Ramadan Diaries, Day Twenty-Seven

The battle over email is one over which I hold a false sense of equilibrium
  I dream that I'm playing capoeira and stop to drink five glasses of water. But the sunup hour arrives quickly, and mid-sip, I realize I have to stop drinking immediately. I shake myself awake, literally shaking my head right and left to snap out of it. ♦ This morning I have a delightful studio visit with a person who defies typical occupational categories. They are part-artist, part-technologist, but since they use algorithmic expression seemingly against itself I like to call them an anti-technologist. We make mutual appointments, one at my studio and one at theirs, and talk for at least an hour over our allotted time. When the conversation is so fervent with ideas, beaming with mutually co-created thought, I start to feel a low-rise buzzing in the part of my brain just above my ears. It's like I… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Twenty-Five

I am the algorithm's targeted audience for work-mode motivational posters
5:41 a.m. I lie in bed a few still minutes without moving. One of the underemphasized virtues of waking up early—easier to sustain this month than usual—is the temperature anomaly. An otherwise hot, stiflingly humid day can feel refreshingly cooler in the morning. An afternoon rain prospectively announces itself through a sunrise preamble of grayness, the ambiguous and mercurial mold lending a weirdly positive perspective to the day. I like to lie there and let the tentacles of the weather work their way through the window screen and into my skin in organic, vital contact. 8:25 a.m. Working out of a café whose owner knows me, and understands I can't order food or coffee because of the fast. I will probably not do this again, but for today, it feels generous and supportive. I patronize this place frequently, and have never sat at an… Read More...

Secret Catalan Poem is Out

From enactment to multi-authored text to translation to public performance to published volume
    A limited-edition risograph edition is out now from The Elephants, available here. Secret Catalan Poem is emblematic of my work method in non-hierarchical series. For this project, that format encompassed initial enactment to multi-authored text to translation to public performance to published volume. I'm grateful to Broc Russell, publisher of The Elephants, his team, and the visible and invisible forces that made this work possible. This work is informally dedicated to the city of Barcelona. → Also see this entry about the project's motivations and processes (and performance at Pioneer Works in 2018). Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Twenty

Hunger can feel like a prolonged period of waiting, thirst feels like giving up
9:19 a.m. Headache! Specifically a caffeine-withdrawal leftover migraine from vacation, where I drank subpar hotel coffee for a week. I don't bounce back as quickly from this one as the day-one headache that never came. A humble reminder that everything changes, and things can always get worse.  12:34 p.m. N. sends me a Guardian article about veganism and Islam and it makes me happy to see this discussed in an open forum, especially during a food-conscious month. 2:27 p.m. Thirst. Heat. A dry, tightened throat like I've never experienced. It feels like every cell in my body is quenched and gasping for a single drop of water.  From Arabic ramaḍān, from ramaḍa ‘be hot’. The lunar reckoning of the Muslim calendar brings the fast eleven days earlier each year, eventually causing Ramadan to occur in any season; originally it was supposed to be in one of the hot months. The sun near Prospect Park,… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Eighteen

No subject should be too low for a painting or a poem
Back from traveling—several days of not fasting—to menstruation. Not fasting today either. It feels a bit strange to sit in a café in the middle of the day. The soft sound of spring rain permeates the raucous batucada percussion of the Brazilian music playing indoors.   Eating midday for almost a week during the fasting month felt like a break I didn't entirely want or deserve. But we had planned this vacation a long time ago, C. and I. ♦ It feels hyperbolic to say but this month may have changed how I look at meals forever. On the plane yesterday, we were offered Ritz Bits Cheese Crackers. Since the crackers contained milk, I offered them to my seatmate. "Vegan," I smiled. She took them and smiled back. The flight attendant didn't have vegan snacks, but I felt silly for… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Eleven

My body is hungry—desperate—for sleep. O sleep!
3:45 a.m. Two pieces of rye sourdough toast with vegan butter, almond-milk cheese, six Castelvetrano olives, ginger-mint iced tea, a glass of water. I can't stomach any of the cooked food in the fridge this early in the morning. A snack for the cats. 4:16 a.m. The gray overcast sky tinges the day with a melancholy lacking a referent. I lie in bed reading, conscious that the desire to make the most of the early hours competes with the instinct for surrender to these pillows. But my body is hungry—desperate—for sleep. O sleep! I set an alarm for 7:00 and let sleep carry me on its back. 9:03 a.m. I overslept. I have a meeting at 10:30, multiple deliverables throughout the day, and a feverish inbox. Taking pleasure, not pain, in these imperatives is an option, but I miss coffee right now. 10:14 a.m. A headward… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Nine

My brain, aware of the caffeine and calories it simply isn't getting, foments independent declarations
Generalized A.M. fatigue, though I am still able to corral my concentration and work. My brain, aware of the caffeine and calories it simply isn't getting, foments independent declarations. There are blaring but empty threats of non-cooperation. The mind and the will form an uneasy détente with each other. Occasionally there is a reluctant truce. I whinny passed their squabbles, beyond the bursts of raised white flags, and bring a small project to completion. My inbox still looks like a conflict zone. Reply, reply, reply. "I am sorry..." "Hi, apologies for..." "Thanks for waiting..." ♦ I go to the Apple store with a phone problem that turns out to be unproblematic. But wouldn't this be a good opportunity to get the battery replaced? It's currently operating at only 85%. That's gonna give you a lot less mileage than a newer one. I take the bait knowingly, like a death-conscious fish. One-and-a-half hours,… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Seven

The nation-state, where everything is true and nothing hurts
  I wake up at 5:00 a.m., too late for suhūr. I had a dream the night before that I am gliding perfectly on my hands on the floor. Wide, confident handstands stretching from one end of an empty room to another. I do it easily and without strain. I stay with my head on the pillow for a few more minutes, trying to visualize the effortless handstands again. I do not draw the dream. ♦︎ I re-read an essay by James Baldwin called "On Being White and Other Lies," from a 1984 issue of Essence. No one was white before he/she came to America. It took generations, and a vast amount of coercion, before this became a white country. "GENERATIONS and A VAST AMOUNT OF COERCION," I text a friend. "Jimmy B., right as usual," he texts back. ♦︎ One of the final… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day Six

No one appears to come out and say that the three-meal-a-day diet is a historical accompaniment of capitalism
3:30 a.m. A cold canteen of water. A green smoothie bowl with one-fourth a cup of blueberry granola, goji berries, chia seeds, and cacao nibs. 10:07 a.m. The on-and-off mental fogginess of the prior month has ceased. It is so unexpected, even magical, a transformation I text a friend about it. "Brain in wakeful state. Weird alertness. I have my focus back. Hmm." 11:01 a.m. In yoga, the teacher is talking about one of the hand mudras. She says it is a hand position of both giving and receiving, and demonstrates with her eyes closed. I think about all the hand positions I know from Catholicism to Buddhism to Islam, and the commonalities and differences of kinesthetic prayer. I hold my hands up and bind my fingers close to each other in a receptive hold. I stay on the mat a… Read More...

Ramadan Diaries, Day One

I seem to have lost the ability to multitask
4:43 a.m. Well, Day One for me, but Day Four on the official calendar. I was traveling (non-fasting) the prior three days, and now making my way back to New York on an overnight bus. It was the only way I could participate in a capoeira workshop in another city (with a mestre who only comes to the U.S. from Brazil sporadically) and get back early in time for work. It's a comforting sort of red-eye by land, something everyone I know surveys disapprovingly. My first pre-dawn "meal" is water and half a protein bar. I am hydrated at least, but suddenly faced with my nightmare scenario of not having access to coffee before the designated hour. My hands are tied. I am going to face this day knowingly uncaffeinated. I predict piercing headaches before noon. 4:56 a.m. We've arrived in New York. I'm listening to a podcast… Read More...

Five Questions with Christopher Rey Pérez

Salivary glands allow us to produce enough saliva to spit, which can be a defense mechanism against the dangers of poisoning, an expression of outrage, a sexual practice, even lubricant
Five Questions with [...] is an experiment with flash interviews. The series on poets continues with poet Christopher Rey Pérez. Pérez situates his geographical provenance near Alamo, nicknamed the "Land of Two Summers." The land of two summers is also where I situate our friendship. First there was a chance meeting in the swelter of upstate New York—chance because I was on my way to live in Palestine for 11 months, and Christopher was already making a life there. Before he departed from Annandale-on-Hudson that summer he left a note with a sketch of an angelic donkey on my windshield. Then came the second late summer in Ramallah, the kind that teases with cooling winds before you're ready to face autumnal obligations. Christopher cooked Mexican mole sauce at his home. Under usual circumstances the elaborate meal would be called exquisite; in the context of entrenched occupation, I recall it as… Read More...

Grapefruit Your Man

See to it that no parts of him go wasted
  By gripping him toward the center of an edgeless canyon— He, more beautiful than the dawn. Blueberry your man: squeeze his delicate inner tannins into a clean saucer. Watch his watermelon seeds pool into a dark portrait, The whites of his eyes shining like cool daybreak. Lemon your man in repetitive extraction, then Affix your gaze on his melted sacs and looping rinds. Tamper with the excess pods until they liquefy into a hydrous substance, Your man stirring in a cloudless bowl. All mammalian boundaries between you now dissolved, See to it that no parts of him go wasted, not even The thin folds of his segmented membranes, his fruit’s falsetto. Pineapple your man until his ovaries flower into individual sugarloaves Juiced, follicle by follicle, as a proudly bursting blood orange.   Read More...