she’s edited them.

I bought an extra copy of her new book just so I could give it away here on Sugarbutch. Want it? Leave a comment with your favorite poet or poem or book of poems, or something else entirely, and I’ll pick a winner at random next week Monday when I get back from Dark Odyssey.

One of her recent chapbooks, Shoulder Slip Strap (which she probably has copies of if you email her or find her on Facebook), has this short but amazing piece in it that I have been chewing on ever since I read it.

Isn’t that just oh so perfect? I love how much is encapsulated.

She’s going to be touring in the Northeast in September and October, so if she’s coming to a city near you, this is your chance to see her perform. Do it. From her Facebook note:

Tara Hardy on the loose for 20 days in the northeast: 18 performances, 8 workshops, 1 rental car, more shoes than she shoulda, and lots & lots-o-copies of Bring Down the Chandeliers (for sale!).

*Thursday, 9/15: Amherst, MA, Smith College
*Friday, 9/16: Somerville, MA, Poets Theater (Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave) 8pm
*Saturday, 9/17: Boston, MA, Jme Caroline’s kitchen, Time TBA
*Sunday, 9/18: Portland, ME, Rhythmic Cypher, Slainte Wine Bar (24 Preble St) 8pm
*Monday, 9/19: Portland, ME, workshop TBA, performance at Port Veritas (Local Sprouts, 649 Congress), Time TBA
*Tuesday, 9/20: Providence, RI, Providence Poetry Slam (AS220, 115 Empire Ave) 9pm
*Wednesday, 9/21: Day of rest, or rather, bookstore hop.
*Thursday, 9/22: Manchester, NH, Milly’s Tavern (500 Commercial Street) 8pm
*Friday, 9/23: New York, NY, Nuyorican Poetry Slam (Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E Third St) 9pm
*Saturday, 9/24: Worcester, MA, Clark College Youth Performance, (location TBA) 7pm
*Sunday, 9/25: Worcester, MA, Clark College Workshop (location TBA) 2-4pm and Poets Asylum, (WCUW Front Room, 910 Main St) 7pm
*Monday, 9/26: New York, NY, LouderARTS (Bar 13, 35 East 13th Street) 7:30pm
*Tuesday, 9/27: Washington, D.C., Beltway Poetry Slam (The Fridge, 516 8th Street SE) 7:30pm
*Wednesday, 9/28: Washington, D.C., Busboys & Poets (5th & K Streets) 9pm
*Thursday, 9/29: Long Branch, NJ, Loser Slam (665 Second Avenue) workshop 8pm, performance, 9pm
*Friday, 9/30: Jersey City, NJ, JC Slam (location & time TBA)
*Saturday, 10/1: Richmond, VA, Richmond Slam (Artspace Art Gallery, 31 E 3rd St) workshop & performance, 5-7:30pm
*Sunday, 10/2: Day of rest, or rather, search for best vegan food in D.C.
*Monday, 10/3: Washington, D.C. Mothertongue (DC Center, 1318 U Street NW) workshop 6:30-8, performance, 9pm
*Tuesday, 10/4: New York, NY, Urbana Poetry Slam (Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery) 7pm

When Peace Comes by Tara Hardy

Thank you, Tara, for all that you’ve done and all you’ve taught and all you’ve shared with the world. You’ve been a huge influence, and I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t had your guidance and brilliance along the way.

Thinking About Bowls

… among other things. I have much to say about my experience at the erotic energy intensive, but as my heart & body & mind sorts through everything, here’s a poem I wrote on the plane.

Pulse

The bowl of the Jemez Valley
sinks the circle to center. We
dip our unclothed bodies into
the hot pools, hearts cracking
open like the sky after mid-
afternoon thunder storms
saunter in to nourish the thirsty
ground of the high desert. Skin
shows wear, blush, want—
we take turns holding ourselves
under water, letting our bodies sink
and surface. Ant colonies construct
the shifting ground under our feet.
The hummingbirds arrive when we
offer them sugar water, offering
themselves as medicine in return.
We fly in the kitchen, sit like
boulders in the zendo, grow
wings through holding, fill our bowls,
dip our fingers in to clean them.
I attempt re-mothering, I am Daddy,
I watch, shining light inward
down from my comfortable purple
easy chair. I discover an inner
engagement, ready to wed;
act it out in ten minute experiments
while wheelbarrows win, rain
falls, voices are replaced. Our
climaxes are our own responsibilities.
We dazzle in the evenings under
the milky way, emptying and refilling
our hungry open bowls.

For Cheryl

There are a few things coming up for Cheryl.

The Last Sideshow, Tuesday, July 12th, at the usual time and place (8pm, The Phoenix, East Village, NYC). Lineup TBA.

A Memorial for Cheryl B (Is For Beautiful): A Celebration of Her Life, Because This Death Stuff Sucks. Saturday, July 23rd, 3pm at Dixon Place, NYC

I still don’t know what to say.

Here are a couple videos of Cheryl reading her work. I have some clips of her from an event of mine a few years back that I want to convert and put on YouTube too, haven’t done that yet. Maybe this weekend.

Hope you can make it to Sideshow or the memorial.

Cheryl B.

photo by Syd London

Cheryl B. died yesterday, Saturday morning. I’m not sure what I can say yet. A couple other people are able to be more articulate than me: Sassafras Lowrey at Lambda Literary.org, Kathleen Warnock at Too Many Hats. Edit: Here’s a few more, Anne Elliott on Ass Backwords, Rachel Kramer Bussel on Lusty Lady.

We made a little video for Cheryl at April’s Sideshow.

Sideshow Loves Cheryl from Sinclair Sexsmith on Vimeo.

I’d like to post some videos of her poetry soon. I miss her.

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

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.

Here is a story / to break your heart.

I’m still working on more essays and ideas and thoughts in response to the recent gay suicides. My weekly column on SexIs Magazine, Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend, features What You Can Do To Support Queer Youth today, which has some of my thoughts.

And did you hear that there was a gay bashing inside of Stonewall in New York City this past weekend? No seriously, Stonewall, like the gayest bar in this city? It’s practically laughable. I mean I’m sure it wasn’t laughable for the people who were bashed, but really? What? That almost seems desperate, to me. Like someone attempting to cling to power.

So. Since I don’t have the piece written that I want to write yet, I want to share this poem that has been in my head lately. I used it in my writing workshop at Butch Voices in Portland with the homework instruction to write ‘a story to break your heart,’ if you are willing. (It is most effective when read aloud, even just to yourself, I think.)

Lead
Mary Oliver

Here is a story
to break your heart.
Are you willing?
This winter
the loons came to our harbor
and died, one by one,
of nothing we could see.
A friend told me
of one on the shore
that lifted its head and opened
the elegant beak and cried out
in the long, sweet savoring of its life
which, if you have heard it,
you know is a sacred thing,
and for which, if you have not heard it,
you had better hurry to where
they still sing.
And, believe me, tell no one
just where that is.
The next morning
this loon, speckled
and iridescent and with a plan
to fly home
to some hidden lake,
was dead on the shore.
I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

Reprinted from New and Selected Poems, Volume Two by Mary Oliver

Free Copy of Ivan Coyote’s book Loose End

looseendIvan E. Coyote, Top Hot Butches Number Six and amazing storyteller, writer, and performer, has a new book out this year from Arsenal Pulp Press called The Slow Fix. I just picked it up when Kristen and I were in Philadelphia about a month ago at Giovanni’s Room, which, by the way, was one of the most amazing queer bookstores I’ve ever been in. Such a wonderful collection of books there, I could’ve bought twenty – I settled on three.

And, I just heard from Arsenal Pulp Press that they’ve got a promotion going on through September 30th – “FREE Ivan E. Coyote Book, Loose End, and with this download, you are also entitled to a SPECIAL 25% DISCOUNT off the purchase of any or all of Ivan’s books, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR.

I think I have all of them, but I might be missing one. I’ll have to double check. Hmm, maybe this is a good holiday gift – who’s on my list that would like Ivan’s books? I’m sure I can come up with a few.

You Are Never Ready

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

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.

Gloaming

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. I want to trace lines on your
skin until I find my fingers touching
paper, want to grip your hair until
it is all fallen. No twilight trysts,
though we do continue on through midnight,

through constellations, through antique
blue at five am before the sun remembers
itself an idea again. I want you without
shadow, without sun, without brilliance,
without cover, without cost, and there

we will soil crisp sheets, turn sugar
and heat into salted caramels, discover
the perfect angle of shoulder that becomes
landscape. I’m no cartographer, but I could
be; I long for a protractor, walking stick,

compass, to explore hidden openings to wet
caves I never knew I fit inside. Your eyes
glow willing in the gloaming. Your fingers
on my forearm, the grey light is pause,
poised, darkening, as fireflies begin

to rise from the ground. As we spin away
from the sun I want you, still, not reaching
or retracting, simply motionless with
anticipation, one singular breath at a time.

Partially inspired by Alice Elliot Dark’s beautiful story “In The Gloaming,” partially by the song Living in Twilight by the Weepies which I’ve been listening to on repeat for many days.

My Father’s Son

The GoatWhen I saw him in September we camped in his family’s cabin. My grandfather built it with his own two hands and gave it to his children; now his own two legs, the prosthetics he got after both were amputated below the knee from diabetes, are the legs of the cabin’s kitchen table.

My two younger sisters and I slept in the cabin’s only room on pillows and dusty weathered couches as Dad woke and stoked the fire. Mornings at the lake are chilly, even at the peak of heat in August when the summer has been baking the water to its depths and swimming is the best. I watched him add kindling and logs and sometimes dozed off. He spread another blanket over me. When I woke I saw a forlorn gaze in his eyes I’ve never seen. What was he thinking? Was he wondering how his oldest daughter evolved into this boy? This big-city dapper masculinity that is too faggy to fit in with him and his brothers and all my older boy cousins as they discuss elaborately the latest football game, the way they fixed their trailers and trucks, what they caught when out fishing, how to clean the geoduck, how to make a perfect sausage-and-egg breakfast for ten, how to put on a wedding, how to give away the bride.

Dad, are you wondering how I got here? How I went from that tree-climbing skinned-knee ragamuffin girl to this prettyboy? From that girl who worked through her teens in your sports card shop, flirting with the boys as my girlfriends came in to seek sanctuary from the juvenile delinquent park hangout across the street when their feelings were hurt, when someone dumped them (again), when they got caught smoking, when they were being sent tomorrow to rehab or summer camp or anorexia camp or gay camp or bible camp.

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.

We used to go on drives sometimes. After dinner restless, this was when neither of us wanted to be home, neither could stomach my mother’s depression. We’d go on drives and this was when you first told me, “I want to open up a store, right there maybe,” pointing at the empty corner lot that used to be a restaurant bar, at the mall on the wharf. “But my dream space,” he whispered, leaning in, “is right by Foodland.”

That was back when we shared our dreams with each other.

It was on one of those drives, too, where he saw a little silver Saab for sale and said, “that’s the kind of car I want to buy you.” I was fourteen and wouldn’t have a license for nearly ten more years. I couldn’t see myself as a driver, just as I couldn’t see myself as a grown woman, a wife, a mother, a panic that plagued my teens.

Recently on a road trip I saw a blue 1970s GTO and remembered some photos from my mom’s college album. “Hard top, 1964,” my dad emailed back. “Midnight blue, the original muscle car. I got it up to 100 easy on the road out to the cabin. I called the car my “Goat.””

Once, I told a lover that I was considering taking T. She had a string of baby trannys, she knew how to break us in over her knee. “You won’t turn into Cary Grant,” she warned me, and stopped at a photo of my father in the hallway. “You’ll turn into him. Look. Is that what you’re thinking you’ll be?”

I didn’t grow up in my father’s footsteps, but suddenly I’ve found myself standing in his shoes.

And now, fifteen years later, he moved his store right next to Foodland, the only grocery store downtown. A prime spot for retail. He has all but retired from the environmental engineering business upon which our family was built and now sorts sports cards, comics, coins from his father’s collection, from when the store opens at noon – so he can sleep in – to six pm, every day except Monday. “I’ve worked enough Mondays for a lifetime,” I’ve heard him say.

Now, fifteen years later, I don’t drive much; I take the subway and taxis but I still miss the stick shift in my hand and the dance of the pedals, just like you taught me. Now fifteen years later I can imagine myself as my father’s grown daughter, this “man” I’ve become, your son.

Three daughters and your wife, our mother, all in one house for nearly half of your life. Did you ever wish you had a son, Dad?

I wonder what he’s thinking, as this fire, his fire, warms our morning. He smiles at me with a look I’ve never seen.

“I sleep just like that,” he says. “With my arm over my eyes. You look just like me.”

A girl: my future wife

She never leaves my side at parties. People come up to talk to me or her or both of us and she has impeccable control over the conversation, a complex harmony of our varied voices with a beautiful baseline that she keeps with her heartbeat. She knows when and how to release us from a topic or person. She does most of the talking. I listen. I like it that way.

She puts her lovely hand on my elbow, my arm, the back of my neck, at small moments: a reassurance and support for which I am always grateful.

She leans in to give me a peck on the cheek near my ear and whispers, “I’m watching the clock. We’re leaving in thirty minutes so you can take me home and fuck me.”

I grin and sip a drink. Finger a pocketwatch, cufflinks, the knot of my tie.

She lets me drive her car. I spin the wheels on wet pavement and work the clutch like a lover: pressure, friction, demand, take. She has her hand on my inner thigh and we both want her to touch the bulge in the crotch but she resists. Her eyes sparkle watching the road.

(This is what I want.)

She sleeps in later than I do on the weekends. I get up, make coffee how she likes it, write for a few hours as she slumbers. Sometimes I take photos of the golden morning sun on her skin.

When she stirs I crawl back into bed with her and we make love, fuck, play until we are satiated and laughing, until our bodies edges are blurred into each other and our heartbeats are synchronized. Her long legs folded, knees touching her nipples. My hand in her thick long hair. Rocking her on the curve of her spine, rocking together.

We make food, replenish, drink coffee over ice and she cooks in the kitchen in only an apron until I lift her onto the counter, arms above her head holding onto the cabinets, bend her over the back of the couch, then again against the cool linoleum.

When I go back to work in the evening she lets me, she directs her energy to her own work, whatever that might be, something physical to balance my mental swirling. We keep each other balanced. She kisses the top of my head or trails her fingers on her shoulders as she walks by, but does not interrupt. She lets me be.

And then there is the reverence, mine.

I sit at her feet for hours and watch her brush her hair. I catch moonbeams in jam jars in an open field in Montana and bring them home to her to use as ribbons to tie around her wrists. I write her poems and she folds them into origami fireflies and strings them around our bookshelves. I tell her every day how stunning she is, how strong; I am breathless with my good fortune at ever gaining her attention.

I stoke the fire inside that shines behind her eyes to keep her lit, keep her going.

I buy her jewelry, not because I know her taste but because I want her to sparkle at her delicate places: her throat, her wrists, her ankles, her fingers, her ears. Every time she shakes her head or signs her name or pulls her hand from her pocket or reaches her arm or places her foot carefully onto the ground she glitters, and she and everyone around her are reminded that someone loves her (and it’s me), that I see everything she does as beautiful, that every time she moves I want everyone to know the immeasurable amount of spark she lends to those of us privileged enough to witness what she does with her extraordinary life.

On Matthew Shepard, and Not Getting Eaten Alive

On October 6th, 1998, Matthew Shepard was tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyoming, beaten, and left for dead – because he was gay. He was taken to a nearby trauma hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, and died on October 12th.

I lived in Fort Collins at the time. I was not out, I was living with my high school boyfriend of five years. Nobody I knew was talking about it, aside from the brief acknowledgment in order to look away. There were protesters at the hospital. The Denver newspaper announced that he had died before he actually died.

I remember crying. I remember being so confused as to how this could’ve happened. I remember being terrified to come out in that environment, so I stayed in the closet for two more years.

Years later, after I was living in Seattle and came out and was building an amazing queer community, I saw Matthew’s mom Judy Shepard speak at my college. I’m paraphrasing here, but I remember a few things she said so deeply: “I’m just a mom,” she said. “I’m not an activist, I’m not a historian, I’m just a mom of a really great kid who died because he was gay. People ask me all the time, what can I do, and I always tell them: Come out. Come out everywhere, all the time. People discriminate because they don’t think they know any gay people. They don’t know that the guy they go bowling with is gay, that their office neighbor is gay, that their dry cleaner is gay. They think gay happens “over there” in big coastal cities. Until everyone starts realizing that gay people are just like them, discrimination will keep happening.”

I tell that to people a lot, especially baby dykes (or baby fags or baby queers) who are struggling with coming out. It’s our number one place of activism: to be who we are. To let the soft animal of our bodies love what it loves. It is not easy for any of us, but for some more than others, as there are still very real consequences to coming out and being out, not just with our families and parents (especially) but in our daily lives.

I was searching for some Judy Shepard direct quotes and came across this article from 2001, which relays more of the thoughts I’m trying to articulate:

Matthew came out to her at the age of 18, three years before he died. He decided in his own time and space when to tell his parents about his feelings on his sexuality and how that was important to him. After explaining how she and her husband dealt with Matthew’s coming out, Judy believes that “Your goal in life is to be the best and happiest you can be. Be who you are. Share who you are with the rest of the world.” Come out. Come out to yourself. Come out to your family. Come out to your friends. Be who you are and don’t hide in the closet of fear. Take pride in who you are through and through. […] In closing, Judy illustrated her thoughts that if the corporate world of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals would come out and be true to themselves, their lives, and the world we live in would be a better place. Maybe Matthew would still be here today. ‘It’s fear and ignorance that killed Matthew. If fear is shed, the violence will go with it.’ Acceptance of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would not allow fear and ignorance to exist as hate.
Erie Gay News report on Judy Shepard at Mercyhurst April 3 2001.

Years after I left Colorado, when I was in Seattle and studying writing, especially formal poetic forms, I wrote an acrostic poem about Shepard. The acrostic is a form you’ve probably played with as a kid, at least – you take a word and make each letter in the word the first letter of the line of the poem. In this case, the assignment was to write an acrostic about a place, capturing both the essence of the geographical space and an event that occurred there. The title is a reference to the date he was attacked.

    MATTHEW 10:6 (Acrostic)

    Framed in thick oak trees, equidistant, streets
    Open to fields marching toward undisturbed horizons
    Regulation-height lawns burn with summer’s oppression
    Tearing boys from youth, from breath. Behind

    Cinnamon foothills, anger and ignorance sprinkle
    Obstructions in the north winds. An easy tragedy
    Laughs. Tail lights disappear, tangled in this inevitable
    Last night – train whistles whisper, keeping company
    Infused with ghosts. Plucked from a fence,
    No one blinks – hospital doors swing shut.
    Shepard boy releases. The world watches the moon set.

ask and you shall receive

Thanks for all the comments & requests on the whispers, after poem – I’m glad to provide the audio of me reading the piece. Download it here: whispers, after mp3.

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.