I hardly existed

July 10, 2020

In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.

Mary Oliver
Upstream: Selected Essays

Deconstruction

June 29, 2020

I think the sirens in The Odyssey sang The Odyssey,

for there is nothing more seductive, more terrible,

than the story of our own life, the one we do not

want to hear and will do anything to listen to.

Mary Ruefle

I wake each morning knowing who I am down to the depths of my soul. I soak in my darkest corners, and realize that what lies there beneath the surface is just as valuable as the smile that plays upon my lips. I understand that no one is free from their darkness, and that it is sometimes a daily struggle not to let it take over.

Kate Rose
I never said I was an angel

Single Exposure

April 27, 2020

Sierra as a broken tooth in the bathroom, peeling tangerine rinds from her thighs, waiting for something to bloom. Sierra as salt down my back in glimmering light, as a dream I once had, as the dream I never had. Sierra as bloody diamonds, bloody gold, as her mouth pockmarked and full, waiting, easy, slowly, kiss me, fuck. Sierra as the person I didn’t let exist inside me, as the broken horse, the watery eyes, the twisted leg, and I didn’t want to shoot her. In the backyard, no barn, no midwest, no dreary Ohio dreams, me and you, Sierra, letting the mosquitoes ricochet across our palms, and I had a gun in my hands and you’re going to let me shoot you, you’re not going to cry. Belly kisses and you broke the windows with your bare hands. Belly kisses and sometimes, I blink and you’re shimmering, sometimes I blink and the light devours you. Sometimes it’s hard to pretend that you didn’t bleed, Sierra.

Yasmin Belkhyr

Nameless

February 19, 2020

I’ve been called a witch
A bitch,
A spoiled brat,
A no good god damn
son of a bitch,
A jerk,
An idiot,
A smart ass
A stupid ass,
A wimp,
A loser,
A dummy,
A fatso,
A delinquent,
A burden,
A cunt,
A nag
And that was just
by my family
I’ve been called
Bright, but inattentive,
Creative, but dreamy
Special, in a bad way
Shy
Withdrawn
Sullen
Depressed
Anti-social
Abnormal
Delusional
No wonder I didn’t do
well in school
I’ve been called
Fat,
Gross,
Beached whale,
Elephant,
Fat girl,
Fat bitch,
Fat fuck,
Fat thing,
Blubber belly,
I’ve been hit upside the head,
Spat upon,
Laughed at
All in the name of status quo
I’ve been called
A Jersey girl,
A pothead,
A co-ed,
A weirdo,
An enigma,
“The girl with the
translucent skin”,
An angry feminist,
A poser,
A fag hag,
A man hater,
A slut,
A drunkard,
A sexual dynamo,
A shifty bisexual,
A bitter chick full of
personal diatribes,
A performance artist
I’ve been called a stupid white girl,
A silly white girl,
A fat-assed white bitch,
White trash,
A Jewish American Princess,
An Italian American Princess,
An incompetent, lazy bimbo
I’ve been called a demented
Anne Sexton
A female Charles Bukowski
And the Susan Lucci of Poetry Slam
I’ve been
Put on a pedestal,
Knocked down into a box fit for a
veal calf
And as I tried to get up someone
stepped on my head
I’ve felt the electricity of standing before
2,000 people
And the shock of a lover’s hand
whipping across my face
I’ve been wanted,
Rejected,
Hot,
Cold,
Elated,
And devastated,
Sometimes all in the same day
I’ve sat in the corner
Of a Howard Johnsons motel room in
Middletown, New Jersey
And in the backroom at Roxy
As friends performed tasks that would
alter their lives
I’ve seen brilliant friend mopping up
floors, wiping the mouths of trust fund
babies, and doing so much goddamn
coke, all wondering; “When is my life
going to start.” I hold the mirror up
to my own face, so close I could look
straight up my nose to my brain pumping
out blood and ideas, constantly swimming
in the confusion of not knowing what to call myself

Cheryl B

changed several times

January 1, 2020

I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.

Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Coal

November 5, 2019

I
Is the total black, being spoken
From the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open.
How a diamond comes into a knot of flame
How a sound comes into a word, coloured
By who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows
Singing out within the crash of passing sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
In a perforated book — buy and sign and tear apart —
And come whatever wills all chances
The stub remains
An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
Breeding like adders. Others know sun
Seeking like gypsies over my tongue
To explode through my lips
Like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
Bedevil me.

Love is a word another kind of open —
As a diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am black because I come from the earth’s inside
Take my word for jewel in your open light.

Audre Lorde

Room

July 5, 2019

There’s a room inside myself
I’ve never seen.
There’s

a bed there, and
on a nightstand, photographs
in frames. But

whose faces?

A violet
vase on a vanity: I’ve

held it in my hands. Tearful
apology. And
under my bed
in narrow boxes?
And if I open the desk
drawer, or
the dresser?

Well, just
the usual soft
folded things.
Silky
rectangles.
Knitted
squares.
A glove.
A stocking.

A loss, eternally.
And a window
(I’m sure of this)
that looks
out onto the green.
An apple tree.

And, beneath the tree, my
grandmother
in a housedress
in a lounge chair, sipping
a cool drink, not

even wondering
where she went or
where,
all these years,
she’s been.

Laura Kasischke

For [Virginia] Woolf, getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are. This dissolution of identity is familiar to travellers in foreign places and remote fastnesses, but Woolf, with her acute perception of the nuances of consciousness, could find it in a stroll down the street, a moment’s solitude in an armchair. Woolf was not a romantic, not a celebrant of that getting lost that is erotic love, in which the beloved becomes an invitation to become who you secretly, dormantly, like a locust underground waiting for the seventeen-year call, already are in hiding, that love for the other that is also a desire to reside in your own mystery in the mystery of others. Her getting lost was solitary, like Thoreau’s.

Rebecca Solnit
Open Door, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

an echo

July 4, 2019

Days I feel like a human being, while other days I feel more like a sound. I touch the world not as myself but as an echo of who I was.

Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous