An early morning, dogs walked,
Time to sit. Read the news.
Enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to the birds sing.
A twenty-two year old woman falls into a coma,
dying later at the hospital.
The police say she suffered a heart attack,
claiming their goal was educational only—
to teach her the proper way to wear hijab.
Now in Iran, women
bravely cut their hair and burn their hijabs
in protest of Mahsa Amini’s death.
I listen to the songs of cardinals
as they come to peck at the seeds from feeders
swinging from tall shepard hooks in my neighbor’s yard.
My hands shake as I lift my coffee cup to my lips.
No power. My hands hold no power. My body holds no power.
No power to help the women of Iran. No power to protect them
from the brutality of the “Morality Police.”
I can not help but think of my own daughter of twenty three,
only a year older, just a year.
A moment of gratitude for her life,
For a moment, a sense of relief
that here in the U.S we have no “Morality Police”
Or “sharia” law— for my daughter’s sake….
But the moment of relief drifts away
on the song the cardinals sing—
We live in the state of Texas,
Which now holds dominion over her body.
My hands shake
Powerless at the moment
Only at the moment.
Power rises as does anger.
The state, the nation, the world counted on fear to make us powerless.
Yet now, injustices kindle the flame of power within us
And nothing can stand against us once we unite.
The Promise of a Nation
I search for words—
Pour what I feel
But my anger
Turns them molten metal,
Defiant to the forms,
The molds I attempt
To use to shape
This gob of white hot liquid metal
It is what they want—
Make us heavy once again
With chains and shackles,
Place and close the Master’s padlock,
A designation of second class,
Something much less than they,
Round our necks once more,
Making of us an example,
So others live in fear
Of what they come for next
And so acquiesce—
Staying silent, eyes lowered,
Hoping to escape notice
By allowing them to feel smug and safe.
My anger burns bright white stripes,
Others will not die bleeding the red.
Remember the stars provide the light
Of what we know is right.
We will not live on our knees
Or on our backs, being beggars
For shredded scraps
Of what is the promise of our nation.
Handmaid’s Tale on the Horizon
Brevity of years
Right, paid in blood + death, destroyed
Fiction drips history
Brevity in 12 words
The daughters of Lilith condemned To chance a gory laden death once again, All the while, standing vilified as they Who wear the mantle of Lilith’s power have always been. Tomorrow and all tomorrows after, The daughters of Lilith will rise With the glory and power of their mother, Breaking the chains men make Seeking to steal the power of Lilith residing in her daughters Thus, breaking their spirits to subservient acquiesce. But each of Lilith’s daughters will remind Such fearful little men Their mother was made before Eve And fashioned of the earth as well.
Beauty of His Work
High in the air,
Buffeted by the strong winds,
Yet navigating the narrow beam
With a grace and strength of Baryshnikov
Or the great Nureyev
As I, his audience awed by his performance,
Stood and watched,
Wondering if everyone who looked
Could see this man’s artful grace
As he seemed to defy all laws of gravity,
Bending to hammer,
Leaping to rise,
Prancing to walk.
Then bending once again,
Hammering, rising, walking.
Never thrown off balance
By the winds or heavy hammer
Or the weighty leather tool belt,
Carrying the long nails off to the side.
Who else saw the grace and strength
In the rhythm of the dance
This man did perform
In the building of that house—
A dance that held something,
Some paternal element of David
As he danced entering Jerusalem—
How many would see the beauty in the performance of his work?
How many would only see a Hispanic male and question his legal status?
For White Pearls
Are the multitudes
Who still exist
Within the air
Of a past colliding
Upon your present.
Unpleasant for you,
I know, disruption
To the course of your
Day to day
Good morning harmony,
The dripping sugar whiteness
Of your “girl next door” hood.
You are not faceless.
You are not nameless.
Your language drips privileged
White pearls of empty empathy.
Turn your television off with white pride,
The faceless and the nameless
Will not apologize for the noose
You feel tightening around
Your Good Morning Positivity
As faced and named change comes
To Our Nation.
Spirit of Stone
For visually challenged writers, the image shows a green horizon, beyond which the mist veils a hill topped with strange rock formations.
I knelt before God
as the earth was formed.
For ages I have been here,
spirit of stone unmoving,
waiting above the forest land.
I am the tonnage of stones,
living veiled behind swirling mists.
Yet, I am billions of stones,
existing beyond the veil.
I press the earth for meaning
when I hear the children of earth wail
of suffering through centuries.
I rise above the peace of forest land,
lifting the tonnage of anger I carry.
I am the billions of stones now,
moving beyond the veil.
I have risen, the world,
in the weight of stone,
the children of earth will not be moved.
Behind the veil, I am the tonnage of stones.
I will retreat there when this time is done.
Silent No More
We were silent,
Back in the day,
When death came
In white hoods, noose in hand
To hang our darker sisters and brothers.
We were silent
When death went
Across an ocean
With bent crosses, yellow stars, and gasses
for the Jew.
We were silent
Back in the day
When death came
For our gay brothers
Who pleaded with us–
Silence equals death.
A lesson we’ve not learned yet.
No words for all this
As we shake our heads
Our silence kills yet again
And another black man dies,
Crushed under authority.
Yes, silence equals death.
We cannot stay silent
If we believe a nation’s promise
Time for us to stand up
And find the words to say–
Should you do this
To our darker sisters and brothers
You do it to us all.
We are the burning flame
Burning away the old ways.
We, Intrepid Shield
Although I am not white, I admit I enjoy white privilege because most people perceive me as white. My mother was Melungeon, a mix raced people of Appalachia, and my real father was of Hispanic heritage. Most people look at me and see white features and assume a Greek or Italian heritage. Yes, some ignorant people have said stupid, racist things to me because of their assumption of my whiteness. In light of recent events, the privilege given to me by my features and skin color demands that I stand up to help.
We sat silent, complacent too long
Our children safe.
Between threats to our black and brown
Sisters and brothers,
We must shield– intrepid, resolute,
taking spit, hits,
gas, lash, bricks
even death, should it come to that
So nothing touches them.
We must fulfill the promise of our nation—
All are equal
America, we never were a great nation.
Not with the genocide of native peoples, slave auctions
And slavery, Jim Crow, The Trail of Tears,
Japanese Internments, and the KKK.
No, we were never great.
We are always a nation of becoming.
A nation of ideals.
A nation great in flickering moments
Like old news reel footage:
When Harriet led her railroad,
When the suffragettes marched for the vote,
When Rosa would not be moved,
When Martin believed in the one day
Every child would have,
When Edie and Thea showed
Marriage should be defined by love,
Not biological gender.
We are a people of hope, of dreams,
Of knowing life would be better
When we made each other great.
Now, hate ripples from one sea
To another, and neither shines any longer
With Liberty because her torch
Grows dim with this reign of hate.
And there are many who want to forge once again
The chains to her ankles, shackling her in place,
Because they want to keep her,
But just for looks sake. Her mate, Justice, remains
On life support, having been beaten to a bloody pulp
By those who see color, who see gender,
Who see all the women who need
To be put in their place,
Who see a society where Justice serves only
The white Christian right, or rather, where Justice is made
Their slave. No, this is not a great nation.
This is not a great nation
When a leader can bully and spew hate
While the First Lady urges kids
“Be Best” in a limp campaign to not do the same
And few mention the irony.
This is not a great nation.
This is not a great nation
When a leader can urge violence
Against the media, immigrants, those who disagree
And so few carry an outcry.
This not a great nation
Where 18 trans women, 17 of them of color,
Can be murdered within less than a year
Yet our highest court must hear how
Laws do not apply to LGBTQ.
No, this is not a great nation
When so many must blame, exclude, and hate,
When so many must abase another to uplift themselves,
All the while professing Christianity.
Our founders gave us rules of law to make us better than this.
We are not a great nation
Until we realize the American Dream
Doesn’t see color or gender,
Doesn’t see race or religion,
Doesn’t see sexual identity,
Until none of us need to stand on the backs
Of others to feel better about ourselves—
Until we realize the American Dream is freedom and equality
And there is enough for all to go around,
We can not be a great nation.
But the greatness in our nation is this:
That we can be
If we recognize our humanity.