Fragments & Shatterings. May, nearing its end ~

The other day I dropped my phone at an event I didn’t actually need to be at. Mercury Retrograde. Smacks each of us in different ways. My cat, who i see once a year for a month, has turned into an in continent emotional beast. My poor ex can now be called long suffering. When I look in the face of this cat, I I wonder how shattered her memories are. Does she erase the good memories & leave herself with nothing but the strained? She still hasn’t gotten over her owner having the audacity to get a second cat, which has since been given back to its owner. She’s now lounging on the very futon she urinated on earlier. I’m typing through a shattered screen thinking about typos, how inconsequential correctness is when the micro mic or world is shattered. I switched to my iPad to read Rosebud Ben Oni’s poem. But her poem is fragmented, smashed & critically urgent. 

Poetry by Rosebud Ben-Oni

Crossing the Combahee: May, Week 3 

This morning  I drove away from Savannah, GA, a town filled with angry folks. Savannah demystifies Southern Hospitality. I’m from the South, lived here from birth to 25, retuned at 40 after 15 years of living in places that made me believe I would never return to the South as a resident citizen. I understand Southern Hospitality. It’s aggressive niceness–may I take your order, Sweetie Pie? Well you’re mighty welcome, Dumpling! Sugah Bunch? Pumpkin, Honey Bun, your every wish is my command!–Southern Hospitality grabs you by the neck & makes you believe you’ve been taken, gently, by the hand. The abundance of politeness has an expiration date: how long you visitin us, Sweet Pea? Emigrate to the South and all bets are off. Migrate from one Southern state to the next & all bets are off. Southerners are vicious & territorial & live amongst historical markers reminding the white Southerners that they lost the civil war & reminding the Black southerners that they live amongst people whose ancestors enslaved their ancestors. Savannah is especially bad.

On my way out, I was screamed at by a woman who was impatiently waiting for me to make a left turn against traffic. “. . . yo ass! . . .” is all I caught. I imagine she screamed “take yo ass back to North Carolina!” Or “get yo ass out the street!” Or “who gave yo ass a driver’s license?” It was an appropriate end to a research trip in a town filled with financially impoverished Black people, enterprising art students, & financially prosperous White people.

Needless to say, I was happy to see the back of Savannah.

It doesn’t take long to cross from Savannah into South Carolina & about an hour inside of SC there is the Combahee River, a muddy river surrounded by woods. Harriet Tubman led a military campaign there, which led to the freedom of 750 enslaved persons. Barbara Smith & company named their Black & lesbian & activist collective, the Combahee River Collective,  after Tubman’s successful mission, the only military mission planned & led by a woman.



A few miles down the road, the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial. The South is filled with success stories of Black people. Perhaps if we remember and recognize and relish these stories, we’d make a truly new South, one in which Black people are no longer financially impoverished. We did, remember, build the South.


Coming Into Our Own: May, Week 1

The birds are laying eggs again, nesting. The new neighbor nests, too, a bevy of boys lie in the grass with her day afternoon and night, or they turn my chairs to the side and use them as goal posts, or they sit in a chair while she clips their hair and chatters above the din of birdsong. The cardinals have all gone and the sparrows have stopped trying to transform my mailbox into a nest. Yesterday I filled the feeders with seed and laid out a strange contraption that promises to nourish the squirrels. I’m waiting for the landlord to arrive and replace the lock, which will place me one step closer to certification. 

There is something inherently obvious about loss in fostering. A child loses its parent(s); parent(s) lose children; trust is far out the door, a low-slung bag full of stories with it. 

I can hardly wait to have this home filled with the tremulous energy of a child. I’m coming into a new self, one who seeks permanence, stability, concepts that still make me itchy and ready to run for the hills. But I’m sitting here, typing with my thumb, patient and curious about “settling down” and “settling in”. The week of dates with the wrong men is behind me. The week of no dates is here, posing as every other week I’ve lived in this state. 

Perhaps growing up signals a space for solitude, not the kind I had in my 20s, angsty & distrustful after two miscarriages with two different guys, or the kind I sought in my 30s, deliriously in love with a woman who was my polar opposite, a lover of all things domestic and me, a lover of all things volatile. This solitude of the 40s feels quiet and inevitable and charged. Space to build a home, a world. 

Here’s a micro story by Rigoberto González that speaks to aging. 

Birthdays are for Bliss & Blah Blah: May Day aka International Labour Day


Here’s to making plans. & Here’s to making plans malleable. Birthdays don’t do it for me. Up until 2009, I celebrated my birthday by doing even more for others than I typically did in a given day (I do more  for others than the average person on any given day). When friends insisted on giving me gifts, I insisted that they take the money they planned on spending on my gift & give that money to a charitable organization instead. Six years ago I decided to take myself on a trip for my birthday, decided I’d celebrate myself every year by going to some state I hadn’t been. 2009 that was Oregon. My lover joined me & sat in a waiting room while I got a tattoo of a Phoenix; later she sat beside me as I cried during corpse pose in yoga. 2010 I went to New Mexico & stood on a swaying bridge during high winds. 2011, I stayed in New York, where I was living, awaiting my trip to Warsaw (conference) three weeks later. 2012 I celebrated May Day at three different parks holding rallies & ended the day at Union Square, where I marched down Broadway with hundreds of May Day paraders. The next day I took a plane to  Prague (conference). There, I videotaped people walking in white walking along a yellow lit cobblestone sidewalk holding red umbrellas. 2013 I woke up on my birthday in my parent’s house for the first time in 20 years. I was 40 & had about an hour with them before I got in my car, heading to Austerlitz. New York. I stopped over in DC & had dinner and drinks with friends and felt incredibly alive The end of the travel to a new state days was upon me. Last year, I woke up in the Philly airport and took a train to the passport office. I lamented being stuck in Philly instead of waking up in Lisbon, so two friends took pity on me and came to rescue. I felt alive and loved and lucky. That evening I fell asleep above the Atlantic and woke in Portugal. 


This year I opened an envelope that had been sitting on my kitchen table for a couple of days, sent to me by the amazing Andrea Beltran, who I met on twitter years ago and who I “met” via email and Skype with a group of women writers. I went to the gym & got a workout in, then stopped at a local place to grab breakfast, then home to put the final bookcase together. All plans stopped short there. I’d planned on going to yoga then to get a mani-pedi, then to pick up my new car then either drinks with friends or drink with the new potential or drink at home, relaxing alone. Instead, I went to work, helped the grant person put a grant together, deadline today. There, an old flame texted and invited me to a film. I got the mani-pedi in, finished the bookcase, cleared out the closet in the new kids’ room, made dinner, picked up the car, put fresh sheets on the bed, and am sitting here relaxing before I meet this old flame. The one thing I wanted today was to not spend in alone. And that is exactly what I got. 


Here’s a poem by Lucille Clifton, who celebrates her hips.