Prophetess of Heaven-Fire, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

There are so many dire predictions after this election, and perhaps rightfully so. Many people feel everything is lost and that there is no hope–so many feel their oppression will only worsen, and that everything we have fought so hard for is gone. I get it. I am an unemployed transwoman who struggles with mental illness, and I am terrified, and god-fucking dammit, I am not giving in to the fear.

 

The fear is real, and so is love.

 

Everyone is making their predictions. I join them here. Here I turn into a prophetess of fire:

 

On this day, November 9th, 2016, love will rise up and fight for all we have accomplished so that nothing is taken away. Love will rise up to meet the hatred with all the angels of heaven and transform it back into love. Love will rise up and take to the streets and outshine the sun with its power. Love will rise up and protect the minorities, the people of color and other religions, the LGBTQIA people–teens, children—-Love will surround them and make a safe space for them. Love will do these things. YOU will do these things. How? We will be love. We will be the love. We ARE the love. Together. You and I with hearts full of love burning like a holy fire–we will rise up and meet any hate that comes our way, any violence, any oppression, and we will stand together, fight together, love together, live together.

 

I predict these next four years will be hard. And, I predict more love and more power and more strength and more solidarity and more wisdom and more courage will come because of it—-Love will come like a mighty song and fill the nations with wonder, scattering the hate into oblivion.

 

Hold your fear. Share it. Express it. Write, talk, sing, dance, draw, sculpt—it is real….I feel it…my stomach is churning, my heart is aching, and dammit to hell I am taking that fear and forging it into a shield of compassion.

 

Hold your rage. Share it. Express it. Write, talk, sing, dance, draw, sculpt—it is real….I feel it…my stomach is churning, my heart is aching, and dammit to hell I am taking that rage and forging it into a sword of truth.

 

I predict the world will end. Everything does. But not now. Not today. Not tomorrow. It will end when it is time, and that time will be far, far into the future, and when it does it will end a world full of love warriors and peacemakers, freedom fighters and freedom winners.

 

Be ye transformed o nation of disillusionment and fear, be ye transformed into courage and strength—and a vision to see things as they are————ready for love-action, love-dancing, love-creating, love-protecting, love-warriors—love-bearers one and all.

 

I see a future of more freedom than ever before because the evils are now openly exposed and the world will see them for what they are—wrong—sick–and the world will stand with us as we fight on the side of love. Let love lance the wounds of hate and let love heal and give us strength.

 

Love will rise up stronger than ever. We will rise up stronger than ever. We will make our own prophecies. Make prophecies of love and let love rise up making those prophecies true by our own hands.

 

I call upon the Source of all love to rise up within us so that we may never give up.

 

May it be done. Blessed be. We are one.

 


 

 

 


Rising, Falling, Rising, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Rising, Falling, Rising

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Watching the particles of dust

Falling in the lamplight

Of my bedroom reminds me

 

We are all falling,

Largely unseen in a light

So bright we careen into it, like

So many infinitesimally small moths.

 

Have you ever tried

Focusing your eyes

On a specific speck of falling dust–

The tiniest sliver of a snowflake,

As it sailed the currents

Of air in your room?

 

I have. After several attempts,

Which resulted in losing sight

Of the scintilla of dust in the white of the wall,

I was finally able to trace one

Descend, like the smallest slice of string

From some disintegrating, illuminated leaf,

 

It fell, and I saw it rise

When I exhaled, dip suddenly

When I inhaled, bank wanderingly

Towards the wall, tail back

And make my eyes cross

When it landed on my face.

 

Remember this:

After you turn out the light

Grains of dust fall upon you,

Pieces of pieces of falling white feathers

Slowly, methodically, like

The faintest of snow falls,

Covers you and everything

You love, like snow-embers

From some unseen fire,

 

And one day, when you realize

Your life is being traced by a greater

Vision, you will wake up

And see your life brushed

With ash, and you will rise,

Shake it off, remember

You are a pinch of stardust,

A dash of spice, a smidgen

Of fragrance, and it is time

To elaborate on the trajectory

Of your dreams, and turn the unavoidable

Process of falling

Into flying—

Flying into the light

Of your own brilliant desires.

 

 


 


 




My First Father’s Day Being a Mom, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

My First Father’s Day Being a Mom

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 rough and tumble

 

My boys say they’re OK.

When I asked them how they felt about it being Father’s Day, they said they were OK.  One asked if he still needed to get me something.  Another said he worked double time on Mother’s Day making cards for two moms and now he appreciates the day off.

I have the best kids ever.

When I think of the times I held them as infants on my chest and sang to them, when I think of pulling them in wagons and pushing them in strollers—all the times carrying them in front packs, the fishing trips, the chasing after ice cream trucks, the making bread and chimichangas, all the times we drew together, all the stories I told at bedtime, all the snake hunts and ootheca searches (praying mantis nests), all the movies (watching Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies over and over and over), all the times playing catch or pitching to them, or the time I took them out of school (along with my students) to take them to see the Parade downtown when the Phillies won the World Series in 08; the teaching them to drive, the times sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking soda and looking at books, the teaching the few guitar chords I know, the screaming at the top of my lungs at Battle of the Bands, the being so proud when they won first place–It wasn’t a lie.  All that daddying.  All that fathering.  It was real.  Always will be.  Nothing will ever change my having been their father.  No matter what anyone says, nothing can ever take those memories away.

My kids can see him in the old photographs with his scruffy goatee, scruffy clothes, silly grin.  They can see hear him in my voice and see him in my hands and face.

But I am Mom Number Two.  Always was.  It’s just none of us knew it until now.

My boys are my treasures.

I love them with all of my heart.

And not just because they support me as a transgender parent, not just because they have taken this whole journey so well, and with such class, love, and good humor; but because they are good and decent people, they are my flesh and blood.  They are my kids.  Nothing will ever change that.  No matter what I look like.  No matter what happens to this body.  Nothing can ever take away twenty years of fathering.

Nothing will ever change that I love them to the moon and back.  And always will.

 

Ben's graduation 2016

A family photo at Ben’s graduation this June, 2016.  He’s the middle one, with Sam to his right, and Daniel to his left–and then Mandy, Mom Number One, and then me, Jennifer, Mom Number Two.

 

 


 

 





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When There is Nowhere to Turn, I Find Myself Surrounded by the Moon and Her Messengers of Light, By Jennifer Angelina Petro

When There is Nowhere to Turn
I Find Myself Surrounded by the Moon and Her Messengers of Light
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

moon

One morning, walking through the January forest,
I watched the path double back on itself and disappear.
One evening, sailing on an indigo ocean of questions,
I saw the horizon swallow itself whole, like a monster all stomach and mouth.
I too searched for brains, a heart, and a home,
And the yellow-brick road turned into rust.
Heaven has fallen from the sky like so many shot-down stars.
There is nowhere to turn that doesn’t lead to ghost towns and empty silos.
My aspirations get stuck in the trees, like shreds of shawls.
Angels’ wings have folded.
Smiles are rimmed in blood.
Embraces reach for me and miss, grasping themselves.
The time has come for whirlwinds and blizzards,
The time has come for floods, and bone-rattling thunder,
Look—the sun was just swallowed by a wolf—
Look—the bridges have all burst into flame–
Look—
The moon is growing fuller,
Taking over the darkness—
Look—she is pulling the sun from the belly of the wolf–
Look—she is stilling the thunder and plucking my prayers from the trees—
Look-she is unfolding the path and shaking out the horizon and spreading it afar, anew—
Look—she is picking up the fallen stars and hanging them back in their places—
Look—she is brushing the angels’ wings and rubbing their shoulders—
Look—she is wiping the bloody mouths, like
A mother wiping a child’s face—rough and tender, all at once–
Look—she is steadying me so I don’t duck or fall when the embraces come—
Look-she is gently scolding me to listen better to her messengers of Light called:
“You.”
Look—she is lifting me, rocking me in the softest of breezes, singing,
And whispering runes and spells, affirmations, and ways through the dark,
And treasure maps and secret passageways through mountains and dungeons–
Her tears fall down her breasts, mixing with her milk as she lets me suckle
For as long as I need in the cradle of her light-filled, infinite arms.


 

 

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A Man Gives Birth

A Man Gives Birth
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Who says men can’t give birth?
This body carried a woman
For forty seven years. This body
Loved a woman in secret—secret even
Unto himself—he did not even know
She was there being loved by secret parts
Of himself, surrounded by angels,
And this secret man tended her nest,
Fed her with everything he had.
And when she was ready
To be born, to spread elegant
And vulnerable wings, he opened
Himself with grace, sacrificed himself
With genuine humility, and sang her
Into being, wrote her into form,
Tracing the lines of her face
With wonder-filled fingers. And
She spread wings made of light woven with night,
And he made room for her to settle
Into them, and overtime he coaxed her out,
Although she didn’t need much coaxing really,
But he encouraged her to move closer to the edge,
And with eyes full of joyous tears, watched her begin
To fly, and he has done nothing
Except cheer as she began circling, soaring,
Singing to the sun and the moon with her wings
And her heart and her whole being free
And unencumbered. And he knows
He will diminish as she increases,
And he knows his form will fade from view,
And he
Is
So
Grateful
To have been the one chosen
To bear this secret beauty,
This hidden treasure,
This pearl of great price,
This Bird of Great Rejoicing,
And she
Is
So
Grateful
For everything he has done
And has yet to do–
For his tender, artistic hands
That hold and groom her wings,
For his willingness to risk everything
That she may live. And now,
She flies and sings her world
Into being, inviting you to go with her
Into a morning of beautiful
And dangerous possibilities.
You are being called
To be doulas for them both,
For they are going to need you,
They are going to need time
To rest in each other’s arms,
And sleep without interruption,
He will need understanding
And sustenance, she will need places
To fly with acceptance and celebration,
He will need you to remember
He didn’t have a choice in this.
She was meant to be born,
She was conceived by stars and the moon,
And he was chosen to carry
This little galaxy of wonder,
And he could not pick the time for her arrival.
And now she is here, flying–wings singing softly
And with incredible power,
Through a blue sky full of unknown spaces,
Through the night sky full of magic and yellow eyes
Watching from the shadows,
Through a soul sky full of blessed calm.
So come, you too were given wings,
You too have secret angels tending beings
Aching to be born, and of course, not necessarily
Like mine—a being of a new gender–no, you have your own
Hidden treasure, your own secret owl or nightingale,
Your own hidden being who nevertheless longs for freedom,
So come, I know what it’s like
To be born unexpectedly, let’s be each other’s midwives,
Let’s nurse one another
With holy fire.

 

 

 


 

 

 

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The Bridge

The Bridge
To Fane
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 
There is a bridge to cross
Where afar afield
People have found a way
To live with relative ease
With themselves and others,
And now have formed
A welcoming committee
Eager to widen the circle.
Looking over the span
Of space and time
That spreads between
Where they dance
And where I stand,
I reach out–
Their dancing turns
Into rejoicing–
I take a step a far
Afield and their dancing
Turns into a festival–
And they are singing my name
And they are moving as close
As they possibly can
Leaving me the dignity
To cross on my own, to stumble
And allow my stumblings
To become dancing,
And their singing
Gives me wings,
And their dancing
Gives me strength,
And their very presence–
The very fact of their desire
To help and to welcome and to share–
The very fact that they can even see me
From so far away,
And love what they see–
Is enough today
To help me get up,
Step away from my own shadow,
And keep walking, and so, to dance.

 

 


 

 

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How Shall I Compare Thee?

How Shall I Compare Thee?
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 
Some compare life to the layers of an onion,
And how fitting—how easily, once cut especially,
The layers fall away, and yes, there are the tears.
There are those.

Some compare life to a rose—
Thorns, fragrant, exquisitely beautiful,
And when you struggle to find the center
It all unravels and is no longer a rose.

Some compare life to the sea—
Deep (obviously), ebbing and flowing,
Full of dark mysteries and storms,
Leviathans, and beings made of light,
Seemingly endless in its distance,
Moon kissed, full of tears, and sun-drenched
Waves of desire.

Use anything–the mirror even,
Just begin, go on, try. Try to compare life
To anything on earth or in the heavens.
This is not a challenge or a call to fail.
This is a plea to encourage you to look,
To search. Find places, beings, other people,
Feelings, images, objects that resonant
With your heart, your body, your experience
Of breath and of grief, of joy, and of divinity,
Of growing and becoming, of withering,
And blossoming.

Why? Why do this?
Isn’t it effectively separating yourself from yourself
And others? Not for me. This exercise, this discipline,
This holy, unquenchable fire
Helps me sort it all out, helps me discover myself
In the world and the world in myself, it helps me to see you
And allow myself to be seen by you, or else I am alone,
Somehow outside the circle of God, as silly
As that sounds. And of course, it’s just a suggestion,
Like everything else in life that is truly alive.

We get hints while moving towards
A fullness that culminates in a blessed emptying–
Fountain into fountain, river into sea, image
Into image, love into love.
So take the suggestion
As it is given—a passing brush stroke across the canvas
Of your life.

 

 

 


 





You and Our and the Magical Arithmetic of Hope

You and Our
And the Magical Arithmetic
Of Hope
By
Joseph Anthony

You and Our

And the Magical Arithmetic

of Hope

 

In the shared space pain takes up,
Camaraderie prevails.
And it isn’t so much
That the pain doesn’t matter,
Those partaking of this bitter bread
Give thanks for the nourishment it brings.
And even as they accept me
Into this holy fraternity,
This circle of understanding,
This affiliation of grace,
I stand myself apart and say: Your
Rooms, your fellowship,
My pain, your pain.
One of them brought this
To my attention and I am grateful.
So much depends upon unity,
Upon the shared understanding
That weaves through and through
Each agent of mercy, each emissary that carries
The gifts of sadness and transcendence.
And so I stand and take fledging steps
To the edge and then into
The Community of Our:
Our pain. Our rooms. Our healing.
And as I take my place amidst and among,
I sit neither below nor above,
I am simply one of the many,
One of a band that grows, like
Ripples in a pond,
Like the fragrance of honeysuckle in spring,
Like the good thoughts of forgiveness
And humility, like a song sung by the One
Who is the Ultimate Our and You and I
And We and Every Living Thing,
And on we go,
One tapestry of hope,
One table of plenty shared,
One perpetual thanksgiving
Of you becoming our
And our becoming more
Than the sum of its parts,
And the sum of its parts
Becoming the magical arithmetic
Of hope: things subtracted
Become the variables that give way
To the addition of constants
Like love, understanding, acceptance, humor,
And miracles, yes, miracles
Are a constant,
That when combined
Multiply a thousand fold, pressed down, shaken together,
And running over into a joy that equals
The priceless gift
Of serenity.


 


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