mock orange blossoms

Twenty-nine years ago
friends overflowed the yard, front and back,
as deep purple clematis climbed the wall and
bountiful blossoms covered the mock orange bush.

Over the years we
said goodbye to that clematis,
and to my dad, his dad, aunts and uncles.

Over the years we
put down roots, and
planted peonies, ferns, tulips, trees,
and children.

A few friends remain.
The mock orange blooms again today,
though showing its age,
as we are.

Twenty-nine years together
watching the world change
outside our doors
inside our hearts.



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Blackbirds some day

blackbird on cattail

Photo by Kurt Bauschardt, published under Creative Commons license

Some day I will stop and
write blackbirds
swinging on last summer’s reeds,
flashing red wings under spring sun,
singing life.

Some day I will stop and
watch swans float serenely
in ponds and pot holes
and learn how to use that zoom lens
waiting in the trunk of my car.

Some day my mind will not twitch
away from roadside minutes
to mourn roadside bombs and drone strikes,
to rage against weasels in the White House,
to ache for starving Somalia and bloody Syria.

This day
spring seems mere mockery while
death blooms along other roadsides
and red means blood, not blackbirds.

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Seize spring

Two geese 1.jpg

Overnight, that puddle ran off
the edges of the sidewalk and sank down
into mud that only yesterday was ice.

Each day, new birds sing. Continue reading

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Chicago I

Fishing on Navy Pier.jpgBig shoulders,
hunched over fishing poles,
sweaters and coats, layer upon layer,
warding off March morning chill,
hoping for a bite off Navy Pier. Continue reading

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When hell freezes over

Are they coming?
Someone tell me, is it true?
Are they searching Cedar Avenue?
Is there a raid in Richfield?
Are they coming? Is it true?

Through the vacuum of cyberspace,
can you hear the tears
in Arizona where
Guadalupe García de Rayos
wife, mother, worker,
checked in at the immigration office
as she did last year and the year before and the year before that,
but this year:
that very day
“The truth is I was there for my children.
For a better future. To work for them.
And I don’t regret it,
because I did it for love,”
The children are here now, and she is not
because hell freezes over and turns to ICE

Are they coming?
Someone tell me, is it true?
Should I keep my children inside?
Lock my doors?
Stay home from work?

Through the vacuum of cyberspace,
can you hear the screaming
in El Paso, as
six ICE agents enter the county courthouse and
drag out a woman:
her protective order
against domestic violence gives
no protection from
hell freezing over and turning to ICE.

Are they coming?
Do you know is it today?
Is it tomorrow?
On the street or in my home?

Through the vacuum of cyberspace,
can you hear the anger in Seattle
for Daniel Ramirez Medina,
a dreamer, age 23,
arrested, taken out of his home,
despite DACA and work permit:
nothing matters when
hell freezes over and turns to ICE.

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Power down, unplug, re-start.


Yesterday, as I walked down to the Mississippi in fake February springtime, I thought about the phone calls I hadn’t made during the week, and the protest at the State Capitol that I hadn’t gone to and the blog posts I hadn’t written. I thought about the disaster in the White House and the danger in the legislature and all the things I meant to do and how, even if I hadn’t failed this week, I wouldn’t have made a difference. I felt like my brain was flashing computer error messages: this page will not load. 404. Unable to connect. Problem retrieving data. File not found. Insufficient memory. 404.

At that point, I remembered what I’m supposed to do when the computer starts misbehaving. Power down. Unplug. Re-start. Maybe it will work for my brain, too. Continue reading

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Truth in a post-factual era: A poem for Inauguration Day 2017

What is Truth?
asked Pontius Pilate,
washing his hands of
any responsibility for the consequences
of believing lies,
of not believing lies but still
letting them stand without challenge.

“It depends on what the meaning
of the word ‘is’ is.”
said Bill Clinton, dancing
every which way but truth,
slick-talking his way out of
any responsibility for truth-

Prefects, presidents, politicians,
duck and dive and dance
around the always-dangerous,
avoidable, evadable, plausibly

Now comes a post-factual president,
ranting, tweeting, lying:
pretender, poseur, profiteer,
beyond truth, beyond facts, beyond

Are we beyond caring?

I believe,
we say,
I believe that we will win.
I believe
chant crowds marching down cold November streets,
cry mourners keeping vigil on hot July nights.
I believe in you and in me and in all of us together.
I believe there is no monster under the bed.

          “It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
          It is our duty to win.
          We must love each other and support each other.
          We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

I believe love is stronger than hate.
I believe that we, the people, will win. ,

          “Power concedes nothing without a demand.
          It never did and it never will.”

Prefects, presidents, and politicians:
Power concedes nothing –
not justice,
not truth,
not even bare facts.

We are the people:
the demanding,
chanting, believing,
persevering, powerful

          “Caminante, no hay camino.
Se hace camino al andar.”

We take the streets,
fill the streets,
claim the streets.

Power concedes nothing without a demand, and we
demand justice

Against all odds,
against all reasonableness,
against all prefects, presidents, and politicians,
against all powers and principalities,
I believe that we will win.

I believe that it is our duty
to love each other
to support each other
to break chains
to speak truth to power
to speak truth to each other
to fight
to win.

I believe that we will win.

Assata Shakur: “It is our duty …”
Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing … ”
Antonio Machado: “Caminante, no hay …”


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