telltale signs of a backcountry desert excursion

in which a group of 12 strangers
(well, to get technical, 2 pairs of people already know each other plus a third knows one of the pairings)
strap their packs to the top of a van
and climb in

telltale signs of a  backcountry desert excursion:
bright orange plastic hand shovels with a bottle of hand sanitizer duct taped to the handle
plastic bags for used toilet paper
long bright  white sleeved shirt
brimmed hats
laced-up hiking boots, wool socks underneath
five gallon plastic jerry can (this one happens to be bright blue)
maps in plastic bags
lanyards with orange whistles hanging off
dried mango
granola bar extravaganza

map and compass


map_0001 map_0002

where else do you find yourself
grabbing the hand of someone you just met
as they offer it
rom one bank
to help you across the creek?
the world needs more of this


alyssa asks about my name
i tell her it is chosen and why
how reflexive it is to talk mention my grandma as a work camp survivor
and how easy it is to overlook the part about
claiming queer identity


with a cough for a laugh
it’s not til we’re about a mile in that my body says
oh, ok, i get what’s going on here


something bull-like
about the way i lean forward
and press on
the closest my mind may have ever been
to clear
except for the way
i try not to hate the soft loose sand
under my boots


some of us talk the entire way
some of us just catching our breath


dear readers/writers/humans/dreamers,

i am heading to the desert.
in a van full of strangers.
with whom i am going to spend a week.
(details here )

send me a message in the stars
or look for my tidings in your city’s sky
i’m here/you’re here
regardless of whether or not i post these things for a week
regardless of whether or not you tune in

happy spring-sproing, dear collaborators
this is the best turn of the year.



life after a four-day fever

kaya and i in the kitchen laughing at how
life after a four-day fever
is still coming into focus
which is kindof like
wondering if i accidentally ate the cupcake with the weed in it
just a little stupid and in awes

the colors on the buildings in city heights along university
glowing back
looking into people’s faces on the bus rather than looking at them


not sure when we went from a 6-person house to a currently 10-person house
but we did
and at dinner
half of us present
we take turns saying one thing we appreciated today
bowls full of whimsical soup in our hands


kitchen playlist including but not limited to:

light asylum
gnarls barkley
first aid kit
kristin hersch

all our parents

two passages from two separate correspondences regarding life/death received on the same day:

via post:
i never thought i’d live this long, but i think i’ll be here for many more decades, so there’s time.

via email:
We’d sat out on _____’s front steps in the shirtsleeve evening, me asking him about the 10 years he spent caring for his parents as they died, then him asking about the 5 1/2 that Kate & I spent caring for her dying mother. All our parents are dead. We both felt we are making a run for it, late in the game, looking to see how far we can get before death knocks us down.



hush money

most days, it seems i take things in and then translate them for you here

on feverdays, perhaps the best i can do is leave you with the original text. the original heartbreak.
(quick attempt at translation: another corporation puts profit before the well being and dignity of the earth, animals, and humans. corporations respond by offering hush money [pittance] they hope will do the trick.
or: the heartbreak of being forced from one’s home. in addition, the heartbreak of being forced from one’s home but having to return to feed the dog that, because of circumstances, is not able to come with.)


(image from


and this:
what was first estimated around 1,200
has risen (and counting?) to 10,000
pig carcasses removed from a river in jiaxing city


Workers pull dead pig carcasses from from a river in Jiaxing city. The area produced 4.6 million pigs last year. Photo: AP -South China Morning Post


and in the interest of many things water:

A Balinese Hindu devotee bathes in the Sebatu waterfall during a “Melukat” purification ritual in Gianyar District in Bali, Indonesia.– reuters

thank you for you-ing

the blue mask the nurse hands me
since you have a fever and are coughing she says


mutual aid?
something to convey the ways 217 and i
show up for each other
sometimes in a car
sometimes on a tiny couch
sometimes in the waiting room or soon thereafter


one nurse likes my sweater
the other asks me about my leggings
and the third remembers me from last quarter
right about this time
when it was strep c


the poem corinne reads me
from iowa because it made her think of me
not just because it was a poem written by a frank
but because of the structure
(building on details that do a little turn at the end)
and the gesture of adoration


i’m not sure if this is a question for urgent care or just a normal appointment.
ok, what are your symptoms she says on the other end of the line
a 100degree temperature for the past 2 1/2 day-
before i complete the list she says
that is certainly urgent care (implied: get your ass in here now)


coconut shred topping on gluten-free muffins
cooling on the dining room table made by
the friend of william’s who is passing through


i forget what the original sign said
but 217 and i consider varations including:
thank you for you-ing


influenza b
is like a rating on one’s poetic license
giving them permission to write in an email
to their pulitzer-winning professor
i feel like shit


the victory
when one nurse isn’t quite sure how to put down that symptom
of how my eyes hurt in my head (i correct her when she uses the word burning)
but later, the second nurse understands completely