girl with eyes too large and
milky teeth fairies must wait
years for in country that…(more)
I’ve been saying Fuck fear! to everyone today, especially myself. The surrealistic results of last night’s election were shocking and fostered images of increased violence, economic disparity, disenfranchisement, senseless cruelty and suffering in our country and beyond our imaginary borders…yet while out with our dog, I marveled at the stars sparkling as they have and will for eons.
So many compassionate people with social and historical understanding are scared, yet fear is how slave owners and terrorists, bullies and rapists, gangs and militias have gained and maintained entirely too much privilege for too long. Fear paralyzes. Fear wraps us in numbing behavior, PTSD and isolation. I’ve spent too much of my life focused on moving out of fear to embrace it now because our young nation is struggling with issues of entitlement and humanism; the ideals of capitalism and democracy; the definitions of freedom and propaganda. Fear locks the brain in a simplified fight or flight state rather than perceiving others through the complex lens of empathy and layered perspectives.
Fear, like anxiety, is a mighty imaginative force. If I let it root I’ll be paralyzed in ways I’ll be too blinded to even see, so fuck fear. We rise above bad circumstances and heal through love and connection so let’s make our way to 2020 as intact as we can as a nation, as connected as we can with our entire world and with as much deep listening, caring and intelligence as we can offer one another.
May all be happy, safe, healthy and at peace.
Empathy in action
My day consists of making sure my restaurant runs well. That could mean washing dishes, cooking and sometimes even serving tables. I have also dealt with every guest complaint you can imagine.
A few weeks back you came into my restaurant. I was very busy that night. I was running around helping the kitchen cook food. I was asked to talk to a table close to yours. I did and they said your child was being very loud. I heard some yelling while I was talking to that table. I heard a very loud beep from a young girl.
I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to…
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Caught between Kerouac and Marilyn spawned in me the language, fearless pain as my mother, wrapped in mink, walked the edge then past as I watched then ducked smashed shards and men wanting to be sucked, degenerating the innocence of life and saints and promises made;
and where is Christ, the Buddha, ohm mani padme ohm when thousands of children die each year in America alone at the hands of their parents caretakers life-takers, when fathers teach their daughters the art of Kama Sutra, how in all this to distinguish any act as wrong, when killing millions in moments preserves the American way and what of generations born in winds of mushroom clouds,born without limbs or eyes to napalm women,what harm in being sucked by unlined skin—
the brain numb too short a time, too soon the blackout ends, too soon Marilyn raises her skirt, her breasts, her legendary grin, too soon barbiturates and lithium and caffeine caffeine—can’t sleep, won’t sleep, bring in the kid—she won’t remember anyway the feel of heels and calloused palms, slip between her unfledged lips like snow, like angel wings, then retreat to the oblivion of drink. What’s sex in this rhythm of hate and fear, in the mutual acceptability of mutual destruction? The Buddha uncrucified cannot exist.
And I know these people, this violence spawned of invisibility, sexuality hiding fungal lingams of death, sublimating the need to think of consequence when consequences surround us not of our own making—why control ourselves when we ourselves have no control in this atomic-Ku Klux Klan-raping world of sawed-off shotguns in the hands of eight-year-olds who need a fix, a blow, enough to know they are alive, enough to dull the tense despair of being alive
but this is my world too and the bombs of mutual annihilation have not yet dropped and I do remember the jazz-nuanced hipster world that spawned me behind Marilyn’s angel grin concealing desperate dreams turned nightmare horrible, and I
we carry these in symbols of anorexic models and crucifixions to bars and steaming baths and schoolyards filled with meth and smack, bliss only in the mind, the body sharp-edged and clutching.
Yet under these streets flow fresh-water streams—chip away with hammer and nail, dig through phlegm-stained concrete with fingers till whitened bone shows through, dig for water to wash us clean, past wanting more cars, more clothes, more love than we feel, dig for truth beyond lies that tell us drugs and sex, shaved heads and tattoos, fast tech will save us for only we can save ourselves yet if each self is saved we will save the world.
Thank you to the editors of Squaw Valley Review Poetry Anthology 2012 for first publishing this poem and to the community and poets who make Squaw Valley Community of Writers such a rich and fulfilling experience.
In the summer of 2009, a friend drove me past this sign, which I had to jump out and photograph.
Turned out to be a happening for an artist involved with Exit Through the Gift Shop . Yet the real artist is Banksy, underground and overground hero, artist, thinker and social commentator. He’s technically stunning and creative, brave, quick and smart.
While some argue that Banksy is the best graffitist, he has many peers. Without borders, generally by night, graffiti artists draw attention to the relentless greed that sells products, images and manufactured lives, 24/7. Yet these manipulative mega-companies cry foul when graffiti exposes the real cost of their ads and products.
I highly recommend the film as it explores some of the best graffiti and guerilla art waged, and why Life Is so damn Beautiful!
beneath surgery-bright restaurant lights
was the unspoken collusion of employees and patrons
to ignore the bone-defined man as he tapped thin-paned glass to beg for food.
He shoved skeletal hands toward his gaping mouth as if to fill the gnawing
we could not imagine while digesting pasta and merlot rather than
our muscles to survive as this man’s body had, his hollowed face
pleading as he mimed across the chasm of language, culture, class.
After the waiter returned our leftovers, snug in styrofoam,
I took them across the restaurant, my legs heavy beneath reproach’s
hypnotic weight from those unwilling to squander rules of etiquette
that weave the fabric that insures our warmth as others freeze.
Once outside I saw him, through my breath, accept a dollar from
two spike-heeled women as they scuttled from a restaurant across the street,
yet money’s a tool for future trade, no immediate relief for the churning gut.
Drunk with hunger, he wavered in the crosswalk till a horn startled him
back to the curb. Waving, I caught his eye, offered the bright box. Our eyes
locked yet he wouldn’t move, suspended in a code more compelling than
hunger’s desperation, a code older than the south and dangerous as asphyxiation.
Cloaked in privilege, I left our paltry leftovers on the metal bus stop bench
and returned to the restaurant’s glare, each of us visible through glass walls.
He sprinted across the street, gulped what would have been tomorrow’s lunch,
threw away the box, and returned to the window beside us.
He smiled, waved, tried to thank me, but I saw him only peripherally,
embarrassed to accept gratitude for so little before he walked away.
Thank you to the editors of decomP magazinE who first published this poem.
What if the first word we learned
in another language
was not toilet, how much,
or even where, but instead
would we see past lines of experience,
the stumbling of innocence,
broken teeth, exquisite eyes,
to each person’s essence,
the miracle of existence,
and be grateful for a form
that could say gracias, dhanyavaad,
tak, xìe xìe, spasibo, danke, shokran?
Thank you to the editors of Marin Poetry Center Anthology VI for publishing “Obrigada.”
January 17, 1991
The day after war begins I
reach to hold, be held
beneath the crescent sliver of waxing snow moon
I feel your chest press retreat as we embrace
silken hair weaves through finger-
tips. Men and women die
in a city no longer theirs no longer
home. Your arms wrap me
as water holds wreathes
and Iraq retaliates,
missiles strike Jerusalem,
ten year old girl cries within the brown
mantis face of her gas mask.
Pressed peach of our cheeks
parts my lips near the tenderness of your neck—
I want to feel
your breath on my tongue
your tongue as I breathe.
And what of those in Baghdad
Thank you to the editors of We Speak for Peace and Literary Well/Pozo Literario for first and then reprinting this poem, respectively.