Monday’s Coming and We’re not Okay

Photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash

Monday’s Coming and We’re not Okay

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.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I borrowed these helpful links from https://tumblr.theblackout.org/

Donate/Boost/Sign:

Mental Health Resources:

  • 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.
  • Shine Text. – Black-owned! Sign up to receive cheerful texts and tips every day. 
  • Therapy For Black Girls – A Black-owned a directory to help you find Black therapists in your area. 

Tips for Organizing/Protesting:

Stay safe. Much love.

Day 30: Observations from a Past May Day

Photo by Randy Colas on Unsplash

Observations from a Past May Day

Shattered glass,
streets littered with trash,
defiant fists raised,
“peace-keepers” overwhelmed.

You can only push
cornered, hopeless folks so far
before they push back.

Tomorrow, streets will be cleaned,
windows boarded and replaced,
shops will reopen,

life will continue
as if the raspy cries
for fair wages and trades
had never happened.

The pulse of cosmopolitan life
requires each person
to know their place in the world
and do their part,

but what of those who
wholeheartedly reject the
collective vision?

They’re dismissed as crazy
until they begin to wake others.

Then they are swept away.

Next comes more broken glass,
sometimes on May Day, and
often on any random day
after disruptive, “crazy”
voices are silenced, but

that’s easily swept away too.

Pay those crazy, cornered,
fist-pumping folks no mind.

Tomorrow the stores will open on-time.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 30: Today’s prompt:

And last, but not least, our final (optional) prompt! In some past years, I’ve challenged you to write a poem of farewell for our thirtieth day, but this year, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something that returns. For, just as the swallows come back to Capistrano each year, NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo will ride again!

Sorry to end NaPoWriMo on such a dismal note. I could’ve gone with some type of spring renewal, but I guess I wasn’t there.

I was just sitting here thinking about how the COVID-19 pandemic will most likely (and rightfully) squash the May Day protests tomorrow, but our US (and nearly global) capitalist economy is just chompin’ at the bit to throw our sick, broken bodies back into the churn, risk-assessment be damned. I hear talk of rushing to get “back to normal”, and it just makes me wonder, normal in relation to what, exactly?

Thanks for hanging with me this month. I’ll see you back here next year, but until then, feel free to hang out and read my infrequent poetry postings.

Day 29: No Pets

Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash

No Pets

What can I say, Wolf?
I’ve never owned any pets.
Too much overhead, too much work,

oh, and also because of slavery.

Yes Wolf; I mentioned pet ownership
and slavery in the same breath,
but it’s not like you’re gonna call me on it;
you’re just a dumb dog,

one that’s been dead
for nearly thirty years.

But fine, I remember those soulful eyes,
so I’ll try to explain it.

There’s something to be said of those
unlucky in birth who persevere
against all odds
to overthrow their oppressors in triumph.

Americans especially love these
underdog stories,
as our recorded history is full of them.

But what of the other stories?

With Tubman, Douglass, and The Amistad
as outliers of four-hundred years of
mostly humdrum,
garden-variety slavery,
with all the standard rape, abuse, and
outright murdering of slaves too stupid
to mask their intelligence,

how many stories of the voiceless do we know?

It’s weird, Wolf. You were a dog – a beautiful
German Shepherd/Doberman Pinscher mix

 – but when I think of all the voiceless slaves
who were born and died in
unconscionable suffering,
I think of you.

To be honest, Wolf,
I haven’t thought of you in ages,
and that’s a shame, but

the less remembered
of your tragic life and death,
the better for me.

Or perhaps not; after all,
I’ve left your memory as it were, untamed,
but there it sits upon my return,
waiting patiently
only for me.

What if my sidestepping your legacy
is but one more injustice for you?

Our lives were intertwined for so long,
with much of the trauma descendent
directly from my ancestors in bondage.

You weren’t even my damn dog,
but I was your reluctant caretaker,
and there’s nothing poetic about
feeding you and cleaning up your shit,
but I felt your loyalty
and your agony in-kind.

Wolf, you were an idiot of a dog,
raised on ignorance and cruelty,
and yet you were still sweet and loyal.

I’d given up on hiding grandma’s tools
of discipline, as she’d just find herself
a sturdier switch to snap on ya,

but I taught you to sit using head-rubs
instead of grandma’s rubber hose;
you were always a good boy.

I wish I had told you that more.

I remember you having the audacity
to demand more head-rubs from me,
swatting at my hand with your paw
like Bunky the cat taught you,
and I happily gave them to you.

I wish I’d given you all the head-rubs.

But I’d graduated the basement
and fled to the Navy,
making the cut despite the odds.

I heard of your fate secondhand,
and I wept real tears over a freaking dog
that I didn’t even own

who lived his entire existence
chained to a waterpipe
in a half-finished basement,

life snuffed-out, most likely,
by someone well-known and trusted.

Can you imagine that?  

Anyway, yeah,
I’ve never cared for any pets.

Too much overhead,
too much work,
just too much.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 29: Today’s prompt:

And now for our daily prompt (optional, as always). Today, I challenge you to write a paean to the stalwart hero of your household: your pet. Sing high your praises and tell the tale of Kitty McFluffleface’s ascension of Mt. Couch. Let us hear how your intrepid doggo bravely answers the call to adventure whenever the leash jingles.

If you don’t have a pet, perhaps you know one or remember one who deserves to be immortalized in verse. For inspiration, I direct you to a selection from an 18th-century poem by Christopher Smart, Jubilate Agno, in which the poet’s praise for his cat ranges from “For he is docile and can learn certain things” all the way up to “For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes.” Personally, I’m lucky if my cat doesn’t just sleep the day away, but I find her pretty delightful all the same.

This was painful to write, and I nearly scrapped the whole thing. I kept trying to walk away from it, but it kept calling me back.

It’s unpolished, and I won’t be revisiting it at all, but Wolf deserves to have his story told.

Day 7: Iron Rain

Photo by Cedric Letsch on Unsplash

Iron Rain

Three-hundred, ninety years ago,
as millions of Central and West Africans
traveled involuntarily towards bondage
across the vast Atlantic in irons,
light began its unimaginable journey
of hundreds of trillions of miles
from an undiscovered star-system
where iron vapor condensed,
raining down from a night sky
of a planet twice the size of
our King Jupiter that none yet
on our good earth knew existed,
the faint light finally reaching
our astronomers last month.

News travels fast it seems,
but I guess for some,
not fast enough.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 7: Write a poem based on a news article. I chose the suggested article, “Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where the Rain is Made of Iron”.

Orphaned Chick Requiem

Photo by Udayan Patil on Unsplash

Orphaned Chick Requiem

Who will sooth her nerves, earning fleeting trust,
as ruffled feathers make for flavor-spoil?

Who will preen her feathers through broken wings,
mending her tender meat before the broil?

Who will have steady, firm, gentle, calm hands
that know their way around a butcher’s block?

Who will feed her rich seeds sowed in kindness
hiding his axe as it strikes without shock?

Who will weep for the guileless young birdie,
who, through no fault of her own grew alone?

Who now wanders our woods, an unmoored ghost
haunted by a love she has never known?

Who will weep for this girl, led far astray
who strays from divine feminine to prey?
***

Consider this my NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo tune-up.

These Murky Eddies (A Five-Part Origin Story)

These Murky Eddies (A Five-Part Origin Story)

I.
I love,
I do,
perhaps not like you,

not in that
traditional
happily-forever-after way,

but perhaps
in other imprecise,
functionally dysfunctional
broken ways.

But perhaps
in many ways,
my broken ways work
in my knowing what it isn’t.

I can survey its limitations,
where the barrier of its outstretched
feathered wings fail to reach.

My love cannot care for your birthday,
but it cares deeply that you care.

My love won’t reach out
and embrace you, drenched,
saturated with sentiment,

but it will lash-out
to protect you
from all manner of harm.

My love is imperfect,
incomplete, and has been
ever since the day I fell
as a small child.

I was six when I fell,
losing balance some two score ago,
as some collateral damage
of a disintegrated heart.

II.
I was born
in medias res
of a toxic heart,
as many are,

upon opposing maelstroms,
learning to flow with the current,
anticipating its quirky grooves
and perilous nuances,

gliding along the lazy trickles,
bracing for the furious crashes,
holding my own within
fortune’s fickle ride until…

the only heart I knew split in two,
each side seeking dominion over the other,
but settling for oblivion,

the void
created by two beloved factions
consumed me
and I fell,

and fell, and fell,
and kept falling,
the only sound, the
mournful wailing of my own voice,

it too growing more distant,
falling away from me

along with the other senses of
belonging to something greater,

losing everything and
finding myself lost
at the bottom of an abyss.

III.
I was six years old
when momma went
rattling the kitchen silverware

for an adequate blade
to plunge into dad’s back,

ending years of emotional and
physical abuse by his hand.

I was six years old
when that knife pierced him
inches from his heart,

inches from his own demise.

Dad’s cousin was hysterical,
explaining to the medics
what my awful “bitch of a mom” did
to free herself from dad’s drug-fueled rager.

Though mortally wounded,
dad survived and recovered

enough to redeem some of his repugnant actions,
while bafflingly doubling down on others.

As for me; I was six then.
I am forty-six now, but
I know now that parts of me
never left the bottom of that abyss.

IV.
I love, I do,
but always in a broken,
displaced sense where
I never have to remove my velvet gloves.

My hands
hold nothing of weighted value
unless my beloved breathes value into
that space.

Images
reflected into my eyes
rarely move me

unless the images
are of others being moved
towards joy or sorrow.

I hear voices of my family calling,
but I only reply out of obligation.

I’ve smelled and tasted
gourmet Sunday dinners made in my honor,
and when an aunt asks me
if I’m glad I came home to them,

I smile and say yes, knowing that
they know I’m lying to keep the peace.

V.
I love, I do, but perhaps not like you,
or the guys on television who
get down on one knee,
proclaiming their love for all to see.

That kind of love dazzles in the sunlight,
and it would be nice if I could love like that.

But my love is born from toxins,
constructed from shards of self-hate,
twisted, entangled by the vast void
in such an oddly dysfunctional way

that when darkness comes for you,
as it inevitably comes for us all
regardless of where you are,
as I still tread these murky eddies

you will never be alone.
***

Originally shared on Medium.

Incapable of Her Own Distress

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Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

Incapable of Her Own Distress

She was beautiful
and needed to be seen as thus,

climbing higher,
her angelic features giving
a false appearance of
a fallen messenger clawing her
way back into paradise with

mud-caked fingers weaving
flowered trinkets,

an accumulation
of bruises
piled upon her well-worn
lust-slickened flesh, and

a wickedly zealous glare
affixed on something
beyond common sight,

not recalling how
she got so high
upon the precarious bough,

the wind spitting sleet into her face, she,
returning the favor, choking
on bile from her own spite
and other vulgarities

wailed in her song of
want and lunacy,

laughing mournfully
under pale lunar glow,

so when she fell
no one could tell
her fantastic mania
from her sunken plight.

She was beautiful
even then, at the end,

a siren swooned, felled
by her own song,

seeing in greater clarity
from the under-side of
the rain-drowned brook, buoyant
no more, unlike the flowers
scattered from her lifeless hands,

her peace-glazed eyes
silently affixed on heaven.
***

Originally shared on Medium

Also shared on Poets United  POETRY PANTRY #491.

Fractions

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Photo by Amanda Flavell on Unsplash

Fractions

Even now, forces battle for fractions
of light and dark, air and earth, truths and lies
the spoils, ripened treasures and abstractions
like oil, our foods, as humankind’s soul cries
split to the bone in factions
honed for overreactions

My soul’s not known for overreactions
compressing, sealing night into fractions
of morbid amusement, viewing factions
through porous veneers of their willful lies
unmoved by their biased cries
on currents of abstractions

Our sun will yield to night and abstractions
leaving the void and overreactions
light evening showers won’t drown-out the cries
of justice-seekers sliced into fractions
divided by clever lies
blinded factions fight factions

I welcome rain as night deceives factions
truth is our souls are merely abstractions
these lines dividing us all are sad lies
gains of few, fueled by overreactions
many fight over fractions
immune to his brother’s cries

I remain in-tune with my brother’s cries
but turn a deaf-ear to brother’s factions
I see us whole, and not just the fractions
bellies are filled by more than abstractions
stilled by overreactions
humanity’s fate still lies

I wonder which side will win through the lies
will we have our peace or feast on war-cries?
I still observe the overreactions
blackening hearts into soulless factions
they have killed for abstractions
weighing lives by the fractions

I wonder which lies will fell the factions
silencing the cries; soulless abstractions
overreactions leaving fractions.
***

Written for dVerse  Poetry Form: Sestina, hosted by Victoria C. Slotto. Other poets have contributed to this prompt here. The Sestina is an oily form, super-tricky to pull off, like Jello-wrestling a sexy, nude, female vampire who’s riding a velociraptor. Naturally, I had to give it a go (the poem, not the Jello-wrestling, though I’d probably be game for that too.)

Also sharing at Real Toads

She Would’ve Spun a Splendiferous Anime from This

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Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

She Would’ve Spun a Splendiferous Anime from This

“What are you doing here?” she asked, pulling away.

“Just holding you,” I murmured drowsily, gently pulling her close.

“This is inappropriate,” she protested, squinting. “And what’s with that light?”

“This is only gratitude,” I replied. “Nothing more.”

“Gratitude?” she scoffed. “I don’t even know you.”

“I know,” I said. “And I don’t know you, but thanks to you, I know a thousand words for the color blue, and so I dreamt I was the moon creeping into your window, spooning you, comforting you with borrowed glow of yesterday and tomorrow, coiling your secrets into the crux of my crescent, never to see daylight again.”

“Oh,” she said. “You doing this for all of us?”

“Yes,” I said. “Now shh!”

And after a pregnant silence, she said, “You know we’re all gone now, right?”

“Yes,” I whispered through tears.

“But take this with you.”
***

#HelpKyoaniHeal

This is a tribute to the victims, survivors, and families of the Kyoto Animation Studio arson/mass-murder that claimed the lives of 34 innocent and brilliant artists. I don’t have any more words to convey my grief and sorrow, but if, like me, you ache to flood the void caused by this act of hate with acts of love, contribute to the GoFundMe setup by Sentai Filmworks. Other ways to help can be found here.

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Written for dVerse Prosery #2, hosted by sarahsouthwest. Others contributed to this prompt here.

Also shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry #488.

#HelpKyoaniHeal

Day 21: Dismantling a Mercedes

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Photo by Luca Santos on Unsplash

Dismantling a Mercedes

She was beautiful,
long before learning
a self-butcher’s trade.

Long before swinging
lifelessly
from a tree in a park

– her final act completed publicly
after countless private attempts – her end

was pre-assisted
by the animal kingdom.

Nature was a
giant killer hornet colony
nesting in her head.

Nurture was meat
for a Komodo dragon
ignored by farmhands.

She was banished from
purgatory paradise
by serpent-creator.

The meat became her own
expert butcher, carving
fortune from flesh.

A successful vendor,
despite the killer hornets
devouring their share.

But she dared to be
discerning in company of
lurking painted wolves.

Scavengers and hunters
combined to consume her
to the marrow, leaving only
her final act of defiance,

her final words to
the animal kingdom,
a day before her final act;

“Fuck y’all”.

There is no solace
in burying the bruises,
as only the living bruise.

She ended her pain
alone in a park
by focusing its sum
upon her kissable neck,

compressing the noose;
a temporary evisceration
for a lasting peace

that eluded her infested skull in life.

Perhaps not the beautiful ending
a beautiful butcher like her deserves,
but an ending all the same.
***

Written for NaPoWriMo’s day 21 prompt: write a poem that “incorporates wild, surreal images. Try to play around with writing that doesn’t make formal sense, but which engages all the senses and involves dream-logic.”

I interpret that as “go nuts with abstractions and strange metaphors”, and so I did my best with this tragic tale.