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 Second Commandment
I take the truth
for it is mine,
rolling myself in it until
protected from the acid of the asinine
that drips from the pens, the tongues
of many and power,
of those we call elite,
of those we once called—
I grieve the words spoken
by asinine tongues
and actions taken
by hate filled hearts
that do not comprehend the words
we were taught—
“love your neighbor as yourself”—
The second commandment.
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.
Ten in Ten
Ten hurricanes in ten weeks,
Or so says CNN,
North Korea and Iran
Could be shaking hands
If it comes to WWIII
California is burning
Vegas is still hurting
Puerto Rico has little
In the way of food and water
While Trump signs yet
Another executive order
Could nearly turn an atheist
Into a person of faith
But you know what they say,
Everyone prays in the end.
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
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
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.