Friday, September 9, 2016

Déjà Vu Bus Ride

for Eleanor Wilner


For over a decade I would see her on the bus or in the vegetable shop near my apartment, always looking at everyone and everything, never on the phone or listening to music.  One of those rare people who is truly present, I would see her see me and when I smiled she always returned the smile.  We have observed people and things together for years, but never met, never talked, not once.  We have never heard one another speak.  In my journals I refer to her as my déjà vu friend because seeing her destabilizes my reality the way déjà vu will do.  Then I closed down my apartment and left Philadelphia.

While house sitting for poet Eleanor Wilner after a year of being on the road I went to my old neighborhood in search of my déjà vu friend.  I wish I could say there was a great search that lasted for days, but no, she was waiting for the number 21 bus and it was the first time I was getting on with her deliberately.  I took notes for the poem.  I didn’t want to break our pattern and introduce myself, so instead I occupied the space as a fellow observer of the world.  I took more notes for the poem while studying the many hair wraps, shirt collars, and a myriad of expressions quite often in the same face.  After a few blocks our eyes met as usual but she not only smiled she nodded.  When I returned the nod my smile was one of my favorites because it was for my déjà vu friend.  She got off the bus at 36th Street and I continued to write and observe to 45th Street. 


Monday, September 5, 2016

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Power Sissy Intervention #2: Apostle Paul Suppositories

for Jo Mariner

“We’ve got to deal with the fact that the church has been violently prejudiced against gay people.  We’ve murdered them; we’ve burned them at the stake; we’ve run them out of town for something over which they have no control.  And that’s immoral.”
                  --Reverend John Shelby Spong


The Book of Romans by the apostle Paul is very popular in the United States among Christian extremists who justify genocide of queers.  “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

The Book of Romans is 9 pages long and for 9 days I would sing a page, then shout it, feeling the trauma this book used to condone violence against queer women and men.  Then I would chop the page into a blender, add a little crystal infused water and pulverize it to a wad of pulp.  I would take notes for the poem, then fill a gel suppository with the page, add lubricant and insert it past my sphincter and deep into my asshole.  “It is me surrounding you now, time to meet your ghosts,” I would say and go into town ringing a bell and chanting the names of some of homophobia’s victims.  Like my friend Jim McCormick who said he would rather kill himself than let his family find out he had AIDS, and then he did it.  Erika Keels who was run over by a transphobic man in Philadelphia.  The list of names filled the 9 days with a shower of unrelenting blood:  Skye Mockabee, Amos Beede, Maya Young, Matthew Shepard, Kimberly Morris, Amanda Alvear, Kayden Clarke, and many others.

All my life Christian extremist politicians have used their homophobia to garner respect for their political campaigns.  Religious extremism from positions of authority and their influence over the actions of their constituency is obvious in a world of confident bullies.  From 2016 to 2017 US lawmakers submitted over 200 anti LGBTQ bills to become laws.  I sat on a bench outside the courthouse to end this ritual each day, leaning forward, then back, then side to side to feel the page of the bible up inside me, apostle Paul deep-fingering me as I read printouts of some of these laws.  In the state of Mississippi a law to allow any person or business to deny service to same-sex couples for religious objections.  Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, an ambitious stream of hateful anti LGBTQ bills issued with some of them sticking and becoming laws.  In Tennessee a law that allows doctors to refuse treatment of queers without legal repercussions for instance.  I would take more notes for the resulting 9 untitled poems, reminding myself of the words of the great poet Audre Lorde who said, “It is not our differences that divide us.  It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”  I tire of these inabilities.  I will now shit out the cause.  I will continue to Love this world despite the oppositions to do so.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Resurrect Extinct Vibration

Resurrect Extinct Vibration is a (Soma)tic poetry ritual I have been working with for the past year.  Please let me explain.  I create rituals that I do and while doing them I take raw notes that are later sculpted into poems.  These rituals demand physical interactions with the world, keeping a strong focus on the present while writing.  One might say the rituals create a space of “extreme present” where nothing except the ritual and the writing within the ritual can be concentrated on.

In the Resurrect ritual I use a mix of audio field recordings of recently extinct animals.  When driving across the United States in my car I take time each day no matter where I am to lie on the ground and saturate my body with these extinct sounds, the speakers first at my feet then slowly moving up my body.  I take notes for my poem immediately after the ritual is completed.

The World Wildlife Fund’s biennial report from 2014 revealed the stark results from analysis of accumulated research that more than half of our planet’s wild animals have disappeared in the past four decades.  My goal with the Resurrect ritual is to focus on Ecopoetics as more than our degraded soil, air, and water, but to also consider and begin including the idea of vibrational absence.  When a species becomes extinct they take their sounds with them:  song, cry, breath, footfall, heartbeat.  And we in turn replace their sounds with our human sounds, our metal, machines, bombs, cars, etc.  When I was born over half a century ago my cells were formed on a more complex, organic vibration than the cells of children being born today.

My goal is to delve even deeper in 2017 and 2018 into this ritual, writing poems as a study through my body, the results of returning these missing sounds to my cells.  Part of the ritual involves sleeping in my car in Walmart parking lots.  I view Walmart as the epitome of the effects of Manifest Destiny upon the land.  There are 9,000 Walmart stores in the lower 48 states with each one holding between 250,000 and half a million items on site for sale.  Outside in the parking lots each night, and this is true no matter where I am in the United States, there are homeless families living in cars.

Another component to the ritual happens at sunrise, listening to the extinct animal sounds on headphones while walking in a spiral formation inside the Walmart, working my way into the middle of the store.  At the center of the spiral I find a spot to kneel and take more notes for my poem.  In the end it is a poem pointing a finger within the body living inside the structures of capital and religion and how those forces worked together to shape ideas that in turn reshaped the planet.  As a transgendered / gender-fluid person I will write through the broad spectrum of my experienced genders as a vehicle for the poetry to compound its message and song.



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cremation Cocktail

for Jeremy Halinen


The Book of Frank
makes me happy.  I come from a poor, mostly illiterate rural American community where none of the houses of friends, family or neighbors had bookshelves.  It humbles and amazes me to come from such an environment and have a book I wrote translated into half a dozen languages.  Over a period of 18 years I wrote this work, totaling 1,584 poems in total.  Black Mountain College poet and publisher Jonathan Williams was originally going to publish the book through his Jargon Society Press.  I was incredibly honored and would go to his home in North Carolina to work on the manuscript with Jonathan and my friend Jeremy Halinen who was the Jargon intern at the time, and except for me they are the only two people to have read all 1,584 pages. 

I miss Jonathan.  Miss the endless supply of poets whose work he introduced
me to, like Merle Hoyleman and Mary Butts, the kind of writers who turn you around, lighting your way with their genius.  He died around the spring equinox.  I was walking with a group of friends to Dirty Frank’s Bar in Philadelphia after a poetry reading when someone read us a text that Jonathan had just died, jackknifing the evening to sorrow.  The bar was packed and the music loud, but we found a booth.  After we toasted to the long and adventurous life of Jonathan
Williams someone asked what was going to happen to my book now that he was gone.  I said I didn’t want to think about it and that is when on the other side of the bar an old man stood up and started to shove people out of his way, walking toward our booth, a man who never bathed and mumbled to himself.  My good friend Frank Sherlock was sitting across from me and had worked at the bar for many years and said no one had ever heard a full sentence from his mouth and his odor kept everyone at bay. 

He plowed his way through the noisy crowd and stopped at our booth, staring at me for an uncomfortable minute.  Then he said this same sentence a dozen times, “Don’t worry, we have it taken care of, it will be better than you can imagine, we’re looking out for you.”  Then he said, “You are my little princess,” and kissed the top of my head, then plowed the way back to his barstool on the other side of the bar.  We were amazed!  Jonathan Williams did that!  He wanted to tell me this information to put me at ease about the book we had worked so hard on together, but he needed someone in the room who was so far removed from normalized, respectable behavior that he could walk his spirit inside them and have them speak on his behalf.  The man had said the sentence over and over, his inflection exactly the same each time as if a recording had been placed in his head.  Knowing Jonathan’s temperament I can only imagine he was annoyed when the man repeated it too much and interrupted him with the little princess and kiss salutation.  A week later I saw him again but he did not see me.  The man who had said this incredibly comforting sentence to me and then kissed the top of my head calling me his little princess did not see me, just walked past me on the sidewalk.

Soon afterwards the manuscript won the Gil Ott Book Award, chosen by Nathaniel Mackey, Myung Mi Kim, Eli Goldblatt and Charles Alexander, published by Chax Press.  Wave Books later published Frank where he continues to live happily today.  I am grateful to all of the many dedicated people at these presses and my poetry hero Eileen Myles for writing the Afterword to the Wave edition.  The book contains 130 poems and these are the only pages from the box of 1,584 poems that were published.  For years I have been asked to consider a sequel or to enlarge the book, and I would sit with the box and consider it, but in the end I prefer the selections I made with Jonathan and Jeremy.  The Wave edition is how I want the length and depravity of Frank’s life measured.

Poetry is a window into the magic of this world that never once asked me to apologize.  Poetry took me out of the soul-crushing factory town of my childhood, revealing itself to be a source of autonomy that once grabbed by its horns utterly transfigures our lives if we refuse to let go and I will not take this force for granted.  To honor that space is to have our poems be exactly the way we want them in the world.  I read the box of poems out loud, all 1,584 pages of them, then placed a small, smooth piece of rose quartz crystal on top of the stack of paper and lit them on fire, watching them burn.  Afterwards I swallowed the crystal, tasting like smoked blood.  The pile of ashes was
remarkably small for 18 years of writing and that was humbling as I gathered them in my cupped hands and mixed them into a warm bath with jasmine flowers.  In the bath I massaged the ash and jasmine into every inch of my body, and took occasional drinks of the cremation cocktail to join the crystal working its way through my digestive organs.  During the ritual I took notes that became a poem titled “There Is No Prison Named Love.”

P.S. Edgar Cayce and Jack Spicer both understood that poets are recording whispers from the spirit world with our poems.  Witnessing Jonathan Williams walk inside the man to have him relay his message was a gift, watching the recently deceased poet flex his new spirit body.  “We” are looking out for you he said, the “we” meaning Jonathan and my other spirit guides?  I am most appreciative to Jonathan for his kindness to me in life and after life.

P.P.S.  The Book Of Frank is not about my friend Frank Sherlock or Dirty Frank’s Bar.  I have been blessed with many amazing Franks in my life.

P.P.P.S.  Frank Sherlock works at Dirty Frank’s Bar but it is not named after him.  Although a mural of him was painted on the outside wall after he became Philadelphia Poet Laureate and you should go see it, it is a beautiful portrait of the poet.

Monday, August 29, 2016

POWER SISSY INTERVENTION #3: Powerball Vagina


“Spare any money?”  I panhandled outside Asheville Downtown Books and News to buy lottery tickets to win big time to pay for surgery for a new vagina.  I will name a patch of pubic hair after Governor McCrory, whose mouth looks like a little talking asshole. The McCrory Patch I will call it and it will be kept combed and trimmed and I will rub my thumb in a circular pattern into the patch when his angry asshole lips are in the news.  He has been a Christian extremist politician for as long as anyone around here can remember, and he is the architect of the HB2 law that prevents transgender people from using public toilets that match their gender identity.  He tried to stop a production of the play “Angels In America,” he tried to prevent the Charlotte Gay Pride Parade from marching in a public space, suggesting that they have the gathering at a hotel.  He also supported the YMCA for refusing membership to an openly gay man and his partner and son, stating in a letter to the man that he might want to consider a gym membership at the Jewish Community Center.  McCrory’s supporters create prayer chains from the driveway at his mansion in Asheville and down the highway, praying that the governor keep their Christian extremist values intact.  I took notes for the poem.

One man said it was rude to name a patch of pubic hair after the governor and I said it was rude of the governor to legislate hatred.  Every time Christian extremist politicians speak out against LGBTQ people they sanction gay bashing and promote self-hatred in LGBTQ people who are already straining to negotiate survival in a highly charged religious and political landscape of morality.  The culture of destroying queers is alive and well and we need public action.  I have come to vandalize American Christian values for they have cost the lives of people I love.  “Spare some money so I can play Powerball for a new vagina?”  I took notes for the poem and bought some lucky feeling tickets that made my brand new vagina sparkle and tingle in the future.


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Thursday, June 2, 2016

MONKEY GRASS

The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.  They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.
--Alice Walker


Before visiting NTU (Nanyang Technological University) in Singapore I visited monkeys at the Philadelphia Zoo (Prison).  It is very difficult to witness pitiless, unenlightened parents normalize (even CELEBRATE) the incarceration of innocent animals for their children.  In this ritual I carried a small piece of celestite in my left hand with 9 blades of grass plucked outside the zoo (prison).  Celestite’s name is derived from the Latin to mean “of the sky,” and it works on opening our top three chakras:  Throat, 3rd eye, and Crown.  It was important I chose a stone that was capable of allowing any communications to pass into it as a temporary battery and transmitter without the complications of me needing to translate the messages for myself since the messages were not for me.  It was up to the wild monkeys of Singapore to interpret our unfortunate cousins’ stories from the United States.

I clenched the crystal and grass while making eye contact with Columbian black monkeys, and white-bellied spider monkeys.  Their faces were anxious and sad.  The Columbian government was not demanding the release and return of one of their nation’s most beautiful natural gifts and they knew it.  The depression of the animals did not seem to register with parents and children pointing and laughing, eating candy and enjoying their freedom.  I did not care that they occasionally stared at me as I spoke out loud to the monkeys, telling them that I am on my way to visit our cousins in Singapore where they swing freely in the trees.  “What would you like me to tell them?”  I stared into their eyes and said, “I love you little cousins,” then left the zoo (prison), putting the crystal and grass blades in my left pocket.  I took notes for the poem before, during and after the zoo (prison) visiting hours.

When you know something is wrong in the world it must be confronted.  Be sad, be angry, be active, and never apologize, ever!  A couple years ago someone overheard me saying, “Zoos are prisons where not a single prisoner has ever seen a lawyer!”  This person said, and this is a direct quote, “But animals really are better off in zoos.  It’s safer for them.”  And so began one of the stupidest conversations of my life and no matter what I said this person was confident that imprisonment was the best choice for animals.  “It’s a dangerous world out there,” they informed me.  I tapped the side of my head and said, “It is not nearly as dangerous as the world IN HERE this evening!”  Conversations like this one is exactly why I prefer all other animals over human beings!  I LOATHE my species for the overwhelming lack of empathy for any creature other than our own!  In the mid-1990’s there was a fire in the ape house at the Philadelphia Zoo (Prison) and 23 sentient beings died that day.  It was shocking, and when the news reporter said, “Luckily no one was injured,” I called the news station to complain, “You mean NO HUMANS were injured!  How can you say 23 died but no one was injured?”

The eyes of the captive monkeys haunted me and I touched the outside of my pocket where I kept the crystal and grass.  After I arrived in Singapore I asked my friend Divya if there were any wild monkeys in the area and was excited to hear that her husband Josh had an ongoing encounter with a wild monkey on the NTU campus.  My eyes scanned the trees and lawns whenever walking.  For most of the week I kept the crystal and grass in my pocket while hoping to spot him.  The day after teaching a poetry workshop I walked from the building to find a small group of people photographing themselves with something in the background.  When I craned my neck I was excited to see two brown monkeys hugging one another near the pond.  All my life I had wanted to see monkeys who are FREE.  I sat in the grass and threw several pieces of fruit to the creatures.  One of them came over, then the other, eating delicious melon slices, their eyes and demeanor completely different from our enslaved cousins.  I placed the crystal and grass on the ground between us with a last melon slice.  When one monkey touched the crystal under the melon she LOOKED at me suddenly and ran away, agitated.  I admit feeling guilty for causing her anxiety with the message from our enslaved cousins but the other monkey hugged her and comforted her.  I took notes for the poem as they groomed each other and ran across the grass, their movements and play shaking off the humiliation and degradation of our cousins in Philadelphia.

It was one of the most exciting times of my life with nonhuman creatures.  I was high with joy the rest of the day.  Then after cooking dinner I turned on Channel News Asia and sat with my bowl of rice and beans.  I went from being thrilled and high to completely shocked when a reporter stood on a busy street in Tokyo where a chimpanzee named Chacha was on a telephone poll after escaping from the zoo.  Chacha had broken out of prison!  And at first I was excited.  It felt like a message.  It was a surreal coincidence.  How could this be?  Then a man shot a tranquilizer dart into Chacha’s shoulder and the beautiful animal who had looked happy to be out in the world felt immediate and intense pain.  Chacha SCREAMED at the man, then grew limp and fell to the outstretched net awaiting below.  Humans wrapped Chaca in a blanket and put him in a van and drove him back to prison for the rest of his life on this human-dominated planet.  Why do we cage animals?  Because we can!  Because they are weaker and we do not mind exploiting this weakness and sharing our authority over them on a Sunday afternoon with our children.  It is also more efficient to gather all the animals and put them in cages in one place near our homes rather than fly all over the globe to see them. 
Efficiency breeds brutality every single time.  Chaca, my heart breaks for you and want to visit you one day in the Tokyo Zoo (prison) and tell you in person that I love you but have no idea how to save you.  I unexpectedly took even more notes for the poem, the darkest of the day’s notes and watched the rebroadcast later in the evening to take more notes as Chacha screamed and fell from freedom all over again.  The nightmares of my sleep that night assured me that the world is as chaotic and vicious as I imagined, and took more notes upon waking.  Waking, we need to be waking.

(P.S. It was my luck that there were two monkeys.  My crystal and the messages from the incarcerated monkeys in America caused trauma to the one and if it were not for their companion I do not know how they would have been comforted.  Because the trauma was quickly extinguished I got to enjoy my day.  This is something I will never repeat.  It is bad enough that we humans cause so much suffering on the planet and I do NOT need to be spreading it around.  Healing needs to begin and soon.  The way we mistreat animals is evidence we are far from being able to rescue our own lives at this point.  We need to start spreading compassion.  Can we begin today please?  I am asking this to myself, and passing it along.)




Friday, March 11, 2016

MARFA Poetry Machine in 36 Things

                  --for Jason Dodge


The Lannan Foundation presented me with a generous fellowship to live and write in beautiful Marfa, Texas for two months.  My working class mother thinks I have pulled off a bank heist rather than anyone would be foolish enough to pay me to write my poems.  I said, “I know Mom I know, it is amazing with all the love our country gives to war and genocide that there is any left over for a poet!”  I did 36 Things a day for 36 days, taking notes between each Thing, the notes harvested later for the poems.  Here is a list of the Things I did each day to create the MARFA POETRY MACHINE:

1:  SAGE POETS
Burn sage to honor a different living poet each morning, saying the poet’s name out loud while wearing a ceramic hamsa the poet Erica Kaufman gave me.  “This morning as every morning with poetry as my strength, I honor the poet ___________.”

2:  CRYSTAL SUPPLEMENT
Place the day’s food in a glass bowl surrounded by crystals that have been programed to boost cell proliferation and heighten organic vibrational patterns for greater nutritional gain.  The steady pulse of crystal frequencies saturating plants, beans and grains.

3:  REIKI SUNRISE BEFORE SUNRISE
Watch sunrise on Edgar Cayce Institute Meditation Room webcam in Virginia Beach while giving Reiki to myself, preparing for the sun’s arrival in Texas.  http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/prayer.aspx

4:  REIKI SUNRISE
An hour later watch sunrise on porch while giving myself Reiki.  Setting my day by the sun plugs me into a natural clock.

(I will have two sunrises a day with two time zones: One online in Virginia Beach, another in Texas.  But only one sunset to cheat the grave.)

5:  YOKO MOLECULAR INFUSION
While cooking breakfast play the album RISING by Yoko Ono next to the stove, her music finding its way into the fiber of the food as she sings, “Listen to your heart, respect your intuition, make your manifestation, there is no limitation, have courage, have rage, we’re all together.”

6:  CELL KNITTING
Chew each mouthful of breakfast 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Yoko-Crystal infusion.

7:  ELVIS PENETRATING CRYSTAL
Meditate on a postage stamp of Elvis Presley (a gift from friend Jenn McCreary) through a clear shaft of flawless citrine, the guardian gemstone of manifestation.

8:  ELVIS BLACKOUT
Wearing headphones sitting inside a closet with door closed listening to the length of a different Elvis song each day then as it finishes take notes by flashlight.

9: MARFA GRATITUDE
Standing in front of the house on Summer Street taking a slow 360-degree view, grateful for the people who make Marfa what it is.  You can surround yourself with the best art in the world, but what actually makes a town is its citizens, and Marfa is home to some of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. 

10:  LOG BENCH VISUALIZATION
Sit on log bench in Summer Street Park.  Gaze at the landscape without blinking.  Close eyes and remember what was seen.  Open eyes and look for what was missed.  With each day the contents of the landscape grows more complete inside.  Later while falling asleep I visualize the park, recalling the details clearer and clearer throughout the 36 days.

11:  GIANT INSTALLMENTTS
Watch five and a half minutes of the movie GIANT that was filmed in Marfa (1955), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean.  (Five and a half minutes times 36 is the length of the film).  “Bick, you shoulda shot that fella a long time ago.  Now he’s too rich to kill.” (A line of Uncle Bawley’s).

12:  COLOR MATES
Focus on a color outside the Pueblo Market in the parking lot, buildings, or the sky: a yellow car or a bit of pink gum or an orange cat. Then walk the market aisles to find the same color on cans and other packaging and read the ingredients like on a can of peas as if it is the legend to a map.  And ask the label out loud, “HOW are these peas showing the way out of darkness to the sanctioned interior?”

13:  SENTINEL PINE
All my life I have made friends with trees.  I take my magnifying glass to study the giant pine growing behind an abandoned building near Pueblo Market.  She is tall and old and Donald Judd must have taken notice of her perfect symmetry of branches holding herself in spaces of green, brown, and angelic exhale of crown.  There was an ant and I think she was the same ant, there most days crawling up the narrow ravines of bark.  I dabbed a little brown rice syrup on the bark, always eaten, always relished.

14:  APHRODITE’S ELEMENT
Place a penny on railroad tracks next to the post office.  Copper is the metal of Aphrodite – the goddess of Love – and we must not forget this, ever, that copper is her element on Earth.  Find flattened pennies from the day before and leave them on the sidewalk, squashed heads-up.

15:  SOTOL SNAKE SAUNTER
Walk a snake pattern through the long rows of enormous sotol plants at the corner of Oak & High outside Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation.  This building houses the work of artist John Chamberlain and was originally known as Fort D. A. Russell.  In an essay, Judd wrote of the building and plants, “This large right angle was planted in a corresponding grid of sotol plants, an agave of the area, from which a liquor like tequila is made – just in case.”  (Reader, do you also LOVE the “just in case” at the end?)

16:  SHUT UP AND SLIDE
At the Travis E. Self Memorial Park climb the sliding board.  Take notes at the top.  Send the notebook down the slide then follow it no matter who watches.

17:  RAILROAD PYRAMID
Climb hill near MARFA RAILROAD PEN.  Face across tracks, find three stationary objects then imagine a line connecting them.  Study contents of triangle especially look for the large dark chicken, she lives there and she is a beautiful chicken.

18:  CHICKEN SONGS
Sing to the large dark chicken even if she is not visible.  But sing like a chicken sing one very large dark chicken serenade she might appreciate.

19:  MARFA HIBACHI
Stand at intersection of Highland Avenue and San Antonio Street imagining a restaurant with a giant canvas at the entrance with brushes and paints for customers to use.  If a customer adds to the painting they get a free bottle of wine for their table.  The choice to not paint is a thousand dollars for a glass of water, a salad, or cookie, the high price of denying collaboration.

20:  JUDD’S FALLEN GIANT
For years I have viewed Donald Judd’s work in museums as an immersed study on chakras, spinal discs aligned and often lit from within.  In Marfa I drive down route 67 South to see Judd’s massive concrete blocks in the desert, like the remains of a fallen giant a kilometer in length, spinal cord fossils with flesh of Texas wind and sand.  One afternoon two coyotes were having sex between the third and fourth vertebrate from the maw of the desert: a burst of pleasure beside the fallen.

21:  MARFA ALOHA
Give a stranger a poetry broadside.

22:  DESERT WITCHES
Read five pages a day of Marc Simmons’s 180 page book, WITCHCRAFT IN THE SOUTHWEST:  Spanish & Indian Supernaturalism on the Rio Grande.  (I found myself routing for the witches, no matter what misogynistic and bigoted prejudices the author attempted to instill.)

23: WITCH DANCE WORKOUT
Each day sit on floor to follow Mary Wigman’s Witch Dance like a Jane Fonda workout video for the spirit.  I believe Wigman may be the first contemporary dancer to consciously use dance as trauma release.  In an interview she said, “I was once completely confused and unhappy.  I locked myself in the guest room of my parent’s home and in great consternation I sobbed and cried because I did not know anymore what to do with my life.  There on the spot I discovered suddenly that in all my unhappiness I was moving and I was moving in such a way that I had never moved before.  And also suddenly this moving became an expression, a speaking out.”  --Mary Wigman, dancer and choreographer.  http://bit.ly/1MdSPtZ

24:  SWEET POTATO BABY DOLL
The grocer said my sweet potato is organic, but I love all sweet potatoes, organic or filled with toxic sprays and fucked up genes.  I cradle my sweet potato, breast feed my sweet potato, rock her back and forth, singing her name, Tara, Tara OH MY LITTLE TARAAAAA.  My mother said this would have been my name if I had been born a girl.  I drew eyes, mouth, and painted a purple glitter skirt onto Sweet Potato Baby Doll.  I carry her with me in my bag to show to people I meet.  “Would you like to see Sweet Potato Baby Doll?  She is my avatar potato with a bit of lithium quartz embedded in her head to receive the transmissions of her day which is also our day.”

25:  REGRET-REVERSAL SPELL
Close eyes and think of an embarrassment from the past.  Imagine the former self in the middle of the situation shrugging and laughing.

26:  WE ARE ALL COGS OF A BEAUTIFUL MACHINE
Find one natural item a day, a twig, little stone, feather, a bit of fluff on a breeze, and wind it, twist it into my longest strands of hair.  Leave it tangled in my hair while writing then untangle it.

27:  COGS OF A MARFA POETRY MACHINE
Arrange found natural items on back porch, a growing machine.

28:  PAGE 36
Read page 36 of different books written by former Lannan Fellows.  For instance, “Expunging Palestinians politically or physically from Israel’s body politic is an idea with broad support within the admittedly narrow Zionist Political spectrum.” (from Ali Abunimah’s book The Battle for Justice in Palestine, from Haymarket Books.)

29:  YOKO MOLECULAR INFUSION PART TWO
While cooking supper play the 2007 album YES, I’M A WITCH by Yoko Ono next to the stove, her music finding its way into the fiber of the food as she sings, “Yes, I’m a witch, I’m a bitch, I don’t care what you say, my voice is real, my voice is truth, I don’t fit in your ways...  Each time we don’t say what we want to say we’re dying.”

30:  CELL KNITTING PART TWO
Chew each mouthful of my supper 36 times, meditating on food cells becoming my own cells of Yoko-Crystal infusion.

31:  REIKI SUNSET
Watch sunset over the desert at end of Third Street while giving myself Reiki. 

32:  LOST HORSE
Have one shot of Jack Daniels at The Lost Horse Saloon to meet people and enjoy this space where one night a woman rode a beautiful white horse INTO THE BAR!   Ask Tim Johnson at the Marfa Book Company, we were having a drink together.  The lost horse always finds its way.

33:  MARFA LIGHTS
Look for the Marfa Lights at the viewing station on Route 90.  Every night I saw them, sometimes as balls of white light rising from the earth, other nights riding the air sideways and changing colors.  Someone told me they were reflected car lights.  I said, “Oh really, then what were they in 1888 and earlier, long before the metal horse arrived in Marfa?”

34:  FOR THE ARCHITECTS WE LIVE WITH
Each night I play the CD DUET FOR PEN & PENCIL, ELECTRIC DIRT, composed by Christine Olejniczak.  Then I walk from room to room with a flashlight to study the house designed by architect Kristin Bonkemeyer.  I pause in each room to imagine her original blueprints of the building and say out loud, “THIS is where I write in Kristin’s drawing, THIS is where I play music in Kristin’s drawing; THIS is where I cook, eat and this is where I dream in Kristin’s drawing.”

35:  PECCARY VIGIL
Sit quietly on front porch hoping to spot the tribe of javelinas who like to eat the prickly pear cactus in the yard.  Several nights THERE THEY WERE, little chattering tusks, hairy, stinky, and glorious to behold.

36:  SAGE POETS PART TWO
Burn sage to honor a deceased poet each evening.  “This evening as every evening with poetry as my strength, I honor the poet ___________.”  For instance, R.I.P. Amiri Baraka who died the first week I was in Marfa.

I was raised by people who spent many years of their lives working in factories where they were treated like bad children who needed to be disciplined for demanding health care and a livable wage. They formed unions to combat the company, and local, state and federal governments all poised against them.  I did these 36 Things for them.  Freedom, poetry, and Love for them.  Amiri Baraka said, “A man is either free or he is not.  There cannot be any apprenticeship for freedom.”  The resulting poems are a poetic measurement titled WIDTH OF A WITCH ((SAMPLES of the poems HERE and HERE.