When reflecting on this past year …

When reflecting on this past year …

When reflecting on this past year, I feel a lot of conflicting emotions. As much as I joke, I don’t want 2016 to die in dumpster fire. This year has brought mistakes and triumphs, heartbreak and friendship, solitude and growth. A lot of good things happened…and a lot of bad. Both are teachers and I hope to always be a student.

In 2016, I dyed my hair. I published my fourth book—my first on a major press. Poetry flew me around the world, coast to coast and across the ocean. I successfully produced a major youth poetry tournament, ran a summer writing camp for high school students, and finally signed with a manager and talent agency. At the same time, I struggled with depression, anxiety, body image, and authenticity. I was disillusioned and misguided, so out of touch with my desires that I acted poorly or hurtfully against others and myself.

In 2016, I started running again. Then, stopped. I paid off my student loans only to accrue different debt. I fell more in love with myself and also met parts of my personality that I hate. I turned 30. Went to therapy for the first time. Found a lump on my dog’s stomach. I couldn’t afford his chemotherapy, and even if I could, he likely would not have lived see the New Year.

To give voice exclusively to our successes (and not our failures) is a form of violence against one self, as it sets an unreachable standard and further misrepresents what it means to be human: flawed, wildly contradicting, still trying, still worthy. Instead of admitting we contain multitudes, we self-curate and isolate, hiding our pockmarks because they blemish the perfect picture of our life that we have painted.

The truth is: we are not always good and that is okay. At times, I was not my best this year but that does not mean I do not deserve another one. It does not mean I will not try to be better in the next.

Now, here is where the real work comes in: this is not enough. Forgiving your flaws and understanding your mistakes is not enough. I originally planned on ending this post on the previous paragraph—wrapping it up neatly with a promise to be better. How forgiving that would be, how safe and comfortable. And yet, we all know the greatest growth happens in unrest. If I left 2016 ruminating on the duality of life and my imperfect humanness, then I would just be parroting the same lessons I learned last year.

I want to evolve. I want to listen to my discomfort and feed my dissatisfaction with hard work, honesty, conversation, and practice. I refuse to feel helpless, as I am not a prisoner of my past or myself. I will not remain stagnant in this stage of soft reflection, as it no longer promotes my betterment. We all deserve forgiveness and gentleness, yes, but we also deserve to be uprooted. The self is best carved from displacement.

So, 2017, make me uncomfortable. Continue to challenge. Continue to give and take from me. Through this, show me who I am again and again—a hundred layers of messy paint; a blessed shedding of skin; a heart, both broken and whole, that can feel so much all at once.

Sierra DeMulder

 

Always leaps ahead of me, DeMulder lights a path for self-discovery, evolution, hard truths with radical affirmations of self worth. God, I love her. 

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Across a Canvas

Across a Canvas

I creep,
Then wait
Upon the bed, as bait,
And keep hands about the knee
Like a person in a painting
Positioned,
A statue,
Too patient
And so, damned
Impatient.

He creeps,
Underneath
Grabs and tugs and slaps
Until muffled things emerge
From the black rubber
Between our lips.
It continues and we scream now
Like we are having
A very,
Ugly, tantrum.

We creep,
And howl, like big dogs unleashed
Into fields of meat.
So when the final crashing call
Dies
There seems to be a pair of eyes,
Behind my eyes,
That play, like a film still as it twitches,
The sex,
Across a canvas.

-Muse Giacalone

 

not usually the sort I curate, but oh my…

The Lightbulb Conspiracy

The Lightbulb Conspiracy

we were astronauts and
beekeepers;
archaeologists and mechanics;
overseas teachers
getting drunk off communion wine
in a theocratic country with no believers.
I was the blowhole in a whale and
the trash heap at sea
I was a groundbreaking invention
hidden under planned obsolescence
you were the vitamin C I took daily and the cold I caught anyway
you were a ferris wheel showing a child the world at the top
we were
forks coming off of screaming rivers and
diving into sidewalks holding handprints that weren’t ours
throwing rotten eggs into ditches because what else would we do with them and
what else was there to do?
I filled a cracked bucket with jell-o and left it on your porch because
I knew you’d know what I meant
you painted a face around the hole I punched through the wall because
you knew I’d send a picture to my mom
we recited mournful monologues on the bruises in our bananas
we played pianos with our toes
we pinched the sun between our fingers
we were lost. we weren’t alone.

-Alexis Diano Sikorski

Saturn Return

Saturn Return

Everyone hurries a touch in the moody weather
but I’ve reached peak Aquarius: calmer in risk’s orbit,

ruthlessly down for whatever, even or especially if it stings
Good morning, universe, with yr sudden biting air—

My erotic imagination remains on sabbatical despite
many blessings in the house of novel apparatus

& the alleged libido spike tied to this astrological transit
as consolation for its relentless cataclysms

I tried to look moved when you showed me
a vibrator that doubles as an alarm clock

though most days, I wake trembling around
the edges & think, What rot awaits?

which cancels out both my OPTIMUM CHILL banner
& the energy-cleansing effects of a Himalayan salt lamp

my mother gave me because she suspects
I’ll never produce grandkids

& this may be true, since our economic system
is structurally rigged to fuck the working class

so let’s not go around
incriminating my dirty chakras

♢ ♢ ♢

If break room babble is any indicator,
the impending cuffing season isn’t nearly

as kinky as it sounds, & mostly hinges
on a crude sense of urgency

In the reality I inhabit, some friends
avoid saying partner, as it indicates

a hierarchy, & this harshes
the anarchic vibe

I don’t seem to fall into either camp:
power dynamics maintain their hobbyist appeal,

while having a primary partner
sublimates me into a gentler form

To demonstrate why this is important,
I gesture now at the unstable world

♢ ♢ ♢

More than 100,000 want to go to Mars
& not return reads the headline

Well, I’ll wait right here & bore a path into
the dead center of the earth using just my anxiety

or otherwise carry out the neoliberal conspiracy
of self-care: Rumors on repeat &

a man-repellant shade of lipstick
named dirty money— smudge-proof

for all those late late-capitalist nights
spent tidying this condition to let someone in

After returning from a wedding, I dart
around you for days, just in case

nesting is a communicable state
or desire molds to its closest container

When you send a fresh batch
of dick pics, my equilibrium returns

in the stillness
of remembering

we’re all just dopamine vampires
trying to skirt the mortal coil

Bleak humor suits
my soviet blood

& everything does feel fine
when Rachel says

Do you know anybody
who is okay right now

with the question mark
deliberately left out

Reclaiming my life
meant divesting

explains an article about hoarding
As if I get to choose how long

her muted perfume clings, or apply
logic like a compress to the forehead

The difficulty of divesting
isn’t in the discarding

It’s in knowing what
to keep

But I recall our particulars
all wrong

Which is to say incandescently
Which is to say I romanticize

the lack of understanding that keeps predictability
or comfort from permeating “our thing”

Nothing’s nailed down in our liminal space
of torpor & grope

Limp parts left out
in case of mood lift,

drape swell & recede, hoarse mouth
suckling a shoulder, language

held taut & this oracular heart of mine
resigned to hit snooze again

So much for yr fixed sign
& a wobbled laugh on delay

MAGPIE

Alone now
but like, radically

Turns out no such creature steals
shiny objects for a nest

I spent a while verifying this:
folklore so rarely runs parallel

to reality & the afternoon
plainly wasted already:

no afterglow, no one left
on the to-do list

Same mild satiation
as after a bland meal

♢ ♢ ♢

What wants are left?
said new someone

& I sped through every welt,
every well-worn route to sunrise,

every kink indulged until
fringe turned its own vanilla,

every throat-pulse caught & held
throbbing, some name escaped as hiss

mine accented as a languid stretch:

Ahhhh

leeena on a bus w/ summer cunt
post-fuck stench summoning

every stillness where the shudder
should’ve been &

every cheery shower whistle
after

♢ ♢ ♢

Gala says of her girlfriend,

I summoned her
now I deal w/ her

Devotion like the best curse
you can hope to suffer

Once, we held out for months
waiting to learn who was crueler

& I wanted you to win;
call it a masochism loop

or caged bird blues or
as a favorite ex put it,

People can tolerate infinite
damage of this variety

♢ ♢ ♢

What’s left to want when
the door’s never latched?

Hey yea still up,
come press here—

It’s never enough
but at luckiest

the white light holds
for an instant

NOW THAT I AM IN REYKJAVIK AND CAN THINK

After the ragdoll jerk of turbulence, the lurching buses,
benzos bitten clean in half, borrowed coat, borrowed car,

ring road followed all wide & serpentine for hours, headlong
run thru knee-level mud, now grinning stoned in this lava field

where Joe & Ryan pick crowberries for jam, chattering in the
secret dialect lovers take on after enough years together,

I think of you

& The Ethical Slut, 2nd edition, chapter 7: “Abundance”,
wherein the authors lay out their argument against

a starvation economy approach to love, how it’s not this
finite resource, so shake off all yr cultural programming

& the desire to possess— instead, get better at scheduling,
an art I can’t execute w/ any finesse & that’s partly why

I’m here w/o you or any of the others, though one of
yr curls held fast all this way, until it lifted off

& landed in the cushioned moss, which grows so slowly
w/ a sense of order I totally admire but cannot fathom.

♢ ♢ ♢

Here as home as anywhere, a Laelaps in runny nylons,
roaming from mouth to mouth, a secret or two

left intact in the babble before my hemline slides
right back to wholesome, then the harbor solo

to gape dumb at the midnight sunset & wonder if
one can bore into another w/ such precision

that the lust is perfect & all you sense, even in summer,
these long stretches w/o darkness as a comfort

to settle you, so all those big ideas dilute into
a buoyant postcard signed Yours

as in sending love from this smoky cove chock w/
episodic arguments in favor of constant motion,

each gorgeous detail the only one of its kind, &
the mind’s dazed shutter relentless to capture

this sublimity, this proof we ought to be tender,
given that our undoing breezes in just the same

♢ ♢ ♢

As muscle memory is made stubborn,
so it can reprogram: like the trick where

I pinch longing mid-shudder, save it for another
time, get the shower good & scalding,

head out divine & untethered
into the endless day.

-Alina Pleskova

Love is not what you want …

Love is not what you want …

Love is not what you want, it is what you are. It is very important to not get these two confused.

If you think that love is what you want, you will go searching for it all over the place. If you think love is what you are, you will go sharing it all over the place.

The second approach will cause you to find what the searching will never reveal.

– Neale Donald Walsch

I have always been the searcher. But I’ve had a lot of time and not a lot of love in the last year and it’s made me name it inside myself. I don’t have it down, but have been practicing self-compassion and trying to be as transparent as possible. No more hiding. God is love and God is in everything. We are all reflections of and boundless sources of love. Trying to find love instead of sharing yourself is missing the entire point of living.