Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Meeting Molly Bolt at Age 28

Due to the glorious fact that James gave me a large number of his books before moving to Portland, I have more critical race theory and GLBTQ resources in my library. Praise be to G-d. One of the books that he gave to me is "Rubyfruit Jungle" by Rita Mae Brown. I just finished reading it, cover to cover, in less than 24 hours. Yes, I am unemployed and have more time to read than usual. However, it's good enough for the average employed person to do some necessary task re-assigning in order to plow through the pages with ferocity. I could go into all kinds of author crediting and content acclaiming but I figure that most folks who check in with my blog have already read "Rubyfruit Jungle" and therefore already know the noise that need be known. Instead I'd like to profess how deeply sad I am that it took 28 years for this book to find my hands, eyes, mind and heart. All these years my skepticism of gender conformity and the tyranny of monogamy have been met with shaming response. I cannot imagine how different my life would be today if Molly Bolt had been the protagonist par excellance of my life instead of Juliet Capulet or Huck Finn.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

as time rolls on, the way, my appreciation
incrementally increases
for the unfolding of expected things that,
though expected, still surprise me with their
novelty--an awe and wonder producing novelty.

things like
seasons, but particularly the Fall which descends
and moves by the sound of wind-pushed leaves
harmonizing with sidewalks anticipating rain.
these leaves promise to flame before being extinguished
and i love that in the way of surprise silencing expectation.


then there are those relationships that flame
without any signal of extinction in sight,
relationships generously laboring on behalf of survival and pleasure,
ones that flip and flop, and sometimes remain sideways for what seems
like years, but do the work of familiarity and recognition
and tender gracing without asking permission for one simple reason:
they've earned that privilege,
which isn't really a privilege, but the incessantly moving mode of salvation
woven through moments where need and availability collide.
those relationships i love too, in the way of surprise silencing expectation.


there are those moments when something simultaneously smaller and grander
than seasons and beloveds
takes a glimpse of itself,
and though it has glimpsed itself before in moments just like this,
the beholding right now feels all/together new and desiring,
so deeply penetrating and non-conforming,
so rich in flavor and vague in mystery
one cannot help but muster the courage to remain open to surprise,
to play the fool in this life of sequence.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Seasonal Memory

By Martha Tamburrano (a.k.a my momma!)

This is the season of dying,
This October
When the crop no longer lifts its head
To greet the sun,
But offers the harvest and droops,
Bending its face to the ground.

This October, this time
Of bounty, of unutterable beauty
Yet filled with loss and mourning.

This October, when you, whom we loved
Exhaled your last breath
So quietly we were not quite sure
If you were still there.

This October, like you when you left,
Moves inexplicably toward the night of winter
Cold, dark and barren
Save the Narcissus bud
Pushing its way through the earth.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Sometimes I get so thirsty
that getting to water feels like the
mediating possibility between life and death.

Is that how G-d feels in those moments
when we refuse to pay attention?


Tonight a neighbor in blue adidas shorts and a white muscle tank
jogged by while his son, wearing a light-bulbed helmet,
peddled with ferocity in order to keep pace.
Struck by the smallness of the child,
the vulnerability of space between them
and the lack of street lights, I took a deep breath
and wondered, with far reaching skepticism if I could
ever trust the world enough to get pregnant.
I thought of you, in that moment, and questioned if that’s
why you’re childless and still mothering the world
at age 75.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I will keep putting words to images until this grief lends itself to silence.

” … And the way one can find oneself strewn
so inattentively across life, across time.
Those who touch us, those whom we touch,
we hold them or we let them go
as though it were such a small matter.”

C.K. Williams

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Portland Bound

An early departure,
you left this morning at 6 a.m.
with a packed car,
tears from my eyes still moist on your neck.
We didn't even make love last night,
just let our bodies touch
skin to skin, a final time.
There are some zones too sacred
to enter in the face of upcoming loss.
It's now 11:00 a.m.
and though those tears dried up hours ago
the candle in my room is still lit.
If anything, you taught me how to grieve,
how true love never sits it out, not even
when it feels like hell to p(l)ay.
So I keep the wick aflame in order
to symbolize that which lingers and burns,
materializing the lessons
you so generously provided before driving away.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

World Take Note

"You cannot make love to concrete
if you care about being
non-essential wrong or worn thin
if you fear ever becoming
diamonds or lard
you cannot make love to concrete
if you cannot pretend
concrete needs your loving

from "Making Love to Concrete" by Audre Lorde

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dear Grandma:

Peace be with you. Now and everlasting.

I do not believe in the afterlife so I write this letter for the remnants of your soul still spinning and searching for freedom within the bodies of your descendants, most specifically the parts of you pumping through the veins of your daughter (my mother) and her daughter (yours truly). I write this letter because I want you to know some things. I want to affirm some things for her and for me, for you beloved womyn.

First off: we are doing the work. Please know this. We are doing the work of liberation through sitting and sifting and shifting. We have taken the struggles of gender formation, consumption, religious freedom and sexual development and made them our own. You gave us this task and in many ways we are doing this work because you could not for lack of resources, support, for the lack of possibilities womyn had during your time to carve out lives of justice and equality for themselves. I grieve the lack of possibilities you had, grieve this in bodied life. I see the eclipse of possibility playing itself in how hard we both struggle today, my mother and I, to find place and purpose in the systems of domination and death you encountered full throttle and we continue to confront (although the struggles look and feel different today). I pray for compassion in the face of our struggle. My mom is a warrior. I am a warrior. Thank you for giving life to that.

Secondly: when we get tired of the work, when it feels too exhausting, too overwhelming and too sad there is always the chance that we'll stop and give up. But we haven't. Over the years we have taken it upon ourselves to push on, to press against one another in loving ways so that your healing might unfold in the infinite web of relations we've consciously and unconsciously weaved. This means our romance lives, our food intake, our religious devotion and our bodily becoming host the work of redemption. There was so much body deprivation. When we exercise instead of remain stagnant, we are setting you free. There was so much silencing. When we refuse to stay quiet and exercise power in boardrooms, town hall meetings, our partnerships and with one another, we are unlocking your legacy. There was so much religious control. When we find rituals that fit our truth instead of blindly submitting to authorities that lie about divinity, we honor your presence among us. There was so much secrecy and discrediting of mental health. When we open in therapy and pour our guts into shared vulnerable space, often relinquishing comfort and security for the promise of wholeness, we place power together which includes you over the fear-based individualism that kept you suffocated and locked up. There was so much biblical interpretation that produced hatred of skin. When we dare to love our bodies, instead of starving them or outsourcing their pleasure to idols, when we take joy in the flesh instead of paying allegiance to texts that would shame it, we are loving you. There was so much rigidity, so much scarcity and lack. When we refuse to be sex objects or materialistic robots to the ominous forces of capitalism, we remember you and honor you. This is not easy work. We get tired and we fuck up. Please see the exhaustion and weariness, not as signs of burden, but as proof of our commitment to you. This work takes extraordinary discipline; it is our gift to you.

Third: This work is not just for us. This work is for the world: for all the people we currently see, hear, work with and love. This work is for those we've never encountered but might be impacted by the ripple effect that happens when anyone, anywhere takes it upon themselves to heal and to show up in this world alive, not dead, not dying but alive and living. And this work is for G-d, the creating, redeeming and sustaining power that holds all of us in everlasting arms, a G-d who held you and holds us no matter the mountains in need of move. This G-d will take your pain, our work and a future full of potential for Her own. She will resurrect the eclipsed possibilities of your life and make a way in our lives, in the lives of those to come and we will be saved. Most importantly, this saving work will continue. There was no official beginning to the struggle; I'm sure your suffering came from a bloodline beyond your recollection. There will be no end to this saving work because grace is real and we are willing. You can rest, now, in peace because we know that grace is real and we are willing to live.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve

and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,

let's not speak any language,

let's stop for one second,

and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,

without hurry, without locomotives,

all of us would be together

in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea

would do no harm to the whales

and the peasant gathering salt

would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,

wars of gas, wars of fire,

victories without survivors,

would put on clean clothing

and would walk alongside their brothers

in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn't be confused

with final inactivity:

life alone is what matters,

I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren't unanimous

about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,

perhaps a great silence would

interrupt this sadness,

this never understanding ourselves

and threatening ourselves with death,

perhaps the earth is teaching us

when everything seems to be dead

and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve

and you keep quiet and I'll go.

-from Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon

Translated by Stephen Mitchell