asheville

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That Was a Long Time Ago

Published April 6, 2016 by April Fox

We were all

disembodied

captured behind glass

eyes, red-rimmed and leaking

fluids

in our creased, cupped palms

sliding through our fingers

to the floor

where they bathed

in retribution.

We were all

glass-eyed, blinded, captured

by our wrists, bound

with the long and strangling

cords

of their self-loathing, we were

hunched over ovens, burning flesh

off our cheeks, exposing bone

the skull determined

to protect

what wasn’t there, we were

flowers

in cheap vases, we were

torn and stitched together

and together

and together until the fibers

meshed and the threads

locked tight together and the glass

behind us, now

reflected fire

and exploded.

After Life

Published October 20, 2015 by April Fox

Someday, it will be the end.

It will be over

and if you believe in Heaven,

I will rip you from your mother’s warm embrace

pull out the thick umbilicus and strangle you

with the only thing you ever

truly wanted

watch you fight the blackness that creeps into your eyes,

bursts of light, the sound

of rushing water

in your ears

the silence that welcomes you

home

bring you back

and start again.

I Don’t Care About Kim Davis’s Sordid Past

Published September 3, 2015 by April Fox

Kim DavisThe big news this afternoon is that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of court who was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has been arrested. Leading up to her arrest, the Internet was a constant flood of information and memes calling her out for her sordid past. Davis has reportedly been married several times, bore children by one man while married to another, had them adopted by a third man (did I get that right?) and then divorced the one guy and remarried one of the first guys. It’s pretty confusing, and it certainly makes it easy to poke fun at a woman who claims to be standing firm in defense of “Biblical marriage.” But does it matter? Not in the least.

Is Kim Davis a hypocrite? No doubt. But a large majority of Christians are in one way or another, and–news flash–it’s not a big deal.

It doesn’t make sense to cry foul because Davis is using her religion to condemn others, and then condemn her by the same standard. I get that she’s the last person in the world who should be talking about the sanctity of marriage, and she’s kind of an evil cunt, and she has really bad hair and looks like she could use a long nap and some strong coffee, and maybe a Xanax or 12. This is not a happy woman, and she is determined to take it out on someone. And bless her heart, she’s gotten herself in pretty deep now, hasn’t she? But we’re all kind of missing the point here:

Separation of church and state.

That means us too. If we’re going to be grown-ups about this and make a compelling argument for what is right, we have to judge Davis by the same standards we expect her to use. The problem is not that Kim Davis seems to be really bad at making wise relationship decisions. It isn’t that she went through a series of divorces and then found religion; it’s fairly common, I think, for people to find religion later in life and go a bit overboard with it. (Don’t believe me? Come visit Asheville and see how many middle-aged women you meet in flowy skirts with constant prayer hands and stream-of-consciousness rambling about the Universe and the Spirit and Manifesting all manner of shit like rent money and a man who can rock a beard and a purse at the same time. We embrace new ideas with a passion, and that’s totally normal.) The problem is that she’s using religion to break a secular law and to deny service to people who are entitled to it under that secular law.

Her religion DOES NOT MATTER.

It needs to be taken out of the equation. I don’t care if she’s Miley Cyrus or the Virgin Mary during her off hours. What matters is what she’s doing on the clock. She’s becoming a martyr for the cause, and while we can all agree that she’s a pretty nasty human being for doing what she’s doing, the attention she’s getting for it is bolstering the confidence of other bigots, giving them the [lily-white Good Christian] balls to spout off the same shit she’s spewing.

Our stance should not be, “She’s not even a good Christian herself!” but “It doesn’t matter her religion, she isn’t doing her job.” Get her out of there, give the job to someone who is capable of fulfilling the responsibilities thereof, and let her see that really, truly, her religious beliefs don’t matter to anyone but her. This isn’t a matter of “She can’t do this because she broke Biblical law too,” it’s a matter of “She can’t do this because she’s breaking a federal law and ignoring the requirements of her job.” That’s all.

Claws

Published August 26, 2015 by April Fox

There’s something out there 

trying to get in. 

I can feel it scratching, metal claws

against the walls

torn away at the quick and still

the fingers keep on coming. 

There’s something out there 

trying to

let go

Spidersilk arms and legs and

black graffiti hair tangled up

around the pages

of the burning calendar. 

There’s something out there

trying

to say no. 

Lost Dogs

Published August 6, 2015 by April Fox

This feels empty

as if the dogs have all gone home

and left us to our own devices,

on our own to deal with the

monsters and the maniacs

hiding in the shadows

and even with the lights all on,

the television blaring comedy and news into our deconstructed brains,

there is a silence and a darkness

that the hounds have left behind.

And in the stillness, after locking all the doors

and silencing the ringers and clicking off the TV

and shuttering the windows, and pulling down the blinds

in the air we’re left to breathe

we find our solace

and remorse.

A Love Letter to Pat Robertson

Published August 1, 2015 by April Fox

The lights are on in your great glass house
but there’s nothing there to see.

Your eyes are glued to the man next door,
face pressed against his window in a gruesome caricature,
bulging against the panes, lashes wet with lust and your palms
nailed tight
to the cross
you wear like a brace
to straighten out
your prejudice

and the holes bleed out, slick sweat and muddy feet and the ones below
are drinking
from the filthy wounds
like turning vomit
into wine.

You are the keeper of everything;
you are the arbiter of every
sinful thrust

and your disciples gather close and wait
for the baptism to start.

IMG_8200

On Being Open-Minded, and the Freedom of Belief

Published July 17, 2015 by April Fox

If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I have some pretty strong feelings about equal rights, and people attempting to hide their hate behind their religion, and people using their beliefs as some kind of free pass to treat people as horribly as they want to without repercussion. Any time I try to make a valid, logical point about those things, I get hit with the intolerance spiel: “I thought you were supposed to be open-minded. What happened to not judging other people? You need to respect everyone’s beliefs.”

We are tangled up in here: confusing the idea of being open-minded with the act of being complacent, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron in itself.

Fact: action and belief are two very different things, and being open-minded doesn’t preclude you from finding fault in things that are harmful.

Your right to believe in something does not negate others’ right to exist with the same rights and standard of living that you have. If you act in a negative manner based on your beliefs, there is nothing closed-minded about those who tell you to stop it.

It doesn’t matter what you believe; if you are doing something that hurts someone, you need to be told to stop.

When a person who identifies as Christian is molesting children, and people say that it’s wrong, when we are horrified and angry at his actions, we are not attacking his beliefs. We are not persecuting him for being Christian. We are not even vilifying him for believing that his victims look more like sex toys than human beings. We are observing his actions and we are judging him for them. That’s okay. That’s how society works, in theory. We protect those among us who can’t protect themselves. We don’t protect those who are doing the hurting because of the internal dialogue that drives their motivation, whether that be the voice of God or Jesus or the son of Sam. We judge: we make the determination about whether what someone is doing is right or wrong.

When your beliefs tell you that someone is less than you are because of their color or race or sexuality, their gender or their eye color or their socioeconomic status or anything else that they cannot control, you are allowed to hold that belief. Belief is an internal thing. You can believe anything you want. You can believe that the world is flat, or that the moon is made of dank goat cheese, or that the ghost of Bea Arthur* wants you to paint your cat’s toenails chartreuse every other Thursday after giving him a bubble bath in the sink. But see, if you put your cat in the bath and then try to get anywhere near him with that nail polish, chances are–unless you have a really strange cat, which is totally cool–that you are going to come out of that situation with quite a bit less blood inside your body than you had before you started, and your cat will be quite traumatized. That’s a consequence of your action. If you just believe that your cat would look fine in chartreuse but realize that your taste is probably not the same as his, and that he likely doesn’t share your affinity for bubble baths no matter how fresh and clean he might smell afterwards, and you realize that washing and painting your cat would be a total dick move, you are likely to stay intact and your cat will continue to do his cat things happily and at peace.

That is what tolerance is about. That is what defines the difference between action and belief. Being open-minded isn’t going “Hell yes, let’s bathe the cat and paint his toes!” just because someone else believes it’s a good idea. Being open-minded is going, “Hey, let’s see how this belief might play out… yeah, you keep on believing that, but let’s not actually act on that, okay?” Being open-minded is accepting that other people believe that cats should be bathed and polished. It’s not going along with feline spa day just because it corresponds with someone’s belief.

And when you have two conflicting beliefs that have led to two conflicting paths of action, it is up to us as civilized human beings to look at those two paths with open minds, and to judge each one based on a very simple criterion: Is this action harmful to someone else? And if the answer to that is yes, then that is the wrong path. Not based on belief, or religion, but on compassion for our fellow human beings, and what should be a collective desire to do less harm than good. When you are causing damage to someone’s person, their ability to feel happiness, their ability to enjoy life, or their ability to embrace the same civil privileges you have, and you are doing so based on your personal belief, you are harming them, and that is wrong.

*Bea Arthur would never really do that, I don’t think.

Scribble.

Published July 10, 2015 by April Fox

And in the middle of this, there are lines

drawn in chewed-paper crayons and apple-red lipstick,

in pencils with metal eraser bands sharpened and cruel,

in the sand on the sidewalk outside a long-outgrown day care’s fenced playground

with a stick, dragged behind

carelessly

In the cracks of the mirrors, the anger-creased palms,

the wrinkles that make up the maps to our eyes

the gaps in the boards on the falling-down porch

the seams in the grass growing up

from below

and from way up above, where we sit

idly watching

the wind shape the fields and the branches like water,

the lines come together to make up the letters

that scribble the words

to the story we wrote.

The Sesame Street Theory of Gay Marriage Resistance, or, How the Ernie Shirt Fucks You Up

Published June 30, 2015 by April Fox
The infamous Ownie Showt

The infamous Ownie Showt

When I was very small, I loved Sesame Street. I especially loved Ernie, and I had a special Ernie shirt that I had to wear every time it came on. I would run to my room, grab the shirt, put it on and run back and park myself in front of the TV, anxiously awaiting the appearance of Oscar the Grouch, my other favorite. (Raise your hand if you’re surprised by that. Nobody? Yeah…)

And then one day, I couldn’t find it. I remember screaming my little blonde head off; I had to have my “Ownie Showt,” as I pronounced it, with my weird three-year-old lisp. I couldn’t watch Sesame Street without it. I don’t remember how that played out, whether my mom found it and saved the day, or I screamed myself to sleep and missed the show, or realized the warped logic of my position and watched the show in my Hollie Hobbie jammies instead. What I remember is the desperation that I felt, realizing that a tradition I felt tied to was being threatened. I was not a stupid child; at the time of the Great Ownie Showt Meltdown I was probably starting to read, and if you believe my mother, was starting to spell words on my own. I could count to a hundred in English and Spanish, and I knew how to charm my grandpa into sharing his fiber cereal that I swore was tasty delicious dog food. But it fell far beyond my grasp, the idea that I could enjoy Sesame Street without that stupid shirt. That, I just couldn’t understand, at least not in that moment.

I was thinking about that today, reading the usual Facebook posts by people who have been rendered mortally twitchy by the fact that *gasp* gay marriage is now legal in the United States. They are clinging fiercely to their ideas about faith and the Bible as they pertain to legal marriage, and the problem is, those things aren’t pertinent at all. We’re all out there throwing Bible verses at each other; we sound like a bunch of adolescent cretins on some broken-down playground, flinging insults:

Gay abomination verse!

Oh yeah? Well mixed fabrics verse, man! Touching a chick on her period verse, huh? What about that?

Shiiiiit, God said! Old Testament, fucker!

Eating shellfish verse, dipshit! I’ll kick your ass!

YOUR MOM!

It’s pretty stupid, debating the fine points of Biblical dissent when it’s entirely irrelevant to the issue at hand. And we can use all the logic in the world, pointing out again and again things like separation of church and state, and that this decision only applies to the ability to obtain a legal marriage license, and has nothing to do with church weddings, but still, in their minds, marriage is a religious thing. They can’t separate that idea from the larger concept of human rights and legal equality.

Marriage is their Sesame Street, and the Bible is their Ownie Showt. You just can’t have one without the other, and if you try and take the Ownie Showt away, you’re going to have a very pissed off group of people who are missing the substance of the show because they can’t stop screaming out their rage at what they think they’ve lost.

What they’re missing is that legal marriage is a contract, like you enter into when you buy a home or start a new job. It gives you responsibility for another human being. Granted, it is “just a piece of paper” and it has no bearing on the quality of a relationship or the strength of the love of the parties involved, but it’s one of those necessary evils. It is the legal force that says that you can sit by your partner when he or she is lying comatose in the ICU. It is the legal document that says you trust the person on the other end to know when it’s time to pull the plug. It gives you equal rights to all the boring shit like property and taxes that you acquire. Right or wrong, whether you scoff at the made-up romanticism of it or not, marriage is a cultural milestone in the US. To many people, it’s seen as the ultimate show of love and commitment. For some folks, that means having a church wedding after getting the marriage license. For some folks, it doesn’t, and that’s where we’re getting fucked up.

You don’t have to have a church wedding. You don’t have to have your union blessed by a member of the Christian clergy. Not all marriages are Christian ones-and not all Christians disagree with gay marriage.

When you go to get your marriage license, they ask for your name and your age and legal proof of identity. They don’t ask how often you go to church or if you can name and summarize at least ten episodes of Highway to Heaven. It’s a process that’s simpler than registering your vehicle, takes much less time than obtaining a drivers license (and requires pretty much the same information), and is no more religious than signing a lease. Whatever religious aspects you choose to apply to your wedding and your marriage are completely up to you-those aren’t legislated at all, other than within the loose guidelines each state has pertaining to officiants, and in every state, you can be married by a judge, magistrate, or justice of the peace. You don’t have to have a sermon at your wedding. You don’t have to pray to the Christian God. You can be Jewish or atheist or Muslim or Pagan or Buddhist or pantheist or any number of theism-related titles and still get legally married in the United States. So why should a narrow tenet of Christianity apply to every marriage? It shouldn’t.

For a long time, people just kind of accepted the Christian church-based version of marriage. As our world expands and we’re exposed to others with different beliefs, that tradition has changed, and many people are more understanding that legal marriage and a church wedding are not the same thing.

Legal marriage equality doesn’t change the church’s role in marriage, at all. Nobody is going to force a resistant clergy member to perform a gay marriage, but think about it-why would anyone want to get married by someone who doesn’t want to perform the ceremony in the first place? That’s totally illogical. When I got married, there’s no way I would have chosen a Baptist minister or a Catholic priest to perform the ceremony. We had an interfaith minister, who also officiates gay weddings, and there wasn’t a single mention of God in the ceremony. You can do that. A gay couple won’t go to an anti-gay minister any more than an anti-gay couple would choose a flaming gay officiant. Use your brains, people.

Change is scary. We need our traditions to cling to, even when those traditions fly in the face of rational thought. Hold on to your Ownie Showt when you need your God to provide comfort during a dark time, or when you seek fellowship with others who share the same beliefs. Wear it every day, sleep in it if you need to, if you need that security to keep you going after something breaks your heart. Use it as a touchstone: What would Ernie do? But don’t cling to it so fiercely that you scream yourself into darkness and miss the entire show, because I promise, it’s one that’s as full of love and hope and faith and commitment as the one you’re used to watching. There are just a few extra characters you need to get to know.

Gay Marriage Ruined My Life: A Right Wing Fairy Tale

Published June 26, 2015 by April Fox

I don’t know where to begin with this.

One year, six months, and five days ago, I got straight married. This morning, that marriage is over, the sanctity of it ripped apart by the selfish ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

The Court has ruled that states no longer have the right to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

I now have to find someone to gay marry. My husband does, as well. All across America, straight marriages are falling apart in the same way, as men and women wake up side by side and find out that they can no longer be represented by those great historical figures, Adam and Eve. They now must be Adam and Steve, or Eve and… I don’t know, what female name rhymes with Adam? I’m sure some good right wing fundamentalist will figure that out soon enough. It’s not important now.

The children born of these same-sex unions will grow up to be gay as well, and they’ll make little gay babies who will make little gay babies when they grow up, and that will no doubt lead to countless abortions and an increase in welfare and food stamp fraud.

Ministers will be forced to perform gay marriages in their now-gay churches, because everyone knows that when the gays get married, they’re all about forcing a disagreeable old bigot to perform the ceremony, rather than enlisting the services of a more supportive officiant.

Standardized test scores will plummet. I don’t know why, but as long as we’re blaming gay marriage for the downfall of society, I think that fits, don’t you?

The reality, of course, is that none of that happened. None of that will happen.

The reality is that I woke up to the news, ran down the stairs, told my child, danced around the house a little, ran up the stairs again, woke my husband to tell him, and instead of declaring his intentions for divorce, he smiled, hugged me, and went back to sleep. He’s still here, lying in bed behind me, awake now. I just checked-he confirms that we are still straight married, and are going to stay straight married. Our sanctity is intact, thank you very much.

There are still states where it is illegal for gay couples to adopt. This ruling could potentially open the door to positive changes there, providing more loving homes for children whose parents are unable to care for them. (By the way, if you see this as a bad thing and still label yourself pro-life, you’re a rotten little hypocrite, you know.)

Marriage equality can only change things for the better. There is truly no possible detriment to society as a result.

Really. There isn’t.

You can give me your biblical grounds, and I can shoot right back with my own verses that show your hypocrisy, and I can throw some logic on top of it, and you won’t listen anyway, if that’s your argument. Your religion fits you; it is not one size fits all. You have the absolute right not to gay marry, if it’s against your religion. Really, try it. Go find a gay person. Ask if they want to get gay married to you. If they say yes, then you say “Ha ha, just kidding, social experiment!” and watch what happens. (Nothing happens.) They’ll probably just think you’re kind of an asshole, and kind of crazy, but that’s really just confirming what we already knew. You won’t be dragged kicking and screaming to some tacky Vegas chapel where you’ll be forced to get gay married by a guy in Liberace drag, against a backdrop of glitter, show tunes, and a life-sized RuPaul cutout. Promise.

I’ve heard the argument that gay marriage is bad for children.

Let me tell you what’s bad for children. BAD MARRIAGES. When kids witness unhealthy relationships between adults, no matter their sex, that’s bad. When kids witness healthy relationships between adults, no matter their sex, that’s good.

I’ve heard the argument that gay marriage means exposing kids to gay sex. “Shoving it in their faces,” the fundies like to say.

I don’t know about you guys, but my kids aren’t anywhere around when I’m having sex. I would bet that’s the same in most families, whether the parents are gay or straight. So I guess the question now is, what are you perverts doing in front of your kids that makes you think that kids in families with gay parents are sitting around watching them have sex all the time?

Someone should look into that.

The sun is shining, this morning. I can hear birds singing. I can hear a bee buzzing outside my window, and the occasional cow saying hello. It’s the same as any other day, except that now, my friends who happen to be gay are finally recognized as human beings by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Nothing else has changed.

If you think that this ruling is going to damage your own straight marriage, you need to look into the real issues there. Good luck to you.

aclu love wins

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