Thursday, November 16, 2017

To be their keeper: thoughts on being an ally in observance of the Trans Day of Remembrance

Surrounded by university trans students,
Kelli shares her experiences as a trans woman at UVU's Trans Day of Remembrance.

I am in love with a woman, a human being, who is trans embodied. I am partner to a person who lives each day beneath a gaze that pathologizes her life experience and her existence. I stand beside her as witness to the endless barrage of judgment and criticism from a legion of privileged others. Some days it seems the world is unwilling to extend the reach of humanity far enough to ensure us both that she will be unharmed at day’s end.

These are the words of others—friends, family, and partners—about the trans persons they have loved who were lost to violence in 2017:

“She was a happy person who loved everyone and never met a stranger...He had a genuinely good heart...She was an honest, compassionate person who made an impact on those who met her...She was funny and entertaining, an inspiration. She helped others to learn to accept themselves...The sunshine of our family, a caring, passionate person who loved cooking and gardening...They were full of life and beloved by many...She was a light, always trying to make everyone around her happy. Assertive, charismatic and lovable, everything you would expect in a friend...A beautiful person who was charismatic and always joking around with her friends...An amazing girl who loved to make people laugh...She loved hard and just wanted to be loved and accepted...A playful spirit...A go-getter who enjoyed life...They were an incredible, inspirational member of our community and a constant fighter for human rights...One of the sweetest people you'll ever meet...She loved dancing and had a great outlook on life. She was very supportive of everyone.” 

These are the words of grieving allies. 

Becoming an ally is a voluntary act of brain revision. A surrendering. Our responsibility is to embrace first-person narratives and subjective realities that contradict enculturated expectations related to what may or may not be down there. At first we may believe this a simple gesture—the same comradery or compassion we would extend to anyone. But the role of ally also offers us keys to unlocking the prison gates of our own static, binary world view. In essence, the role is self-expanding. The more time we spend in an active ally’s capacity—offering emotional shelter and physical security to the spectrum of those persons residing outside our cis experience—the better we understand ourselves and our place on the planet.

This role, specifically, is the charge to demand safe space for trans bodies; to lend ear, support, and trust to trans experience. Allies must acknowledge the empowering importance in correct pronoun usage from ourselves and others. We must unfailingly accept the charge to offer affirming witness for trans identities when antagonists refuse to see or hear. We embrace the charge to educate the ignorant, and validate our trans loved ones.

Becoming the partner of a trans woman, at least in my experience, means the complete surrender of social comfort in exchange for empathic expansion and healing of my own unseen wounds. 

I canvass every room, peer through the glass even before we open doors, anticipate what’s coming, what’s waiting—who. Because they say, you never see it coming; that one time you let your guard down. And who knows why the hate seeps out. The problem is that it does. I confront trans antagonism and micro-aggressions everywhere we go. People who pass us in grocery stores, cashiers here at UVU, middle-aged married Mormon women at burger joints, waitresses at Indian restaurants we were dying to try, strangers speeding past us in trucks as we walk the Provo River Trail. These tensions do not focus around bathrooms. She perpetually absorbs disdain aimed at the center of her personal radius. And whether she notices or not, I have learned to quickly step beside her in that circle to meet the antagonist’s glare.

I want to speak to the weight of this oppressive gaze, especially in Utah Valley. We live in a community that boasts its own virtue; hails itself willing to comfort those in need of comfort, to mourn with those mourning. I grew up a part of this religious culture. I understand the principles by which one claims membership in the fold, and I am continually baffled by the intolerance and directed aggression toward transfolx in this area. The behavior I witness is incongruous with the tenets of the religion that produced the bedrock of my belief about how I am to proceed in a world filled with others. And we are all others. Charity is kind, it seeketh not its own. Love unfailing understands the precarious foothold of judgment. Communion is only complete when all are accounted for, found precious, cared for, succored in times of need. Regardless of the nature of our bodies, be it cis or transgender, all are necessary to move humanity in the direction of survival. We will not arrive if not together. We must be one.

And so, as our trans comrades put off the shackles assigned them at birth to thrive, to embrace lives of authenticity, we as allies must be ready and willing to arm themselves in their defense as if we were defending ourselves. We must see with changed eyes, hear with changed ears, speak with changed lips. To be human is to journey through embodied perceptions that carry us back to awareness of our lonely selves and the burning desire for belonging, rightness in our skin, rightness in our community. 

In the movie Cloud Atlas, (screenplay adapted by the sisters and trans women Lana and Lilli Wachowski), the character Sonmi-451 declares: To be is to be perceived. And so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds that go on apportioning themselves throughout all time.

May we, as allies—friends, family, lovers—secure the safe road ahead for the transgender community as an integral part of the broader communal constituency. Let us remember those lost and in so doing, let us commit to live—to know ourselves and others through continual deeds of acceptance and love.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Between thumb and forefinger


For every morning I wake up and it occurs to me again that somehow I ended up with her, when I never would have presumed she would think to look my way, let alone desire a conversation with me—here's the pinch. I never saw this coming, but every time she takes my hand, or I slip hers into mine, and the fit is soft and warm like a small animal, I'm willing to be struck again. And those dark eyes, their secrets that she only tells to me. I want to be lost there, caught in the blissful storm until the skies are wrung dry. She has changed my whole world. She has given me everything.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Friday, September 22, 2017

A designation, signifier, tag, label, epithet. Call someone by a name and you reduce them to the idea and implications that the sound represents.

In the fourth grade my teacher conducted a unit on the etymological origin of names and the deeper meanings. The name I was given at birth originated first in Scotland, but my parents' familiarity and fondness came out of darker, more recent locale. After three years struggling with infertility, my mother chose to name her first born "Bonnie" after a deceased woman she'd never met, who was thrown from a car and killed when my father fell asleep at the wheel. Her death occurred just two weeks prior to their wedding. Invitations had already been mailed.

Our teacher read through the baby name book—her reference material for this unit—calling out the listed meaning next to each of our names.



When Kelli was born, she was given the name of her father.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Cold start

I told her that while this malady runs its course we would write. She's a queue commitment of three papers on religious philosophy & gender, while I rarely give prose more than passing thought. I admit this is an odd shift for me, when in recent memory I began day in, day out peeling off two essays at a time. That compulsion produced years of journals, emails, and blogs, that dissipated into single entries on rare occasion, belabored poems, emoticon-laden texts. I'd say I don't know what happened, but I do. A stroke. The attention of dozens of strangers. The critical eye of biologically linked voyeurs. A death of faith. A love affair. Private fodder that I used to write about, but that seemed to gain little attention, suddenly open for public scrutiny. And because the meat of what I have to say is the soft underbelly of my fragile self, I grew cautious, nervous, burdened with the requirement to adequately explain—no, justify—the workings of my private life. Writing turned chore rather than a relief, a vulnerability instead of my strength and protection. When I started, I didn't have the slightest idea that I'd write anything anyone would fuss about, because when I started I was not fussed about. But I've told her I want to try again, especially when she requests that I address topics we regularly face. I need to write, for all the reasons I feel vulnerable. I don't know how to start, and so if for days at a time I write silly, disjointed dither, I apologize. The flimflam linguistic spurts often get the engine churning. At least that is the hope. 

Every day. Words.

You needn't read them. There's little here to fuss about.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Meeting the world's gaze


The willow leaves cut negative space from the afternoon sky. I don't want to over-explain, only offer what is necessary to perceive. We add up the days, cut a year in half, and her sum is I've learned to measure quantity in what is yet to come.

In that I've learned another collection of glances. Where, for two years, if I was seen at all, it was only from behind a wheelchair, and the strangers' eyes that met mine were saintly, smiling, and sad; now the gazes are quizzical at least, when not filled with disdain. I do not understand why we aren't allowed to simply disappear into each other, or the given cityscape. 

What of our pairing?

My fears are threefold:

(1) They assume she is a man.
(2) They assume she is a woman.
(3) They assume that no matter the answer to (1) and, or (2) that they are free to make a judgment regarding her fingers interlocking with mine.

I rarely feel completely secure in public. More often than not I am scanning crowds for possible antagonists, ready to lock eyes with the first contemptuous expression, letting my steady glare tell our onlooker everything they need to know. 

I will defend her with my body. I will defend her with my blood.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Loving Kelli Potter is one of the most remarkable things I have ever done



Crow’s feet. Pointing
in directions taken. All wrong.

Spring fling melted
into a slow summer tango—

a liminal romance &
you offer me ways to live:

creams and vapors,
a softer place to lay.

And as we entwine, cradled
like crabs, limbs clutching

the cardio echo of the other,
I ask if you might be kept.

And rocking, breast against breast
you confess your fear of cages.

I toy with thoughts in an adjacent room;
you are a better hostess than I,

admiring self reflection in tall grasses,
the dandelions gone to seed,

insects, a surrounding conundrum of beauty,
cicada static: variations on a theme &

you emerge.
Like a child’s fascination with what is not within the box—

We pour ourselves into ill-fitting molds
until cracks appear.

Count the futile attempts before the clay holds
true to its design and we discover intent.

Pretense or predisposed,
prepositional and packaged like ladle and broth:

cupped hands and waiting lips reaching
for the reciprocated gifting that is.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Bloom


When you've been emotionally crushed, ground into fine powder, and your sense of self scattered like ashes, the resurrection is all the sweeter—the return of love, astonishing. 

I want every day with her to pass at a belly-creep. At the same time I'm eager to watch the days accumulate; a future stitching together, one eternal moment at a time. I am helplessly entranced by her, comforted, put at ease, both grounded and catalyzed. Her patterns of energy rest and flow river-like. The sheer dynamic range of everything she is and knows rivals ten thousand jigsaw-puzzle nights. She invites invigoration; she invites calm and concentration. 

I sing praise for things unimagined. For things that figure themselves out. For things altogether beautiful and right.

She asks me, Did I ever see myself with a trans woman? And I did not. 

But how much of anything that I've lived was premeditated? At any given time I saw myself residing in one of two states: loving and alone. 

And how can I help but be entwined in the former when she is in my life? When the sun breaks through the clouds and deepens the contrast of a previously flattened outlook? When every day is saturated by the slow shift of delicious time in her presence, holding her in my arms, laughing and soaking up the new brightness? How, when I am utterly enraptured by her gentle kindness, her ferocity, her delicacy, her gleaming brilliance? How when the bloom is entirely unanticipated and I am taken unaware?

Saturday, July 22, 2017

This story is bare feet treading summer grass, thick and resplendent above the hallowed ground, and beneath, all the tender, creeping things.

A five-year-old version of myself, tow-headed and freckled, thick-legged and brimming with mischief, put on a pair of low-cut, up-to-the-belly tricot briefs sewn by her mother, and wore them and nothing else out into the front yard to splash in a wading pool with other neighborhood children.

One of the kids immediately piped up. "You can't wear that!"

"It's my swimming suit," five-year-old me demanded, and in my memory it was so. What might she have paired it with, a cotton camisole?

"You need something on top," said childhood neighborhood kid.

"No, I don't," me insisted. "This is my suit."

"Girls don't wear suits like that."

Adult me wonders where neighborhood bossy-pants got off luxuriating in my five-year-old self's kiddie pool and bringing my choice of swimwear into question. Adult me wonders why five-year-old me didn't just tell the neighborhood know-it-all to go home. But adult me knows as far as back-coverage went, my champions were nil, and when no one's got your back you become a sponge that absorbs and absorbs bullshit until you can cry it all out bedroom-privately into a stuffed animal, or on the banks of the canal where no one else goes, or in the reference section of the local library where no one else goes. Adult me gets that five-year-old me was well on her way to becoming town freak, and that what I said next didn't help.

"I'm not a girl," me retorted. "I'm a boy. This is my suit."

And I will tell you it is glorious to feel the rays of the sun on your flat chest and tiny nipples. I will agree that it was simply more my mother's style to not have to style long hair which is why mine was always cropped short. I will corroborate that my parents told the story of my birth including the exclamation of the doctor that "It has boy hands!" before he offered to send me back as my genitalia didn't match. I do have boy hands, nine-year-old me met her budding breasts with alarm, I walked with an assured gait, sat with my knees wide apart, met other's with a direct gaze, questioned authority, played by my own rules (read: total loner), and engaged in wicked competition when challenge was extended.

The memory bank fades after I told everyone I was a boy. I was probably called inside to put on a camisole. I likely splashed around in the water in the front yard in my proper underwear suit until called for dinner or to clean my room. My knees were probably either grass-stained or caked in mud. The neighbor kids probably had contests to see who could sit on the lawn sprinkler the longest, and someone probably had the bright idea to see how long we could stick our heads in the pool water before playing chicken to the brain freeze.

Thirty-seven years later I could take five-year-old me on my lap and reassure her, I understand what she wanted. And even though she was not a boy, it was going to be okay. I was never going to be alright with my body. I would try peeing through an empty toilet-paper tube to see what it was like standing up. I would figure out pretty early on that I was far more sexually interested in girls than boys, and even though I'd indulge that where I could, sharing the lingerie section of the JCPenny catalogue with the boys in third grade, I'd get that somehow I was not like other girls. In the seventh grade, in a mixture of puberty and middle-school confusion I'd confess that I was in love with my best friend, only to spend two weeks backpedaling and experiencing further alienation from my peers. I'd hear enough about lesbians to know the label was a hiss and a byword, even if I didn't fully understand that I was seriously implicated. I'd date a lot of boys, and pine for a few girls. I wouldn't really belong anywhere, but butterfly-like, I'd float around. And chameleon-like, I'd learn the art of adaptation and camouflage

Friday, July 14, 2017

Esoterica and stuff


I have a chip in my pedicure.

Instead of measuring twice and cutting once, I'm sitting on my couch.

900mgs of lithium is about 225 mgs too many for me to feel the free-flow of linguistic waters. Ideas come and climate change does as climate change will. 

She tells me we're in a monsoon. I could use a drink, but we're teetotaling these days. Kind of.

I need a five-year plan. You know, one more thing I can screw up beyond all recognition.

Only this time I plan to screw it up by getting it right. Can I make that sort of a deal with the universe?

If you're reading and taking this seriously, you're half right.

You wouldn't know it, but I smell incredible. It's estrogen, but I couldn't tell you if it's hers or mine.

She's incredible. Really. I wish I could tell you how happy and found and loved she makes me feel.

I want to bring her endless bouquets of flowers, want to touch the softness of her skin until I'm absorbed in it.

Maybe everything will be okay after all. How can you even know what you're looking for until that thing finally figures itself out and emerges from the cocoon? How could you even guess at her beauty, at how blinded you'll be by her sparkle? 

You only live by the rulebooks if the jargon isn't non-sensical. 

There are infinities upon infinities. Try flexibility.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Let us describe the aesthetic, love.
Your hands, wrists, waist—

the smooth S
ribbon curl of silver

locks holding
my finger like a child.

Or that curved hip,
a gentle slope sprouting legs

the contours staring me down
close range

the length of  the couch.
Dysphoria only enters

the frame
when blinds

close, drapery falls.
Then you must love the body.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Weird


I grew up in a home of strict linguistic control. Like my mother's system of a place for everything, words must also find their appropriate usage, and some she discarded from the familial lexicon entirely. 

Precise terminology for bodily parts and function demanded "navel" instead of "bellybutton," "bottom" instead of "butt" or "bum," "breast" or "bust" instead of "boobs," never a reference to nipples, "mucus" instead of booger, "dirty" or "feces" instead of "poop," "use the bathroom" instead of pee, "rectum" rather than anything else it might be called, "throw up" as a noun instead of "puke," and "crotch" for the genitals unless the need for detail required "penis" or "vagina," although I rarely heard either word used and only in a whisper.


Swearing shouldn't even wonder at finding itself out of the question, but my mother placed off limits euphemisms as well. "Jeez" was too much like "Jesus," "gads" too much like "god." "Heck," "crap," "piss," and "dang it" were out of the question, while "darn" and "shoot" received a pass. Name-calling  jeers fell into this category, which excluded use of "dumb," "stupid," and "retard," but made room for "jerk" and "idiot." These latter two words my mother was especially skilled at using during fights with my father, and occasionally she bent her own rules enough to deftly utilize "jackass." 


Sunday, July 2, 2017

How this flower blooms is no one's business but the petals'


It may seem odd, but I've been open with Mr. PNU since the beginning. Once I realized the thrift-store shopping trips, afternoon tea, and dancing escapades were evolving, as Kelli puts it into "flying sparks," I let him know. 

The situation was never easy, even before she crept into the picture. The woman I was three years ago died, replaced by a barely living shell. My feelings for him, while still tender were not the feelings of a wife for her husband. I dutifully performed for him, for everyone. And as we spent more time together, Kelli saw through my charade. 

The conversation between the three of us shaped the decisions of the following weeks. Mr. PNU left with his parents for Arizona. We formally recognized the separation. I gave Kelli much of the free time that suddenly bloomed. I worked at a redefinition of the self, and a pattern of life began to emerge. My husband knew I was conflicted, as did Kelli. We each struggled with past anxieties. She pulled away for a time, defining what she needed, and then came back into focus. We communicated. The talks wove on until Mr. PNU returned to Utah to move into the assisted living center four blocks from my home, where I explained my decision and the driving emotions.

It may seem odd, but I was completely forthright then about how I saw the future coming to play. If and when our continued marriage meant unbearable financial hardship for either of us, or if he decided a dissolution preferable for any other reason, I would support and aid him in finalizing a divorce. In the meantime, I had no desire to end our legal union, but instead held the indefinite intention to visit and interact with him freely and regularly as an estranged member of my household. I had no desire to remarry nor cohabitate, but outside of my interactions with Mr. PNU I would see Kelli, as I had fallen in love with her. I promised I would not flaunt my relationship with her in front of him. They were longtime friends, after all. I knew the sensitivity the situation required.

Two months have passed since I clearly laid down my plan and my estranged husband agreed, although we've revisited the topic as often as he needed. I have explained, we are poets and philosophers. History provides us with scores of similar arrangements, all meant for the good of the group, as well as the wellbeing of each participating individual. The sad truth of the arrangement is that neither one of us participates without recognition of the bedrock of grief that lays beneath our feet. There are no perfect outcomes. Mr. PNU will remain horribly disabled and in need of constant care. I will never see the return of the husband who brought me such joy and companionship. And Kelli, after years of loneliness, in choosing to be my partner and companion, understands the ambiguous loss that sometimes bubbles to the surface of our gingerly fledged romance.

In exchange for this lacking perfection: relationships nurtured and salvaged; love, support, and compassion offered; resentment and loneliness thwarted. No one is stranger to the oddities of this arrangement. But if the strangest facet is that we are each privy to and agree with the details of this, the best possible arrangement for the three of us, then let that be enough. Let rest easy the moral superiority that might come from outside the bias edge of our triangle.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A lesson in yarn


We wait for 
the in-betweens 
to meet end to end. 
Loop the loose ends 
of day, then part 
again. More eager 
for those knitted 
hours than ever 
let on. More 
distraught by each 
session completed 
than ever said.

Friday, June 9, 2017

June blue

The quality of morning light changes. Where in February these skies were bent a China blue, now they pitch and glow a powdery hue beneath an overlay of kirigami birch leaves. Crickets join in the morning birdthrong, a whistle-twitch chatter of new day, where winter pressed them silent. 

The ladies are now comfortable in my presence and I in theirs at the odd a.m. company meeting in Her backyard.

We take tally, a cost/benefit analysis. The world is less kind than once imagined. The arms I choose now, hungry for authenticity and passion. 

All these from whom I sense abandonment were not present in the first place. They were waving limbs in the ghostly distance. Always. I was often my own comfort. I've not been abandoned, merely ever alone.

And thus, when I answered a call for friendship and discovered the downy soft hollows of my weakened heart filled, I must remember that the eyes and their judgments are a mirror of barren efforts.

I was withering and  I answered a call. 

The judgments are empty projections. Nothing more. I did not fall. My feet never left the ground. 

She bubbled up blue and craving the empty curves of my hopelessness—a cradlespace, morning light and the bearable heft of my arms. 


Monday, June 5, 2017

The miscreant of non-contradiction


I am angry.
I am dispassionate.
I am grief-stricken.
I am madly in love.

I shouldn't write in this state, because I always do—every word malcontent, an indicative misnomer bathed in pathos. 

I do not know how to move through grief and simultaneously cultivate tender love. I am bumbling. A fool. A miscreant of non-contradiction.



I don't believe moving forward is a mistake, but I can't find the trick to landing beyond. I have found the snare of here and there. I am the larvae cocooned and the monarch in flight. I make love with time and all the winged things. I parse the self, the selves, the to and fro being of clustered things. The one and the many.

I am caught in heartbreak. I am surely given to love.

He is the net. She, the wings that beat within.

Friday, June 2, 2017


This all worked so much better when I knew who the words were going to.

I don't know who you are, why you're here, what your motives may be. I write bottle messages. I write to the universe sea & the order of self. Are you waiting for personal mention? Hungry for it, perhaps? Might my literary representation of something you believe yourself to be a part give you greater justification for how you live your life? For the gossip you spin? 

Does the last paragraph give you ease every time you utter a negative phrase about me?

Here's the gem you were waiting for: 

The week before my mother's wedding to my father, she expressed doubts. "Everyone has cold feet," my Grandma told her. And on June 3rd, forty-six years ago tomorrow, the deal was bound up that meant my eventual conception. I wish it had not been so. I wish, if I believed in spirits, I might have screamed in my mother's ear to run from the altar, and that she would have bolted for the nearest staircase. I wish one half of my gametes had split north & the other south. If not that, I wish for kinks in the vas deferens, clogs in the tubbing. They could eventually adopt. They did anyway. And that would be find. But I wish I had not been born & to be perfectly honest I'm holding out for the end. Everyone who loves me knows this. Life has been too hard, too long. Depression refuses to lift despite all the usual tricks. I have little hope, but I hope it's over soon.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Recapitulation

I don't know how to tell you what I want to say. I've begun, and then again, multitudes of sentences, combating paranoia, grief, mistrust because of deep betrayal, and my ongoing vulnerability until the incomplete drafts flood my catalogue of recent posts. 

Still, in my silence, you come back, waiting for what's next. As do I. But I've still not resolved how to proceed. My closest confidants tell me I must not give in to muteness, to write even if it is unshared. And there is so much to write. Much felt that needs emoting. 

Today I am sore from wandering into the mountains. I am sore from the hours I trod the path, whispering the problems through my teeth. Sore from the welling up and spilling over that predictably occurs in order to mend the frayed edges of the self. I am contradicted. Twisted by love and loss, ambiguous resolutions within the self, and the finality of certain physical states. If this were all a test—and I don't subscribe to that view—the answer key is an unraveling of narrative systems and illogical faith. Were this a test—and, try as I might, I see no other solution to the equation of that possibility—a passing grade means the teacher and the syllabus disappear. Loneliness. Demands for existential meaning in the face of ridiculously failed recipes for hope. If I wanted to turn around an re-enter the classroom—take the test again for a different score—I would find the door evaporated. There is nothing there remaining to hold on to.

My only option is to continue to tread forward, weep, rest when weary, love when the opportunity permits, and then plod onward again. How else does this go? Where?

The past two years are bookended by the path before it, and a path leading away; all hedged in on either side by indescribably breathtaking vistas, always when least expected.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Passing the flame


It's no secret the marriage has been strained. 

What's to be expected after stroke? Especially as extensive as Mr. PNU's.

I guess what's been hardest are expectations. Who am I suppose to be in all of this? What does that look like? Is is true to myself? Is it true to the marriage? And when I fall short do others get to judge?

It's been hard fought to figure out. 

Tonight, it sort of figured itself out for both of us. I can't trust him. And he really has no business trusting me. Not as a wife, anyway. I've been there as support. Ass-wiper. Chauffeur. Stage crew. Cameraman. That sort of thing. But the intimacy died months ago, and we've been good friends. Constants. Companions. Ish. 

So I shouldn't be surprised that in the hastiness of decisions, his was to contact his case worker about legalities of divorce. Right? I mean, the word had been tossed around in the form of a possibility, even though I'd never face it head on as what was going to happen to us. It was always separation, and then me as support. Even if I didn't know how I'd do that, or why.

In the grand scheme of plans forever means forever means forever. Even if I'd fallen in love outside of the marriage. Even if my heart was elsewhere. Even if I was suppressing everything that was becoming my life in terms of children, education, romance, finance, future, future, future.

And I've bucked a little at the chain of events. Reeled. Even though if I were honest in return the nature of my new world is in distinct contrast with Mr. PNU's. That's a hard pill. I'm barely swallowing. But I'm taking the medicine all the same. Because what's the use in fighting anymore? It's been over for a long time.

The hardest detail to ingest is that this was it for me in every regard. Fairytale. Story for the ages. The one.

The man.

And that, in a way, makes moving on to my darling woman that much easier. Even if it's serial. Even if it's got to struggle at stability. Even if it's scandalous and unethical and adulterous and kind of crazy.

Tonight I text her, "You are a light in this wilderness. Thank you for staying lit. I love you." 

And I mean it. For now, I mean it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The quandary of the writing life


When you understand the value of having eager, interested readers,
but all you want is to write & to be left the hell alone.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tanka

Of your face again
wringing your bitter saline
over your lost way
unload this measure of stones
smooth your stumbling road home

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reverie


& the light of the world before 11
city lights & the hum of rhythm in my ears
the cold of day turned to rain & dark

in my ears the rhythm
& Spinoza
all that is fact

in the black of the hour
the barking of dogs & street lights
inhaling this smoke & breathing

the heart of me out into the world
& the beat of machines
the glimmer of lights produced & seen

by the hour that is dark
the plans that are snuffed by intoxicants
& rationale

borderline trees without green in the dark
unseen tremors of
fibrillation & networks reaching for more than

cold space & synthetic cuts in
soundtime & the shifting balance
one foot to the limb next offered

& the irises constricted in their beds across
streets and towns & pulsing water &
sleeplack want-not dreams pressing

the give-in of pearl drone
consciousness
edge above tracheal spasmgive

when the borderland gleam between
articulates the passing glance & harbored kiss
who secreted the journey of

impassioned coffee &
too many touches bartered over
& spans of disagreement taken

on the bias forget & suppress
thoughts never modulated
by the lilac &

how many flowers when minutes tick & sobriety proves
trapped in a room with placed
mirrors again

the emptiness of the hour promises
day again & fact
& reason goes on as it does

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Dispatch to the future


Dear Future Self,

I'm writing in hopes we find one another & because I need direction & a point on which to focus when I'm looking back. I need to give you reason to look back & me a reason to push forward. We both know I'm too chickenshit to follow through with self-harm, but we also know I'm tired of the fight. Today has been one for the books in terms of pain & disappointment. So I think I might need to remind you about causal antecedents. Loss follows love. Disappointment follows hope. Regret chases the heels of bravery.

You say you are broken, but you couldn't unless you know what it feels like to be whole. I know you want to give in to your present state of disrepair, that you don't know what comes next. But you are preceded by great reserves of courage & an uncanny willingness to believe in the beauty to be had in this world & the human beings you find here. You know this is rare because people tell you how odd it is. It doesn't make you special; it means you have reason to keep plodding along.

Here's what I want you to remember:

You have two feet & they have carried you to the tops of mountains most never reach. You have a good heart & you have loved those you could with fierce determination to do well by them. You have ears that know music in birdsong, trainsong, rainsong & the wind. You know how to listen closely to others & you have that same gift to listen to your own heart. You see the world clearly. You are intelligent enough to survive as long as is needed. You are not afraid to write the words that others fear to think. 

You are enough for yourself.

When the mornings come, I want you to wake up. Make your bed. Make coffee. Meditate. Walk outdoors. When you come back, wash the body that carries you. Care for it as if it were another person that you love more than you love yourself. Find clothes that make you feel comfortable or pretty or tough. Wear them for yourself, not others. Once you are groomed, write for an hour, perhaps two if the passion grabs you. Lay out your thoughts without fear; organize the reason into words. Then, read. Poetry, novels, philosophy. Soak it in. If you find your thoughts drifting, feed your body as much as is necessary to begin the work again. 

Keep your appointments. Spend time with your children. If time allows, exercise even more in the afternoon. Be fearlessly creative. Start as many projects as you need until you find the one that needs finishing. Stops & starts are to be expected. At 5 p.m. each day, let your mind rest. Welcome frivolous recreation and gaiety. Take trips to museums. See films. Attend symposium and lectures. Have dinner with your family & with friends. Throw an occasional party. Cook for those you love. Tidy your environment. Take your meds. Give in to exhaustion. Sleep many, long, restful hours.

In time you will remember the patterns of you. The pain will subside. The wholeness will spread through you and you will be enough for others then, too. 

I know this has been one of the hardest of days, but perhaps, if you keep plodding through, in a year we can check back and see what's become of you. Perhaps the loss, disappointment & regret will have faded away again. Perhaps love, hope & courage will be back in bloom.

I know this is hard right now. You know I'm one to talk about the extent of how hard our life has been. But between the two of us, I'm amazed we're still here, still plodding. It takes guts. It takes persistence & fortitude. What most people don't know is the extent of surrendering it takes too. I know you'll figure that part out in the next few months. Even when that part of you that needs to be in complete control won't give it a day's rest, you'll figure out how to let go. The uncertainty of what's out there is what nags at you, but therein lies the adventure. 

Now your job is to pull your self together & I mean that quite seriously. Find yourself without defining that person by what she does for others. Do the next year for you. Your kids will come in close second, but this next 365 days are primarily for you. You have my permission to appear entirely selfish. Learn self-care until you could speak about it at seminars and get paid. Then, we'll check in again.

You just must promise me to be good to us. We've grown a little ragged & brittle-thin. I want to see what's down the road, but I can only count on you being there for me to find out. I get it—the weariness, the hurt—I do. But let's not give up. Not just yet.