Shot through our nerves
Our boots on the dance floor
Our hips and lips
Shocking and rocking us to the core
Bringing DJs to their knees with endless requests for
“Who was that?” “Can we hear some more?”
We were altered
We put him on an altar
Which he smashed on down
“Just because I’m Prince
Don’t give me no crown,”
No autographs either
He turned his head
“Idol worship lifts up no one”
As he strutted away in his gown.
The 4th Reich
A group of young German boys view Der Stuermer, Die Woche and other propaganda posters that are posted on a fence in Berlin, 1937 Julien Bryan Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum © Julien Bryan
Only the animals
Sense a tsunami coming
Rocking earth felt from afar
Mollusk’s screams heard
From the ocean’s bottom
The seam of the world splitting open
Hot blood stirring animals to run, crawl, fly, scamper
Towards higher ground
Leaving humans smug and unknowing
Of the earth
It could happen again
So the creatures must have known
About the tsunami
Of The Third Reich
And the wake it would leave.
Some of us know now
The waves and wakes to come.
Honoring my Editor Father
Your usual reverence – or ecstasy – with the written word
Has been siphoned away
By a whitewater rush of terminology.
Clinical collisions with this lexicon of labels
Have crushed your sensibilities
and left an unpleasant void in place
of your habitual captivation with the nuances of words.
Awash in this thesaurus
Of weighty, immobilizing words,
You waddle through them, one-by-one,
Under scars of syllables scrambling your tongue.
Aghast Again the Aftermath
Police Personnel Push back screams in order to ID corpses
Mothers Methodically Muster courage to call the hospital again
Fathers Frantically Furiously text call text call text call text
Journalists Judiciously Jump to the web searching synonyms for “horrific”
Nurses Neatly Needle the wounded to inject pain meds
Bloggers Bewilderedly Berate our violence worshipping gun culture
Teenagers Tenderly Touch their gay comrades in school hallways
Activists and Agencies Accelerate legislative pleas and petitions
Dogs Desperately Deliver comfort to the injured and the impacted
Murderous Magnum Moves into the Madness of all of our bloodstreams
Wrapped tight, but fragile, like a sprained ankle
In a blanket I would love later but now smothered me
I am pressed into a warm and squishy chest.
I am a tiny display of hard work and long waiting,
Paraded, swathed, a girl on a parade float,
Paraded for relatives, yet unable to wave.
My tiny ears learn to reach for the only comforting sound:
Blood valves in that bosom;
Drumbeats under the two fountains of fuel.
Over months, the magic drum is the only solace
To the scared little bones of my blossoming body.
The large-bones that carried me nine months no longer lift me.
I am lying alone with my tiny whimpers.
Secrets in Cells
Dedicated to the women in Purdy Corrections Center
There is no written language
For these volumes of secrets
Inside our orange jumpsuits.
Sometimes we open a wailing one
Hand it over to a loved one
No gushing lava of words
Just a silent wail
For sacred holding.
We Didn't See It Coming
We all lose count of the days, closed cafes, our lost pay, what the protocols require, or our misplaced desires, and the graphs and the deaths and the stats and last breaths.
We didn’t see it coming
2020 a storm with no name or too many names or memes it seems
We ran out of things to blame
We didn’t see it coming - this year
The wake-up call to see tenderly clear
Just what our brown-skinned neighbors fear
Daily, hourly, minutely – years
Being what we call woke - broke - our hearts – cracked open rages
Don’t look away we told ourselves – stay - look
At all those kids in cages and their messed up developmental stages
Through a Virus Lens
Plexiglas panels in all the cafes
The banks, the food stores, even stores that sell hay
Cashiers enduring more mouth-covered days
And pretending to smile while enduring this craze.
A breath inside a mask
An inhale that becomes a gasp
A thousand blue rectangles
That end up in the trash
Another conversation overheard
About how long this will last
The Many Hats
Bless the hats that parents wear
The hat racks full even pre-virus
Each hat hook carries weight and care
A look, a fate, a responsible prayer
A hat for Nurse, or Chef or Chauffeur,
And one for Mathematician and Humorer
Another for maid, Fashion Cop, Teacher,
Veterinarian, Nurturer, Courtroom Judge, Bleacher
Now those hats demand an upgrade
Are put on alert, steroidally injected
Redefined, refined, ordered online or handmade
Worn all at once and stitched onto the fronts
Is artistically written, “I don’t know”
As an answer to kid’s endless daily affronts.
It's Called "Breaking News" Because We Are Broken
Another crashed crucible
In campus corridors
Cancelled classes and lives
Shots captured in collegiate air
Into the heart of classmates
Who enrolled with the courage