This Is Us - January 6, 2021 A boot, many boots, on a desk, on a neck, on your neck, on your desk, marching down the hall, kicking in doors, dragging dog shit across the tiles A flag, many flags, stars and stripes and bars and crosses, Reds and whites, yellow, black, scales, hand drawn signs, Don’t tread on me while I tread on you, my vote counts, money matters Smoke, Flash bombs Overstuffed backpacks, long guns and IEDs Across the mall, across the lawn, up the steps, through the windows, Selfies with the complicit, Chants and stomps, high fives and let us in, Let us in, While we keep you out Broken glass, broken fingers, broken bodies, broken promises, A dead woman in the hall, This letter from the state of Arizona appears to be regular in form, Why does the gentleman from Arizona rise? Order in this chamber, the gentleman will-- Barricades and opened doorways and Here comes the tear gas, let us in, And eventually curfews and sweeps and sirens and then sighs of I’m sorry and my heart is broken and hands wringing and this isn’t us--- This Is Us Look at the mob. Look at the monster. You are Victor and you are Prometheus. You are the forest and the fire. That is you, right there, with your boot on a neck, and that is me, and your neighbor. Look Recognize our face in the faces on the news
During a Seminar that can't Happen Now - Fall, 2019 It rained today. No surprise here. I understand that is a bit like saying I saw a chicken today. (Let me translate that for an audience who may have other city streets as guides. That is a bit like saying I saw a squirrel today.) My point is today, It rained-- Hard. And there we were, Sitting in concentric circles. All of us, 25 freshpeople and me And a room full of mosquitos. And there we were, Sitting in our circles, Surrounded by each other, Our thoughts surrounding us And words and breath, Our fears spoken And unspoken, As we tried to answer questions about the kika kila About Jimmy Rodgers About Joseph Kekuku About Charlie Patton Kaia Kaipo Son House Lāʻie Clarksdale The Overthrow Railroad ties The Queen The scattering of people and all that goes with a person, with a people when they are scattered like… Not seeds that grow but like--What? Embers that burn the backs of the arms of… No, not quite right. What goes with a people when they are scattered Like seeds in a fire storm, that become fertile only after the searing, Burning where they land but also rooting there. Growing there, eventually. And so, anyway, It rained as we sat in our concentric circles Answering some question “Why were the accomplishments of someone erased?” Or other “How does music carry cultural data?” And it rained while we talked, No surprise. We, our circles, our thoughts, Our words, surrounded by the rain, Colder than most rains here, but louder than usual, And longer. We stayed dry but the sound fully engulfed us As we struggled forward To ponder why we seem to insist on erasing What some people have made.
Who Could Rise in Flame - November 25, 2020 An ordinary woman who could rise in flame, You spoke to us, not ordinary at all. I think your hair was down, I think you wore glasses, Your voice picking us all up, Picking us apart, lighting us on fire. You read to us. And you told us how to (mis)pronounce your name, Laux, rhymes with fox, you said, Though you guessed at the lost frenchman’s way Of speaking your last name. And you listened to our questions, The questions of 20 year olds, So much still waiting out in our futures. And you spoke with us later, patiently, one on one, Your words sometimes searing, touching Subterranean spots we did not know about ourselves. You signed my book, and smiled at me. “Keep writing,” you said. “I like your nails.” And something else about my hair that I can’t recall. I want to believe it was a compliment. I want to believe Somehow you knew me, But also I want to tell you that I have continued to write And that I often think of that evening, The hall we gathered in, The way you gathered us in And how lucky to have chanced into Dr. Asarnow’s classes, And Dr. Askay’s classes, And Dr. Orr’s classes, Or maybe not luck. Maybe those were always out in my future, now many years past, Waiting for me to arrive. And how can words spill out, a bright gold wave, Lunging from a poem, a song, a person, Out of time, out of a place, leaping and pulling meaning along with them Lighting us ablaze, creating---what? An ordinary woman. You spoke to us, A match, our minds fast gas, no airlock, every nerve on fire, And what else is waiting out there? Two weeks from right now? I wanted to tell you that I kept writing.
“Today is the first day of August. It is hot, steamy, and wet. It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But…after a heavy rainfall, poems titled ‘Rain’ pour in from across the nation.” -S Plath This used to be the sixth month, un-creatively called sextilis in the later Roman calendar. Naming theContinue reading “July 26-August 2, 2020”
This week, last year, I did not surf.
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