Taking Leave At The Buncombe County Line

All the roads to the land of sky are steep:
Sheer as Beaucatcher Mountain Road,
All the way to Helen’s Bridge in spring
Black mold in blooms in an exile’s lungs
Thunderheads rumble over the hills
Raise a halo to the sky and it returns a crown of rust
Sending bicycle-bones crashing to a standstill

Weeds line the vacant lot
Where they knocked the projects down
So many years ago
Their roots burst through crumbling concrete
Beautiful in their pavement breaking bloom
And the cicadas sing beneath electric starlight
Breaking wide open the stillness of summer nights
In the midst of the homes we knew

Fate is cold and indifferent like that
Rising up to make wreckage of carefully laid plans

When it comes
You cannot hesitate
Or look back

(except you always, always do)

Because:
It hurts to outgrow
Just like it will break your heart to leave home
And break you apart to build anew
To become.

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Taking Leave At The Buncombe County Line

Best of 2017 Mix

What a brutal, beautiful, terrifying year.  Everyone I love struggled and everyone I love strove to do their best.  I don’t really know what else to say.  There was tragedy and triumph, and most importantly communities getting stronger.  Here’s some of the music I loved this year.

2017 Year End List Mix

  1. Cold Cave – Glory
  2. The Gift – Blank Stare
  3. Converge A Single Tear
  4. King Woman – Hierophant
  5. Falls Of Rauros – White Granite
  6. Outreau – M.D.H.
  7. Clayface – Sister Is Dead
  8. Hide – 91 Lashes
  9. Ritual Veil – All Black
  10. Chelsea Wolfe – 16 Psyche
  11. Bromure – Catacombes
  12. Akatharsia – Groveling Towards Oblivion
  13. Vatican Shadow – They Deserve Death
  14. Ritual Howls – Their Bodies
  15. Nidstang – Ergi
  16. False – Hunger
  17. Cigarettes After Sex – Each Time You Fall In Love
  18. Rixe – Tenter Le Diable
  19. Limp Wrist – Como Vos
  20. Wear You Wounds – Shine

 Favorite records, in slight order: 

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper LP – (Profound Lore)

This is actually my favorite LP of 2017.  The only reason it didn’t make it on the mix is because the song is massive, clocking in at 83 minutes.  If you somehow haven’t heard this, go listen to it.  Easily one of the most haunting doom metal records ever recorded.

 Cold Cave – Glory (Heartworm)

Cold Cave rarely release a record that’s a miss for me.  Glory is no exception.  Maybe I’m a fanboy buying into the hype, but goddamnit, this song is just so catchy and Wesley Eisold is one of my favorite lyricists, constantly capturing the foul ennui and alienation of a burning world, but making you want to dance your black heart out as it burns down around you at the same time.

Ritual Veil – Wolf In The Night Tape (Self Released)

Go to Ritual Veil’s bandcamp right now and order a copy of this tape if they have any left.  These things went fast.  Ritual Veil make you feel like the 80’s and 90’s just never ended I mean this in the best way, because listening to this, I’m transported back to the smoky blacklit clubs of my youth while still feeling like this tape is just so fresh and exciting.  You get the feeling this band is headed for big things!

King Woman – Created In The Image of Suffering (Relapse)

I was first introduced to the music of Kristina Esfandiari sometime in 2015 or 16 and have been obsessed ever since.  Forlorn, hypnotic, heavy and intense.  Created in the Image of Suffering doesn’t let up, even in it’s quieter moments.  Somewhere I have a photo of their live date in Olympia.  Kristina had just dove into the crowd, wearing a homemade shirt that says “LORENA BOBBIT”, seemingly a message to all the meathead metal bros, not ready to relinquish their stranglehold on the scene.

The Gift – Running around This Town (Time For Action)

I surprised myself with how much Oi!  I listened to this year.  A friend recommended this, and I grabbed it on a whim.  Oi/Punk/Power Pop from France.  This record is light and infectious from start to finish.  Perfect for listening to on those crushing days when you want to forget the world for a minute and focus on dressing sharp as hell and loving your friends.

Outreau – LP (Une Vie Pour Rien?/Crom Records)/Rixe – Bapteme Du Feu (La Vida Es En Un Mus)

More OI! from France, but this is what you listen to when you want to psych yourself up for throwing rocks at cops and setting Nazis on fire, looking good while doing it.  Music for hooligans, by hooligans.  Morte Aux Vaches

Clayface – Sister is Dead LP (Total Negativity)

Local to Olympia, I have seen this band a bunch, but didn’t manage to grab a copy of this LP until almost the end of the year.  This is the authentically tragic DIY Goth record Robert Smith wishes he could still make.  Deeply personal and haunting.

False – Hunger EP (Gilead Media)

I also surprised myself by how little Black Metal I listened to this year.  False was a big exception.  Crushing, weird, and unlike most of the other metal out there.  Best experienced in all their throat shredding live glory.

Hide – Black Flame EP (Joyful Noise)

Having heard Hide’s previous EP, Widdow and I went to see them at sparsely attended show with an odd mix of bands at an upscale bar in Seattle.  Indie rock, dream pop, and then HIDE in all their menacing, industrial glory.  For forty minutes the bar transformed into a strobe lit, black leather and lace monster.  Widdow and I were so inspired that upon returning to Olympia, we swore an oath on the shores of the Puget Sound with the full moon as a witness that we would start playing music together.  Maybe we’ll get around to it in 2018.

Limp Wrist – Facades LP  (Leguna Armada)

Can you name a better hardcore punk record by a band that is approaching their twentieth anniversary?  Me neither.  One of the best queer punk bands of all time.  If you want to fight about it, I will see you in the pit with all the other sweaty homos.

That’s it for now.  I’m sure I forgot a ton of records that I loved.  I’m sure I slept on a bunch of records that other people loved.  I also loved every single record that made it onto my mix.  I guess I just didn’t have it in me to write about every single record, especially considering the fact that I don’t actually know how to write about music.  Anyway, the sun is out and I need to take my dog for a walk before the Pacific Northwest is plunged back into gray washed out rainy waste for another four months.  Thanks for listening.  Thanks for reading.  ❤ 

Best of 2017 Mix

Proximities.

This is a blessing
For the bliss of
Breaking down
Breaking out
Letting go
Of love
(or closest proximities of)

Fond affections
Now disfigured
And distorted
Embers burn
Down to ashes scattered
Into the howling wind

What is a little bit of
Betrayal between friends anyway?
A glance over the shoulder, lamenting
How the worst enemies
Are always the ones
We know the most intimately

I propose a toast tonight
With a heart closed
And a raised fist clenched
Drink to your health
And the wealth
Of lessons learned
In blood sex
Promises half spoken
Unremembered and never meant

Viva love
(or closest proximities of)
And long live its death

Proximities.

Dream of apocalypse sex with apocalypse ex

A dream of you this morning
Three years on
Pressed against the wall
All filthy and tender
Open

We were never
Going to be anything like
The love of one another’s lives
Or grow old together
And that’s just fine

Because we both have known
That kind of love
Shakes you to your core
Pulls you out of your skin
To dance in your bones
The kind of love that
Will not let you settle for anything
Gets you fucking moving
And this, this just is.

An exercise in anything goes
An exercise in escaping emptiness
From one moment to the next
Running circular furrows in
All the same well tread paths
Until boots burn holes in our maps

In the afterglow
Beneath the flickering lights
Whisper your secret fears
Of the fire next time
Written into your genetic code
Whatever horror this world holds
You feel it coming for us
In your root of your soul

So here we are
All fucked up
Yet unbroken
Against the wall
In love and war
All at once now
For war
But never in love.

Dream of apocalypse sex with apocalypse ex

For fucking fearless queer love.

queer bootyI wanted to send my sweetheart a cute selfie tonight.  We will not be seeing one another for a few days, and this is literally what I look like in bed, so I figured why not?  I look fucking good.  I’ve been feeling myself hard lately, and not ashamed to admit it.  I wore a ton of make up to the gym the other night, and chuckled internally just a little bit at the bros giving me a wide berth as I made my way to the squat rack with Black Sabbath’s Paranoid blaring in my headphones.

I’ve hit a wall with my writing the last few weeks.  I have two larger pieces in progress, and I just don’t know how to land the first one, and the second one, well some of the subject matter just feels so raw somehow to dive into fully.  So instead I write short poems, and read a lot.  I don’t do enough work revising pieces intended to submit to journals.  I keep meaning to, and I keep running out of time in the day.

I’ve been playing with gender expression regularly lately for the first time in a long time.  In so many ways it’s still such a strange and terrifying journey.  I grew up effeminate and sensitive in your slightly more homophobic and right wing than average family.  My lack of masculinity and sensitivity quickly made me a target for bullying, and soon after it made me a target for sexual violence when a few of the older kids in the neighborhood got me alone.

By the time I was seven, I was well on my way to learning to keep parts of myself cold and buried forever.

And those pieces of myself refused to stay buried.  For that, I am so, so lucky.  This isn’t to say I didn’t grow into one hell of a vicious streak, and that I don’t still have plenty of ruins to undo, but still.  I’m so blessed to not have a head that is entirely filled with bad memories and broken glass.  I’m lucky enough that I figured out how to not let my trauma define me.

I have spent my life surrounded by some of the most courageous and loving people on the face of this battered earth.  I don’t know how any of us could have made it through this burning nightmare that is the modern world without one another.

Middle school in the 90’s, and tough girls in combat boots taught me how to wear raccoon eyeliner like my idol Robert Smith.  When I was in high school, I played in bands with boys who cried, and crusty punk girls who punched nazi skinheads at shows.  I hit my early twenties and came out as genderqueer.  I wanted my gender to be total negation.  I didn’t want a gender at all.  I would wear all black everything, and keep my face shaved a smoothly as possible.  I learned to only share my body with those who I could actually be intimate with.  Nobody else deserved it, or could even understand this strange and distorted reflection I saw myself in.

When it was time to drop out of the rat race we’re expected to inherit when we get out of college as soon as I fucking could.  I hopped freight trains and into speeding vans with fearlessly criminal trans women who survived and braved lives that I could scarcely imagine on and off the streets while I was still dreaming of running away from Southern York County.

In my late twenties and early thirties, still trying so hard to live bravely through trauma and mental illness, I allowed black and white thinking to cloud my vision.  In this world supposedly without boundaries and binaries, I still found myself feeling as if the world held no place for me.  Maybe if I tried harder to squeeze into a binary, it would.  I would identify solely as a transwoman.

That part, I don’t really want to talk about, aside from noting that my exploration of this identity led to the worst mental health crisis I have ever faced in a life that has been well, kinda filled with mental health crises.  It took years to pick up the pieces and get back to where I am right now; which is living relatively comfortably in my occasionally made up and lace adorned skin.  While existing in this gender fluid space with relative ease, I also I live in awe of all the courageous, creative, and criminal queers that came before me.  The trans women, the gender benders, the fags, and the dykes that fought and died so I could be right here.  I think about the QTPOC who threw bricks at cops a decade before I was even born, and live with a lack of privilege that I can scarcely comprehend.

Thank you.

I’ve rambled enough, and it’s time to sleep.

All this to explain one cute selfie.

For fucking fearless queer love.

Written in the dairy Aisle, 8:08 PM.

I love you and
I hate you and
I don’t hate you
At all.

We were both just
So fucking mad
And I’m so sorry for that.

I hear nowadays
You are hurting real bad.

How seizures keep
You shivering in your bed
Gasping for breath
And clutching for your CBD pens

I heard it at the grocery store
My first thought
Was to shoplift
As many of those
Little fuckers as
I could possibly push
Into my pockets.

Seal them safely in a package
Sent with no return address
To your last known residence.

With love,
Your favorite ex-friend.

Written in the dairy Aisle, 8:08 PM.

In The Spirit Of Sound

Sound out lost youth
And dreams gone to dust
Shuddering, thundering frustration
Pulled screaming out of
Every last distorted chord
Scream it out, scream it out
Loss pouring from glass throats
Scream it out, scream it out
Every shadow that we hold
Every last cobweb from the corners

With quiet moments
Of cautious hope
Resounding triumph
And the joy we’ve lived
Or just a nights calm rest
Within a warm room
Or out to paint the town
(and ourselves)
Black and blue, but still true

This sound, the sound
Of breaking down
Breaking out
Paper cuts line tired, tired hands
Twenty years singing the same tune
And a movement for invisible truth
A lifetime of wearing wounds
Twenty years with the light creeping
Into the corners of a cold room

There is a light
Piercing through these miles of night
There is a light
And this time
We chose not to hide our eyes
Twenty years with beautiful noise
Coming from a crowded room
Twenty years breathing, moving, screaming
Living, always living
Every iota of us poured out
Into the spirit of sound

-2015

In The Spirit Of Sound