Friday, 29 September 2017

Human Valentines

I think of things to write and they slide off before I burn them permanent I wish I’d learn. I am craving an outpour today a real wave of it. Seb is here we drank in my room and the mirror was moved it changed everything I knew. We are obsessed with conventional things and we flourish in it. We flower and bloom. Top-tail with feet sticking out from wrapped doona I am waiting to use the bathroom again. My jeans press against my bladder in a way that ruins my whole world god I’m dramatic today. It is the second day and also the second last day, of a thing, like a colour. Pinching muscles to try and relax, trying trying so hard. Waking up before dawn every morning and rolling rolling I get a lot of thinking done in this state of sleepless fatigue, our brain thoughts next to one another’s feet and the beginning of another day. Love is in the doing, we make things so we can feel.

Friday, 22 September 2017

putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again

I ask her sheepishly if she thinks it’s a bad idea for me to get yet another coffee and she shrugs theatrically and says it’s before midday so go for broke – later at the produce market we sit on wicker chairs under a blanket and watch dogs walk past, her dog was poisoned when she was young and the cruelness in the world sinks its teeth into me like frostbite. The rain comes down and I’m almost thankful, the longest summer of my life is liquidating and now I can crawl into bed where I am most days anyhow and rest these aching bones for a season.

In bed, stoned and eating chips, we say with serious faces that one thing we will for sure miss about Berlin is Spree Quell (extra fizzy mineral water) - 12 empty bottles standing side by side like commuters in an elevator, I keep meaning to take them to the recycling. It’s funny, how moody I am, and I keep cutting things out of my diet to try and regulate whatever’s going on in my body and it’s one of those things you're never sure is really working, a bit like God or fish oil tablets. Are you having a wild time over there? Actually it’s all about herbal teas and soda water. It’s colder at nights now and I hobble around my studio in blankets, there’s a heater but I don’t know how to work it and no one’s around to ask. Creaky bones and sleeps filled to the brim with dreams, I dream of zoe a lot and seb thinks that means she also dreams about me, too. 

We were all glowing that night, with newness and full hearts and the extra spark delivered on his horizontal mirror. And we were glowing still the weekend earlier, smashing glasses in the fancy bar through the stupor of our foggy brains and we were glowing in the park, all lit up with the exciting plan of doing absolutely nothing but going back to bed and watching one tree hill. The new moon wants to bring a sense of ease to my relationship with my body, I try to let it, but “I am complete as I am” is a tricky phrase that clags up my internal room. What does slowing down look like? I try to change my gut response – that is looks bad, that it looks slovenly. I’m a triple fire what can I do.

Turning the corner I find you all huddled on a stoop, on the wrong side of the city and we laugh with our wild hearts. We breathe energy into the evening even though our reserves are low, and but we give it like a gift ‘cause sometimes that’s what support looks like.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Breakfast in the waiting room between my mind and yours

Through the wall you imagine her weighing
on your leafy arms and I understand
why you’d want to sedate yourself, and crawl out
in the morning                    shuffle back late at night
why you’d lose pieces of yourself in sugary bowls of cereal
over which                            the truth is constantly avoided
why you’d avoid
the stoned dead stare, eyes fixed through smoke
                                                                        on what? the past
you have dragged yourself across mind frames of prickling thought
and questioned the fabric of your reality

you’ve locked parts of you away that have hardly seen existence
that have only been trodden on, your heart, an obvious one
                                                      I think I saw it once
                                                      and I understand
                                                      the desire to keep some doors locked

in the blackest evenings it’s a task to even
summon anger, let me help you
I have enough to share

in the blackest evenings you have kept yourself alight(alive)
and I know you often don’t want to

your brain’s pillars go on holding while your pride
retreats like winter

you reach within yourself
and pull out broken furniture
there are lessons here, take them with you
                                                      take them in
                                                      to your soft heart, cold, and life-affirming.

Sunday, 10 September 2017


I wished I could unlatch his body from the prison
it had made of itself, later
a salty tear makes a claggy mess of his words and
something reaches from within that moment of vulnerability (a hand, crooked)
                  I wish I could take you with me
                  to the parallel universe where I live, right next to you
                  all the time (without suffering)

at least we both are sure that we exist right now, I think
it was the year she began to look for answers
in her own body, the mesh of hair trapped in spoke of hairbrush
she asks for directions in her forearm freckles
we were born equipped with maps
we have no idea how to read

she asks if she is deserving of this worthlessness
I say — no — I don’t know — I mean I know some things
like you are methodical and stable, and that is a good thing
you can walk long journeys with strong legs
you are assertive in the closed door faces of powerful men
and you
don’t need to raise your voice for everyone to listen
and to me, you are worth a great deal

I was born from your body and when you move
I am reminded of the salt that licks and tumbles
under the skin of waves

the salt that keeps us all from drowning.

Friday, 8 September 2017

~~ come visit me in dream

Sometimes I'm ok at making things out of words. Verbally, they tumble out (mercury in sag) and I can fling them into order, confabulate. Lately, here in Berlin, I’m tongue tied in the face of confusion, in the face of frustration, in the face of those who cant seem to see me — I’m tongue tied to save myself the energy and the shame. The shame isn’t to do with me, it’s to do with language — no, it’s to do with the relationship people have to language. The issue isn’t words. It’s where they go, where they fall flat on the ground. 

Seb and I were talking earlier (funny time difference, we squeeze in the hours before the other is asleep), we were discussing how the fatigue in explaining ones own identity comes not from the identity (I cant stress this enough), but the fact that in hashing it out conversationally it becomes a question of validity. Ones explaining of identity becomes an argument of gender theory. It becomes theory – it becames a theory, one worthy of contesting, a theory that can be argued against.

You know what I mean? For example, the discussion of pronouns: I use gender-neutral pronouns. In striving to be seen and recognized and correctly identified, I often find myself correcting and correcting those around me – this is actually fine, and I feel kind of silly even fleshing this out because it’s something most people I know deal with, and generally people need only be reminded a few times. But lately I’ve been met with so much resistance, so many walls – barriers around language, ‘but they means plural,’ and even just lack of engagement, innocent seeming but there's something sticky with conflict underneath.

What’s come to fail me, though, is my own will to push on and stake out my place and my identity – it becomes easier to desist, to let the she’s and hers slip through to the keeper. But I don't just mean instances of incorrect pronouns or accidental misgendering, I mean an actual resistance to the existence of identities that live between binaries. The times I’ve gotten into meatier discussions, there’s been progress but also this curdling sense of dread, this grossness in the theory of it, this sense that I’m explaining the hot new discourse that the young folk on the internet are ‘up with,’ as opposed to actually just fleshing out some important aspects of my selfhood. Why can't these nuances (are they nuances? Are identities between binaries considered nuances?) of gender and sexuality be as easy a label as vegetarian. I’m a twin, or I’m blood type A. (Well there are an abundance of reasons why, white supremacy, colonisation and capitalism to name a few - sometimes it's hard to know where to put ones frustration when the system at play lends to dissolution of blame.)

I find myself constantly straddling this razor edge of awareness of my own privilege. To have afforded and allowed my education, to have been exposed to all kinds of language about gender and sexuality, to have been surrounded by opinionated and expressive activists whose theories have nourished the way I speak and think about myself — and on the other side of this sharp knife is a deep seated frustration, at myself and at the whole twisted machine of it all. It's the quick step that politicisation of the self takes from the sharing of something vulnerable, to the pontification of identity theory that I find so hard to navigate. In The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson contemplates the 'evolutionary need to put things into categories' (66), through Butler's struggle with identity labels eclipsing her very questioning of identity politics, as seen in her readership's labelling of her first book as emblematic of lesbian identity.

It's a quick step from there to discounting the lesbian - or, for that matter, anyone who refuses to slip quietly into a "postracial" future that resembles all too closely the racist past and present - as identitarian, when it's actually the listener who cannot get beyond the identity that he has imputed onto the speaker. Calling the speaker identitarian then serves as an efficient excuse not to listen to her, in which case the listener can resume his role as speaker. (67)

I think it’s something I’m trying to get at in my work, but I’m battling with the pieces as they come out of me. I’ll put some images in this post. At the core of it all there’s my body and then there’s me — my body, read as female, sexualised without consent by all kinds of external factors and then sexualised purposefully by me, in keeping with fairly mainstream notions of sex positive reclamation. And there’s the me that perceives it, that perceives others perceiving it, that pieces together fragments of information from all these sources in an attempt at getting to something true.

I mean, I think that’s what we’re all doing every time we take a picture of ourselves for the internet, and I’m certainly not the first person to make an artistic practice of it. But even in these reproductions of self, like I mentioned in my previous post, I feel stripped of self-hood in this weird way that I didn’t see coming, and the subsequent work is like this struggle to get that selfness back  — I’ve been making self portraits for so long but now it has become something deeper to me, something really close to my core. I don’t really know where it’s going but I think it’s somewhere good.

All these images are from my time in Berlin at the Takt residency, where I’ve been for almost three months:

(that last one is of Seb :') )