This poem was originally posted on April 16th, 2015 as part of a writing challenge. It seems to fit the mood I find myself in today. The day before the inauguration of Voldemort the Orange (my phrase) and his Plunder monkeys (Stephen King’s phrase).
I truly believed at my mother’s knee
That when I sang, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”
The words I sang were truer than true
That if I bled for honor, it would be red, white, and blue.
But I’ve awakened to find a land divided
Bathed in disparity, desecration of what was once united.
I was taught at my Navy Veteran Daddy’s knee
That the Star Spangled Banner was to be honored deeply
That if I sang with truth in my heart
I’d stand united with my countrymen, never to part.
I believed in the land of the free, home of the brave
But I’ve awakened to find a land of the fee, home of the slaves.
I understood from my Grandparent’s legends
That America the Beautiful open armed beckoned
The words describing purple mountains and amber waves
Breathing life into the fruited plains of graves
But I’ve awakened to find a dying fracked rocky tops
Blackened drought plains laying desolate of crops
Where my family is from in Michigan The Rapids, la Grande
Makes me, all joking aside, a Yankee Doodle Dandy
Where the emblem of, the land I loved
Was supposed to be where there’s never a boast or brag
But I’ve awakened and I’ve found this only applies to non-fags
If you’re slightly brown skinned or poor, they turn you away
Ain’t nobody got time for that, they’ll remove you from society’s gray.
I am an untended garden, riddled with forget-me-nots and weeds
My earth has not been furrowed asunder; tilling life to the topsoil
I have grown fallow, un-supporting of life, but yet, there are some
perennials that cling to a hope of return, of vibrancy dallying
But I can only roll over in my floral nightgown, whimpering in my bed
allowing the blistering son to scorch my once glorious stance
I admit, I’ve become self-watering. I needn’t wait for the gardener
My groans of grief roil the soil, creating bitter roots exposed as lies
Everyone knows that when the earth laughs, people die.
She accepts their bodies back to her world, but I could still breathe
so I am not granted respite from the overabundant fertilizer spewed
over my once lush landscape. But, I will rise, for the weeds can’t hang on
when I forbid grasping of my rooted passion for life. Here she comes
the one that removes the rot with compassionate hands.
Here he comes, the one that scratches that spot in the very middle
She tends to me while singing lightly a childhood song forgotten
He digs deep with his grip, releasing the tainted, blighted plants
She opens the earth to expose me to the warmth of attention
He plants perennial seeds to grow through the coming seasons.
I inhale deeply, knowing that my rebirth will again grow fruitful.
My cycle continues in ample countenance to their loving attention.
I await my own fruition. I will grant only the very best of myself
to create the most beautiful garden I can create. This, is why I weep.
It all happened so fast. Shortly before I died, a friend of mine said, “Why don’t you have a wake to see what it would be like when you’re gone?” I thought about it sincerely. I was only inspired to ask the question because several people I knew had passed from the breathing life. It’s not like I was inviting death to visit or anything. I was just curious as I watched people of all walks come to give honor to the deceased.
I’d considered mortality before when I look at the life I lead without children, without anyone to which I could pass my traditions and stories into the future. It took me several weeks before I concluded that I didn’t want to know what people thought of me. I officially opted out because nobody really wants to know how much they’ll be missed unless they didn’t plan on coming back, right?
A week later, I got sick. I went to sleep for a while. I’m not even sure what happened. I was, then I wasn’t. I tried to communicate with my husband but he couldn’t hear me. I didn’t understand. I spoke. I screamed. I tried to write to him. I watched as my friends showed up on my doorstep. I knew some of my beloveds were upset, but they buckled down to work as if their own lives depended on it.When I woke up, people I loved dearly were milling about my house. Many of them were packing up my personal belongings. Some of them were picking through my things, selecting items as mementos, while I stood in the middle of each room spinning in circles crying with grief.
There were times of visitation with my friends whom spoke tender words of compassion to my surviving spouse while hovering behind weeping eyes and choked words. I wanted to take away their pain. I wanted to wrap them into my arms, to offer them comfort as they’d done for me so often. But I couldn’t reach far enough out of myself. I was trapped in a place between planes.
While I witnessed the parade, I saw that people brought gifts, food, donations of all different kinds. I watched the place I lived become an empty shell. No decorations, no dinners cooking, no shower gel scenting the entire upstairs. I slept on the floor of my studio curled up in a small blanket-less cold ball on a smelly carpet. I tried to get comfortable, but there is no way when my life rejected me.
The next day all I could feel were spirits moving near me, but I paid them only enough notice to acknowledge they were there. I could hear the hushed tones of neighbors outside my window. I looked but I couldn’t see them. Everything took on a gray light as if gauze were filtering everything into uncomfortable dullness. I felt the press of others but I resisted their call. I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to make sure my beloved was well.
People I didn’t know walked into my house and started commenting about the bare walls. They expressed how they were going to change everything around to suit their taste. It was then I realized my beloved was no longer there.
With a tug that dropped me back from the window, I turned to face a tall man that looked familiar to me. He reached out his fingers beckoning me to follow. He smiled reassuringly but I held on to the breathing life. I looked out the window once more, turned back to the tall man, with a burst of courage, I took his hand. Then I wasn’t.
Let me strip naked, remove my facade,
so you can see inside of me
that I’m human
and not God
Let me wipe away my poker face
so you can peek beneath the mask
realize my barren
Let me demonstrate how dying feels
be locked up without parole
be removed totally
life without a soul
I rounded the corner from bronze dipped metal spoons that didn’t stir my soul
to observe a lost lamb separated by his emotions from the flock of chittering as a whole.
He stood slouched, small dreads pointing to the sky, bandana tied artfully at his temple
staring at the sculpture trying to understand something I couldn’t see; Sentimental?
I greeted him with gentle voice, encouraging interaction. I explained without pause
“I was in the other room observing several that didn’t move me because
The spirit requires recognition of matching vibrancy to vibrate frequently
Why this one? What drew you to her?” I asked the young man evenly.
He thought quick, deeply, spoke with certainty, “She’s so sad.”
“When art speaks to me, it speaks in bright colors because I’m, as a rule, glad.
Do you understand her sadness, too? She was created by a German in 1932.”
He wavered momentarily as his emotions washed his face quickly, efficiently.
For a moment, I thought I’d lost him as I waited patiently.
“She reminds me of how I felt when I learned my father had passed away.
I locked myself in my room, curled in a ball and cried to myself all day.
That he was gone was hard enough, it went against my every plan,
but I remember wondering, “Who’s going to teach me to be a man?”
His eyes looked at me just like hers. I gave him “Always Beautiful” as I abided
“You are not alone.” I comforted in synonymous tone as he’d confided.
He smiled while hefting the weight of a million gallons of un-cried tears
that will ebb and flow
wax and wane
light and darken his years.
I loved him deeply, truly
in all his pensive human beauty
as much as I admired that German artist of 1932
accidentally gifting me that one on one in bronzed blues.
Quit selling me your Jesus. Who is thick with thorns?
Don’t bleed your justification while the poor you scorn
Don’t tell me that my color is wrong, that a prison is a matter of fact
When you took away our baseball gloves and gave us baseball bats
Don’t tell me that I need to work, that I’m just a lazy bum
When you sent my job to the Philippines while calling me black scum
Don’t tell me to step up and be a father, when you took mine when I was seven
My mama couldn’t take care of me, she wept “He is watching me from heaven.”
But she believed in the Jesus you sold her that burns like a cross in my yard
She counted prayers and sang the hymns while my brothers lives are scarred
Quit telling me that I love my forty that dims the daily grind
Quit telling me I’m worthless so why should you educate my mind?
Don’t tell me that you value me just to get my vote you take away
You love me about as much as a crack baby born every day
You took away the healthcare to let my people suffer
While praising God and Jesus, filling up your coffers
You spend our money on bars and chains instead of buying books
You take away from teachers and schools, entertaining disdaining looks
Quit selling me your Jesus who is thick covered with your angry words thrown
While wearing the cross you put on your own back, you’re reaping what you’ve sewn.