Works in Progress

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. 

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.

%d bloggers like this: