Monday, January 11, 2016

Today a Thin White Giant Fell from Earth

My brain hurts like a warehouse, it has no room to spare.

I have David Bowie to thank for the very first time I waxed philosophical on the penis. At 10 I remember his shimmering codpiece as if it took up 2/3s of the screen. And maybe it did. It's been years since I watched Labyrinth. But this morning I woke up hungry for his peach and nothing else will do. I especially want the worm inside. His was the first force to awaken the dreaming worm of weirdness beneath all my sweet curvatures and juice. The first to offer graffiti'd hints that my pit might be something much more tricky.

My sophomore year of college youtube was still a novelty. Once I found him seducing Mick Jagger into shaking his ass and pressing fiery foreheads together, I watched the "Dancing in the Street" video at least 300 times that winter. I forced all of my friends to watch it too. It kept us warm. It doesn't matter that in the 90's they both took their passions back in respective interviews. Evidence for their overwritten queerness still exists. I still love him. I already miss him through my lack of forgiveness. I would still go down on his ego. Gladly.

The first time I heard "Space Oddity" I almost cried and then the key change saved me from folding in like my mother was prone to. Confident jerking guitar pulls brought oxygen back to the chest cavity his solemn space opera had thrust into vacuum. After that I never again remembered how to breathe normally. My lungs knew from then on, the dazzling strangeness of his universe.

 This morning I full-on sobbed before his hope came in to save me. (My mother would be proud). 
"Tell my wife I love her very much."
"It's time to leave the capsule if you dare."
He dared and dared and dared. Without him I'd never have understood how to accomplish the necessary risk of leaving my capsule.

He, mystical glittery beast, unweaving himself each musical season, and saying "Yes" to every possible version of himself – He, sex on two milky-thin matchsticks, shattered the panicky distance between us and alien. He put a shine on the things my adolescence feared touching: Sex, Loss, & Otherness. In many ways I see his career as a 50-year long public adolescence. Now that he's gone the way only his space ship knows to go; now that his bright flare of earthly puberty has ended, and the rest of humanity remains, I fear we'll find ourselves far too grown up. So let's remember his hair throwing (caution to the wind) and tenor-into-baritone trajectory as we recall our very first tweenage desires, with ache and a sharp-but-tender recklessness.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Gender as Negative Space: A Quick Response to Kat Blaque asking "What Defines Gender?"

To me, as a nonbinary trans masculine poet, I think about the rightness or definition of my gender in a similar way to how I think about a poem that resonates deep down into my soul. Sure, I can point to concrete details big, small, and structural as to why that poem works for me, but that will never be the whole story of why it's so meaningful, why it feels perfect. It's a kind of magic. Which I know sounds hokey, but whatever.

I know that I like slick images, em dashes, and enjambment, but that doesn't mean a poem with all these components will work for me. I know I like getting sweaty, wearing a binder, painting my nails, fixing my bike, and being called "sir," but all of those things don't necessarily add up to my gender.
My gender, just like the meaning in poems, is too big/complicated to be defined just by the currently available language of words and physical/visual concepts (like fashion). Yes, gender is in these words and symbols, but gender is also in the negative space, the implied universe beyond definition. Gender exists in ways we don't have language or symbols for yet. But like a poem we don't wholly understand, yet moves us deeply, gender affects our lives. 

from Kim Addonizio's poetry manual Ordinary Genius
I choose to believe this. It's a belief that keeps me alive and in my body. I hold on to it. Without this faith, I wouldn't have the courage to call myself a trans person or a poet. I know because I spent a long, dark, disconnected time not calling myself either because I didn't believe in the power of the unsayable. I wasn't closeted or hiding (yet). I was closed off to the possibility of being something currently undefined. Now I'm open.

And now that I'm out in this open/negative space, it's a bit scary and kind of lonely. People in a hurry sometime get angry that the words on the page are confusing and tend not to consider the negative space (aka the rest of my identity). Sometimes it hurts to be overlooked but honestly, I'm much happier this way. I don't feel so small. And, though it's sometimes lonely, I don't think I'm alone. Out here in the negative space is, I think, where we can all be our most complex and human.

So, friend, come with me into the ample life-giving void. Let's boldly go where no words have gone before.

<3 Wryly

PS Watch all of Kat Blaque's videos because they are SO amazing.