We are rooted in a pile of broken crust.
From the very beginning you and I have been something like a fire on the sea floor, a garden in the city.
We’ve fissured through carcass, crustacean, and immeasurable sediment with a sharp hiss and a curling flash of red.
We’ve been pushing up concrete and permeating impermeable surfaces with our unbelievable greenery, unbelievably sure.
to move upward.
We are always up against the whisper and snicker of “Impossible,”
echoes in a catacomb of doubt,
And yet, there are fires on the sea floor and gardens in the city.
Ghost puffs of cotton flutter next to these old plantation mansions with their overseeing verandas that wrap around and beyond my sight out here in the white, the old South, which may be more black than it will ever admit. There is the indelible print from a heavy boot heel; the smell is leather and dirt and blood, steeping my skin like sun-ripening sweet tea. I see a rope weeping from a peach tree on this slow saunter down main street Appalachee. Every scene is a mess of nostalgia and Southern comfort, of folk and soul, simplicity and rhythm; yet also sorrow and bitterness, racism and hate, pain and fear, clay and blood. Suddenly these beautiful fields become impassable sorrows, no longer thriving with life but full of life absorbed, stolen. Lives, landscapes, and memories are very differently colored.
This is the geography of our little ol’ Georgia, our jazz-and-bluegrass Georgia, our yes’m-yessir Georgia, our collards-and-watermelon Georgia; our ten-lashes-to-twenty-five-to-life-for-negritude Georgia, our ‘whites-only’ Georgia, our peach-trees-planted-and-Peachtrees-paved-by-black-hands Georgia; our dirty-sweet, scary-beautiful, Harley-riding, coupe De’Ville driving, plantation-owning, project-thuggin, hootin’-and-hollerin’, hotter-than-two-hells, perfect-piece-of-shit Georgia.
It is part of our everyday experience of being here, and you think we do not know? Our terrain is bodied by history’s slow-moving ghosts, and we pass through them with a tired grimace. We confront, we confront, we know, we know. We learn to know we cannot escape. This is the substance of humidity that swells our bodies and buildings, our pores, mortar, and joints with a gristly slip. It is the red in the clay, the kudzu taking over. We must try hard to fight and accept, to love and regret: to pare away, but not remove it from the landscape. It must remain always in view like the threat of unsweet tea. It will always define something about this place and we must know that. It is a troubling visuality, a schizophrenic horizon, a series of mixed metaphors, and yet, everyday, part of our living.
"We need to radically challenge the notion that we don’t have an obligation to care for one another"
This was the moment when everything changed for me, those words released from a chasm deeper than the black in her braids. Now things are rushing out, things are opening up from the deepblack. Our hands on the pulsing, sunwarm shoulder of a silver stallion poised to run…
it’s a tendency, we have a tendency of working our tendons into carefully manipulated contortions constituting our routinized, regulated borders. we embody only borders, are given only a hair’s breadth of being, a violent narrowness in which to perform.
muscle memory. to performances we are bound, sinews that come between the impulse to embody and the embodiment are tensile, fibrous, wound through and around like fingers on our being. flexion, tension, flexion, tension, tension, tension, tension. muscle memory is beyond blood and betwixt flesh. separating flexion from tension is an imprecise contraction, a mere minor fluctuation, a subtle skin ripple, a velvet beat of a butterfly’s wings. it takes only the slightest of movements, and sometimes less than that, for some thing to become something else— realizing this is enough to inspire a dissenting opinion of our apparent rigidity.
with a beautiful pirouette we may just slip away and untangle from flesh, blood, and memory; take a silent cue and separate, dissipate, fluctuate. we must begin to fail to inhabit ourselves in order to cultivate new proclivities for being, to turn strangling sinuousness into an immeasurable tenuosness. can you dance on a hair’s breadth?
intimacies are ripening into frailty, passions are weathering threadbare, fall is drawing him away again. driving the moving truck, he begins blinking like a waiting cursor on a white page…something is stirring. something internal, perhaps imaginary, dies everyday under his skin; some performance fails with a quickly closing curtain. the velvet is cutting. he’s thinking: do you remember when you thought you were beautiful? when you felt beautiful for the first time? you began becoming after that pitch black bathroom almost caved you in, remember? you came out of there with your feet on the fucking coldest concrete in a basement that was in the middle of everyone else’s nowhere. remember how hard you couldn’t cry? how hard you gripped that countertop it merged with the bones of your palms? you knew nothing and noone. was it resolve that let you sleep on the driveway? you woke freezing and beaded with dew but the sky was glass and reachable. you were becoming beautiful and it hurt.
now that he’s been, it hurts even more.
you tell us
you tell us,
you tell us
personal, personal, personal.
you want to hear us
want to listen
with your fading feminist ear
so that we can
become to you,
i’ll be your
your angry fucking
licking my lips
with my rug-munching
because i exist
and i call myself
but i don’t exist
figure my fucking
that second sex
which is not one,
on your rising son
with, once again,
my wilting rose flesh
in full death bloom.
i will not
water myself for you
for a white-skin
in kinky-pink kitsch—
i am not for
will not come for
your first, second, third
do not speak for
not for you,
your doorstep is soft
with the pale bodies
of last night’s moths
and i stand at your threshold
like wings surrendered
some moments like moth flutter
fade in the morning
fall in the morning
my back and my bones are aching from being a “man” today. sometimes there is not room to escape what others want to pile on my shoulders or in my calloused hands, and so i carry twice the weight, my skin blushing with bruises colored like already dead blossoms. i’m sinking like the way “muscle” sinks on the tongue. “muscle,” say it slowly and it lapses into beauty. “muscle,” slowly, softly. “muscle,” sadly. so many times i think i can’t do this, i don’t want to wake up a “man.” i need some ice to press into the pain racing up my spine. i need that collision, that melt. i need something to become more fluid.
we are hushed like blood imagery.
breath on flesh under a blanket
sluice, flow, spill
we are imagined borders.
we have been being something all this time
something we love to think we can touch
and what is the name of the world now
when words are failing our tongues,
when the water has fled from our palette?
we know there is nothing to say,
so close your lips on my wrist
like a suture that will never be there
like gravity building on a droplet of water, curling around it gently, coaxing it to the ground like any soft voice.
like any soft voice.
over margaritas, again, we empathize and analyze and slip into a rhythm of frustration and ecstasy, fear and hope—and for a little bit something small changes. we are the bards of our own being, the ever-sought-after legitimizing other half of our more than half-baked worldviews. we drink to affirmation. we can agree on how nationalism is consolidated; when the sexual becomes exceptional; where the radical is antiquated and forgotten. we find each other in the abstract, somehow, easily actually, and it is comfortable yet acutely temporal. frenzied, there is so much to finally say that i lose my voice every time. it is overwhelming and beautiful and sad and i can’t begin to explain any more than i’ve barely said.