i am not a lady

the cinnamon roll the size of my face
that i pull apart while nastalie
kindly asks of the person who just called us ladies
is open to feedback and to whom, when that person says yes,
nastalie says i am not a lady
kp interrupting their trumpet practice
to run to the window and exclaim at the sunburst
breaking through the clouds
in a month that goes down as the
cloudiest january for the twin cities
since records began in 1963

the sky with the slight break in it that
powders the clouds with rosedust and lavender powder
as i walk the edges of lake hiawatha park
the heartbreak of leaving early
leashed around a bike rack
while corinne and i go into the corner store
for cans of coconut milk
and good chocolate

the sparkle-invasion of the migraine aura taking over
so i sit on the floor in the kitchen
while abby stirs the soup
and corinne arranges the nim chow-making station



thank you for disarming me

oliver the orange cat,
while i move from plow to crow,
sitting a the top of the thin red yoga mat
that has traveled from wisconsin to portland to corvallis to san francisco to oakland to minneapolis

the first thing we laugh about
is how the weather warning was about ice fog
and how it’s something she never heard of
but yet, somehow, living here, she thinks she gets it anyway.
ice fog
that is part of the work you do in the world,
you disarm people
joAnn says
over the kombucha i sip and the london fog she sips
while i slowly work my way through the huge arugula salad
and she tastes the artichoke dip with zatar pita chips
your vulnerability, your openness
eastern european composers and uk dancehall
she says
about the music she’s been listening to
with the eastern european composers being an annual
wintery season return
valerie june, aurora and zoe keating i say
about musicisans i’ve been listening to
thank you for disarming me joAnn says
while we hug goodbye
thank you for all the interesting ways you see and think and talk
about the world
i reply
the click click click of a zipper in the dryer
as heard through the phone line
connecting us
now in the same time zone
but four hours up/down the mississippi
from each other

the ice-swathed sidewalks
i walk carefully on
varying in severity from house to house
and then cruising on the sidewalk
along the edges of hiawatha park
with mostly no hint of ice on them

the shave and glide sounds
of blades laced to feet
coasting across the outdoor park rink

the chocolate-topped
peanut butter crispy
with coconut
that amber cuts into fourths
after tea

all the slowmovingness

the enthusiasm that the bart coliseum station attendant
expresses about my basket – beaming so bright
i almost want to give it to her

the cable for the oakland airport un-manned(un-personed) bart
vibrating as it rolls on the pulleys
and how, at the midpoint, the train stops and the cables switch
right there underneath me

the first thing i see upon landing in the midwest:
a hawk in the grass beyond the tarmac
lifting wings into flight
bringing with ki a sense
of welcome
of you belong here
of universe-says-yes
the joker security guard at the airport
calling out to the just-deplaned passengers
as they make their way to the baggage claim:
welcome to honolulu – i mean, kansas city
and how he sing-croons

in between the waves of passengers
the southwest plane so empty
that when i see the sunset glow across the aisle
i get up out of my seat
and cross the aisle to an empty seat
so i can gaze at the goldtangerine sunfruit
slowly lowering kinself
behind a peekaboo cloud
and then behind the edge of the earth

the awkwardness of carrying two backpacks and a basket
while navigating slippery patches of sidewalk ice
and yet the relief
at all the quiet
all the slowmovingness
all the ease of being the only one
on the sidewalk


the cara cara orange
that kp peels for dessert
and how usually i reserve the citrus for morning
but how can i resist
KP on trumpet in the other room
while sabrina and i further examine
life and friendships from this middle-agedish viewpoint
a fragmented self feeling whole i say my friends
reflecting me back to me

the betsy devos’s yacht laugh we joke
when jennifer details the american dirt book tour cancellation
finally, in the calm and quiet of sabrina and kp’s
i cry out the accumulated trauma
of being in the bay area for ten days
to a sweet and tender lion
on the other end of the line
holding space for this tenderoni

fawns in road

when they call you a terrorist: the black lives matter memoir
playing in chane’s car
read in patrisse khan-cullors’s own voice
we listen while jammed in traffic
we listen while highway gives way to mountains
we listen all the way across the richmond bridge
brought to tears more than once in the first few chapters alone

the day made entirely of gray
broken through by
the sun comes out
after we cross the richmond bridge
the pearl jam song playing
in the marin deli
(tatoooed everything)
while chane and i wait
for our sandwiches to be assembled

the handpainted signs
along the winding roads heading up
mount tamalpais
asking those who pass
to drive slow, fawns in road
and drive slow through our neighborhood
and drive slow – kids

four guides for the new year
that chane shares from mushim ikeda
from a talk at the east bay meditation center:
1. are you living an embodied life, or are you numbed out
if you find you’re numbed or checked out, find a healing path
2. be creative and be more creative. making/creating is the opposite of trauma.
3. be strategic and be more strategic – don’t waste time.
4. life is messy. and life is glorious. and messy.

the smell of sweet and cinnamon

the shake shake shake of maybe an ankle rattle
heard first
before i see the crew of native runners
carrying or wearing the rattle/s
jogging along the curves of the lake merritt path close together
and lapping us

the sun on our faces
while we walk the loop and talk sex
moving through and past and alongside
all the other sunday morning lake walkers/runners
blown glass cup on back porch step
sun moving through
and casting green bright light
onto the wall behind

a two-crepe lunch
split between us:
first, savory: spinach, onions, tomatoes and mozzarella
second, sweet: nutella and strawberries
while we talk about the first time we recall
seeing queerness
and i mention white-makeup-faced goths in the mall
and she talks about the abortion march on washington
hands reflexively to ears while the
of new year fireworks
go off in front of the market
as we walk past

arms around tbird
in a side and a full hug
the back of her sweater hot and damp
with bike sweat

in a special tri-communities-crew-gathers-in-oakland edition of exquisite knucks, this is what we come up with:
star slum
huge cube
swan cake
xtra luck
wild halo
and then we mix and match
wild luck
cube star
huge cake
swan slum
the whole place filling with the smell of sweet and cinnamon
while tony’s quick cakes bake
in the convection toaster oven
an act of service indeed

as if this were not happening

rachel and tony
partner dancing across the floor of donut farm
to the music playing over the speakers
(and no one notices/bats an eye
because, after all, this is the bay area
where everything happens anywhere)
while we await the delivery of vegan waffles and chicken and tofu benedict and
a lemon poppyseed donut, a mexican hot chocolate donut and a cinnamon donut
to our table

the hot pink scarlet red new years firecracker confetti
scattered across oakland’s chinatown sidewalks
while we seek out a banh mi place
that isn’t closed for tet

rachel and i
making goofy moves in the in between moments
on our blue/teal mats
in the partner yoga class at the berkely Y
where car tire squeal sounds come in
through the cracked open windows
and the rumble of what seems like a million basketballs being dribbled
comes through the mirrored wall between us and the courts
so sad she says
as we approach/pass a sidewalk-sleeping man
without a shirt and possibly without an arm
and how relieved i am
to acknowledge this gutpunch
rather than pass by as if this
were not happening

the tiny white towels
we in the women’s locker room
wrap ourselves in
and the heat we sit in
that brings sweat to the surface of our skin
and me wondering
about the possibility of
a universal/gender neutral locker room existing here
tony and his girlfriend
and rachel and her girlfriend
and me
passing around the taro boba, lime shaved ice and the passionfruit with fig jelly drink

amy in sheep pajamas
rachel in red and white stripes onesie
and me in the tweet your heart out pj pants
fine tuning topping skills (detention, obviously),
talking poetry and performance art,
and markering in the designs of a page from the color me body positive
coloring book

to be close to home

to the privileged, equity feels like oppression
carroll fife director of the Oakland office for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment says about the group of houseless mothers

fighting to remain in the vacant house they had set up home in and were forcibly removed from
post-shower just-lotoined face resuliting in
greasy sweat on my brows and stache
from hauling backpaks and basket to BART for the great
sf to east bay transfer
in the warmth of a bright and full sun
gleaming in the sky
at least a dozen cop cars
probably more
blocking off the street
and staking out the laundromat
guns trained
seeking two armed people involved
in a recent robbery
and from rachel’s front window
we can watch them
pacing, talking, grouping, hands on weapons, waiting, enforcing
desperation juniper says about the whole affair
desperation and/or addiction
drives someone
to do something that risky


chinese new year firecrackers cack cack cack cack cack caccklelackleackleackackackkakack
going off down the block

and down the other block
and down another block too
now and then
here, in oakland california, where one has access to more things than you can imagine under the sun

(north vietnamese food or south vietnamese food, all within a few blocks,
burmese food,
vegan donuts,
feminist art spaces – you name it)
i tune into my small rural town’s community radio station
to be close to her,
to be close to home

the beats and melody coming out of the feminist art space
while i sit alone and quiet at the table
finally able to exhale
inking words onto paper
while fresh air drifts in through the cracked-open back door
you say happy i say place
happy? place!
happy? place!

the ice cream buffet
including peach maple pecan
and blueberry cardamom
that rachel and tony set up
on the kitchen counter
and how i much the bowl of many flavors to soup
attempting to re-tell all the impossible details
while we couch-lounge
into the late night

the blue and clear

in the living room
going over the options for our today
the sun just showing ki’s shy rays
and how i smile smirk giggle
at the sound of someone walking along and whistling
just outside the front window on the street/sidewalk

the blue and clear
sugar shimmer on top of the
star-shaped shortbread cookie
that i pull from the pastry case
while we wait for the bus
a woman locking the brake
on the stroller she rolls onto bus #44,
a young one buckled inside
that she hands a water sippy cup to
and from whose fist she removes the thin cracker
that’s about to fall as the young one drifts off towards sleep

the camillias,
the rhodies,
the asters,
the ice plants,
the calla lilies
and all the others i don’t know the name of
in bloom as joolie and i walk around golden gate park
and the virtual bouquet of it all i send
to a certain lion of the juniper variety
photo by photo at a time
at the top of strawberry hill
lying back on a huge downed trunk –
sky-staring at the cloudshapes
that drift across the deep bright blue

the old school mixed tapes
rolling in the three dollar cassette player
on the kitchen table while we:
chop collards and zucchini
and saute onions, mushrooms, and garlic for the sauce
before we start layering the noodles and sauce and veggies and ‘cheese’
and noodles and sauce and veggies
and noodles and sauce

the bright colors (blue, green, yellow, red)
of the handmade boardgame
that joolie’s dad made and sent
and the click of the dice as we roll
a word for the delight of being here
while also longing to be there
in lion-arms
reading/listening to harry potter

the clang clang clanging

the floral arrangements had walls and barbed wire
she says from two hours away and i
kiss the tears
diamonding in the corners of her eyes
the backdoor steps
still drying in the sun
we sit anyway
plates perched on our laps
and arranged on them:
scrambled eggs,
greens with onions garlic and mushrooms,
and just warmed tortillas
sun on our faces and the waves rocking the buoy bells
in the distance
their clang clang clanging
sounding like we are at some kind of temple
or holy place
which we pretty much are
our perch overlooking the labryinth
overlooking the ocean
where students sit quietly
not talking for a spell
wind in their hair
hands scratching at the pebbles on the ground

it’s good for my spirit
to be at the edge of the continent
to see water that doesn’t end
i say

while we sit snacking
on brie and crackers and dried mango
solar poof attached to the loop on my backpack
soaking up sun power
as we walk updown
the trails lined with scrub sage

the scratched up indigo girls cd
that miraculously plays
and how we sing loud
along the golden gate bridge
and up and down the hills back into the city
loud and laughing

third sushi of this trip i say
joolie and i sitting across from each other
edamame and wakame salad
placed in between us


while the mist drizzles down

8:23 am and honk honk honk
someone’s car alarm going off
just outside the window
of the living-room-turned-guest-room
where i sleep/wake
the wide eyes
of a beloved gray cat
named lisi
hanging out in the coffee cupboard
at Real Human HQ
in the morning
glitter in the sidewalk crack
at  23rd and folsom
while the mist drizzles down
the fuck white supremacy pin
on the black backpack
of the black-ponytailed person
in loafers and profesh business casual wear
in line in front of us at the post office

it’s always pretty animated there, isn’t it
rochelle says about the bay
from her quiet town setting of 5,000 people
mini ritual kits (rose quartz, palo santo, sage) for sale
for twenty dollars
in yet another finely curated boutiquey shop on valencia
where once there were coffee shops that nearly anybody
could afford to sit in with a warm beverage in their hands
something for everyone i say
after searching queer meditation bay area and
coming up with listings such as:
Trans & Genderqueer Mindfulness Meetup
Berkeley Lesbian Buddhist Sangha
Alphabet Sangha – open to self-identified LGBTQIA+ folks
Vietnamese LGBTQ Sangha
Dharma Dykes ~ open to self-identified queer women
Queer Leather Deep Refuge Group
HIV Meditation Group ~ open to those living with HIV, their friends, families & community supporters
amy slicing the oranges from her yard
while chane rest-lounges
his head on my hip/belly/thigh
and we lay out our cards
for the it person to choose
scout and joolie and i
bending our brains to figure out the ink pinks
and the inky pinkies
and the inkeldy pinkeldies
clue: fiery fruit , answer: lava guava
clue: lubed ride, answer: waxy taxi
clue: less than and inside, answer: inferior interior
clue: barren succulent, answer: fallow aloe