Thursday, May 21, 2015

Trip Home 04

There is a pallet in my father's van.  There is a lake in southwest Arkansas.  What more does anyone need to know?

I've been sharing with some friends: coins I brought and munchie treats, but the real trick comes at my reunion.  I've brought back a bottle of gaoliang to share with my classmates.  If you know what gaoliang is, that's all you need to know.  If not... c'mere, let me show you!  It's so delicious!  Really, you won't cry at all, I promise!  Um, how much enamel do you need for the rest of your life?

I've been eating like a queen.  Today we baked potatoes and took the leftover porterhouse and sliced up inside with blue cheese on top.  Even our leftovers are magical.

I forgot to bring a swimsuit.  What?  Like I haven't been looking forward to Lake Ouachita since I left? Dad's loaning me some swimming shorts and I guess I'll wear a tank or something.  Can't be bothered to spend the money I just brought over from Taiwan and deposited in my account for student loans. Felt really good to deposit that.

I've been sleeping a lot too.  Lost a whole day when I got here.  I wonder how much of it is due to what.  Mental illness? Jet lag which I've never had a problem with before?  The simple fact that I've returned to my childhood home, a place that has always represented healing and nurturing for me?

My perfect sweet baby doggie!  Man his coat had not been touched since I left. First I tried to trim it down but it came out really patchy because it was so thick and even a little matted in some places in the under coat.  As we trimmed him down we could see all the dandruff.  Dad was helping me and I think he saw how much the coat really does need attention every few months.  Brought Loki in and took him in to the bath where I scrubbed away with some gentle Aloe skin shampoo that we still had and he's a completely different dog today.  His haircut is less than beautiful, but I'll touch him up before I go.

Well, it's time to pack and get in the van; I've got a haircut scheduled pretty soon I need to get to with my old hairdresser who understands curly frizzy Western hair!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Trip Home 03

The place does not feel foreign. The place feels like home.  The place feels like I never left.

Actions seem foreign.

Why are people wearing shoes inside the house?

What are these big clunky things in my drink?

Why do we just throw trash away?  Shouldn't we be rinsing and separating it all out?

Where's the potty-side trash can? Wait, I just put the paper in the potty and flush?

So far every meal has been a treat.  Tonight I ate four different kinds of cheese on French bread.  What decadence!  One afternoon I ate cold guacamole with a fork.  Marvelous.

Tomorrow I head to Hot Springs, what I consider my home town. I'll see Lake Ouachita and if it isn't too cold I'll climb down in it.  I'll go to my high school 15 year reunion.  I'll get a haircut. I'll hug old friends and sleep in a van.  Then to Little Rock for more friends and chosen family.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Trip Home 02

I was on my way home, on schedule, ticking off my to-do list, making great time, everything was fine, until I found.....


So that set me back several hours, going to the vet and getting supplies and giving her medicine and a bath and... etcetera.  I made the trip up to Taoyuan to my friend's house, where we had some nibbles and some sips, and then it was two hours until I needed to wake up, so we bedded down and I dozed while her cats went crazy all around us.


In the Taipei airport I bought a few treats at the duty-free to share with people when I got home.  On the first flight I kinda dozed for about an hour on and off.


Free wi-fi was too awesome to sleep through, so no sleep in Tokyo.


Then on the loooong flight across the Atlantic I kinda lost it.  I was trying to figure out how the time changes worked and could only figure it had to be because we were traveling with the day, staying in the sunlight of the day the whole time and I watched a movie about time travel and looked out the window and it was dark and I was going crazy about how time wasn't even real and maybe I could manipulate it and...


I just wanted to nap.


When I landed, my sister met me at baggage by pinching my butt.  I'm not sure why but my butt had been some kind of magnet the whole trip where people were bumping into it and hitting it and I was like WHAT but when I spun around it was her.  When I hugged my daddy for the first time in so long we both cried.  Headed down to Beale Street Blues City Cafe for a bunch of tamales and chili and marinated salad and porterhouse steaks and steak fries and beans and slaw and and and and hugs and my aunt and uncle and my cousins' kids and it was great.


I am prescribed Xanax for my anxiety and I'm to take a half a pill each morning and evening.  That evening I looked at the pill and thought, what if I didn't break this one in half?  I was still in my haze the next morning when my father came to knock on my door and said, your friend Christopher is here.  What?  Christopher.  I'm trying to swim through the medicine to being aware.  Come outside, he says.  As I'm coming around the corner it hits me and I say, "With a K?"  And there he was, my beloved long time friend from Virginia, who'd just finished a conference in Atlanta and had driven west for hugs.


The torta was so amazing.  



We thought we'd take a little food coma nap after our late lunch and we ended up sleeping until 1:30AM, at which point we decided it would be better to sleep on until morning and be on the right schedule than wake up and have fun etc.

I sure missed my baby doggie <3 p="">




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Trip Home 01

Tomorrow morning I'm flying home

from home

and after three weeks at home

I'll go back home

.

I've been living in Taiwan for a year, eight months, and nine days.  This is home now.  This is my normal.  This is my every day.  Signs with Chinese characters in front of every store.  Overhearing Mandarin and Taiwanese everywhere I go. Speaking it with people.  Everyone is Asian around me.  Chinese, Hakka, Aboriginal, some Korean and Japanese, and of course – TAIWANESE.  I can't blend in.  I'm too tall.  People take my photos not-so-candidly.  People force their children to speak broken English to me.

I buy lunch on the street and dinner too.  I pay for things mostly in coins, some paper, never plastic.  I don't drink the tap water.  I don't put my trash in a dumpster, I wait for the truck playing cute music to come by and take it down (or more often than not my roommate does because I'm at work).

I alter my mother tongue.  I slow it down, enunciate more. I don't use my native accent, nor any of my many “isms” or affectations.  I speak Mandarin poorly, but better every day.

I drive a scooter everywhere and am surrounded by scooters.  I pay my bills at the 7-11 which is just down the road from the Family Mart and across from the OK Mart.  I buy drinks at any of the five tea shops per block and hang the bag they come in from my scooter and drive on.

Rice lunch boxes.  Steamed buns.  Cold noodles.  Ramen.  Beef noodles.  Coffee shops on every corner selling too-sweet too-white coffee in tall cups, no walls at the shop, lots of shops with no walls actually and just tables around.

Last month I went to eat at a western restaurant.  UK style, British fare with a Welsh chef. They gave me a knife and fork.  They felt heavy and awkward in my hands.  I dropped them loudly on the floor.  I asked for chopsticks.

What happens when I go “home” now?

I'll be experiencing my native land but it will feel foreign.  It is not my normal anymore.  It is not my every day.

There will be white people everywhere.  There will be black and brown people, too.  They will be much larger than the people I see here.  I will understand every word said around me all the time.  No one will stare at me nor try to force a photo with their kids.  I will not be special or different.  I will get inside a car and be surrounded by other cars and we will all park them in … parking LOTS?  There will be signs that say “parking for xxxxx customers only” and they may even be enforced.

When I read a price, that is not what I will pay.  I will pay a nontrivial percentage of tax.  I will pay an even less trivial percentage of tip.

I won't happen upon a random circle of locals sitting roadside sipping tea and eating fresh local seasonal fruit, chewing betel nut and spitting the thick red juice in streams on the asphalt.  In fact, people won't be outside too much at all.  All inside in their central heat and air fortresses.  Rushing to jobs to pay bills multiple times more expensive than my own.

What else will be different?  What will surprise me, astound me, frighten me, offend me?  What if it's so foreign in fact that it's at the level where I'm going to catch a wee cold or something when I first get there from foreign bacteria?

I'm nervous to go home.  I'm afraid to learn I miss it too much and must return quickly; I'm afraid to learn I miss it none and never want to move back.

The first thing that happens is I go to my father's home.  After a few days of down time there, I'll go to my high school 15 year reunion in a town I consider my hometown.  I'll swim in the second cleanest lake in North America, which also happens to be one of my favorite places on the globe I've been to in my life.  I may go up to the NY/NJ area.  I may also just spend the whole time hugging my dog and talking with my beloved father.

I'm not sure what this trip will bring or even feel like. I know this and feel it in a way I never have before any other trip.

What happens when home becomes foreign?

Let's see.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

enough soul and a home

enough soul and a home
after francine j harris

Every soul deserves a good arm
chair. and a grave.  The soul says,
no more cell in my living room.
in my grave.  There's a christmas tree
still up in the corner, in May, garlanded
with teeth.  and souls.

Take it down, says the cell.  to the grave.
I stopped listening to the cell.  Carved
off my ears with a wooden spoon,
put them in a soup
for the soul.  for the home.

No one eats in this grave.

What a kitchen it is, the way these souls
are made up of cells. in the hallway
a dirt-garland shovel falls.  echoes
in its cells.  Rotting flowers

for the souls, and in the bedroom
souls lined like soldiers on the dump
of a bed.  I can't hear them any more

in our home. After all, there's enough windows
here to open every soul. This hissing
and thump are the cells.  are the sounds
of cells who can't let go.  are the song
I cannot hear.  Is it finished?  says the cell.
says the soul.  as it loses another hand
in the sink.  in the cell.  Don't let go.

We'll home together soon.  We'll all
home our souls good for good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

29/30 baltiMore

There are curse words far worse
than Shit
or Fuck
or Cunt.
Let these words be so despicable
that no one ever utters them again.
Let them be so foul in the mouth
that no child may ever bear their names,
let these curse names be removed
from the census, from any history book,
let their mothers unbirth them, let
their birth certificates be burned.
Do not say the name of a white cop
who murdered a Black citizen
again.  Let these unholy syllables
be not spoken nor printed
any more.

There are images far more filthy
than any X-rated film.  Do not show us
more photos
of Black bodies
in the streets.  Thinking
of a thing gives it power.

Stop.

Black children safe in their beds, amen.
Black fathers saying grace at dinner, amen.
Black mothers laughing in harmony, amen.
Black sisters skipping double dutch, amen.
Black brothers cranking open fire hydrants, amen.
A Black gay couple adopts their second child, amen.
A Black foster child finds a loving Black home, amen.
Two Black lesbians smile across a Black-owned cafe,
amen.
A Black grandmother calls her Black
transdaughter by her chosen name, amen.
A Black bus driver takes care to help
a Black wheelchair user board, amen.
Black classmates learn ASL to befriend the new
deaf Black student, amen.  Think of Black people
with love, amen. Think of Black people with life,
amen.  Think of Black people alive and empowered,
amen.
All Black Lives matter,
amen.

Bitchcraft (28/30)

I finally fell behind after being ahead or on time all month...

Bitchcraft:

Text your sisters.
Bring lipgloss and sweetgrass --
mix glitter in the circle salt.
Brass knuckles in the wine glass.
Cunt blood in the cookies.
Curse every ceiling between you
and becoming a star.
Curse the man who touched your ass on the subway,
the boss who winked
when you asked for extra hours,
the boy who came too soon,
the one who left too soon.
Burn their names, use the slips
of pink paper to light your cigarettes.
Toast the women with you.
Bless the wild bitch grandmothers
who sang you to life before you were born.
Hold hands.  Gift gratitude.  Kiss
your sisters with lovewet warrior lips.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

26/30: Two Bad Ants

for Dan



I've just found
one ant
in my sugar bowl.
Not moving.
What a beautiful death.
I stir neighboring granules
into my coffee. Her friends
will say of her, She died doing
what she loved.

I drink my coffee.
Outside the strong sun
is bragging.
A full orchestra of flora
casts cooling shade all over
a slender highway
dancing up a mountain.

I go outside.
I crank my motorbike.
I do not put on my helmet.
I punch
the gas.

http://www.amazon.com/Two-Bad-Ants-Chris-Allsburg/dp/0395486688

Friday, April 24, 2015

25/30: exhausted

I am Tired:

of being angry about houses
I don't have the tools to rebuild.
I'm tired of waiting for flowers
to arrive.  Tired of looking
over shoulders not my own.
Tired of counting and counting,
and counting things I need to be
counting.  Tired of math
and of language, tired of all
the things I don't know.  Tired
of not sleeping enough
and of sleeping too much.
Tired of sleeping around.  Tired
of Quit Playing Around And Get
Back To Work.  Tired of
Just Because You Write A Thing
Doesn't Make It True.
Tired of Mr Right Just Kidding Mr
Wrong All Along.  Tired of politics
and people tired of breathing air.
Tired of ain't got what I need, tired
of cain't get what I want.  Tired
of wanting and needing at all.
Tired of pay this and buy that and earn
earn earn tired of disparity
tired of depression and anxiety
tired
of exhaustion
tired of writing
this poem.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

24/30: anger

I am Mad:

as a swarm of curses, mad
as lightning, mad as ice.
I'm as angry as a mother bear
who never had a cub.  I'm
chewing bricks and spitting rivers
of molten plasma that are rushing
to your door.  This fire in my eyes
is peeling paint, frying eggs:
dogs in the street are fighting
without a Why. I could kick
through a wall, tear a door off its hinges
just to hear the hinges scream,
tear the door to shreds just to see
what's not inside.  My heart's been swallowed
by the fury; every eyes that meet mine
are begging threats.  My fists are triggers,
curling back, thirsty to shoot.  This spiral fire
in my stomach is a mandala of rage.  I'm
a bloodsniffed shark, I'm original sin,
I weapon and wardrum and scythe.

I'm a chorus
of hornets
and you're rapping
on my hive.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

23/30: word bank

Your honor, the fault lies
somewhere between her floating breasts,
the way she sirened me into driftwood,
how the hooves of her lips left me dead silent,
rotting and rotten and ripe as an ivory 
corpse. O yes, I surrendered, 
half-blooded, and gave her my wrists
raw as fish: she plucked the lights
from inside and wove them into a rain
that rivaled the moon.  If I say there was liquor,
will that help my case?  I was living 
just for her goodnights, each beat 
in her voice its own lantern.
When you're marking
down the facts:
say I tried.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 22: Suppose

SUPPOSE
after Maureen Micus Crisick

Renisha's knock had been met
with a neighbor saying My God,
you look terrified, please, let me
help
and tea and a blanket, and Jonathan
got that chemistry degree after all
and married his girl and became
a high school football coach.  John
made it to the barbecue and Rumain?
Rumain came home all by himself
and served his family dinner and not
one cop shot him dead in front
of his babies and his girl.

What did I say?
I said: what if Trayvon makes it home,
and Tamir is playing on the swings
in the park even now, and Kajieme lives
in a world that believes he is important
and treats him like it, too.  Suppose cops
become social workers, and the first time
Aiyana Jones rides in a horse drawn carriage
is to her high school prom. Eric and Eric
are still breathing, funeral homes go out
of business, convert into
amusement parks, guns dissolve and explode
into rose bushes. Suppose bullets
are bright foil balloons
and Walter Scott comes home with two
for each
of his four sacred children.

Monday, April 20, 2015

21/30: lasts

The first time she picked me up I was
a fraction.  Less than a tenth, surely.
Swaddled, capped, or maybe still
covered in blood and shit and god
knows what.  Not one tooth to my
new name.  Yes, there was a first time
she held me. Who could forget it?
But there was also

                          a last time

she set
me
down.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

20/30: the train ride

here is a mess of dishevelry:
a frizzy woman on a crowded train
cross legged in the floor     beholding
     out the left windows:
ragged green mountains tattering thick
dark lint-puff clouds.
out the right: a jagged coast flirts
with a choppy ocean creating
a chorus of blues.
smoke rises from her tangles.
soon the train will pass on the winding
road, a tousled lank of a man mounting
a charger so classic it qualifies antique.
it rattles and rumbles beneath his
knotted thoughts.
what precise magic, these
transient intangible connections.
every person between them is their own
trash bag of dreams.  they know that they
will pass but can't won't know
when it happens.

might one catch in one's mouth
     an atom of the other's breath?

a day before they stood
on the edge of a wild mountain
listening to the same wild music
ringing from thickets and vines
whispered rather than speaking
pockets full of jade shards as they breathed
     deep together
inside a passing cloud,
inconsistent rain pattering the mad heat at bay.

she sits among tattered cardboard,
kicking babies, old women pissing
their pants.  the speakers crackle, announcing
an upcoming station.  the train passes
the motorbike.  she singes.  she flames.
she burns.

19/20: What do you remember about the earth? -Bhanu Kapil Rider

I remember the entry:
the red, wet pain of it,
the exploding in my lungs.
I did not remember it while I
was still there, but here
now, I can feel it.  The slap
of light, the deluge, the shit
and shit and tears.  An opening, a bang
of sweetness.  The years that followed,
as muscles bettered and nerves mored,
as thought thicked and beautied.
Til I could make and speak and run
and make and love.  Til I made
love and unmade love and love
unmade me.  I do not remember
the exit.  I was there, and then I wasn't:
just so.  What I miss most
is the fertile black of it under
my nails, the hot rain soaking through
everything, breezes strong enough
to buffet a body, the visceral, the honest,
the bliss: to stand on the side
of a mountain, silent, breathing every
atom in.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

18/30: Verbatim

Hi!  Today I'm writing (or, tweaking?) a "Verbatim" poem, which my friend Taidgh Lynch introduced to me in this post.

My Verbatim poem is coming from "Uncovering Grammar" by Scott Thornbury.

Grammar, Grammars and Grammaring

The focus of this first chapter is to argue
that grammar is in fact a verb.  Or, at least,
that there should be a verb
to grammar, to go along with the noun
grammar.  Just as there is a verb to rain to go
along with the noun rain.  Or to walk and a walk.

To use an analogy:
an omelette is the product
of a (relatively simple
but skillful) process
involving the beating
and frying of eggs.  The process
and the product are clearly
two quite different things, and we
could call one making an omelette (or
even 'omeletting') and the other
an omelette.

In other words, grammar is not simply a thing.
It is also something that you do. Or (as we shall
be arguing later) something that -- in certain conditions --

                                         happens.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

17/30: tell the story backward

Today my prompt is to tell a story backward.

After living two years in Taiwan, I flew back
to my childhood home where my father nursed me
to poor health.  The longer I stayed the more I wept
and the less I ate until the last two weeks I ate soup

or nothing, and never left the house. Your electric words
hatefulled me half to death, so of course I put myself and my dog
in the car and drove two days straight to you
without stopping.  Crept into the house while you were away:

you came home and went to sleep while I hid in the other room.
That night I tried to kill myself.  Came home and we had
a spectacular fight.  Had it again and again for two years
until you started to fuck me again.  You started to love me

again. After we made love, you'd take me to dinner.  Our last date
you asked for my number, we talked for hours outside a closed bar,
then went to dinner where we laughed about wearing the same color shirt,
then went home.  I opened a message on a dating site, looked

at your photos, and marveled how little they looked like you at all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

16/30: Catching up, and a silly ode

Today I woke up and my friend was still dead.

I took off work yesterday.  Keith and I hadn't been close since I left the Hot Springs area, but he was always someone who had significantly impacted me when I was younger, and you don't just lose that.  I was some sixteen, seventeen year old punk kid who tried writing and was scared, and he was one of the people who encouraged me.  He and a short list of others made me believe I had value, my voice was worthy of being heard, I should continue trying this crazy thing called art.  We'd catch up whenever I went back to visit, but he always seemed a little distant.

I guess now I know why.

Depression is a motherfucker.  And that ain't the half of the reality.  It KILLS people.  Don't think of suicide as selfish.  Think of it as tragic.  It is not something people do with the intention of hurting others.  It's something that happens when people cannot possibly hurt any more.  I wish I were back home right now, I wish I could gather with everyone who wants to honor Keith's memory.  I wish I could shake his daughter's hand and tell her how honored I am to meet her, after hearing so much for so many years about her, about how much Keith loved her.

My friend isn't coming back.  When I go visit home next month, I won't see him.

So I have to hug the ones I see even harder.  Love them even louder.

I love you.

Hi!

So you're reading my blog!  Wow!  Every year I get more readers, more views, more comments.  I remember once, talking to an ex-lover about something I wrote and said, I mean you probably haven't seen it---

He interrupted, "I read everything you ever write."

What kind of mad praise is that?  My whole heart sat with that and still sits with it.

I saw one day last week I got nearly two hundred views. In one day!  I mentioned it on Facebook, and a few different people said they'd been poking around, catching up, reading old posts... Think about how much it means to be SEEN in this world.  To know that people are looking at you.  On purpose.  Because they want to see you.

SO many of us don't know this feeling.  I think Keith didn't know.  If he'd known how many of us read his book, how many of us looked forward to seeing him again, would he still be here?  Would that have been medicine enough?

You are my medicine.

Say something.  Leave a comment here, or on a past post you enjoyed.  Or one you didn't enjoy!  One you hated!  Tell me what's working for you in the piece, tell me what isn't working for you and could be tightened up.  Tell me what you miss.  Tell me who you love.  Let's communicate and celebrate - we're still here on this side of the ground.

Yesterday's poem was part for Keith and part for all of us with depression and life-threatening mental illnesses.  Today's poem is part for Keith and part for celebrating life and part for poutine.

Yesterday was hump day.  The 15th of the month, out of 30 days.  So now we're coasting downhill toward home.  Why not write a silly poem?  I've been serious all month.  Today let's celebrate something that made me happy.  Today, that thing was a poutine burger from A-Chi, the best burger joint in Pingtung and maybe even all of southern Taiwan.


I neglected to take a photo before I dug in. I was too excited to have it in my mouth.  Halfway through I thought, I should write a silly fun poem today, for Keith, and took a photo.  No "after" photo because you've all seen a blank plate before.


Ode to the Poutine Burger at A-Chi:


Behold the meat patty,
so full of potential,
so undirected: raw
in the cold air, behind
a tightly sealed door.  Behold lettuce,
ripe tomato, white onion thinly sliced.
Pickles bathing, relaxed,
in their vinegar.  Behold cheese
and bun.  Take all of this and you would have

a burger.  But today
is not just any day. Today we add
mashed potatoes, brown gravy plus cream
and mushrooms.  Today, I glut.
I debauch.  I celebrate another day
on this side of the ground with
GRAVY.  There be no tidiness
here. No means to dainty my way
through these pillows of exploding mash,
these gravyfalls of deliciocity!  This
is bliss, and it's all over my face:
someone once
told me
a terrible joke.
I will now suffer it upon you.

What's the difference
between pussy
and mashed potatoes.

Pussy makes its own gravy.

BUT NO PUSSY EVER COVERED MY FACE
LIKE THIS.  Oh, poutine burger, inappropriately
named, in this country without curds I don't care
what I look like, seated outside at the table
in front of the restaurant, I wear you without shame,
I wear you with prize, nose to neck, sweet sweet
poutine burger, I left my last wife,
the chili cheese burger with real pickled jalapeƱos
FOR YOU, in this country with no chili
and no pickled jalapeƱos, for YOU, oh my love,
there can be no other above you, no day of work
is too terrible that you cannot wash
it away with your sauce, gravied potatoes, gravied
bun, gravied lettuce and gravied onions, gravied red
ripe tomatoes, oh my god, gravied PICKLES.
The occasional saucy mushroom tries to escape

but my fries are at the ready.  POUTINE BURGER,
never leave me.  POUTINE BURGER, never die.
POUTINE BURGER, only you
can stay
my wandering eye.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

15/30: For Keith, who stole pencils




There is community and then there is
community. Some you can see.  Girl Scouts.
A crowd dancing under manic lights. A weekly

cancer support group.  The huddled prisoners
of war in their cells.  Two bodies passing in a crowd,
a nod when they recognize each other's tattoos.

Participation in community begets love and loss
and loss.  One scout moves to another town, one dancer
kisses friends goodnight.  Cheryl doesn't show up

for this week's meeting.  Tomas doesn't come back
from interrogation.  Some loss is heavier
than lifting. Who can say what the community feels?

I can.  Today I heard of a poet's death, his lifelong struggle
with a disease no cheaper than cancer. Keith took his life? No.
Depression did.  A poet, depressed, still writing, he was

my community and on this unholy day I feel
my own death here in the room.  It is small
as a baby's fist.  A sour, overripe plum

cradled between my teeth. It poisons my thoughts.
He isn't coming back like so many others and this disease
is killing my friends, my heroes, my mentors, our

artists, and one day it might kill me.  A fruit
I cannot spit out, fermenting, brewing a wine
no one should drink.









Buy Keith's Book Here


The poem Keith wrote when Pete Seger died:

Pete
I listened to your voice
more than I did that of my own parents
though I did hear theirs
much more often than yours
your voice told me not just
what I needed to hear
but what I wanted to her
as well
Now, I will bid farewell
to part of you
but not the part that matters
the part I still posses
so do millions of others
all around this world
some are still around campfires
as I once was
That’s when we were first introduced
it did not matter much
that you were physically absent
from that introduction
we still formed a bond
that will not be broken
not even with that hammer
the one that works morning and evening
all over this land
We still have a bond with
millions of voices loud and soft
and those voices are still
as effective today as any hammer
“If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land…”
January 29, 2014



Sunday, April 12, 2015

13/30: landai

In honor of these women, today I write landai:

Sisters: they tell us we are not enough!
But they are forests chastising matchsticks.

---------

I loved him too much so he told me to go.
Now I laugh as he begs for a bite!

-------------

I fear to go home because I fear I won't want to leave.
Or worse: never want to visit again.

------------

Zurima asked for love, then for fire, then water.
Now all she has is dust, rocks, and stars.

----------

I have seen death, danced with it, kissed.
I ask you: What now do I have to fear?


Friday, April 10, 2015

11/30 erasing mom

I had this bright idea today to do an erasure poem where I find a particularly long and painful email from my birth mother in my email archives and turn it into something beautiful instead.

Turns out I've deleted all the old painful ones. So, probably, thanks Past Self.

I found one kinda neutral one and one that was only a little hurty, so I tried those instead.




Thursday, April 9, 2015

10/30: reasons to be angry today


  1. Because I set my alarms for P.M. instead of A.M. and woke up just in time to not technically be late to work.
  2. Because I can't use my air conditioner, because it pisses water all over my belongings.
  3. Because I'm ovulating and there's no one around to Do Me Right.
  4. Because I didn't see the sun set.
  5. Because I never see the sun set.
  6. Because Dove has a new Beauty campaign out that still doesn't address how much easier it is for white able-bodied ciswomen to claim Beauty than it is for their sisters in the struggle.
  7. Because too many white able-bodied ciswomen leave their sisters behind in the struggle.
  8. Because the struggle.
  9. Because I make my students do their homework, but I still haven't finished grading their tests.
  10. Because I don't know how to reach some of them.
  11. Because I had to teach them about Ferguson.
  12. Because Amerikkka.
  13. Because maybe there is no good country in this world.
  14. Because this world.
  15. Because depression.
  16. Because antidepressants.
  17. Because infinite downward spirals of existential thoughts.
  18. Because I didn't have time to eat until 10PM.
  19. Because I've already stayed up too late again tonight.
  20. Because tomorrow *isn't* another day.
  21. Because I still haven't finished unpacking into this new place.
  22. Because I don't know where my heart is.
  23. Because I'm scared to visit home, because what if I don't want to leave, because what if I never want to visit again.
  24. Because I want to be home now.
  25. Because home is a place where companies turn the water off on poor folk.
  26. Because home is a place where white men in blue shirts shoot black men black women black children black people who did NOTHING.
  27. Because too many black family trees are missing limbs these days.
  28. Because this makes me sick, but I have the privilege of being able to stop thinking about it because I'm white.
  29. Because home is a place where businesses can tell me get out cuz I'm queer.
  30. Because I'm queer and woman in a world that hates queer and woman and black and and and.
  31. Because that should be so alarming that we all immediately understand how wrong it is and change it.
  32. Because people don't find it alarming and don't change it.
  33. Because at 10PM my alarms did in fact go off.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The John Cage Symphony

First, the trumpeting mountain.
The wise, winding road with its
venomous turns, slithering up,
then the motorbike, hunting through
the swarm of trees, the school
of leaves, such a thick flock
of verdance. Stop.

Switch the key
off.

Climb down into the fluttering clouds
that herd silent around.  If we breathe
a thing, does it become us?

The stream below is slippery, can't
be trusted, electric.  Watch it bubble
and nest. It's peppered with bits
of jade, ripe for the plucking.

Here, the insects choir, the birds
solo, and creatures I'll never name
spark their songs.

Now, the purring rain, sleep-
walking through the scene, warm
as an afternoon nap. It nuzzles
where it falls on my skin.  And last,

his arms: old bones with new tricks,
curled round my waist; his immortal chin
perched close on my shoulder,
his impeccable cloud-become breath
in my ear.



Tuesday, April 7, 2015

8/30: the first time i got tied up

He opened the drawer and somewhere
the cars of a roller coaster started ascending.
(click, whir)
(click, whir)
Allyship as reassurance: there's always someone
else in the roller coaster car. He brought out the soft
black purr of cord and I felt
(click, whir)
for the lap bar.
He wrapped my wrists like a gift.
Cradled them with hungry eyes as his hands did loops
twists
corkscrews
(click, whir)
my coaster car sunrise crescendoing up
(click, whir)
and up and there is a moment

(click, whir)
when the peak of the hill is in sight
(click, whir)
and I know (don't I?) what's coming.
(click, whir)
Seconds are lifetimes, look over my shoulder I can just
(click, whir)
see
(click, whir)
the danger:
where I came from,
(click, whir)
the earth, my home, my family, my death --
no one's ever asked at the peak did I check
the lap bar
(click, whir)
What a disarming question that would be
so I feel prepared for the plunge.
He surgeoned the last knot,
(click, whir)
tucked pretzled ends in
(click, whir)
with a mother's care, pushed my arms up
(click)
above my head
(whir)
and asked:

“Can you get loose?”
(click)

I tried.  Disarmed. And then:
Gravity unmade, stomach bloomed in my throat, heart
clung to my teeth, blood bullied my face I was there
in the car I was weightless, flying powerless and loving
surrender, feeling windthrilled and released, falling
elated with no net, we were waterfall and
rocks below, a most holy disaster, crashing safer 
than anyone
has ever will ever be whir click been.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

7/30: almost made it a week without writing about my mother


thanks and bonus

Dear friends, I know I'm not writing up to my full potential this April. I'm not writing like I can, or should, or have in the past. But you've been so wonderful and supportive. You're leaving me comments, you're sharing my words with others, and that does my heart so much good. I'm sharing, as thanks, a piece with you I am proud of that I wrote in a workshop a month or two back led by the inimitable force named Rachel McKibbens.

I call it, "How I Got my Spots."

In this freckleless nation, my students ask why I have spots. Why. What a half-loaded gun of a word. I tell them my birth mother was a cheetah. They do not believe me and they do. It is a lie and it is not.

There is a song in my blood, a sonata in three movements, the cheetah woman put it there. The first movement begins with the particular onliest sound of her keys on their rings, the way the sound could make me snap to, and the sweetfear sourlove taste of the sound. In this movement I surrender one third of all future kisses and a handful of teeth. Ocean sound and the hotel room that night three sequential strangers came and left and could not epoxy me whole. The smell of sewer steam and the silence before a clap of thunder. In this movement I cannot love the mirror because it is broken, too.

In the second we hear her lacing her shoes, hear them so hard we see them, still pristine white after all those years of running away. In this movement I bury a flock of childhood memories in the soil behind our house, they will never sprout and I will not remember why not, I put them there and turn lose forever, kick dust over them as I turn my back. She turns her back and there it is again like it never stopped, the staccato crunch of driveway gravel, even the rocks sound angry. They will call at you caw at you claw at you tell you they know why you did it, they saw it, how you held on to a corpse for two thirsty years, they mock you for holding so long, they mock you for letting go, dare you to run for the cold comfort of the bathroom floor.

You won't realize the third movement has started at first. It opens with the echo of no more words, the wish to deserve the word home, the feeling of death tucked behind your left ear. Then a dream of flying, then rubber bullets, applause that does not catch on, the last glass he drank from before he left, sound of rain, unlocking, floorboards creaking, look, the cockroach is getting away before you can kill it. The tinkling of icicles, a spider's footsteps, an ecstatic eulogy, and behind it all, still, the echoing silence, overripe fruit hitting tiles. And the grand finale, the most dulcet of terrors, the sound of a cheetah hungering home.

Mom and Dad

6/30 still traveling, and remembering



Friday, April 3, 2015

4/40: foreign / black

The stars aren't going
anywhere.  Look down.  Look where your feet
are going place one, two, left and then right, keep
going.
Today another stranger took your photo just
for being a foreign face in a rural place remember
when you used to smile for them? Now
you just get angry, get thirsty for a fist, one and one
half short years and people wonder why black men
get angry even as they call them “thugs.”
Look down.
The stars are going nowhere, your anger
is spreading like wildfire, you swore the man thought
you were going to steal his bicycle, locked eyes with you
and shook his finger no but everyone
at the table was deaf, did you just catch him mid
conversation? Remember how your teeth
tasted the blood?  How your fists curled up
like nightmares?  Last night in the market
buying dumplings a three year old called a stranger
AMERICAN.  Rather than correct
his politics (USAian) you said in his tongue
some of us are Canadian, Australian, English,
Scottish, South African and he said no Africans
are black. What would you face here if your face
were black.  If your fists curled up
black nightmares if your teeth tasted
black blood, remember how
just a few weeks ago the police
let you go, remember how you woke up
the next morning, right here, on this earth,
not anywhere near
the stars.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

3/30: from a few different prompts, trying to write about depression

It won't come up on you all
of a sudden like joy or spring
rain or the first time you held
someone's hand
because you liked them.
There is a place inside you
everyone hates.  It is not round.
This place is all corners, not warm
ly lit, but warm, too warm, stuffy
even. There is either a bed
or a puddle of pillows, and most
assuredly a blanket under which
you now womb.  “But, sunshine.”
“But, exercise.”  “But, Jesus.” “But--
”   But shut up.  You've paraded
every pill, waltzed every doctor,
spelunked every self-help source.
It is always Thursday here, and no
salesmen sell insurance
for this most unnatural disaster.
Silver dust on everything,
no crawling out.  There is a place
inside you even you hate. This is where
you live now, pay rent in feelings.
It will slip up slow, swallow you
whole, devour your want
to go.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2: Asa Cut-Up

This is a bill that in ordinary times would not be controversial. But these are not ordinary times.  This bill is not really complicated.  It's a balancing test.  The bill itself does not pick winners and losers.  It balances two competing constitutional obligations that our founding fathers gave to us.  But the issue has become divisive because our nation remains split on how to balance the diversity of our culture with the traditions and firmly held religious convictions.  It has divided families, and there is clearly a generational gap on this issue.  
--Governor Asa Hutchison of Arkansas on 1st April, 2015, announcing why he would be vetoing HR1228.


Balancing has become
founding.
This bill
is not ordinary.
These are
complicated times.
There is clearly a gap
between diversity
and religious convictions.
Split the founding fathers.
This nation is split: winners
and losers.  It's
controversial.  Test this bill.
This issue
is not really complicated.
Ordinary times?  Families,
traditions, convictions clearly
compete.  Our nation split
itself.  This bill is con-
troversial.  Test the times.  Really.
Two fathers are winners
and losers. and families.
and our nations.  and ordinary
culture.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

1/30: "trampstamp"

Alternative Names for the Tramp Stamp that are not Misogynistic Perjoratives:

classy lassy chasis
lady shade
dame frame
fancy expanse
vamp stamp
fetch sketch
spine design
hip clip
think ink
hiney lines
love letter
lumbar star
quaint paint
smart art
ace space
rad pad
back plaque
queen scene
empress finesse
goddess bodice
Susan B Canopy
Sor Juana Inez de caboose
Lucy Zone
Simone de booty-flair
Anais grin
Sylvia path
glorious spine-end
Rita Mae Crown
Joan threat

one of the most sensible places on the body to get tattoo work done when one takes into account the vast flat space, ease of work for the artist, and how the body changes over time

misogynist litmus

Welcome Back, April

National Poetry Month. It's already the First here in Taiwan, where it isn't national poetry month at all, but whatever. Here's a resource for people that I hope can help, my compiled bookmarks of poems to read, advice for writers, places to submit, and most importantly for this month: PROMPTS.

Link here!