happy 2015
January 1, 2015

‘Twas the night before New Year’s, when all through the house

Not a creature was sober, not even a mouse;

The streamers were hung from the ceiling with care,

In preparation for guests who soon would be there;

The champagne was nestled all snug on its ice;

While countdowns and make-outs began to seem nice;

And bae in her bow tie, and I in my vest,

Had just begun pregaming the long winter’s fest,

When out on the street there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.

Away to the side door I drunkenly tripped,

Stepped out in the snow and tried not to slip.

The moon on the trash heaps and gutters of slush

Made me pause, the wind whipping, my face growing flush,

When what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a huge group of queermos all carrying beer,

With a swaggering leader, her style all the rage,

I knew in a moment she must be Ellen Page.

Flyer than eagles  her wingwomen they came,

And she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Hey, Kristen! now, Portia! now Ellen and Vixen!

On, Laverne! on, Riese! on, Samira and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the end of the hall!

Now drink away! sing away! dance away all!”

So up to the porch the roller girls they flew

With bags full of whiskey, and rainbow cake too—

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Into the house Ellen Page came with a bound.

In her best Tomboy snapback, her cheeks all aglow,

her clothes were all dusted with glitter and snow;

She flipped up the collar of her frayed denim vest,

And her Canadian flannel out-gayed all the rest.

Her eyes—how they smoldered! her smirk was so dreamy!

The holes in her jeans made us all a bit steamy!

Her eyeliner game was as always mad strong,

And her skinny tie proved that she could do no wrong;

With effortless cool, she opened a beer with her teeth

when I noticed the mistletoe she was dancing beneath;

I sidled up towards her, with no ounce of stealth,

And I blushed when she smiled, in spite of myself;

A wink of her eye and a touch of her hand

were all that it took; I could barely stand;

She spoke not a word, but started dancing with me,

Robyn playing in the background, as gay as could be.

And laying her hand on the side of my face,

she kissed me, then turned with queerest of grace;

She slipped on her blazer, gave her posse a call,

And away they all ran to Times Square and the ball.

And I heard her exclaim, as she danced out of sight—

“Happy New Year to all, and to all a gay night!”

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cactus heart
December 3, 2014

Despite what my lack of recent blog posts might suggest, I haven’t completely neglected my creative writing since starting grad school. In fact, my poem “Two for the 8 o’clock show” is in the latest issue of Cactus Heart! It was just released today, and I can’t wait to read it once I’m done with all of my term papers for this semester.

I also recently had a few pieces very graciously rejected by The Open Bar (Tin House’s blog). Their Broadside Thirty series features short pieces (thirty lines or less) by poets under thirty. Below is one of my thirty-line cast-offs. Enjoy!

Confession

I’ve seen oceans from airplanes.
I’ve seen Asia in electronic
pixels and plastic.
I’ve heard that if you put a shell to your ear,
it blocks out the traffic.

The bus schedule is in hieroglyphs,
the newspaper in Latin.
I’m a land of busted languages,
land of crumpled receipts, land of dollar bills.
My politics are shallow.
My pockets are deep.

Eat me to death –
I am sugar and syrup and salt.
The cabinets are empty
and the plates are filth.
My nails are grit.
My teeth are plaque.
My brain’s in the gutter
and my lungs are in bed.

Binge on borrowed money,
stolen sweets, waste time on wifi
from the neighbors next door.
Quest through the comments section –
“Asshole, idiot, faggot, slut.”
Sticks, stones, bones, and such.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll take out the trash.
On Tuesday I’ll wash the dishes.
On Saturday I’ll put the dog to sleep,
grab my bootstraps,
pull.

prey
September 8, 2014

Track my path, unfurling

distance.

Pocket knives with
their sick slick sheen
open
blood-rusty and hot.

Fists clench on cue.

I am the life let loose,

rabbit evading the snare.

idol worship
August 23, 2014

Another month, another reading list. The summer is coming to a close, so I’ve been rushing to get through the last of my leisure reading before classes start next week. As much as I love the challenge of reading philosophy, I will certainly miss being able to dedicate a large portion of my waking hours to immersing myself in fiction and poetry. This month, I’ve been obsessed with a few writers in particular. 

Anne Carson:

Men in the Off Hours

Haruki Murakami:

A Wild Sheep Chase
Norwegian Wood

Jeanette Winterson:

The Passion
Written on the Body

Weight
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
The PowerBook

I will continue to read these three authors religiously, Winterson for the intensity of emotion that comes through in her writing and for her wonderfully queer characters, Murakami for his strangeness and disregard for the boundary between fantasy and reality, and Carson for her ability to mix academic scholarship with poetry in genre-defying ways. I know that I will have Carson to turn to when I am challenged to do work in philosophy while continuing to be a poet, and I am glad to have her words as a guide in my future writing endeavors.

If it’s pure, raw feeling you want, though, look no further than Winterson’s writing:

“This is where the story starts. Here, in these long lines of laptop DNA. Here we take your chromosomes, twenty-three pairs, and alter your height, eyes, teeth, sex. This is an invented world. You can be free just for one night.

Undress.
Take off you clothes. Take off your body. Hang them up behind the door. Tonight we can go deeper than disguise.

It’s only a story, you say. So it is, and the rest of life with it – creation story, love story, horror, crime, the strange story of you and I.

The alphabet of my DNA shapes certain words, but the story is not told. I have to tell it myself.

What is it that I have to tell myself again and again?

That there is always a new beginning, a different end.

I can change the story. I am the story.”

(from The PowerBook)

afterlife
August 11, 2014

I study indifference,

pause the expansion of the universe,

desire curled as a bud in the flesh,

burrowing down in the gut.


Now, my soul is

weightless.

I float between the twinned stillnesses

of hunger and fear,

drawing breaths never to be exhaled.

 

 
So light

the wind on sunny days

is my fate,

my body drifts,

unexpectant,

ethereal,

limned.

#gpoy
June 25, 2014

The one and only downside of being included in a print publication is that I can’t easily link to my work online. I’ve wanted to share my poems that have been published in Pages for a while, and so here they are, thanks to my realization that camera phones exist. (On that note, I recently started using instagram. So far, this has primarily involved posting pictures of Austin with artsy filters. Follow me so that I feel validated in this endeavor. As always, my handle is hctrees.)

from Belleville Park Pages 21, Late May 2014

from Belleville Park Pages 21, Late May 2014

from Belleville Park Pages 12, Late November 2013

from Belleville Park Pages 12, Late November 2013

glutton
June 20, 2014

I am binging to fill up the empty parts of me.
Oil and grain and sugar and salt
all packed in until I am solid stone.
I will sink to the bottom of the pool
and no one will look for me there.

I am building muscle, all density and heat
until I am a molten mass
hurtling through space, reckless.
I am a loose cannon, iron, wrought.
My flesh will bash through your flesh.

Was it good for you, too?
Good is a loaded word for loaded bodies.
My eyes are brimmed up with glances,
my wrists are weighted: blood and tendon and time.
Hear me out. My hands are wide enough for us both.

an origami trick
June 13, 2014

In a single omnipotent gesture, I would
fold the map of the earth onto itself,
connecting all disparate points,
the state borders lying on each other,
languishing,
all the geographic limbs –
peninsulas, archipelagos, valleys –
mingling their longitudinal longings,
latitudes drifting across
oceans, wave
by wave, from parallel to
indelible proximity,
evergreens twining roots
with palms, dawn and dusk
loosing themselves into risings,
fallings, winds
collapsing into their opposites, until
in stillness all the world
faces itself and sleeps
as a single speck,
all closeness closed,
hands clasped,
a brilliant winking spot of
singularity,
and outside of us,
nothing.

This poem is in part inspired by Sharon Olds’ “Topography,” which includes the brilliant lines, “my Kansas / burning against your Kansas your Kansas / burning against my Kansas.”  If you aren’t familiar with her work, I’d suggest starting with her 1987 collection, The Gold Cell

Pages 21
May 28, 2014

This is just a quick update to let my followers know that one of my poems is being published in the upcoming issue of Belleville Park Pages! You can pick up Pages 21 in a select group of bookstores in the US and Europe (here is the full list), or you can order it online here. As some of you might remember, I had a poem in Pages 12 last November, and I’m so excited to continue to contribute to this wonderful little publication!

And because I cannot make a post without including poetry suggestions, below is an excerpt from Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony and God. I’m currently staying in LA with a friend who works at Book Soup, a shop in West Hollywood, and because it is a universally acknowledged truth that if you enter a bookshop, you are obligated to buy something, I ended up with this collection of Carson’s poetry.

from “The Glass Essay”

Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is
to watch the year repeat its days.
It is as if I could dip my hand down

into time and scoop up
blue and green lozenges of April heat
a year ago in another country.

I can feel that other day running underneath this one
like an old videotape – here we go fast around the last corner
up the hill to his house, shadows

of limes and roses blowing in the car window
and music spraying from the radio and him
singing and touching my left hand to his lips.

skeptic
March 24, 2014

I am worried about the children 

who too soon stop believing the lies they are told,

which is to say I am fearful

for my self, alive, limbs still attached,

miraculous unity, symbiosis 

of muscle and mind.

I am stitched together,

threadbare at elbows, knees,

lips and tongue;

pull me and I’ll tear

in all the necessary places.

Cut me loose, watch my self spill

across the altar of virtue and decay.

What a way to live, but tell me,

do you know another means 

of making it from one day to the next?

You, who would live,

memorize the names of the dead

and speak them again into being.

For a moment, feel the privilege

of your heat and terror

while I remind my self 

to breathe, to sleep, to breathe again.