UNDEFINED RELATIONSHIP #12
You said we shouldn’t make out anymore.
Two days later I got a yeast infection.
My GYN is texting: ¿Todavía te arde?
My plan is to impose loneliness on you,
in a headstand, breast to clavicle.
When you get a really nice rejection letter,
it’s like a guy thought you were awesome
but fell in love with someone else.
You’d made a list, it went: supportive, hot,
intelligent, knows what he wants to do
and does it.
The no pile clings to that warmth
in the other room.
¿Ya se te quitó el ardor o continúa?
Like a feather not quite grazing.
Do you miss me yet?
I’m doce horas por tres días
swigging a can of Best Sweet Tea.
How much it had mattered
to catch a cool
worth pausing for.
THE TIME I REALIZED I WASN'T WHITE
I was nine and Grandma Miller introduced me
at the San Diego Pentecostal church.
I politely kissed her white friend
on the cheek, to everyone’s shock,
and burned a red backdrop
to my freckles.
A few years after my quinceañera
my Spanish boyfriend
algo en las estructuras que no va
flattened my accent in a cove of love
a woman’s grievances
folded in papers he’d lock away
Feminism’s just a petty excuse
for my voice silenced
from radical to analyst
from beacon to branded
from brilliant to affirmative action
from man to woman.
I hide my phony diploma
behind my leg
check from the side of my eye
if anyone’s looking.
The white boy couldn’t get in anywhere
because he was a white boy.
The time I was most white was when at twenty-five
I capitalized on your adolescence in Virginia
knew your South Asian wouldn’t let you
say no to me.
That’s the time I saw myself in you.
The time I was least white was when in Mexico
a white man took my work
and didn’t invite me to the party.
In Spain at twenty-two
my teacher called Latin America
an insult to language
in front of ten women and an institution
that said the sun would do enough
to dry me.
One time I wasn’t white and
was at nineteen in New York
when Becca Stein said the Spanish street names
in my poem were disorienting
like is this Arizona or Mexico
because the way you’ve situated the text
—to a white woman.
The time I felt most white was when
at eighteen I read David Foster Wallace on SWE
The time I felt least white was when
The time I felt least white was when
people only care
if your camera won’t show your color negative
if you can afford a camera, SWE, BMW, 401K.
The time I was least white was when
insurance is only for residents
and they pick up the phone and say who’s speaking
And I say María Fernández.
The time I felt least white was when
I had a skinny iced latte in Polanco
and my girlfriends said Chicanos
weren’t really Mexican.
The time I felt most white
was when I laughed along.
BOYS ARE LIKE HOUSES IN A BIRACIAL, TRANSCONTINENTAL STATE
Two stuffed bags. A closet arranged from purple to black, customary in Columbia dorms. Chucked an exam hangover into six human-sized boxes, followed by five-dollar margaritas spewing me blue on a viscid wood floor: six legs, three tongues, multiple smartphones testifying. Then an apartment furnished to eat at the liver, pinching it tight like money. Street finds to compensate: scrubbed record shelves, an impressionist yard framed in gold. My roommate’s thick glasses, eraser dust, notes almost rebooking the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Seven choking perfume spritzes, for luck.
Two hovering years. Adrià mutated from vellum to liberty, swan song eight times through the Caribbean. Multiplied his specter into nine human-shaped deposits, followed by muscles ticking me blue on my phone: indigent, deaf-eared, pinched in a heartbeat of lubricated ego. Then hypochondria spews herpes from whitescreen to skin, harking me back to his question. Street finds to compensate: a Texan jock, a cult child, Adonis stealing his pinesmell. Erased to a new stability, a gust of wait, the future scudding out on overstretched tentacles. Left a sludge slipway, for luck.
Two potioned poems. Concocted relationships cursing my drive from genesis to mud, buried nine ribs down from atonement. My brain vacuumed into human-sizing mirrors, followed by tweezers clipping me red on a cortisone lake: YouTube yoga, insomniac, a sallow bed of cesspooled escapism. Then twenty-seven strands of rejection letters, pinning a desiccated moth to a millennial sense of purpose. Metaphysical steals to compensate: a poem Mónica de la Torre wrote in my dream, God’s voice channeled through a grimy garrafón, a therapist. Churned by a threat cue choked in shoelace, a propulsion cradled in tissue flesh, clouds spelling tedium to amaranth. Oiled ten hands in violet, for luck.
there is a thought of you
showing up in mexico
clutch two fingers on yours
in a cab
but the current seeps
echoes of footsteps
i put the kettle on
and purple afterlights
exist in spite of us
the way you hug me
a smoked chicken
at the center of a birthday cake
our walls frame the one space
so we cross our
to a five-month atlantic
where we send each other poems
just to say you’re beautiful
too much bruise out of nowhere, too much my body
hurting my body. too much nightmare in the night.
too much your hands, too much I quake. at sundown,
at the edge of scorching, too much like kerosene, too
much I become a puncture for mending.
I walk uphill, frighten myself with sequins,
with shrieking—I chase after, scissors and
glisten. whenever my hunger, when it takes
me, I eat—one tablet by mouth, the hills go
shhhhh and homeward, how I rattle, split
underneath—a cutlet soaking for the butcher
look at me
falling in love with girls all over instagram
left and right
i don't know who i am
or who they are either
here is a photo of the moon
here is a photo of the clouds
here is a photo of the entire starless sky at night
below a meme comparing my sleeping habits to that of the woeful expression of a tiny tired pup
i laugh out loud on the balcony
thinking of you
now i am over here
super-liking people on tinder
swiping left and swiping right
they do not know who they are
defined by a blurb
here is a conversation about my addiction to netflix
here is a chat regarding my love for this cat that i am holding
here is my height and i also have children
inbetween going to school i am addicted to tattoos
i couldn't live without camping
and i am on this date now
thinking of you
check my style out
trying to reconnect with old flames via facebook
liking and commenting
everything has changed
as have i
here is a denied friend request
here is you being married now
here is another denied friend request
all beside these three simple photographs of your smile
i can stare at on your limited profile
i close my laptop in bed
thinking of you
okay let's try something else
like a simple hook-up on grindr
100 metres to the left 100 metres to the right
i cannot see their faces
but i want them to see mine
here is a less than stylish snapshot of a penis
here is a very nice conversation with a friendly young boy
here are five more snapshots of various penises
between some of butts and a cute old man
he is looking for love
i turn off my phone
thinking of you
i have accepted that i am alone now
so i go along to the movies
ride around on the bus and stuff
figuring out who i am
one step at a time
there is a day where i eat nothing but potatoes as a personal social experiment
and a week where i choose not to masturbate
i see you on the side-streets one evening in december
hand in hand with a tall drink of water
he's got a firm handshake and his car is purple
i say it's nice to meet him
i am looking at you
history text book or bruised apple
opened can of beer or conversation about MRSA
hair net or the apex of humanity
dead bolt lock blocks a lost tool belt
A quickening before a steady heart beat
surgical steel than malignant tumor
wounded crane or jagged window
repurposed paper shreds sparkling saltwater inlet
a mouse than a muffler
a bag of tarts or a melted opinion
a paper doll or a wind up doorbell chronicle
Prague mission after New York bodega
a pen vandalizes a notebook
because doing over done too
ROBOT #2 (GROUPS)
: Part numbers indicate roughly what kind of part they stand for. The part
numbers are in the format PPPxxx, where PPP is a prefix indicating the part type, and
xxx is the number for the part. Here is a list of prefixes you'll find:
PCB Printed Circuit Boards
it’s fucking cold
beep beep bop
CRY Clear parts used as lenses
MIS Miscellaneous parts
GEA Round parts that rotate, such as gears and interrupter
tongue as a foreign object
Do not interrupt
Note: Text in Berlin Sans Font is taken from the RoboScout S1583 Robot Instruction Manual.
(Copyright 2001, The Sharper Image.)
Jenny Holzer created a peace memorial in Hauptplatz, Austria fifty years after the end of World War II.
rectangular white stones
along the garden path
her boots leave
ash foot prints
black tulips stand
Who lived in the woods
we are just as see through
as you the flowers
mock the girl
in the breeze
Her bobbed hair
stringy, gray before
Who ran to the river
one sign of benign script
take a towel and bar of soap
come and slash
my throat is
a charade of stainless steel
shower heads a
secret welcomes to feel
Who died looking
what is born in you
will come out
and this makes
people want to kill
or to implement surgical steel
the tulips drop
at the ghost girl’s
feet which skip back
into the lake
The beam of light
shoots into the night sky,
disappears at dawn.
Whose thoughts are missing
Text in italics taken from Jenny Holzer, Phadion Publishing
What: 'Pastels & Poetry' is an ongoing poetry/photo project by published writer, Raychel Reimer. Reimer visually showcases her poetry works in uniquely assembled frames to catch the reader's eye. The purpose of the bold colour use in Reimer's project is to not shy away from her own personal femininity, and to deconstruct the idea that bright colours are gendered or juvenile.
Who: Raychel Reimer is a freelance artist based out of Vancouver, Canada. She studied Media Arts at Sheridan Institute in Toronto where she specialized in documentary filmmaking. A lover of many platforms, Reimer is not only an award-winning documentary filmmaker, but also a photographer, writer and mixed media artist. She continues to create raw, non-fiction art in all of these mediums. | www.raychelreimer.com | @RRxWords
Old fashion is the malong Yasmin’s mother keeps tucked away in her closet. It smells like the soil after rain visits--petrichor, her mother tells her, the land blessed after a dry spell—and there are little spiders making homes in the edges, little bridges connecting the fabric to the wood. She tells Yasmin she will wear it on her wedding day. Yasmin thinks I do not want to be buried alive.
Old fashion is Yasmin’s father telling her what to wear and what not to wear. No crop tops, men turn away from the eyes of God to flashes of flesh; no shorts, the flesh is the Devil’s work; no mini skirts, the Devil and his army have led men to their damnation through the flesh for centuries. Yasmin takes to hiding the shorts and the skirts (she didn’t think she could pull off crop tops, they didn’t jive with her) amidst her dresses and pants and jeans and hijabs.
Old fashion is one of Yasmin’s babus—aunts—repeating what the Christians say about men loving men and women loving women: Our Lord the Most Merciful did not create man and man to grow the land, nor did He made woman and woman to name the beasts in the Garden. Family dinners get awkward every night the conversation circles around it. Yasmin can feel herself shrinking to the size of a pea. She always finishes first, excuses herself, locks herself in her room and asks the Most Merciful if He really hated people like her.
New fashion is the new girl in her class. Her name is Tala--my parents thought I was born from a star, you know—and Yasmin can feel herself falling into somewhere with a light that warms the cages of her heart. Tala and Yasmin become friends as soon as they meet. Tala is a sun on a cloudy day, her laugh echoing with the air all around them.
Tala meets Yasmin’s parents. They like her. Neither Yasmin nor Tala speak of the flowers blooming on Yasmin’s chest, or the nearly-there clutches of touch shared under the dining table. Yasmin stares too long at Tala as the darkness of the night surrounds her; her parents think she’s worried about the bad men roaming around, Yasmin thinks what if they steal her shine? and that question haunts her sleep and her dreams—coming face-to-face with a Tala desaturated and dim.
New fashion is Tala knocking on Yasmin’s window around the hour where everyone’s asleep. This Tala is not the Tala of her nightmares nor the Tala of her everyday life. The Tala before her is all moonlight and stardust. She touches Yasmin’s face, I didn’t think I’d fall for someone like you slithers inside her head and the smile on Tala’s face is sad, as if this confession is also a finality.
I love you, Yasmin whispers to the pale hand on her cheek. I always will. Tala shakes her head, removes her hand from the other girl’s face. The smile never leaves her face, but Yasmin sees an eternity of melancholy etched skin deep: from the lines on her face, to the shapes framing her hands, to what passes as a heartbeat echoing in a ribcage that’s not there. Always, Tala says, but even forever doesn’t last. Yasmin wonders if there are choirs in the heavens; Tala sounds like she’d be a part of them.
New fashion is an old god forgotten, supposedly sinking into the waters of memory, but sun-warm and a blinding beacon—alive in a way that her heartbeat joins in the chorus of other, pulsing songs.
New fashion is… an old god finding brighter than herself and a young girl learning to take love’s hand in flight.
Not the alien, although I feel like one too often. What does it mean to hate your father, and his father’s father? It was accidental too -- the way he refused to hold my mother’s hand, her butterfly heart shook as she birthed me. My name, a sting on white boys’ lips. You ask where I’m from. Why? So you can burn my syllables to a dying geisha. When you see my teeth in purple filtered school portraits, will you remember the overbite of hushed slurs? Or the rumors you breathe in my absence. I remember that morning in May. You move your face into the shape of pufferfish and squint at me. Come on, where are you really from? If only you knew the weight of creaseless eyelids and broken nostrils. How my bones can easily swallow me whole when your antlers straddle my womb, crushing the only slivers of carbon I have remaining.
recorded between bedroom & dorm room, the boy ep is introverted melancholy tinged with perseverance. recommended listening: overcast skies, looking out a train window, under a blanket, shaky hands, indescribable feeling in your chest. so press that play button & settle in for the interview:
1. let's get to know you. what's on your mind right this second? if you were a season, which one would you be? why? what keeps you going? do you collect anything weird?
right this second i'm thinking about how much homework i have to do for this summer class i'm taking. if i were a season, i'd probably be winter because it's cool. i don't think i've ever collected anything weird. i used to collect rocks, i have a bunch of them hidden away somewhere in my room, so there's this giant bag of rocks just chilling in my closet or whatever. i also used to collect guitar picks and that was only weird because i would never use them. i actually didn't start using picks until this past november, and i've been playing guitar for nine years now. i also collect blank cassette tapes and CDs by stealing them but i won't go into detail about that.
2. the boy ep makes me sad in a nice way (like a nostalgic, sleepy, introverted, therapeutic, healing, hopeful way), which makes me want to ask what sort of place you were in when you wrote and recorded it. was there anything in particular influencing you at the time? was there anything in particular you hope the ep makes listeners feel or think about?
i wasn't in the best place while writing/recording it, but my main motive was to create something honest. a lot of young people suffer from anxiety, depression, feelings of isolation, etc. and although my music doesn't necessarily provide advice or hope for them, i guess in a way i was trying to convey to them that they shouldn't invalidate themselves based on their personal experiences. everyone goes through their own shit, and that's totally fine.
3. what role does making music play (and what role has it played previously) in your life?
music plays a pretty significant role in my life. i started writing my own songs when i was 14, and i started releasing material on bandcamp when i was 15. i like to think i've come a long way since then, because the songs i used to write were really bad. despite that, i've always been writing and making music and so far i think it's had a positive impact on who i am as a person.
4. lastly, what does the future look like?
i'm currently working on a full-length album, which i hope to finish by the end of august.