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Because My Heart Is Island-Shaped

May 8, 2012

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As a Newfoundlander, I am a bit of a fraud. Living abroad, I tell long and rocky tales of the island that hangs off the East Coast of Canada. I talk of people riding snowmobiles to work, accents made up of English more olde than new, outport night skies like ink, moose as plentiful as the blackflies, and air so fresh, the smell of bedsheets taken in off the line could break your heart.

Those things are all true of my home. Newfoundland is an exotic, peculiar place. People do flatten their vowels and add fat, round “h” sounds where none are meant to be. You can wake up to moose in your back yard and bears in your cabin. The kitchen party is the heart of the culture where a set of musical spoons or a recitation is just as easily pulled out as a bottle of beer. There are places you can stand where the wind can make you fly, cliffs that are blacker and more treacherous than a sleeveen’s tongue.

And see? There I go again. So many years away have made me focus on the salty air and the half-Irish turns of phrase. I am fiercely proud of my identity as a Newfoundlander. I pull it out like a dare when I meet someone new.  The truth? If asked to ‘do” an accent, I need a fair amount of alcohol and concentration to even begin to get it right. I never had one. My mother grew up in a small community, and my dad has retired to one, but I grew up in a small city. I don’t know how to do a jig or snare a rabbit, there were people in my town I didn’t know, and I never had to snowshoe to class. The pulp and paper mill, the lifeblood of my hometown, made the air stinky and grey. We watched American cable imported from Bangor, Maine. Still, there were woods near enough by when you wanted to disappear and cry your way through a teenage heartache, there were plates of thinly sliced moosemeat fried in butter on birthdays and there was a gorgeous-in-the-sunset bay running right through the belly of it all that could set you to dreaming.

My fiction and poetry of late is full of the Newfoundland outport. Those are places I’ve visited, as exotic and novel to me as the black sand beaches on Bali or the frenetic streets of Ho Chi Min. I claim those tiny, colorful communities as my heritage, but they have never truly been part of me.

At least, I didn’t think so. The last couple of weeks have been a revelation.

I know now that our hearts are informed by the landscape on which they come into being. We are walking maps of where we come from, the topography is in our palms like lines of fate. You can travel as far as you like, redraw your boundaries a million times, but if you are born with a Newfoundland heart and try to force yourself to live in a block of concrete filled to busting with people, damage will be done.

My husband and I moved two weeks ago to a small town outside of Seoul. I take the train for over an hour to go to work and the nearest convenience store is a 30 minute walk away. We live in a house with a garden and trees. Yes, the garden is unmistakably Korean. The trees are low to the ground and there are little stone fertility symbols tucked under shrubs. It doesn’t matter. My heart needed trees. I didn’t realize how much I have denied the Newfoundlander in me by living in Seoul for so long. I feel suddenly full of breath. My God. For how long, had I been holding it?

I am writing this on the upstairs deck of the house. The sun is setting over a squat, lush mountain. I hear only the sound of the odd happy dog, the birds and the Cocteau Twins -the  noise I choose. And of course, the cows. Did I mention there are cows?

I sit here, the only white woman for miles, and I feel more at home here than in the middle of the expat neighborhood in Seoul. I am a Newfoundlander, see, every inch of me. I have ocean in my veins, and wildness in the soles of my feet. It is my birthright. Space and quiet are my natural way and I have never stopped looking for bears in the backyard. You can’t grow up in the middle of such a myth, and then expect to roll it up in your backpack as you board a plane, thinking it will fit. Make no wonder it has been coming out in my poetry and my barroom stories.

I’ve been leaking Newfoundland all over Asia for the past 15 years. That doesn’t mean I need to go back. I do need to respect my inner landscape, find more ways to feel my hair tangled by wind and my fingers soaked with water. I need a kitchen that will fit a party.  I need stars, not satellites. And I need to face the truth. I’m more of a Newfoundlander than I ever knew.

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A Barefoot Kind Of Love

April 28, 2012

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Eight years ago today, I married Bong Jun. The photo above was taken at our traditional wedding ceremony a little more than a year after our wedding day. That wedding was breathtakingly beautiful, set in an outdoor courtyard at a traditional Korean house, with live traditonal music and everyone, including my family who travelled to Korea for the event, in colorful Hanbok.

Still, Bong and I choose not to celebrate that day as our anniversary, but the stripped down, bare bones day we legally became husband and wife. It’s the most unromantic of stories and yet the retelling of it washes my heart in a fresh coat of love for him, and for our life together.

When I called home to tell my parents that we were getting married, the first question was, “How did he propose?” There were no grand gestures, no ring  or bended knees. There wasn’t even a question. There was coffee in bed, a statement and 15 minutes of expletive-filled protests and incredulity on my part. We had been living together for several years when the university department where I worked decided to close my program, leaving me suddenly out of a job. As my visa was tied to my job, I had only one choice: leave Korea, and come back on a tourist visa to look for a new job. The morning after my last day of work, Bong and I began our usual day-off morning routine of Joni Mitchell and coffee. I was talking about going to Japan for a couple of days for my visa, and would he like to come? Bong looked at me and said, ” I guess we’d better get married.” My response? “No, we can’t, can we? That’s crazy.No F%$%^ing way! You’re kidding, right. You’re F%^$#*ing kidding.Are you kidding? No, We can’t. Can we? Are you serious?”  I never said yes. I ploughed through three more cups of coffee and 20 more minutes of curse-riddled shock before what he was saying began to make sense. If I married him, I wouldn’t have to leave the country, and would have all the time in the world to look for a new job. So, we got out of bed, and decided to talk to our parents. If they didn’t object, we would get started on the paperwork.

 

On April 28th, 2004, we woke early and got dressed. Bong wore jeans with a dark blue blazer, and I wore my best denim skirt with a similar blazer. We looked like exactly who we were: all business and tradition up top, and hippie rebel free spirits from the waist down. We went off to the district office, having made arrangements with Kyung-Deok and Tara, two of our dearest friends, to come and be our witnesses. We took a number from the machine and waited to stand in front of the sour-faced clerk who had no patience for our excitement and nervous laughter. He looked at my friend, Tara, who had done her best to approximate a bridesmaid by wearing a pretty pink blouse, and informed us that she couldn’t be my witness because she was a foreigner. So, we asked a random stranger sitting in the waiting area to be my witness – a Korean man who kindly and baffledly signed a paper saying he knew me, and to the best of his knowledge, I was free and clear to marry. We had hoped for at least a word of congratulations from the clerk upon signing. Bong and I were still standing at his wicket smiling at each other, like we were waiting for someone to say, “You may now kiss the bride,” when he rang the bell for the next customer.

Starving, the four of us decided to go to the nearest restaurant which was….a Burger King. We toasted our new marriage with paper cups of cola. After lunch, Bong and I continued to the Canadian embassy to register our marriage. I had hoped for at least a little more of a festive mood at the embassy wicket as I said to the clerk, ” We just got married!”  and took Bong’s photo next to the Canadian flag. “That’ll be 40,000 won”, the clerk replied.

Undaunted, we got in our car and drove, intent on some kind of honeymoon. I put a bottle of champagne in the trunk, and we picked a direction and drove with no destination in mind. We came across no place that really appealed to us, and when it started to get dark, we pulled over in the first little town and got a room – the  suite in a love motel shaped like a castle – the kind with curtains over the garage to hide the cars of people cheating on thier spouses.

We found the nearest kalbi restaurant, complete with blaring tv and flourescent lights, and got drunk over multiple bottles of soju and barbecued beef. Mostly, we talked of how unreal everything felt, and how we kept waiting for the big realization to kick in. We were really married, weren’t we? Maybe another bottle of soju would make it seem true.

Walking ( well, weaving ) back up the highway to our motel, we laughed each time a transport truck passed us and we’d have to run down into the ditch to avoid getting hit. Everything seemed hilarious at that point. By the time we made it to the room, we were in tears from laughing so hard. And then we saw the room.

The bed was round, and the ceiling was mirrored. Next to the bed was the strangest looking contraption covered in red pleather. It had a nice laminated instruction sign next to it, with illustrations of an ecstatic looking couple who were apparently boneless. Yes, it was  the often-heard-of but rarely-sighted love motel sex chair, with flipping panels and adjustable headrests, and a rotating seat. Bong and I stared at it in drunken wonder, suddenly heavy with the expectation of acrobatic sex when we were so incredibly tired. Bong looked at me. “Quickie?” , I asked, and headed for the bed, which, without warning, began to vibrate upon contact,  We ended our wedding day, giggling and shaken to sleep, having forgotten to open the champagne.

The next morning, we took pictures of ourselves ( fully clothed ) on the sex chair. Those pictures have long since been lost, just waiting to surface on the internet someday on a website of world’s most embarrassing photos. My “honeymoon” photos are either hidden in the sock  drawer  of some sweaty-palmed loner with a fetish for simulated interracial sex, or are rotting in some garbage heap. It seems fitting.

So, why is this the day we celebrate? In spite of every thinkable bad omen, we’ve made it – well, this far, anyway. We are a truly odd couple. Cultural differences and a seven year age gap were only the most obvious hurdles. I have a need to control. He hates to be fenced in. I get moody if I don’t get enough alone time. He has a restless spirit. We’ve had exactly the same fight about exactly the same thing for the 12 or so years we’ve been together. There were times when I wasn’t sure we’d make it. But we did. There’s still no one I’d rather talk to, no one I’d rather get drunk and laugh with.When I ache, only he can comfort me. If we weren’t together, we’d be alone. No one else could live with either of us. That makes us perfect for each other.

Sometimes, I think the glamour and fanfare of weddings puts too much expectation on a marriage. White dresses and first dances don’t prepare you for the hard work of digging your way through the most emotionally demanding task most of us will ever face. Bong and I learned from the very first day that nothing about being married would be easy.

 Except the laughter. Except the love. And for whatever problem we may face, somewhere in some seedy,dark room in Korea, there is a shiny red chair that makes even the impossible seem effortless and sexy. Mostly.

Happy Anniversary to us.

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Note: For those wondering what’s happening with SoundScribbles: I did my first interview with the lovely and talented DJ Free, only to find that my recording app didn’t catch any of it. Since then, I have been busy with our move to a new house in Yangpyeong ( blog post about that to come soon ) . DJ Free has very kindly agreed to redo the interview as soon as I’m settled, so we should be back in business in a couple of weeks.

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The Very Long Thaw

February 13, 2012

Can we ever outrun our past selves? No matter how far away you move, how many lessons you learn, how many friendships fall away and are replaced, no matter how many wrinkles and grey hairs appear, must we always carry the weight of our pasts, with all that we’ve done and left undone?

This past week, my little backpack of past caught up with me.  I had to stop and unpack it, see what was inside that was weighing me down, throw out some of the heaviest trash, and repack what was left, so I’d have easy access to the things I needed – like the realization that I don’t know the first thing about what I think I know when it comes to people, the knowledge that things that have never been dealt with never really go away, and a tiny mirror that shows what a boring, undeveloped person I would be had I always done the right thing, had never gone searching for myself at the cost of others, had never made a mistake.

In my college days, I had a boyfriend whom, for the sake of whatever anonymity I can scrounge on a blog read mostly by people who know me personally, I’ll call ….Jeremy.  Jeremy was different than other boyfriends I had. In my previous post, The Cosmic Woman, I wrote about how I had spent my earlier years seeking validation through men. The better-looking, the more desirable the man, the bigger boost my confidence took. Jeremy was different – he was a big guy, tall and a little overweight, a pleasant face and very pretty eyes, but not handsome enough to even cross my radar for the first few years I knew him. Plus, he had a fiancée, placing him even further out of my circle of desire.

Jeremy and I were both theatre students at the same college. In his senior year (my second), we suddenly both found ourselves single.  In spite of my best efforts to try to fall in love with a very good-looking freshman actor, I couldn’t stop thinking about Jeremy. Why? He had an intelligence that was mesmerizing. He was solid, stable and mature – rare in the world of acting students. I started talking to him more often. He had a way of speaking in fits and spurts, like the ideas were coming too fast for breath. By the end of our first date, I knew I wanted him to lose his breath talking to me. And he did. He was one of the first men who ever really got turned on by my brain and not my breasts. He validated me to my very core, and in a way for which I was unprepared.

The chemistry between us became something of a legend in our department. People would walk in a room where we were and comment on the electricity. We had conversations where we would just stand in front of each other silently, knowing we were both getting it, the shared thoughts too quick for words. We’d hang out in his apartment, talking music and plays for hours, the discussions sexier than anything I had ever done with any other boyfriend. Physically, I was so comfortable. Knowing that he was responding to me in such an unbodied way allowed me to drop the femme fatale persona I had worn, and respond to him honestly.

Then, as was my way, I started to screw things up. A beautiful, unattainable classmate, the one that everyone wanted to date, crossed my path one night. Flattered that it was me he wanted, I cheated. This kind of validation, though, isn’t effective unless people know about it. I was somehow perversely proud of what I had done, and I ran to confess to Jeremy.  He forgave me, and we continued on for a little while….until I ended up making out at a cast party with my costar in the play in which Jeremy was directing me. Still, he took me back. I continued to push him in other ways, to see how much he would let me do before he would decide I just wasn’t worth it.

He graduated, and moved to another city for a job. I went to England for a summer. When I came home, we met again. All the good stuff was still there; just a little tattered by distance and pain. We made a decision to try to stay together despite living in different cities.

Several weeks later, I got a late-night phone call. “I’ve met someone,” he said. “I think she might be the one.” So, I let him go, feeling sickly satisfied that finally, I had driven him away.

It took a while before I realized he had frozen me out of his life completely. Having been able to remain friends with all my exes, I assumed that Jeremy and I would, in time, be able to turn the mental connection into a friendship, at least.  But, my phone calls started going unanswered, my messages ignored. I heard news of him from classmates and friends, of shows he was directing, things he was doing. Each time, I put on a big smile as if I had been in touch with him and knew all. Then, several short months later, I was drinking with classmates after a rehearsal, and somebody said, “Jeremy’s getting married. Did you hear?”

No, I hadn’t heard. I hadn’t heard a thing. For the first time since our breakup, I was in absolute, heartbreaking pain. It wasn’t because I had lost him. It wasn’t because I believed that he actually really belonged with me. In fact, I was, in the very back of my heart, happy for him.

It was his silence that ripped into me. I had thought that, in time, in the very small Newfoundland Theatre world of overlapping acquaintances and shared projects, he would come around. I thought about him constantly, even though I had moved on to another boyfriend. The fact that such happy, huge news, news that he must have known would affect me, was not enough to make him pick up a phone completely undid me. Everything good he made me believe about myself became a lie. The man who could set me on fire with his words had decided I wasn’t worth talking to.

I saw him once more in the months following my graduation. He was directing a show, and I dragged my reluctant, gorgeous boyfriend with me, so that I could show Jeremy none of it mattered to me. At intermission, I found myself in a strained, polite conversation with Jeremy. We talked of bad actors and his infant son (another big news story I heard from someone else), and there might as well have been a cement wall between us. Not a spark of who I might have been to him crossed his eyes.  I went home with the pretty, long-haired boyfriend and somewhere, between the hours of 5 and 6 am, released Jeremy from my heart.  I didn’t talk to him for the next 17 years.

Then, along came Facebook, of course. Sure that enough time had gone by, I requested his friendship – twice, I think. He completely ignored me.  My third, last-ditch request was accompanied with a note: “Add me, Dammnit!!” He did, and I sent him a polite message, thanking him and complimenting him on his very lovely-looking family. Again, I got nothing but silence – for another couple of years.

Suddenly, last week somebody posted something on Facebook that caught my attention. It was the word “Sapiosexual” with a definition: A person who is sexually attracted to intelligence in others. I liked it so much; I reposted it on my wall. And yes, it made me think of Jeremy, as well as a rare few others. The next day, I saw that Jeremy had “liked” the post. I imagined him sitting in front of his computer, tickled far enough out of his hatred of me to hit the “like” button. It was the first spark of connection I had from him.  I decided to run with it.

I composed a message, apologizing to him for my mistreatment of our love, for being the record-holding Shittiest Girlfriend Ever.  I told him how much I missed the friendship that never manifested afterwards, and how I hoped that someday, somewhere there would be a stiff pour of whiskey and a conversation that would bring it about. In spite of all the evidence that I shouldn’t, I hit “send”. I wasn’t even sure he would read it. So many years of silence made me sure he despised me. It made me even surer I deserved it.

A few hours later, I got an answer. He had just turned 45, he was reflecting on things. He spoke of regrets, apologies of his own and could we, someday, get that drink?

And just like that, someone I believed lost to me was back in my life. The truth is he never went away. Every hurt we inflicted on each other, me during the relationship and him after, still rang through us like far-away bells. It was done, but it wasn’t over. There had never been a funeral for our relationship, never an autopsy. How could we not be haunted?  I don’t know yet why he turned his back on me, exactly, and I don’t think he knows either. Yes, he may have been rightfully angry and proud. It most likely was the momentum of silence.

After reading his reply, I went into the living room and looked at a photo of myself that was taken in my last year of theatre school. Yes, that girl was cruel, wasting a heart as earnest as Jeremy’s. Yet, she had an impossibly vulnerable soul,  believing she was worthy of scorn, that she could only hurt those who loved her, and that her breasts were still the most interesting thing about her. Strutting around in her boots and bodysuits, her tuxedo jackets and crazy curls, she was just a little lost. In a way, moving halfway around the world, putting on weight, straightening my hair and giving up all theatre, I was ignoring that girl just as Jeremy had ignored me. She had never been dealt with. She wasn’t worth talking to.

Is it odd that reconnecting with him has let me forgive myself for the mistakes I made back then, with him, with myself? My marriage has been incredibly healing for me, mostly, and I thought that through figuring out how to make it work, I had made peace with all the versions of myself I’ve shown to the world. Still, I have only to look in a mirror, still see the weight, the straightened hair to know that there’s more work to be done.

But for now, I am celebrating the return of a very long-lost friend and the insights and understanding that lay around the corner. And I am talking as much about myself as I am Jeremy.

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The Cosmic Woman

February 11, 2012

I have a confession to make: I love to read women’s’ magazines. Be it Vogue or Woman’s Day, I find myself dreaming of a more domestic, sleek, pulled-together version of myself whenever I thumb through the pages. It’s like taking a vacation from my real self, the Shelley with messy, always a little too-long hair, the Shelley who burns eggs, cannot mix a proper cocktail, can never apply eyeliner without a shaking hand, and who has never thrown a dinner party in her life. The skill set that apparently every other woman in the world has eludes me. Reading a copy of Good Housekeeping makes me feel like it is still attainable in my lifetime.

I’ve always had this love affair with magazines. When I was a pre-teen, I devoured copies of Seventeen and Teen. Then when I hit my late teens, I turned my attention to Cosmopolitan. In that internet-less age, Cosmopolitan was the Google of everything sexy. The cover photos never featured a model in a cute sundress, or a business suit – always the cover model was the personification of luscious, teased va-va-voom, leaving no mistake about what kind of womanly tricks and bedroom advice was inside.

Of course, at 17 years old, sitting in the back of Geography class doing the “Cosmo Quiz”, hypothetically answering questions about activities and experiences of which I had no real-world knowledge, I felt a sense of empowerment. Cosmo laid bare and celebrated the sexuality that my small town, Catholic school circumstances wanted us girls to ignore.  Having been in a “Family Life” class (Catholic-speak for Sex Ed) that only briefly mentioned effective forms of birth control and spent hours teaching us the Rhythm method, and having watched every graduating class from my high school have at least one round-bellied girl in a taffeta dress on grad night, we needed Cosmopolitan to tell us the truth.

I have envied the younger generation of girls today, because they have so much knowledge, experience and community easily accessible to them. Perhaps they lose some of the sense of mystery that was so intoxicating to us, but they come into the world of being a woman with hard facts, discussion forums, and instructional videos. They are told everything they need to know and encouraged to decide for themselves when and how to use it. Yes, I see the impossible standards of air-brushed beauty and recognize the lining of sexism in song lyrics and advertising, but I also know that there is an equal wave of activism out there that is sane and aware. Parents and educators are raising these young women to look at all the things in front of them with a critical eye, keep what speaks the truth for them and let go of anything that doesn’t. This generation of girls knows better. Don’t they?

Last week, I made a trip to my favorite expat bookstore in Seoul to indulge in a little glossy fun fantasy time. One reason why I love this particular bookstore is that they package up bundles of back issues and sell them for a deeply discounted price. I picked up a couple of bundles, and was secretly delighted to find a copy of Cosmopolitan wedged in between the magazines I had wanted. I don’t buy Cosmopolitan any more. I have only to look at the article titled “ 4 ways 30 kicks 20’s Ass” to know that I am no longer their intended demographic. Still, I curled up with a cup of coffee and a kind of excitement to peek into the world of sexual empowerment and maybe learn a few new tricks that hadn’t been invented when I was still wearing Doc Martens and Flannel.

Here’s what I learned:

I put down the issue, a wave of sad sickness in my heart. Somehow, the empowerment and ownership of what I now know to be a woman’s rich, powerful, ever-evolving, truly female force, her sexuality, had been reduced to a crash course in “How to make yourself less you, and then maybe, just maybe, a boy will like you.”

I had hoped that the smart, sexy magazine I had once loved would still be telling the truth. It didn’t. So, here’s the truth, my own version of buried, unmarketable wisdom that I think every Cosmopolitan Girl needs to know:

A woman is sexy when she knows how to please herself, and has a comfortable relationship with the mirror.

Intelligence and good conversation is the ultimate aphrodisiac, and you wouldn’t want to sleep with any man for whom that isn’t true.

A man will never lose his erection when you take off your clothes to reveal you are a little ( or a lot ) pear-shaped.

 A woman’s sexuality flourishes and deepens well past 35, and so you needn’t be in a rush to see and do everything before 23. Save some stuff for later.

 When you truly are “the one”, and you’ve found the right man, he will call you – the next day.

There should never be games and strategies in a real affair of the heart – it’s difficult enough to make things work just using open, honest communication. Start weighing every word you say, and any genuine feeling is doomed.

You don’t really need to read about how to give a guy a perfect handjob. He’ll be more than happy to show you when you turn up in his bed in all your pear-shaped, offbeat, emotionally honest and smart glory.

You don’t need to dress a certain way, choose a certain kind of movie or have the sexual arsenal of a one-woman army to make your guy “hot”. He needs you. YOU make him hot.

Men are complex, beautiful, brilliant beings who are nowhere near as shallow as this magazine would have you believe. They have insecurities and confusion, just as we do. Corporations and advertisers make money from making men feel good about themselves. They also make money from exploiting women’s insecurities. Follow the money, and you will understand why GQ will never dedicate an issue to analyzing how every fashion and grooming choice, every movie pick affects the way women think of them.

I don’t know if I’m being naïve to think that the filter of time isn’t adding a layer of criticism here. It’s quite likely that the Cosmopolitan magazine of my time wasn’t  any different. Perhaps it was just as misguided and I, at my raw, easily molded age,  confused this kind of cheap man-centric advice with power. I could write a million blog posts about how much I needed male attention to feel validated. I had a heck of a lot of fun and an equal amount of heartache crossing that very long road. Am I now safely on the other side, oblivious to the male gaze? Hell, no. The male/female dynamic is forever compelling and mysterious in all the best ways – when it is recognized for its true nature – not as a way to sell a magazine.

I knew all this before I opened last November’s Cosmo. So, why was I so disappointed? I guess I thought that we had progressed beyond “What he really means when he says I love you” and “Seven ways to tell if your man is cheating.” I had thought that we were collectively engaged in a balanced dialogue about how to make ourselves and each other happy, I had thought we were trying to protect and nourish our young women. Yes, we still need to know how to apply mascara. We do not need to be told that a man’s love depends on whether or not you apply it correctly.

Yes, maybe Cosmopolitan was always this kind of magazine. I was once that kind of girl. So, what’s different? I am no longer a Cosmopolitan girl. I am a Cosmic Woman. And that is the sexy truth.

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2011 in review

January 1, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 47 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Color Runs Through Him ( for Kent S. on his birthday )

December 21, 2011


He sits
in a milk-tea skin,
spider-fingers pulling
words from his darkest eye.

A blink of black and white
A long, sharp shape
of a man,
he straightens his spine
and fools us all.

Color runs through him.
He calculates the curve of scarlet,
sets his compass due indigo
holds grey in his palm,
spider-fingers untangling
unnamed colors.

Once,
He breathed on green,
made it purr
like a girl,
sugared.

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Scribble: Lunar

December 11, 2011

I stood on a roof
nose pressed through clouds
to see the lunar eclipse.

“I don’t get it,” I said.
“Isn’t there more?”
The moon a limp bride
in a dishwater veil.

I had wanted a monster.

Later, on the street,
the moon, she caught me.
She pressed me tight
to the neighbor’s wall
and whispered:

“Hide the drunken light of your eyes behind me.
Glow halo-like behind the softer shadow.”

I lifted my veil.

Later, I stood on tiles
nose pressed to the bathroom mirror
to see my lunar eclipse.

I had wanted a monster.

I saw swirls of steam
softening glass
and a smoky lip print
behind which I hid
and glowed,
halo-like.