Discerning oneself as a republican/conservative does not necessarily mean he or she is a racist/homophobe. However, it's highly likely that a large handful of conservative republicans are running low on empathy. Whether it's something they used to have more of or it's never been present in their daily lives, depends on the unique experience of each individual; a task in itself which requires empathy.
there are things to be done,
they are left doing. rooted in
action. stereo on pause,
a slow-cooked response.
bare hands waving
side by side.
Thirteen years ago, my life changed completely. Looking back I wouldn't have it any differently. It's been a long, dueling ride of figuring out what to keep and get rid of. I try to pack light nowadays.
I used to think I was involuntarily cast in a bad movie, full of outgrown child actors and cliched uses of symbolism, like getting actually rained on when the going was already absolutely down. I used to curse a lot of people under my breath. Two or three, really, but it still felt like a lot. I even called myself 'a conservative' for two consecutive years till I finally found my way back to the middle.
I still think it's all a movie, however, I'm the one writing it this time. It's full of the characters I create, shape, and set out to do my dirty work, of retelling the story that wasn't ready to be told before now. I get trapped in this thinking sometimes, expecting real life events to turn out the way they might in a film, the moment of glory so poignant it defies coincidence. Thirteen years later, walking into a fully crowded room, knowing there's the chance you'll get to share some of the art that has kept you alive all these years, even without having to explain the reasons behind it. Just doing it for yourself, followed by another cliched scene of singing 'you've come a long way, baby' while walking the streets home, utterly relieved to still be breathing.
It doesn't work that way, though, because then the credits would roll. Better to throw in a wrench or two to remind you that art is indeed for you and yourself only, and it is continual.
I speak for many people when I say 'rape' was not in the school curriculum. Growing up in the eighties and nineties, we learned what rape was on TV, in that rare occurrence in a soap opera storyline, like Kelly on 90210 or someone on Dallas or Dynasty. But never in school. Rape was an untouchable subject.
It wasn't until my late twenties when I began to understand the value of claiming ownership over my own body. That was after years of shamelessly handing it over to anyone who wanted to look after it. That wasn't part of the curriculum either.
It's unfortunate, really, how there is little to no encouragement for young women to claim such an ownership over their bodies, especially when there are constant signals to give it away--whether it's risque booty shorts for 5-year-olds or pressure for 25-year-olds to receive Botox injections. There's no signal out there that says, Women, these are your bodies. Respect them and take care of them, because others won't.
she looks like one of those cowgirls you’d see
hanging outside the rodeo
with mud on her paws and a few broken teeth,
her hair ginger like sunshine gone stale.
bless her haggard, ugly heart
cowgirl outside the rodeo
stood there for show and bent down low
drinking water with her blood in it.
a socket sewn shut where her eye used to be
round as a dime for the pinball machine
another one lost, tossed into the ring
a small price for your entertainment.
i saw you outside a bar in atlanta,
fuckin’ with a broken bike chain.
you were sitting on the curb,
with the stern face of a surgeon
adjusting the metal link with precision.
i imagine you looked like that
when you used to do tattoos
in the town we used to live in further south,
where one girl had your name on her thigh.
nobody round here like him anymore, she’d sigh
before lifting her skirt even higher.
it’d been a decade at least
since we last spoke
but i’d heard about the snakes.
took a seat on the curb with the nerve to ask
you okay? since they almost took your life
some years before.
you laughed, said sure,
then showed me the scars
ridden up and down your leg.
with a grin on your face
you said they came like punches
before you flatlined twice
in the hospital bed you lay in for months,
however long it took to get the taste
of metal out of your mouth.
maybe that’s what venom tastes like?
it’s a shame that girl with your name
on her thigh wasn’t lurking around
while you were curled on the ground,
entering a state of paralysis.
she had a big mouth, i’m sure she would’ve
bent down to suck the poison right out
and now it’d be her kidneys on the fritz instead.
but what a waste of perfectly good venom
to serve a soul like oil on wheels--
you skipped town after you healed
yet she lives down there still,
dripping tears into her beer
and rippling her reflection
on how life isn’t fair, it just isn’t
i’ve seen your art on the cartoon network,
saw you on the front page of the ajc
with gloves on your tattooed hands, holding
jim henson’s original creation
with the same grin on your face
when you were showing me your scars
outside that bar in atlanta.
you came for a visit
on a tuesday afternoon
just as i was walking home.
you were light
as a whistle made
of salt, of air
holding me still
with a touch of lemon,
dry like a tooth without venom
as a feather
or a truth,
my keys, tinkering
like chimes, whether steam
was rising from the inside
of my flat or my youth
was on fire,
twisting my body
just to unlock the door,
all i wanted was to
enjoy you some more.
keep you planted in my skin,
deliciously salty blossom.
i swing from the moon
each time you bloom,
like a pocket full of air
or a wave of stir-fry
wafting from the stove
the game of thrones open tune
humming slow on the tube
coming home. it’s the beginning
of a new season.
i touched my scarf
it was damp
still tied around my neck.
that’s when i noticed you had left.
shame on you, dr mario
you never cured cancer
you only gave us fever and chills
you were why we failed accounting
and have no pharmacology skills
instead of a real doctor
you were a lady madonna
pink and blue capsules thrown
like confetti, that contagious ditty
playing in the background
while feeding a blue monster person
made better by a cute funny cartoon.
at first it was hard, but then it was easy
‘i am saving lives,’ you told everybody
in your white paper suit and brown clunky shoes
oh nelly, we were all scared of those monsters
‘hahaha,’ went the dancing virus
that i came down with at an early age,
mastering each stage till i was cured
there’s an old b-side by diana ross,
slowed down times twenty
the night i first heard it,
the night i moved too quickly
a tune tinged with shears
like sliding silver hangers,
it was the muzak we’d hear
on those intercom speakers.
trying to seduce our mothers to buy shit
before we grew to follow suit
in middle america.
staying clean, just saying no
to crawling on the floor
while she dug through the playtex bras on sale.
back when the clothes racks were bigger,
back when i used to
wear those bras on my head instead.
chattin’ up my invisible friend.
in my town—his town,
once the only place we’d share
until that night in our thirties
when we paired on his floor
a pair of socks beside
his bed, he played this song
where diana said it’s all in my head--
back in the eighties.
before being sexy mattered.
now i’m a loyal patron
to that inducing sound
of ms. ross on morphine,
i’m tapping my fingernails
itching for a repeat
of that memory of us
crawling on his floor space
it’s the only thing around there i own
lawd knows i like to ramble. thanks for reading.
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