8/28/18

I have been feeling weird and anxious all day, and unable to place exactly what lay at the source of that anxiety. I’m in the middle of packing all my things to move and struggling to get an abscess tooth taken care of adequately with my inadequate state health care. I even lost my patience with an overworked healthcare worker today, saying “I have a fucking infection in my face, and all I want to do is get it treated without losing more of my teeth. This cannot possibly be this hard”. I almost immediately apologized and told the worker that I knew they are just doing the best they can. I’m just so frustrated having been trying to get this tooth fixed for weeks now. None of this is exactly out of the ordinary though.

Then I realized what day it is. My father would have celebrated his 80th birthday today had he not been dead for 24 long years. I didn’t know my father well. He worked tirelessly and came home exhausted and checked out nightly. He would eat dinner sit in front of the television, drinking and smoking until he fell asleep, only to get back up with the sunrise and do it all over again the next day. He looked old past his years, with strangers often confusing him for my grandfather. I didn’t realize until I was well into adulthood that my father had a drinking problem, much like his father before him and the dependencies inherited by my older brother.

Tonight I am thinking about all my friends. I am thinking of all the people I don’t know who I am afraid for. I am thinking of everyone struggling to care for themselves sufficiently. I am thinking of everyone I have ever loved who struggles to live well because they have always been told they only deserve so much. I am thinking of all the people who the world has a way of knocking down anytime they find a way to stand a little too tall. I am thinking about everyone I love who I worry is literally working themselves to death. I am thinking about low intensity class warfare laying waste to all the cities I have loved, making them uninhabitable for the people who made them what they are. I am thinking about the houseles folks whom Relic and I gave some things my emotionally abusive ex sent me unprompted for my 36th birthday to last night. I hope they liked that soft gray blanket and Joy Division shirt. I am purging things to move and they had been sitting in my room long enough, reminding me of the text messages that followed their arrival in the mail two winters past. “Hopefully you like them. The blanket was expensive.” Gross. I am thinking about sitting next to one of the great loves of my life earlier this afternoon, feeling wave upon wave of exhaustion exude from them, and feeling how much the potential of loss scares me even more as we go deeper, get more vulnerable, and as we get older, as if I held them tighter death wouldn’t be as much of a certainty.

I went for a bike ride in the late summer night until my heart beat right again. My chest has physically hurt with anxiety all day today. I am so tired all the time, and the wildfire smoke surrounding the Puget Sound has made it hard to want to exercise lately. I wanted to move my body and not tread down the path laid for me by either of my parents, ignoring despair and inertia. Though I do hope my father’s ghost rode along with me for a bit. I sat on the hill beneath the water tower waiting for the moon to Rise, listening to the music I have loved for more than half of my life. I listened to early Cock Sparrer LPs. I remember my how my mother hated the music and subcultures I was joyously diving into when I was fifteen. Inexplicably, she liked Cock Sparrer. “I think your father even would have liked this” she said.

Go figure.

The moon rose, full, ancient and yellow. I remembered a night so much like this one back home in Appalachia with one of the other loves of my life. We fucked in the cemetery, sweaty and joyous and in love. When we finished the mountains stood silhouetted by the moonlight and I felt the immediate sensation of someone having touched my soul in such a way that I felt like I had been here with them before.

My remembrance was interrupted by the kiddo walking up and taking a seat on the pavement next to me. We listened to a few more records there in the dark, with the moon rising higher and the sounds of the city to our backs. Percy Sledge, Lee Moses, Maraboots, and Symarip. I can feel a shift coming. For once I’m not overwhelmed by the darkness behind and ahead. I’ve survived so many nights of going through hell in this city by keeping going. For once those nights feel like they add up to something.

Thanks dad.

Thanks lovers (Save for that aforementioned one whose gifts now grace the hands of some of Olympia’s houseless population.). Thank you friends, past and present.

Thank you moon.

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
Who know us 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

Punks is sharks.

Adrift and sinking, out where the horizon unfolds
Into rows of waves crashing down
Our lifeboats are full of holes
And someone threw away the oars
Our boats are taking on water now
As the lives and loves We forged sink below…

I just want a metaphor
For how we’re maybe out of our depth here
Where the water is deep and dark
Maybe we’re out of our depth here
And way out here there’s sharks.

Maps marked with blurred lines
and the last of a sky so blue
Just as summer gave way to fall
“You have to breathe. You have to breathe.”
Swallowing mouthfuls of air where the traffic snarls
Marveling at just how fucking ugly
Of a picture this world will paint you
Right as it runs you through

We’re out of our depth here
With blurred lines inked indelibly into skin
Too tender, too thin
Blurring the line again
Always between the intimate
And the violent
We’re out of our depth here
Because nothing prepared us for trespasses like this
Or taught us how to love without fear

The hour is now late
Ashore, annihilation comes home to call
With a knock knock knock at the door
Wolves hunger at the windows
Sharks circle the shallows
Murderers who murder each other
Set loose to stalk the halls

I was a teenage vampire.

Friday night flickers
Across the screen
Cancer rain runs in gutters
Flooding cynical city eyes
With the kind of tired resignation
That years spent in rain
Could never wash away.

Here we go, again.
Sleepless and irregular heartbeat rhythm
Pounding down the path of ash

Nights like this
Delicious in their solitary familiarity
In a crowd, but alone
Next to anyone
But long gone

Are why I
Always felt
Like a dead shell walking
Unburied and breathing

Flawed and beautiful as I am
Alienated, alienating, alien.
Jagged teeth, sneering grin
Sharp fangs, lifelike skin
With a hunger for fresh blood
To fill fathomless flesh.

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.

Spell for letting go.

A blessing:

A sanctification
Whispered to quiet rooms in
The afterglow of spells spoken
Balm for the bleeding and the bliss
That is the burden of letting go
Releasing love
To heal the hurt we hold
Breaking free from bonds
That no longer nurture our souls
The air holds a charge
Crackling lungs breathing in the dark
Soothing everlasting aches
Giving thanks for the strength
Of hearts that never break.

Journal 1/23/17 – BPD Confession #3.

walk-softly

I have had this taste lingering at the back of my throat for three days now, bile and bitterness. I feel like bile is trying to escape my body, crawling upwards from my stomach and out my throat. The taste is accompanied by an ever present feeling of nausea. I cannot help but wonder if my body is involuntarily responding to the state of the world we live in, sickness being met with sickness. Every now and then, as I write this I feel like my hand almost involuntarily wants to slam against the table. My body contorts in on itself. I clench my fists, and wonder if my soul isn’t so sick of this shit that it’s trying to crawl out of my skin. I feel like a monster. I think about everything and everyone that I would like to leave in destroyed ruins. The list is currently as monumental as my memory is long.

And I wonder why I don’t get invited to parties.

This morning I woke up feeling invisible, in a cold room and ink-vomiting out the most vulnerable shit I can pull out of me into these pages to hurl into the void of anonymity. I mean, isn’t that what we all want, to have our experiences seen and validated? I fancy myself an archivist, documenting my own insignificant experience of being crushed by mental illness as humanity wars, progresses, exploits itself into screaming extinction. This is what I do on my good days. The bad days, I spend in bed not writing, reading, or otherwise nourishing my soul. I spend the bad days torn between the two very distinct opposing forces. On one side of the polarity I feel completely forlorn and alone, like none of the very real sweetness and love I have experienced is has any substance to it. On the other side of that spectrum I spend, I find myself wanting to annihilate the people I love for seemingly being more happy and successful than I feel like I will ever be.

I feel abusive and hate myself into sleep filled days for this one.

Meanwhile, all these positive thinking motherfuckers talk about letting the love in, or accepting the love we think we deserve, or love trumping hate, or whatever. While they are saying this, I’m trying to remember the last time I felt any sustained amount of empathy or softness. I’m pretty sure it was Friday or Saturday when friends who were hurting needed someone. I mostly have felt lost in a swirling labyrinth of my own pain, scarcely able to notice, let alone empathize with anyone else’s. I hate myself for this as well. Gifted as I am, with a detailed memory, I can remember when sentiment and warmth practically overwhelmed me. I have a harder time remembering precisely when they rotted out of me though. I think it might have been somewhere in North Carolina, or maybe Oakland, Maybe even on the 9th Street Bridge in Minneapolis.

This is the fucking season of collective suffering too. I have been trying to remember the last time the world felt this dark for me. Maybe there is a certain privilege in that, not noticing how dire the situation is until it’s choking the life out of you. I know that is one of the big critiques I’ve heard of the anti-Trump mobilization that is currently underway; that too many of us refused to acknowledge the clear and present danger many marginalized communities have been in for a long time. I am not saying I woke up on the morning of November 9th and suddenly realized that I lived in the belly of a racist, imperialist, and misogynist horror show. I’m just saying I can’t remember the last time I saw so many people around me so hurting, and so scared.

That pain and fear is crushing me. So I stay in my room with the same two Joy Division records playing over and over, and replaying old memories over and over. My current favorites are “Times you mistreated the people you love most of all that you want to remember forever and punish yourself with.”. I compose beautiful and vulnerable apology letters that I might never send. The sound of a person I loved deeply crying into the phone at the sound of my unforgiving words replays itself over and over in the dark, taunting me, nearly drowning out the music. That phone call was years ago now. Lucky me, I still remember it clear as day. I count my blessings. I’m working on learning the lessons.

Save

11/15/16

11/15/16

Oh, holy darkness
I ask you to reach down
From the vast night above

Oh, holy darkness
Wrap this burdened body
In the warmth of your ebony arms

You are not the most tender
Lover I’ve ever known
But tonight you suffice

Tonight your shadows
Carry me all the way home
And tuck me away into safety known

Oh, Holy darkness
My night is long
And dark, and full of dread

Save for the refuge you offer

Poem written to an estranged mother, 2014.

The last time I saw you:
Sixteen years old
With my face to the light
At the north end of old York road
With the clouds breaking
Just after a spring storm

I have seen
In my short life
So many sunsets
But none quite like this
Full of mystery
Hope and promise
And the feeling that
This old road
Could lead just anywhere

One day:
I will drive it
Past the sunset
Right the fuck out
Of this little town
And never look back

Until now:

Sixteen and sullen
Silent and unsteady
In your shadow
In the car next to you
While you smoke
In my head, a checklist
Of all the things they never
Ever teach us in school
Like just what exactly
I should do
And where
I should go
As you slip further away
A little more each day

How terrifying it must have been for you
To be a mother
Left all alone in this mess
Raising this
Tiny terror you created
Growing as fast and as cold
As the time moved slow
All on your own

What do you do?
When Mommy’s little monster
Slashed up his arms again
Stays up too late
And refuses to care
Just what anyone
Expects of him

I remember you:
In the silver April light
Standing in the sun
At the end of York Road
Laughing your
Gravel cigarette smoke laugh

The last vestiges
Of the mother I knew
Aging smile
Fading and breaking
With the light
While the sun sinks
Below the horizon
Barely lighting
Our forever
Diverging paths

The last of the light
Giving way to the black and
Long and cold and dark night
you and I
Chose to make
Out of our lives

Dear Absentee

Dear absentee
With this ache I want to much to believe
This could be our very last sad story
There’s just so much out there
Lurking in the dark to be afraid of tonight

First and foremost
I’m afraid for all the beautiful
Broken toothed victory stories
That we might never live to tell

How we were supposed to grow
Old, brilliant, but most of all, unbroken
Bitterness and defeat never taking deep enough
Of a hold on our bodies to ever hold them
In place

Because we were always born to run
To move and grow and bloom
And not let the brokenness of
The world we left behind break in turn

At home
I pause to breathe the cold air in
Beneath the light of the moon
I pray with all the strength I have left
That the light finds its way down to you too

Wherever you may be, lost in a wilderness
Of fractured reflections
And the hardest of truths
While everyone who ever
Ever loved you

Most of all
Waits and waits
And waits
Hoping
You’ll just come home.