dear san diego / eyeliner mustache

despite the way
i woke up
with a certain stuffed brown bear
folded into my sleepwarm self
while i said
lord bless this city

when i heard the rainsounds
pattering on the neigbor’s  specklegray roof tiles

and despite
the lightning
slicing sky
the way free ways
slice your geography

and despite you
and your year-round glory
of temperatures
averaging in the sunny 70’s

and despite the fact
that i can sometimes
detect the ocean salt
carried in your air

and despite
a backyard garden
green with the likes of lushness
i have rarely seen before

i hate you.

i hate your pot holed and crackling streets
i hate your unrelenting half angry cars
i hate your overpriced food
i hate how since arriving
my main occupation
has been
cleaning up everyone else’s mess
i hate your 8-hour stoplights
i hate your styrofoam leftover containers
i hate your two or three bike lanes
i hate your lack of adequate bike racks
i hate your one co-op in a city of three million people
i hate your military jets
their razor sharp sonics
slitting ears and
shredding sky
to hamburger meat
i hate your tiny
back yard dogs
i hate
your palm tree
colonizers of the horizon

(if i truly hated this city
as in
have to get the hell out
i would not have been able to write this
this is an exercise
of working the hate out
so it becomes
almost manageable
and soon
or altogether


let us not forget
the mustache moment
of 2010

at the open mic
that felt so much like a smyrc event
only with less glitter and rainbows

a man
goes on and on
about how he can’t stand
the feel of a woman’s mustache
when they kiss
and how
he implores her
to bleach it
wax it
take it off
is called
spoken word)

several performers later
it’s my turn
my poem retrieved from allie’s car
i begin
by telling the audience
i have a minor emergency
and ask
if anyone
has any mascara
or eyeliner
and the possiblity seems bleak
until a woman
comes up to the mic
digging through her purse
triumphantly producing
her green eyeliner

will you draw a mustache on me

i ask
and she does

and then i go on
to inform my fellow performer
(mustache man)
that one of the greatest things
we can do
as artists
is dialogue
with each others’  work

and then i go on
to tell
the entire audience
that their bodies
are perhaps
the most amazing gift
they’ve been given
and no matter
what kind of body it is
it is beautiful
and  it is perfect

descending one bluetiled step at a time

1. another
in a series of broken things
sponsored by ucsd:
desk barely balancing on three legs
(other broken things include:
two staplers in the copy room
and a pencil sharpener
that chews insteaed of whittles)

2. today has been brought to you
by a bright blue pool
filled with clear chlorinated water
a pair of goggles dating back to the 1980s
and the smell
of someone else’s

3. woman
with bags of ice on her shoulders
moves from poolside lounging
to the whirlpool
one bluetiled step
at a time

4. this one
is navy blue with tiny white dots
one of many
from the dress collection

5. the way
things can feel
more safe
when a door is closed
and everything on the inside
is soft

6. we learn
who to bring cookies or plants
who to say yes yes to
who loves to talk about animals

7. when the room
is even smaller
the unkindness of flourescent light
even more apparent

8. number of times
since this quarter has begun
that i’ve checked out of my body:
approximately 2 ½
number of methods
i have employed
to bring myself back home:

some methods include water
one includes hand-me-down running shoes
and another includes
collapsing flat and limbsplayed
on industrial office carpeting
until the air
entering and exiting these lungs
becomes the air
entering and exiting my whole self

9. a rip
fabric frayed
in a vertical line
the upper arm of a woman i don’t know
but i overheard her
talking about
how you can bike forever
on the flat streets of chicago
and later
she also used the words

powerUp, MFA’s. we got this shit down.

1. with full tires
and sun
diffused and forgiving
might be the day
of conquering
this new set of streets

2. i observe a snack of
cool ranch chips
and doctor pepper

3. transitioning
from marx’s essay on estranged labor
(where labor alienates humans from themselves on several levels)
to talking about
how the 50th anniversary edition of ginsberg’s howl
is cheapest
plus free shipping
from amazon

4. which is to say
don’t be confused
i also bought books
from amazon
cringing the whole time
and asking
my favorite independent feminist not-for-profit bookstore back home
to forgive me

5. first
i teach jennifer
the secret powerup handshake
in the fern and concrete-lined courtyard
i teach it to allie
leaning against hallway walls
on the first floor

the secret handshake
like a public service announcement
to the mfa class of 2012

powerUp MFA’s
we got this shit down

6. the root
of the word
derives from
the greek word for uterus
because once
someone decreed
that the uterus detached
from it’s place
in the woman’s body
and when that uterus went wandering
all hysterical hell
broke loose

7. the farce
of such grandiosity

8. from hand to hand
we pass around a loofah
we pass around a pink eraser

9. it’s been said
the piling-on of adjectives
is a sign of weak writing

10. for the fourth time today
the word footnotes
comes up
and all of a sudden
i am fascinated
a distant relative
of the catalogue.)

11. tomorrow
we enter
a new relationship
with water
sometimes chlorinated
sometimes salted

12. last night
the gaffers
were bang on
sounding train whistles
in two cities
at once
and then
the same
with ambulence/police/fire sirens
but tonight
with my head in the pantry
they’re taking a break

we are all in the process of understanding

1. awake at 7
tracing pink across sky
out south window
from the edges of east to west
remnants of anxiety dream sequence #621

2. florence and the machine
coming in over the freeway hum
for all-day sundays
where intentions took us
as far as the wild mustang desert of eastern oregon
and where
got us as far
as the thai place
on alberta and 30th
which was ok
because all we had to do
to find wild mustangs
was crack each other open

3. san diego
no one makes me sweat like you
on a 90degree day
sunheat refracting off a thousand
benevolent and angry cars
by degrees
with each exchange
between metal and cement

4. unplanned accessorizing:
maroon baseball cap
maroon arm band
maroon socks

5. between shuttle and and student center
kid rolls past
in a charlie brown tshirt
on a long board
aplogizing to the man stepping off the bus
that he almost clipped

6. beyond the set of metal blinds dark with dust
a window
opened onto the construction site
of a new parking lot

7. when he said
about taking on the writing series
he should have said
you’ve inherited a mess

8. there is the feeling
of being herded
when it comes to
boarding buses and
waiting in winding corner store lines
and then
there is the overwhelm
of the assignment
of one book of theory
per week

9.  i am so grateful
for the voice that asked
what if i don’t understand it
what if i’m way out in left field?

to which
the golden response was
we are all in the process of understanding

10. a voice
low and resonant
contradicting mountains of anxiety
that stops the whole room
for one half of a second

11. though the broken downness
tells me
to climb home and collapse
all of the buzzing
tells me
to run it off

after rounds about the baseball diamonds
arms sweatshimmering
migraine de-escalated
body wins
brain wins
bones heart cartilage

12. a single firefly
in the eucalyptus of balboa park
or maybe
it was a moth
in the light

13. and on the phone
in no particular order
you reinforce
what my body has just taught me:

you are whole already
yr not just cartilage, yr bone
this is for real
it’s saltwater

every moment that’s hard for you
is your scar tissue
growing stronger

yr language
is the most comfortable home
i’ve ever been in

14. oh
and how could i forget
the bowerbirds
the bowerbirds
the bowerbirds
the bowerbirds
the bowerbirds

san diego sky vs. portland sky, portland sky wins

1. in the dream
there was some kind of forest ranger office
down a lone street
yet a short walk
from home
perhaps there was a public pool
and airplanes landing outside
perhaps it was part-library
and half-closed
perhaps i was sneezing in the hallway
on my way out the door
a scarf wrapped around my neck
against the sundown chill of early fall

2. today’s shoulder muscles
telling yesterday’s story
of seaside cliff scramble

3. bloody sunday
crimson tide washing in
daws a clearing
in your emo haze

4. in the time it takes
to hang tshirts
and hankies
on the line
the floral cotton sheet
dries all the way through

5. the  cashier
at albertson’s
juggling the two limes i set down on the conveyer belt
while we wait
for my debit card to clear

6. overheard near the velodrome
in balboa park:
wayne’s world!
it’s the first VHS i ever owned!

7. the ink-smell
of a brand new ribbon
spooled into a cursive typewriter

8. san diego sky vs. portland sky
portland sky wins
hands down
every time
(it’s the clouds)

9. the glisten of a stranger’s sweat
on the curve of his calves
as he runs past under an orange park light

10. coronado bridge
white against pink sky
ghosts of two hills/mountains
rising in the background

11. this is a shout-out
to felice and pam
in the basil patch
while tyler
sends pictures
in real time

12. tonight
the air remains warm
long after the sun has dipped down
to rise
on the other side
of the earth

13. give me that humble broken body
she says
that strong able body
that everchanging shiftUp magicMargin body
put it on mine
let it go

the moon rising huge and lopsided in both of our cities

1. in the name of the archive and busted phones
i send
and re-send

2. in the name of bending the space-time continuum
i am
on felice’s porch
yellow raspberries on the tips of my fingers
like beanies
the needles
laid out and waiting
the black nitrile gloves
in a metal tin

3. i switch out tennis shoes for sandals
and opt for crumbling yellow sand stone
instead of the wooden steps

4. negative ocean ions
releasing themselves
at our ankles
with each crash of crested wave

5. giving myself over
to tidal pullings
i wash
into shore
this trust
deeper than bone

5. two san diego transplants
from brooklyn
and portland, or
laid out on the beach
moss green one piece
black top pink bottoms
identities of what we aren’t
rather than what we are

6. and then we discover
our desire to lapswim
our overlapped activist histories
her adventurous leanings
luring me out of
my tiny fears

7. a.m. arrives
bright blue
and three pages long
the pumpkin brew chronicles

8. jp
new work in hands
spanish like velvet
in his mouth

9. lester’s niece
legs dangling from bench
drawing out three kinds of balloons:

10. homecoming
in five parts:
oceansalt on skin
thomas’s gentlesweet brilliance
the imperfections of a d.i.y. independent art space
family to family hugs from lester and jp
the moon rising huge and lopsided in both of our cities

pocketpals to infinity

1. i wake
to a sunspilled bed
filled with books
and a bear
that wears a handkerchief

2. stirring
almond slices
and fresh-cut pear
into waffle batter
just after i stir in the cinnamon
and nutmeg

3. after a morning
of time management struggle
and tripping into the endless pit of the internet
i try
while alleywalking
saying nice things to myself
it feels so much softer to say
are doing a good job
look! you are pulling through
in a strange new place
you are finding your way

than to listen to the usual remorse
how i haven’t done anything
or how i’m using my time badly or wasted it altoghter

4. pink nalgene
to the top plus ice
with herbal berry tea

5. richard and i
pick up where we left off
last friday
i tell him about wisconsin
and he asks why i don’t have an accent

6. piano sounds
spilling out the open doors
of trinity united methodist church
as i walk past

7. zach
places the keys
white white black white black white white
into his piano project
while i listen to classical music
on what i thought was public radio
and slice

8. igotyou yougotme
pocketpals to infinity
around mindight is when we’ll gather
to create the clapping portion
of this handshake song

9. an ache
for every joint
but especially
my ankles

10. kaya and i
do our best
to emulate the 1930’s
we make do with what we’ve got
a tie
a vest
some boots
a skirt
and fishnet tights

11. sometime
i want to throw a party
that emulates your dream:

we had to be codebreakers

1. redbrown earth sand
of balboa park
under my running shoes
i feel like
i could go on

2. three brown bottles
of river water
imported from pacific northwest summer
placed in southfacing sill

3. spanish spoken
at the shuttle stop
on the sidewalk
at the corner store five blocks from my house

4. bus rolls past a building named
the magnetic research institute
at the medical center
i wonder
what the hell
does that even mean

5. just in case you’re wondering
there is a street named sea world drive
and you can get to it
off an exit
on the strip of I-5
that runs between
hillcrest and
la jolla

6. and, p.s.,
the first time i ever heard of the name
la jolla
i read it as la joe-la
in a black and white ad
for a weightloss camp
in the back of a teen magazine

7. the next two years
a series of instances
on busses
and in classrooms
where i find
that my feet don’t touch the floor

8. you seem pretty self confident
rae says
explaining why she summoned me
to problem solve the projection system

9. when we were toddlers
we had to be codebreakers

she says
i think poetry can take us back to that place

10. on our walk away from center hall
we discuss how
that the average speaking speed
is about 180 words per minute
and she speaks 220

11. my intuition
takes me
to the bridge
that spans the busy entrance road below
and directly
to the building i am seeking
room 300a
site of my first
34 student class

12. over here
science mixed with sunset
the haunt of bioengineering buildings
in the background
the cool and salt of ocean
wrapping itself around my hair
it isn’t until i turn the corner
just after dusk
that the moon
slams me in my frame
in the midst of all this transition mess
there’s no way
i’d even let you forget about me

13. two pocket pals
talking about
the simultaneous inspirations of
a whole wall
with your sky pictures

there are certain things i refuse to do alone

1. i am helmeted and straddling
clyde (the bike)
at 7:45 in the morning
at the stoplight at university and park
woman pulls up next to me
on a scooter
and we exchange helmeted hellos
this is one way
of knowing you are with me
the other two ways occur when
paused several stoplights later
after having taken different routes
she shouts over two lanes of traffic
which way did you take?
wanting to know which is faster
and then
blocks later
while i round the corner
to the shuttle stop
she comes walking out of the parking garage
to the hospital
and shouts hello
i would get on my bike at 7:45 every morning
to have this kind of camaraderie/ biker/scooter solidarity

2. on the bus
adrienne says the word non-monogamy
then polyamory
and later
i say the word zine
and in the worlds we came from
these words are staples like salt
but here
on the campus shuttle
hurtling north on the i-5
where traffic is five wide lanes
these words
are secret
convincing us
if we try hard enough
we’ll figure out
at least one friend
we have in common

3. the jackknifing
it is
too much

4. for the first time
i see an amazon kindle
in someone’s hands
i sneak peeks
when they aren’t looking
and i see that it is indeed
not backlit
which makes them less horrible
than i have thought

5. diving
into a sea
of union shirts
that read
“Educate! Agitate! Organize!”

6. in line
for our complimentary pastries
i meet another frankie
she’s from the vis arts program
and has a great grayblack hair
and a bulky shoulder bag

7. the smell
of newly sharpened pencils
on my fingers

8. to whoever you are
wherever you are
reading this right now:
you no longer need to apologize
for who you are
what you do
where you come from
in fact
you never needed to apologize in the first place

9. an email
to the queeruption list
from days ago
i refuse to delete it
not because of the content
but because the name that comes up on the email
is shadow wranglers

10. there are certain things
like going out to eat
or watching dvd movies
that i refuse to do

this great distance

1. dreams:
(one) a last minute invitation
to install a piece
somewhere prestigious
like the art institute
i spend hours
building layer upon layer of ink
on some huge black piece of paper
hanging from the wall
in my brain and half-dark
it looks brilliant
but at the show itself
the ink can barely be seen
and the woman curating it
hung up some of my old work
that i would never show in public

we are on the outskirts of the community
gravel road before us
and every night
from here
one can see the animals
come out before sleep
they roll down
from the top of the hill
a horse
a bear
a monkey
an elephant
the bear a jokester
hamming it up cartoon circus sideshow style
with subtle ironic finesse
still visible from this great distance
the four of us
laughing in disbelief

2. after i call out good morning
to the kitchen
rain asks if i want any crepes
and then if i want any drapes

3. one knife in a jar of nutella
the other
slicing through banana
between un and over ripe

4. kaya in a shredded sweaterscrap vest
that was once whole
before it got caught
in her spokes

5. owl (the chicken)
doesn’t fuss
when kaya reaches to pick her up
and hold her
in the crook of her elbow

6. their back yard
has tiny green bananas on the trees
a patch of mint
and grapes
vining up along the side fence
their back yard
some kind of peace offering
in this unforgiving
of spread out concrete

7. coop lid propped up with a 1 x 2
while i reach in
with a plastic kids rake
scraping shit and feathers

8. kaya hands me one egg
and then the other
still warm
in my cupped hands

9. unpacking the dresser drawers
the discovery of  glass bottles

slid into socks
nestled in underwear
uncovering forgotten treasures i buried myself weeks ago

10. ideas about making art
ideas about conducting and publishing research
at the kitchen table
under the broad topic of  how capitalism kills

11. i recall
a sign
at an immigrant rights march
that a woman of color
held up into the air over our heads
it read
i clean your office
(i grow your food
i do your laundry)

12. the photo of you in your stripey dress
and velcro shoes with the swoosh
and holding up your masters of the universe lunch box
in kindergarten
is my favorite

13. something about the
the graycool outdoors
plus the hum of the dryer
and the smell of onions and garlic
rising from the heated and oiled cast iron
is serious
in full effect

14. she says
it’s starting to rain outside
and i
hungry for the life force of water
in this asphalt sprawl of a palmtree place
descend the stairs
lifting bare limbs
as offerings
to the opening sky

15. no offense
but i mostly don’t believe
in other peoples love affairs