For Terence

scared sad face

For Terence

It’s like some evil game
nightmare edition
of Simon says

Why do so many people
who look like me
comb over the footage,
looking for a misstep?

The questions begin,
inevitable
hateful
cloaked in willful blindness
the cloak victim-blaming
always wears:
“Yeah but–was he
fully complying?
Why didn’t he
comply exactly?”

The wrong questions,
again
and again,
world without end

Just ask Charles Kinsey
if hands up & unarmed
& lying on your back
on the road
begging for reason
will keep a black man from being
shot if someone decides
he looks like a threat
because he is breathing

Like someone decided
12-year-old
Tamir was a threat,
sitting alone, dreaming
little-boy dreams
that will never come true.

I dream of a world where
people who look like me
will ask vastly different questions,
harder ones,
braver ones,
again and again
until this world ends

And a new world opens
one where police will be expected
to protect and serve
a father of four
car broken down
who has his hands in the air

Where de-escalation
is the absolute expectation

A world where
Terence Crutcher
would still be here
heart beating,
breathing,
alive.

A poem for my neighbor’s hibiscus

pink hibiscus flower closeup
Hibiscus (aka Rosemallow, Rose of Sharon, Swampmallow)

A poem for my neighbor’s hibicus
Furled for the night,
see? They’re rolled up tight,
like tissue-paper cigars in the moonlight
sleeping
in the morning they will spin open
I’ll be walking past
I’ll be sucked in, again
will spin with them, six-and-a-half again
ballerina fantasy
fairy dresses for princesses named
Hibiscus, Rosemallow, Swampmallow.
The white one, shining in a sunbeam?
Rose of Sharon, sweet savior of sinners—
This pink one, I’ll call her Roseasharn Joad
bearing what cannot be borne
blooming when heat swells
when dreams evaporate like raindrops
when petals unwind
magic tunnels in time
swallower of bees
and ladybugs
and me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small miracles

IMG_488423084I believe in hope
in change
in light in dark times
in turning off the news
in speaking the truth
in spreading beauty into the world
in the power of small miracles
in starting where you find yourself
in breathing in the moments

To anyone who struggles (which includes, I think, everyone?)—keep trying, keep moving, keep looking, keep reaching. Change requires action and effort. Sometimes action is just a walk around the neighborhood when you’re feeling lost inside. Remember, as Audrey Hepburn said, “I believe that tomorrow is another day and…I believe in miracles.”

 

What makes you bloom?

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I work (very messily, but steadily) toward deepening my writing practice and working past fears that keep me from bursting into full flower. Things that help me are daily morning pages and evening 11-minute fast writes, lots of long walks in any weather, taking photos, yoga, eating well, sleeping well–but it’s hard to be such a consistently good friend to yourself. Hard to find the hours in the day to create those “ideal conditions” with the pressures of life. Hard not to beat yourself up for falling short.

Still: most people don’t have ideal conditions. And some people bloom anyway. Amazingly. Like tulips in February, blooming inside instead of  outdoors in May, under “ideal” circumstances. So can you. So can I.

Imagine if you could be your own biggest cheerleader instead of your own harshest critic?

tulips

Kicking off the new year

IMG_3386

I’m pleased as punch to have had two stories published this month, and so am taking this moment to celebrate. As any writers out there know, the rejections outnumber the acceptances by a ratio I’d rather not think about. (Plus, I’m not good at math, anyway).

So—check them out some cold winter night (or warm summer night, to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere).

Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, Winter 2016 • December 24/Unsent (fiction)
Runner-up in Short Fiction Contest, Theme “The Heart of Winter”
http://kaaterskillbasinjournal.com/issues/

Turk’s Head Review, January 2016 • Sea Change (flash fiction)
http://turksheadreview.tumblr.com/post/136387739109/sea-change