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Archive for December, 2015

not winter pollen

December 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Tell me about your worst day—
who stayed, who ran,
who held your hand,
who pointed a finger,
who kept your heart
safe, and whose touch
bled scar tissue
across it.

Tell me what happened
when the world cracked—
was the truth
like the river
or the rain? Did you dance
or look for shelter?
Did you pull mourning
out of your bones
like marrow,
or did you begin
a fire with your soul
as kindling?

Tell me the truest thing
you are longing for—
name it. Curl the hope up
in your palm, carefully,
as if it is bird-fragile,
be gentle. Do not lie
to yourself, saying
you have forgotten
how to seed, how to find
dirt, how to grow. This
is not winter pollen,
this is not ghost tracks
in the far-reaching snow,
this is not impossible,
and this is not
your worst day—

you have permission
for anything you can imagine,
now,
what act of wildness
do you dare commit?

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Categories: poem, poems, Uncategorized

On Fear and Narrow Vision

December 9, 2015 Leave a comment

Here’s the thing, guys: I hate politics. I try very hard to avoid talking about them. But I have read so much lately that punishes an entire religion, an entire people, for the actions of a few radical individuals. And to be honest, it scares me.

 

But once upon a time, Americans were horrendous to the Japanese citizens within our own country. Not because these individuals did anything. No, simply because of their heritage. And I used to look back at that, back at things like Hitler and segregation, and wonder how it happened. It seemed impossible.

 

Except, right now, I can see how hate spreads. How fear becomes viral.

 

A few weeks ago, a man ranting about baby parts shot up a Planned Parenthood. Before that, a racist shot up a church full of people. This partly because people in positions of power are inciting fear, instead of reason. These events are something we need to work on. We need to find ways to change the conversation, to prevent these horrific tragedies that are absolutely avoidable. They’re not tragic accidents. A rock didn’t fall from the sky and kill people. No, men did. Other humans did. It is scary shit.

 

Lately, I keep hearing things like, “We have got to fix everything and worry about our nation first!” This is, I should point out, largely in relation to the Syrian refugee crisis. And while there are absolutely things we need to solve, problems we need to fix, things we had to alter—one thing does not discount or negate the other. We are not, and have never been, a perfect nation. A brief glance at our history (hi, slavery; hi, Native American genocide; hi, gender wage gap; hi, gay bashing and hate speech; hi, vandalizing menorahs during the holidays, because some people don’t have anything better to do).

 

We are not a perfect nation. But we are a great one. And we need to live up to that. America is built on immigrants—so, unless you’re Native American, sit down. The majority of heritages are traced back to refugees. We started out fleeing the control of Britain. We are not a nation of fear. We are a nation of fuck you—and then we dump tea in the harbor. We are give me your poor, your wretched. Not, sorry, your crisis isn’t good timing. The timing is never good. If we waited for all our problems to vanish before doing good in the world, we’d never extend a hand again. Because real life is not a utopia.

 

“People need to learn to fight for their own freedom. They can’t just flee their country when things get tough.”

 

I read that, this morning. And the lack of compassion stunned me. Maybe the concept of a refugee is so foreign, so far removed from our daily lives that we can’t register what it means. Maybe it would help to watch this video and read this, from the incomparable Neil Gaiman. Again, we are a country built on that premise. We wanted freedom, a better life. So, we sought it out on other shores. The refugees fleeing Syria aren’t doing it because it’s fun. They’re not angry about the temperature of the hot towels at the country club. They are being slaughtered by their own government. They are being terrorized.

 

If that doesn’t qualify someone for refugee status, if it doesn’t conjure up kindness in your heart, then what will? No one takes a journey, on foot, across a desert for fun. It’s not a small undertaking by any stretch of the imagination. It is harrowing and awful.

 

We have an actual statue telling people to come to this country. She is beautiful and a beacon for all those who need it. We have people seeking asylum through proper channels—so you can’t argue illegal this or illegal that—and there are some who wish to cow to fear and turn our backs. Yes, we need the infrastructure to support this. Yes, proper screening and processes are necessary. No one is arguing otherwise.

 

Recently, France endured a horrific terrorist attack. They are holding strong on their promise to take in a certain number—much greater than our commitment—of Syrian refugees. France has often been the butt of so many jokes for long ago surrendering to the Nazis. We cannot be a nation that just gives up—gives in to fear—because it gets to hard.

 

We cannot punish an entire religion, an entire people, because of a few remarkable assholes. There are radical monsters in every corner of the world. People claiming Christianity as their mantle can be terrible people. Spoiler alert: I can claim to be a faerie princess, but unless I have pixie dust and actual wings, that doesn’t make it true. Monsters and hate-spewers will take anything and twist it to fit their agenda (just look at Trump!).

 

We are not a people who back away from kindness. We are the first to jump in and offer aid. And that is one reason why our country is amazing. We cannot afford to compromise one very fundamental truth on which America is built:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
~Emma Lazarus

Spread love, not hate. Don’t let fear sharpen your vision until you see monsters around every corner. Don’t judge one man by the horrors of another. And when all else fails, dump the goddamn tea in the harbor.

 

Categories: Uncategorized