Landing, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Landing

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Landing in meditation

I found myself

With you.  Of course,

I knew you would be

Waiting, open for me

To read, and you waiting,

To offer ideas and suggestions

For revisions of my story,

And yes, I know the last sentence

As everyone does, and when

It comes, and the journal is full,

Another will be ready-made with sewn binding

And paper made of linen

Watermarked with your kiss,

And you will lift me

From the pages

Of the full one—complete

With your lavish touches

And crammed with my ridiculous adventures,

And you will say, with all the pride

Of a parent laying a newborn

Into a bassinet—

Live.

 

 

 


 




I Wake Up Thirsty, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

I Wake Up Thirsty

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Every night, I wake up thirsty.

The only thing to do

Is lie back in the dark water,

Letting the dried, inner chambers

Soak through and through,

And then dream–

Dream I am a waterwheel,

And you—a silent river flowing through me.

 

 

 


 


 


The Gardener Tends the Sleeping Flowers, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Gardener Tends the Sleeping Flowers

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The gardener moves in the darkness among the flowers

And bushes in the cemetery of caves and stones–

Who does that?  Who gardens by the light of the moon?

Who touches the closed faces and hands

And whispers blessings upon them?

Who prunes unnecessary branches as if baptizing a child?

Who bends down, robe of golden threads mixing with the earth,

And pulls weeds from around the herbs and succulents?

Who sculpts the soil of the roses?

Who tends the nests of sparrows while at the same time

Looks for you?

 

The one who walks among the graves.

The one who sees your beauty in the shadows.

The one who turns towards you

Even when you do not recognize him.

The one who removes the hood of his cloak,

And calls you by name.

 

 

 

 


 




Buttercup Road, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Buttercup Road

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

When you go out you see.

The world opens a little more

With every turn of your gaze.

 

Yesterday, I walked the stretch of sidewalk

I call, Buttercup Road.  It’s lined with buttercups on both sides,

And if that doesn’t sting you with joy

Check your pulse.

 

I bent down to look more

Closely, each and every buttercup

Trembled with glee at the release of being seen—

Of little, old me witnessing their golden,

Shiny faces; of me getting close enough

I could have kissed them, petal by petal—I could have—

But didn’t.  I kissed them instead with praise and adoration,

And their hands opened wider for more.

 

That evening, I went back to visit them.

The sun was setting, the sky a splendid swirl

Of the transgender flag, and there they were—

Their faces cloaked in prayer, their hands cupping

The sun inside, their lips parted, touched

With moonlight all night long, I said to them:

“You dear, little lockets of honey, you holy, little chalices of sweetness,

I realize you are not here for me, you are here, like me,

For the sun; thank you for drawing my footsteps

Closer to the light.”

 

 

 


 



Every Day Life After the Attack, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Every Day Life

After the Attack

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The day after.

The slipping back

Into your body.

The stepping back

Into your life.

The sitting down

With your perpetrators

At the breakfast table,

In church, at Thanksgiving dinner,

The friends coming over

To play in a house

Where you were pinned down,

The getting up the next morning,

The shutting down

Of what happened,

The pushing it away,

The surviving by vanishing

In plain sight,

The slow forgetting

So that life can go on

Even though the innocence

Of running outside on a long, drifting

Summer’s evening, disappears

Like a firefly in the trees.

The terror burrowing

Into your body, into your spirit,

Into the fabric of your mind,

To be carried with you

The rest of your life, like

A railroad spike in your guts,

That stabs you again and again

When you least expect it—

When a smell, the sound

Of cicadas, the flashback,

The Thanksgiving dinner,

The priest holding up

The Eucharist, triggers it all again—

And you feel like

You’re going to vomit the horrible truth,

And you freeze as you’re walking

To the store, and you shimmer

Out of your body again,

And don’t come back

For hours, and yet, you go about

Your day, a living mist, a disappearing

Person made of sand,

And somehow you manage

To return to your life—

The stain on your soul

Visible in your eyes,

And yet, you move on, you make it,

You survive another wave,

You emerge from the dark waters,

And you stride towards the healing

Into freedom, into the reclaiming

Of your life—the fucking forgiveness

And twisted loyalties, the fucking

It’s a gift, the fucking it was meant

To be, the fucking you somehow

Made it happen or deserved it,

The fucking you will let it

Hold your life hostage anymore,

The wonder of who you are—

A warrior battling every moment

To live, to recover your innocence

From pain’s tangled trees,

Where fireflies still blink, like

Beacons in the night,

Reminding you that you still

Shine.

 

Me, 5th grade, dressed up for a class play.

 

 


 




Wheels Within Wheels, A Prose Poem, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Wheels Within Wheels

A Prose Poem

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

The wheel of death turns, crushing everything eventually in its iron teeth.  The inevitable Good-bye waits just behind everyone you love.  Death and taxes are the only certainty, they say, in an ever-changing world.  Every breath breaks us down, little by little, like a walking hour glass.  All things end in suffering, they also say, from their cushion on the floor, where they carefully fold their legs, like a smug giraffe. As the grinding wheels turn and the paint peels invisibly at first, from the walls of your security, I am here to mention, in passing, there are other wheels turning their great, unceasing mechanisms.

The wheel of life turns, powered by the water of baby’s laughter and morning bird-song. The inevitable Hello waits just behind every stranger, flower, tree, and prayer.  Birth and bliss are among the many certainties in the arms of the Beloved.  Every breath builds us, like a walking tree absorbing light.  All things, so few say, splashing and stomping in puddles of rain, end in halcyon days of being held and nursed by eternal love.  As the wheel of life turns, and barns are raised, and fledglings fly, I am here to mention, in passing: joy is a certainty too.

The wheel of wonder turns, powered by waters of innocence we all carry whether we sense them or not.  It’s there carrying the inevitable inhalation of awe just behind every sunset and moment of revelation thrumming in your body.  Every time the hawk glides by, every time spring raises its enchanting exhale, every time the Beloved meets you as you move to help another—the wheel of wonder turns the imagination to create new pathways for the innocence to appear and move closer—like the heron, like the deer, like the compassion with which you bestow upon yourself and the soul of the world.

I am here to mention, in passing, there are many wheels turning in our hearts.  Witness each moment awake–for what it is—an ending, a beginning—the pause in a kiss, the hearts-touching-embrace and the stepping back.  If you become afraid of the cycle, move inwardly toward yourself to treat yourself with all the patience you would give to a friend.  The wheels will always turn.  And there is nothing to the idea of being caught up in them—caught up in the wheels of birth and death.  We can no more get stuck in those wheels as we can in a dream.  We are here—this moment.  Be attached.  Be ready to loosen into the sky, like a ribbon of laughter.  Yes, the road changes, while at the same time, the destination stays the same—the certainty of all certainties is there–the Beloved—waiting, holding the baskets of the bread of kindness you made all those years.  What matters now is which wheels do you see in your eyes when you look in the mirror? Which wheels do you see in the eyes of another?  One wheel mauls us into dust; one unfolds us, like morning; one lifts us, like a ferris wheel where we can pause to brush the stars with our fingers, and to kiss.

I will not say: Enjoy the ride.  Instead, I will say, in passing, be soil and let the water nourish you, and so too, be water and nourish the world.

 

 


 



Surprises, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Surprises

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

They are everywhere.

Every moment, every

Single thing in your life–

And ever it shall be so–

Is a surprise.

 

The turkey buzzard gliding, like

A black cloak loose in the sky,

The letter from England amidst the circulars,

The cardinals tangling and untangling

In the winterberry bush,

The first cabbage butterfly of spring,

This breath, this step, this ability

Of your heart to beat without you

Even thinking about it,

The ship of sleep arriving

At the harbor of your consciousness,

The frog at the wheel, tipping his hat

As you climb aboard, the waking up

In your bed, in your room, in your body,

The channa masala, the mango lassi,

The crunch of the toast in the morning,

The surprise you are and the gifts you give—

 

You get the idea.

 

And yes, there are unpleasant surprises.

We know this and yet we continue walking–

Through the graveyard, flowers in hand,

Into the kitchen where the difficult conversation awaits,

Into the hospital room where a loved-one fades,

Through waking up with a fever,

Through the snow storm in April,

Through the changing of the tire

On your way to the concert—

 

This certainty of a lifetime of surprise

Can be disconcerting, along with

The uncertainty of the surprise

Of what happens when your last breath

Joins the spirits at your bedside;

And yet, we keep moving, and sometimes

We curl up and rest, and other times

We simply stand where we are—afraid to move–

Eventually, we will take another step,

And the road will bloom, and the fear

May turn into wonder, and the living awake,

And the frog turning the wheel and shouting:

“Hoist the anchor! Make sail!  The wind is at our backs,

The horizon is calling: “Try and catch me, if you can.”

 

 


 

 



Redemption, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Redemption

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

It’s here.

Like spring in winter,

Like joy in grief

And grief in joy,

Like the answer

In a question,

And the question

In an answer.

Like you,

Like me.

 

It’s here.

Being revealed.

Like morning,

Like evening,

Like healing,

Like you in me,

And me in you,

Like truth,

And the way,

Like the end,

And the beginning.

 

It’s here.

Shining,

Shadowed,

Singing,

Beckoning,

Searching,

Found,

Like you in me,

Like me in you,

Like the road

Open to all.

 

 

 


 



Playing in the River of the Reality of Binary-Relativism, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

Playing in the River of the Reality of Binary-Relativism

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Try and take hold of the night.  What ends up filling your hands is darkness tinged with light, whether that be moonlight or starlight, there will be traces of the coming morning or the retreating sunset.

Likewise, try and take hold of the day.  What ends up filling your hands is light tinged with darkness, whether it be the shimmering shadows of the willow, or your own shadow, or that small, rushing anxiousness that evening is approaching much faster than your plans would like.

Night and day are ideas—in the truest sense they do not exist as opposites—they are ever and always touching, held together by a river that flows both ways.  I know, the “held together,” and “flowing both ways,” seem to contradict the idea that night and day are one.  Words are limited in scope and range.  And it is easier (safer) to write in ideas like black and white and the binaries of male and female.  You can try and wrap words (ideas) around other ideas and, at best, you come up with a poem, and, at worst, fear-based violence.

Why is it safer (easier) to write in terms of binary ideas? Describing day and night as light and dark is strangely comforting to those people who fear stepping into the river.  Describing greys, tones, gradations, the multitude of colors that inform sunsets and sunrises–this type of thinking requires more effort, more consciousness, and an openness to the idea of the infinite creativity of the God they believe in.  It is easier (and safer) to let one’s thinking be governed by ideas that appear to fit their notions of “the opposites.”

It’s the same with thinking of the idea of the so-called gender-binary.  Defining gender by body parts, chromosomes, and reproductive functions is the same basal reasoning as saying day and night can be defined by clocks and the amount of light we see or don’t see.  Reducing genders to body parts invalidates the manifestations of the inner and outer gender identities that so many experience in the reality of their lives.

Life flows in a circular current between the ideas of binaries.  The reality is spectrum, shadows, fading in and out colors, touches, whispers, hints, nuances—nothing exclusive unto themselves—travel West far enough and you slip into the East.  Rise North as far as you can go.  You will only descend into the South, like a waterfall.

This blending and interwoveness isn’t to be feared—not within the notions of day or night, male and female, mania and depression, faith and disbelief.  Everything touches.  Everything mixes.  What is created along that circular movement is peace, life, the aforementioned wonder, and yes, the infinite ways these ideas manifest in the river of the world.

But what of science?  Doesn’t it prove the idea of opposites?  Some people use science in the same way they use bibles—selectively.  While deriding the idea of the gender spectrum they propagate the ideas that climate change doesn’t exist, that the earth was created in six days, that all the animals of the world fit into an ark, and for some, that the earth is flat.

Science is crucial to the future of humanity. So is letting go of fear of change and the perceived threats to the family.  Erasing the idea of gender binaries doesn’t unleash havoc on the family.  Instead it opens up the definitions and manifestations of family.  It doesn’t mean the end of procreation.  It doesn’t mean the end of heterosexual, cisgender marriages.  All it does is threaten the shadow-desires some people feel but are trained to be experienced as deviance and to be felt as shame and fear.

The idea that binaries are ideas sometimes threatens people in other ways—particularly that the world will dissolve into relativism.  What is so threatening about that–whether that relativism be cultural or societal?  If the idea that there are no absolute truths threatens one’s spiritual security then where is their faith?  In reality, one cannot escape cultural relativism.  It’s the same with the ideas of black and white and the gender binaries.  For example, take a look at the word, “relativism.”  It’s clearly “related” to “relating,” ‘relations,” and “relationship.”  And these, in turn, can be traced back to the word, “refer,” which, means, in Latin, “to relate, and to carry back.”  Let’s carry the idea that gender is based on body parts back to the reality that some “men,” are born with vulvas, and some “women,” are born with penises or combinations of both.  Those aren’t ideas—those are realities.  They are not mutations or abnormalities—they are as natural as being born with a certain hair color.  What is the threat if someone knows they are a gender that may not correspond to the body parts that some people associate with a particular gender?  In reality, there is no threat.  The threat is fake news.

In the same way, relativism does not erase decades of fighting for women’s rights and feminism.  However, if modern feminism and the fight for respect, dignity, safety, jobs, pay rates, does not include transwomen and other people on the spectrum that identify as female, then it isn’t truly feminism.  It is as guilty as the extremist Christians that hold the old idea that in order to be female you need a vulva as defined by the confines of reproductive function.

All things are related, in relationship, and we can even have “relations.” These are realities.  The idea of night being related to the idea of day and the reality of these relationships can be experienced in our everyday lives, and no one is threatened.

Knowing binaries are ideas does not blur or muddy the waters of reality’s river.  They liberate us into realizing the infinite facets of the divine radiating prisms of color that touch the world with joy and wonder—in other words—variety—infinite variety.

Heaven hell, good and evil.  These are ideas inherently couched in relativism—cultural and spiritual.  Killing is wrong unless you’re defending your flag or religion, or the world from abortion; stealing is wrong unless you are trying to save your children; war is wrong unless it is for oil or to get rid of “evil doers,” who believe something different than you.  My religion is right because yours is wrong, my book says so, your book is wrong.  It’s silliness—dangerous, childish, fear-based silliness—and most of it propagated by men insecure of their own sexual/gender identities and possibilities.  Everyone knows how dangerous, cunning, manipulative, and cruel a man can be when scared.  History is full of men scared of losing something or scared of something being revealed and to prevent this they resort to violence.  And it is undeniable that many men who rail against homosexuality are found to possess porn, and or engage in sex with other men.  Why is that?  Because gender is a spectrum and something to be ashamed of.

Ask yourself reading this right now if it inspires you with vehement hatred, anger, and, if you’re extreme—violence?  If it does, I suggest you have little-to-no faith in your god—your beliefs, which are nothing more than ideas woven with communal feelings—are weak.  Indeed, they are relative.  You’re proving it by being upset.  If you’re living in the prison of the idea of binaries and you’re reading this, and you have some twinge somewhere within you—whether that be between your legs, in your heart, or in your mind—that moves you to the suppressed knowledge that you are actually happily gender-non-conforming—that you are perhaps a gender other than what your genitals say.  Most certainly it points to your shadow hiding conscious or unconscious secrets.  What if you’re feeling a secret, joyous sense of freedom as you read this? I suggest that indicates you are a true believer—in the sense that you believe in a god of infinite possibilities and varieties that in no way threatens anyone or anything—only your limited ideas.

Go play in the river.  You can’t drown in a river made of joy—unless you become afraid and slip back into the suffocating ideas that kept you from going near the river in the first place.  Look, there are others already there—splashing, swimming, and forming bridges called Fun and Freedom and Faith.  There is room for all.  Go be baptized in the infinite variety of your god.

 

 


 



International Women’s Day, Thursday, March 8 , 2018, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

International Women’s Day,

Thursday, March 8 , 2018

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

I am a woman.

Born with a penis.

I am a woman who harbors the moon

In the center of her soul.

Born with YX chromosomes,

Low testosterone and high levels of estrogen,

So much so the doctors

Were concerned for her health.

I am a woman with a manta ray

Billowing in the dark waters of her heart.

I am a woman who went unrecognized

When she was born regardless

Of the hormones glowing in her body.

I am a woman who walks with the willows.

I am a woman given testosterone shots

When she was a child.

I am a woman born with Bast in her mind.

I am a woman who sired three sons.

I am a woman who steals through the woods

Like a ribbon of light.

I am a woman called, “Mister,”

For many of her adult years.

I am a woman who sings to each and every tree.

I am a woman with a voice

Everyone identifies as male except the trees.

I am a woman with hidden wings large enough

To drape around her body when she sleeps.

I am a woman who shaves her tits.

I am a woman who speaks stars and planets.

I am a woman who feels most comfortable physically in men’s underwear.

I am a woman who roars.

I am a woman who walks the world in fear for her life, yet walks anyway.

I am a woman who knows when you are secretly grieving.

I am a woman with hair on her fingers.

I am a woman with baskets of bread in her arms.

I am a woman most people do not want to see.

I am a woman with a spirit on fire for justice.

I am a woman who presents in ways so as to smash the tired binaries.

I am a woman with darkness in her eyes that leads to lakes hidden by trees.

I am a woman blessed to be born again and again.

I am a woman surrounded by ghosts of ladies in waiting.

I am a woman feared by men and their stunted desires.

I am a woman who raises the dead from the ground as she passes.

I am a woman feared by TERFS and their insecurities in their own femininity.

I am a woman who nests in her bed like a sleeping bear.

I am a woman feared to exist in the world.

I am a woman who bathes in flowers.

I am a woman with lotuses growing up her spine.

I am a woman with orchids watching from her thoughts.

I am a woman with tigers hiding in her laughter.

I am a woman followed by trooping faeries.

I am a woman walking side by side with a snowy unicorn of power.

I am a woman with herbs in her pockets and moss on her cloak.

I am a woman with hidden rivers of light in her touch.

I am a woman with the universe in her hair.

I am a woman who shatters skewed perceptions.

I am a woman who knows herself as the moon knows the trees.

I am a woman.

Born with a penis.

I am a woman changing the world.

I am a woman as divine as you.

 

 


 

 


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