BEGGING FOR ANSWERS

I came of age in the era
of argyle socks
and plaid shirts
stolen from your father’s closet.

We stopped before school
to fill Super Big Gulp cups
with frothy Orange Bang!
which we kept in our lockers all day.

We didn’t realize
that MTV would soon cease
to be music television
and would peddle us “Jersey Shore”.

There was no comprehension
of intrawebs and internets,
and the smart phones
our children gobble up like Candy Crush.

I think about the pivotal moment
when he filled three pages of my yearbook
with a break-up message
that I didn’t fully comprehend until age 38.

I sometimes remember
the way he smelled like Play-Doh
and combed his hands
through my wet hair.

Then I wander to the artist
with the wire-framed glasses
who tasted like Budweiser
and smelled like paint thinner.

They tell us not to look back,
but they also say if you don’t examine the past
you’re doomed to repeat it.
So which is it, huh?

THE INNOCENCE OF BEING OBLIVIOUS

The summer the Idaho potato fields
lay spread out before us
and the world was ours for the taking,
we met the tall one in the mall parking lot.
There were no smart phones or Google maps.
We didn’t even have a paper map.
Talking Heads was on the radio
and it was the summer before our senior year.
I should have had sights set on the dark-headed boy,
with the slight lisp and sincere eyes.
Instead, my focus was
the broken-hearted, harder to crack veneer.
He’d been my mission since day one.
We spent inordinate amounts of time
in his basement that trip:
listening to music,
making each other laugh,
cuddling on his water bed.
We didn’t know where his parents were,
and we didn’t ask.
Even though it was innocuous,
it felt like we were pushing boundaries.
Doing something daring.

We went ice blocking down Simplot hill,
a vast swath of property in the midst of Boise
with a mansion perched atop.
A city conquered.
Security must have been lax,
because the more we slid down the hill
with our hair flying behind us,
and the more trees we climbed,
the freer we felt.
No sign of a reprimand.

The river flowed around us seamlessly.
Our inner-tubes bobbed along,
like Halloween party apples in a bucket.
But there was an unspoken surface tension,
that I mistook as the thrill of being on the river.
Your first kiss
should have been with someone better,
someone who didn’t claim to be “rebounding.”
Knowing the situation now,
the pictures speak volumes.
I often think about the innocence
of being oblivious
and frequently wish that was
a more recurrent state of mine.

NOW IS THE TIME

My husband says that I’m getting old. Actually, it may have been me who said, “Do you think I am getting old?” And his reply was something like, “Well, you do read the newspaper every day, watch the evening news (often on more than one channel), and wake up early on Sunday mornings to eat a bagel while you watch ‘Meet the Press’. So…yes?”

I always claimed to be the type of person who wasn’t “into politics”. Even as recently as early 2016, I frequently said I didn’t care about caucusing. I would rarely bring up my own political views in public forums, and especially refrained from doing so on social media. (I no longer participate in social medias, so that wouldn’t be a thing for me now anyway.) While I wasn’t into politics, I always voted. The first election in which I was old enough to vote took place in 1996. I was sick as a dog and still made it to the local fire station to cast my ballot. Our rights as citizens of this nation have always felt important to me. I have never been affiliated with any political party. I have always considered myself an independent. I thoroughly research all the candidates and then have previously proclaimed, “I vote for the one who seems the least loserish.” Everything changed for me on November 9th of last year, when I realized with a slap in the face, the importance politics plays in every single aspect of our lives.

After the election, I found out that a few people I knew had voted for Trump. I wanted to know why.  The answers were varied: “Because Hillary thinks abortion is okay.” “Because Hillary’s personality is annoying.” “Because, Hillary’s private servers.” To me, none of those reasons are valid. Donald Trump’s shortcomings bear much more weight and are hugely massive compared with any of those reasons. He has let into his orbit many horrible humans, has thrown rallies filled with hateful rhetoric, and has admitted to groping women, because he has a right as a wealthy man to do so. He’s the worst kind of xenophobic, racist, narcissist — and now he has a world-wide platform and attention for all of his bad behavior. Not only does he have a platform, but he scoots over occasionally to share it with others who should have no place being able to spread their fear and vile words.

After the occurrences last weekend in Charlottesville, I noticed that some people, including Trump, don’t seem to understand what rights The First Amendment protects. The Bill of Rights wasn’t designed to protect the hate speech and incitement of riots by white supremacist groups. They are never out to peaceably assemble. If you have seen or heard any of them speak, you can tell they are a soulless mob and they are armed to the teeth. I’ve heard many news pundits and others claim shock and surprise that Trump seems to be endorsing these groups. I am not surprised at all. Haven’t people been listening to his words for the last two years/decade? People who were hoping he would become more “presidential” once he was actually elected were fools. As my uncle used to say, “People don’t change too goddamn much too goddamn much of the time.” Trump is a zebra who has been showing his stripes since day one.

Now is not the time for silence. Now is not the time to say, “I’m not into politics.” Now is the time for shouting about what we hold dear. We need to band together as citizens of this world to protect the environment, safeguard our children and schools, push for the rights of immigrants and women and healthcare for all. Now is a time for action. We cannot tolerate the aforementioned perversions of democracy. This famous quote I have heard several times recently sends chills down my spine. It should prompt all of us to act. It is from a Nazi survivor named Martin Niemöller:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”