In the summer of 2014, I embarked on a solo backpacking adventure across Northern Michigan. With no one to talk to along the way, my journal became a powerful and necessary companion. I wrote journal nearly every day, sometimes many times a day, to capture the events and insights of my time on the trail or […]
My submission to The Moth Detroit StorySLAM topic: “Blood Sweat and Tears” When you go through a difficult time in your life, your body naturally deals with it by going into shock. This is a beautiful response because it allows you to go on with your life and get through every day when you’re not […]
The mathematical symbol for change is a neat little triangle Δ. I can remember drawing it on my notebook with a pencil and wondering why my pencil ended up back where it started. That pretty shape is little more than shorthand for futility, like a dog chasing its tail. There has to be something better. And yet, I […]
I grew up in a sweet, serene, safe community: a bastion of purity in small-town Michigan. We had no world-class issues. The police blotter in the local paper was comedically innocent: “raccoon topples garbage can,” “local man double-parks van.” But not too far away, trouble loomed large. Detroit, with its towering tombs was a shame to […]
People, like deer and celebrities, tend to cluster amongst themselves. Anytime you should encounter a sitcom star, be still! Lower your gaze. Chances are good that his Emmy-winning girlfriend and the whole supporting cast will come trundling after.
a kiss and not a word,
a what and not a why,
is you without your story,
The moment is
the drop of water you can taste on your tongue as you dive into the sea- you in the ocean, the ocean in you;
is the chorus of a flash rainstorm percussing off a dozen rooftops- teasing your ear with the impossible task of isolating a single sound
is the time in the parking lot between driving and walking- where you stop the car and the radio is silent and the key is dropping into your purse while the other hand opens the door and your face feels the motion of the outside air for the first time.
is the dream that hovers over you in wisps of color and light as you lie in bed just before you mind regains Time for the day
is any connection of any life with any other life, or with a unbodied element of god’s infrastructure;
is a place not rooted in geography,
that follows wherever you go;
is time that is free from time,
that disappears as soon as you name it;
The moment is
Is a dance and not a worry
Is a breath and not sigh
Is a kiss and not a story
Is a kiss and not a sorry
Is a kiss and not a word.
At the event when I couldn’t help but stand up and talk too much,
I opened myself up to judgment in order to speak the burning necessity that was bubbling up my throat, determined to be shared.
Taking my seat for the forth or fifth last time, a woman two rows back lifted her head and her hand to get my attention. “Hey”, she said. “We need to talk”, she said. “We’ve met before”, she said. Continue reading →
I climbed the mountain not to reach the top, but to cross over,
marking each morning with a new little bracelet on my wrist,
with colors of ascending frequency to note the mounting chakras,
simulating an elevated state in the thinning air.
I love me, I want to be me…. but not this way.
This me can’t be alone with herself, this me is flipping through her hair, her phone, a box of cookies to avoid that awkward small-talk with the ignored inner self.
I didn’t listen to her, but I did dress her up, one braided bangle at a time,
with all the attributes of a happy soul,
if not a body to put them in.
Wasn’t it one year ago the stranger gave me that kite?
A symbol of my freedom, she said.
But she didn’t give me the wind, or the way.
And the girl I was rose with the sun in the place where the horizon flexed acute,
lifted her childish pennant and begged the coldest winds of Africa to do for her what that year had not.
And when the flag had failed her, she replaced it with another sorry charm.
From a man to a mountain- the talisman shifts shape
but is always rooted in the same hope: change me, heal me, make me whole.
They have all failed and they always will
unless or until the hope can become the desire to be me, even as I already am
clutching a soggy bracelet of sincere hopes faded in chlorine and concessions.
I don’t feel like swimming any more.
Maybe I want to write-
first draft, fuck it-
and to go nowhere that I am not already.
[Originally published by ModelD. All photos depict homes that were occupied when they were acquired by Detroit Land Bank Authority but are now vacant.]
Detroit’s greatest paradox is its abundance of space and its scarcity of quality housing.
The massive stock of single family homes once sustained double the current population. Yet each year, more Detroit homeowners become renters, squatters or altogether homeless. The problem is complex but the solutions do not have to be: what is needed is an immediate, scalable solution that will create stability and an upward trajectory for people, property, and the city at large.
It’s time for Detroit to reinvent urban homesteading by selling homes to their current residents. Continue reading →
Yesterday I took a trip to my small local grocery store and got a call from my best friend about her amazing time at the Women’s march in DC. She was giddy with excitement and we shared about our hopes and ideas and experiences participating in the actions of the day. As I left the store, a man who was checking out looked up at me and said “You’re so cute, so beautiful, what’s your name?” I looked at him but made no reaction and continued my phone call. He followed me out of the store and repeated the same line. I turned and said “I’m on the phone” and he said- loudly- “Oh, she’s too loud though, that’s too bad.” I was livid. I was almost to my car at that point but I turned back and approached him and said loudly: “You are incredibly rude. You are being extremely offensive.” His provocation had worked in getting me to talk to him so he went back to trying to be charming “You are so beautiful, so cute, what’s your name?” I repeated that he was being offensive and he said “No I’m not! I’m not offensive.” to which I shouted “It’s offensive if I’m offended!” Continue reading →
Above the land, exposed and hard
they’re aching just for touch.
They chase a thousand beaded dreams
but never have enough.
When aching grows, it overflows-
a sharp and biting cuss,
In our eyes, their reflection,
so, they tried to bury us.
Inverted dome, we made it home-
a womb beneath the crust.
We bore so deep, in waking sleep,
like seeds with waterlust.
And when the river didn’t sate
We dug still lower wells,
unbudded branches lay in wait-
those fallow patient cells.
From depth restrained, and dark contained-
no count of nights gone by-
until that time, again we rise
roots first, and then the sky.
This poem is written as a message of solidarity from Detroit to Standing Rock, with particular recognition for the Pueblo Camp who taught me the significance of building shelter underground in the womb of the earth. The phrase that inspired it is derived from the poetry of Dinos Christianopoulos, who truly was a seed because his message has given hope to fighters from the Zapatistas to the LGBTQI community to anyone who felt frighted or violated by the ascension of the current President.
“The battle has just begun. I will stand to protect the water, the land. I am asking each of you to come stand with us.” -LaDonna Brave Bull Allard
what it was like
I came to Standing Rock in answer to this call. I wanted to lend my energy to the beautiful movement that is being borne out of the glaring act of violence which is the Dakota Access Pipeline. I wanted to learn from those who were standing up to the environmental status quo. I wanted to spend my Thanksgiving in honor of native people rather than over a full plate of willful avoidance back home. The trip was less than a week, with two full days’ driving time, and yet it was a transformative experience. I have the tendency to romanticize and I don’t want to create the idea that it was some sort of fairy tale but in so many ways the place and the movement that is Standing Rock is entirely beautiful. The people, the attitude of work and service, the prayers, the songs, the hope, the solidarity, the reverence to the natural elements- it was all beautiful. I and many others came by choice but, at its heart, this movement is an obligatory act of self-preservation for the Dakota/Lacota/Natoka people. The camp and the movement that drives it is borne out of the very real threat that is the Dakota Access Pipeline. What follows are my observations from my short time at Oceti Sakowin camp.Continue reading →
As a multigenerational caucasian-American, I have lived my life in a position of privilege relative to many other Americans. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, most of mine have been met, and I enjoy the luxury of being able to quibble and complain about relatively minor offenses. It’s always been hard for me to really wrap my head and my heart around a positive notion of America. I usually hedge. I focus on our racist past towards native peoples, african-americans, non-christians and non-whites. I focus on our shortcomings in health care, environmentalism and education relative to other countries. I focus on our ego-driven militancy and subversion of other governments. It’s hard to feel the love.
But, since I moved to Hamtramck, I become unexpectedly and enthusiastically more patriotic than ever. I love that this community exists, I love that it exists in America, I love that I get to be a part of it.