Monthly Archives: September 2017

Self-Care, Self Care

People keep saying
self-care, self-care,

then back to the front,
back to the struggle.

What do you do if
self-care is the site

of the struggle? When
the struggle is about

the medications being
too dear, the therapy being

uncovered. When the struggle 
is about the job being

too scant, the money
no longer elastic enough.

When the struggle is
about your face betraying 

the nations within you.
When you ache hard

to get back to the war
you’ve always known

was yours to fight, but 
other aches pin you

to the couch. When you long
to rise on fire for those you love

but they instead stroke your hair
and pity you with their honest eyes

as fear wells up in your own,
bubbling up from former depths

that silted up long ago, 
that have never been dredged. Self-care,

self-care, then back to the front,
back to the struggle. That’s what

is said.  But self-care, self-care,
your eyes always on you,

is how you got here,
and now

you look up into the honest eyes
of those who pity you and say:

how is the battle that I am
worth fighting? And back to the front

you go, struggling
to answer that question.


Blue Cow

When the first plane took off,
began its approach, 
I was a blue cow. 

When it struck the tower,
I was still a blue cow as
I felt my tongue seize
around my cud and then
I fixed my big liquid eyes
upon it happening,

but I was still a blue cow
all the way through the vision
of how some people became
bad birds flying down the sides
of the buildings, and then

I was a red ember wolf and then
a scarlet flame wolf and then I saddened
into gray all over.  I don’t have a name

for the animal I became then,
other than it was an animal that
felt all the others it had been
and longed to go back to being
an absurd blue cow,

and all the days since have been
a play in which a gray being, scaly
and remote, has stared at an audience
who believe with all their hearts
that they are seeing a blue cow
when they stare back.


We Were Told There Would Be No Math

Something has occurred to me.
I don’t like that. I thought I was done
with that. I’m 73% of the way
to average life expectancy and it’s
an imposition to be pushed too hard

to revive critical thought and 
discernment. Really want mostly
to slip through the remaining 27%
I’ve likely got left and settle into bed
one last time — oh, a hug would be

good too, and less pain, and less
concern about the hardness of living —
but here I am and here’s this new thought
about what I’m supposed to be doing,
and I don’t like it. In fact I’m terrified

of it. I feel like it’s going to rob me
of at least 75% of the 27% of time
I had left and take up 93% of my energy
and that will leave me less than I need
for hugs and slipping into bed and 

ending up comfortable when I’m done
breathing. Ideas and passions notwithstanding
I thought I was done and now the times
put ideas into my heads that someone 
ought to be making real, but why 

it has to be me I don’t know. I don’t
think it’s a God thing — I gave that up.
And I don’t think it’s a sense of obligation
to people in general — have you met them
in all their wasted splendor and sick clinging

to maintaining life as they know it? Somehow
it seems to have fallen to me and maybe
ten or fifteen million others to act upon
this thought that’s occurred to us, and 95%
of us are likely sitting in bed or at a bar

or at a kitchen table tonight while the family sleeps
and asking themselves why they’re 99% certain
that this new idea about what’s to be done,
this song of mayhem and disruption, needs us
to sing it, and how do we start, and isn’t there someone

or some cohort of someones
who know better than us how to do it
with 86% more efficiency and less injury
to themselves than we would incur, and 
why is it that these ideas always occur

to people like us who can look at what’s being asked
and understand what would be required of us
and understand the ridicule to come and the depth
of violence and pain to come from being
the ones with the ideas and the calling 

to follow through? All we want is to get through
the 57% or 35% or 68% of life expectancy we’ve got left
with as little fuss as possible and here it comes:
all the fuss, all the weight, all the dread and all
the obvious fear. We sit up in bed or at the table

or at the bar and say: we were told there would be
no math and look, there’s math.  There’s math about
calculated risks and divisions and separations and
the number of minutes we could stand to be tortured,
and the arithmetic processes of how to time a revolution

perfectly. I’m a long way from happy about this. I never
wanted this hugless, bloody, spitfire examination
that I will likely fail. I’m not prepared. I didn’t study.
I’m neither smart enough nor strong enough. I’m 
73% of the way to death without it and here it is

presenting a word problem: if a world view
gains power with 400% more hunger
than it showed before — it’s always been hungry
but now it seems fatally famished — and zero
concern for others,

and another world view starves
as the first feeds, how many of us
will it take to choke the first one dead,
and how long do you think it will take us
to get enough hands around its gargantuan throat?


Worms

The earth in the front yard’s 
worm-broken as always
after the rain.

So many castings on the surface,
thick red threads squirming
on the sidewalk.

I still don’t understand 
how anything lives here,
myself least of all,

but I do, and they do.
They seem in fact
to thrive somehow.

I don’t, not at all.
I’d go so far as to say
I’m bad at living; 

worse at it than
these worms are,
anyway.

It’s odd
how it happens
that one can end up

envying worms. I hope
some nice ones eat me
when I die. I know 

it’s not worms like these
I should be counting on
for that. These worms

aren’t the right type.
These worms look like
survivors, like they’d know

that you are what you eat.
That’s a good enough reason
for them to avoid me.

It’s raining, I’m waiting to die,
worms have come up from the wet
all over the yard, and I’m watching 

them from the window. If you need
anything beyond this
to understand me, be like the worms:

steer clear.

 

 


Dawn

I said I shouldn’t have to prove
my exceptional nature and skills
to be valued, that I am human

should be enough to make you want 
to care about me and not think of me as
a heap of dirt to be danced on 
like some grave. 

Then I looked around:
when has being human 
ever been enough?

I said that everyone came here
from somewhere except for those of us
whose folks were here already.

Then someone reminded me
of the Bering Straits and someone else
pointed at carved heads and said Africa
and another one laughed
and said Irish monks and let us not forget
the sky people from Sirius or 
Alpha Centauri,

and I realized
how much people
love the colonial buffet.

I said something about
a living wage and
not having to fear that
a broken turn signal 
might get you beaten
or jailed or deported or
killed. I said something

about people who had no choice
about coming here, about people
born here with no voice to be heard
here, about people burning here
and drowning here.

Then it struck me
that no one could hear a thing I’d said
over the sound of locks being locked
and deadbolts being thrown, guns
being cocked and hands being clapped
over ears and eyes.

I stopped talking long enough
to consider the possibility
that perhaps they heard me just fine
and that was why they locked
and loaded and shut themselves away.

I stopped talking.
I looked up.

There was
dawn in the air. It was lonely
but it was new. It might not have lasted
long but it was clean. It might
still have been night
but that hint of sun

felt sacred.


Tuesday

Released from caring
for a moment about
the state of the world

through the act of cleaning
all the kitchen cabinets
and reorganizing pots

and pans and too many
coffee mugs and making
donation piles and nodding

in sadness at the need to 
simply deport some things to
the recycling bin as if they

could be something other
than what they are and have been
for their entire lives and then

collapsing into the couch
coated in sweat and my sugar’s
been stupid high of late and

I should go to the doctor but
the co-pay is beyond my means
and it feels like there’s a nuclear war

under my skin until I shower
with the water turned up high and hot
drowning me almost like a hurricane

but thankful that I left the TV off
and stayed strictly away from the news
and kept the personal separate

from the political


Performative Allyship In The Days Of Revolt: A Treatise

 

Look at me
longing to flip tables,
pile and burn them
in front of temples
and banks. Look at me
dreaming.

Look at me 
with the words on my lips:
resist, disengage, revolt,
fight back. Look at me
pretending I’m an undeclared
war inside; look at me
dreaming

with whetstone
and oil and 
blade; look at me

pronouncing the old word,
“guerilla,” rolling it on
my lips as if I know
anything, anything at all
beyond wild dreams.

Look at me.

Maybe
the operative phrase here
is “look at me.”

Maybe
all I want is a stage and
a moment where I get to say
“pinch me, is this real 
or am I still dreaming
revolutionary dreams?” to
an audience and have them
come up on stage and pinch me
in lieu of taking a stab
or a bullet wound. We all get to
take part. 

My dreaming of 
righteous fury? That’s 

my honored part. You looking at me
as I do it? That’s

your glorious part.


When You Are Done

When you are done
wringing your hands
over spilled blood and
split bones, perhaps

you should look down
and see that the same blood
has puddled around your shoes
where it fell from your own hands.

When you are done
weeping over the plight 
and the pain and the history
of some big bitter words, perhaps

you can check to see
if your face is as red
as your hands were
when you were wringing them out.

When you are done
commiserating and thanking
and shoulder-clutching over
how bad it is, perhaps

you might set that shoulder
to the juggernaut’s wheel
where it sits lodged in the mud
that’s so red and deep now

from your wringing and weeping;
then, despite getting sloppy,
despite being scared, perhaps
you might push on it and see if it moves,

even a little.