life, poetry, prosetry, Uncategorized

She is the only one

Dear World

these days you seem to have structured yourself around

those who hate anyone who is not heterosexual

and all the rest; the pansexual, extensions, reinvention

new words for the same brand of suffering

when I was younger there was only Bi and it was a dirty word among lesbians

(though behind our scowl we may have fancied the more Bi of the group)

it was, you see, just self-preservation

hard enough to compete with one gender, let alone two

can’t stand up and fist fight a man for you

though if it were a war of words … mmmm

I devoted myself to the shedding of labels

they don’t describe a beating heart

but when prejudice comes knocking, you realize how

there is safety in numbers

I joined my lesbian sisters

though they did not welcome me

I did not act the Femme

I did not look the Butch

I liked men too much, wasn’t adequate bra burning feminist enough

though i’d go to the ends of the earth to defend us

for there is a special hell reserved for women who do not defend women

or those who feel it’s a meat market and they’ve got the biggest cleaver

Type A Personality who leave the quieter woman to the side

learning their dismissive strategies from the history of men

oh how cruel we can be to each other in pursuit of

a tiny fraction of nothing important

the person I take to bed doesn’t possess a penis and that’s just how it is

love between women isn’t about sex it’s something

in the grey matter that turns to starlight

when it became known I was gay

the bisexuals came to town

in a little red wagon

by then I’d decided I couldn’t condemn them

for more the merrier isn’t a crime

though I was not of their ilk

I was born in a violet hour and

given second sight to see a woman’s heart

it was unnatural to me to imagine loving a man

such things are part of who we are

as a tree is a tree and a river a river

still they call and ask

would you like to play with me?

when my husband is at work

and I wonder, do some hard-luck girls say yes?

do they ask the lesbians, figuring her vulnerable to

their beauty?

it is true, I don’t see much I like, in our small lesbian community

too many masks, unhealthy stereotypes in place of reality

most of the time I am condemned for not being lesbian ‘enough’

ultimately, labels are ridiculous

we’re all just trying to meet the one (or the two, or the four, or …)

when I met her, I saw instantly

she was my mauve butterfly

waiting for me to land beside her all along

I would not share

I would not replace

she is the only one

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art, life, screenplay

Notes from the Shrink’s Chair: Jimmy

 

IMG_5946.JPG

artwork by Francesca Strange

 

Notes from the Shrink’s Chair: Jimmy/Antonia

 

Dedicated to C.J., my heroine and a true bastion for bravery

 

OPEN SCENE: Right of frame, gloomy lighting. Dr. Strange sits at his oakwood desk, large and reclining, as he peruses his patients’ files. He furrows his brows, thick, under a mop of greying, greasy hair; he rubs his hands through it, a habit he has curated over the twenty years in his profession. A tell, if anything. He is clearly frustrated, stupefied, as to how he should proceed in his current state. A file, new, sits at the forefront of his desk; after a moment’s hesitation, he leafs through it.

 

[BEAT]

STRANGE – takes out a voice recorder from his suit pocket. Turns it on.

STRANGE:

Seventh of September, 2014. Patient James Connington, otherwise known as Jimmy to his family and friends. Fifteen years old. Heavily depressed, suffering from acute body dysmorphia. Tendencies towards self-inflicted bodily harm. Burns on forearms, bruising found on upper thoracic region and extending limbs. Heavily injured due to unreported reasons.

 

[BEAT]

STRANGE:

Latest diary entry, as follows.

 

CUT TO: A boy, sitting at a desk, on the opposite end of the frame. Scruffy-looking, wearing a football uniform scored with grass-stains and tussle. He kicks his football cleats off, spreading mud and dirt all over an otherwise clean, white carpet. He scribbles into an old exercise book, biting his lips as he struggles with his work. He hears his siblings playing behind him, and as a reflex, covers his notebook with his arm, protectively. Once he is sure that he is alone, he begins writing again.

 

JIMMY:

Momma caught her today, just as she was about to leave the house. She had that beautiful necklace I picked out for her, the one that matches her eyes at it catches the sun. And that soft, suede lipstick, the one she wears with that dress I like. The pink one. She looked so beautiful in it, as she always does. So light and airy, like one of those story-book elves as she danced around my room. Enchanting, how free she can be. As if none of life’s rules applied to her. Like gravity; she didn’t agree with it, so she never let it buckle her down.

 

[BEAT]

JIMMY (cont’d)

Anyway, we were about to go to church. Momma saw her sneaking out of my window, as she always does when she stays the night. She hates going to church, (it makes her feel like a phoney), so she never goes with the family. Anyway, Momma. Momma screamed hellfire when she saw her. She looked possessed, almost demonic with rage. I never heard her use words like that. Especially not on a Sunday. Next thing, Momma pushes her out the window. Just like that. It didn’t take much of a shove, she’s so light. There’s nothing to her. And from my room, you could see her lying on the grass. Strewn all over it, all of her spread across the lawn. Like a china doll. Pieces everywhere. The necklace crushed by the fall.

 

[BEAT]

JIMMY (cont’d):

I didn’t linger. I had to go back upstairs, brush myself down, get ready for church, and pack my things for football. There’s a big game next weekend, and coach has been riding my ass about it for weeks. Saying things like: ‘Boys, it takes one to dismantle a team. Just one. And it is only men, men who can play this game. Because men know better than to pussy out when it hurts. Men know better than to stop, because men keep on going. When no one expects them to, when all odds are against them, only true men will cross that final line and take home the gold’. Coach never knows when to stop, when enough is enough. Never with her.

 

[BEAT]

JIMMY (cont’d)

They were in the locker rooms, both of them. Coach and her. After football practice. I usually get changed there, on Sundays after practice. There’s this bar on the other side of town that only opens on Sundays. It’s called Antonia’s, by the way. The bar. Poppa drives past it when he goes to work, and sneers at it every day: ‘That fag bar, always full of goddamn fruitcakes. Goddamn scum, what fucking animals’. She doesn’t care about what Poppa says, she loves them all. It’s her favourite bar, because everyone there is just as outrageous as she is. And she’s friends with all the busboys, the kings and queens – And she dances with everyone: complete strangers, both men and women. She doesn’t care who they are, what they’ve done to get them there, at that bar. Because to her, it’s home. Antonia’s.

 

[BEAT]

JIMMY (voice faltering)

She was slipping on her stilettos, as coach brushed himself up behind her. I saw him in the mirror behind me. I was packing up her things, her makeup, her kit. She was roaring to go, fired up as she always is. But I turned cold.

 

[BEAT]

JIMMY (hysterical, sobbing as he recounts the rest)

His hands were wrapped around her throat, I couldn’t breathe. He pushed me to the ground, and pressed my cheek to the tiled floor with his muddy cleats. ‘This is what you were made for’, he hissed, as he stroked my back, ‘men like me take, women like you give. Make your choice, boy. What would you rather do? Would you rather give or, would you rather take?’. I lay there, silently. It wasn’t the first time, I thought, and it wouldn’t be the last. Unless I did something about it.

 

[BEAT]

 

CUT TO: Dr. Strange, sitting emotionless. He pauses the recorder, sighs, and takes a sip out a hip flask. He continues:

 

STRANGE

Seventh of September, 2014. Coroner’s report – patient James Connington. Adolescent Male, Caucasian, mid-teens. Cause of death: asphyxia, constricting force applied to the ligature on the upper occipital region. Compressive narrowing of laryngeal and tracheal lumina observed. Ligature mark on neck is deeply impressed; it’s composition: superficial abrasions across the front and nape of neck, indicates the implementation of a thickly textured material. Most likely a rope. Will compare fibres to those found in the Connington family’s workshop. Severe Internal haemorrhaging in lower torso and abdominal area indicate heavy assault. Lipstick stains across his cheeks, across his face. Prominent bruising on face and forehead under thick cosmetic foundation. Also indicating a struggle. No fingerprints or biological fibres, or any forensic clues found on subject. Perpetrator, still at large.

 

CUT TO: Black.

 

END. Continue reading

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fiction

ernesto

deger bakir.jpg

art by deger bakir

You wore a skirt, it was purple, a favourite, its lace fringe limp against your brown thighs. And a pink translucent blouse, the top buttons undone from which a crucified Jesus danced in and out of hiding. You wore high heels that made you stumble on mean streets, but this was just you dancing, you liked to say.

We walked to the local store past hawkers and taxi drivers stealing siestas on front lawns. You must emit a kind of energy that reshuffled the molecules in the air because they roused themselves each time you passed by. Catcalls and laughter were common fare but on this particular day it was, Flip up your skirt! Show us your cock! Or did you finally get it cut off? You turned your head gently from left to right, a warning to me not to respond. It’s the August heat, you said, it makes men and street dogs vicious. I turned around and gave them the finger. Their laughter was sharp and cut.

When we entered the shop, Mr Lee scowled at us from behind the cash register, dabbing at his shiny forehead with a frayed yellow rag that hung around his neck. In the dark, fan-cooled interior, you stood silent, staring outside, past the glass door, at shadows supine once again on the lawn.

My hand slipped into yours, are you alright, it asked, and you squeezed my hand tight. Let’s go get you your candy, darling.

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poetry

Unchanged Razors

Michaelangelo’s masterpiece pales
in comparison to
my friend washing
dishes
at 3am in the morning,
drunk
on anticipation –

He’s got a date
tomorrow.
He wouldn’t even get out
of bed
otherwise.

“He’s gorgeous
and smart
and funny
and kind
and likes dogs over cats,”
He rambles past my
plea for silence.

“But, goddamn,
he is one ig’nant
sonofabitch.”

My friend is black
and gay –
I’m just glad he skipped
his own Tevilah*.
I worry for him.

But after his rant,
without missing a beat,
he bathes
and shaves his balls
and then (using the same blade)
shapes
his goddamn eyebrows.

He makes me
wish
That I were gay.

Or black.

I’d be able to
help him
then.

Or at the very least,
understand how hard
it is
to shave
big black balls.

—-

(* = Tevilah, a Jewish baptism/conversion ceremony).

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