September 2008

for you
I’d burn/
/mixed CD after carefully-mixed CD
/hundreds of cell-phone minutes
/hopeful voodoo votive candles
/late-night oil talking about everything, and nothing at all
I’d burn forever for you

because you unlike any other
you make/
/breath stutter as I read handwritten letters
/me smile as I see a streetcar
/innuendos that set me blushing so much I lose my words
/French roll off my tongue (pun intended)
/loving seem easy
/my hands feel empty without you

make me burn, you
together we’ll hold the night until the day’s gone,
wrap up the sun inside our skin
to keep us warm later


This is meant to be performed as a spoken word piece.  It’s based on true conversations with my dad’s mother, known as Mamus in our family.


My grandmother thinks I hate America.

She cried at the dinner table last Thanksgiving because

I believe in a woman’s right to choose,

and because I chose to eat tofu

instead of turkey.  Mamus doesn’t really “get” me:


You’d think it would be
easier, after rattling around this long
with words between my teeth.  But I
haven’t really written love poems before, because
I never thought I’d be qualified
to write convincing ones. All the science
and philosophy in the world and still
the links between my body and emotions remain cloudy:
anger is seldom more
than a slow biting burn behind my eyelids while
sadness means a slower step, and it took
an embarrassingly long time to figure out
what lust felt like.  So forgive me now
if I can’t tell you
all about rapid heartbeats or lovelorn sighs, since
the only things that make my hands shake
are hurricanes and too much coffee, and rationality
still has its cold grip on me.  As much
as I admire your passion, flashing bright
like a bird and trembling strong, I’m only
learning how to let myself go.  My whole
life I’ve loved heights, but the prospect of
falling tends to keep my feet
fearfully on solid ground. But if you ask me, I will leap
and soar with you, against the pull of reason’s
gravity; I will struggle
to untie my tongue and describe the pulse
and flow of every molecule within me, shimmering
golden at the thought
of you.  Let me try
to write the kind of poems I’ve never
attempted, for the one who could unlock these doors
between love and corporality.  Smile now
because you deserve more glimmering words
than I can give you
a thousand pages after I begin.

…speaking with conviction.  It should not matter

what my gender is

the color of my hair, skin, accent

or whether I’m wearing the right kind of

flag lapel pin.  I could shout into

a bullhorn mic or whisper

quiet as the night when the wind is low

but you would still hear me

absorb every syllable, and know that

I mean it.  I will no longer be afraid

to use academic vocabulary–I refuse

to pretend I don’t remember

or understand, when I’ve actually known these words

by heart for years

I just lacked the conviction to

make them clear.

the last time I saw

next on the left

we all watched in surprise

let’s take a look

couldn’t believe my eyes



want to see

more clearly, pluck these little synthetic discs out

from under my eyelids and still be able

to trace every leaf on the trees

down the street.  I’m no Cassandra,

wasn’t cursed with a vision brighter than anyone’s

burning eyes can bear, though

maybe I rubbed that sand into my cornea a little too hard

back when I was four and had to take a trip

from the sandbox to the ER.  maybe I’m a bit oblivious

or slow to catch on sometimes, but I’d like to share a glimpse

of what it is you see in me

that makes you want to call and write

late-night facebook messages, why you noticed

of all things, these imperfect eyes

the last time I saw you

Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, which are difficult to keep in the dark cold anyway, I like to make self-improvement changes at the beginning of the school year.  Since this is my last year of college, I want to come up with some good ones.  Suggestions are welcome.

Buy a daily planner and calendar.

Use daily planner and calendar.

Procrastinate less.

Do stretching exercises at least three times a week.

Cook dinner with friends at least once a week.

Drink less coffee/beer/bourbon.  Drink more milk and that orange juice with calcium in it.

Stop worrying about grades.

Worry about quality of paper-writing instead.

Spend money on frivolous things every once in a while, instead of saving it all.

Cite my sources.

Participate/volunteer in the community more.

Eat tofu.

Ride my bike.

Learn how to fix my bike myself.

Spend time with the people I like the most.

Call home at least once a week.

Don’t let SDS take over my life/spare time.

Learn Spanish.  Speak French.

Buy food at the farmer’s market, especially apples.

Take better care of my mind and body.  Sleep at least eight hours a night.

Tell my friends and family how much they mean to me.

Listen more.

Do required reading for class.  Not all of it, but enough to make class discussions valuable.

Wash my dishes promptly.

Visit New Orleans.

Really commit to the groups I’m in, like GNO, Students for a Democratic Society, Queer Alliance, WORD, Sexual Assault Task Force,  Students for Choice.

Consider quitting one of those groups, so I have more time.

Buy a soccer ball, get back to playing soccer again.

Write, watch movies, doodle.


It’s a good start.  Hopefully this year will be a good one!


is the largest organ of the human body

keeps out infection

the air and sun’s harmful rays

subject to pin-pricks, papercuts and politics

…sometimes I’m surprised

by the number of dark holes that have appeared

like memories upon my skin

not freckles, but moles

am I more fragile now or have I just lived enough years

to hold memory on this body

there is so much surface to cover, a canvas wide enough

to tell a lifetime upon it

the integumentary system contains layers

of overlapping cells

skin condemns the wearer

to all kinds of assumptions

it can be deadly, in the wrong place–cancer

isn’t the skin’s only danger

my mother complains about the spots appearing

now on the back of her hands, but

they remind me of her playing the piano

pushing a lawnmower

skins are what we build to hold

stories inside of them, and I want

to read what’s written across your shoulders

like Braille bumps to blind fingers, seeking…

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