Tuesday, October 23, 2018

vignette #4: subway strangers

He entered the subway loudly, looking right at me, though I was looking straight at my book.
He asked -- had I seen any good halloween costumes?
I looked at him briefly, muttering, yeah, I saw some good ones, then turned away,
hoping he would leave me alone.
Clearly this person wasn’t well if he was so eager to initiate such a frantic conversation.
He was older, so there was something about that, that made me feel slightly less defensive.
He kept looking toward me and said -- I’ve been asking kids in costumes,
‘what does your costume sound like?’ It really gets them thinking.
I looked over briskly and nodded, oh that’s cool, hoping he would disengage,
still irritated that this stranger was intruding on my reading.
I hadn’t dressed up for halloween, hadn’t even been out and about to absorb the fun and silly energy.
I had forgotten that one of the joys of Halloween is that everyone is out of their own orbit, zipping around,
crossing new paths.


The stranger’s phrase echoed in my ear. I suddenly heard it,
without the muffling wall of my fear getting in the way.
He asks people what their costumes sound like.
I glanced over at him. Why was I refusing this opportunity for connection?
Was my book, my quiet time, this important?
This man was most certainly an artist, maybe even a wizard, some mystical being,
and here he was telling me about the depth of his sensory world,
his appreciation of the poetic artistry of this holiday. This is a gift that I could accept or reject.
I put my kindle down and looked his way. I asked him why he didn’t dress up.
He was on his way to yoga. He asked me what it’s like to read on a kindle, if I miss holding a book.
I did. And also, this was just easier to carry around.
But yes, there was something missing without the texture of the book, without the cover.
It’s like part of reading is also for the hands to feel the words, and instead I was just looking at a screen.
But this fits in my pocket.


He chuckled and showed me a funny cartoon in the New Yorker.
I told him I hadn’t dressed up for Halloween because I was on my way to my Improv Comedy class,
where I would get to dress up as something new every 3 minutes for a different scene.
It is the kind of creativity I enjoy the most -- bubbling up fun ideas,
but not having to actually sew the costume.
Dreaming up the set, but not having to actually paint it.
Creating an image, and then letting it go.
You enter an ethereal space together,
each person’s version with slightly different colors and nuances,
and then you both let the shared image dissipate back into the room around,
clearing space for the next one.
He told me about his piano lessons when he was younger and how he was intimidated by improvisation.
I laughed and said I try to let my music students think it’s easy and everyone can do it.

We were on the subway, but somehow had entered another universe,
one where it was easy to just be two beings reaching out towards eachother.
We were both strangers, and also, for one moment, perfectly known.

He got off for his class and waved goodbye,
a goodbye that felt warm and tender, like an old friend leaving.
I remember how I had almost not even said hello.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Thursday, October 11, 2018

mostly mist,

the sound of the waves, the only proof that the ocean was still there.

and then there was me,
floating in the clouds.

I watched as my hand turned into sky,
knowing any moment ...
I too,
could disappear. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Upon seeing him, after not seeing him for months…
The person who used to be my everyday, the one who knew me the most...
I was struck at how the poignant got washed with the mundane.
That though my heart was racing and my entire body shaking,
I asked him about his new hat, he told me about the glasses he just ordered.
I said I was just coming to the coop for a Nugo,
our old language suddenly resurrected, surprisingly intact.
I told him about Quintin the cat voyaging through the neighbors yards.
He said he had been thinking of me, but there was not much more to mention.
The most obvious, present emotion was the last thing that either of us would state.
Instead, I asked him about his chopsticks, his dance-class.
A passerby hearing our conversation might have thought, acquaintances, maybe even strangers.
Unless they saw that my hands were trembling,
and my knees wanting to buckle in when he got up to leave.

It was just a couple of minutes, then suddenly over.
Our time together used to feel so spacious,
like we had all the time in the world to become known to eachother.
And now, after such a brief interaction, not knowing whenever I’ll see him again,
I think back to those lingering days, where the conversation unraveled,
and we shared eachother’s worlds like there would always be more time.
Had we known that it would suddenly be stripped away,
would we still have talked so slowly, or would there have been a more urgent tone,
a feeling to express it all at once?


The last time we hung out, I remember saying
I hate saying goodbye,
almost like a piece of me already knew.
Had I known fully that it was our final goodbye, I might not have actually let go.

There’s a photo from our last time together, before the big rupture.
I’m staring up at the moon, in a long winter coat, though it’s well into spring.
You can see the stiffness in my shoulders.
I remember the stress of my impending move pressing on my shoulders like boulders.
I smile a soft smile, looking up in wonder, as he looks at me to catch the moment.
The picture remains.
One artifact from the night that preceded the day where everything was finally over.
One final proof that we were standing on that bridge together, before it finally crashed to the ground.

Friday, August 31, 2018

learning to pray

you wanted me to bow down
to your gods
and all these other men

but I couldn't find my way
to the ground

but then there was fire
ribbons of light
swirling in the wind, the night.

my head dropped low,
I didn't even have to try.

Then there were birds
singing in my ear

something with wings that flies so high
also spends time far below.

I too, can bow much lower.

I can clasp my hands together and dive into the lake
to be where there is no breath


I come up, gasp in awe.


How miraculous,
this earth.

where to look

the sunken sunflower still leans to the sun
even if, this lean is also a fall,
also a death.

it still knows where to look
even when it's almost gone

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Today, Sonia and I entered the house of someone who voted for Trump. She offered us some orange juice, had us sit at her table. She was still in her pajamas. We were canvassing for Blake Morris, the person running against Sen. Felder in the Kensington area (District 17). When she mentioned that she has issues with the democratic party and voted for Trump in the last election, I was certain the conversation was over. But by that point we were already sitting at the table, looking at eachother -- she had invited us in, we had entered. We started with the New York Health Care Act. She has friends, she told us, that can’t afford health care and just continue their lives with their ailments, trying to ignore them. Yes, she would support a candidate that could change this. She has a friend who lost her kid on Ocean Parkway because there are no high speed cameras to regulate a speed limit. Blake Morris could change this.
She told her stories, we told ours.
The conversation moved into harder areas. She exposed her fear of Muslims. That the bible says homosexuality is a sin. I noticed my body go tense, and felt the gaze of her daughter watching my reaction. I softened my clenching jaw. I was in her house. Drinking her orange juice, sitting at her table. She continued, "But we all have sin in us, so who am I to point a finger at anyone? Who am I?" I said I agreed -- we must look inward for change.
She said she would vote for Blake Morris, she would tell her friends.
She wanted to keep talking, but we got up to leave, we had other houses to get to, more hours of canvassing ahead. But I wonder now what would have happened if we had stayed. If we kept on talking. If I told her I was queer, and that also I’m an awesome person. If I asked her if she has ever invited her Muslim neighbors across the street over for orange juice.
Sometimes, I’m really not sure what I’m doing in this life, but today it was all very clear. I want to talk to people. I want to go to their houses, knock gently on their doors, and try to understand, to listen, to speak. NYC has every kind of people, and also, we know so little about their lives. I have never seen the inside of someone’s house that voted for Trump. I have never even walked over.
We were there for 20 minutes, but it felt like a very far travel, to a place we were all lucky to arrive. I hope to return. I hope to keep trying. I hope we all keep trying.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Roots (lyrics)

Falling pieces of the sky
Will we ever meet on one side

The wind is pulling me away
Up past the trees, past the clouds, past the ether

Far from your eyes.

(i miss my life)

You were my earth.
You held me close to the ground.

And now I'm ripped away, falling, falling, in the hurricane.

(i miss my life)

I must find my own roots.

I must find my own roots.

Deep in the soil, deep in the ground, like an old oak tree, waiting to be found.

I will give to me---

what I gave to you----

back to me
back to me
back to me...

Monday, June 4, 2018

What we knew            What we didn’t know (yet)


That we had been friends forever,
and always would be.       
That there always is a breaking point.       
        


You would walk into a room, and I would wave
with the biggest smile. You would laugh at my
ridiculously large smile, and
I would smile more.
  That this love, somehow became too much for you.



Our amazing connection
was bigger than everything else.


Until it wasn’t.
Until the trauma was bigger than everything else.



Even when the world around was a serious,
heavy place, we could still dance and leap with
umbrellas in the rain.


You could forget the joy, the good.


Your wound could make you cruel.


My wound could make me desperate.                     




We could finish eachother’s thoughts.


But somehow we still held secrets.





I loved you so much.
I loved you too much.





We would go get chocolate mousse for our
birthdays like the year before, like always.  


We would never get to wish eachother
a happy birthday.


You would just suddenly be gone.



You would break if I needed you too much.
But I didn’t know how much.



We would still laugh even when breaking up,
I could talk in a silly accent, you would be
listening to strange music that didn’t fit the
mood and we would laugh at the absurdity.
We could still hug and remember
all the love and hope for a future.


Two weeks later you would send an email destroying it all.
Leaving me with nothing.


Except the grief.
Which is endless.


And I would take any little moment back
to not have to feel this pain.



There were so many little things
But it was the little things that finally broke us.



And now, even the memories feel like nothing at all
Because the way you chose to end, erased it all.



We could laugh even in hard times.


And that last time we hung out,
innocently taking funny pictures at dunkin donuts
next to strange posters would be our last time.


And I walk by that place everyday
and wonder how it’s possible
that everything blew up so fast.

Or, how we didn’t even see it slowly burning.

Friday, May 11, 2018

This is the pain that was always there

the child that never stopped crying.
the fathers that left.
the mother frozen in trauma.
the grandpa, broken from war.


the grandma locked in her castle.
the sister hiding her scars.
the child that left her body.
the girl that could’ve been a boy.


the boy that never was.
the person now trapped in a body.
the father at his desk, turned away.
the mother refusing to eat.


this is everytime the child was left.
the person now tries hard to love,
but instead pushes people away.


the grandpa who couldn’t stop hitting.
the mother that still doesn’t eat.
the woman that must die
for the person to live


the name we must lose.

what we must give up,
to be who we are.


This is the loss of you.
But this is not about you. 

This is the child, afraid.
The parents, too injured to hold the child.


So it must be the person, as the child.
To become whole, to break
To stay there
To listen. 


The child and the person
Both at once
The part and the whole
The wave and the sea
The moment gone
The moment to come.


The person holds the child.
The child screams.
The person says it’s ok it’s ok


I'm here.
I'm here
I'm finally here.


I’m sorry I left for so long.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

nowhere to go

All week my heart has felt like it's been bursting from my chest.

The panic and fear of sudden and unbearable loss.

I remember this pain.

I have been burned and crushed before,
spread out like ash in the soil,
only to watch myself slowly resprout again in time.

There have been too many years spent reaching out to feel love.

What if I didn't have to?

What if deep in my self,
underneath my chest made of shattered glass,
underneath my stomach made of fire,
what if I found a part of me
within me
that loves and supports me.

My spine is there, like a trunk of a tree, holding me, lifting with each breath.

There's nowhere to go
but here.

Monday, February 26, 2018

already whole

The day the moon became the sun
She grew a long red beard
Put on her hat, and smoked her pipe
Soon after, disappeared.

And we all forgot. And we all forgot.

All the while the moon was singing:

I am more than what you see, I am more than what you see
When I am red, I’m still gray
When I am gone, I’m still there
When I am waning, I am full
I am everything at once.

And we sang back, to the moon:

Let us remember, let us remember
That we are already whole

Let us remember, let us remember
That we are already whole

---
The day the sun became the moon
He slivered into curves
And wore a silky turqoise dress
That floated in the wind

His hair out long, the curls swung down
Like rope, we thought we could climb up to him

For we all forgot, for we all forgot.

All the while the sun kept singing:

You cannot come close to me
You cannot look into me
I am everywhere at once
My light is what you see

I grow the gardens
I lift the seeds
I dry the river
And I burn the trees

But will you ever truly see me?

And we sang back to the sun:

Let us remember, let us remember
That we may never be known

Let us remember, let us remember
That we may never be known

Let us remember
Let us remember

Remember
Remember
Remember
Remember

remember

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