Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Feeling Kind Of Sexy...


One Night Stand - A Love Poem

He fell down the stairs in my apartment tonight,
because the lights were off and all he could see
was his own reflection in the mirror across
from the stairs. I thought it was the way to the
bathroom, he says, hopping his way
back into my room. 

You would know where the bathroom is.
You would have things in my bathroom.
A toothbrush, the pages of my magazines
folded where you think the girls are hot.
A special mirror to see things closely with.
You would have your own shelf filled with
the floss you forget to use.

His pain is not turning me on. His pain makes it difficult to enjoy
any of this. And now he’s next to me in this bed
where you used to sleep, where you used to put your
hand on my belly and tell me you wanted to plant things in there.

He’s naked under my covers with
an aching knee. Painful, I’m sure, but he just won’t shut up
about it. I start touching him so he will, below the waist where
it counts, and he gets quiet. But it doesn’t feel right
in my hand. And when I kiss behind his ear, he doesn’t
seem to like it the way you do, keeps trying to pull me towards
his mouth. And all the time I want to taste the crystal salts
of your skin again, like being pulled under a wave and my feet
not touching anything, to know that you keep
a space for me in your life, maybe even the size of the
crescent moon of a clipped finger nail, or perhaps a whole
finger, or one of your hands, just in case things are
different one day, just in case people do change and you
think of planting things again.

But this guy. This guy whose name keeps
slipping my mind, like a bar of leftover soap,
all tangled up with hair, and his aching knee,
his horribly aching knee, it all feels a little, a little unlike
you. You’ve never broken a bone. Never twisted any
part of yourself.

And I think for a second what the point
of all this is. If only to feel loved
for just one night? If only to write even one poem?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Look At These...

When Long Beards Meant Patience - An Experiment In Words

Sun. Stronger than Los Angeles. Hot and wet in Cordoba. Still the gypsies. They wear thick layers. No matter how rosy their babies cheeks get. They ask for dollars. We give coins. No. Dollars. They say. They are greedy. We learn to give nothing. To ignore. Their voices. We live here now. We learn like locals. To not find sorrow in such pleas. Tea houses are of the past. Kept on cobblestone streets. When the Muslims. The Jews. The Christians. Lived here in peace. 500, 000 inhabitants in the latter half of the tenth century. Then most populated city in Europe. Perhaps the world. Time when learning from each other took place. Before bus bombs. Midnight raids. Before long beards were something to be afraid of. When they meant wisdom. Being a patient man. Over past few years over 3,000 immigrants have died en route to Spain. More security systems. They take more dangerous routes now. 
Water pipes. Hookah. Shishah. Nargeela. Pots of tea. Refilled by our Morrocan friend. Asden. Suenos de Andalucia. Like a dream. The tea relaxes us. Makes the tiles on the walls more blue. Seem closer to our faces. Makes everything seem like a dream. I ask him in nervous Spanish. Where I can find hashish. He smiles with small teeth. Says here. Asian girl from San Diego. In my program. Tells us little kids pull eyes with their fingers when they pass her on the streets. They say. Chino. Chino. Her family is from Thailand.
The mullet is back. Even handsome men. With mullets turn ugly. Cold beer. Olives in a bowl. Afternoon snack. Half of non EU immigrants in Andalucia from Morocco. The Moroccans sell scarves in the plaza. One looks like my dad. Has same round belly. Jolly smile. He tells me he’ll give me a discount. Only if I buy two. I buy three. Mostly for the discount. Simpsons in Spanish. Same stories. Voices higher pitched though. Throws everything off a little. We watch this every day over lunch. Maria is too young to be my mother. But here she is. Making me ham and cheese sandwiches. Frying everything. Re-using grease. As if something precious. There are no vegetables in this house. Today instead of Simpsons. A family stands on a roof. A neighborhood sinking in New Orleans. 
            Asden invites us over to his house. Further than where we usually go. No cab will take us. We take the bus. He wears a crisp dress shirt. A table covered. Feta cheese. Warm pita bread. Chorizo. Hummus. Dates. A bowl of grapes. He’s taken his time with this. I eat the feta with fingers. Think of my mom. Her loss of appetite. How many more months of chemo. Windows open for more air. Asden rolls hashish joints. Four of them. Passes them around our circle of five. Almost one for each of us. As soon as one leaves my hand. Another arrives. Feels like we are sitting for too long. Everyone feels like their own planet. Made of different things. Far away from me. My planet. Through the windows a loud flapping noise. Three of them. Too loud to be birds. We duck. Run into the other room. Watch Asden hit blurred black with pillows. He looks like a warrior. They fly back out. He closes the window. Bats he says. Just bats.
More things fried. Still the family stands on the roof. Someone videotaping this. Someone watching this close enough to help. Someone can show us this. Someone can get  higher ratings because of this. But without touching this family’s planet. Someone can put their hands out and reach. But doesn’t. Everything is covered in water. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Once, Once

Once, she said this hot sun
hit her head so hard, fired up
all the molecules inside of her,
all it did was make her think love.

Once, she wrote a poem about
this folded neatly
in an envelope she sealed
with her saliva for him, all
the time wishing it was a kiss.

Once, there was a kiss,
but also there was nothing.

Once, before everything was,
the sun conversed with the still
black moon, wondering what lonely
means, if life could exist
under such a pitch black night.

The sun said, I will pour
everything into you, so when I leave
this place you will not forget what
light feels like, you will not forget
my hot lava love.

And so there was a marriage,
With candles everywhere, stars really,
no minister or witness to clap or to cry,
the sun’s bright arms stretching, wrapping
itself around the dark moon, and
only the Earth, watching, waiting
for a kiss between the two.

Once, not too long after,
the moon feel in love with
the pull of the ocean.

Once, he got an envelope, opened wet
edges, read words, ate them up
like expensive oranges.

Once, love grew forth from a mouth
like a tree with too many leaves,
covered all things like a warm mother’s hand.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fly, Howl, Love : A Tribute To The Life Of Forugh Farrokhzad *

Our house was at the end of an alley,
at the end of all things it seemed
when we were little girls living
among the shadows of
the walls,
the trees bearing figs, sour

And Forugh, always with her notebook,
filling those pages with what?
It seemed so big in her small hands then,
that notebook,
as if she herself could fit inside those pages.

She would climb trees,
hop on walls,
howl like a wolf,
fight with boys she would rather have
been loving.

She put her arms out one moonless night,
pretended to be an airplane, to be the entire sky,
and I watched from the dull pond, home
to the red goldfish and brown frogs,
because my eyes were stuck on her.
Everyone’s eyes were stuck on her.

At sixteen,
when she married, moved to a city named
after a song,
she found something like freedom
in plucked eyebrows,
eyes lined thick with black,
in painted lips red,
and short, short skirts.

But more than that
it was perhaps her disheveled hair,
those ink stained hands
as blue as oceans on a map,
taking over the entire earth it would seem with
such small hands.
Holding a paper that had been folded and
squeezed between her fingers
for days, years, her entire life
as she walked into that editor’s office.

They would call her a poetess,
because poet would mean
being a woman didn’t matter.
And it always matters.

And even in such freedom,
she lost him.
An unfit mother they proclaimed,
a whore making love to all the world
with her words.

I have sinned a rapturous sin
in a warm enflamed embrace.
Sinned in a pair of vindictive hands,
arms violent and ablaze.

When someone wants to reach the heart
of this Earth,
it becomes impossible
to not always do just this.

I want to hang my heart like
A ripe fruit
On every branch of every tree.

Even in the beginning, even on
that fig tree at the end of the alley,
at the end of all things,
she hung it there too.
It still sways in the damp air
as if no one is watching.

There is no box large enough to hold
the way a woman
sees a naked body,
to hold such small hands,
her hands, with those large blue inked oceans
like true, replenished skin.

I will not speak of death,
of cold lips,
and the movement of machines,
of skin and bone touching concrete loud enough for
all to hear.
But I will say that always, always at the center of it,
even by that dull pond as I watched her write,
fly, howl, it was always love.

Yes, so love begins,
and though the road’s end is out of sight
I do not think of the end
for it is the loving I so love.           

She was buried under the snow.

Perhaps the truth was those two young hands
those young hands
buried beneath the snow-
and in the coming year when spring mates with sky behind the window,
fountains of green saplings, will erupt-
saplings that bloom, beloved, my truest friend.

*Based on a “A Brief Biography” in Sin-Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad      
  translated by Sholeh Wolpe

The Winter Boyfriend

Yes, fall is here. The moon is out sooner, we all have mashed potatoes on our minds, and apparently everyone is trying to find a lover before Christmas rolls around. Just yesterday you were half naked on the beach reveling in the sun and your single-hood, planning out your summer rendezvous over a pitcher of beer. Now with Halloween behind you, with the inevitable realization that it soon will be cold and rainy, that you'd rather be wrapped up in a blanket with someone else to keep you warm, that holidays mean family, which means questions, lots of questions, and expectations, lots of them, are we all just rushing to find that special someone...even if he's not so special?

A few years back, visiting some friends in New York just prior to the winter season, we came up with the term "winter boyfriend". Someone, in essence, who would make it easy for you to never have to leave your house, showing up with hot soup and warm cocoa even a blanket to wrap around you on those cold winter nights. Someone to take home to your family, just so your mom can stop asking you if you're a lesbian.  I'm not saying the "winter boyfriend" is essential, or even necessary, considering you can watch Netflix on your computer, and my roommate makes a kick ass lentil soup. Things are looking good, but could he, perhaps make things better? I don't know, I would tell you if I did, but I've never had one of my own.

Maybe that's why couples have been popping up left and right, or maybe you just weren't noticing before. I doubt it, you would notice these things.  There's something about this time of year that makes us all just want to be loved, and maybe that's OK, normal by some standards. So I'm going to say it, a lot of people love you, they really do. I'm one of them. So enjoy the love you are privileged enough to have, be grateful for that because your winter boyfriend, well, he may be busy until spring.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Things To Be Seen...

Just Bodies, Only Light

Every morning I expect San Francisco rain,
but umbrellas aren’t what they used to be.
The sun comes instead, lights up the hills,
the houses – the pinks, the blues, the yellows.
And I begin to think everything
I’ve ever heard is a lie.
That truth like this sharp light peering
through my kitchen window,
will never last,
was never here at all.

Even love,
because it felt me in that bed,
with curtains pulled,
sheets awry,
it twisted that womanness into me,
with an arm outstretched waiting for
my head to rest.

But that was just you,
I see now a boy trying
to be a man,
with tattooed stories I will
never know,
just another body in a bed.

You zipped up,
made promises to me
with cold metal in between
your fingers, as I
wondered if I could keep love
in only a room.

And in that darkness,
but outside
the sun being Sunday and all,
I agreed,
convinced myself too
soon, that your body
was not just a body,
that this light
had been here
all along.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Writing...

A Note From The Universe

Now let me get this straight, friend: 
You want things that you don't yet have, 
people in your life who you don't yet know, 
and events to take place that haven't yet 
occurred, so that once these "things" 
come to pass you'll feel happy, confident, 
and fulfilled; accomplished, desired, and 
appreciated; treasured, adored, and 
like one bad mamma jama, a beautiful sight to see?

But... wasn't that your rationale for 

all the other stuff you wanted, t
hat you now have?

 The Universe

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chana Masala, Een Cheekee Dana, Indian Pizza?

Colorful Bollywood movies, spiced chai tea, Frida Pinto, the Indians must know something we don't. Some ancient om-shanti secret where things just fall in to place, where the flavors are just right. Recently, moving to the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, I passed the corner of Cortland Ave. and Mission St. and was immediately overtaken by the smell of garlic, cumin, curry, and ooozing, cheesy, goodness. Even though it was ten am, I wanted to go inside and eat that smell.

Zante's Pizza, is an Indian restaurant, but it's also a unique home for pizza- Indian Pizza. The wait staff is courteous, re-filling your water glass every two minutes like every other Indian restaurant, but Zante's is a different experience all together. Options include vegetarian Indian pizza, with a sweet and spicy curry sauce, cauliflower, ginger, spinach, eggplant, green onions, and cilantro, all mixed with a delicious white, Indian cheese. Or an alternative for meat lovers which adds lamb, tandoori chicken, and prawns. Vegan options and a create your own pizza option are available. So the next time you're deciding between lamb curry and a slice of mushroom, just go to Zante's and have a little taste of both worlds. Namaste.

Zante's Pizza is located at 3489 Mission St. in San Francisco (415) 821-3949

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A San Francisco Sunday (Hungover)

The sun hit San Francisco just right today. And despite my hangover and inevitable realization that I'm getting older and can't handle having seven beverages in one night, downing beers after vodka tonics, after vodka tonics, after more vodka tonics, I was able to revel in the joy of a San Francisco Sunday. A few weeks ago at Dolores Park my friends and I listened to a man sitting under a tree playing his guitar, singing, fondling a harmonica. We sang along to his songs, closed our eyes for a moment, and let his music take us away, cheering him on as he rolled a joint. He told us that he came to this spot often just to play and sing for whoever was willing to listen. I headed to Dolores Park today, hoping to find this same man under the same tree playing his guitar,  hoping to ease my hangover with the sweet sound of his music. And among the half naked bodies, the dogs running around with sticks in their mouths, people guzzling champagne out of bottles, the jugglers, bums, and little children, the grass a field of happy bodies, I found him under the same tree. He sang some Gillian Welch, Elliot Smith, a few Beatles songs, I clapped for him so he knew I was listening, that someone was willing to listen. He uncorked a bottle of red wine, poured himself a glass, lifted it to the sky, praising the city, the sun, the people around him it seemed. And then I closed my eyes, let the sun soak up my aching body, swore to myself I'd never drink again.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Things I Like To Look At.


I don't know how to quite put this. But I think I've fallen in love with cheese. I think about it add odd times of the day, during yoga, watching a movie, especially the melted kind I can pick at with my fingers. It's overpowering sometimes, my love for cheese. I try to say "skip the cheese" when the waiter takes my order, but those words hurt, I want to say instead, "extra cheese, more cheese, cover it with cheese." Is it possible to be in love with cheese? Cheese is there when I need it, waiting in the fridge for me, cheese doesn't tell me it likes me and then never calls, sticks its tongue down my throat as if it means it and then pretends nothing ever happened. Oh, cheese. Thank you for being you. Thank you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Origin Of The Veil

The 1979 Islamic Revolution transformed the country of Iran from a constitutional monarchy under the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to an Islamic Republic under the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Most people believe that under the notion of a perfect model of splendid, humane, and divine life for all the people of the world, Khomeini introduced the Sharia, or Islamic law, literally meaning -the path to the water source; forcing women to cover most of their body, but mainly, the evil, seductive forces that lay within the strands of their hair, all of it, under the thick fabric of a chador.
The truth, however, is another story. The Ayatollah Khomeini, being a stingy man, who didn’t believe in giving into the material pleasures of worldly objects and experiences, was sick of paying for his wife’s monthly hair removal bill. For, like most Iranian women, Khadije Saghafi was hairy, and her husband believed that if she was covered at all times of the day (and sometimes at night, even in their bed) she wouldn’t care if her husband, or anyone else saw her hairy legs or her hairy arms, or the hair that extended from the side of her face down to her chin. With the new implementation of the veil, his wife’s body and most of her head covered, he would only have to worry about paying for her eyebrows and maybe the hair on her upper lip at most, to be removed by Haleh Khanoom who owned the salon down the street. And thus, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women, to cover themselves. Thus, they will be recognized and avoid being molested. God is the Forgiver, Merciful,” from the Koran, turned into seventy four lashes on your bare back for being a slut and not covering all of your hair and body, well except your hands and feet.  Let us not forget that Khomeini had the best interest of all his fellow comrades’ in mind when making this law.
             It is rumored though that Khadije, frustrated with the summer heat and the layers of thick fabric she was forced to wear by her husband and his regime, being an educated woman, and having read the Koran in its entirety at least two hundred times, and finding no text stating that a woman’s entire body and hair should be covered, was so angered by her husband’s new laws, and his underlying frugality when it came to her hair removal needs (for it wasn’t for him or for any other man that she did it, it was more for herself, to feel beautiful and clean and to respect and care for her body-which she saw as her own private temple, or mosque in this case) decided to walk naked through the crowded streets of Tehran.  It was a boiling summer afternoon, too hot even for tea, and she walked with the most beautiful arched eyebrows, the smoothest arms, legs and upper lip anyone had ever seen, and a well managed, thin strip of hair below, thanks to the always reliable Haleh Khanoom and the thin, white string she had used to turn Khadije’s young body into silk.
The religious clerics, and Khomeini himself thought she was a ghost, a smooth-skinned phantom sent by Allah himself, a sign that Yawm al-Qiyaamah or the Day of Resurrection was upon them. Tears formed in their eyes as they got on their knees and bowed to her, mumbling Allah O Akhbar under their breaths, suddenly feeling the heaviness of their sins, and praying for forgiveness. But the women- well, the women knew better than that. And as their husbands meditated on their useless, wasted lives, and watched the phantom move through the city, stopping even the loud shouting of men in the bazaars, the cracking of sunflower seeds between their teeth, the persistence of car upon car on the freeways, as even the birds came down from above to watch, the women lined up outside of Haleh Khanoom’s salon, and waited their turn.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Things I Like To Look At.

Heaven And Hell

From a book I'm reading, Comfortable With Uncertainty by American Buddhist nun Pema Chodron...

     "A big, burly Samurai comes to a Zen master and says, 'Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.' The Zen master looks him in the face and says, 'Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?'
      Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master's head.
      The Zen master says, 'That's hell.'
      Instantly, the samurai understands that he has just created his own hell-black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.
      The Zen master says, 'That's heaven.'
      The view of the warrior-bodhisattva is not 'Hell is bad and heaven is good' or 'Get rid of hell and just seek heaven.' Instead, we encourage ourselves to develop an open heart and an open mind to heaven, to hell, to everything. Only with this kind of equanimity can we realize that no matter what comes along, we're always standing in the middle of a sacred space. Only with equanimity can we see that everything that comes into our circle has come to teach us what we need to know."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

So Love Begins

Yes, so love begins,
and though the road's end is out of sight
I do not think of the end
for it is the loving I so love.
-Forugh Farrokhzad

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

No Sex And The City

Carrie Bradshaw has nothing on me, well except the Jimmy Choo's on her feet and Mr. Big on one arm. I'm not saying those ladies were sluts, because I think there's nothing wrong with sleeping around...if that's what you're looking for. But let's say, you're living in a city, you drink those cosmos but can't afford the fancy meal, so you eat burritos instead, and you have your Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda who support your every move, but what if you're not just trying to land in someone's bed? It's easy to say yes. It means not having to be patient, not having to wait to see if anything worthwhile can come out of this. How do you land into someone's life, and not just their bed? Or rather, let someone land in yours?

The answer is simple, I have no clue. Let's be honest, if I did, I probably wouldn't be writing this. I really, really don't know. I'm not sure anyone does for that matter ( it took Carrie six seasons and a blockbuster movie to figure it out). But after almost five years of being single, I think I finally can make certain statements with confidence. I'm no expert on relationships, or sex, or love by any means, but I definitely have an immense amount of experience on screwing things up, disappointment, and the inevitable realization that if you're looking for true love, you must truly love yourself first. Here are a few pointers to help you on your path to finding your Mr.Big. And please be advised that these are merely pointers...nothing I say, or any one says for that matter can change the truth, that when the time is right he will come.

1. Is it ever OK to make the first move?: I say, yes. I'm not saying to buy him a drink, or put your hand down his pants in the middle of the bar. But if you have someone's attention from across a crowded room, and he has yours, don't look away. Stare long and hard, maybe that will give him the courage to come talk to you. And if that doesn't work, then don't be afraid to approach him. You're an attractive, intelligent woman, surrounded by your equally attractive and intelligent friends, and this will frighten some men. Oh, how easy would it be if life were actually like could send him a friend request, or poke him, or go through his interests and see if you have anything in common, if his status says "single". But, actual life is so much more exciting than that. Smoothly make your way over, come up with something clever to say, and see where it goes. What have you got to lose, really?

2. Numbers have been exchanged, there's a spark, what do you next?: Leave the premises immediately. No more drinks for you. If you stay long enough, have a few more drinks, his eyes will start becoming sweeter, his jawline more chiseled. You will start to feel even more tingly down below, making it a lot more tempting to shove your tongue down his throat. So let's leave it on a good note, and see if he's interested enough to call.

3. It's been a week and he hasn't he just not interested? Maybe he didn't store my number correctly? Maybe his phone fell down the toilet and he's been coming back to that same bar every night waiting for me to appear? : OK, stop. Breathe. Let's focus on reality. He hasn't called, he hasn't texted. Most likely, he just wanted to get laid, he has a girlfriend, or he's too insecure. Do you really want to be with someone like that? Men are single focused creatures, they can only focus on one thing at a time, and if he's not focusing on you, I think it's best to just move on. However, I always say that if you felt a crazy spark, and the curiosity will not let you go...give him a call or send a text. If you get nothing, definitely let it go. You will thank me later.

4. So he called. We hung out. He's really cute and sweet, but there's something missing. Do I give him another chance? Should I go out with him again?  If you're bored and having nothing better to do, and are keen on torturing yourself, maybe. But the key here is to never settle. I'm not saying have a checklist of qualities, but have a vision of what you are looking for. Don't just go out with someone to avoid being by yourself. If you're not having fun or enjoying yourself with someone, a few more dates won't change much.

5. He called. We've been hanging out, and I really like him! Congratulations, but no one cares. Just kidding. Take it slow, enjoy yourself, learn how to compromise, but don't compromise your beautiful self for anyone.

So moral of the story, after many years of not finding anyone who really does it for me, anyone I'd actually want to spend an extended period of time just can't give up. Yes, sometimes it sucks, and yes, other times it doesn't. But we must enjoy our freedom, this time to explore ourselves, to understand what kind of person we want to be, and what kind of relationship we want to have. And the truth is, we can never predict when it will happen for us, but with a little bit of patience, and a lot of grace, we can just know that it will. And maybe, that's enough.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cool Things You Probably Have No Idea About But Should Be Doing in SF

Good Morning Sunshine! So, there are some things I know. Other things, I know I don't know. And then there are the cool things happening in San Francisco that I manage to find out about. October seems to be festival season, the most beautiful month of the year people tell me, so I'm planning to take full advantage of that. I've gathered all my sources, even the top secret ones, and have compiled this special list for your pretty eyes.

October 2- 4: Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Yes, MC Hammer will be there. But so will Gillian Welch, Neko Case, and Amadou and Mariam, and the sun, yes it will be sunny, so no excuses.

Through Oct. 24: I Heart Hamas
A one woman show featuring Palestinian-American Jennifer Jajeh and her surprisingly funny encounters in Ramallah and here at home.

Oct. 17-18: Treasure Island Music Festival
With a very smart line up this year featuring MGMT, Girl Talk, Passion Pit, Beirut, The Flaming Lips among many others. Dance the day away on this magical island!

Oct.30: Spookfest 2009
With artists like Basement Jaxx, Diplo, and the Crystal Method playing in rooms called The Death Dome and The Deadly Disco Dungeon, you really can't go wrong. Be prepared to get sweaty.

Nov.10: Saul Williams
I know I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, but...
"I am in the process of creating a masterpiece. I am not referring to any album, book, film or creative endeavor, rather, I am referring to the process of self-realization that aligns one with their highest and innermost ideals and values and renders them fully alive. It is a process of overcoming the obstacles imposed upon self, by self, perhaps society, and a fearful mind that refuses to accept the upward spiral of being. " -Saul Williams
Saul Williams is a performance poet whose lyrics will bury themselves in your soul, and leave you no choice but to want to be a better human being.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

You Al Capone, I’m Nina Simone

If I had my way I would’ve been a killer.
But the only thing I had was music.
Well, the sea first.
It was always the sea first,
music, second.
You can quote me on that.

Mama called it the devil’s music,
because she knew
God so well.
I liked the sound
of that,
but still when I was a young girl,
played for the first time,
they made her move
to the back of that music hall.
White gloves covered her black, black
hands and she held onto the tiniest purse I’d ever seen.
My hand hovered over those keys, stopped the sound
until they let her back to the front.
What can you fit in a purse so tiny?

I married a white man once,
he was a creep.
You can quote me on that.
He never said it,
none of them ever do,
but he wanted me to change.
And I don’t do that,
it’s just not my thing.

But I tell you what is my thing –
That’s all I want now.
Not to change the world,
because I can’t.
The rich are getting
richer, the poor poorer
and me, 
well I’m just getting old.
And I’ve realized it just ain’t my job to change this world, Baby.
You can quote me on that.

All I want now, are the raspberries
that grow in my garden.
This tree bearing fruit for winter.

Not even love,
it’s too much lava, and I’ve been
burning up for many years now.

I don’t want to change the world, not
I just want my raspberries,
and a man
who is rich, and who can give me
a boat- a sailboat.
I want to own it,
let him pay for it.
You can quote me on that.

First, was the sea and then came my music.
Not this dirty black jazz the white people hear,
but this black classical thing, the Duke and I play.

I don’t know how Mama did it,
with a purse so small.
I always wanted the things
my hands hold
to be bigger.
Big enough to fight
the voice that told me once –
Because you’re black.

And now, all I want are
And sailboats.
And the sea, it was always the sea first.
You can quote me on that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A LA Girl Learns About Public Transportation

It's true. I hate to say it. I almost don't even want to say it. But I have to. I miss my car. I miss seeing my reflection in it's shiny black surface. I miss walking outside of my house and knowing that it's right there, just waiting for me. In Los Angeles, it seems, your car becomes something more than a means of transportation, it becomes your best friend - dependable, comforting, willing take you far away from whatever it is you are trying to get away from. I grew up in cars, changing radio stations, helping my mom talk her way out of speeding tickets. I never rode a bus really; except for the bright yellow school bus with hot leather seats where the cool eighth grade kids got to sit in back. I sat on my Dad's lap when I was eleven, steering his car around in the high school parking lot. Growing up in the suburbs, a car meant freedom, a way to get to the city without the embarrassment of having your parents drop you off, sometimes even walking you to the door of the party you were attending. Somehow I never let go of this association. Recently having moved to San Francisco, to what at times seems like an entirely different universe, I learned about the convenience, disturbance, and inevitable heartbreak of the public transportation system. Running after the 24 bus a few days ago, I had time to really think about this. Here are a few do's and don'ts of riding public transportation  that may be helpful to you.

DON'T talk to the drunks with pocket knives however nice or attractive they may be. There's a difference between a ruggedly sexy man who's had a few too many, and seems to be covered in dirt because he just returned from a camping trip, and the alcoholic who many many years ago was handsome but now walks around with a pocket knife attached to his belt, a forty in his hand, asks you how your day is going and then tries to hold your hand. Know the difference. And if for some reason you confuse the two, immediately get off at the next stop.

DO always carry an iPod, book, or magazine. You never know when that J train is going to be forty five minutes late, and looking busy or entertained is a great way to keep the crazies from talking to you.

DON'T stare at the couple smoking crack on the bus. He will turn around and cast a Satanic curse upon you. And if for some reason you fail at this, immediately get off at the next stop.

DO always give your seat up to the elderly. However, if someone is missing all their teeth do not automatically assume they are elderly.

DON'T accept gifts from strangers. I know the bracelet looks cute, but seriously, you have no idea where it's been. And the goo covering the box doesn't look too promising.

DO know alternate routes. You're a city girl now, which means you need to be self-sufficient. Being stranded isn't fun, and knowing alternate ways of getting where you want to go, oh let's say if the J train is forty five minutes late, is quite important.

Keep reading for more on this SF adventure...

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Sweet Days Of Shirin

is as sweet as her name,
recites Rumi and Hafez.
Writes poetry
in the silence of a room no one can enter.
The ink spills from her fingers,
big black drops 
that help her to breathe.

They have closed her University this month.
The men with the guns
and dark eyes,
who fight for a God
they secretly fear,
but say still they love more 
than anything.

During the day she covers her hair,
her shoulders,
her long legs,
her sins
beneath a chador.

On the streets of Tehran
she is just a face
in a sea of faces.

She walks by the gate of her University today,
peers through the window of her old classroom.
Her teacher sits inside
on a small yellow chair,
shedding tears for the beautiful voices 
she is beginning to forget.
Shirin feels the end of a long gun dig inside her back.
Move along
there is nothing to see here.
This time they are right.
There is nothing.

She makes a quick stop at the corner.
Meets with Mahtab,
who places a small bag in her hand.
This goes unnoticed
within the bustling noise of the bizarre,
the cracking of pistachios,
the loud voices of tired men-
tired even of their own oppression.

Later that night she arrives at her cousin’s house.
His parents in the country side for the weekend.
Within the doors she hears silence.
She follows the long hallway,
down the stairs,
through the basement doors.

She hears music 
alive like a beating heart,
her chador comes off,
she breathes again.
Someone places a glass of whiskey in her hands.
She is kissed by all,
even men with dark eyes.
Instead of guns,
they hold her hand as they enter another world.
She carries two white pills to the tip of her tongue,
as she recites a prayer silently.
This is a different kind of poetry.
She empties the rest of the freedom pills in a tray, 
glasses usually filled with tea,
now tipped over with dark fluids that burns when it goes down.
She passes the tray around,
the way her mother taught her to-
elders first.

She makes sure to skip no one.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When Did Tea Become So Smart?

I drink tea. A lot of tea. I prefer it over coffee, and when your parents drink it seventeen times a day, you seem to have no choice. So what happens when an avid tea drinker discovers a new breed of tea? Intelligent, zen-filled, therapeutic tea? Well, she stops wasting hundreds of dollars a session on therapy, and starts ripping those tea bags open every day - hoping, praying that the little paper on the end of the tea bag will know just what to tell her.  Because it was, in fact, just written for me. Here's just a taste of what my Yogi Tea has been saying...

Realize that the other person is you.

When we practice listening, we become intuitive.

Let love elevate yourself to excellence.

Your greatness is not what you have, it's what you give.

Your destiny is to merge with infinity.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Pillow

I hug my pillow at night 
as if it is a body 
My pillow doesn’t 
toss and turn at night 
or roll over and push me off the bed
I do not wake to its morning breath
or an emptiness next to me 
before the sun has even risen.
My pillow is soft 
and a late sleeper
and fits no matter how I turn myself.


Without my glasses,
I cannot see
the naked way he looks.
The way his mouth moves when he speaks.
The scar on his right shoulder
he does
not look at because his brother
died in that accident-
an upside down tree,
with roots in the sky,
branches spreading along his arm.

Without my glasses,
the world is
mumbled secrets, 
forcing me to reach my hands out.

Forcing me to touch the curves
and corners of created things.
To mistake his hands for mine,
to find sad things beautiful,
touching these scars that still bleed,
as I feel my way

Thursday, September 3, 2009


At the bar last night, the man with the unbrushed blonde hair left a set of stairs at the door.
"Nice stairs," the bartender told him as she grabbed his beer.
"Where do the stairs lead to?" my friend asked.
"A wall," he said.
"What color are they?" she asked. He drank his beer and continued to ignore her.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tequila and Love

I’ve been thinking lately about sex
and why I seem to have so little of it.

It feels almost
like a waste
of a body.

And then I think about
and why I seem to have so little of that too.

And my yoga teacher’s
shiny head as he walks around the room,
approaches me
smelling of lavender
and lemon grass -
like a foreign country.

He presses down on my shoulders
as my body twists upon itself.
Your body is open -
he tells me -
You are willing to change.

I’m happy that he notices.
It feels good that someone notices
these things.

I’ve been thinking about stuff like that,
sometimes even when
a boy I meet at a bar asks me to dinner,
shows me his tattoos
explains what each one means
as if taking me on a personalized tour of his life -
tells me he can hear the ocean from his room when he sleeps,
tells me he’s a good cook.

And me,
I’m one of those eager tourists,
the one with headphones on at the museum-
the one carrying a map,
spending her money on cheap souvenirs.

I’ve been thinking about stuff like this,
sometimes even while
I drink his tequila
so he doesn’t feel alone
and he grabs my hand,
his palms wet -
like he’s been looking for it all night long.

And in the dim light
with the loud bass surrounding us,
the homeless man asks us for a cigarette,
lights it up and stands next to us -
too close perhaps -
so black he is glowing.

And inside of this buzz
I begin to confuse the burn of tequila,
with the warmth of love.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Where Shall I Put All These Gifts?

I went to an amazing class yesterday - The Lyric Documentary. And even though I'm bitter number three on the waiting list I thought I'd share an excerpt from a handout that was given to us.

From "Walker Evans And The Picture Postcard" an excerpt from Vladimir Nabokov's The Gift:

"The sun playing on various objects along the [right] side of the street - like a Magpie picking out the tiny things that glittered. And at the end of it, where it was crossed by the wide ravine of the railroad, a cloud of locomotive steam suddenly appeared from the right of the bridge; disintegrated against its iron ribs; then immediately loomed white again on the other side; and wavily streamed away, through the gaps in the trees. Crossing the bridge after this, Fyodor, as usual, was gladdened by the wonderful poetry of the railroad banks; by their free and diversified nature; a growth of locusts and swallows; wild grass; bees; butterflies - all this lived in isolation and unconcern, in the harsh vicinity of coal dust glistening below, between the five streams of rails, and in the blissful estrangement from the city coulisses above; from the peeled walls of old houses toasting their tatooed banks in the morning sunshine.

Where shall I put all the gifts with which the summer morning rewards me, and only me? Save them up for future books? Use them immediately for a practical handbook called "How to be Happy?" Or, getting deeper, to the bottom of things, understand what is concealed behind all this: behind the play, the sparkle the thick green greasepaint of the foliage?

For there really is something - there is something! And one wants to offer thanks, but there is no one to thank."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

First Day of School

First day of graduate school means I have to start doing things I've been putting off for way too long. Like tweezing my eyebrows. Like changing that bulb on the ceiling light. Like writing this blog. So here I am, my attempt to get my words to you as fast as I possibly can.

At my orientation for my MFA program yesterday one of the professors compared becoming a writer to volunteering to become a manic depressive. I laughed it off, but I looked around at the other slightly worried faces and began to think - is it possible to be a writer...and be happy? The odds seem against us - a depressed, alcholic, narcissistic writer - yes. But a well- balanced, functional human being who enjoys writing, loves it, intends to devote her whole life to it, but who would sometimes rather just drink a pitcher of sangria in the middle of the day, and can still get her shit done - can this be possible? I say...yes! Yes, she can. Yes, she will.

You will laugh here, maybe you will cry - I won't judge you, maybe you will want to be a better person because of this, or maybe you will want to pack your things and move to an island somewhere very far away and never speak to me again. But my hope is that you willl want to stay and keep reading. And you will see, this I'm sure of, that the beauty was there all along.

Please stay tuned as I continue this journey, friend. Your presence would be greatly appreciated.