Solid Quarter

Blood Jet Poetry Series in New Orleans, weekly poetry and music as well as open mic performances

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 3 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Mantra of Avalokiteshvara


“the jewel of the lotus is in the heart consciousness”

OM: represents generosity/ purifies pride/ ego, color is white/ trait is wisdom

Do you remember the number of beliefs you let go as you grew older and began to organize the world around systems not of your choosing?  The most interesting aspect of choice is not that we can choose, but from where do we believe we make choices. What I’ve learned most in the last year is the number of ways I reorganized my world to match the world around me like medical text books where the transparent layer of the body is laid upon a foundational mapping lining up the circuitry: Nerves, muscles, skeleton.   I tried to lay down in the outline assigned to me and keep within the parameters which I read as a type of safe, which I let fear read to me as a type of safe. I never understood why I was a poet, but poet is another four letter word that can hold you.


I was writing a book about attachment and romantic love, and for some reason it wasn’t evolving: There is a bottom to grief, but how to not land there permanently.  I was meditating daily and doing yoga nidra and for some reason signed on to do a Reiki 1 training class. At some point when suffering, you hit a point where you submit because you have nothing else to lose. I learned this at 25 in rehab in one sphere and again at 39. Life spirals as much as we attempt to linear it. After my first Reiki training, I weaned off of antidepressants that I had been taking for over a decade for suicidal depression. This isn’t about medication or mental illness as much as it is a story about how patterns can be traced. For six weeks after Reiki 1, we were encouraged to meditate, chant, cut cords and practice self Reiki at least once if not twice a day. Thanksgiving fell shortly after I completed training, and I spent the day alone writing and meditating. As I sat at the table, this poem came out of me changing the whole shape of the book. After I wrote it, my entire body broke out in a damp sweat, and I was sobbing hysterically. Sometimes, we hold things inside of us. I say sometimes but what I mean is all times. All times we hold inside of us what we barely know.

break against

image of my brother’s head blown to bits
way a skull can’t contain what we are
way bones splinter and fragment
like a stone covered in cuneiform
speaks to us across time, how you will save yourself
heart’s seat, indestructible drop
how quickly you flew from us, birded
skull threaded in a womb where I too was threaded
lacuna in a life sentence
and then here too, firstly to step beyond this veil
and hold us as we come along
back & forth: souls
crossing near enough to touch
when you look into that book, can you read
what is written, can you see
last time I saw you
my anger kept me from speaking
I am lost, can you find me
I can’t tell whose grief
there is so much illusion
how can I ever hook you
I did not love you well in this world
my brother I did not know how to love

and I do not know why I can forgive you anything
but I cannot forgive myself

MA: represents ethics/ purifies jealousy/ color is green/ trait is compassion

Because I was writing about attachment, I tried an experiment of sleeping with strangers to observe how I attached to other people. I watch myself sometimes make these decisions cloaked in the veil of “art,” and I marvel at the fiction of safe it provides. I told myself I was doing this Reiki stuff in the same vein: Learning a new skill for writing my book. See how we slip accountability. I invited a man over I had never met and after we had sex, he told me suddenly that his mom had committed suicide and he found the body. He told me she had taken drugs he kept in the house, and it was his fault. What I haven’t told you yet reader is what I am. I call myself a poet.   

The BHAGAVAD GITA is a love story told on a battlefield; for how else does one approach questions of faith?

When I was younger, I could see clearly into people. I grew up in a house of secrets where the adults said one thing but the truth was different: I learned there are two worlds, the world said out loud and the world underneath where the truth lies. If you know things you can’t explain, it scares people. If you can read people’s intentions and energy and feelings, it scares people. If you know what comes next, it scares people. I spent all of my childhood learning to be a safe person, shutting out and turning down the volume of what came through; and then I learned to be a poet. To slip what lies in the underneath into a container called language, called art: I learned how to survive by defining what I am as an artist and then I couldn’t stop. I’m an addict.

When this stranger told me that story, I realized two truths: It was not his fault and it was not my fault my brother killed himself. Being a poet didn’t mean I had the words to save him. Knowing he was going to die didn’t mean I had tools to divert his path. This isn’t a story about suicide. It’s about patterns. If you watch close, life folds and if you mark the creases, you witness how the story keeps at it till you see. How quickly do you want to surface?

Megan: I thought, don’t do this. Then I did. I put my head against his heart chakra and I listened, I asked his dead to speak to me. I invited in suffering: chalice, vessel, channel.

Two weeks later, he told me he loved me. Then he abruptly left the city and moved to Florida. He met another woman and fell in love. All of this is coincidence, perhaps. When we broke contact, I texted him and said: You should know it’s not your fault. We don’t have that kind of power over others. We can’t keep them here. I wonder often when I speak or write, to whom am I talking? And it makes sense to me that we are all the same, because most of what comes out is meant for me. For you. For us.

NI:  represents patience/ purifies desire/ color is yellow/ trait of mind/ body/ speech/ action

I realized in Reiki II training how much intuition I had let waste away. I ignored my instinct and used reason to make choices, to keep safe. I invested in being helpless, powerless and let others take care of me. I was suicidal and sad from a very young age, so I thought this is I. This is normal. It never occurred to me, and I was never taught that what I was doing was absorbing what was around me, that I was born into generations of suffering and abuse and addiction. I thought I was the entire puzzle missing a piece. But I was just one piece. I began to see the story of my brother and me in a very particular way, and to understand it you would have to know how often we spoke of death. You would have to know what it feels like to have no fear of death.

The story fits on top of other stories; it is not new. It is a spiral; we are caught in its net. Once upon a time there was a sister and a brother who chose to come into the world together, one was a receiver and one was a transmitter. In order to shift great amounts of energy, a sacrifice is required. We can’t undergo great change without letting go of all we knew before, except by not being afraid to give up all of it: All that we love and all that we hate. Duality itself is what we sacrifice, and that is the trickiness of it. When my brother suicided, he set in motion a choice to go on one side of the veil and I set in motion an intention to find him. This is how channeling works: You have to be able to lock onto a reception. You have to be able to find a transmitter, blood of my blood, DNA of my DNA, memory to my memory as much myself as I am, I would know you anywhere. I would find you anywhere in all that can be imagined. And here we are?

The Egyptian myth of Isis is a story about a sister who goes into the underworld to bring her brother/ husband Osiris back. Isis is framed as a great healer, champion to women and children; she is a channel ferrying between death and life; so we, so we.

PAD: represents diligence/ purifies ignorance/ color is blue/ trait is equanimity

I thought I was losing my mind. There have been times like this in my life. The best way I can describe it is as though being unplugged like in The Matrix. It’s watching the world around you, but it registers different as a code perhaps more than as a coherent space.

I started doing this meditation where I visualized going down 108 steps, one step for each breath where I could think of nothing more than the numbered step I was on in that breath. If I lost count, I stopped and got off the mat. It took weeks to get down to 108 without losing concentration and then when I reached the bottom I realized I had no idea what to do once I got there.

Inanna goes into the underworld to meet her sister, and she is required to hang her skin on a hook. These myths, these stories, they are guidebooks for travel. You must learn to remove your skin, to find the hook, to hang your skin on the hook once you reach the bottom of the stairs. You must not be afraid that you will not be able to put your skin back on once you are ready to ascend. Who would choose this?

ME: represents renunciation/ purifies greed/ possessiveness/ color is red/ trait is bliss

Each chakra of the body has a specific megahertz at which it resonates; the chakra can be balanced simply by listening to the vibrational sound. What is the function of sound? Why speak? Why poet?  Often when the dead speak to me it is just an echo, a whisper; and other times  I speak out loud and realize I am not talking to no one, that in fact I am not talking but being talked to about what I need to see. Sound moves around us, vibrations of energy make us a never type of alone, but oh, I hunger for touch.  It is a lonely life to be populated by sound, to be haunted and distracted by unsaid.

HUM: represents wisdom/ purifies aggression/hate / color is black/ trait is compassion

I read a description of grief by William Dadarrio last  night in his book, To Grieve, in which he stated that love felt during grief is like a lighthouse shining the way to point out that there is danger but not able to navigate the ship for you. Grief is like that, a body of water you must traverse and no matter how many maps you consult, the truth is the journey has never been taken until you take it. That is the sacred key of life, for all the same stories, there is only the journey of you in the traveling. Around us, we choose to see and heed the lights shining on us great warnings, great desire for our safe passage, but whom do we champion to steer? I poet because of all the sounds I can create, there will always be a last sound. That is the only light I have to keep in line of sight: To let go in love. Which word will I choose of all the words for love when it is time to say: Farewell for now. Om Mani Padme Hum.

It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast …. The first, OM … symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha…. The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the … altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassionate and loving…. The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom…. Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility…. Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha….
— His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Straight No Chaser


no one will tell you & how could they anyway, but still you'll feel deceived
no one says, one morning at 41 you'll wake up and your first thought
a memory from 15, and maybe it's because your daughter is 15

or were you 16, doesn't matter except            funny
how time exists but doesn't, the point             really being
what did you know --not much about life or other people

the sharp slap of days hurled across your body
that would later be called "refrain" and you
get so drunk one night, someone's boyfriend rapes you
in a back bedroom, you don't remember anything

it's true that you were too drunk to say no, but that's not it
it's three years later when another boy who was there says
over the phone, it was a bet & that's when you understand

the value of your body in a house of boys you called friend
and here is the part no one knows, the deepest secret you keep,
is i fucking won: you bet against my life & you, one of you ended
up dead and you, a string of jail terms, addiction and misery.

you never got out of that place where we strained to grow
broken shipped island of lost toys & i fucking escaped b/c i bet. i bet. i bet
i can survive anything. you'll tell yourself next to the body
of your 8 year old daughter and your dog as the sun rises again over new orleans.

Monday, August 06, 2018

what kind of person are you

what kind of person are you

empty or is that the way fullness feels to you
soft landing place where i lay my head
or pushing me out kind of person
do you say one thing and think another
tongue sharp, knife embrace
slipped in while i look into your eyes
what are you made of
the cruelty of other lovers

dripping from your hands
the ones you put around my throat
gently you say, let me be inside you
long enough to default back to panic
where there is light
what are you made of

the sound of what others have said
when i speak can you hear me

when i fall, i fall for human touch

the graze of your palm down my forearm
when you say soft and i think
about the hardness i’ve learned under men’s hands
how to survive when you grab me
by the back of the head

will you force me to my knees
out of love or will you not even see me
a warm mouth & my heart nameless
what of the little abuses that cut
a person down to nothing

when i say it is my fault
it’s because i want to own it
even if it’s not mine
this rented entwine costs me
i want it to spill out whole

this way i can reach you
like i could say don’t hurt me
& instead of responding

you just wouldn’t

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Cultural Misogyny Scrolls You on Tinder

I write a lot about the experience of desire, attachment and online dating both in poetry and in essays and in general online. I listen to a lot of men and women complain about the aspects of online dating, commitment, and relationships; and I read a lot of other writing (mostly geared towards women) about how to get a partner, keep a partner, play the game, etc. What I don't read or see a lot about is talk around the bigger picture of how our ideas of love shape attachment, shape relationships, shape our experience of sex and dating and how this translates to a world where we either choose to value and champion love or we don't.

When bell hooks writes in her book All About Love that we can't both have casual sex and casual relationships and want a world filled with love as well, that we can't engage in one act of treating people as though they are expendable and also want to have love in our lives: I believe this is true. But I also am a product of a culture that didn't raise me on love, a marriage that wasn't built on love, numerous relationships that did not hold love, and an addictive cycle of recreating abusive situations that mirror what my early attachment template named love. It took me a long time to even understand that what I thought was love, was in fact not love, and that what I wanted was something I didn't even know about, but I was keenly aware of the lack and not my fantasy and my fiction of what it would be when it arrived. I've been on Tinder watching and tracking abusive cycles of behavior around men and thinking about how that positioned me as a woman. This particular example involves a white hetero male- top of the food chain- and me, a bisexual white woman. But even within those narrow parameters, I want to show you how cultural misogyny is insidious and how it thrives on shame and anger and hatred, because if you've been paying attention, you know that the microcosm of what occurs in private between two people is a small stage of a macrocosm effect of how we treat humans. It is inside of our humanity, it is an infection inside of our species that is tearing us all apart. See we can't relate to the top of the food chain, the most powerful majority in this culture because they both hate and desire the same object: And it's killing all of us.

It is KILLING ALL OF US. And it is not our (read: any person of color or female identifying gender or nonconforming gender or sexual orientation not defined as exclusively straight or child or not identifying and passing as straight white man)  fucking job to fix this.

STRAIGHT WHITE MEN:  THIS is your fucking job to fix. 

Context: I matched with this person, a straight white male, on Tinder on Monday. We texted a bit throughout the day and he told me he wanted to meet someone to fall in love with, he also wanted me to send him naked pictures, and he probably sent me about 40 texts or so throughout the day. He sent me an unsolicited picture of his penis during this, and I sent him no naked pictures in return, which is why probably, on Tuesday, he sent no texts until 8:30 at night. 

And I want to be really clear here before we begin that in no way am I framing him as bad and me as good, him as aggressor and me as victim, him as some lust rager and me as an angelic virgin: See we both lose. We are both losers in this game that we didn't sign on for called cultural misogyny. The game makes men feel powerful and women weak. It offers the illusion of safety and protection for an elite few under the guise of shaming and diminishing the rest of us. But it's a lie. 

We all lose. If you are a man and you desire what you hate, if you want to possess what also sickens you and makes you think "weak" and "vulnerable" or "sensitive" than you have already lost. 

If you drank the cultural misogyny kool-aid that tells you to "grab them by the pussy," you did so at the cost of your humanity. And maybe you don't realize it yet, but it was a high cost to pay. 
And if you are suffering, it's because you keep paying. Not because women won't fuck you or love you or listen to you or understand you. 

You paid the cost of your humanity to be on top in the game. 

"Come fuck me" is the battle cry of broken men. Cultural misogyny has created this chasm between "men" and "women," this binary reductive narrative between the have's and the have-not's. And it should come as no surprise that this is the root of resistance to any gender noncomformity. You can't have a top and a bottom without clear differentials of power. Am I right? 

The reality of blurring the lines between "male" and "female" classifications means cultural misogyny would have to up its game. Who holds the power, well clearly straight men still, but against whom. Against people you actually don't want to fuck. Against people you might want to fuck. Against people who don't want to fuck you.<------- p="">
See cultural misogyny is a lazy philosophy: it was created by men to oppress women. But if we don't know who the women are and if we have others we want to oppress who aren't women,  if we have men who won't be oppressors, who don't hold power in the economy of "straight male" then what? 

If you are a straight white men feeling really attacked right now, welcome to the bottom of the game. We've been waiting for you. 

Come fuck me

is the battle cry of a broken man. 

It holds the illusion of a demand. But it is begging. It is begging to be touched and seen and held and loved. But it doesn't know the language. It doesn't even know the definition of the emotion that is causing this lack: It's been told, it's sex. It's been told it's desire. 

Pornography has nailed into the mind: You don't want to connect with another. What you want is to obliterate another, to use another, to take from another. This what you want. This will make you feel good. This will satisfy you.

And none of it is true. 

Come fuck me. And the slipperiness of misogyny is that women answer the call. 

We have been sold the exact same message. We get none of the power but we get sold the exact same message. And whatever it is we want is lost in a sea of framing that objects us to this body we hold out hope for in finding some measure of humanity left within.  

It's a fool's errand. 
If we laugh and call them Fuckboys, it does not address the problem. If we get angry and call them Fuckboys and complain to our friends, it does not address the problem. 

They say Come fuck me. And a woman will come. 

Because she's been led to believe one of two things: 

This is as good as it will get and at least I'm not alone.
Maybe I can change Come Fuck Me to Come Love Me. 

Cultural Misogyny makes us ALL fucking idiots. 

Connection is what makes us human. The ability to connect. The ability to celebrate each other. The ability to feel safe with one another. Love is the strongest, most powerful emotion in the world. It has the power to give us what we most need, to heal and create and be our best selves. And we are so afraid of it. Ask yourself, why are we shamed into being afraid to love? 

Who does that serve?

How are we framed if we say: Come Love Me.
We are framed as weak, vulnerable, needy, clinging, emotional, effeminate. 

Nothing could be further from the truth: Do you know the emotional bravery and resilience it takes to honestly say to another being: come love me. 

Pornography instills through imagery the idea that sex is power. That the ability to fuck and have a big dick somehow translates to having some power. 

Do you see how ridiculous this set up is? 

No one threatens another person with their ability to love. 

No one says on the offensive: I loved the shit out of the last girl I was with. I loved her so much she knew she was respected and cared for consistently. I have a big 9inch heart that I use to just love and respect all beings. 

That's not threatening. 

But a big dick is a weapon. The ability to fuck someone is a weapon. We say you're fucked when it's not good. See sex in this sense is not sex: It's violence and it's abuse.

And Cultural Misogyny is all about normalizing abuse. 

Cultural Misogyny protects men. And women shelter under the men who are protected by cultural misogyny because they've been told they will be protected too. That's how abuse works: It lies to you. 

It says: It's ok. Come here. I won't hurt you. See I want you. 
Then it rapes you. Then it beats you. Then it degrades you. Then it hates you.
Then it says: Come here. I won't hurt you. See I want you. 


Being a bisexual woman is sexy when it feeds a man's fantasy of multiple women he can abuse for his pleasure. But he can also slip it off and use it to pin you to the floor. Because if you are not a straight white man in this scenario. You lose. 

It would be easy to dismiss this person as not very bright. As someone clearly struggling with some anger issues and rejection issues and basically acting out like a small child when not getting their way. And that's all true. But what is also true is that this is a man, not a child. 

This is a man who is a father to two sons. 

This is someone who is teaching future men how to treat women. 

This is a man who has a mother and who has sons who have a mother, and presumably some love was felt for one of these two, perhaps both at some point. 

So how do you love women and hate them. What does that do to a person? 
How do you raise your sons to hate the being who housed and birthed them. What does that do to a boy? 

It doesn't matter if it is a truth that this person is or is not with someone else. 
If they are, clearly what they feel is not love as their actions do not indicate love. 
If they are lying, they clearly do not understand love and so lack it in their life.

And at the end of the day, the person you are with is you.

That's the only person you are ever with.

And if you hate what you desire, then you hate part of you. If you abuse what you also want, you are abusive and you are in exact opposition to love.  The only truth in all of these statements is the bald faced lie of being able to be in love with anything in a state of cultural misogyny.

You cannot love truly what you cannot see clearly. 

And right now, men: You cannot see us. 

You are blinded by the hate fed to you as power, fed to you as privilege, fed you as safety and "locker room" talk and women being "so sensitive" and how strong you are and how you don't need to "feel" things or get too "attached" or talk about your "feelings."

ALL of these narratives are fucking stupid: STOP WASTING OUR TIME

Men: Is this the world you want? 

You have the power to stop this. It's the only power you have. 

I have two daughters and a son and this power game: It is not ok for any of them. 
I don't want my son to speak like this to women. 
I don't want a man to speak like this to my daughters. 
I don't want my daughters to speak this way to men. 
I don't want anyone who wants love and affection to use power and abuse to get them. 
I don't want sex to be violence and abuse when it is anything but that. 

But it will happen if we keep holding up the smallest messages we send to one another in private as ok when they really are abusive to all of us. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018


"maybe the people who come to you can handle your darkness"

said someone to me this week. a friend. i say to myself things like

"only broken people come to you, you attract damage"  forget perception

forget we paint the moment we are in with the brush of the past

and it colors everything with what was, not what is

i went to a presentation on healing from sexual trauma

and listened to a room full of women, are you surprised it was

a room full of women but of course we are

my brother was sexually abused and now he is dead

i cry in the bathtub because last week i was having sex

with someone who loves me and who i love but

we can't be together so now i am alone again

it hurts: i go online and in ten minutes find a stranger

to fill that emptiness, fix it: My deepest wound is invisibility

no one can see me and that is how abuse gets in

no one can see me and so too i think of ways to be seen

no matter the cost: i listen to a radio interview with a therapist

on sex addiction and she talks about volition, about whether one

in the moment dissociates and can even make a conscious choice

so tell me how consent works when all i know is other people's bodies

are a way to danger, cloaking what i am worth i seduce abuse b/c i

am in love with the way it consistently wants me back

i don't have to wonder: you love me like you want me dead, you love

me like i'm not real, you love me like i don't exist at all

and yes, i say yes and yes and yes: it's all bloomed inside me

first kiss to fist

Monday, April 30, 2018

dear poetry, who takes away darkness

dear poetry,

what to do with strangers who come into our lives like a new word on the tongue and delicious this glistening, i sounded/ it blew me up/ carved meat of repetition, disrupt the feel of your hands running wild over my skin, when i come to: be inside me. when i come to: here made treacherous. abandoned gaze, i seep auto-narrated into shaming this derelict, weather against me, serum down to rot, mouth sewn shut to eyes held down a penny for each last thought then to cross upon verses. i call this light as a feather my tongue wet to the edge where the scream fell off: what are we exactly in this space between veils, the space of the poem writing itself, Oh Megan, it mutters, all of your life hidden safe to hear voices till this is what you have become. fettered to i want to make a cage big enough to hide the cage i am inside of. whatever you know is words. i can hear the sounds of the dead ringing. i can hear a babble of tongues, a language i fail translating, the din of transmission, i could tell you how exact this one takes: remember how you danced beside me. will you lay down beneath my feet: madness the seraph unfolds. no one's hunger meets yours. no one eats and eats this sacrifice of fill then looks up to see the same story woven into the cloth, an all down the table top where we feasted on what was left.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

dear poetry, in-coding

dear poetry,

when it hurts, take it to the poem
when it is loneliness, take it to the poem
when suffering, take it to the poem
that disappointment, the shifting sink of I've made
that wrong choice again, the one I do when I think
other people are a kind of, they are a kind of what, girl
not knowing any different you want to fantasy, take it
to the poem, take apart your options for surviving
another ten years in this shatter, take it to the poem
how you thought if I had to write one for every time
I wished I was dead, take it to the poem, echo of
I hate this life, I hate this life, I hate this, take it
take it to the poem, inside of me blooms surrender
to family outcomes, how no one care takes
we solitary and memories like blood, they do drip upon us
girl, is that your father, drunk whisper sweet nothings,
I am so lonely, and what do you want me to do, we all want to die
in this family, all of us trying to blow suffering from our minds
like I cut so deep I went numb, take it to the poem
like I blacked out for years, take it to the poem
like I can't call it abuse because I wanted him to kill me
take it to the poem, the poem does not mean anything

[inside the poem where i give everything meaning]

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