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 Unrestrained, unrestricted 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 No more.
The widow colors the sky
The ground, the trees,
The winds with cold and heat
Of all that cannot be spoken,
Of spirits tethered to stone.
You may never know she is there.
She may wear the red nose.
She may laugh with you.
She may hold out her hands to help.
All so you are not overwhelmed by her presence.
She hides within her weeds.
Sometimes she hides within the willows.
She may smell of pomegranates
Or roses at midnight,
The scents betray her presence.
But you will not see her arms and hands
Covered in thorns and trickling with blood,
The tears of her body, dripping away,
Speaking in tongues no one can understand,
As she stands alone.
She sees history through a broken prism
Of her words never strong enough to bind
Love to prayers weighted with magic enough
To fly straight to God’s ear, to be heard,
To be answered, to raise flowers of miracles.
In the end, the widow is left,
Singing colors of grief.
When all the praise singers have left her
In the muddy soil leavings of wicked tongues,
Gone on to daily lives, the day to day,
The widow stands,
Singing colors of grief,
Covered in thorns.
Consequences of time
Climb and mount
About the throat,
Following the path
Of arteries and veins,
And as if by magic,
Enter into the blood
To provide a dram bit
Of bitter choking poison
To the will of moving blood
That slows and stills
In the knowing.
Pieces of her broke in the waves,
Searching for wildness
In this place she always went to be alone.
She walked along this shore a thousand times
In the dawn and the dusk
As if they were quantities unknown,
And thus, in them, she could discover some truth,
Some faith, some charity, some hope for herself.
Who knew? It had worked before.
She’d walk toward the town with something—
Some small bit piece replenished.
She’d always heard salt was healing,
So she figured she’d rub it in her wounds.
But bloody red and raw
She walks still wounded, broken,
Along the wildness,
Yet not touching it.
She can not find what she lost.
Her wounds chains,
Binding her still
To things she knew illusions.
She waits for the friction of salt
To rub away the chains.
She walks toward the seals in the surf
And on toward the whales in the deep,
Searching for truth or faith or charity
In the wildness of the sea.
Broken nesting dolls Lie in splinters Emptied of each other. At their core, Among the splinters And dust of months And years, There rests At their center A small letter Of seasons and time And meanings Within a silver ring.
In the cleaning Of brokenness, A small splinter Works under skin To be lost And never found.
This red heart cedar stump, With its dark crevasses And holes where bugs had homes, Was sanded smooth. A urethane finish added for shine And protection. The rings are visible still, Rings that count the years Until the tree fell in a storm, Twisted from the earth By tornadic winds.
Thus, I found it In the yard. Took the chain saw to the tree, Cut it into chunks, Along with the others that fell That day while the dog and I Sought shelter from the storm.
Now I sand and chisel away. Routing out some hearts concave, Bowls to be used for filling At some future date, Now standing empty. Sanding some hearts level, Tables to be used for holding things, Yet these are empty too.
All this red heart cedar, Once stood filled with life, Now stands empty.
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