14 June 2019

Lunch in midtown: unsaid

Hey!! It is so nice to see you. How have you been? How is your family?

I've been back from Haiti for about a year now and I'm so happy to be home! Yeah,  I know, Haiti- how crazy?

What's that? Oh yeah, the earthquake. So terrible. They are still suffering. The aid following the earthquake was so mismanaged. 

You know what's crazy about Haiti? Like when you have a birth center, and it is the only source of maternal healthcare for thousands of women, but it is on Catholic church land and the priest that resides there is literally the worst person you have ever met in your life? Yeah it's wild. Like when you don't sleep for days on end because he cuts off access to electricity and water because you aren't paying his brides? He doesn't care if women and babies die because of his negligence, because he deserves like $50 a month just for being a priest in that village. I always dreamed of being all alone negotiating with a terrorist, totally in my job description! You know how it is. How you have to navigate the terrible relationships that have been established before you got there, and finally start to scare him straight, and it has been a year of hard work against the corruption, hours and hours face to face with an egotistical oxygen thief, and then- you get this- the new executive director comes to visit and just agrees to his bribes, without you, the first time she meets him? Yeah Haiti is wild. 

So how is your new job going? How is your commute? Oh man, that is so annoying! 

You know the thing about Haiti? Its like you have this staff member, who is a teacher in the midwifery school, and her daughter gives birth to this seriously disabled child? And they ignore him? You know, just like put him in corner for a couple of weeks? And he almost dies, in pain since the moment he was born? And then, you know, you find out about it, and you start to question if she should be on staff of a midwifery school when this is what she has allowed to happen in her own home. Right? Obviously. But the executive director just ignores you? So your program manager adopts this poor child, because his wife has had so many miscarriages. And you hold him, but every second he is grasping for air. His eyes are bulging. He is just this tiny little life in your hands, and he has never experienced life without suffering. And his adoptive parents are doing everything they can. But of course he dies. And you know? When you go to the funeral with the tiniest casket you have ever seen. And at the cemetery they reach into the crypt and pull out old bones to make room for it. You get it, right? Yeah, so crazy, they just throw them to the side and manhandle that little casket in there! 

Oh you are gluten free now? I hear that is a great move. 

So you know what's wild about Haiti? How you are the director of a maternal health organization, and one of your students dies, right after giving birth, the week of graduation? How your clinical director and volunteer coordinator spend all night in the hospital trying to save her, but she still just dies? Because the hospital is filthy, and has no running water, and is run by a sociopath? And the class comes to rehearse for graduation, and they find out, and their cries literally echo throughout the house where you both live and work. Wailing. Screaming. It shakes your room? That is so Haiti. And then afterwards your volunteer coordinator, who works 14 hours a day, and is 20 years old, asks to sleep in your bed with you because all she can hear when she tries to sleep is that student saying she doesn't want to die? Yeah, Haiti is wild. Oh yeah, it was graduation, so the executive director was there but she didn't do anything for the staff to try to process it. So Haiti! 

So what are you doing this summer? Any plans?

Well for me, I'm just working through this whole "air quotes PTSD" thing! LOL. Yeah I have been drinking a lot, and gaining weight, and kind of compulsively shopping since I've been home? Yeah you know. And like, getting into a normal hygiene routine. Yeah, having hot water is awesome. It turns out that you can eat things other than pringles, coke and rum! And apparently my new job doesn't require me to work 24/7 which is so so nice. Hahah yeah you got it. 

Anyway so good to see you! Thanks for listening, haha I'm so crazy right now. Absolutely this hour went by so fast? Haha yeah you are right, its just the tip of the ice burg. Yeah, happy hour sounds great. Just text me. See you then. 

29 May 2018

haikus about men i have slept with: set thirteen

I wanted escape.
Bus rides through the desert; and
just playing pretend.

Fast, past cafe lights
Freedom, if just on your moto.
Then we broke your bed.

Your thick black hair and
my multiple orgasms
were squashed by culture.

XXXVI on hold indefinitely. To read more of this series click here.

31 May 2017

haikus about men I have slept with: set twelve

Its cool to not care.
My voice broke into the phone:
"You aren't a nice guy"

Kiss me, deep and long
(the iman sent you to me)
once more, inshallah.

Netflix and take-out.
Your apartment was so dull
I was distracted.

it has been awhile since I wrote some of these. to read more of this series, click here

12 February 2017


Haiti right now is
clean, slippery floors,
cheek pressed kisses and
everything upstairs. A guesthouse
that is my own,
permanent hotel living.

Haiti is puffs of smoke and
charcoal stoves, sips of
rum and bottles of bleach. Haiti is
nothing, yet. Need more seconds, more
steps forward and over.

My heart
Will it ever stop? Will

will Haiti...

I don't know.
To do:
Learn Kreole,
fix heart.

02 January 2017

Alice the astronaut

Alice was an astronaut.

She had long, thick black hair and twinkling eyes. She learned her own birthday when she was only 2 and a half years old. "April 2nd!" she would exclaim, with confidence and gusto.

She always wanted to be an astronaut. She studied long and hard. Her black hair fell into her face over dozens of astrophysics text books, with the sun shining bright outside the library.
"You are 4.6 billion years old," she would say to the bright yellow blinding light.

Alice was so happy to go into space her first time. It was new and intoxicating. "You will float free up there," they would tell her. "Just like a jello mold! It is so freeing!"

She loved it. She bathed in it, the feeling of being in space, in this deep void, in this eternal darkness, in this weightless expanse.

But then, a bright day, during one time at home on this human planet, she met Jake.

He was a lumberjack from Nebraska. Very tall, and strong, with a beard like sandpaper and horsehair. She loved him. He would always walk into the woods with beaver carcasses strapped to his belt. The beavers were lined with full, glimmering bacon strips.

Alice would say "Jake, my love, please do not walk into the woods with the beaver carcasses. It is so dangerous and I worry about you!" She would then toss her black hair over her shoulder and sigh, and he would bend down and kiss her sad eyes and promise to never do it again.

For months they lived in a happy utopia of love-making, meat-smoking and endless evenings under the millions of stars. Alice would point out all the constellations and Jake would cut wood for their sparkling campfire.

Then Alice got the call. She had to go to space again.

"I have to go to space," she told Jake.

"I cannot sustain it," he said.

But they both knew it had to be done. So she took off, like a bullet to the sky. She thought about Jake and about his boorish, unpolished beard. The force of the take-off was a jolt to her, unlike the many times before. She pictured his lumberjack face, his lips robbed of her kisses.

She floated in space, like usual. She was familiar with the cosmic radiation. But this time, despite her weightlessness, her body felt heavy and burdensome.

She called Jake, from the farthest reaches of the universe. He would answer, half engaged, and tell her he had begun wearing the beaver carcasses into the woods again. She would tell him about the mirogravity pulling her body into a million directions, and the issues she was having with her rinse-free shampoo. He did not seem interested, and much farther away than millions of miles. She would fall asleep restless, her heart feeling pulled in as many directions as her spine.

Then she learned the truth. Jake had been eaten by bears. There was not a single scratch of him left on planet Earth besides one thumb and a shrivel of a flannel shirt. "But why did he go into the woods covered in beaver carcass and bacon???" she moaned into the metal enclosure of her shuttle. "Why would he do such a thing???"

She came back to Earth and swam in the lake where they lived, and ate from the blueberry trees they planted. And when they asked her to go back to space, she said, "Will it feel more and more heavy every time?"

17 December 2016

crystal ball 2017



look closer

coffee, cotton and...

yes, sugar.

needs and salt water

mountain tops


what's that?

babies. babies everywhere.

03 December 2016


i feel like writing again.

i want to put more energy here. it has been too long.

thanks to anyone who still reads this.

i'm not dead, just a little dulled, like usual.

27 July 2016

Ramadan Salah

Sometimes in the daytime we would see each other on the street, hiding under the fat green leaves that line mainstreet and wide-brimed straw hats to shelter ourselves from the blazing Ramadan sun. People shuffled around us, hungry, hot and tired, from stretches of sweltering hours without food or water. I shook your hand, maybe a moment too long, and glanced a few seconds too many at your handsome face.

Later you would come to my door, with your own key on your own time, and lay in my bed after the Maghrib prayer. The mosque shook and thundered with the prayer that released everyone from their fast. Every night you would pray, then eat eggs and dates and salty fried bread, then barely knock on my bedroom door before entering and devouring me with more hunger than the evening's breakfast. And that is where we would stay, unclothed, huddled together in front of my fan, as the streets filled with children and families reveling in the late hours.

They were just four stories down but seemed a lifetime away from my shuttered window. I would kiss your face, bury my head in your shoulder, sometimes cry, sometimes laugh. We listened to music and made love for hours.  Your skin was so soft and dark, your beard so harsh and clean. It started with a casual ease, because I was intensely sad and needed to be held. But by the end you could make my body shake like someone I had loved for years and I counted the seconds listening for the Imam to send you to me.

When I first moved in to this apartment, I would joke about what a princess I felt like high above the center city streets. Sometimes I lock myself in for days at a time to get a break from the bustle of the souk and the schoolchildren endlessly coming and going from class. But I never felt more isolated than in those times waiting for you. The minute hand dragged in extremely long ticks lingering for you, knowing you were out there, knowing I was waiting.

And the one who sent you to me would take you away, calling out from the minaret that it was the time to have juice and cookies and prepare for another long day of fasting. As the sun peeked back into the sky I was always alone, stretched out in my now empty bed, dreaming of your kisses on my back.

29 April 2016


I don’t get why you think I don’t understand you as a person. I know who you are. I have spent the last 2 years being in love with you, something that I do not take for granted. You have been of tremendous help to my head and my heart, and I am grateful for every single second of love that I have felt since I met you, and all the love that you have given me during our time together. You say you don’t even know who I am anymore, but you know who I am. I am the same man that you fell in love with. The same man that ate macaroons and played ukulele for you in the park. The same man that held, kissed, and drank champagne with you in the pool. The same man that made love to you seven times in one day in the “drug den” and ate mussels with you while listening to Mac DeMarco. The same man that would tell you how you beautiful you looked every time he saw you. The same man that dry humped you at Kroger when no one was looking. The same man that swam with you in Santa Marta and ate arepas de huevo. The same man that visited you in Morocco, ate msemen, and celebrated eid-al-fitr in a tarbouche and djellaba. The same man that celebrate new year’s eve with you in Paris and ate steak frites and escargot with you. The same man that took bubble baths with you and cuddled you in bed even though you were soaking wet. The same man that wants to be your husband, and the father of your children. 
The same man that broke your heart. And then same man that will stitch your heart back up and make you the happiest woman in the world.

you said
everything in your life
was happy;
except for me

so i assume
is perfect, now.

23 April 2016


i wonder when i will start to look old
when my face will look like the skin on old pudding
and i'll look back at pictures of sunburt Morocco
and think
how young i was then!

i wonder when the letter will come
that tells me what is coming next
when that breeze will blow by
and take me floating off on it

i wonder when i will stop thinking of him
stop hating him
stop thinking at all
until i see pictures of violet Colombia
and think
how dumb i was then!

i wonder when the
spining will starve
and the trees will stop rustling
and the roosters crow softer

in between
all the time
and a little bit behind