shadow in the glass
moon howling, the expanse
quiet proud mountain peaks
reach snow tops to grey sky, drowning
I poke them from the boat
don't forget sage
and don't forget me, please
white clouds blinding photo prints
I miss your stellar mind and heart
Where is California? When are you here?
How far is sky? How empty is dirt?
the sea ate everything else
globe overwhelmed by rocky blue
where no earth is visible from sky
white expanse, meeting flood
poor fruit, fallen away
us discarded collectors
roam and savaging
my parents never saw land
but their parents
who I never met
but I heard stories
when everything was dry, dry dry
then flashes flooding washing over us
the us before
the us now,
our bodies changing, Mom says
our fingers webbing
There is ocean
Pacific tide washes up bay
Humpbacks in near far reach
Goats white on cliffs
Space and distance different here, bigger
Mountains behind, water ahead
Poke anenome mouths
Does that hurt?
You are seven and forget to ask
Your sense of wonder and wishing
About the bald eagles nesting front yard
About skunk cabbage so pungent
About Dungeness crabs and if they live in cells
If their home is moat with always rain
And that's how they got their name
You want to know the names of everything
And to float across seas
To Russia, Japan, Antarctic
The warmth the roots the heat. Musty flowers like gym socks.
The blower. Buzzing bug by my ear. The songbirds.
The pine cone reminds me of Juneau.
We had much pine there. We ate needles like mints.
The water the algae the bright totems.
The spiderweb dusty like unwashed laundry.
Dampness feels different underfoot than on branches.
Warmth feels different back of hand than back of neck.
A painting of layered textured oak leaves.
And the water -- fountains, streams, and that calling laughing bird.
Questions written to artwork at Boise Art Museum during a writing camp, 2015?
But today, think of them as questions for you. That's what I did.
Where do you dream of going?
How warm is the light?
How do you like purple?
How do you taste?
What is your favorite dessert?
What is your favorite desert?
Do you miss your home?
Who made you?
Why are you here?
What was your loneliest moment?
What do you wish?
What is your favorite moment in the day?
Who do you like to watch?
What is the glue inside of you made from?
How does it feel?
The glue inside you?
The clue inside you?
What is underneath your dreams?
Do you like shadows?
Do you feel sad and lonely?
What are you thinking?
Do you wish you could walk?
Do you wish you could dance?
Found on a looseleaf sheet of ruled paper while packing to move.
We're moving down the street next month, my partner and I, lucky dogs.
I'm not sure when I wrote this.
After the 2016 election, I imagine. And probably winter.
Though maybe my last year of grad school.
I am a big bunch of mixed-up words
My dad always said life is a series of minor corrections.
My days are full of head-scratching
Too much internet
Sleeping a lot these days
Is it the weather? Politics?
Now I'm writing. My favorite moment.
The room is warm.
I touch my cheek for cool.
The empty room.
Sometimes it's warm, solitude.
And I get a lot done.
Sometimes it's gruesome, a burn at my chest in forest fire.
Loneliness tastes hard at the back of my teeth like a filling.
Metallic and everywhere when it's near,
Swimming a pool of spaghetti
The brimming waves take over the room like static
The sound of gratitude and a stirring heart
I can etch out my truth in loneliness
I am a heart of song
The truth is nutty to assemble
Remember when you sat on one side of him and the other side was her
him lying on the floor in her house off 24th
and his pain his pain his pain abdominal you wanted to absorb it all
and then the hospital watching waiting waiting waiting until home sleep.
These recent times lying with him, a different matter.
All this starting over. Starting over. Begin again.
Go into this time completely, head forward, eyes up, breathing.
See the world. Start again. Remember your world is different. Your story different.
You don't have to compare yourself with anyone else.
You don't have to rush.
Everything in good patient time and space.
Remember when you visited him another time, same hospital
different organ removed from insides.
First gall bladder, next burst appendix.
Remember when you decided you loved him
that first time you saw him on the other side of the bar
and he limped from basketball.
Remember when you decided to tell him in coded ways
like responding in turn when he said he loved you like a sister
except you meant it in a different way
like giving him a dumb money bank with vintage jokes
or your Billy Joel sheet music anthology
or your used eyeglasses.
Remember that first time you told him love in candid response
and when you sent an email articulating love at length the next night
and two versions of a poem you wrote him five years before that
and you didn't regret but you gulped
and how you needed time room air to let that all this settle and evolve
not knowing what this is or will be
and learning to let go of control and expectation
for healthy self-care.
We grab on.
We eat our throats.
Your mouth. How round meeting mine.
Your kiss suits my longing.
Do you know I’ve loved you since I met you?
It’s true I fall easy, but I don’t stay so with most.
Not like you.
It’s an engine that continues warbling
Despite that distance I travel
Away away away.
Despite trying to shut it off.
My dad died.
My sister visited and kept visiting.
An avalanche of panic.
I found poems under grief.
I tried introducing myself to San Francisco as this artist who gets shit done.
For the first time ever, I discovered I was the most normal person in the room.
My nephew decided he hated me. His way of mourning.
When I asked him why, he said it was my hair or socks or my laugh.
Then he turned four and liked me again. We can hug now.
I wrote myself into a squeezed pinball and created so much muchness
That after December's final performances, I overdosed on activity
And puked three times that night.
You took me on one last road trip,
Down to San Fran where I'd just been,
To San Diego where I never'd been,
Up to Vegas, the first place you took me out of town
For our 2011 birthdays, when I was sure I hated Vegas.
I don't love Vegas still but I'm not good at hating anymore.
I cried a lot during sex.
When you asked what was wrong, I blamed it on my dad.
But then your skin hurt my fingertips.
I got my first tarot reading.
Before that, I was unsure about our state of connection,
Then she said, "Inability to communicate,"
And squeezed my heart on a bench in the salty coast air
Of our school building's 6th floor zen sanctuary.
I knew we were in trouble.
I wore a mask. You pulled it off. We tried to work it out for a week.
Every time we talked, the wall between us widened.
We saw inevitable.
My family looked at me with worried eyes.
They wondered, does this begin new spiraling?
I made several plays. And books of poems. And visual, audio, performance art.
I recreated me. And found my skin worth getting to know.
There was an old and crusty man. A goose of a man, made of gold.
But he wanted more. Wanted all the gold in the world.
For his clothes to be made of the stuff.
He asked the seamstresses and tailors to gather their thread makers and spin all their material into gold. This made the finest fabric, but also the heaviest.
He put on this suit for the ball. Then he sat under the weight. Buckled, more like. He couldn't go anywhere. Couldn't move. Everything too burdensome.
So they brought the ball to him. The night smelled like starlights.
A segment of paradise, all evening.
He saw the world change and grow in his bedroom and outside his window.
Saw the city blow up like confetti. Lots of falling out like snow.
Then he shut his eyes. It was enough for one life.
My hands have this coldness, this wrapping around pen and notebook, holding on for warmth, for dear life. I used to love the cold. This isn't cold.
What's the coldest you've ever been?
My brother read a book about how to talk to people when our dad was dying, that asked questions like that. When he asked me, I thought back to the parking lot in Juneau at my new elementary school. 1990 had this giant freeze moving through the pacific northwest that winter. We'd driven through blizzards in Washington and Idaho, having left blizzards in Central New York when we started off, and here I was, 6 years old in 40-something-below temperatures with windchill.
For a long time, I remembered how cold it was in exaggerated ways. 70-below, for sure. But maybe it was only 20-below. I'm trying to get more realistic over time with what I remember, but how memory works: it never gets truer with age. I remember the orca mascot, though, on either side of the entrance at Auke Bay Elementary. One side was in full color, or black and white, as that's an orca in full color. One side was the Inuit version, all cookie-cuttered out like a print made of bone and heartache.
I always want to go back there. Not to that age, not anymore, but to the land of glaciers which, as cold goes, as Alaska and the Northernmost points of North America goes, is not so bitter by far. It's green. Lush. A rainforest, but not a hot one, it's like--
What's the hottest you've ever been? Do you remember?
That question was in my brother's book, too. I read it after he did. I don't know if it helped me talk to people, though.
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: