boundaries and borders

i have been thinking a lot about borders and boundaries. borders are unnatural lines imposed by humans on lands, in bodies of water that taste like tears, between each other, used to justify all manner of destruction. for borders, you will let grandmothers and babies die.

but boundaries? to survive the onslaught of horrible news i am weeping daily, i am feeling my despair and continuing to write and work and be radical and advance radical ideas with everyone i love, everyone i meet. and i know i must have boundaries around my time and attention as i learn to live in this reality and keep adapting and moving towards liberation.

how do you survive the future when it comes without air, frantic, wrong headed?

learn the difference between boundaries and borders.

like so:

boundary 1.
we need a universe between you and life

you harm us
you say our miracle
is less than yours

i know you do not believe it
you are obsessed with our magic
and you cannot contain us

border 1.
there is no separation
between in breath and out
in tide and out
sun coming up and then giving in to night

but you want to build a wall

border 2.
you exploded my life

but when i brought my babies to your door
you would not answer
because i call god by another name

this shows me
you cannot comprehend god

boundary 2.
i need to turn off the flood
but i do not know how
when i look away it doesn’t stop
when i face it
i can’t breathe for raging
i need lung flesh, a brand new liver and snake skin
i need, every day, dry land

boundary 3.
you want to take everything
and be safe
you only think of now
we cannot have you here
while we speak of tomorrow

border 3.
we think we are free
that is why we let you build walls around us

boundary 4.
we are supposed to be ready for this moment
prepared by our ancestors
but they learned to live in the living
and so will we

testing the abundant nature of love
we pull the edges of our hearts so thin
trying to cover the world
from you

border 4.
this is a lie
it isn’t in the soil
it isn’t in the river
it isn’t in our blood
this is unnatural

border 5.
i am made of words
but if paper is how you police us
i say burn it all

boundary 5.
we are made of spirit
we are made of light
when you pummel us, we heal everyone
when you tear us open,
we show everyone
the way to freedom

blue moon in sagittarius

i am not glowing for love
i am being loved, love and lover
at all times

i don’t mimic the sun
don’t fold into me anyone else’s heat
my scar tissue is my own

while you sleep i get older
i have to fill in all my bones and flesh with delight

orbit is not belonging
i feel currents move from and around me
i belong to all this motion

the in and the out breath
the wave suckling the shore
and pulling away, mouth full

behind the shadows i am calm
reflecting a wild fire,
wreaking a havoc that becomes system and salt

something is so lovely now
i have to tell you about it:
infinite me, inside me

the fecund and shimmering landscape of the magical world
ripe ripe fruit, above and below

so i need for nothing
but aliveness – aliveness
to be a bearer of all this light

mama (contradictory thoughts on mother’s day)

i am not a mama
i was never a mama
(i was with child
i was a brief and clueless mother)
i am a potential mama
a realm of all possibilities mama
(but actually,
an impossible mama)

when i see the bright new of a child
i morph into mama
they mamas give me love
(or side eye
it depends, it’s fine
the children love me)

some babies call me mama
mommy-daddy auntie adjin
tia and other things
that affirm my mothering gifts:
stamina, sweetness, babyfat soft
and a love of play

people say i should become a mama
(they don’t know)
they don’t ask
(i don’t tell them)

i celebrate the sacred gift of motherhood

(but did you lose your mama
did you lose your child
was your mama cruel
was your child a tragedy
is mama a word of grief

i am so sorry
so sorry

and i am not your child
and i can’t be your mama
but that don’t mean you don’t need one)

i love to hold firm the feet
of humans full of miracles
at that precise moment of opening
gasp and life/death groan
the light bursting through them
when they become

and i really love my mama
(she wanted me so much)
she wants me in her life every day
she gives with no conditions
so we keep getting freer together

and my sisters are the kind of mamas
(who have boundaries in their voices)
whose children seek them out
who know how (and teach me) to love

i am surrounded by mamas
i am mothering
i am a mama
(i was always a mama)

the children (solstice poem)

the children run up the stairs
and i realize how old i have become
one choice at a time
in the places i come together
and where i am forever apart

the children climb me
i offer branches and answers
to their years
i have to be so solid
so much stronger than i am

the children are full
i am humbled by the life in them
they laugh with nothing held back
they demand everything of my attention
they bring me here, now

my child face a mirror on the wall
smiles toothless, echoing us
before all the lessons
we know everything
life is learning to forget

the children resist even sleep
they know how precious
all this living is
they dream with open eyes
and surrender mid-vision

the children gift me
the miracle of letting go
the wonder of and in time
the wilderness of right now
the possibility of dawn

napowrimo poem 30: for her, in amsterdam

prompt: write a farewell poem.

for her, in amsterdam

what is more precious than these
salt stained kisses
frantic lovers’ bruises
the look in our liberated eyes
our scent, now muddled and everywhere

who else could comprehend
beloved comrade healer friend
i know the delight in you
let me touch you there
with the weight of time

is there something holier than this
presencing, this being in it
we need not interpret yesterday
we cannot structure tomorrow
and today is full of wonder

what is freer than this
mutual ritual release
to our own canals and galaxies
our stunning darknesses
to wander, yes, but with awe

what is more tender than this
to have known the sorrows of children
faced the terror of transition
and somehow tasted the ripe again
love in this way is a miracle

let all the light loose inside you
let the bell tone in your marrow
seek a quiet
that can handle your silence
feel the gods praying in your fingers’ tips

gather those brilliant fears into a small soft blackness
welcome all selfless pleasures to know your magnificent frame
construct a place for yourself which cannot be taken
sing out your multitude blessings
remember yourself

what is sweeter than this
to wish you everything good
to watch your love transform the pattern
to open every door to joy
by closing the one we cannot enter

napowrimo poem 29: it is our time to turn

prompt: use “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” all in one poem.

chameleon in my garden
i watch your skin go soft
as you change again
the world around you shifts

your scent to me
is that released sunlight
of an eastern forest at equinox

let us go out in the world
there’s rain out there
drumming new rhythms into that space
between our lips

and windows blur
and concrete slicks beneath us
and at the door
i notice
this spring smells
exactly like a place i have recently kissed
let us not go
give me your mouth again

some say in Detroit
a blade of grass is a weapon
you came through a hard winter
armed with awe and heat
til her weapons were quiet
in the gorgeous hush of transition

you were a storm cloud
magicked to life inside these doors
i was a million dust motes

you bring a message from the divine
i am learning to comprehend
sacred text

you are a state of unknowable bliss
the goddess has kissed
all of your flesh

wherever you rest, the trees whisper
coucher avec la déesse
mon petit djéli, embrasses-moi

you will be
the blush of dawn
after the brick is gone
you will be
the liberated zone
my heart retreats to


now. against this golden world
go verdant
the sun is standing still
it is our time to turn

napowrimo poem 28: woman problem

prompt: find a news article, and write a poem using (mostly, if not only) words from the article.

i chose this article on gender disparity shared by my good friend and nation blogger dani mcclain.

to a man, men
all were white
and intimidating

later i would realize
they looked nothing alike
not one indistinguishable blur

who among them was named,
who was not?
do you need to ask?

a new report found
men’s dominance
in more subtle ways

the report doesn’t answer
why this disparity
sobering as numbers are

grueling coax and feat
women are choosing soft beats
women gravitate

plum women dominate
like people
vestiges remain evoked

about the sex…
the toughest places
were prestigious

it’s all too easy to imagine
it can’t be a coincidence:
women are far less likely.

napowrimo poem 27: mairead in spring

prompt: write an ekphrastic poem.  (specifically, a poem written from a photograph.)


(photo credit: lynnee denise)

there is a difference between
the dogwood and the cherry blossom
i couldn’t prove it
the same season brings them both
to flower.

in this wilding moment
a small perfect creature is discovering
her edges
her laughter and ferocity.
her love is brash, is a brawl

spring is an explosion
seed shells bursting wide open,
the flower
seeking the absent crevice.
she, too, screams to delight
in her own lungs

and in the next moment
she gathers her dignity about her,
a buddha
reaching for, needing for
nothing the mind could name.
of existence.

napowrimo poem 26: when they chose forever

prompt: write a curtal sonnet.

today’s poem is for my beautiful brilliant sweet sister april, my dear friend and comrade and protector and teacher. today she married her beloved brad in a beautiful simple ceremony, and i wanted to honor the total adoration and commitment they share here.

they met in warring mountains with armored bows
they’d both known that pale life of loss, but now
in a tiny room all filled up with their laughter
they found their mouths full of the ever, the after
they conjured together one new whispered life
they grew up together: her husband, his wife

when they chose forever it was the only sure path
they converged all memory, a sweet sacred math
she is the fire and he is the earth
they know exactly what their love is worth

it is everything.

napowrimo poem 24: or lean (mason’s love poem)

prompt: write a poem that features walls, bricks, stones, arches, or the like – the work of a mason.

after i had placed
one brick, and another
day after day
and year, and years
made of dust and glitter
small nightmares
quiet tears
always thinking
i was reaching for the sky
a fellow mason
passed me by
building with only ribs
even skeletal dreams
such a stunning wall
all space and seams

i began it
the slow edging out
of my own heavy corners
to place myself into that space
with all the reach i could endure
breathing a suspended arch between
where we could only collapse
or relinquish
or lean