The Promise of a Nation


Photo by
@caldwellkelsie

Anger paralyzes,

I search for words—

Pour what I feel

Into them—

But my anger

Melts them,

Turns them molten metal,

Defiant to the forms,

The constraints,

The molds I attempt

To use to shape

This gob of white hot liquid metal

Into meaning

For feelings

Overwhelming me.



Paralysis crushing,

Submission—

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.



Shadows

In the shadows of the mountains

Where beasts have fled,

Leaving behind cloven hoof prints

In the inky muck of the forest floor

Beside the pristine waters of a rushing stream

Near the fading timberline here,

The scent of decaying pine bark and musk

On a faint icy breeze

Weaves all into the forest primordial.

Nothing human can be found

In a fear filled chest.

Birds Fall Silent

I tear the trailing ivy
From the trunk of the crepe myrtle tree,
A routine autumnal yard task,
Look up to a partly cloudy Texas sky,
Think of madmen and bombs,
A madman and eleven shot dead
As they prayed in Shabbat—
No words, no words come
Even the birds fall silent.

The Brave Ones

(A Tribute to Christine Blasey Ford)

We reject the mother
Born to subservience
of ripped rib bone.
No longer will we accept
Bloody beatings and brutality,
Rape and rage,
Silent,
Powerless,
Fearful.
No longer do we accept this pain
As payment for the sin
Of seeking knowledge.

For millennia, we were lucky to live unbruised
As long as we were your possessions:
Your mothers, your daughters,
Your sisters, your wives.
As long as you owned us
And we did as we were told.

But through the ages,
The brave ones have shown us another way:
To seek the spirit of our true mother,
The one born in the same earth of equality.

So we find her voice and our own.
We speak.
Though you would silence us
With vitriol and mockery,
The brave ones have taught us well;
We will never be silent again.

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.

Definitions of Us

Mother, widow,
Writer, teacher, friend
Titles I wear
That others use
To make a definition
Of me.

But I am more
Than any definition
Clown and comedienne
Actress and writer
Sinner and saint
A bit of Medea and Medusa
Shaken and stirred
With a touch
Of Mother Theresa
And Margaret Mead
And an added dash
Of Lucille Ball
For good measure.

My Lady MacBeth stays
Securely Locked Away,
Crying for some Germ-X
For her hands.
Wuornos, her cellmate,
Just doesn’t give a shit
And is it any wonder?

But I’ve no soft purr
With words
Like a Bishop or a Plath
Or a Browning,
But I could bake brownies
That might make you cry.

Yes, full of contradictions and complications
That’s what we women are
A bit of the Madonna
A bit of the Whore
A bit of the Wise One
And more
Too much and too little
To list
And define
Except by what we,
Ourselves, design

 

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.

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.

 

Modern and Clean

Let’s play house

Without the home.

 

It’s all arranged so prettily

No mess, no fuss,

No dusty hairball under the couch

None of the huff and puff

To blow a life down

 

Just learn to float on the surface

No need to swim in the deep

 

Keep it all to memes

Or 30-second bleeps

Nothing more needed

With all things clean

Creation

child.jpg

I carved you
from the stone of me
chiseled out your edges,
inside and out,
freed you from the depths
of my abyss,
while my ears
felt the sting
of the hammer pounding,
my bones felt the crunch
of the chisel chipping,
my skin felt the ripping slice
of stone shards flying
tearing through all
flesh and bone of me
until
there was you
sculpted better than
the worth of me
cast off from you
I absorb in finality
what it is
in the truth of God
and pray.