[insert date here]

May 25, 2020

May 5, 2020

July 6, 2016

Once you have seen evil, you cannot look away.
This will divide us
Into those who have watched
And those who have not.
Those of us who have seen
Have spent the day shedding tears of uncontrollable grief,
While those who have not seen
Have spent the day assuring themselves that there was a reason.
Those of us who have seen know better.
We know that there is no explanation
For this unspeakable violence in the world in which we live.
If officers cannot be trusted to behave
Even knowing that there is almost always a camera
Then how can I be trusted to behave when I know peace never comes?
This will divide us
Not into black and white
But rather
Those who understand that the law cannot be upheld in the current state
And those who continue to adhere to it.

-L

About Betrayal

Betrayal is a strong word
to assign to someone’s guilt
for not giving you what you need
and not knowing what you need
when you didn’t ask for it.

Everything is relative
and pain is personal
and we all walk alone –
isn’t that what they say?
That we can’t expect others
to know how to care for us;
that we have to learn how to
give ourselves what we need?

Betrayal is a strong word,
but how else to describe
my body not giving me what I need?

When your body betrays you
it’s easy to enter the dark
where words like betrayal
don’t seem so harsh
and can be used to describe friends
who can’t give you what you need
like your body can’t give you what you need
when you don’t even know what you need
because you can’t ask for it
because you never asked for this.

Sorry should be a light word
an easy word
but it carries weight just like betrayal
and they seem to contradict each other
and never go hand-in-hand.

Is it even possible for a body
to say sorry
to itself?

-L

on jealousy

grind me into the ground
make my shadow fit into
a smaller box

living on the polar edges of
envy and intrigue is
exhausting

i see snow fall,
sun light,
swing the axe,
hit the wood,
watch it splinter into
four pieces, equal

i notice the bag you
drag behind you,
filled with limbs and
hair and tongues

i am dried up,
i am at odds with
these bones

but inside, you are a skeleton,
these bones have made you

if i love you
(i do love you)

i can recognize
your foundation

admire the color and texture
it has given you

hear your song, your truth

and choose to hold you

and choose to sing my song
back to you

-A

layers of filth

this poem is
not about hands

not about how
you hold them

it is about pain
and suffering and
about layers of filth

imagine, for a moment,
a river that
never meets the sea

it dries up
in the desert where
fish skeletons line
its floor

i have walked this river,
i know its path

i have been this river
i have been this river

i know he is using and i
know he is sick and
when i look at him,
i see my father and
for me, that is enough

it is enough to see a person
it is enough to be a river
that dries up

here, at the headwaters,
where we find ourselves
with plenty,

do we dare look downstream?
do we dare acknowledge the
skeletons?

my nieces and nephews are
there, somewhere

they are asking us why
we walked the dried up river bed
without crying enough tears
to fill it back up
for them?

-A

a lesson in the garden on acceptance

what is a whole person
is it someone who did not
collapse under the weight of
brittle hair and
powdered donuts for dinner

maybe a whole person never
saw their mother run her nails
down her face by the water
fountain at the mall on a
scheduled visitation

subtle and not-so-subtle cues
tell you to to search for yourself
and complete yourself so you
can be whole and big and only then
can another person love you
so hard

but a whole person, (whoever that is)
does not have a cavern
inside them
room to fill with (sometimes) light
(sometimes) darkness
(sometimes) water
(sometimes) soil

in the garden, before the frost
i harvested butternut squash,
tomatillos, sun gold tomatoes,
painted desert corn

the squash – still green
the tomatillos – still space in the husks
the tomatoes – still unripe
the corn – still unfilled kernels

i am telling you that
i took these, in my hands
unfinished as they were

and i ate them.
and they sustained me.

-A

body hair

when i was young, i had a pet rabbit
named brownie

i played with him for hours
in the summer, in the backyard
in the hot and humid sun

i remember delighting in the feeling of
the breeze cooling me down,
tickling the blond hair
on my legs

on vacation in san francisco,
i am eleven years old.

my mom has left her razor in the
shower and i take it in my hand,
for the first time and
glide it across my legs,
watch in awe as clumps of my hair
flow down the drain

i don’t stop there
i shave my arms,
my stomach,
reach around to shave my back

i know now, my body hair is something
to be removed

i am in high school, seventeen
nervous around boys

with my boyfriend, one night
i go further than
i ever had before

in the coming weeks, he and i
split up, and he says to me,
to my face

“go shave your dry-ass vagina”

my friend kara, in college, is italian
with beautiful dark, curly hair

she is growing out her armpit hair
her leg hair
her chest hair

and in this small college town,
i notice so many women doing
the same thing

it has always been frustrating to
shave and have to do it again
a few days later

have razor burn between my legs

so, i stop buying razors and decide
to grow out my body hair, too

i hide it for a while,
don’t wear tank-tops in
certain situations
pin my arms to my sides
in public

i am not ready for
their reactions

i am not ready for
what they might say

everyone has something to say
about a woman with hair under her arms

my sister: “i just don’t like body hair in general.
not even my husband’s beard.”

a coworker: “can you lift your arms up? i
thought i saw hair there and i just want to
get a better look.”

a boy i dated: “you’re so 60’s, baby.”

a friend: “doesn’t it bother you when
it’s all sweaty?”

a friend: “if you could just trim it for my wedding,
that would be great.”

someone online: “gross!”

can i tell you about the prairie?
the grasslands that hold
the soil intact?
that absorb moisture,
create abundance?

the soil within the grasslands is
rich, lush, fertile

it does not ask for your judgment,
only cycles through itself
the way it was
created to

i am a woman
i have hair under my arms
between my legs,
and down them

my body is my temple
my dwelling place

for me to take care of
make choices about
to make peace with

last year, on a solo bike ride beneath
the organ mountains,

i stop to watch the breeze
ripple through the black gama grass
like waves

i, too, feel it
on my legs
and under my arms

a part of the grass
a part of the breeze,
no end between us,

just as i am.

-A

to emerge freer

a river is just snow that has melted
yet naked, we slowly walk in

i am timid, running back to shore
as the cold pierces my legs

yet you remain, sinking slowly
until you are kneeling patiently
in the numbing water

after a few times of running in
and back out,
i finally submerse my whole body
under the water

it takes my breath away

i know what baptism is
was raised catholic
(drilled into my brain)

but what beauty
to take my body, next to yours
into the freezing river

and to emerge
colder, lighter

what beauty to emerge freer

-A

untitled

i pull my unwashed hair back
each morning
grow out my body hair
welcome the scent of my
own sweat
have a thick coat of dirt under my nails
constantly

i study the soil
the roots within
the worms beneath

across the valley, i see
dust swirling in the
spring wind

drive through mud
spattering my windshield

the soil is not a barrier
grime is not a shield
i am not glass,
will not shatter when i
fall off my bike
fall on the rock

i carry bruises
study them like a map
learn from their bumps,
colors, textures, memories

i have considered the dirt on my hands
at the end of the day, running down the drain
with water and soap

but for what?;
it always returns

-A

light and the absence of it

what if you gathered the seeds that you need?
with instinct?

can instinct be trusted?

the sun wakes me up each morning,
greets my eyelids with shadows
(my window blinds, the tree branches
swaying outside, light and the absence of it)

my instinct is to
question everything –
to lay down in darkness,
allow it to pass until
the light wakes me up again

why am i asleep
when you hold me?

have i gathered the seeds that i need
to sustain myself?

will storms pass, will they come back again?

all that i ever see is
light and the absence of it

-A

cycles

i am the earth
because i grow
from my own
decay

today, i trace the lines of my teeth
feel the gaps
with my tongue

and the salt i tasted
on your body yesterday
still lingers

is there a place i am going
where i can sit still?

am i everything i’ve
gathered until this point?
(dead cholla stalks, stained hair-ties,
dusty Appalachian books, flaky orach seeds)

the answer is no
i am only skin
only tissue
only the cycle of
life feeding on decay

-A