Untitled

(A cop out. And nod to all the times you said “I don’t know” when I asked you what was wrong.)

The fact of the matter she said. Like facts matter. You can say Please do the dishes but what I hear is The labor you perform is insufficient/You are insufficient/You are too much not enough. She wrapped hands too small for their great strength around the barrel of a needle, made incisions in the cloth left behind at crime scenes, looked deep at the source of hurt so she could turn her back on her own. The fact of the matter hung between. A long forgotten murmurance. A shadow highlighting obstruction. Say things too often and they lose their meaning. The fact of the matter. The matter. The fact. The matter of fact. The matter of fact way she dissected us. Laid the body on a metal slab. Went through the motions. Fingers sure and palms unsweaty as they ran over the upset messy tangle of organs and infected tissue. Say things too often and they lose their meaning. Or take on new ones. Like I love you. Like please do the dishes. Like forever. Like goodbye.

 


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brutality, truth, and movement

the ides make me think of what i would do
to your heart or your back if exposed to me
in a square before all of your followers

march marches, each one new and strange
the mingling of spring and winter weather
not unlike the twisting of your temperament

each march is different and, in this one,
i find myself devoid of you, fantasizing
about all the things i never said that were
too painful for you to hear. me, your grand protector
valiantly succumbing to the ground beneath your boots

in my dreams, i picture my dagger in your back
retribution for the impact of your fist on my skin
and the delicate intersection of scars left by your words
laced and interlocked against the softness of my belly

New Years resolution:

Say “always” and “never” less
promise absolutes only
to those you can follow through for:

The dying,
the dead,
and people you’ve made up.

I am tired of
dying on altars
crafted of words
no one meant.

“I love you”
is not a thing you say,
it is a thing you do.

And “always” and “never”
never are
not really.

January 20, 2017

I spent my day today surrounded
everyone around me ebbing and flowing
and me, a jetty, stoic and unmoved.

That’s how it is for me, PTSD
pushes me from one extreme to the other
so emotional I cannot be touched then
so far removed nothing can touch me.

Today I let the salt run down me
and I stood in the midst of it
eyes dry and heart still
trying to find a way to reach
out from the haze surrounding me
to touch each and every one of you.

All I want to do is enfold you
take each trembling drop of you
and press you into stillness in
each of my cracks and crevices
build a home within where you can
rest your weary bones.

You have been breaking for so long
I don’t remember a time when I
didn’t hear you, didn’t register
your cries in the night, cold fingers
of your hands grasping at me only to
slide back into the sea and recommence
your crashing melody.

Today I spent my day surrounded
wanting to reach out, to do more
but unable to shake myself from my
foundation.

All I can do at times like these is
stand. And hope my stillness gives you
something you can safely break against.

Kintsugi

I am sure that my definition of friendship is different from most peoples’.
There is, of course, the laughter. Laughter is a big part of it.
I cannot make jokes and have a person sit still and stare and blink.
Because I’m fucking hilarious. Just ask anyone. They’ll tell you.

The laughter is a big part of it. There is, also, the understanding.
The person who holds on to me in the darkness and who lets me see them.
Letting me see them is important. And, though it is difficult, having them see me.
The seeing and the being seen is paramount. Bigger than laughter.

Then there is the hard part. The part where the world sometimes tips.
The part where I sit vigil over a telephone or a hospital bed and worry.
The part where you answer the phone and I am weeping. That part.
The part where one of us cracks open and the other fills the cracks with gold.

Standing by with precious metals is the hard part. Having metals melted.
Having tongs to hold the dangerous, hot things away from yourself.
Finding a way to fill in the cracks without getting burned. Without hurting.
Without hurting more than you have to, anyway. Without adding trauma.

I am sure that my definition of friendship is different from most peoples’.
I am so grateful that some people have written the same dictionary as me.
Some people, when they look for that word in their private libraries
find melted gold. Find laughter. And a telephone they always answer.

entrances and exits

if a person is a continent
their borders delineated on a map so that
one can traverse a boundary and
find oneself in
some strange country, a
traveller, the tongue foreign
the food and customs strange
excited feet drawing the traveller inward
enticing them to explore
to learn
to grow

if a person is a continent,
my love, you were immense
your borders manned by
soldiers, their eyes hard,
their judgment final

i found my way in on a short term visa
and stayed long after it expired
wandering labyrinthine streets
i made a home in the artists corridor
it was small, but warm

i strove to make a life
within your borders

i tried to love the people,
with their hungry eyes and hearts
i even joined the protests
cursing daily the despot who
set such cruelties on them at so young an age
who placed the watchers on the walls
brought attack dogs from
far afield and,
when they were starved
and neglected
released them
without mercy
on the innocent

i visited your museums,
empty as they were,
the war had cost you so much
i tried, during my stay,
to fill them, to make up the difference
instructing the curators
from my own country
to lend you all they could
but the halls were vast
and even my curators
could only do so much
with our limited means

every day i set out
feet carrying me along
streets without names
no map could help me sort
the nature of the cities

try as i might
i could not find the center
nor a post box, to register my concerns
and eventually, i fell in
with the other citizenry
in their grey drudgery
dragging my feet
through days
and weeks
and seasons
my protests growing weaker
my determination subsiding
with my strength

i left by a different route than i had
entered, picking my way through the barbed wire
along a stretch of unmanned wall

reluctant, i watched
your soldiers patch it
from afar

clutching momentos
to my chest
thumb on the stamp
left in my passport
years ago
no exit marked
and entrance no longer possible

A hundred words on the smell of you.

I close my eyes every time as I inhale the soft skin of your neck. The atmosphere of your pores rushing through me softens the inside of my mouth and shivers the deepest part of my stomach. You smell, my love, quite simply like the deepest, hottest summers of my childhood. Like ice cream melting across my hands and the rising heat of asphalt too scorched to press my naked feet against. You smell, my dearest, like endless afternoons spent lying on the couch, wrapped in each other against the winter cold outside our small apartment. You smell like home.

A call to empathy

It’s so easy to sit in judgment of parents and children and zookeepers and strangers. People who you’ve never met.

It’s so easy.

It’s infinitely harder to person up. To pull loose your heart strings. To release the strict hold you keep on your borders and really look at another person.

Because really seeing means letting yourself be seen. Means being vulnerable. Means realizing that the things that we judge other people for are things that we do all the time.

Who hasn’t been guilty of letting our guard down for a moment? The only difference between all of us and certain mothers and zookeepers is that we weren’t the ones taking our eyes off of our child at that crucial second.

We weren’t. But we could have been.

And that fact is the thing that keeps us from true empathy with other human beings.

Because acknowledging that the only thing separating us and them is a cruel blend of circumstance and blind luck is too terrifying to handle.

So we blame. And we stand up and call for the heads of people who have made the same small mistakes that we make every day at a critical moment that ended in tragedy.

Blame is easier. Judgment is easier. Hatred is easier.

Love is hard. Empathy is hard. Compassion is hard.

Within those three things dwells the sharp knowledge that we, in all of our convictions and certainty, are as fragile and as vulnerable to harm as the people we are so quick to villainize.

Empathy is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. The easier it becomes to do the hard work of looking at another person and recognizing yourself.

Try it. You’ll see.

Good Friends & Chosen Family

In the LGBTQ communities, there is a lot of talk about chosen families. The original purpose of these families was, ostensibly, to serve as a replacement for families who had rejected their children due to their sexual or gender identities.

I did not start using this term until very recently, when I sat back and took stock of my life and realized how few of my blood relations I really wanted to call family anymore. And how very many of my close friends I considered to be members of a strange and beautiful tapestry of gorgeous and dependable souls.

This is not to say that I don’t appreciate and love my close blood relations. My parents, brother, and I all get along really well. And their support and love means a lot to me. But the lack of an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents has been something that I have felt keenly in my adult life.

Last night, after my Thanksgiving meal with my parents and brother and his girlfriend, I headed over to the home of two dear friends just in time for post-eating hangouts.

In the warmth of their apartment, I felt a glow that was familiar to me and that I had not felt in many years. It was the same glowing warmth that I used to feel when I was surrounded by my aunts, grandparents, and cousins when I was a kid enjoying the holidays.

Surrounded by kindred souls brought together by choice rather than chance, I felt like I was a part of something greater. And it feels so much  more special, given the fact that it is built of a mutual love for each other that is chosen rather than dispensed by birth.

More than anything else, if I had to list a thing that I am thankful for this year, my chosen family would be that thing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I said in my post yesterday, Thanksgiving brings up a lot of feelings for me. It’s not just the family members who have passed on that get me thinking, though.

Like Christmas, Thanksgiving is a secular holiday for me and for most of my family and friends. I don’t put on any pretense that this holiday has anything to do with something positive in our history. In fact, the history of Thanksgiving is pretty messed up.

This time of year always gets me thinking about historical revisionism and the way that we write history so that we come out looking like the best possible version of ourselves.

When I first started studying history in college, I was shocked to find that so much of what I learned at school was at best morally ambiguous, at worst morally repugnant.

That said, I have a hard time with the notion that Thanksgiving itself has anything to do with happy pilgrims and Native Americans holding hands and eating turkey.

What I don’t have a problem with in regards to Thanksgiving is the notion of coming together with the people I care about and preparing to usher in a time of cold and hardship with a celebration of warmth and love.

I also think it’s important that we remember to be thankful for the things in our lives that make the upcoming winter season easier for us.

This year I am thankful for my chosen family first and foremost. From my chosen partner and our furry babies to our friends and the people that we choose to have in our lives. When I think about it, I have a small army of people behind me at any one time. And that knowledge makes it possible for me to fight any battle, knowing that I will be backed up no matter what.

I’m thankful as always for my health and the health of those around me. And for my blood family that have grown so much with me over the past year, who support me in everything that I do, and who I love so much.

I’m very thankful for my job. And for the comfort that having employment at a place like that affords me.

I’m also thankful for turkey. And pie. And other delicious noms.

And for you, reading this. Because your support and readership means a lot to me as I’m growing this space. Thank you for being here.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


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