Don’t Fuck With Me

Your slut shaming doesn’t faze me

I walk around with pockets full of shame

I have so much shame it moves me around

and yes, I am a woman

a woman who doesn’t care about your pride,

who isn’t gonna let you take me for a ride

boy, if I want your stick I’ll take it, make no mistake.

when I want something, I take it

like when I was 18 and it was new year’s eve and I wanted to use you,

it was so incredibly easy.

I was out of control though,

pinned down under your weight

squawking like the little chicken I am,

no, I was

no, I am still sometimes

a sea of anger boiling inside me and tears staining my cheeks

like when I was 8 and he belted me for not being a lady

black and blue bruises and a square shaped cut on my thigh

it made him laugh to see me cry

Don’t fucking touch me.

ten years later and I’m still feeling like I’m 8,

a scared, angry little girl hating “adult me” for boarding me

with this manchild who’s still in his drunken stupor,

and through a chuckled laugh he says

“I guess I’m too big for that, huh?”

too big for that?

Ha! yeah that’s it!

and morning comes

and yeah,

you were the best screw of my life

and yeah

baby,

I’ll see you tonight,

it’s so easy to lie,

but my toes are numb,

the air is frigid

and my shoulders and feet are bare,

I climb into the cab and pretend not to notice his glare

and all I want is a shower,

a shower that lasts so long the water runs cold

cold like when I was 7

and he thought while I was showering was a good time to tell me

he was moving out,

the curtain was clear,

as clear as the pain on my face

that I wouldn’t let him see

because I didn’t want him to see me,

so I sat there in the tub,

holding my legs tight to my chest,

and he talked for so long

the water turning cold

numbing my skin,

a metaphor for the chill of his words on my soul,

and all I could do was watch the water wash

my shame down the drain,

but it’s like rinsing a paint brush after the final stroke for the day,

you can rinse and rinse but you still see red,

and maybe you didn’t even use red that day,

because the shame never goes away.

like when I was 14

and she said we were going to a party with all her friends

and we show up and something isn’t right,

but I don’t put up a fight

it’s just the three of us

and what’s he, 35?

he used to be a linebacker she says

like I’ll swoon and spread open my legs,

but I’m trying to play it cool

yeah strip poker sounds fun,

they take the shots so easy and they want me to chug,

and maybe I’m just a stupid teen, but I’m not dumb

like a lion hunting his prey he’s inching closer to me

running his fat fingers through my hair

and it’s all too much and I have to step out for some air

I’m standing in the dark

my breath forming clouds of steam in the night

I turn around and he’s stalking through the door

I’m against the bricks and he shoves his slimy tongue between my lips

I wonder where Jessica is, I say, and try to give him the slip,

but the next thing I know he’s thrown me over his shoulder

and he’s headed for his den

with his dirty paws he clutches and claws at my hips

and he’s so very heavy

I scratch and I bite, and thank gawd for the drink

because he goes out like a light

it’s not often a chicken wins a cock fight,

but she tells me to suck it up, we’ve all been there before

I’m fuming as I’m dragging her through the door

and still I want to scream

Why the fuck did you betray me!

but instead I’m lying in her bed

regrets running through my head

 

like when I was 15 and despondency set in on me

years of living with an ostrich

taught me

how trivial my muteness would be

with ears full of sand

even what does get said

isn’t always heard

my one hope was not a hope at all

but a delusion

formed in desperation

like an old pair of shoes worn through

I sat

lonely

in the back of the closet

and phoned my one life line

only to be reminded

he could never be a real parent to me

instead I learned

that love and respect

aren’t given, but earned

and for years I went along with choices

made for me

like when I was 20 and we met in a club,

hot,

sweaty,

everything spinning

and you think you’re irresistible,

boy, please,

it’s the drink and this thing I have inside of me

that wants to punish me, or maybe just to numb me,

perhaps it’s something more innocuous like simple curiosity,

but either way I’m dtf,

and you ask my friend if you can take me home

and he says yes

and I want to scream

why don’t you fucking ask me!?

but my body is jello and my mind is free

so we’re on your motor

and I’m glad you remembered condoms because I didn’t

and we get to the room that’s so sleazy I feel I won’t be clean for days,

and my friends laugh when I tell them

and we all act like it’s a phase

and it is but more like a phase of the moon

that comes around every 29.5 days.

it’s as regular as his hands sliding between my thighs

devouring me with blood shot eyes

and why didn’t I scream,

“Don’t you fuck with me!?”

but I’m 11 and my body is betraying me

what’s more is he threatened me

and I believed him

and this misery set in on me

and then a new me was born and

the old me lived in that body

and that body was his

and it had nothing to do with me

the old me lived in that body

and that body was his

and it had nothing to do with me

that body was not me

that body is not me

and for 7 years this went on with periodic regularity

until

like a caterpillar spinning her cocoon

I came home

but home wasn’t warm any more

and instead of reemerging a beautiful butterfly

I was a shabby gypsy moth with one broken wing

my hair chopped off

my clothes were bags covering any discernable curves

and my body was swollen with shame and despair

and then the thing that I thought I dreaded most

the thing that I thought would always be the worst thing that happened to me

turned out to be just a taste of what real shame could be

instead a new shame was born to plague me

he didn’t want me

and I was crushed

I was a piece of meat that he chewed

and he chewed,

for 7 years he chewed,

sucking every last bit of nutriment from me

until I was a lumpy, tasteless bit of flesh between his teeth

and then he spat me out

and when he stepped on me

he was disgusted to feel me squish beneath his feet

his rejection gutted me.

and I’ve never butchered a damn thing in my life

but I can tell you where the knife goes

I can tell you what it is to be the young chicken

watching her feathers being plucked from her skin

and this is worse than the cut of the blade

because this is when she is hating her flightless body the most

maybe she could have flown once, but her wings have since been clipped

and when she is lying there naked and the knife goes in

it’s nothing compared to the shame of her ugly raw chicken skin

and he’s such a big man now and everyone loves him

they erect a statue in his honor

and my shame is my own,

but his hell will be a public one

his punishment will be

an eternity trapped inside that stone prison

my karmic justice is that days after I’ve died I will be reborn a bird

a bird who gets to fly around in the next life, defecating on him

my ammonia waste piling up

and chipping away at the stone giant

and yes, I am a woman

and no, there is nothing second rate about me

and yes he will see me because

I am no pigeon,

I’m a million birds of paradise

dropping my golden shit in his eyes.

DO

NOT

FUCK WITH ME.

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Blues: Books, Heartache, Nostalgia, and Grief

Please forgive the lapse in posts for the last few months.

This week I’ve been reading Stone Butch Blues. Yes, I know it is long over do. I should have read the damn thing ages ago, but as it were I was an insanely busy grad student for a while. I’m off work, bored, and stuck in the bible belt so it seemed like the perfect time to pick it up and hide inside its world for a while. I was wholly unprepared for how sad it would make me. Incidentally, it has been just the inspiration I need to get off my ass and write. Not only do I feel intense empathy (and at times sympathy) for the characters in the book, but I’ve also been pitching in some deep, book-induced nostalgia. It made me think of my ex, we’ll call her Cameron, and some of the most wonderful women I know, her friends. I should have finished it sooner, but I have to stop periodically to sob. The book is brilliant, but it has been a tough read for me emotionally. I feel comforted and lonely at the same time. Sometimes the loneliness borders on feelings of exile really.

When I ended things with Cameron I had to say goodbye to some women who I truly admired and respected, and loved. I miss them and the sense of community they gave me more than I am able to express. Nostalgia for lost friends has not been the only thought swirling ’round my head the last few days. I was also reminded of my own internal dilemma of being in a butch-femme relationship. Cameron was a self-proclaimed butch. Even though I wanted her to be her full self, and embrace who she was and love herself, I couldn’t imagine myself in a butch-femme relationship. Somehow it felt like it wasn’t me. It was too constricting. I felt I was betraying myself. I wanted true, authentic equality in our relationship and it felt like she wanted our lives to be one long session of role playing.

I want to take a minute to say that I have nothing against my butch sisters. I love them as I love all women. I still love Cameron. I just couldn’t give her what she needed, or what she deserved in a lover. I couldn’t be the woman to her man.  At first it was nice because I had never been with a butch woman. She doted on me. She did everything in her power to please me. She complimented me, tried to take care of me and make me feel special. She was attentive and sweet. But it was the way she made me feel as a woman that really touched me. It sounds so stupid, but in an ironic way, she made me feel like a real woman. Like the epitome of what a woman is. She made me feel strong and powerful, confident and sexy, beautiful and intelligent, brave and compassionate, caring. And even more than all of that, she never questioned my attraction to women. At least initially…

She was the first person who never treated me like she secretly thought I was a straight woman. She accepted me completely, she believed me, and she loved me for all of it. She didn’t just love me “anyway.” No one had ever really done that for me before. Most women, when they learn that I’m queer, they treat me like an other, like I’m not a real woman, more like a man. Like I’m not one of them. I often feel oversensitive, constantly defending my sexuality, but at the same time trying to strike a healthy balance between owning my sexuality in my way and not feeling that I have to fit into someone else’s definition or expectations of what a queer woman is or does. Although men also have a difficult time believing I could ever love a woman in such a deep and complete way, it somehow hurts more when women question me. Maybe because I do love them so much. And so all the while I was struggling internally with this butch-femme dynamic, I relished in the feeling of acceptance and high femininity.

The feeling felt so good I went so far as to compromise my own comfort sometimes, in particular during love making. Cameron enjoyed role playing. Initially, I also enjoyed it because it was new and exciting and I knew it made her feel good. It made her happy. I feel like most anything is acceptable and normal behavior when it comes to sex and fantasy so long as everyone is comfortable and on the same page. Gradually, the fantasies and the role plays became more frequent. She felt more and more distant. I felt she was nearing the heart of the book, and I was still in the prologue. We were no longer of the same mind. It was my fault for silently swallowing my discomfort. My disgust with myself bled into my other behaviors. It felt as if she were wishing herself a man and me her cunt to fuck, and it made me sick.

Then one night I had been out with a close male friend of mine. I came home earlier than I had planned to be with her and spend time with her, but the too soon the ominous grey clouds of stormy argument began to settle over us. We were sitting in her living room watching television when she asked me,

“Do you think you’ll ever sleep with a man again?”

Her words hit me like a bowling ball to the stomach and chest. I was stunned, angry, hurt. I quipped,

“Why? Are you thinking of getting a sex change?”

She looked vulnerable and unsure. “What am I supposed to think when you say things like that to me?” she asked.

“What am I supposed to think when you ask me things like that!?” I exclaimed. “What have I done to make you ask me such a question?”

“Well, you spend so much time with him. Did you ever think that maybe I could just use some reassurance once in a while?”

And she didn’t say it, but the thought hung over us both like a ton of bricks. We both knew she was thinking about how we fucked. By that point it wasn’t making love anymore. Shock shot through me. Was the fact that I had been in a monogamous relationship with her for the last seven months not proof enough? But it didn’t mater. That was the final blow. She didn’t love me. She couldn’t. If she loved me, if she cared about me, if she knew me at all she would have known how much I love women. Everything about them. How much I want to take care of all of them, make them all feel loved, special, make them feel as good as a woman can. Make them feel important, powerful, strong, beautiful, all of the things Cameron made me feel. Instead she asked me the most hurtful and accusing question anyone could ever ask me. She hurt me just like all the others before her. It was over. Her words were like fire that engulfed whatever shreds of our relationship remained. The deep, romantic love I had felt for her, the trust I gave her, was nothing but a pile of ash inside my now hollow chest. The grey dust filled my lungs. I choked on my own emotions. Never again would she see me vulnerable.

I’ve been fighting my need to grieve the end of our relationship. It seems wrong. I was the one who ended it. I shouldn’t get to grieve, but this book broke down my walls and a flood of emotions has been pouring out ever since. I’ve also been mourning because I feel even more invisible than before without her. When I was with her the world may have looked at me with disgust, but at least they looked at me. At least they couldn’t pretend I was straight.

But at times even the butch on my arm couldn’t keep them from thinking it was a phase, or that I was only with a woman, one who looked and acted like a man, because I had been hurt by a “real” one. Because I had been raped or had daddy issues. Their fake smiles belied their vituperative stares. Their hateful thoughts were so loud they stung my ears.

Their disgust is always easier to bear than their pity.

Incomple…

Though it has been merely minutes, something like 10, 583, but who is counting, I’ve been to the moon and back. Going to the moon sounds like fun I’m sure, but so much happened and I didn’t have you. I was navigating the galaxy Hans style.

Sometimes the solitude of space got to me. Believe me, I’d have hung myself had there only been gravity!

I also had a terrible fit of malaria. Don’t worry, I’ve made a full recovery of course, but I did spend a few nights writhing on the floor.

I was nearly turned into a cane toad by a black magic wielding woman in the Outback.

Hah, I’ve missed you, my dear!

You aren’t aware? The world has been unhinged!

And I’ve wanted to hold you oh so near.

Sure, there have been others. But, oh, how I’ve cringed!

It’s a strange thing, feeling you’re the only one who’s sane.

Oh, but please don’t think me vain!

You see, for a time I was quite torn,

And just when I had resigned,

Feeling rather forlorn,

Again by Loneliness I was confined.

Its long, spiny fingers stretching toward the back of my neck from the corner of the room.

But that is the way of it.

Longing always threatening to drown you…

The memories…

And look what we have here,

It seems Loneliness has brought some close friends.

Ah, but well acquainted we all are.

Terror, Dread, We meet again.

And Panic has already got a vice grip on my heart.

The quartet strikes again,

Pulling me into the dark, into the void.

I’ve been trying to anchor myself down, you know, to make things more difficult for them.

I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out.

Can we wrap this up soon, Fellas?

How much longer will this be?

 

 

 

Vade Mecum

Nervous though she was at the vista of having her heart rent from her breast, she valorously received the invitation to polonaise.  Vim and lasciviousness pervaded her deepest reverie, and upon that inceptive kiss every vexation became but a mere vestige.  Vituperative utterances slide vainly from the vile tongues of observers, for the two lovers perceived none.

And so vertiginously they valse together throughout time. Arms commingled as a nostrum to the vuln they’ve endured by the cleavers of duplicitous inamorata.

Terteguk (Indonesian version of Slur)

Hari ini aku hancur tanpa belaskasihan.

Hari ini aku angkat gelas ini

Dan minum cairan murni yang penuhimu, demijohn sang penghibur.

 

Bersama, kau dan aku ungkapkan yang terselubung

Dalam kesuraman ini supaya besok

Kita masing-masing mampu meneruskan perjalanan kita.

 

Diri kosongmu yang dulu, tunggu

Akan dikumpulan dan dijual oleh seorang wanita yang

bertahan hidup di kolong jembatan itu.

 

Kulitku ku gosok,

Rambutku ku sisir, dan

Kainku ku atur rapi disana-sini tunjuk bentukku.

 

Kita masing-masing mainkan peran kita

Tanpa keraguan, tanpa bantahan , sama sekali tanpa semangat.

Kau sabar saja dalam plastik hitam itu, dibawa kesana-sini.

 

Sementara saya tuliskan dengan jiwa raga.

Dalam kita masing-masing ada kedambaan.

Dan setelah semua, Besok, saatnya kan tiba.

 

Bisakah kau ampuni aku atas kedekatan ini?

Slur

Today I am relentless desolation.

Today I will take up this glass and drink the pristine

liquid that fills you, all consoling demijohn.

 

Together you and I will eviscerate

this bleakness so that tomorrow

we can both continue on our paths.

 

Your former self empty, waiting

to be collected and sold by the woman that

lives under the bridge.

 

My skin to be scoured,

my hair to be combed, and my

clothes to be arranged neatly about my person.

 

Both of us indubitably playing our roles.

You riding along patiently in the black plastik.

 

Me, writing fervently into the night

Within each of us there remains a yearning.

And tomorrow,  after everything, something curious this way comes.

 

Can you forgive me for making you like me?

This image is the property of Michael Irvine. Obtained through Flickr.