Refugees

Refugees

Since the inauguration two weeks ago, I’ve been having nightmares. I was too freaked out to share them, until I read Sherman Alexie’s new poem Autopsy about his dream that his passport was bleeding. Thank you, master poet. For sharing your pain. I woke up the other morning and jotted this down quickly, before the nightmare could fade…

Refugees

First they cheered their new savior
Their hearts swelled
imagining that beautiful new world
no enemies near
wealth without fear

They saluted or swooned when he walked
in the room…

Well, except the women, who
shrank almost imperceptibly
inward and back, smiles intact
eyes averted and blank
hands gently cocked, ready to defend
when he approached
to hug them.

Then they watched their new president
his pals with dark smiling eyes
suits and ties
white guys
lies
destroy their institutions
generations of work and promise
became ash at his feet
and still they cheered
for soon, so soon now, they’d have nothing to fear

Then they watched as he cut
ties
with our oldest allies
provoke others into terror and war
They watched neighbors beaten
murdered
in the streets

When the homes of natives went up in flames
they grew silent, confused
they turned back to FoxNews
where they could read about
The Best Cabinet Since Lincoln
and
How to Use God to Defend Against Liberal Jackals
(go check that out if you think I made it up)

When they looked outside each new day
they wondered why
millions around the world
marched in the streets
against the savior, who well, sure
may look like a dictator
but they knew he wasn’t
because he was their savior

So they did what they’d been taught
they kept preaching kindness
while they watched babies
families
elders
terrorized at their borders
and in their heartland

They preached compassion and forgiveness
please, don’t be crude
don’t say pussy
don’t bother me with your petty politics on Facebook
all the while
white guys with dark eyes
poured gasoline on tepees
on women, on nature, on life herself
and dropped the match…

When the world went up in flames
the day World War III began
they didn’t even notice
thought they’d be saved by their new president’s best buddy
Fredrick Douglass.
There they stood, plain to see
two great men: one bad, one good
and both, sadly,
long since dead.
And they didn’t even notice.

Until their water became too expensive to drink.

Until mom got cancer
nobody could afford to treat.

With no EPA, scientists,
journalists, backbones, or basic human decency left
poison peddlers flourished

bees across the homeland died
more than half the crops
along
with them

They found themselves
shell-shocked nomads
moving south
looking for rest and work
anywhere they could get it

A third of their children
died that first bitter winter
another third of them
drowned crossing rivers
the gentle earth gave them stones
to mark their passing

Most of their grandparents died
in one spot
because they were too weak
to climb their own savior’s wall
one mass grave for them all

So that’s how we showed up here broken
bleeding and starving
with literally no place left to go
beggars
at the world’s front door

Afraid, no more. Of
refugees.

The Sun at Your House

The Sun at Your House

Warm sun pools and shines more brightly in your home
Why is that?

worn beckoning rugs and life-soft chairs
a sentinel portrait
rich green and red dirt-colored artifacts nestled
within white walls of recent pain.

Witness dancing dust across
sunbeams upstairs,
the bird in the kitchen,
your crazy dogs at play in the yard.
Most fairies here are somber yet
there is heart even joy
in those faces and those fucking cool guitars, Jesus,
and the tools, and the found things,
and the workshop, and the garage, and
in the art, art everywhere, far too content to be clutter
far more useful than things designed only for use.

The love here isn’t just palpable.
It knocks you down. It feels
like your missing tooth and bloody face

shining out from pure bliss.
It’s a sweet, well-caught ball at the fence.

Doors and windows shift widely open for these souls.
The one still walking the dogs, still finding community,
creating art here in person
and the one moving only in sunlight

guiding his strong gentle hands
like always
then shifting to starlight to stroke his cheek
in the too-dark night.

That’s the thing about the sun at your house.
She’s still with you in grief and at 4 a.m.

That’s the thing about your art. It’s still with me
here in grief and at 4 a.m. as
I whisper “Thank you” to the darkness—
uncertain, still, about who…

which who is it
that I thank?

 

In Saying Goodbye

In Saying Goodbye

I found a perfect dead bird
on the deck, outside the window
victim of violence
a deceptive white light through too-big windows

his perfectly groomed feathers
grew darker as they moved
from his pale yellow-gray head to his almost black tail

I spent yesterday willing him, rise
please open your beak again, open your eyes
shake precious soft belly, hop to perfect black feet
dance again, go!

but he was gone

This morning I carried him deep into beauty
laid him to rest
in the tall grass of a clearing
beside the cabin
in woods and in sunshine

his family around me
we told him he’d be missed
that he was, is, loved, by everything around him

In saying goodbye
I fell to my knees
wept like a baby
for beautiful Orlando
I vowed to slow down and notice
to listen more closely
to love louder and better and more.

Then we all did.

 

Five Muses and a Cat’s Paw

Five Muses and a Cat’s Paw

Muse #1: Mine
This is My home
I am allowed to
retreat and rest
speak my mind
create
make mistakes
be myself
be silly
be forgiven
feel safe
lead
welcome
gift
play
wonder
ask questions
contribute
wander
make a significant difference
hide
be ill
laugh
love
lose
get angry
fall apart
break down
fully embrace grief
heal
grow 

Muse #2:  Yours
This is Your home
Will you invite me in?
Want me to stay?
Ask me to return?

Muse #3: Ours
This is Our home
Can we all feel this moment
as Mine and Yours and Something Special
down into our bones?
Right now?

Muse #4: Privilege
Privilege is being stretched while feeling loved.

Any place, any moment, any sensation
within which we’re learning, feeling the edges
–while being loved–
and so can grow
to appreciate differences a
mong mine, yours, ours, and home.

And any moment
within you and without
that you can find a space where you are loved.

This place, this moment, this sensation
today is privilege.

Any moment we can stand up for this place, moment, sensation
for weeping selves and hurting others:
imagine this a given, the default, the real for all
is privilege too. Breathe in and just imagine… 

Muse #5: Home
Mother Earth
Father Sky
Auntie River
Neighbor Ocean

Cousin Chaos
Crazy-Uncle Art
Silly Buddy
My
Old Pal Reflection

Pillow Moss
Lover Nighttime
Newborn Day

Cat Paw Presence
Time for Play

What Grief Does

What Grief Does

This is the week
Mom can no longer recall
her own last name
our last name

This is the week
Mom can no longer answer
simple
verbal questions such as
“Do you want a blanket?”
without accompanying gestures and visuals

This is the week
Mom can no longer follow
e
ven the simplest verbal instruction
“Take your sunglasses from him.”
in any environment outside her own home

This is the week
Mom no longer remembers
the words to classic holiday music–
music she’s been singing since childhood–
one of my own deeply loved signs that she is still here…

 

Stop.

Weep.

Sit on the floor in a sunbeam.

Gather selves. Yours. Hers. Ours.

Insist on four long, deep breaths before you continue.

Re-notice.

 

 

This is the week
Mom is here with us
l
aughing at slap-stick comedy
Fraiser’s “Ham Radio” episode on Netflix
with me.

This is the week
We belted out hummed Christmas tunes and invented our own words.
We still know all the melodies, if not all the words.

This is the week
Mom and I remembered the simple joy
o
f window shopping holiday catalogs together.

This is the week
we created collective art:
c
olored pencil on paper.

This is the week
Mom played with Eva the dog
h
eld all the cats purring on her lap
beamed whenever baby Joss was mentioned
.

This is the week
Mom took my fingers in hers
warming both our hands w
hen
our fingers were cold…

 

I love what grief does:

how she widens the
spaces within
so
individual fear
can pour out

how she just keeps leaving
more room
for love