hello, 

free silence is a series of poems split into four, chronological volumes spanning from 2014-2018. the poems found in this section of this website are mostly from the fourth and final volume. 

printable, cover-less pdfs of free silence I-III zines can be found in the *zines and collaborations* section of this website (along with some other projects). free silence IV does not have a cover quite yet, but a cover-less pdf of the text can be found by clicking the button below. (note - all of the free silence pdfs are meant to be printed, folded in half, and read that way! if you read them straight from the internet, they will make a lot less sense).

if you would like a copy of a free silence zine with cover art by Adam Grossi mailed to you, please contact me and we'll work out a sliding scale price. 

thank you for reading!

 

and suddenly,

the weather shifts from a halo of wet snow to seventy degrees

 

and I walk to the store for red not white for the first time

I submitted something to be read and considered for a book

 

the joke is on them, as they draft their polite email

I walk down this avenue towards the brown brick school

 

with enormous windows and discover

that this can be with me

 

I am just as much a part of everything happening here

the reflection of the photons on the enormous windows

 

the wavicles in a plastic bag intertwined with a lawn statue

I am not isolating when I am having words with myself

 

if I remember this as I just have remembered

for the first time 

I am flipping through my attempts at budgeting which become more like food shopping lists for my expectations of myself, mostly concerning writing and traveling. I am trying to show you a feeling without telling you that I am showing you a feeling. 

Why guilt when simply it is because I have seen so many far away people recently and I have felt the ebb of having their body in a room with my body, palpations of three years between our introductions of our at-home-friends. I get so high I cannot screw the lid on the jar Vanessa left in the window. 

Guilt because it is the metal band that my mind can unscrew when I encounter a large feeling. I have spent so much time with you that I am out of practice with stretching my humor. I am too used to the patient silence I have known only in you. 

for now I have known a richer love
a turtle resting on its aroid-spathe-shell

in the cradle of my chest it has stopped its kicking and flickering
attempts to flip onto four feet

now laying still in a honey-scented light
caressed in the deepest sockets of breath and pulse

it is joy, just as I remembered her
in the eyes of those who have really seen

the broadening heart-space from which
I am sometimes able to dwell

some watery shift
I am alone with the shelves in my mother's basement

I peer into the marine green eyes of a wooden doll and realize
this here belonged to me

the same one who hears the kettle now and feels the plucking string of a memory of a thought:
this must go and also this

in order to be still enough to sit
at my desk aging in the corner like a brown and asthmatic snake plant

I don't know if I've come back to this thought enough times
to roll out the leaf and write

here, this one here, and perhaps ever
it is coming around a corner in my mind, on a lucky night, 

to find a pile of books opened to the passages
that caught my attention long enough to think to leave them open

It is Wednesday, a pearl
crescent dwindles in the dawning eve of Sagittarius, it was warm

today
and yesterday

was too though I cannot remember which day it was
that Nana lost her way to the main entrance parking lot

I suggested the right route (we had taken it not more than a half hour before)
she could hear my voice

through the opaque vibrations of the plastic, tan trim
beneath her forty minutes of sleep in two days

his cheeks are crimson and ripe
he never looked that plump in his youth

the men have cheek bones like symmetric bird beaks
in this family

my uncle flew to us here in Iowa
I know what language my mother invoked to concretize that choice

and all the same here he is to hold the dangling hand
under the bipap mask the ancient one heaves like a swelling ocean

the machine is alien and monstrosly hitech
against the depth of the grooves around his eyes and jaw

parabola to the moon
a waterfall without gravity into a phosphorus plane of gentler breath
 


 

sometimes I think I cannot read because I do not remember
this has been a capricious three months, a grey stone with irritating little holes

the film of ruminating ice slipped over the what-is-happening- 
beneath I need to change a handful of things:

a carousel of wizardly and dark purple horses
chased and chased by their boastful, rapunzel-maned counterparts

I google 'why does everyone hate me: mental illness'
it is not quite the frantic attempts to create certainty

(often in very expensive ways, on the list of things)
and neither quite the wack of an axe

hitting a calloused, cedar throat: I am a failure
a seesaw of clutching and purging, bumping my knees

knocking my ankles as friends with paranoia call my work and say, 
"I think they are afraid of me" and I know that voice

others move away with just few weeks notice, a pair
of train car-sized fingers has squeezed the tip of the axle

of all of it and given it a pinch and whirl: will there ever be time to heal
a wall is collapsing somewhere far off

and then the thud of another, nearer
I am moving so fast I can see the contours of the larger shadow
 

a voyage over hazel stew
another homecoming, apotheosis of any tuesday

derision of my mind chatter, i wonder if i have internal deep-government
a string-puller

these grace days of rain are dripping on the flashbulb thoughts
that burst and fall away like a yellow leaf's

hue in the water
before slipping down the grate

in the dream I sort clear, plastic shapes

of the assemblage, I snap together

letters that correspond to their twins at gliding joints

a beastly camber, a spinal chord is excavated in my bedroom

 

over text I complain to my lover too much,

I come clean of it all to the oracle in my room at candlelight: silence

I sort my mother, my work, my health

 

my mother texts me to ask if I feel fine

about the final purge of my dwindling childhood possessions

I consent to have the conversation over with—I had

no sanctified hobbies or precious tools

what is in that basement or the closet in that room

was barely ever there

a reluctant ghost behind too many doors

I

 

miami woods prairie & labagh

 

the cobalt mouth sleeps stolid as steeping tea

haunted, umbrellas scattering grey on the stones below

there is alien transparency in the golden grass outside

from this vantage point

the spiny prairie flowers are fecund with skeletons' murmur

on drugs maples are undeniably anthropomorphic

to the extent that I project something like gender, age,

texture of gentleness, shapes of face bones onto—

riding where the shimmering day pauses in darkened bouts

wind hush, jasmine tint, you can look forever out

a thickness that recalls all that may be buried here

even with highway sounds just to the west

 

II

 

rock cut

 

a pod clips off from a buckling leaf

bouncing biscuit to where we sleep

returning home the next night I strum

through journals of my past, knobs

of forgotten lessons are puckering lesions, scabs

found in the laundry: bark, crispy mossycup

 

an unexpected image brightens my mind

slowing down sighting the overpass ruts

my kisses are sent out through storms in the valleys of your eyes

a buoy on a scorpio lake

you pick the black seeds from the dried flutes

and pocket them for later

 

we stroke beaded ferns and syrupy ginko like ancient fabric

and I consider that I may trust you

windows in the woods permit cornfields and trucks—through

the torrent of prairie heat builds under the tracks

a snapping milkweed muffles the highway

surrounded by thousands of chirping residents

fantastically old, it only exists because it can never fully develop

 

I enter the past moments after I leave your company

notebooks are crawl spaces with the light switch in tact

I sense trust for myself tucked in the tent

with a heart as tall as the grey headed cone flower

 

III

 

to zion

 

the lake splits with fitful winds

grey crests hurtle like liberated dogs, further

out a seam of sand parts the deepness from what is headed this way

a waiting place, constipated, a shelf to witness

past and present

 

obscure shadows kaleidoscope around your eyes and mouth

moving too with the breeze

long purple flowers bend at new joints

they morph the longer we stay,

becoming intimate with what they will go through

 

we were sick when we came here to hide for a moment

I am home, now and the anxiety is denser

a recent pardon, an expanding nebula of online fascist organizing,

dozens to thousands drowning in rain’s resistance

the sea is teaching us that she does not have the patience to discern

 

these feather petals drink from lake spray overhead

the wind is too cumbrous and so they fall

bud bored into the sand and butter rocks

 

forty miles north of chicago we can hear the hurricane in texas,

bangladesh, through the oaks and cherry choke

I hear you cry from the cold at three in the morning

I clutch the ground and fear our tent will be cast away like so much

that our befriended neighbor tree will buckle with new joints

and interrupt the sobs in your chest where I lay still 

mulberry banana bread

 

in the dirt the flower grows roots on both planes

extending beyond the main vessel, the trajectory of the planting

broadening into something separate over there

 

did we give birth together?

 

your natal season of communication—faces like a manifold of cedar, rose

tinted finger-sized bottles:

oils stowed by a book or leaf on each of your shelves

 

living alone lately I scrape the underbelly of my larger toenails every time I step out of the shower

 

I am upset when I cannot

 

I am wrapped in a grey towel when the thinnest veil of my outer body

slips off onto the linoleum

I am wet when I scour a once neglected afterthought

(for 23 years I could not extend my left pinky toe because I did not recognize that it existed)

 

with frantic diligence I think I am just too intense for the space we hold between us to be effortless

I could not press against a fear of my irritation

because I did not recognize that it existed—endured love

 

I do not mind the smell of your cat’s pee

laughably enough—floating on the water or planted in the rocks the roots pull downward

 

solely

 

a heavy headed flower grows hunched eventually

to gaze at her own seed

 

we moved—through always getting along

some grave visitor has choked the lovable parts in each of us

blackened irises

sick smoke, an older seed of an orphan cascading her pain like ripples of fire and then quieted

again, the cat pressing into your leg

 

all of us

 

soft enough to drop sweet mulberries into the bread

the hitchin’ post / driving to prison on 1-57

 

the mists of Shawnee ferns smell

like triangle shaped chicken chips in the octagonal lot

beneath my face, invisible

peering above an air conditioner cubicle, brown, obscuring

I am not watching much

humble yellow weeds

but I feel the scurry of threat

someone in the truck may see my nipples

I tug the sheer curtains closed with a plastic pulling wand

precarious rings catch and the impermanence is exposed

again and again like a cut in the meadow

it is more difficult than being in a fixed room alone,

a vacant room alone, residues of foot,

the petite happy hour wine chalice once glistened here

cupped by the smothering hand of Mr. Clean

the vegetarian burrito is a slop of all of the sauces

I place it onto my tongue and feel

scorpio moon: squirming snakes in my throat stir before my own mind

they want to beat themselves against the pouring rain

someone put them here: whose snakes are these? 

cuspids make the pickle explode in my mouth: salt

it is the head of a snake biting from between my jaws! 

I am a dehydrated liver slumped at an office chair 

gaping eyes deep in my purple face

information passing through, wet unlit tunnels by the lake,

from the computer into the net of my belly flesh: exorcism

empaths are water filters that go home at night

shame on you

for seeing me, my rage turned inward

you created the story of you are never pleased enough

I am a liver, not a doormat

more ripe, less traction, key differences 

we discuss how we are a pair of open hearts:

I feel most actualized when witnessed by a comrade open heart

poisoned when I am seen for my open heart

by one that needs to transform rage outward

charcoal massages into my pores

when my open heart becomes a den for a foreign pain

to rinse the liver drink lemon, bathe in beets 

scrub your temples with something green

until it squirms out: a projection, a ghost 

my shadow is dark as scorpio's pouring night 

but it is not the shape of a snake

seven and a half hours so fast today, not of sleep, of work. I woke up and followed along with almost one half of a vigorous yoga video, "yoga for strength forty minute vinyasa series." 

nine out of any given ten days I will sleep in a half hour past when I plan to wake up. I do not jolt when I hear my alarm but rather I slide into consciousness and analysis harmoniously.

I feel disappointment. it is seven am. I will take a few minutes here to assess if I have a headache or not, if my joints feel sour, what else, why. here I tack on the thirty minutes: deferring my conclusions--I make time to plan to decide. 

I may be sensitive to dairy or bread or something. I defer to exploring this to a time when I will be less dependent on bagels for amusement (pleasure). perhaps in my thirties I will have found something else to get me through noon. I got through today because of a toasted blueberry bagel with lavender cream cheese. 

I need to write about what I am afraid of--and there is quite a lot. time has been moving in sort of a saturated hustle between last spring and the present, sort of like a wind swept blob of chunky jam. I want to make a diagram demonstrating what has changed (and how many times) and what is exactly the same. 

while I am writing this I am realizing how much my handwriting has decompensated since I started working at the Law Center. I type very fast now but my index finger and thumb muscles feel dumb and unrehearsed. or I am just becoming myself a little more everyday in every way: an overall imprecise, flailing sort of person (my Fs look like my Es). 

most of all I feel fear when I displease others.  or perhaps I am afraid of external disapproval when I am spinning in a gust of my own fuckery--this year for example. 

this may be part of why I have a history of attracting judgmental, unforgiving types of people. please, don't forgive me. 

I am not sure what good it would do to keep a journal again. though I have written three times in three different places today, the thought of carrying around a log of myself is anxiety producing in the same way that jumping into an frigid lake feels. slurping in breaths.

I fear I would put many hours into it and then, on one of these nights where I smoke pot, stare at my phone, panic and resolve to act, and then purge some things I feel are "weighing me down" I would toss it into a very small trash bag for my very small trash can. 

(note: if you ever come over to my "apartment" and throw something away, consider this a permanent act as I take out what is always an alarmingly full bucket of trash nearly every morning (after I decide I am well enough to wake up in thirty minutes)).  

I am wondering why one of my friends who lives across the globe has pulled away from me recently. I am wondering why I initiated some camping plans with my college roommate and another dear friend from that era in Portland when I know too well that I am broke and scrambling to do better with my money. 

aquarians, like all air signs, have a marked challenge with stillness. then, reflecting on the movement (which can escalate like a madness) I feel something that I've deferred to process so for now I will call it guilt. guilt for stirring up the lives of others, for my unrefined haste (however genuine), for generally being an "intense person." 

I had a dream that my friend that I have a crush on looked inside my oven.

I think I know what is in there: one to two cast iron pans (can also be used as pots if you add enough sauce and a lid) and the remnants of a melted jar of garlic supplements. the capsules fell behind the stove (no recollection of how that happened but I do remember reaching for them with a spatula which was also lost). 

I did find a small pan that may or may have not belonged to Melody back there. (Melody: if you are reading this, I have your pan). 

when the white goop sprawls out of an eggshell, it takes up exactly as much space as this pan offers. and--the pan shapes fried eggs into perfect circles. 

my friend looked into my oven compassionately, I could tell by his posture. 

I was across the room and all I could make out was a pit of darkness, maybe he saw more. 

dream: my judgemental and unforgiving friend and I walk on a paved bike bath through the woods. we are carrying bags. she tells me about how another friend of ours thinks she is breathtakingly beautiful. I agree. 

my airiness frightens me because it is vulnerable and blows around with the capacity to hurt others. or, more pertinently: to disappoint.  

my go-to coping/controlling/"grounding" mechanisms: isolate, smoke weed, sometimes I go outside, call Vanessa or go see Hannah. today I bought a drink called "The Honey Bunny" (apple cider vinegar, honey, some frothy stuff: it can't be milk and I should avoid that anyway) and read some of Jackie Wangs, "Tiny Spelunker of the Oneiro-Womb" (thank you, Vicky). 

it is may, usually these are the weeks when everyone's frequency begins to pick up. I need tools to practice the opposite. I need to be right here. I need to be right here until I know why being here takes such effort, why I am afraid of anhedonia in stillness. why I do not anticipate richness instead. 

may makes the sound of a misty woodland

ropes of soaked boughs hang over northside avenues

 

exhausted from the growth with excess slipping onto my pants

highlighter moss a soft, clay eraser

 

blurring the edges of what is already there

something between form and nothing

 

being alive or not existing at all

a robin-song is the neighbor of my brain

 

somewhere outside my skull riding through the rain

I hear the offering of context

 

thoughts patter in a rain-coat-hood unburdening

like the bowl-shaped maple leaf on the fallen pollen and pods

 

the egg moon is an air sign
in the morning after suspended-in-the-mystery
I feel how much the memory emptied me
days later I recruit pauses between grains of brown rice

hatch: a ship full of planes spears through the water for Korea
transformation, subconscious depths, we drink alcohol
it is deadly, or maybe not this time

explosions like shells of a clay pot bouncing off the wall
like an unstable neighbor twisting your locked doorknob
while you are inside naked, crack the earth
blood like hot water under the sand rises out of my computer

there is no earth in this pink moon
their eyes are dashed on a vertical horizon
not-knowing of the sky, escalation in the ocean
mine are here in the park
weighing the outcomes of the next spoonful of lunch
how do we hold our food in the prideful Libra moon

 

it will be so, that I am always starting over

patterns in the dish of my eye

 

a fishtail, houndstooth, each addition

holding space for the invisible next

 

with years I have picked up scattered feathers

grey and unmellowed

 

one fist at a time, pressured into a glass jar

I seal it with a baubled lid

 

in my dream the calendar reminds me of the full moon

the jar belongs on the stony ledge where she waits for me

 

the enormous shadow,

the things I have collected—condensed

“There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon.”

-Basho

 

emancipated surrender

emancipated into the same sheets: it is evening again

not quite night,

here in winter early darkness blindfolds the options

I feel your hands cue the transition

taking off my bra (if I am wearing one) and let me tumble

on the quilt squares like soft potatoes landing, muffled

 

I feel as though I have not slept

in this bed on the rug in months, perhaps ever

though I was here less than a half days worth before

is your body mostly warm

 

or chilled, like a window

open, surrendered to the elements

a whole days worth is not worth the heft of my fall

I weigh more than I should in my shoulders, in my mind

 

thin lightening raps on a window

a hailstorm in the balmy rapture

February should not be this warm

so we love in the interim, laying down to our survival game

of wait and see

Revisting Audre Lorde, listening to readings of "Sister Outsider," remembering to write it down

The urge to reel back, to retreat into what once was: 

I have experienced the film just under the varnish of the present peeling back, 

rotting like an unwashed scab. 

Fear makes this rattling noise under my eyes, 

but there is more to it than that. 

I am unsure of the path, and that uncertainty, 

answering to it, 

inventing ways to dance with it, 

is what I seldom remember is the true, encompassing path 

for any truth-seeker. 

The rest of my flesh should be enough of a force to surround and engulf the pieces 

where the doubt has pierced through. 

I think of my flesh as a graph of the resistance, the bleeding is a dying nationalism. 

My good bacteria is eating it whole with microscopic fangs 

and hearts. The recovery is the discipline 

but today I address where my mind seeks to feed the blisters 

while I work at the law center, 

learning about scraps of disability income, 

about prison guards wrapping plastic bags over the segregated and mentally ill

just to remind them of the silence they are bound to

should they dare whisper through a letter. 

Wishing to work mindlessly again, to work with my friends, 

to laugh through this learning, to have life as it was 

before the harshness of now. 

And I have given it away to myself, again: I have the choice 

to step out of the sickness which, 

much like the truth of the path, is the symptom of the bigger sickness: 

that some of us have this choice 

while others are completely condemned, 

body, spirit, voice, by a lack of it.