Recycling and Redemption Value


I wasn’t raised with a religion… so I first learned about redemption via recycling PSA’s.The word had a very narrow definition associated with keeping streets clean and something about saving the planet. Minds like mine depend on metaphors for meaningful analysis, so for me, when the older definition of redemption started making appearances in the books I was reading, ‘Heaven’ looked like an ally full of semi-deranged homeless men, broken by war or addiction, bowing under massive wings, collecting 5 cent souls out of cloud lined garbage cans. God’s grace looked like the dingy  depository; sorting conveyor belts stretching into infinity.

Img_00279A priori knowledge is a tricky thing… especially when you’re a poor kid with a brain like an accordion.

Valentine’s day has come and gone. And this year I made no promises, broke no vows, and kept myself mostly to myself, but as I’m walking the lake with my 4-legged BFF, we come up to the most beautiful trash receptacle I’ve ever seen. This trash can is on the exit I take from the lake to my street. A marker. Turn left, go up a hill. My place.

“Recycle my heart” is what this says to me. Yes, please. Can I deposit the heart I’ve got, the love I’ve had, the love that feels used and spent and maybe having outlived it’s original purpose can be melted down and a new heart will appear?

Maybe the structural integrity of my heart has been compromised, but the essential ingredients are still precious. How much is copper going for right now? What is it’s redemption value? How many ways can a steel heart be refashioned; made lighter with each trip up the conveyor belt?  Just keep my love out of the landfill. Keep my love circulating. Don’t let me be lazy and throw it away.

My dreams last night…

I had the best dreams last night

And he wasn’t in them

I invented a brand new world

Where he never existed

It was beautiful and nourishing.

I had the best dreams last night

And there was no fear in them.

It was such a needed reprieve

Since his kind of hate

Is in my thoughts

More often than not.

I had the best dreams last night

Finally my mind gave me some room to breathe.

And it wasn’t just that there was no him,

There was none of his kind either;

Nobody like him had ever existed

And we were all free.

Last night, I dreamt of freedom.

Are you?

Are you trying your best

To make it back home to me?

Working and caffeinating,

Smoking and cursing,


In a city

where you belonged

once upon a time?

Are you trying your best

To make it back home to me?

I needed you here

Last night, really

for the first time.

Needed your eyes,

Needed your voice,

Needed your weight,

On the empty side of the bed.

Are you doing your best

to make it back home to me?

The clouds tell me yes.

Smoke signals sailing up

from the Eastern horizon

I’m coming, I’m coming,

I’ll soon be there.


liminal |ˈlimənl|

1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”[1]) is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective state, conscious or unconscious, of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes, as defined in neurological psychology (a “liminal state”) and in the anthropological theories of ritual by such writers as Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turner[2].

As developed by van Gennep (and later Turner), the term is used to “refer to in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes”[3].


One foot through the door, raised in the air, free before landing the step. While the other foot lingers, maybe even appearing rooted to the floor. One hand floating far ahead, fingers extended waiting to touch what’s next. The other hand clasped behind, knuckles engaged fierce grip on the known. A face of welcome with an expression of rejection. A balance struck out of refusal to commit.


Peeking through open windows to see how ‘they’ do it, catching their unfamiliar scent of satisfaction, of certainty, of the knowledge that this, this is it.

We are told we who are from the outside in. We’re given labels and categories and containers that fit. We arrive in the world without question of where we belong because we are claimed by our kin.

Identity is poured on us like concrete, time just passes to let it set. But what if you are casted as different? I mean, the cement casing, the label, the very identity that you are locked into by your family is in fact the label of DIFFERENT. Maybe special, maybe blessed, maybe damaged, maybe distressed. Being different, I feel I was instructed to look for something else always, something else, always something else. Never here. Never now. Never this.

Cement casings get heavy. They crumble. They prevent fluidity. We can crash into obstacles, learn to smash the joints and edges strategically. Work our way free via destruction.

Freedom through destruction.

Dismantling. I got good at dismantling. Once free, the goal is never to be caught again. Ever. A floating spirit, a flickering flame. The drive to live unencumbered wins out over any other hunger, because the only alternative I’ve ever known is heavy binding cement.

Cloud or statue? Lightning strike or suit of armor? Streaming wind or rolling boulder? Which would you chose if you had to answer? Being of both and neither. Of many and none. Liminal.

Sounds, Scents, and Valentines

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.

Kurt Vonnegut, Sirens of Titan


I’ve had this blog over a year. I remember my last valentine’s post. A graphic with a poem. A promise made from my heart to the universe. An agreement to my lovers, both known and not: I will always vice your versa.  That’s the best I can do.

Sounds and scents get tangled up for me. I hear a song; I want a cup of coffee. The scent of my cigar stains my finger tips; a bass line presses through silence into my ear. My head can sway with the beat found in the short life of a rose tea candle’s flame. The melody of smoke rippling at the end of a jasmine incense stick. It’s all swirling, all the time.


I have a lover I think of in the past tense most of time. I have a lover that only exists in brief text exchanges. I have a lover I haven’t really been able to love yet. I have the warm soft flesh of a new lover waiting for me. There’s that ache of want and have, of need and abstain. They get tangled up for me. It’s all swirling, all the time.


People who chose to walk in straight lines confuse me. People who give it their all to keep an even pace amaze me. It comes natural or it doesn’t. I’m afraid, but I’ll show up anyway. I was brave and stayed home. I was a coward and appeared in the crowd to be one of many on a dark street. I fight hardest when calm, I’m ineffective when enraged. How many loop de loops before my heart gets used to the vertigo and the ground never feels the same? They get tangled up for me. It’s all swirling, all the time.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Take a deep inhale of the scents surrounding you, listen to the sounds in your head, see the words behind your eyes. Let it all get tangled up inside. It’s all swirling, all the time.

Humans Aren’t Rodents. Porn Isn’t Ruining Marriages. (via The Sexademic)

This is a great point by point takedown of pseudo-science used as fear-mongering.

Humans Aren't Rodents. Porn Isn't Ruining Marriages. Humans are not prairie voles. We are not guinea pigs or mice. We're humans. Pop science loves to trot out research on rodents to confirm or challenge behavioral assumptions. But what the writers often miss is that our behaviors are shaped by far more than food, fights, flights and fucking. Humans are highly complex social primates and, … Read More

via The Sexademic

Paper Airplane Magazine

My first ever spoken word piece has been posted by Paper Airplane Magazine.

The piece is Airial’s Commute, which Makana and I recorded in my living room. He did an amazing job on the music. He did a great job getting me to go there, into an emotional space in order to capture some of what I felt while writing. I don’t get directed very often. It’s good that we had the connection we did, or else I don’t think the track would have come out the way it did. That sounds ridiculously obvious, I know. But it matters to me. We made a great piece of sonic art together.

Take a listen, I hope you enjoy it.

Autumn 2010

I love change.

I love the freedom to spin on the spot and go.

I love the ability to stand still,

for a moment,

just long enough to survey what is around me,

and listen.

A new beat,

a new rhythm,

enticing me away from the known,

the excitement of possibility

grinding against complacency,

resulting in that first

tentative step

toward the dark,

not yet illuminated with understanding.

Hearing a beat:

it grabs at my ear,

taps on my shoulder.

Feeling a beat;

inviting it inside me,

my heart receives

then responds in kind.

Following the beat;

acknowledging the pull,

body aligns with mind and soul,

first one step, then another,

seeking out the source.


this is Fall to me.

This is freedom.

To follow where the beat calls me.

Life is but a deep pulsing rhythm of courage and choice.

Sex, School and Saul

On my first day of school

Saul Williams is in my ear:

And when my fears arise I blow them out

Blow them out

Get it out

Blow it out

He’s whispering, shouting, provoking

Daring me to only bob my head

On this crowded BART train

My morning commute

Once again a moment of reflection

I raise both arms to the bar

As I choose to stand in the aisle

Rather than fight for a seat

My hands above my head

Allowing my body to sway

With the movement of the car

Let it out, blow it out, spit it out

Get it out


Saul is encouraging me.

His voice has become a surrogate

of friends and lovers not by my side.

Sex, I study sex.

I am a confirmed, outed, sex enthusiast.

It’s a human right to be sexually fulfilled,

to have a sexuality not defined

by abuse or oppression.

And I’m on this train

speeding toward the City

sliding beneath the Bay

to earn a Masters in Human Sexuality

Break the cycle, break the chain

break the hurt and break the pain

I study sexuality and now

Sensuality is everywhere

Always a fire lapping at the edges

Of my scholar’s mind

Will that be a problem, I wonder

Am I supposed to differentiate the two?


I don’t want to.

Hearts in two-step beat


Dance work whip pray


Neck jump back kiss


Ashes, dust, kill, crush


And if I don’t want to, I know I’m not going to.

I feel one side of my mouth start to curl

I’m looking down at my feet

The way my satchel bumps against my hip

Feels good to me

The lengthening of my back,

the strain in my upper arm muscles

I’m thinking about Kwan’s riding crop

He bought it just for me…

Deep breath, keeping my balance

in conjunction with the train

it’s all sensual to me.

Let it out, blow it out, spit it out

Get it out


Saul feels me

Both sides of my mouth are lifting

Away from the usual thoughtful pout

Of introspective repose…

Let it out, blow it out, spit it out

Get it out


Back in Oakland

A woman asking for dollars

at the top of the stairs

leading down into the station

had said, “There’s a girl

with a lot on her mind,”

as I passed her by.

It’s true: method, theory, sex…

Airial is planning something.

Let it out, blow it out, spit it out

Get it out


I feel someone staring at me

I lift my eyes only

Still with the slight grin on my lips

I don’t want to lose my train of thought

My ideas are too precious and precocious

To be derailed by the attention of a stranger

Dark brown eyes, slightly bloodshot

I feel I am being appraised

Too late, I beat you to it

I was just more subtle

Mid-40’s, taller than me

business suit that needs pressing

thick black hair, graying goatee

Let it out, blow it out, spit it out

Get it out


It’s shocking to me

That people who came of age

In the 1980’s

Are coming into power

But they’re still bemoaning the Boomers

A whole generation with

A massive younger sibling compleX

I shake my head at that.

By the horns and get it out

Cough it up and spit it out

Get it out

The polite thing for me to do

is pretend I don’t notice

his eyes resting on me

be another object on the train

Sorry, but I don’t feign ignorance well

He’s not that slick

And I have no poker face

My eyebrows raise…

A challenge, a question, a recognition

he looks away.

Should I change the way I’m standing?

Am I making him uncomfortable?

Social conditioning threatens to take hold of me.

Nope, I’m keeping my body relaxed

I like swaying with the train.

Break the cycle, break the chain

break the whip and break the pain

Besides it’s my thoughts that are provocative,

I’m studying sex for you too,

Hyper-masculinized, over-sexualized

Black guy who I don’t know.

We’re so in this together,

Or at least that is what Saul

Continues to assure me.

All my doubts and all my fears

break the spell that keeps me here

Through the tunnel

Emerging in Embarcadero

I swarm with the other commuters

I go to school Downtown

In a high-rise office building

A suite dedicated to sexuality research

My new nest for challenging the norm,

Hatching revolution.

Let it out, blow it out, spit it out

Get it out


Locking Doors

I have a hard time locking doors,

or even closing them,

I don’t trust them to protect me

I don’t believe in them.

To me, a deadbolt is a talisman;

a signal to the universe,

a prayer for protection:

I’m locking this door with the hopes

that what I want to stay out will not come in

it feels like a superstition

because really…

As a child, my mother’s insanity permeated our home, wrapped about us like a cloak, charging the air. You could feel it when you walked up our steps that someone crazy lives here. The shadowy forms my mother was afraid of would not be stopped by a locked door. She was always ready for the windows to be busted, waiting for the door to get kicked off the hinges. I had no idea who our attackers were supposed to be, but I had a hunch that they would end up needing my protection. I believed she would kill them. It would make her feel… accomplished. A rapist, a serial killer, kidnappers, some demented being who deserved to die; she was waiting for them.

She would fall asleep in the broken green recliner facing the front door night after night. She didn’t need a weapon; she fantasized about strangling them with her bare hands. The physical manifestations of her internal tormentors finally come to validate living a life under siege. My mother had watched way too many John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies. And people in our neighborhoods did get attacked, robbed, raped and intimidated. Ex-husbands appeared in the middle of the night, crackheads crawled in through the bathroom window, the Eastside, then Southside, then Northside Rapist scaled walls to the second story patio…and a locked door did what to protect them? It was all very real, and yet, it never happened to us; a mother alone with two children, doors and windows wide open. I believed it was because she was that damn crazy.

So I forget to close doors sometimes, and I definitely don’t have a habit of locking them. As a young adult, it was and wasn’t a challenge: You want what I’ve got, well I dare you to try and take it. But, really, there’s nothing here you’d want. All of my belongings only have value to me, and you can’t have me, I’ll kill you if you try, so really, why would you bother?

That was part of my mother’s reasoning: when you are poor, people breaking into your home aren’t there for a stereo. The people locked inside the box where the valuables. An unlocked door was an acknowledgement of purpose and battle; cross this threshold and anything could happen.

Once I became a mom, I had to change. I still didn’t have much faith in locking a door. I did it because I was supposed to, it would be irresponsible not to. When I brought my first son home from the hospital, I used the door chain for the first time ever. I also knew I couldn’t generate the same force-field as my mother, I wasn’t crazy enough, and that scared me. I felt as if my children were exposed.

So I prayed. At night before I fell asleep I would ask the universe for help and a goddess would place her foot on the roof of my home. She stood guard as I willed her into being, 50 feet tall, starlit and watching. A giant woman of light and energy would stand above my babies’ beds, unwavering in her defense until I woke up in the morning.

…today, my children often lock our front door
before I remind myself to.
And I wonder if I have failed them.
No, I tell myself, they are just being rational;
Raised by a sane person.
For me though, it’s still a form of magic.
When I bolt the door,
there is still a tinge of superstition;
a prayer of gratitude:
Thank you for the protection.
Thank you for being a solid boundary.
Thank you for being the first line of defense
so I don’t have to be.