in a time of superstorms

fog diptych

from our gathering around the outdoor tables
we see it sifting into the trees
thick and rolling through the eucalyptus tops
what is that!?
alborz asks
it’s fog
we say
(and then there is the mad bee
swarming our pizza
weaving in and out of our limbs
such a tiny thing
to raise such a ruckus
followed by a raven swooping down from the roof
and when i say raven i mean
you should see the size of that beak
the hunch of its shoulders)
if samhain isn’t two days away
i don’t know what is
spirits tendriling everywhere

fog so thick
my bike light a solid beam reaching out in front of me
eyelashes and cheeks
wet with accumulation
and when i roll over the valley
i am biking
through clouds


while the east coast sits in power-outtage darkness
and cuba and haiti are counting their dead
we cross our fingers
we send wishes of buoyancy, light, healing and hope
we think about hospitals and the number of steps that must be surmounted
we send messages eastward saying
we are with you


what does it mean
to be alive in a time
when the word storm
no longer cuts it
yes, what does it mean
to be alive in a time
of superstorms


i am still attempting to articulate
what to tell people
when they congratulate me
for looking so much younger than i am
which feels something akin
to being congratulated
for looking skinny-ish

star slicing

the man at the hummus stand says
oh! but you look like you’re turning 25!!!
when i tell him about the number 37
waiting to greet me on tuesday
i have become so used to hearing this
i say i know, i know
it is not really our words talking to each other though
it is the light in our eyes
i get the feeling
he’s also been called younger than his age often
and i think about it
for most of the walk home
what allows me this glow
the privelege
the unnammed phenomenon
of being able to be a child
during childhood
which is part of what kate named in me
and how clearly she could see it
like a star slicing through sky
her vision shaped by a childhood home infused with violence

how sounds ricochet
through this almost-empty house


things i will miss:
the sound of bells
attached to the ice-cream cart handlebar
pushed past our house
towards balboa park


are you seeing this moon
her text says
around pink/blue sky time
and as a matter of fact
i was seeing that moon
but stepped back out
for another look


wherein bartleby and i
become skilled
at directing a 20-foot uhaul truck
while kaya locates us in the mirrors

we made so many friends today!!!
i yell in the cab on our way home
in the middle seat between k and b
shortly after our somebody i used to know sing-along
hurtling towards sunset
and it is because
we have become good at
waving at people
while we get in their way
and there is a kind of joy in this
that i can’t name
but it is something like being in a parade
and something like being a band on tour
and something like moving across the country with a lover you don’t know well enough to be moving across the country with but you do anyway because it just feels right
no, it feels better than right, it feels alive

the miramar landfill (aka: the dump)
looks like any other checkpoint
with gates that close at 4
and booths lining each lane in
and the best part
is when the woman in the booth tells kaya
there’s no way we’ll make it back before 4
because we have to drive back out and leave the 5 gallon buckets of paint
on the other side of the gate
because kaya doesn’t take no for an answer
but rather as something to push against
so we drop me off
to babysit the buckets
on a gas station sidewalk
while k and b sail in
at 3:59
and the woman
who so doubtfully and resolutly told us
there’s no way we’d make it back
came to our defense
with the gate-man
and posed with kaya for a photo
because i told k and b
i’d babysit the buckets
as long as they promised to take photos

this is for you
for showing up
on a busy day
between the thrift store and a wedding
this is for you
and how we hold on
with garden dirt on our skin
and the things i planted ripped from earth in our hands


a day of extraordinary moving
we carried everything
so hard
our biceps looked different when we flexed them at night
from when we flexed them in the morning
we bore scratches on our calves
our forearms
we bloomed bruises on our thighs
our shoulders
we stayed up too late
and went to bed exhausted
our bones like clappers
percussing against our strike-point skin

orange coveralls

lia arrives
like a ray of light
steps into the bathroom to get into orange coveralls
steps back out
and assesses the situation
box stacks and
we could get this in two loads
no problem
she says
and then
in bare feet
seems to carry everything
on the tip of a finger
like a basketball player with a spinning ball
i wouldn’t say fairygodmother
because that sounds too matronly
but i might say something like
queen of capability


wait, that still exists!?
i ask
when she talks about going in to vote on the sixth
i thought it had all just been turned into paper/mail-in ballots
(gradeschool memory
of dad coming home a little bit late
in beige trench and rain boots
[floppy rubber zipped over dress shoes]
from a patriotic detour to the  high school cafeteria
(red terra cotta-ish tiled floors)
where the machines lined the south wall
rubbing his always cold hands together
as we sit for dinner in the early onset of dark)

from russia with love

today i tell my students
it’s kindof a toss-up about having a stand-in on tuesday, my birthday
(which means i get to play hooky)
because i like them
(so why wouldn’t i want to spend the day with them?)
and i honestly do like them
especially this week
when on tues
i woke up hating everything
(which is unusual for me but it makes sense
following a weekend of fever and
all the sleep i never caught up on)
i hated the loud voices in the kitchen before 8am
i hated all the cars on the road on my bike ride to the shuttle
i hated the wind against me
i hated crossing paths with another human before i was fully awake
i hated walking to room 206
but we (my students and i) spend the next hour laughing
and each one brings me light

today i asked them to guess how old i was turning
25 was their youngest guess
and 89 their oldest


a hurricane with my mom’s name
took 20 people as it tore through
and jamaica
delivering strong winds and fallen trees
while fukushima’s fish are still contaminated
and greece gets investment from russia with love

room 355, literature building, wednesdays, 1-3:50

i want to take the pressure off
and up the ante at the same time
for your writing

dr. childs says
glass tea mug on the table in front of him
paradox can be productive
flow charts is now the official language
the university speaks in
he says
and follows up with this statistic:
6.5% of university funding
(pays professors, TAs, work-study positions)
comes from the state
i want to keep lament front and center
he says

and then a photo of legs clothed in convict stripes
boots chained together at the ankle
from 1996
in arizona
this is not a performance art piece
these are women prisoners
lined up from estrella jail outside pheonix

orchestrated by
joe arpaio (the self-titled toughest sheriff in america)
the same sheriff
that set up a tent city as an extension of the maricopa county jail
and used the words concentration camp to describe it
when the temperature in pheonix hit 118° F
the temperature inside tent city measured 145 °F
where the fans near the inmates beds weren’t working
and their shoes melted from the heat
to which arpaio responded
it’s 120 degrees in irag and the soldiers
living in tents have to wear full body armor
and they didn’t commit any crimes
so shut your mouths
while overlooking the fact that the majority of the inmates
within tent city have not been convicted
they are merely awaiting a trial

news of bruises

they’re all robots
wayne says
so they all have to be fabulous
that’s key: being fabulous


i know it’s true that if you sit in the same spot long enough
a leaf is bound to fall on you
(if there are trees around)
but this
is uncanny


corinne’s g-chat
(when i _______ will you get me this bed made of pure gold as a _______?)
has me laughing
in the middle of a meeting


lia and i trade news of bruises
rising from saturday’s armoire antics

and in today’s photos:
clashes in beirut – security forces fire tear gas
south korean military line up riotcop style in state of alert
smashed windows at a libyan television station
police firing tear gas in kosovo
i have been watching these bbc day in pictures posts for a while now
and never have i seen so many
about political protest/conflict
in one post
which makes me wonder
if it is sprouting/ blooming/tendriling
more densely than usual
or an editorial slant

there was also this:
a shooting at a beauty spa in brookfield wisconsin which is a 10 minute drive from the house i grew up in


william’s 24th birthday
and because it is a dinner party
just down the hall
i throw on the sequin dress
and heels

wherever you go/whoever you are with
you bring light
i say
and my wish for you is that your light
grows brighter

and then we pass the apple crisp

and then
the recurring jokes arrive and re arrive
being endorsed by how-to-tie-a-tie dot com
and potluck booty (better than a buffet)


at the shuttle stop
the orange street light
brings out the shine in joe’s eyes
as we talk about heart/break/up

it is like having sensory cutoff
he says
after so many months/years of
seeing/hearing/understanding the world
through someone else
and suddenly
no longer having access
to that vision
those sounds

it’s a shame
i say
how the media (bad movies, radio pop, etc)
cheapen and flatten it
when really
it is grief
down through all our layers and back up again
and how from that grief
we are able to connect deeper
to the details, the wonder of life/the world
in a way
that nothing else can get us close to
a kind of non-discriminatory ripping open

whose idea was it
i joke
this whole breakup concept
which has me thinking about how i remember someone once saying
that knees
are just a bad design

and even though i am not in the midst of a breakup
all it takes is mentioning
in order to find my own grief
so near the surface
like an echo
or chain
or the collection of water circles that grow out from each other from a fish-jump or rock-toss
one ripping-open a reference to every ripping open
including the one
where i wrote lists
of all the things that had to be buried
(things that no longer live
when collaborators are no longer in collaboration)
because they could not thrive in this body