"War" by Naomi Shihab Nye

If this is what we studied for,
heads bent over books in wooden desks
engraved with the names of the dead,
then I have a new feeling for

Olive trees, three acres slashed
equals    zero   zero   zero.
That’s my address. The grade on my page.

If this is the spectrum of pronouns—
you kill, he or she kills, anyone might kill
then I speak a new language without them.
Words rinse into one another recklessly—
morning, wishes, windows, paste
of kisses on a child’s warm scalp.

If this is why we bow our heads to pray
in the corner, by the iron stove
so many years, forgive me.
Forget words, posture, time of day.
Blood aches inside my veins.
Where did we bury Sitti?
I will wait beside her stone,
telling the same story she told
of the river of waiting, how some of us
fall into it and are not seen again.
How some end up in another paradox
with a changed name, Mahmoud to Mo,
lost in small shops making change
for gasoline. If this is persistence,
who knows? I’m stuck in the corner of war
that’s not even called war, pressed like a pigeon
into a twig case, my dry eyes flaming.

"Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress-Toward" by Gwendolyn Brooks

Say to them,
say to the down-keepers,
the sun-slappers,
the self-soilers,
the harmony-hushers,
"even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.”
You will be right.
For that is the hard home-run.

Live not for battles won.
Live not for the-end-of-the-song.
Live in the along.



In February, I posted two pieces in Bed-Stuy on Tompkins and Halsey. These two pieces got the most attention of any pieces I’ve put up so far. Within a few days, someone had written his response to the work directly onto the posters. From there, a woman wrote a response to him. And it went on and, on with different hand-written comments creating this kind of interesting discussion. The pieces remained up until a week or so ago, when the phallic image was drawn. That’s when I decided to try to take them down. 

The “Stop Telling Women to Smile” piece remained in tact enough for me to include it in the exhibition. I thought it was important to present in the show, so that people could view these written reactions. 



Ryan Gosling on the MPAA’s decision to give Blue Valentine an NC-17 rating over its inclusion of an oral sex scene. (x)

Ladies, this was the interview that preceded you all knowing how hot Ryan Gosling is. He started talking about this topic and within a few months, ady bloggers were singing his praises. 

Feminism really is hot. 

Always reblog.


(via jessicavalenti)

"Getting Made" by Jennifer Pastiloff


This time a year ago I was leaving Mexico.

I was on a boat. I was on a boat leaving Mexico and if I knew that it was the last time I would be seeing my friend Steve I would’ve asked the boat to turn around and I would have gone back and back and back farther. All the way if I could where nothing was blinding and everything was dark and still in the way things are right before they go bad.

A year ago I sat on a plane, like I am as I write this, and I ordered a glass of wine as I looked through my photos of the retreat and I laughed at the videos of Steve and thought “How I love this man. How I love this man.”

A year ago I came back from Mexico and laid on my sofa feeling pancake flat and Steve texted me “I am laying on my friend’s couch and I can’t stop thinking about our trip. I wish we were back there. Wow.” I wrote back “me too” and in my pancake way I stood up and put on shoes to go teach my yoga class but I knew something had shifted, something was gone, and maybe that was why I felt flat or maybe it was natural after a trip like that to feel so much I want to be back. To feel it so much in your bones that they won’t even carry you. They turn you into a pancake. Pancake yoga teacher. Nothing. Flat. Pancake person.

When he died, I texted him “I want to be back. I want to be back” even though I knew he was dead.

We made videos the night before we left Mexico. Like little time bombs with messages on them that we planned to watch in a year’s time. When it was Steve’s turn he looked into the camera and said, “That was fun. Let’s do it again next year. Hell, let’s do it again next month.”

He died within the month.

This morning I got the text that I had been waiting for, the one I knew would come today or tomorrow or yesterday. Ronan died. One of my best friends, the beloved writer Emily Rapp, lost her two year old son this morning as I zipped up my suitcase to head for the airport for my Hawaii yoga retreat. ‘His suffering is over’ she wrote. ‘His short and remarkable life’ she wrote. ‘I am numb’ she texted me privately.

I am numb too. I am on a flight to Maui and I feel nothing. I am hungry. I am not hungry. I am sad. Am I sad? I feel nothing. Where does the pain go?

Its floating up here on the airplane and I am sure will make it’s way up to my seat if we don’t crash. What happened? How does a mind process this? (I will have the cheese omelette and not the cereal, please.) Ronan died and it’s for the best says the very best intentioned platitudes. My friend Robert Wilder held him for an hour yesterday. I asked him what it was like. Everything he said. It was everything.

What’s it like to hold a dying baby for one hour? One hour in a short life is like ten years in a normal life span. (What is a normal life span?) What’s it like to hold a dying baby for ten years? He got to feel his last little oomphs right there in his arms (imagine that!) and hold his small fingers (maybe he intertwined them in his own?) He got to brush a few hairs from his eyes and pass him back to his grandparents or his mom and he got to feel a life right there in his arms which would disappear in less than 24 hours into That’s it and It’s over but he got to hold that and stop time for ten years because in a dying baby’s life one hour is equal to ten years. He got to do that and I am glad for that. I love him for that. For being there for Emily and Ronan when I couldn’t.

It makes you want to stop lying.

Why lie when this can happen? When a person can be born and then just like that It’s Over, It’s done. He’s gone.

Why tell untruths as if people care?

I keep having this recurring dream where I am driving and the brakes don’t work. The other night I had it again. I was driving in Philadelphia, over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The brakes wouldn’t work. I tried pressing my foot into the brake and it only accelerated the car which wasn’t even my car. I swerved in and out of lanes so I wouldn’t hit anyone. It was all my untruths rushing at me. In the dream I somehow made it to safety and pulled out a paper where I had put a big X through a box that said “Brakes.” I had shut them off myself.

The greatest lie that was ever told was that you are safe. It’s the lie I still want someone to tell me though. (Say it to me?)

Say it to me.

Other lies have been both monumental and petty but with the news of a baby’s death comes a yearning for honesty. There is nothing else. “I love you” to all the people I love. “I don’t care” to all the things I don’t care about, and there are as many as the things I do care about. I am happy. I am not happy. All of it. Truths and lies and some half way in betweens.

Once, on a road trip, there was a deer along Route 70, just outside Cody, Wyoming. His eyes, the color of headlights. He recognized me immediately. (He was no stranger to regret and he spotted mine immediately ). And with his four chambered stomach and eyes on the sides of his head, I knew his type too. The cautious, the time-takers, the digesters.

Unlike him: I am impulsive as a flood.

But we knew each other, me and that deer. For the ten years or two seconds he stood there in the road in front of our car.

A basic law of the universe: the implications of what’s been said always mean more than what actually has been said. My deer understood this algebra, this economy of language and therefore didn’t say much. Me: I spit it out as I feel it when and if I feel it. Unlike my deer, I do not contemplate my cud.

(I love you! I love you!)

The lies I have told have mainly been to myself but others have been to save face.

There is no more of that. Do you get what I am saying? It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because once you have held Ronan in your arms for ten years or one hour you see that what is important is the life we make, right here and now. You may not have been the one holding him in your arms for ten years but you get the metaphor. You get the as if. You can almost smell Ronan in his baby old man smell.

The life you make here and now. Not the lies or the I dropped out of college because I was half dead and freezing but I will lie about it so you don’t judge me. No one cares. It does not matter. It’s the life you make here and now because after you get the text that he dies you realize that all you ever had were the moments of holding him, the minutes with Steve in Mexico, the half-seconds with people you love.

I don’t know how fast it feels at the end, but my guess is that it feels like ten years. Or maybe 6 months. Maybe less or more. But it won’t feel like much. It will feel like all you had were breaths and moments and a few snapshots with the sun in your eyes there like that. You will squint to remember the way the light felt in your eyes, to recreate that, and, everything else that was blinding and bright and yours.

"I love you." The words alive like velvet antlers. Words made of bone. They need a way out! I must speak them. I must tell no more lies. The life that you make here and now. Here and now.

Words: “make, here, now, love”. Remember them.

The old deer had made it through once more, one more near miss across an ocean of cars, a scuffle of rain and a sky full of mistakes. He’d found a pair of eyes (mine!) to lock into before going back into the world, alone and foraging.

It makes you want to stop lying, to climb onto the wing of the plane and hang there if you knew you could and sob and swing and fall into clouds like you would if you were a cartoon and could always be safe in a cartoon-world. You could sleep on a nimbus cloud and wake up and ten years will be ten years rather than an hour. It makes you want to stop lying and run into the arms of all your beloveds (your lucky if you have a even a handful) and tell them to keep you there. “Hang on to me, tight like this. Tight like this. Keep me here”. It makes you want to admit that lying is worthless and dirty and that nothing matters, not really anyway so might as well buck up and say I love you or I don’t love you or I am so broken or I wish you didn’t die or Yea, I get that your spirit is with me forever but God-damn-it I want your body. Forget the spirit! I will trade it for your body and smell and fingers. 

It makes you want to forget everything and remember everything with equal measure. It makes you want to cry for days and beg the gods or the scientists or luck to leave you alone and leave everyone alone that you love. It makes you want to live like you were meant to all along even in the moments of self-hatred. It makes you all these things.

It makes you.


Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer and yoga teacher living in Los Angeles. Currently finishing her first book, she has a monthly article in Origin Magazine, a weekly column on Positively Positive and a popular daily blog called The Manifest-Station. Jen leads yoga/writing workshops and retreats all over the world, including a yoga/memoir writing retreat with Emily Rapp in Vermont October 2013. She’s also been featured on Good Morning America for her unique approach to teaching. More from this author →

"The Lightkeeper" by Carolyn Forché

A night without ships. Foghorns called into walled cloud, and you still alive, drawn to the light as if it were a fire kept by monks, darkness once crusted with stars, but now death-dark as you sail inward. Through wild gorse and sea wrack, through heather and torn wool you ran, pulling me by the hand, so I might see this for once in my life: the spin and spin of light, the whirring of it, light in search of the lost, there since the era of fire, era of candles and hollow-wick lamps, whale oil and solid wick, colza and lard, kerosene and carbide, the signal fires lighted on this perilous coast in the Tower of Hook. You say to me stay awake, be like the lensmaker who died with his lungs full of glass, be the yew in blossom when bees swarm, be their amber cathedral and even the ghosts of Cistercians will be kind to you. In a certain light as after rain, in pearled clouds or the water beyond, seen or sensed water, sea or lake, you would stop still and gaze out for a long time. Also when fireflies opened and closed in the pines, and a star appeared, our only heaven. You taught me to live like this. That after death it would be as it was before we were born. Nothing to be afraid. Nothing but happiness as unbearable as the dread from which it comes. Go toward the light always, be without ships.


humans hesitate


humans hesitate

(via juliapancakes)


Chiharu Shiota - Stairway (2012)

(via alongline)