Murmurations, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Murmurations

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

The flock of starlings rises, like a black dot-to-dot,

Lifting from the page, into the air, where it swirls–writhing, like

A confused river tossing and turning—back and forth,

Dizzying the threat of the falcon.

 

As suddenly as it began it starts to dissolve, each starling

Finding its place on the powerlines and trees, where they breathe

Little sighs of feather-settling relief.

 

As I sit in my car from the side of the road where I pulled over to watch,

A panic surges within my chest and it seems to me

There is no other way than the lifting of all things—

Moments, friends, kisses, ways of walking and singing—

All things releasing themselves into the unconscious sky,

As if time were shaking off the sheets of the memory.

 

Suddenly as it began, the panic disperses, my fears

Finding their places coursing through the hollow bones of a faith

That carries me inexplicably over the hillsides and valleys, where death–

That falcon who notices all things–will only fall back

For so long, and yet what I love gathers on higher branches

And upon the lines of the staff of the song the goddess sings

Forming a universe filled with galaxies giving birth to starlings

That, in turn, give birth to entire flocks of revelation—

Wings and hearts swirling into the form of shared communities of hope.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

All donations go to medical bills and groceries.  Thank you for your kind support.


On My Second Birthday of Coming Out As Trans, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

On My Second Birthday of Coming Out As Trans

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro
I have four birthdays. The first being my “belly button” birthday—January 7th, 1968. The second being that April morning in 2015 when I realized in full conscious that I am transgender (I am not sure of the exact date, which is incredibly annoying—so I am going to pick, April 1rst. Not for the reasons you might automatically be thinking. Back in 2015, the International Day of Hope fell on April first—that’s why I’m picking it). My third birthday is the day I came out publicly—to the whole world—no more hiding—anything—ever: September 18, 2015. And finally, October 11, 2015—the day I started taking t-blockers and estrogen.

Two years ago today I posted a note on FB and on my blog. It’s a quaint, naive, defensive sort of note—filled with idealism, early forays into activism, my usual flare for the corny, and yeah, a big reveal. Most of you know the devastating fall out that note had on my life and the life of my family. With your help, however I carried through my last year as a teacher, loving every moment I got to be with those kids. I also saw the end of a marriage, the sale of a house, the moving into an apartment (twice in 3 months) alone, and the death threats, the relatives and friends who stopped talking to me, the people pissed I made this announcement on FB and my blog instead of telling them individually (yeah, that would have gone over well and not been the least bit emotionally exhausting), the meetings at school with angry parents, and also, the utter joy at freely walking through the world as I was always meant to. And THAT was a kind of blessing that is hard, even for me, to put into words.

Last year I posted a very depressing first coming-out birthday note. And as much as I spoke of being depressed that first year, little did I know the depression would worsen to the point of being life-threatening. Over the course of that first year—with all the difficult (to say the least) and naively unexpected life-changes, I careened shortly thereafter, into a severe and total breakdown with multiple hospital stays for suicidality. Looking back on my coming out letter, last year’s letter, and this–and you will notice depression has been with me the entire time. That’s because I am clinically depressed. I was born with depression, the same way someone is born with any other physical illness. It goes with me where ever I go. I say that to say, my suffering from depression isn’t because I’m trans. Being trans and coming out worsened my symptoms–yes, for sure–but the illness called, depression, has always been with me–since my earliest childhood days.

Which brings us to today. It has taken me a year to even truly begin to feel somewhat stable mentally and emotionally, and I am still not out of the woods as far as a recovery from this latest flare up of symptoms from my depression. And yes, fall is coming, and winter, and yeah, I usually go through those seasons chipper as a jar of glitter at a Pride parade…The difference this year though is that I am getting help from so many fronts—professionally, medically, therapeutically, spiritually, emotionally, and for all that I am, with trepidations, hopeful this year’s symptoms won’t be so extreme.

So here I am: two years old. Through all the changes, depression, dysphoria, unemployment, calls from debt-collectors, lonely days and nights in my hovel, I have also had moments—glimpses and full visions of salvation, community, love, hope, and the peace and electricity that come from living one’s truest self–my self–me. Who I am. Not who I was born to be–I was born this way–a woman–a transgender woman–but who I am meant to live openly as the way I was truly born.

Yes, I am scared about the upcoming fall and winter. Yes, I am still unemployed and, in all clarity, not mentally fit enough to be working a “real” job yet. I am also getting better. I also have a church community I never knew I’d find—friends that support and love me in ways only real friends can do. There is reason for hope, and you are one of those reasons. My ex and our children still love and accept me and that, of course, is key.

Last year I ended my first birthday note with a toast to a smoother year. We all know that smoother didn’t exactly manifest. So, I won’t toast to that this year. I won’t toast to anything. I don’t drink anyway.

What I will say is this: Thank you. Thank you for your love and support. For being there in my darkest moments and my silliest sillies, and my most wondrous of wonders.

I am here. I am myself in a way that was simply more conscious and alive that I was before I came out, and for that, despite all the challenges—I am eternally grateful.

Happy birthday to me. I love me. I love you.

1vliof


 

 





Breathing Out the Dark, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Breathing Out the Dark

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Come, summer, the earth is opening for you.

Autumn is igniting secret, slow embers across

The hillside, and when they seize the air and blaze freely,

It will be for you as fireworks

In honor of the long afternoons

You spread—bee dappled—and seed-floating

For children to run through.

 

Come, summer, the streams and rivers

Are inviting your heat to rest in their many cool folds

And moving pockets of pebbles and stones.

Sink into their praising hands and laughter—

All in thanks of you and the shafts of light

You directed at their faces and the fronds of the ferns—

You established trails and made for us paused moments

Of birdsong-filled reflection.

 

Come, summer, hands and backs are readying

To gather the gifts spring spilled upwards from the ground

To be sun-fostered and breeze-held by you.

It is with this thought, this sense of knowing you

For the first time, having missed you

In the star-filled expanse of voice-filled evenings—

This feeling of settling and thanks,

That the earth offers you a place to recompose

Your light among the cool, falling asleep roots,

Until you are ready to rise again with the crickets

And cicadas, and strum for us another season

Of breathing out the dark.

 

 

 


 

 

All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you for your loving support.



Diagnosis, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Diagnosis

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Gnosis.  A knowing

Of mysteries, wind-whispers,

And scrolls written on bone.

Dia: to be thorough, and yes,

To be thorough twice.

Know yourself Thales

Admonishes.  We are water

And stars.  We are living, breathing

Wind-walkers, and so much

More. Faces tell surface truths.

Eyes tell more.  The timber of the voice still more,

And how one walks and breathes

Betrays it all; every step

And breath unfolds your revelation

Into the world.  Pause

Every now and again,

And again, and look into the water

Reflection of those around you–

What is it about you that makes you

One of a kind, a kind of galaxy of discoveries

And wonder among a sea

Of other galaxies?  What is it you really

Perceive when you pass the mirror,

When you tell someone your name?

Know this: No matter what label you are given,

Or choose to give yourself,

No matter the name of the illness ascribed

To the story of your life, you are

Thoroughly known twice—

Once by your very own dreaming soul,

And once, over and over, unending,

By the one who pours water

Into your cells, and knows the stars

By name, ever blossoming the song of all

Into the wind.

 

 

 


 

 


All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you for your loving support.


Catching Myself, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Catching Myself

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Lately I have been thinking

When I was young I would

Buy butterfly nets, or make them,

And then go chasing after those delicate,

Powder-winged beings.

I swooped my net down,

Across, zig zag—anything to

Snatch a butterfly in midflight,

And when I captured one,

As gently as I could, I removed it

From the net, held it cupped in my hands,

Felt it tickling my palms

With fear-filled wings,

Examined its face, legs, and abdomen—

Resisting the traumatized impulse

To dog-ear its wings,

And then I would let it go

Like I was offering it to the world,

Like I was doing something kind,

Like I had every right to disturb

The life and heartbeat of these most

Cosmological beings, and then,

I would look at my hands

And see stains of pigment

Smudged on my palms—

It made me feel guilty,

It made me feel cruel,

And it made me feel like,

Just once, I had some form

Of beauty glittering inside me

as I fluttered into the waiting, stormy sky.

 

IMG_20160714_200900


 

 


All donations go to food and medical expenses.  Thank you. <3


Interdependence Day, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Interdependence Day

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

vigil photo 1

 

I love this country.  I really do.  I will never forget, however, that it was, and is, being born from violence—genocide, slavery, and corruption.  It was also born from a deep thirst of religious freedom and the ideal where anyone could come to live out their lives the way they chose.

Yes, we have a terrorist imbecile in the white house.  Yes, it has a barbaric administration.  We also have you.  We also have many who will resist and fight, and care—maybe not in the ways you think they should, but they are do, and in their own ways are living out their lives the way they choose—a life of generosity, compassion, kindness, love, and humor.

And yes, there are those who have no choice in how they live—those who have no independence.  There are the oppressed, the marginalized, the hated, feared, the hungry, the homeless, the people without healthcare, or enough money to live on no matter how many hours they work at a minimum wage job.  And of course, this must change.  The dangers of capitalism, the patriarchy, white supremacy, the attacks on the environment, racism—these all must change and be dismantled.  And it is hard.  Most days it seems impossible.  I truly believe we can do it though.  I truly believe we can, and are, rising up as never before.  The powers of good are getting stronger every day, and you and I are a part of that energy.

Yes, this country is deeply flawed, and we can look around and see those flaws, and rightly so, everywhere we look. And we should.  We need to be awake to what we can do to help make positive, lasting changes in our country.  We need to bear witness to each other’s pain.  We need to listen to each other’s stories of sorrow and victory.

Yes, there are people living kind, compassionate, good lives—I  daresay the vast majority in this country are trying to do so.  They love their kids.  They do good in their communities.  They offer you a hand when you’re down.  They do amazingly inventive, hilarious, useful things.  They do their best to live in such a way as to promote basic, human decency.

Yes, this country is a mess.  It is also a tapestry of wonder and of good people creating peace and a safe place for all.  There are many people who do not let hate live in their homes.

And no, I am not going to say we are the greatest country in the world.  There is no greatest country.  There is only a world of souls woven together by threads of hope in the face of great, unholy darkness.

I am a trans woman….I have tasted oppression and marginalization.  I have received death threats, and been the target of hate.  I fear going out of my apartment every day.  And yet I go.  I go with the faith that the good people will always outnumber the ignorant, misguided, brainwashed, hateful, hurtful people.  And it has never failed to be so in my experience.  For every act of hatred aimed at me, there have been a hundred acts of kindness aimed at me also.  The vast majority of my days I go out into the world, and while afraid, realize I am OK.

And no, I am not free.  I am not truly independent.  I am held back by my gender, by my mental illness, by my not being able to pass.  I also can share many gifts and strengths by being trans.  My mental illness may prevent me somedays from getting out of bed, but it also helps me see the world in magical ways, and it heightens my desire to be more and more compassionate to myself and others.

Yes, I am free to fight, and I do.  I am an activist by my very existence.  I am free to let you help me, and I do, and you do.  I am free to help you. I am free to troll the world with beauty, courage, compassion, and humor.  I am free to be me even as, in the same moment, I am not.

Today, I am going to change the name of this day to Interdependence Day.  We all need each other.  We all need one another.  And if today the best you can do is post a meme about justice, then you have helped the world.  Today I might need to be carried.  Today I might be able to carry.  We are all inextricably connected.  We even share the same air as trump.

I believe in us.  I believe in you.

I believe in our capacity to help one another, to see the good, to assume the good in one another.  I believe in our desire for justice, equality, and the genuine acceptance of one another.  I believe in our power to fight, to speak out however loudly or softly we can. I believe in the good people doing acts of kindness every day. I believe in love.  I believe in the collective power of our vision and that it will one day prevail.  It is already spreading.  A fire is burning in our hearts.  A light is shining from our eyes.  We can rise up, lifting one another, and learn how to help change the things that so desperately need changing.

I am going to celebrate Interdependence Day by bringing a meal to a family in need.  I am not bragging, but if I was, who fucking cares?  Announce your goodness for all to see.

Happy Interdependence Day.

I love you all.  Thank you for all you have done, and will do to help me survive the illnesses I carry.  I would not be here today were in not for good people like you.

 


 

 

 


Donations go to medical expenses, groceries, and medicine.

Thank you. <3

Dream, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Dream

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

pool

No One was there when I opened the door after being awoken by a frantic knocking.  I stood there, afraid, and yet, by some miracle, invited No One in.  I cleared off a chair and invited No One to sit down.  I asked if they needed a drink of water.  They nodded yes.  I turned to get some water and No One started weeping.  I stopped, knelt at No One’s side, and took their hand.  No One wept like a torrent of rain.  They collapsed off the chair and into my arms.  They started to try to speak through the sobs.  I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  I caught pieces of words and phrases:  Lonely, please, it’s chasing me, afraid, tired.  I rocked No One in my arms and they wept for a long time.  In fact, Time stepped aside and let us be together for as long as No One needed.  I was grateful for Time for letting go of control and allowing No One’s pain to be witnessed in the kind of timelessness they reserve for dreams.

No One gradually wept into a deep sleep.  I stayed there, holding them in my arms on the floor.  My legs started tingling and falling asleep.  I got up slowly and lifted No One into bed.  I stroked their hair and pulled the blanket up over their deeply breathing body.  I sat down in the chair and wondered why No One had come to me.  Who, or what was chasing them?  What could I do to help?  And with those thoughts drifting through my heart like wisps of mist, I too fell into a deep sleep.

Inside (or outside?) my dream, No One had risen from the bed and stood radiant and strong, alive. I watched in awe as No One began to change their form.  Their body shifted and fluttered, lighting up like a million fireflies, taking on other shapes and forms, until, at last, No One had transformed into Everyone, and it was then I understood why they had come.  But then, Everyone too began changing shape.  Their illumination settled a bit, and their form, a moment ago like a sun that somehow fit into the space of my apartment, began to shrink in size.  As Everyone continued to distill in form and intensity, their light became focused and channeled to a specific spot in the room.  It was then I understood why Everyone had changed.  They had changed, wonder of wonders, into myself.  And yet somehow, Everyone was still there.  We were one being, one light, one heart.  And No One suddenly flickered into the room, never to be alone again. And I let myself, wonder of wonders, be embraced by Everyone, as they rocked me in their arms, for I had collapsed from the chair weeping like the rain.


 


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Soldiers Died For People Like Me, a Memorial Day Message, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Soldiers Died For People Like Me,

A Memorial Day Message

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Memorial Day must suck for the extremist right-wing-white men in our country.

They get all emotional on this day for all the fallen soldiers. And for good reason.

However, they need to understand those fallen soldiers fought for the rights of people on the #LGBTQIA spectrum. They fought for the rights of women, minorities, the poor, the uninsured, Planned Parenthood, senior citizens, and all the Muslims living in our country, and the environment, the right to impeach a barbarian president.

The alt-right white “christian” KKK-loving men can’t get around this truth. And it must really piss them off.

Of course, some of wars were unjust, wrong, a political pawn. Some however, were not. Some, I suppose, needed to be fought.

Thinking of those people who died to help keep America safe, we need to remember they died for people like me.

 

easter me

 

 

 


 


Any donations specifically from this post will be in turn, donated to Veteran’s Mental Health Programs. <3


Sitting With Sadness, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Sitting with Sadness

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Time slows like it does on long summer afternoons,

You smell the scent of rain even though there is a cloudless sky,

You get up to go about your day and sadness follows you like a moveable river,

You resist impulses to drown out her sobbing with food, sex, spending—

You feel her rocking back and forth in your heart causing you to do the same in your chair,

Trees whisper windy syllables through the curtains and gently tousles your hair,

Bees hover around your house making sure you understand sadness brings gifts of honey,

Cicada song drones through the sky in waves and settles into the hollow places deep in your bones,

A terrible longing–timeless and holy, lives in her tears and touches yours,

And when she decides to leave, she assures you she will return,

And if you are able, you will sit with her again as she weeps around the roots of your being.

 

poem image 11


 

 



All donations go to medical expenses, groceries, and daily living.  Thank you for your support. <3


However, It Is, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

However, It Is

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

However it is trees really come about, however it is

The moon inhales and exhales, however it is

Raven feathers hold rainbows in their barbs, however it is

We have school yards full of children inside us,

However it is we grow, pouring cells into the world of form

Rising and falling, however it is, the soul is ever thirsty

With oceans living there, however it is birdsong

Follows us wherever we go, however it is we love,

Rising and falling, however it is we dream, however

It is we remember our dreams, however

It is we are immersed in sky, like fish in water, however

It is flowers are so wonderfully geometric, however

It is the earth spins like a whirling dervish, however

It is we search for ourselves in one another, however

It is we kill in God’s name, however

It is we still pray, however

It is, however, it is; however,

It is.

 

flower

 


 

 

All donations go to medical expenses and groceries.  Thank you. <3