Whole, Broken

I am a human —

I am not just a woman,

I am not just a moment,

I am not just a gift.

I am alive —

my emotions ebb and flow

just like yours, sad man.

The sad man, taking space

for the story;

the sad man, sharing tales

about his glory

forgetting the time he said

“together,”

stomping out the past

as if he’s doing me a favor.

I am whole,

and now I am also broken,

just for you—

another sad man

so unequivocally,

unapologetically,

unsurprisingly

alone,

that I question why I’ve carried

around this hope at all.

 

I saw Slave Play last night and credit it for the “sad man” reference above. What an important play…and an important line.

 

October 18th, 2019

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Choose

What choice did I have?

I’m sitting in a torn, bright red, faux leather booth

with photographs of the same old, white man painting a wall splattered on the table.

I do not want to flirt with this long haired, slightly high-pitched voiced Brazilian in front of me.

But what choice do I have?

When it’s an early fall, newly crisp night and your roommate (your sister) invites a “friend” over and you share a bedroom wall with her

I spread my choices out in front of me: ways to meet new people when your sister is banging a guy on the other side of your wall and your friends are all moving to California and leaving you gone with the wind

I download Tinder

What other choice did I have?

I swipe like a good millennial woman, earn my 100 likes in 10 minutes with an assortment of 9 semi-curated self portraits of ease, and no consequence, and pretty-without-trying, and white skin

My brain eats the matches up, aware of the dopamine yet succumbing happily to the little moments of pleasure and validation and rush

What other choice do I have when algorithms have already pierced by face in my last 100 profiles; what good does deleting a profile do?

I walk with the Brazilian man down Bedford Ave and he doesn’t know I live four blocks away (thank goodness he does not know I live four blocks away) and how grateful I am that he took a 30 minute bus to get here instead of me

First impressions, big breaths at the end of his sentences, maybe he is nervous? Maybe I look different than my photos, too? Then he lands, “But enough about me, this is a date. We should get to flirting.”

I thought we had agreed to start with friends and go from there; I thought that was “your philosophy”; I thought I knew you after our 5 min text-app conversation.

My therapist told me dating would be good for me.

And what other choice did I have? As I am walking down this dark street the shadows get darker and I become more aware of my heartbeat and my keys in my left pocket and his substantially larger frame, I tell him, “That’s not my philosophy.”

Sitting on the subway counting the number of people sitting semi-miserably, half conscious staring at a smart phone, most likely an iPhone, playing games and reading texts and scrolling and liking and scrolling and liking, I know the advertisements are still there, both above their heads and in the palm of their hands. I thought I chose another path when I bought this darn Verizon flip phone

I swipe on my old 5C with WiFi and one of my matches chats me up, “anti-capitalist immigrant…let’s talk shit and play with each other’s hair,” recognizes my cis-women luxury to not have to message first even though I used to (before I remembered this was a game and why am I trying so hard?) a cat meme, waving hello

He does not understand my philosophy.

He eases in towards me, brushing my shoulder and my hand – and I back away, tell him I’m a Capricorn, I like the land, I am grounded, and yes I am serious.

I smile as I say it, feel the imprint of the key zig-zag on my finger and finally agree to turn around back to where the bars are, away from north Bedford shadows and whispers of old Tinder date conversations

I gave my sister some privacy (check) this is worth it this is worth it this is worth it

How did I chose this? I don’t even like bars. Or strangers. Or small talk. When we settle in the beer stained, still somehow red booth, I tell him my philosophy is to use the first date to decide if I want to flirt with this profile come to life, an actual, flawed human being.

I tell him that if he gets anything out of meeting me he should check out “Stealing Your Feelings” and that gets me thinking about data and capital and democracy

and choices

that some Silicon Valley giant made for me when they curated my choices for the night, plugged it into our collective conscious, and eased me into paying $11 for a watermelon margarita and a Saturday hangover.

 

In all seriousness! You, too, should check out https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/09/23/introducing-stealing-ur-feelings-an-interactive-documentary-about-big-tech-ai-and-you/ but don’t worry, I won’t force you to

October 12, 2019

When you say “androgynous” I hear

bits of masculinity:

I feel more real this way.

Do I miss the flowing hair?

A veces … the high ponytails

and free forehead.

When I dress more “masculinely,”

when I embody that “ethos”

I flow out of some societal lens,

into some truth

that maybe the earth does have “feminine energy” —

astrology teaches it and lesbians believe it —

but I am a Capricorn and I am content

being grounded in brown boots

and only Earth below.

When we say masculinity belongs to

one group only

what does that say to the rest of us?

Dressing like I am not just

a pretty fucking flower…

it is so liberating

and yet one big fat nada:

it’s all I’ve wanted to be,

want to be,

and have been,

all along.

 

March 27, 2019

 

Also, check out this cool video on two folks’ definitions of identifying as non-binary versus androgynous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsJUDFmauCI

 

 

Sun

You are a star in a sky I have not seen,

you are a drop of rain in a hundred deserts

and desserts

because walking in the rain can be fun

with ice cream and an umbrella, no?

Your voice plants bits of light under my skin,

your slender frame and well-styled hair

have me wanting more.

You are some kind of fire that speaks

the same language as my Earth– the one

with floating flowers and talking sponges,

the one where Reggie Rocket gets us in trouble

and girls kiss girls at midnight in brightly lit squares

and everything is alright.

Because I’d want to call you baby.

Because, hell yeah, I’d make love to you and I’d fuck you

but do you seriously think I could do one without the other?

You’ve got me smiling ear to ear, wanting more of your story,

your moments, your rush because I know you’ve felt it, too–

with some lucky woman in another room,

where you lit only candles and talked in only whispers.

I would never be quiet about you, unless you wanted me to.

And I can sing your praises now, my mysterious friend,

but you deserve more than words. They do not do you justice.

To your sexy eyes and smooth skin, your laugh bouncing off

subway cars and driveways and street lamps– I wish I could

dance along with it forever, and I’d be willing to,

if it meant having you.

I put you up on a pedestal because that’s where you belong.

Your style is bad ass and your humbleness is hot and your words

have me wanting more, more…because for all your physicality,

I could listen to you speak, no sight, no vision, for days.

You are a star and a sun

because, of course, there was never any difference.

Expect that there is only one sun,

among many stars,

and how lucky I am to get to soak you in at all.

 

January 29, 2019

Three Parts

I.

Our hearts wide open

on the sofa, in the den,

we glide

past memories and landscapes

of lost wishes and dreams untouched–

but oh, my dear, did you touch them!

How far you ran!

How far we traveled

when home was right next door?

I can only tell you so many times

how much I love you,

mom and dad,

how much I owe to you,

my gods on Earth, my saviors

of moon and light —

of all the in-betweens and all-togethers.

Success? Winning? Acting out?

Do you remember me,

do you know me better than I do?

I am your baby bird…

and I am here, beautiful, flying…

you make money not to chase

your own dreams, but for us…

talk about pressure!

But I suppose each generation

has its shortcomings of identity

and mind that the world threw at them,

so you throw it back up,

say I’m better than you.

 

You made me.

Without your light,

I cannot shine.

 

II.

And you tell me: “What doesn’t kill you

makes you stronger.”

What if I fear I have lost part of me?

But dear…look around,

you are here,

and this is now,

and now is the Earth and time kissing

on two planes, four dimensions

that we know of, hurtling off in space

and yet perfectly safe.

This world may think its won–

they may have knocked me down–

but maybe that was not me to begin with.

You ask why I’m so quiet?

Because I’m readying up to get mad

and spread some joy around to make it better.

You told me you have some secret cure?

Cure for what? A story unfolded?

Afraid of one’s own shadow?

Or the light bouncing off your face?

Is that how trauma works?

Healing is all Earth is,

is all that’s in your blood, your muscles

and tendons and heartbeats and breaths.

I am here to guide you,

parents, elders, child.

You may see me as Father Time,

but I’ve been your mother, all along…

riding sunbeams, glorifying everything

and nothing. I am Earth.

 

III.

It’s cold in my childhood, only-home

for-a-while bedroom

and I wonder what life “should” have been…

Life sees no life without death.

I was there. I played. I fell. I rose.

I survived, god damn it.

My body and mind are still god damn

here, my spirit unbroken.

 

Sleeping, eating, breathing…honey,

you are an animal as we all are.

There are moments you must do nothing

but rest, let the Earth care for you.

You cannot take over for her.

We all know what it’s like to interrupt

the most powerful women in our lives.

This is the mother of all mothers,

life giving grace from the God

that is a woman, that is everyone in between.

You have a scary fucking story in your head,

taking over God’s role?

Hell no!

I have my dad’s wings

and my mom’s heart,

so I can keep gliding,

gliding…

 

January 4, 2019

Fallen

She’ll be perfect

for you– I know,

Jo invited me.

I’ll be standing next to you

but not close enough,

holding onto false hopes

but no real dreams, only “but’s.”

Your friend will be in the corner,

mine in California

remembering New York’s flaws

and I’ll say “fuck you”

because I’m from here–

don’t you forget that Mr. Delaware,

Ms. Los Angeles where I saw no evidence

of angels, no saving grave

and when I flew, I flew eastwards.

Breaking my heart gives you too much credit–

you can run my mind,

but my heart finds solace in other things–

all the women I haven’t kissed,

all the male exceptions.

Is she your exception? Another beautiful

brown woman and my white

Puerto Rican ass isn’t good enough?

You’re from Delaware.

You just want “different.”

But enough is–enough. She’ll be

enough, hang her hands over

your neck in public, at parties,

falling hard– while I look up

from the ground.

 

December 29, 2018

My Body, My Choice

Vinny chats me up as one can do in 8th grade

(as boys can do in 8th grade), and says,

“Girls look better with their hair down.”

 

10th grade:

Allie tells me over pizza in a torn up, faux leather booth:

“People think you’re really pretty.”

 

“Take the bait,” they whisper.

“We are you.”

Your face, your words,

your worth:

we hold them in our hands.

 

I grew fragile.

 

“Not to mention you’re beautiful,”

a text from Devin I saved on my phone for 2 years,

a reminder that if I kept this up,

I could be loved.

“You’re special,” they said.

“Your precise,” they reminded.

“Keep it up.”

I never heard them clearly;

it was always muffled in my ears.

 

Confidence was for the battlefield,

and without cleats on my feet

and a soccer ball underneath

I depended, fully,

on this

damn

face.

 

Middle school:

Vinny was saying he “saw my potential”

and in that moment he pointed a finger at a moon

I did not know — that lights up the sky day and night.

With each step forward from that statement came promise,

like one day my body would, miraculously, lift off the ground and fly.

 

High school: I worked, observed, learned to follow the rules.

I made friends. I chased boys (or at least followed the chasers).

I saw a twinkle form in my eyes like the sun hitting my face

and I felt something grow: confidence big enough to sew a sweater.

That confidence was soft and warm and humble,

each stitch a modest color, so I put it on:

oh, the comfort…the ease.

 

What sweater?

This is my skin, clear as day.

I don’t need all of these words–

they’re woven into my Long Island DNA

and somewhere…somewhere…I seized it.

 

College: I was prepared!

My sweater was woven!

My charm was rooted!

Soccer, friends, face.

 

And then, college happened.

And it was full of devils,

people a mere sweater cannot take on

you want — comfort?

We’ll beat you.

You want — friendship?

We’ll desert you.

You think you’ve got talent?

We’ll show you.

Bam               bam              bam.

My skin faded, my body ached,

and what can a person do but blame what is left?

 

Wisdom swims through my veins.

Nana has her Jesus

and I have my Julia de Burgos

and that’s quite alright with me.

I build a new ship to freedom…

something you cannot wear, but ride–

invisible on all sides, impenetrable,

so much so that my world forgets the words

“break” and “fear” and “fall,”

that Kenny’s story can be his own.

that Marlena’s antagonism can be her own,

and that I can feel the wisdom in me,

the quiet confidence that does not need

a coach to tell me my worth.

 

I just play.

 

December 22, 2018