Category Archives: Our Lady

Our Lady of Love Lost

In memoriam, Elle Janet Plato, 1966-2016


It’s all mixed up.
Loving, laughing;
flirting, fighting;
dancing, drinking,

dying. It was
summer. She said
she needed more
Scotch. Her hand on

mine as we moved
across the floor,
sleeves tangled, blue
& white, limbs twined

& interlocked.
It might have been
nothing. It might
have been something.

She growled at me.
That was fighting.
That was foreplay.
That was a rough

draft for loving
off the grid;
for a life left
unscripted, her

beautiful life
a narrative
poem truncated,
capped off with a

sudden haiku;
for her, now gone
forever, still
tangled up

in a maybe
that aches inside,
still so confused,
and a bit lost.


The shimmer of heat waves,
a mirage, a bending
of light and hope that makes

something seem near when it
isn’t, when it is far
away. Cascades of light

like a waterfall, drops
becoming curves and lines,
becoming sparks and pricks.

The fluted melody
lyrical as longing;
voices blend and balance

at the edge of hearing.
Imagined pebbles plop
in imagined waters

sweet as amusement, yet
there is no sound, no joke,
no water, no liquid

love paused and suspended
in midair like ripe fruit
waiting for a open

mouth to find it. There is
beauty here, but is it
what I see, what you see?


Bodies we know, bodies we don’t.
So many bodies. 50 years
past: hemophiliac John Doe,
bled out near a gay bar somewhere.
40: a frosh one dorm over
whose father took him home midterm,
to rape him over and over,
yelling, “So, this is what you like.
How about now? Still liking it?”
35: when the brain cancer
came back the last time, his parents
agreed to take care of him if
he never again talked with us,
his friends. 30: Wild and campy,
Tom taught naughty British show tunes
to our small town, barely two years
before he died of AIDS. Our first.
25: K., “lost at sea,” but
none of us at home believed it.
Really, the only lesbian
on a Navy ship? The rumor
was that she was tossed overboard
because she wouldn’t sleep with them.
Now, now. Another 50 more.
So many. So many. And now
she’s gone, too. And I’m not. With no
last note, no goodbye, no see you
later. Just … gone. Another love
lost. Another. And another.


Wind whistles past the fence,
past the yellow police
crime scene tape, and carries
dust away, carving stoic lines
in flexible faces.
Where did the laughter go?
Did it fall in its flight,
a stone grown too heavy
to be carried, marking
the place of a body?
Did it fall like bullets
in the nightclub, the ones
that didn’t hit someone?
Did it blast and then burst,
shattering against wall?
Explode and then dissolve
like a smoke bomb? Did it
float away like feathers
and sequins and mirrors? Where?
Where did the laughter go?


Neon lights pulse, pound,
syncing dancers together.
They pause. Full stop. End

First publication at thebrillantinaproject, August 26, 2016. Written partly in response to the Orlando Pulse massacre.

Our Lady of Improbable Greeting Cards

When nothing I could say is right (and we
both know it); when silence may go as wrong
as the wrong words; when the need to speak grows
so huge it locks both tongue and heart inside
a mouth gone mute for all that matters; then
what can I do, except ask her for help? What
does she tell me? Oh, all the usual
sensible things, that I already knew.

1. Go slow.

Slow as the dreams where you never arrive.
Slow as a watched pot just about to boil.
Slow as a surprising garden slug’s trail
showing where it crossed the path overnight
but now has disappeared. Slow and steady
as the gentle touch that defuses bombs,
or light twist releasing a carousel
to drop one slide into a slot that fits.
Slow as a roller derby jammer coasting
behind the pack of blockers, looking
for an opening. Slow as eyes before
the mind decides, watching, and watching more.
How slow is slow enough? How slow, too slow?

2. Know your audience.

Lively as laughter, berry-bright, easy-
going as trust and old friends. That is one
kind of audience, the ones we hope for,
the ones who get it, what we’re aiming for,
the jokes we practiced and polished, the sleight
of hand intended to delight. There are
others — impatient, critical, sluggish.
But I don’t know. I don’t know how to know.
If I knew my audience, I wouldn’t be
here, asking for divine intervention
to unlock my bold inner Cyrano.

3. Leave space for words.

… say, this is what I want.
… ask, what would you like?
… fill the page with words.
… listen. And listen. Closely.


… ask, did I understand? Is this right?
… say, this is what I want, but I also want you to be happy.
… ask, what would you like?
… be quiet, pay attention.

4. Make your subject obvious.

Example A)
Maybe this is a birthday you’d rather
forget, but me, I went and got you this
card anyway, because I’m a doofus
sometimes. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Example B)
These things they call “acts of God”? Well, maybe
they aren’t, not always. Maybe sometimes life
is just a raw deal, unfair and painful.

Example C)
I want to ask you out. I mean, I try
to ask you on a date, but I don’t know
how. And I don’t know if that’s what you want.
And if that isn’t what you want, I hope
that my asking doesn’t make things too weird.

5. Consider vertical or horizontal layouts.


6. Create multiple versions.

a) I’d love to go to a movie, what about you?
b) Would you like to have coffee sometime? Do you drink coffee? Tea is okay. Or something.
c) Do you like the symphony? Opera? Roller derby? Bowling? Dancing? It’s too soon for dancing. A walk?
d) Umm, there’s a play coming up that’s really cool. All smart and funny. My kid’s in it. Oops.
e) Heck, when is payday? Anything, let’s do anything, as long as it’s right after payday.
f) Is this mic on? I can’t hear myself. Oh. Oh, sorry.

7. Be sensitive when illustrating people.

Don’t: age/shape/size/height
Don’t: distinguishing features. Just don’t.
Don’t: your eyes/hair/lips are like [blank]
Don’t: use a template

Do: tell the truth.
Do: be kind.
Do: find the truth that is kind.
Do: say the kind truth, and mean what you say.

8. Avoid gender-specific designs.

Dancing the funky-monkey pronoun swing;
tripping the light fantastic, or tripping
over your own feet, and tongue. Just tripping.
There’s that great gender-bender blender pro,
the ones that pretty much always go wrong:
“Your eyes are too pretty to be a girl’s” /
“Your hair is too thick/long to be a boy’s.”
Whatever they said, it’s just so much noise.
Here’s a novel idea to try on —
what if we all just used names? Like, what if
we all talked about people like people?

9. Keep things light.

Light and dark as jabberwocky, sweet as
the jitterbug, bright as jive alive, and
happy as the Lindy hop. Let’s keep it
there, for now, bouncing the beat with our feet,
swinging from tango to the Charleston
to foxtrot, and if we’re lucky, mix it
up with the Viennese waltz, and later
a wild merengue. This is no secret
code, just a recipe for slow delight,
the kind that shines itself into the dark
corners, sketching a map of what consent
could look like, maybe, someday, if ‘yes’ comes.

10. Ask for feedback.

Rain check?
Let me think about it.

Inspired in part by “Design Your Own Greeting Card: 11 Tips That Actually Work

Our Lady of Drowning 

I can feel you 

drowning. The thickness 

of memories 

no longer fluid, 

growing sluggish 

and solid as we 

watch. The pale dust 

of skin once plump, taut, 

and elastic 

now stretched thin, garments 

threadbare, house emptied.  

All the dark deep 

that shimmers with blue 

(ultramarine blooms, 

cobalt petals, 

cornflower eyes, and

azure hair fade

like dreams, a cascade 

of starlight cuts 

like knives, soft bruises 

swell under skin). 

I feel you drowning. 

Choking, swimming 

in sadness that roars 

with silence like rage 

of an undertow. 

Current and wind 

suck the faith out 

from under our feet, 

leaving quicksand 

and sludge. I try 

to reach out, to 

grab onto you. You 

beat my hands away. 

There isn’t much 

time. I try again, 

casting a stiff rope 

of awkward words 

tied in circles, 

wanting to catch you. 

I feel you, I 

feel you, but you can’t 

tell I am there. 

I feel you drowning. 

I feel the air 

around me too thick 

to breathe. I am 

drowning, too, helpless 

to change things. Waves 

that wash you away 

catch me up, drag 

me with you. Oh, 

the blue, the blue 

that breaks at the edge

between water 

and sky, and dissolves. 

Our Lady of Boxes

A box for you
And a box for me

A box for the mother
Another for the father

Boxes and boxes of bad memories set aside to gather dust
A box of bad memories set open on the table

and polished until nothing is left
but a beautiful blaze of burning fear

A box for family traditions,
like liquor and incest and therapy bills

A box in which your brother whispers
I always thought you were coming on to me

A box of I’m sorry
A box of don’t apologize

A box for the first time someone called you beautiful
and you believed they meant it

A box for the boy who kissed you by surprise, sweetly
A box for the boy who kissed you by surprise so hard it hurt and made you cry

A box for boy you slapped,
and then you cried, and then he died

A box for the woman you never kissed. The women.
All those beautiful real women,

big bodied and pungent, demanding
that you think, feel, love yourself first

A box for introspection
A box for flinging yourself into the breach

A box for things that go bump in the night,
bad dreams, blurred reflections in the mirror

of people you don’t know, the glittering
of ceilings in sunlight and broken glass

A box for pain that stops,
And another for pains that never go away

A box for kinks and twists and aches that never go away
A box for urges unacted. A box for answers to questions unasked

A box for the prude. A box for perverts who deny it
A box for perverts who lay claim and joy in the name

A box for blue eyes. A box for freckles and roses
A box for sweet scents you want to remember

A box for the tall dark stamens of magenta flowers,
tender and evasive. A box for solstice dancing

A box for an oddly beautiful sunset before a blurry orange moonrise
A box of rainbows beating at the edges of the sky

A tiny box, almost invisible,
for an infinite blaze of glory

Our Lady of Impossibilities

In memoriam, Elle Janet Plato, 1966-2016.

An erasure poem constructed from Facebook posts and comments of Elle Plato’s final week. In other words: all Elle, nothing but Elle (except for some punctuation), but never again the complete Elle.

Here we have a guy
so completely dedicated
that he changes the Idea
from the old concept;
says with a straight face,
“be transparent.” I have
breakfast in various places,
and listen. It is
kind of amazing.

What took them so long? Mustard or
go home, bitches. You might have this
confused. Accept without question:
De gustibus non est disputandum:
In matters of taste there can be
no dispute. In matters of taste,
I am free to be snide about
low brow heathens who
do not appreciate the good-
ness of {my cuisine} preferring
instead {their cuisine}
which is clearly monstrous. I get
to feel good about myself for
liking mustard as long as I
remain oblivious to the
irony of my position.
Or maybe I am
just a very silly person?
Nah, I really am
this oblivious
to irony.

I do so miss interacting
with you in person. Although I
cannot argue with you, I will.
That being said, I was kidding.
Eat what you like, it is none of
our concern. (#Heathen)
I do not like New York hotdogs….
boo hiss booo…. Chicago dogs or
go home. But I had a couple
halal hotdogs, with that tomato-ish
red hot sauce, by Rockefeller
Center (or is it plaza?) and
they were sooo good.

Having said all that,
I find it fascinating to
see which get traction, and which get
ignored. Also interesting,
that anything I say gets traction… but
I leave that for another thread.
I just remembered
the term for this…. Poe’s Law. That is
not something I’d have
predicted, I will
have to give it a try.

I ❤ Good Guy Lucifer,
even if he is not real.
Although I do not believe
in the supernatural
my go to joke is that god
really is the evil one,
but he has a better
publicist. I am not
familiar with that author.

I’ve been here for two years,
even though it gets
harder every
day to stay

Don’t leave before
it is over,
even if the odds are long. Be
prepared to support your second
choice. Vote your conscience, understand
what it might mean:
a vote for someone.
Making a statement
nobody will hear.
If you really want
to make a statement,
vote for somebody.

Yeah, internal negative? NOT helping.
My views in this matter. The ironic
thing is that people are turned off
by emotions outside the emotion
they currently feel. To have broad appeal
you have to have tight message discipline
but if you have tight message discipline
everyone feels you are fake.

They feel he will not compromise.
Intransigent. I see no reason to
expect them to cooperate.
Brilliant, with a way that sets them up. Be
something else. Or admit they were,
not because they believed it was.
I did not know that, and I bet
there are a lot of other things
I do not know.

New ground, apropos
of my comment elsewhere from
2 minutes ago.
I was unaware
of most of those. If you have
more examples, feel free to
queue them up when it’s
convenient. Don’t go
out of your way, we
have time.

That said, I stand by
my original
comment…. I have
every intention
of standing, but
actions make it harder
every day
to do so.

It just occurred to me
Poe’s Law also applies
to comments with respect
to condiment selection.
Turtles all the way down.
I meant any specific
dessert aggregation that
includes chocolate, caramel and
pecans. Hazelnuts are for
heathens. Catsup is a fine
condiment… but it has no place
on any hot dog of mine.

So while this is good news,
it has nuance in it
that I do not have time
to unpack. Short version:
an all time low, despite
rhetoric about cold,
this is not flattering;
a nice chord about trans-
parency; and a song
we have yet to see sung.

Outside what I have in my memory.
It surprises me that you did not know,
at least in rough terms, the answer. And it
worries me a little, because you are
above average in terms of being
informed. Look up SALT, and so on, and then look
into validation, compliance. I
do not understand. I also feel it
was excessive but was unsure.

I can’t in good conscience
recommend actually
subscribing to my worldview.
With a hearty thanks to

Friend might be a strong word,
but we’ve chatted a few times,
and this is one smart
and interesting

Drowning is very hard to recognize
without some training. Over 10%
of drownings occur within 10′ of
someone who did not know it was happening,
even if they were watching the person.
Watching the video of the drowning
as it happens, I am amazed
how hard it was to spot before
I understood what to look for.
I am not often amazed. Please,
read this, and watch the video.

The Iron Age is considered to start
around 1200BCE, but
meteoric iron beads have been dated
back to 3200BCE,
and isolated iron working was done
in the middle bronze age. Awesome.
Exactly. I suspect if we tested
we would discover blood that proved this
was used to kill off royal rivals
during the well known Egyptian
“Game of Pyramids” period.

Slowly we move forward,
although the slide into
the police state has been
moving backwards pretty fast.

I really want to see an end
to culture wars. Fastest way to
end christianity would be
to get people to read,
really think about the bible.

Fascinating to sit in a cafe
having breakfast and listen to people.
Humans fill me with a sad poignancy,
best described by the Japanese phrase
“Mono no aware.” Literally,
the pathos of things, but really more an
awareness tinged with sadness at passing
of the ephemeral.

I suspect I know how
your wetware works better
than you know yourself, but
I still find you charming.
Sadly, you contain within
both amazing nobility
and seeds for your own destruction.
The most likely solution to
the fermi paradox
is a great filter, where
intelligent life destroys
itself. The universe
will not mourn you, but I find
the situation kind of sad.

fuck yeah,

This is phenomenal. Sharing.
The essence is this: certain results are
simply impossible. For example,
people only vary in intervals.
Something is a bit more involved. This is
fabulous. Half had one or more
impossible values. 1 in 5 had
more than one. In all cases, error was found,
sometimes in the person. What about those?
Never replied; were hostile; were friendly,
but refused — identical refusals,
though there was no obvious connection.

Our Lady of Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop

She dances with the springy slinky curves
and high energy of electrical

wires, twisting in reflections and sunlight
full of purpose and shadows, pulsing with

untranslatable messages. She twists
like a cat, coos like a mourning dove. She

is her own rock band, her own blues. Her smile
could charge spaceships. She is not so simple

as people think. She tells me she was raped,
but no one believes her. Except for you,

she says, and my mom. After what he did,
she says. Do you think he chose me because …?

she says. Yes, I say. A brief moment of
silence. She tells the story in the guise

of a dark cloud, and she is the thunder.
She storms out. She tells me she is bi, but

no one believes her. It’s a phase, they say,
you’ll grow out of it. Why don’t the women

I like like me? She droops wistfully, graced
and graceful, a slim gerbera daisy

of a girl surrounded with petals, then
bounces, surging upward as if launching

herself, as if seeds, as if percussive,
as if ballistic choreography,

as if she’s a superhero sizzling
into space. You go, girlfriend, you just go.

Our Lady of Shift Lock

Upper case, lower case.
Chest voice, head voice. Shouting,
whispering. Outside voice,
indoor voice. Active voice,
passive voice. Times Roman,
Comic Sans. There are rules
the dyslexic cannot
understand, never mind
follow. It’s not about
respect; it is about
ability. There are
so many rules. Where do
they come from? How can rules
change what is said, and how?
If a battlecry is
whispered, what happens? If
someone screams out love poems
with tears streaking, running
down their face, what comes next?
If I change this voice, my
voice, am I still able
to pray? Will my prayers be
heard? Moving through margins
of this world of built things
fitting together like
puzzle pieces — walls are
not like women; paths are
safe places; gears shift to
keep us in line — there are
reasons why, good ones. Still,
I have lived a life typed
in shift lock on broken
keys. I count syllables
that make a word, the words
that make a sentence. There
are words, feelings, lives, worlds
that cannot be typed out,
because they cannot be
written shifting between
upper and lower case,
but must be fluid. Is
there a place in heaven
where God preserves the way
my mouth feels (hot and cold,
liquid ice still as an
anchor) when I do not
say your name?

Our Lady of Light

“Quae est ista quae ascendit
sicut aurora consurgens,
pulchra ut luna, electa ut sol,
terribilis ut castrorum
acies ordinata?”

Light glints from her shoulders like spears,
like wing feathers, like lifting up

and soaring fiercely into blue,
a sky that changes everything,

the first hot dawn, hand to hand. This
is about to be. She. Flowers

know. The azaleas shift from shy
to a burning bush comprised of

a thousand tiny perfect tongues.
Tulips silken petals tremble

into long drawn out silken lines
translucent and ripe with cupped breath.

Leaves know. Vines stubbornly cling, climb,
and push forward into the light

that is right, unfurling hand-shaped
sails through which all the brightness glows,

illuminating everything
from which they are made just before

they let go. In the breeze, waltz-like,
the outermost edges of trees

shift slowly, full of potential,
as if on the verge of waking.

An impossible bumblebee
flies overhead, into branches,

settling on a wide leaf, as if
almost home. It is this for which

the light girds her in the armor
of openness, slow-coming clear.

Our Lady of Worms

Graceful sideways sidewalk dancer!
Delicately, blindly, probe
barriers & chasms (tap, sniff,
touch, taste). Then, equally gently,
bridge them. Oh, you wriggler, tickler

of palms, and terrains, and all things
subterranean; earth’s lively
living fingers that so boldly
venture skyward, robed in a slick
Joseph’s coat whose rainbow arcs from

chocolate to sand, from peony
to pulsing red, urgent as youth,
as reproduction. How lovely.
How very lovely you are. How
sad I am to see you aching,

crusted with sand and soil, muscles
meant for dancing stuttering as
grit tugs and scrapes flesh stiffly back.
You persist. After all, this is
life and death, a journey from home

to the unknown, from unknown to
the unknowable. I don’t know —
would you rather die now, like this,
or recover and try again?
I insert a twig under you,

into a momentary gap
beneath your arching belly, then
for a moment, you are airborne
as I carry you to the green
grass, soil moist as it’s meant to be.

Our Lady of May Flowers

This pink tulip struggles to raise its head,
bent down with today’s rain, coming after
days of chill mixed with spikes of hot thunder.
How the thick leaves curl close, what a strong stem.


The serviceberry bloomed early this year,
and early drops its petals, white dabbing
the broad green leaves, a painterly speckling.
So soon, anthers curl, ovary thickens.


The dandelion pushes itself up, up
into the rain. It’s an old white-haired bloom,
but drenched as a toddler spinning under
a downspout, hair clumped, arms outstretched, laughing.