asheville

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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

Watching the Sheep

Published April 15, 2015 by April Fox

I asked him,
where are the bullets kept?
all dolled up in my Sunday best
bedroom shoes and a battered old
nightshirt
He looked at me, puzzled
they’d be in the bedside table, I guess
if we kept bullets, or a gun
in the house.
So I went about my daily life
painted my nails with careful indifference
added garbage to the pile beside the sink
pulled a wad of hair from the drain in the shower but couldn’t
find the energy
to get in and make myself clean
scrubbed the mirrors like the traces
of a long-forgotten spell were coming back out
through the glass
to send the mortal ones to hell
but still my face was there
and the sheep sat perched on the hillside, watching
like vultures, impatient
waiting for the rotting
to begin.

sheep

On Nico Stai and Falling Stars

Published January 3, 2015 by April Fox

I wonder what happened
to Nico Stai
with his sloppy voice, as if his words were drunk
and he was sober singing, trying
to bring them safely home

He spoke of falling skies and I was trying
to hang on
while the clouds and stars and sun
lay at my feet

You sent me Victor Hugo and I read you Dylan Thomas
and although I wasn’t mad as birds, I must have gone
a little crazy, in the hours I lay restless
stupid sick insomniac
remembering the cadence
of each sentence that you spoke

I built a vault inside my head to keep you in,
away from everything
that hurt

I sent you pictures of the moon
and we were corduroy and woodsmoke,
constellations hanging over
threatening to crash
and burn us up

In the dark, your hand still feels the same
stretched across my back
and in your sleep, you sigh just like you did
the night that you broke free
and kept the sky
from falling in.

Like Icarus

Published December 10, 2014 by April Fox

When you are tired and alone
in that vast and empty darkness that refuses
to take hold and steal your last breath
even though you’d give it freely
for the chance to feel some peace
They will tell you
there’s a light that you can turn on
if you try
They will say that there’s a light
to guide you out
and you can see them in the distance
insects circling with rough and tattered wings
careening off each other
stupid, blind and insignificant
fighting for the chance to fall like
Icarus.

Half-assed Elegy

Published October 8, 2014 by April Fox

Shy at first,
(the way you are when you begin to realize
that your invisible friends
and Santa Claus
aren’t real
but you make your lists and set out
extra teacups
anyway)
I was hesitant to speak
mumbled out into the dark
and empty room
the echo I imagined
shut me up and turned
to live-to-dead telepathy
thinking pointed thoughts toward the earth, the sky
the universe which sat
petulant
refusing
to respond

I thought perhaps
a translator might help,
dialed 1-800 numbers, spoke with
aging housewives wrapped in tattered terrycloth
chain-smoking cigarettes and lying
that they knew the dear departed

I sought evidence of soul recycling,
a familiar turn to a feline eye
or the cast of a particular note
on the breath of a dying bird
clutched between the jaws
of a tame domestic short-hair

For the hell of it,
(having packed away the tea set
left the stockings and the reindeer food
ashes on the hearth)
I raised my voice in a half-terrible
supplication mimic
asked the one they said would save me
for a sign that they were there

Too busy killing babies
and enchanting football games
the silence soothed me
like a love song

And the ground devoured them.

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