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Category: Politics & Activism

POEM: Indra’s Net

Indra’s Net

I am reflected in you.
You are reflected in me.
We are reflected in them.
They are reflected in us.
Through you I become infinite.
Through me you become boundless.
Through them we touch everyone.
Through us they touch everywhere.
They are reflected in us.
We are reflected in them.
You are reflected in me.
I am reflected in you.

/ / /

5 May 2024
Charlottesville VA

For SU4P

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POEM: Organizing

Organizing

You find the people you can trust
and with them you push down on the lever
that moves the world until you hear
a ripping sound as the old ways
are torn up by the roots, leaving
fresh soil in which to plant the seeds
of the new world, the world where
we’re all free to be
who we were always meant to be.

/ / /

30 April 2024
Charlottesville VA
NaPoWriMo Day 30

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POEM: All Rise

All Rise

Would everyone who served in the military please stand up? [polite applause]

Would everyone who’s had their house destroyed by the military please stand up? [silence]

Would everyone who’s lost a child to an attack by the military please stand up? [weeping]

Would everyone who couldn’t finish school because so much of our budget goes to the military please stand up? [single cough]

Would everyone who has risked their physical and emotional safety to impede the actions of the military please stand up? [murmur]

Would everyone who wishes for a world without the existence of the military please stand up?

/ / /

25 April 2024
Charlottesville VA
NaPoWriMo Day 25

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POEM: Fuck All Y’All

Fuck All Y’all

Fuck billionaires and bankers
and CEOs and CFOs and
whatever the fuck a COO is.

Fuck all presidents and prime
ministers and congresspeople
and senators.

Fuck all generals and admirals
and secretaries of war
and defense contractors.

Fuck all cops and prison guards
and FBI agents and CIA agents
and all the other agents of death.

Fuck all cops again.

Fuck all landlords and agribusiness
magnates and health insurance execs
and everyone who commodifies our needs.

Fuck all cops one more time.

/ / /

19 April 2024
Charlottesville VA
NaPoWriMo Day 19

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POEM: Flowers

Flowers

The monster toppled under its own weight,
taking many of those it had terrified with it.
As the creature decomposed, returning to soil,
crops sprang up in its place:
ripe fruits shining in the sun;
nourishing greens covering the earth.
Where once had been screams there were songs,
knitting the past to the newborn future.
This is the way of monsters and of what follows:
Fear will lose to flowers.

/ / /

17 April 2024
Charlottesville VA
NaPoWriMo Day 17

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Journalists In Gaza


I worked as a reporter and editor and broadcaster for NPR and Bloomberg and Nikkei and Kyodo News World Service and a number of other outlets in both the US and Japan. I loved that work because it felt important. Even sacred. I know there are tons of problems with the way news is owned and reported, but back then I knew less about that, and in any case from the inside it felt different.

Nothing I was ever involved with can compare in any way with what we see journalists going through on the ground in Gaza. Elsewhere, too, of course, but my attention is focused on Gaza right now. I think about how much I felt connected to the mission of reporting, and I imagine how much more connected they must feel to be reporting about the attempted destruction of their own land and people.

I listen to Al Jazeera every day. Part of many of their broadcasts involves their journalists reporting on the deaths of their colleagues and their colleagues’ families, and even on the deaths of their own families. It’s more than anyone should have to endure. The fact that they keep doing it speaks to a strength I can barely comprehend.

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POEM: Meanwhile

Meanwhile

“our colleagues are being killed
at the bedside of our patients”

meanwhile:

a toddler cannot stop shaking
as an aid worker
or maybe just a random civilian
gently strokes the side of her face

meanwhile:

an IDF soldier holds a machine gun
above a line of naked men
their hands tied behind their backs
their clothes in a pile in the street

meanwhile:

his head drooping, beard filled with ash,
the man in the PRESS vest wonders
how much longer he can possibly continue

meanwhile:

a car pulls over to the side of the road
two women in hijab hand a tray of
blueberry muffins out the window
to a lone protester
they wave and drive on

/ / /

7 December 2023
Charlottesville VA

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POEM: Virginia/Gaza

Virginia/Gaza

We move boxes and couches, beds and lamps.

We pause to eat pizza and drink lemonade.

The kids help or play or get tired.

As we near the end there are gunshots
in the nearby woods. Hunters, or target practice.

The next-to-the-youngest one
asks if they’re fireworks.

We all say yes.

*

They move with nothing, to nowhere.

They keep their hands raised as they walk
but the soldiers shoot anyway.

There is gunfire everywhere.
There are explosions everywhere.

Flares set fire to the night
so the soldiers can keep shooting.

The next-to-the-youngest one
digs her baby brother out of the rubble.

/ / /

2 December 2023
Charlottesville VA

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POEM: Palestine Corner

Palestine Corner

One is a beekeeper.
One is barefoot.
One is from the Bay Area.
One is Kuwaiti.
One is a daycare worker.
One is from Iraq.
One is a boxer.
One is a nurse.
One is a newbie.
One is an old head.
One is a singer.
One is a guitarist.
One is trans.
One is bi.
One is a dad.
One is a mom.
One brings coffee.
One brings honey.
Cold mornings.
Rainy mornings.
They hold signs.
The cars pass.

/ / /

22 November 2023
Charlottesville VA

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POEM: Vigil

Vigil

We stand on the street corner
because we can’t turn our
bodies into shields.

We stand on the street corner
to force other people to look.

We stand on the street corner
clutching our paper signs
and our cardboard signs,

looking into the eyes
of the passing drivers,
hoping for recognition.

We stand on the street corner
with our fathers and our daughters,
with friends and strangers.

We stand on the street corner
for those whose streets run red
with blood and fire.

We stand on the street corner,
praying to awaken
from our collective nightmare,

to discover it was all a dream,
that we are safe in the arms of loved ones,
that all we hear are birds

and the laughter of children.

/ / /

7 November 2023
Charlottesville VA

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A Better World Is Inevitable

In the midst of [waves arms] all of this, I’ve met some truly wonderful humans these past few weeks. People who are working to make the world a better place in real, tangible ways. Right where they live, and in places they’ll likely never visit. As has always been the case, the bad people count on us to despair in the face of the structures they’ve built and the atrocities, large and small, that those structures enable. And as has always been the case, we refuse to stop fighting. Because there is no alternative but to build a better world. I don’t mean this in some polyannish way. Things are awful. But we’re strong and we’re guided by love and rage and community and compassion and I really do believe we’ll win. We have to.

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POEM: Let

Let

The dog is sleeping near the fireplace.
He’s been sleeping there for years.
A long time, really, for a dog.
He’s not dead. I checked.
He was just … overwhelmed?
It was all getting to be too much.
One day he nuzzled up against me
while I was sitting on the couch, reading.
I gave his head a pat and watched him
pad across the room to the braided rug.
He circled a few times, like he always does,
then settled in, paws crossed.
That was three, maybe four years ago.
I still use the living room, but I try to keep quiet.
No loud music, no sharp noises.
I fill his water bowl and food bowl every day.
Just in case.

/ / /

10 October 2023
Charlottesville VA

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POEM: Officer Unfriendly

Officer Unfriendly

I would grab a bullhorn and taunt the cops.
I’d make fun of them right to their faces,
from a few feet away, to make the workers laugh.
Picket lines are long and hard and too cold or too hot.
Morale is kept up by humor as much as righteousness.
I shouted insults at the cops, whose faux unions
are always on the side of the oppressor, who stand
in their own picket lines, firmly opposed to justice.
I used my whiteness, my maleness, as a shield,
provoking and absorbing and deflecting their anger
from the workers who didn’t look like me,
who couldn’t afford any trouble,
but who were marching anyway because
they knew that enough was enough.
I didn’t teach my kids to ask cops for help.
I told them to never talk to the police.
Unless you’ve got a bullhorn and a big crowd.
Then you can make an exception.

/ / /

19 August 2023
Charlottesville VA

This is poem 29 in a series called 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

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POEM: How Can We Sleep

How Can We Sleep

I’m sitting in a camp chair
on the concrete rectangle
I call my front porch.

The catbirds are squabbling
in the Adam’s needle;
the neighbor kids are shooting hoops.

I’m trying to read a book of poems
about the environmental crisis,
but my eyes are stinging from smoke

that has traveled all the way to Virginia
from wildifes in Quebec and Nova Scotia,
nearly a thousand miles away.

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed,
and those who are killing it
have names and addresses.”

Now one of the neighbor kids is crying.
Maybe she knows
our days are numbered.

/ / /

6 June 2023
Charlottesville VA

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