Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"The time is always ripe to do good"-MLK, Jr.

How will you say you spent this day? Whatever happens, a day to remember.
I woke up at the wee hour of 7 and washed my face and brushed my teeth. I was on the 3rd day of my period. I ditched work. Meg came to pick me up and she and I watched the inauguration at Cafe Pena in Berkeley. There were tears and gospel and latte and JOY! Then we were on to Revolution Cafe in West Oakland to meet up with Shelly. We sat in a circle, computers on laps, and half-watched the inaugural coverage (parades, etc) and half-wrote poems. Later, we decided to go for a walk. And when Meg suggested we walk in my neighborhood, I thought she must be joking. But she wasn't and we did.
I swear, I don't know if I can get tired of those two. And I can't really think of a more wonderfully luxurious/deeply challenging way to have spent this historic day. From dramatic firsts and songs of triumph, to poems for the dead and mandates for the living, I do not think I could have served my country better than I did today. I took up my duty, as I see it, as I have accepted it, with a full-bodied engagement. I sat in community with my colleagues and we thought, long and hard, about what it all meant. We chatted and scribbled and asked questions. We attempted to notice what was happening and how. I am a poet, amongst poets, and today, I say it proudly, we did our Job.
I will never forget the way he smiles, o dear, and throws the ball right back at us - this 44th president of the United States. And while he is proud that we have chosen him, he is working hard to remind us that it only implies that we have chosen ourselves. This man with the deepest appreciation of service is bound to lead the way, in boldness, and with the courage to change what isn't working. May his example infect us all with an unshakable sense of urgency to carry out the ends of justice and unfettered joy in this world. Now is the time.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mercy, Raining Down?

My fucking goodness, it's a strange world. I am NOT listening to the Chet Baker station on Pandora, as I often do while sitting in my room. I am listening, for once, to the "silence" of West Oakland. There are helicopters and many police sirens. I'm watching them, like bright dragonflies above downtown. The fan I sleep with (for, holy fuck, "white noise") is called "Hawaiian Breeze". It is a silver-ribbed, squat R2D2 of a fan with one named eye.
Colorado was quiet. Was snowy winter.
There is a protest going on. I am not there because I feared violence. I am here, on this white computer. I am retyping what I misspell. Delete. Delete. I am fond of short sentences, strung together like a garment of lace. I am not ashamed. Can you see my ass? From where you're sitting? Can you?
Sat in Revolution Cafe today. Went to the post office. Drank $2 wine. My mother says my writing ( the work I recently gave her) is unclear. "I must confess sometimes I miss the point when it reads so poeticly. Seems pretty abstract sometimes, but it was good."
She loves me. Still, how does a writer lose her own mother, you may be asking. Fuck if I know.
I found out tonight that I am getting another poem published in another magazine called Monkey Puzzle! SO strange to write. Do you all understand that you are obliged, as I said to Paola today, to read my shit from here on out? I have a lot more to say, I assure you. This is only the beginning.
Today, they arrested Johannes Meserhle, the young, white BART officer who murdered Oscar Grant, in Tahoe. My fucking goodness. I saw graffiti, two days ago, that said "arrest Johnnes Meserhle". Now what/
Helicopters. oh, polarized state! I like the notion of ending with a prayer: In name of the things that connect us. In name of the things that don't. Like the howl of a train, at night.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

For Oscar and Others

Wow. Blogging is intense. Can't really stop once you start. Or reading other people's. It kind of feels like going up to your rooftop and yelling your news into a big black megaphone that you are sure all your people can hear. It feels like a big ol' relief a lot of the time. An unbound journal.
All my roommates are out of town right now. My phone is cut off. I am broke. It's weird to be in this house all alone, and kind of scary. I cleaned up, had a session with my beloved Georgia Rose, and went for a long walk up and down Mandela Parkway, singing my head off to the workout mix I made for Angie. Then I came home and cooked a pot of pintos and some basmati rice. I was about to eat, but I really wanted some tortilla chips to go with my rice n beans. So I decided to walk up to the 99 cent store on the corner. I considered not going because it was already dark and shit has been crazy in my neighborhood lately, but it's only 2 blocks, so I went for it. I got: sour cream, chips, half & half, and pasta sauce. The woman in front of me in line was taking a really long time, flirting with the cashier until she found out he was married and then he asked to hold her baby and finally she paid and I wasn't in a hurry, so I just waited patiently. By the time I walked out of the store, I could see police lights in front of my house. I was like, oh damn, not again. As I got up to my house I asked one of the several cops what had happened and he asked if I lived here, pointing to my house. I said yes and he told me there had been a shooting. Apparently, the bullet ricocheted and only hit the guys' ear. Too fucking close for comfort, man. He was sitting on the sidewalk in front of my house, surrounded by cops. They hadn't caught the perpetrator. It was a drive-by. And I had only missed it by a couple of minutes.
I am numb, by the way, as I write this. It begins to feel like TV when this stuff happens so often. I mean, just last night I watched the video of the BART police officer shooting Oscar Grant in the back at the Fruitvale station on New Years Eve. It's just too much to take in. Too much to let be real in a bodily way. I mean, I HAVE to leave the house. I HAVE to go places. I can't be terrified all the time, so it feels like all I can do is shut down. I know that's not true though, and I am resolving to keep on putting my mind on this terror in session so I don't stay numb. But right now, I'm alone. I can't thaw out now. And it's like, who do you trust? The fucking cops are the ones who shot Oscar Grant. The fucking cops are the ones who shot the guy Meg saw killed. And then there are drive-bys. Utterly random murders. People dying. Just getting ticked the fuck off as though they were already on a list. The After-Thanksgiving-Shooting was in the middle of the day, same exact spot as this one, at night. That spot is directly out my bedroom window. That window is right above my bed. That bed is where I sleep and write and hope to one day fuck. It's where I am right now.
I took that OK Cupid "dating persona" test and was really bothered by the question that asked whether you would rather 10 people die, or die yourself. Tai Amri was laughing at me for getting so riled up, but I was like, no! fuck this shit, I don't want to know this about myself. I was gonna skip it. But then I read the next question, which was the same question, but with 10,000 people instead of 10. So I went back and answered as best I could under those artificial circumstances: me over 10 people, 10,000 over me - now I ask you, how did that math get worked out? Who formulated and executed that equation in my mind? What do we do when we don't like the answers we give, but don't want to change our answers, either? How THE FUCK do you calculate that kind of a question? On what criteria? It is just absurd from the very get-go. I want to live. And I want all of you to live. (The particulars eating away all semblance.) Oh heavy, heavy head.
It shouldn't be a question, doesn't have to be. ALL people deserve to live. Could we just say that, and then go from there? Wouldn't that be alright? But "deserving to live" is a highly interpretable statement. For me, "deserving" must demand a practical way for that living to find existence. There is too much of everything for there to be not enough. Capitalism, won't ya come down already! I'm about ready for the wealth to start getting spread around like John McCain was so afraid of. Wouldn't that be a nice change of pace? Friends, I'm numbed out, but really pissed off way deep down.
I came home from Texas with a zip-locked baggie of my grandmother's "ashes". She is little calcium pieces and gravel. It looks like a bunch of stuff that came from a beach somewhere. Shells, beat to roundness on the shore. Bleached and ashen. The skin is gone. Dried and drying. A hole, closed back up. I don't know what that means. That I used to rub lotion on Gramma's dry skin, that Oscar Grant's mama used to kiss his real head. And now, rocks. Rubble. Stones. And if that kind of change is possible in one body, soft to hard, why not also for our hearts? I pray, oh god, for melting.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm Reading (in public, no less!)

I love that I get to begin the new year like this: Tonight I was invited to read in San Francisco's Bang Out Reading Series. Holy shit. Friends, I have never read anywhere but at school and a couple of open mics. Open water, indeed. I hope you all realize that if you live within a 100 mile radius of SF, barring dangerously contagious illness, you will be required to attend this event. Mark your calendars if you love me at all. It will be at Amnesia on Valencia starting at 7pm on Saturday, January 17th, 2009. Come give me the moral support I so desperately crave. Come hear me do this thing.

More info on the venue: http://www.amnesiathebar.com/Amnesia/Amnesia_-_Home.html
and the Bang Out Reading Series: http://bangoutsf.com/

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Open Water

Ooh, new year. Everything starts again. Great talks with my girls last night (Syd and Selah) and today (Heather and Sarah). Folks, I am a bumbling fool. I mean, what do I do with myself now that I am back from Dallas and not in school? Write, I guess. Shelly is coming over in a minute and we are having a writing date. And tomorrow I have a writing date with a new friend, MG, at her house. Um, isn't this exactly what a Writer's life is supposed to look like? Check, check. Meg suggested we get published in 2009, and I quite like that idea. No roadmaps yet, only just ideas. Just wishes and hopes. Pure desire.

I am thinking about not having kids. I know it may sound a little crazy right now because I haven't got a partner or anything approximating financial security or a career or any of that stuff that is "supposed" to come first. But I think it's a really important thing, I was telling my Ma, for every feminist to consider. I mean, it was such a given for so long, such a non-issue, that I think it must really become something for women to really study and prod into. Being with my nieces this past time reminded me of exactly how deeply in love I can be with children who are not my own (barely). And it always feels so good to go back to my own life after my trips to the Big-D. I am considering how much more time I want. See, I spent so much of my younger years sad and trying to make things work out in a chaotic family that (and everyone who knows me knows this) I didn't get to start figuring out what I really wanted or needed until I was in my mid-late twenties. When I consider needing to have a baby by the time I am in my mid-late thirties, I get squeamish. I don't know if 10 years is enough for me.

Undoubtedly, if I could live to 150, I would have a child from my own body. The thought of not doing it feels like the worst thing in all the world to me. Almost. But not quite. So I am trying to let myself luxuriate in the mere consideration of not having children. I am trying to feel what that feels like. Trying to mine that space for the answers it wants to give. Some first impressions are: weightlessness, void, sorrow, and a seamless sense of possibility. I mean, what if I truly decide to never put a bookend on my own self being at the center of my own life? I am getting too wise to not see that children need FAR more than they are getting, as is. If I decide to have one, I am bound and determined to figure out something completely new. I promise to keep ya'll posted.

In other news, I watched a movie, "Open Water" with Zoe last night. It is one of her terrible, guilty pleasures. Bad shark movies. It was really bad. But, I did find it fascinating to consider the open water. The dangling of legs into nothingness. The way creatures come up to nibble or bite at what floats on the surface. The utter vastness and unmappability of all that ocean when you are just floating in the current. In the end (and I don't feel bad telling you this because it truly IS that bad), the couple who had been left behind by their scuba tour get eaten by several sharks. The guy had been bitten earlier and had bled to death. The woman kisses his dead face and relinquishes him to the school of sharks surrounding them. He begins to bob up and down, getting yanked apart. She silently, calmly, slips out of her tank and gear and goes under. Goes right for them. Into the feeding frenzy. After 24 hours of trying so hard to fight it, she goes right into the thick of it, right toward the bite. That image of open water is gonna stay with me for a long time to come. It just feels like the best metaphor for the things I am trying to confront in 2009: my sexual/desirous/desirable self, my opulently open-ended future, my fat-ass mind and all the things it wants to think up and say, and the unbearable excitement and anticipation I feel when I even *try* to imagine what I will write this year. Loves, I don't know when Ima come up, but I have GOT to see what is down there. I have GOT to let current carry me. I bet Ima get bit. There might be blood.

The open ocean Pictures, Images and Photos