divine grace

warning: this poem may be triggering for survivors of abuse

divine grace

“too often
must dodge & weave
unknown traumas
within my mind
to find my way safely
thru this life”
– maggie grace

we were enchanted children
indigo grrrls
unpaid sex workers
sucking cocks

they shot darkness
behind the curtains
of our throats

children at their banquets
children are banquets
grandfathers hands
knead shoulders, online heads

labor labor never rest
soldier children
stiff with one purpose
SURVIVE

this hidden universe
ancient
generational
forbidden to name

they split us
and split us
and split us
and split us

they forced themselves
in every crack
there is no hiding
we knew that

and we broke
we broke
we are broke
broken backwards children

grace you are called grace
grace you are the cracks
grace you are the puzzle
and the web

oh leysh i want to call you
grace. i should have called
you grace. i should have known
you live in these cracks too.

oh leysh oh leysh
oh fuck you oh ayuniz
oh habibtiz oh victims
sacred victims

i call you grace

sacred victim
reviled survivor
we come unglued
we fall through our cracks

we don’t have the power
to go back and have
acceptable childhoods

we thought they had
all the power
we thought they had
the whole world

but they didn’t have the cracks
we live here in the cracks
oh my young artist
learn to love the cracks

this web we are weaving
is held by grace
this freedom we are singing
is loved by grace

grace’s hand on my heart
squeezes til the tears come
grace’s hand on my life
keeps me steady for joy

this art isn’t finished
the enemy is within us
our power is grace
grace be with us

Creating Access Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault with Disabilities

text of the pdf “Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault with Disabilities.” transcribed for accessibility. original pdf here:
http://www.evawintl.org/Library/DocumentLibraryHandler.ashx?id=493

A special information packet produced by
2010
California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA)
1215 K Street, discount Suite 1100
Sacramento, glaucoma CA 95814
Tel: 916.446-2520 www.calcasa.org
Creating Access
Supporting Survivors of Sexual Assault with Disabilities

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction
Legal Rights for Americans with Disabilities
The Intersections of Ableism and Other Oppressions
Prevalence of Sexual Violence and Abuse of Persons with Disabilities
The Dynamics of Ableism and Sexual Violence
The Power and Control Wheel: A Tool for Recognizing Abuse of Persons with Disabilities
10 Tips for Creating Accessibility
Suggestions for Improving Physical Accessibility
Outreach Strategies
Prevention Strategies
Appendix A: Key Terms and Definitions of Disability
Appendix B:Resources

Read more

losers

losers

1.
if your story is dull
water on stone
wearing you down until

one day there’s this
deep depression
right in the center of you

and there’s nothing left
to study but that hole
in your middle

and the whole has teeth
and the money never comes
and you find your eyes

they weigh a thousand pounds
the boulder that is
your whole your hole

and it has teeth. rotten
teeth that ache in your mouth
and gnash in your sleep

2.
if your story is horrible
and plain when it lays
beside the pain of the world

and the hole grumbles
and sends its stuff all over
your aching body

and all your friends have
wholes too, sildenafil and aching bodies
and terrible stories

and the world is a wave
that crashes on you over
and over on all of you

and you try to keep each other’s
hands but your fingers slip
away from each other

and all your pain and your
aching bodies and the
drone of the wave

it’s so loud
so fucking loud
but you learn to drown it out

with the television the
internet and those hands
hands you maybe never seen

3.
if you fold these ghosts
into your heart between
two delicate leaves

even as the waves are
crashing and the noise
is echoing through you

and the leaves fall away
one at a time or
in a great rush

and your tears fall
like rain and your screams
disappear into the ocean

4.
if you are lonely and whole
and you’ve met the maw
in your inmost being

if you are sad and aching
and loving and fierce
and exhausted

hold on
hold on
hold on
hold on
hold on

equations

the arithmetic of lies
2 + 2 = believe me
2 + 2 = i will save you
2 + 2 = don’t worry your pretty little head
i came to help
don’t fight it

the arithmetic of vengeance
2 + 2 = some kind of better life without you
2 + 2 = this longing is not for you
2 + 2 = give me something for this pain
fuck aspirin
this is existential

the arithmetic of illness
2 + 2 = my shattered nerves
2 + 2 = somebody’s pain scale
2 + 2 = everyone leaves
suitcase full of symptoms
see it dragging behind

the arithmetic of hope
2 + 2 = flowers that bloom and die
2 + 2 = flowers don’t do arithmetic
2 + 2 = what is hope
2 + 2 = the nature of this flower is to die
2 + 2 = withering is part of the deal
2 + 2 = is hope the opposite of letting go

i’m falling
always falling
never landing
never ending
never sure
never promised
never the same
never again

you say it doesn’t matter

you say it doesn’t matter

why they left or came.
did they break like waves on the shores of
Catalina?
where did they land?
where did they come from?
you say it doesn’t matter.

pores are empty spaces on our flesh.
mine are filled with questions about
your grandmothers.
is it true you don’t remember
their names?
you say it doesn’t matter.

i’ve heard your scream in dark houses
with your eyes wide you run through
the hall. oil seeps from your pores and your
smell is sharp and dangerous. i think you’re
running away from the past. and i think
it matters.

which direction were they facing as the boat
sailed west? that’s what i want to know.
what was left behind?

when you’re screaming in the night
i think it must be something big
sliding in the spaces of your pores and
i wonder if you even know what it is.

it matters.

hysteria

(i wrote this around 2005, visit this site when i was stuck in a cycle of poverty, homelessness and exclusion.)

i’ve been struggling with this article for months now. there are so many things that i need to say about ableism and i don’t even know where other people are at in thinking about this shit. like other forms of oppression, i struggle against social messages that it’s a personal problem and responsibility. and while i know that’s bullshit, somehow talking about my personal experiences, particularly within the “social services,” feels extremely uncomfortable. i don’t see much out there written by and about poverty-stricken disabled people, and we’re really going through a lot! i know that i’m one of the lucky ones, because i have a partner who supports us, even though we’re still poor, we have a place to live.

so much needs to be said about the topic of ableism. my intention is to be a voice contributing to what’s already out there. these are the thoughts that are most pressing to me right now. i hope they will challenge, validate and energize you.

disability is a social construct. i see it as two things. one is a legal idea that has to do with access- to work and livelihood, and to participation as a full member of society. that idea puts responsibility on the individual as opposed to the society they live in. the second aspect of disability is about normalcy. people with disabilities aren’t “normal.” it’s one or the other or both. a person with disabilities either has restricted access to what is supposed to be available to everyone in society, &/or we’re not normal.

does it need to be said that “normalcy” is socially constructed?

a problem in the struggle against ableism has to do with the definition of disability. even the term “able-bodied” obscures a comprehensive definition of disability. this term has become synonymous with “nondisabled,” when in fact they are not the same. the fact is that there are plenty of people who are disabled and able-bodied. they are not mutually exclusive. many people in disabled, nondisabled and mixed communities have a definition of disability that is limited to readily apparent (if you can see) physical disabilities. people who do not fit into this definition, regardless of the extent to which we may experience ableist oppression, must simultaneously struggle against a definition of disability that doesn’t include us. yet so many people with “non-apparent” disabilities struggle with the same issues as other disabled folks: money, access, medical care, isolation, and so on (and on and on).

i’ve been on welfare for about a year. first of all, i make $339 cash and $120 in foodstamps a month. i also have a medical coupon that covers allopathic medicine at the poor people clinics (cuz most providers don’t take them) but doesn’t cover anything “alternative” or mental health care. that’s the most allotted to a single person in washington state. you can’t even rent a room in seattle for the amount of money i get. it’s almost impossible. if you’re on welfare, you’re either lying about your resources, you’ve lucked into a situation with low rent and bills, you’re homeless, or you’re completely immersed in the social services and at their mercy for your basic needs. most people in seattle have to go through the shelter system for at least two years before getting into even semi-permanent housing. and you have to understand that this kind of housing is extremely restrictive in terms of curfews and house rules. those are basically the options for people on welfare/GAU.

i have to go through a recertification process every three months. almost every time i’ve gone through this process, my caseworker has basically tried to trick me into getting kicked off welfare, usually by giving me false or incomplete information about what was required of me in order to continue getting benefits. usually i get kicked off and have to fight to get back on. this is every three months. it puts me through an emotional roller coaster because i actually do need this money to live on. if i didn’t, there’s no way i would go through this humiliating, repetitive, disrespectful process over and over again. i have about one month where i can relax between reviews, the other two are occupied with completing my review or fighting to get my benefits back. if they fuck up, i have to suffer the consequences. there are never consequences for them. what am i gonna do, tell them i won’t be supporting their organization anymore? no, because i have no other choice. that’s fucken oppressive.

how about people just get to live? how about we have the right to a roof over our heads. how about we just get to? what if i could just eat? what if i didn’t have to fight to eat in an abundant world? if i didn’t need to be on welfare i wouldn’t be on it. cuz it’s a horrible system and they treat me like shit.

i’ve been trying to get social security for about six years, and it’s the same shit. it’s so tedious and boring! but if i give up, i’m faced with the choice of being completely financially dependent on my partner (who is also disabled but able to work), or trying to find ways to get money which aren’t legal or sanctioned by the system. and the fact is that i have a stress-related illness that would be a barrier in even doing illegal things for money. i would do almost anything rather than be on welfare. it’s worse than any work i’ve ever done. i’ve never been as mistreated or humiliated.

the oppression i experience is this slow poison. it is slowly eating me away. i want people to know what’s going on with me but it’s so tedious and so boring and so soul-deadening. i don’t know how to talk about it. i’m not trying to put people through what i’m going through because i don’t want people to have to go through this tedious bullshit, even vicariously. at the same time, i need people to understand what people on welfare, disabled people and people living in poverty are going through. it’s a mind-numbing, soul-deadening completely disrespectful process that’s not even interesting to talk about.

the only drama that happens is because the welfare office is so crazy-making “here’s your money. now i’m taking it away. no here it is. oh no you don’t!” that’s what it’s like. it’s a constant mind-fuck. everyone has a right to food, shelter, and healthcare. that’s the bottom line. but the mainstream attitude is if you can’t provide for yourself, there’s something wrong with you, and being on welfare is a form of punishment. social darwinism–survival of the fittest. if you’re crazy, retarded or crippled–you’re not fit. regardless of liberal rhetoric, most people don’t place much importance on if you live or die if you’re disabled.

a lot of people seem to need some dramatic story, and what happens to disabled people living in poverty, from what i’ve seen and experienced, is not exciting or dramatic until we hit the streets or die. it’s just an ongoing, humiliating process of trying to get our needs met through different institutions who basically don’t give a fuck about us, or worse, actually hate us. it’s very rare for me to have a positive experience with health care or social services. the message we get is that our lives just don’t matter. not only is our survival not considered important to society at large, but also even many people and organizations that purport to be against oppression act as if they can’t be bothered with us. we end up isolated and it’s not interesting. sitting around with nothing to do isn’t interesting. so how do i talk about that?

i don’t feel like i need to entertain people, but at the same time, how do i describe nothing in a way that conveys how oppressive the lack of opportunity is? how do i explain how oppressive the lack of accessibility everywhere is when the oppression is that you’re hanging out by yourself and you don’t have anything to do or anyone to talk to or hang out with or anyone that gives a fuck? i’m trying to figure out how i talk about my experiences in a way that’s not boring for the person reading it. cuz it’s boring. it’s shitty. it’s like a poison. the lack of access is like a poison, constantly being told “you don’t matter. you don’t matter.” i cannot participate not only in mainstream society but also in the radical communities in seattle. oftentimes oppression is institutionalized within so-called activist, anti-oppression groups or communities. only those who are particularly hardy or have some other level of privilege are able to get around it and participate in those communities.

for a lot of people and groups, accessibility is an addendum that’s tacked on if it’s convenient. if not, it doesn’t happen. first of all, many people envision accessibility in terms of ramps. or if they’re really evolved (there’s that social darwinism again!) it will include sign-language interpreters and fragrance-free. that last one has been tacked on recently, with the epidemic proportions of people who have developed chemical sensitivities in this toxic society. all of those things are important. ideally, they would be a given everywhere. and they’re not. at the same time, that’s not the definition of accessibility. that makes things more accessible to people who need those specific accommodations.

a lot of groups are actually structured in ways that don’t leave room for disabled people. i know that i would be a lot more likely to contact a group if they had a specific contact for accessibility questions. a lot of people think of doing this for events, but they don’t consider doing this for people considering getting involved in the decision-making body of the group. there’s an attitude that disabled people can’t do anything, and there’s also the pity/hate/fear continuum that disabled people must face in the nondisabled world. so disabled people are invited to public events, but not into the organizing bodies that are putting on these events.

many organizations and groups are run with little or no concern for accessibility. those concerns come up after the decisions have already been made. this is extremely problematic, and raises the question, ‘are these people truly concerned with accessibility or are they trying to appear politically correct?’ be cause if you try and make your events accessible but your meetings aren’t accessible, then basically you’re not interested in having disabled people be part of the decision making body of your group. you just don’t want anyone to think you’re deliberately trying to exclude us from your public events– which you set the agenda for and you organized without significantly reaching out to disabled people, groups and communities. and yes, it’s important to have events that are accessible, but many groups who put on events don’t have even a single concern for how they can invite and welcome disabled people into the decision making body of the group.

even the idea that a person has to attend meetings in person or at all to become part of the decision making process of a group is problematic. for example, a local seattle group has wheelchair accessible public events but their office is at the top of a flight of stairs with no elevator and no lift. people who can’t attend meetings are often expected to do grunt work if they want to be part of a group. but how hard would it be for a non-profit organization get a conference phone/TTY, for example, so people who cannot attend meetings can still participate? and for those who do have these capabilities, why not advertise them, or at least advertise the fact that you’re open to discussing accessibility needs with potential new members?

an ableist society pities/hates/fears sick people, amputees, blind or deaf people, crazy people, people who use assistive devices, people in chronic pain, cognitively disabled people and everyone else who doesn’t fit into it’s definition of normalcy or fitness. each separate disability has it’s own stigmatism, and the result of each and every one of them is isolation. many disabled folks live in poverty. this is not because we don’t have anything significant to contribute to our communities and the world. it is because of ableism, a socially constructed form of oppression that systematically isolates and penalizes people who are outside the socially constructed idea of physical, mental and emotional normalcy.

if we’re going to struggle against ableist oppression, we need to be responsible, both as individuals and communities, for challenging ableism as it manifests in society, our communities and ourselves.

post script
finances are an ongoing issue for me, particularly because i cannot generally conform to job requirements and am quite ill. since writing this article: i experienced an extended period of homelessness; relocated cross-country three times looking for MCS safe housing and consistent work for my partner; have gotten off welfare in favor of being dependent on a partner with a steady, well paying job (wooo!!!); and am starting to make strides towards having an income of my own, with a lot of help from my artistic and disabled friends and community members.

in addition, i was finally given a reason for my breathing problems and MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities). i have lung tumors!! with that revelation came a diagnosis for the tumor condition i have had since 1995: benign metastasizing leiomyomatosis.

i have yet to be apprived for social security disability.

if you’re intersted in supporting my work, i invite you to visit my professional websites:

dual power productions
http://dualpowerproductions.com

fierce bodies
http://fiercebodies.com

"working class unite" graffiti


this poem may be triggering for survivors of abuse and violence

hysteria

i’m yeshua on the cross
nailed to this unholy body
stiff in my pain
i cry out

father!
why hast thou forsaken me?
mother!
deliver me home!

home home
somewhere i am real
not corroded and broken
fake and inauthentic

take me somewhere there are no stories
no ritual abuse hysteria
no corpses crying out to me
“we are real. we are real!”

i can’t see what other people see
i feel pain. pain!
it’s claws rake into me
children with no hearts
no eyes, cialis 40mg
weeping

the brown earth of my flesh
has faded to ash
i am a ghost
haunting the world of facts

facts do not cease to exist
i cease to exist
the facts disappear
chalk streaks on the slate of my blankness

killers and pain
people who don’t matter
lies and liars
i am one of you!

and i am alone on this cross
this hysterical cross
i hear their laughter
at my invisible crucifixion

they are everybody
and i am no one

i am a curse
i am cursed

——————————

from my book, health
fix this mess

no quarter

i wait for that magic moment when
pain and my exhaustion meet, asthma
and exhaustion triumphs.

when i feel the emptiness that surrounds me
the hole i’m in looms
the darkness brings questions and doubts
the weight of my history bears down on me

late at night
pain and i
create and destroy
and i, the fool,
chase sleep
?my paper bag face magnified
mercilessly in the looking glass.
honey slides seamlessly down my
features searching under its golden
hues for the tangle of my history—

never look a gift face in the mouth.
i drool, medical letting it dangle dangerously
over the porcelain—ravenously
hunting for traces of homelands
etched into the crevices of my reflection.
i was born from a wound
ripped open womb

i was born a wound
from my mother’s engorged womb

we left the hospital bloody
ripe with centuries of battles unsung

no museum documents
this unrelenting war

on veterans day we are not honored
for emerging still living from its trenches

we, ailment
the survivors
honor the scars of our breaking

an open letter to rape culture

An open letter to rape culture.

You have silenced too many of us for too long! this is all out fucken WAR, internist man, and you are gonna lose! I am tired of standing in shame, stooped over and eyes closed. I do not weaken in your everpresence, rape culture. I do not let your disease infect me with hatred and mistrust of other human beings.
You are not REAL, you are a product of society! When the powers of love crush oppression, abuse & alienation, you will be so fucken gone cause I will PERSONALLY see to it. You don’t mean shit to me. I refuse to support you or anyone that perpetuates your twisted existence. NOBODY, NOBODY benefits from you! You keep people apart when we are meant to be together. You destroy families, you kill children, YOU ALMOST KILLED ME!
but my spirit is strong, old powerful and wise. I outsmarted you, I now live my life in opposition to you, AND I AM NOT ALONE. God you’re so fucken history its un fucken believable.
You better smoke your last cigarette now, cuz your days are numbered.

love, billie rain

1995

i am not a patriot


if this poem

if this poem was a magpie
it would steal your jewelry
and leave you laughing

and if it was a feather
it would glide gently across
your exquisite face

if this poem was made of gold
my love would melt it into
a luminescent puddle

and if this poem was made of fire
it would keep you warm
all your days and nights

and you would never lose your way
because it would be a beacon
drawing you into your god-self

if this poem was a rose
its fragrance would mesmerize you
and its thorns trace lovely pain trails

and it would never wither or die
and it would always give you
just the right balance of agony and delight

if this poem was my hands
it would happily caress you only when
and whenever you wanted it to

and it would wear leather gloves
whenever you wanted a spanking
and hold you when it was over

if this poem was a balm
it would reach inside you
and soothe your deepest wounds

if this poem was the sea
it would carry you on its back
to all the continents of your ancestors

and it would rock you at night
while you slept with the sea lions
and planned your next adventure

if this poem was a book
whenever you opened it
you would learn whatever you needed to know

if this poem was a chariot
you would always ride in style
and there would always be room for friends

if this poem was a shirt
it would hug you and shape you painlessly
into the boy in your mind’s eye

and if it was a hat
it would keep you warm in winter
and never go out of style

if this poem was my eyes
it would always gaze on you
in wonder and awe

and if this poem was my tears
you would drink them and be healed
of all the shame this world has forced on you

and you would bathe in the saline water
and be cleansed of everything wrong
anyone ever said about you

and you would never believe their lies again
and you would know only grace
so that just your splendor would remain

if this poem was my love
it would fill this city with longing
and no one would go to work

and everyone would wander the streets
searching for the answer
to satisfy their soul’s sweet call
[trigger warning for violence, unhealthy abuse, recipe
and negative feelings about the united states]

i think my first act of rebellion against the united states was when i was seven and in second grade, and i refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance. looking back, it’s clear to me why i had even personal reasons to resent being forced to declare my loyalty to that scrap of cloth and all it represents, but what kind of thoughts does a seven year old think that necessitate such a refusal?

i suppose i’m a leftist, although i spend very little time in pursuit of the kinds of activities commonly associated with leftist politics. out of necessity, i spend most of my time at home, and my activism, as such, consists mostly of this blog and my other online projects. i know a lot of activists who feel anger around july 4th, but somehow the enthusiastic flag-waving just makes me really sad. the united states makes me incredibly sad.

when i was seven, i was already experiencing on several levels the vicious underside of american life. at night, i was abused at home and forced to participate in experiments that involved the torture of people (mostly children) and animals, and was encouraged to feel like a good citizen because i was “helping my country.” and in my neighborhood, the police were a constant threat and reminder that poor and brown folks in this country are second-class citizens.

i don’t know what the heartless brutality of my daily life meant to me, how i interpreted those realities through the lens of a seven year old. i wasn’t aware of the long and sordid history and continuance of settler colonialism, genocide, slavery, oppression, and imperialism that shapes my perspective now. but i do know that the day i refused to stand for the pledge of allegiance marked a beginning of a practice of resistance that shaped my young life and continues to this day.

(something else occurred to me. i wrote this at a time when being arab and unpatriotic wasn’t an actual crime as it is now. that makes me feel a little bit of fear about publishing this. but as audre lorde still reminds me from beyond: “it is better to speak/ remembering/ we were never meant to survive.”)