My past few months have been full of reckoning, I treat emotional growth like I’m trying to compete in it in the next Olympics. I have been reckoning with the self, among other things, including pickle jars, dense psychoanalysis texts, and verbalizing my needs and limits, with the intention of forcefully molding my life into something that has a place for me inside of it. In this episode of Isn’t It Queer? I’d like to share the artistic product of the emotional reckonings, which for me are almost always in the form of poetry.
The reason I adore poetry and prefer it as my artistic medium is because poetry has the power to create spaces to custom define emotions (see Sacred Catharsis) In a culture that struggles to define, identify and share emotions, poems are the jaws of life that pry open language, allowing us to share more accurately how we feel. As such, I feel the only accurate way to truly let others experience what I’m feeling, to really show them my mushy insides, is to hand them the poetry I created in vulnerable moments.
In the past six months I’ve abandoned self-suffocating habits, unhealthy workplaces and relationships where my authentic self was not valued. I began to demand that the people in my life see me for who I am, support me with respect and communication, and inspire my personal growth.I’ve come out of closets, insisted that family meet my needs, handed my heart to a lover and had it handed back broken, and reflected on painful experiences in youth. The poems I share below are the emotional excess, the shed skin of my experience as I come face to face with my fragility and pride.
Reckoning Part 1: Park Bench Humanity
My heartbreak floats, buoyant as a lily in the echo park lake.
Both are man made.
But mine is pure honey, made of basil and sage and absolute redemption.
Because I have learned to love wholeheartedly in a world of people terrified of their humanity.
The bitter pill of your heart’s insurrection got lost somewhere beneath the park bench,
Because I didn’t feel like getting high today.
And I am juggling blades of grass and little grey pebbles, and just a few tears.
Just a few little salty heart clippings,
That I can afford to spare.
Still in my memory you are perfect,
Your selfish and coward are dangling in front of you like strings of fake diamonds,
A failed decoy.
And it hurts to feel this open and forgiving.
My ego misses me dearly.
But being alone without her bleating fury has been the most beautiful genderless bliss.
Reckoning Part II: For Lindsay
I was pre-hatched and featherless
beside you. Your
lanky appendages clung
like gravity to every breathable surface of my
bleeding skin and I wanted
to be your freckle constellation
in a universe etched in sulky charcoal.
Inside your shell
I was somebody’s everything
I was just (apologetic for my existence)
I was light, traced rainbows,
born of broken glass.
A full spectrum of gorgeous melancholy. A doll.
You were the only eyes present during
my loveless marriage with invisibility.
You were the only hands
that held a face
that rained perpetually for eight years,
that held a body that fell to
brittle bones and shriveled prune skin,
while the world
spun recklessly unaware of my dieing.
You, doting owl, are the sole reason these fingertips
lived to kiss another’s lips,
and you wish to this day that I’d saved those print kisses for yours.
But I didn’t.
You saw a soul, where that soul saw nothing.
My sorry shoulders shrug gratitude and gluey guilt,
that after you fed me air I flew rapidly.
Too fast for your garden,
and I love you,
clingy lanky lover
of hatchlings and dolls.
I am forever a bow bending in gratitude, wishing a dismissive arrow with my actions.
The irony of your gift was my realization
that I am not porcelain, nor stars.
You gifted me with flight and I ripped off those wings and ran for it.
Reckoning Part III: It Snows Different in California
The cigarette next to me is beginning to snow,
Little flakes of ash decorate my black jeans
Sourly indulging in my grief.
I picked my poison carefully.
The sound of white men’s heart break.
An Arian mourning hymnal
It’s like over brewed black tea tastes.
Bitter and delightful to the swollen hearted beasts that congregate here.
The people here want to be seen,
And so do I, but I want it in a painful way, the way people want to be seen when
they’ve frequented invisibility.
No aim to gain by appearing,
just the hesitance of a reckoning with oneself.
The man next to me just bumped himself with a different kind of snow and I wonder how people who do cocaine survive a month of heartbreak.
The bearded man across from me looks like someone who prides himself on his Instagram following,
On his arm is a cheap Khalysee who shops at h&m.
They look happy together as they share judgments and giggles on an oak bar bench.
It’s the first time other people’s love doesn’t infuriate me.
Progress can be measured in the number of your freckles you’ve learned to forgive,
for being burn marks from the sun that gave you life.
-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,
Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and aims to lead by example through bravely living an examined lifestyle.
“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.” -Audre Lorde
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