Isn’t It Queer: Various Reckonings

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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.

{Image Credit: http://www.freegreatpicture.com/goldfish/jumping-goldfish-1043
{Image Credit: http://www.freegreatpicture.com/goldfish/jumping-goldfish-1043

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.

{Image Credit: http://www.undermatic.com/diseno/collages-anatomicos-por-travis-bedel/}
{Image Credit: http://www.undermatic.com/diseno/collages-anatomicos-por-travis-bedel/}

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

or maybe

I was just (apologetic for my existence)

somebody.

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,

gravity,

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.

Some friend.

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

I’m alone.

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

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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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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

 

Isn’t it Queer?: Poly-Ponderings on Love, Sex and Connection in Abundance

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Hello Vibrant Souls! Today on Isn’t It Queer? I bring you thoughts, ideas, dilemmas and revelations from a queer, polyamorous, purveyor of love, sex, and connection, Dia Davina. To preface our plunge into that sparkling can of omni-sexual worms, watch this incredible spoken-word piece/delicious real talk, from Dia Davina about the challenges and rewards of poly-life:

 The Polyamorous Mating Habits of the North American Red Squirrel

Dia Davina’s piece rocks my fucking rainbow socks, not to mention, they are so attractive, charming and articulate, it nearly blinded me. Hey Dia, I know three lovers is already a lot, but hit me up. Their piece illuminates the unique challenges that poly people take on when choosing to live an alternative lifestyle: the social pressure and frequent questioning from outside parties, the lack of support from family, the lack of good poly role models to learn from, the daily face to face battle with jealousy or possessiveness and the negative impact those emotions can have on relationships. Davina’s piece gives poly folks the gift of not romanticizing or glorifying poly relationships. Speaking anecdotally, there is a tendency in groups that live alternative lifestyles to feel pressure to depict their community as having chosen the ideal, revelatory, revolutionary, and flawless life style choice and the one with the most benefits, rather than just a life choice. When the reality is, people with multiple lovers, partners or spouses, also come with childhood trauma. They are also prone to feeling jealous, not feeling worthy, struggling to keep promises, and a whole assortment of other very human behaviors. Because -crazy concept- poly people are human, as fickle, inspiring, and full of potential, as is implied.

Davina’s piece, boldly and honestly, shows the challenges that poly lovers face, touching on everything from having to remember the precious details of each interaction with each of your lovers -citing emotionally fatal text message errors- to the revelation that having a plethora of partners, does not numb the very real pain of heart break, no matter how much incredible support our abundant community lends us. My favorite point Davina makes, remarks on the dilemma that poly life and successfully navigating multiple love relationships has no formula or road map. Making it perhaps one of the scariest life style choices in love, sex and connection. A majority of poly folks do not have parents in the lifestyle to model their practices on, and in all reality, a large number are attempting this lifestyle in order to escape some of the emotional stagnation they saw in previous generation’s monogamous tendencies. Making our “best practice” a brand new uncharted territory, that is frequently debated. “How do I tell my partner I need to spend time with my other partner in their time of need?”, ” How do I explain that I am not interested in the same sexual practices with one partner as I am the other?”, “How do I ask my partner to take responsibility for their jealousy?” “How are all of my partners having their period on the same day?”, “How do I process feelings of jealousy around my partner’s new partner?” Also, most prevalently, “what the holy fuck am I doing?”

DiaDavina

Being brave enough to take on your jealousy and apprehension in order to obtain abundance, is stressful. It is hard to take on a lifestyle that is stigmatized by the predominant culture, and equally exhausting being called “greedy” or “damaged” and having your relationship choices be repeatedly invalidated. It is refreshing to hear a piece that does not spend it’s time justifying our lifestyle to monogamous individuals (which is necessary at times) but instead validates the experience and struggles of those seeking their abundance despite great struggle. The piece is cathartic to listen to, hysterically funny, and as a political piece of art, it does justice to the poly-lifestyle, by portraying poly individuals as the diverse, emotionally complex, humans that we are.

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

de

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**ATTENTION ALL RED SQUIRRELS** COM|PASSionate REVOLT will be at the Contemporary Relationships Conference in Austin, TX on May 15 + 16, 2015 doing a workshop on Queering Consent: Navigating Consent Outside of the Hetero AND Homo Normative.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Isn’t it Queer?: Sacred Catharsis

BannerSacred Catharsis: Some Writings from The Butch Goddess

Creative writing has always been my outlet, it’s been my emotional fuel for every major life transition and it will always be my primary partner. My first journal, at age six, consisted of malicious, poorly rhymed, spells against my 1st grade enemies and poems that misused archaic Shakespearian terms like “doth” and “thou.” So today I will share my queer-poly-kinky-radical misadventures in the hope that it will entertain, inspire or educate anyone who is open to the experience. Enjoy!

Image Credit {http://bit.ly/1EZ5YCC}
Image Credit {http://bit.ly/1EZ5YCC}

The Orchid Graveyard

 Go ahead, use the graveyard

of our relationship as your fertilizer.

Let her fuck you

in our spoiled soil bed,

amongst the lilies in the kitchen and yellow anniversary

roses, hung upside down on the ghost blue wall,

like a pagan offering to a god that does not care

about us.

You can let her quiet introverted bones be a playground for your absolute refusal

to grow.

Your smile has grown root rot, my dear.

I could never,

despite trying,

require you not to stagnate, as a pre condition for our -now historical- gardening affair.

And you are a perfectionist avoidant,

like the finest stubborn orchid,

who surrounds herself with succulents,

and wonders why her landscape looks so much like a desert.

And wonders why she is unwaningly wilting.

You’ve deserted me,

but I should be a well,

a gushing laceration of gratitude,

that you no longer make regular deposits of your worry into me.

I am not a porcelain maelstrom.

I am not your abandoned landscape hungry for anything.

You wish that my fluids be flushed

out of me and my entirety

become an indigo expanse of insatiate cacti,

lit only by a faceless silver sliver,

who would be-and has been- my only companion,

while I lived as a stitch

woven into your safety net.

So go on my little graveyard,

fill the void in you, that could have held the universe,

with the smallest of words,

and a pallet of banal affections.

She too, will learn to cope with the decay one day.

Old Hollows

The spittle flecks

from his mouth are sallow as they land uninvited on the man’s

napkin. The yellow monotony of brittle conversation aches

in their cheek hollows. The man with the assaulted napkin

reaches old bones across the stretch of negative space

between the two men, past the acrid liquor in his glass,

the wood grain on the mahogany bar, past the angry shine

of the Rolex, unbuckled, on the napkin assaulters napkin, beneath a foggy

paper colored drink,

and touches the face of his old friend.

Two pairs of deep brown joy

beneath crate paper crows feet and yellowing teeth.

The ache of his blocky knuckles as he held them to his salt and pepper

5 ‘o clock prickle. Warm dark chocolate smile, beneath tart olive hands.

How they longed for this radiant moment.

How their chests palpitated sorely in each other’s absence.

They had been deeply in each other’s absence

and also in each other’s distance. Stacks of reports, invoices

and contracts, created miles of paper between them. The callous beneath

which the napkin assaultee had hidden this disruptive longing,

this pained severance, ripped from off his eyes and

beautiful tiny rivers followed the earthly crackles that trailed down his face.

So sacred are the tears of those brave enough to defy their own fate and sacred are the ones who hold them.

So olive took chocolate, in their un-precedentedly odd combination,

into his chest and held his alchemist palms,

line to line with his own.

To see if they could turn paper work into gold,

and red tape into ribbon. Maybe, they thought, they could tie themselves a bow

and marry their hollows

and longings

under the cruel red Los Angeles sunset.

Unfortunately for our men, Fate lacks

interest in the hope of old alchemists.

 

 On The Repressed Sexuality of The Great White North American Male

 In the carved open palm lines of your deepest depth

rests the open legs of every itch you’ve ever traversed

to find sexual authenticity.

Into the spineless sour

of your abandoned cavities. Enamel

laced with alcohols and acids.

You stand. You paint dry pictures on barren air canvasses,

taking your white collar only one button down.

Taking your desire only one button down.

You taste it only occasionally: hardened, blasé, heaving deeply, begging to be summoned

by some ungodly force of pig-tail-hand-holding-

romance, which does not exist, and you know this,

to save you from the seeping.

But you are breathing.

The desolate pink within you screams.

Your outsides sliding with the gasoline frolic.

You sit. You cross. You uncross. You browse.

Sleeping inside of your own living.

fucking, greasy, body.

Tapping shining black boats on the pavement as you rush to stare at a computer.

All.

Fucking.

Day.

You are held, like children seduced by creaking glorious swing sets, to the green paper gown covered in faces and the plastic handheld faceless connection

and every app you jam up your ass in search of a cantankerous convenience.

Ooooh, gurl, I like the way you ride my bourgeoisie.

Slippery and Cancerous.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my writing. Sharing my poetry is a sacred catharsis for me and I hope that you have been excited, enraged, aroused, or that the poetry has in some way inspired emotion in you. If you have poetry, writing, art, music or performance that you would like Isn’t it Queer? to share, we would love to see it! Feel free to link your work in the comment section below.

 

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Keep Reaching: Star Poetry

TarotTuesdayBanner

Today, The Star wanted to come out and play…

as a poem.

It feels like a good way to connect with this card, which always holds so much power and mystery for me.

DoubleStar

When you don’t know what else to do,

pour it all out.

Bound, trapped,

no way out but

overflowing.

The release of bondage

The contraction that births

The Star is

a safe word.

All of your containers cannot hold

your vision growing

the shining sky.

Do not try to hold it:

be held.

You are a body of water

learning the mysteries of river and sea.

I know you are tired of crying.

The Star is an asana.

The Star is a heart that keeps pumping.

The Star is kinky as fuck.

Breathe in:

inspire.

Blow palo santo smoke on your open palms

and keep reaching.

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TThe Particle Tarot's Star card by Dave McKean
The Particle Tarot’s Star card by Dave McKean

Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. Photos in this post are attributed to Kaeti unless otherwise specified. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

COM|PASSionate Events

Happy Friday REVOLUTIONARIES!

We know that posts have been a bit off kilter (and off schedule) here in our tiny little loving space on the inter webs. There’s has been travel, conferences, exams and general life that has been taking up a lot of our brain, body and heart spaces recently. We’re ready for some slow cooked, cell phones turned off, shoes left at the door, sleeping bags thrown on the couch for unexpected sleepovers, alarms snoozed, 2pm brunches, super low pressure hangout/chill time this way. We hope that along with all the wonderful revolution everyone is stirring that you’re also making a little space for the all important deep slow breath this weekend. If you’re looking for a little COM|PASSionate trouble, as always, here is our event round-up and announcements for upcoming fun community loving!!! 🙂

Image Credit {http://bit.ly/1KrQPlF}
Image Credit {http://bit.ly/1KrQPlF}

EVENTS

Get out, take care of yourself and heal in community!

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Don’t forget there’s lots of upcoming ways to get involved!

  • A friend of COM|PASSionate REVOLT, Maryam Rasouli, is offering counseling services for anyone that needs extra support during this difficult time that Muslims are going through via phone/in person/Skype. You can contact Maryam at 657-201-7508 or email her at mrasouli@gmail.com. Read more about Maryam on our Mental Health Resources page here and read her full bio in the post notes at the bottom of the page.
  • Lewis and Clark’s Gender Symposium is coming up 3/11-3/15 and we’ll be dreaming of Portland. The theme of this 34th annual conference is, Material Conditions: Gender, Sexuality and Capitalism. All lectures, sessions and art shows are FREE and open to the public! Get your deconstruction on REVOLUTIONARIES!**

RECOMMENDATIONS

Feeling like some quiet time at home is what you need? 

  • DARK MATTERCourtney Klink, the Butch Goddess and our contributor of Isn’t it Queer, reminded of us of some of our favorite poets/activists/all around amazing humans in her last post: Poetry Soup for Achy Souls. Dark Matter is a South Asian  performance art duo comprised of Alok Vaid-Menon and Janani Balasubramanian. They will make you laugh, cry, think, get inspired and get accountable– a tall order for any artist. Need a pick me up? Need some fire for movement? Need to simultaneously laugh/cry about the intersectional journey? Fall down a glorious Dark Matter bunny hole…

Dark Matter Website

Dark Matter YouTUBE

Return the Gayze (Alok Vaid-Menon)

Queer Dark Energy (Janani Balasubramanian)

In solidarity,

COM|PASSionate REVOLT

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*Events are put on by the CR Community/CR Community members. Other events are by friends of the CR Community or of interest to the CR Community. Feeling a little nervous about getting out and involved? Email us and if we can we’ll make some introductions so you have a friendly face to say “Hi” to when you get there!

**Most of these events will be local to Southern CA (unless we notice an event that sets us off into road trip dreamland.) If you want to do a COM|PASSionate event round-up for your local area let us know!

***Are you an individual, meet-up or community group that has some COM|PASSionate events of your own? Email us for details on how to submit your event to our calendar!

compassionaterevolt@gmail.com

****More about Maryam****

Maryam is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT#84366.) She received her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University, Maryam has worked in various organizations dealing with issues such as trauma, abuse, domestic violence, depression, anxiety, premarital and marital matters in Orange County for the past six years. She has also provided school counseling services for the past three years. Maryam has provided counseling and case management services to diverse communities including immigrants and newly arrived refugees. She has provided counseling services for youth, adults, couples, families, and groups. Maryam also speaks on various topics dealing with psychology and counseling at colleges, high schools, elementary schools, and community events. Maryam is fluent in Farsi and Dari and is conversational in Urdu. Orange County. She received her bachelor’s in Sociology with a minor in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. Additionally, Maryam is a certified Prepare and Enrich Facilitator for premarital counseling, and a member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. You can reach Maryam at 657-201-7508 or email her at mrasouli05@gmail.com

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

Isn’t it Queer?: Poetry Soup for Achy Souls

BannerWe may be living in a culture that worships doctors and Barbies. It may be kind of shitty. We are perpetually inundated with media that is “by the cis-male for the cis-male,” “tits, ass and football!” and trying to live and thrive as a marginalized identity can lend itself to feeling lonely, invisible, disenfranchised and ostracized. Sometimes our ability to swiftly jump the gender binary, despite us knowing how talented and strong that makes us, can instead make us the target of unnecessary scrutiny by the painfully uninformed. Sometimes being a person of color who embraces your hair and the darkness of your skin, rather than adopting white norms of beauty can make you an outsider, rather than the fashion pioneer that we know you are.

For those of us that work in industries where the main topic of conversation with co-workers is barely able to surpass the Super Bowl commercials or whoever is currently arguing with Kim Kardashian on Twitter, it can leave us hungry for more substantial interactions and more meaningful dialogue. This is especially true for those of us living alternative lifestyles because we are already combating an un-inclusive cultural environment on top of the job problems, the I-had-a-fucking-crazy-childhood-problems, and the I can’t-fucking-afford-gas problems, that everyone else is dealing with. We all need small talk to blow off steam, don’t get me wrong, but how often is that small talk affirming of our non-cis, lgbtq, or poc identity? Never? Yeah me too. So for today’s episode of, Isn’t it Queer? I will be showcasing poetry exclusively from women of color, queer/trans/non-cis individuals, and individuals with alternative love preferences, with the intention of bringing healing food to your achy soul. Poetry is the keyhole we peer into, to find where our soul hides out when it is injured. These poems come from the pain, passion and struggle of their authors and are born with a variety of intentions. Poetry can be built with the intention of healing, of commiserating, of illuminating or of vocalizing a point of view that is overlooked by the mainstream ear. So, with love and compassionate revolution, I bring you poetry to sooth of the achy soul:

 Donna Kate Rushin

I highly recommend that every person on the planet read this incredible, groundbreaking collection of poetry and essays. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Here is a sample by Donna Kate Rushin, The Bridge Called My Back:

I’ve had enough 
I’m sick of seeing and touching 
Both sides of things 
Sick of being the damn bridge for everybody

Nobody 
Can talk to anybody 
Without me Right?

I explain my mother to my father my father to my little sister 
My little sister to my brother my brother to the white feminists 
The white feminists to the Black church folks the Black church folks 
To the Ex-hippies the ex-hippies to the Black separatists the 
Black separatists to the artists the artists to my friends’ parents…

Then 
I’ve got the explain myself 
To everybody

I do more translating 
Than the Gawdamn U.N.

Forget it 
I’m sick of it

I’m sick of filling in your gaps

Sick of being your insurance against 
The isolation of your self-imposed limitations 
Sick of being the crazy at your holiday dinners 
Sick of being the odd one at your Sunday Brunches 
Sick of being the sole Black friend to 34 individual white people

Find another connection to the rest of the world 
Find something else to make you legitimate 
Find some other way to be political and hip

I will not be the bridge to your womanhood 
Your manhood 
Your human-ness

I’m sick of reminding you not to 
Close off too tight for too long

I’m sick of mediating with your worst self 
On behalf you your better selves

I am sick 
Of having to remind you 
To breathe 
Before you suffocate 
Your own fool self

Forget it 
Stretch or drown 
Evolve or die

The bridge I must be 
Is the bridge to my own power 
I must translate 
My own fears 
Mediate 
My own weaknesses

I must be the bridge to nowhere 
But my true self 
And then 
I will be useful

 I personally adore this piece because of it’s affirming nature. The message that we are not obligated to be people’s interpreters or curators but they are instead obligated to research and explore the things they do not understand. Sometimes I read this one mid-workday to remind me not to take on other people’s ignorance as my personal battle.

 Janani Balasubramanian

Now, dear readers, let’s hear some spoken word. Go on Poet, don’t be nice! Poet and author, Janani Balasubramanian’s, “trans/national,” illustrates the plurality of masculinity through his family’s response to his transition, he ties in colonialism, white masculinity, and misogyny and in general just kicks a bunch of ass.

Balasubramanian’s visceral expression is a powerful commitment to resist male and white privilege, to hold and embrace his culture and family, and to be authentically him. What commitments do you own enough to announce them boldly?

 Nayyirah Waheed

Holy Shit buy Salt, by Nayyirah Waheed. I was introduced to this incredible woman’s poetry by my co-blogger Lyneonme. Her poetry has the purifying power of it’s clever title and it will open and heal you. Waheed’s, Salt, is a series of short poems that builds a fertile soil for your empowerment and personal growth, and if ever there was a poet that will incite your healing, she is that poet. With gratitude, I bring you a few of her gorgeous missives:

“if 
the ocean 
can calm itself, 
so can you.
we 
are both 
salt water 
mixed with 
air.”

“i love myself.’

the 
quietest.
simplest. 
most
powerful.
revolution. 
ever.” 

“remember,
you were a writer 
before
you ever 
put 
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing 
externally. 
does not mean you were not writing
internally.” 

“you
not wanting me
was
the beginning of me
wanting myself
thank you” 

“expect sadness
like
you expect rain.
both,
cleanse you.” 

 -To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

———-

Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

e

Isn’t it Queer?: Our Legion of Closets

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We live in a wounded culture, one where each of us is required to not just “be in the [proverbial] closet,” about who we choose to love, but also to create a legion of closets within which we are required to confine our personal interests. One closet, say the one where we hide our sparkly, faux, patent-leather, unicorn-shaped paddle for our weekly spankings may not be the same closet in which we hide our lipstick, platform heels, and formidable piles of sequins, from our straight male friends. One closet you may have the unbelievable strength to keep, is the one in which we hide our volcanic desire to live authentically, the one that drives us to show up for eight hours, armed to the toes, in black ballet flats and/or presentable button up shirts, rather than follow artistic wiles to do something genuine and inspiring… I call that one the career closet. Our identities are so begrudgingly entangled in the roles we are taught to play in order to survive, that we begin to believe that performing our roles in a satisfactory manner, makes us worthy of love and connection. No wonder so many of us feel trapped. Which is why for today’s entry I bring you, my lovely rainbow warriors, some of history’s most prolific radical artists and poets. These two women, Audre Lorde and Frida Kahlo both felt the unbearable tearing of their culture’s expectations. Both women rebelled and healed their wounds, with extraordinary art. Enjoy:

Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea
{Frida Kahlo: A Woman With An Arizona Heart and a Bathtub Full of Tea}

Kahlo, a radical supporter of the Mexican Revolution and the Communist movement in the 1940’s, and an openly bi-sexual woman, is now famous for her viscerally painted depictions of herself drenched in constant symbolic limbo, torn between two worlds. In Los Dos Fridas (1939), she depicts herself twice, her westernized self tries to stop the gushing of her blood from her open vein with surgical tools, as her somber insides soak her European style garb. Opposite herself, her indigenous self, holds her hand and continues to provide blood and life force to sustain both of them.

{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}
{Los Dos Fridas (1939)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

{Arbol de Esperanza (1946)}

Advice on surviving love and life from a compassionate revolutionary:

” Leaving is not enough. You must stay gone. Train your heart like a dog. Change the locks even on the house he’s never visited. You lucky, lucky girl. You have an apartment just your size. A bathtub full of tea. A heart the size of Arizona, but not nearly so arid. Don’t wish away your cracked past, your crooked toes, your problems are paper mache puppets you made or bought because the vendor at the market was so compelling you just had to have them. You had to have him. And you did. And now you pull down the bridge between your houses, you make him call before he visits, you take a lover for granted, you take a lover who looks at you like maybe you are magic. Make the first bottle you consume in this place a relic. Place it on whatever altar you fashion with a knife and five cranberries. Don’t lose too much weight. Stupid girls are always trying to disappear as revenge. And you are not stupid. You loved a man with more hands than a parade of beggars, and here you stand. Heart like a four-poster bed. Heart like a canvas. Heart leaking something so strong they can smell it in the street.”

Audre Lorde: “Revolution is not a one time event.”

lorde

Audre Lorde, a black, lesbian, feminist, born of Caribbean immigrants and raised in Harlem, set a new precedent for activists and writers, regarding the intersectionality of oppressions in 1950-60s American culture. In Sister Outsider (1976-1984), she wrote,

“I find I am constantly being encouraged to pluck out some one aspect of myself and present this as the meaningful whole, eclipsing or denying the other parts of self.”

Bold spirited and relentlessly honest, Lorde’s poem Who Said It Was Simple (1973), concisely illustrates her disillusionment with white feminist colleagues, unaware of the blatant racism they witnessed, while they planned a women’s right’s demonstration (Irony loves those of us with the best intentions):

Who Said It Was Simple (1970)

“There are so many roots to the tree of anger   

that sometimes the branches shatter   

before they bear.

 

Sitting in Nedicks

the women rally before they march   

discussing the problematic girls   

they hire to make them free.

An almost white counterman passes   

a waiting brother to serve them first   

and the ladies neither notice nor reject   

the slighter pleasures of their slavery.   

But I who am bound by my mirror   

as well as my bed

see causes in colour

as well as sex

 

and sit here wondering   

which me will survive   

all these liberations.

Words from Lorde on how to heal during your many revolutions and rebirths:

For Each of You (1968)

“Be who you are and will be
learn to cherish
that boisterous Black Angel that drives you
up one day and down another
protecting the place where your power rises
running like hot blood
from the same source 
as your pain.

When you are hungry
learn to eat
whatever sustains you
until morning
but do not be misled by details
simply because you live them.

Do not let your head deny
your hands
any memory of what passes through them
not your eyes
nor your heart
everything can be used
except what is wasteful
(you will need
to remember this when you are accused of destruction.)
Even when they are dangerous examine the heart of those machines you hate
before you discard them
and never mourn the lack of their power
lest you be condemened
to relieve them.
If you do not learn to hate
you will never be lonely
enough
to love easily
nor will you always be brave
although it does not grow any easier

Do not pretend to convenient beliefs
even when they are righteous
you will never be able to defend your city
while shouting.

Remember whatever pain you bring back 
from your dreaming
but do not look for new gods
in the sea
nor in any part of a rainbow
Each time you love
love as deeply as if were
forever
only nothing is
eternal.

Speak proudly to your children
where ever you may find them
tell them
you are offspring of slaves
and your mother was
a princess
in darkness. “

Simply put, none of this is simple. Sometimes the art of creating ones true self is damningly complex and painfully intricate. Braving the world outside of our closets, drawers, sometimes even wardrobes, can feel like a giftless venture, but as Lorde said, “If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Our expression of our pain, our passion and our anger is our vitality, and I plead with you, dear reader, to do just that. Even if it’s from within your closet and you are creating from within your darkness, read, fuck, write, play, sing, dance, paint, tattoo yourself with your experiences. You are a vibrant night light of joy and you are valuable just as you were created, as quiet, as inquisitive or as queer, as you might be.

 

-To your personal revolts and riots and especially to your learning,

Cory

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Cory is a poet and novelist in the Los Angeles area. They have worked in mental health, education, social justice and fashion blogging and they aim to lead by example by bravely living an examined lifestyle.

“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

Audre Lord

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