As I’m sure most of you know, a trans woman was attacked in a McDonald’s bathroom last week, and the attack was recorded and put up on YouTube (here’s a link to Lisa Harney/Questioning Transphobia’s very smart news round-up about the story). The whole situation is awful, disgusting, depressing, and I don’t have much to say about it beyond that — except that Rachel turned me on to this excellent video response/commentary from laidbaqq, and I appreciate it, and thought I’d share. (Thanks for putting this on my radar, Bella.)
Thanks for the post Gina, and thanks to laidbaqq for speaking up
I keep waiting for the moment to unmake itself
because a man who now lives in that house by the river I lived in when the skylight was shattered by a diving hawk, panicked and fleeing in a thunderstorm, has perfected the art of stacking sets of large stones in unlikely patterns of size and shape, sturdy enough to withstand a strong wind and weak earth tremors
because we’ve taken to smoking cheap tobacco to curb our hunger, food money spent on alcohol like we’re in some cheesy, overdone slum narrative
because grass now grows over the root scar left when men unearthed the blackened tree stump after it was stuck for the second time by lightning
because I keep looking at the lines in my hands that belong to someone older than me
because life follows a pattern, and no I wasn’t surprised or maybe part of me was
that part that finds new things to hope for, nothing like god, but still opening windows after I’ve bolted the front door shut
so I’ll keep waiting, and I don’t think it’ll be long
Fog collects and condenses on the pine needle’s point, a drop of water to fall cold on my naked neck
And yeah, I’ll know what to do then
Between her knit eyebrows, the crease is a detail missed. My mother stares at the glass sliding door across the kitchen counter into a winter garden. Her elbows pressed to her floating ribs, hands dripping over the casserole dish, red to the wrist with the sauce she dipped corn tortillas into. She does not see on my face the look of inquiry- eyebrows raised- I move towards her, shoulder touching shoulder, my hands as red as hers. I kiss the place on her temple where gray roots appear between dye jobs. She closes her eyes and for a moment leans heavy against me, our four hands hovering like a last bell peal or back-winging robins, red-breasted. Then it is back to work and the deepening crease.
That same crease on my brother’s face is a remembered indignity, on mine, a thought escaping. My sister’s crease for her nihilistic neutrality. My father has a different crease- seen less often. Predicting, like a heavy cloud horizon.
Quantum physics humor hella makes me giggle.
I’ve been spending too much time dancing on cliffs edge
spinning in place, hands outstretched
like leaves to catch what’s falling.
I’ve stopped smoking cigarettes
and mint julips are hard to come by at this altitude
so the days no longer bleed together like first-washed laundry.
My skin glows red where it was last touched
and my moving leaves neon streaks
in the pale of proximate ozone:
Singularly willful in my defiance of your proposed end.
I. After hearing the third love song in a row on my sister’s car radio, I turn the volume down and press on the thumbnail of my left hand until the flesh underneath turns from pink to white.
II. The falling rain sounds like your breath escaping through clenched teeth.
III. The fact of the matter is: writing poetry is nothing like the sweeping up of sawdust and other debris.
IV. Some rainy Thursday night-some nameless boy: our eyes met on BART and I followed him home. The look (was it hope?) on his face as our sweat and flesh commingled disturbed me so that I was compelled to flip him over and press his face into the pillow, which he didn’t seem to mind.
V. You sell flowers in your father’s shop. It is on the pretext of flowers that I sometimes visit.
VI. The fact of the matter is: writing poetry is nothing like the nibbling of rats on electrical circuits under the hood.
VII. While walking down Valencia we pass a Tapas restaurant where the antique furniture shop that had those chairs shaped like giraffes that I loved used to be. I say out loud “the desert never changes.” You do not understand and pretend you did not hear.
VIII. The fact of the matter is: writing poetry is nothing like the angry sex we sometimes have.
IX. I take the coffee offered by my father on the porch of his small cabin with the view. We do not talk about our lives but instead pretend to agree on simple statements. That things are getting better, gradually. That people truly want to understand one another.
X. Song oxidizes- decays on our exhalations. In a vacuum, sound waves cannot travel.
XI. One damp Sunday, you were working; I went to the house of a man with five cars. As he moved inside me, I ran my fingers through his hair and discovered the seam where his toupee was woven onto his head. I knew then that he would pay for my expensive dinner.
XII. The fact of the matter is: writing poetry is nothing like wringing the necks of pigeons wounded on the wing by rounds of buckshot.
XIII. I will lay my head in the muddy grass and see how long the day takes to pass if I do not think of you.
XIV. My young brother is in love, and speaks of love with fervor that is not usually in his character. I marvel at rhetoric’s weight.
IV. Three-fifty-two a.m. gleams blue from your bedside alarm clock as I move in close to kiss your sleeping shoulder in secret. Your skin tastes the way my tongue does after I’ve licked the head of a nine volt battery. Your skin smells like…
XVI. I don’t know what your skin smells like.
XVII. When I visit my mother, we will spend the day smoking pot and drinking white wine with ice cubes and cooking for my siblings. She will undoubtedly ask me if I am seeing anyone.
XVIII The fact of the matter is: writing poetry is only a little like the look I give you when you purse your lips and shrug your shoulders and tell me nothing.
Back when my palms were sand dollars and fingers less like spider’s legs
I would lay face down on the floor of an upstairs room in my grandmother’s house
gripping the grate that looked
down through the rafters
to the kitchen where my family laughed and smoked cigarettes
I would pull my face to the grate and breath in the heat
of woodstove and roasting venison, tobacco and mint
cindering to powder red wine exhalations
brassy voices drifting up through oak beam supports where copper pots
hung on hooks
outside rifle rounds got fired
from a creaking deck
the blasts affronted the silence
the mountains sent them back
some painstaking days I loosened the screws with too-long nails and
opened the grate to peer through
below me the open mouth
of a taxidermied cougar pinned to the wall
its pelt flayed and stretched out like a baseball diamond
tail trailing down
days I would reach
down through the hole
fingers small pink starfish
stretched to catch my grandmother’s attention
hoping to bring her gaze upward from her leather skin on the stirring spoon
or failing that
reach down to touch the brush bristle lion’s fur
which felt like no living thing
I felt you stumble
vibrations in the floor
creaking of backwards windmilling limbs (I had been dancing) intake of breath
inhalations you forced out
skin of the knee splitting open
the way pomegranates do when they ripen
yellow pain behind my eyes my hand on the edge
of the thick cut sold oak
with spilled nectar crushed from
red seed’s flesh staining dark stained wood
one of the few pieces we loaded into your truck we took to our new apartment covered by living lines an irregular hole in its center
weathered in while the tree still stood
we dreamt on its former inhabitants owls were my favorite
somedays I would reach through its center limbs would sometimes get stuck
your eyes like hubcaps
an owls look of neutrality really
different on my face
tenants change so too do the eaving spaces
Your message machine
calls out in clipped syllables, whistle-
tones pitched to the shriek of twisting metal.
The light blinks red:
red the color of wagging tongues, of licking flame.
You move about at a shuffle, leaving trails
of empty floorspace in the prevalence of domestic debris.
You sense a siren more than hear it.
Flashing lights red the color of a blood signature, of valentine’s
day gift cards.
In glossy screens and steamy
window panes you search your reflection for something dissimilar.
Shatter. Cut fingers on the shards of yourself. Bleed red.
Red the color of mourning.
Soot in your hair. Tear in your shirt.