when you purr and spit blood my dear i no longer question magic
is it illegal to scream Nazi in a crowded theatre
illegal to burn men at the stake
to stomp their thin blood into wine for the panicked to drink
-not sex which is not sex but everything else but power the way they say it like as if glue is impermanent like as if you can un fuck not just be unfuckable the way sex is sometimes mostly drunkenness the way i have had sex with a paper you wrote years ago before i knew you and have been ashamed of it The Not Sex Fantastic is a power metal band i'd name an alternate reality for my 20s actually the politic of not sex of scandal of injury rage
god gave me birds for bones and they have come home to roost i bruise on the inside of my mouth tongue blooded to teeth gums rotted soft next to powder teeth i am a diet flower that won't survive the winter i am a love poem for people dying of feelings
i am a rare squid with arms in the shape of what used to be a person
but sometimes i am the claw of the magnolia drunk on its own scent who fears nothing
i am a cadillac with no doors and i fucking dare you to break in
i'm a paradise riot i'm a boy pretending to be a lion pretending to be a king
i am not body but idea of body
i am the fear you have beauty is not real the voice who screams art is dead while you try to sleep
i am a poem you never wrote because the lights were turned off and you were high on communism
i am every burning cop car there ever was and ever will be even when i cannot walk
i am writing this poem from the tiny space under my bed where i some times
go for quiet to listen to the sound of my heart beating in my stomach like it's a violent act. i am not dying – yet having only lost my name, i am convinced of afterness of this too will pass of the thing that comes after because the reason we have ourselves for not quite dying is the right to have cake and say this is my name now and everything still hurts.
sometimes i think my dog sees spirits and i wish i could see spirits too tame the wild night with wild thoughts like eyes on the inside of a toilet seeing shit for what shit is –
because it is sometimes blood and the sometimes sanguine is yes prophetic to shit blood is to be a witch without being a woman
to touch god
while lying on the floor
my body is a cop or a snitch
it knows every meal i did not eat it knows i have read zines called 'survival without rent' not just as a comrade but as a prepper because there was a time without rent i got held captive for three months in a photographers house in an exchange i did not categorize as sex work at the time but was
my body is a cop that keeps me up at night survived but punished
every time i say 'fuck the police' i think a little bit about abandonment of self
what is compulsive truth-telling and why can't my body shut up
when i am on my way to the hospital they always ask me what me REAL name is while the pressure reader screams counter to the calm
'what's your pain on a scale of one to ten' will they let me go if i sit up i just know if i go back home or back to whatever i call the apartment these days i'll be able to fuck my way back into
making breakfast tomorrow and eventually i'll get back to the work i get a paycheck for that won't pay for this ambulance these boys are sure i'm defrauding
i used to get stuck in doorways now, i compulsively cut off my hair. not cutting off my eyebrows too is a small victory.
the hair cutting started in college when my head felt heavy and i said that it was the hair that lay in curls most of the way down to my ass that was the problem. not so much in curls really as in the kind of matted frizz of someone who used body wash as shampoo.
i said it was the hair that made my head heavy and not the voice that kept me in doorways the voice that said onoff onoff onoff onoff -- on
on i don't care if you're going to sleep on have you washed your hands wash your hands four times four times four times four times on off on off on off on off on
when i started cutting my hair off in 2005 i had only kissed two people both of them boys. i was surprised that either of them wanted to kiss me. the first one didn't really,
just wanted to get into my shirt and invite me to prom and i was a freshman and wasn't allowed to go and that was before i could only walk in right angles walk in right angles walk in right angles walk in right angles along the tiles in the hallways of the high school.
the second one who kissed me used mouthwash first we used mouthwash first and we sat in the library and read poetry and held hands
washed hands made each other worse and better.
i started cutting off my hair the day after he came to visit me in college the first time and i wanted to fuck for the first time and he didn't.
his head was heavy with things like what if we die what if his mother dies what if the world ends. wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands wash your hands and i thought that maybe i would never get light
the haircut was shit because who can see the back of their own head but that first foot and a half of dead weight was some kinda prayer to the future a dare in the exposition of soft flesh over my jugular. strands lay on the floor of the bathroom spread over tiles like a bomb and i kneeled to pick them up for the first time thousands and thousands of knives.
i feel like i'm in a david sedaris novel and a sylvia plath poem when i'm home with my parents, my brother, and my brother's half-trained dog.
it only happens when someone dies.
in 2014, the last time i was there likely the last time we will all be there i found poems that i wrote when i was 12 balled up and hidden underneath the bed that used to be mine.
i peeled back the paper carefully like a bomb because it was because it was something stolen because it was like
when you unpack something from a box and you know you're going to return it and then you can't fit it back in.
i dug my arms into the forgotten space between the floor and the bed frame, reaching for more paper balls full of gel-ink and found photographs and razor blades.
i stalked the neighborhood looking for a calmer mood, but only found gas stations and more prefab houses.
sitting on the corner of Andromeda Drive - the actual name of my childhood street - i realized that I was staring at the helix of the streetlamp like I was some kind of bug in a plausibly desperate search for a soul,
or a blind pilot against a sky still blue and lace when the world expects grey.
how do you say, ‘i’m sorry for all the shampoo bottles i threw away with half an inch of soap left at the bottom,’ how do you say, ‘i’m sorry i don’t call my abusive mother, that i’m no longer vegan, that i was ever seventeen.
mother poem (unfinished)
i am child of no one raised by peanut butter sandwiches made in the dark dare not for jelly goodnight was hope for the bed not the stairs not the front porch not the floor sometimes now i remember what it felt like to die something sweet in the black edges that crept in over my vision before i knew what it was to bleed anywhere else but from my own fingernails in skin
i do not remember the first time i knew my mother was sick but i do remember being some kind of peanut butter jelly sandwich hero her bathroom a picnic
and i do remember lying to the nurse about the circles under my eyes
i have this reoccurring dream where i eat my brother except in my dream it's before he transitioned like almost the very act of eating him is punishing me for my cognitive dissonance even though we're both trans or punishing myself for the fact that except we haven't spoken in i lost count finally i mean i stopped counting finally 11 years this September it's like how when someone dies you think about it every day until you only think about it on anniversaries and some tuesdays and if you buy a rotisserie chicken like the kind they ate every day growing up in a kitchen more a cage because chaos was too busy throwing people into walls to open cookbooks
To say that I have a good memory is an exaggeration. I remember the day my brother was born in picture-detail. My father’s parents came over to babysit. It was sunny, and warm. I was wearing an Oshkosh B’Gosh pink sweatshirt. When my grandparents got to the house, I was eating a jelly from the jar while sitting on the stairs, and pretending that I could read one of my mother’s Good Housekeeping magazines.
my throat is a ghost actually knives actually
i try to watch cartoons to calm down but i don't remember how to not feel this way
i am sanguine but not as in having blood but as in being bloody that metallic taste behind the ghost says something seizure seize her but she took the pills we take the pills we don't shake except we tremble
the body holds its wounds they say like a graveyard for the living heartbeats hold cold in triplicate
sometimes in my dreams i am planting tomatoes like a person who gardens like a person who plants tomatoes and keeps a watering can under the back stairs next to on oversized shovel
next to some gloves next to a door by the laundry room where i washed my underwear three times in hot water last night after you left
i probably should have burned it probably should not be planting tomatoes growing knives on the ends of my fingers instead of burying them in the dirt sometimes i have dreams where i don't know the smell of cum or the taste of blood and i am planting tomatoes
burn me in the shower wash away the blood the dirt
tie me to the floor make a resurrection
spell for how to walk safe
bell jar containing: pepper spray keychain flashlight stiletto dagger
that soft and vulnerable bit of flesh from going on five tormented boys who limp howling into the night dripping Hammurabi's Code an eye for an eye a piece me for a piece of you
say it to yourself i am fierce three times in the mirror while shaving off all your hair whisper to yourself i am god three times to the moon to the moon to the moon she understands
my gender is the number of times i've been raped divided by the number of times i've tried to reclaim the body i was born into minus the dreams i have had where i was stardust or a tree or the rain or didn't exist at all. i’m made of old nails and fluorescent light like a fixture in an absurd film about a solipsist. i’m some sort of houseplant, or a loaf of bread. anything to get through the night.
i get these little waves of panic thinking about other people's cheekbones and those angles you get when you suck your cheeks in and the soft flesh right above my elbows that someone put there just to fuck with me.
my gender is concrete and steel, right angles but god gave me oversized sweaters because fuck all to shit this hourglass figure i am supposed to love. my gender is shaving my head in the middle of the night and bathing in glitter and high top sneakers and bras with too many straps and also no underwear.
never wear underwear if you want to feel like yourself. always wear underwear it's another layer another shield
always wear a switchblade in your underwear.
no one who hasn’t had to kill themselves to grow into who they are can speak to the outright liberation shame free fall terror of that chrysalis dissent into the unknowing totally known before and after.
my body is a fuck that i still haven’t come to understand. i wont come to understand. you can’t make me come-
my gender is high waisted jeans and hating my ass half the time loving it the rest and wondering where exactly my legs meet my waist and which parts could just be retractable. How can something so much a cage be also the only place i know where freedom lives because my arms are a lie i only believe in shoulder blades. the curve of my back is all i need when i have convinced myself that going suicidal because there is no word for the kinds of angles i am made of is just not fucking worth it anymore.
the curve of my back is fine. i like to wear lace
but i’d rather wear steel.
i will make you cry when i walk by i make me cry a lot.
there has been war there is war there will be war again i am just waiting for the war we will start in the names of the people who have already been killed. i am waiting for the Battle of Freddie Grey
round two. where we kneel in trenches making a battle crying because only now do we understand sleeping in tents. we have counted each light and dark hour leading to this moment and they were not good. we were not good when it's going down will you walk me to the grocery store to buy my abortion from the cop behind the counter at the pharmacy? When it's going down will we three tabs deep into a six-pack still wanna trade gun secrets no longer gun shy. we've somehow become an armory even though we need ids to buy Chef Boyardee. and when the internet crumbles and our phones don't work anymore i will be grateful for all of the paper you collected. i will build houses out of the flyers from the tenants meetings where we fell in love. sometimes i am pitting cherries and i stop because the tears have come heavy and hot. a sign that i have remembered we are fighting a war i don't believe we'll win in this life i don't believe in my life. i don't believe in the money that bought the cherries. The knife that's pitting the cherries is a ghost a guard a promise a broken promise. my hands are shaking because i don't believe in the work tonight. how many times do we scream into the void that they are killing us before we kill ourselves. we are already killing ourselves. how many times has my voice been silenced for his even in our circles? we don't understand how much work the work is. riding in like white knights dressed in black and i'm crying in a kitchen of my own making ready to give up the fight because i no longer believe in soldiers i have no more fingers to put on it.
the contemporary bourgeois discourse of threat
i used to love the smell of sage but now it means someone else has died the air is sick with it
i come home and eat funyons a snickers bar and coca cola because i dont have strength to make rice today i don't have the heart to cut open the peppers in the crisper because did you know at the spoken word area
Elaine Brown (an original Black Panther) and Uncle Bobby (Oscar Grant's uncle) spoke and did you know that Nia Wilson's father
cried when we rushed the alley to push out the proud boys and did you know that the cops laughed when he yelled 'no more violence! i have to bury my daughter! i am the one!' another black man quieted him pushed him back yelled
'we are your family' and shielded the crowd from his grief. the cops laughed the cops laughed the cops laughed the helicopters began circling i put my body between the cops and the black women crying the black women crying the black women screaming that this needs to end somehow i hope that my body will put one more stopgap between one more bullet between one more smile wielded like a knife
later i am counting cops as someone is talking to those around us about going to the white neighborhoods fucking shit up in the white neighborhoods about how us white folks are complicit if we aren't taking things to where we live where our families live
and a woman says at my bandana, 'i know what that look means'
'don't go breaking any windows. you break windows and we follow you and the cops arrest us.' deconstructive politics is not all breaking windows deconstructing systems takes work 'you trust fund kids get away with it all' i kept counting cops. but there is catharsis in talking about fire we smudge this shit break windows burn sage depending who you are make space keeps eyes out we keep each other safe
'we are the grandchildren of the rebels you could not burn'
if i should pray to anything it will be to blood the blood on the floor of our history still warm while we throw dirt on grandparents' graves too early and sing revolution songs written in Vilna where we were told great-aunts learned to sharp-shoot but we only started to really believe it now
if i should marry it will be covered in blood i will marry for broken glass and circle dances and yiddish and guns
and if i die, when i die bury me in linen with a murder of my peers grasp my revolution soul in linen as an offering for the living
but take each bone laid out like stars: a token of war for the dead
i have never heard Beyonce but i have drank enough wine to know the difference between falling in love and moving to Oakland for no reason.
DON'T BELiEVE A THiNG POETS SAY
how can you trust anybody who spends their time reading wild words about revolution and weed and prophets and the rent crisis to probably no one except other readers of those same but different wild words?
they only believe in fucking and beans and rice and killing their landlords and collecting all the typewriter tape that's left in the world and probably building some kinda shrine
to onomatopoeia or hip hop or just burning it all in an act of liminal defiance.
salsa factory for the revolution
after dark we met in a school parking lot smoke some music and listen to the revolution
we eat our souls when there's no bread dance on roses and forget the factory
i love the space between your breasts the way a bird loves the place a nest could be.
i want to build a home there in the spring bone white and cold as moon.
but when we kiss, a little bloom of pink erupts under your collarbones and it’s april on your face for just a moment.
i feel like i should write a poem about how sometimes when you touch me i see burning cop cars behind my closed eyes
i have felt this way before and i usually just run. but i cant this time because i dont want to fuck it up with you. i can feel the spiral careening out. somehow the five hours between noon when i got up and five pm which is now have expanded and contracted over again a few times like they were fifteen hours and also five minutes. i can hear the two guys in the backyard across from mine being high because i have the window open, but my eyes are unfocused and when i look over my hanging plant and the setting sun and the palm tree, the west oakland roofs blend together. i think i am high too.
you've got impressive skin and the disposition of a bomb. i think i found you on the internet. you can say all the nice things you want about “North Korea” and trade heroes for ghosts a coup for a cool breeze but i want to eat the moon tonight grow teeth where i've only had soft things.
do straight people even know who sappho is i admit i have a gun which sometimes i call a toy & other times call food & when u eat rice-r-roni you say grace
but when u eat pussy u dont & when the revolution comes ull still be an orthodontist believe in free jazz in elevators but also wage labor & ill probably have 2 kill u