Jan 11
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An Unraveling

I recently came across a translation of Euripedes’s Medea by David Kocas. It felt more like an encounter really, like I'd come across Medea herself: an icon in a barren church, a window into God’s abandoned feminine half, a woman burning with grief. Yes, Medea is a political play. Yes, it engages in a conversation around topics strikingly relevant to a modern mind: xenophobia, misogyny, distrust of intellectuals. Yes, even the characters seem reminiscent of modern tropes; a Gen Z-er might call Jason a manipulate, mansplain, manwhore. But at its heart, Euripides’s Medea is the story of a woman, a woman robbed of everything that, in Ancient Greece, constituted her womanhood: her home, her family, her husband. Medea is the story of a woman forced to reckon with the existential grief of having to redefine herself completely. 
Jan 07
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The Bus

inch worms are portals, 
this one is full of golden light, 
a sour smell, and a hum, 
humming louder than a hive.  
I climbed inside, listened 
to it creak as it folded forward, 
metallic in movement but 
not in spirit; anima animated. 
we weren’t moving very fast, 
but it was a miracle we 
were moving at all, moving like
air moves through lungs, in
gasps, ready to return, to relieve,
to revive the burden of
our own body. faithful, faithless, 
free, breathing, it brought
us back home to our hearts.    

 
Dec 28
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Prayer Wheel or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

At the beginning of December, I found myself on Capitol Hill for a poetry reading. I had some time to spare, so I walked around the neighborhood’s green-space, Cal Anderson Park. If you were paying close attention to the news, you might recognize the name as the heart of the former Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, a self-declared anarchist community in the middle of Seattle. Ground Zero of the Culture War. A Beautiful Desperate Experiment. A Necessary Disaster. America.  

The park was a little rough around the edges: graffiti on the cement, empty soda cans and drug-needles underneath the picnic tables. There were only a couple of people, wrapped in their puff-jackets, trudging through the puddles. The rainbow crosswalk, the rainbow bridge leading over the scarred road, had a fresh coat of paint. The grass was dulled by winter. 
Dec 12
poem challenge: Red
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RED

God is real because Red is thick enough to paint with/ because we can use our tongues to trace the face of a demon/ when it’s dark, when we’re bored, when we need fire/ Red, not the red of a stop sign or the American flag/  but Red, a Red that’s gone sour and sweet and bitter like a pomegranate seed stuck in its shell/ or the wilted Red of my old diary’s faux leather cover/ or the Red, the almost Red, the almost more than Red/ of her lips/ Red is proof that God is real/ that God drinks the same wine/ that God laughs at dinner parties and cries after the guests have left/ that God lusts and lives and loves/ But there's another Red/ a Red that’s more than God or the Devil or a Sunburned Face/ a Red found in the scream behind stop/ in the threads of a flag/ in the heart of a pomegranate seed/ in the blood squeezed from the tanned hide of sacrificed skin/ in her throat/ in the grapes that grow from the earth/ a Red too beautiful for us to love
Oct 21
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The West

here, the graves 
are worn away 
by the rain. here, 
the city is clean.
it tingles. glass 
skyscrapers 
and demolished 
cathedrals are 
ghosts, carrying 
bells they only 
ring in summer.
here, you let 
an epitaph hover
between your 
throat and lips
because the only 
sacred thing
is what you still 
haven’t said. 

 
Oct 09
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Boiling

celestial bodies 
are the antagonists 
of my inner tides. 
the moon pulls 
and the sun boils 
until all I’m left with 
is the tang of salt.

 
Aug 31
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Open

1

The church was locked. I rattled the handle, trying to force my way through the smoked glass door. It was noon and hot. I just wanted God or Love or Shade or perhaps to drink the Holy Water. I cursed the pope, slammed my fist against the cherry wood frame, then turned back towards the street.  

I stood in the middle of the road, my fingers splayed, the sun pouring over my head, in through my hands. Slowly, I walked back towards my house, retracing the path I had etched down the hill.  

This is what four years have come to: a school in the distance, an empty church on a hillside, a road, a home.  

Should I pray? Right here on the concrete, between steps? 

Or should I wait till next week?  

2 

here is the church 
and here is the steeple,  
and here are the doors  
and here are the people.  

I feel only my bones, 
curved into trusses  
Aug 05
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No Helen

You’ll never understand Sappho, 
because you don’t read Ancient Greek 
or the hidden pages of history 
where we scrawled our passion,
with sequestered longing, desperate and dear, 
like a message in a bottle, left to the sea,
to the shape of our shapeless love.

You'lll never understand how reading Sappho
is like finding myself, in a boat, in a body, 
how the map of love finally has texture. 
I know you don’t want to read another love poem 
to a faceless woman, but I have not yet found her face, 
but she is no Helen. She has no men 
on which to triangulate desire.  

 
Jul 26
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New Pollen, Old Soil

Growing up, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a conservative intellectual tradition, or, to be honest, even a moderate one. I assumed (in a similar vein to people on the far right) that all real thinking was being done outside the mainstream. In the bubble I was raised in, people read Noam Chomsky and Charles Eisenstein like the bible, attended conferences on Ecoterrorism and how to build your own permaculture communities, embraced the idea of defunding the police before it was an Instagram slogan. The New York Times was a fine place to get basic news, but if you wanted a real perspective you had to go to The New Republic or Mother Jones. Anarcho-Communism was not a radical ideology, rather a natural and necessary next step for human civilization. 
Jul 23
poem challenge: Freedom
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Above the Dirt

I’ve left the round earth behind. 
Above her curved back, I wait 

to feel my feet again,  

to be more than a giant who holds
the sun in his cracked palms. 

to be more than a subversive symphony
of fists and unborn moths, 

fighting gravity’s flame. 


 
Jul 22
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To Lorca's Missing Grave, To Franco, To Those Who've Left the American Flag a Bloodless/Bloody Blue and Black

Okay, so I am a bit embarrassed because this is like the fifth ode to Lorca I have posted on here. But sometimes you need obsessions. They are something through which you can channel your passion. 

True patriots always die because it is dangerous to love something so easily set on fire.

(Love is something easily set on fire.)  

Oh, Lorca, you loved your country, but your country gored you on the horns of its bulls, 
of its sacred beasts of cruel geometry, who knew nothing of the ritual that created them.    

Can’t you love yourself and love your country and love the country that exists inside yourself? 
Can’t you love the dirt and love the water and love the wind that leaves new pollen in the streets? 
Can’t you love a man and love the church and love the candles that turn into burning pillars? 

Passion is more than its fiery culmination. Lorca’s Spain was more than its murder.
Jul 22
poem challenge: Freedom
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Curves

There are boulders under my feet, songs with so much shape they can only be felt like they are the curved backs of our galaxy's multitude of suns. 

The sun is inside the earth, the earth is inside my stomach. But the mountains, they break the horizon, shattering it like a flock of birds shatters our notion of what is whole. 

I rise to my feet, to the window beside my bed, to the ocean beside my street, to the sky beside my ground, and I sing because the globe is too big for me to see.

 
Jul 16
poem challenge: Freedom
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Nothing but Blue

Is it strange that Mary Oliver reminds me of Hafiz, 

especially in the irresponsible dawn hours when I feel 

like I could swallow God even before I swallow

my dreams, when the ghosts of swallows still dance

in the light of an echoing sunset, when there is 

nothing but blue inside, between these white pages?

 
Jul 15
poem challenge: Freedom
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Open Veins

I sit cross-legged in the raucous silence of the moment, 
contorted into a preschool nightmare of tangled thoughts and tangled feet.  

There is no freedom in meditation. It’s just a window you can't fit through. 

When I was little, I was told to watch for broken glass as I ran barefoot along the beach. 
No one warns me to be careful now, because It would be a grace 
to cut myself on the sharp edges of the world, to open my lungs and scream.  

I’m scared, you know?

I’m scared I’m going to sit in this bed forever until I run out of words, 
until I run out of air, until my blood grows tired of the same old racetrack. 
my belly is full of things I have filled it with, not God, as I like to pretend. 

It’s full of stale springs and half-heard hymns and the vestiges of virginity. 
It’s full of artichokes and quesadillas and black rice pudding and pasta. 
Jul 13
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People Who Read Too Much Have Opinions on Henry Kissinger

people who read too much have opinions on Henry Kissenger

my friends tease me for my long rants on Ceaușescu and Communism and how if it wasn’t for Climate Change Norway’s management of its oil reserves would be Close to Commendable.

I pretend to know right from wrong and the xy shape of history.  

but people who read enough/ and enough is often way more than too much/ don’t have opinions on Henry Kissinger/ because the more numbers you know the harder math gets/ and Henry Kissinger is just a math problem/ an undefined ratio/ with genocide on the top/ and the Cold War on the bottom/ but is there really any way to know what American bombs destroyed in Cambodia/ or whether a theoretical armageddon helped to deter an actual one?