You said your lines, took a bow —
your part, you thought, finished,
the play, you figured, done.
Such a blessing, the ramp to Freedom.
Such a blessing, California Dreamin’.
That’s when he tells you:
“Stay. Here. Please.”
You love him. He loves Miami.
So…you sway on Santis strings
as neighbors dance before der King;
whisper nothing, take your cake
(strudel, like the children say);
booze your man in darkened car,
hide deine fury, hide deine scar —
ban your books
take your wage
choke your heart
burn your page —
Are you listening, Brother?
It's not metaphor.
They want you dead.
That’s the plan.
Forgotten ash in gottes cleansed sky.
It’s time to leave the SunShineStaat.
Take your love and run now.
It’s not going to get any better.
“If it means ‘erasing a community’ because [they] have to target children – then, damn right, we ought to do it!”
— Florida Republican Representative Randy Fine
“Our terrorist enemies hate homosexuals more than we do.”
— Florida Republican Representative Jeff Holcomb
“Many people – many nations – can find themselves holding, more or less wittingly, that ‘every stranger is an enemy.’ For the most part this conviction lies deep down like some latent infection; it betrays itself only in random, disconnected acts, and does not lie at the base of a system of reason. But when this does come about, when the unspoken dogma becomes the major premise in a syllogism, then, at the end of the chain, there is the Lager. Here is the product of a conception of the world carried rigorously to its logical conclusion; so long as the conception subsists, the conclusion remains to threaten us. The story of the death camps should be understood by everyone as a sinister alarm-signal.”
Word in the wind is wind in the wind
shaped not changed, noise to
crude-drum ears, then still.
Send yours again across skin
that is kin to touch and
moves to tremble,
limbs hot under breath that holds
then cool to rest
as I birth grope listen hope
a man immersed then
The air smelled all Georgio and ocean in LA and my body worked so well I felt nothing, nothing, which is what health and vitality are, feeling nothing but heat on the bed, body on the sheets, the summer smell of my body in that not-new crusty motorhome parked outside Aunt’s house at the top of a street on a hill on a curve. It shouldn’t have worked parking on the ridge between Torrance and, over there, Redondo. The street was too small but she loved that RV and parked it in front of her house after she picked me up at Beck’s, my other grandpa, the one I hadn’t seen in so long. He didn’t know where I’d been or why, how I hitchhiked across the Utah desert and Nevada and slept with a truck driver in a cheap motel with shitty beds because I was fourteen and my step-dad threw me out of the car in Salt Lake.
He didn’t ask and I didn’t say. She knew but didn’t say anything. We had that in common.
I sometimes go back to that hill but nothing’s there anymore except I am in that bed over the cab, my own little place because there was no room in Aunt’s house. She acted embarrassed but to me it was heaven and I told her I couldn’t think of a more-fun thing to do. I ran to it that first night to fuck around because I was only fourteen and didn’t know how to pick up sex then and the whole thing was mine so I jammed myself thinking about the missionaries that used to come knocking on the door and the new nylon shorts I was wearing, the blue running shorts she bought me with the slit up the leg so high, and I couldn’t be stopped and nobody was around and they probably couldn’t see even though the little cab-light was on and they probably saw, or saw the camper moving, but I didn’t think about that too long because it felt so good. Nobody said anything the next morning, not even her son, even though he looked at me weird and they’d have to be blind not to see.
I was a nice boy everyone pitied because I was not strong and who my step-dad married. Someone once said at his church “For what he’s been through…Heavenly Father sure made him smart.” Skinny arms and twig legs and desire for those missionaries, desire so wild I yelled the first time I came and then it became a contest to see how far it could go until I knew I was gay and not just friends with guys and my first thought was “Cool.” Then all hell broke loose again and I’m almost fifteen in an RV parked on a curve at the top of a hill. I want so many guys I feel like a whore back when being a whore was dangerous because AIDS was out so I’m fucking around above the cab amazed at how I smell and happy. Aunt drives me to Universal Studios the next day and says she thought she washed the sheets but evidently not and opens the windows as she drives up the 405 freeway. This is the first time I feel like a man. Everything changes. I didn’t think it would — I wanted time to kiss Bryce and use my body with him and have someone beautiful take me away. But she smelled the sheets and I was proud and didn’t need Bryce or mom or a dad because I was sure.
It’s all good now. There’s no need to go back to my glorious skin or dream other whores out there waiting to be touched and taken and left so they can go to work the next day and then home to kids and husbands who know nothing. I go back to that bed over the cab that smelled of sweat and cum because I love how the story began and I watch everything that’s happened and say:
“Fuck you were a skinny whore.”
I feel good. I feel fifty while I sit at the table, stay up for the words because they are strong and true and because this is who I want to be, where I want to be, writing under a crap light while people wonder what the fuck I’m doing parked on this goddamn hill.
The way they tell it:
BE CAREFUL! —
a spell is so much more than words
said out loud.
You need a protection circle
three pounds of salt
sage to cleanse the air;
no personal gain
no love incantations
absolutely no commerce with
evil spirits or demons or
“Only do what you’d will
be done to you.”
A labyrinth of requirements while
want weaves itself into this
that free woman
heat and smile and yes,
sweet feeling skin,
all good and bad and eager
to be taken outside the safe circle
past the strange bureaucracy
that once belonged to the church
and still stops magic in its tracks.
To stop digging deep, to stop.
All magic and truth napping in a corner
while what I've done neither
clears the way nor impedes;
now content on ebbing thought,
soft-stretched in a warm bed,
morning and clean sheets
like a park before birds,
fog-muted city to cool
clear sunlight --
quiet, quiet loved by quiet,
mountains and memory
books in silent rooms, all-beautiful,
pillow under my head,
rest for my back,
Don’t put me in a coffin.
Much better to find a small box
for ancient gray ash that
could be Vesuvius or that
little dog I used to pet.
I want no more me,
no more memories
etched around empty eyes or
lonely hands that would’ve carried more,
so much more,
but were robbed by other death,
nearer loss and love that
still-chokes all earth.
No, burn me into nothing
for I endure no more.
What does freedom feel like?
An open gate on a busy walk,
house set back and door ajar,
anyone welcome, all memories.
They come with their stories or
pass by without a word on
journeys I know nothing about
and don’t need to sift, but will
if one or two cross that
threshold and walk the yard to
find me sitting on the stair
having a wonderful conversation with
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I wrote out the questions below on January 7, 2021, having watched the storming of Congress the day before. The insurrection seemed in those early hours both distant and maybe slightly unimportant, like much of the Trump Show; from inside my California shell I sometimes take great comfort in the idea that the entirety of MAGA-Land is an economically-allowed phenomenon that would wither and die without our money. I mean, what would happen if all the Red States had to pull their own weight? Just let them try to pull down the country, I thought, lazy in my Los Angeles-ness, as I began to critique the camera-angles CNN and MSNBC used to make the assembled clan look bigger. Didn’t they seem small, these grotesques, especially when compared with crowds that assembled back in the 70’s to protest the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movers of the 60’s who overwhelmed the Mall? I went down a rabbit-hole made possible by ignorance, querying whether there was violence during earlier protests and gatherings. Weren’t flags burned and people hurt? Is black-and-white really a good look for rational thought?
Such stupidity, because the Day After That Day, the reality that animals had just shit in the Capitol was still with me, obliterating my brain’s attempt to make January 6 “normal.” It wasn’t. The defecation and destruction was part of a program, and I had to see that and accept it. I needed to see that what MAGA accomplished was organized, brutal — yes, a piercing reflection of MAGA-man’s personal impotence and self-serving quite religious rage and yes, probably the work of squirrel-eaters, but also, yes, a terrorist plot enacted by those with nothing to lose against those who simply want to work without being harassed because they can’t wear the hood. January 6’s Infamy was a MAGA terrorist action to remind real men and women who do have something to lose that sham-mans with pick-axes and ancestral graveyards full of excuses will always be out there, waiting.
To pretend otherwise is to make sure those of us working for something better than our past will continue waiting for “things to calm down” while violence and mobbery bludgeon anything we can build a future on. It’s that simple and it’s that stark. Don’t pretend the rattlesnake is a pet.
So…here’s a time-capsule of sorts, questions that have not lost their resonance. I’m wondering if they resonate with anyone else.
What if Trump’s army had automatic weapons? They’re really easy to get (especially if you’re only interested in semi-automatic conversions). With automatic or semi-automatic weapons, most of the US line of succession could’ve been killed, leaving Trump to mop up the blood. Was this the real, perhaps eventual goal? Was yesterday a trial run — letting the imbeciles stake out the place before smarter loyalists arrived later? Did Trump want to merely intimidate Congress, or did he hope some of his animals would kill? Will anyone ever know?
Why did it take so long for reinforcements to arrive? It was, after all, well-known that the Joint Session would involve all members of Congress; the date, time, and place were on many right-wing calendars; T-shirts were printed and the potential for violence blasted around the world weeks in advance. Yet it took what must’ve felt like an eternity before Capitol Police were backed up. Why?
Why do 40% of Republicans find no fault with the storming? Some of my friends say it’s because they “understand the frustration.” But, down deep, could it be that they are frustrated the rampage went no further? Are there, in America now, Republicans who are disappointed because there were no dead Democrats? If the mob had murdered Nancy Pelosi, how many Republicans would have cheered? Maybe that’s the difference between the parties: when Trump got COVID, I wanted him to get better — slowly, but still better. When Congress was being terrorized, Republicans got excited.
Why are these anarchists being referred to as Trump supporters, when they should be referred to as treasonous criminals? Is this linguistic softening an indication of tacit support from a supposedly independent media?
Are today’s Republicans enemies of democracy? Do they hate the idea that democracy now seeks to include people those with power never wanted included? Are they afraid of the equality democracy espouses, with no intention, EVER, of sharing power?
Can a country survive when 40% of its people want to kill the other 60%? When Josh Hawley (the real danger here) can fist the air in support of murder and then make money off the picture?
Why have Christian churches been so muted? Do they think the insurrection was just? They HOWL over gay marriage and abortion, but say very, very little when it comes to an attempted coup. Could it be that religious people can’t talk about the coup because they wanted more?
When did America become so weak that nearly half of the country sees in a pathetic boy the picture of strength?
Has America already died? Are we just waiting to pull the plug? What would it take for us to admit that the mind is gone, the principles are gone, the patriotism is gone, and that the only thing left to do is put the body out of its misery?
No answers, just questions that have survived nearly two years.