Brief notes on the politics of desirability

I remember the last queer dance party I went to. It was towards the end of my final summer in Asheville, stunted in the shadow of a terrible relationship.  All summer long, I felt like a ghost haunting myself. I remember standing there in the bar just thinking I hate this. I hate the meat market, and I hate the desirability politics and the plastic performativeness and predictability of it all. I hate feeling like I have to pretend I give a shit who you think is hot to keep up. I hate feeling like I have to scramble to fuck whoever will have me just to feel as desirable as the rest of my friends, because that’s the commodity we trade in.

I said as much to the people I was with, and tore out of there to go pick Josh up so we could drive my loud ass truck up and down Riverside Drive blasting the Military Affairs Neurotic LP and look for shit to break. When I replay the scene in my memory, I have a drink in my hand and I throw it on the floor, shattering the glass to as if punctuate my valedictory statement. That’s wrong though, because I wasn’t drinking that summer. I think the image just makes for a better story.

Roaring past the city limits with the engine opened up and the windows down to the late night, I laughed a lot and breathed easier. That entire summer was bereft of laughter in a big way. I remember a sense of coming home, like punk has always been the one thing that holds true for me, long after everything else cheapens and falls away.

I came back to back to Asheville with a sweetheart a few years later when I was well again. I took them to meet some friends, sitting on the front porch in the sun.  As soon as the sweetheart got up to piss, someone made sure to comment “and they’re so hot too” and I just remember feeling like fuck you. You’re talking about this person who I’m sharing the most intimate parts of myself with, but apparently how fuckable you think they are has the final say. I think that’s when I realized how much the culture I had been surrounding myself with had contributed to my sickness.

Shit just mirrors commodification and capitalism and I feel gross.

Riding my bike home from a friend’s house tonight after working a long and hot day on the same bike, I think about how deep my alienation and exhaustion with queer social dynamics runs, like to the point where I wonder how I even identify. The ways I experience desire and safety in intimacy are often in flux, save for a few constants which would probably be described as boring and heteronormative for a lot of people. I don’t think I’ve had a single queer relationship that I didn’t end up feeling disposable on the other side of. Maybe that’s me. Maybe it’s BPD. Maybe it’s having such a hard time existing in this body. I don’t know. I just know I feel too tender and too smart and too vicious for it all. I wonder a lot what will happen to some of my friendships if I find my soul no longer aligning with the identity of mine they are most comfortable with because it fits into their worldview.

Shit mirrors capitalism and I feel gross.

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Brief notes on the politics of desirability

Diagram of a busted mouth.

Fig. 1

Sitting in a chair at the dentist’s office
Steel toes tap together in nervousness
Dressed in bravest black, winter 1996
Drill bits scrape the mess
Growing in my mouth for the first
(of many) times in my young life
Stare out the window
Catch a lone small town
Punk rocker on their
Way somewhere else in the snow
Footprints sunk into the white
Show where they been
But offer no hint
Of where we’re going.

Fig. 2

First dentist trip in three
And a half years
Mental illness met poverty
Long enough for fifteen cavities
To carve their way in
To a mouth well on
Its way towards rotting
Digging in for the duration
As childhood ends
Sugar coated swath cut
Through enamel and dentine and pulp
Floss and rinse and dig
And brush and drill
Scrape plaque away
With a mad desperation
But never reach the
Source of the rot.

Fig. 3

Sipping black coffee
Burning belly filled:
One part all hell
Ready to break loose at any moment
One part bag of peanut butter pretzels for breakfeast
Bought with food stamps and pocket change
Basking in the glow of
Spring’s latest lover
One morning in the sun
Spinning
Blissed out on three hours
Of sleep weighing down
Eyelids pried open
By caffeine and lovesickness
Frantic need for connection
To fill every hour with
The sweetness and agony
Of feeling it all
Feel a sickening snap
Cracking in the back of my mouth
Reach a finger still warm from last
Night’s lust in and wriggle part of a molar out
Shrug like you can’t win ‘em all
Put the blackened tooth chip
In my pocket, like a keepsake.

Fig. 4

Oh, good. You’re awake.
Do you remember where you are?
You were crossing the street
When you walked into the path of an oncoming car
The good news is your spine isn’t broken
You are bleeding internally
But your organs did not rupture
And your shoulder will heal
And even retain most of its mobility
The bad news is what’s left
Of three of your teeth
Have to come out now
The force of the pavement
Rushing up to reshape your face
Left your teeth shattered
Rammed the remaining roots
Back into your jaw
You are in shock
And heavily sedated
You probably won’t
Even remember this
Or feel it.

Fig. 5

It becomes an identity
A way to laugh at the pain
Taking a mouth full of
Broken teeth as my name
Example:
The words
“busted teeth, broken heart”
Inked forever into my skin
Or it’s a cute party trick
Like the time I decided
To spit my new set
Of fake plastic teeth
Out of a mouth, healed
But still fresh enough with phantom pains
That come when the weather changes
Into my best friend’s
Glass of wine at
A fancy restaurant
Oh sorry. You were drinking that?
I guess I’ll just finish it.

Fig. 6

The nerve pain wakes me
Up one morning in summer
Shooting through my jaw
I call out of work
And spend the day at home
Part of it on the phone
With the same best friend
Seven summers later
Holding an icepack to
The side of my head
“I’m paying the price now
For never quite taking care
For always living with
A low intensity self-loathing.”

Fig. 7

Floss and feel
The very last piece
Of my very first root canal
Come loose from its molar mooring
Spit silver and blood and mercury
Into the sink
Pick up the piece
Bury it in an
Unmarked backyard grave
“Here lies my last self-destruction”

Fig. 8

A piece of my broken tooth hurts
So I do what any person would do
Reach into my mouth
Wiggle the last shard back and forth
With a single-minded determination
And pull it out on my gums
Throw it in the trash
Without ceremony
Or reverence
Having long since
Grown used to this
Saltwater. Rinse. Repeat
The hole closes up.

Fig. 9

You used to do meth, right?
No, why?
I don’t know. I just thought you did.
Did you think I used to do meth
Because I’m missing my three front teeth?
No! I swear! I just thought you used to do meth
Like, I thought you said something about it once
Fact: I’ve never done meth.

Fig. 10

I hate it when my friends
Call me “Creepteeth”
Except maybe I bestowed
That nickname on myself
Making an identity
Out of pain again
Or as a way to make peace with a
Self-conscious smile
I can’t remember now.
I just always knew something
About standing in the shadow
Of so much beauty
I could never ever know

Fig. 11

Morning routine of brushing
Serves as a reminder
Of roads to ruin raced
I have long since
Gotten used to the taste
Sour mouth, brown spit
Washed down the sink
Followed by the reprieve
Of toothpaste and blood-spit
Swirling down the drain.

Fig. 12

A dissolute pain
As company for
The past 8 days
With yesterday spent
Entirely within the confines
Of a borrowed twin bed
This isn’t even my room
And I’m tethered to it
Anyway
Every time I move
Nausea rushes in
Making the world
Sickeningly spin and spin…

Fig. 13

Not a single shred
Of solace to seek
Beneath a gray sky
Sighing with rain
While hours crawl
Into another lost day
Shuffled through in
A nauseated narcotic daze.

Fig. 14

I write from my sickbed
Good reasons to
Just stop feeling
Anything at all
The numb warmth
Creeps through my limbs
Like crawling skin
Filling the void
Ever writhing within
This tired body
Spreading outwards
Beneath my skin
I get why people get addicted
To this shit
There is an elusive beauty
Found within numbness
And I hate it all the same
Just like I hate that
Someone somewhere out there
Learned they could line their pockets
And the pockets of their children
And their children’s children
Selling the cure for pain
Then selling the cure
For addiction
Or the punishment
For those deemed unworthy
Or unable to afford
The cure
Somewhere
Someone owns all of this
And I wonder what it would
Be like to rip his throat
(Yeah, I’m making an assumption here)
Out with my jagged teeth
But then again
The thought of strange blood
And bacteria in my mouth
Fills me with an unquiet revulsion.

Fig. 15

I write a litany to numbness
To later be forgotten
In an overpriced notebook
That I paid $20 for
Instead of stealing
Somewhere along the
Road that always led nowhere.

Fig. 16

I listen to a tinny
Clash bootleg and feel
My spirits wanting
To soar like so many songs
Long since sent into unsuspecting airwaves
I write my way down
Every road back home
And write down reasons
To convince this body
To keep breathing
And greet another day
As a blessing
On the outside
Where the beautiful
People are ugly too
I want to live long and strong
With that invincible
Heartbeat as the backdrop
Sometimes I just think
That a set of invincible teeth
Would also be just the kind
Of company I would like to keep.

Diagram of a busted mouth.

First poem in a while. Consider it a work in progress.

I am tired of writing poetrybridge to nowhere
While the world burns down
Set to the droning sound
Of helicopters hovering in the skyline
Like I have been tired
Of so much for
The past five years
The past ten years
The past life

All my loves
Wear worry lines
Into fragile smiles
Brittle eyes filled with
Visons of the fire next time

But we have been dancing
In the flames
For our entire lives
Save for brief respite
Of breaths
Shared in rooms safe as houses
Doors locked against the cold outside

Standing at the edge of industry
In the weeds
With my friends
Burning Bridges to nowhere
With a blueprint for
Breaking my own heart
All over again

I wonder just how
Far we have to fall
As a (death cult)ure
Where is the threshold?

Fall asleep with the breath
Of emptiness exhaling whispers
On the back of my neck
Spectral eyes stare
Hell into skin too thin
For this fucking planet

First poem in a while. Consider it a work in progress.

New zine out, old zine reprinted.

zinesToday is the hardest I’ve worked in a long time, but I’m really proud of what came of it. I’m really proud of this writing too. Despite some revision and printing disasters today, I will have some zines with me tonight for my set at Invokation if you’re in Olympia. I don’t have many, so grab them quick. Thanks to Pocket for the indispensable proofreading, technical, and assembly help. They even took this pretty photo you’re looking at. Total lifesaver.

My new zine, titled Downpour and Drought is a collection of writing spanning from fall, 2015 Spring, 2017.  These were some dizzyingly hard times.   They made for some of the best writing that’s come out of me yet though, and I’m thankful for that.

The second zine I have available is a short poetry zine titled We Who Fell In Love With The Sea.  This zine is a few years old now, but I did an incredibly limited run of it the first time around.  I’m really proud of this material too.

Out of town friends, I’d love to mail you some zines, but it might be a minute while I figure out sustainable printing since it’s a new era where all the copy scams are dead.  On that note, got printing and distribution advice for me?  Please, get in touch.  I feel like I’m groping in the goddamn dark sometimes.

New zine out, old zine reprinted.

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.