Endless Preface to an Imaginary Work


Light is Speech

Marianne Moore,

What are Years

1.

walking on water in the morning light, walking on water near the boat of saints, the water clear as the conflagration of the dead upon the shore in pyres, this dream you come in my dysphoric grief to wrap your arms about me, but instead blue crabs surround you and between their infinite blue claws they close your bluest eyes, and there I am on top of the water, able suddenly to see down to the bottom where you are, how long it is you are suspended just above the sea floor, caught in tiny eddies & the motion of blue crabs congregating upward, caught upon themselves, & in their horrible way swimming 8 legged around you, when the haze begins, and out fades the light, the sun like a lamp extinguished in the irascible sea, where the motion of sadness is indistinguishable from the dip of a wave pulled down

2.

in the morning, some strange music dances in my ears, the small sound of a guitar far off & a lady singing as she goes on being what I’d rather become & wondering why is everything so crossed these days & how do those of us with visions fit in to this political climate how I feel like an erratum, a scholium, a marginalia of the literary world, trying so hard to make noise in the margins of silence a garbled noise out of hell a constant stream going error error erratum rat um under sunder blunder suture condemnation in a binary system I need a poem to blast me through the mouth, the eye, the ear, the brain, this morning I hallucinate music so beautiful I want to cry knowing I’ll never hear it again the sounds crumble back into a static that underlies everything and I have trouble focusing I felt the most important part of Rosmarie Waldrop’s Driven to Abstraction was the series of words running beneath her homage to John Cage, what at first made no sense to me, seemed arbitrary, became deliberate, running “a abolish about absence acceleration accordingly action admit against all almost ambient … wildflowers winter without woodwinds world written year yes zero” a collection of the raw materials of poetry, a deliberate catalog, an ordered chaos, the embodiment in my misreading, of what Deleuze & Guattari called the chaosmos aka all there is aka all I’ve ever wanted. because to me nothing makes sense, not that I can’t or don’t make sense, but that all the sense making seems so arbitrary these days, so to have deliberation, deliberateness, derelict— I’m a chaos addict someone once broke up with me, told me I was a bad imitation of chaos “The world has become chaos, but the Business Relationships remains the image of the world: radicle-chaosmos rather than root-chaosmos. A strange mystification: a book all the more total for being fragmented. At any rate, what a vapid idea, the book as the image of the world. In truth, it is not enough to say “long live the multiple,” difficult as it is to raise that cry.” -D&G. I don’t mean to imply that being trans or genderqueer or genderfluid is to embrace chaos (in a negative sense), there are many ways of being trans, but rather that to have gone through the process of questioning, dysphoria, and deciding to transition is like having moved through chaos. there is a point in many trans people’s life where they are very visibly trans. this image is often used to mock us, to persecute us, to stop us from using the bathroom. it is the image of a man in a dress. nevermind that trans women are women and not men in dresses. nevermind the fact that there is nothing wrong with men in dresses (having been one at one point). nevermind the fact that the stereotype of trans people as “men in dresses” erases the experience of trans men. society (conservative society) cannot abide a man in a dress. society is incapable of saying “long live the multiple” because masculinity and femininity are coded so strictly. to breach the border is to introduce a type of chaos into the world that many cis people are confused by. to be clear: I do not see chaos as a bad thing, merely that disjunctive factor introduced by rending the gender binary. a person all the more total for being fragmented. though this is where bringing in Deleuze breaks down. a trans person, chaotic as their existence may have been or not been, is never a fragmented person. it is the gender binary that requires fragmentation. this is even in the trans community, in the denial of a genderfluid experience, in the gatekeeping that tells one to be truly trans is to be able to pass; that is, to have perfectly transitioned from A to B, F to M, M to F. the goal is to have transitioning become past tense, but what of those of us who are either unable, unwilling, or any other un- that causes a trans person to remain in a perpetual state of, say, (and here words fail us) a visibly liminal gender. a trans person who never passes brings this chaos with them wherever they go. the space available to those of us who do not pass is marked by visibility, in a place where to be visible is to be in danger, in a place where already to be trans is to be in danger, a class of person whose rights can be stripped away by a tweet.

3.

here’s a typographic for you—a hyperbolic—a true—imagine you’re standing on a bridge, again, as you often do, contemplating whether to jump, as you often do, but you don’t, as you always do, oh you’d say oh

oh that somehow this was a ; I feel like I can’t say how I am these days though I appreciate
your asking

& I am some days
alright I mean
and that is terrifying as a thought might be

it’s four was too many; there should have been none but if I could do it all over again, I would.
& splitting only burns so long in the open I’m no fission

just a fracture; another old thing collecting
dust on my feet there are days that I might take my leave of life in a turn my back toward and set us wandering out by all rights I ought to be the one dead

but here I am: a little longer: extrapolation of the living, of the dead ; a little longing; a logarithmic sensibility; as in the hunger of god with a question: or how we’ve lost the conflation between thinking & the roll of thunder, a way of moving & of clarifying thought: in other words: open the yellow part: gorge

4.

I need that old energy of Blake & all the urgency of Woolf if I could only read one book the rest of my life it would be The Waves or possibly King Lear. all I’ve ever wanted out of literature is urgency, for a life is an urgent thing. I am tired of things careful & things crafted. It was Whitman who said “I am large; I contain multitudes,” but true largeness came from Mina Loy, who wrote “may your Egoism be so gigantic that you comprise mankind in your self-sympathy” & isn’t that the line to run up against? not to be mankind, but to have some empathy for another human & all the noise they embody vs all the noise of you? to be enormous in self & in empathy? if I read that wrong, I think I’m glad

the difference between Blake & Woolf is that one was concerned with the urgency of the visionary & the other was concerned with the urgency of the human. & Blake was only concerned with the urgency of vision because to him that vision was what it meant to exist as a human. the only way to save one’s self is to look through the sun & see instead of the vulgar things of the world, the common coin of the sun, instead of all that, see the heavenly concourse of angels & all that holiness—& while I’m not spiritual I can’t help but understand when he says, “the voice of honest indignation is the voice of god”

5.

one day along the stone beach we went walking; the northwest has a cold shore; haze beats mist on wave; our faces wet with spray of sound; broken against sound; we walked one day at the cold shore together at low tide; in the other cloudy head my symbiosis like the potter’s craze come apart; on the shore we walked and I can’t get it out of my head; you collected crab bodies, buried them in kelp, and put stones on them for markers; for respect of degeneration a proem given toward longing & death comes on insensate, a channel of static, but without the stasis never trust an unpleasant sound they said I remember I said no passion I said so effectively robs the mind I said of all its powers of acting & reasoning as fear
I said even through the rain your whole person was capable of delight 5 minutes long; given forward how our hands were shorn up up up up coldly

& now you are rifling elastic in the hands of a god I can’t believe in; his largeness consumes all, we who in our ignorance came so slowly toward him, however deeply in the cast the cast the cast of white elements, white eyes which are death’s eyes (& boy they’re pretty) which are so readily undone & painted as they are now in blue in black in red; a pair of sundials signaling slightly different times

in another curious dream you appear to me and we ask of one another do you paint blue horses; there is nothing so poor as my answer & your disappointment: lord forgive me I that I do not paint blue horses; I am not ready to die

in the ontic morning we were walking drunk as usual always drunk that time of life couldn’t help it we said walking toward ruin painted yellow with sun I remarked once that down was the only way to go

6.

& now I am here in the endless run of Beckett babble, the only portrait that I own, him in a winter coat, with tired eyes intense I haven’t framed it; it lives in a case beneath my bed. I take it out sometimes and study his face, trying to find the person in his look. I remember the first time I ever saw Not I performed I found it on YouTube Billy Whitelaw’s mouth suspended, taking up the whole screen as she ran on & on a constant prattle of self-denial & pain & history, somehow it made no sense & all the sense every confusion every thing I’d ever wanted to do with words spun out out out out out in an extreme of urgency this poor woman, wracked with mental illness pent up all her years & the urge to speak the uncontrollable part of life & the whole bitterness thereof that caused her to erase herself & give up the first person to that uncontrollable refrain “what who no she! she!” as though to deny herself personhood was easier than to acknowledge abuse that was all she became, a mouth for words that denied their speaker putting trauma at the forefront because there comes a point where trauma is all you can see is all that needs processing is all is it all it all it all the refrain of another Beckett play Footfalls where another voice denies another trauma to another woman where all the action is already over and what remains is the remains the voice, the obsessive motion the character pacing endlessly back and forth upon the stage to which Beckett gave very specific instructions on how the motion should be carried out where to have a motion is to cope is to replace what happened with what’s happening & to never stop happening where the voice calls out “will you never have done revolving it all … in your poor mind” it all it all it all to have one’s whole world spit out in two words because there are no other words for it all Beckett’s implicit discussion of trauma and mental illness form a model for me revolve it I can’t remember the first time I hallucinated anything but I remember breathing and seeing the world breathe it was a table in a restaurant I was having lunch a sandwich of some kind it doesn’t matter now I remember suddenly the whole world was breathing and the table in front of me started to expand and contract I had to get out or another time breaking from reality hunted by two demons real as the shower I cried in I had to get out shivering naked in bed I called my mother begging her to tell me how demons aren’t real how there was nothing with a blue skull coming to kill me how maybe god hadn’t sent them to punish me every night I slept I had nightmares about them and when I couldn’t sleep I watched the mirror as my body disfigured itself I saw so little then I slipped out of myself sang Tom Waits ballads against the wall like a prayer

7.

I have this story as it is, intact / in a switching state, fallible / as the faltering between synapses increases / and the neurons cease to mirror life / precisely as it happened. as the memory / of the act becomes the memory / of the memory, so the story of the story / becomes the story. the injunction / is to act it out, or else it will / continue fragmenting, breaking / off from memory—first the words, / and then the body forgets not / its actions but why it does the actions. / this, what is left, is the half state, / the full misery of being: / that the body knows what to do / but the mind believes / in something else

this is my voice if I can find it. I am failing somehow deeper than I ought to know. If anything, I may say something of that implicit psychosis of the nation on the rise; I cannot stop feeling if I ever do I may I am going I feel all that I am , and here I beat a little on

no matter how it is we must press on—let them see later how it was. I’ll set it down, the urge toward afterward: a final rest. Yes it is an end to possibility, to warmth, or joy, or all good things. but still an end to what accompanies: the brain rags torn asunder: the repeating urges; or the conflict of my sin & to expel the concept that it is a sin. it is not to die, it is not to feel nothing, but to be nothing. nonbeing. nonexistence. the hate of a person toward herself & how it falls out on a sideways world. but here I am—and here’s to the violet morning, my queer prayer in the face of everything that says: to be trans is to be broken: to be trans is to be beautiful: a happy motion on the surface of this wider globe a self still fucked by religion to the intellectual community god holds no purchase & yet so many of us recover ourselves from the long list of the lord I never dealt with a thing as bad as god

but where I am now the space between guilt & hope is furnished with bluebirds
this is why I must remain awake so I can forge my own light
to come forth slowly out into one’s self into the open field or to begin so many things
that beginning was hardly an anxiety, but a continual process embodied in a word

8.

I don’t know what it would even be to write trans poetry this, I guess a clock ticks over Seattle. the sky, as always, wears her uniform of grey. she babbles of green fields. I babble also of green fields. this morning: an unfolding, a human disaster of no small proportion, beginning, always, like this: wanting distinction instead of combination: left always with the hesitation & annunciation of that beginning, where we curled with anxiety upon ourselves for the sky was so wide & we held what little consolation there was: that there are the patterns that must be observed—the niceties of action—& this is such a one; to begin from the very concept of beginning—but how in the counterpoise, the late of morning; the rush backward—I found a small whisper to whisper between us. I think a trans poetry ought to cover everything, a chaosmos, a multitude, neither the first way, nor the second, & perhaps, every once in a while, on a Thursday maybe, a denial of ways.

to figure this out I bought the book Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics, and immediately put it face down on the table because I wasn’t out to my family and didn’t want them to see the word “trans” and ask me questions. despite the fact that I wore makeup every time I went to Seattle. despite the fact that I had panties sitting on the floor. despite the fact I carried a purse everywhere. despite the fact I had replaced my favorite shoes with flats. & despite the fact when I wasn’t wearing flats I wore boots with 3 inch heels. most of all despite the background to my phone is the trans flag. because I didn’t know how to answer those questions. I didn’t know how to say the words “I’m trans” in person to another human being. all the friends that I came out to, I came out to over email, via facebook, via text message. a way I didn’t have to see their face. a way that I could think the words out first. a way that after I had typed I still had the option to take back. there’s no pressing the delete button on speech, though I guess you can’t hit “unsend” either. mostly it was that screens hide my visible shame. for which I blame god. for which I blame men, or rather the concept of men. I blame the Mormons who told me I had to be a good man, and to be a good man was to be a manly man, that gender roles were assigned by god, and to deviate from them was to fall asunder from god’s plan. god endorsed aggression. god endorsed camping, football, boy scouts, guns, and not asking questions. god knew better than you. his ways were not your ways. as heaven is higher than earth so are his ways higher than your ways. & his ways were certainly not my ways. for women god endorsed childbirth, first and foremost. that was the quintessential essence of womanhood, the womb, creating other people. after childbirth, god endorsed cooking, cleaning, raising children, taking care of your husband, and, once everything else was done, doing crafts (but not art). crafts included sewing, crocheting, coloring with your children, and painting people with red noses & cute little dots for eyes. his ways, again, were not my ways. the genders, I was told, were separate, but they were equal. men were to be providers, women were to be caretakers. That was how god had made us. anything else was wrong, was, by extension, sin. though they never said so explicitly. they merely warned against any “attacks” on the concept of the family. attacks, I guess, constituted by my merely existing.

9.

& here I am / a third way / placing / as it were /
beside the facts / those of another facet
such an exploration / in the feelable morning of the soul
repeating / not so not so / in parenthesis / vocative
as it was / to forge a queer path / shown through
to that long where / where we aligned
ourselves against the diurnal / against the binary
course it all / came through / so many
repeating / not so not so / I am

& here I haven’t even told you
all I want is to be here with you in this strange place
to have this place be not so strange

I have been trying these days to make a purchase of so much of air surrounding where I once saw & came to a realization of seeing that what we called properties that what we called myth was hardly that but instead a bursting or rather so much collaboration between pressure and the air where we felt pressure god there was so much I kept repeating the old names hoping to find a new thing among their order as the snow off the rove came and hither & thither I said we are always in the material of the sun drugs as curious as the dripping of ice under a cold Wednesday half covered by cloud & repeating

not so not so feeling forward as myself only those times I found myself to be perceiving those kinds of gratuitous error inasmuch as we see what is possible calling current manifestations so extreme I found as myself to be the right thing is to be a kind of letter to another person it doesn’t matter if they read

& against ruin I ran toward you yelling language language language this mad experimental language, unsure if schism does still more harm than good : I run blood moon blood river rift from stone riven even the wind & in another river came it down torrential lord by lord
a river of blood & the blood of the river plagued I am that I am by the body & the blood ; a moment thrusts on
& only so they told me that there might be hope within the dark box of confession
instead I think how one day you asked
how far the horizon was from here, I said 3 miles, 5? The hill looked close you said “I hope
it’s very far from here that way what we see is vast”

beneath a hyperbolic sun, a true sun, blazing blazing blazing I found Stanley Cavell, writing “every profound philosophical vision has the shape of madness” I’m the madman, no, the madwoman, willfully misreading, shouting, with joy, god is dead, god remains dead, & we have killed him I am received toward another carousel of mad being; mad sun; mad weather moon asterism god is starfucked god how horrible the insensate god confessing to sins not mine sins nonexistent the sin the old sin of believing in nothing, but hardly nothing

10.

I think unless you’ve grown up sinning
to even know of sin, or the concept of sin, is incomprehensible
an abstract wrongness but still something more a wracking
harrowed toward the soul
that inexplicable part of you you’re told
is more important than the rest that somehow your whole being is tainted

and you bear responsibility for that

O
it still comes to me the nights I waver between sleep
and consciousness, a hypnogogic monk,
as if to say: please, take me with
you when you start to see, for it has been so long
since I have seen

& there you are floating in the wings of always
perduring a low prelude to the water asking

for a kind of continuity continuous with flux

if there is
a privileged type of seeing
I would not mind to have it

11.

what I need is a way to redistribute the weight; not balance, but a balancing act; like naming the light did anything for light; for art is the expression of a person & rises out from that person, and how might a person be, how might a person feel, how long is the red hallway of all our lives, and maybe will you walk with me hand in hand down it, picking out the stubborn structures of the way we are; I am not saying that all art must necessarily be about politics—lord knows my own poems are not all political—but that all art is already political, and to live in the world is to be part of the body politic: you are part of humanity, and when something happens to it, it happens to you. and what is a poet if not the thermometer of the soul (there are no souls, no matter)

12.

through it is always through we are going; odd how appropriate it always is to be going through something—so come with me now where the boxes are bright all summer long & blue wishes conceal us, as we always are, in drag, but not drag, no that’s not right—we are merely in our life. now I lay me down to sleep. now I lay me down. I lay in the now where what I have is an enduring sense of having been through & through all over in love with you in our floral & tights against the edge of the world where the world ends, repeating, what we knew before: that it is so hard to be in the world & somehow this is the same for everyone. where you said, tell me again

13.

the earliest version of these poems I just titled “she sonnets” because I’d felt odd having only ever written poems with a male speaker, so I tried on “she”—but never “I”. I finished the first three and realized “these are about me.” I left them for two years.

Here, in the morning of the confused soul
among so many branched paths,
outing ghosts from the wind, she exchanges
old sun for the expanding orb of her pupil

“by starlight came morning,” she wrote
and when she wrote, she wrote cliffs
toward dover, mending
what to her needs mending, “under the armbone
of the sky,” she wears a thin white lie
a vision of rocks & erosion:

what cannot be splintered she holds
in its irreparable position, for the love
of no person, she aspires herself another self
a private cove on the shore of the world

*

she sets out to be
in the upper rooms of the world
where her hands are too large
to be her hands,

but in another room
she is among air & the marvelous wave
of light descending: she tears
out the sky by its roots
& smiles at the edges
and the introduction of edges

what is there is not for anyone to see
so she picks up “for” by the light
of the room—and in so much wind
cradles dark flowers

*

in the final room thick glass
grows around her & her arms each night
she writes “in the after image
of a coffee cup, we condense

the years into a pathway of years”
everything is so old, & the year she knows best
is for another, “& all times of day,” she writes
“are made of glass” “I am surrounded
by so much glass” “with glass I glass glass glass”
in the neurological morning,

everything is bright, so she opens
the book of bellows & the noise of laughter
and reads catharsis in her own laughter:
laughter in the coffee stain of her soul.

in the final soliloquy of The Waves, Bernard says, “The illusion is upon me that something adheres for a moment, has roundness, weight, depth, is completed. This, for the moment seems to be my life. If it were possible, I would hand it you entire. I would break it off as one breaks off a bunch of grapes. I would say, ‘Take it. This is my life.’” but of course this is not possible, it is the thing Bernard longs for, strives against & toward. for him, the struggle is as a writer that writing is necessarily linear, temporal, and full of form. life, though it is linear & temporal, is without form. he writes of his friends that he, “retrieved them from formlessness with words.” over and over again he writes, “let us pretend life is a solid substance … let us pretend that we can make out a plain and logical story.” for him there is no choice but to pretend. to write is to impose order, to create form out of chaos. Bernard knows this is impossible, yet he has no choice; he is compelled—he longs “for some little language such as lovers use, broken words, inarticulate words, like the shuffling of feet on the pavement.” to retreat into love is to retreat into a private language, where a phrase might have meaning only to two people—where we find the smallest points of order. this is the central struggle of writing—creating order out of chaos, breaking off a piece of life, handing it onward, yet knowing this is impossible to do in full. writing involves submission to the world & yet the world submits to us as much form as we give it.

14.

& at the edge of the world (which edge) stands a plash and the last snow melting (what is it determines which snow ends and which snow remains) and a small crust somewhere between slip and crunch and when I get there I scribble hallelujah on my hand dropping pebbles into the plash wondering what it would be to be plashless and leap like god into the no of this place or how the snow sleeps ponderous long and how less slow than easy is she who whispers hallelujah like a desperation sent after departure or how the particulars of of of of the sun over the small unevenness of grass leave small shadows where I think this time so much so much snow on the fields snow at the end of the earth at the end of the earth so little snow on the shore of nothing slack slacked slackening edged out as evening scribbles blue and purple shadows on my coat where the sun goes down saying I once loved a boy in the city yes the city it was I loved him once a few weeks only with his good shoulders and shortish hair I could barely grab but grab enough his music comes on the playlist occasionally I remember he said he had a great dislike of tea (and I am wanting tea right now at the edge of the world where nothing is boiling not even the ocean of nothing and I mumble to myself how I feel steeped in this and go back to listening to the sun which by this time has gone down and now I’m left with the moon which has nothing to say of beautiful boys or tea or even the formation of ice how the solidity and liquidity of bodies dies or doesn’t die when I stop listening to it and remember the exact position of your leg over mine on the uncomfortable brown couch where you said that’s how we’d face the apocalypse even if neither of us could run in that position (which I tried) and just like that found out how loudly you laughed)

15.

in the first volume of his notebooks, Paul Klee begins with a few remarks on chaos:

Chaos as an antithesis is not complete and utter chaos, but a locally determined concept, relating to the concept of the cosmos. Utter chaos can never be put on a scale, but will remain forever unweighable and unmeasurable. It can be Nothing or a dormant Something, death or birth, according to the dominance of will or lack of will, of willing or not-willing.

accompanying these remarks are a series of four figures. the first, labeled chaos is a grouping of scribbled lines, forming a kind of knotted bundle, out of which several strands stretch at random. the second is labeled Cosmic (coiled), and contains a single point, out of which a single line spirals tightly outward. an arrow is drawn from the dot to the edge of the spiral, indicating directionality, that the spiral is spiraling outward, not in. the third is labeled Cosmic (developed), and contains a dot in the center of a circle, this time with an arrow pointing inward from the circle toward the dot. the final figure, called Cosmic undeveloped (cosmic bundle, not coiled) contains only a circle, smaller than all the previous figures.

three representations of cosmos, and one of chaos. perhaps, because being formless, the idea of chaos is instantly perceptible. though of course, no representation of chaos can be fully representational; it is, as Klee puts it, “a locally determined concept.” we have only a piece of chaos, an instant of disorder. but even in this, Klee’s figure fail its purpose. for all figures, however hastily and randomly drawn, must be composed of lines, points, segments. Klee’s image of chaos is perfectly reproducible. one need only take the book to a scanner, scan the image, and upload it to a computer. there you have it. a perfect image of chaos. utter chaos not only cannot be put to a scale, it cannot be reproduced, for any reproduction necessarily involves order. how is it then, that production can be called chaos–the first instance–yet reproduction cannot–the second instance. what is lost in the second instance? randomness seems to be the nature of chaos. or is chaos itself fully without nature? is the void thus chaotic? can emptiness be said to be chaos, or must there be something there to be chaotic? that is, must chaos be held? could it be held? what would it be like to hold chaos in your hand? what would be like, on the other hand, to be held by chaos? could you be surrounded in chaos, or would your imposition necessarily bring order? is chaos so fragile as to be disturbed by the mere presence of order, of even a single point?

16.

elastic toward a single point gender irruption esemplastic

not imagination, but the power to make whole

here I am a point of order for my self a blue eye in a bluer storm

17.

Sharon Cameron writes, “Similes recognize that we fail at direct names because we fail at perfect comprehension, and that certain experiences evade mastery and hence definition—the best we can do is approximate or approach them”

my biggest worry exposing myself as a trans person living with mental illness is that people will assume a causal relationship between the two of them. it’s worth stating outright: I am trans, I am schizophrenic, the two have nothing to do with each other, but their combination has had a massive influence on who I am. a constant narrative put forth by our detractors is that trans people are all mentally ill, and that this mental illness is what makes us trans, because to be trans is to be broken. my whole hesitation is that people will assume this of me, despite the fact that my gender dysphoria existed long before I ever began hearing voices. but it would be a lie to say the two did not converge, that the combination of feeling ill at home in my own body, while hearing a voice tell me to mutilate myself did not confound my fragile peace. I think how Berryman says, “to become ourselves, we are these wayward things” and recognize what I call truth. once, and I remember this clear as anything, I had gone on a trip and forgotten my medication. I began withdrawing and hallucinating. I was on the ferry back from Friday Harbor in the San Juan islands. I lay down and saw myself standing in a door way. I calmly walked over to the nearby table and began beating my forearms on the edge of the table, relentlessly. over and over. until eventually the bones broke and my arms hung at an angle. I kept beating them on the table until blood spattered out. over and over. until my arms became bloodied jelly. then I stood there. I laughed. my arms at unnatural angles. eventually a friend walked over and asked if I was okay. I sat up and said “no” “I saw myself.” I didn’t say what I saw, told her I’d be okay, and rolled over.

18

then, clearer than day / than the white disk of the sun / than the black robes of salvation
of churches or judges / or all the image of children kneeling / to worship in church house pews
for sins they do not understand / comes the image of Judas, alone
in a dry field not much different / from the elementary school / where I grew up, running
his hand through the loops / of his hair, running / his hands down / the long eternal slide
where I played as a boy / where the metal was too hot in the sun / & where I held to the edges
hoping not to fall off / hoping to fall fast / for some kind of thrill
all the time scared & hoping / something I didn’t understand / and didn’t want to
hoping always not to be like Judas / running his hands through / the last loops of his rope
running his hands upward / against a hope / I did not understand

19.

what I wrote earlier about being trans and bringing chaos. the language is all wrong. the concept is all wrong. chaos chaos chaos. it all it all it all. revolve it. feel it. leave it there. I keep it there because it’s how I felt the moment when I wrote it. disjunct. clamor. confusion and a kind of rage-despair at not passing. to be trans in a cis-normative world is subversive. but let them be the ones subverted. we have our own work to do.

most days, being trans is peace. my own life where I get to be my self. it happens in my bedroom. at a bar with friends. those odd moments where I see a woman in the mirror; those moments where I don’t. it’s not really doing anything at all. it’s being. what I’ve always wanted, what I am, both.

Agamben writes, “Psychologists call Wortbegriff the experience of having a word on the tip of one’s tongue without being able to produce it. Here too a word seems to press upon us with maximal force precisely at the moment when it is lacking. The silence in question is then merely an impossibility of saying.” for too long, this word was “trans”. sometimes, this word is still “woman”. “woman” which is bound up in passing. identity is identity is identity is identity. all else is expression.

but bound up in identity & expression is desire. desire for a different body, for another face, but—& a quote I think of frequently is Marlene Dumas saying, “I situate art not in reality, but in relation to desire”

sometimes I say my own name to myself Evelynn Evelynn and it feels right
I want that word to leak into the world Evelynn Evelynn Evelynn everything is bright

20.

once I wrote “the body will not be refused” & still I don’t know how I feel about it. today I’m blurry. I find my angels there, & likewise in the rain.
so through the mist this sky sends down I see the blue shadows of morning
the blue blue of distance appearing
out of the east with its red today there are many things to see how shall we order them

& shall we need to I make lists, lines, wash my hands of it Today I would like to write
something bare but think although there is a bareness to be achieved in writing that somehow bareness is no longer possible after this schism

it is so cold today that my face hurts simply being outside, winter has the brightest days
in bareness it is possible to have order but when we are too much in order, bareness is violent, denying life to that great mass of earth I can see my face reflected in the window small smudges of white imposed over it & what of it
for a moment everything’s so I’d rather be with you than here

you said when things get bad that I should think of what I love
& so I think of snow it’s all I’ve got in this long moment of november
december january the voice the cold throat of the year that sows white haze

if love could have a name a month or season in the mind
to have a name is to have order finally in all of this

when the snow fails to fall you appear in my dreams & fuck me in the ass

but here’s my thesis: even without you some blue life of this might be worth having
& even with you that same blue life might be —

at the edge of the world the whirled ired
a lonely echo going
howl howl howl howl howl
O lord I am thy miracle
what can you say
if I am not ready as always
if I am not ready take hold of me in all my mad logic
& feel the texture of my speech
where I am come to castigate all things a raven in the gulf of the day

where now I am riven even the wind

occasionally I feel a change; a misstep; a small difference; not to be deviant, but to be different; a clatter; a cloister; & to be noticed because of that; that thing that god corrodes; not subject, but erratum; you said I was erratic & I was

we are (all of us) in the marginalia of our own lives expansion is the only thing

today there are bluebirds going on the rage of the earth

our cynicism must be dashed with hope (the sound of poetry) & we shall see through the earth

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