a car may be serviced at REDNECK AUTO–
text in red letters that make it clear
who the strict-faced men of White County
Bathroom doors in gas stations read
Please do not put needles
in the waste bin.
what sustenance found body
was there food from home spiced
heavy to make man remember brown faces
surely there is a safer way
to pay bills that excludes seeing
death each day on the shoulder
so many lanes of strangers
who do not know the giant squid
of their sea holds half of me
holds someone who curses
when they dart into his path
just feet away his feet
do they hurt
is the neuropathy taking over
did he take his meds does he have
does he doze as wheels move
tonight how many hours will he sleep
how much time on the wifi card
will he use before closing curtains
of trailer and stretching out in tiny bed
how long have eyes remained open
in log of stops and rest
what is true and false
what truths does he find
on the road alone with thoughts
postcards of mountains and fields and
snow blurring past casinos
and strip clubs and churches
all begging to save soul
all rejected for patches of grass
with dirty bathrooms and
gas stations that give showers
and sugar and grease
does he know i think of him
each night before dreams find me
i pray i say dear god and goddess
lord and lady faeries guides guardians
ancestors all beings of light who walk
please keep my father safe.
please let his health be well
and his truck be kind and
the highway not steal him
from hugging me again.
whisper my name in his ear
that he may hear this prayer
and know he is never forgotten.
please keep my father safe
and let him know i love him.
in a biological anthropology class today,
a student prefaces his answer to the professor’s question:
“well, if you believe in evolution and that kind of thing…”
the universe is infinite.
life lives on moons and bathes in starlight
the way we bask in warm heat of poison
water on earth.
god is in the dirt.
in the stones. in palmetto
crawls through window
crack to avoid cold, asks
to be spared from death outside.
germs — hang clothes on line
between trees. old light purifies
in different ways than powder soap.
everyone knows their own truth.
jesus was a man with siddhartha
and mohammad. wise men
of the past would laugh at us
now. belief in change
in a population over time
does not conflict with dreams coming true
next day or color flushing
whole room or way unseen ones respond
to minutes still and quiet.
science and god are both beautiful.
Texas. Images of cowboy boots, desert and oil rigs come to mind. That’s all I thought I’d find after moving here in high school. I never expected that my voice would blossom in a land that felt so dry and barren, so opposite the garden on the sea I called home. Texas gave me poetry.
In north Texas, it’s possible to find a poetry slam or open mic where people speak their truths uncensored almost any day of the week. There are academic readings of published writers, critique groups in coffee shops and collections of 20 or more people packed into living rooms laughing and giving each other writing prompts. My home lives in these words. My home is in this community.
My home is a place of cowboy boots, desert and oil rigs. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the politics. We could reserve a spot in the parking lot of national news coverage and give it to someone wearing a suit who wields pen as weapon. That someone would probably be a man, considering the fact that 143 of 179 seats in our state legislature belong to men. In Texas, when Wendy Davis stood up (for 11 hours) to defend her rights and those of the people she represents, she was called a terrorist by her peers. Men’s repulsion at women speaking candidly is not limited to the Lone Star State. In Michigan, House Democrat Lisa Brown was banned from speaking for saying the word “vagina” because it was offensive to her male colleagues. VAGINA. The part of the anatomy that’s a little important when discussing abortion and regulating women’s bodies.
What is it about the female voice that is so threatening? Across the world, we are trained to ask permission for lips to express mind’s ideas. Often, we must tread carefully lest we upset husband, offend supervisor, give pause to someone who is more comfortable not knowing what we have to say. It is 2015, and the powers that be are still trying to keep us silent. Poetry is a vehicle that gives value to our words.
DRESS CODES is a project that brings women’s voices to the foreground. North Texas artists Tammy Gomez and Crystal Dozier invited about 50 women from three continents to share the experience of living in their bodies through poetry. The poets come from every walk of life. Educators, artists, nonprofiteers, and moms have all wielded their pens, along with 2010 Texas Poet Laureate Karla K. Morton. The poems are being printed onto fabric to create five Victorian-style dresses, visually reminiscing a time quite unkind to women, and contextually bringing them into the 21st century with their words. The dresses will be modeled by local women and girls ranging in age from eight to seven times that for exhibition in art galleries and festivals across the state. These are not the models we see on television who have bodies out of comic books. These are REAL women representing all the stages of life. The youngest, Julia, is in elementary school and will carry the effect of being in such an impactful project into adulthood. Celia Alvarez Muñoz, with the most life experience, is a renowned Chicana visual artist whose work was shown at the 1991 Whitney Biennial.
DRESS CODES is necessary. It is important. After waking up and turning on our phones, how many times are we made to feel inadequate in the privacy of our own homes? How many times, after leaving our house, does the world tell us we are not enough as we are, that we need more to be beautiful? DRESS CODES honors every part of us, celebrates the strength that is required just to get by in today’s world without the unearned privileges of manhood. The poems in DRESS CODES allow women the freedom to be funny and sad and upset without judgment. They shed light on injustices we face every day and spark dialogue about subjects that are often misunderstood or taboo. It forces others to recognize their biases and confront prejudices they may not have realized they had. DRESS CODES creates allies while telling us that our voices matter. Dominant patriarchal culture would have us believe our bodies exist only for pleasure and entertainment and that mouths shouting “Rebellion!” do not contribute to our virtue. Mario Benedetti wrote, “We are many more than two!” and DRESS CODES proves his words true. We are women, and we are many, and we will be heard.
DRESS CODES will make its debut in the land of cowboy boots, desert and oil rigs on March 28 at the second annual WILDCATTER EXCHANGE festival in Fort Worth. For more information and to support the project, please visit our Indiegogo campaign.
Hemingway didn’t mention a color.
These are violet. They catch the light
like a cat’s eye in the dark. They are too small
to make me feel
such big things–
as was she, in dream
after fucking dream–
until I stopped sleeping
Is there a scientific name
for an obsession with the imaginary?
Haha, clever joke.
Told by someone without the answer
talk, because Why
do you have to be so dark?
At this time, we are unable
to provide status updates for
previously reported outages.
Something about the smell of rotten food
that makes you recognize privilege–
that you could have all this, sitting,
and not think to buy cooler. Buy ice.
Something about looking at clocks
in the store, imagining nuanced tickings
and tockings keeping you awake,
being disappointed there is not one
with two bells for ears and
the closest thing you can find
to what you need is too fashion
magazine, too simple
masquerading as avant-garde,
Something about candles–
driving home from aisles empty of
flashlights to see flickering yellow
against windows, taking off clothes
to sounds of shadows dancing
on walls, Black Wings and Blind Angels
by black gem of blue hue
being read to moon’s music
Something about trees
made horizontal by the hands
of the earth herself, death
in plain view, roots older
than you will ever be plucked up
as though string in cat’s hand, you
made to remember
all that is life.
too much content
in deep reaches of
sleep self to be
awake and make sense
to those who do not
dream — i cannot shake
it off or away when