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her poetry by j/j hastain

her j/j hastain

Š2013 j/j hastain All rights reserved. No part of this book can be reproduced without the express written permission of the author, except in the case of written reviews. ISBN 978-1-929878-40-6 First edition

PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733

Printed in the United States of America

j/j hastain transcends experiment poetry, transcends experimental words and concepts, and transcends beyond sexual identity into transference into something more. j/j writes for the voiceless, giving them a voice, finding “the courage to enter/ the next body”. There are many posers out there pretending to be outrageous; j/j is the real deal. j/j explores identity and wow, does it matter! It matters when identity gets blurred in the world, where so many do not know who they are, and sex and gender are easy to unintentionally slip out of, like undressing skin. As j/j says, “what imprisons is the idea/ of space” and j/j is a poet obsessed with space and line breaks. For what breaks us more than the negative space around us; or, the space of silence? —Martin Willitts Jr One of poetry’s most bedeviling challenges is to render the ineffable into language. The bolder poets face the difficulty of not only writing about complex subjects but of writing about those liminal spaces in topics where language does not yet exist. j/j hastain has succeeded here as few yet have in being able to give voice to the unfolding/enfolding complexities of gender and identity. The poems in her stretch from a purely lyrical explication of a personal situation to the breathless urgency of an unfolding manifesto. I am reminded in this work of the powerful and shocking music of Monique Wittig’s Les Guerilleres. Although hastain’s aims are large, they do not go unfulfilled. This is a book that should serve as a baseline for poetry that attempts to bridge identity’s great divides. —Eloise Klein Healy

“if you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.” —Kafka

When I was on the boat and pulling up the net that had been laid out into the dark tides in order to catch-- what I pulled up was a large mahogany chest. In this chest were swatches and various chunks. It took me a while before I recognized that these were my very own memories. Some of the memories did not exist like solid entities (a pocket watch, a chess set or even a prism) but more like fog. This made it remarkable for me to try and work with confession and articulation as I ate the contents of the mahogany chest, in order to attempt to speak my memories from or by way of new integrations. This is the work of trying to speak the painful events, after active re-contextualizations. This practice of eating the memories then extracting ways of saying from that act was so much like working with a moving target or a set of moving targets. Nothing in this book is fictionalized or embellished. These are my memories of the events and what exists beyond them. For me this book is where confession meets hope; a literal, organic bridge made from my own re-contextualized flesh. I would say that the book is at least somewhat about the abuse/events of my young body moving into the world, but it is also more than that, about the ways that collaboration and binding with the lover are restorative (regarding past traumas). It gives me hope to say that some very painful emotions are real and present here, but so is the joy, the reaching, the need, the wild sensations and the healing. Oh to have written it through me, to have composed and in that composition moved the data from presence as pain in my DNA, into body and self as power.


— her • j/j hastain —

looking into rogue aspects for unforeseen nutrients

for courage to enter the next body

oh inversions odes and letters amidst so many instances of isolated


— her • j/j hastain —

I choose to proceed from within after having finally learned to fray pink


— her • j/j hastain —

byways and bisections when I was a child the neighbor boy held my head there and forced me to lick but more shocking than that was the way my father turned his head to avoid

what was he afraid he might see?

later that day I slipped under the yellow booth both hiding and hidden from which to me was one of the first meanings of and for alone


— her • j/j hastain —

baptism was required in order for me to ever become woman woman which would mean a hurting unless I broke the name and the category woman which would mean Anne Sexton’s sorrow the decaying birds of paradise on the chipped armoire woman which would mean always limited soma and so many core colors lost to patriarchal disguises


— her • j/j hastain —

as I developed I felt like a reoccurring dream


— her • j/j hastain —

that night I was babysitting my brother and I could feel someone watching me through the white framed window why were there no blinds or curtains? I wished then on blue giant stars tried to deepen to turn invisibility into something more safe I clung desperately to a fork because the knives were all dirty I gripped fiercely in the only place in the house that could not be viewed by an open frame


— her • j/j hastain —

I hoped then I hoped for a hero and I did so by way of the image of multiple hybrid-wolves whorled together a conglomerate is always a ringlet


— her • j/j hastain — I used to tread carefully toward the garage where my father was working with stained glass I made sure he could not hear me sometimes I would sit against the outside of the garage to be close to him and oh the blaring light that was coming off of the pieces as he was soldering when stained glass compositions are being made for the sake of something stunning to place inside of what otherwise would only be a gap glass must be scored glass must be broken —9—

— her • j/j hastain —

that so often what came from the alchemical work of heat and glass were windows of women with curvaceous forms women who were also treading but who tread who sweat in teal pants


— her • j/j hastain —

space is not fixed therefore it cannot imprison what imprisons is the idea of space is how that idea is carried out in bodies


— her • j/j hastain —

walking near the river that afternoon I looked for a specific red branch for the sake of something in similitude to sexual or seed for the sake of something semi-permeable for the sake of something to replace how daunting space had begun to feel


— her • j/j hastain —

my words exist between yours modern emphasis relative to such necessary migrations still unraveling what is unbearably accumulated memory history locks but doing so while also trying to leave the wind loose


— her • j/j hastain —

as a child I pulled that heavy red wagon it heaved with surplus of vegetables and bread and the sky changed as I pulled and I sensed anodyne relief because darkness appeared so gradually then was so much less abrupt than the distance of what midnight felt like as I gazed for so many hours into it out of the window in my bedroom


— her • j/j hastain —

I believe it is possible to turn the shattered shards into rubies to stitch a next body like birds constitute their nests and this is that effort occurring


— her • j/j hastain —

there is no more specific belonging than the experience of a human orgasm in that next body once it has been stitched no more specific belonging than fantasies of a tongue being painted by shared emissions


— her • j/j hastain —

by sing-reminiscence to find upcoming her in the blackening binds of a Federico Garcia Lorca translation her that would eventually be both she and I


— her • j/j hastain —

soon there would be an authentic vibrato that could be mutual a sweet authenticity in replacement of all past-tense bravado


— her • j/j hastain —

as I walked past them I noticed that all of the tulips had lost their petals in the storm the night before and I dragged my indulgent fingers over the erect stems to feel something substantive in the petals’ place


— her • j/j hastain —

learning to meter the longing to postulate taverns having searched in many lakes for the variable face of the lover for the slight sight of a figure so curved that you would be liquid and so hard that you could forever fill me fulfill


— her • j/j hastain —

before anew before being born again I wanted to expose this desire for a norm of wetness or metal becoming mulch all of this aching for a new gravity for something that would pull me at the same time that it made me pool


— her • j/j hastain —

I remember lying on my back small body beneath three large sunflowers how I committed to myself to stay there with the worms until the seeds of those large flower heads began to shed themselves until I could feel the shock of them shucking


— her • j/j hastain —

impressions being made in graphite on abandoned city streets how so many of the images of the hunger are also tones


— her • j/j hastain —

bringing the internal water to the external water by wading then submerging in a thing like memory is so cold that it makes the sensation of heat


— her • j/j hastain —

“touch me here” and what you will feel as you touch my skin will be different than what I will have felt of that feeling


— her • j/j hastain —

the need was like molecular burning lemons buffing my very actual sores “don’t take the light away please never take the light away” sipping fingertips until something shiny right there at the flesh’s merging


— her • j/j hastain —

molten pores the color of contusion which is progress from cores the color of confusion


— her • j/j hastain — I knelt in that field behind the barn but in front of so many jars of dead bee carcasses I collected them so they would not be forgotten I kept them in water then I shook them so I could see their wings become dislodged and as I did so I sucked citrus as something you just can’t savor imagining what it might mean if I could somehow be a temporary savior their temporary savior —28—

— her • j/j hastain —

I was always waiting to bathe in hopes of being subsumed in something else in order to be forced to learn to breathe differently


— her • j/j hastain —

embodiment of the noiseless parts looking at the feet of a manikin trying to find innovative ways of coming clean to you to our future


— her • j/j hastain —

I felt the city unfolding irritating the lines and this moved me again and again from rational to sensory relevance


— her • j/j hastain —

marking by fruit fruit as a verb fruiting attempts to score the intensities of an effeminate vortex of an erudite druid


— her • j/j hastain —

oh these words that must be woven because the body is an undulating source-skull being culled


— her • j/j hastain —

as a teenager I swam in the river lobbing toward abandoned logs then suddenly I was surrounded by chunky red how that moment began me menstrual meaning bloody verdures of bold


— her • j/j hastain —

j/j hastain is a mystic, seer, lover, priest/ess, and writer. As artist and activist of the audible, j/j is the author of several crossgenre books. j/j’s recent writing has appeared in Caketrain, Trickhouse, The Collagist, Housefire, Bombay Gin, Aufgabe and Tarpaulin Sky. j/j has been a guest lecturer at Naropa University, University of Colorado and University of Denver.


The first time I read j/j hastain’s “her,” my response was the word “Gloria.” I then put the book of poems away to think about why this word had been my reaction. It came to me that this long poem is really a ground breaking spiritual manifesto based on the reactions of a female body’s childhood sexual experience and ends in the transformative power of poetry to evolve sex to what is sublime—beyond gender, yet embodied in the “her-ness” that is peeled away, petal by petal, as the tulips in the poem. Not only is this ground breaking in the philosophical, spiritual sense but also notably in j/j’s poetical form. j/j’s words are chosen unerringly to be links to the nurturing, sensual and creative aspects; j/j’s spaces command attention to the whole of word and space until a luminous anamorphic beauty looms at once dominant and fragile.” —Carole Towers

PO Box 5301 San Pedro, CA 90733

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