The line I used is “History has failed us, but no matter.” This is the opening line of the historical novel, Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee. It’s a gripping opening, similar to “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” and the novel more than lives up to its thesis statement, becoming my favorite book in 2020.
You borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbors, knowing they will never get it back
not completely, not even if a slice of fresh baked German chocolate cake is shared
in return, in gratitude, and yet if they have it, it’s yours.
Next week they may need two cups of flour and if you have it to give, you give, and still no one is keeping score.
During these unmeasured exchanges, they may toot the horn of their beloved’s achievements as you nod and smile,
never bringing up that someone sounding a lot like them through the walls has taken to midnight sobbing.
They will politely pretend not to notice your puffy, bloodshot eyes as well.
Perhaps you may share a glass or two of red wine and trite cliches as facile lies go unscrutinized, failing to not undress themselves
as somehow no one falls apart in this fleeting reprieve from physics.
When parting, one of you will ask the other – as if it matters – if they have everything they need,
knowing the answer will be a resounding yes, and yes, again, a lie will go unchallenged as both return to respective bubbles to bake
nutrient-deficient treats to be consumed with scarcely a thought of gratitude.
Written for NaPoWriMo: Day 3 – I’m off-prompt today, as today’s prompt felt a bit too much like an Ikea furniture build for me. But go check it out for yourself if you like your prompts to be of the more involved variety.
Imagine a world where property value, tax-paid infrastructure, the rule of law,
justice’s infuriatingly slow machinations,
tact, decorum, gold prices and golden manners,
collective peace-of-mind, tranquility of greater-good, and the easy flow of status-quo traffic
and blissful return to whatever we consider our communal normal
were all more important
than the unconscionable completely avoidable death of your son, or brother, or father, or lover.
Really imagine it though, and feel free to sub-out and imagine your daughter, sister, or mother instead
murdered by the state;
I didn’t recommend it because I’m no monster.
Now sit with that moment, that overcooked despair and rage as your civic institutions tell you with a dismissive shrug
that his death was unavoidable, his assailants, servants of the state are good and normal in completing the task of snuffing-out his light
and your reaction to his completely avoidable death is completely unreasonable and lives as proof of the sole reason why guys who look like him
– and yes, who look like you too –
are routinely slaughtered by the state-sanctioned violence in the first place.
He’s never coming back, his voice forever silenced
and there is no one with leveraged power to champion his cause, to validate your grief,
nowhere to turn to wring meaning from your loss.
What would you do? What is your next move?
Whatever you decide, best be quick about it.
Monday’s coming, and you’d better be on time with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.
Wouldn’t want to give anyone within the superstructure the wrong idea that you’re angry or resentful
or one of those malcontents out there disrupting the established order. ***
“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
Ethel’s Club – Black-owned and operated social club offering access to Black therapists and a multitude of creative events for People of Color.
Crisis Text Line – A different approach to crisis intervention, Crisis Text Line offers you help when you text 741-741. You’ll be able to chat with someone who is willing to listen and provide you with additional resources.
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