Formicidae by Larry Leiva

27 Feb

For the past year, my emotional readjustment has been more than mildly drugged. On occasion I’ve lured an inner ataraxia out with the use of two or three Benadryl. Diphenhydramine is not only my favorite histamine antagonist, but also a great substitute anxiolytic. Give it about half an hour or so, and a nice buzz starts to kick in, and this well-matured calmness takes over. Then you start to feel really drowsy, and you take a nap. A nap that lasts about ten hours.

Since developing my eating disorders, my days consist of my pneuma, walking in circles around this ant lion awareness trap sort of thing. ED is that larvae in the middle of it, waiting for me to lose my footing, waiting to grip me with its mandibles, waiting to pull me under. When I slip, it catches me, and I disappear under the sand. For the past eight years, I have been an ant.

I’m trying to keep my meals to something subtle, like pizza.

AD: Self-Interview, Part II

25 Feb

med_1411418346_1398164437_imageAD: What makes you most vulnerable? 

AD: Unicorns. Not being a unicorn. Zombies. Spanish-language zobmies. Corn. Wheat.

I already answered this question last week. What makes me most vulnerable is answering the same damn question again because maybe I’ll screw up and say something different. Say something that will contract what I said before, like yellow. Yellow makes me vulnerable because sometimes it’s a mask for blue. I’m not sure what that means, but you figure it out. Writing makes me vulnerable. Autocorrect makes me vulnerable. Sharks make me vulnerable. What makes me vulnerable in Spanish: chupacabras. They exist in my imagination and that’s the only place that matters because what we think impacts us just as much as what we experience. Like dreams. Like nightmares. Like self-doubt. Like fear.

AD: Why do these things make you vulnerable?

AD: Because it’s Wednesday. Leave me alone.  I need a carrot.

AD: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would  you change and why? 

AD: I would change my shoes. I would change my tongue. I would change my ears. I would change you. I would change my shoelaces. I would change my teeth. I would change my tears. I would change your tears. I would change the shoes you wear when I tear up. I would change the shoelaces wrapped around  your neck. I would not wrap shoelaces around your neck. I’m nice. I would change being nice. I would be mean. I would change the desire to be mean. I wouldn’t change anything because I don’t know who I am. I would change “am”. I would change the reason to change. I would change yellow into blue like Jesus changed water into wine. I would change my banana for a cookie.

AD: What makes you special and why? 

AD: My ability to fly.

AD: What are some of the major social, political, cultural and/or artistic issues that are very important to you? Pick one or two of those issues and make me care–why are they so important to you?

AD: WTF! Like I said yesterday, I don’t care about anything unrelated to food. I didn’t really say that yesterday. I care about being normal. The desire to be consolidated into butter, which is like being normal. Being normal isn’t like butter. It’s like a banana peel. When you try to define it, you can’t because it’s just a stupid banana peel. Erase what I just said. The only issue that I care about is ma. Ma is the crazy person that lives in the bedroom next to me. She counts sheep in her sleep. She has an imaginary pet rabbit. She has ideas based off of cereal box characters. She wears short shorts. She doesn’t wear underwear most days. She is over. She eats bacon. She eats Twinkies. She lies. She tells the truth. She doesn’t use soap. She uses my soap. She is fucked. She is a ghost. She is a bananahead. I’m done.

AD: Where are you from/where did you grow up? 

AD: Like I said yesterday, I’m from ma. I grew up outside of her. Is this a trick question?

AD: In what ways do you think/feel/believe this place influenced your understanding of yourself and your values? 

AD: How can ma not influence you. If I know the ways in which she did, I wouldn’t be talking to you today. Leave me alone.

AD: Are you a unicorn? 

AD: Are  you an idiot?



AD: Self-Interview of the Self

24 Feb

rainbow_unicorn_by_iridalaoi-d6djq2a1. Who are you?

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I am a teacher, at least that is what I tell myself. I’m also a writer, but that’s not who I am. I’m also a marketing director on Monday, Wednesday and Friday–and sometimes Tuesday and Thursday, but that’s only when I feel like being a marketing director on those days. I’m also the Executive Director of Reading Queer, but that’s not who I am. That job doesn’t have a specific set of hours, just is and that’s that. I have a dog and a cat. The dog likes my cat. The cat likes my dog. I’m not a pet person even though I like pets, or animals who become pets. I really want a llama. Who are you is like asking me what I had for dinner. After you eat it, it becomes shit. All mixed up and reconfigured into a new form, a new identity. Who are you is like a day of the week. We trust that it is Tuesday, but that’s only because we’ve collectively agreed that today is ‘Tuesday’ and I’ve decided to agree as well. Identity isn’t fixed. It’s nebulous and often disconnected from what we do, which is often the only way we know how to identify our-‘self’, by using capitalistic constructs to fit into this job-driven identity world. Who are you is like being a llama but no one can see it. It’s like being a ghost. Often, we don’t know who we are. So, maybe I have no fucking clue. Ma says I’m an idiot, but that doesn’t really reveal anything about me or my identity. Idiots are not uniform nor homogenous.  Who are you? Is it what you like to eat? Is it who you sleep or don’t sleep with? Is it your car? Your clothes? Your stupid shoes? Is it the way you walk or tie your tie (if you wear ties)? I’m a 14 year-old genderqueer boy-girl from Queens. At least that is what I tell myself on Sundays when I don’t have to work, but work, because it’s all about the work. Ok, I’m done.

2. Where are you from/Where did you grow up?

I’m from ma. I grew up outside of her.

3. In what ways do you think/feel/believe this place influenced your understanding of yourself and your values?

In many ways, ma is a place, not unlike outer space. She is like the laws of the universe, all of them, providing secret, invisible answers to everything, even the things she claims have no answers. Mas know everything is the cliche. She dictates my (mis)understanding of myself. She informs and shapes my values even if I don’t agree with hers. She is math and science. She is religion and philosophy. She is art and dentistry. She is a lunatic and the center of gravity. She is loud and silent. I don’t know how to conceive of a world, or of identity, disconnected and/or divorced from the context of ‘ma’. She is ever-present like the idea of ‘God’.

4. What makes you special and why?

My butt makes me special.

5. What would you change about yourself and why?

I would change the desire to change myself because then I would have more time to write or cook or play games like Scrabble or Monopoly or Domino. I would change my wardrobe more often, but that costs money, to better reflect who I am (see question #1), which makes me wonder how much of an influence money and fashion have on our lives and our abilities to accurately and effectively communicate who we are. Then there’s this problem of limits. We can only change what’s changeable, which kind of proves my point that identity isn’t fixed, so when I hear someone say, “I’m _______ (fill in the blank”)”, I’m like, “shut the fuck up.”

6. What are some of the major social, political, cultural and/or artistic issues that are very important to you? Pick one or two of those issues and make me care–why are they so important to you?

*rabies, sexual abuse, gender disparity, domestic violence, violence, tennis, violent tennis, ugly tennis shoes, beauty, age, animal abuse, abusive animals, parents, abusive parents, stupid parents, smart parents, penguins, the arctic, space exploration, space, too much space, not enough space, space invaders, space cadets, the constant reference to space’men’ as if all of space is only occupied by men (see *gender disparity complaint above), water, lack of clean water, too much water (see rising sea levels), dirty water, agua con gas, farts, rainbows, rainbows in art, fake unicorns, art collectors, collectors, hoarders, hordes, politics, individualism, rugged individualism, (I’m not adverse to soft individualism or squishy individualism), cancer.

Ugly tennis shoes are really important to me because they remind me of non-ugly tennis shoes (or pretty tennis shoes) and they way in which society values beauty and fashion over non-beauty and non-fashion. You look so young, coco, my friend said. What have you been doing. I wanted to smack her in the face, but I wasn’t wearing my violent tennis shoes, so I just gave her the finger. Not the middle finger, but the finger next to it on the left. I think it’s called the index finger. I did it because I know it would make her think, “wtf!”. Through this act, I’m helping her evolve into a thinking alien.

I’m also annoyed with rainbows and how artists use rainbows in their art to appease collectors. Collectors, who usually whip out their genitals (or cash), turn artists into hunters seeking the illusory unicorn because artists are taught to be dependent on the kindness and possible rewards of strangers. All artists should create shit to weed out the shit.

I’m also annoyed at water and how much it costs at Publix.

The Theory of Color

19 Feb
emission spectrum of iron

emission spectrum of iron

Once upon a time, Yellow met Blue. Yellow was high and his face was blue, probably because of all the smoke in his chest. Blue thought, this is cool. Yellow can hold his breath for a long time while smiling and dancing with a broom. Clowns are never blue. The room was always smokey. Jumbo jets the size of parked cars flew overhead.

This one day, the day Yellow and Blue were in Blue’s red car, Blue asked Yellow what’s new. Nothing new, said Yellow, the look on his face was bearish. Blue hardly believed Yellow because Blue knew things about the world–like statistics and math. Science never lies like religion lies, he thought (or thinks). Yellow was full of God and shit.

Yellow: _____________________________.

Silence is like math. It’s invisible but reveals the universe. How things work and don’t work. How we travel from point A to point B in this or that amount of time. The calorie(s) of a black bean.

Blue: Are you sure?

Yellow: I’m sure.

Then one day in the month of Halloween, because this month is when those (or these) things happen, Blue took Yellow to the zoo in his red car. It was filled with caged pants and shirts, the zoo, not the car. Sofas and pillows.Things used like books that were never and will never be read. These animals were not like the animals in any zoo or the wild. They didn’t consume oxygen or protein. They were like stars: permanent, but not really.

Binary Stars: binary stars are locked in an eternal dance; or a dance that ends when one star crashes into another under the direct influence of gravity; sometimes gravity overwhelms and destroys the things we love the most, like strawberry ice cream and primary colors.

In the parking lot, which was really metered street parking, these two colors, Yellow & Blue, began to phase, or fizz, beneath the bearded sky. This was before the invention of moustaches. Blue looked around Yellow’s eyes and began to notice green and orange, brown and magenta, aquamarine and a billion shades of unidentifiable colors, busting out like broken, abstract lines. Blue recognized the color of radiation on Yellow’s face–a sort of unsubstantiated substance born out of bad weather.


Yellow: Now, I have a reason to live.

Blue: You do. You did.

The car ride home was not a ride. It no longer mattered that the sky was blue because it was just what they could see when they were looking for blue–perceptual shifts are the province of aliens. The car was not blue. Yellow was not Blue. They were not blue. The car was not a car. It was a bike made out of recycled car parts.

Blue: Just breathe.

Yellow: I always do.

Blue: Ok.

Yellow staring out the window.

Color theory states that all colors posses a particular meaning that are somehow fixed and immutable like iron or the Word, but those meanings can be repossessed and renamed by psychology, or men who wear pants to the beach. Math can’t govern the universe like emotions can.

The guy on the beach was reading a book. He looked like Yellow. The tarpon hunted a school of fish, their silvery backs breaching the surface marked a kill–the exact moment of death. The guy on the beach was reading a book that looked blue. The boys in the water photographed the tarpon breaching the surface. The moon was always the moon even though it looked like a sugar cookie. The guy on the beach was reading a book that looked blue, but it wasn’t a book. It was not Blue.

The flip flops were waiting for something else to wear.

Yellow: Do you remember the moon?

Blue: I hate fire to the core.

Finally, before the beach, before the red car parked in a metered world, before the night with the dancing broom, Yellow and Blue met a man wearing blue jeans and a white coat. He stood next to a window. He said things in two languages–each word a vibration, each language a new color spectrum. It sounded like God, Blue said. It did, Yellow said.

There was a pie chart and everything was color-coded.

**Note on the Emission Spectrum: “The emission spectrum of a chemical element or chemical compound is the spectrum of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation emitted due to an atom or molecule making a transition from a high energy state to a lower energy state. The energy of the emitted photon is equal to the energy difference between the two states. There are many possible electron transitions for each atom, and each transition has a specific energy difference. This collection of different transitions, leading to different radiated wavelengths, make up an emission spectrum. Each element’s emission spectrum is unique. Therefore, spectroscopy can be used to identify the elements in matter of unknown composition. Similarly, the emission spectra of molecules can be used in chemical analysis of substances.”

Non sequitur review of “Who’s Irish” by Gish Jen

18 Feb

When I read the story, I thought about ma and her ever changing age. Always 2o-something when I know the women is pushing 50. In America, ma says, you’re always 20. Anything more than that you’re dead.

In “Who’s Irish”, it’s kind of like that but different. Instead of age being the issue, it’s cultural norms–American norms vs. Chinese norms–and the inability (or rightful unwillingness) of the main character to assimilate.

In “Who’s Irish?”, a bi-racial family (Chinese & Irish) deal issues of race, depression, capitalism, and family bonds. The “Irish” don’t seem to like brown people, namely the brown baby grandauther Sophie, who came out too brown, even by Chinese standards. “I laugh,” says the grandmother. “A little brown granddaughter, I say. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how she came out so brown.”

Sophie is nuts. She likes to run around naked and barefoot and scream like a lunatic because, in America, that’s how children act. Not in China, the grandmother says. Little kids just don’t act that way.

The conflict emerges when the grandmother disciplines Sophie (smacks her and starves her). One day the child disappears into a tunnel/fox hole and won’t come out. Eventually, she falls asleep and the grandmother pokes her with a stick and does what she can to get her out. She fails. Her daughter and son-in-law arrive at the park, rescue the girl (she’s all bruised). The child reveals that the grandmother (Meanie) physically disciplines the child, kind of like ma disciplines me with a wooden spoon. (No joke.)

Grandma gets her ass kicked out of the house (just like ma kicked my ass out of the house for doing dishes before 10am), but ends up moving in with Bess, John (her son-in-law’s mother). In this space, the grandmother finds permanence, a home in an alien landscape that she never got used to, but did. Instead of shuffling her off to apartment, Bess (John’s mother) invites the grandmother to live with her. She moves in. She barely sees her daughter (she’s too busy working to make money because her husband keeps losing his job) or her grand-daughter. In Bess’ home, the grandmother becomes a permanent resident, something she couldn’t ever find in her own daughter’s home, or even in America, the land of too many cars.

Language: what’s interesting about this story is that it’s written in broken English. Written in the grandmother’s ‘broken’ tongue. And it’s pretty fun (like when ma takes a shower in a bathing suit).

“…if I could mention one thing about some of the Irish, not all of them of course, I like to mention this: Their talk just stick. I don’t know how Bess Shea learn to use her words, but sometimes I hear what she say a long time later. Permanent resident. Not going anywhere. Over and over I hear it, the voice of Bess.”

Language, the things we say, stick. Become permanent. Never go away. Like a promise, we remember. Permanent even if that promise was broken.

“Who’s Irish?” is really about “Who’s American?” Who the fuck are we? “Who’s Irish? reveals the importance of family and how that concept falls apart, especially for these immigrant families, wheny moving to America. This is the shitty side of coming to America where work trumps family–where capitalism distorts humanism, where depression and mental illness (John’s) are dealt with, at best, indirectly (by going to the gym)–in the land of cars and manic kids.

Grandma did what she could do for her family: “When my husband die, I promise him I will keep the family together, even though it was just two of us, hardly a family at all.” But, a family nonetheless.

She kept the family together, now her daughter is trying to keep her ‘family’ together without grandma. Grandma and Bess have made a new family, just the two of them, kind of like a Golden Girls minus Blanche and Dorothy. Minus their ‘biological’ family (like mine).

Almost Dorothy Interviews Almost Dorothy About Fried Chicken and Other Things

17 Feb
Flavor Flav's Fried Chicken.

Flavor Flav’s Fried Chicken.

Almost Dorothy: What makes you most vulnerable? List at least 5 things that make you feel vulnerable in English and one in Spanish (or any other language other than English or Inglish). If you are one of those ‘guys’ who says, ‘I’m not vulnerable’, you’re a lying sack of shit. It is true, dumb ass. Answer the fucking question.  

Almost Dorothy: Love. Falling in love. Falling out of love. Falling on a loved one. Falling. Cucarachas. Ma.

Almost Dorothy: Why do these things make you vulnerable? Be real, bitches. 

Almost Dorothy: Because it makes me hungry. Because it makes me feel like fried chicken. Because it’s like going to church with the devil. Because it’s like having crabs the size of Missouri. Because falling hurts. Because falling is hard. Because love is falling hard. Because love is hard like falling is hard like walls are hard like wood floors are hard like concrete is hard but it wasn’t hard to begin with. It all starts out soft, pliable, almost magical. Like fried chicken. It’s like ma. Like the woman who watches my back with a knife. Like the woman who cooks like a goddamn blind woman in a junk yard. It’s like losing your skin, love. Like peeling onions, but nothing like pickles.

Almost  Dorothy: Are you weak or strong when you are vulnerable?

Almost Dorothy: I’m always a weakling and that’s what makes me powerful. Like a bullet without a gun or a gun without a bullet, it’s what it is that makes it powerful. Not what it does.

Almost Dorothy: If you could one thing about yourself (or your elf), what would you change and why? 

Almost Dorothy: I would change my underwear more often. I would change the need to change. I would change less often. I would change nothing. I would change the things I’ve changed. I would never ask for change. I hate change. I would change hate. I would wear a hat more often to hid the changes. I would change the hat I wore to the funeral that I never went to. I would have gone to the funeral with or without a hat. I would love you more or less with or without a hat. I would go hatless though a thunderstorm if I knew how to change the past. The past, I hate. I hate the past and the changes that led to wind.

Almost Dorothy: Biggest failure in life?

Almost Dorothy: Not building an animal farm out of real animals.

Almost Dorothy: Are you worthy of love & belonging? 

Almost Dorothy: Ma says I ain’t worthy of anything but she’s on crack and fried chicken. I don’t listen to ma cause I know how I feel and I feel I am worthy of love and belonging no matter what that bat says. She’s not a baseball bat, but she hits like one. The other day I went to the mall. It was full of things I couldn’t buy because I forgot my purse or wallet or whatever it is kids are supposed to carry these days. I knew I was worthy of things–of everything–but I just couldn’t buy them, so I stole them and now they belong to me. Don’t tell ma cause she’ll call the cops and cuss me out. That’s how things go between us. That’s what makes us family. That’s what makes us stick together. Makes us belong to one another. Which makes us belong to no one because if they’re gone there’s no one left to belong to. But, then again, I guess the desire to want to belong is belonging whether or not you’re longing to belong. It’s like a sing-a-long without a singing partner. You can still sing-a-long to a song without a partner and feel like you’re part of something. Part of a song. Yes, I’m worthy of love and belonging–and new shoes.

Schools Suck and I Know How to Fix Them

20 Jan


1. Required students to hula hoop.

2. Read books backwards.

3. Provide students with enough food.

4. Dream.

Donate to Reading Queer on Give Miami Day!

20 Nov Give Miami Day Reading Queer

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Shabby Little Rabbit

15 Jul


The Velveteen Rabbit

The Velveteen Rabbit

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” –The Velveteen Rabbit

Ma is in bed. Again. Again she is in bed thinking of her mistakes and outtakes and she’s kind of upset, sad, depressed, but not the kind of sad and depressed that means she needs help. At least that’s what I think when I’m not thinking about getting her help.

Last night we red the Velveteen Rabbit together. We cried a little when the bunny got tossed in the trash after he became real because the boy made him real. Love made him real and vulnerable. I looked at mom and her shabby hair (wig) was falling off and I pictured her, for a moment, as a drag queen rabbit. I pictured her (and her worn out face and her worn out hair and her worn out body) shiny and new. Born again. Unblemished.

“I’ll never be born again,” Ma said. “You only come out once.”

“That’s right,” I said.

“Thank god,” she said.

We rolled over, but not on top of each other, because we’re not into that. I reached behind ma’s head and fluffed up the pillow. She kind of looked like this rugged rabbit with cabbage ears surrounded by a beautifully gloomy white cloud. Like a bunny, she wiggled her nose. Wiggled herself into my arms and close to my heart.


A Defense Against Sound & Order

27 Apr

In a time of names

a spoken antelope hopes

for mud and insects.


Mud and insects or

whatever uncle measures

informs a notion


of a dismantled

ship. Hope passes for a gun

in a time of names.


*collage haiku using found text


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