Wednesday, September 15, 2010


"Inner peace by practicing forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past and is therefore the means for correcting our misconceptions. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It's not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love? Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be." Unknown

All very true... but learning from the past is equally important lest we repeat our mistakes by trusting immoral/unethical beings who never did deserve our trust in the first place. The beauty is that we did after all trust. The sadness is that in the forgiveness, the act will always have taken place. With more information, the perspective can change, but the act will have taken place... the blow can be softened, but the blow was dealt. Once you learn something, can you really unlearn it? ... Can we live without committing hurtful acts in the first place?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


She sat up in bed upon the thought, "I never told him I loved him," and wondered when she began believing in love at all. Whether she believed in it or not, here it was... in the middle of the night. The fuckin butterflies meant she was alive. God damned butterflies. A slideshow of movie clips played in her head... Clips of suicide how tos. Writers were always so inventive when it came to carefully thinking out a suicide scene. She never could have been all as inventive as that on her own.

Later, in the chill of bloodletting in the mid-night warm bath, she decided she never did have to tell him because he had to already know. We all already knew, didn't we? About love and the certainty of death. We just all didn't live with the weight of it, the futility of fighting it - the disbelief in it; we all didn't breathe knowing the one couldn't exist without the contrary, disbelief without belief, every second of every day... Like she did. Did. She never told him, didn't have to tell him, because it always existed. She closed her eyes. The butterflies were finally gone.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feeding Poetry

[This began with an excerpt from one poem and fed into other ideas. Printed with the permission of the other poets btw. Enjoy!]

Sam Sax (excerpt)

Your body is no temple for a temple
is nothing when not filled with song
you are always filled with song
a block party
circle of poets
bottle of spirits
and a mouthful of sage
you are a body, little more than anybody

Rajshree Chauhan
"We disappear"

But your body couldn't be my temple
empty until filled with dance
I am always filled with dance
moving light
circle of drums
trance of mind
I become nobody, faceless, soulful...
we disappear *

Russell Goodman
your body is a body not your own but in your possession temporarily, perhaps

Your body is a body is a body is yours,
for love and life
Dionysian spirits and sage
filled with song
full of dance
drums of the heart
ocean of the blood
stream in your ears
the ring as you fall to sleep,
your own Aphrodisian love.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Pendulum

The prisons of the mind can be deceptive in safety
more comforting than the unnavigable currents of life

Solace can be found there
do not linger too long lest you forget how to adventure

Both will always, will always
will AL-wayS
be ready for your return

Beware... The swing.
This pendulum is not smooth
prepare yourself and respect
accept where you are.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Life in the in-between

Life happens to writers.
Can't be the conscious of people.

It's a world of crazy, poor writers, or
People who don't get it, who think they do
which indicates they don't,
Of people who walk in a different world.

Collapsed in between.

Like not being white and not being black...
Being brown and flowing between the two,
Being forgotten there.

If it were as easy as that to choose.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Every time I see how far I've come, it's bittersweet. It is surprising what I'm capable of, but sad to know how many tiny pieces a person can be broken into.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Whore! Slut!

[Memoir Fiction. Do you know how hard it is to write about anger and have your readers/listeners care? Writing this piece really messed me up for a few days after. It had to be written somehow, but it was very difficult not only to relate it, but to be brutally honest about the reaction and deal with the shame of the reaction... In reality... Whether a person could really say these things to an old man, I don’t know. I’d like to think not... I’m afraid I just might though, given the opportunity. I would to defend someone else. I’m also afraid I wouldn’t... Would I be able to say these things if it was on my own behalf? Both scenarios are disturbing to me.]

19 years old. Friday night, 7pm. Martin Luther King long weekend. Home visiting from UC Santa Barbara. Calling Paul’s house, short for Harpal, an Indian guy friend, to see if our group of friends might be interested in a movie. His father answered.

“Hi, this is Rajshree. Are Paul and Glen back from San Diego yet?”
“Who is this?” thick Indian accent.
“This is Rajshree. We met at your house over Christmas break. How are you?” You see, Indian parents love me. Of course Paul’s dad would too.
“Oh, I know you… You’re that whore who is running around with that Philipino boy - Is it?”
He was referring to my ex-boyfriend. “I’m sorry sir, what? I’m just calling to see if Paul and Glen are back yet.”
“Yes, you are that slut, aren’t you?”
I realized he was drunk. Still, I had never been spoken to like this by an Indian elder. “Um, sir, yes, this is Rajshree sir, but I haven’t done anything wrong, I-“
“Don’t you talk back at me!”
“No sir, I’m not talking back. I just-“
“Calling my house in the middle of the night, asking for my son.”
“Um, it’s 7 o’clock sir. We’re only friends.”
“Look you whore, don’t you ever call my house ever again. Do you hear me?”
“Yes, sir. I did have a boyfriend and we are no longer seeing each other. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Shut up you whore!” he hung up.

I was 19 and up until recently had been dating my boyfriend, who happened to be Philipino. My parents, also hurt and angry, refused to call him and tell him off because he was right on the one count that I had been seeing a Philipino boy. Of course, I expected Paul to take his dad’s side… somewhere deep down I knew he would… it was still hurtful when he did. I wonder whether Paul’s dad knew Paul was dating my boyfriend’s Philipina sister at the time.

20 years later, when I was 39 years old, an Indian neighbor, much much younger than me, had hit on me. He wouldn’t stop when I told him to, reminding him I was married – instead he got more aggressive. I slapped him and left the situation. I told my husband about it afterward because it’s kind of scary when a guy won’t stop when you ask him too. “Whore! Slut!” Screamed my husband – my ex-husband. We were at the food court in the mall having this Jerry Springer moment. You see, it was my fault for being at the ice cream parlor, and in the situation in the first place where our neighbor could hit on me. I get hit on all the time. It is up to me to draw those lines and say no. Was I a whore and a slut every time a guy hit on me? Is this it then? The blame is placed on me because?? "I" am the one who needs to be torn down? Obviously none of these Indian men really knows what a whore and a slut is.

Some say I am too Americanized - not Indian enough. Too Americanized? I wake up every morning, brush and floss, and when I look in the mirror, I am already Indian. There's not a single thing I need to do to prove it. Too Americanized? You see, it's called self-preservation. I grew up with those cold cruel Indian aunties who acted as if they were better than my family. They were so insecure in their skin, that THEY competed with ME. They also tried to tear me down. And, I learned to turn it. I learned to get THEM to follow ME around. All those parties where we dressed up like peacocks... I grew up watched and stared at. I grew up being myself, walking my own path, stumbling and growing, learning to maneuver within the spotlight and diffuse the drama people will create. Too Americanized? If this is indeed the case, thank GOD for it and the choice and freedom I have because of it.

So yeah, I lived that power game among women. I choose my role in that. You see, I LEFT that power game. I know how it works, better now than I did when I was younger. So every time you call me whore and slut, it is YOU trying to tear me down. In effect, you are admitting I am above you. A-bove you. Calling me a Whore and Slut is NOT the way to control me. I will not be controlled, I cannot be controlled.

My husband I can divorce. Paul’s dad? Now that I’m older and I’ve a voice to stand up for myself, I would like to track that one down. I want to find him, dress up in my tall boots and skinny jeans, tight tank top, and ask him…

“So old man, are you getting ready to die yet - Is it? Do you remember me? Yeah, I’m that girl you called a whore and a slut. It doesn’t matter that I’m a college professor, that I’m a writer, that I was a good wife, that I take care of my parents, nieces, nephews, and goddaughter. You have no right to say anything like that to a young girl. You had no right to say such things to ME…"

Was my crime being attractive and American born? Being in a short-lived monogamous relationship until I left to go away to college? Being loved, treated well and respectfully by my first boyfriend? Whore? That’s what they think when the girl has presence, dresses nicely, and whom passers by admire?

“You have a granddaughter right? Well the kids these days... I’m American born too, and we were rebellious, but we were different. These girls grew up watching half dressed pop stars like Brittany Spears – Sir, you don’t even want to know what your 17 year old granddaughter is up to. I saw her out the other night. Tight little outfit. Too much makeup. Spiked heels. Short dress that barely covers her ass. Tits and cleavage spilling over the top of her dress… Here’s a picture! You’d have been real proud of her tight little body, long hair draping down her back. The epitome of modesty.”

“I know you’re from a different culture, that you have different expectations and values from people like me… Still, tell me, you misogynistic, racist, farmer, what made you think you could pass judgment on me? If you want to bring caste into it, well hell, at least I’m not an Untouchable Harijan like you. Oh, is that not supposed to matter in this country anymore? Oops. Well it’s ok, is it? To remind you of your caste. Doesn’t matter how hard you’ve worked - to drag your family out of poverty, you’ll always be a low-life mean bastard to me. Die well. Die soon. At least one person on this earth will not mourn your passing.”

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Look Good Naked

Naked *naughty smile/wink… I could tell you about my trip to Cabo when I was 29. Someone had put a magazine clipping above the peephole in my room. It read, “Look Good Naked.” So, I did. For the rest of the trip, I walked around that room, I slept in the cool sheets… every time I came back to that room, I was naked. Looking back, there was probably a hidden camera, streaming me over the internet somewhere.

Or what about the time I, fresh from the shower, dressed in front of my windows… you see, the windows in my room open up onto a hillside of brush and trees – not a soul to be seen… usually… not until that morning. I finished dressing and looked up to see guys trimming the trees up on that hill… grinning. I felt they owed me some money for that one!


The word implies vulnerability. None of these stories leaves me open. I mean, you’re listenin’ to a gal who doesn’t have very many inhibitions sober. Black bra contest? Hold on *checking. Right on!

What I should tell you about… When I was in high school, I was never asked out. When I was in college, I was never asked out. It wasn’t until I was 24 when he asked me out. Dear Lord, his smile. His eyes. The look in his eyes when he looked at me. The way he would cradle the back of my neck as he kissed my forehead. The way he’d pull me to him, his hands on the small of my back or on both hips, pulling my body against the firmness of his. He was beautiful that one. Crème caramel skin, rugged and smooth at the same time. He was shaving his blonde head before it was cool, downy and ticklish on my palm when it grew. I mean, you could see every tiny muscle in his back – a swimmer’s back, a gymnast’s back. The echo of him, the memory of him *sigh

We went on a road trip that December between Christmas and New Year’s. From down in Joshua Tree, up into Northern California, into Oregon, into Washington, into BC. Eating, sleeping, playing games, camping near the beach. With him was the only time I’ve ever made love – we didn’t just fuck each other. It wasn’t that pure raw sex, which is good in its own right. The look on his face when he cupped, kissed and sucked on me, the fascination he had with tasting my insides, with rolling my skin and muscles under his palms and fingers. He drank me with his body. Hungry, waiting, desiring. Senses heightened, breaths held. The spark of the first touch… it wasn’t enough, never enough. It left me wanting more. I wanted to crawl into him, to be a part of him… Don’t breathe… Not yet… …

On the drive back, on a stretch of highway between Oregon and California… There was rain that night. The roads were slick. He had the window open for a hot minute to stave off the sleepiness. We both saw something in the road. I’m still not sure what it was. A deer? A coyote? I don’t know… When we hit the hillside, we lost control and flipped… he had his seatbelt on… How did he end up outside the car? What happened?

I knew there was blood streaming down my face, I knew I had hit my head… I saw him lying in the road. I didn’t matter anymore. I half crawled over to him, my hands and legs feeling thick and heavy, unable to follow through with my commands. Making my way with the cacophony of the rain raucous in my ears, on my skin, in the confusion… Or, was it the blood rush? Feeling the wet rocks in the roadway dig into my hands, imprinting them, muddying them, I had to get him out off the road.

He was on his back, his lashes touching his cheeks. The rain pooling at the inner corner of his eyes. The rain sliding down the planes of his face… There was too much rain, I couldn’t tell if he was breathing… But I had to move him. I tried… I tried… He was too heavy. I pulled his arms, and sat him up. His sweatshirt was soaked. Already? Was it water? Or?... I leaned my body behind his, his beautiful back against my chest, his head lolling, his body heavier without the spark of his smile. I moved him a little, pulling him backward. I couldn’t do this alone. Where was the adrenaline? Was that his blood or mine mixing and dripping with the rain onto him? It had to be mine. Why couldn’t I move you? Why did the seatbelt snap? How did the seatbelt snap? Why?

The next car, the lights blinding me… I thought it was slowing down. I thought help had come. I put him down to wave my arms, to plead for help. I ran out in front of him to protect him. The car swerved around me too fast… spun out… crushed his skull, crushed his smile… I watched it happen even as time stopped. That last moment…

He was gone. Forever gone. He was the love of my life... Infinity pain. Clouds of infinity pain… I fell through them. There was no one to catch me.

Now… Now, I stand before you naked…

Wishing you sweet dreams to ease your pain

Fog crawls over my body, blankets itself in my hair, nuzzles, musses. / The dawn is hidden. / Most still lie warm in their beds / a peaceful time for some / for others troubled / wishing you sweet dreams to ease your pain

Lately, getting out of bed before dawn was more difficult than usual. It always happened this way. She would rouse peacefully, mind drifting from one slip of dream to another. Then, her heart would remind her it was broken.

Laying in bed, she looked out her bedroom window and could only see the night thinking of making room for light. She sidled one leg and then the other over the edge of the bed, inched her sleepshirt off, and took in breath for a deep sigh. Her tentative hands moved across her body, caressing one bruise after another.

The colors were deepening in beautiful patterns tattooed across her sides, arms, back, legs... That's all she had the energy to notice for now.

She held herself close as she assembled herself for the day, every movement slow and deliberate, perhaps an effort to reclaim her body and self, perhaps to warn any further blows that she had her share already.

The warm water from the shower streamed through her hair - she tried to imagine what it might look like. When she was little, she remembered floating her head back in the tub and swishing back and forth so that her hair would sway in the water like a mermaid's she imagined. Now her hair reached below her shoulders, blanketed her back, mottled black, blue, purple and green screened through the darkness of her hair.

She drifted again to a winter’s morning when she had found the bottle wash up on the beach… cliché. But, there was a note inside. It read, “Tonight I marry a man I don’t love. I don’t know what will happen, but with you I want to share this one piece of advice that I’m counting on.” It said, “Cherish your mistakes – they are what will make your life interesting.”

It began with a shudder, a slight quiver in her breathing... Heaving sobs she didn't know were in her were forced out. Her hands were splayed on the wall of the shower. She couldn't see through her tears and the water now mixing together.

Drained, she sat down on the floor of the shower, the water raining down an aggravated assault. Finally, when the crying stopped, she turned off the water, wrapped herself in her towel, got out a new nightshirt, put her hair up, and collapsed back into the sheets and pillows, her damp hair wetting it all. She formed a sort of nest, a cocoon. Back to sleep... Back to sleep... Start over again.

She looked out her window one last time. The sun had risen, but it was a hazy cold light. The clouds had come down.