Posts for June 16, 2020


Wake Up Calls

I wanted to cry

when I watched the interview

where LeVar Burton says

he taught his son

to place both hands

outside the window

touching the car

when the police

pull him over.

I hate to think about

a figure I love

being judged by

the color of his skin,

being treated as less than,

being in danger.

That’s LeVar!

If it can happen to him,

it can happen to anyone,

any of my black friends,

any person of color.

It drove that home to me.


The death of Philando Castile

gutted me.

He was a truly innocent man.

(I know, it shouldn’t matter.)

It became the clearest, most undeniable

incident of police brutality.

Philando was an everyman.

I fell in love with him

through the stories

that came out about him

in the days after his death.

I mourned for him.

He made me want to become a better person.

I’m finally working on that,

tending to seeds that were planted

years ago.




Joe comes to work
about his place in the world.
Earnest eyes
seeking solace
as he regales us with stories
of when he was an alcoholic
“Oh yeah, I’m happier now,”
he says,
as he talks about his wife
he doesn’t sleep with anymore
and the son that moved home
because he can’t keep a job.
Hyper focused gazes
as he talks about work.
Repeating the same phrases,
hoping for a different response.
a connection,
that offers even a portion
of the comfort he used to find
at the bottom of a fifth of


what i know

aw, you needed some lovin’
he said to me before
tasting my lips, again
my head facing upward
pressed against the warmth
of his chest

after our departure
the gut-wrenching remorse
settled like a stone
tossed into the creek
a sickening punishment
for loving

he squeezed my thigh
a playful search for muscle
and tingles coursed down my legs
a considerate embrace
a gentle, passionate touch

years of embedded teaching
that two men kissing
led you straight to
the flaming depths of hell
and a final destination
is fearfully settled upon

is this your natural hair color?
i nodded and our lips joined again
he played with my hair
and i with his
before our hands joined
and we kissed again

my love shouldn’t be a curse
yet it felt like that fate
was decided long ago
i’m ashamed of this guilt
but hate can run so deep
it becomes you
mocks your loving

i pushed past this hurt
this guilt
this hate
and kissed
believing what i know:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body
to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant
or rude. It does not
insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with
the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things, hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.


Second Thoughts

I got use to the idea

Of never being happy

But when the morning erupts

And I see second chances blooming

I have second thoughts


Our Unfortunate Round Two

I want to write
something beautiful,
something to honor 
his memory. But
everything I muster
through the tears is worthless.

I can’t even begin 
to describe every ‘good night’
I heard as I left his room,
or the funny 
little comments he made
just before bed 
and right as I woke up 
(three hours after he had),
the meatball recipe 
that no one other than he
can recreate as
deliciously as he did,
or how it’s going to feel
tomorrow walking
into that funeral home
we left only
eight months ago.



It hurts
but it’s 
worth it
I get to 
you take


Que tu pleures

I was 16 when I learned that the French change
their verbs when talking about
suggestions and emotions, as if these subsets of thought
were so powerful that they commanded entire grammatical systems
to change and orbit around them. The verb ‘pleurer
(to cry) is one of those verbs that can change,
but it seems to remain the same,
as if the catharsis that comes at the end
of a sad-song, stuffy-nose downpour
is too powerful to be changed
by the voices of an entire country.

I was 17 when I had that sweet epiphany,
that ‘pleurer’ stayed the same when talking
about me
and about you.
As ‘se tenir’ (to stand) changed from
Je me tiens’ (I am standing) to ‘que je me tienne’ (My act of standing is dependent
on someone or something else’s advice),
Je pleure’ (I am crying) remained ‘que je pleure’ (My act of crying is dependent
on someone or something else’s actions, but it remains constant).

Today, I am 19 and the streets of America are red with innocent blood,
spilled by those who swore to protect us. I wish to wrap my fingers
around their heads and tell them
Je veux que tu pleures’ (I want you to cry, for your crying is dependent on my desire)
just to see if they would respond with ‘Mais je pleure déjà,’
(But I already am crying).

Je doute que tu pleures.
(I doubt that you are crying, for your eyes
are not yet red with the cathartic sting
that every other American has felt by now).


Balm of the Forest Path

Strolling through
the woods,
the dappled
sunlight dancing
in the wind casting
droplets of pure
bright light out
across the
darkening hollows;
evening bird calls
and busy squirrels
echo along the ridges;
deer tracks stretch out
along the trail
in front of me.
I take slow,
even steps
and breathe
in fresh cedar and
honeysuckle vines.
Climbing the hill
opens up the canopy,
and the breeze and sun
sweep past me circling
through leaves ahead.
I trace the ridge line
with the sunset and
creep down the
old logging road
right at dusk
just as the
lightning bugs
rise up to
light my way.


Growing Pains

Looking back, I spent my childhood
surrounded by greenery,
short hikes and treehouse-turned-
suburban sacrifice-
well, we called it that. That
lightning-strike overturned accident
shelled in plywood and wayward nails,
OSHA be damned. We’d tuck ourself away
concealed by a sorry excuse for a canopy
and return by nightfall clothed in
scrapes and bruises, badges of
honor, proof we were still kids.

Do you remember the “construction”?
Bulldozed plains from which a 
neighborhood erupted. Trees 
torn asunder whose skeletons were
used for housing. We’d stand in the rubble
and throw boomerangs as tribute,
watching the fade, the arc, the return,
the five-minute search that followed
as we scoured each scattered upshoot
of grass for another chance at success.

We’d turn them in for skateboards,
keep the change,
the scrapes and bruises,
the snaps and pops of wood
transformed, deformed,
redefined as our surroundings
lost their leaves, their luster,
their lives
as this neighborhood expanded
in a deforestation of definition
where every home became
seperate and unequal 
and every board bought

I’ve moved away 
in the months and years since,
built an alter to that treehouse
in my marrow,
hoping to venture outward
and search for home.


Your Post

In the middle of your garden
There’s a birdhouse post that’s lost
Its birdhouse and has become 
A sentinel for hungry intuders

Today I am insistent on its removal
And bring the iron digger to bear,
Sweat and the strike of stone slows
My progress enough for you to come

Out of the potting shed to halt
My excavation. Your answer to my
Argument puts my position aslant:
Husbandry is not failure or success

But the ability to see what’s needed