Tracy Van Santana
Richmond, Virginia, United States
These pieces reflect personal resistance to social norms, as well as the reciprocal tension from internal struggles to live with courage and freedom. Each is a kind of dialogue between sides of myself, some imagined other, or a cultural personification. Each presents a problem and suggests a call to change.
Love is free! (with paid purchase)
Give me your love, you see. I see, I want it, your love. I feel the pull of it from the roadside, from the boxes into which I stare. It says I can own it, too. Own you. Your love, layered on me in paint and feint, sprayed on my eyes and shaven from my skin. Heaven can wait, and so can I, but not forever. I wrestle in and get it then. Not enough, though. So more, more, ever more.
Breath dispels sales. In it, each one, a universe made of love unlimited, unrefined, undescribed. Each one takes you away from me and returns me to my center, my ground of pure being. Each one dials back a dollar on my life. Each one loosens the collar, too tight. Each one illuminates romances made dark and somber by lust and commerce. Each one a new sight, like an innocence reviving, a new life from old bones.
When I see you, then, from under my own skin, you are you. Ugly and unloved, but not unlovable. I’m ugly, too, like I’ve never been in this skin. Ugly and bargain bin. Paint could go on again, scrape some razor over skin. But if I stay here and dwell a while, I see there is no leaving, not really. No other place, not really. Love is that line and limit. I dare myself to stay awhile. To open and pour, without hesitation. To receive without consternation or fear of more more more. It’s raw. It’s pure. It stings. It’s love. Go on and try.
In which box?
I am me, alive and free, inside this body. Make me choose a box. I can hold it. Until I can’t. How long can you?
And do you ever think of it? If there were no box for you, where would you pee and shit? You’re a monster, after all, a terror to women and children. Not human but a thing. Not man, not woman, but beast, foul in odor and garish in visage. Have you no shame? How can you bear the weight of your own name by letting people see you like that? We all have our twists, yeah, but we also have the decency to do it behind closed doors. Have you thought of it? Where would you sit? In which box to piss?
Now if you’re beautiful, it’s another matter. A beautiful monster is, after all, still beautiful first and monster second. Not all monsters are bad, right? And beauty comes in all shapes, right? And by beauty we mean we can fuck you. You make us wanna fuck, and we wanna fuck you. If you can do that and still look good, then you can go wherever you want, darlin’. Sit on my face, if you’d prefer. But your ugly kin ain’t got no business here. If I can’t tell end from end, ain’t got no room in here, less they wanna get their ass kicked. Show them queers what’s what. Can’t let that shit be goin’ on. Not on my watch. Not ‘round here, I tell you what. So you better look pretty. You better look tough. If I can’t tell which, things gon get rough.
But, truly, if that’s how you’d have it, then so it is. I’m not afraid of you or anyone like you. Your cowardice does not inspire fear nor does your ignorance pass as moral guardianship. Your authority is brittle as your ego, as dead as your roots. Your cause is lost and was before you were born. You’re on the wrong side of history, so kindly step aside. I need to pee.
Perform or die
You’ve gotta perform. Without that, what good are you? Who needs you? You gotta make something. Do something. Change something. Otherwise, what?
I suppose you don’t know. The signs and the screens tell you so. Keep going. So you do. Reduce. So you do. Make more. So you do. Be more. So you do. Think less. So you do. And on and on.
And when you don’t?
That’s when the dark times come, when we see what’s really still. The apes lumbering in dead plants and animals, dyed and dying just like old times. The earth covered in shit and cracked up crap made to do. It all breaks down and goes away. Busy hands a doin’ don’t make it less so. Can’t count sand or turn the tides.
Relax. Breathe. Life is. All around you. Free. Available. Waiting for you.