When he tells you

the evening is home run

you say

I’m sexy

that I spit gasoline

 

I am all whiskey

I am curfews and

paper mask

16

you run your hands along my

edges

expecting to ignite

a match

 

“kiss me”

 

it is an order

 

it is your 6 foot 3 body

please

please

you say

 

(don’t say no)

 

I am a devil

That god blessed

too early

 

my mouth is stiff apple

I wish it were razor

like a Halloween prank

I want you teeth

to hit metal

I want my lips

to be shotgun barrel

 

I want to say stop

 

you ask if I like it

I don’t

my throat is an answer

my body: dead corpse

 

you run your tongue

along the grooves

in the places I want to keep secret

 

(don’t say no)

 

This is not candle light

This is not question

 

you want nasty

you want jailbait

your palms are wooden commands

leaving splinters

behind

 

play the part

be the fantasy

 

when I scream into your mouth

you take it as a compliment

 

you’ll say

it was the worst sex you’ve ever had

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this is hard for me to write about

I am an abuse survivor. Much of my sexual abuse was done when I was a teenager and in the company of older men who took advantage of their positions of power. For many years, my feelings around sex and relationships were askew based on those experiences. I was told that my body was the only thing of value, that I was only measured in worth based on how well I could perform sexually, etc.
It has taken me years to even acknowledge that what I had experienced was in fact abuse. In many cases, I would call some of these experiences “coercive rape” I have been hesitant to write about an experience I had with a man when I first entered into the spoken word scene at age 16. This man was 24 and was the host of a poetry slam show. For years I have been avoiding, and afraid of this man for reasons I did not understand until I acknowledged the truth of my situation with him. He was the second man I had ever had sex with. He was the first person who taught me that I was nothing more than what my body could do for him. In a way I felt indebted to him since he was the person who had originally introduced me to the spoken word scene in general. It was a complicated interaction. I wont call it a relationship. For years I continued to try to make this person see me as more than their victim. For years I tried to convince myself he was not an abuser and I continued to have a sexual relationship with him for 3 years off and on. For the record: there are pictures of me underage engaged in sexual activity that he has in his possession. For the record: he also wrote a great deal on his personal blog about our sexual relationship in detail and spoke of it in a public forum. Sadly, what I had experienced is not uncommon for women in the poetry scene. Many women are abused by men (or women) in power positions. Many more than I can count. I am only hoping that by not being silent, we can start to heal from the pain this community can cause. Like I said, it’s taken me years to not only acknowledge my abuse in this community, but to feel safe talking about it at all, and it has only been because other women have been so brave as to come forward and speak about their own experiences. To them, I am grateful,.

30/30

instead of a poem, for the last one i’ve made a list of things I am thankful for in this season of gratitude:

 

  1. My mother: I don’t know what I would have done without her this last year. I am truly blessed by the love she has for me and continue to be inspired by her courage and strength

  2. My son: Raj has been a tremendous blessing to me. He is such a bright joy in my life, and I can say without a doubt that he has saved me in many ways. I am such a lucky mommy, and am looking forward to sharing my life with him.

  3. The folks at the Glue Factory: You guys are the best. I never really had anyone in Portland who I considered close friends until I met you. I am so blessed that I had an opportunity to share living space with such wonderful, talented, and kind people. Love you guys.

  4. The Portland Poetry Slam: Always a huge space in my heart for this place and the folks who make it so wonderful.

  5. Mistakes: I’ve made mistakes this year, and I am always grateful for them as they help me grow and learn and become a better human being.

  6. My clients: Whenever I felt down or sad about something, my kiddos always find a way to cheer me up with their laughter and smiles.

  7. Cosmic Cafe open mic: I am so fortunate to be accepted into this new performing space with open arms. When I came to stay in this new place, I was afraid I wouldn’t find anywhere where I might fit in, and I am so grateful to discover such a spectacular venue to express myself.

  8. Ben: Thank you for being such a wonderful father. Raj couldn’t ask for a better dad.

  9. Cigar Poker night: A well-needed place for pre-weekend adventures, and a reigniting of my love for cigars

  10. Genuine laughter: It’s been awhile since I’ve laughed, or was able to find things to laugh about. I’m so glad I can laugh at anything, especially myself.

  11. Wildlife a my mom’s house: It’s super cool to wake up to turkeys, deer, skunks, coyotes, horses, giant beetles, tarantulas, rattlesnakes,and all sorts of interesting birds.

  12. Family; old and new: I’m lucky and blessed to have such great people in my world

  13. Inspiration: I’d been in a creative dry spell for the last couple years, and this was unhealthy for me. I am happy that I can be inspired by others and the worlds around me, and glad I can be motivated to turn this inspiration into a multitude of professional pursuits.

  14. Reflection: reflecting on the last couple years has been difficult for me, as there are numerous things I wish I could have done differently and handled better. I am grateful that I can see these experiences as lessons and continue to make amends and continue on a positive and productive path.

  15. Personal time to myself: I need these moments in my life, and I am always grateful for them

  16. Yoga

  17. karaoke

  18. Lee: Last year you came to visit me when I was in a very sad and difficult mental space, and I will always remember this. Thank you.

  19. Ian: You were such a joy and bright spark in my life, and I really appreciate all I’ve learned from you

  20. Bruno: best kitty EVA. Thought I lost you twice this year and yet you (and I) still survived. I am lucky to call u my husband.

  21. Chris, my home health nurse. She was with me for two of my pregnancies and was such a great source of information and support throughout both experiences.

  22. Katy, my doula. I couldnt have given birth naturally without her. She is such a wonderful person, and I was so fortunate to share my birth experience with her.

  23. Breaking Bad screenings in the backyard

  24. morning coffee and cigarette

  25. the ability to be silly. I am told I am a serious person, but I love finding new ways to prove them wrong

  26. thunderstorms

  27. Those who have and continue to support me as an artist and educator

  28. my little brother: Challenging me as a BT, and as a older sister, he is still a spark I can’t help but want to fan

  29. art in all forms, as it continues to save me each and every day.

  30. Life. Life in all its beauty and ugliness. In it’s unexpected joy and surprise. Ask me a year ago if I thought I’d be where I am now, and I wouldn’t even fathom it. It’s amazing what a year can do. I am grateful to still be here to experience all of it.

19/30-29/30

19/30

fernweh: an ache for distant places; the craving for travel

 

I ran

I run

It’s easier than staying

sometimes fleeing

is the only option

when starting over

is the last thing you want to do.

 

I take trains

I sit in airport terminals

I spark my interests

in lives I know I could never live

 

I never did the right thing

I never fit in

just another tourist

just another passing stranger

 

The is no homecoming

to a place that was never your’s to begin with

 

20/30

On seeing your abuser in public:

 

you’ve been waiting

for the moment

to snap

to scream

to fight back

to cut his throat

watch his blood

pool

standing over him

smiling

 

when you spit

in his face

your saliva acid

komodo dragon venom

 

you will show him

how to smolder

 

 You’ll remember

how the purple

on your neck

may have faded

before you thought

to document it

but you’ve never forgotten

its stain

How his welcome mat

was yanked from beneath you

like a parlor trick

how his name is Russian roulette

with a itchy trigger

 

when you see him

you’ll freeze

like a suicidal doe

 

and hold your hands

clasped to your chest

over your heart

never again

 

he’ll look with a glance

and a shotgun smirk

turning your tongue

to ash.

21/30

annus mirabilis: a remarkable or notable year in history; a year of wonder or miracles, used to speak hopefully of the future.

 

my son

you are a fallen star

all head and shoulders

buddha belly

and turkey thighs

baby

those eyes will be the end of me

you’re the most lovely dragonfly

to ever fall in my soup

and your voice is a story

I can’t wait to hear

 

When you stare

like an wayward explorer

I ask if you can tell me the answers

your reply

is a language almost familiar

but ancient to my ears

 

how heavy are my arms

to carry such a treasure

 

 22/30

When the rain falls

the beetles emerge from the Earth

like evicted tenants

 

they run from the moisture

unfolding their wings

making their way towards the promise

of the porch lamp

 

the only way they know to survive

is to head towards

light

 

they bash into it

until they fall clumsily

on their backs

helpless

exposed

to the elements

I thought perhaps

I would collect them

like rejected pennies on the pavement

and place them

in a jar

 

knowing sooner or later

they’d result to cannibalism

or some other dark fate

 

(you can’t save them)

 

when I was a child

I collected the snails I found in my path

placing them in my pocket

desperate to prevent the inevitable

to find a way

to lengthen their survival

 

(you can’t save them)

 

still I cringe

when my footprints leave behind

a heavy crunch

 

When flies fall into my coffee

When bee’s lie motionless in the watering can

 

(you can’t save them)

 

you can’t save

them all

 

23/30

paracosm: a detailed prolonged and imaginary world created by a child that includes human, alien, or animal creations.

 

Eternal truths I kept as a child:

 

  1. Wayne Newton and Fig Newtons are from the same family. I can’t hear “Danke Schoen” without getting hungry

  2. I keep a scapegoat in all of my toy fantasies. One is a bear named Benny. Whenever I get mad at my other toys, I punch him. This eventually has caused his nose to become permanently pug nosed.

  3. All toys have feelings, especially stuffed animals. I’ve apologized to Benny many times.

  4. The lines “ashes ashes we all fall down” means something having to do with cartwheels and gymnastics. I am very confused when my great grandmother dies and I hear talk about what to do with her cremated remains.

  5. I want to wear a cast so badly I try to break my bones on the playground at school for a whole year. I am stronger than I think

  6. The man in the hotel lobby gives me his business card. I keep it in my wallet thinking maybe he’s a nice person who can save me if I’m ever in trouble.

  7. Umbrellas opened inside are good luck. I make blanket forts with them and imagine it’s raining.

  8. The boy across the playground yells “hey fat girl” three times before I realize he’s talking to me

  9. I am a unicorn.

  10. I am also a velocoraptor

  11. I am also a cat. I pour cranberry juice into wine glasses and pretend I’m drinking bird blood.

  12. My father picks me up for the first time at age 7 and puts me on his shoulders. I am terrified

  13. There are mermaids in the Bay. I can see them wave to me whenever we cross the Dumbarton Bridge

  14. There are also dragons. I see one in a shadow the shape of a Heron.

  15. I get my first zit in 4th grade. The other children call me a witch. I take it as a compliment.

  16. The slide is a rainbow. I somersault down three times before I notice the black eye

  17. Billy Joel wrote the song “Uptown Girl” just for me

 

 24/30

I spiked the punch

I opened the letter

I said goodbye

I spit in the wind

 

I am postcards

with vague inscriptions

I am last night

slipping through your hands

 

I am bombastic

I am white wine

and fireworks

 

a lethal combination

snaggle tooth catching

every word

 

I am necktie pendulum

pointing north

polaroid moment

cracker jack prize

 

I face paint

face palms

and

calculate

the aftermath

of afternoons.

25/30

Whenever you make the decision to open up your heart, it is the right choice.

 

Locket

schucked beyond recognition

needs polishing

 

these days

it’s hard to be soft

inside

hard to see what develops over time

how sand turns smooth

and does not wear down your pearly teeth

one day

we’ll all be sea glass

the shards that once sliced us

will be treasures to small hands

will be the kiss

that doesn’t leave a mark

 

 

26/30

the night is a beautiful woman

clouded in anticipation

tattoos

and fuck its

she is alabaster

she is white wine and

fireworks

she is trumpet horns

announcing her arrival

6 hours later

after too many glasses of elixer

she is cat eye crossed

eyeliner

smeared down

a beetle

on its back

awaiting the ants arrival.

 

27/30

 

tiger stripes across my belly

never faded

 

lingering

three zigzag lines

remind me

 

naked

in the bathroom mirror

examining new body

 

kangaroo pouch

flared hips

tree branch arms

 

I make people

I grow hearts

 

I am a canvas

to someone else’s hands

 

I am molten lava

hardening

caterpillar liquid

forming new limbs

 

shape shifting

identity

 

 

28/30

 

it’s only 10am

and you’re already three sheets to the wind

I can smell you three feet away

sitting on the bus stop bench

 

you look me up and down

wavering

and ask the question

 

Are you a man

or a woman?

 

I point to my 7 month abdomen

reply

What do you think?

 

Your mind is blown

 

another question:

Why did you cut your hair?

Do you have cancer

are you a man hater

a lesbian

 

you tell me you hate the way it looks

that short hair is ugly

I remind you

that you sport the same hairstyle

 

you say it’s different

like apples and oranges

 

that women need long hair

to carry like a trophy

to make them desirable

 

I remind you again of my pregnancy

desirable

is relative to who provides the gaze

 

that I am not my hair

that I like how my head is shaped

that I feel sexy

that I am sorry

if my appearance confuses you

that you do not find me desirable

 

quite honestly

I’m glad for that

 

You ask me if I have a dollar to spare

You spent your last on the beer in the paper bag

 

when the bus arrives

I can see my reflection

in the window glass:

 

absolutely

perfect.

 

 

29/30

 

The Girls Bathroom

was a vipers nest

 

we check the stalls

looking for foreign feet

 

we laugh

at our own mirrored faces

 

fixing our eyeliner

into neat lines

while our tongues waver

with other people’s names

 

I hide in the outskirts

standing on the toilet

so as not to be seen

 

giggles echo

while I stare at the tiled floor

 

blood running down my legs

pants stained

and it’s only

 

2nd period.

 

 

 

 

 

8/30-18/30

8/30

l’appel du vide: the unexplainable desire to jump when on the end of a cliff

 

 

the nest above the front door

rejected its contents

 

you found the smashed chick

on the welcome mat

like a dying homecoming gift

 

we make this house

our stalled train station

waiting

for the next arrival

to take us

anywhere

but here

 

little brother

it’s time to fall

Time to break your bones

on every bough

Time to outstretch your feeble

ambitions

and let go

of the tether

 

I was never a fan of pushing

was never fond of what happens

when my tongue

is tired

of holding the weight

of a looped conversation

 

just go

 

make your life

your own

I do not wish you the chains

that will drag at your feet

biting at your heels

I do not wish you the empty friends;

callused hopes;

barbed wire knotted

around your time bomb heart

 

but youth never listens

to anything

but its own mistakes

 

you have to die a few times

before you realize

who you’ve always been.

 

We hold you tenderly

like a baby bird

that knows nothing

but the instinct of escape

with the hardest thing left to do

 

as we watch the dust circle behind you

with open palms

 9/30

naology: the study of sacred buildings

 

every yes is sacred

so is every no

 

when you ran your fingers

against the stained glass

I prayed your palms

would come back frayed.

 

That you would look at me

as more than a confession booth

 

sometimes we whisper consent to each other

“is it okay if I touch you here?”

“or here”

“or there”

 

every question has an answer

every trigger

is a story

or a moment

when in the darkness

we pray together

 

please please

please

 

let these tears be holy water

let our bodies no longer be the sin filled

vessels

we flay our flesh on

let our hearts burn bibles

let our love be

the Eden we’ve longed for

 

when we were naked

without shame.

 

When we were our own temples

 

when my womb

was an apple

 

when your church

was your chest

 

a place to lay my head against

and feel sanctuary

at last.

 10/30

resistentialism: when inanimate objects seem to demonstrate spiteful or hostile behavior towards humans.

 

I ask him what happened

he says “nothing”

buried in wine bottles

he tells me his childhood was perfect

 

as we take out this week’s recycling

I call bullshit

I’ve watched Intervention

 

mutha

fucka

 

I know a pattern

when I see one

 

he assures me

the bottles

were once wind chimes

who rattled their bones

like the jewelry

around a beautiful woman’s

neck

 

these days

the noise

sounds more like

the clanking of chains.

 11/30

Sabaism: the worship of stars

 

make me a man

who is made of concrete

who can be stepped on

without flinching

 

make me a woman

so strong

she crushes diamonds

between her teeth

 

make me a moon so full

it vomits up

it’s darkness

 

or a sun so hot

it sweats stars.

 

These are the fingertips

I use in prayer

These are the trickles

still dripping

from my palms

 12/30

sphallolalia: flirtatious talk that leads to nowhere

 

5 am text

I’m a un-tuned harp

to your response.

 

you call me

tease

whore

manipulator

cruel

 

all for telling you

I need more self care

 

that my life

is a ferris wheel

that my life

is a turn table

 

I’ve never met you

the internet

is place for fools

and lotharios

and places

I used to frequent

years ago

 

you told me you could fall in love

with me

 

now I am the blow torch

to your plans

 

I’m the bad guy

the heartbreaker

the ballbuster

the bitch

 

and you were the best decision

I never made

 13/30

eleutheromania: an intense and irresistible desire for freedom

 

I’ve cursed God enough times

to understand

what unconditional means

to see how my past

was a minotar maze

as I ran from my own monster

 

I was never good at riddles

tongue-tied in a Sphynx’s presence

I could only play it cool, baby

I could only make up the rules

as I went along

 

never thinking I would make it this far

these days

my spinal column

has too many cracks to count

and the vapor in my voice

still holds too many harsh words

 

every breath is a blessing

I still take for granted

I stand on the edge of a dead end

hedging my bets into a corner

with too many reasons

to backtrack

 

we make our myths

we tell ourselves stories

in order to sleep in the dark

 

or to wake up craving

the hunger we’ve lost.

 14/30

saudade : a nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and then lost; “the love that remains”

 

when you left

I buried my skull

like a time capsule

destined

to be opened too soon.

 

Searching the crowds

for your face

like a cruel joke

played upon my own amnesia.

 

When the memory

is better

than the moment

the ghost of Us is a faded status change

 

your name

is a wound reopened

your new home:

a feared destination

 

regret is a sandcastle

I am constantly rebuilding

as if I can make my home a place

you would like to return to.

 

Your voice:

a welcomed greeting

on the other end of the line

 

they say “it’s better to have loved and lost”

I’d rather never have been what we were:

too good

to replicate

 

a missed train

That left me waiting

at the station.

 15/30

antiscians: people who live on the opposite side of the world “whose shadows at noon are cast in opposite directions.

 

Skype is no substitute

for your smile

You live in tomorrow

always looking ahead

always holding your hand behind you

waiting for me to follow

 

it is an invitation

I’ve accepted enough times to know

where you stand

planted in opposite places

we tread lightly on our hearts

too afraid of ruining a

good thing.

 

When you love someone

you can’t hold

instead

you hold out your open empty palms

as they hold their breath

waiting for your next correspondance

 

like two pen pals

with potential

there is no shame in being careful this time

 

we’ve seen enough to know how easily

we are broken

the static white noise of daily life

fading into early morning conversations

over coffee

and beer

and cigarettes

you are a marathon runner

for all I’ve put you through

yet I still never seem to surprise you

my impulses

are only moments

that you accept

at every turn.

 

No obstacles

only welcomed additions to your world

 

as the shadows cast afternoon anticipation

while I sleep in the drowsy dawn

 

 16/30

 

brontide:the low rumble of distant thunder

 

sometimes you can feel it coming

it is the weighted morning

the tears in your coffee

it is the eyes that wont open

when the sunlight mocks you

 

when they put me in 5150

I checked in my clothes

for blue scrubs

 

my pride

for my health

 

slept in a bed

next to a woman who wailed for hours

 

left the dorm

for the tv room

the man sitting next to me

smelling my smokey hair

 

we exchange our stories

like fairytales

prisoners

to our chemicals

tongues ravaged

from too much talking

to therapists

lovers

family

 

nerves shot

from feeling our way through

without ropes to pull us back

from our edges

 

I was released 24 hrs later

a ghost to myself

full spectrum

white

to navy blue

 

the summers have always been hard for me

I prefer to live in a cloud

 

 17/30

indagatrix: a female investigator

 

sometimes

intuition

is a door bell

waiting for an answer

a flicker in the back of your throat

or a sledgehammer

 

don’t go looking for what you don’t want to find

be blindfold

be head turned the other way

be blackout

 

even when the truth trickles in

swat it away like a pesky house fly

tell yourself trust is enough

even when it betrays you

 

hold your head high

when you are made a fool

remember that fools are at least honest

 

When you find the emails

the videos

his face in her web

invest in a spinning wheel

 

you are more than loyalty

you are more than mere flame

 

You know better than to listen to your heart

 

it’s always been a scab you can’t help but pick

 

 18/30

druxy: something whole on the outside, but rotten inside

 

Since I’ve always been a great multi tasker

my vices come in threes;

a triangle

of smoke and mirrors

And funhouse distractions

no one ever asks if you’re okay

when you seem to have everything together

 

even when you crumble at your heels

like a sandcastle

at high tide.

 

Help is

the only 4 letter word

I’ve ever thought obscene.

 

A cringe on my ego

a crutch to my pride

 

in the morning

the sea smooths away

the day’s mistakes;

 

fills in the holes

 

buries the blemishes

 

I bury the parts left over

from a decomposing past

like a child

hiding her feet in the sand