Sometimes the Body Stays

You braid your fingers into mine and bite my lip until I whimper just enough to get you off. You insert two fingers into the swelling place where I can’t help but come undone and you know it and I hate it but I want it just the same only worse than usual tonight because tonight I cannot bear the thought of tomorrow. I catch a glimpse of us in the mirror on the wall as you look at me without seeing anything I wish you could.

But I can’t see myself all that clearly these days so to blame you really isn’t fair although who’s to say what’s fair and what isn’t in a world so complicated, trembling, and half destroyed.

As you suck my neck like you’re thirsty for someone else’s blood and press your hands to spread my thighs I am reminded that beauty and filth are a similar kind of artistic expression if you think about it wrong. It doesn’t matter and you needn’t dwell on it, I am a thousand miles away from this disheveled cave, conspiracy theories stalking through my manic head. Take the whiskey, take a drag, take the hand which reaches to pull me high above the thunderous clouds.

I can see inside the souls of the frightened ones. The sweet apocalypse like candy fire sliding all over their forked tongues.

Everybody is afraid of the end, all convinced it’s here or will be any minute. And so vigilance. And so the skittish and the paranoid and the constant riot inside the rib cage and the screaming. It’s the waiting that disturbs them most. They cannot stand that they cannot stand not to know what they can never know for sure and so the guns and so the neon faces and the dislocation of limbs and brittle minds and fragile bodies.

And somehow you finish. And somehow I can tell. And somewhere deep inside my blood begins to rush again through my veins and my ears and my eyes are filled with mysterious tears I imagine are sacred like the stars. But the stars, of course, are empty. They’ve all but gone out a long time ago.

Sand pours through the slender neck of time. Space cradles the tiny erosions which scratch at the skin of the moon. Sometimes the body stays in place of the heart, covers for the soul. Sometimes the only thing you are desperate to hold is the thing that’s falling apart.

New Spacetrash Podcast Episode: The Biden-Harris Inauguration Episode! Hope, Celebration, and Bernie Sanders’ Mittens

Your favorite cousins are back with FULL COVERAGE of all that is the historic Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris!

Mark and I discuss the feelings we didn’t even know we could feel after toppling a dictator, the fashion, the love, the incredible spectacle of Lady Gaga, JLo, Garth Brooks, as well as the show-stopping, breathtaking beauty and command of Amanda Gorman performing her brilliant poetry.

It is a time – brief as it may be – to celebrate how far we have come.

We talk everything from Bernie’s fantastic mittens to finally being able to get back to making art without feeling guilty that we let the world fall apart on our watch.

Relax for a bit. Let the leaders lead. We did good.

Grab a drink, listen to Spacetrash Podcast on Spotify (or wherever you listen to podcasts), and come chill with us!

 

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Photo by Anthony Fomin

The Dawning of a New Day in America

We made it through. This is the first thing to say, because it is true and it is monumental. President Biden is in the White House safe and sound and we breathe and weep and try to take it all in. To understand what it means to feel the flutters of ecstatic joy, the rush of blessed relief, and the gut wrench of utter grief and disbelief all at once.

I, for one, am exhausted yet contented in a way I never could have predicted. Watching the majesty of the Inauguration yesterday felt like power in the way narrowly escaping the clutches of death feels like power – exhilarating but also let’s not do this again, yeah?

Let’s not let this country dissolve into such madness as it has over the last years.

In 2017 I wrote a poem titled “Regeneration” which appears in my book Luminae:

Everything will fall away.
Even the beautiful things.
This will be the beginning.

I wrote it while imagining the worst was yet to come from the administration at that time. I was right. Everything fell away. Even, and it seemed on purpose and especially, the beautiful things. Safety, health, compassion, truth, dignity, all fell away.

The nation was stripped to the bone.

We didn’t just have to see ourselves naked, we were forced to bare witness to ourselves as only skin and bone. We became skeletal. Vulnerable. We were starved intellectually, spiritually, mentally, creatively. In all the ways that mattered most, we were beaten down and threatened.

Our very existence was called into question again and again.

Yesterday we finally got the answer to that question, at least for now. American democracy is not dead, tested and tattered as it may have become.

Yesterday we rose from the ashes. We have a real chance now to reflect on how close we came to annihilation. And also ground ourselves in hope in a way we couldn’t before because we never knew how truly dire it could have been.

We pulled each other out and pulled each other through. What I like best about President Biden is his true and honest and deep compassion. What I like best about Vice President Kamala Harris is her strength and confidence and also her deep and palpable compassion.

We have leaders who know how to lead. With science, with truth, with care and with love. Love as in grit, determination, and vision for how to rise to the best in us. And they know they are there to serve us. We the people. Americans.

I am still overwhelmed by the emotions of this time. It will be a while before I stop flinching at the word “President” or dreading the daily headlines before I remember that we have integrity now, we can be proud now and not ashamed.

There is much to work through, much to heal, much to do. But we are in it together. And we made it, finally, achingly, to the third line of that poem I wrote those many years ago, from a place of deep sorrow, and deep hope:

This will be the beginning.  

 

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Photo by Alimarel

 

Inside the American Nightmare

A few words appear, then disappear in reverse.

We say it and don’t say it. We ‘Happy New Year’ and scuttle away as fast as our fragile bones can take us to the safety of isolation once again.

What do you even say when your country is falling to hell.

The melon sky simmers the last of the winter day’s sky into smoke as I close my eyes and dream of anywhere else.

It happens like this: you are repeatedly filled simultaneously with shock and dread. As you are trying to process the horror of the most recent trauma, you are bracing yourself also for the next.

And there is always a next.

And this is repeated for years and years non-stop. The relentlessness of cruelty. The cheering on of the madness.

What is even worth saying when you are so exhausted by the end of the day your stomach hurts and your eyes ache and everything around you is cold as the icicles you saw last weekend, formed into perfect sharp daggers by frozen rushes of water plunging through the trees.

It is not enough to survive. You have to try to do it minute by minute, focus on each heart beat, each update, each revelation more gruesome than the last, you have to cling to each, like stepping stones you grab with your fists or your teeth.

The angriest parts of yourself, the saddest, they cling. they try to move you forward in spite of themselves. In spite of you.

Try to hold on. Try to hold on, it has to be over soon.

But nothing ends anymore. Not around here.

I’m sick to death of counting down to things. Dates. Elections. Deaths. Infections. Decisions. Betrayals. Disasters we should have seen coming.

We should have stopped it. It should never have come to this.

And so a deep well of disappointment, of desperation for a time gone by, opens up inside to swallow the shock and the dread and the utter, utter grief. And you realize the abyss they threw you into is threatening now the last of your sanity, your will, your equilibrium.

And if you understand what I am saying here, if you know how this feels, people will tell you not to feel it. They will try to cheer you up, make you see the good things, they will try to force your healing before it is time.

And you can tell them all to fuck off. Because I will tell you this, above everything else, feel your feelings. The true ones. If they are honest they are hurting, aching, crying, screaming.

This has been an American tragedy over and over and over for years.

We got here by denial. We laid our faith down in a bed of lies and hoped someone else would save us.

I am not sure why I write this, maybe to document my experience for fear it drifts away from me, even though I kind of wish it would.

We should be most afraid that we may forget. They want nothing more than for us to forget.

I try to catch all of it. I try to write it into history, but my mind gets heavy and my spirit falls like frigid winter rain.

It is tiresome, you know? This waiting for the end.

 

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Photo by Mike Palmowski

My Greatest Wish for Disillusioned Artists at the End of 2020

 

When I came across this passage in my readings the other day, it stopped me in my tracks. I re-read these particular lines a few times, letting them sink in. It was the first time I read something about exactly what I have been feeling for a few years now, most especially this year:

“I have written a lot of articles and several books about Russia’s transformation under Vladimir Putin, but the experience I’ve always found hardest to describe is one of feeling as if creativity and imagination were sucked out of society after he came to power. The reason is not so much censorship or even intimidation as it is indifference. When the state took over television, for example, it wasn’t just that the news was censored: it was that the new bosses didn’t care about the quality of the visuals or the writing. The same thing happened in other media, in architecture, in filmmaking. Life in an autocracy is, among other things, dull.” – Masha Gessen, for the The New Yorker

One of the insidious cruelties of living through an attempted coup by a sadistic psychopathic wanna-be dictator and his fellow goons is one that goes unspoken but not unnoticed by the artist.

When you are made to be constantly on alert for the next crazed dangerous act against the dignity of humanity, you enter into survival mode. What to watch for? How to know when it’s “really bad”? If it is really bad, what even do you do to protect yourself, the ones you love?

You become obsessed with understanding the new hell hole you find yourself in suddenly. At some point, and you can never quite put your finger on that point, it all becomes life or death. Sink or swim. Put up or shut up.

And all the while, a numbness toward your own writing, your own art, your own creativity, seems to have permanently lodged itself within your own spirit. You feel as if access to your very soul has been hijacked.

It becomes impossible to create the way you used to because you used to be able to detach yourself from the world entirely in order to touch the freedom inside of you, the wilderness. How that wilderness would welcome you readily into her beautiful dark.

When a leader disregards all life and crushes the pursuit of liberty and freedom for all every five seconds, a cloud of hopelessness, numbness, uselessness, descends into your body little by little. And because you are so disoriented by the noise and the chaos and the shock and the anger, you do not seem to realize what is happening to you.

Until you want to create something and find exhaustion where vitality used to be.

Indifference where curiosity once thrived.

I haven’t talked about this with anyone, but this is what I have been experiencing for a long time now. I haven’t told anyone because until I read the above passage, I didn’t really even know what I was feeling.

There will be a push for us to forget, to sweep all of the brutality of the past four years under the rug and just move on. Pretend it never happened.

But if you forfeit your opportunity to name what happened, to understand the depths of the wounds you have at the hands of a lunatic with a lust for death and destruction, how will you ever recover your creativity?

There has to be a clearing, or perhaps more precisely, a clarity. A clear awareness of what you have endured, what it felt like, why it felt that way.

Because you are never going back to the way it was before. Now you have experienced the madness and the shock of the realization that blunt viciousness can also cause a dullness within. Abuse causes a dulling of the senses without your even realizing it because your nerves are too busy fraying at the edges over and over and over again.

The next twelve days are holidays for me. I’m planning to close out this terrible year with a great deal of quietude, soul searching, reading, poetry, journaling, and time in nature.

I love the winter. The solace of the silence of the snowy cold and endless white-blanketed fields.

With all my heart I hope that we artists are not buried for good, but slumbering.

That in the darkness we learn again to thaw, again to melt, again to let go.

Again to dream.

 

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Photo by Hannah Gullixson

Pretend It Doesn’t Hurt Us

The snow is coming down like a beautiful crystal mess. In each intricate icy bit of frozen lace, the rigid pixels of the year falling down on hard pavement.

Melting like a suicide. Like an attempt to disappear by smoothly changing form. The texture of resistance, slipping, slipping.

There is a softness in the sharp cut of the cold that cannot be explained because it stands still in the midst of the motion.

Peace at the center of the chaos, as if it had never ceased to exist.

It’s the gray dullness of a winter afternoon just around two o’clock which is the time of day I hate the most. It’s too late and too early to decide what to do because you are sick to death of the morning dragging itself on and your bones ache for the sensual cover of evening dark.

For the life of me I cannot understand why people hate the early darkness of winter. What are they even doing in the light that is so goddamn important?

I am standing in my back garden watching the tall naked trees cling to the blanketing white, all is quiet as the heartbeat underneath the stiffened fingers of my rib cage.

Stepping into the doorway under a tiny overhang, I light up a cigarette and take a sweet deep suck, my cheeks pulling in like carved hollows. I know I shouldn’t but I love the dirty taste. I crave the clench in my tender lungs like a pathetic ragged hug.

Smoke curls up into the white swirling around me as I imagine drifting away entirely, my body only a whisper on the wind which moves the highest branches against a pillowed sky.

Before we can know what we even had we are ready to lose it all for a lick of the desire for something so much more than this. For all the beauty, there is a sadness we cling to perhaps so that we don’t lose ourselves into the madness.

Pain as sanity. Pain as anchor. Pain as real.

But when I look out across a landscape flush with fallen leaves, fallen trees, broken fences crushed against broken dreams, I wonder.

Can’t we just cover it.

Bury it, let it freeze. Pretend like the past didn’t hurt us in places we refuse to see.

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Photo by Taya Iv

If 2020 Taught Me Anything It’s This

Somehow the radical reality of this year seems to be setting in as we are pushed into the holidays. I have no problems staying home. Staying in. Staying isolated.

Both because I want nothing to do with spreading the deadly virus, and because I’m just really, heavily, fully, mightily tired.

Learning to hold righteous rage in the same palmed fist with genuine compassion has left me feeling raw, shredded, exposed, and inadequate in so very many ways.

Being unable to hug the ones I love the most in this world has left me feeling a loneliness I never knew I could feel. A longing stretches out within me, a reaching, a craving for the kind of up close and intimate touching I always loved but now realize I took for granted, too.

I am a big bear tight squeeze hugger. Hugging is my favorite. Not in a creepy way, mind you, in the kind of way where it is just a flood of gratitude to be with each other. A tiny fleeting ecstatic celebration. That we have each other. That we can hold on and hold fast and know we are not alone hurtling through empty space.

A lot of empty space this year. And plenty of chaos, fear, terror, and turmoil to fill it.

So I’m not going to fill my holidays with screens or Zooms or chaos. I can’t stomach it. I can’t be bothered to do or be a single thing or way other than what I am. Exhausted. Over it. Done.

There will be plenty of delicious food, and many bottles of wine. There will be a table glowing with candles and set elegantly with silverware and crystal for my two greatest loves in all the universe, my husband and my son.

There will be holiday jazz.

There will be pine boughs on the mantle.

There will be pajamas all day and an endless number of cut logs blazing in the fireplace.

Warm hearts and laughter and complete and total ignorance of the outside world.

I need my bubble now. I need to reconnect with the beauty of nature and the quiet thorough joy of reading for hours on end. Leftovers. Sleeping in. Twinkle lights.

The thing about 2020 has been the countless ways it has broken, stretched, and shattered my insides. The hard lessons. The breathtaking manner in which people and events, culture and society, have snapped me wide awake.

Hit me like a lightening bolt over and over and over again.

But the truth is you cannot stay awake forever. You will go insane.

So for now, rest.

For now, enough.

For now, peace in our tiny homes.

In our little trembling hearts.

 

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Photo by Joyce Huis

 

 

America, What the Fuck

I live in a country where Kyle Rittenhouse gets out on two million dollars bail, praised, uplifted, …. and rumors of some bullshit deal with a coffee company? It’s so stupid I didn’t even bother looking into it.

He murdered two people in the street in plain sight.

He’s a kid. He’s old enough to know. By seventeen, you know a lot of things. You have learned what is right, what is wrong. What you have been encouraged, expected, even, to become.

A hero. A murderer. What are these words we use? On which we cannot agree? What is sickness? What is health? What is criminal? What is commercial?

I live in a country where we incarcerate for profit. Entire lives are thrown away for money. Depends, of course, on what you look like. Not what you did. That’s always, somehow, debatable.

This administration is dragging its buffoon clown feet on transitioning. What absolute fucking fools. What completely ignorant useless bastards.

People are dying. Starving. Jobless. Homeless. On the precipice of eviction just before the bitter cold of winter sets in hard, dark, and indifferent.

And the ones who could help, they turn their backs.

The rich and powerful head on home to their glossy marble fireplaces and turkey dinner super spreader events as the doctors and nurses cry alone in their hotel rooms, watching their babies through small screens.

There is wealth in this country. And there is bankruptcy. Humanity and inhumanity. Money, morality, hope, despair, agony, agony, agony.

My heart has been so heavy with grief and rage for so long. When all around things are bleak and mean and growing worse.

Yes, Biden. Yes, a vaccine. Yes, good people. Yes, yes, yes. I know. But those are hopeful cures for ills we are not even sure how to name yet. They may help, sure. But we are sicker underneath than we want to admit.

Is this what exceptional means? Because it’s a fucking joke right now. Right here. Here in the ‘greatest country on earth’ where half of us care with every fiber of our beings and the other half simply don’t care at all in the least.

It’s enough to make you sick. And quite honestly, I’m not interested in sugar coating anything. I want to acknowledge it. Finally.

For four years I have been “holding on.”

Well, now I’m letting go. Letting go of trying to pretend things are not as disgusting as they are. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. And I have so much privilege. And even still, I am spent.

I imagine what it’s like for those on the front lines of this pandemic. Risking their lives everyday so some assholes can recklessly spread a disease while claiming there is no disease.

Is this what we are now? We just completely disregard life itself? Kick in the teeth of the most genuinely good, selfless, and decent among us?

We are so ugly. We are so cruel. We are so divided and perverted and lost.

This is not an uplifting post, obviously. I didn’t plan to write it, just like I wrote a lot of things I didn’t plan on writing this year.

Plans seem ridiculous anyway.

But I had to say all of it. I am sick to death of people not just saying it. All day long, the smiles, the idiocy, the holding it in and holding it back and not having the ability to see what’s right in front of our ignorant faces.

For months I have researched and read articles, journalists, posts, op-eds, books, commentary, listened to podcasts, interviews, IG lives, and all the rest. Trying to understand. Trying to pull apart the lies from the truth.

To pinpoint some kind of guiding star glittering above the rubble this nation has become.

I know it’s there.

There’s just so much dust and sadness in my eyes right now I cannot see.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. A bit of a break from the daily stuff for a few days. I am thinking of taking a social media break, too. I can’t keep up, I can’t stomach any more of the last gasps of this wholly incompetent and deliberately sadistic administration.

It’s an absolute bloody clown horror show.

Fuck every single one of the people who could have stood up and spoken truth to power to protect our democracy but didn’t. They do not give a single fuck and we should not compromise with a single one of them.

We are beyond the merits of a few individual actors. The GOP as a whole is a monstrous machine.

There is no compromise with bigotry. They can come over to our side if they want but the hell if we should move a single inch toward their nihilistic nonsense.

Fuck being nice. Fuck ‘understanding.’

I understand perfectly.

I see exactly what they’ve done.

 

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Photo by Gijs Coolen

 

You Do Not Need to Apologize for Being Intelligent

You do not need to apologize for your intelligence.

The number of times I have been attacked, shamed, ridiculed, mansplained, dismissed, unfriended, laughed at, yelled at, punished, humiliated, ignored, told to be quiet, told I talk too much, all because I am a woman with a brain, intelligence, and savvy, and am highly capable of critical and creative thought is an enormous amount of times.

Because this trash is normalized. It spreads rapidly, sometimes almost imperceptibly, through our culture, society, community, family.

We are “uncomfortable” with intelligent women being intelligent – exploring and displaying their intelligence unapologetically in their daily lives.

In public.

In full view.

Out loud.

So we patronize them.

We minimize them.

Cut them off.

Cut them down.

And so we women have to lean into that discomfort. Press it. Make them feel it. Don’t let up. Wake up. Pay attention to what is really happening when someone makes light of your thoughts, your intelligence, your ideas. When someone makes fun of you or dismisses you for knowing more than they know.

You are scaring them.

You are upsetting the balance of power they need you to believe in in order for it to continue to exist.

Fuck that.

Do not shrink yourself to make them feel more comfortable. Expand yourself. Expand your mind. Your reach. Your prowess.

Say what you know. Say what you think. Say what you believe. Tell of what you experience. Speak and breathe your ideas, visions, and thoughts into writing. Into art. Into existence. Into the light.

There are many, many deeply thinking, extensively well read, well researched, well spoken, powerfully moving women of every race, orientation, and background.

Seek them out. Read them. Uplift them. Pay them. Support them. Follow them.

And if you are one of these women – one of us – please don’t ever, ever let up.

No apologies.

No regrets.

 

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT

 

Conspiracy Theory: The Bottom Is There Is No Bottom

If I hear about one more conspiracy theory I will absolutely lose my mind, which is, of course, exactly what the ghouls are hoping so it only makes me feel worse.

It is disheartening to watch so many people succumb to lies, disinformation (what the fuck is that anyway I am tired of that word it is way too polite a term for lies), manipulation, abuse.

They don’t think Trump will burn this entire country, world, earth to blackened char but he absolutely will if given the chance. And too many people who should stand in his way don’t.

Last night my husband and I had a heated argument about the QAnon bullshit. He doesn’t believe it but he wants to know what the people who believe it believe.

It was a stupid fight as so many are but round and around we went about what is to be gained if anything by digging into the muck and trying to make some kind of sense out of it.

And somewhere between his passionate points and mine I thought: this is how it happens. This is how it makes us tear ourselves apart. How it makes us do it to ourselves, little by little. The fabric tears.

Little couples, little friends and family and people all over the world in their little homes smoking their silky Parliaments and screaming about what is true and what is not and not hearing a single word of it for what it is.

Not knowing.

But wanting to. Needing to. Trying to.

Not being able to ignore that one tiny shred of doubt.

But what if…?

But what about…?

But how can you be sure…?

But who told you and what is their angle?

Really, tho?

They will tell you not only that we need not tell the truth anymore but that the truth doesn’t even matter at all.  And so the war blossoms like a desert flower underneath the raining ash. The war against thinking. The persecution of the scientist, the writer, the intellectual.

The rage against the mind.

The merciless bludgeoning of the psyche.

And so begins the newsfeed. A couple dying together in an overcrowded ICU. Smothered by a disease they do not believe exists.

This can’t be happening. It’s not even real.

Fear is fear and truth is fake.

The people dying are not dying. They aren’t even there.

He tells me he just wants to understand. He just has to get to the bottom of it so he knows how to defend his position. Our position.

Protect us. Protection. Against?

Know thy enemy.

I know. If I know one thing it is that the enemy is invisible as he turns you against me, me against you.

I pour more wine and watch the smoke curling in gray circles up inside the dark brick cavern of the fireplace. And I think about how the point of their conspiracy theory games is to make sure you want to get to the bottom of them.

And that you never will.

There is no bottom. Once they’ve got you, it is an endless fall.

Falling and falling, grasping for invisible walls.

 

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Photo by Sonia Kardash