Author Archive

A few gestures

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm


firmament and humus.

In Uncategorized on February 13, 2011 at 5:26 pm

a wise woman once said “wish for nothing larger than your small heart/or greater than a star. . .expect nothing . live frugally/ on surprises.”*

i knew that
before we all traveled from our homes to that place on a hill,
she was covered in star dust.
i remember from the way he counted his way through the story,
he was covered in earth.

on the day near the new moon
on the day we all wore pink
and sat on the porch
in the sun and with a big bright smile, she cried about the way
of women
and dark red and
the way the egg circles lunar, in shadows.

later she whirls around in circles round
and round unsteady,
dizzy but sure
that right angles grow and
shrink like rubber bands
like love, like a hammock to cradle them.
like a basket made from branches.

he turns towards the moon.
like the ground chases the light.
as the sky trips towards the earth

she fell for a man in a dark black hat
but he caught her there by the sea.

like the sequoia’s ambition is for up. red woods for the heavens. they found the horizon, ran towards forever, round and round.

they say the oceans waves are pushed and pulled by the magnet of the sky and in its waxing and waning turn.

from candles burnt late at night
under a luminous sky
they were making wax for the mold of this day
so that forever more they would know that in
each other is the place.
where sky meets land and land sky again.

they have taught me instead to live recklessly,
wish for nothing
smaller than your great big
heart/or smaller than a star. . .expect forever
and live lavishly on surprises.”

*alice walker

by erin sharkey

Stelae 06-04-03

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 at 12:46 am

to my youngest brother on the occasion of his birthday

by erin sharkey


brother, today you are ten

one day you came on an airplane

not quite ten years ago

to rescue

my unbound-

aried youth and

i waited with our brother, too skinny,

me in pants



and eyes too close to tears, more nervous than i’d ever been

to meet the gift of line



we took inventory of short man “not dad”

tall woman “not mom”

brown hair “not her”

bald head “not him”

baby “not you”

family “not ours”


until they walked last out of the

gift bird’s belly

down the quetzal’s tall

and she carefully spilled you into my arms like wax into a mold

to forever make that your place

and this family ours


definition: place, role in


once at a dinner party, i was too young for, archeologists talked about the Kinich Ahan and IX Chel digs,

the sun god and the moon goddess

a professor of sociology listened carefully as i told the story of adoption day, and she



and said loudly and with firm tone and direct stare,

“that’s the definition”, like she looked it up in some

contemporary text and found us there.


kid, with a line down the middle, wanting grey

kid, white with limp wrists

kid, brown with a pink juvenile green card



arithmetic and probability

now you’re ten

which in roman is x

which is the number of possibility


zero to forever

jorge ubico to juan jose arevalo


so go anywhere but stay within the span

and reach of arm

and remember that the only thing that defines

us is the great possibility of math, multiply . . .


devotion and





the word family

is about knowing ones place in relation to others

knowing how far the walls are and if they shrink




the mayans used a tall stone called a stelae

to record important dates



Caster Runs for Me

In Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 at 12:40 am

By Erin Sharkey

There is a video circulating the internet, a video of people emerging from the darkness– some with bright smiles, others more somber, each holding a hand written sign that reads– Caster Runs for Me. It is a moving 3 minute video of solidarity, images of men and women standing in community with world class runner, Caster Semenya, who now has her most private life on very public display. Shot is Brooklyn, the video’s soundtrack is the haunting harmony of Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Beatrice Johnson Reagon singing the beatitudes– blessed are . . . for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, they shall see God, they are the children of God.

There is also a video produced by the Associated Press, a video that is narrated by the reporter Diane Kepley. It begins with a challenge—“Quick man or woman? She, and yes, she claims to be a woman.” Her flippant tone speaks over the images of a young woman, 18 years old, smiling from ear to ear, celebrating a victory. Diane Kepley then issues another test– “Some say how she looks and sounds is proof enough.” This is then followed by that athletic young woman, nervously explaining that she did not expect to win the 800 meter race at all. This was not proof enough.

Caster Semenya is awaiting the results of a gender verification test, or maybe its more accurate to say gender verification tests. Not simply a chromosomal test or a brief physical evaluation, she was subjected to a series of invasive tests by a gynecologist, a geneticist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist and an internal medicine physician. These tests were the result of her hard work, suspicion arising from an 8 second faster time. These tests were the result of the ignorance of reality that binary definitions of gender don’t work for everyone. These tests are only performed on female athletes.

South Africa, Caster’s home, has come out in support of their champion daughter. She was received with celebration and the defense of state officials and the public. After a makeover, She appeared on the cover of South Africa’s YOU Magazine, looking very feminine. This is international news as well, ask Diane Kepley.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), amateur sport’s governing body, has said that Caster has committed no crime and is not suspected of cheating in the 800 meter race at the 2009 World Championships in Athletics. She won with the time of 1:55.45. IAAF has said it was “obliged to investigate” her gender based upon this improvement. The Sydney Daily Telegraph has printed claims that Caster is a hermaphrodite. The IAAF is yet to confirm this statement, instead saying that it is premature to say.

Hermaphrodite is an outdated term, intersex is more appropriate. Other athletics have lost their medals because they were found to intersex– the Indian runner, Santhi Soundarajan, lost the Asia Game’s silver metal in 2006 and was diagnosed with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome or AIS, a genetic disorder where an person is born with XY chromosomes but is insensitive to androgens, or male hormones. This causes the body to develop testes internally and for the rest of the body to develop as female. There are over 100 steps in gender development in the fetus and there are possibilities at every step for gender abnormalities or disorders. Between 1 and 2 in 100 babies born have some sort of sexual ambiguity, which means that something like 67,000,000 people in the world are intersex. Some of these people are discovered when they are newborns and then they are subjected to years of painful surgeries, others discover at puberty, some when they try to conceive, some may never know.

An athlete competing in the 1936 Olympics, and finishing fourth in the high jump, was later discovered to be a Jewish man in disguise. This was viewed as an act of self preservation as he was hiding from the Nazis. And there is Spanish hurdler Maria Martinez Patino, who was disqualified from a 1985 competition by genetic tests and striped of her medals, she had passed the tests before. She medals were reinstated after she protested the results. Or there is the story of Stella Walsh, whose gender was only uncovered in an autopsy, 48 years after her world record time in the 100m at the 1932 Olympics.

Female Olympic athletes have been examined since the 1930s and the Olympics started using the more invasive gender verification at the Grenoble Games in 1966. Prior to 1966, the gender examination was an all female nude parade in front of the Olympic committee. The Journal of the American Medical Association states that “gender verification tests are difficult, expensive, and potentially inaccurate. Furthermore, these tests fail to exclude all potential impostors, are discriminatory against women with disorders of sexual development, and may have shattering consequences for athletes who ‘fail’ a test.” Because of questions about the tests accuracy, the International Olympic Committee discontinued the practice in 1999. New Olympic rules allow transsexual athletes that undergo gender reassignment surgery and complete 2 years of hormone treatments to compete under their new gender designation.

Caster’s excellence challenges the borders we have placed around race, around gender, around sexuality. What do we suffer then we try to maintain a two-sex system, or keep the races “pure” or teach that sexuality is not a spectrum. Many of us come out from the darkness and hold her name like a banner because we ride the fence or we push the borders.

But Caster ran like the wind, and when she threw her hands in the air and wore that South African flag as a cape, she was a champion. If the IAAF chooses to strip her of that golden medallion, she will still be a champion. Caster Semenya runs for me.

Adams, Cecil. “If a man has a sex change, can he compete in the Olympics as a woman?” The Straight Dope. Web. 08 Oct. 2009.

Caster Runs for Me. Http:// Web. 20 Sept. 2009.

“Dora Ratjen.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 09 Oct. 2009.

“Gender Verification in Sports.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 09 Oct. 2009.

Kepley, Diane. “She? or He? Is Woman’s World Champion.” AP Video: Plus. Sept. 2009. She? or He? Is Woman’s World Champion. AP Video: Plus, 24 Sept. 2009. Web. .

Peel, Robert. “Maria’s Story.” Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group (AISSG). Web. 08 Oct. 2009.

“Stanislawa Walasiewicz.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Web. 09 Oct. 2009.

Goodbye, Hello

In Uncategorized on September 9, 2010 at 11:29 pm

images from the beginning of summer 2010

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2010 at 10:12 pm

a love letter to summer from erin