just words

beat to a pulp
not the long, slow erosion
but spontaneous, relentless, brutal pummeling
one word after another
they land them like punches, see,
felt in the gut
before the head or the heart even knows what happened

but oh it happened alright
every
single
time

and when you finally figure out you’re broken
more words come at you
just to make sure you understand
it’s all your fault
but hey you must be crazy
everybody knows that anyway

who wins?
who wins?

what makes it impossible
to deliver words with wings
to speak like a smoothing hand
or an open palm cupped to hold
to utter like an embrace?
what prohibits kindness 
even in anger or tension
what makes that an obscenity?
what compels the use of a word
as a numbing blow?
they will tell you
you asked for it
you deserved it
you
had 
it 
coming

when you break again
and again
can healing still come?
look at the power of a syllable:
knife club gun
kiss.
put two syllables together
and speak the truth:
I am.

open wide the doors

open wide the doors
this one and this one and this one
and don’t forget that one
open them wide, fling them, waste no time
nothing is forbidden.

you don’t even remember
what you left inside there
you can’t quite recall
the delight the surprise
the warmth of each treasure.

each one locked away
safely hidden behind the doors
while you manage the mindless particulars.
i am that little devil on your shoulder
here to tell you the truth though:

you are running out of time.
forget about the heavy wagon you keep pulling
just leave it in the road, right there, for now
and run to those doors
open them all, now, 

while you still can.

VxVy

Carter should have known better.

I had been on the top secret VxVy project for three years. VxVy was the reason I got up in the morning. It’s all I ever thought about. Even though my main area of expertise was propulsion, I understood every system on this special bird. And everyone was well aware of my photographic memory.

I knew in my bones that VxVy was the ticket to the future. We all knew it. This was the vehicle that would get us off the planet and not just into outer space, but into a whole new space time reality. 

I wanted to be the first one there, but would just have to watch. It was just 18 hours before the big moment when our pilot astronauts would finally board VxVy and make history.

That’s when Carter and I walked into his office, as he double-checked one last detail.  I leaned over his shoulder as he entered the password for the ultra-classified file. And just like that, I had it, the last piece of the puzzle, the key to my dreams.

After that, it was all too easy. While everyone else was trying to get a couple hours of sleep before the early morning event, I calmly crossed the tarmac, nodding to the guards who had seen me a million times before. I slid back the hatch, climbed into the cockpit, and strapped myself in.

The instrument panel came to life. It didn’t take long before I had the engines wound up and the runway slipped away underneath me. I made a long, low takeoff followed by a steep ascent.

“VxVy,” I breathed.

I ignored the troubled radio calls from the tower. It wouldn’t be long before the chase planes showed up. 

Clearly, though, I had somewhere to be.

Armed with my new information, I input the code, my hand hovering over the last character. 

I could see the chase planes on my radar screen now.

This was it. I took a deep breath and pressed enter.

Boom. I let go of the controls and let VxVy do its thing. 

~~~

Back at Mission Control, Carter scratched his head as he looked at the radar display.

“I don’t understand it. He was just there. What’s the word from the chase crews?” Carter asked.

“They had a visual on him. And then they didn’t,” came the bleak reply.

“Sir, it almost sounds like he’s, ahem, on mission,” one of the team members said. “But how could that be? He didn’t have access to the codes.”

Carter rubbed the stubble on his chin. Then his eyes got real wide.

“I don’t know, but I think you may be right. Get the time warp team in here.”

Under his breath, Carter prayed, “Lord, I hope he got the re-entry code, too.”

###

This was a second little thing that came to mind after Sue Vincent’s latest #WritePhoto prompt. Just for fun.

special delivery #WritePhoto

Photo courtesy of Sue Vincent

“How do you know my name? Who are you, anyway?” I asked.

He gave a deft twist on the handlebar, revving the engine, ready to roll. He smiled.

“Max.”

“Max who? Am I supposed to know you somehow?”

“Just Max. A friend of a friend of a friend. You need to know.”

He peeled out with a roar on his pukey-orange motorcycle, leaving me standing there outside my office building. I opened my hand and looked at the small piece of paper Max had given me. 

It was a lunch receipt from Spark’s Pub. Something was scribbled on the back. I don’t know what I expected to see, but it was just a string of letters and numbers. Huh? What did this have to do with me?

I crumpled the paper into my pocket as I wandered over to my car, heading for home.

I let myself into the apartment and could sense that Amanda wasn’t there. This was no surprise since she’d been working a lot of hours lately. I called out anyway, but it only managed to rouse, Slinky, the cat, to come and rub against my legs.

As I leaned down to pet Slinky, my eyes landed on Amanda’s laptop sitting on the table. There was an unexpected little snap in the recesses of my brain.

Any other day, it wouldn’t have occurred to me in a million years to do what I was about to do. I walked over, sat down, and opened the laptop. I pulled out the wrinkled receipt and typed in the letters and numbers at the password prompt.

Suddenly, I found myself in Amanda’s private universe.

Almost without thinking, I started clicking. It was just a matter of seconds before my world imploded. 

“You need to know,” I remembered the stranger, Max, saying over the growl of his engine.

I guess I was the last to know, too. 

###

Thank you, Sue Vincent, for the another fun #WritePhoto prompt!

there to squander

Born to love and care,
born reaching for it
wailing for it
certain of the mission.
Born knowing that much.

There to squander,
no shortage of supply
like dandelion seeds on the breeze
it goes everywhere
and nowhere too.

See how it changes
the world in little ways,
a smile here
less worry there.
More often, it works in bigger ways,
tilting one’s globe
and painting it colors.

Occasionally given away only to find
it just sits
undisturbed, unopened, unseen
or deliberately cast away.
Who could have so much
they would want no more?
Who could spurn the very breath of life?

No matter.

Born to love and care.
Keep lavishing that currency
near and far.
There is more than can be spent.

Here you go, please have some of mine,
there’s more where that came from.

###

underdog

Photo courtesy of Eugie’s Causerie

Champions
garner all the glory
seize the gold
stand on the shoulders
of others.
Winners losers
offense defense
the vocabulary of competition.

Real winners
walk without fanfare
outside the game
helping others
no matter the team
speaking a different kind of language.
Compassion and cooperation forge the path to the prize
where everyone comes out on top

even the planet.

###

Thank you to Eugie’s Causerie for inspiring this poem. The prompt to which this responds is “underdog.”

a better candidate

We learned yesterday that Democratic presumptive nominee Joe Biden does not support police defunding. That didn’t take long.

Considering that Biden was responsible for the 1994 tough-on-crime bill that exacerbated problems rather than solve them, his rush to rule out defunding should come as no surprise.

It’s interesting that a lot of folks seem uncomfortable with defunding. I would guess that comes from a lack of understanding, and, of course, resistance to change. 

Defunding doesn’t mean we drop everything overnight and suddenly find ourselves in some kind of ‘wild, wild West’, every person for him/her self. No, it means reallocating funds to support people in the ways they really need help, so that crime and distress are not such prevalent realities for so many people in the first place. It also means developing a new vision for the kind of policing we really need and want in our communities, and then making that happen, too. It also means rejecting a form of policing that does not serve our population well.

It’s a radical step toward making actual systemic changes. And it showcases other areas that need radical overhaul. Our mental health, education, and health systems are not so great, nor are they equitable. All of them need reform. Plus, defunding forces us to look at the fundamentals of meaningful work for a meaningful wage, secure housing, and availability of nutritious food. 

We’re talking about basic respect for each human being.

But back to Biden. He’s got a lock on the nomination. He’s doing well, by doing nothing, in recent polling against Trump. It’s pretty sad commentary that this is what we’re down to.

Biden may be a familiar, perhaps friendly-looking face, but take a serious look at his record in terms of peace, justice, and equality. This is a candidate that has authored legislation that has hurt people of color, among others. He is another candidate who has allegations of sexual assault and harassment against him. His cognitive abilities are seriously under question. His engineered rise to the forefront has alienated many progressive voters, perhaps for the long haul. And he has made no effort throughout the campaign thus far to instill confidence or enthusiasm, hat tip to corporate donors.

Folks, we can do better than this.

We should not be surprised that there is actually a movement afoot. Believe it or not, a March Against Biden is set for June 27. These are not Trump supporters. Nope, these are voters who fear a loss to Trump because Biden is such a demonstrably lousy candidate. They are all about finding a better candidate. Check out @BidenMarch on Twitter.

Dems, are you listening? It’s not too late. We really could have a decent candidate if we put our minds to it.

We are witnessing firsthand the power of the people in the ongoing protests. Things are changing in our society entirely due to the people’s fearless and persistent demands right now. Another thing we can absolutely demand is a better candidate, not just a perhaps-lesser evil. One actually worth voting for.

getting lost

I would be lost
in that place
where we meet
where all of possibility shows itself,
trembles with anticipated joy,
rests untroubled by anxious dreams.

I am lost
in that place
under the star-strewn embrace,
floating on the wind,
snaking like a vine wrapped around 
the branches of a singing tree.

Waiting,
knowing that one could just trip and tumble
into that abyss
of sublime lostness.
Contemplating the circular path
and the seemingly empty space inside.

a whole new kind of garden

Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey gets credit for showing up and engaging with the protestors there. He’s all about police reform, just like we’ve been hearing for years all over the country. 

When asked, however, he indicated that he would not support fully defunding the department at the epicenter of the current unrest. That response was met with immediate scorn from the gathering of protestors surrounding him. They jeered him from the event, the crowd parting for his shamed departure.

Calls for reform, at this point nothing more than a tired rejoinder, are just not enough.

And if you weren’t convinced that reform is not enough, have a moment to consider the members of the Buffalo, New York emergency response team — all of whom resigned their roles on that team (though not their jobs) in solidarity with the two now charged with felonious assault on a 75-year old protestor. They and others assembled to cheer those two after their release. Do the citizens of Buffalo feel safer now?

What is this group of people really about? They can avert their eyes and walk past a bleeding old man laying on the ground after members of their own delivered blows to him, but they’ll show up enthusiastically in a way that ultimately communicates the notion that laying blows on a 75-year old non-violent protestor is somehow justified in their world.

It is not enough to talk simple reform. All of the various attempts at reform still led to this day.

Defunding these departments and diverting the monies to positive, supportive development in the communities makes all the sense in the world. After watching so much police violence now and through the years, and considering some of the toxic police union rhetoric, fully defunding does not sound unreasonable.

As in disband. Let ‘em all go. Phase our current departments out, and start over with a whole new approach. 

We wouldn’t even call our new groups ‘police’ or use the militarized moniker ‘officers’ — or, for that matter, captains, sergeants, units, etc. Forget all that military stuff, including the weaponry.

No, I’m not sure what we’d call them but their objective would be laser focused on peace and safety for the people. They would be trusted community partners, not an opposing, militarized force acting as the muscle of the government and the privileged. They would value life and quality of life over property. 

It will require a lot of rethinking.

It is something that needs to be fleshed out in a community process. One that ought to get started in communities across the nation.

Let’s start a whole new kind of garden. Let’s do it permaculture style – sustainable, supporting life, resilient, caring, and fair.

black and white

the moth alights in front me. i later learn it is the eight-spotted forester, but that’s just the name the English-speaking humans give to it. i don’t speak eight-spotted forester, so i do not know to what name the moth would actually answer. it speaks no language i understand. i don’t know its ways. it lives a life beyond my comprehension. but there it is, comfortably paused just there where i can’t help noticing its stark splendor. i reach out and touch the very tip of its wing. it does not move but spreads its wings out for me to see. this moth is part of my world, both ordinary and exotic, living its own life its own way while i live mine – and it is easy to see how beautiful and perfect that is.