The Wandering Now, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Wandering Now

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Are there times, plural? Times

That exist multiplied, added,

Subtracted, divided?

 

Or is it one time and one time only?

Is it one borderless time—no alpha,

No omega time? No chronos,

No Kairos, no linear, no anywhere time?

 

We do know there are

Rhythms of moons and seasons,

 

We do know we breathe—

 

Our lives,

Our breath,

 

Sifts through many branches,

Spreads through many bodies,

Moves in a wind that is kin to silence—

 

Yet even amidst the changes that don’t

Really change, even amidst the sound

Living in silence, and the silence living in sound

 

It is still a breath—an expansion and contraction

Of our place in time—

A breath that is, in itself, a spirit,

A spirit that is, in itself, a body—

A body that is, in itself, the now made manifest.

 

And from where we stand,

In all of the mystery, and all

The effort to find a center

 

We blossom and wither

In no time at all—

 

So here we are—maybe

You need to join me in

Lifting our head, lifting our hands—

And with all the earnestness of a lost soul–

Say to the everywhere:

“Show me.”

 

 

 


It’s All Happening Now, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

It’s All Happening Now

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Your awareness

Of your immediate

Surroundings–this

Moment, and

Your breath

Breathing presence

Into the world–

Is valid. Your pain,

Your falling asleep,

Your heartache,

Your little conversations

About how beautiful

The sunset is,

Your worries,

Your looking for your keys,

Your rising, glowing

Body—fluttering

With coming—

All of this—

Is valid.

 

And can you

Imagine–now, this

Moment–somewhere far

Beneath the ocean’s surface–

A whale drifts—

An acorn-barnacled

Monolith–singing

Light through forests

Of kelp and the bodies

Of a million fish—

Echoing in your very

Own longing—can you

Imagine?

 

Can you imagine–

Now, this moment–

Somewhere deep

In deep-green leaves—

Leaves as big as faces–

A panther, a shimmering

Piece of the night,

Licking its great paws,

And staring—all the way

From Indonesia—

Directly

Into your eyes?

 

Oh, can you—

Can you imagine?

It’s all happening

Now.

 

 

 

 


 




The Art of Blossoming, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Art of Blossoming

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

The art of blossoming

Is simple and yet

Riddled with struggle.

First you find yourself

A seed full of darkness

Surrounded by darkness,

Then you gradually begin

To realize you are full of light,

A light yearning to shine

In the open, remarkable sky,

Next you begin feeling

An even brighter light

Gently tugging, calling,

Singing you out of the earth,

Passed roots and rocks, until,

At last, you break open–

 

Into the full pageant of the day,

With your light illuminating

Your own life and the lives

Of everyone you touch,

And other lights

Stream through you,

Like liquid sweetness,

And you draw sustenance

From lightning and the rain—

 

And the fragrance of all

Your efforts–all that darkness,

All that time spent

Wisely unseen–lifts

Into the wind, and your beauty

Weaves through the day

And the night, and other seeds,

Through other gardens,

Through other fields

Awaiting this coming out,

When the world, and the mirror,

Are blessed.

 

 

 

 

 


 


Clear as Day, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Clear as Day

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

One never knows until never is up,

And then you know whatever it was

You didn’t know before never ran out.

 

It’s kind of like this: A firefly

Turns its own light on and off

In an effort to get your attention.

 

Certain questions act the same way—

Bobbing up and down, elusive—

Hints flashing among the dark trees;

Every so often, and often again—

Someplace different—a little to the left,

A little higher, and sometimes, seemingly,

Rising to the moon, all in an effort

To be followed.

 

Trick is—and it is a trick—keep watching

For the lights—they can bloom anywhere

In the fields of summer darkness;

When you see one, follow its green-tinted

Ribbon where ever it goes, as best you can,

And if you lose sight of it—disappointment,

Frustration—are perfectly valid responses.

 

Try and remember this:

When you fall asleep, and answers

Lift through the trees—out of reach—

Do your best to not give up.

 

Your dreams–along with a gathering of angels

And shadows—will ponder the questions for you,

And when morning comes, and the dawning sun shines,

It will all be clear as day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


The Frog, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Frog

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The frog with gold-flecked sclera and black, almond pupils–

Sloped back–green, gleaming with brown moons—

Waits until the last second before leaping

From the half-submerged log into algae-murky waters.

 

Once I am up the road aways, mind thinking through shafts of light

Of what it would be like to be so smoothly elusive,

Its head inconspicuously breaks the surface of the pond,

Scoping it out, making sure I’m good and gone.

 


I Don’t Know What Else to Say, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

I Don’t Know What Else to Say

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The Friesian horse of the night approaches,

In an extended cantor.

When it finally slows to a halt,

May it nuzzle my face and neck,

May the mist of its breath shroud my body

So that I may disappear into the moon light.

And may whatever it was I wanted to say

Be swallowed up into the ground

Only to reappear years later—

As bones wrapped in flowers.

 

 

 

 


Memorial Day, 2019, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Memorial Day, 2019

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

I had an uncle who fought in WW II, and he was never the same mentally. He was an extremely talented writer, and his PTSD from the war destroyed the rest of his life. It’s people like him I honor–and all the military people of color throughout history, and the indigenous people, who fought for rights they still don’t experience, who fought with little to no recognition, who fought and were betrayed by the very country they were fighting for.

I think especially today about my transsiblings who have lost their careers in the military–their years and decades of service–all because of trump and his religious extremist terrorist regime.

I have met homeless vets on the streets of Philly, in soup kitchens, when I’ve visited homeless shelters to sing–these people are in shock–not only because of the things they’ve witnessed, done, felt–but because of the way their country let them down once they returned.

These people and the trans service members are not just expendable pieces–nor were the people of color who served in the military….We all know that—but let’s not kid ourselves that this country really cares about the actual human beings fighting these horrific and most often unjust wars—If they cared they wouldn’t be so actively fighting to take away the rights of people like me—slapping the sacrifices soldiers have made to protect my rights and the civil rights of all people–in the face….only to watch their country erode into a cesspool of hate, bigotry, and a way of thinking that is so backwards mentally, spiritually, socially, that it’s difficult to see a way out.

You know I’m a pacifist at heart/soul, but a revolution might be what’s needed to change the shit going on in this country–and for those future veterans—the marginalized ones who will fight, who do fight everyday—-it will just be a continuation of daily battles.

And yeah, it pisses people off to hear comparisons of transpeople with military members–as far as us being “heroes.” –but the truth is, transpeople like me fight a war to exist every day–and that doesn’t make us heroic, it makes us victims in a battle we did not choose. We shouldn’t need to be called heroes just because we’re trying to live our lives in safety. I don’t believe the ghosts of the soldiers who fought for American freedom would be happy to know genocide is happening right on our very soil—-again–it’s never actually stopped.

Going out anywhere–to church, the store, to the post office, to any public restroom–is putting myself at risk. I am constantly hyper vigilant of my surroundings and those around me—why? Because my life IS a war zone. If people weren’t so scared of people like my why would trump and his weaklings want us gone so badly? So sometimes the comparisons are worthy to make between veterans and queer people like me.

And it’s not only queer people–people of color are at war in this country–young black men just picking up trash are veterans of living a life of war everyday—putting themselves in danger just because they wear a hoodie, Islamic people just trying to worship, to make a living–they are at war in this country–Jewish people, Latinx people….people in jail whose lives are completely destroyed for selling/using weed….Marginalized people–each and everyone of us is a veteran of wars we fight everyday because we are the hunted.

I am not saying I want to draw attention away from military vets–Far from it. I want us all to rise up and actually fight for what they fought for—a country free to all and for the rights of all. And as long as white-supremacist colonization and brutality is still going on there will never be peace. We will always be fighting.

To those who fight overseas, and to those who fight getting out of bed, to those that fight leaving their homes because of fears for their own safety, for those that fight who have no home—I honor all of you this day, and I will, as always, keep praying for peace, and keep fighting in the ways I am able.

 

 

 


Ghosts of Spring, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Ghosts of Spring

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The spring breeze haunts me,

Every flower calls my name,

Winter holds me fast.

 

 

The ghosts in the spring

Flow through the weeping cherries,

Then fall to the ground.

 

 

I saw the ghost child

Wandering through the garden

Wishing it was fall.

 

 

Spring ghosts whispering;

The dogwoods acknowledge their voice

Weeping white petals.

 

The dead follow close,

The daffodils bow their heads,

Blessing as we pass.

 

 

Dearest magnolia,

How can it be you are there,

Fancying up the sky?

 

 

Spring wind chases by,

Stirring my hair as it goes,

Leaving me behind.

 

 

Someone mows a lawn,

The sound drifts through the window,

Melting through my mind.

 

 

Children’s spring laughter

Fluttering through the window,

Waking up the ghosts.

 

 

Rain-scented pavement

Permeates my feeling life,

Understands the tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 


No Matter What, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

No Matter What

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

At some point or another

One of these poems will be my last.

Whichever season it lands in

Holds a key, or, better said—

A gesture as to how it will unfold

Into your life.  No matter what

 

Wind will be blowing outside,

Roots will expand and contract,

Night will come, and the moon will be phasing

Behind the clouds, and blue screen lights

Will dim under your hands,

 

And floor boards will creak beneath

Your feet as you step into another room—

Thinking: What was being said between the lines?

Where does it all lead anyway?

Will we meet there? What will she look like?

Will there be a river and cherry blossoms?

Will there be angels, and, if so,

Will they be silent or singing?

 

 

 

 


Silly Geese and Momma Bears: A Playful Look at So-Called Gender Differences, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Silly Geese and Momma Bears:

A Playful Look at So-Called Gender Differences

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The following is a light-hearted (yet with deadly serious ramifications—especially in today’s world) look at the fallacy of so-called gender identifiers and the even more illusionary “characteristics” of gender as perceived by people (henceforth referred to as Silly Goose, or SGM for “males;” SGF’s for Silly Goose “females,” (sorry to use the tired binary system—it’s just for the sake of this post); and I will refer to them collectively, as Silly Geese, or SG, for short) who

1). Believe there are only two genders— “male” and “female,”

2). Believe that the only two genders are “opposite,”

3). Believe the two genders can ultimately be defined by genitals and personality traits.

 

It should be pointed out at the onset that I too am a Silly Goose Female, but of a much more pleasant, fabulous, and glittery variety.

Some of what is said in this little romp are actual statements people have made to me (henceforth referred to as Fabulous Unicorn Glitter Rainbow Queen, or FUGRQ for short) while trying to disprove my existence a transwoman.

Please note: any information herein is meant to be humorously educational and if it offends may you be nibbled to death by gazelles.  And now back to the exchange.

 

SGF: How do you know you’re female?

FUGRQ: How so you know you’re female?

SGF: I asked you first.

FURGQ: And the first shall be last.  We’ll get to my answer later.

SGF: There are clear-God-ordained differences between males and females.

FUGRQ: That’s an opinion, but back to my question.

 

[Please note I am not going to use quotation marks around words like, “male,” “female,”” tough,” or “womanly,” for the remainder of this post. I realize I just did, but that was purely for example’s sake. The overuse of quotation marks dampens their otherwise enormous powers of making sure you understand what I “actually” mean.  I have the fullest confidence that your brain will automatically insert quotation marks around the words that need them, thus saving me from having to hit “shift,” before hitting the quotation mark key. Damn.]

 

SGF: Well, I just feel…womanly.

FUGRQ: OK.  What does feeling womanly feel like?

SGF: It feels…feminine.

FUGRQ: What does feeling feminine feel like?

SGF: Well, I feel nurturing as a female.

FUGRQ: Have you ever met, seen, or interacted with a nurturing male?

SGF: Um…. yes, I suppose.

FUGRQ: Then the quality of being nurturing is a genderless quality?

SGF: Well, female nurturing is softer and gentler.

FUGRQ: Ever heard of Mr. Rogers? Or, Bob Ross, or, say: Jimmy Stewart?

SGF: There are exceptions, yes.

FUGRQ: Those exceptions are actually proof that being nurturing is a genderless quality, and thus cannot define gender.  Give me another example.

SGF: Females are more emotional than males, they cry more easily.

FURGQ: Ever heard of Cal Ripken, Lou Gehrig, Jon Stewart, Abraham Lincoln?  They all cried, as did many a Philadelphia male when the Eagles won the Superbowl.

SGF: As I said, there are exceptions—some males are more sensitive than others.

FURGQ: Those exceptions are actually proof that being emotional, or crying easily, is a genderless quality and thus cannot define gender.

 

Here is a conversation between an SGM and myself:

 

SGM: How do you know you’re female?

FUGRQ: How do you know you’re male? What is your inner experience of that like?

SGM: Well, I feel…masculine.

FUGRQ: What does that feel like?

SGM [puffing out chest]: Well, I feel manly.

FUGRQ: OK, what does that feel like?

SGM: [unable to keep chest puffed out more than a few seconds, it sinks back to regular chest settings]: Well, I’m a protector of children.

FUGRQ: Ever heard how mother bears protect her cubs, or how Sojourner Truth or Mother Theresa protected children, or how Pink protects her children?

SGM: Well, there are exceptions to the rule.

FUGRQ: Rule?  You’ve just seen that being protective is a genderless quality.

SGM: Well, I know I’m male because I’m tough. [SG puffs out chest again.]

FURGQ: Well, what about the aforementioned mother bear, or the likes of Kathrine Switzer, Venus and Serena Williams, Rosa Parks?

SGM: As I said, there are exceptions to the rule [chest sinks back in].

FURGQ: It boils down to toughness—physically and mentally—is a genderless quality, and therefore cannot define gender.

SGM: Whatever.

FURGQ: So then, what is the actual difference between males and females?

SG: Here’s proof of the difference between males and females you can’t dispute—males have a penis and release sperm and woman have a vagina and release eggs.

FURGQ: So, it comes down to body parts?

SG: Yes.  You can’t deny that one.

FURGQ: What about sterile males and infertile females are they still males and females?

SG: Those are disorders.

FURGQ: But you still consider them as defining characteristics of male and female?

SG: Yes, of course.

FURGQ: So, then, ultimately bodily functions can’t define gender. What about intersex people or the so-called-not-really-used-anymore-word: hermaphrodites?

SG: Again, there are exceptions that are considered disorders.

FURGQ: Hmm. What if a male loses his penis in a horrible accident or a woman has her vulva damaged in some way? Is the male still male or the female still female?

SG: Yes, because accidents happen.

FURGQ: I’ll give you that both sperm and egg are required to make little humans, but those ingredients can produce both little male and females, isn’t that interesting? And just because sperm come from one type of body and eggs from another doesn’t actually make two genders—it makes differently made bodies.  Both have arms, legs, eyeballs, ears, toes, and so on.  You’re saying the ONLY body parts that define males and females are genitals and their bodily functions?

SG [smugly]: Yes, that’s the truth.

FURGQ: OK, well, we’ve seen that either body can have different genitals, so, when it comes down to it, bodies don’t explain the inner experience or the feeling of being male or female. Despite bodily varieties there is no actual way to define what it feels like to be male or female.

SG: Yes, that’s what we’re saying.  We just KNOW.

FURGQ: And so, you go around KNOWING you’re males and females because you’re constantly—so-to-speak—feeling your genitals?

SG [looking at one another then turning back to me]: No, not necessarily.

FURGQ: So, genitals do not make you experience on a soul-level-a consciousness level, that you’re male or female?

SG: We suppose not, but still…

FURGQ: Still what?

SG: Feelings and inner experiences are subjective and not necessarily true.

FURGQ: Really, so your inner experiences don’t count either?

SG: Well, it’s in the Bible.

FURGQ: Ah, I wondered when that book would eek into the conversation. There’s no way for me to really argue with people who believe that one book—out of the gazillion books ever written—is the whole truth and nothing but the truth despite science, and verses like Isiah 53: 3-5 where God says eunuchs shall be given names greater than men or woman? Or how Jesus treated everyone as if their gender didn’t matter in the least?

SG: Never heard of the Isiah passage.

FURGQ: Ah.  What about Jeremiah 1:5?  If you deny an infinite variety of bodies exist, then God must make mistakes.  You must believe people born blind or short or tall or deaf are mistakes.

SG: God doesn’t make mistakes.  People born handicapped are due to human genetic abnormalities.

FURGQ: I prefer the term, “differently born,” because that includes everyone—since we’re all born with different bodies.  But aren’t those genetic issues ordained by Divine Providence?

SG: Now we’re getting into theological debate, and there’s no sense in that.

FURGQ: Agreed. Disputing the Bible’s so-called infallibility is futile, not because it’s right, but because your minds are indoctrinated with what you believe to be true, and everyone knows that beliefs aren’t facts.

SG: The Bible is God’s actual word.

FURGQ: As I said, there’s no way I can argue with your ingrained beliefs, I shouldn’t have tried, so let’s return to the human body, which you so ardently believe defines a particular gender.

SG: OK.  Let’s.  Everyone knows females don’t have facial hair or deep voices or adam’s apples.

FURGQ: On the contrary , there are females with beards and facial hair of varying amounts, plus most other mammals, like the afore-aforementioned bear–no-matter what genitals it is born with–have hair (well, fur).  So then, body hair is a genderless quality and can’t define gender.  And by the way, I wouldn’t go around asking bears to spread their legs so you can think you’ve decided what gender they are based on what you find.

SG: OK, fine, but what about the male’s deep voices or adam’s apples?

FURGQ: What about Mae West, Kathleen Turner, Angelina Jolie? They have deep voices.

SG: There are exceptions too.

FURGQ: At the end of the day, the sound and timber of someone’s voice does not define male and female. And as far as the adam’s apple, anyone can have one.  Just because some bodies have bigger ones than others doesn’t make theirs’ male and the other female. Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, and Halle Berry can all be said to have large adam’s apples.

SG: Well, females can nurse babies and men can’t.

FURGQ: We’ve already seen that body parts do not define gender itself—they may be associated with bodily functions and made-made words—but those words and functions referring to various body parts don’t define gender.  It’s what’s inside that counts—the inner experience or feeling of being the gender you know yourself to be.  So, I will ask my original question: What is your inner experience of being a particular gender—not reliant on the outer forms of the body?  What does it feel like to be who you are?

SG: We just know, that’s all.  We just know.

FURGQ: And that’s my answer to your original question. I told you we’d get to it eventually.

SG: Whatever.  We won this little debate [the SG’s walk away with their chests puffed out and their chins pointed high].

“Love your neighbor as yourself,” I call out as they strut away, but they are too far out of range to hear, which would be the case no matter the distance from where we stood.