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hello,

its been so long that big craters have formed from asteroid collisions into a new clay planet and have filled with pure water from the sky and little fish and algae have lived and been polluted by runoff from neighboring factories and the pools have been dyed a bright pink that is beautiful to the eye albeit toxic to the lungs. its been so long a lone mystic lit some incense, ate a psilocybin sandwich, and created opera. how did we get here? many dark and phosphorescent light and shadow shows have danced in our minds. its been so long, a new life has sprouted: big cheeked and weeping, while another has left us with a sigh. fruit has ripened and rotted. vegetables have pickled in basements around the world. and i've been doing my homework. i've been taken care of and been taking care. i've been waking up as a piece of bread in the most delicious love sandwich of all time, the other slice of bread being a fabulous and beautiful cat named miu-miu. we have electrons on our outer shells that we share with each other. we form everything we set out to simply by touching.

 

the passing of time is amplified at a service job: with their christmas and hanukkah decorations up the day before thanksgiving. especially a garden center where you watch the plants change their blooming faces for crisped yellow edges. you water them less and less as the sun dips down quicker. the backlot turns from a big burst of a pumpkin patch full of outrageous gourds to fraser and balsam fir trees shedding their needles. children hide in the wood pallets we use to hold up the trees and one kid throws gravel at me and giggles. more than half of the children who encounter the gravel must throw it and shriek with joy, it seems to be nature's law. the parents make the child apologize but i can't help but wink conspiratorially.

 

there was dancing, there was joy, there was walking from school to a tiny apartment past the same people sitting on milk cartons and making forts out of blankets they've found on the street and decorating it all with dried flowers. among the castle, there's a small spongebob figurine that makes me smile fondly, reminding me of my dad.it seems as if everything i write comes back to him; really it always has. tucker stilley has finished his journey on this human plain. some of these words were used in my little speech at his zoom memorial: which was beautiful. the tiny faces in the little boxes of so many people who loved him, sharing their favorite stories of his wild and equally precise spirit. it was a reunion of love, of memory. it spoke to his wonderous life. he was the most brilliant mind and the most explorative soul that i knew; let me ride around on his lap in his wheelchair, let me grow up safe and free. king of the absurd, the respectful, and the kind.
there are things i write that i never say and i think i like it that way. i'll find new ways to communicate with him, and i know he's experiencing so much in that technicolor unknown, but i miss texting him and laughing with him. i put together my bed frame in silence across the country as people who loved my dad the most sang, and played singing bowls and guitar as he transitioned into what was. it is a few days after what would have been his sixtieth birthday as i am writing this. in years prior, we would have a pumpkin carving parties, where at the end everybody paraded their jack-o-lanterns, flickering, into his room and showed them off to him. i always made him a card that shared some sentiment like: best dad ever, and while most people would maybe use that as hyperbole, to me it wasn't. he was an amazing father, since the moment i was born: he was gentle, sat with me as i cried over math homework; was always caring. i still feel too close to write anything profound, but i'll try.

he had visual symbols: the trilobite, the eyepatch, the robot parrot, his tattoo that was turned into silver necklaces. i feel like not just people who knew him have suffered a loss, but all of humankind - he was that special. had never-ending infinite ideas, and knew the answer to every question faster than you could find it on google. anime frogs, elven giants, worldly beauties, and otherworldly truths, he laid everything out on the table. nothing was off-limits. my dad is an intergalactic cross-universe pixel pirate. he was open-minded open-hearted and charming. many of his friends say how they looked up to him. i am entirely made up of him. he is my one true style icon - leather jacket, treat her right t-shirt, pink high top converse, with a strange little hat. he has left me with what i believe it takes to be a great human: when i wanted to do 'cotillion,' an overly expensive heterosexist, boring, after-school program where children were taught manners and how to square dance, my dad let me: saying it was good for my super spy training, which is what he always said when he didn't exactly approve or think something was right for me but he knew life was about experiences and letting me figure it out on my own. 
in his unofficial, nonlinear memoir that i snatched from my parents' archives, my father writes: "just imagine...whirling hunks of rock and burning stars with trees and grass...marvelous. i dreamed i was tucker. i guess i was born... and then its dark for a while......and it's like i am a camera now looking at a scene, or maybe the world was the camera." my father was the smartest person i've ever met. he taught me: adaptability is intelligence and bravery comes from within. he taught me life is about exploration and to define is to limit. i knew him as a cyborg time-traveler. i will forever honor him and will spend the rest of my life being guided by him. tucker writes in that same memoir: "i pick up the rock - the obsidian tear and put it in my pocket, a desert cricket starts the evening song and i walk down the river bed into the violet darkness."


 

and what follows are moments from a way-way before and far-far after, an archive of a summer both so sweet and sour the tastes almost canceled each other out: "its a scorcher out there folks," says a voice from a staticky radio, over a ripping trumpet of jazz. and then the screen shows: heat waves dancing off the black street and this is LA so that sun feels closer than any star ought to be. black bubbling tar pit, mammoths crying out for their drowning momma. flat blue sky. after we zoomed across the country; through the simmering egg-sunlight of ohio, through steamy chicago, to long-hallway-chlorine -smell-big-hat big-heart nebraska, we were down fast on the 80, stopping only to watch delicious and insipid hotel tv for a night. i spend a too quick couple of days in california, where i splash in turquoise water with my friends and they get to pile onto my bed for the first time in a long time, in my hot wooden box room. we just talk with the windows open into the night and never stop talking. ah, the comfort of familiarity feels warm and complicated, a salty soup. 
on the way back - the light is blue and everything is shaking in a strange way that doesn't alarm me but makes me breathe in deeply, settling a nerve. it's summer: the season for rainbows, sweat, and stone fruit. hot days followed by pounding rainstorms, lightning cracking us open, full of questions.

 

on the fire escape that looks out onto all the green. white hydrangeas and ivy spreading up, across the brick - the sky is lit up again and again and squirrels scurry and play. birds live in holes in the stone wall, polyamorous pigeons sit on our kitchen sill. i say hello to the life and look at myself in the mirror of our bathroom sink which is actually in our kitchen. there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in. i think leonard cohen said that. 

we bike home from dancing, me in my tiny sparkly dress. as i am riding, checking over my shoulder for the jess and joyce, the streets empty; i am feeling content and taking my time. i realize social connections need not be so high stress or all-encompassing and my heart can lead the way. easier said than done. i swerve, and someone on the corner tries to climb onto our bikes with us so we curse and keep riding. our superintendent dwells outside our front door, and has various amazing hobbies and a great coat collection and speaks respectfully to us and is quite great at his job. he lets jess and i pick all the vegetables the old tenants left in the backyard on a day when we both need it.

 

i used to rollerblade to work trying to remember who i made out with In my dream the night before. and making some drivers scowl and honk and others roll down the window to try to high-five me. in the greenhouse we sweat: there is too many plants and we didn't care for them how they needed to be cared for. many of them died without us even noticing. there is something there, something that i needed to learn: you can't crowd your life up. you need to be able to care for what you have and let it healthily flourish. now that i live upon a hill, i run late to the train through the tall green trees or bike fast up and down the different neighboring valleys. now i know what i wanted then. 


 

working on the editorial team to make sinister wisdom's new issue, and there's a lot to consider: reading beautiful poems and essays and ideas from people all over the world. there is a tenderness, a sort of hard work that comes with caring for someone else's art. there is also a sturdiness you must develop. it is delicate and exciting.
metaphysical cantations on the roof. dirty suds in the first and last bath jess and i take together in our old apartment, passionfruit by drake plays on loop. frisbee in the park: i'm a jock with a freshly dyed mustache who winks at ella, over on the picnic table under the catalpa tree that's just now blooming. jess and i live in this in-between space for a while, our belt loops heavy with our generous friends' keys to their apartments.

 

addy is the sweetest heart, playing guitar: an adrianne lenker tune they have mastered, as i cry beside them in my victorian silk night gown, over something that doesn't matter now and hardly mattered then. adrianne lenker is a blunt cut hair blunt cut heart, small voiced, swelling feeling. she is the lead vocalist from big thief, a fabulous and tragic band; but her solo music is the real special kiss. everyone is falling in love to her this summer. its perfect after a late night out as you are getting ready for bed, alone in your apartment as it rains outside, and the first thing in the morning right after you get to open your eyes to your new love. 


 

on a night that did not feel like anything special - i messily escape into the night and go with dolls and fairies and zombie brats to a party and i feel interesting and confident. before, paul takes the form of a mortal girl by andrea lawlor talk as they all are getting ready and i lean in the doorframe, aloof but excitable. the outside is cold and wet and the inside is hot and strange, with low ceilings and only some familiar faces. this is the first party i've gone to since last year and Someone is complimenting my outfit which is nice and i say as much, and then that Someone is coming up to me again with more determination this time. and i swear that the exact moment i look at her moving toward me with that little smile, i really have not looked away since. this person is via, who is a beautiful star and i quickly learn is knowledgeable about many things (musicals, tragedy, vintage clothing, what she wants, evangelical christian cults, etc) and has a soft vibrant heart and a smooth way with words. and we just keep having the best time so we don't stop: dancing outside of cubbyhole, swinging from the train's poles in empty cars, talking into the night. she loves food and love and running fast down the street ahead of me and looking back over her shoulder. her heart holds hands with mine. she's a maiden in a floral dress, catching fireflies. she climbs her tiny apartment, up in the rafters, she gets up to change the record from a tribe called quest's midnight marauders to the divine feminine by mac miller. she's the moon and we can shapeshift together. the first thing that everyone says is: you two seem like you have so much fun, and we do. being in love with via is strong and pure. she lit the little house in my chest on fire. now she knows me well, seeing me and rolling her eyes with love. she sings, she gets fully into character, she's glorious. we run up her stairs, long brown hair big brown eyes. all of this year's pride celebration, i didn't have my phone. and let the world find us two at abandoned lots, and washington square park, and time square's tacobell cantina. we take the ferry out to rockaway, giggling. the waves keep crashing and she's a mermaid and we scream our love between the water and air. then, letting the salt dry on us as we facetime her dad. at central park, under a tree, feeling free and like something different is flickering under my fingertips. how do you get so tangled up in my life? i love you like it's the old days, when i could ask you anything.

 

i'm thinking of an apple half bitten; of not knowing myself as represented by stumbling over my birth chart whenever someone asks; of a fully glammed drag queen in a garden and she's looking like mother earth with butterflies landing on her hair, her gentle smile. a cobalt blue one perches on her shoulder and she bats her eyelashes as it beats its wings.

 

everything forward is for the common goal of environmental justice. this encompasses a lot, and needs all different skills, methods, and interpretations. there are grave environmental misdeeds happening at large scales everywhere. some people are affected more than others, unequally. visit stop line 3 and the land back manifesto. remember: we are all interconnected.

 

jess and i in between blades of grass, glued onto the benches in the back corner, letting people come to us and go just as easily. fingers in-between the metal fence looking up across the river lit up with fireworks - if anyone makes an environmentally sustainable and quiet firework you would surely be a millionaire because we humans love colors and looking up at the sky but our fireworks now aren't the best for this world. i think of joni mitchell's song: the sire of sorrow (job's sad song) a cry to the universe: why? job's book in the bible asks about misery and the meaning of living - and it gives no answers. you get beauty and you get pain. creation and destruction are both the ultimate godly acts.

 


june 24; zeami writes:
"the world so unsure, unknowable.
the world so unsure, unknowable.
who knows - maybe our griefs may hold our greatest hopes."​and i feel a bit like there's a creature hovering above me ever since the show the other night: sunflowers, banjo, 60's embroidered cardigan and orange little glasses, getting fed a chicken sandwich onstage. the fire alarm kept going off and firemen in their uniforms come in and everyone would make raunchy catcalls at them about loving a man in uniform or something else uninspired but silly. love and anxiety prickle at us in tandem. i feel everyone i love all over the city when i find nico's sticker in the bathroom and when archie comes up the stairs with their golden smile. pearl, quinn and jonathan's daughter, the syrian desert hamster - lives with jess and i for a sweet little moment and we love her. she is all black fur and tiny human hands and beady eyes that stare straight into your heart and say: i know what you have done and it is all forgiven.

 

i put my mouth guard in at night as to not grind my teeth too badly in my sleep.

via and i lay on each other, napping on different trains and planes: to upstate where we sleep in a cold car in someone's suburban driveway, to nashville where we dip into the big pool and see the neon cowboy boots, to boston and maine where we swing on the playground behind the church and crawl on the carpet, acting as cats and chads. jess and i go bopping down the boardwalk, coastal goldenrod and beach grasses on either side of us. it's twilight and a person approaches us wearing a shirt that says: "i wear this shirt when i am in a subhuman state." we take his word for it. we get on the night ferry and the big red moon looms over us. its a tour of the peaceful underworld, the river of spirits. and coney island is a carnival of lights in the inked blackness, like a bright ghost playground. refracting off the water, our boat goes under a bridge and jess turns to me sweetly and says: "if someone asked me what i was doing right now i would say: i'm going under a bridge." a woman next to us is playing the perfect music for the boat trip on her speaker and i feel so thankful. and later, we are biking home, back to brooklyn from where we are docked in wall street. at the peak of the manhattan bridge, where we pause to catch our breath, i ask jess what she is doing right now and she screams: "i'm going over a bridge." to the water below. i swear my dad's purple soul is there too.


 

and school happened again, and again. to be in person again was overwhelming and refocusing. on tuesdays we have study group: laid out across the floor of a big room we found to be empty, getting up to run through the seats and make interpretive dances when we feel our eyes turn square from our screens. the abundance and intricacies of interconnections startle me. in my microbiology class, i learn they send microbes to space frequently to find out if they'll live - a tiny life existing in the vast blackness of all that is bigger than the biggest lives we know. microbes rule this world. cells and candy. mushrooms and jewelry. chemistry is a slow painful teaching but what creates life is as important as who live it, because it can uncreate us too. we design a functioning green roof, cover it in native ferns and glorious asters, winterberries, wild ginger, and solomon's seal. we make our own theoretical fairyland.

 

open your life to the hardness, open your mind till it all falls out. let it all fall out into the volcanic terrain of my heart. an active volcano is an open wound on earth. i make a realm for myself. its a story i told my dad in the hospital, and it feels like i was able to let a spark of his spirit into that universe, and i can go back to that world to find him. its a young world with old gods. there are big ancient cities built into the peaks of mountains that worship the moon, there are somber flower giants that pull themselves from the ground, and there is a great divide that many mysterious things crawl from and the most adventurous sorcerers crawl into.

 

and now time has finally caught up to me, slamming into me hard. as i write this on a train speeding across the country, i can almost breathe. the trip is almsot glorious when its daytime, passing tiny towns and abandoned car parks and at night its a shaking metal snake passing lit up christmas trees and flickering neon showing only a certain mysterious doorway. i eat applesauce and they play warbled holiday music at a stop in albany, the air not quite cold enough for december. i feel my heart beat with love.

 


peace and love,
juno
xoxoxo

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