Tag Archives: writing pieces

the physicality of it


This is what I love about writing: the physicality of it and the mess, the rush of words and the trying to keep up with the flood         how I got a new pen with fresh ink and so I’m trying to reclaim my wrist         this fat fast smooth ache —

what I love about writing is harnessing what’s intangible, impenetrible, the desperation to get inside         fully         the thing that has no words, not really, the truth is writing is a chase, trying to catch the breath of the words, the thought, the fist thing that flashed across behind the tongue of my imaginings before it’s snipped away by loss or ego or don’t say that or reconstructive tendencies.

What I love is this reaching, teaching myself to breathe, to drink, to eat while I write         keep the wrist aching, move through that burn into the true good stuff, how the words aren’t more important than the race, and they are.

what do I want to tell you in 10 minutes


What do I want to tell you in ten minutes? That I was catapulted into shame-slavery and prosto-destitution is only one strand of this miner’s fabric. There’s the way I used to cuddle and curl under a yew bush (that still today I spell like “ewe,” like mama sheep, and so maybe she was a haven, too, in her funny fur curly like the dark green fronds of the bush)         anyway         how the yew bush grew like a cave up and around space, and I could sweep brush the dirt floor, bring books, shelter myself early from my mother’s storms.

Sheltering self in words, which were always a haven, as far back as I can remember, although I don’t think I can say they’re natural, at least they’re clean.

The details and rough sketch outline include three houses in and around middle-Eastern Nebraska by the age of 6, and about four more by the age of 10, and then there was only one even if that one didn’t include my father         he had his own home         and it was an hour southwest from The One         down the black ribbon of interstate 80 that cut through dark green cottonwood and oak and tall rushes living the sides of the highway, filled with red-winged blackbirds         cutting across the broad flat damp sandbar of the Platte River and all its attendant mosquitoes and the echoes of sandhill cranes that were never there on the river when we rushed by in Mom’s burgundy-red Mercury Monarch or dad’s too-dull-bright orange and white-capped Volkswagen Van         that road led back and forth to Dad’s house, not grandmother’s (over the river and through those woods)         but slowly the road began to disintegrate, disappear         for lack of use         they’re still rebuilding every time I go back         more construction, more hope

once we entered The One house the last one there wasn’t any room for another         the town was too small for the both of them         and one turned around and let himself out.

We saw a double rainbow on the way out of Nebraska after my grandmother’s funeral


Sunflowers are golden. Tarnish is not golden, unless it’s on earrings that were too silvery shiny to begin with and they needed some dark – lilacs and freshly broken playground rocks and crocus blooming through the last of the winter snow and seeing the redbuds on the maple tree and trusting that Spring was really, actually, finally coming for real this time: all golden. Snowstorms in mid-April and a brown Christmas: not golden.

These are the nature things, the Midwest things, the snow shoe shallow things, the walking back home things.

Walking through love into a wall of fear is not golden but bursting that fear with one’s faith in oneself and thick love for one’s compatriots is so golden it’s liquid.

He asked me not to bring you because he’s afraid of how it’ll look if you show up there with me, all of my fierce queer family un our leather and pansy dresses and tattoos and brave dye jobs and outspokenness and brazen truth fever and strong flaring unflinching eyes, all of us and our hands locked with lovers or tricks, our hands outstretched toward the pale bodies of a town in the middle of Nebraska that’s not all that far, in philosophical terms, from where Brandon Teena was murdered.

He asked me to come alone, without you, and unspoken was: you can fix your hair nice and put on a black skirt and no one would be the wiser. He wanted me to leave you off the list of my grandmother’s mourners, you heavily-mascaraed boys and fine suit-n-tie wearing girls. He wanted me to put my politics on the slide and my love on the swing and let them occupy themselves while my naked shameful body said goodbye to the woman who taught me about steadiness and safety and comfort and rhubarb-strawberry pie.

He says that if the other mourners see you, they will forget what they were gathered for, they will forget the woman whose life they are at the United Methodist to celebrate and remember, they will turn away from her and focus only on you, on us, on all of us in our un-American oddity.

And I remind him that I have grown from the seed that she planted and they tended, this middlest of middle America, with their water and sunlight and locusts and lies, with their long farms and endless faith and foreverable silencings, with their protestant hymns and communal supers and casseroles brought to the homes of the ill and the dying and all the unspoken sorrows of 200 years of homesteading: I am the fruit of those labors, harvested. They cannot deny us our legacy or our home. They can consider us abnormal, but if we are of them, then we are as strawberry-rhubarb as they are.

I am tired of these transparencies lain over my life, the requests to just be in the closet a little while – as if the closets our families lived in weren’t the most hospitable breeding ground for abuse, as if I want to refabricate those conditions, as if I don’t want to bring some queer sunshine into my family’s hometown, some golden probability for the one or three queer kids still living there and seeing themselves reflected nowhere, living between the crosshatch of Brandon and Matthew, expecting the closet is their only refuge.

He says my grandmother would never ask, herself, that I hide you, and unspoken it’s always unspoken is the point that she would prefer it that way but I look through her photo albums and find, among all the images of grandchildren and their families, several pictures of me with my ex-wife, and I see my grandmother honoring who I am, who she silently, steadily, helps me to be.

Clouding — visualizing our language

I’m playing a bit with tag and word clouds; being, like so many of us, in love with words themselves, I’m particularly partial to art that incorporates words and written language, so these collections of words feel almost like a graphic to me, being that the context is removed from the content, and I just get to be with the words themselves, with a visual of how often the writer has used those words (larger generally equals more frequently repeated).

I wanted to play around some with a piece I wrote in a workshop several months ago: here’s the tag cloud for this piece that tagcrowd.com gave me:

created at TagCrowd.com

And here is the tagCloud generated on the same piece by wordle.com:

facilitator's gratitude word cloud!

I’m very excited about the creative possibilities here…