with thanks to Nick Jaina for the prompt
I want writers who listen
who understand vast silences
and shine light in shadowlands
I want writers who comb
deep caverns of sea
who fall in romance
with the planet around them
and ask fellow beings
to seek palaces of kindness
writers who deconstruct their realities
for each other
willing to fly free
past small lives
to find something scared
writers with courage
who magnify the depths
who complicate air
and make sense of the noise
I want writers who challenge the everyday
who create imaginary universes
out of a bunch of blankets
laid over chairs
for a kid's fort
who erupt volcanoes
and paint figures ready to jump
but crawl back home
and rip out large sections of biblical text
to make a new reality
writers who make peace
stumbling on sanctuary
I want writers who sing lullabies
to their readers
but the kind that wake us up
writers who make
on the page
that acrobat off
and tumble into our hearts
writers who crack
me down the middle
with a sledgehammer
and then offer a handkerchief
I want to be a writer
who takes wandering walks
through old growth forests
and has soft conversations
who drinks in autumn
and pours out spring
I want writers who map
in reshaped constellations
and invent myths
that erupt with the same grandiose heat
as the ancients
but have awakening energy
that stirs something deep
from our seats
in a tribal way
in the way of us
that is forgotten memory
beyond the bottoms of our feet
yet glimmering starlight too
guiding us to sublime faraways
I want writers who don't reinvent circles
but split apart the old contraption
and reassemble the parts
until they disrupt
until I stop recognizing the
only to unveil the
I want to be a writer
with the racing spririt
of that seven year old
who ran in from the front door
to meet his parents
at the welcome desk
a writer with curious eyes
who puts ear to the door
throws it wide
discovers the secret place
and smashes a violin case
on the ground
but only for good
a writer who traces back
to finds hope in history
and future too
I want writers who travel
to the ends of the multiverse
who can pull back the moon
and release the sun
who empty their ribs
and continue to open
I want to float
in a hot blimp
to survey the whole topography
In the middle of this world
She is falling open
She ignores the wind-scarred fantasies behind
Sails into new outside over there
Her ship made of wings
Glowing worms at her feet enjoy marsh pools
And they fall
And she belongs
In her skin, her boat, her seascape
Everything ocean here
Everything made of hands of paint
Smells like sawdust, soil, salt
Giant earthworms at the bottom of everything
Churn this planet
Into the somnambulant falls
Just loud, louder, loudest
No sickness anymore
Living in my stomach
She doesn't have the nerve twitch
Breathes easy, eyes fierce, a hunter
But no blood here, no meat
All vegetation, growth and shine
The tremble of kill not here
Breeze slight, rain drops from singing stars
And silver moon
The cracks, waves lapping
Always small clouds beyond, beyond, beyond
A lot to say
She writes in captain's log
Where does she go, this traveling sailor on windswept water?
Where is she leaving and what makes the giant seem small?
won't you celebrate with me
the cylindrical universes
that take us through worm holes
from one galaxy to another?
time isn't as linear as we think
celebrate forward journeys,
little stars I see out eye corners
when I get up too fast
won't you celebrate with me
how our bodies move together?
where they land when they stop?
I'm trying to save memory remnants
about my dead father
to save my jaw from clenching
my mind from getting too jam-packed
and my heart from splintering
to save the breath of cool
that comforts in summer
Don't fall apart.
Don't eat sugar.
Don't trip on your face.
Don't forget to exercise.
sing out music
sing out change
try to save a life
needs a dagger
that starts to guide us
wind to our engines
poetry can't die
because we're always thinking
because babies are born
and their voices string together
unicorns with water balloons
poetry can't die
because here I am
and I need poems to live
because birds bring messages
from one country to another
the strongest of us
because warm cloaks, sleep, fists, paper
when I die, poems can't
because the sea, the mountains
psychic pulse drops
lifts her head
lies back down
arm on the empty bedside
she looks at that space
runs hand up and down pillow
as if it were his face, back, front
she lies back down
the sun won't watch her with shyness anymore
sweats her from covers
feet on floor, a little cool on wood, a little sore
she's been walking again
she still wanders
not like she's been running or hiking or dancing hard
she breathes in and out in deep ways,
trying to remove the added weight at sternum's center
coax it away with air
face at her feet
she changes focus, up to the wall
teal sea green
wishing it were ocean
wishing she were shark
something large, monstrous, prehistoric
she opens her mouth wide as though her teeth
were too jagged/triangle/daunting
to close down her jaw
the thought of her face full of splintered teeth
brings lips together
and she's a shark in
sweat pants, tee shirt, tattered, stained
she doesn't look back to his side of the bed
listens to morning summer
breeze and traffic
and with help
from her hands on the mattress
with an oomph she rises
thinking how old lady she sounds
to the kitchen
looking out window
garden out the backyard forever
the maples, grass, sky
wishing she were up there
swinging from branches
not running into walls
fall down a rabbit hole inside out
and she's a vulture
that spells disaster
but all she is here is slow
stagnant fingers aching heart
ink over hands
green beans and kale for breakfast
Take a walk. Breathe. Allow for sneezes.
Allow for phrases like gezundheit, salud, and even bless you.
And even god bless you.
Give god your best definition -- maybe it's here right now. Maybe it's paper.
This is what she was thinking as he yelled at her, as he screamed and she stood blinking, watching the white screen door rattle.
"No. I'm not going with you. Your screaming isn't making your argument fasten hooks on me any harder. I'm ready to leave you now."
That's what she would have thought, would have said, had his noise left any room for her to think, to speak.
His face coarse with stubble like grey and black pinpricks out to stab, his mouth toothless now. His words as foreign to her as his childhood Portuguese. She let the tears retreat into eye sockets as his words and violence threatened to vacuum them out, as he flung the lamp over as she retreated room to room through the haze of yelling. It had been a year of shouting by now, of shouting and selling and poverty and disaster. She was ready for a new ingredients list on how to live.
Walk with eyes open. Take long wandering strolls.
Write every day.
Eat enough to never go hungry but allow the pangs to come back now and then
to remind you what this castaway life was like with this abuser con artist you chose for a partner.
Live without judgment of others or yourself, as impossible as that may seem,
without apologies, as impossibler as that all sounds.
Call your mom once a week.
Buy a friend groceries sometimes just because, without expecting favors in return.
Go into the moonlight and just sit.
Cry in the bathtub now and then because you can.
Not like it saved you this year, but it emptied you out.
By then he backed her into the room she used for writing in that little triplex where they lived those last few months, pretending they could afford the rent. She was on the floor, fetal position, facing away from him, crying dry heaves into her silent chest as he bellowed and swore and left and slammed the door and motored away.
Only then did she let the tears fall, as she breathed through her knees and let her list keep building inside.
Oh breath Oh skin
The belly pomegranates out in a zillion cranberry fractals
Open one like a brain, spurt out power
The sweat of heels
Concern of families
Pressed pores tickling
I miss San Francisco
Dreams of elsewhere
Constricted community in my ribs
Befriend it yes but long for emergence
Break the seeds, burst flavor, pop in mouth
I growl a laugh a hiccup a burp
There is more to this here than work than money spent
Stop thinking and heal and remember
This is the hunger
We've lost the earth
Walking on floorboards
Bare feet bare arms bare elbows and pelvis in air
Float away, vibrations
Stuck in the crawlspace
The peeling off windows the bright
The world outside the snow I forgot to mention how ticklish
Everything before prepared me to love you
Sing to me
While we walk
Shoulders over wet palms
I miss us on our drive
Think of our winding roads creaking planks
Here the thirst the yawn the woman sleeps
It's okay we're hurting
It's okay we're rebuilding
There's lots for us to notice together
My toes draw spaces between cracks, wave hips at the sun
What a year. What a beginning to 2021...I hope you're safe, healthy and pressing on with all the sanity you can muster. All my best to you and yours right now.
With all the losses and challenges, I'm fortunate that I can look back on some highlights from 2020. Amidst everything, good things happened. Here are a few from my end.
I was about to list some of my losses, but looking back, most of these were related to travel, lost work and household income (aided by grants received), exciting projects put off and important personal events pushed back (like a wedding). I'm extremely fortunate to be healthy, that my family and partner are well and safe, to have a job and a home. I didn't lose close friends or family this year to illness (though it came close) or the violence that came to so many across this country and globe. I'm incredibly privileged, lucky and grateful.
Because most of my 2020/2021 goals were made less possible in COVID times, with hopeful optimism (and perhaps naïve delusion) I'm bringing a couple of them back for 2021 and 2022:
3 Big Goals for the Next Two Years:
Sometimes I wish Octopuses put ink in my cartridges
Sometimes I think the sun will open and we'll return to spring
And sometimes I feel my energy wad up into aluminum ball
Until I take a nap or practice a jig or play with my cat
I remember days I wasn't afraid to open the news
When I could look out the window and think progress
I can still look out the window
I can still make progress
I a giant hunk of wax rolling down the hillside
Picking up buildings, journeying to oblivion
I can surprise myself
I can jump out my feet and far down the canyon into new parachute
These days are mine
Claim them. Reclaim my voice.
A pile of young women enter the lobby with a clang
The beginning of tomorrow
I can write my future
and remember when I discovered who I'll become
I'm falling in love with my process again, the less I try to fill every minute.
I time travel when I read the past.
I see into my then skin, compare it with now.
I learn about where my brain was and where it is.
I've learned that the practice of writing takes time. A long time.
That having patience and cultivating love
for the act of writing is the thing that leads to authentic depth
and realization of voice that can't be forced.
I've learned there is deep value in waiting.
There is no one way to tell a story, to structure a play.
The act of writing daily helps me know how to move my hand
through a story, an idea, a play or a thought
much more than if I wait between projects.
I've learned I have something to say.
I am an adventure.
I work hard.
I can miss things, skip things and the world carries on.
I can fail in big and small ways, that's how I learn.
For me, writing is not about seeking expertise but discovery, opening, humanity.
Vulnerability is the gateway to connection.
Everyone has a creative voice to unlock.
Listening is a difficult art that requires great patience
and ability to resist interrupting, speaking, offering advice.
I've learned that I love to use giant weather-based catastrophes in my work,
often representing some big world or personal event.
I've learned that the personal is political.
That my tendency to assume factors about people and situations
is a habit that I must continue to break.
That as a white person I have extreme advantage that is unfair,
but I can use that agency to open up space for the targeted.
I've learned that we can make something beautiful together through art,
and that I love collaborations even though they are difficult.
I've learned that writing is hard and I will always do it.
Heart is a blubbery mess of whole skin
An aching, frustrated chord on the ukulele
And also piano, guitar, bass
Or a long minor key on cello
Heart wants connection
Shakes for bravery
Sound of a single coin rattling tin cup
Heart sees every color under sky
In the vast universe beyond
We are small
Heart contained in my fist
And massive, oceans deep
Vast, interstellar dreams run million miles
Arrows point in every direction
Hot chocolate kisses spill out wrappers
Heart brushes eyelashes
Sticky hands stuck faces
Watching out windows, radiate sunshine
Reflect back at me the rain off clouds the sugar glass panes
Heart walks grounds where Dad lies
His wife still here, beating
Heart's ears capturing news
Remember feasting lunchtime sandwiches running acres wide
Backside damp from marshland lawns
Blue string knotted tight round finger
Falling forward into forever yeses
A ball of wax slipping through fingers
Blots away cheek tears
Heart is a feverish night
A journey into great beyond
Side-by-side by fire
Process notes on a work in progress. This page serves to invite you into the way I work, with intermittent posts to show you the hows and whys on the whats I make, as well as prompts and ideas I bring to certain workshops. There will also be some raw, rough content found in notebooks written years ago, previously posted on: