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.
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.
Brevity of years
Right, paid in blood + death, destroyed
Fiction drips history
Brevity in 12 words
I wrote this in response to seeing the protests organized by the students who survived the Parkland shooting. I was hopeful that their anger focused in this positive way would bring about some positive change. But today, with 19 elementary school students and 2 adults now dead in Uvalde, Texas, I felt it might be time to revisit this in tribute to the students who have lost their lives in these continual senseless acts of gun violence. We must all say, “No more.”
Innocence, a fairytale idea,
Sacrificed along with safety-
Burned as sweet, bloody incense
On an altar to the Second
The true worship contained
In this strange amalgam
of green and gold,
Gunpowder, lead, and power
Causing some confusion
In steel tongues touting
The sanctity of life
And rights to any guns in prayers.
Our children, now are
Born in a skin of fear,
And do what we have not—
Stand up and say
Spring threatens to melt into us. Summer follows soon enough. Birds will return, seeking seeds and worms, Building nests for the young to come. Will the birds remember the songs they sing? Songs of summer, songs to mate? Flowers will emerge, warming their petals And leaves under a brilliant sun. Will they remember how to open Their blossoms? Will they remember how to dress themselves In glorious color? How can the birds or flowers remember When the world walks a tightrope Over the abyss And sunflowers may never grow again Tall enough to bow their heavy heads to God?
Darkness gathers upon the horizon of our land:
A land we have loved with the lives of our sons and daughters,
A land we have bled for,
A land we have built upon golden ideals,
Shining as a beacon to other nations
But the darkness gathers upon the horizon of our land:
For which we have done things of shame and sin,
For we have killed our sisters and brothers
Of all different colors,
For we have kept others in chains of injustice
Because we saw others as less than.
And now the darkness gathers in our cities,
Creeping along the horizon of our land.
Now. Now is the time to carry that torch
Lifted above the water of a harbor
And see its light spread across our land.
We must be the promise
For which our daughters and sons died.
Driving out the darkness,
We must all be the promise of the dream—
Liberty and justice for all.