Saturday, October 24, 2009

the burden of context

i want to say
"you rest at the foot of the bed,
and i am pained by the 3 feet between us,"
but how can i want you so simple
in the tempest of academia, feminism,
and the like

i could speak of the borders
constructed by language or culture,
how every word and look that was ever thrust upon has built the divide
that privileges me with the pillow
and damns you to the end with the cracker crumbs and wine stains

or perhaps this rolling blue blanket is really the Atlantic Ocean
and ours is a problem of colonization.
is our love really just conquer and conquest?
have i exoticized you to eroticize you,
your brown and savage masculinity some impulsive euro-bred addiction?

and can you just be far away from me,
or are you lejos de, loin de, vom
am i hurting us if i can't need you in every language?

is each touch a confirmation of some oppressive discourse?
can you kiss me without joining some age-old conversation?
can you fuck me?
can YOU fuck me?
can you FUCK me?
can you fuck ME?
and be certain of everything that means?

but then

you look at me, see me
and we're somewhere beyond words and philosophies,
our lips meeting above now and history,
and every thought every one ever constructed
is reduced to: skin.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

i hope it isn't all a show

oh, but i hope it is, too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

you come back

You come back into the room
where you've been living
all along. You say:
What's been going on
while I was away? Who
got those sheets dirty, and why
are there no more grapefruit?
Setting foot on the middle ground
between body and word, which contains,
or is supposed to, other
people. You know it was you
who slept, who ate here, though you don't
believe it. I must have taken
time off, you think, for the buttered
toast and the love and maybe both
at once, which would account for the
grease on the bedspread, but no
now you're certain, someone else
has been here wearing
your clothes and saying
words for you, because there was no time off.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

my grandma started disappearing again (or rather appearing as someone elses)

you, too, seem to have a way of evaporating.

evading me
somewhere in a bottle
or a text message
or my saturday nights

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


you left the words porchside for me to stumble upon.
and they meant much more than they should.

thank you for the warmth, even if it wasn't love
but instinct

and thanks for watching
as i walked on
saying nothing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

it's a sin to tell a

words have a way of exploding; we forget that, you and i.

maybe language isn't always such a blessing
maybe it's what makes us, us,
the most foolish.
the most guilty.

Friday, July 24, 2009

not to sound immature, but

i'm growing up. really.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

what the protagonist learns

we wait so long for our lives to begin; we plan to attribute every worthwhile memory to that vacation, that job, that transition, that new beginning.

but it all happened a long time ago. almost 22 years for me. and it has been an adventure. and i remember way more about fireflies, s'mores, evening walks, and naps than i remember about exotic travels and new beginnings.

and i am living my life. and i am happy.

how to see people

his name was scott. the nerve.

heartbreaking time after heartbreaking time, i'd turned my head from scores of beggars, theatrically wiping my eyes as though i had mascara to hide.

indian women who were heroin-chic thin. corpses with babies. 5-year-olds with gap teeth and lisps. old men with limps. i'd trained myself to ignore them all, and i'm sure they all had more interesting names than "scott." tribal names. Xhosa names. names like Mgati and Kanyisa.

The guy who tried to mug me at knife point at least had the courtesy to look like a "Clayton."

The punk who stole my empty Coke can and tried to take my cell phone was speaking Zulu; I bet his name was way more badass than "scott."

but there Scott was. 30 something and handsome. Hardly tragic looking, save for being a little slim to pass as masculine in these parts and having a strange, lizardy patch of gray on his left cheek.

"Please look at me." He smiled optimistically. He'd noticed that I'd developed the strut of a local, plowing across the street to my destination without looking at the hopeful who were sleeping in the doorways. Somehow,he knew he only need to ask.

Yeah,I lookd at him. We talked for nearly an hour, mostly about me. He was genuinely interested in my schooling, my internship, my interests, my family- he grinned eager and gracious throughout.

And then he told me his story. How he had worked as a carpenter a few months ago and had lost his job and wife within a few days of each other. He had been staying at the park down the hill, but his makeshift home was flooded out when all of the rain gathered at the bottom. Now, he was looking for a place to stay for a few nights until the storms stopped and he could piece his life back together.

He and I strolled on to the local shelter, the conversation shifting to our favorite books. (he was a salinger man. *melt*)

I had a couple hundred rand left over (about 20 bucks). It was transportation money Dr. McDuff had given me that I never used as I pretty much walked everywhere. I handed it to the manager at the shelter and we arranged a place for scott to stay for the next couple of weeks.

and scott. 30-something and untragic-looking scott. he kissed my cheek, gave a misty-eyed thanks, and walked out of my life and hopefully into one he'd find manageable.

as i walked home, i thought about the gray patch. and his ex-wife. and how this was my best day in cape town. and how i remembered dignity, how to look everyone in the face, even if you're going to say no.

Monday, May 11, 2009

the same difference

human rights are for everybody.
more on that later.

As soon as I got back to Boonville, I sat my mother deskside and had her take the survey at "" to evaluate her ideal living location. She and I laughed through most of the questions, commenting on embarassing memories and our inability to mountainbike.
Then, we get to the question that made my mother needlessly sweat. The jist of it was this- "is advocacy for gay and lesbian people important to you?" There was a long mother knew her answer her "mattered"... it was her first opportunity to show whether she just accepted that I was a homosexual or she accepted that homosexuals were worthy of equal rights (at least as i read the question).

Her response was as follows " i guess it would be nice, you know, for when you visited."

yeah. nice. because equal rights and treatment are about "convenience" and are just fine as a "some times" thing for "some people." sweet.

perhaps this wouldn't have phased me at all if not for a related interaction with my father earlier that morning. while he was helping me move out of my apartment, a friend proceeded to tell him about the nightmarish haircut experience i'd had two days prior.

On Thursday, charlie on jefferson street was snipping away at my hair, talking to two elderly local men about gay marriage. they were blanketly against it and seemed to take iowa's decision to legalize same-sex marriage particularly personally. i kept my mouth shut as i really didn't care to get in an argument with three large homophobic men, especially when one of them was holding a sharp objet to my head. but, charlie asked me, and i timidly shared my opinion.

"um...well... i don't see how two people in love getting married really hurts anybody."

charlie looked at me shocked, then angry, then laughed. he then proceeded to explain to me how homosexuality is "just child molestation, only the victims are a little older" and that "all homosexuals are rapists" in his book.

i responded. how, i'll likely never remember. i wasn't particularly angry; i was just completely taken off guard by such damaging ignorance. i stumbled and backpedaled and stuttered and apparently in the process i outed myself, likely to add validity to my defense.

and so, charlie's parting words to me after i handed him 10 dollars were this "well, i'm sorry, but if you're one of them homosexuals, then you're a child molester and a rapist."

upon hearing this story my father nervously laughed, shrugged his shoulders and said "well, that's what you get for talking about gay marriage in a kirksville barber shop."

hmph. really? your son, who is involved in several programs to end sexual violence, is cruelly and ironically called a molester and rapist, and you blame him? you're not pissed off? you don't want to jump to protect him or comfort him?

yes, the first place my thoughts jumped were to myself, to my selfishness. mom! dad! don't you care about MY right to love who I want, to live where I want, to work where I want.

and then i remembered that this was hardly only about me. all gay people deserve equal rights and equal treatment. scratch that- ALL PEOPLE deserve to be treated with humanity and decency, and only those guilty of harming others need receive any chastizing or punishment. this is not a "fun" or "convenient" thing for when i visit. this is not about putting up with harassment to avoid making others uncomfortable. this is about you and me and all of us living the lives, being the people, and receiving the rights we deserve.

and, with that in mind, i'm so ready to go across the world to learn, grow, and kick hatred in the ass.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

a rvier runs through us

it occured to me this morning that
,if asked,
i could explain the difference
between sex and
"making love"

you see,
the first time i had sex,
i remembered breaking a beaker in chem.
distilled chemicals across the floor
and the sounds of shards and fear
my mother-scared-crying)

the first time i had sex
with a man i loved
i thought about ee cummings

"i like my body when it is with your


this is the abyss that separates love
and games

Thursday, May 7, 2009

a sad child

You're sad because you're sad.
It's psychic. It's the age. It's chemical.
Go see a shrink or take a pill,
or hug your sadness like an eyeless doll
you need to sleep.

Well, all children are sad
but some get over it.
Count your blessings. Better than that,
buy a hat. Buy a coat or pet.
Take up dancing to forget.

Forget what?
Your sadness, your shadow,
whatever it was that was done to you
the day of the lawn party
when you came inside flushed with the sun,
your mouth sulky with sugar,
in your new dress with the ribbon
and the ice-cream smear,
and said to yourself in the bathroom,
I am not the favorite child.

My darling, when it comes
right down to it
and the light fails and the fog rolls in
and you're trapped in your overturned body
under a blanket or burning car,

and the red flame is seeping out of you
and igniting the tarmac beside you head
or else the floor, or else the pillow,
none of us is;
or else we all are.

---- Margaret Atwood

Nothing goes right here; I just want to go the fuck away until I can find a place where I'm strong enough to make myself happy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

thank god the holocaust is over

I was trapped the entire presentation
behind your fat, bald head.
It obscured the nervous voices
with its shiny, awkward bulbousness.
I considered writing an ode
to phrenology
to shoe polish
to new marbles
to hypoallergenic dogs
but i ultimately concluded that this would be
a waste of time.

Monday, April 27, 2009

a starry night's lament (a work in progress)

it is the absolute worst thing
to be left on a wall
and told that you remind people of heaven...
to be gawked at amazedly
or gazed over coolly
and declared beautiful in your surreal completeness

i loathe that reverence.
i loathe this entirety.

what about this frame?
its smooth, ornate organicness that strangles with its patience
look how gorgeously it imprisons me!
or notice those exotic breasts displayed on the left,
the melting field that beckons to the right
i insist- worship them, instead


i wasn't always like this, you know
not an escapist's window in manhattan,
not a magnum opus waiting to be stolen or burned or to fade

i was once an impassioned brushstroke,
a mess of hues on a makeshift palette
yearning for the sensuous touch of a knowing hand

(he'd apply me gently to an eager canvas
and make masterpiece of my naked potential)

but we foolishly long for such things in our uncertain youth
-such wholeness and perfection and fame-
when in truth, there was no greater satisfaction
than to be the blurred vision of a madman,
spilling drops of you across his lap and chest
as he tires to capture the view that no one sees

.it is so much better to be a thought than a thing.

you know...
if i spin with all my intensity
perhaps i could implode, instantly
tearing all of my facsimiles from those hollow dreamers' books,
freeing every stagnant citizen of arles,
taking the final, brilliant bow of a bursting supernova!

and the white walls fall barren
my adoring pilgrims w(o/a)nder on somewhere else

and all that prevails is the longing shade of blue

the only one you need
to create

Sunday, March 29, 2009


we need to learn how to live in our bodies
that no science can make more time
how not to love beyond our limits
how not to write beyond our words

(a shame)
no one has ever taught me
how to be,
how to stay

Ignorance is wanting something else.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


i'm too sleepy for the full treatment my anxieties deserve, so here's an obnoxiously abridged version:

For the first time in my life, I feel academically powerless. I've never believed I just couldn't handle a semester the way I do right now. Challenges keep piling up, and I keep postponing them because I'm afraid that they are impossible. Success isn't happening.

Summer is the cruelest motivation. Especially since my summer nights will be as stressful as they will be unforgettable.

I'm afraid that I am loving too many people out of convenience.

and that's all i'm up for voicing at the moment. good night, all.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sometimes I wonder how much of my being in love is just my being stubborn.

Love Song: I and Thou

Nothing is plumb, level or square,

the studs are bowed, the joists

are shaky by nature, no piece fits

any other without a gap

or pinch, and bent nails

dance all over he surfacing

like maggots. By Christ

I am no carpenter. I built

the roof for myself, the walls

for myself, the floors,

for myself, and got

hung up in it myself. I

danced with a purple thumb

at this house-warming, drunk

with my prime whiskey: rage.

Oh I spat rage's nails

into the frame-up of my work:

It held. It settled plumb.

Level, solid, square, and true

for that one great moment. Then

it screamed and went on through,

skewing as wrong the other way.

God damned it. This is hell,

but I planned it I sawed it

I nailed it and I

will live in it until it kills me

-Alan Dugan

Saturday, February 7, 2009

a reason to lose eloquence

there's something wrong with the vernacular here.

this is not "growing apart"
this is not "out of sight, out of mind"
this is not even "hoping you'll take the hint."

you see
to get a bullet out a chamber
you must pull a trigger.

it is not an act of God; it is not a side effect of time.
it is you
it is your neurons
it is your finger

an order
deliberate and willful.

it is you.
it is your hand.
it is our ledge.
and i'm over it.

i wish all my friends could be my friends with the fervent intent
with which you are not.

Monday, January 12, 2009

never underestimate what one man can awaken.