prose poem: taurus birthday affirmation

Written for the inimitable kuuleimomi’s birthday. Crossposted to IG.

There’s a Tumblr (?) post that goes something like this: staying soft in this world is not a weakness, it is a strength. This is a variation on that. This also draws from all the Chani Nicholas affirmation horoscopes I’ve read over the years.


Keeping your hands open in this world that has brought down rulers upon your palms. Keeping your mouth open, even after your then-best-friend put the black licorice jellybean, your least favorite flavor, on your tongue. Keeping on, even after capitalism squeezes every cent from your blood, the joy from your marrow.

All of this is a skill. One of my favorite quotes (author unknown even with googling) is that the heart is a muscle, and like any muscle it can grow as we use it. Our ability to remain open, receptive, vulnerable, whatever you like to call it, is also one of these muscles. I have practiced unclenching my hands, even as I sleep, so I can catch whatever dreams come my way. Naming what I want, asking for what I want, letting myself have what I want – I have practiced all of these. I still do.

To paraphrase the end of the Utena movie, the world gets that much bigger for the way we live, pushing at the limits of what we are told is possible. Octavia says the only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it’s been done before.

So I believe in wedding rings on all my fingers, vows of commitment to all my relations beneath this sky and maybe even beyond it. I believe in your palm in mine, and another’s in yours, and another’s in theirs going on and on – a whole loving community. I believe in rain on my tongue, and all the fine dining and comfort food I love. Speaking of love, I believe in love running through my veins, that love is a key and a door to a different world. I believe in pleasure that makes me cry out, in joy that pours through every crack and crevice and barrier ever put in place.

On this day and all days, I keep on, I choose to try, I choose to believe.

poem: devil’s food

Sequel to devil’s doorbell! Our narrator discovers they’ve captured the attention of a devil. An excerpt was cross-posted to IG. There might be a couple more in this series, no ETA though.


I shouldn’t have been surprised that
looking for the devil’s doorbell
wasn’t a one-and-done kinda deal.
Like all adventures, it is an invitation,
a call, and like an open door,
anyone can come on through the other side.

Let it not be said, that the devil does
not have a sense of humor. They
did not knock at my door, but rang,
at the very reasonable hour of 1:30pm,
as if they’d known any earlier would’ve
roused me from my slumber and I would not
have answered; and any later, I would’ve
been gone grocery shopping.

Read More »

poem: werewolf girlfriends

Written 6.9.21. About once a year I try writing song lyrics. Was going for sapphic, sexy, werewolf, fairy tale vibes. Cross-posted to IG.


[Person 1]
Once I sink my teeth into you,
girl, oh girl, I’m not letting go.
Gonna run my tongue along the
length of you, split you right open
and swallow whatever spills
right outta ya.

Girl, oh girl, didn’t they warn you
about girls like me, all roaming hands
and empty stomach, seeking what
will keep me sated, I taste and taste
hoping this one one will keep me warm,
but oh it’s never enough.

If I didn’t sink my teeth into you,
you’d just run away into the night.
I know, because it’s what I did

[Person 2]
Little girl lost, you think this would scare me?
When my home has held more horrors
than the ones inside your mouth?
Let me see what big eyes you have,
let me see what great big paws you have,
let me see what big teeth you have,
and I will learn their shape with my hands,
and open myself up upon their tips.
Oh, little girl who plays as wolf, you think
you are the only one who knows how to hunger? I have
Heard the tales of all the bloodied hearts you left behind,
and I have made myself a perfect invitation for you.
So come closer, let me plunge my fingers
into your pelt, smell the wild on you,
and crawl right into you.

[Together]
Girls like us are made for the kill
running wild throughout the night.
Wolves are not meant to go alone
and neither are girls without a home.
So you and I will go hand in bloody hand,
finding satisfaction ‘neath the roaming moonlight.

poem: repurposed love poem

Repurposed 12.7.21. I wrote quite a few love poems in 2021. Many of them weren’t shareable, but some lines I really liked. So I pulled out the good lines, reshaped it, and rewrote it into this. This is the last of the “rocky mountain love” poems. Cross-posted to IG.


I think of you, and the sweetness, the lushness of
speaking with you, and I want to swallow the moon whole.

If I could, I’d write you a love song;
I’d write you letters; I’d court you
with words; I’d comb out your hair,
rub sweet lotions into your skin,
and fold my letters to make you
whatever you wished: a crown, a ring,
a cape as soft as night.

Because you are so very tempting,
and your texts have my heart shining so brightly,
like the moon after their slumber, pulling at my heart
strings, leaving me spinning daydreams of you wringing
every sound I can make, until I am
lost beneath your hands, beneath waters still and deep
until you steal all the words from my mouth and the thoughts from
my ever-spinning mind, because
even my skill with words, bows before your tidal pull
until I am focused just on you
and the way my body lights up like lightning in a storm.

And in that stillness, listen: do I want
you, hands held beneath the covers,
or my fingers inside of you,
do I want the comfort of you in my mouth
like hard candy?

I, I wanna love you like this:
so dearly, as gently as when
a butterfly lands on you,
as fiercely as the sun loves
your skin.

When I don’t know what fantasies to spin,
the easiest ones are these:
our hands linked,
pressed against the bed,
fingernails against scalp,
you holding my hand as
you learn to walk in heels,
me leaning through my fear of falling
and balancing on the handlebars of
your bike.

poem: favorite self (solo & duet)

Written 10.12.21. Kuuleimomi asked: “What does your favorite self feel like? What do you like about them?” An answer in two parts: for when I’m alone and when I’m with others. Cross-posted to IG.

References in Solo:

  • “the understood boundaries of yourself” is from Robin McKinley’s Sunshine
  • Audre Lorde’s essay Uses of the Erotic
  • “new suns” is from Octavia E. Butler’s unpublished archives at the Huntington
  • Walter Mercado says he has sexuality with the wind in the documentary, Con Mucho Mucho Amor

i. solo
Sun-drenched and
glutted on books,
reaching for my third book of the day
the way I would another bar of chocolate:
guilt-free, shame-free, unrepentant.
This is where I find joy and pleasure,
because there is always room for dessert
or another hundred thousand words.

In as little clothing as possible
(doctor’s orders), the sun fills me up –
firm touch, heat that unravels me, a comfort
I soak in. My skin is always thirsty after all.
And when the wind slips across me,
I think get what Walter Mercado means,
the sensation of turning my head to the sun,
my shoulders to the wind,
the way I would ask a lover for their touch.
Sunlight spilling into me, working its
radiance through me the way Audre once worked
that yellow kernel of color into margarine.

There is nothing more I love than
a good story, the understood boundaries of
my self stretching. I take in whole worlds,
new suns, letting it make my heart
an open door for different ideas,
new knowledge; I let myself be found
in the words of people I’ve never met.
I let this familiar sun fire me, and
with sunscreen and coconut oil,
forge me anew.

ii. duet
Under the sheets and countless blankets,
a mountain of pillows, the kind of bed
I’ve been dreaming of since I was twelve
and read Hawksong. My body and yours,
wrapped up in each other.
I loathe mornings, but with you,
waking up isn’t a struggle,
I rise to waking joyfully.
The closer you hold me,
the closer my spirit holds me close.
Even the exiled parts of me,
cannot resist the warmth between us.
Even the constant spinning of my mind
stops to savor the moment,
thoughts slowed to honeyed speed,
I am nothing but subsumed,
nothing but present
for this long-awaited pleasure.
I’ve held my breath for years,
and now I breath this in,
high on this feeling.

poem: thirty

I wanted to close the year out with this letter to myself, written for my thirtieth birthday. There’re direct references to the music videos for Snoh Aalegra’s Whoa, Michaela Jaé’s Something to Say, and Ari Lennox’s Up Late. My go-to tarot deck is Cedar McCloud’s Numinous Tarot, so if you want to imagine the queen of cups, that’s the one I think of. Cross-posted to IG.


I keep coming back to the state of my heart:
Rachel asked long ago, how is your heart;
Denise asked a few years later;
and last week Audra asked me the same thing.

These are small sign-posts in the path my heart has traversed:
when I fell in love, when my heart opened like a flower to the sun;
when at last I held the weight of all my sorrow and let it go – KonMari style;
and two weeks ago I moved from my home of seven years to somewhere new.

Old ways won’t open new doors, the instagram post advises.
New home, new front door, new bedroom door.
What portal do I pass through moving from one house to the next?
What do I claim here, in making this strange place
a home?

I have been single for three years, and there has been a lot in me that has changed:
I am at home in my body, I am present in my body and my feelings, my pleasure comes
lightning quick! And I want to know what my body has learned, what my body has
transfigured. Can you see it, can I feel it, when I dance, when I come apart, when I move.

Romance and sex color relationships in different ways,
a certain slant of light, like driving at night or walking beneath the moonlight.
There are certain things I cannot do alone.
I make magic on my own, and so do you, and you.
I want to know what happens when we fold our hands together.
There are three sides of a triangle, there is strength in numbers.
There is magic
in collaboration and I want to know what grows when we find the magic
of this moment, that can only be made when me, you, and you are here.

I build friendships like people do romantic ones,
I build foundations for redwood cathedrals, I want someone
with me throughout the long years of tending to this grove.
I want to make this a home with you,
to go home to you, to be who you come home to.
And I want to find a harbor for the fierce way I love, my heart sinking its teeth in,
and refusing to let go. When I wonder what it is I give to you, you simply say,
You, I get you. Your brilliant mind, your sharp tongue, the soft give of your body,
letting it come to rest in my hands is the best gift of all.

With forty minutes to midnight, here is a spell:
I want to be read to in bubble baths, loved like whoa;
crown me with love, and I will cape you in flowers, because I’ve got something to say;
and rolling green hills, my oldest dream of all, that keeps me up late.

If there is a longing in my heart,
there is no use denying it.
There is only submitting to it,
letting its water wash over me,
and moving with the tide,
and learning to breathe with it
once again.

Oh magic of my heart, queen of cups,
distill the longing of my heart into a single drink,
let me down it, and no longer deny
here is what I long for,
here is what I yearn for,
let me tell you,
and in the telling,
I call it to me,
I call it to me,
oh heart of mine,
oh heart of mine.

poem: tesseract love

Written 2.20.21. part of the “rocky mountain love” poems. Previous poem here. There’s a direct reference to Mystic’s Neptune’s Jewels. I have one more poem in this series, maybe. Cross-posted to IG.


I record my voice, and send it across
the 1,000 km between you and I,
made short by the internet as a
tesseract, folding space and chance,
so that you and I get to cross paths
and do our best, to hold fast to
one another’s hands.

you and I have made our
texted vows: how you want
my hands in your hair, and how I
want you in my bed to fall asleep
beside. I cannot bridge the time
it takes for vaccines and border
crossings, so I hope my voice
is a light beckoning you to shore,
a promise of homecoming,
a warm blanket and all the
promises of domesticity I want to make
but think it’s far too soon for.

tell me you feel the same,
tell me you will make the same vows,
that when you’re alone with your thoughts,
I am the kind of person you wished for,
and I will show you all the nightly pages
I wrote, imagining you.

I don’t know how to swim,
but I got that moon in 12th house scorpio shit,
so say the word, and I will dive deep with you,
for you. If mystic would dive to bring you neptune’s jewels,
I would dive deep to bring you the treasures from the bottom of our hearts,
and exchange vows written in starlight and rivers, until distance
and time and pandemics is just a story we tell ourselves, laughing
man, remember how we met? because
our ancestors have conspired, and here we are
side by side, in love, in full color,
in full bloom.

poem: land-crossed love

Written 2.21.21, but finished the last stanza Nov 2021. There’s also one or two more poems in this series, which I jokingly call “I was ghosted and all I got was some dope poetry.” Working series title is “rocky mountain love.” The closing lines are a riff on Tina Turner’s River Deep, Mountain High. Cross-posted to IG.


I call you my land-crossed love –
we share the same shoreline,
pacific ocean waves caress our curves;
and we are also separated by 1,000 miles,
1,600 km, another border we cross.

If we weren’t separated by the cascade of mountain ranges,
a spinal column I long to climb with fingertips and tongue,
I’d say you were too good to be true: the kind of person
I longed for as I fell asleep, as I tore through cartridges of ink
writing in my diary, This is what I want, teasing out each side
of desire, like some kind of ten-sided die; pursuing what
makes me sigh with the same devotion I once gave to finding
what part of my mouth made my ex fist his hand in my hair
and call me his for the night.

I learned I did not do casual well, once my summer fling
became a four year affair that persisted long after I knew
he and I were not right for each other. So perhaps it’s just as well
that you and I are so far-flung, because I’d be tempted to
give you all of myself, go deep-sea diving without any safeties,
without first learning if my devotion was a gift
you’d handle with all the care, reverence, and awe I deserve.

I don’t know yet what will grow, but as we talk
of you driving the pacific coast to greet me,
driving together to peer down the grand canyon,
how you want my hands in your hair, not for sex,
but just for the comfort of touch; when the fucking
adorable gifs you send are studded with some kind of
wonderfully clear declaration; when you tell me you
can give me what I’ve always wanted: touch,
plentiful, freely given, so much I’ll never wonder if
I’ll go without again, I find myself thinking
that even though the future is so uncertain,
and I’ve never done a long-distance relationship,
that I am going to love you so deeply, so surely.

But for now, you slumber beneath
clear skies, in a cabin in the mountains,
just as my tarot cards told me when all I had was
a wish; and I am beneath the same starlight,
in a house at the other end of the cascade,
holding this small love in my hand, like a flame,
a dream waiting to burst into full bloom,
a lighthouse bright enough to call you here to me,
and sure enough to burn as long as it takes
for you to cross a thousand miles. And when at last
you place your hand in mine, oh,
ocean deep and mountain high,
oh how mightily I will love you.

poem: devil’s doorbell

Written 12.7.20 when I first heard the phrase “ring the devil’s doorbell.” I don’t usually write fiction poems, so I was surprised when I started writing sequels to this! Which worked out well, as this was supposed to be sexy, but has since turned into a 4+ poem slow burn. 🤷🏻‍♀️ The working title for the series as a whole is “courting a devil.” Or maybe “courting the devil”? We’ll see. Cross-posted to IG.

This poem also contains references:

  • the patriarchy description is a riff on bell hooks’ description
  • the title of Rebecaa Solnit’s Paradise Built in Hell (despite having not read it though)
  • a goat who survived a California fire
  • a church that was spared during a California fires

And mood inspiration taken from the following songs:

  • The Devil Went Down to Georgia
  • Barnaby Bright’s Highway 9
  • Zoë Yungmi Blank’s Bay Rim

they told me,
not to go down to Georgia,
that if I was looking, for a
good ol’ time, I needed to
find the oasis in the middle of hell,
and ring the devil’s doorbell.

now, there are a lot of places
that are hell. the first place I looked
was between me and the
white supremacist cis hetero capitalist ableist
patriarchy, but conceptual hells, found in
empty spaces and worn out places
were a bit too hard.

so next, I looked to the people I loved most,
because it’s always been easiest to
bare my ugly, to be cruel, to those
I loved; I learned that one from my mother,
so I also searched in the tangled family roots,
bound up in blood, salt water, and stale
airplane air. and while I didn’t find
the oasis I was looking for, I did find
a skeleton key. and I let out all those family
ghosts, skeletons in the closets, and watched for where they flew.

I tried for something more literal next.
I drove on down the one-o-one, past
blackened hills, california côte-rôtie,
appellation d’origine protégée, because we
protected our forests too well, and now our bodies
are so much tinder, waiting for red flag warnings that
we’ll just ignore. I found the spot, next to the church, where that goat
laid on down and was spared the inferno’s grasp.
grass is growing here again; they’re rebuilding what was destroyed,
laying wreaths of flowers on the cross, as if the fire
won’t ever come again. so I laid on down, and

there, I pressed my lips to the ground,
and the devil christened me with the taste of salt –
I remembered the fear in my bones,
the tremble in my hips telling me to run,
the beat of my blood, declaring how much I wanted this,
the triumph of claiming this body, this life as mine,
and I opened my mouth, my self to it with relish,
and vowed I’d always run my tongue along desire,
and sink my teeth into pleasure, and never let it go.

poem: until the sheets

Crossposted from IG. Written 10.20.21. Inspired by conversations with friends about dating people whose feminism fell short. The Janelle Monáe quote is from Many Moons (lyrics here).


You
came into my life
too good to be true,
wearing a feminist shirt and quoting bell hooks
and Maya Angelou – that made my mouth water
more than any shirtless selfie could’ve. You
swept me off my feet,
long talks turned long
dinners turned long
midnight hours. I
spent many a witching hour with you.

I have spent many a new moon, seeding my intentions,
been dreaming of a love that makes life sweeter.
So I began spinning dreams of you
on new moons too, side by side with me.

I loved letting my hands touch you,
knowing you chose to be here with me,
that I could make a claim on your time.
But when you slid outta that feminist shirt,
I wonder if you slid outta your feminism too.
Your pillowtalk was what you had learned
from luminaries like Grace Lee and adrienne maree,
your sisters and aunties and nameless exes.
(if we broke up, despite what we taught each other,
would I just be another nameless ex?)
And you began joking it wasn’t a big deal,
if I skipped my nightly meds if it meant more time with you.
Something was planted in me then.

Somehow, your
promise to read Alex Elle with me,
never happened. And you
began asking if we could stop using a barrier during sex,
even though I had said I only did that with in-it-to-win-it
in-it-for-the-long-haul lovers, and you
hadn’t even told your friends we were together. You
never told anyone, not even me, if were dating,
even though I’d asked and asked during our
six hour conversations about sex, feminism,
and cable TV shows of the 90s.
And something grew in me when
in public, your
tenderness was nowhere to be found.

So when I told my best friend about you, about how you
wouldn’t hold my hand at the grocery store,
and when you
saw my face, you
promised to make it up to me in private.
She took my hand in broad daylight and said,
“You deserve someone who loves you
and makes it clear to you, who does not make you doubt.
And I am here with you.”
The warmth she gave me was different from the
longing I had for you. I
cannot love you for who I want you to be, I
cannot love you for the potential I see with you.
I can only love you for who you are now,
for how you treat me now.

I remembered that I’d heard you
have many conversations
not just with me but with other starry-eyed people
about the state of feminism. But I’d never heard you
say that you are the harvest of
more women, femmes, and
celestial mermaid fairies than you could count.
And when you sing to the masses of
the beautiful bloom that you are, you
do not mention the hands that sowed
you, do no thank the hands that nurtured
you, do not apologize to the hands that
were stung and swollen by your nettles
as they grew you into this flower
I and others wanted to draw close to.

Feminism is one way I try to get closer to being free.
And you could not bring your feminism past your fashion
or beyond the public accolades and into who warms your sheets,
who cleans your sheets. And so, even though our first bites
of each other were sweet, it was time to rinse the taste of you
outta my mouth, the scent of you off of my skin.
People like me have loved people like you a long time,
people whose public claims of gender respect and gender power
fall short, that’s why there are so many memes about
red flags, trash cans, as many as there are fuckboys and fuckbois.

When Janelle Monáe asks,
tell me are you bold enough to reach for love?
I still respond with everything in me:
Yes, yes I am. I believe in love,
I believe in my capacity,
limitless, endless like the sky,
to love as deeply as the sea,
again and again. Each love I have
is as unique as a snowflake’s fingerprint, and you
have melted away. But I do not mind, there will be
a better love. I am sure of it,
it is in me, it is on the horizon,
and when it is close enough for me to hold,
I will reach for them,
and they will take my hand,
and together we will go
into the sun-warm embrace of our community.