Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Begins and Ends with Amina

What does the world
look like?
Like baby Amina,
who holds the phone
in one hand and slaps a place
between her forehead and ear with the other
and listens to me talk and talk
and makes a sense of it
that actively escapes me,
and she includes me anyway.

What does the world
look like?
The way you paint a picture
of the Van Gogh-smeared women
at the beach, your husband dying comfortably,
head in your lap to remind you of the love
that includes you anyway.

What does the world
look like?
Like the boy who is so much a man
that you know now he will leave
exactly as he should, and long before
you have forgotten his weight in your arms.
Leaves sooner than you wish,
but he takes your measure anyway.

What does the world
look like?
The way it did the day we built the fence
around the home of the woman
wishing to stay safe,
around the woman who we together
briefly loved and laid to an extra day
without despair and a longer moment
that includes us anyway.

Whatever does the world look like?
Like the green street that is my home
and the tall trees shading neighbors
and helping them to cross the shifting line
that separates them from me
until the moment of my need,
when they include me anyway.

Whatever does the world look like?
The way our heroes give what they have got,
and call on us for more
to make the point that heroes
come in groups of us
whenever we are willing,
including all the unincluded.

Whatever does the world look like?
Like the winding path you go,
bare and beautiful legs propelling,
your work ahead, the inhuman size
and shape of it, and all the coaxing and caressing
 to include the unincluded.

Whatever does the world look like?
The rest stop on the peaceful stretch of moral arc,
where we can dip our brushes
in the deepening hues of struggle and of conflict,
the message to include all of the excluded.

What does the world
look like to the baby
who has flung a kiss
so hard and far that we will spend
a lifetime happily trying to catch up?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And So I Say


Suspicion pulses from those gathered here for trial
My companion believes I’m fair, she thinks I will be good
She has been wrong before—she will be so, again
These others know all that for truth

I say make your judgment, if you will
I freely offer all my sins and pleasures
I do not know what you will do, yet I think that I can bear it

But if the verdict should somehow be that I am not so cruel as charged,
Let the record show you did your best and I did mine


What I have to say will have to do
for now,
for this,
for you.

This place is rich
and full of evening dark, and vast
and makes a cozy home
for transient souls,

which is to say
it is a nameless place
for nameless things
from where I wrote to you

before I became the bit that prowled your skin
and kissed so light and tender
you felt no sudden thrill or lasting heat;
just the little boost that comes with the sweet ripening of fruit.


What the children endure
is unendurable
They transcend
what cannot be survived.

And we know from knowing them
that were they not tough as turtles,
nor fleet as flying things,
nor comfortable as Friday fish,
nor relentless as wind,
nor guileless as tomorrow’s dreams
of tomorrow,

we could not have gone to there and back,
nor made so much of time.


The earth around us warms.
Our trembling cells
echo in waves
and wrinkle the land.

Soon we will slip our way
to the hot and wet and sweet place of reimagining
and emerge again to repopulate the evening dark.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Rubber side down

This morning, the voices were killing me. But they’ve always been there and often no problem, at all. I’m grateful.

But this morning, the voices were cutting me up. That doesn’t show on the map of my face, but the wounds are wet and throbbing, and who it is speaking is often not clear.

But this morning, the voices were massing with pitchforks, like for some Transylvanian hoedown. What were you thinking, asks one, and then they’re coming so fast,

so hostile the questions—
Did you mean to be so cruel?
To whom did you think you were speaking?
What is the statement that lurks in your question?
What did you think would happen?
How dirty will you get if you do it that way?
Who did this, was it you?
How did you get what you do not deserve?
Will you confess?
When will that happen?

Ad nauseum, ad nauseum, ad nauseum, ad mortem—
jumping in the car a better idea. Traffic’s Empty Pages the theme, but I do got something to show, and I’m carefully keeping the first commandment of motoring—
rubber side down. And the voices grow still.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Revolution Is Coming: Opening Remarks

Welcome, friends and comradely types.
Here is the list of organizations sending delegations.
As you listen to the names,
as your hearts swell with pride
in the difference we have made,
please imagine the faces of the people
who make these groups synonymous
with justice and sustainability peacefully earned.

Welcome to the delegations from
DC’s GazaBera Shirt Conspiracy,
and from Dayton,
the Obituary for Capitalism Writers’ Workshop;
from Chicago, the Sweet Voices of Reason
and Radical Change;

from just outside of Pittsburgh,
the Beating Heart of Committees
In and Out of Correspondence.
Welcome to the representatives
from North Carolina’s
Action Today, Action Tomorrow, Action Forever,

and welcome to our sisters and brothers from California,
the Rudder and Compass
of the Roundtable of Growers and Smokers.
Welcome to the delegation
from the Bi-coastal Dreamers of Salmon
and Clams and Eating Them, Too.

From damn near everywhere,
Catholics for Real Life
and Joyful Love Along the Way.
We welcome the representatives
from the Moveable Seder
of Jews Who Remember When We Were Slaves in Egypt
and, without irony, Palestinians in Solidarity
with the People of New Jerusalem.

Welcome, also, to the delegation from Michigan,
constantly morphing and growing like Topsy,
the Association of Women and Girls and Men and Boys
and All the Genders Between and Around
and the Workers Against Itty-Bitty Wages
and the Prisoners Solidarity Committee.

Give yourselves a hand.
Thank you.
Please take a moment now
to remember comrades who have passed,
the spiritual delegation of Presente!
aka, All the Friends We’ve Ever Known Who,
with Grace and Courage, Spoke the Truth
and Set Our Hearts and Minds on Fire.

Moving on, now,
we note a proposal
from Laity Naturally Concerned with Everything,
advocating outreach to the Granfalloon
of Drudgery, Cynicism and Bitter Despair,
an organization whose members include
immigrant bashers and homophobes
and a good number of redeemable haters.

This has been moved to the front of our agenda
by the acting convention chair
from We Want Less, We Got This.

To begin, we await only
the delegations from
This Millennium We Are Going To Get It Right
and from the Moral Arc of the Universe Bending.

While we wait, let’s turn to the person beside us
and give them a big, sloppy kiss,
or a whispered message about good times ahead.
Remember our lives together
depend on solidarity and action and, also and inevitably,
shameless exchanges of bodily fluids.
And now, I turn the gavel over to our chair
who will lead us in our efforts during the week ahead.

Thank you, friend.
I’m going to declare a brief recess
while we wait for straggling comrades.
We do have some hard work ahead,
so please take advantage of the moment
for a caffeine refueling or, perhaps, to share a doobie.