high on burning photographs #4!

January 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm (buy my zine!)

…is out now. here’s what the cover looks like!


this one’s about sobriety & betrayal, singlehood, the bizarre ways that ACT-UP inadvertantly trickled into my suburban childhood, tough girls, wacky stories, inspiration & a whole lot more. here is the first page of the intro, as a teaser:


it’s going to be $1, or two stamps, or a trade, via the USPS. sorry, i can’t send out any free zines anymore–postage rates have gone way up this year (it’s more than just the penny increase to stamps–the USPS has all sorts of sneaky ways to make mailing certain things more expensive, which is a huge blow to independent publishers [from zinesters to publishing houses] and prison book programs, which are two of the reasons i get up in the morning. oh, i could go on & on, but i won’t) and i am broke like everyone else.

if you’re in pittsburgh, just ask & i’ll give you one.

i don’t take paypal, so send stamps/well concealed cash to:

ocean capewell

po box 40144

pittsburgh, pa 15201 (if you know my home address, feel free to use it)

i love trades! zines, mix tapes, smiling vegetables, candy, etc.


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carpal tunnel zine–out now!

June 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm (buy my zine!, non-fiction)

zine cover

(sorry about the shitty scan, i’m at work and i have to be at least somewhat covert about what i’m doing.)

yes! after about 3 months of off-and-on work, the zine is done! i wrote it because i fucked my wrists up this spring while washing dishes for $, and every carpal tunnel book i checked out of the library was about how to re-arrange your cubicle more ergonomically or some shit. what about us people stuck behind dish sinks, cash registers, stripper poles, handlebars, drills and the like? this zine is my attempt at bridging the gap. the subtitle, in case you can’t read it, says “a zine about carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and how to keep yr job from ruining yr life.” that’s a pretty good description of the contents. i tried hard to make this possibly boring subject as non-boring as possible.

it’s $2. (or $1+2 stamps or a trade, for those of you who want to “keep it real”)

send that to:
ocean capewell
p.o. box 40144
pittsburgh, pa 15201

distros and info-shop workers, please get in touch! i am very into this being spread far and wide.

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this piece is extremely irrelevant to my life right now….

June 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm (non-fiction)

…but what the hell, i still think it has its merits. published in the purchase independent in early ’07 and in pomp and circumstance in summer ’07.

a bridal guide for queers who like to fuck shit up
by ocean capewell

I was riding Metro-North back to our lovely school the other day, adrift in a sea of largely bland Westchester humanity. My line of vision drifted to the hand of the dude in front of me, for some reason. I noted that he had a wedding ring on his left hand, but instead of residing on his ring finger, it nestled happily on his middle finger. Whoa! I thought. Wouldn’t it be awesome if he was queer & he chose to wear his ring on that finger as kind of a fuck-you to heteronormative society? I envisioned throngs of angry queers storming city hall, their be-ringed middle fingers thrust skyward. Magazines like the advocate and Curve would write articles on this trend that would allow one to get married while still subtly broadcasting the “we’re here, we’re queer, we haven’t quite assimilated yet” vibe.
This man who so inspired me was probably wearing his ring on his middle finger due more to a bad fitting job than a desire to take a hammer to heterosexism. Still, for a second I had a grand vision of using my left middle finger for something other than flipping off bad drivers.
But, whoops! That’s not going to happen. My long-term love is an anarchist & doesn’t want the government involved in our relationship. I hate material culture, we’re both broke as hell, & we’re both female-bodied & female-identified. So, no wedding bells will toll. My current dream of walking down the aisle holding a bouquet of broccoli (my bridesmaids, bunches of kale) will never come to pass in any legally sanctioned way. I will continue to harbor the fear that my girlfriend will get hit by a car and I won’t be able to visit her in the hospital because I’m a “legal stranger”. I can envision telling an indifferent doctor, But you don’t understand. We dance on the roof together. Once we rode our bikes through a dust storm, and I rode through the city with my eyes closed, just following the sound of her voice. Her parents, who don’t know anything about her, will have the right to make decisions about her care and take her away from me. All this could be changed with a little trip to city hall. Except it can’t.
We’ll go on being girlfriends, and on some level that’s fine. Neither of us ever wanted to be anyone’s wife. We both had the same queer punk zine as teenagers, before we knew each other, and we both cut out the page with a picture of a nuclear family and a house in the suburbs. It said QUEER: THE PRIVILEGE TO IMAGINE MORE. I stuck it on my notebook in New York, she stuck it on her bedroom wall in Pennsylvania. We saw the bloated excess of suburbia, we saw the dysfunction of our nuclear families, & we wanted more.
A lot of my high school friends are engaged. They sit in their apartments with their fiances/fiancees and argue gently about china patterns. They have terse lunches with other couples and discuss safe subjects. Just a few years ago they were full, intense, passionate people; now they’re completely content with being a half. I am not content with just being a half. I have everyone, everything. I am “married”, on facebook, to a gay man. We celebrated our “wedding” by wrapping my scarf around both of our necks and taking pictures with his imac. I feel like half of an old married couple with one of my housemates, because we share a shopping cart at A&P, and it was buying broccoli with her tonight that inspired me to write this article anyway. I can have passionate relationships with everyone in my life & not feel sealed off because the government says i only love one person.
& fuck that. I want more. My friends & I, we raise our voices & sing, & shout, & when we do we can hear a new world coming. I promise you.

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sestina for team dresch

June 2, 2008 at 11:19 am (poetry)

[note: the dictionary definition of sestina is: “A verse form first used by the Provençal troubadours, consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in varied order as end words in the other stanzas and also recur in the envoy.” i am obsessed with sestinas and i absolutely adore writing them. i find the structure oddly freeing. i cheated slightly on the envoy–it’s supposed to end on one of the ending words, but i didn’t want to sacrifice impact for the sake of a few arbitrary rules. anyway, here is one i wrote for the greatest queer punk band of all time.]

sestina for team dresch
by ocean capewell

so long ago, we only had scrawled letters
sent with re-used stamps. we only had tapes
of albums, copied and copied again, until
the guitars were distorted, but the words
stayed clear. the words were what
mattered. because we were fourteen and queer

when it was really fucking disgusting to be queer,
even if we were subtle. even if we only said it in letters
to girls halfway across the country, who knew what
it was like. girls who would listen to mix tapes
on the bus, covering up the stupidity with words
about kissing girls, unable to wait until

the day it would actually happen. i couldn’t wait until
i got the fuck out. where i could wear the word queer
like a good tattoo, not an embarrassing scar. not a word
to hide from. i knew it would happen; because of the letters
and the fuzzy voices i played hundreds of times. the tape
wore thin. i flipped it over. i honestly don’t know what

else could have saved me. what
could have told me to hang on until
the end, besides her handwriting, besides the tapes
that said, “she is everything”, that said, “queer
sex is great, it’s fun as shit.” i quoted it in letters.
“don’t kill yourself cuz people can’t deal with your brilliance.” words

on my shoe, so i could read it all day. until the words
became a part of me, something they couldn’t take. no matter what.
the night i left that tiny town i burned my letters.
i didn’t want a past. i watched the flames rise until
they were ashes. i was homeless for being queer;
i couldn’t take them anyway.but i took those tapes

and it wasn’t so bad. the voice on those tapes
said it was all emotional blackmail anyway. the words
said i could choose my own family. and i did. those queers,
i loved them so hard i didn’t know what
to do. we made each other home. we danced in the kitchen until
we collapsed. we screamed the things i’d only heard in letters.

what else could it be but magic: making those tapes
into a map, a letter that led us to each other. queers
screaming those words, until we didn’t need to anymore.

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not titled yet

June 2, 2008 at 11:04 am (poetry)

we are building forts out of dictionaries. shiny ones stolen
from chain bookstores; peeling-spine editions from library
booksales. dictionaries with the pages moldy. with the definitions
quaint. light, pocket-sized, wood-pulp editions. i used to have a dictionary
that i used as a weapon, checking the house for robbers.
it was so big i needed both hands to hold it, my fingers
stretched wide, clutching words close to my heart, ready.

i have donated it to the cause. our wall
is four inches higher. those words, not delineation
but armor.

when i looked up the word unlearn i forgot it would make a hole
in our fort, the size of the side of a book, that a bomb
could slip through. the walls wavered. the floods made the pages
crinkle. the locusts ate the definitions. when i looked up the word
inspiration your pictures tumbled out. i tucked them in. i couldn’t
look at your face, doomed and luminous. i didn’t need to look up

the other words, the worst words. i knew them already. i needed
to look up something good, needed to see the tiny illustrations. i lied:
i needed to see your face again, even though i know
what comes next. but i shut the dictionary, and shoved it into the hole.
i didn’t want to, but we were at war.

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writing about myself in the third person.

May 30, 2008 at 3:52 pm (about the author)

(on the left, showing long island some love from the inside of a photobooth at the andy warhol museum, pittsburgh, pa may 2008.)

ocean capewell used to get in trouble for answering the phone rudely when she was in the middle of writing a story. her parents’ friends were horrified at the snarled, “what??!!”, not knowing what they were interrupting, not knowing how hard it is to get started again when you’re interrupted in the midst of inspiration. now she has a cell phone and lives alone, and misses being so completely wrapped up in writing that nothing came before it. she is trying to get back to that pure place: seven years old & writing in notebooks until her hand was sore, going so fast, trying to get it all down. genuinely not giving a fuck.

ocean capewell has been writing stories since 1987, poems since 1990 and zines since 1996. despite things getting thrown out, computers getting stolen, lovers complaining about their unfair portrayal, computers crashing, boneheaded critiques, wrists getting sore and life getting crazy, she has no intention of stopping.

ocean capewell is currently working on her first book. she is about 1/3 of the way done, after a year of on-again-off-again work. she would be further along, were it not for the distractions of hilarious friends, cute girls, overflowing glasses of rum and coke, chatty wingnuts, cake in the oven!, aching wrists, psychotic work schedules and the like. ocean’s book is about overflowing dumpsters, stupid men, catastrophic illness, hot queer makeouts, and a compost pile gone horribly wrong.  it’s about fighting for something real and making something out of nothing. it’s about solidarity, kale, girl love, and the families we make when our own leave us behind. and a whole lot more.

ocean capewell was born in queens and raised on long island. she does not have a new york accent, but her father does. she left home young & lived in a lot of places but is now semi-settled in pittsburgh, pa, where she grows vegetables, mails books to prisoners and sings karaoke.

ocean capewell thanks you for being here.

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