Daily Archives: May 28, 2019

Skin Or Flag

We depend upon
a fog of hope 
to keep us from 
having to admit

that we are tied to harm
with each step we take
and our march
to a better world
will kill someone
regardless of our intent

as the nature
of our privilege
is to keep us
from understanding
what level of poison
is required to maintain
all this glory
for our benefit;

even if we 
go to the right meetings,
the right parades
and protests; even if we
talk and walk
the proper talk and walk;

even if we are 
good and pure and
say our prayers at night,

the simple facts of
skin and flag
can shift us
from caring human to
unwitting monster
whether we walk
in dark or light.


Revised.  Originally posted 11/22/2017.

I made a box
in which I keep the work
of my whole life:

how to be this divided
self, how to speak of it,
how to stay alive.

In the box I keep my races,
my bad brain, the sticky moods
that won’t wash off;

stars and scars,
every ink-bitten mistake, 
each triumph over a mistake.

Sometimes I have to
crush what I put in 
to make it fit,

but it’s all in there, 
I promise. All of that;
all of me, except that now

someone has kicked it
and a side has split.
Someone has kicked it

and it’s not holding.
It’s all out there now.
I’m in danger of spilling out.

That which has been
crushed down and down and
compacted for long years is 

now visible. In this light
some of those triumphs
look now like mistakes,

have been so pressed into
one another for so long that 
they might ignite when exposed.

I can’t tell you what
is about to happen, 
other than that 

what’s spilling out
is possibly ugly and 
if it burns it may burn

toxic and if the box
goes too we’ll all
see me for real at last.

I stare onto the world
through the now-fractured corner.
It looks like a slot canyon, a space

between walls or bars.
It looks straight
and narrow. Surely

it’s better in here
than it is
out there

but I’m about to see
if that holds true
and for how long.