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Cornelia Barber

By September 26th, 2020No Comments

from Of Mouth and River

Self-Harm and self-Destruction use the same amount of energy out that a spiritual or ecstatic experience might use in. As in, the negotiation between excretion and absorption. And these two phenomena as a description perhaps for all experience, but particularly of girl experience–force, force, force. Simone Weil calls this Gravity and Grace.  Giving into the energy in, though it can overwhelm so much that you might feel like you are dying, “every angel is terrifying”, versus energy out, that you are sucked into the lowest feeling which is the opposite of grace, or its dialectical opposition– shadowy girth at the bottom of all sensation, and all possible sensation, that which pulls and pulls you out and thus you are not close to death, though people will project they are, but utter humanity: in servitude, in flesh, in-bodied.



Glowing conduits remain: lip gloss, regalia, plastic jewels, pink hair-dye, black eye-liner, a yellow bed-room, green glitter…dragging out, in both senses the mystical performance of dragging the girl out—she becoming herself–, that is both actually mystical and actually performance: theater, lighting, acting.


The toggle between these sensations.


Dragging her out of her safe hole where there is blood.

So we go to Sephora to try on glitter. White glitter, gold glitter, blue glitter, pink glitter. And in the glitter we see angels, or we experience the opposite of dark blood, and it smells of icing which is the opposite of vaginal odor, and there is eye-liner to mask the little girl and develop her into a woman, because we desperately want to be women, or we want to be J.Lo or we want to be out as in useful as in however usefulness might look to a society, and how the utters roll under the fat weight, not of the cow, but of the farmer.


We smoke Marlboro Lights.



This is at the intersection of capitalism and mysticism. This is at the intersection of self harm and self knowledge.


When there are too many boys around some of us would advance and some would retreat and some would leave our bodies to get them to look at us.



When there is a shift there is excess heat that stagnates to grime. The glitter mixes with sweat. The glitter drips down. You are sparkling tears of sweat. The odors emerge putrid. They emerge in the half solutions of capital, of product placement, of idolatry.

They emerge as the same blood you fear trickles down your arm without the stench, redder.  From your arm you sense the complete satisfaction of being a girl who knows what she wants, however circuitous this method may seem. So you cut away. And you cut through and towards. You literally open yourself as a whole vagina for the taking or the submitting, but instead of cock there’s mystery.

Then we are laughing, some girls on a big rock in the middle of the park, and I don’t want to be laughing with them I want to be fucking, and I know that boys can be fucked, but I don’t want the boys I want the fucking and this is a serious dilemma because the desire for fucking takes me out of my ability to control myself, or feel embodied, or feel okay. Fucking is so large it is everything. Fucking is so wide it’s not just one boy it’s all boys. Is not just one it’s all.  Most sex feels neutral. Most penis feels arbitrary and disappointing. The feeling I want is fucking of everything at once: time, mystery, color, sound.

I abandon myself to this want. It does not want me in return. It pulverizes. Blush, blood, agony.


Swollen arms. Swollen ribs. Sore throat.

How to be girl-force where culture asks her to be nothing or everything, want nothing or want everything.

So we throw up our food. Tongues on the floor.


The food is no longer food it is energy. Energy like oil should stay in the ground. The food needs to stay, needs to be digested to work. If you take out the food the system fails. If you take out the oil the system fails. The symptoms arise. The canker sores and sore throat. The stomach ache and nausea. Systems all have their intertwining connections. Honor their connections and even when there is illness there is flow, even when there is death there is flow.


Without food there is no flow.





Cornelia Barber is a New York writer. In her dual writing and healing work she investigates lineage, intimacy, race and the psychic and physical ecologies of people, plants, places and animals. Her work can be found in The Wanderer, Prelude, The Felt, Berfrois, Fanzine, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Entropy, Weird Sister and more. Her poem “Pink Metal” won the Luna Luna Magazine inaugural flash poetry contest on the theme of “Death,” and her manuscript Of Mouth And River was nominated as a Tarpaulin Sky Book Award semi-finalist. She is an editor at Queen Mobs Teahouse. You can read her blog Poetry Rituals: here