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: 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.

lessons in consent

This was originally written back in 2017. It was around the time Kitty Stryker’s anthology Ask was coming out, and I think Stryker had some post that inspired me. I picked it back up in 2020, and have since edited and added to it. Thanks to Jenna for betareading this.

Content note: We often hear consent applies to situations beyond sex, and this piece is an attempt to describe what I’ve learned about consent in my actions towards others in daily life. I’m not sure what content warnings are applicable (for example, this ranges from sex to giving unwanted hugs). If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. This is also NSFW because of sex.

Word count: ~1,900


My mother does many things right by me. One of them is teaching me to listen and obey when people say stop. At eight, I know no meant no, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

I am an only child, and when I have playmates over, the moment one of them says no or stop, my mother is listening to make sure I obey.

She never gives me the sex talk, but this lesson stays in my heart, even if it does need some polishing.

Read More »

if you wanna be my lover

you gotta fill out this application.

I created this application half in exasperation at men sexualizing me (thus some of the flipness) and half because I am serious about communication. While this might not be your exact situation, I think you can adjust this for your own purposes – COVID hangouts, cuddle puddles, new friend dates, whatever’s clever. These questions aren’t new by any means, but I hope they get you thinking about what you want.

Please free to take what is handy to you, adapt as you need, and discard the rest.

(The Republican question specifically is actually asking: “do your politics undermine my right to exist as a person in this world?” But I phrased it the way I did to troll people. And yes, when I IRL said “Republicans need not apply,” I got some pissed people in my inbox. *shrug* This pussy don’t pop for you, not sorry.)

Credit:

  • thanks to Octavia, who encouraged me when I said, “I’m tempted to just interview dudes who want to sleep with me, including asking for their exes as references.”
  • Some of these questions were directly inspired by Midori and Zoe Ligon’s video.

[Name here],

Your interest in having sex with me has been noted. Please respond to the following questions, and I will reply to you at my leisure.

Basics

  • Are you a Republican? Y/N
  • What name should I call you?
  • What are your pronouns?
  • Best way to contact you? I will use this for any subsequent contact and/or to let you know if I test positive for COVID or an STI.
  • Does the experience you want include just me and you, or does it involve additional people? If the latter, please have each individual fill out their own application.
  • Why should I share the gift of my time and attention with you? Let alone my body?
Read More »

consent in everyday life: family, culture, & in/sincere yes/nos

When articles about enthusiastic consent began flooding my FB feed years ago, I eagerly waited for someone to address it from a Chinese-American perspective (or any POC cultural perspective really).  Finally, I thought, someone will write something that speaks to my life. 

I knew there was something to be said about saying yes and no when you (didn’t) meant it, the strange rules I’d learned from my mother, and being Chinese-American.  I didn’t want to have to sketch out my messy thoughts.   But I never found an article about consent and race, so I did my best here.

Nora Samaran uses her blog to explore “partly formed ideas,” so I’m reminding myself it’s okay to do the same.  It’s okay to post a piece that doesn’t have a clear point/goal in mind. That said, if you have suggestions for a better title, let me know!


I miss my best friend’s wedding because of social nicety.  She asks me once, twice, three times.  If I was really living the fairy tale life, the third time I would’ve said yes.  Instead I say no, times four and five as well.

I tell my mother about it, and she agrees I did the right thing.

Read More »

honestly

From Yrsa Daley-Ward’s IG prompt from 3/14/19. Also inspired by Abiola Abrams’ Spiritpreneur School podcast from 3/13/19 which asked, what do you want and how do you want to feel?

tell the truth about something you haven’t been honest about this week


Commitment comes naturally to me, but I’m not looking for it in a relationship.

What I want is to come home to someone. Build a life together. Get deep in our shit with each other. That Jada and Will kinda partnership. I dunno the exact details of it. Romantic and sexual? Monogamous? Not if it’s platonic. If platonic, with one person, or more? If more, I’d prefer a triad or more-ad.

How do I express I want intimacy – emotionally, physically. Sexual intimacy is a footnote.

Give me that life when I crawl into bed with you, settle against your side. And you kiss me. And kiss my hair and my forehead. I want your tenderness. When I say I want these things, I mean I want to feel

  • safe, physically & emotionally
  • cared for
  • relaxed
  • content
  • like I could purr
  • languid
  • loose
  • light
  • open/receptive
  • happy
  • full of warmth
  • present in my body
  • pleasure

Isn’t it strange, I say I’m not looking for a committed partnership, but isn’t it what I so easily described?


loving better

“loving you doesn’t hurt”

For Vanessa Mártir’s January 1st Writing Our Lives prompt, [1 of] 3 stories that haunt you.


Of the four years we spent together, there are many moments I look back at tenderly; and many more where I was vulnerable, broken apart, and you carefully held me. You’re a Cancer, so you were unafraid of swimming in the sea of tears my body exuded. But this moment, something about it remains clear to me, even if I don’t know exactly why.

It was in the dark warmth of my bedroom I was my most honest and confessed I loved you.

It wasn’t the first time I’d told you I loved you, but the flavor of this particular one, I knew it was something different, something I had to tell you.

Read More »