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.

 

 


 



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.

 


 

 

 


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Surfing the Spectrum

Surfing the Spectrum
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

 

Darkness lives as shadows
In every sun-drenched day,
Stars and eyes of animals
Betray light shining in every night–
Travel to the end of the day
And you will stumble
Into the arms of the moon,
Venture to the end of the night
And fall into the lap of the sun–
Try cleaving the back of a coin
From its front,
Know that all genitals
Begin as one–
Try finding the middle ground
Between walking and standing—
Straight and curved travel
One continuous line–
Every breath we take sustains
And destroys us—
Bathe in dark waters dappled in moonlight,
Revel in wonder of trying to experience
Getting as close to the truth as you can—
Time and space flow like rivers—
Step into the ever-expanding now–
Surf the spectrum that blooms an eternity of color,
Skate the rainbow of possibilities spilling from infinity–
Be who you long to be—
Sing as you long to sing—
Live as you long to live—
Express as you long to express—
Reveal as you long to reveal—
Sleep as you long to sleep—
Awaken as you long to awaken–
Darkness lives as shadows
In every sun-drenched day,
Stars and eyes of animals
Betray light shining in every night–
Travel to the end of the day
And you will stumble
Into the arms of the moon,
Venture to the end of the night
And fall into the lap of the sun

 

spectrum

 

 


 

 

 





Allow Me

Allow Me
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 
At some point
Fireflies
Fade into autumn,
Their blooms
Of light
Extinguish
Into darkness;
Flowers
Drip their silken petals
One by one,
And draw
Their leaves
Inwards against
Thieving November winds;
Frogs
With their golden eyes
Vanish
From the pond’s murky edge;
Deer step through
Mist-skirted trees,
And with a flick
Of their white tails
Disappear.

 
Right now, here,
Today, your life
And mine
Are dissolving
Into light,
And at some point
We will lift
From the pages
Of our lives
And simply
Be gone—written
In the stars.

 
Thing is,
Life is long, like
A lazy, sun-drunken
Summer afternoon,
And it’s short,
Like the afore mentioned
Wink of the firefly.
Either way
You and I
Are being called

 
And we are also the ones
Doing the calling.

 
Beauty needs us,
Faith requires of us,
Love invites us
To participate
In the hum
And wonder
Of our interwoven lives;

 
And we call out—
We bring to ourselves
Open roads
And closed doors,
Everything
We want and need—
Everything
We are meant and ache
To be. And of course,

 
By the time
You read this
I might already
Be gone; I might
Be hovering
Right now
Over your shoulder
And nudging you
To smile and get out there
And amaze the world,
Amaze yourself.

 
And whether or not
I am still alive
When you read this,
You and I
Have been
Drawn together
In this moment,
At this point
In time–
And we have a job to do,
A job that isn’t
So much a job
As it is a story
That only you and I
Can tell.

 
So, here’s the thing:
I want to show the world
Who I really am.
Will you help me
Tell this part
Of the story?
And what about you?

 
What is it you
Want to do and say?
Whatever it is,
Allow me
To be with you
Either
From my place
Of light beyond light,
Or from here,
In these words–
Allow me,
At this moment in time
To be here
For you.

 

 

 


 


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That Same Wonder

That Same Wonder
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

blossoms

 
I am being
Step for step,
Morning by morning,
Evening by evening,
Breath for breath,
Pulse by pulse,
Desire by desire
Written, drawn,
Painted, sculpted,
Composed, arranged,
Sung, and spoken.
I am an expression
Of something, someone
So living, so vitalizing,
That it spills into my steps,
Pours from my words,
Weeps from my heart
In such a way as to both hide itself
And reveal itself at the same time.
It should come as no surprise
That wonder drips, no matter how
Sad I get, from every cell
Of my body.
I am being made, created,
Dreamed, formed
By wonder, and the same wonder
That assembles me
Dismantles me, levels me,
Emptiness me,
Adjourns and disrobes me,
That same wonder
I am being fitted for
Doctored by,
Dissolved by
Is the same wonder
That wants me,
Requests me,
Stomachs me,
Explores me,
That same wonder
That is my every breath and my last breath,
That same wonder that will lay me down
In the soft earth and raise me up
When I am ready to awaken,
That same wonder that will keep me
Dancing, learning, being born, full of grace,
Full of insight, full of cherry blossom petals
And moonlight, full of ponds
And stars—that same wonder, when I am ready
To be myself in full bloom
Will be there, here
Ready to catch me
When I fall.

 

 


 

 

 





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.

 

 

 


 





Dream Image I

Dream Image I
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

roots of trees 2
Imagining the tree will suddenly
Lift the skirt of her roots and run,
Or dance, or simply move closer
So I can rest in her branches,
Run my fingers through her leaves,
Kiss her trunk of concentric circles.
Or maybe she would run right passed me,
Headlong into the ocean, leaves scattering
In her own private autumn, and become
A ship, trailing her wake of roots
Slowly, into the waiting arms of the sun.

 

 


 

 

 

 





What To Do

What to Do
By
Joseph Anthony Petro

 

If you fumble around long enough
Words will turn up.
The trick is to keep searching.
Look under the dusty cushions
Of old ideas,
Or in the loose pockets
Of worn out prejudices,
Thumb through the flat, leather wallet
Of your past accomplishments,
Reach for the every day,
Explore the every where,
Touch the faces of revelation,
Brush open the hands of wonder.
Most of all, allow your awareness
To settle into the moment, like
A butterfly settling on a flower,
Or better yet, like a tone
Blossoming from a bell.
Your life is brimming
With meaning. This moment
Is ringing with the One
Word that holds all words,
That lifts all burdens into sunlight;
This moment, this life–look here,
Look now.

 

 

 


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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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