Monthly Archives: September 2014

Skin – A Soon to be Deemed “Racist” Rant, More Like a Tirade

I have been in contact — skin-to-skin — with those
of a darker shade than I,

it felt like…skin.

It was not the passionate embrace of intimates,
or the caress of long known love,

nor was it an assault — violent expression of hate,
fear and ignorance– there was no instinctual
desire to attack,

merely a touch, unconscious of color.

Bear in mind, I do have my prejudices, oh yes,
and hold tightly to them, even when
I may be wrong.

I form an immediate opinion when I see a black man,
hand holding his pants up by the crotch,
wife-beater t-shirt and a do-rag,

I have similar thoughts about the Hispanic with tattoos
on his face and a lowrider in the yard,

it is much the same with the white woman with four kids
living in a trailer, smoking cigarettes and not
working, refusing to marry the baby-daddy

’cause the food stamps would stop.

Are you pissed off yet? Have you decided on the name
you will call me? Racist? Bigot? Judgmental?
It’s ok, I can be a judgmental SOB.

But here is the thing: my judgements are based on actions
and ideas, not color, and I certainly do not believe
there is some inherent superiority imbedded

in my somewhat-tan-but-still-white skin.

However, there is a reciprocity required which is often
overlooked: you do not get to judge me either,
or, at least not based on my skin,

I do believe there is content of character at issue,

and while mine may indeed come into question when
I display my prejudice against those I do not
know or understand,

you do not get to call me racist if I question the decisions
or actions of a man of color, simply because
the words came from a white man.

The color of my skin does not grant me any right
of superiority, but neither is it a valid reason
to censor my convictions,

that would be racist.

I have hugged the neck of a black woman and kissed
her on the cheek, shook hands with Hispanics,
Asians, Arabs…

all just felt like skin.

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Vacation Days – A Progression

Day One

The burdens followed over
the many miles, down each road,
through every traffic jam, waiting out
each stop, arriving with us and joining
us in our room, refusing to loose
their hold on the one who served them.

They wavered a bit, shimmering
behind the veil of the humid air,
recoiling somewhat when faced
with the glare of beach sand
and the onslaught of crashing waves,
but would not release their control.

Day Two

Shoulders retain the tension
stored for so long in those
muscles, eyes — unaccustomed
to natural light — in a constant
squint, ever present people
an irritant, routine disrupted.

The sand…it is everywhere
and on everything, a gritty nuisance,
matched only by the heat
and the encroachment of waves.
The screech of other people’s children
stabs into my brain.

Day Three

The morning is lethargic,
no alarm to jump-start adrenaline,
coffee still follows, but it takes
the form of leisurely activity
instead of an addict’s need, sipped while
watching clouds instead of screens.

The walk to the beach is not
so long today, the sting
of the sun on skin begins
to feel…normal. Amidst the background
noise of Jimmy Buffett, seagulls
and surf, I find my family.

Day Four

There
is joy
to be found
in children’s voices,
lifted in delight
at the sight of seagulls,
trilling their own sort of song
chasing the birds across the sand.
Laugh and join with them in their pursuit,
remember what is often left behind.

Day Five

There is comfort to be found
in the sand, something symbolic
in the way it clings to skin,
how it is cooler underneath
than on the surface,
the subtle color variations at the tide mark,
how it slips from beneath your feat
when you attempt to stand
before the tide,
and how the dune flowers bloom
in the gritty soil.

I place my chair
at the water’s edge,
let the waves wash over my feat,
a part of the ocean
instead of an opponent.

Day Six

The waves come and go,
in constant trade with the shore.
Leave more than you take.

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Dropping Bombs

“Let’s eradicate this cancer,
drop your bombs
and wipe it out!”
The nurse smiles at his
enthusiasm, amazed at his positive
attitude — stage four,
telling jokes very day — as she
inserts the needle and releases
the poison hope.
She was working third shift
in the ER last night when they brought
the boy in, maybe seventeen,
needle marks between his toes.
He kept mumbling “one more
bomb, just one more…” until
his eyes rolled back. His parents
never suspected he had
experimented,
much less graduated.
She cried
in the car between shifts,
pausing between sobs when
the jets passed overhead,
wanting to be strong.
He had called Wednesday night,
warned her it would be a while
before they talked again, time
to get to work.
Around Mosul and on both sides
of the Syrian border nervous eyes
scan the skies, wondering
if political promises will come
to fruition.
I was walking the dog
in the front yard when the nurse
across the street pulled in
her drive — at about the same time
she had left the day before —
gave me a weak smile
and wave as she hurried into
the house.
The bomb the dog left
on the lawn seems to define
the whole damn mess.

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Preventable – Found Poetry

One person commits suicide
every
……40
seconds…

it is a huge number

more than conflicts
wars
……natural catastrophes
rates are highest in people
……aged 70 years
and over…
the second leading cause of death
……in 15-29 year-olds

– don’t glamorize suicide –

part of the blame lies with the publicity
people who had recovered
……thinking again about suicide
there are many suicide
……attempts
for each death

The impact on families
is devastating,
even long after persons dear to them
have
taken
……their
………own
…………lives

However,
suicides
are

preventable

.

Notes: all of the words here were taken from this article on worldwide suicide statistics. I tried to keep the phrases I used as intact as possible. The lack of punctuation is intentional as well as the liberal use of ‘white space’, I think it contributes to the mood and the matter-of-fact nature of the information.

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Private Jokes and Hidden Meanings

The wasps swarm low
to the ground this morning,
phantoms darting in and out of the shadows
the river birch lays on the lawn,
through the sheets of summer-storm rain I can
see sun-lit clouds,
all the brighter when set-off
by their grey kin,
like a family laughing around the dinner table,
seen through the gauze of the curtains
in the front window.
The Japanese maple does not weep
as much as I remember,
and the front door used to be red,
the dog furrows her brow,
concerned about something I cannot see.

Confused? Trying to find the hidden meaning,
or the connection between
obscure verses and stretched simile?
Welcome to modern poetry,
where plain language is shunned
and muddled meanings are applauded,
simple phrases are lost to context
and obscure references are seemingly
intended only for those in on some
private joke or secret code…

…almost like wasps swarming across
a shadowed lawn,
or looking at sun-lit clouds through
a gauze curtain of rain.

.

Margo Roby asked for a poem using some aspect of the word “obscure”,
and sense I consider most current poetry (published in major journals) an exercise in forced obscurity…
And no, there is no obscure connection or hidden meaning in this poem,
just some images I gathered over the last few days who did not have a home in a poem yet./em>

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