Friday Poem: Pivot Point

Pivot Point

I am not interested in being the child
of death and rage
I’m sorry for my outburst, but were you even listening?
There is more at stake here
than your petty ego.
It has never been about
what you want,
or care about.
It’s not about
the end of days, either,
though we do like our ecstasies of fear
in this town.
Let’s be real:
You are pivotal, just
like the rest of us.
But where do we turn on the pivot point?
That’s another question.




About This Poem
I’m… not entirely sure where this poem came from. It’s from my own personal NaPoWriMo. I wrote it on the downtown R train at a late hour of the night. It’s a lot angrier than I really understand myself to be, especially given that I’m not sure what exactly it’s about. I’d love comments or critique, as always.


Friday Poem: When I was a kid…

This is something I worked on in my Music Therapy Group. We looked at Andrea Gibson’s poem “Andrew” and wrote our own responses to it starting with the line “When I was a kid…”

Mine looked something like this:

When I was a kid
I took on many roles:
                Blue and Yellow Ranger
                Sailor Mercury and Tuxedo Mask
and saw no contradiction in it.
Fighting evil on the back porch
or swimming with Neptune at the beach,
legs turned into dolphin tail, making bottlenose noises in the banya.
I never cared to have a leading role,
was happy to cede Red Ranger or Princesshood
to my friends.
I’d happily serve so long as I could shapeshift too.



It’s taken on several iterations since then, but I haven’t quite become satisfied with it. It’s gotten both longer and shorter; I’ve taken the ’90s kid references out and put them back in… It’ll probably go through more iterations until it’s complete, and I’ll happily take comments and critique, even in this half-formed state.

Tiiiny Horatio Hornblower Reaction Post

I might do a more thorough one with prior planning, but a) it’s just about my bedtime and b) I only just finished the books, so this is gonna be a tiny post describing my reaction to the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester.

  1. I now want to go sailing more than I want most things in life
    The descriptions of nautical life are excellent, and by all accounts, thoroughly accurate. I now know a lot more about different sails and wind terminology than I did before—although this does mean that I had to read the entire series with my Google search app open so I could look up terminology as needed.
    I have since looked up what it would take to become a sailor (on a sailing vessel) and it’s easier than you’d think, so come September, I’ll be saying farewell to the shore (hopefully).
  2. Holy racism & sexism, Batman!
    It wasn’t so bad at first… in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, you don’t see much other cultures, except the French, and hardly any women, so I didn’t expect the bigotry that comes in the later books when Hornblower is a captain and in the Americas (and elsewhere). The use of the N-word to motivate his crew, the hypersexual Black servant woman (I’m not even kidding), the fact that Hornblower initially prefers his women feeble and soft (really)… It was like getting a tour of cis straight white British male privilege in the 1800s—all the stuff that led to what we’ve got here and now.
  3. Incredible portrayal of depression & low self-esteem in the main character
    This is the main thing that I loved about the Hornblower series. Pretty much throughout the books, Hornblower feels that he is a fraud, is morally bankrupt, and generally unworthy of success, love, etc. At one point he thinks about how he doesn’t want to pass on his “accursed unhappy temperament” to any children, and that hit really close to home. Given the bleakness of the last half year or more in my own head, it was refreshing to see somebody so accomplished be so sure that his accomplishment was empty. Watching the Hornblower series depressed the hell out of me, because how could I compare to the main character described therein… reading the Hornblower series was a reassurance.
  4. It was weird being on the side of the British Empire
    Especially when they were fighting against revolutionary France. Like, I recognise that the French Republic was a bloody regime, but I’d rather be on their side than on the side of, well, Empire. When they were fighting Napoleon it was a bit better, but even then, every time they described him as a Corsican Tyrant (while casually pressganging people onto their ships) I was all like, you’re one to talk!
  5. Fun adventure with interesting characters & relationships
    There’s a reason I read through the whole thing even though ugh bigotry—it was a fun read, very well-written, and lots of interesting & mysterious adventure.

In all, I think I recommend it. But if there were a queer, POC, anti-oppressive version, I’d prefer to read that first. 😀

Friday Poem: The First Living Autopsy

The First Living Autopsy

I covered the pages with scribble:
an attempt, maybe feeble, to dissect my life.
I make a poor taxonomist on the best days
and desperation eats my competence —
My shaking hands can’t manipulate this
scalpel, the pen,
Laying open only the skin of it;
the subcutaneous tissue hides more
than it reveals. I don’t want to feed
on the fat, only learn from it
the answer to the only question I have ever asked.

I’ll reveal myself to myself in the
whispers of ink, the first living autopsy:
soon, they will be all the rage.
Who doesn’t want to know what lies beneath?
I never lied on purpose, but you must know
I never knew the truth to tell it.

About This Poem
This poem actually predates my own personal NaPoWriMo by a few weeks — I wrote it on April 15 of this year. I don’t know how I feel about it — there’s some good images here that can probably be rescued into a better poem, but it doesn’t feel like the final version. Not yet. As always, critique is welcome.

NaPoWriMo Poem 10: My Hearth is No Sanctuary

NaPoWriMo Poem 10:

I have a suspicion that I will be your death–
You, who protect the wilds of your heart,
Cannot but see me as an adversary.
You fight with honor, but you have no art,
No vision that your mind can marry
To the clockwork certainty of every breath.

Your soul is mine now–I have thrown the dart;
You’ll have to trust me that it’s sanitary.
You’d better guard your flank and watch your back
The threat you…

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NaPoWriMo Poem 10: My Hearth is No Sanctuary

I have a suspicion that I will be your death–
You, who protect the wilds of your heart,
Cannot but see me as an adversary.
You fight with honor, but you have no art,
No vision that your mind can marry
To the clockwork certainty of every breath.

Your soul is mine now–I have thrown the dart;
You’ll have to trust me that it’s sanitary.
You’d better guard your flank and watch your back
The threat you face is not imaginary,
Before we’re done, there will be an attack
and you’ll be on my side if you are smart.

If nothing else, the Light brings victory,
Though it may burn you, as the Sazerac
Would burn your throat if you were not prepared.
Dear, if you fight, I’ll stretch you on the rack–
You’ve piqued my pride and now my teeth are bared.
You asked for it! You will be my canary!

About This Poem
My friend Matt, who writes the lovely and educational 4 Gravitons blog, suggested when I was running out of ideas that, since I’ve been playing so much Hearthstone, that I use the threats and opening lines of the various Heroes in a sort of found poem. So I took him up on it and this is the result. I decided to do a ridiculous rhyme scheme to go with the ridiculously dramatic words, though it was a struggle by the end to come up with things. So now I’m posting this up late, meaning it to be a poem for last Friday.

Letters to Strangers

2015-06-08 13.28.41

I’ve had really good luck with the buskers on the 2nd Avenue stop of the F train, the one on Houston street.

The most recent time I was there, a trio calling themselves Bandits on the Run were playing some lovely acoustic music with a guitar, a tambourine, and their voices. And twice before, I encountered the singer-songwriter Robert Leslie. The second time, I picked up the letter you see above from his guitar case (after dropping some cash, of course). I have been meaning to reply, but life has gotten in the way until now. Here’s what the letter says:

Dear stranger,

I am writing you this letter, or manifesto – whatever you want to call it – because I wanted this interaction to carry on, and there’s only so much you can sing in five minutes on a subway platform. I’d like to tell a longer story than that. It’s a shame to have these moments flare up only to have them drowned out by an incoming train. So this is my way of extending the moment. You can consider the dialogue opened – that is to say, let’s talk.

I’ve had to come a long way to get out here and I hope to go a long way further. I grew up in London and Amsterdam and found my way to New York after a long meandering road throughout Eastern and Western Europe, North Africa, the Canary Islands. It’s in this city that I’ve begun to cultivate something, to tend some sort of garden, to garner a circle of people who think the same way, breathe deep, want to be everywhere at the same time. You took a moment to break the cycle and pick this up, and so you can consider this an invitation. It’s not just about the music – the shows are there, the songs are there, they walk by themselves. This is about where they come from. Here I am. Here you are. Let’s not let it get lost in the subway wind.

As Walt Whitman said, “Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?”

Or shall we at least stay in touch?

Yours, Robert Leslie

And that lovely stamp is a swiss army knife with a mic and a guitar and a rose branch sticking out of it. Now, those of you who know me know that this is just the kind of romantic gesture that lights up my imagination. Of course I’m going to respond to such an overture! The lovely long-haired guitarist with the flower in his hair quoted Walt Whitman for goodness’ sake! So what’s stopped me so far?

Well, I actually also rather appreciate the romance of the evanescent. There’s something lovely about only seeing him when he’s busking and cultivating the romantic image of him. What if I meet him and talk to him some more and he turns out to be a pretentious money-borrowing Kerouac type? I’d be devastated! Better to keep the romantic illusions a while longer, don’t you think?

Ahhhhh so I’m torn. I don’t know what to do next. I’ll probably send him an e-mail eventually. Once I’ve knocked down my expectations so that I go into the exchange without any kind of investment. We may click, we may not. If nothing else, I’ll have made the effort.

But it’ll be WEIRD to see Robert Leslie busking once we’ve interacted. I don’t think I’ll know how to behave.

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