A loveless sonnet

It seems, at first, an echo that we hear
That others speak the feelings in our heart
Yet once again the joy gives way to fear
Those who received now set themselves apart
An echo now distorted, signal lost
Transmission failed, the message won’t go through
When eyes and ears stay closed at any cost
An echo can’t be heard; signs, out of view
Some say they know the forms that love can take
And what they’re sure that love can never be
And swans are always white, but in this lake
A swan is black and swimming gracefully.
Seek pleasure first, let others do the same;
Perhaps one day we’ll speak love by its name.

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At 12 years old I already knew that I could not trust my parents to give me honest, accurate information about sex and sexuality, about puberty, about masturbation, about desire and lust.

I had too little access to any other resources — at that age, it wasn’t a simple matter of “just get online,” even though I certainly did access what I could through the text-only web on dial-up as the opportunity came up. I also checked out books from the public library, including one erotic novel which will always hold a special place in my heart.

And yes, at 12 years old I very much DID need honest, accurate information. I wasn’t trying to go out and get laid; I didn’t even know what that was, and I didn’t have any burning urgency pushing me to interact with girls or boys or anyone… but I sure could have used something besides guilt and shame about masturbating, and I could have benefited a whole lot from someone to talk to about the fantasies I was having, about the smutty stories I was reading — maybe someone who could have said to me back then “oh! You seem to have an affinity for stories about BDSM, here’s what that is, and here’s what it’s NOT, and you’re not broken.” That last bit, especially — “You’re not broken, and you’re not alone.”

There’s a piece of online fiction I started reading, all those years ago, and never finished… but I can look back now and realize that was the first place I encountered the concept of a safeword. It wasn’t called that in the story, but it was introduced in simple, clear terms that “if at any point you don’t feel like you’re enjoying what’s going on, or you want things to stop, just say this word, and everything will stop and we’ll check in on you.” It was a great example of how negotiation and safety don’t have to “interrupt” a story, just like a single line about grabbing a condom doesn’t “ruin” a story like so many people want to claim. It would have been great to have someone I could trust to talk about that kind of stuff at the time.

Honestly, I think it’s gotta be even harder now than it was almost two thirds of my life ago — at 12, too many people are eager to call you a “child,” and if you dare to respond to your body in the ways that ought to be expected, and you don’t keep silent about it, you’re branded as a pervert… or just as often as a criminal. And fewer and fewer adults are willing to take the significantly increased risk of simply sharing accurate information with a young adult, because that’s enough to brand someone as a “molester” and a pervert… and, often, as a criminal as well.

I had sexual or erotic fantasies from at least the age of 5. From anecdotes I’ve heard from many other men and women both in person and online, I’m not nearly alone in that. I cannot count the times I’ve heard “oh, yeah… I was masturbating at 3 or 4. Didn’t know what it was, then, but I sure did!” We need to stop pretending that such things cannot possibly happen, and stop acting as if intentionally denying access to knowledge will *ever* help a society. It just doesn’t work that way.

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I keep saying I’ll write more poetry. But then I don’t get most of the things done that I want to, need to, whatever… not these days. Still homeless. Still staying with The Rabbit up in the hills. Still barely coping.

Wrote this the other day — edited slightly for the blog here:


There are so many things I need help with. And most of them I can clearly articulate the ways I need help, and why — I have all that completely worked out.

The problem is, I need help to get the help that I need. And I don’t know how to get the help that will get me the help I need. And it’s also often likely that the help I need isn’t available, or isn’t available to me in particular, or isn’t available to me right now, etc. etc. etc.

And since I don’t know where to begin with getting help, or getting help to get help, or getting help to get help to get help… I don’t get a lot of things done that would make it easier for me to do more on my own, to need less help.

I need someone to hang out while I work on tackling the mess in the room I’m staying in. I need to have someone around on consecutive days, or at least not more than a few days apart, until it’s in a reasonably organized state. But, shit… I can’t even get someone to hang out with me for fun more than once or twice a month just for fun stuff, and that’s almost always the same person [Again] who comprises most of my extremely limited social life. Trying to repeatedly call and hassle and schedule and reschedule and coordinate just is way beyond my capacity.

I need a place to live. That’s… something that feels pretty much impossible, honestly. It’s been since at least July 2013 that I’ve been looking. It’s really been that long, because the lease on the place I shared with [MFP] originally expired in September 2013. I ended up staying there until February 2014, and I’ve been homeless since then, trapped up in this place in the hills where [The Rabbit] has a spare room (mostly storage, but there’s a bed here and I’ve really all but moved in.) I thought I had things settled for a while, but unfortunately things fell through and my hopes for getting out of here vanished — along with a few months of time that I might have otherwise been looking while prices have continued to rise everywhere.

There are other things I need, and much smaller things. I can often break down my needs into very small, theoretically manageable pieces… but I always seem to find that those are only manageable with assistance, or that the first step that I can do on my own requires another step to be accomplished by someone else, or requires something that can’t be done at all. There’s always some prerequisite to beginning to address my needs.

So I often just give up and avoid everything, instead… which doesn’t accomplish anything either. And I try to tell myself that I’m right to avoid trying to take care of things that I can’t, that I’m doing self-care, trying to spin little things that don’t honestly feel like accomplishments into “yay I got something done” and it feels like it’s all lies. I don’t believe myself when I say that “I took a relaxing bath, go me” was self-care… not when I know I went in there to shave my body because I was freaking out with the only dysphoria I really deal with and I didn’t shave at all. I don’t believe myself when I say that I got something accomplished today, because even though I got my bus pass for the month and ate a meal, I missed my pills and I didn’t call back the psychiatric intake folks who said they’d call me back last Thursday, and I didn’t stop at the couple of stores I planned to to stock up on some stuff for actual self-care, and I didn’t get several other things done that I needed to. The day feels wasted, and trying to say that I was awesome because I got a couple of things actually accomplished way behind schedule doesn’t feel honest.

I’m just rambling and not saying anything worth anything anymore, and I’m stalling laying down and maybe maybe maybe maybe maybe going to sleep. There’s food rotting in here. There’s so much mess overflowing everywhere it makes me want to scream. I need help. I don’t have help. I feel helpless and hopeless and I just want to get out of here, to be anywhere safe, and I don’t know how.

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And it opened up my eyes — I saw the sign!

“He’s from Alabama? No wonder he’s such an idiot. All those stupid inbred redneck hicks come from the South.  Alabama, Georgia, Texas, whatever… his momma and his auntie are probably one and the same.”

“Man, I’d really love to have one of those Chinese girls for a wife… so sweet, and soft, and you know they never talk back to their husbands! I love that exotic air of mystery they have…”

“Wait, you said your teacher was condescending, impatient, and rude? Let me guess… totally a woman, right? Hate to say it, but that’s just how girls are!”


Totally offensive, right? Completely unacceptable things to say. I mean, they’re horrible things to believe, even if you keep your mouth shut about it, but I hope that most of you can recognize that these stereotypes are over-broad, that they deny the agency of any individual person who happens to fit into a category because of something to do with the circumstances of their birth.

There are millions of people born in the southeastern United States, hundreds of thousands (at least) in Alabama. To insist that you know anything about a person from that single fact is arrogant, ignorant, and completely narrow-minded. Sure, there are lots of people who make those assumptions anyway, but that doesn’t mean they’re right!

There are as many ways to be a woman as there are women — none of them more valid than any other. To insist that you know anything about someone based solely on their gender is arrogant, ignorant, and completely narrow-minded. Lots of folks still do, sadly.

And… ugh. Please, don’t get me started on the Colonialist, racist bullshit that sits behind the fetishization of East Asian women. Just… eww. And yes, sadly, there are plenty of folks who are into that. Shit, someone who’s a blood relation is off the deep end of that Orientalism cesspool, mail-order bride and everything. I’ve seen it up close, and it’s disgusting.


So what about this, then? “Oh, you just had your birthday? I bet you’re super sensitive to criticism, aren’t you? Always trying to help people out? You seriously need to get out and do something with your life, stop sitting around all the time!”

Especially if you just barely met someone, then I guarantee you that you don’t know enough about them to make those kinds of claims. But for some reason, it’s much more socially acceptable to deny individual agency and make arrogant assumptions about someone based on over-broad stereotypes… when you base it on one category about the circumstances of a person’s birth: that person is obviously a Pisces, and so you can generally get away with insisting that you know everything about them!

I call bullshit on that. I call bullshit just as much as on the rest of those sickening, harmful stereotypes, and I call bullshit on anyone who claims that they can take shortcuts instead of getting to know you. I call bullshit on projecting a stereotyped image that gets in the way of actually interacting with an individual.

I call bullshit on the laughable idea that the place and time of my birth have any bearing on my future. I call bullshit on the disempowerment of giving up control over what I do and how I do it, giving that up to some bullshit stereotype that some other humans decided to write up into tables and graphs and circles and charts and symbols. I call bullshit on anyone writing my future besides me.

And, no doubt, there will be folks who jump in to tell me that this is exactly what they’d expect from a [some guess at when I was born and what my “sign” is based on the aforementioned bullshit] — which of course leaves the wiggle-room of “oh, well, I guess I was wrong, but that one shares some traits with this other sign, so I was still right about the ignorant, arrogant, agency-denying assumptions I made! Ha!” And really? One thing I’ve found fairly consistently is that for folks who choose to give up their own agency to the star charts, it’s difficult for them to handle others who haven’t joined in with drinking the Kool-Aid.

Even worse is the folks who use their birth date as an excuse and a rationalization for their own failings — “Well, yeah, I should’ve admitted I was wrong about that, but you know how stubborn we Taurus folks are!” or “Yes, I know I was late… again… I just can’t seem to get things together, I’m definitely an airy, air-headed Gemini!” How about admitting personal fault instead of shrugging it off as inescapable? I suppose that would be too close to admitting that you’re responsible for yourself, instead of having the handy excuse of something “out there” having determined everything about you from the day you were born, wouldn’t it?

And as far as that goes, I can guarantee I know your sign.

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