Coffee

Coffee

Cofee had a brain

which contained machinery

he knew it, felt it moving

like pitch through the veins

tangled throughout his big body

ragged waves of tidewater

seven nails bristled out

like quills of wrath,

his own red blood

turning to black.

 

Found poem, culled from pages 99, 140 and 141, of the novel Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor.  Originally published for National Poetry Month, on Found Poetry Review’s Pulitzer Remix Project.  Photo by NASA.

Comment to a Facebook Post by a White Woman Friend Who Voted for Trump

Comment to a Facebook Post by a White Woman Friend Who Voted for Trump

I’m sorry I could not reply on your Facebook post. At first it seemed light-hearted and cute; a meme asking if we could “all have a group hug and stop talking about politics now that the election is over.”  I was going to make a flippant reply, like, nope!.   Then I saw the meme cartoon of Hillary Clinton being urinated on that your friend posted on the thread, which you “ha-ha’d” and did not remove.

The conversation about the “Hispanics” you and your friends were having was feeling kind of… awkward, like it might veer off into a bad direction, so I stopped reading and tried to compose my thoughts, and realized that I needed to address them to more people than just you.

So, to answer your question…

No.  I don’t want a “group hug” with you, and here’s why….

I feel betrayed by you.  

My Black, Jewish, Native American, LGBTQ, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist, Latinx, and disabled friends, recent immigrants from around the world…  people who get mistaken for immigrants (and combinations of all of the above)—these are my people, these are my friends, and these are my family, and they are afraid.   These are people I love. They are the most interesting, most creative, most comassionate and loving people I’ve ever known.  Most of them have gone through a lot of things you and I will never be able to understand, but we can try.

They have been harassed, they have been sneered at, gay-bashed and beaten until they were almost dead, they have been repeatedly sexually abused, they have been disowned by their families, they have had racial and homophobic slurs hurled at them on a regular basis. They have had the crap beaten out of them by cops. Some live in fear of being killed by random strangers or the police because of the color of their skin, or for just for having the audacity to be themselves.  They have lived with large and small acts of discrimination and injustice for a very long time.

My friends and I—we have worked our asses off to know ourselves, be better people, overcome painful pasts, and help others do the same.  We have built communities that we cherish.  Those without the support of loving families have created their own.  We our your neighbors.  We are the clerk at the grocery store, we are artists and musicians, we are engineers, yoga teachers, librarians, cops and doctors, we are photographers, nurses, lawyers and teachers, we are writers, scientists, journalists and poets.  We go to your church and we sing in the choir, our kids are in the same class, we went to school together, we live all over the country, in the big city, the suburbs and on ranches and farms.

Eight years ago we had hope that the world might be getting better, kinder, more compassionate, and safer for us all.  Tuesday night, that hope was crushed, and a spotlight shined on the ugly reality that hatred, bigotry, sexism and intolerance are not only as bad as they ever were, but they have been thriving and growing.

The America we woke up to is not the one we thought we were living in.  

By voting for Trump and putting the Republican Party in power, you have shown me you don’t value women, religious diversity, people with disabilities, People of Color, immigrants, gay people, trans people, the environment, my friend, my family or basic human decency.  I overlooked the veiled racism you spouted when Obama was elected, but I will not forget this.

Things are getting ugly.

Since Tuesday, I am hearing the word “wetback” tossed around lightly in social media.  It’s a word I’ve only ever heard said with hate twice before in my life.  A word that my mother was taunted with when she was a kid, that she only spoke of once.  But that was before the Civil Rights Movement, and UFW, before people knew any better, I thought.

Wetback” is a word that I assumed went out of fashion because (in case you didn’t know) it is so blatantly racist and loaded, like the n-word—not something nice people say.  Ever.  But here it is, back in fashion.  Why?  Because Trump wants to emulate the horrors of Operation Wetback.  Somehow I had missed this tidbit in the news amidst all the other craziness.  Do you think it’s ok to kill people because they want a better life and a future for thier kids?

I overhear people in Target talking loudly about hating “all the Muslims” and that “all Muslims are terrorists,” while I’m shopping for clothes for my kid, and trying to dissapear into the clothing rack.  They didn’t notice me, or even care who heard them, and no one said a word.  What if my Muslim friends were with me?  What if their kids were here?

I can’t look at the news anymore, because the stories of kids being bullied, women being assaulted, David Duke and the KKK gloating is making my stomach churn.  I live in one of the most liberal and educated cities in this country, yet hate still happens here.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for my friends who live in rural, conservative areas.  My heart is broken for them.

We are worried. 

We are worrying about health care, pre-existing conditions, affording medication for our kids, and meds that keep some of us alive if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.  We have been burned before by Republicans on health care and we remember.

We are traumatized.

We are appalled at how many people in this country don’t care that a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women will be running this country.

We are reliving years of sexual harassment and abuse.

We are worried women will die without healthcare and access to safe abortions.

We are remembering the friends we have lost—children who committed suicide because they could not take another day of being bullied and children who were murdered for being gay.

We are worried that freedom of the press is under threat, and that freedom of speech will soon follow.

We are embarrassed at how the rest of the world sees our country.

We are scared.

We can’t believe we will have a government that denies global warming.

We are afraid that the desecration of land, water and sacred sites for profit and greed will now continue unchecked.

We are mourning the potential loss of institutions which have kept another World War at bay.

We are terrified that a volatile childish man will get us into another horrific war.

We are remembering that history has shown us how fast good people can go bad.

We are remembering being lied to about Iraq, Jim Crow, Auschwitz, and interment camps.

We are afraid of losing our civil rights, and that our constitution is going to be trampled.

We are desperately trying to explain this to our children in a way that won’t scare them.

Don’t tell me everything is going to be fine.  These fears are grounded in the reality of Trump’s, words and actions, his campaign platform, that of his running mate, and the Republican Party.  

Did you hear what they said? 

We are busy taking care of each other, of our communities, we are busy marching to show the world that hate will not win, we are grieving, sitting in shock, opening our homes and businesses to people who need a safe space, lighting candles and saying prayers. We are trying to get back to work, and back to taking care of our children and elders and desperately grasping for small moments of normalcy.

The last thing I want to do is hug you and stop talking about politics—I can’t stop talking about politics.

I am tired and sad, and I can’t say when, or if, I will ever trust you again.

A little something for Spooky Season

A little something for Spooky Season

Angel Fancies

Shy and peeking
through the cracks,
a spirit shivered white,
disturbed fleeting dust

fragile as new maple leaves,
the widow starts a-working
such warmth within the
vague spot of light which

fell from the open door,
bubbling ragged and
wispy wet poetry
from ribboned solitude

flight of frantic wings
around her shine
angel fancies,
blown up and away.

Continue reading “A little something for Spooky Season”

Savoring the Sweetness

Savoring the Sweetness

 

They walked in that pagan dream
wherein violets grew
distant flutes were playing,
stood alone in a wonderland
as the deer of legend ran past,
plum light intense around him

she loosened her hair, rearranged it,
wished she was wearing her
wrapper with the torn ribbon bows
he dared not look–in reverence
turned his glance from the
worshipful agony they shared

a holiday of silence as they sipped
from silver cups, attraction of
opposites, solidified by peril
hastily she touched his hair,
embraced him with the tenderness
of a crow calling the spring to come.

 
Found poem, culled from pages: 74, 77, 78-79,451-452, and 737 of the novel Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor.
Previosuly published on Found Poetry Review’s “Pultizer Remix Project” website for National Poetry Month, April 2013.  
Photo “Blue Forest Path,” courtesy of Nicolas Raymond under a Creative Commons license, www.freestock.com.  
 

Mr. Water Gate

Mr. Water Gate

Mr. Water Gate333333

 

Sour faced Mr.

water gate

gone to vote, rigged

                the entire burden

                         lazybones slapped

forget fact

                fiends in human form

forget

          America

children worshipped guns

he adored

stars

        brass

              his mother

Christmas.

 

Blackout poem from Page 642, Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor, 1955
Previously published on the Found Poetry Review’s Pulitzer Remix Project website, April 2013.

For My Immigrant Ancestors

 

Road to Nowhere Ethan Crowley
Road to Nowhere, by Ethan Crowley

Ode to Cardamom

Daughter of Kerala
the Queen of spices
ran wild in the monsoon forest
set sail on the backs of intrepid wanderers
and roamed the world for thousands of years
before she stopped in the snow,
bedraggled at a Bavarian merchant’s door
and was invited in to sit by the fire
to stay a few hundred years more.

Her warm flavor conjures the palaces of India,
intoxicating scents of Egypt, Greece and Persia.
These healing seeds of Sumer and Asia
were preserved in the dough rolled through
my grandmother’s speckled hands,
the sole survivor of her abandoned history.

The jar waits behind the coriander and cumin
and on the longest night of the year,
I grind the green seeds on my metate
slowly savoring the motion.
When the baking is done, and the flame has cooled
I pop a moon-shaped cookie, and my mouth
is filled with the flavor of my inheritance–
this smoldering spice sleeping sweetly
in a blanket of sugared lace.

 

Running

Running

 

I carry a picture of the two of us
about to walk to our first day of school
I clutch the sleeve of your blood-clot paisley shirt
that’s untucked itself from your brown corduroys
long hair and longer collar, defiant,
the shadow of our mother falls behind us,
my braids tight, I wear a green checked dress
my thin arms cling, wrapped tightly around yours
head leaned on your shoulder, gaze serious
I am trying to keep you with me—

You taught me to run on the balls of my feet
panting air quickly through our mouths like deer
extra oxygen pumping makes us fast
we fly over the dusty cracked concrete
past thirsty palm trees, drinking in moonlight,
leaping off curbs, through the weedy mud lot
bare feet floating over broken glass and pop tops,
I keep pace with the wind, you outrun me
fearing I’ll never catch up, I find you,
a laughing silhouette on the stairs.

That was before the door slammed
before the glass was broken—
before a needle ever went in
before they told you that you were stupid,
before you believed them.
I knew one day, you would just keep running,
but I didn’t know it would come on such
an ordinary day, a nothing day,
when I knocked on your door
and you just weren’t there.

For five years I scattered whispered prayers on
the Santa Ana winds, to blow through every
city park, jail cell, trash-can lined alley,
street corner, freeway bridge, and smoky bar
hoping they would find you.
I hiked alone on the Carrizo Plain,
stole a rock from the heart of the
San Andreas fault, where spirits dance
without heed or consequence,
so I could bring it to you.

You dug yourself out, like Lazarus
came back a prodigal son
they gave you a crown of sweet redemption
bathed in praise and washed in hallelujahs,
you tried to shake off your past, ran
over the Rockies, across the Great Divide
blew past the prairie’s wild horses, but
I could see a bloodless crooked finger
was still pointing
at your altar boy heart.

You made a bargain down there,
you knew a clock was ticking—
and some slithering thing
would come seeping
through the melting asphalt
to take you back,
and now it sitting in the corner
of this stark white room, where I am holding
onto your arm for the last time, your body is
the color of wrong, eyes yellow, like a cheetah

At dawn, a nurse wheeled in a tray
with coffee, and a plate
overflowing with pastries
before he quietly said,
it’s time.
I wanted to tell your stories,
I wanted to sing, or pray
your soul smooth, but I just
watched as you ran,
fast as deer, not looking back.

 

Previously published in volume 1, issue 4 of The Grief Diaries.