commentary


Working in the suburbs one day shortly before the second invasion of Iraq (2003), I experienced a feeling of dread. I had been active in the SGI-USA (Buddhist) Victory Over Violence campaign, visiting kids down at the Youth Detention Center. I thought about what the Reverend there had said about the government cutting services. I got to read this poem and a couple others for some of the kids. I think I read “Seattle Rain” and/or “Diggle Rhyme”. They kinda looked at me like I was crazy but you never know what’s going to get through to somebody.

I had been journaling a lot and had gotten so much out of it, including the muse for poetry. I had become more articulate; I thought of new original ideas concepts of my own; and I actually had something to say. Wow. That was a good feeling.

I suggested that they try their hand at journaling, too.

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quiet down at juvy
things are quiet nowdays
down at juvenile hall
“they’re giving ’em more little nice things to do, but even so…
they’re cutting down on the numbers
cutting down on funding”

“you can feel the quiet”
what does it mean?

war;  the horror!
is it locked in
like a laser-guided missile?

Do you have to ask?
All that money!
All those lives!

it’s all about to come down
like heavy dope on the street

people around the world are saying “No!”

and civil disobedience  – people are going to jail
“I don’t agree with your war!”

at the White House, Laura Bush cancels poets
because what’s going on is
“a violation of the most sacred values
of poets through the ages”

out in the suburbs
even a crow chatters its complaint
but things are quiet down in juvy

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Duck Buys!

A proud man, my friend
A fine, proud papa,
man!

By-products  by-products
Buy my products!
Prod my bi-ducts

the general’s gleaming
stars groaning
dollars hearkening

billboards /cross-hair
hungry lung
stumblebum

industrial flood
rain forest goo
ogre meat!

schoolyard controversy
pro-life killer
die-cast reckoning

reverent aura
northern lights
burning fire
raucous zoo

holy war
ethnic cleansing
starving warlord
–pass the hat!

binary triple-pass
hairy canary
coal mine   dust bin
coin toss, star cross

run-down byways
Viking drive-pods
driven bipeds

drive-by    bye-byes
Bye-Bye,  drive-bys!

pride dies
drip-dries

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(1994?)   Stream of consciousness / word association / current events

I called myself Miss Amy for a while. Not to be formal and all… It’s become sort of a term of endearment.

I was frustrated – I didn’t understand why so many of my community seemed to be homophobic. Giving myself this name was “copping an attitude”. I wrote this short essay which got printed in the Emerald City Social Club’s newsletter in 2004. The Emerald City Social Club is a vital and ongoing part of  Seattle’s trans community. I got a lot of positive comments; someone wanted me to do an “Ask Miss Amy” column.

Well, okay – please remember that this is my opinions and perceptions – I don’t claim to speak for anyone else. From my point of view, things have changed a lot in 6 years. Please forgive my clumsy attempt at feminism…

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I’ve been calling myself Miss Amy. Maybe I’ll just start calling myself Miss.

I started calling myself Miss Amy sometimes because it is:  1. An acknowledgement of what I feel is my debt to gay culture as a transgender person.    2. More fun than plain old Amy. It’s camp.  3. An affirmation about gay sexuality; about effeminacy; and femininity, in general. 4. I associate it with feminism. And:

5. An idea that came to me from reading the book “Honey, Honey, Miss Thang: Being Black, Gay, and on the Streets” by Leon Pettiway. I was inspired by its depiction of an unapologetic, proud identification with femme sexuality within the trans community by people of color. They were sad stories. I found it harrowing but identified with the protagonists.

[It seems to me that there is a whole segment of the trans community that is too often invisible – the transwomen of color. And as in everything else about American culture, they have contributed so much. I have an impression of black transwomen being germane to the present day trans self-image; a very empowered persona that goes back many decades ; maybe, all the way back to Africa. Link:  ‘5 Black Trans Women Who Paved The Way’]

According to my dictionary, Mr., Miss, Mrs. and Ms. are all words added before a name as a  “title of courtesy”.

There is no information given in the title Mr. that tells us whether the man is married or not. One would think that it isn’t important; that it isn’t any of our business.

The title “Miss” is the closest real challenge to male prerogative. It is derived from Mistress, which is sometimes used to denote a woman in a position of authority. Look it up. (Actually, Mrs. and Ms. are also derived from mistress.)

Do I want to challenge the idea of male prerogative? Or should I simply seek to exist completely independent of it? There is something about femininity that seems to transcend this whole question. I love this about femininity. It is so not male. It is something else, altogether. It is powerful.

Ms. to me will always be a word that exists in relation to the word Mr.  It’s a made-up word; it was made-up to be the equivalent of the title “Mr.”  As such, it has no real identity or personality of it’s own; other than as a gender indicator that is not marriage-specific. It exists as a response to the male title, Mr.

As a gender indicator, I think it should carry a more independent meaning than that which is in relation to ; it should have more gravity. Why not an affirmation of something that is powerful about women? Ms. always seemed to me kind of frumpy and self-consciously PC.

Miss seems more empowered than Mrs., to me. You are still a commodity as a Miss; therefore, desirable.  It is socially acceptable to pursue someone who is a Miss.  It is much less socially acceptable to pursue a Mrs.; if acceptable at all. Certainly not so in ‘mainstream’ American culture; or in Muslim culture, for example.

And okay, let’s not commodify ourselves. I know that. It’s a whole different topic; maybe two or three.

How do culture and language objectify women?

Why can’t Miss mean the same thing as Mister? Why can’t a woman always be a Miss; which is what she starts out as, anyway? Why not; even if she is married? Whose business is it, anyway? It is apparently not considered “courteous” to give that information out about men on a casual basis. So what’s the problem?

More and more women are keeping their maiden names. Why not keep the same “title of courtesy?”  Why wouldn’t a woman want to be called Miss?

The truth? They do. Just think about it. Wouldn’t you like it if someone called you Miss?

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I went to an immigration rights rally this spring. I passed out a handbill of this article, pointing out that the proposed bills left a lot to be desired (you haveta read it through)… http://socialistworker.org/2010/01/21/gutierrez-bill-and-immigrants

…I thought I felt hostility (thru my fears/perceptions/emotions/own little narrow, racial/life-experience lens) towards me for being observably trans… I was overcome with grief, I was worried I’d have to walk off… I just kept moving in the crowd…  it may have been the dirty look this one guy was giving me. He thought I was against reform… I told him I was for “opening up the borders”…

I told a comrade/friend so that she could observe my grief… she reminded me that I was there to show solidarity… just what I needed to hear…

wow, yeah… I get it…

The moral is: 1. rememeber, you are fearful!  2. you only think it’s so… 3. be respectful of other people’s turf – I don’t even speak Spanish   4. misunderstandings and distrust arise, when it’s for the Cause  and 5. remember your Cause!   LOL   6. It’s only your emotions, not who you are or what it is.

Did I miss anything?    – “Give thanks!” (Jamaican blessing of appreciation)

It isn’t what it isn’t.

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