May 5, 2015
part of my writing process
is to use poetry as inspiration,
as a break from writing,
today’s poem has likely been posted here before.
but i’m holding on to it today fiercely,
forcing myself toward a revision
When Butches Cry
by Bonni Barringer
When butches cry
they weep, they wail
They gnash their teeth
Strong woman’s pain
It’s just the same
Except it’s mostly done
January 10, 2015
i am pretty much a misanthrope.
and unabashedly so.
for the most part
i distrust people
and think the world,
on the whole,
my general response to the world
has been to create a bubble around myself,
one of as much beauty and acceptance as i can find.
i’m lucky in that i’ve a lot of privilege
relative to the rest of the world;
i’m (excessively) educated.
all things that help to counteract
the palpable oppressive force of the straight world.
(it wasn’t easy growing up queer when i did. at all.)
and so today i find myself nearly moved to tears
(the strange man plastering the walls in my bathroom
is the only thing really keeping me in check)
because i’ve been bombarded from all sides
by random acts of kindness,
kindnesses of which i’m rarely in need
and i would never have expected to receive if i were.
it began at the red hook in ferndale,
a coffee shop i frequent semi-regularly.
for whatever reason, i only had my debit card on me, and
for whatever reason,
it was declined.
which is odd,
as i just got paid yesterday.
the worker bee shrugged it off,
telling me not to worry about it,
and waited on the next customer.
a little chagrined
but figured i’d pay for it the next time i was in,
chalking it up to one of the small perks of being a regular.
but then i realized that i’d just ‘bought’ a bagel
at the new york bagel baking company
not ten minutes prior.
i recalled the lady saying she needed to run my card again.
on the second swipe told me i was “all set”
and i headed off to the red hook.
i can only surmise
that she spared me the embarrassment
of telling me my card was declined
and just gave me my bagel.
my middle class guilt made me queasy
and i vowed to tip big the next time i bought a bagel.
then the final straw.
as i headed home i realized i was low on gas.
i wasn’t sure i’d make it home.
i found a single dollar in that compartment
between the driver and passenger seats
(what the fuck is that called, anyway?!)
enough for about a half a gallon.
about two miles from home,
with my fuel meter telling me i had 0 miles left,
i pulled over to a gas station,
handed the attendant
my sad little dollar,
and pumped the .56 gallons of gas into my tank,
plenty to get me home to my wallet and another gas station.
as i hung up the pump,
the attendant’s voice came over the speaker
telling me, and anyone else in hearing for that matter,
that the man in line behind me said that
he’d put $20 on my pump if i wanted.
a wave of unfamiliar emotion came over me,
some combination of
what i can only describe as
a combination of fear, shame, and humility.
shouting, “no, no, that’s ok!”
with no clue how the attendant could hear me,
quickly hopped in my car
and spend away home.
i’m not sure what to say about all this.
i just knew i needed to write it all down as soon as possible.
i knew i needed to document what happened to me because, somehow,
i don’t know what it means,
i don’t know what my reaction says about me.
i think maybe it’s actually very sad
that such small kindnesses
could disconcert me so.
that people being kind
is so outside my personal experience
that the experience of kindness overwhelms me.
perhaps that proves i am right,
and the world is just as shitty as i think it is.
but at least for today,
that it was less so.
January 9, 2015
this. is. amazing!
December 3, 2014
November 17, 2014
from the initial shock
of the news of leslie feinberg’s
if i’m honest,
stone butch blues
put me on the path
to my current work
as a literary scholar.
how do you repay someone
for changing the course of your life?
for showing you what matters
and who matters to you?
i’ll never come close
to living a life
as leslie feinberg’s
but, as long as i live,
hir work will not be forgotten.
“Feinberg is survived by Pratt and an extended family of choice, as well as many friends, activists, and comrades around the world in struggle against oppression and for liberation.”
August 17, 2014
if you live in the metro detroit area,
and didn’t make it to one of the detroit city distillery
bottle releases & tastings this weekend,
then you missed out on the event
of the summer.
i’d been stalking DCD for a while
when fate sat me across from owner,
(apparent) front man, and detroit’s newest
most eligible bachelor,
at de la tierra,
a pop-up art show and dinner.
it was one of those moments of kismet when,
if you’re trying at all to be part of
what can only be called
detroit’s exploding food/booze/art scene,
you inevitably run into someone who’s doing something fabulous.
and so, a month or so later,
when i got the advance email
about DCD’s bloodline whiskey release,
i bought my ticket without a second thought.
no amount of coaxing could get my friends to come with,
so i flew solo to eastern market
rolling up to 2462 riopelle
a little more than
blasting amr diab
and circling twice for a parking spot.
i’ll spare you the details of the night in favor of the highlights:
the energy was palpable – just the right mix of smiles and buzz, allowing the chet baker and billie holiday to bleed into the evening without being oppressive.
the service was impeccable – i was seated at the bar and the bartenders were friendly and, frankly, rather attractive. (evan, in particular, was kinnered several times by this shameless shutter fly)
the company was fated – a fellow solo diner was seated next to me and turned out to be none other than the detroit foodie. it was the perfect pairing; i love to dissect the food and drinks at these shindigs, and it was great to be seated by someone who could (and would) happily keep up.
the morai were clearly looking out.
the food was on point – especially considering it was prepared (semi-legally?) in an alleyway in eastern market. it was three courses of food i typically would never have ordered, the unexpectedness of my enjoyment only multiplying its effect. chefs jesse knot and brad greenhill seriously delivered. (that brisket, bitch!)
the drinks were flawless, dahling – sugar house who? DCD has all the ambience and none of the pretension, the antique bar lending a subtle authenticity other “speakeasies” only wish they could buy. more importantly, the drinks were perfectly balanced* and will knock you down without you realizing it (though that blackthorn is not fucking around!) the stars were the detroit sidecar and the strawberry punch. seriously. who would ever have thought that whiskey and strawberry would go together? i just want to lay in a hammock with a growler of that shit, slowly pickling.
my life is such that these little outings of mine carry great importance to me. so it was lovely to not be disappointed and to leave happier than when i arrived (so much so i returned on saturday for the two faced blended bourbon bottle release & tasting). between the two nights, i dropped a dollar and left with ten bottles, two gifted to those who kept me company in my solitude (thanks TDF and haven!)
if this opening is any indication,
DCD is set to become
a detroit icon.
check it out, stat.
as you know,
i’m not blogging regularly these days and
am equally out of practice at editing down
the number of pics i take to weave into a post.
you’ll just have to settle for a disjointed photoessay.
*my only critique would be that they need bigger ice. my drinks got a tad too watery too fast. though i had a total of five in about three hours, so part of it was my inability to keep up.
July 19, 2014
it’s a minor talk,
reflecting on my time
as a writer in residence there.
whenever i give a talk,
whether i’m in the middle of writing it
or working on my delivery (practice makes perfect!)
i turn to poetry for courage and inspiration,
to calm the feeling that i just may
vomit at any moment.
today, i’ll post two of my faves.
because, if poetry is good for me,
it’s likely you could use some more in your diet.
i doubt i’ll ever be as good as these women
and certainly, today’s talk pales in comparison.
here’s hoping their obvious fearlessness is catching.
July 15, 2014
i don’t know how many of you have a soul mate,
someone who enters your life so naturally
that you can’t imagine that
they’d not been there
that person is veronica.
and we’ve been friends for a decade this summer.
as she revisits the place where our friendship began,
separated, i struggle to find the words that
do my feelings justice.
so i figured i’d steal someone else’s.
initially, i turned
to a book of poetry
a textbook from the study abroad where we met.
i thought i’d write here some of my favorites:
“the goat paths” by james stephens
since it calls to mind
the ireland i see
when i close
“a last confession” by w.b. yeats
on which i wrote a paper
talking about the homosexual imagery,
the first my professor had read in his career.
the essential “a disused shed in co. wexford” by derek mahon
but while important, i only ever really liked
the title and the second stanza.
“bread” by brendan kennelly
but that last line
is just way too erotic.
but while nostalgic
none were right
(or perhaps not)
i turned to the work of adrienne rich.
in honor of our friendship, past and present,
i give you sonnets i and iii from twenty-one love poems.
Whenever in this city, screens flicker
with pornography, with science-fiction vampires,
victimized hirelings bending to the lash,
we also have to walk . . . if simply as we walk
through the rainsoaked garbage, the tabloid cruelties
of our own neighborhoods.
We need to grasp our lives inseparable
from those rancid dreams, that blurt of metal, those disgraces,
and the red begonia perilously flashing
from a tenement sill six stories high,
or the long-legged young girls playing ball
in the junior highschool playground.
No one has imagined us. We want to live like trees,
sycamores blazing through the sulfuric air,
dappled with scars, still exuberantly budding,
our animal passion rooted in the city.
Since we’re not young, weeks have to do time
for years of missing each other. Yet only this odd warp
in time tells me we’re not young.
Did I ever walk the morning streets at twenty,
my limbs streaming with a purer joy?
did I lean from my window over the city
listening for the future
as I listen with nerves tuned for your ring?
And you, you move towards me with the same tempo.
Your eyes are everlasting, the green spark
of the blue-eyed grass of early summer
the green-blue wild cress washed by the spring.
At twenty, yes: we thought we’d live forever.
At forty-five, I want to know even our limits.
I touch you knowing we weren’t born tomorrow,
and somehow, each of us will help the other live,
and somewhere, each of us must help the other die.
i can hear the morning birds already.
July 11, 2014
i find it difficult to know where to begin, exactly.
or perhaps, more accurately, how to begin again.
in lieu of any real effort or explanation
i’ll simply write a post as if
i haven’t been largely absent from the blogosphere.
this past wednesday,
on the invitation of a peripheral friend
of a dude was i was dating earlier this year
(note the ever-present past tense)
i went to a knitting group.
i know i know.
you require evidence.
i found myself uncommonly shy
which, for anyone who really knows me
is in general keeping with my character.
the lukewarm reception of a member of my high school class
that i hadn’t seen since graduation didn’t really make for the most auspicious of starts. though i take comfort in the fact that,
of the two of us,
i’ve aged better.
(i wonder if she still plays the french horn)
i won’t go into details of the evening
as they are largely what one would expect of a knitting group:
a group of giddy women, happy to escape their quotidian, conventional lives with a perhaps higher degree of nerdery than one sees in the general population.
i’m not really sure this group is for me.
the number of new mothers and percentage of group members currently at various stages of gestation means the focus of conversation is largely…limited we’ll say.*
there’s also much drinking and
as i’m a rather fastidious knitter,
i don’t really care to drink when i knit
as it affects one’s gauge.
but even if this group is not for me.
and i miss it.
i don’t see how my life
in its current formation
can accommodate this particular hobby,
at least with any kind of regularity.
and please, no one even mention
my poor disused matchless.
i think i must.
my goal in life
is to create a life
of which i can be proud.
i’m not sure i’m doing that
if i’m daily denying myself
one of my life’s few joys.
at least i get good coffee on a regular basis.
i’m not sure if anyone’s left out there
(and if you are, do leave a comment; it encourages!)
but if you miss me at all
much of my online life
has moved to instagram.
there’s a lot of coffee art and dyke graffiti,
but if you want to stalk my life,
take a look
until next time, bitches.
*the only credit i’ll demand is for ignoring the woman who explained that she circumcised her son, not for religious or health reasons (spurious enough though those are) but because “everyone else in her family is”. setting aside the fact that she’s apparently seen the genitalia of all her male relatives, the fact that she was willing to mutilate her son for the sake of aesthetic conformity created in me such a violent sense of disgust and repulsion that there is no word i know of in the english language powerful enough to describe it. i later fixed her knitting which, i think, points to my general superiority, if not as a human being, at least in manners.