Monthly Archives: December 2012

Post the Ninety-Seventh or Make Love to Rage

The words

Born from my fingers

Glitter like blood

In flames

Forming visions

That cause my heart

To freeze

Wings alight

On the lids

Of my eyes

Femme Fierceness

She says

Is a birthright

To power

And sorrow

Dressed in the color

Of glory

Walking through worlds

Watching

Waiting

With eyes the darkness

Of space

Chief Spence

Sits

In her tipi

Filled with legacies

Of betrayal

Her belly

As empty as the promises

Made

By white men

But she stands

Tough

With iron encased will

Femme Fierceness

Can topple

Empires

I want

To get married

To shields and spears

Wear a wedding dress

Made of morning stars

And a veil

Of daggers

Make love to rage

And bust open

Across six continents

Revealing the dismembered

Bodies and

Broken

Land

Holding it all

Femme Fierceness

Does

Not

Flinch

My friend

Stands there

Shaking

Trying to

Re

Move

Trespasses

That mark her

Mascara running

Nose bleeding

I hold her

Imagining

The most exquisite

Revenge against rapists

Femme Fierceness

Does not

Take

Prisoners

Terror

Is a familiar

Bedfellow

The threat of violence

A constant companion

Pale shadows that

Dance across my body

Following me down

Alleys

Up streets

Into home

And

Soaked sheets

Twist around

My face

Femme Fierceness

Feels fear

But

Never backs

Down

I am

A fierce femme

A big

Scarlet fuck you

Ejaculated across

Masculinity’s face

They do not own

Me and my

Silence cannot be

Bought

Advertisements

Post the Ninety-Sixth or Its Starting to Feel

Never

Understood the point

Of posturing

Moving through

Life

As rote

The store clerk

Approaches

Big white and gay

Self-important vacancy

Searching

For meaning

Beady eyes

The color of a tidal pool

Attempting to scrutinize

My every move

To him

Suspicious

It’s always

The stupid ones

Who think

They are

Intelligent

Riotous paper chains

And gaudy lights

Obscure meaning

Plasticine smiles plastered

Over bleached

Faces

Full of emptiness

Crying

War on Christmas!

War on Wholesomeness!

War on Goodness!

They wonder

How to stop it

How to protect

Themselves from

The encroaching Brown

Masses

There is a war

Going on

But they are not

The casualties

Beige mouths

The size of football fields

Gobbling up resources

And my people

The Indigenous

Queers

Trannies

Black, Brown and Red

Are left

Outside in the heat

Fumbling for scraps

Sometimes knowing

Is not enough

I under

stand

Now

The reason for

Posturing

Is

Easy

Deceptive

Destruction


Post the Ninety-Fifth or The Root of Violence

As some of you may know, I’ve recently started working at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It is an amazing organization that is open 24/7 and provides support for victims, as well as family and friends, of domestic violence. We do everything from connect callers to local resources to just providing a space to listen. I also really enjoy the work. It is nice to be in an empowering space that is committed to worker wellness. Advocacy work is very satisfying for me and it allows me to deepen my analysis around social justice and liberation. I’m learning so much here and I know that I also have a lot to give.

One thing that I’ve gotten some more nuanced understanding is around the topic of space. I’ve written several essays here, and in other places, about the necessity of space in order to thrive in any situation. We need living space, work space, social space, emotional space etc.

In cases of domestic violence, the survivor is often robbed of most, if not all, space. All of the tactics that the abuser uses to maintain power and control in a relationship center around stealing space. Whether is it keeping someone isolated from friends in family or not allowing them to get a job or sexually assaulting them, they are all a robbing of space and of agency. The survivor is not allowed the space to have meaningful, loving and supportive friendships. They are not allowed the space to work and be economically independent. They are not given the space to make their own, unconstrained sexual choices.

And I got to thinking about this. What if the root of all marginalization, of all violence, was the theft of space? I began to think about colonialism and the displacement of indigenous people. Was that not the theft of space, the robbing of land? Colonist comes in and steal the space that once belonged to others and with that theft also stole their agency. I thought about slavery and how that is probably the greatest theft of space. And of course, domestic violence is a theft of space.

Even the most recent shooting in Connecticut is about the theft of space. The lack of funding for mental health programs create a situation where there is no space for someone who has a mental disorder to get the help they need. The abundance of gun access creates a situation where people who are violent for any reason can restrict and control the space of others. And all of this is 400 hundred years in the making. The latest iteration of violence created by a system that controls and steals the space of certain kinds of people. The theft of space, and violence itself, is more than just individual acts. It is a systemic inevitability. The way our society is structured makes it so that violence cannot help but happen. The system is rigged for it.

One of the things that we learn here as advocates is that we aren’t here to fix the caller’s problem. We are not here to save them or rescue them. Rather, we are there to empower the caller to solve their own problems. Because in the end, saving them does nothing to address the root cause of the problem.  We connect them to the resources near them so that they can decide what the best course of action is for themselves. We use active listening and empathy to facilitate the creation of space. And if the root of violence is the theft of space, than facilitating the creation of space is counteracting that violence. The space that is created allows for movement. And with movement, comes change. The creation of space allows for empowerment and the beginning of unconstrained choices.

The key to fighting violence is the creation of space. If we are going to bring justice to this world, then we need to facilitate the creation of space for ourselves. We need to carve out our space. We need to engage in deeply listening to one another and become stewards of one another’s trauma. This also means that we need to take care of ourselves. This also means listening to ourselves, to our bodies. It means that we trust ourselves and build community with those around us.

In the end, we cannot save the world. But we can try to open up space so that it can save itself. We can open up space so that each individual can save themselves.


Post the Ninety-Fourth or How to be a Douchebag

The room as dark

As your mind

The stage as bright

As my scrutiny

And you walk

Full of vacant

Masculine swagger

Your words

Devoid of meaning

Bullshit pouring

Out of your mouth

Splattering all over the stage

Confusing sexism

For philosophy

Your trite and hollow poetry

Masquerading as

Profundity

School is in

Session

So take a seat

And remember that

Reading

Is Fundamental

You say

We are equal

Say that there is no

Difference

In our experience

But just

Listen

To the millions of women

Who are victims

Of domestic violence

Just read

About the millions of women

Who are assaulted and raped

By men

Who think

We are equal

You say

“I should just be able to compliment

A beautiful woman”

But all I can think

About

Is what that man whispered

As he tore at my crotch

And violated the most intimate parts of myself

“You are just so beautiful”

“How could I resist”

You say

You feel objectified

But when

Was the last time

A stranger

Followed you down the street

Hurling compliments

At your unwilling ears

When was the last time

Some asshole commanded you

To smile

When was the last time

You felt unsafe

Because you thought someone would sexually assault you

When was the last time

Someone called you

A bitch

Hoe

Slut

Cunt

Dyke

Because you denied some strangers

Advances

The thing is

Dude

You can’t say

The same sexist shit

That society tells women

And be a feminist

You can’t be “for equality”

When you fail to see the disparities

That keep us unequal

Matter of fact

You wouldn’t know what

Feminism was

If it fucked you

Matter of fact

You are not entitled

To a woman’s

Affection or attention

Just because you are

a Nice Guy™

You do not get a cookie

For meeting the standards

Of being a decent person

But please

Keep crying those salty motherfucking tears

About how hard it

Must be to be

A man

In a world dominated by men

But by all means

Continue to regale me

With all those stories

Of how you

Are such a misunderstood

Nice Guy™

But hold up

Before you do that

Do us a

Kindness

And fuck off


Post the Ninety-Third or A Breath of Chocolate

Anger comes easy. Anger is something that I’ve always known. It is a hard, bristling carapace that keep out things that hurt me. A scab that has been ripped off and reformed so many times, I no longer feel it. But even still, I don’t mind it. It has its uses. It keeps me safe. I thought that I was impenetrable. Until I met him.

The day was hot. The kind of hot that gets into your lungs and brain. Sluggish heat that makes it hard to breathe and even harder to find motivation to do anything but lay on the floor like a salamander. Stretching one’s limbs so that one can find some whisper of coolness. And yet, the cafe still managed to be filled with regulars. Yuppies and hippes rubbing shoulders in a house turned coffee shop. The wooden floors worn from years of domestic and buisness related traffic. Art of varying degrees of skill adorned the forest green walls. I had just finished cleaning the counter for a second time and I stared at the clock, willing it go faster. It was with relief, than, that he was here. Finally something to do.

“What can I get you, sir?”

He stood with his arms crossed as he studied the menu. “What’s good here?”

I rake my eyes across his body, up and down once, smirking “Well, I really like a tall cup of hot black coffee. Drink you- I mean, it, all day”

He gives me a look that says, you-are-either-trying-really-hard-or-are-you-this-corny-all-the-time.

“I also make a mean Americano. Two shots poured over ice, with a cool breath of chocolate.”

He smiles, “Sounds refreshing. But does it taste as good as it sounds?”

I lean over the counter, trying to emphasize my clevage, “You’ll just have to taste it to find out.”

He licks his lips, looking slightly uncomfortable. “I’ll take one, then.”

I smile wickedly and set about making his drink. I steal covert glances at him over the espresso machine as I grind the coffee and pour the shot, hot and fresh. I noticed the way he carried himself, how he interacted with his surroundings. Gentle, yet I could tell that he did not suffer fools. He seemed cuddly but I knew he could cut me just as easily. It hit me, he was trans*.

The ice melts slightly as I pour the hot shots over it and drizzle the chocolate. I can say without ego that it was probably the best drink I had ever made.

“Here you go, sir.” I say, as I pass him the coffee. Our hands brush past each other, his rough with shared history, mine soft with hidden experiences. He grabs my wrist tightly, turning my hand so that he could examine my palm. He looks up and our eyes meet. A shiver runs down my spine.

“Any-Anything else I can grab you?” It’s my turn to be slightly uncomfortable. And yet, I was strangely aroused. Who was this man?

“No, thank you. How much is it?”

“It’s uh… On the house.”

He smiles, “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it. Hey, what’s your name?”

“Säyn.”

“Säyn…” I repeated, feeling the way his name sounded on my tongue. “I’ll be seeing you.”

We saw each other a few more times, that summer in 2010. I was working at this queer coffeeshop and he would come in every once and a while, always when I was working. He would get the same thing and I would always give it to him for free. We would flirt a little, chat about small things. We even exchanged numbers at one point. But for some reason, we never got around to getting together outside of the shop. Sometimes he would come in with his partner, sometimes he wouldn’t. But every time he came in, he smiled and my chest got a little tight.

And then I left, went back to Boston. I reenrolled in school and got several part time jobs. It was a cold winter and I knew with even more certainty that Boston was not the city for me. I was going through the motions but I was never fully present there. I kept looking for a way out, for something different. I knew I need to return to Austin. And I didn’t see him for almost a year.

Its September 2011 and I’m back in Austin working at a queer youth community center. But my time there as an organizer is a story for another time.

At the time, I was leading an effort to restructure the organization and so we need a space to hold our meeting. One of my co-workers offered her home, which she had recently moved into. We, of course, agreed. It was a cool, clear night and the place was packed with young people, adults and queer organizers. I was in the middle of facilitating a discussion about strategies and tactics when the front door opens and who walks in but Säyn.

I stand there dumbfounded, mouth agape. Here was someone who I never thought I would see again, walking into a meeting that I never expected to have.

Once the meeting ended, I moved quickly.

“Hey, Säyn!”

He smiled, eyes brightening with recognition. “Hi, Morgan. Its good to see you again.”

“Its good to see you too. What have you been up too?”

“This and that,” He replied vaguely “You?”

“Oh you know, saving the world, one queer youth at a time.” I returned slyly. I knew that I would have to chase a little harder if I wanted to get anywhere with him.

He laughed, “Step up from slinging coffee, then.”

“Several. We should kick it sometime soon.”

“No doubt. No doubt. I’m having a music video release party this Saturday. You should come.”

I smiled, “Wouldn’t miss it.”

The next 4 weeks were a blur of late night coffee, chain smoking and iPod make out sessions. We would always find some sort of pretense to see each other. The second night we saw each other, he stole my lighter. He said it wasn’t intentional, but I knew better. He would pick me up after work and we would be up until 4 or 5 o clock in the morning, talking about everything from radical politics to the way we liked our Brussels sprouts cooked.

I remember being in his car on those first few nights. He said to me, “I’m in an open relationship. But we can’t have anything serious. This is just casual.”

Famous last words.

For those first weeks, we didn’t kiss. We barely had any physical contact at all. The first night I slept over at his house, I made sure to sleep stark naked. But we didn’t fuck. We didn’t even cuddle! At first I was worried that he was only interested in a platonic relationship but then I would look into his eyes and feel how his body reacted to mine. I knew he wanted me, could feel the intensity of his ardor for me. But it was one of the few times that anyone wanted my whole self, not just my body and what it could do for them.

It was a strange and not unpleasant sensation, feeling that want for me that was deeper than the skin.

I, of course, was throughly in love. Or at the very least, in very, very, very deep like. But one thing was certain; there was nothing casual between us.

He quickly and insidiously worked his way beneath the prickly steel that I encased myself in. He eased his way gently into the soft chinks of my armor, pried them loose and tranquilized the raw, chafed skin underneath. By the time I noticed that he had gotten past my defenses, it was already to late. He had me.

And I had him.

We had each other and our passion for one another opened my eyes to knew ways of being. Suddenly, I was thinking about babies and houses and what particular dish I wanted to cook for dinner and would you mind if we used the purple tablecloth tonight? I, the jaded radical who laughed at the thought of anything so soft as love, was in love. But the open scorn I had for love was merely a facade that masked my desire to be soft with someone. I would wake up some nights cold with the longing to have someone near me. Anyone to press their tender flesh against mine and share those intimate parts of myself. Something different than the raw, animal fetishization that I was used to.

I longed to be seen. Wholly and holistically seen.

And so I was. Seen with a clarity that still scares me, excites me, makes me smile. Sweet, secret smiles that arise unbidden, tugging the side of my lips up in spite of myself.

Anger still comes easily. But the contours of my anger are angled differently, today. Sharpened in some places, tempered in others. Encased in suppleness.

Being loved in spite of my fear has allowed me to breathe.