know your enemy
Rivers of grief flow from the phantom whip marks that children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of slaves bear, still raw and painful though invisible to the privileged eye.
Raised hands plea then and now for the masters to have mercy, and the denial transcends time.
Their backs ache from keeping their heads down, working in the fields like good little slaves should for the profit of the people who hold the key to their shackles.
Their feet are weary of marching through the streets and outrunning bullets, fleeing in terror from the lynch mobs and the white hoods.
Their voices are taken, their throats crushed under the weight of racism and necks broken by the noose of oppression.
You say there's no excuse for the violence.
You say that the voting booth is their most valuable weapon, that their voices are equal to ours.
But it wasn't too damn long ago that they were each considered 3/5ths of a person, so how does that math add up in your head?
Slave masters aren't dead; they just exchanged plantations for precincts.
Their whips were laid down in favor of guns to open much deeper wounds in brown skin.
Shackles became sleek, silver handcuffs.
Nooses became too tiresome to knot, so they silence dissenters with knees and arms locked in a chokehold.
While generations of black and brown bodies inherited poverty and pain, they passed down power from father to son, trading out their cotton for a badge and a gun.
So these children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of slaves got tired of bowing and pleading and mourning and realized that freedom is a phoenix that is born from the ashes of rebellion.
I say burn the fucker down.
#blacklivesmatter #blm #minneapolis #georgefloyd #restinpower
don’t ask, don’t tell
"you're fighting for freedom!" they say
so why is it
that they had to censor themselves
that they could kill for others
but couldn't live their truth?
how is murder honorable,
how is bloodshed glorious
but kissing the one you love
bash them over the head
with the butt of your gun or the bible
but don't caress your lover's cheek
because it hurts our image
be proud of your suffering
but never of your joy
take solace in the comfort of other men,
but not in that way.
keep quiet or the finger of your fellows
might "accidentally" slip on the triggers
of their guns
live in fear not because of a foreign threat,
but because being who you are is a crime
the only thing they died for
is freedom to oppress
#lgbt #lgbtq #gay #lesbian #bisexual #memorialday #military #sacrifice #socialjustice
dedicated to my favorite nerd
heart over head
it's who i've always been
i see in vivid color
i hear beautiful music and weep
mind over matter
he favors facts, puts faith in the physical
he's a computer,
always calculating the ideal outcome
our love is algebraic
blending the abstract and the quantifiable
at first, it was hard to understand
and not just because i'm bad at math
it seemed impossible to solve
how can my dreams and your plans coexist
and still make sense?
how can they produce something real?
we do have something real
together, we create perfect happiness,
harmony and balance
suddenly, the answer was obvious
the equation can't be solved
unless one unlocks the mystery of the other
you find the answer when
you find your missing piece
this world, this life
only makes sense when i'm with you
mother of mine
she used to sing me to sleep,
her lullabies soothing
my chronic anxiety
an affliction since birth
Baby mine, don't you cry
Baby mine, dry your eyes
Rest your head close to my heart
Never to part, baby of mine
her voice was clear and strong,
fit for an angel choir
and as i drifted off, i dreamed
that one day, mine would be, too
Baby, I'll take care of you, I'll never let you down
No harm will ever come to you as long as I'm around
I am not afraid of what people say or do
The only thing I fear is being here without you
sometimes i sing these old songs to myself
when i can't sleep at night
remembering being wrapped
in my mother's strong arms
the arms that carried me
away from abusive homes
and held me up when i felt like
i couldn't stand on my own
and the tears fall freely as i realize
that never again will i
rest my head close to her heart
mother of mine.
you used to say
were big, fat tears
the angels cried
i'd raise my face to the sky,
stick out my little tongue
and catch them in my mouth
to get a taste of heaven
i let them wash over my skin
reveling in divine sadness
dancing in the downpour
because i didn't yet know what grief was
now i think of you when it rains
and i wonder
if i looked skyward and opened my mouth
would your tears be the raindrops i caught?
a ticket to a concrete zoo
It’s nearly summer again, and in America’s Finest City, that means the homeless are re-migrating.
My bedroom window looks out on two of the camps. I’ve come to recognize some of their faces in the year that I’ve inhabited this gentrified apartment building.
I see the trash collector walk by with his wagon, stopping at each can to pick out receipts and the refuse of the rich. A large wooden spoon is strapped to his back. He reminds me of the Borrowers, and I wonder what he’s collecting these seemingly mundane scraps for. Art? Money?
The skinny old man is lugging around a grocery bag, as usual, and his basketball shorts are halfway down his ass again. I turn away out of respect; he doesn’t seem to know that he’s auditioning to be a plumber.
There’s a lady that howls like a wolf sometimes when the sun goes down and the moon casts a silvery glow on the apartments of the nearly empty highrise. I guess I would feel wild too if I was barred from the Pearly Gates by a fat cat with two yachts and a summer home in La Jolla.
Sleep doesn’t come easily to me because that’s when the schizophrenics wander, lost and screaming. They take out their anger or sadness or fear on trash bins, trees, and even pieces of gum on the sidewalk. The world sees them, but they see a landscape invisible to the rest of us. The incoherent sounds seem like a cry. “Hello, is anybody else here? Can you see what I see?”
Some fight like alley cats over turf or an empty Happy Meal box. After it’s over, they sit on stoops, licking their wounds.
I feel like, by paying my rent every month, I’ve got a monthly pass to a human zoo. Instead of being entertained, I feel ashamed. Even when I try to look away, I see their most private moments. I am an unwilling onlooker to human misery.
Others don’t seem to mind. Some of my neighbors look down from their balconies and laugh as someone is taken away in an ambulance, screaming about conspiracies and the imminent arrival of the FBI. They enjoy the show from behind their glass walls.
I wish that I could break open the doors barring them from that high rise down the street and fill those empty rooms with the wild women, the midnight screamers, the junk collectors, and the grocery toters.
Isn’t it ironic that the way to free them from their cage is to give them an enclosure?
summer lovin’: a letter to J
I really hope that you never read this.
After all this time, I'm embarrassed that I still give you and the days we spent together a second thought. I still feel humiliated and pathetic all over again, like I'm 16 and a blushing schoolgirl. It makes me angry and sad that you have even one iota of power over me because this meant nothing to you, and it shouldn't have meant so much to me.
However, I'm a grown woman now, and I've gained just a little bit of wisdom since we last saw each other.
Truly, thank you for every second you spent making me melt like putty on a hot day in your (rather large) hands. It wasn't hard. I'll give you this; you truly are a magnificent kisser.
Thank you for shifting my entire world and being bad when I was too tentative to be unfaithful.
Whether you know it or not, you led me right into the arms of my soulmate, and I've been here ever since. His dreams are real. Every kiss is genuine, and he loves me just as fiercely as I love him. He is my best friend and the best thing to happen to me in my admittedly shitty life.
I'm grateful for the time we spent burning our feet and kissing with abandon in the middle of the road because when they healed, I walked down the path toward my destiny.
Thank you. I genuinely hope you have found the happiness that I've been blessed with.
summer lovin’: a story of teenage heartbreak (part 6) “the aftermath”
After camp, I had an honest chat with the friend who made room for me at her house the first year.
As it turns out, he got his way not by sticking up for me, but through less savory means. He told her the shiny penny beach house story, kissed her, got drunk with her, and did some things that I had never done before.
She blamed him for seducing her, but she did know better. She had experience and a few more years of knowledge than I had.
(Of course, I’m not a victim, either; I’m just a woman who, as a girl, got caught up in something my mother had always warned me about.)
Still, that stung worse than anything he had done. Our friendship was never really the same, and we don’t talk now.
As for J? He’s actually been in a steady relationship for a couple of years now with an athletic girl who knows what she wants. I’m still friends with his sister, though we don’t really talk much.
My boyfriend back home became my ex right after we both admitted we were no longer in love that summer.
I reconnected with my first love at the end of the same summer, and now I’ve been happily married for nearly four years. Our love is too comfortable to allow for nervous anticipation, but I still see fireworks and I love him more fiercely than I thought possible in my lifetime.
Sometimes, it takes a huge mistake to open a door you were meant to go through, and that’s what those days and nights of summer lovin’ all those years ago taught me.
I should have known better, but I’m glad I didn’t.
summer lovin’: a story of teenage heartbreak (part 5)
Camp rolled around, and we went our separate ways. It was one-sided, of course, and I had turned into a simpering, lovesick puppy. Pathetic.
That's when my eyes were opened to the truth once and for all.
It started with the little things.
He took her phone and took silly photos. He sat with her on the far end of the lunch table, thighs touching, him absorbing her every word.
They went canoeing, they sang on the dock together, they hung out in the pool while I stared numbly on from the shallow end.
He started playing "Kiss Me" in the rec room.
"Do you know the words to this song?"
I was heartbroken. I had meant nothing, just a one week fling from last summer. I was yesterday's news.
His sister noticed my misery and told me what I should've known the entire time.
She pulled me aside and said, "Look. My brother is a good guy and I love him, but he's a jerk to girls. He's a player." Somewhere deep down, I had known, but I had been sucked in all the same.
How many girls had he told about the beach house dream? How many times did he say, "You're breaking my heart," to someone else? How many lies had he told? How many lips had his touched before and after mine?
I didn't want to know.
As it turned out, his tricks didn't work on this smart, savvy girl who had probably seen so many other guys act this way before. She was conventionally attractive, athletic, talented... no wonder she already knew every trick in the book.
I should have known better, but I didn't.
I'm glad she did.
(final part 6 followed by a letter to J)
summer lovin’: a story of teenage heartbreak (part 4)
I couldn’t really expect our little summer romance to last, could I?
I unfortunately made a huge mistake at the time. I had a boyfriend back home. He had been unfaithful before and he had been getting pushier about being physically intimate, and camp had provided an escape from that. I didn’t start out looking for revenge or to hurt him; I didn’t even do it for revenge when the deed was done; I should’ve known better, but I was confused and hurt and also 16 years old.
Of course, I told my boyfriend as soon as I got home and we took a break, but he wanted to work through it.
All the while, though, I was still thinking about J. I felt guiltier for that, but it didn’t stop me from reminiscing and texting him late at night. He responded a lot at first...
and then he didn’t.
As the messages became more infrequent because he “broke the phone” or was “too busy with school,” I became depressed. I gave up after a while, and my relationship slowly healed.
Until that next summer.
I was now 17, not-so-innocent, and facing the same relationship troubles that plagued me before. It created a perfect storm, and he came back.
This time, the singing was before camp. We came back to stay with my friend from before, and this time, J was more distant than before. It only made me go after him that much harder.
This time, he didn’t want to be so public, claiming that he didn’t want to upset anyone. I spent a lot of time in a bedroom waiting for him.
Waking from an afternoon nap, I was immediately aware this time of being held by a freshly showered, shirtless J and the atmosphere was... different. There was more trembling, but this time my knees didn’t shake; they wrapped around him instead.
I won’t go into details, but there were more fireworks and more breathlessness and more vivid memories that haven’t faded with time. That happened once more when everyone was distracted by a soccer game in the main house, but then the distance resumed for a while.
I should’ve stopped while I was ahead, but the more distant he got, the more upset I became.
On the last night at my friend’s house, I cried a bit. He saw me, and he took me up to the main house where everyone was asleep. The last thing I wanted was for him to see me cry, but we talked for a while on that kitchen floor and it ended with more of this secret passion which was abruptly halted by the light from the nearby living room turning on.
It was my friend’s nearly deaf grandpa, so we ran out of the house laughing quietly.
After that, everything changed, and not for the better.
I should have known.
(Part 5, hopefully final bit, coming soon.)