Elemental Breath

 From the shaking dirge cries of birth
 To the desire for ease in the between, 
 Before the elemental breath rattles at death,
 We are lost in cacophonous sighs of daily life, 
 Choosing to turn away 
 From moments appearing as iridescent sun rays
 As if God's fingers reached 
 Between the clouds 
 To touch the earth.
 Yes, we turn away,
 Notice nothing,
 Pick up kids,
 Fix dinner,
 Do laundry,
 A trip to Wal-Mart,
 And to work,
 The mundane of every day,
 Yes, it must be done,
 To hurry toward the waiting,
 While living holding sand,
 Until expelling 
 the elemental breath before death. 
   

American Dream

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.

Orchestra of Children

untitled

An orchestra of children
Provides a symphony.

The violin of a two-year-old
Sings the plaintive cries,
“Daddy, Daddy!”

The lone flute of a three-year-old
Soars above the din,
A painful wail,
“Mommy, Mommy.”

Then the scratchy oboe
Of perhaps a four-year-old,
Keening for an aunt to be allowed to come
And take him to her home to stay.

Next all the whimpers,
Sobbing, moans
Squalls, and laments
Of trumpets, tubas,
Violas, bass and all the rest
Join the cacophonous clamor
Of such a discordant melody,
Harmonious to the hardened of heart
Who give ear to this orchestra,
Deserving of nothing but the pain
Contained within the symphony
The progeny play,
As less than they.

SPIN

 

 

Spin the world back
Align the planets
In time and place
Before terms of “modern history”
Before debates of definitions
And the numbers swelled
To defy all meanings
Coalesced of horror and terror
When men hadn’t lost reason
Or eaten seductive fruits
Of celebrity and hate.

Spin the numbers down
Beyond all the eights
Of Miami, Louisville
San Francisco, Omaha,
Carthage, Appomattox,
Manchester, Seal Beach

Spin back the nines
In Jacksonville and Waddell,
Red Lake High School,
Charleston and Roseburg

Spin down the ten
Of Alabama
That added yet more

Spin down the even dozens
In Aurora, Atlanta,
And the Navy Yard

Spin down the thirteens
Of Camden, Wilkes-Barre,
Binghamton, Seattle,
Fort Hood,
And Columbine High

Spin down the fourteens
At San Bernardino
And the Edmond Post Office

Spin down the eighteen
Of the University of Texas

Spin down the twenty-one
In San Ysidro

Spin down the twenty-three
At Killeen

Spin down the twenty-seven
Of Sandy Hook

Spin down the thirty-two
At Virginia Tech

Spin down the forty-nine
In Orlando

Spin down the fifty-eight
Of Vegas

Spin down
To a time of innocence
Before blood
Of four hundred eighty-nine martyrs
Soaked the second
Before tears watered
Graves of the framers
Spin, spin us back

Or

Spin, spin us forward
To a new time
When no hate fed madman
Can attempt alchemy
With gunpowder, iron, and blood.

 

Tears of Fire

 

The seven descended
Each with wings spread
Enough to fill a house
Shalom not upon their tongues
Throughout the compass points
They searched to find
All the gnawed bones
The muscles and sinew
The heart and entrails
Torn asunder with teeth of hate.

And once the seven
Found all the tiny bits
With flaming swords
Used as needles
They did try to stitch.

Neither their swords
Nor spirit of their breath
Did have the power to seal
The meat and sinew to bone
And then they knew
Those who showed no mercy
Would be given none
Their heads hung
At words spoken too late
To condemn human hate
Inshallah upon their lips
As they ascended
Their flaming eyes
Weeping tears of fire.

 

Disowned 

More delicate than our dying Earth,

The fragile blood of our children dries,

Blistering in a baking sun

While we watch 

Our babies gasping 

Like hooked fish.

Our humanity broken,

We are wooden pawns 

In the game of masters,

Men who would be kings

Posturing outrage 

Over plans known

By them alone

Made in black secret rooms,

Selling us all to Mephistopheles,

Trading on the fragility of our attention 

With the lives of our children,

Who made us human. 

Nothing is left to wonder at,

But if this is the day 

Humanity made

God tearless. 

Tear Down the Curtain 

A battle won,

Time now to rise,

Rise in the streets to remind 

Of a time when 

With a banging shoe

Our damnation tolled 

As shouts and threats

Of our burial 

Brought us to the brink.

We must rise,

Rise, take to the streets,

Stand beneath the feet of great ones

They plan to topple and disgrace,

To show we see the link

Smelted and forged in gold

With the man behind the curtain.

We once caused a wall to fall.

Let our numbers now rip down 

A curtain made of gold.