Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter
  8
Share on Facebook
  12
Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 20 Shares     
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Article Stats
7 comments

Exclusive to OpEdNews:
Life Arts

TC Tolbert: Vena Amoris

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Touching 3   Well Said 2   Inspiring 2  
View Ratings | Rate It

Headlined to H4 11/30/12

opednews.com


I am going to give up my writing space for a guest column by poet TC Tolbert. S/He is the Assistant Director of Tucson literary center, Casa Libre En La Solana http://casalibre.org/ where this essay originally appeared. I have the author's permission to share it in full. - Bill Wetzel



TC Tolbert Photo by Samuel Ace

Vena Amoris

by TC Tolbert

I'm on a relatively small plane on my way to Denver. I'm in the window seat. There's no middle, just the guy in the aisle seat whose elbow keeps grazing my arm. We're both white men. He's 6'1, maybe 6'2, muscular. I'm 5'8, 150. He is not unkind. I'm bad at this sort of thing but I'd say he's in the neighborhood of 220 pounds. Right away he put the armrest down and got comfortable. He's sleeping now or trying to. Elbows outnumber armrests. We are close but we are not intimate. Presumably we are meant to negotiate the space.

A few years ago I started a trans awareness project called  Made for Flight . I visit classrooms, Gay-Straight Alliances, and youth centers and talk about trans identities, violence, how to be an ally. We make a kite for each trans woman who has been murdered during the year. We walk with those kites during the All Souls Procession (and if you want to join us, we would welcome you - see below). I am constantly saying these words: Two trans women are murdered each month here in the US. A trans woman (usually a trans woman of color who is a sex worker) is murdered every other day worldwide. Does saying this change anything for trans women? What does it mean to be complicit? When Janet Mock says, Every time there's a trans woman of color in the media, she's getting killed. It wrecks our souls.  To whom or to what is she pointing? Do the dead women give a goddamn about all of those kites?

It is on the plane that I realize how long it's been since I've felt willingly vulnerable. In "A Brief for the Defense," Jack Gilbert says, "We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight." I went to a performance of John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes last night because my heart is absolutely desperate for surprise.

I grew up in a family (and culture) that treated those closest with the most utter contempt. The idea that intimates pose the biggest emotional and physical threat isn't entirely crazy. Statistically speaking, it's like Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler say in Connected, "If you want to know who might take your life, just look at the people around you." Still. These are the same people who are bound to save your life. Although they are undoubtedly related, sometimes I worry much less about politics and hate crimes than I do about what we agree to call love. Self-loathing, continual justification for bad partner behavior, far more struggle than joy. A fear of scarcity. I see it because I know it. An epidemic among women, trans folks, and queers. I'm looking for a new story about love.

I was at a wedding the other day -- a hybrid Jewish and Christian ceremony and the rabbi said that in Jewish tradition the wedding ring is initially placed on the index finger because an artery runs to the tip of the finger we point with -- the one that says "you, this, now, here" -- carrying blood directly from the heart. In this way we reveal more about ourselves by what we point to (or away from) than we ever could by saying how we feel.

I went to the John Cage performance last night for the same reason I get on an airplane instead of driving, which is the same reason I eat in public even though it would cheaper to have the same meal at home. Amy said intimacy isn't about sharing our worst stories, it's about sharing the stories that come up. Julia said Halloween is the only American holiday that depends on interacting with others across (and beyond our own) identity category in an exuberant gesture of good faith. Who are the monsters, really? What do we have to suspend in order to experiment with trust?

When Sam put his hand on my shoulder as he was walking by, it was a kindness rarely offered between men. I know that now because now I'm a man. I needed his hand. Even if I am scared of being touched.

TC Tolbert is a genderqueer, feminist poet and teacher committed to social justice. TC is Assistant Director of Casa Libre en la Solana, adjunct instructor at UA and Pima Community College, and wilderness instructor at Outward Bound. Co-editor, along with Tim Trace Peterson, of the forthcoming Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books/EOAGH, March 2013), TC has two chapbooks: spirare (Belladonna* 2012) and territories of folding (Kore Press 2011). His work won the Arizona Statewide Poetry Competition in 2010 and his first full length collection, Gephyromania, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. S/he is the creator of Made for Flight, a youth empowerment project that utilizes creative writing and kite building to commemorate murdered transgender people and to dismantle homophobia and transphobia. www.tctolbert.com    

 

http://twitter.com/billthebutcher2

Bill Wetzel is Amskapi Pikuni aka Blackfeet from Montana. He's a former bull rider/wrestler turned writer and a coauthor of the short story collection "The Acorn Gathering." His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from the American Indian Culture (more...)
 
Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Something About Something: An Interview with Poet Shelly Taylor

Nostradamus says: "Obama will......"

Palin Winks Her Way To Victory

Bin Laden Politics: Who are we and what did we become?

National Short Story Month: Five Questions with Stephen Graham Jones

America Has Spoken And It Said: "Hell No We Can't!!!"

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
4 people are discussing this page, with 7 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
You can find more information about Casa Libre and... by Bill Wetzel on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 3:04:40 PM
to be afraid of ; )  It's just a ride. Don't ... by Don Caldarazzo on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 3:06:30 PM
... by Bill Wetzel on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 8:37:17 PM
Thank you. These are deep insights, and I think it... by Kim Cassidy on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 8:10:50 PM
... by Bill Wetzel on Friday, Nov 30, 2012 at 8:37:43 PM
The famous psychologist Carl Jung was right on whe... by Theresa Paulfranz on Saturday, Dec 1, 2012 at 4:02:59 AM
... by Bill Wetzel on Saturday, Dec 1, 2012 at 4:14:17 AM