My Undoing, Revised for Poetry Reading at Elkins Park Library, Wednesday, November 16th, 2022,by Radiance Angelina Petro

My Undoing

Revised for Poetry Reading at Elkins Park Library,

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

by Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

I do not want to be reborn.

My birth is still happening–for the rest of my life—

I will be being born.

My life is an unfolding, unburdening,

a blessed untangling, a sacred unveiling, gradual

unloosening, gentle unhusking, tender unlacing,

slow unraveling—an unceasing, uncensored, unrestrainable

joy. My thoughts are unclouded, my needs

unarguable, my light unshaded, my spirit

unharmed, untasted, unleashed.  My life

unbreakable, untwisting, uncoiling.  My desires

unbuttoning, unclothing, unconditionally mine,

unequivocally, wonderful, and exquisitely unquenchable.

My passion unabridged, my shame unlearned

with moments of bliss unhurried, unlocked, unshuttered, and rising.

I unlatch the fence around the garden

and my playfulness rambles unbridled,

uncivilized, uncalibrated, unjudged.

The reasons for my being worthy

are mine and mine alone—beautiful, because I say so.

They are undebatable, undeniable, and clear.  My voice

unedited, undistorted, my brow unfurrowed, my stomach

unknotted, my wildness undomesticated, unlabeled,

untamed, and untamable–feared by many.  My wants

unencumbered, unfaded, unfallen, and fucking

legit, and fucking mine, and there is time to feel

and unfeel, form and unform, freeze and unfreeze.

My ways are unfamiliar, unfettered, unforced,

unforgettable. My sleep finally uninterrupted.

My creativity unbound, unlimited by anything

anyone says or does–my cries unmuffled, my faith

unmovable, my rage unmuzzled, my fears

unneeded, my hours of solitude gladly unnumbered,

memories uncrowded with ghosts, the love

of myself unending, unserious, unshakable,

unseparated.  My cities of wonder, of purpose,

of possibilities—unshelled, unobliterated. My wheels

unstuck, and the road unblocked.  I unsew, unstitch,

the fabric of pain so to feel so to mend so to create

a shawl of wings.  My legs steady, my stance strong.

My innocence untainted, untarnished, unstolen—reclaimed.

My life the gift of a life unlived lived now–I am

my world—unyielding, unstoppable, and gloriously undone.

 


Monkey, Frog, and the Moon, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Monkey, Frog, and the Moon

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Monkey sits in the darkness by a spring,

its crooked finger points at the moon.

Focus on the moon, frog says, sitting nearby,

forget the finger. The moon is the goal.

 

Monkey’s face grows silver. The moon is the goal,

repeats monkey over and over inside, until

the words become fingers directing its attention–

which floats away, ribboning a river of mist

through the branches of the trees, which also point

at the moon. And then–

 

a firefly alights on the tip of its finger, like

a lamp emerging from behind a shroud.

Monkey keeps its attention single-

mindedly on the moon–the goal.

Firefly flickers and winks it’s soft, green light.

And try as it might to not–monkey’s gaze drifts down

and down until, at last (as pieces of the moon flow away

in the spring), it rests on the fancy firefly blinking

its secret, flashing code. Monkey’s eyes became round—

rounder than the moon, and its mind becomes

an astonished, satisfied mind,

 

and frog widens its definitions of goal and moon,

and licks its lips, measuring the distance

between firefly and its glistening, opening mouth.

 

 

 

 


 


maybe called, Interdependence Day, by Radiance Angelina Petro

A rambling, unedited, stream of consciousness something—maybe a poem, maybe a prayer, maybe both, maybe nothing, maybe everything, maybe called, Interdependence Day.

 

 

 

 

Sunny skies swirl cloud and blue and sun

not above or below but everywhere in around us all

a shared breath selfsame breath selfsame air

this invisible shared inhaling and blending exhales

this ground of grass and pavement makes for no roads

only one vast common floor

floor of blood floor of starvation of unspeakable must be

spoken violence hate and canceling of people

floor of dancing floor of fighting stolen floor

rights torn away floor must somehow somenow heal floor

bridged floor above

inconceivable now conceivable all swallowing fire

hunger and toppling of trees and collapsing communities

of ingesting entire species into gone and gone and gone

bridges merging never truly apart thirst of soul

of ache for home longing for all fears comforted away and through

everything depends on red wagons and hands across the water

and apple trees and honeybees and putting your hand in the hand

of the one who calms the sea please believe in us tree and fields vegetables

and fruits forgive us our sins against you but have no mercy

but instead rage that sweeps us all into we must change

as long as we share breath of sage of seasons rituals

and last breaths and first breaths playful breaths of children

and of giraffes and bats dolphins and whales the cricket the crane

it swirls blue skies and sunlight swirling differences into somehow

a song lament psalm choir of here now angels

of purple mountains majesty of amber waves of grain

of rockets red glare and ramparts and land not free

but stolen may we breath the spirit of manifest restitution

understanding until ever more justice be done as protests bloom

and riots cleanse and conversations difficult and trembling and hopeful

move us to tears and the ability to bear witness to one anothers pain

of the ability of feeding each other ourselves from shared gardens

free us of the illusion delusions of breath being

our own we share swirling blue skies and sunlight in our bodies

may we fall into each others arms and weep until the healing is done

 

 

 

 


“Come Here,” says the Morning, by Radiance Angelina Petro

“Come Here,” says the Morning

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

“Come here,” says the morning,

“there are things to do that don’t involve a bed.”

“Open me,” says the door, “the day invites you out.”

“Over there,” the tree points, “walk beside that creek.”

“Don’t worry,” says the dragonfly, “I am with you all the way.”

“See that?” asks the beam of sun spotlighting

a particular rock sitting half out of the water.

“Hear that?” asks the air.

“Watch this,” says the mallard, ducking its head under,

then coming up shaking bits of light from its iridescent, green collar.

“Try this,” says the heron, standing on one leg and staring faraway.

“Guess what I’m looking at.”

“Feel that?” asks the moment, “I am everything you could have asked for,

and it is OK to ask for more.”

“Think of it,” says the mind, “the world is thinking of you.”

“Imagine,” says the soul, “your body is just as much me,

as I am you. Try dancing. Try singing. Try remembering the future you want.

“Go ahead, let it in. The day is in love with you.”

 

 


 


Ray’s Rays, Number 30: We Are the Fire, We Are the Ashes, by Radiance Angelina Petro

At the beginning of the Ray’s Rays series I said there would be 30 of them. This post marks that number.

 

 

Ray’s Rays, Number 30

We Are the Fire, We Are the Ashes

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

 

 

The overall message of Ray’s Rays is to love yourself

and the communities and world around you.

To that end (beginning)

we’ve talked about taking everyday acts of kindness anarchy,

we’ve talked about mutual aid, fierce compassion, smashing the patriarchy,

dismantling capitalism, and the realization there are no gatekeepers

in the sacred arts and acts of social activism.

One of the threads running through the Rays is the celebration of,

and fighting for the rights of, LGBTQIA+ people.

Another thread is the importance and legitimacy of honoring

our freedom, agency, pleasure, and rights.

We also discussed deconstructing modern meditation

by taking away the competition to reach “higher levels.”

We’ve talked about the benefits of mindfulness, rest

and of the spiritual significance of darkness and of emptiness.

We’ve talked about the importance of movement, music,

and art in general. We’ve affirmed that some people (like myself)

need medication and therapy. We affirmed our bodies and rallied

behind the truth that all bodies are beautiful, perfect bodies.

That’s the overall summary of the Rays.

And to that, let’s add one final thing (for now):

Help one another keep the fires of hope alive in your efforts

to change the world and yourself. Some say “hope,” is foolish

or doesn’t exist. I think hope exists and I also think it is, in fact,

foolish. But all forms of love are foolish in the sense

that they needn’t (and often don’t) make intellectual sense.

The logic of the heart, however, acknowledges the fires of passion,

the imagination, and a wild, unstoppable love, and can appear

foolish.” With that love comes hope. “Keep the hope alive,”

is almost cliché, and it is also possible. Each and every

big or small acts of kindness, compassion, mutual aid, activism,

radical justice, anarchy, and love, stokes the flames of hope.

It is possible to change, even if that means burning the whole

thing to the ground first. After all, the myth of the phoenix

is steeped in the spiritual reality that radical love survives.

And you and I are embodiments of that radical love and hope.

You and I are the answers. We are also the questions,

and that isn’t a bad thing. There is a quest

in every question. And you and I are living, breathing quests.

We are also the destination, even though there is no

ultimate goal to this work/play. Why? Because we are love,

and we are hope, and there are no final goals in love or hope.

We are the fire and we are the ashes.

We are the builders and the destroyers. May we use our powers

wisely, with compassion and justice, so that everyone

shares the fruits that each of us harvests

from the gardens of our hearts, and our fields of hope.

 

 

 


Ray’s Rays, Number 29: Support Queer Artists, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Ray’s Rays, Number 29:

Support Queer Artists

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

 

As Pride Month 2022 approaches, and corporations

begin to roll out their Pride gear, remember to support

queer artists (and by “artists,” I refer to craftspeople, writers, songwriters,

illustrators, comic and zine makers, dancers, sculptures,

and any and all form of people who create). While some may argue

that corporate Pride exposure is better than no corporate Pride exposure,

and maybe it is, but the fact remains

that it is commercialized and will end on June 30,

and we all know queer artists need money

and corporations don’t.

One thing I’ve learned being in the queer community

is that it is filled with the most amazingly talented, creative,

and most innovative artists anywhere. Go ahead–

go to Target and buy a Pride shirt, but please remember

to support queer artists. While capitalism is barbaric,

until it’s finally dismantled, we need money.

So, if a queer artist doesn’t have an Etsy shop or

some other selling platform, commission

something, ask them to paint/make/compose you something,

and PAY them. Buy something from them.

Go to the many Pride festivals and buy crafts

and artwork from queer artists. Share their

work on your social media and with family and friends.

Promote them, give them gift cards to art supplies stores,

help get their work hung/displayed in cafes and coffee shops,

maybe even use the money you were going to go

and buy some commercialized Pride item, and pay

the fee for a queer artist to have a table at a flea market

or Pride festival. There are a million and one ways

to support queer artists, and not just during Pride Month.

Let’s let that be a part of our activism. Not only does it mean

more positive representation, it saves lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ray’s Ray, Number 28: Sometimes I Am Tired of Fighting, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Ray’s Ray, Number 28:

Sometimes I Am Tired of Fighting

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

 

 

There are days the fire of activism goes out,

or, at least, seems to die down to a couple

of red, sparking embers. There are times

when the fight just to exist as I am feels too much;

when the weight of what some people want to do to me

feels too much to bear. And by do to me, I mean,

wipe people like me off the face of the earth.

There are times when the injustices and the hate

and the violence, discrimination, fear-mongering,

the far-right-extremism make it seem like

there is no hope, and I just want to curl up and hide.

And that is totally fucking legit. Queer people,

marginalized people of all kinds, targets of hate crimes

and terrorism for simply living what they know

to be true or the faith tradition they believe,

or the color of their skin—sometimes it’s overwhelming

just to walk the planet. And that is totally a legit way to feel.

Some think you can’t take your foot off the gas

when it comes to activism. Lives are at stake. Basic,

human rights, dignity, and freedom are at stake.

We mustn’t stop. We cannot stop. If we stop

who will fight? And I know this feeling, and right now

I am tired and need to rest. And I will not be ashamed

of that today. I will not be bullied or marginalized

in an already marginalized community to keep on going

when I am collapsing, when I am lost in mental and physical exhaustion.

I will not let the gatekeepers of activism tell me

I am letting everyone down if I need to rest, to take a break

from marching, rallying, writing, shouting, educating,

living day-to-day as a non-passing trans person–

I sometimes just need to cocoon for awhile.

Some may call this “self-care,” some may say I’m

recharging my batteries.” I don’t what it is except a legitimate,

human need to stop fighting for a day, a week, a month.

I am not a machine. I don’t have batteries. I am a person

who is sensitive, fiercely compassionate, and who carries

with them everyday the burden of being who I am

in a world that wants me dead. I am person with diagnosed

mental illnesses, who just happens to be queer.

Today, or tomorrow, or whenever, if you need a break

take it. Honor your body, honor your heart

and mind. Honor your need for solitude,

and nourishing darkness, stillness, quiet. Or maybe

it’s the need for wild dancing, lots of TV—whatever

it is (I could sure use some rich, moist chocolate cake

right about now). If you feel hopeless, like I do,

here, in this moment, give someone the gift

of carrying you for a spell. Give them the gift of your leaning

on their belief, their hope, their strength, and then,

when you can, let them lean on you, carry them

as best you can. This is not a fight that has an end.

But there can be ends—pauses–to retreat into silence

or whatever it is that feeds you. Please,

please try not to feel ashamed, like I

so often do, when I need a break. This kind

of self-realization, this kind of setting boundaries

and taking time to pause, is radical activism in and of itself.

 

 

 

 

 


Ray’s Rays, Number 27: Living with Compassion, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Ray’s Rays, Number 27

Living with Compassion

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

 

 

There are those who only read the title.

There are those who only read the headlines.

There are those who see what they want to see.

There are those who project their shadows onto others.

There are those who judge quickly without really

looking into things. And I’ve done all of the above.

Trying not to anymore though.

Perception is a funny, fickle thing. We

look at the world, and see what we want to see

using the lenses of our past and present selves,

and with the lenses of our fears, our expectations,

our limited information, and our misinformation,

as well as our preconceived notions, especially about things

we don’t understand or “approve,” of.

Sometimes the lenses are clouded—clouded with trauma–

whether conscious or unconscious, or with the afore mentioned

misinformation. Sometimes we look through the lenses of

whatever I see is right. I am a savior, and what I see matters more

than what other people see.” I get all of that too.

I am growing though. I am more and more able

to look past my own prejudiced perceptions and fears,

and also to acknowledge, and be accountable for,

when those perceptions are wrong or inaccurate, or worse, harmful.

I am more able to look for the good, and to know

I am not here to save the world with how I look at things

and the conclusions I come to—usually without the whole

picture in view. I am more and more able to engage

and have conversations—even difficult ones—with people

who perceive me as a threat because I’m trans.

Sometimes I can’t have such conversations, but when I do,

it often yields surprising results. I see that most people’s hatred

towards people like me is rooted in fear and their own shadows,

and for me that calls up compassion. I’m still not sure how.

I have been treated so terribly these last seven years

since coming out—I can’t even begin to describe how cruel

and violent some people can be towards trans people–

and most often while using their faith traditions as shields

of hate. Surprisingly though, I have been able

to cross over bridges of mutual kindness,

and make friends with “haters.” But today I’m feeling tired.

There is more anti-trans legislation on the books than ever before in history.

It would seem the far-right will stop at nothing

short of genocide of people like me. Well, today,

as tired as I am, I am still feeling—through all the rage,

fear, and grieving—some level of compassion

for those people. Sometimes I wish I didn’t. Sometimes

I wish I could return hate for hate. But that’s just not me.

I suffer inside. I turn the rage inwards, or sometimes

express it in my writing. Mostly it’s turned inwards

and the depression deepens into dangerous depth.

If you’re like this—please be gentle with yourself

and seek support. If you’re one of the people

who look through the lenses of hate, fear, and don’t

pause to get to know me, then I wish you compassion.

I wish your god to be merciful unto you, for god knows

whatever god is out there, is one of love and kindness,

and with a heart as wide as the world.

 

 

 


Ray’s Rays, Number 26: Touch Yourself, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Ray’s Rays, Number 26

Touch Yourself

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

 

 

Touch yourself. When people hear those two words together

a lot of their imaginations go directly to their genitals,

which is, of course, fine. Go ahead and touch your genitals

if you want/need. They’re yours. Learn about them. Explore

them. What makes them feel good? What doesn’t?

There are people like me that don’t particularly like

touching my own genitals. Sometimes this is all about gender dysphoria,

other times it’s just a lack of interest and/or libido, other times

it’s about me working through another layer of sexual trauma,

and it would actually make things worse. Other times it can be

empowering, but for me, I tend to not. Another thing

that may contribute to a lack of interest in my genitals

is my being asexual. I’m simply not interested in sexual pleasure.

I’m willing to help give that to a partner (which is totally

valid for my particular kind of being ace), but for me, I could care less

about my own sexual pleasure. It’s perfectly valid to be ace

and masturbate too, but for me, that is rarely the case.

So, the little, two-word phrase: “Touch yourself,”

is often associated with touching your genitals. However, there are

other body parts to touch, and when this phrase is taken

to mean touching other parts of your body, and should you practice

this, it can be a powerful expression of self-care and self-love, and

self-affirmation. It can be soothing too. For example, perhaps

explore stroking your arm with soft touches. Perhaps

massage your feet, your hands, your face, your legs. Touching

yourself all over your body can be like exploring a holy thing–

because it is. It can be a meditation, an expression of mindfulness and embodiment.

Honor your body with loving touches—brush

your hair, brush feathers over your arms, use various self-acupressure

techniques, like EFT; dance, touch your chest, belly, shoulders

with love. Of course, for some people the chest can be a source

of gender dysphoria, so explore what, if anything feels right.

To sum it all up, “touching yourself,” can mean many things.

Main thing is honor your body, let it sing with pleasure

and affirmation and self-affection. It is a holy act of worship

in my mind—the holy act of worshiping your own body–

and you are allowed to feel good. Perhaps give it a try.

 

 

 

 


Ray’s Rays-Number 25: The Finger Matters by Radiance Angelina Petro

Ray’s Rays: Number 25

The Finger Matters

by

Radiance Angelina Petro

 

 

 

 

In certain circles, the phrase: “Don’t focus

on the finger. The moon is the goal.”

In other words, “enlightenment,” is a “goal,”

and only the goal matters. Don’t focus on the way,

and, in this case, on the pointers along the way,

and, to bring it closer to this phrase—don’t focus

on the finger. Why always this instance that the body

isn’t a way to its own kind of enlightenment? Why

this idea that the body is something to be shed

if one wants to reach some faraway, spiritual goal?

Go ahead—focus on the goddamn finger. Fingers are amazing!

Focus on the hand—how it can do a myriad of creative

(and destructive) things. By extension—focus

on the body. Focus on the pointers—the little (and big)

signs along the way. Moreover—fuck the idea that there is

a goal. In my own practice of spiritual anarchy,

I resist the idea that meditation, spiritual practice, or anything

of that nature and notion has to have a goal–

that it has to be a competition. Because, of course,

once someone says they’ve reached “enlightenment,”

they suddenly claim (conscious or unconsciously)

some sort of power—some one-up-man-ship over others,

and suddenly there’s a twisted colonization of spiritual ideas

and the “teacher,” takes over a little group of forced,

perhaps coerced territory of people, where there are consequences

for not doing things, “the right way,” or for questioning,

or for leaving for a different group or teaching. This may all

sound extreme. I’ve seen it happen over and over though. If you

haven’t—good. For this Ray—perhaps practice focusing

on the body and the pointers. Perhaps forgo the notion

that the goal is high-away-somewhere that you can’t reach

unless you give up the body. Instead, practice loving the body

as its own form of holiness and embodied-body of light.

And please, to the best of your ability, try not to let anyone

tell you your body isn’t beautiful, that it isn’t a radical

manifestation of pleasure, joy, and the ability to move

between ideas, weather, prayers, devotions, and dimensions.