Tag Archives: political poems

Two In One

What others do not understand
when they say they see me as 
“half White and half Indian”
is that it it not like that at all
in here. In here 

it is crowded, no easy match of two
complementary parts;
two stunted, solid beings
instead trying to fit into one
tiny room and make it work
forever. Now and then 

they manage not to tangle;
usually this happens when
there is bounty for a short moment: 

right after making love or
in the presence of some other
exaltation of nature 
they find some briefly held comfort

and then the larger Me
who barely exists, who lurks between them
as mere shadow, feels substantial
for a second, maybe two; 

then again comes the jostling,
sharp elbows, awkward forgiveness,
sad angry damaged voices trying
to drown each other out
and claim the room.

Today when my body
read the news
of Notre Dame burning 

one of the ones within cried
while the other thought
of all the carved
sacred mountains
that have forever gone
ungrieved

and the shadow Me inside
cowered as they drew knives 
forged of blame and guilt,
held them to each others’ throats
as they have so many times before.

My body did not know 
how to hold it all.


To Protect And Serve

Status quo for them is
scraping challenges
to their status quo
off the pavement. 

Par for the course
when one of them puts
a hole in one 
who they’ve decided

isn’t a member 
of their club.
Protect 
and serve?
They serve it to 
anyone

in their way, something
heavy, something
so heavy it stops
the breathing. The code

of silence roars out
loud and 
clear: blue line
offering a cloaked invocation
of infallibility.

Accuse them of being themselves
and they’ll slip away like mercury
across courtroom floors;
lay a finger on them if you dare

and die like the rest. Watch
their lights flashing and think
of flame — blue as a torch,
a gas jet. Watch them smile

at the burning: a sport,
a game, a little bit of play
with a storm of win and lose.
Watch them watching us 

and not caring much
about what we might see.


Red Hole Dreams

I’ve woken up
in recent days
from dreams of fascists
with red holes dead centered
in their dead foreheads.

Whenever I do,
I sweat this urge out of me.
Smoke bathe it away
until all that is left
is a lingering residue:

unholy joy.


Mercy

…He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. — from the Declaration of Independence, in reference to King George III

It is good to see it. To see it
in print. To see the evidence of
how the mythology was created
from the beginning, at the inception
of the experiment. No wiggle room,
no interpretation can hide it.

There can be no mercy for those words.

“Indians and wolves are both beasts of prey, tho’ they differ in shape.” — George Washington

“If ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississippi… in war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy them all.” — Thomas Jefferson

It is good to see it. To see it
in print. To see what mercy
would be afforded to those
deemed merciless by those
incapable of mercy. To see language,
studied and measured, put into
the service of preparing genocide. 

There can be no mercy for those words.

“I don’t go so far as to believe that the only good Indian is a dead Indian, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

It is good to see it.  To see
those words in print. To see
how casual it all became to them,
how easily the mask of mercy
slipped to reveal merciless humor
behind. To see how far they’ve come
from fear to utter contempt. 

There can be no mercy for those words.

“In recent years, and even decades, too many people have forgotten that truth. They’ve forgotten that our ancestors trounced an empire, tamed a continent, and triumphed over the worst evils in history…America is the greatest fighting force for peace, justice and freedom in the history of the world. We have become a lot stronger lately. We are not going to apologize for America. We are going to stand up for America.” — Donald Trump

It is good to see it.  To see it
in print. To see how it all remains
in force, the myth of a merciless Other
pushed by the truly merciless Among Us
in the name of All Of Us, the story
of the tamers implacable against
the unspeakable wild, the lumping
of all opposition into a bucket
of great evils. Seeking mercy here
is a fool’s errand, and for those unfooled

there can be no mercy for so much more
than those words.


Signs Of The Next World Arriving

Dragons originate
in cones of fire,
hang lit and glowing 
low in evening sky.

Some people
fancy themselves
warriors on
worn, dank couches.

Others reach
into their chests
to pull actual weapons from
long concealment.

The air
becomes so warm
no one will be able to recall
any dream ever again.

Ash on every tongue 
except for those 
used to licking
boots and gold;

their starvation
will take
a little longer
to commence.

If there is an Angel, 
no one will know it
until its last trumpet echoes
are almost faded out.

As for our children,
they will surrender 
themselves to fire,
to ice, to flood,

to earth cracking,
to the ravenous
remainder of us, and some will 
certainly die. Some will no doubt live:

learn to ride dragons,
how to bury the past,
how to bury the dead
so they stay dead

and do not come back:
no resurrection,
no glory for what’s gone.
No letting it up from its grave.


White Smoke

the pale-faced
standing around

crush and grind
brown art then

roll it up and
burn it down

they’re high on 
theft

they don’t see it
that way

at most they’ll claim
it’s about admiration

any appropriation
an innocent mistake

but make no bones
about it — certainly

not the bones
they flicked aside

before they lit up — 
they know exactly 

what they have done
high on stolen lives

they create
what they call

a vibrant multicultural
experience

that from this angle
just looks more like

more of the usual
white smoke


Gardner Street

Gardner Street,
where the cobblestones
no longer hide under
asphalt, axle-breaker
road, commonly used
when cutting from Main South
to the faster route to downtown, 
the one not as direct but with 
fewer obstacles once you get past
the hard historic rumble
of Gardner Street. Then again,

even though driving down Main Street
offers a straight shot there,
it’s never been easy to get to
our shiny downtown
from Main South, even before
the rebuild, the driving out
of the old tenants, the tear down
of the old church, the ripping
of old fabric in favor of something
artisanal and pure and much more
wholesomely rough; if they haven’t
paved a condo courtyard down there 
with vintage cobblestones yet,
they will. 

Back on Gardner Street, right near
the new Boys and Girls Club

(located off of what they used to call
Kilby Street until someone decided

that name reminded too many
of those who ran the corners there;

GPS still calls it Kilby Street
though all the signs are down and trashed)

drivers not already
in the know
keep slamming into that open pit of cobblestones
and hard brake
or break down hard.

Townies know better

what’s under
every shiny new surface.
Know what will render
your shiny ride useless.
Know what it means
to be shined on. Know
what their streets 
used to hold. Know
real people live
on Gardner Street

and they don’t always 
just pass through.


This Place

This place:

messes and 
deliberate fractures,
victims strewn far and wide,
their hope crunching underfoot
like broken windows.

Also this place:

geological beauty;
light, color saturated through;
deep songs for the easy grace
of unstressed human being.

Not hard to understand
how one can look
at the entirety

and burn though
with the urge to stop loss
and fold the wounded
into an embrace and
turn oneself
into a shield, 

then explode with lust for
punishment
of the guilty, 
death rage against
the wreckers.


How It Will End

If only it could end
as a bad dream ends,
with no resolution except that waking
reveals that none of it was true.

If only it could end
as a fairy tale ends, with all of them
swallowed up by something improbable
that sweeps them out to sea for good.

If only it could end 
as a good movie ends, with heroism
and vanquished villains
and a sunset bright as dawn.

It won’t end that way, 
of course. It’s going
awry and sideways and
no one is going to win.

It won’t end that way
because someone is making
a different movie, telling
a different fable, scaring us from sleep.

It won’t end that way
because we can’t imagine those stories
are ours, because we like to think
we’re awake; because they own the night

it won’t end the way we want.
Not in light. Not in sunset
or dawn. Not unless
we steal the night from them, and soon.


Say No

Say no
to the poisonous dead
who run this world
from their mausoleums. 

Say no
to killing rules determined
by the tyrannical dead
in other times.

Say no 
to how our language
was etched by the venom
of those savage dead.

Say no 
to boundaries that cast out
those living beyond those limits set
by the narrow stinging dead.

Say no 
to the rotten dead
who built this world
they do not have to live in.

You are alive.
Why do you allow yourself
to be changed and molded
by the venomous dead?

You are alive.
They stole your birthright.
Why do you bow and scrape
before the impotent dead?

Say no
to the dictates of the dead,
their corpse dominion, their 
insistence upon tradition.

Say no
to the insistent dead. That’s all
it will take to upend society.
Stop living as if they still ruled.

Say no
to the vainglorious dead.
Leave their bodies below ground.
Leave their ashes on the ocean.

Say no
to taboo and stricture.
Say no to the frantic dead
who still long to hold you down.

Say no 
to the decomposed dead 
who should
nourish, not govern.

Say no
to the stubborn dead
who have been stuck in memory
long after they should have melted away.


This Nation

this nation has 
so many chances
to blind a person

from how
land and sea
appear gemlike 
whether up close
or from afar

to how staggering
ideas of its mythology
can become

from musical blessings
bestowed upon
those passing by

to how a random smile
from a stranger
might shift perspective
ease pain
offer comfort

this nation has so many ways
to indulge in camouflage 

blood in its soil
is easily missed
is sponged up quick
used to paint flags


” Ce n’est pas un poème sur un balai”

To be a broom is to be —
if you’re lucky —
old school,
built of wood and straw;

of course, you could be
metal and plastic and 
still get the job done
but somehow I suspect

you’d be yearning
to bristle naturally
at the cobwebs and grime
of the world.

Maybe you could
hope against all hope
to be a pushbroom,
industrial in size

and scope, heaving aside
the remains of work
with great arcs and strokes,
guided by a professional hand?

To be a broom 
would be an odd dream
come true for some
who lie awake wishing

to cleanse, 
to remove and leave behind
only shiny and new and
devoid of all except what you

countenance as useful
and needed. It would be
the perfect manifestation
for people like that —

people yearning
to empty great spaces
of those they see as dirt;
once they’d transformed

I could take them and put them
carefully 
into a corner or closet,
forget about them, leave them
to gather dust.


Frogs

It’s gonna be OK,
new awakening,
new birth,
resurgence,
gonna get it all
figured out,

some say.

It’s a puzzle
how we got here,

some say.

OMG,
damn,
sigh,
who could have guessed,

some say.

Meanwhile
those long suffering masses
grown tired of screaming it out
sit on their worn hands
and aching legs

and say:

stop just reacting, 
proving as we suspected
that you’ve never listened 
to us;

it’s 
an insult and a 
crime to see your 
shock;

did you think

we were just frogs
croaking on cue

from the swamp,

background nature, 
seasonal messaging
to be heard but never understood?

May this swamp rise.
May your ground sink.
May you learn to hear
what we say

before we drown together;
most of all,

some say,

may you
(pretty please

with a strychnine cherry
on top
if that’s the only way
you can hear this)

shut up.


Lazy Man’s Lobster

I shall honor today 

by eating lazy man’s lobster
out of a silk lined top hat,

butter slopping
aristocrat’s felt,

swigging leftover sherry
from the bottle.

I will honor today

by setting my feet 
on an autocrat’s skull

and sighing contentedly;
the smell of blood thick upon me.

I will build upon today

when I get my fat ass up
and make this mansion over

into shelter for thousands,
although right now I’m too full

of lazy man’s lobster
and sherry and port and bloodlust

to do more than acknowledge
how easy it would be

to just move in and take on
the mantle of the master.

I will honor tomorrow

only after I vomit
the greasy richness

that seduced me
onto the marble,

push myself away from
this bad table,

whistle
a Who song

about a boss as I 
walk away from the pyre

of this old world
toward something

terribly different,
differently terrible.


Improving Your Lie

It’s rumored that you’ve admitted
to being an atheist in private 
while praising God in public. 
Come clean. You will gain new fans
and the old ones
will find a way to negate it
as they’ve negated
all the rest.

It’s rumored that you love
young skin. No swimming
in the blood of virgins for you, though —
you prefer to just grab hold and 
wait to see if it gives itself up to you.
Come clean 
and admit it —
oh, but you have, 
haven’t you?
You’ve all but danced upon

a field of their bodies in an arena
and no one seems to care.

It’s rumored that while you are as dumb
as stonecutter tools, you can be wielded
effectively in the smash before the grab.
Come clean — America loves a fool, prefers
an idiot to a genius, thinks any other organ
or muscle trumps a brain hands down,
no matter how small the hands in question.

It’s rumored that rumors make the man.
Come clean — you started half of them,
didn’t you? Self-invention as a path
to the narrow edge of the Big Jump.
Maybe you even think that if there is no God
there’s a void you can fill? Maybe you think
they love the way you touch them? Maybe
you think you really can think, do think,
are the greatest thinker in the moment
we’re in? Come clean — clean as a dog whistle,
clean as a golf ball clearly arcing
toward the rough — not that it matters much
where it lands, right?