8.15.11. locating our unexpected words: collaborative generating #8

8.15.11. locating our unexpected words: collaborative generating #8

from his father’s manifesto, fingerprints

on aluminum, I don’t know how

to respond, is he still

little things separating

rice from stone. Nothing neutral

without such violence, tamarind,

turmeric. Osiris pretending to be

fish eyes, she cries mustard seed.


I become slow, slow, sour. I mean

everything ripples under

a malignant sky, I try

this trick: bottle of star anise

even as its lines burn to close.


(made from the words of Todd Wellman, Anna Catherine Coyle, Bushra Rehman, Carol Gomez, Hari Malagayo Alluri, Paul Ocampo, Melissa Morrow, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Melissa Sipin, Rachelle Cruz, Evangeline Ganaden & Monica Hand)



Promptings for your writings:

– “Invisible Man,” from a poem by Amir Rabiyah that appears in Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality, forthcoming in October from Sibling Rivalry Press and edited by Kevin Simmonds.


What if I burn? ash? Disperse? – Vanessa Huang



Some things you’re not letting happen right now because the timing isn’t perfect for you. Some you’re not letting happen because you are very aware of where you are. But all things, as they are happening, are happening in perfect order. And if you will relax and begin saying, “Everything in its perfect time. Everything is unfolding. And I’m enjoying where I am now, in relationship to where I’m going. Content where I am, and eager for more, – Abraham Hicks (via Carol Gomez)

I won’t pretend I’m good at forgiving” – Sade (via Hari Malagayo Alluri)

An unexpected, unpredictable movement” – Paul Ocampo

My feeling is that language is capable of creating shifts in the human neural field, capable of transmuting behaviors and judgments. Humans conduct themselves through language, and, when the latter transmutes….” –Will Alexander, “My Interior Vita” (via Melissa Morrow)

Go out into the world and live. We may not be in Paris like Hemingway, but go across the street at University Village and get a nice sandwich from the nice sandwich lady, and watch her slice an avocado into perfectly thin green arches.” – Aimee Bender (from a speech at the Undergraduate Writers’ Conference at USC). {via Melissa Sipin}

Where do the gone things go…?” -Kimiko Hahn (via Rachelle Cruz)

What does it mean to belong? To what? Do you want to belong? Does race equal color? What are the requirements of membership? Are you a member? Why? – Evangeline Ganaden


15 Responses to “8.15.11. locating our unexpected words: collaborative generating #8”

  1. toddw Says:

    “I won’t pretend I’m good at forgiving” – Sade
    some flights where rollerblades were smooth today
    others: tumble, tumble, tumble sounds
    and ant KOs.
    after we talked friends
    and what we hold
    because we hold them.

  2. Mel Says:

    The following is inspired by “Invisible Man” by Amir Rabiyah
    and “locating our unexpected words” by Ching-In Chen.

    Monologue to Invisible Man

    As the camera winds through the rooms, I think of how I want portraits of Malcolm X for my unborn children to look up to, but how my vision of such portraits will always be clouded with thoughts of how much Denzel pulled off the role and how white Hollywood thinks it let him and how fucked up that is, especially when Dave Chappelle parodied the role and then his parodies became the language young white college boys appropriated in their shoddy attempts at parody.

    Everyone is invisible in some circles, but some are more aware of this fact.

    I watch the video of Amir Rabiyah unfold and think of how I must be objectifying him without being fully conscious of it and am curious how that would make him feel—does the writer of “Invisible Man” want to be seen? Do I conclude that he does because he chose a video for reading?

    How sick my brown crush feels when I let my mind intrude on the feeling I get when Arabic falls from his pillowy lips. My body says look at those lips and my mind says be ashamed—he is not only his lips, he is not only Arabic language and, hypocrite, remember how scared you were at the border crossing into Mauritania when Arabic sounded like an angry
    man-language and how relieved you were to find an Arab woman who agreed to speak broken Spanish with you?

    Shut the fuck up, mind. I want you to take a backseat on this one, let my body do the reading. Look at his cheeks! But my mind fires back: he doesn’t want you to look at his cheeks, he wants you to hear
    him when he speaks from invisibility. Oh the irony. Who’s in charge here?

    Dear reader: I want you to know that I come from a family that struggled
    with the burden of responsibility to weave deep the roots of white supremacy. I blame this class and ignorance and fear. Part of my breaking with this tradition was to go completely nuts in as many opposite directions as possible as if the things I am after are only defined by binary relationships. We all live through ignorance and follies—if we’re lucky.

    So back to this brown crush I’m having on Mr. Invisible Man. You say: “In the middle of the room, I appear as just another Arab man,” and I would like to reply that I have ogled quite a few Arab men and you, Sir, are exceptional. Is there any kind of response I can come up with that doesn’t sound so fucking aggressive and backward? I laugh at my own stupidity: what’s more aggressive and backward than white supremacy? And I laugh again: because one answer to that question is trying to make up for white supremacy by being a complete asshole about attraction to some construct of the Other based on binary relationships, especially when all I wanted to do was tell Amir something real and heartfelt.

    So here we go again. You say “The worshippers do not know
    that I ask God to give me strength to move in this world as both a sister and a brother.” Well I certainly know now! More lines like that and I could really get to know you. This doesn’t change anything. You’re still hawt,
    and I still feel like an asshole for writing that. Given my lines the past few days, I’m sure you all understand I can’t help but to sexualize and do I go ahead and blame that, too on the aggression and bassackwardness of the power struggle buried in the white supremacist man who molested me?

    Back to Amir: I’ve reached the spot in your video without sound where I can see your soul in the way George Carlin said we can see
    someone’s soul when they’re laughing which, he said, is also when people are most easily influenced. Then I get to hear you laugh and I feel like I know you.

    Let’s reconvene: we are not beings divided by some vast ocean, or stratified in the layers deep. We’re not dirigibles confined to thin air who seem so strange to land-lubbers when we fall out of the sky onto land. You are not an Invisible Man. God is invisible, but I can see you which sounds like I’m saying you’re not a god, but really I mean that you are more real to me than any god when I hear you laughing in this video.
    God has been fetishized out of existence. I’m not trying to exoticize you into existence because, 1. Here you are, laughing, and 2. I’m only trying to tell you that I think you’re beautiful which is a fucked up way of saying I like how you write, I like the look of you, especially when you’re laughing, and it’d be cool if I could make you laugh so that I might get to know you beyond some video. But that’s another dividing line that feels just as imaginary as white supremacy and sexuality and in/visibility.

    Dear Amir: I see you and I want to say I’m listening, and trying not to look because the looking feels like I’m making spectacle of you, which I would never want to do, which is why I probably wouldn’t talk to you if we were in a room, which has also to do with the fact that I am more than socially awkward. This is fucked.

    What I really want to say is: I see you if you want me to because I think you’re brave and I want to share universal love with you as one of your people, which sounds like something to do with ethnicity, but isn’t meant to be. I just mean to say: no matter where you came from or how you are now here or what drew you to shoot a video, I liked getting to know you there and I want to be “we” with you, to commiserate that we are always constantly renegotiating border crossings:
    some of us paying top dollar in bribes
    some of us terrified, fearing we’ll be seen
    some of us looking to locals for whatever safe passage might mean.

    Prompt: What kinds of education are you striving to undo?

  3. Dani Says:

    Of course, the trick is that it never really ends. We are always forced to look ahead, to keep planning and going. To be alive is to be in motion. As Brian Doyle writes, from the fluid in the single celled organism to the giant heart of the blue whale, “everything churns.” But I don’t completely buy it. Or rather, I refuse to accept it. If I wait for life to give me the “moment,” I won’t ever find it. We have to make it. That’s why we do things like celebrate, go to graduations, gather with friends and family, sit quietly on a porch, write, whatever. It’s about resisting that constant pull forward and digging in your heels, demanding to be allowed to be present, to marinate in it, to soak.

    When I started kindergarten, my mom slipped a red felt heart into my five-year old fist before I boarded the yellow school bus. I am my mother’s daughter – she knew I was fated to a life of messy goodbying. The red felt heart smelled like her perfume. In capital letters, she had hand-stitched, “Only a heartbeat away.” I tucked it into my sock. Now at twenty-six, though I can’t remember the smell anymore, I hold onto that message with an iron-like grip. I know that this churning I feel over goodbyes and change is something I will struggle with for a long time. Again and again and again.

  4. hari malagayo alluri Says:

    jackal’s advice on letting go

    if you’re the type of son
    who still hasn’t admitted to the time
    you deleted the wordperfect document
    in which your father had tried to distil
    the lessons of 6 religions into two dozen
    sentences, you might know a thing or two about disdaining
    failure. if you always yelled on the b-ball court, your temper
    pointed inward, it’s time to stop being afraid of your lover’s softness.

    and if you’ve ever mistaken a clip of a vampire
    octopus for a soft nude falling gently
    upward, you should probably apologize now
    for all the times you pictured your own body naked,
    beyond touch, shaped like that of the norse
    god of thunder instead of mine. get down on your knees.
    remember, your martial art is named after the goddess
    kali. write this like balm: poetry is a form of violence.

    and so you imagine funeral pyres at the crossroads indicate
    a sign of hope couched in the inevitable lie
    of your nanamma’s sati. so what if your lolo at 7 years was hustling
    miracles at a few centavos apiece? broken hearts
    still remind you of aerial roots that never got to hold
    the earth, bent and whole. this is your drawing of home:
    the rings of a banyan tree on fire, multiple lines
    burning slow from the outside in.

    oulipo style, after li-young lee. collabo raisers: anna, bushra, mel, leah, melissa, evangeline, dionne brand, paul, ching-in, amir rabiyah, vanessa, kimiko, sade

    prompt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy-dBOxV8Hk (ruth forman)

  5. racruzzo Says:

    Dear Invisible Man,

    In mad love
    & war, a lantern
    of Saturn spins
    some flights
    north and goodbying.
    My forehead touches
    Baldwin’s kaleidoscope
    of tumble, tumble
    A perfume, a passage,
    a great blue whale.
    where do the gone
    things go? A fist
    of words in Arabic
    for sky and red
    felt heart.

    (words from Dani, Mel, Todd W., Amir Rabiyah and Kimiko Hahn)

    Prompt: “You and I are so yesterday and flesh.” – Debbie Yee

  6. Evangeline Says:

    What if I burn? ash? Disperse? – Vanessa Huang

    the root of my body
    this odor of foreign-born
    do I want to belong?
    what are the requirements of membership
    without the possibility of a yellow sky shaped
    by unexpected bodies?
    if I piss in a river flowing north just to hear the sound
    of language, of my paper mouth
    suck the sour out of mackerel fish head curry
    salty eyes, saffron, tomato, and okra pretending meat on Fridays
    themselves the sound
    language inside my skin that, even as its lines burn to a close, does not burn
    out or waste and is plenty and pitiless and loves
    if there were wind in the room
    with all the swerves of history, the violence of stairs
    of saints elsewhere
    if the worshippers do not know that I ask God
    as both a sister and a brother

    words from: Rachelle Cruz, Paul Ocampo, Melissa Morrow, Carol Gomez, Ching-In Chen, Monica Hand, Dionne Brand, Melissa Sipin, Michael Ondaatje (“With all the swerves of history, I cannot imagine your future”), Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Hari Malagayo Alluri, Amir Rabiyah

    Prompt: Not slavery. Subjection. Subjugation. – J.M. Coetzee, “Disgrace”

  7. yael v. Says:

    “Where do the gone things go…?” -Kimiko Hahn (via Rachelle Cruz)

    I missed B. leaving for New York. I missed the sisters going on expo; I still don’t know what they did. There were movies and readings and stupid nights sharing one plate of chicken at King of Thai so we could buy more drinks at the Tempest. That I wasn’t there for. I gave it all up to be a good daughter. I did all that was asked and waited for further instructions. I thought I could be a good daughter to somebody. I ignored what was not said. I cleaned the kitchen and folded linen and spent so many nights falling into sheaves of paper, a constructive waiting for my own day. E. wanted to visit me but I didn’t allow it. I wanted that time to be what it was. I wanted to keep what was sacred to me apart. If I couldn’t walk freely in the street I chose, then no one would know me. I thought, I have to hang on to something.


    Prompt: ‘… These are the places myselves exist in. I know no places. That is, I cannot believe in places. To believe in places is to know hope and to know the emotion of hope is to know beauty. It links us across a horizon and connects us to the world.” —Adrienne Kennedy

  8. Melissa Says:

    “An unexpected, unpredictable movement” – Paul Ocampo

    God met me on a redeye flight. I didn’t know where we were going.
    I had a hard time locating our unexpected words. On the window,
    its fingerprints wrote a manifesto of aluminum, and I didn’t know
    how to respond. In the distance, between the folded linen clouds,
    the sky bled a yellow, fluorescent light when God said we talked like
    friends. In mad love, I said we were going north and goodbying.
    I heard my voice tumble, tumble, growing slow, slow. It asked me
    if I remembered kindergarten, when I told my father again and
    again and again: where does God go when I’m sad? My father
    never answered. So I finally sat up and asked the one next to me
    where the gone things go, the words flying like motion, becoming
    a heartbeat. The Invisible said everything churns, and I forgot
    for one still moment that nonsensical words are beyond touch,
    and hope burns slow from the outside in, couched in the inevitable

    Made from words of Chin-In, Todd, Mel, Hari Malagayo Alluri, Racruzzo, Evangeline, and everyone here.

    Katagiri found a giant frog waiting for him in his apartment. […]“Call me ‘Frog,’” said the frog in a clear, strong voice.
    —Haruki Murakami

  9. Melissa Says:

    I forgot to add Yael to my list of inspirational words. Thank you Yael.

  10. locating our unexpected words: collaborative generating #8 « Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Says:

    […] Posted by Melissa on August 15, 2011 · Leave a Comment  Collaborative Manifesto Project: here. […]

  11. serena w. lin Says:

    “I won’t pretend I’m good at forgiving” – Sade (via Hari Malagayo Alluri)

    slow, slow fuel lit by incense
    passion whirled, commanding speech
    ordered by egg beater lips
    don’t let the helicopter blades
    strips of iris, blowing dandelion
    propel your perfume hands
    beyond yesterday

    Patched together from the Words of Ching-In Chen, Melissa Sipin, Rachelle Cruz

    Prompt: “Do you smell that?”

  12. caroljg Says:

    An unexpected, unpredictable movement” – Paul Ocampo
    What if I burn? Ash? Disperse? — Vanessa Huang

    The fact that the studio is so beautiful, so esthetically pleasing, emanating an aura of serene peacefulness, calm, feng-shui observed, sheer cream-colored linen curtains gently adorning the graceful, tall french doors, corners gently fluttering as if there were a wispy wind blowing in the room….

    The fact that the clear glass ceiling to floor window overlooks in the north, a quiet green space, blowing dandelions, branches of eucalyptus trees delicate homes to sparrows, finches and the occasional dove, cooing, chirping and flitting, people lovingly walk their dogs, children tumble and roll on the grass…

    The fact that you, our guides, our mentors are so loving and gentle and impart positivity, kindness and healing energy, adjusting and pressing down softly with warm hands and circling lavender perfume on my temples….

    Gives me the grace to forgive you for the endless hour of stretching and twisted bodies, palms pressed down, fingers splayed wide, weight bearing toward the right side, strong toward the right heel planted firmly into the ground perpendicular to the right foot facing forward, pointed slightly inward, arms extended, chest open wide, shoulders pressed down away from the ears, left limb stretched behind, upward your back, muscles taut and rippling, while arms reach strong and ever reaching toward the green space, moving into vinyasa, then downward facing dog. breathing hot, flowing uujayi ocean breath, bathed in ninety-five degrees, droplets fall onto my mat and trickle down my temples into my eyes, my cheeks, my upper lips, limbs glistening, never ending flow an ocean of sweat and salt and heat, breathing slow, slow, in, then out slow, slow. melting, melting, hot into an river of warmth flowing out of me, steaming up the beautiful picture window, my view of the birds and green engulfed….

    alive and in motion, moving in this world ….

    Gratitude to paul, vanessa, serena lin, melissa, yael, evangeline, toddw, racruzzo, hari, dani, mel, ching-in

  13. caroljg Says:

    I feel calm and protected now cos I have my mom, you and all my family around me…(10 year old boy who survived domestic violence)

  14. Paul Ocampo Says:

    “Where do the gone things go…?” -Kimiko Hahn (via Rachelle Cruz)

    My mother cried over her dry, sinewy turkey. She couldn’t be consoled. Later I found her sitting at the foot of her bed, her face a haze of blue and white flashes. With furrowed brows, eyes veiled, she said, “I’m watching your Lolo’s funeral.” The VCR made crinkling noises.

    I slept on a tatami mat on the cold cement floor of my grandparents’ house during summers. At dawn Lolo played the baby grand without his hearing aid. The metronome above the piano ticked and mocked him. When he still remembered my face, my name, he would carry me up to his bed, lay me next to Lola, and he slept on the rocking chair.

    On my mother’s bed lay a welter of tattered, crinkled photos, drowning in the sepia-toned waters of Lethe. “I didn’t know there was a video.” The screen bled a flourescent white. The cameraman focused on my mother for a quick second, her grief hidden behind sunglasses. Irises in her hands. The camera panned to my grandmother, beside herself, clinging onto the smooth and slippery edges of Lolo’s coffin. “I almost got there in time. I could’ve said goodbye to him. Your titos and titas, their spread their hands on his body. They held him to let him know he wasn’t alone.” Their bodies were rooted in his. There were goodbying. I waited for her instructions.

    Suddenly my mother and I aged a hundred years in just one hour. We watched a military salute, rounds fired in the air for my grandfather. He never ate without Lola, Tita Susan said on the podium. His favorite tune was Claire de Lune. He was a fair judge. We listened to the eulogies. We held the stories. Simple ones that we had taken for granted. Suddenly, a river of warmth flowing out of me. Moving out into the world. We buried him again that night and set our sights with nothing left to lose.

    Thanks to Carol, Serena, Melissa, Yael, Rachelle, Evangeline, Hari, Dani, Mel, and Todd.

    Prompt: Fate appeared in the doorway, finding me naked…

  15. clarissa rojas Says:

    tamarind on tongue
    bitter raspado after
    taste mercury
    till turmeric

    wipe excess
    and cry the mustard seed
    osiris fish eye ripples

    malignant skies
    to cease
    the seas
    that never really end

    if i burn
    the skin of language
    from the inside

    slow, slow like incense

    even as its lines ash and migrate
    it does not burn
out or waste
    is plenty, pitiless
    and loves

    were it wind
    that entered
    twin skins
    would sing
    nosotros somos ustedes

    conspirators: ching-in vanessa dani hari evangeline gloria anzaldua serena

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: