the hardest surgery is the one you perform on yourself,
no anesthesia but a chuckle of nervous humor
first incision across your heart.
When you finish (many months later)
you put the scalpel down, wave weakly
to the clapping colleagues hugging each other in disbelief
from the observatory, sterile and eager
you give them a wan grin
and hope they've watched closely
so that now they know how...
how to do this.
At twenty-something, I was taught by Fear
who said nothing matters
and then at twenty-something-else I was taught by Faith
who said anything matters
And she wasn't the Sunday kind of Faith that you find
clasped between your palms, clasped like you're afraid
that if you let go the Faith will just tumble out and break.
No, she was the Faith that was bigger than God and so intimate
that sometimes I was the Faith, sometimes you were the Faith,
and sometimes the Faith was me.
So really, Faith doesn't have a name.
But Faith and Fear, they both breathe, they're each lung
and when I fill one, the other billows, after all
you need two to breathe.
And so then I, feeling bold, learned about Bravery.
I had heard about it in newspapers and history book indexes
and in our local volunteer firefighters.
Wondered if I could buy it.
Wondered how much it goes for.
But I couldn't find Brave until the moment I gave up on it
and said, screw it, I'm so scared but I don't care anymore,
I'll just do it, Brave be damned.
And surely enough, it was hiding beneath the tremors.
So really, Brave was the Siamese twin of I'll Just Do It.
which, by the way, wasn't in the glossary of this or any history book.
Everything changes, you know?
I'm changing, you're changing.
Oh, it tosses me like a bull.
I secretly raise my glass to stasis, my faraway frenemy.
Don't tell the other Sagittarians, they'd exile me surely.
Change, letting go of my old faces
feels too close to dying,
feels too close to leaving you behind.
And I'm not ready to leave you behind.
Oh the West, keep your Mountains.
If only for a little longer.
I've excised my soul again and again
transplanted and sutured
but there's just no time.
Even with these visions from under the knife-
there's just no time to heal
before I'm laid on the table again.
Faith hold me-
Fear teach me
so I can...
Please- stay with me.
i worry about my father
roaming free somewhere out there
his memory still tethered to his old leather jacket
and his belt buckle tucked away on my night stand…
i pray to who knows what, hoping mostly
that he has found his peace and happiness
and sometimes, to be embraced
in one of his famous hugs
the warmest i have ever felt
his whiskers pressed
tightly against my face...
and i am told he was a sick man
by everyone that knew him
probably trying to provide some comfort
but to me he never felt sick
he just felt warm
like everyone else
like a father should
the bright sun on those cloudy days
when you just can’t take losing
another drop of rain
those are the days i miss him the most
and those are the days
i find myself praying...
that he didn't have to live
in a world where he suffered
his entire life
on the roof
just to be swallowed whole
by the fire
Captain Ebuzz Clegg
Sails the seven seas.
And rules every ocean
From Calcutta to Belize.
There is nothing far and in between
Nothing old and nothing new,
Captain Ebuzz Clegg has not seen,
And Captain Ebuzz will not do.
He will don his mighty cutlass
Whenever peril comes his way.
He's an old salt, wise and wary.
Always worthy of his prey.
He can read the starry skies at night
Like any solid buccaneer.
And scallywag a bilge rat
Should a bilge rat be lurking near.
When he snaps, "Avast ye mateys," It is fair
He's every plan to anchor there.
Or he'll sail that raging, stormy sea,
Just to find the perfect scratching tree.
"We make our luck," he's sure to say
When some fine challenge comes his way,
He'll weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen strong,
Should a cask of catnip come along.
There are no secret ports where he
Hasn't keelhauled at least one worthless flea,
Or found a bounty of cream fresh as day,
He doesn't plan to steal away.
And should he, a bit of tuna , find,
He'll make certain it isn't left behind.
From Cape Town all the way to South Brisbane
Adventure is his mightiest campaign,
And that's why he wears the Pirate hat,
This clever little Pirate cat.
Copyright © 2012 Richard D. Remler
"Your cat will never threaten your popularity by
barking at three in the morning. He won't attack
the mailman or eat the drapes, although he may
climb the drapes to see how the room looks from
Waking as a woman, new skin glistens and the skies are bluer
My baggy clothes fit no longer,
and my window pane is the devil's eye
Heels tap tarmac
Hair long, singing, alive, loving
Wolf whistle samurai, old me dies
This is how it feels to be accepted
Nightfall doldrums, walls sweat profusely, laughing
Skin tight clothes, constriction, regret,
and liquid death like poison in the throat
Gang dem talk loud, wolf whistle predator
Racing rabbit, running running run, run
Cold breeze silence
and sobbing into the handbag
Waking as a spirit, ethereal pleasure
The re-appropriation of gender
and manic transcendence
When I was little I used to play with dolls
I was obsessed, every birthday, they were all I’d want
They were mostly barbies but I had a few kens too
So my barbies could date, because that’s what people do
I used to match them up, the prettiest barbie was me
And the most handsome Ken, well that was who I’d need to be with
They would go on dates to the barbie mall
I had a little set with the shops and all
Barbie would go get her hair done in the hair salon
And Ken would go to the gym, work out, and get strong
Because that’s what I thought boys and girls were supposed to do
See without a second thought, that’s what I was told was true
So I as I grew up, I set out to find a Ken of my own
Someone I could love, with whom I would grow old
But no matter where I looked, I couldn’t find the right guy
No-one in my grade one class seemed to fit the bill
And I just couldn’t figure out why
And as I grew up, it seemed everyone around me did too
And next thing I knew my barbies were in a box going to the thrift shop
With all the clothing I’d outgrew
Middle school came, people started dating
My best friend got a boyfriend and started acting kind of vacant
People would never give up on asking who I liked
And they wouldn’t believe me when I said no one so I
Picked a guy, one of my friends, convinced myself I liked him
So the questions would end
Before I knew it, high school arrived
The first day of grade nine English, a beautiful girl caught my eye
I remember riding the bus home after school that day
And that little voice in my head said "hey Abby, you're gay"
Nah, no way, not at all, not me.
I’ve liked guys before, so it really can't be
I mean I'm fine with others being gay but that is them I'm me
I'm straight, I'm normal, not a character on glee
Throughout the next few weeks, as I got to know this girl better
The thought wouldn’t leave me alone, it kept running through my head and
So eventually I thought you know, enough is enough
I’m straight as an arrow, my thoughts can fuck off
Fuck this girl, no, not like that, in a metaphorical sense
Despite everything I secretly wanted, I pushed the thought out of my head
High school continued, the months dragged by
I even managed to convince myself I liked a couple guys
But something had changed, people were always asking if I was alright
They said I seemed down, and, well, they were right
I didn’t know why at the time, didn’t put two and two together
But denying myself of who I truly was, it wasn’t making things better
But then, one miraculous day, I was sitting with her at lunch break
My head was on her shoulder, and the thoughts, they came back again
But this time instead of bluntly saying “oh hey Abby, you’re gay”
They said “admit it, you know you really want to stay
Here forever, with your head on her shoulder”
And I thought damn I’m right, and then I looked over
At my friend, this girl, and before I knew what I was saying
The words came out of my mouth, hey um, I think I’m gay
Or maybe bisexual, I don’t really know, but you see there’s this girl
And I think I’m really into her
And she just looked at me, and I was so scared she was going to say
Something like ew, we can’t be friends if you’re gaaay
But she just said oh cool, is it anyone I know
And I laughed to myself, but still the relief flowed
Through me I had finally said it, admitted it, it was out there
I, Abby, kind of like a girl
And I had no idea what this meant for me, for my future
But I knew I felt like a huge weight had just lifted off my shoulders
Fast forward, one year later, I still liked that same girl a lot
She figured out it was her, but she was straight so that sucked
At that point, I was out to more people, almost everyone at school
And everyone accepted me, and I wasn’t the only queer one too
But then picture this, I’m sitting in a car wash
My mom and sister are in the front seat
And for some reason, it just came out of my mouth
Hey mom, Evy, I’m gay
For a second everyone sat there not knowing what to say
The water pounding on the roof of my car, until then my mom said
“Of course, we already knew you are”
So this was it, I was out, I soon told my dad
Well technically my mom told him but that wasn’t as bad
As it sounds, it’s a long story, for another time,
All I know is that at this point, I was no longer denying
Myself of who I was, but that self hatred that had harvested
When I was at my lowest point it never really went away
And yeah that’s something I struggle with even to this day
But at least I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am gay
Met an old friend A
He says women are the greatest vocabulary
AWESOME , AMAZING , ARDENT, ARDAMANT
And Look what B has to say
BEAUTIFUL, BRILLIANT, BODACIOUS most women are
CHARMING, CALM, CAUTIOUS, COURTEOUS
Women are THE FINEST DIAMONDS in the sky
Complements D, DASHING, DEAR, and DILIGENT to be exact
EASTERN ELEGANCE, Western ELITES
ENERGETIC, ELEGANT, EMOTIONAL
E is right women are EXTRAORDINARY
FLAMBOYANT, FUN, FUNNY, FANTASTIC F says
Women are central FIGURE of FAMILY
G- GREAT, GRACEFUL, GENTLE
H- HAPPY, HELPFUL, HANDY
INTERESTINGLY some women are IMPATIENT
JOYFUL they are, K- head of KISSES
MARVELOUS symbol of MODESTY
NEAT, NOBLE and very NICE
Women are pretty ORNAMENT
women are PRICELESS PRINCESS
Women are QUEEN
Women are RARE gift
main source of SURVIVAL the human being
women have true spirits of love
women are a peaceful UMBRELLA
women are the VALLEY of love
women are WONDERFUL WATER,
women are XOXO
women are egg YOLK, bad cholesterol but you eat THEM
last but not least
ZEALOUS women have great ZEAL
She sits in the hospital bed
Anxiously awaiting the news
As the doctor looks between the legs of her newborn child
And the mother cries as she finds out
Whether her baby is a girl of a boy
The sister of the mother calls up the father
She wants to know what kind of toy to buy
For the newborn, blue or pink
It all depends on whether it is a girl or a boy
First day of kindergarten lunch in hand
Backpack on back I enter the class
First activity of the year kids get divvied up
Based off of whether we are a girl or a boy
During the snack break we can go and use the restrooms
Two huge doors with signs that tell me
Which one I should use
It depends on whether I am a girl of a boy
Summer comes and because I ‘m in 5th grade
I am finally old enough to go to sleep away camp
Camp Jihuaga is on a beautiful lake
With miles of land divided into two main sections of cabins
Which side you’re on is based off of whether you are a girl or a boy
Middle school arrives, first dance of the year
All my friends had dates but nobody had asked me
So I set out to find my own date
But they laughed at me and asked
Whether I was a girl or a boy
High school, first day, second period, phys ed
I exit the locker room into the gym
And see a big barrier moving across the middle
And she side I got stuck on reminded me
Of whether I am a girl of a boy
Finally I decide it’s time for me to get a job
So I put together my resume and picked up an application form
I filled everything out perfectly fine
Until I was left with just one question
The paper sat there and asked me
If I am a girl or a boy
And I sat there I hovered and I realized something terrible
All my life I had just automatically assumed I was a girl
There were social conventions set up
A path for me to follow
Since before I had even left the hospital
And because of that I had never stopped and thought
About whether I am a girl of a boy
And I looked at that paper my hand moved back and forth
From each of the choices and I thought to myself
I know I’m not a boy
I’ve known that all my life
But I don’t think I’m a girl
Cause that just doesn’t feel right
And I felt like I’d been lied to for my entire life
All these signs on bathroom doors asking me to pick my choice
Of whether I am a girl of a boy
After a few days of thinking
And a good nights sleep
It cam to me in the shower
As does everything really
But I figured it out
Turns out I’d been looking in the wrong places
Trying to find where I fit in the spectrum of gender
Because I knew it was possible
To be neither a girl nor a boy
So I looked in between
At all of the possible combinations
Of girl and boy and boy and girl
And all of the gender queer and non binary identities
But what I had to do was step out of the boxes
First I stepped out of the box that enclosed the gender binary
Opened myself up to a whole spectrum of genders
Then I stepped out of that box
The one incloseing gender itself
And found a home in the lack of
So next time someone asks me
Whether I am a girl or a boy
I will look them in the eyes
And proudly say I am neither
I am agender
I waited 8 periods, 7 hours, in between searching for you, running around the corridors,
Like a psychosis affected patient running trying to find reality through delusions,
But "planet", ironically you are my delusion, miles away from the brutal reality.
My excuses to see you were drying up; sprinting to the top floor that maybe you‘ll come across,
Ecstatic like a 5 year old kid, when his rents buy him a toy helicopter,
Disappointed like the poor kid as his helicopter crashed on the first day itself.
You’re nerdy, the only guy studying java and oracle with interest, enticing me with your mint and cedar scent,
This infatuation is eating my heart up, slowly and slowly, like cancer
I came today only to see you, desperately clinging to the belief that maybe you’ll come to see me too.
But I was left alone, with the burning sun as my only companion.
I woke up hours early, straightening my hair till my hair were singed, applying mascara till my eyes burned.
I fancied, that possibly you might think of me too, day dream of me too,
but darling curse me for being a hopeless teen, as its getting me nowhere.
Everyone keeps telling me its never going to happen, I’m a junior and you a sophomore
& when your azure lids never glance my way, my face turns ashen, even during the Indian summer.
And who am I to even try to fight with the bitter truth,
for it’s always destroying our little fragile hearts and drowning them in acid and absinth
It was so silly of me to even give into these treacherous day dreams, to even let my pride escape.
I was absurd enough to even like you, knowing even then, that I will never be able to solve this Rubik cube.
With each passing poem,
The degree of difficulty of diving ever higher,
Bar incrementally niched, inched, raised,
Domain, the association of words, ever lesser,
Repetition verboten, crime against pride.
You ask me when the words come:
With each passing year,
In the wee hours of
Ever diminishing time snatches,
The hours between midnight and rising,
Shrinkage, once six, now four hours,
Meant for for restoration,
Transpositional for creation,
Only one body notes the new mark,
The digital, numerical clock of
Trillion hour sleep deficit, most taxing.
Al, you ask me from where do the words come:
Each of the five senses compete,
Pick me, Pick me, they shout,
The eyes see the tall grasses
Framing the ferry's to and fro life.
Waving bye bye to the
End of day harbor activities,
Putting your babies to sleep.
The ears hear the boat horns
Deep voiced, demanding pay attention,
I am now docking, I am important,
The sound lingers, long after
They are no longer important.
The tongue tastes the cooling
Italian prosecco merging victoriously
With its ally, the modestly warming rays
Of a September setting sun,
finally declaring, without stuttering,
Peace on Earth.
The odoriferous bay breezes,
A new for that second only smell,
But yet, very old bartender's recipe,
Salt, cooking oil, barbecue sauce, gasoline
And the winning new ingredient, freshly minted,
Stacked in ascending circumference order, onion rings.
These four senses all recombinant,
On the cheek, on the tongue,
Wafting, tickling, blasting, visioning
Merging into a single touch
That my pointer finger, by force majeure,
Declares, here, poem aborning,
Contract with this moment, now satisfied.
Al, what you did not ask was this:
With each passing poem,
I am lessened within, expurgated,
In a sense part of me, expunged,
Part of me, passing too,
Every poems birth diminishes me.
September 8th, 2012
Greenport Harbor, N.Y.
it’s not the same when you touch her chest with your breath
what her heart hears is off key and she compares it to the best
bedtime story she’s ever heard
the kind where she becomes little red riding hood herself
with a basket of goods
that everybody wants
but she doesn’t want to fuck any of them
because she already knows that it’s the same as a sunny day but with too much wind
or one of those green suckers with a big bug inside of it
“fuck off,” she says to all the wolves and all the pigs and all the fools
they still come at her like a family of bonobos come in a day
it’s hard to run away from something that is happening to you all the fucking time
it gets you sick with a hook,
the short moments it stops happening, all you want is to run and find it
because attention is softer than loneliness
even if it is as sad as an addict tearing off couch cushions, in search of half a dime bag
- but as soon as she stopped looking for a face with eyes to love her
she took a dip in the forest, heard the birds
felt the pine needles on her bare feet bottoms,
sang like Snow White
and found herself an old lumberjack, building a house
it dawned on her that all the wolves and all the pigs and all the fools,
looked real fucking gross