Daily Archives: December 6, 2016

Thanks Due

to the co-worker
who got into my face
thirty five years ago
and called me selfish 
for having no children,
planning to have none,
and refusing to explain why;

to the dentist who looked over
my prescription listing, saw
Lithium and Seroquel,
then asked me if I lived 
in a group home
as he picked at potential cavities
in my blood filled mouth;

to the supposed buddy
who suggested,
none too gently,

that I was too “addicted to 
recreational arguing”
when I pushed back
with passion upon

her dismissal of
my rising fears;

to the manager who chided me
for not being a leader, 
for being too moody,
for wearing my sorrow
too openly,

for exuberance beyond measure
in strange moments,
for in general

not fitting the mold;

to all the friends who set me aside
for my toxicity and disturbances
of our social fabric, to all the friends
who stepped away and turned away
because I was difficult, to all the friends
who laughed it off and said I needed
Jesus or sleep or exercise or smudging
or less of one food and more of another,
less of one drug and more of another,
less of my headspace and more of theirs;

to the therapists who didn’t listen
or did and misheard 
or did and heard right but
cared only for the text book answers
and the end of the fifty minutes
couldn’t come fast enough
until there I was, standing outside
yet another door.

Thanks due to all
for those rides along this road
that got me here 
on this December night — broke 
and broken, old and
in the way, terrified of 
real demons afoot in the land
and not just in my head.
Because of them

I know how to bite a bullet
and not chamber it.
I know how to
look pity
in its jaundiced eye
and spit
the same way I spit
into clueless
dismissals and clumsy attempts
at comfort.

I may be 
all messed up,
but damned
if I don’t suspect

that I’m better equipped 
for what this
messed up country

is about to do
than some of my 
well-adjusted 
friends and acquaintances
will ever be.


Tired, Awkward, Stretched Thin

We’re tired, we’re awkward,
we’re stretched
as thin as can be,
and there’s still so far to go.

We don’t know yet
how far there is to go.
Outside of these safe enclaves
filling now with misery and fear

are smug men waiting
to chop us up and eat us
and we don’t know yet 
when they will pounce.

Outside of the bubbles
we live in
are knives and needles
and white, white anger

infused with glee, 
and we don’t know when
they will pierce through
to us

the way they’ve always 
pierced through to 
others not as fortunate
as we have been. In fact,

we’re stretched thin and
awkward and tired
at least in part
because of how weak

we’ve become. Other folks
have lived this way
for a long time.  These are just
the latest set of knives 

to them, maybe a little swifter
and sharper, maybe a little more
openly wielded, but these are 
the same old edges and points

they have always faced
when only rarely were we
standing alongside them
on the barricades — so, know this:

memories around here
are long, sharp,
tired, and awkward;
mercy 
is stretched thin,

and we look too much
like past accommodation, future
complacency, and current enemy
to expect a full embrace.


Our Place

In this over-arching argument
no one can agree on 
definitions.

One side’s survival
is another’s 
unearned special treatment.

One side’s prosperity
is another’s 
starvation and bleak winter.

One side’s comfort 
is another’s 
incarceration.

Our language
is our worst enemy
these days. 

That sounds heretical from a poet?
It is a heresy, so —
yes. It sounds blasphemous?

No. No because
I say it in fear and reverence
for our tongues: our language

is against us, and to say that
is not to blaspheme
but to lament 

how far we may have to go
to gain ground upon it, reclaim it,
to hold it close once again.

Maybe it’s time to 
surrender metaphor.
Maybe it’s time

to be silent
before our foe and
act, not speak.

Not that it will stop
us, of course, from
wrestling words

as we always do — that would be
like asking us to
not breathe — not that

there’s no precedent
for that in any history
of similar battles — stop 

breathing, poet
has been a war cry

so often on so many fronts —

so perhaps 
we have a place
now, an urgent mission

to be heretical
without blasphemy
and make language over,

to show up
in this battle
with every word we can.