NEVER AGAIN

The “whys” and the “hows”
were almost immediate.
Followed shortly thereafter,
were the smattering of “thoughts & prayers”
accompanied by hashtags
and politicians’ faux broken hearts.

This one was “the worst”,
but haven’t they all been?
Haven’t they all been
the worst for someone?
Someone’s mom,
Someone’s dad,
Someone’s spouse,
Someone’s child,
Someone’s sibling,
Someone’s best friend?

The makeshift memorial
stretches across the astroturf
winding like a trail of tears,
a road of sorrows.
Messages, coins, candles, roses;
gestures from those who knew them personally
and those who know them now,
because we let this happen again.

I bend slightly
to read each name
adhered to each white cross.
They are from various locations:
Southern California,
West Virginia,
Canada,
Idaho,
Las Vegas.
I reassure them silently that they won’t be forgotten,
but when I look at the paper,
less than a week later,
it seems some are already trying not to remember.

Is it too soon to talk about this?
Is it ever too soon to talk about
Someone’s mom,
Someone’s dad,
Someone’s spouse,
Someone’s child,
Someone’s sibling,
Someone’s best friend
and why they should still be living and breathing?
Is it too soon to talk about
this broken society
that has created an admiration for senseless violence
and has prioritized gun ownership over a love of human beings?

When should we talk about
Austin (’66),
Columbine (’99),
Virginia Tech (’07),
Aurora (’12),
Newtown (’12),
Charleston (’15),
Orlando (’16),
Las Vegas (’17)?
Should we wait until more than 60 innocents die at once?

We shouldn’t be talking,
We should be shouting!
And before the questions of “why” or “how” are raised,
we should be emphasizing, “Never, never again,”
and taking immediate action.
Vegas Memorial2.JPG

Photos taken: 10/6/2017

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.

JUST STOP ALREADY

It was just locker room talk
Alternative facts
I have the best words
Sad! (Exclamation mark!)
American carnage
Mexico is gonna pay for that wall
I have the best people
He’s for the little guy
Forgotten men and women (x3)
Yuge Jyna
I don’t even have to ask, they just let me
We have to bring the jobs back!
Our country has a lot of problems
Repeal and replace Obama Care
It was a great speech
The world is a total mess
Extreme vetting
He’s gunna Make America Great Again

GEN X: I WASN’T BUILT FOR THIS

I sobbed last night.
I let the warmth of my tears
overtake the pit in my stomach.

I pushed down the hollow of watching
red bleed across the map
and overtake the white and the blue.

You think you know people,
then you end up disappointed.
I deactivated my social media accounts.

I wasn’t built for this era:
of hate, fear-mongering, and war.
My purpose resides somewhere
above the lithosphere.

Lean closer, closer
so I can whisper my sorrows
and remove this unbearable weight
like a female Jesus.

I cried last night —
for my daughter, for her generation
they’ve had this heaped on them unwillingly.

I felt ashamed to exist here.
I became a balloon with a pin-sized hole
slowly, slowly deflated.

Racism, intolerance, misogyny —
I wasn’t built for this era.
Give me back my MTV, the bygone years.

This cloak of reality
needs to be pitched into the fire
and build a Phoenix from the ashes.

“When they go low, we go high.”

UNENCUMBERED

I am unencumbered by dog,
by man,
by theories.

Take your sideways glances,
your sharp-toothed grin,
and your crazy elsewhere.

I will glide,
nyet, nyet,
slide along slowly and surely.

Take off this rag-tag coat.
This long shouldered burden.
This freedom from being free.

Set the funeral pyre alight
With bow and arrow
Become a viking and rebel.

Salt stained tears become your face.
Heart eating becomes a hobby.

Sequestered by the calm.

WINDOW TO 21ST STREET

I’m kicked back
in the recliner
with a pillow propped
at my lower back,
and the curtains drawn wide.

I pick the dead skin
from my heel,
where I had a sizable
blister in July, and now
a mosquito bite.

Every time I awoke
during the night
to scratch it,
I thought of the Zika virus
and what a pain in the ass
mosquitoes are —
their only purpose being
to spread diseases.

The women’s 100 meter hurdles race
is on the Rio Olympics,
and I feel lazy watching it.
I wonder how many hours of training
that woman put in, only to come in
last.

Outside, near the sidewalk,
an old man who has a face
that is one continuous wrinkle,
dons a bucket hat,
and has the leaf blower
cranked full blast.
It’s only purpose to generate noise
in his perfectly manicured yard.
I wonder what he’s seen,
this old man:
combat, death, the first rose in June
for the last 78 years?

My focus goes back
to the itch near my heel
and smaller things,
like how strange my voice sounds
when I hear it on video.