Broke and leaning

Short grass. Embedded yellow. Three leaves outspread.
And torn wax paper. And broke-leaning picnic table.
And gravel dented by tire tread. Leaves alive and dead.
Brown roots. Paled maize flowers misplaced by poplars.

And freedom
and an unmade path to walk
and roadways to drive along.

To follow, so far, so long, not even seen like litter.
Buildings so full of people, from so many castes,
not viewed like trash. Light blue sharing violet
in pale cloud-filtered light, at the tip of a blade of grass.
Not a needle in a stack of hay, not one of the same
stacked one on top of another, but piles of pure plethora.

Plethora festering on plethora on plethora.
A cracked black plastic spoon.
A styrofoam corner. And me.
Shoe-wrapped feet, and seated body,
and black bag, and marble journal,
and phone whistling Modest Mouse.

Short grass, embedded with yellow,
and three leaves outspread.
All torn like wax paper.
All broke and leaning.
And I am writing.
What you are reading.

Well fed martyrs #oldjournals

Turn. Change. Transfigure. The trinity of our people.
Our people, used loosely, for we have never come together as one.
Failed, where ants and honeybees succeed,
at creating and sustaining efficient colonies.

Community. Congregation. Culture. Concentrated into cults.
Letting children light their candles.
Thinking drinking symbolic blood makes a better person.
Group-think denial-grace came at no cost,
when it earned its chief revelator a cross.

Transformed torture devices into symbolic vestiges of sacrifices
we, as a people, are not yet prepared to make. Flimsy. False. Fake.
Even if we were to nail up a martyr or two, our crosses would probably break.

We’re different. We’ve changed. We’re transfigured.
Also, as a whole, people have gotten bigger.
We might need to upgrade to an anchored metal frame
to sustain the weight of such well fed martyrs.

The Equality of Shame

Straight people are just as transgender than transgendered people. This is an issue with perception and vocabulary, and how they affect our self-determined reality. You do not have to understand, agree with, or accept what it means to be transgender, to realize sexual privacy is a basic human right of all people. I know, it’s confusing, all these movements, finally putting who they are and how they live out there in front of you to see. But think about it, a man holding the hand of the woman he loves is not seen as an invitation for their sex lives and preferences to be publicized. You want equal respect? Well, you can’t handle equal respect. So I’m asking, as a temporary measure, at least, for the equality of shame. You should be ashamed for discussing someone’s sexuality out loud and openly without them consenting. You should take the value of your own shame, and assume it is similar to the same shame felt by others. Who do not want their personal, biological, anatomical, emotional, or sexual reality discussed like the weather, or a recent football game, or a financial liability.
Yes, a healthy level of shame, that should do.
Just enough to cover us for now.
And still put so much shame on you.

Mind your LGBTQ’s

These words. This string of mismatched letters. LGBTQ. And what do
any of them have to do with me and you, I don’t know. Is it high heel shoes?
Is it Saint Laurent on a man’s ruby lips? Is it who you choose to be with?
Because straight people have worn all those choices.
Heterosexuality speaks with all these voices.
But we do not think to call them anything other than human. This prefix, trans.
Unless you’re transhuman, who cares? Have you ever undergone pain to be different,
not the same, to look at in a mirror who you see in your brain.
If it helps one and does not hurt two, what is it to you?

I do not take for granted that as long as I stay panted
nobody cares what is between my legs.
I do not take for granted that as long as their name isn’t Brandon
no one really worries who I’m with.

Lesbian. Gay. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. Nobody calls me straight.
Nobody refers to my anatomy when they discuss my sexuality.
So if our goal is pure equality, why are we labeling anyone
based on information it is not appropriate for us to own.
Words. And these words give shallow-minded people an excuse to dehumanize.
To participate in uncomfortable conversations that might not happen otherwise.

This is not a reference to the color of your skin.
This is not bias based on the historical and cultural relevance
and transitions of your people. I’m sorry if this comes as a shock,
but you can be a straight man, and not carry a cock.
You can be a woman, in my mind,
and I never need to know
what you left behind.

It is inappropriate. It is offensive. Disrespectful, and borderline mad.
Discussing someone’s sexuality like that. It is an epidemic in this country,
looking at people sexually, completely disregarding if they invited us to or not.
It is the seed of assault. It is the germ that breeds sexual violence and hurtful fetishism.

We don’t have to support our LGBTQ’s.
We don’t accept people’s differences because it is right to do.
The definition of freedom means we do not have these conversations.
If you’re hurting nobody while helping yourself, you’re golden.
You’re just like the rest of us. Pure human.

And if we asked them these questions,
we would be much more aware of all the queer stuff straight people do.
But we don’t get asked. Because that string of letters. It doesn’t include S.

Antiquated memories

I can not bring this self to desire new life.
Not when so much stock has accumulated in the old.

I do not fear the cold.
The winter we step out from under
into open bare treetop spring.

I have no qualm with my ape ancestry.
In fact, it better explains our species.

Our tribal colorisms and regional warfare.
Our instinctive challenge to anything new,
or different, or fundamentally not already ours.
Not our fast talk and plastic cars,
dictionaries and missionaries and doctors
toiling over life and death and credit checks.
Pastors organizing potluck dinner dusting
torture tools turned clean untested symbol.

Simple, for us millennials, to pack up our stuff and run
into new towns, new habitats, new jobs and prospects
and adventures breeding misadventure.

But I can’t do it.
Am I not like my peers?
Do I not share their fears?
Their crippling paralysis in the face
of any form of honestly given criticism.

I run from nothing.
I live where a death framed family lived
farm where they did
rusted old half-broken tools.

I prefer used.

Even wasted. Tedious. Outdated.
My life is not for the new.
Because there has never been such a thing.

Just perception. Since there was ever an us,
there has been one-sided perspective.
It defines our lives.

To the point we started building fences
just to make for greener grass
on the other side.

Write-Handed

Write hand has lost its stamina.
Whipped-shaken fingers clacking at the end of every sentence.
And penmanship, embarrassing. Some secretive tribe-speak
encoded only in laziness. Right hand has not been writing.
It has been fighting. Curled close folded like cats on cold nights
hugging leaky windows beside the fire inside.

Forming poorly insulated fists. Lifting over and over
a backpack stuffed with old World Books.
Autographed contemporary poetry reader.
An anthology of lesbian literature.

Throwing weak punches at unflinching air.
Short-hair. Tucked shirt. Alive like all it takes to survive
happens between eight in the morning and five at night.

And it isn’t right for the wrong hand to write too long.
Hardened hands at nothing. Feed clink in crimped metal pans.
Dead goats into clay. Write the very ground into ripe gardens.

Folded and unfolded and massaging keyboards and gripping pens.
And when the write hand has been found not writing, then what then?

How often should a writer have shake out his or her hand,
just to finish a poem?

Authentic. In Place of Clean.

Smell humans in the air.
In your gut somewhere.
Tension.
Weighing their intentions.
And your own against them.

Do not know how places really smell.
Bleach is a loud and undynamic storyteller.
Besides, humans are safer not knowing
their smell
how the places they dwell smell
how water from a well smells
or the earth that once capped it
or the earth in general.

Imagine how the air would feel without humans in it.
All earnest and unrepresented and free.

Authentic.
In place of clean.

Which it will never really be.
Still won’t stop humans from covering the world with bleach.

Until there is not a story left.
And we forget stories have a smell.

Feel human in the air.
Real human.
It shouldn’t burn so bad to breathe.

The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment

Valerie Aurora's blog

This post was co-authored by Valerie Aurora and Leigh Honeywell and cross-posted on both of our blogs.

Mural of Al Capone, laughing and smoking a cigar CC BY-SA 2.0 r2hox

We’re thrilled with the recenttrendtowards sexual harassment in the tech industry having actual consequences – for the perpetrator, not the target, for a change. We decided it was time to write a post explaining what we’ve been calling “the Al Capone Theory of Sexual Harassment.” (We can’t remember which of us came up with the name, Leigh or Valerie, so we’re taking joint credit for it.) We developed the Al Capone Theory over several years of researching and recording racism and sexism in computer security, open source software, venture capital, and other parts of the tech industry. To explain, we’ll need a brief historical detour – stick with us.

As you may already know, Al Capone was a famous Prohibition-era bootlegger who, among…

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Makebelieve War

Dear Liberty Mountain,
What’s with all the shotguns and shouting?
Dead bodies all about the stage
trying not to breathe.

Lips closed.
Remember to keep your fingers still.
Brave boys. Die with or without honor
for a few dollars. Same as it ever was.
Thought I do prefer these soldiers.

From one wing to another.
Blocked sojourns.

Not across real battlefields.
But fields for wild flowers.

I have seen a feather petaled passionflower in this crowd.
A bouquettle of oxeye daisies. For certain,
a black eyed Susan, or two. And so many
violets playing violent. Pretending war.
Besides, what else are stages for?

No matter the play.
Some form of makebelieve war.
Same goes for real ones.

So thank you Liberty Mountain,
for that lesson. That blessing
buried inside every
single one of us
within all of our art.

Dear actors playing people playing soldier,
no need to reason why or do or die.
Or anything like that, thank God.

Please just show up and play your part.