So You Think You Can Dance (a poem for the Random Man in my inbox)

Oh, Honey, NO.

Not here
Not me
Not today
… or any other, for that matter

Yeah, there’s a dance
and yeah
my round ass is shaking
to the tune that’s playing
but nobody invited you
and I sure don’t want
your skeeze
in my dance space
Like Jennifer Grey
and her spaghetti arms
not knowing
what the fuck she was doing
but trying hard to act
just like she did

See
I *been* dancing this dance
long
long
before you
came along
and I know the tune
I know the steps
this tempo
runs in my blood
frantic
pulsing
pounding
flowing
invading already
all without your
pathetic assistance

See
THIS dance is a dance
you don’t know
you *can’t* know
you never ***had*** to do it before
even when your legs were aching
and your back was sore
even when your heart was tired
and your mind was screaming out
no more
*no more*
*NO MORE*
Even when
all you really ever wanted
was to lie down
and make the spinning stop
and silence the beat

But I did
we did
we danced
because we had to
danced
until our feet bled
until our legs were weak
like gelatin
tears flowing
rage-spittle flying
dancing
for our fucking lives
for the lives
of husbands and wives
of children and parents
of sisters
brothers
friends
lovers
cousins
and kin not even blood

And now you
wanna storm in here
while I’m dancing
demanding
that I teach you the steps
then spouting off
about how these steps are wrong
how the dance would be
done better
the way *you* want to see it
about how
you ought to get
a spot in the pattern
and be able
to change the moves
slow down the tempo
because your tender feet-
unaccustomed to
the stamping
stomping
hard-driving beat-
can’t handle these
grunts of effort
the sweat flying
from our cheeks
or are those tears of exhaustion
frustration
rage
You
and your tender feet
know nothing of this dance
because luck
because
accident of birth
which made you white
made you born-man called-man
made you comfortable
made you straight
made you healthy
because of *nothing* you ***did***

you know nothing
but that privilege shuffle
with its mellow groove
and its easy softness

And we ain’t got time
for your feet to catch up
because we gotta keep dancing
keep stomping
keep stamping
keep spinning

because this dance
is the only way we got
to change the tune
to slow it down
we gotta dance
until we can all shuffle
or maybe find some ditty
somewhere in between
a nice waltz, perhaps
that won’t crack our bones
on the downbeat

we ain’t got time
to teach you all the steps
and how they came
to be part of the pattern
and we *sure*
ain’t got time
to argue you
out of your wrong
out of your sweet, easy shuffle
that keeps you from seeing
the horror and pain
the blood and the death
that are
that have always been
a part of this dance
that ain’t
fucking
yours

Nah, homeskillet.

Shuffle your shuffle
right on outta here
and come back when you learned
come back when you worked for it
come back when you got some way
to make this easier
not for your shuffling feet
but for our bleeding ones
or when you’re ready
to bleed with us
for us
until we’re all doing the same dance

Don’t come around here
demanding I do your dance your way
when my ass been shaking
since I was born.

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Angry bitch

This one goes out to all my “Angry Bitches,”

to all the women and girls

who learned at young ages

to swallow their anger

to express it in tears

to pretend it was okay

to rage in whispers at mirrors or

into pink pillow cases

to scream only when alone in the car

on deserted roads

to school faces

not to show

their frustration

their annoyance

their anger

their ire

their boiling fucking rage

by even so much as a single raised eyebrow

a rolled eye

a twitch of the lip

not to allow a single crack

in the smooth

ladylike

facade

of tranquility that might

in any way

make someone else

uncomfortable

This one goes out to all those

who take their lumps

who gulp them down

and gulp again

and again

and again

until those lumps sit

tight

heavy

and painful

until they become

the pits of their stomachs

untouched by the acids

fertilized by the bile

heaped on their existence

their sameness

their difference

their pain

their anguish

their voices

their audacity

when they dare to speak

in less than palatable words

in less than pleasant tones

in more than the agreed upon phrases

about more than the approved subjects

allowed to their feminine minds

This one goes out to all those ladies

who got tired of the word

who outgrew the confines of that box

who flexed

and stretched

and pushed

and strained

until the box collapsed around them

who stepped away from the wreckage

and out of the room

only to realize the next room

was just a bigger box

where angry still tightened the walls

where they could still be

interrupted

talked over

shushed

silenced

belittled

battered

bruised

beaten back into silence

by the voices that refuse to hear

what’s being described

and use the word

“angry”

as a gag to stifle the sound

as an excuse

to ignore the words

who use their anger

to dismiss all the valid fucking reasons

they were angry in the first place

or to blame them

for the things they’ve endured

as if their anger…

at being ignored

held back

pushed down

condescended to

talked past

abused

gaslighted

leaned on

bullied

intimidated

made to feel afraid in the streets of their own cities

the classrooms of their own schools

the halls of their own houses

made to feel their good ideas

were bossiness

their assertive leadership

bitchiness

their focus on family

unprofessional

their focus on career

cold and calculating

their tears

manipulative

their joys

worthless

their fears

baseless

their goals

laughable

…as if their anger

retroactively

justifies every fucked up thing

the world has done TO them

as if the emotional response

created the thing

they were responding to

This one goes out to you

my Angry Fucking Bitches

It goes out to us

and I say

since when do men

have a monopoly on anger?

since when are slights against them

so much more offensive

than slights against us?

Since when do they get to tell us

where the line is

that when crossed

means we are

“too angry”

And I hear the whisper

the angry sibilance

coming back to me

Ssssince alwaaaayssss

And I say

fuck you.

Not anymore.

Unlearning Apologies

I want to say I’m sorry
for saying I’m sorry
so goddamned much
for being a nuisance
with my insistence
that I’m too insistent
too needy
too much

I want to apologize
for apologizing
when I shouldn’t
when I’ve done nothing
wrong
when I’m simply feeling
like the burden
you assure me I’m not

I get frustrated
with myself
with my fears
with the crushing weight
of not knowing
how much need
is too much need

I get angry
with myself
because I know
better
I know
that you know
I get angry
because I am
saying I’m sorry
for existing
as I am
for being me

I see your face
puzzlement and proxy-pain
when you tell me
“No, baby
No sorries.”

And then I get angry
with them
all over again
for teaching me
that I am too much
that my need
is too much

Angry with me
for letting that stick
where other
better
knowledge has failed
for being afraid
to ask

Angry with a world
where being sick
or being young
or needing help
has always equaled
being too much

Then, you smile
and stroke my face
remind me that
it’s not a one-way street
remind me that
the things I give
balance with
the things I need

So I say again
I’m sorry
for saying I’m sorrry
so goddamned much


This kind of just happened. I wasn’t planning this. I was just sitting here, being grateful for what I have, feeling unworthy.

I had a seizure today. I hurt, and I’m tired. I’m not up to much, and going out, anywhere, is much. There are just days when the getting ready, the getting dressed and being presentable in public is too much. It’s daunting, like facing a mountain you never wanted to climb in the first place, and knowing you have to, anyway.

We had been, I think, planning to go get Chinese takeout at that place that lets you get the buffet to go. He’d been wanting it for a while.

And I just… can’t. And I knew he wouldn’t, as much as he’s been craving it, if I couldn’t. I asked him, if I gave him a list of the things I wanted off the buffet, would he be willing to do that? And I felt shitty, asking. I felt like an imposition, a burden, a drag. To ask him to go to so much extra effort, just because I’m all fucked up.

And off he goes, with a list and a smile, thanking me for coming up with a way for us to still have Chinese. And all this just kind of… erupted.

This thing has played out more than a time or two in my life, both before and after the illness, with romantic partners and parents and friends. The me being too much thing.

Most of the time, I’m okay. Most of the time, I hear him when he says that’s bullshit, that it was always bullshit. Most of the time, I believe him.

Standing in one of those mountain-facing days, though, and asking him to climb it for me, no matter how small it seems to him, sometimes I get scared. This is one of those days that life has taught me I have to be sorry for being me.

Splinter

It feels like a splinter that started
with just a little pinprick
a tiny seed of doubt
and a soup├žon of discomfort

With every new motion
every new word
wiggled back
and forth
and back again
worming its way through layers
under my skin

The resurrection
of old words
old misdirections
in new context
(but not really so new
maybe
after all
maybe just the same context
the same play
with different players)
pushed it down deeper
inflamed it with memory
and ire
and wrongness
tainted the flesh
the space between heart and mind

The heart
wanting sameness
wanting closeness
wanting to forget
and forgive
and ignore

The mind
asking questions
probing
unable to stay hidden
behind dubious covenants
or remain incognizant to
the sound of double speak

Both embroiled in
unwanted contest
for right
and true
and real
the struggle
working the splinter
deeper down
and deeper still

The heart wants
what the heart wants
at least
I think that’s what they always say
but I have met my heart
and known its desires
and seen where they lead
when left to run amok

The mind wants, too
to reconcile the goodness known
with the wrongness introduced
but
unlike the heart
it knows when to say enough
enough!
ENOUGH!
The mind recognizes futility
demands dissociation

The mind seldom leads
into the fire
like the heart
so I listen
I heed
I comply

the splinter comes to rest
in the heart
and it aches
and it twinges
but it buffets the splinter
in the things the mind cannot give
washes away the infection
the inflammation
and finally
even the splinter itself
is pushed out with the blood
out through the muscles
back up into the skin
through the layers
until
it’s just a pinprick again

Whenever I’m ready
I can pluck it out
blow it off my fingertip
into the wind
of a brand new day


Originally posted elsewhere, April 5, 2014

Anything. Everything.

Eyes shining
glittering
brimming over
un-shed tears
of mirth
Your shoulders shaking
breath catching
jaws and ribs
aching from the onslaught

I puff up
come over
all indignant
offended
self-righteously put out

but the truth

The truth is
this is where
the limits falter
wither
and die

Because it is entirely possible
that no limits exist
in the lengths to which
I will dance
play the fool
submit to
embarrassments beyond measure

Just to see
to catch your frivolity
your exuberance
on each inhalation
to tremble with your delight

to see the sparkle
in your eyes

and to know
it belongs also to me

What would I do?

Anything
Everything

Originally posted elsewhere, Dec 16, 2013

Inappropriate

I am inappropriate

my legs only cross when it’s sexy
and I sit with my knees too far apart in skirts

Your mother called me a hussy
we laughed because it was funny
but also because it was true

She said I am brazen
and I am

I will purr in your ear in public places
bend over in that way that makes you hard
even when there are people around
even if they might notice

I am inappropriate

I sing aloud along with the grocery store Muzak
piped-in pop with vapid lyrics
and bubblegum beats

I tell strangers’ bratty children
that I work for Santa
moonlighting as an elf supervisor
or a flight instructor for reindeer
even if it’s June

I dance when I shouldn’t be vibrant
and sing when silence is assumed
conservatism will be for my elders
even when I am old

I wear silly masks and make dinosaur roars
in the middle of shopping trips

whisper to you
how much I loved the way you fisted me
when we are alone
amidst company
for only seconds
and give you come-hither stares
across crowded rooms

I am inappropriate
childish
licentious
wanton
loose
free

And I will not apologize
for making you wish

you could be inappropriate like me

Originally posted elsewhere, September 2013