Friday Poem: I’M

Friday #Poem: I’M #inspiredbySylviaPlath

Iiiit’s Friday again! Which means it’s time for a new poem!

I’M

Open, like a skinned knee,
scraped on the sidewalk. Grated
like a wheel of cheese. Pulsing to
some conductor’s time.
In open heart surgery behind
the blue curtain, reflected
in the young white surgeon’s eyes
(She’s ready to prove herself;
operating is the easiest thing in the world.
It’s the next part that’s the hardest).

Raw, like a…

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Friday Poem: I’M

Iiiit’s Friday again! Which means it’s time for a new poem!

I’M

Open, like a skinned knee,
scraped on the sidewalk. Grated
like a wheel of cheese. Pulsing to
some conductor’s time.
In open heart surgery behind
the blue curtain, reflected
in the young white surgeon’s eyes
(She’s ready to prove herself;
operating is the easiest thing in the world.
It’s the next part that’s the hardest).

Raw, like a new diet. Hard
like uncooked pasta. Waiting
for a new order, soldierlike.
Limp. Overcooked. Sliding
against your skin in three-four time.
An aberration. The first thing in your life
that went wrong before it went right.
(The ones before me were
the other way around. They
were all perfect until they weren’t.)

Silken. Ten years too late,
or six too early. Tender, like
well-done steak. Happiest in the dark,
or in a book. Six years too early,
or ten too late. Uncertain, like a newborn
foal. Two fingerwidths away. A revelation,
waiting to be told. Tautologically myself.
Too young; too old. Afraid. Like a theorem,
completely proven. Clean, like a well-scrubbed face.
Imperfect object of an ideal form. Myself,
with my own skin on.

(You never asked me who I was or what we were,
expected anything, or voiced a doubt.
Maybe you were afraid to be proved right,
to have to learn what you could do without.)

About This Poem
This poem was inspired by “You’re” by Sylvia Plath, one of my favourite poems. I, obviously, took it in a completely new direction. And like with my other old poems, I don’t actually remember the context of my writing it, but I’m still proud of it, which certainly counts for something.

Bluestockings Volunteer Orientation & Mitigation of Harm

So this is a freewrite for the blog. We’ll see how much of it gets saved as time goes on.

On Monday night (3/16) I had a volunteer orientation at Bluestockings. Bluestockings, for those who don’t know, is an awesome radical feminist bookstore, entirely volunteer-run, with larger decisions made by a collective.

It was originally opened in the Nineties as Bluestockings Women’s Bookstore and at the time had a more traditional business model, with a woman who owned the place and employees who dealt with day-to-day upkeep. The bookstore was about a third the size that Bluestockings is now. After 9/11, when the entire downtown of Manhattan was shut down, the store’s sales dropped in a time when feminist bookstores were doing poorly all around the country. It was on the verge of closing for good when it was rescued by a woman who renamed it the Bluestockings Bookstore and Activist Center and introduced the collective and volunteer-run model that still exists today.

This was the history that was narrated to us by Rachel, the volunteer coordinator present that night (there are two others), after we had gone around introducing ourselves by name, pronoun, why we wanted to volunteer at Bluestockings, and one thing people might not know about us just by looking. I was at a loss for a few moments at that last, since I (like most people) have a rich internal life, which I’m sure can’t be determined just by looking. I decided to share that I am an immigrant from Ukraine, since people wouldn’t know that not only by looking at me but also by listening to me——my accent when I speak English is purely American.

We talked about the way that shifts work, the listserv we will be added to and how to use it (don’t e-mail everyone if you’re just going to be running 15 minutes late to your shift), the safer space policy, and how we deal with dangerous, triggering, or otherwise harmful situations. The interesting thing to me is that they might ask people who are repeatedly harmful in some way to take a break from going to the space, but they don’t ban people outright. I have mixed feelings about the way that offenders are treated in activist cultures (usually they’re either completely shunned, or insidiously enabled), so other ways of dealing with that are interesting. I think there’s got to be a way to rehabilitate people who cause harm while also acknowledging that the people they harmed might need their absence in order to feel safe. The onus should never be on the survivor/victim/person-who-was-harmed to enter or exit a space depending on whether the harmer’s presence is sufficiently distressing to them. That decision has to be made by the people responsible for a space.

So it’s tough, and I don’t know all the answers, but I’m curious to learn more about how Bluestockings approaches things as I start volunteering there and getting more involved with that community.

Friday Poem: A Little Rain

Here’s another old poem. It’s fairly depressing, and I don’t actually remember the context of it. But I like the rhyme and meter of it a lot.

A Little Rain

She peeks through a chink in the stone wall—
The garden looks desiccated and dry.
Her handmaidens continually weep and sigh.
‘Perhaps tonight a little rain will fall,’

She says and glances at the sky.
It remains the same cloudless, oppressive…

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Friday Poem: A Little Rain

Here’s another old poem. It’s fairly depressing, and I don’t actually remember the context of it. This is before I started adding little explanations to all of my poems. But I like the rhyme and meter of it a lot.

A Little Rain

She peeks through a chink in the stone wall—
The garden looks desiccated and dry.
Her handmaidens continually weep and sigh.
‘Perhaps tonight a little rain will fall,’

She says and glances at the sky.
It remains the same cloudless, oppressive blue.
The sun is warm; it bleaches every hue
and sucks the moisture out of passersby.

Thus, my life, robbed as it is of you:
Day after cheerful, endless, depressing day
My tongue is dry as cotton and cannot say—
–—
I know not what. What words could end this drought?

Philly Trip

CN: brief mention of Christopher Columbus and attendant horrors (imperialism, rape, murder, etc.)

Went to Philly last weekend with my frubble1 Mischa. Originally the plan was to go to Philadelphia veeeery early in the morning because this Music Therapy group I had signed up for (which is Sundays at 9am) was supposed to start this weekend. However, there had not been enough intakes for the group, so the start date was postponed. Thus, since we did not have to be in Philadelphia veeeeeery early, and since we had gone to see a play (Articulate Theatre Company’s production of Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth) the night before and stayed out quite late, Mischa and I slept in on Sunday morning and didn’t get out of Staten Island until about 3pm.

Thus, we arrived in Philadelphia after 5pm with not much daylight left us. We stopped first at Sprinkle Kingdom, my former residence, to pick up the board games I had accidentally left there when I was moving out. I got to catch up a bit with Evan, Bridget, and Stephanie, which was wonderful. There are things about that house and the West Philadelphia neighborhood it’s located in that I miss these days, and those three are a huge part of it for me. Bridget, it turns out, has actually seen The Skin of Our Teeth, because her school had done it when she was in high school, and she agreed with me and Mischa about how totally weird that play is. They were all, unsurprisingly, incredibly busy, but stopping by on a Sunday meant that they weren’t too harassed to have a decent conversation.

After visiting with them, we drove over to the bed and breakfast Mischa had selected for our stay, La Reserve. It is one of the most charming buildings I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in; it’s just absolutely filled with comfortable and gorgeous antiques. One of the first rooms you see upon entering is the parlor, which has a Steinway piano in it. Casual, as my Sprinkle Kingdom housemates would say.

Here’s a picture of the view from our bed that I shared on twitter upon arriving:

2015-03-08 18.38.13

We hung out for a while, since I didn’t feel like moving at first; watched an episode of Fringe, which we’re slowly going through together. Only after that did I feel up to moving and move we did —— a thirty block walk down to a modern Israeli restaurant called Zahav, which means “Gold” in Hebrew. The food was pretty good, but the ambience and the service were what really made the place shine. We sat at the bar, since there were no tables available, and our bartenders Chris and Kyle were really friendly and informative. We chose a massive tasting menu, much of which we ended up taking to go because we were simply too full to eat any more of it.

After dinner, we followed the sight of a lighted ship to the pier, where we discovered that Philadelphia, too, had a seaport museum. It was closed, of course, at that late hour, but the sight of the ships all lit with fairy lights was really quite splendid. There was also a submarine attached to the warship, which I had never seen in the flesh before. There was also, next to the seaport museum, a four-masted tall ship which was being used as a bar and restaurant called Moshulu. It looked beautiful but I was troubled by how the Hawaiian imagery seemed pretty appropriative. Also I bet it’s super expensive to eat there.

Wandering further north, we came upon a monument to Christopher Columbus for the quincentenary of his “discovery” of America. The monument is ridiculously complimentary, attributing the titles of mathematician, cartographer, visionary, etc. to him.

I won’t deny that the appellation of explorer is appropriate to Columbus, but the rest I’ll dispute. Also I don’t believe he deserves credit for blundering upon the “New World” when a) there were already people there and b) the harm he did upon “discovering” them is beyond counting. Where’s the monument to the people he murdered, raped, enslaved? Hidden away in some corner of the city that’s less visible? Fuck that shit.

We caught a cab back to La Reserve, where we finished reading A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson (we’d been reading it together for half a year or so now) and then went to sleep. It wasn’t the most comfortable night, but we woke up early enough to take advantage of the complimentary continental breakfast and to meet some of our fellow travelers. There was a Russian singer named Dasha who was auditioning for a music school here in Philly; she had spent two weeks in NYC prior to this. There were also three women, all related, two of whom were visiting the third from Dallas; I forget their names and Mischa can’t remember either.

After breakfast we went to the Franklin Institute which was like the Boston Museum of Science but even cooler and more interactive. All the physics demos were quite a workout and my arms and legs were pretty tired after the whole thing. We went around the corner to the Free Library of Philadelphia where there was a Fraktur exhibit that was really beautiful. It and some of the calligraphy on display at the library made Mischa and me want to learn to do calligraphy. Around the corner from there was a bookstore called the Friends of the Free Library which had a wide selection of books, all for $3 or less. Thankfully, we didn’t realize that those prices applied to the whole store or we would never have made it out of there. As it was, I spent fifteen dollars on books there. Well, $14.15 on books and the other $0.85 went to the Catticus and Chaucer fund (yes, that’s the name of their cats. They had cats!).  And I don’t know how much Mischa spent on books, but I’m sure it was similar.

Two of the books I bought, by the way, were from a series of books about Nancy Clue and the Hardly Boys, which, as you can imagine, are a parody of the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys books, but queer. It was SO CUTE. I was a huge Nancy Drew fan as a kid, so seeing a casually LGBT version of the characters I’ve loved felt really affirming.

We had two more stops before we returned to Staten Island—John’s Roast Pork, which is a Beard Award winner, which I guess is a big deal for chefs, and the Princeton Record Exchange, which Mischa cannot fail to visit anytime she goes south of New York City. As the sun went down, my mood started to drop as well, though, so I’m not going to talk about that part of our trip.

I will end, instead, by saying that our time in Philly was very busy, and I am not at all used to taking day trips to other cities, but I think I liked it. Also, it’s a dreadful thing that I know the Friends of the Free Library bookstore exists, now, because I can’t imagine that I’ll ever again escape entering it whenever I’m in Philadelphia, which, as soon as the Music Therapy group starts, is going to be a lot. And you know I’m not allowed in bookstores, because then I’ll spend money on books.

1 frubble: total joy over someone else’s happiness; compersion; or, when Mischa and I use it, it refers to each other. 🙂

Friday Poem: Bibliomania

Friday #Poem (long past Friday): “Bibliomania” #iwritepoemsaboutmybookproblem #help

Yes, I know it’s long past Friday, but I’m gonna give y’all a Friday poem anyway. This one is dedicated to the fact that I should not be allowed near bookstores or libraries because booooooooooks.

Bibliomania

Books in bookshelves; books on the floor;
Books on the dresser and blocking the door;
Books in the closet, the kitchen, the attic;
Books in piles both neat and erratic;

Books from the…

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