Daylight Ext.

It is an illusion, the artificial
Lengthening of days, accomplished
By the clumsy lobbing off of daylight
In the mornings, and then the haphazard
Pasting of it onto a blustery March afternoon,
So long marked by early darkness, now
Distended with confusion; I ate my dinner
At 9:00pm, I woke late in utter indigo
And nearly crashed my car stumbling to
Work, but I don’t care—I need the myth
Of spring, like I need the idea of God and
The cupped palms of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When I squint my eyes to see the balled,
Pearl-like flower buds trimming the bare
Wood of the pear trees, and the schoolchildren
Stretching their recesses into suppertime,
I think dreamily of confession, like Catholicism’s
Last vestigial lace tickling my middle spine.
Colors I forgot about are rushing to the edges
Of parking lots and factory yards, how could
I answer them with shame? For years that
Unraveled into decades I heard my Father’s
Anger in every word I spoke to myself,
Swallowed hungrily my mother’s silence,
And shrunk to the size of a match’s flame.
To some suffering is irredeemable—
I am still undecided; but lately I’ve loved
Greedily, hastily; people who knew me once
Gawk at the woman I am now, my selfishness,
My audacity. And I am proud to surprise them,
Like the jejune grasses that electrify the thwarted
Dirt, like the robin trill that precludes a freeze.



Tell me why I am still looking
For something I lost in the surf
As a girl, tell me why the ocean—
Not even the whole of it, just the
Oscillating sound or the wet, salty
Wind or the smell of brine and wood—
Makes my stomach ache and my
Hands clench around an invisible stone.
Tell me what I am expecting to see
When I look over the horizon, as flat
And featureless as the days of my life,
And open my eyes wide as a moon crater.
I am so ready, for my mother’s love
Like a haloed ship parting the dusk;
For my father’s forgiveness, like
A warm current cozying the shock
Of cold water; for you to park your
Car in my driveway and storm the
Porch, saying, we don’t have to fight it.
And though you won’t say what “it” is
I know you mean loss, or would you
Call it absence? In the fathomless sky,
There are fields of empty space, deep
And gut-wrenching, bigger than us
Or what we think we know—you
Have claimed that it is a miracle, to
Wake up abandoned. Tell me.


Following the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 students and teachers died. 
At Planet Fitness, they play daytime
Television on twenty different screens while
I brace myself against the awkward arms of
A treadmill—to my right, a rerun of Chopped
Loops silently, I imagine the sound of shrimp
Sizzling in a well-greased pan and run faster;
To my left, an old school Law and Order: SUV
Is on, Mariska brushes a hand through her pixie
Cut while sizing up the bruised and swollen torso
Of a DB as they call it in the precinct, I think
Definite homicide and run faster still; directly in
Front of me, CBS projects the afternoon news:
Today high school students are running across a
Bright green lawn in Florida, their hands lifted
Above their heads, a camera chasing after them—
The spectacle, the responsibility—one lens zooms
In on what I think is a dead child’s purple tennis
Shoes, another shows a yellow-haired mother
Wailing in mute, her face mangled by sudden
Realization; I think, where are the fathers of
These bullet-scarred children? In office buildings?
Hiding tears in the collars of fine pressed shirts?
Wondering if they have failed and when? My dad
Never promised me that there would be safe places
And for that I am sometimes grateful; it’s been
Weeks since I last cried, heaving, choking on your
Soft suede couch but somehow I am crying again
Now as I turn up the speed on this clunky machine
And think of you, schoolteacher,++++++++++++ and
The children I may one day have,+++++++++++ and
The promises I will not will not make them.

There is so much to run from++++++++++++++ and
Nowhere to go.

Valentine’s Day

I wear red so I will not be counted among
The dead things: the taupe branches frozen
In chokeholds, the gauzy sky fracturing cold
Light, the ice crust like a burial sheet—
And where are the birds? February makes even
The mountains look like cages, I guess.

At work, I look for aquamarine pools and coral
Peonies in the flickering blue of a computer
Screen—does the static not resemble an ocean
Viewed from far away? Anything is possible,
Even love—in a voice that sounds like mine
But isn’t, Facebook warmly taunts me:

We care about you and your memories.
And then it regurgitates a picture of an old
Lover I still dream of—suppose the greyish
Matter in my mind is not unlike whatever
Algorithm a machine uses to reanimate the past:
Everything that’s happened is happening still

All at once, though my memories are not so perfect;
Your eyes change color, and I can’t look directly
At your hands or I will know that I am dreaming
And you will disappear just like you really did, in
Reality; your virtual ghost is not so real but its eyes
Are solid brown and its hands are touching “my” face

And the sky that crests above us—I mean our hollow,
Binary projections—is fuzzy with heat and rose-gold.
I try to remember that this is just a code the computer
Doesn’t know will hurt me—it can’t touch the surface
Of a relentless, silent winter; it doesn’t sit at a desk
And think of what it means to sit there, waiting

For the sunlight season, for the wildflowers and the
Next worthwhile pursuit that will wash all the failed
Ones out with the storm water and loose tobacco;
It can’t forget the color of people’s eyes, or how
It felt to see them walking slowly into an empty room;
But to me the dead are dead, nothing lingers

But the image, voiceless though I imagine how it
Might wake up to say: Forgive me, forgive me.


Four little poems I wrote after reading half of Maggie Nelson’s “Bluets” one sunless morning.

My stomach, balled like a fist
Against a closed door.
There is something in me, rotten.
There is something in me, holy.
I speak to you without proper language,
I speak to you with the whites of my
Eyes, pink and raw as a wound
Against the field of snow-heavy clouds
Above us.

Spring is still too soft of a wind to unstick
The cold from where it sleeps—
Will the river yet melt and twist away
From its steely banks? Will you hair grow
Long enough to pull into braids?
Will you let my hands do the work?
Muted sunlight, honey-like over the boney
Mountains; a fog that never lifts.
What is guaranteed? Nothing.


The ground is wet and soft, an
Open mouth choking on violets, or
The place I ran my fingers through,
Hoping to feel how you loved me
From the inside.

I plunge a fist in first, wanting
To know how deep the softness goes,
And if the heart of the world is really so
Tender, bottomless—
Does it suffer?

If it is anything like my heart,
It does.


I fed your memory to the sea:
Pushed it far out with painted
Fingernails, my knees like pillars in
The shifting sand, shoulders
Sure as stone—I was a monument,
Caked with slime and seaweed but
Sparkling nonetheless.

Looking back, perhaps it will seem
A half-full gesture; one day I will be
Old and I’ll know that I am dying and
I’ll wish then to hold all of the crying,
Fighting, multiplying versions of myself
Inside my arms like a fat bouquet, but now
The world is overrun with futures so countless
I kill most out of mercy, and whatever
Is lost looks just like another ripple;
My eyes can’t hold it as unique among the
Other currents that comprise the ocean’s
Endless, shivering indifference, and so
The décor of my life floats dumbly away;
I don’t need it—even you and you and you
May turn blue and float forever.

I wrote you letters, left them to rot
Beneath the leaves, called my
Mother, said I’m not sick just sleeping,

Said I dreamt of my pain as water
In a river, flowing downward to
The open mouth of the sea,

Where it becomes one ripple
In a desert of blue light, one
Ripple lost under a tarp of blue sky.

The Metamorphosis

There are billions of stories,
But mine boils down to this:
I have hurt hard to love you;
Dying quicker than a teenager should
In my quiet, pale bedroom; dreaming
Of someone’s arms around my half-baked
Dreams—someone soft? With painted fingernails
And a vain desire to be written about?
Those people came and went like the sun
Against the walls and fixed nothing.
I can’t blame them; no one puts your shoes
On in the morning, no one runs shampoo through
Your dirty hair, no one buys you the truth in a
Silver-threaded box—maybe I fucked and fought
In tandem but, when dawn trickled in, it was
My breath against the window, my hands
Traveling over the cold globe of the steering wheel.
What did it take to move the mountain?
I’ll say it almost killed me, and when
I felt myself surviving I thought often
Of death as runaways think of freedom.
But clever tricks are tricks all the same.
And here we are—in a quiet, pale bedroom
With that same sun on the walls, though
It feels different to me now; I admit
This was not what I dreamt of.
Your body opening to me is a bigger door
Than any I could have imagined
In those wounded times before.
I want to turn my head and tell you:
Isn’t it strange how the mind grows,
How the world blooms to bare it witness?

Insomniac Counting Sheep

When I cannot sleep which
Is often I watch the sky dilute from
Deep black to blue-grey to magenta
Stripped with gold—until the light comes in
Unrestrained and burns your hair electric orange,
The first wild tendrils of morning.

When there is no rest left to ruin
I know that I am free, though I had thought
On several occasions that time would stop
Between 3am and 4am, and the inhospitable
Dark of early morning would never soften,
And the tree branches would stay like wiry
Shadows on the window, and the streets would
Be always too quiet to confront with
The sounds of sex or music.

How close has the world come to ending?
How many missiles talked down from their
Cold steel perches? How many space rocks
Volleyed into inconspicuous corners of
The universe? Sometimes I feel like we’ve
Been shoved asunder, the ultimate master
Is still death—they who owns the distance
Between hours and loans them out to me
At an interest rate of wrinkles and cigarettes
And bouts of insomnia—I unravel the thread
To wherever it leads, be it The Middle Class,
Or crushing loneliness, or unloved love handles,
Or my 30th birthday, if it comes.

When I cannot sleep which
Is often, I twist my back to watch
You breathing—I love you assiduously,
What other way is there in a country
Where only the assiduous are spared?
The temperature of your skin in the winter
Is a point to be memorized, the shape
Of you stretched and slumped over the
Mattress a wisdom I may one day
Recite to myself alone at cheerless
Parties; I will see you like a mist
In the foreign bathroom mirror and give
My quiet praise to the art of all-nighters,
How oft I’ve suffered to keep what
Other people drop down drains and
Chase away with acid, but you know
Violence begets violence.

When I cannot sleep which
Is all the time, I think of how
Many webs we are trapped in—web
Of desire, web of rapid aging, web
Of consumer zombification, web
Of There is no God there is no Truth.
What is left but the web itself, all
Soaked with rain and sparkling
Like tinsel in the first wild tendrils
Of morning? If I unravel this thread
To all of its contradictions then we will
Never be safe from danger and sleep will never
Come; I am, like Auden said of Yeats,
Hurt into poetry—this is my last frontier.
The crystal-jagged surface of the moon, darling.
The great red desert, the sea so heavy no one
Can touch the bottom of it, darling.
I turn to catch the light in your hair—a torch
Electric orange—wake with me and tell me
What did you see while you were sleeping?

On Pussy Hats and Inclusive Politics: Striving for a Feminist Symbol

This week–an essay on feminism!! I welcome all feedback, for I don’t have the answers.


Last year, at the first Women’s March, large crowds of women, femmes, and allies filled the streets, turning blocks of asphalt into a menagerie of feminist symbolism and sentiment. From the get go, it was clear that the march was going to be an outlet for many different kinds of activists. At my local march, I saw anarchocommunists commingle with white liberal college professors commingle with young black women commingle with trans activists commingle with drag performers—all on the same streets, all invigorated by a shared sense of outrage at the state of the world, but all with vastly different perspectives, wants, and needs. I was struck by the power of this diverse coalition, but I also saw the conflict and contradiction that existed in that shared, contested space. That conflict and contradiction played out visibly through the symbols that various feminist factions chose to represent themselves and their movements. I want to reflect on that symbolism, examine the inherent contradiction and conflict within the modern women’s movement, and share my perspective on where to go from here. My perspective is, foremost, a situated knowledge—defined largely by what I know and experience as a cisgender, college-educated, white woman who sees feminism as both a political movement and an academic discourse. But these thoughts have also been formed through dialogue with other people who experience gender, sexism, and patriarchy very differently than I do, and by the writing and words of other activists who have labored to bring these conversations to life.

Continue reading


To live crowded together, like communal
Fruit in an orchard of yellow-green plumes,
Bushels of sun-soft hands playing in the light
That catches on the leaves of our light-catching
World, all of us tender from walking in the warm
Air, all of us dreaming and waking and seeing
The space between opposites, and in it a fog
That bleeds everywhere and limbs that move
Everywhere and eyes that dart about like gnats
Above the mud—the dull grey space we all
Belong to, the buzzing chaos and the flood
Of vision—nobody can hold it all at once.
I will hold my share, I will love more
Than one thing at a time, I will open
The window and if a stray bullet comes
Fleeing from the street, I hope it hits
The television—let the blue electricity wane.
Not forever—we need the stories, but for
One moment of silence I wish to realize that
I have never really been alone—never
Will be, and if the bullet hits me instead
Of the television, well it was sweet to dance
In the mess of it all—one pair of eyes amidst
Billions, one pair of hands that shared the weight.

Head Cold

A free-writing exercise. 


Walking away from a childhood means
Disabusing oneself of fairy tales:
Happily ever after, monogamous love story,
World where everyone is rich and eats bread
And drinks wine from silver chalices so
Clear you can see yourself in them and you look
Like an angel, by God.
It is thankless work, unfurling the truth.
But it must be done.

Today, my boyfriend goes to a therapy appointment,
Brings back two tarot cards, one says “fearlessness”
And has an illustration of Joan of Arc on the cover.
It makes me think of the time he wore women’s clothes
Out dancing and got the shit kicked out of him
By some neighborhood kids, goddamn fascist America.
I was there, I screamed like an animal pinned
Under the wheel of a car, it was not so fearless
And neither of us were canonized by the Catholic Church.
But then I think of Joan—poor Joan, skin boiling
On a red hot cross, cross-dressed heretic,

Did she feel fearless
Choking on smoke?


My boyfriend’s therapist, he says
Take an icy cold shower and the pain of the
Frigid water pouring down your back will take you
Out of your head, a horrible place to be
When you’re sick, I know.

I stopped talking to therapists after the last one
Told me I had daddy issues—I got so angry
I wrote her a poem, but all it said was
“Men are devils” so it goes.
Still, I think maybe there is some truth
To this business about pain and bodies.
In the shower, I twist the nob right and feel
As the water turns cold over me, but I wonder
If maybe I’ve already failed because my head
Speaks first, in metaphor it says:
“This is the feeling of your lovers abandoning you.”
“This is the feeling of you losing your home.”
“This is the feeling of you driving to work in the dark
Depths of winter” goddamn it isn’t easy,
Or maybe it isn’t the right kind of pain but then
What is?

In bed, I pull the covers over my head, but
I am still freezing so I curse my body:
Why can’t you forget about anything?
I ask or plead or whisper.
Before I fall into sleep, shivering, I see
An image of you, half-dreamt: you are
Naked in the kitchen, making tea
And wiping the wet off your face, shivering.
Why can’t you forget about anything?
You ask or plead or whisper.


You pull the covers over my head—it is as hot
As a June morning in your room, steam
Gathers on the windows—soft damp whitish clouds.
You’re kissing my forehead, saying
I don’t want to fuck this up, and I do
Love the sweetness you give to me, like
Strips of sunlight squeezing in through
Shuttered blinds—I think, yes, that
Therapist was wrong about me and somewhere I bet
She knows it—does she forget about anything?
I also think, walking away from childhood
Means disabusing oneself of fairytales.
In sleep, your chest rises and falls to the beeping
Of a fire alarm, a car zips by and
Suddenly the dark room is full of white
Electricity, and I’m sure soon my alarm
Will ring—I am so scared of the noise
I bury my head in the pillow.
Nothing stays in stillness—what a shame or
Blessing or both at the same time.
What I’ve learned this year is that
Both feels most like neither and repetition
Feels most like nothingness.
I am lonely, yes I admit.
I stare out at the wispy trees, I want
Love that has already placed its bags
In my hallway, I want you to promise me
What you’ve already promised
Again, and again, and again.


Rough justice doled out affectionately.
The New Yorker says that’s what poetry is.
If I publish this, will you think that I don’t
Want you? Don’t think that, wanting
Is a complicated pain, after all.
Layered like the soil—prod one part
Of me and uncover its unique history,
The weight of it all is, perhaps,

Walking away from childhood means
Disabusing oneself from fairy tales which means
Everything I say is true and not true.
Everything I do is honest and not honest.
Is it easy to hold me? I have always wanted to ask
But the sentiment melts on my tongue
Like snow, so I imagine what you might say:
“Yes and no.”
“Yes and no.”


My boyfriend is going back to the therapist,
I guess he liked the tarot cards, and now
There will be time to talk about everything:
The scar on his head that will always be there
Because he wore women’s clothing, the seat
At the table where his mother wept
Into her hands after the divorce, the way I love
Him and someone else, too.

No one has ever told him he has daddy issues
And so I think it must be easier for him,
But that is also part truth, part not truth.
And both those things at once makes truth
Feel pretty flimsy, like tissue paper or
The space between branches.

When I was younger and had never fucked someone
And so had an easier time with therapists
One told me: To walk away from childhood
Means disabusing oneself of fairy tales.
And then she said the first truth:
All of us are broken.
I felt ashamed for having thought, all along
That I was special.


Imagine, a city scape large as New York City,
But all the buildings are cracked and crumbling
Into the street, so that the buildings and the streets
Start looking all the same. How do you separate
One building from the next, or the sky
From the ground? The grass
Is the hair of tombs, so I’ve heard.


In my head but not my body I pull you close
And it is like I am pulling the whole world too
And every pair of eyes is looking up at me
And so I say to them: Don’t you think
That I am leaving, that is not
The whole truth.