Thursday, May 25, 2023

Domestic Bodies Accepted!!!

My first full-length poetry collection will be published by the autumn of next year! I compiled the book in 2021 using my chapbook Body: Blessed & Bitter as a guide. 

It's a little all over the place, but my announcement video is up on my YouTube channel... if you want to see it. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

HUP and the One Writer

In late February, I decided to shutter HUP shortly after its seventh anniversary. It's not an easy choice. I believe in elevating the voices of disabled and neurodivergent creatives and started the blog as a hopeful stepping stone to an entire suite of non-profit activities that would assist my community. But things rarely happen the way we want. 


I met Stacy after she submitted work to HUP. When I sent her an acceptance email, she asked if we could talk on voice; it was an unusual request, but I did it. Stacy told me she had to relocate to a different state after her home state was hit with a flood and she needed a specific medical treatment. She was staying at a random motel away from family.

Stacy was really going through a lot. She talked to me for almost an hour the first time, just telling me about her life and who she was. I thought she was kind of lonely. Her answers/stories always stayed consistent.

The real reason she talked to me is because she wanted the payment she was due, but she didn't want a record of it in email due to a court case. I thought it was a bit strange, but the system is often against disabled people when it comes to believing us. Apparently, the meager payment would've been used to say she could work when she couldn't. I've been paid a pittance for my poetry before, and I can't hold a job.

She said I could call the motel and put the money towards her stay, but I didn't want to give out my credit card information to some random place in Texas. I ended up sending her a gift card (for more than she was owed) in the mail to help her pay for food and toiletries. I thought the matter was done.

Stacy and I spoke a few more times after she received payment. She stated she wanted to be friends with me because it was "nice to talk to someone else intelligent and disabled from birth".* She'd occasionally talk about her court case but didn't ask me for more money. It just seemed normal... until her court date drew closer.

She started telling me we "needed to get our stories straight" because the people trying to say she could work were going to be asking me questions. She asked if I've ever been to court before. I told her no one was going to question me, but she was insistent. 

In our last call, she said our story was going to be that I didn't pay her due to a death in my family. She rambled on about it... about how perfect the excuse was. I honestly couldn't believe someone would have the gall to use my family tragedy to lie. It legitimately made her happy.

I barely slept that night and told her off (in text) the next day. I was done with the cloak and dagger baloney. She tried to apologize and tell me she was  upset a lot because she just lost her brother (I'm not sure if I believe her because someone grieving doesn't normally think about using someone else's loss for their benefit). But she was quite surprised my memory of our conversations was so clear. 

I blocked her. She tried to get in contact with me a few times afterwards, but I refuse to engage. Stacy wasn't the main reason I'm closing HUP, but she's one that strengthens my resolve the most.


Identifying details were changed.

She never asked me for extra money or tried to guilt me out of more.

*Stacy disparaged those with intellectual disabilities more than a few times. I'd push back on it, but she claimed to have a background helping other disabled folks without anyone giving back to her. She spoke highly of my intelligence because she "never met another person with my disability" who was smart (she must not know many of us). Ableism in disabled people is definitely real, and I've used my IQ to shield myself from the ignorance of medical personnel more than a few times, but I've never thought of people with intellectual disabilities as somehow inferior. Her views felt gross. It would've been better if she was just trying to butter me up to scam me, but it's really what she thinks...

No one ever contacted me about her case.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Exclusivity Tracking

As a writer, I keep track of a fair bit of data: Magazine deadlines, the pieces I have out where, the drafts I'm working on, acceptances, and then some. I don't use Excel because it's a pain... just a document with a search feature. It works well enough, but the document that holds my acceptances really needs an exclusivity note.

People who don't write (but want to) often have this image in their heads of crafting an amazing story in a night, getting accepted within a week, and blasting social media with their awesomeness as soon as it hits print. Writers know the wait after we send off our work is the DMV on a garbage barge and not McDonald's on a jet ski (not even considering how long a great story takes to write/polish). If we get that rare acceptance, and the magazine is in print, an editor may request that we not to share our work for a certain period.

The only acceptance I've received this year asked me for a year's exclusivity after the issue is published in June. These periods vary greatly among magazines. Some want you to wait until their next issue comes out, two years in the future, or not at all. And I don't keep track. It's utterly foolish, especially if I sign a contract stating I agree to wait. 

I might be in breach of contract someday due to my carelessness, though I doubt anyone would take me to court over a matter worth five dollars. But they could (and probably would) blacklist me and/or tell other editors I'm dishonest. I didn't spend decades in obscurity just to be known as "that untrustworthy writer". 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Tangled Tango (Deconstructed)

Tangled Tango

For you, this night, I wear
any color
that doesn't match my skin tone:
dresses or ones that pool, shimmer,
all things
your eyes do in just the right light.
We glide
to a terrace cut off by curtains like
a stage
where you practiced your love songs
with birds

accompanying you as they do the sun.
Will you
sing for me while we watch bare branches
clack rhythm,
nature's sword fights? Or will you forget
your words
and kiss me as the final waltz begins?
We're going to have problems with tenses and details in this poem. This is the first hint and is confirmed less than halfway through with the "gliding" line. Hopefully, our narrator actually knows what she's wearing before the dance... or she's naked.

This definitely needs more context. 

Oh, another love poem with eyes shining in some capacity! And there's dancing! No cliches here, thank the gods. 

Ending a line with a word such as "like" is generally a sin for poets but tends to be more forgiveable when trying to maintain form.

Is the narrator dancing with a Disney princess? 

Yes, all birds just love the sun... owls are huge fans. There is enough vagueness in this poem that an AI could write one just like it.

Why are these people stealing alone time and watching trees while they sing? Why aren't they still dancing, looking into each other's eyes, or even looking at the moon? Having them sneak a moment for a quick serenade is (sappy and cliche) okay, but it doesn't make much sense for the narrator to want that in private instead of something more intimate. My trite lines aren't even workable.

Also, this sounds like it would be terribly chilly on that balcony. At least our singer can gain natural vibrato from all the shivering!

Something kind of interesting is happening here (and in the image of sword fighting). It seems to hint that our couple will not stay together. If I could have sprinkled in the portents, got my tenses correct, and gave this some fresh imagery.... it might be an average poem.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Ink and Writing by Hand

I'm a southpaw. One of my favorite parts of writing physically is ink smeared and smudged on the side of my hand. I used to hate it, but now I see myself as a chef with a dirty apron or an artist with a stained smock... wearing a mark of creation.

I write glacially. My hand tires and cramps easily, especially compared to most people's my age. When I was a child, I was taught typing as early as possible due to my snail-scratch; even typing a mere 47 words a minute was quicker and more legible than the alternative. It might be my disability to blame.

Most of my compositions now take place on a tablet, but I often plant the seeds of ideas in a stenobook. Something takes place in your brain when you compose on paper... something that you cannot replicate on a keyboard. I don't ponder whether or not I lose part of my creativity when I switch to electronics because, without them, I wouldn't write nearly as often or as much.

Do you still write letters by hand? People say it went out of style with email; the death knell was the invention of DMs. There are things that email just cannot replicate for me. I send holiday cards for more holidays than I should. I scribble long, sprawling letters to people who don't trust "delete". All government correspondence comes to me through the post office.

There are weeks I work with nothing but emails, DMs, and the Word application. My pens, in a beautiful array of shades and points, sit untouched in drawers and cups. My journals, too pretty to be marred by half-formed ideas, have intact spines and uncreased pages. But I come back to the ink and looping cursive. I always do. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Written Once Since November

My notes inform me I've only written once in any meaningful fashion since November 10th. I nod as I read the date, but it feels simultaneously longer and shorter than I remember... like space between a death. And it is. I mourn and stop writing. I cry, think of the different intensities of heat as our world burns, and count the tiny bit of family I have left. I try not to think of The Doomsday Clock crackling ever towards the midnight hour. I turn off the news in numbness to another tragedy and nod at the clock inching to sleep. And I don't write. As though I'm on vacation, and I forgot postcards. 

I started seeing a counselor again. She's kind. She listens like she's paid to do, but I feel she's the sort of soul who always has a clean tissue in her pocket for others. She says she wants my happiness to be at a six or seven for three months before treatment is complete; she offers the lower end when I tell her she's incredibly optimistic. 

I spend my Sunday afternoon crying as though I've lost my mom and brother all over again. Brandon cuddles me until the tears slow and we play video games together. I try to pull myself into the present and what's here while there is still stuff to enjoy and people to love. I try to tell myself people want me alive. I guilt myself with their devastation if I should choose otherwise. 

Ill again. Not sure how I got sick, but I know my immune system can't be enjoying all the stress. It's not severe... I got lucky. But I have to be careful not to stress or overwork during recovery. I'm not doing the best job. Brandon is sick now, too (and we took precautions).

The one thing I've written is about a woman in a wildfire. She runs through it, like I can't do, even though her hair is aflame. I forgot if she started it or just deals with it. I don't know if she's going to make it through, give up, or fail in the attempt. Her face is soot-marked and sparks tear at her clothes. But she's plucky, this lady. She's got a good chance of making it. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

A Cyborg Deconstructs Her Body (a Poem)

I watch myself at a slow remove/the way liquid is a mirror/Striptease until I tingle/the way time is liquid/I scream as skin comes undone/metal zippers reflect me/Caught in teeth of coal/bone char mars the view/My joints click and blood pools/I stare at my rosacea face/in tints of rose-colored glasses/time mimics my gear-heavy joints/Dripping seconds, cogs, and plasma
This poem was first published in Nebo (2020) when they had a call for speculative work. Many disabled people are cyborgs, but the term is still foreign to most who hear it applied that way. I wanted to attempt a poem that could be taken in the realm of sci-fi as well as in the realm of Crip... but I don't think I accomplished it.