Monday, December 22, 2014

Gutless Metropolis. (draft)

you can't have it both ways.

you can't say you live in the best city in the world
strip it of its uniqueness
install a hundred Chipotles
anoint Taylor Swift as God and Muse,
and call it by its former name.

you can't instagram break-dancers on the Q train 
or buy groceries from cash-only storefronts
or purses on canal street 
and lay claim to neighborhoods that were never yours
with no regard for the people you are displacing.
you can't have it both ways.

You can't say that Columbus was an asshole
but gentrification is a mark of progress.

And What About the World Cup?
You were only paying attention
after they ousted the poor
now homeless
in favor of your stadium
for a sport we forgot how to play.

 you cannot broadcast Jimmy Fallon
into a million taxis
our driver used to listen to the news
from our country or his country
or a combination of the two.
Audio melting pot of languages
drowned out by last week's Fallon soundbite and a reminder
to buckle your seatbelt.

You cannot put bodega into a Diet Coke commercial
bodega is not for your advertising pleasure
bodega is a registered trademark of people who don't give a fuck
about eighty-pound pop-stars
or which soda is more popular
as long as the pop pays for itself,
it can stay on the bodega shelf.

You have to stop asking for a gut renovation.
You cannot have a gutless metropolis.

That's just a suburb with too many people.

You can't say that stop-and-frisk is fair
but mistrusting the force is discrimination.

That isn't how it works.

You can't be angry about Rafel Ramos
And not weep for Eric Garner.
and the reverse too, is true.

Empathy is not only for the easy to love

You can't have a neighborhood of only affluent white people
and call it New York City.
or Brooklyn
or Queens.

You can't take away our dream of authenticity
just because you never really wanted to live in a city.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lists so I don't forget.

1.first song I learned to play on the guitar: "House of the Rising Sun"
old folk version, from a book of songs dad gave me.
It's one foot on the platform, one foot on the train

2. First duet "Imagine" by John Lennon
sung at the Presbyterian Church with Dad.
Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try.

3. First Song I Wrote  was at age 13.
It was untitled but included the line,
"And will you climb a tree/barefoot at night/fulfilling your wildest dreams before light."

4. First Paid Gig: A wedding.
The Our Father Prayer.
On Earth, as it is in Heaven. 

5. First Fan: Dad.
he was happy to have me play along.
God gave to you now you give to me, I'd like to know what you've learned.

6. First Fan Who Wasn't Required To Be A Fan: Brendan Irving.
the first person to make me believe I was good.
 Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone. 

7. Last Duet: "Highway to the Moon" by Greg Lloyd
he played with an unsteady hand, but made sure I would remember all of the chords.
and We know we will never be the same, after walking on a highway to the moon. 

8. Last Serenade: "Boots of Spanish Leather" by Bob Dylan.
Sam played guitar, and I sang to him as my dad fell asleep.
Oh I'm going away my own true love.  I'm going away in the morning. 

9. Last Song I Heard: Ripple, The Grateful Dead.
Over and Over and Over and Over and
if i knew the way, I would take you home. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Lessons from Dad.

When I think about the lessons I learned from my dad, I am mostly reminded of music.
When I wanted to learn guitar, he handed me some chord charts, an old guitar, and promised that we would jam together once I could stretch my fingers around the neck of a guitar and strum A, C, E, and G chords. Our first gig was playing John Lennon’s “Imagine” at the Presbyterian Church we attended every Sunday.  As I struggled through shaping my hands so that my guitar would make the proper noises, I often wondered why my talented father never offered to “teach” me how. But, when I finally got the hang of chord transitions, he said, “isn’t it rewarding, teaching yourself to play an instrument?” He was right. I felt like superwoman.
My father taught me that West Side Story’s “Ma-RI-A” is a good example of a tritone in contemporary music.  He taught me that if you raise your soft palette too quickly, you might have to stave off a yawn, so it is best to inhale slowly and pretend your lower lungs are inflating like a balloon. And belting usually sounds best when you use your “mix” voice; a combination of that light, airy head voice and low, gravelly chest voice. All of these snippets of knowledge were shared while leaning over the top of our guitars, after I mastered those elusive A, C, E, and G chords.

Dad and I didn’t always communicate very well, but when we put on those half-shields-- our matching Taylor guitars—we learned how to harmonize, both in our little makeshift band and (usually) in our daily lives.  Although he rarely understood me when I wasn’t singing—he always said that I talked too fast— when we were playing music, we were totally in sync.

He used to tell me that my strong belt and big personality made me a lead singer,  but I always found myself seeking his voice when I felt lost in the flow of sound. Looking back on videos of our performances, I am always watching my father, following his lead and waiting for his head to nod before I took the next steps.
Now, things have changed. Without my dad’s voice as a guide, taking the lead feels intimidating, sad and hollow.
But then I remember; my father didn't create my love of music; he never sought to define who I am.  He planted the seeds for thoughtfulness and creativity, and stood by my side as I became the woman I am today.  He let me learn the chords on my own, and applauded my progress. He was never the architect; he was the gardener, coaxing his seedlings until we set down roots and flourished.

Dad’s absence is a great sadness; for my sisters and me, my niece and nephew, my mother--and so many more. But we are blessed, immeasurably blessed, by the years of love, music, and nurturing provided by Greg Lloyd’s kind, creative soul. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five years later

Dreamt you opened your mouth but no words came out
The dream was false; you were not silent.
Quiet, but not silent.
Sometimes bursting with song,
A quiet chuckle here and there
But never silent.
Our mind is a great pretender
When concealing the weeping
sadness that accompanies your absence.

Five years later,
we are still preparing to say goodbye.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Plastic Surgery, Brazil, and our new Pope, Renee Zellweger.

Today on the internet, everyone is:
 wiggin' out about Renee Zellweger's new face,
mad about people being mean about Renee Zellweger's new face, or
depressed the pressure to be young and beautiful in Hollywood.

Much like the girl who told me fairies weren't real in elementary school, I think that if you truly feel outraged about someone's personal life choices, you should just ignore them. Which, coincidentally, is the opposite of what most internet folk have chosen to do, whatever the opinion.

 In all fairness, I didn't ignore that girl, either. I kicked her, and I got detention.

She will be a bridesmaid in my wedding next October.

As a digital shin-kick to everyone and anyone, I'd like to bring up  a couple passive-aggressive, vaguely linked points in response to your overwhelming personal sadness over a stranger's apparent plastic surgery.

Zelly knew what she was doing. She's got agents. She's got publicists. She's got personal assistants, and--I hope--some friends.  In all likelihood, the idea that this would be taken negatively by any and everyone on the internet was factored into the discussion of "should I receive an apparent face graft". The negative, explosive press was likely on the "pro" list of this transformation, and her recent statement  all but confirms that suspicion. At last, people are watching her again. The gaze. The beautiful, intoxicating gaze.

The part of this that is most troubling to me is NOT  so much that older women are altering their bodies in order to be "more beautiful" (more on that later).  I'm more concerned about the growing trend in deciding that anything is better than obscurity. We've always been obsessed with the idea of celebrity; modern society makes the collective psychosis more obvious. In my humble, largely unheard opinion, the message behind this internet explosion is as follows:

Being famous is so important, that I'd literally rather rip my face off than dive into obscurity. 

It's about fame. Our culture  commodifies storytelling, reducing it to something as unimportant as notoriety.

We don't love people because they are brilliant artists.
 We love them because they help us believe in a great and powerful falsehood: immortality.

The links between fame and illusions of immortality are pretty easy to spot.  When your Uncle Maury dies, it's tragic, but only inasmuch as it affects Maury's relatives and friends. Eventually, days pass when Maury is thought of with less frequency. Indeed, months slip by without his name being mentioned aloud. Maury not only physically dies, but his memory in the living world dwindles to almost nothing.  That's dying. The forgetting. Just ask Thorton Wilder.

Celebrities enjoy a lasting power that extends well beyond their final pulse. Foundations are started, Facebook is flooded, news is halted--for the remembrance of one celebrity's birthday or death. Think about CNN or Fox on the anniversary of Michael Jackson's death. Still. Still, this happens. They are, in a sense, immortal.

 The illusion of immortality clings tightly to our brightest entertainers, and so we love them.  Think, then, of the pressure of obscurity. The challenges associated with no one taking her picture. In the unreality of fame and a culture obsessed and terrified of death, Renee was dying long before her time.

We are replacing old gods ( i.e. God, Zoroaster, the Beatles) with the notion of celebrity. The deification of humans always puts me on edge. Think of the problematic rule of the Pharaohs. Or the Papacy.  Trust me, we don't need more popes  running around, eating kale salads and forgetting to wear underpants with their mini-skirts.

Ironically, when celebrities elect to dramatically change their physical states, it causes a troubling inner stir which might otherwise be reserved for, i don't know, people we actually know. 

As for plastic surgery, I'd like to reference an article posted earlier this year that explores the lives of Brazilian women undergoing surgery, sometimes in teaching hospitals that subsidize the procedures, Ivo Pitanguy, the namesake of one such institute, waxed philosophical about every person, even the poor, having the right to be beautiful. 

Many friends and peers lamented at the "distorted notion of beauty" that this mentality supposedly embodies. There were cries of "every body is beautiful" from all four corners of the internet, as men and women alike weighed in on this oft- discussed issue of plastic surgery. I can understand the argument that beauty should be less important than it is today. I nod my head in assent at the argument, "why does everyone have to be beautiful? Can't we all just be good people?". I think it is esoterically sound.

. I just contest the feasibility of a collective change of heart toward beauty, given our aforementioned affection for glamour.

As a conventionally attractive, "normal looking"  cisgendered white female American, it's easy for me to talk about self-love Its easy for me to look at magazines and disregard my cellulite or crooked teeth and say, "every body is beautiful".

 It is easy to go on about inner beauty when you are, in fact, beautiful. Even if you don't feel beautiful all the time.

 But there are physically ugly people in the world. Some would argue that beauty consists of a series of metrics., It's a simple mathematical equation that doesn't add up properly in some bodies,

The golden ratio tells us that exceptionally beautiful people exist for no reason other than that their bodily proportions add up to about 1.61. Aesthetics are not a myth, or even, in some ways, our choice. That ratio has held true in our bodies, paintings and master works of art, and was even referenced in a Dan Brown Novel.   Thats how you know it's real.

Please note, this observation comes from the existence of subsidized or even free plastic surgery, which provides greater access to cosmetic surgery than we have in the United States. Here in the states, cosmetic surgery is generally available to wealthy people with time and money to burn.  Like everything else, it is used as a symbol of our status and power. It indulges those Calvinistic urges that say that some people are just intrinsically better, and therefore more opportunities are available to them.  But that's not cosmetic surgery's fault. It's due to our ongoing obsession with wealth and status.

There is something beautiful about the Brazilian perception of cosmetic surgery. Something lovely about a woman taking control of her body, looking the "I-Was-Just-Born-Better" mentality in the eye, and manifesting one's own destiny in the realm of physical beauty. If its so unimportant, then why sweat the changes?

After all, if our exteriors are merely shells,  and not that important anyway--what is it about altering one's body that is so sacrosanct?

Renee's example is not that of bodily empowerment or ownership. She is seemingly entranced by the immortality illusion. But, why are you so sad about plastic surgery in itself? Why aren't you more concerned with the waste of money, or the glaring wealth inequality that allows for such frivolities in this country? Why are you lamenting Renee and demeaning these Brazilian women? Both took control of her body in an unconventional way. One received it for an affordable price. But we are more worried about the transient changes of our godlike examples than the prospect that physical beauty can be created and still  be genuine. It's just that it can only be achieved under certain circumstances. Like wealth, pre-existing beauty, and godliness.

I'm not trying to say that Renee Zellweger is an anti-Calvinist egalitarian demigod, championing female empowerment. Hell, she's saying that she didn't  get plastic surgery in the first place.

 I'm just suggesting that maybe, it's not plastic surgery that's problematic in our shallow, self-absorbed society. It's wealth, fame, and our endless obsession with the pursuit of immortality.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dear West Virginia 4-H: We Have To Stop Using Cultural Appropriation in Our Camping Traditions.

It's national 4-H week, and I am flooded with memories of campfires, once-close friendships, and old songs. I miss my old friends, and wonder why we grew apart. I am grateful for Kyle and the Russo sisters, probably the last holdouts from that  category.

There's one part of camp that, as I have grown in age and perspective, has become disconcerting. It's not the ever-encroaching over-supervision of campers. Or the gossiping counselors.

Every summer (which is the pinnacle of 4H participation in West Virginia), we assemble into tribes.  Four groups, separated by a color, totem animal...and a Native American name.

One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn't belong. 

The 4H camping tradition is over 100 years old. My mother, sisters, and now niece have all participated in this fun, lighthearted and loving week of youth vigor, valor and vim (guess which tribe I was in). Words like "Tradition"  and  "Legacy" are thrown around the campfire pretty regularly. We hold many practices sacred.

I understand. I loved it, too, I loved being a "proud Seneca", serving as both a "Sagamore" and a "Chief" of my "tribe".  Wakonda jokes were great stand-ins when nothing funny happened that day, and wearing a chief's headdress or sagamore tag made me feel proud, even though it did create a week-long ring of green around my forehead.

When I try to relay memories of camp now, I find myself censoring most of the aforementioned events. In my present mind and worldview, these traditions that we hold so dear seem like hurtful, reductive pantomime of a marginalized and oppressed culture that has been ignored or ridiculed by American society for too long.  We are not those people. We do not oppress, tease, or marginalize. We are here to make the world a better place, and this tradition is keeping us from doing it.

Dear fellow West Virginia 4Hers, you're going to hate this. You're going to get mad and feel sensitive, because for so many of us, 4H was a haven from the world, a reminder of how to be a kid, a true outlet of joy.   But we have to stop using tribal symbols in our Camps. We have to let everyone know how wonderful we are, and part of that means making 4H and 4H camp accessible to everybody.

As a community, we strive to uphold the 4 Hs--Head, Heart, Health, and Hands. Mimicking tribal names and traditions is an egregious violation of these four pillars.

  Head: It encourages us to make a moral exception for ourselves, despite the fact that we all know that mimicking Indigenous traditions is racist, reductive and damaging to our society.

 Heart: By denying this fact, we are closing our community to minority groups. Do you think a Native American would feel comfortable joining our group? 4H is for everyone. Camping is for everyone. But, when the basic structure of our camping model violates the personal history of others, we unintentionally exclude those who might view our traditions as offensive. WE need to open our hearts to the potential for change.

Health: Racism is, in many ways, a mental health issue. Using tribal jargon for pantomime desensitizes campers to the implications behind the use.  By making this a non-issue, our organization is sweeping hundreds of years of oppression under the rug. If we are capable of doing that with one group, why not others? This practice sends a subliminal message to campers that some racism is okay.

  Hands: As an organization, we are dedicated to using our voices to make the world a better place in every scale. "For my club, My Community, My Country, and My World."  This may not cause big waves in West Virginia, where there is a largely homogeneous culture.  But we aren't just worried about West Virginia (although it is the Best Virginia). We are concerned with the world. We want to make it a better, more loving and equal place. Mimicking indigenous cultures is counter intuitive to this mission.

I know that  intentions are not to offend. I understand that 100 years of "tradition" can make our perspective hazy.

I am also aware that we have been through this before, and someone said it was "OK" as long as we are "culturally sensitive". But let me tell you---there is no situation where mimicking another culture is sensitive. Especially when you consider the historical treatment of Native peoples by the United States. I'm not just talking about smallpox blankets and the Trail of Tears. I'm talking about poor resources on reservations, continual socio-economic inequality, and continued cultural appropriation throughout many aspects of popular culture, media and organizations such as 4H. So this time, let's not have to wait to be asked---and sued--by Native American Peoples. Let's do the right thing, and reach this conclusion on our own.

We can keep the bears, turtles and birds. We can still shout our approval, sit by a campfire and sing songs while competing for the funniest skits or best top ten lists. Those are our traditions.They are what make 4H special, sacred even.

 Seneca, Cherokee, Delaware, Mingo and Big Foot are not ours. They do not uphold the 4Hs, and they are holding us back.  Please, for the sake of creating a more conscientious, equal and loving world, consider removing Native connotations from our 4H traditions. I want 4H camp to be open for everyone.  In order to do that,we must create a landscape of equality for everyone, not just for some.

I take my stand, I make my pledge, and each day it means more. And from now on, through all my life, I'll pledge the H's 4. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

draft one--Brooklyn

Morning bicycle rides through southeast Brooklyn,

On broken concrete and glass

Through old neighborhoods where families reside in the same old townhouse

 older tenement apartments  stacked with hipsters already late for the morning commute

The pungent smell of a fish market,  butchers down in Canarsie,

 Dirty Remsen Avenue, with fast cars like a highway

  but slow street traffic lights

On this street, I bike on the sidewalk,

Thread   between students in Charter School Uniforms,

Mothers covering unkempt morning hair with scarves or bandannas

Men on morning routes for the electrical company

Fast Food stores already open, always open.

Reaching the corner of Remsen and Farragut,

 I am two minutes late on the dot

Sweaty from the ride

Ready for the  breakfast left molding on my  kitchen counter.

 Daytime is overworked teachers, social workers, janitors,

And the lilting jangle of Caribbean Accents

Life in not-yet famous parts of Brooklyn

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Home State, In One Line.

"West Virginia is so nice. The Taco Bell girl cared so much about my night"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Circular Waltz

Turn on the TV,
pour a glass of red wine,
a heavy-sigh cleans the slate for happier days.

Passing silent after silent afternoon
Would have loved, a year ago,
this place to call our own.

Door creaks in time with the passing Q train,
it used to be my favorite.
Now, any amount of travel promises twinging anxiety.

There are ghosts next door,
leering forms in past and present participle
ghosts in the corners of the psyche.

When will these blue days end.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Two months of silence, amidst a last triumphant finale of  consistence uprooting.  Finally, the Runaway is Reformed.

I live in a rather large apartment in Brooklyn. Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Right by the park.

Work is scarce and hard to come by. My father is sick.  Occasionally, morning heaviness hits, and voices whisper that the effort required to get out of bed is overrated.

Overall, those mornings are few and far between. They are punctuated by urgent whispers-- guilting me into a morning run. With blood pumping sufficiently well, it is hard to hear even the most insistent whispers of my worthlessness.

There usually something to do. An appointment to make. A song to write. A bar to try. It keeps me busy.  But something is gone; it's that ruthless insistence to show my work. To say "Look at me!"
I'd rather just live and do the things that keep me living. After learning very little in my life, I finally learned that this is the most difficult and important part of existence.

New York, perhaps, is not the best place for that sentiment. But it is where I am now. And there is still growth to be found here, lessons to be learned, paths that will ultimately lead me back to the quiet comfort of books, trees. Finally, the pursuit of a humble existence.

In the meantime, I'll try not to be angry at this city. It is always For Sale. I just wasn't looking hard enough before.

And now, there is a voice combating the sadness, saying that life is worth living, even when it is so incredibly hard.  That I am good and kind and smart, even when I feel hollow.  So there are things to admire. There are ways to be happy, although I am unsure how to making a living in this city.

I suppose this is happiness, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

San Po Po Season

If you google "San PoPo Season", nothing relevant comes up. But everyone in Guatemala City knows about San Po Pos.
Perhaps I am spelling it incorrectly, although it is difficult to imagine a more feasible permutation.

They look like a bizarre hybrid of ants and flies. It's as though the two species had too much to drink one night, and woke up the next morning thinking how the hell did this happen?! 

Which is exactly what I said in response to the sudden arrival of San Po Pos.  While I was away doing an exercise video to stave off laziness and boredom, they snuck into my room, blanketing my quilt with four-legged nuisances. When the rainy season hits--and it has--the neighborhood ladies say that they fall from the sky with the rain.   

Adults and children alike collect the San Po Pos in jars and eat them for lunch. There are contests for who can eat the most. They dare us to comelo, just one.  It's una tradicion.

There are many traditions, like San Po Po season, that seem unsavory to an outsider's eye.  For example, for birthday parties, firecrackers are set off at the crack of dawn. The sound wakes the entire street corner, its pesky bang-BANG-bangbang-BANG louder than any iPhone alarm clock. This might just be an annoyance, if I didn't live in Esperanza, famous for the more-than-occasional sunset shootings.

As it is, one quickly learns the difference between tiny popping firecrackers and gunshots from an automatic rifle. But, that first time, when you don't know the difference--your blood goes thick like lead as you sit in bed and wonder, why are there so many automatic rifles going off at breakfast? The truth, is--very few people with a Brahva hangover are likely to crawl out of bed before noon to pump someone's belly full of lead.

The bugs smell like citronella when you crush them, and since the soap is always half-diluted, I spent most of San Po Po season smelling like a bargain-shop tiki torch. I suppose this odor is better than the ever present smell of burning trash, which I grew accustomed to after the first day.  Although, I cannot help but wonder if this perpetual sore throat and runny nose is not a result of the rainy season, but rather a response to the acrid perfumes of battery smoke and old toilet seats.

One of the women who works here is eight months pregnant, and lives on the precipice overlooking the dump.  Every morning, she climbs a small mountain to get into the neighborhood.  I don't know her well, but I often wonder if it would be strange to offer to rub her feet.  There are so many things I can't do--but I can give a pretty good foot rub.


Our librarian's neighbor was shot. She was dating some of the gang members.  When it happened, a man was wailing about his brother, and so we thought it was a man who was killed.  Oddly, he was screaming about a brother. mi hermano, ay mi hermano, no, mi hermano. 

It's very possible that, as is often the case, I misheard him. That o could easily have been an a.  If his keening hadn't doubled and tripled the length of his vowels--I'd be more willing to admit that, like the time I asked for a "half book of rice"--my intermediate Spanish steered me wrong.

I wonder what his brother had to do with the shooting. Was it his girlfriend? Was he the one who shot the gun? Why wasn't anyone screaming over the dead girlfriend?

In Guatemala, a person is buried many times over.  The first time, they are buried in their coffin; a rather large plot. This lasts for fifteen years, until the body has decomposed enough to be moved to a smaller resting place.  Then, it is exhumed and moved to a smaller plot, to make room for new cemetery visitors.

The family pays for the cemetery plot every year, and then pays an additional premium to have the body exhumed and moved to its second home.  If they cannot pay, remains are thrown into the city dump.  The cemeteries are crowded, so people are buried into the walls of the cemetery in order to make room for new occupants.

This is how Guatemalans visit their ancestors: Ccimb a ladder, pay your respects, climb back down to earth.  The plots are crowded on Mother's day, Father's day,Semana Santa, and particularly popular birthdays.

~~~ ~~~  ~~~

The view at night is incredible, and in the morning, too. Two volcanoes, ready to help the sun rise in as glorious a manner as possible. Always crowned in mysterious cloud cover.  Ready to have poems written in its honor,  to defy your sense of longevity and endurance.  And just to the left of these prehistoric monuments--the city dump.  Always on fire, even during the rainy season.

I wonder if the city dump-creators had a sense of humor, or just lacked appreciation for a good landscape.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Reflections on the first week in Esperanza

The sky is purple in the evening; low-hanging clouds of humid pollution make the town below a watercolor painting.  Blurred lines, houses stacked on top of  one another. Ridged sheet metal with crosses and messages and street numbers painted onto the sides slapped up against one another--saving space, sharing materials--whatever the reason might be for having such closely kept neighbors.

No one has enough, but there is ample time to keep score.  The have-less, the have-none, have-some, the gets-by.

In Esperanza, women build the schools, sell the vegetables & paper & food, raise & rear the children. Meanwhile, men go about drinking beer, breaking shit and making nighttime into closed doors and hushed voices, jumping at crack of gun or car.
 The woman who makes tortillas across the street is superstitious and spits into the dough. Four for a Quetzal, they'll burn hands from their thin plastic bag so juggle them with a couple liters of beer. Hop skip jump up the stairs lickety-split to avoid the smattering of evening rain.  Beer is shared piecemeal between mugs but all four liters are finished by ten; the tortillas are clammy when fried with the morning eggs.

 Up the hill, city center is a globular cluster of iridescent green and yellow. The sonorous tin roof rain is made less romantic by a flooding kitchen. Over half of the shared living space is outdoor; so when it rains, stack into the kitchen and mimic the neighborhood architecture. What little space there is to be had is shared between flies and a foundling cat.

In the hours between beer and drowsiness, play at getting along with the techo-mates. With three-to-a-room, countless prayers request a moment to dress in ripped underwear without concern of unwanted voyeurs. Other times, it is nice to hunker down shoulder to shoulder in shared joy and misery to see what unfolds among souring beer and waterlogged streets.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I carried you all over town.

I carried you all over town.

I carried you through the east village, 
and whispered,
these are the places I would go,
the park where you could score
big drugs in the eighties, now
filled with bilingual children
a community garden &
mutts kicking up dust in
languid clouds that
settled into their pelts
dappled with dirt
freckles like the ones
you had in late August,
& we connected the dots
finding symbols between
those imagined lines.

I walked to the top of the island and
stopped on the peaked rocks to see
the rich folks from afar, whispered
the graffitied messages spouting
an eternal end, the low hanging threats
painted as a last resort
protesting the end of protest
hoarse voiced and weak after
years of being told they won.

And nodded off to dream sounds in a basement
once full of our nation's greatest dissenters
now sated by a class
believing in thirteen minute drum solos and
the value of a college education
Never having eaten baked beans from the
can for the love of an idea,
they have to hold onto something.

I carried you all over town
and then I let you go.

among the first wildflowers I found
speckled sunlight like you wouldn't believe
old high rises at either side
the river to your back
& quiet guitar floating over the hill
she is standing right in front of me.
speaking words of wisdom
let it be

I watched the sunlight catch the
most minute parts
before the wind current
bore them across town.

your shadow on my hand
our last day spent
as compensation for stolen time.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wheel of Time

Back to Songwriting

This is a link to a rough draft of a song I wrote. I've written, re-written and scrapped this one so many times, and then suddenly, after months of being unable to produce anything at all, this little ditty just finished itself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

the bravest thing I've ever done

I was probably eight, and playing
in the yard because it was springtime
and my mom told me that I had to stop reading
the Bible because it was just a bunch of begats and begots and
it made the church ladies very nervous.

You sent me outside to get some fresh air, which
was not so mean, because I was losing track of the order
of the biblical stories; some were clear-cut and concise,
 others were pieced together, like
the yo-yo quilt we had hanging as a shower curtain in
the only bathroom of the house.

So I was pretending that my cat was a
pilgrim on his way to the holy land, and
I followed him over limestone outcroppings,
avoided the places where Ellie said there was poison oak
down to the path behind my house owned by a man
who mumbled to himself and rarely washed
his hands.

and he still owns fields where
he keeps dozens of horses; the setting for
a fantasy of a girl of eight who thinks
that reading the Bible is a satisfactory
activity on a June day.

We pass old Fords and boxcars and budding wineberry bushes
and black-eyed susans and I lose track of my
white cat, Snowball, named in an age before irony was
 the common tongue spoken in our home.

 I do not know the way and I keep walking, never thinking about
who might have written the graffiti on the trees, and why someone
would dump a rusting 50's style car into the woods, or how long ago
the pile of ashes in front of the boxcar had been a fire.

At the end of this seemingly endless path, there is a gate--
and in the gate there is a field and in the field there are
probably five unbridled horses running and walking, but
mostly just standing around.

So, of course, I climb under the fence and enter.

I walk to the top of the hill and just sit in the field, and watch
the horses do their horsey things, I think about how
this is freedom because I didn't have to spy through
the slatted gate or step up on my tiptoes to
pet their velvety noses, I just had to sit quietly
and wait for them to come up to me, and some
of them really did.

And that is the bravest thing I've ever done.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Excerpt from a dream journal kept in Irving, Texas.

in trying to sort out what I am and what i want, I have been following my father's advice, and looking through my dream journal for answers.

August 20, 2013

In the dream, I am on an old-style airplane. Like the ones Wright Brothers flew.  Two of my old lovers are sitting in the back; they are merged into one person with a flickering face, changing constantly between the two that I have known.

We are flying over sights just like the ones in the American Airlines inspirational video.  Above is blue.  Below is Canyon DeChelly--even more beautiful than I remember. 

I blink, and the controls change. Now they are modern and complicated, full of command buttons and a joystick instead of the yoke I'd seen before.  

The plane is falling. Gradually at first, then into an impossible tailspin.  Trying to help, Brendan(s) tries to crawl up to me, just as the airplane pitches forward to an impossible attitude.  He is thrown from his seat and into the air, holding on to me by linked pinkies.  I try to fix the positioning of the airplane, but the engines are out. heis screaming for help, asking and begging me to fix it, but I can't. 

He tumbles out completely, face still flickering...

I slide out of my seat, simple and light, and follow his descent without protesting. Because, what else could I do.  

In the air, We detach from one another, and I watch him become a speck and then disappear below me. I am suspended in the air,  floating like paper in the sky. Before I hit the ground, I evaporate into that robin's egg blue and the  green-speckled clay of Canyon deChelly. I become nothing. 

Tonight, I want to dream something new.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It's not about the destination, it's about the lunatics on the bus.

Passive Aggressive Letters to the Passengers on the New York-bound megabus, departing Washington DC Wednesday, January 22nd, 11:59 pm:

Dear man just behind me and to the left,

No one understands love gone wrong like I do. I’m really sorry about Shanna.  She sounds like a dick. You said it yourself; she disrespected your grandmother. You know what I think you should do? Forget that ageist assclown, and get off of the fucking phone.

No one on this bus is going to appreciate your self-righteous indignation, so why waste your poetic sermon on deaf, silently enraged ears?  No, good sir. You keep quiet until the morning. Then, at the crack of dawn, go to the top of the Rockefeller Building and dispense this diatribe on the unsuspecting tourists who pay fourteen dollars to climb to the top of a building in the middle of winter.   

Like the rooster of our generation, you’ll wake them all to the sunrise of this new day, this brave new world where love has lost for once and for always.  You’ll crow a song of anger, a song of love, a song of Shanna; that cold, shrill voice on the phone who keeps hanging up on you.  That’ll teach her. That’ll teach them all.

Dear man just next to him,

Weezy does rule. And I am very curious to know whether rapping his songs aloud is some kind of elaborate protest against the man just behind me and to the left, an open audition for any booking agents or club owners who might be taking this bus, or just an ardent display of fandom. However, after seeing Weezy live in 2009, I came to the realization that his stuff is way better when heard through a sweet set of speakers. It just doesn’t translate as well to live performance, y’know? 

Keeping that in mind, please, shut the fuck up before I strangle you with your Skullcandy earbuds. 

Dear man just in front of me,

At first, I thought you were watching American Horror Story: Coven, but then Woody Harrelson showed up, and I don’t think he’s on that show.  In fact, I think this is a movie.  And now the plot thickens--Christopher Walken and Colin Farrell are onscreen.  Kind sir, what the fuck is this cinematic revelation? Why is everyone in it? Is that Kevin Bacon?  And did you seriously bring popcorn and beer on the megabus?

Man in front of me, I think I love you.

Dear very well groomed man just to my right,

Your Louis Vuitton bag is a decade out of season, but in a really great way.  I especially love how it appears to be actual Louis Vuitton.  Like, Louis himself made that initials-speckled purse on your lap, and you are wearing the hell out of it.   Since you’re on a megabus, you appear to be a bargain-minded, gentleman, so I feel compelled to divulge a little secret…

Did you know that Sonoma for Target does a really great Vuitton  knock-off these days?
Never mind, you're way too classy for that shit.

To the group of five nineteen year old boys who just boarded in Baltimore, smelling strongly of weed,

 Good on you.  But, no—you cannot sit next to me.

Might I suggest that you go sit with the guy just behind me and to the left, now loudly weeping over Shanna energetically enough that I am convinced he is the Edgar Allan Poe of our generation, and Shanna is his Lenore.  Sounds like he could use a bowl or two.

Dear Shanna (who is still on the phone with the man just behind me and to my left),

I cannot believe he is forgiving you for this shit. It’s unacceptable, and you know it. You can’t treat a person that way. Especially when he needs to express his forgiveness at such a decibel.

This whole bus hates you so fucking much. Change your name. Change your address. Cover up that tattoo of a peace sign on your upper hip. I’m fucking coming for you.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Nobody likes you when you're 23.

Things To Do Before Turning 23:

1. Blog about how I feel about getting married at 23.

2. Reference other blogs about getting married at 23 in my argument.
Note: It is best to ASSert how wrong the other blogger is, and how much her personal choice has placed all women on a nonstop train headed straight to misogynyville. It Does Not pass Go. It Does Not Collect $200. It cannot be the Tophat.

3. Justify my conclusions with gratuitous purple prose and personal anecdotes,
EX: how I realized that love is just a construct when I looked into the blue eyes of a person I thought I loved and saw only iris and pupil and a big coward so I decided to pretend we never met and be alone forever instead.
OR about how when you know you know and I totally, like TOTALLY know that this is absolutely the best my life will ever get so let's throw a fucking party and get a ring and dress up fancy because by 35 everyone has gross wing-like upper arms. Arms like that look terrible in a strapless white princess gown and no one's grandchild will ever admire that kind of body type so let's take the pictures now!

4. Reblog likeminded women warriors championing whatever it is that I personally believe; force all Facebook friends to comment, pontificate, elaborate and masturbate their way through the article.

 5. Learn how to shut up a cat in heat.

 In other news, a 60 year old man named Ira really wanted to take me to see Malcolm Jamal-Warner in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, so I guess I haven't really got all that much to be jaded about.

PS: I do not care if/when/how you get married, as long as you have an open bar and you invite me.