I think I should finally stop
Stop expecting myself to be normal
After everything that's happened,
Some days I wake up drowning
Shipwrecked since birth, I can't walk on land and am terrified of boats.
Constant overwhelm, no helm, just a busted mast. I made my clothes from the sails years ago.
I can't go back to Port.
It's all too broken
It's all so loud
The waves are too much for one person
To keep fighting
My good days are a place far out to sea
Only surfacing when the tides are right
Brief flashes of shoal and sun
Getting there takes time and effort and the right boat
On those bright days it's easy to see for miles
I'm rooted ankle deep in the warm sand
Flying a kite
Fulfilled by the sun
When the ocean comes back, she always does,
Chilly salty darkness seeping
Through the cracks in my face
Then the deluge
No sails to manage
No boat to board
Just me, fighting my mind over this ravaged piece of wood, buried in sand
Changed from my respite to a
Dangerous edge in moments
Storms are quick,
Even when I can see them coming
There's never enough shelter
Eventually, I have to swim again.
There is no treading water in life.
We are drowning until we're not.
We kick, we fight, maybe
we get a little above the water, just enough to take a breath.
No more ships are coming. No lifeboats, no rescue stories.
I don't expect these things. They're not for me.
We are drowning until we're not.
Until our toes hit the warm sand.
And we drag ourselves out
Back into the sun.
Make me a stone
So I can drop
Into the river and be worn
Make me a birch tree
So tall and shady
Made strong out of paperthin layers
My body will be a home
When I die
Please god make me the road
And let me bring all the sad ones
Make me the words
Spoken between Lovers
Soft and sweet and temporary
Like a breeze in the
Make me into a fire
Useful and bright
Helpful and dangerous
until I am lovingly
Put to rest
Please, God, you've never been real
But maybe this time
You will become so,
And so will I
When the wind travels 300 miles to sing a sage scented hello,
And you're struck like a bell,
You suddenly are the wind
And then it is gone. A moment of wild abandon amongst the fleeting days.
There are times when I look
At my child
Moving her hands, playing in her world, and
I can feel that same wild abandon
filtered through the rivers of parenting.
Bright moments of sunlight in a rushing confusion.
When the beauty is vast, we become a part of it.
It is in our nature to stop.
To share it.
We crave that feeling of the wind over the bluffs at sunset, that connection to family, the sun calling to us over the horizon, right before it rises.
The most beautiful people carry these moments of wildness and comfort from one person to another.
We learn in this way that beauty is the connection,
To the birds, singing the sun to life.
To a child's imaginary world.
A moment of presence in the wind as it brings itself over miles of desert, just to reach you at the exact moment you look west.
The beauty is in the noticing. Noticing details and changes,
Smelling the sage and hearing the birds. Leaning into that moment of pride.
The heart sings in the same voice as that wind, traveling 300 miles.
Just to reach you.
Micro Journaling Moment: open to the public at 1pm July 20th, 2022
I thought I had covid, but it turns out I'm just exhausted.
Glad I took the day to rest. It's revolutionary to stand up for your right to rest. I have already worked my ass off for this new job. I have given it my all and it gave me an unsafe environment.
During this time, it has been my lesson to recognize that my time as a physical laborer is over. My body demands it.
No more standing over a grill, no more staring downwards at my hands flying to the next movement.
At this latest attempt to prove my worth, I took a standing position washing dishes.
I should be able to do this job, I thought. Every working day since has been spent in enormous physical pain. My ankle, sprained last winter, is not performing like I expected. The left foot, which has seen so much damage, is giving out. Embarrassed, I am facing the prospect of using mobility aids at 33.
There is no shame in using a mobility aid. Not rationally. But society is never rational. And the last time I used a cane I was ridiculed by older women because I didn't "look disabled enough."
Now I am disabled beyond the use of a cane. 8 joints including my neck have been damaged over the course of a decade. Most of the time, I couldn't afford help or time to rest. I had to push on.
Push to today: where I am lying on my couch after calling in sick six hours ago. I'm still exhausted. Still hurts to walk. And I know I'll have to go back tomorrow.
This is reality for son many of us: The poor, the disabled, the addicts. We have to push through instead of rest.
This is how we "fall through the cracks." As if that fanciful phrase were able to convey how it feels to be abandoned by the society you once participated in.
The truth is, I am extremely privileged. I can take this day to rest. I can choose to create.
That this is such a luxury should be addressed.
We are reaching for that better world together, you and I, dear reader.
We're here because words have power. Power to make us feel connected to each other.
The feelings rush over and around the barriers of language and we become united.
I chose to write because I am tired of giving myself to a labor that is not mine. Thank you for reading. Together, we make this art real.
The Vessel Chapter 2
When the old abbot died, everything changed.
It wasnt noticeable at first.
Slowly, the rest of the village began to turn Xenon over in their minds.
Frowns began to sprout like taproots.
By the end of the wet season, the whole village passed grimaces between houses like sickness.
As they passed his flower garden, as they enjoyed his delicious vegetables and berries, they began to hate him.
Xenon felt the shift, but it was outside of his little world. He could care less what they felt.
The new abbot was young and wanted to make a big impression.
Before he ever vocally chose Xenon as the water's divine example, it was decided that the old man was a Problem.
In council meetings, Xenon's garden was argued about.
The older clerics knew Xenon risked his own life by sharing his water with the plants. He had cultivated and shared many melons with the diocese. It was well known that this man was indeed a quirk, an anomaly, but he had never been a threat.
The new abbot worked on them. He shamed their love of Xenon's flowers. He constantly questioned their loyalty to the Water. They were the holiest of vessels and yet they allowed space for this heretic to grow unusable, wasteful weeds.
By the middle of the dry season, most of the council had been bullied or bribed into agreement. The Problem had to be Solved.
It was the exact middle of the dry season. Xenon counted the days on his special planting calendar and he was sure they were precisely mid way between the yearly rainy seasons.
It had been difficult to keep his flowers alive in the dry heat.
Each day he nearly gave them his entire allotment of water.
He took his hydration in the form of celery and his prized melons.
Before the old abbot had died, Xenon always took the best melon for himself. He never felt bad about this, although the church taught him to be ashamed even as he took the roundest melon with the best scent.
But since the new abbot's arrival, all food and trade goods had to visit the church at the bottom of the hill, where the water collected in a natural swamp.
Xenon resented the church more and more each year. The priests had no cultivation skills. They were constantly bullying the villagers to pay alms.
The swamp was extremely holy, and access was forbidden.
When Xenon made his final trip to the church, he looked out over the wetlands. The precious water had dried up in the drought, but the skunk cabbages and ferns were a riot of green.
Heat radiated from the trees. Cicadas screamed their life-song into the air. The air was hot and smelled of his flowers and skunk cabbage and of the clean ozone oozing out of the drying mud.
The sun was still hot, baking the ground into little tiles. Xenon pulled his cart of melons along behind him.
He had left his best one at home. It was shameful, but his resentment towards the new abbot and his teachings had pushed him out of piousness into cold defiance.
The new abbot had changed everything. The village was once been bright and hopeful, but the people scurried around the streets more often than not. And they rarely gathered in the square for birthdays or weddings.
Xenon had never been married. He'd never had an interest in anyone.
He had tried to pair off early in life, but found himself lacking some sort of key information everyone else seemed to have.
Even the same sex couples were beyond him. Romance and sex seemed... uncomfortable, unreal.
He often wondered if he was broken, but those thoughts hurt everything they touched, and he made a great effort to redirect them when they came.
Instead, he had raised his flowers, his melons, and berries. He talked to the bees and worms. He gave love to the earth and thanked her for the life blood she bestowed.
He danced in the rain with everyone else.
But he had never felt like a part of the village. He never felt a sense of belonging unless he was surrounded by nature.
As he trudged downward towards the swamp, he began to hear it.
A crowd had gathered outside of the church.
That was unusual in and of itself, but the sounds also seemed keyed up in a bad way. He heard no children. The noise was chaotic and sharp.
Angry faces appeared and disappeared in the mass if bodies and he was reminded of a swarm of ants.
He sensed that they would react as one mind.
The abbot was visible standing at his outdoor pulpit, usually reserved for rain day celebrations, he was yelling and pounding on the wood.
Xenon stopped walking. His sense of danger screamed at him. He slowly put down his melon cart. The crowd hadn't seen him, yet.
He knew they were there for him.
It had been clear to see that the abbot was making him into the town scapegoat. The drought would be blamed on him. Then the diseases that normally raged through the little village each year would become mysterious and he would again be found as the source of their illness.
This had happened once before.
The town had turned on an old lady who's wife had died while hunting.
She had never remarried or taken in any children as was custom. She left the village and lived in a shack up hill, away from the fumes of the swamp. She refused to attend church.
Xenon had been a boy, only 7 years old, when they lynched the her.
She had taken to yelling profanity and threatening anyone who approached her shack.
There had been break-ins- pranks, mostly- vandalism, and once someone had set fire to her home, the worst crime of all, since fire would evaporate the body's water. No one ever came forward.
She remained as a nuisance in her shack until the drought.
The worst drought in 10 years. The town was lightening quick to blame their troubles on the poor old woman, who could barely see and who tended her own vegetables and home without help.
As a group, his parents and the other villagers had stormed her home and dragged her out to hang from a rope. He had nightmares about it for years afterwards.
Her body had been hung from a huge live oak tree outside the church. The crows ate her eyes first, then her guts.
Xenon remembered passing it as he went into services. His parents shushed his questions with a quick slap. Her skeleton remained until it finally fell into the swamp and was reclaimed.
Xenon remembered and he stopped the wagon before he got too close.
They were expecting him. They would kill him and his precious flowers would die trampled and ripped up.
Tears blurred his vision. He breathed deeply and walked away from the wagon at a brisk pace towards his house. If he was fast enough, he could pack his seeds and clothes and a few days good traveling food.
The Vessel: chapter 1.
As the vessel, his thoughts were trivial. He knew this. Yes, it was the first teaching. The most important.
Water created life. He knew. All life is the vessel for its travels. Life was only possible because of its flow. When the water ends its journey, it leaves the vessel.
He knew that everything he did was either because of Water or because of his resistance to the flow.
Resistance and critical thinking were an affront to the flows of life. He had been taught thus in school and every week the sermons proclaimed it.
It was his duty to seek out the resistance and flow over and around it. He had gotten quite good at redirecting the flow of his thoughts towards peace and tranquility. He focused the flow on his daily ritual of keeping his body clean and hydrated. He said his prayers. He tilled the gardens and reverently watched the irrigators when they came to the farms.
As a vessel for the water he had been asked to tend to his plants. But alone, he dreamed and drew.
His art plagued him.
It was never about the holiness of flowing or the great waves that had brought humans back to land after the destruction of the water systems caused a global catastrophe.
His art was always about his feelings. To his shame, he couldn't bring himself to draw the first irrigators or the pump houses at sunset. He drew feverish planes of joy and decadence, full of forbidden flowers. He drew sad winter days and their long evenings.
Each time he filled a page, his heart was full and his conscience was guilty.
He agonized over the details of a blooming rose. Grown only for its pleasing scent and highly frowned upon by the minimalist priests. What was the point of something that didn't carry any purpose for the water? The priests would say. Of course it was one of the water's creations, and was therfore holy, but flowers were treated as lowly and garish. Such a luxury was not dedicated to the betterment of the vessel itself, and was therefore regarded as tacky and impractical.
Xenon loved his flowers the most. Even though they gave him such pain. His heart would weep with joy upon seeing a tree in full bloom.
Aside from his daily duties growing food for the community, he also grew a riot of wild flowers around his house. He used his own water allotment for the day to sustain them and often resorted to illegal rain collection to water them.
The priests had bigger fish to fry. He was seen as a minor heretic. But his neighbors noticed the eccentricities and he was often unaware of barbecues or block parties until the day of each event. Requests for help with the fields during harvest were met with eye rolls and grudgingly slow work days.
Everyone knew Xenon's food was the most nutritious and tasty (even though taste was irrelevant to the water and was therefore decadent). His berries were fatter and tasted better than anyone's. The water had picked a sublime farmer. And so his differences were tolerated out of doors. For a time.
The system is doing
What it was designed
To over work
Encourage scarcity and destroy community response
It's built in.
America has never fully accepted its history
I was at a Halloween party
At a brewery
An event, in public
The winner of the costume contest
Was wearing blackface.
The crowd cheered for this person.
I remember feeling so unsafe, knowing, suddenly and (to my shame) surprisedly, that I was one of the only people in the space not clapping.
The shame is important.
As palm colored people it is vital to be ashamed of our ancestors.
Not just uncomfortable and inconvenient and feels like a big problem we didn't create. But it is vital to be ashamed of the horrors we benefit from.
I met a Christian missionary at a child's birthday party.
And we were speaking about racism. Dancing around it, like we can. And I was caught
By her distinct lack
For her invasive actions. Directly linked, as they were, to ongoing racism throughout the world.
I've learned not to be surprised.
Surprise at racism is privilege.
Surprise and concern is performative.
Learn to see it early.
Learn to confront it.
Learn to heal it within yourself when you find it.
Easier to write a poem about it. Painfully obvious that a poem won't heal 700 years of pain and colonial murder.
Nonlinear movements through your thoughts and reactions. Making space for safety.
Making space for safety.
How safe are you?
Was the system
Designed for you?
Are you doing its work,
You said you liked
You said they keep us
And we talked and fought and created our own set of rules.
And I believed in you.
To my detriment? To my continued learning?
Can I weave gold from shit one more time?
I have to wonder
Where my name went.
I have to wonder
We should play by.
If not the ones
We made up together.
It moves and I can't
Even with all of my work and
Until one of us