November 24, 2012


The Staten Island Dance Jam met today from 2-4pm at the Forest Haven Center for Dance and Music. In the spirit of Thanksgiving as well as the recent storm that caused much devastation, I felt it apt to reflect and think about the feelings tied to autumn passing.

Before we opened the floor, I mentioned these images/words/ideas which were leading my thoughts this morning:

travelled paths/pathways


autumnal passing- what does it mean to move through time? how does that feel?

We began the improvisation with warming the body, slowly moving through the floor and letting it develop into an hour long trio score between Erin, Rosita and myself. After guiding the score, I presented a writing prompt.  For ten minutes we did a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise where we were to think of an autumn memory and write about it without stopping.

Here is what I wrote:

The street is filled with darkness. I have memories of lamplights, cold but bright, and bone chill, air passing through the cable knit sweater and stir-up pants. Yes, that is what I wore. Yes, that is what you wore. The wreaths hung on doorways and leaves crackling beneath our feet. Yes, those are the sounds.

There are wood-chips placed into the fire pit, on late Saturdays when the neighborhood would pour into your backyard and my mother would tell stories of Brooklyn. Yes, the ghosts came later.


I felt the water from the faucet warming my hands, turning the color of rose. My dad's thick framed glasses. The smell of cigarettes in the kitchen, the windows sealed shut to keep out the cold, the darkness at an early hour bringing our street into the night. Yes, that was the windsong.

The traveling path was slow, the main street alight in coats and scarves and gloves. The steady song a beat from drum cracking pipes, burning wood seasons. Yes, they move.

There was a large blue van riding the streets, crouching in the front seat while he smokes a cigarette standing on the sidewalk. The lamplights dulling but brightening the way. I fear things, things  I do not know, things changing all of the time, stories that no longer include you in them.

There are always the wreaths hanging, placed pines, the fir trees carried past the front porches. The smell of earth in the living room, the darkness stringed with light. Primary colors coarsing through dark. This is hours. This is the moment. Stepping out of cars, aligned near the water. There are houses out by the water dressed in small lights. We go to see them. It is cold. I hold your hand. Those houses are gone now. Marking this season. Singing the big song. Drowning the old creeks, passing beneath.

On the old lane, we used to sing carols. We used to sing heart songs. They all had no meaning. They all carried nothing. When she was a little baby, her fingers so small, they clung to her mother's. I wanted to hold them.

Traces of pine cones, the grass crunching slowly beneath the big boots. We went to the old church. The white church on the hilltop. We climbed in the night chill. Our cheeks, red and swollen. Our mittens of wool. 

We went running down the hill.


November 11, 2012

the moon at five a.m.

As I walked alone,
the crescent moon suspended,
fully I caught the morning dew
and the crispness
of air in late autumn

The five o'clock twilight

The weight lifted,
though carried with me
The gate in front of the courtyard
wet with mist

I saw a moment of the sun
though it was not yet clear
a vision of a star
hugged closely to the moon

I felt myself

but not lonesome.

(Melissa West)

It has been very hard for me to write poetry consistently since 2009, when I graduated college and went down a path of wandering. I am not sure poetry comes as easily to me as it once did. Last night I wrote a poem. Staten Island is still hurting. The hurricane that passed through left my hometown, New Dorp, in a state of disrepair. Homes are gone, or largely broken down, as are families that I knew from my childhood.

The last few weeks have been the heaviest I have felt in a long while. The Dance Jam goes on, the galleries have and will reopen. I have listened to a lot of Simon and Garfunkel. The stars have danced for me.

The outpouring of community seems to be the most positive outcome of this whole thing. I see the streets filled with people walking, something that was less apparent prior to the storm. Two weeks later,  people are still out in the streets helping their neighbors.

This year has been an amazing experience of losing, growing, learning... I could not have asked for a more rich twenty-fifth year. As I turn twenty-six in several weeks, I feel deeply introspective but not in a way that feels confining. In fact, it feels freeing. 

Elton John sings Tiny Dancer. The sun pours through the windows. Though the sun has consistently appeared, I had not felt the sun in a long time. Things within me slowly struggle to return to a safe place. I am feeling positive about the future and feel a sense of elation about moving forward.