Dogs are boys and cats are girls.
No one was looking. I dipped my baby carrots in sugar.
I swam in my pool wearing only underwear.
Girls are not supposed to be shirtless.
I told the girls at pre-school about my older sister and brother.
I don’t have a sister.
At recess time, the swings are my favorite.
My biggest fear is falling.
I found out a way to touch that feels good.
This makes grown ups angry.
Women are really pretty
in my mom’s magazine.
I only dream in the color red.
Circles are girls and squares are boys.
I don’t like to share my crayons because
I love to touch the pointy tips.
The kids color so hard my crayolas return as stubs
Riley said I am too bossy and called me a hippocrip.
I cried and cried.
I had a crush on Riley. Continue reading
-on the second anniversary of the death of Marla Ruzicka,
an American aid worker killed in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq on April 16th, 2005.
Marla founded Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) in 2003.
Each day of this war the body count
passes anonymous as an odometer tick.
We kick the tires, we turn the page.
Upstairs where my books breathe the article
that announced your death and life to me
sits clipped (wide Rolling Stone paper halved
and halved again) stirring like a fever dream
in my bookcase.
Marla, it’s another year for the sand of this war
to overrun the graves, fill in the craters, the details. Continue reading
I first saw Frank Portman (aka Dr. Frank) perform at a small venue in Santa Cruz in 1993. He was playing, of course, with The Mr. T Experience, an early fixture at 924 Gilman St. and one of the original Lookout! Records bands. It got pretty rowdy, as most shows did back in those days, and at one point while jumping and bashing around up front, I slipped in a beer puddle and took a pretty nasty spill. Even though I was a sprightly 20 years-old and numb from several belts of 100-proof Southern Comfort, I smashed my knee badly enough that I ended up watching most of the set from the back of the room. (It’s safe to say that 80% of shows in the early 90s resulted in some sort of semi-serious injury.) Still, it was a lot of fun. I’d heard plenty of MTX’s music before, at parties and blasting out of dorm rooms up at Porter College, but I wasn’t familiar with many specific songs. I knew the lyrics were smart and funny from the records I’d heard and the occasional title they would announce (“Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend”), but they were hard to make out through the wall of noise. However, when they kicked into a hyped-up punk version of the Brady Bunch’s “It’s Time to Change,” the place went apeshit, myself included. We all bounced around gleefully and shouted along with every word. They hit a giddy nerve and they knew it.
And they knew how to put on a show. I saw them a few more times throughout the 90s and it was always a good time. They had plenty of chops, but they also knew how to keep it loose, and it was clear that they never took themselves too seriously. That stood out back then, in a good way. While irony was definitely a hallmark of 90s rock culture, taking yourself too seriously was even more of one. MTX knew that we were there to have fun, and so were they.
I sort of lost track of them around the turn of the millennium. Then in 2010, while I was living in San Francisco, my girlfriend, a YA writer herself, brought home King Dork, Frank Portman’s novel, which had been recommended to her by a friend. I was intrigued. So that’s what happened to that guy, he became a writer. After MTX had released the album Yesterday Rules in 2004 it became clear to Dr. Frank that the music business had changed enough that it was no longer feasible to make even a modest living writing songs and selling records. He began to cast about for another line of work, and decided to try his hand at writing YA fiction. Starting with the title of one of his songs, “King Dork,” he wrote the story of Tom Henderson, a 14 year-old outcast, obsessed with rocknroll, girls, how terrible Catcher in the Rye is, and solving the mystery of his father’s death. With only his equally unpopular friend Sam by his side, he has to navigate the perilous social waters of his California high school, beset by bullies, cruel teachers, and all of the “psychotic” normal people of the world. Home isn’t much easier, inhabited as it is by his loopy, distracted mother, lovably awkward hippie-dip stepdad “Little Big Tom,” and eternally sullen little sister Amanda. Continue reading
FAR FROM HOME
far from home visiting friends who’ve become more radical
never am i such a stranger as at these moments
i could be dead it would be nothing monumental to me
at times like these i stroll back and forth
between this objectivity and that door that guards my dreams
these days everything is something along those lines
my friend was sleeping with this tantric woman
who’d just left her husband and three kids
i was traveling to see him
where he was holed up
all around us life went on assertion bragging defensiveness
and boasting forgery and greed
his dad with new girlfriend was at the texmex diner where we got breakfast
his dad paid our bill the grandma didn’t know his dad was dating
would write him out of the will he thought she should be in a home
thought it felt guilty he’d asked my friend to tell grandma she needs to
go to a home bought our breakfast and we left town
when should we live if not now
is what they say in california
in the car we talked about the relationships between other people and parents
other people and other people parents and parents
parents and themselves we agreed
it would be nice to define this relationship between anger nostalgia and insecurity
once and for all
sometimes there is a solution for this problem
with a rumor about ourselves in it that’s almost imperceptible
a song by Wes Youssi
a video by Robert Delahanty
featuring Hailey Henry
Rooting For You
unhappy but trying to not rip my own head off and punt it as my final dying motion
chewing tropical bubble gum and refusing to acknowledge the slow decline of all life on earth
but! kinda coming out of my fog, and seeing where to put my feet on the steps
think about a new baby girl crawling up the stairs
grabbing a cape mom hung on the doorknob
slipping the cape on, floating over the violent town
I look up to people who raised themselves
see me pop my bubblegum underneath
flickering florescent light
do people raised by wild wolves ever get tired?
do wild wolves ever get tired of raising babies they found somewhere, crying soft in the darkened forest?
picturing wild wolves having to go to a PTA meeting
picturing wild wolves bringing a child to tee ball
picturing wild wolves having to meet their adoptive human son or daughter’s prom date and the wild wolves sitting on their haunches, knowing this’ll all work out
wild wolves thinking ‘okay, try me’
earlier today I accidentally cut my hand wide open and I purposefully let the blood fall on the snow and make a heart shape
a big ol’ heart shape
hope you can see it from up in the pink clouds
if you’re separated for me, I’ll continue to believe it’s because you are out secretly saving the world from forces I cannot comprehend.
Nothing nothing nothing and then a spark of something I once knew:
The old farm house on a Missouri country road,
a pandemonium of wild flowers in the sky every evening
and who would need a skyscraper then?
The bustle of cities to the peepers shredding the dark with song is no comparison.
I want the night hanging in tatters from the good noise,
I want the purple scales of the fish across the street,
the pond next to the yard next to the house that Jim and Mary Lou keep.
The dirt road that nana scraped her knee on,
my father lapping up the last of the bourbon.
the trees & the trees & the trees,
gummy July and my father’s slicked sweat dripping after another day pruning,
and you try to say that the California heat is oppressive?
Missouri is a skillet,
flat and butter yellow in summer and trees take shape for the Christmas taking.
I carry the buckets of saplings through the rows,
my father rises like an elevator to spray the tops of the five year old trees,
I put the babies in the ground and the wet mud slurps them home,
gobbles the shy roots and there it is, life,
the Christmas tree farm has birthed another son, or daughter
in a forest of pine
you found a nest & held it in your palm. small speckled
eggs lay in a fragile home built of beak, twig, & spider
silk. you crushed the nest, whispered an invocation into
your clasped fingers & a flock of doves rose from
your palms. they covered the sky. it began to rain. i sat
inside a mountain with a meal of hard bread, grinding
my teeth down on the memory of hunger. how i tried to slow
the passing of everything sweet that touched my tongue.