and sisters, we
blossom into goddesshood
we begin to die.
you must give something away.
is to give something away.
the truest sacrament
sisters born sons,
you are mother, maiden, crone,
we blossom into womanhood
even as God
begins to die
I will not organize with you
unless you love me
I will not go to meetings with you
unless you love me
I will not get arrested for you
unless you love me
I will not touch you
unless you love me
(or i am getting paid)
for K, who helped me realize this on a sunny, love-filled day
i want to feel what i imagine
pretty white boys feel. something innocent and beautiful and terrifying and wild. something that can be felt in the light of a noontime summer day and no one to call you disgusting or tell you shame. i want to not worry about the consequences. i want it to happen natural, gentle, maybe a little scary at first, but later deepening to a powerful sureness. no bad memory searing when you touch me, no dirty wetness trapped in my insides. no pain. no compromise. i want to be naked with you all the time even when we have our clothes on, words and touch flowing unselfconsciously between us like a clear river from before the time of man. i want to know that you want me and know that i want you and to be here, in this moment, my body swelling up with the rhythm of the tide. i want that. i deserve that. and you deserve to give it to me.
came and went, left me complicated
a simple girl
i need to tell a story before you touch me. yes, i get that it’s a bit of a buzzkill, but maybe we can reclaim storytelling as a valid form of foreplay. i know. if necessary, you may imagine me naked as i am talking. go ahead, i don’t mind. take a moment. close your eyes. picture it. your fingers, sliding into the openings of my clothing, pausing deliberately to open buttons and clasps. rasp of fabric whispering over the clefts of collarbone, shoulders, nipples, hips. my skin is golden in the evening, the only heirloom i got from my ancestors, pig-farming peasants in southern china. legend has it that magistrates and emperors from as far away as peking sent to my family’s village for skin like mine, for brides with voices as quiet as silk and bodies the colour of the moon. this story, like most love stories, begins with the moon.
baba was an artist in china, forced to flee by the cultural revolution. in canada, a janitor. when i was little, we used to take walks at night in the streets of east vancouver. the streets there are lined with japanese plum and cherry trees, selected for their beauty and adaptability to foreign climes. perpetual foreigners with leaves the colour of blood, as if mourning for asian soil they’d never know. baba pointed to the sky, knuckles gleaming beneath the stars. “ah Kai Cheng-ah, what do you see?” me, sullen. “i dunno. the moon?” smack of his palm against the back of my head. “aiya. learn respect. look again. look to the shadows. learn to see.” he was right. when i looked again, i saw shapes in the dark spots on the face of the moon: a woman. a rabbit. a tree.
when i was older, i learned in school that the shadows on the moon are really craters formed by the impact of meteorites pulled in by gravity. lakes and valleys on the face of the moon, scars left by an invisible force. my mother had three long scars on her face the shape and colour of the crescent moon. i thought they were beautiful. i liked to sit on her lap and trace them with my fingertips, until i grew too old for such things.
too old to sit on my mother’s lap. too old to touch my mother’s face. old enough for desire to rise and swell like the moon, glowing pearlescent beneath my skin , singing i want i want i want to be touched, kissed, tasted, told you drive me crazy like the moon. i wanted sex. i wanted boys. and with an artist’s eyes, baba saw. with eyes that had spent a lifetime looking for hidden things, my father saw.
sound of his fist across my face. if you want to be my son. sound of knuckles against bone like a meteorite striking the surface of the moon. if you want to live in my house. sound of his hand, whispering through the air, and in that moment in his hand, in the lines on his hand, ancient and full of grace, i saw all the love and terror and bitterness and rage and love once again in my father’s heart. the shadow-shapes, the story echoes that bound us to each other and a place across the sea i’d never seen. the only inheritance we would ever share. sound of his hand meeting mine. sound of my own rage, my heartbeat thundering, murder, murder, murder and love in my ears. my mother, leaping to her feet. “if you touch him again, Yeet-Jin, i’ll kill you. scars burning like fire across her face. and our house fell silent, frozen in time, quiet as the lakes of the moon.
don’t look so shocked, my darling. i don’t want to scare you off. i want you to see, to listen between the lines, to notice not only the four letters that set love and violence apart, but also the four they have in common. see my history, the lines on my face. there is more to us than we can say. an invisible thread, a force of gravity, a storyline binding us all together: my father, his fist, my mother, the scar. me and moon and you, my love, and you.
there is a sample family inside the sample photo
smiling at you from the picture frame:
mother, father, daughter, son
all glowing in the white light of fulfilment
you linger in the store, a swarthy ghost beneath fluorescent bulbs
the reality of your flesh thrown into shade
by the more powerful presence of illusion
you hate them because they are impossible
or you hate them because they are possible
you’d hate them in any circumstance
you just hate:
the price you pay for living
outside the frame
April 22, 2013 at 10:17pm
there are only two love poems:
i fell in love and love disappeared
i fell in love and love endured
the meaning of these poems
is the same
Nevada Book Reading Event with Imogen Binnie and Guests!
6pm, Friday April 26th at Le Cagibi (5490 St. Laurent, Montreal)
Imogen Binnie is on a North America tour to promote her new book Nevada, and bless our hearts, she is coming to Montreal. Join us at Le Cagibi for readings by Imogen Binnie, Mihra-Soleil Ross, Lady Sin Trayda (Ryan Thom) and Morgan Sea. The will be books available for sale and nachos too. This event is co-presented by the Queer Between the Covers book fair and Tranzister Radio.
ABOUT THE BOOK!!!!
Nevada is the darkly comedic story of Maria Griffiths, a young trans woman living in New York City who is trying to stay true to her punk values while working retail. When she finds out her girlfriend has lied to her, the world she thought she’d carefully built for herself begins to unravel, and Maria sets out on a journey that will most certainly change her forever.
Imogen Binnie is the author of the zines The Fact That It’s Funny Doesn’t Make It A Joke and Stereotype Threat. Additionally, her work has been anthologized in The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, released in Fall 2012. She is currently a monthly contributor to Maximum Rocknroll and has previously written for Aorta Magazine, The Skinny and PrettyQueer.com. She writes about books at www.keepyourbridgesburning.com. Nevada, her first novel, was released by Topside Press in April, 2013.
Mirha-Soleil Ross is an interdisciplinary artist, storyteller, writer, translator and social justice activist. She is widely known for her work in video, performance, theatre as well as for her critical contributions to transsexual and sex worker political movements and cultures. Her work is featured in The Romance of Transgression: Queer Sexualities, Nations, Cinéma (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006), and the Canadian Theatre Review (spring 2007).
Ryan Kai Cheng Thom aka Lady Sin Trayda and China Rose is a transgender writer, spoken word artist, and drag and burlesque performer based in Montreal. Their work explores the love, laughter, and loss embedded in the experiences of diaspora and queerness, and celebrates communities in the margins. They have performed at national festivals the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and were a finalist at the Vancouver International Poetry Festival 2012. ( ladysintrayda.wordpress.com )
Morgan Sea is a super-contemporary artist living and loving in Montreal. She likes cats, comics, cuddling, and alliteration. This is her website, MorganSea.com, where you can find her videos, performance work, some drawings and zines. Morgan is also a host on Tranzister Radio, a radio show made by and for trans*people.
excerpt from a letter i didn’t send
I want to ask if you know what it feels like to be queer and Chinese and working class and sleeping with a rich, pretty White boy, but of course you don’t, and you never will. Well, boys like me spend their whole lives waiting to be chosen and fucked and dumped by boys like you. That isn’t your intention, of course. You don’t really know what you want. You want to just try things out, experiment, have fun, see where it goes. Well, I want that too. But it doesn’t work that way for people like me. We don’t get to experiment, just have fun, without consequences. We don’t know what it’s like to not be in love with you. We loved you the moment you looked at us, held our hand, danced dirty, kissed us. We were lost in you way before we even met, before the thought crossed your mind that you were bored and we were vaguely good-looking, interesting, exotic, fuckable. While you were weighing options, we were just hoping that it wouldn’t hurt too much - the fucking, or the falling in love, or the rejection. We didn’t get to choose.
Yes, I know that you have problems too. Coming out is hard, social anxiety is hard, relationships are hard, figuring out who you are in life is hard. I don’t want to belittle your hardships. But we are different, and I am frankly too old to be afraid of naming our differences. You were afraid of being gay and getting cut off by your parents, so you waited until you were in your teens or twenties to go to a bar, get hit on, go on a date. You had the thrill of first eye contact when some other pretty, white college student looked at you from across the room. You had the exhilaration and terror of first touch, first sex, first boyfriend home for Thanksgiving. You never knew what was going to happen, how things were going to turn out, and yes, I sympathize, that must have been really scary for you.
I had being outed at 12 before I knew what the word faggot meant. I have a whole community that believes queerness is a white people’s disease. I had illicit touching by my camp counselor at age 14. I had the belief that this was the best gay loving I would ever get. I had being the only Asian in the gay bar on any given night. I had knowing that the only men who would find this attractive found only my being Asian attractive, not me for myself. I had rape after rape after rape and no words to say slow down this is wrong please stop I am not okay. I had the strangely calm, detached knowledge that all of this was going to happen before it did. This horrible weakness, like some invisible, incredible weight pulling me through the motions of touching you, trying to please you, falling in love with you, swallowing all of your bullshit. This skin cripples me. It always has.
April 20, 2013 at 2:16pm
“you’re too pretty
and too nice
to be a chinese boy”
a chinese girl once said to me.
someday i’d like you
to tear open the skin of the night
with your teeth,
swallow my tears
and spit out a world.
wanna show you all the things