Tag Archives: poem

The Argument

Little coffee shop, upstairs nook
With good pastries, good company, good books,
Rich conversation, literary dictation.
One friend’s dissertation
Just published—her own treatise—
Her girlfriend’s a genius:
Smartest couple I’ve ever known
And literature is our creed,
So we sit here and read.

The other guy is alone:
This man’s just approached us out of nowhere
Oblivious to our recalcitrant glares
And he swoops in now, leading
With an unfunny comment on the book I’m reading.

Reluctant introductions: I’m struck by his daring—
If that’s what you can call unabashed staring—
But as he sits
I admit
I’m suddenly wary
‘Cause I notice the front of the shirt that he’s wearing:
Some TV show merch he’s proudly bearing.
He points to the book I’m carrying,
And when he says, “I love that show!”
I confess some enmity starts to grow—
And internally I start swearing
When he says, “Haven’t read the book, though.”

Conversation is initially slow and half-hearted
But it’s not long before he gets started:
“I think books are boring. Just my opinion…”
He opines as he surveys his dominion,
Following some unsexy,
Erudite comment made by me.

Not a good start, I think,
You’re already too close to the brink,
And across the table, my friend stares at me,
Silently begs me, Easy….
A telepathic warning that I am ignoring.
Still, I resist the urge to ask if directors reading
Movie scripts before forming
Summer blockbuster masterpieces that he so greatly adores,
Is just as much of a terrible bore.

The food is delicious, and he, while settling into his seat,
Boorishly sits and eats
As my two friends, slightly bitterly
Hold court on some anachronistic aspect of literary history,
When this guy suddenly insists,
“But those are all old-fashioned stories!
Books are just too out-of-date
To compete with modern cinema in this day and age.”

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2017

it’s bizarre to me that i am alive when all this nazi shit is happening.

not the fact that it’s happening now,

but that it’s happening when i’m alive.

see the difference?

i never expected to see literal nazis,

not when we have the entire 1930s and 1940s as a precedent.

racism has always been around—

i’m not so naive to think otherwise;

i may be white but i’m not blind

—or colorblind—

but it still blows my mind

that this is happening in my lifetime.

again, not that it’s happening now—

‘it’s 2017’ is a poor argument for why racism shouldn’t exist—

but that i happen to be alive when nazis have a voice in the white house

and racism is a major party platform.

i need history to explain this one to me.

i need hindsight of the present.

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Fratricide

A task from the King!

Play’s the thing
Catch the conscience
Of the King

And his bride!

Spend your time
For a while
For hope’s supply

Forth to England

The wind at help
Prepare thyself
Prepare thyself

To censure homicide.

Homicide

The conclusion—

The conclusion
And the retribution

Don’t try to justify—

Standing
Idly by

We were destined

Destined

For fratricide.

Rewind, rewind….

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In Medias Res: Episode Three

Nice to see you—how’ve you been?
Haven’t seen you since I was fourteen
Jedi, Clone Wars veteran
Saw you there and I thought
Anakin, I remember you
From back when I fled Naboo
Times have changed; you have too

Started training with Jedi
When they brought you from Tattooine
Eager, nervous, and in time
Beguiled by Palpatine
Watched your power transcend
Your off-the-charts midichlorians
But in love you’re my equal
I can make the bad guys good for a prequel

So it’s gonna be forever
Or it’s gonna go down in flames
Contemplate when it’s over
Was the high ground worth the pain?
You defied the Jedi Council
Who warned us you’re insane
Our love is an uphill battle
But it’s not in vain

But we’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
Got a mess of premonitions
That keep you up at night
Your fate will not kill volition
Don’t give up the fight

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Thresholds

For TDM

When I hear the groan of an old gate open and shut
across one rutted path to another
I like to imagine some boy has jumped over it
and it creaked a few times against the wind
as old gates do. You must have seen them,
the boys running across the farm
in the morning. They tear around
the dusty trails and turn sandy-colored
as the dirt streaks and cracks their skin.
The sun’s warmth rises over the east
elongating the shadows on the dewy grass.
You’d think they’d been waiting for the dawn.
They brace their bodies as their legs leap;
and they seem not to break, though the boys
crash hard; but they right themselves quick.
You may see this gleeful child in your memory
years afterward, hastening toward the gate
like a wild mustang that throws its mane
behind it in the wind as it gallops toward you.

But I was going to say, when the wistfulness broke in
with dreamy longing for the past,
I still yearned to see some boy leap over
the gate as he went in to fetch the cows—
some red-headed boy on his parent’s farm
where the earth smelled fundamentally like home,
summer and winter, morning and night.
One by one he subdued each gate
by hurdling over them again and again
crashing and falling and standing again.
And not one gate left to tame; not one was left
for him to conquer. He learned all there was
to learn about not launching out too soon
and stretching his legs at just the right angle
to clear the ground. He always kept his poise
to the top of the gate, springing carefully
with a gazelle’s rhythmic bound
approaching the gate and over the gate.
Then he leapt upward, pushing with mighty thighs,
clearing the gate and landing on two feet.

And so was the boy a child once, and then he grew,
and now he dreams of going back to be
that same weariless gate-jumper of yore,
when life was a meandering path on a farm
and the only obstacle was a rusty old gate
with a broken chain, and no one judged
the dirt on his elbows or scrapes on his knees.
You’d always jump over the gates,
or as I got older I’d flip over them or hop over them,
and run another lap and begin again.
May no boy be compelled to grow up
and be denied and deprived of what I wish.
The quiet dusty farm is the right place.

I don’t want to give up jumping over gates.
I’d like to go back to walking around the farm
and jumping metal fences with a shameless zeal,
day after summer day, till our legs could bear no more
and we fell, winded, face up on the earth.
It was good, catching the wind and our breaths.
There are worse things than leaping over gates.

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Ode to a Group Project

All your purposefully meted flattery
All your self-righteous philanthropy
All of your charm
Your pledge for harmony
All those vows
All that aplomb

All your blustering pomposity
All your self-aware hypocrisy
All of those tries
Your aims to devise
All your self-aggrandized sophistry

All your ego and your pride
Ambitions unsatisfied
All your pretensions
Your condescensions
All your charity codified

All your superhero hopes
Your knight in shining armor tropes
All your tilts at bookish glory
All your certainty
Your swagger
And your strut

Will never help with anything
If you don’t show up

[Thank you again to Tim Minchin for this poem’s inspiration and structure.]

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Ten Minutes

You see the same strangers
The neighbor rushing down the stairs
trying to put on her other shoe
The grey-haired jogger
puffing breaths of hot air matching her gait
The woman walking her overweight Yorkie
three steps behind her
The woman whose grinning Bernese Mountain Dog
is walking her
The parka-clad college student
walking past you in the crosswalk
The man who taps the steering wheel impatiently
while staring at the never-ending red light
The woman bundled up in her own grey hair
waiting for the bus to come
The school bus driver who looks past you from the window
as he rounds the corner
The cop you make awkward eye contact with
as he drives the opposite direction

One morning
You wake up late
And these strangers
Are gone

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Blood

Now and again we stand in the shower
and watch the tide of blood and water
dripping from between our thighs and down our legs,
spiraling with the water into a helix
down, down until it disappears into the drain.

Day after day, month after month,
from menarche to menopause,
we bleed,
the blood of ourselves
the blood of our sisters,
the blood of the women who came before us;
those who wrote the first words in our herstory: the past, present and future.
Women have it all now;
our diva cups runneth over.

We have it all,
in the same way Seneca Falls feminists were content under house arrest,
the iron-jawed angels enjoyed swallowing a force-fed ideology,
and the suffragettes were merely into light BDSM.

We have it all,
in the same way that a quarter of us have asked for it on college campuses
and we frequented back alleys in red states as a hobby,
and none of our sisters of color ever wanted to have children anyway.

We have it all,
in the same way we were justly honored in manifestos of friend-zoned martyrs,
and our bodies are territories claimed by the zealots of our age,
and non-consent has ruined presidential candidates’ careers.

History is content to spill our blood in battle with nary a second thought,
but the synchrony of our solidarity is stronger.
Our blood is our flag, but not of surrender;
we are fated to fight.
As long as we are predestined to an end not our own,
our blood will continue to flow,
connecting those women who came before us
with those will come after us,
the women who are not content to watch their pasts be diluted
and their futures washed away.
The cycle will not be broken.

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Night

She.
She has no face and no name.
She says nothing.
When she greets us she brings quiet.
When she is here, we are calm.
With her, we heal our pain.
With her, we heal one another.
They use her to hide.
They use her to stoke fear.
We use her to plan.
We use her to fight.
We use her to listen to one another, to touch one another, to know one another.
She is our guide.
They are afraid of her.
They cower beneath her twilight.
They shield themselves from her depth.
They falsify the sun and moon and boast of their great and powerful light.
Their light flashes and blinds, fractures and burns, makes the false appear true.
Her darkness comforts us.
We embrace her.
Above us, above all, she obscures us.
As we hush her rituals go on slowly: the sound of the airplanes, the smoke of the pipe, the blinking of the fireflies, the stardust of the Milky Way, the steady solitude.
It is the hour of slumber, and she is awake.
She unites all creatures under her protective spell.
She offers us comfort;
She offers us shelter.
They offer us nothing.
An olive branch.
An empty promise.
A pretty corner in the history museums
In a space dark enough to match her color but never her power.
We say no, thank you;
We will return to the shadows on our terms.
We are home.
When she leaves she takes our refuge with her.
Light knocks at early morning’s door,
But we no longer hide under cover —
We know she will return for us.
And when she does she opens her arms wide
To embrace us once more
And inspire our uprising.
She carries with her the winds of change,
Thunder and lightning, united fronts under her watch.
She is our strength, our shield,
Our sanctuary.
We were born of the night.
We live in the night.
We will die in her.

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What’s He Doing In There?

An homage to Tom Waits

What’s he doing in there?
What the hell is he doing in there?
There’s a sign on the gate saying “go away”
But the lights blaze at all hours of the day

He’s up to something, we know
On a hill up that long driveway
And he always keeps the gate shut
To keep in that one mangy mutt

They say he’s a widower and fought in the war
And he wears the same clothes, always grey
When he waters the flowers on his walkway —
At least, he used to before

He only goes out now to check the post —
The only time we catch a glimpse, almost
We can’t see inside; we’re too far away
What’s he doing in there?

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