Tender,
Earth calls
asking us to pay attention.
Will we remember
how precious our breath
if, even if,
the fires calm down and the viruses pass?

Tonight I will be warm,
safely entangled with only my cat creature, knowing I will have food in the morning and ways to make art all the days I choose.
I recognize the immensity of this gift, that should be a right, that should be so normal as to need remembering only in the daily prayers of gratitude,
not the prayers we make when something is missing, when desperation the only food we know, that makes only more of itself.
Can we let every relatively easy breath be a doorway to truth?
Can we hold the paradox of preparation free of panic, the complexity of trust free of complacency,
remember sacredness without scarcity,
and preciousness without possessiveness?
Oh, these precarious, perilous times.

Tender,
I wash these hands
I touch warm fur
I hold color and keys
I dream of skin that will not transmit illness,
and the warm embrace of shared breath,
for now, I find it in the skin of drum
the breath of sky,
the pixels of a beloved face brought into focus across miles and quarantines,
the fire held safely in wax and wick and distance

Tender,
I will keep yearning for you,
across the space that protects us,
reaching for you beyond the stories that wound us,
loving this life beyond the fears that haunt us,
treasuring the future memory of your warm arms,
even as I carefully wash my hands.

My grandmothers sang

in the Master’s tongue,

for their own were beaten into forgetting.

Songs of Kingdom come; songs of rhythm for picking,

songs to endure the soreness and shame

of being something less than human.

My grandfathers spent their days

bent over fields,

robbed of all decency and dignity

until rent flesh 

and inhuman cruelty

finally overtook their clinging

to the miserable shadow of a life.

Slavery was obvious then.

Some would say it has long since been transcended, 

like racism,

that we understand now that all humans are equal.

But some Orwellian axioms 

are taken as scripture by the profiteers

and those “more equal” make the rules.

There is no way that I should be able to buy a pair of jeans

or pound of corn 

for a handful of change.

My cells remember the agony of picking cotton,

my lungs the ache of its toxic fibers,

how it sticks to the hands, 

cutting them in a thousand tiny ways that never fully heal.

Today a 13 year-old girl 

is bent over a sewing machine in India

with that same cotton;

unable to leave,

praying for the better life she was promised.

A tired old man is bent over the dirt in Mexico,

picking fruit he will never eat,

for a restaurant he will never see,

in a country that would call him illegal.

All for the hope that his children will be free of the poverty

that seems as endless and vast as the mono-cropped fields before him.

A 6 year-old boy in the Ivory Coast is dragging 100 pound bags

and using a machete to open a pod he has to hold with his bare hand,

hoping he will work quickly enough to avoid another beating,

resenting the very thought of the chocolate he will never taste.

But heaven forbid Levi’s go up a few dollars,

or we pay the real cost of growing real food,

or we give up our fancy gadgets and fast lifestyles so that factory workers can keep their hands,

indigenous tribes can keep their lands, and children can keep their freedom.

When you have no real choice,

which lesser evil do you choose?

Slavery lives on.

Our most tenacious addiction,

inherited affliction,

made of mistaking power for value

and difference for distance.

How we convince ourselves

generation after generation

that we are powerless to change the system

that gives us just enough to keep us on our knees.

The Master that has no face, but many,

who whips us with the threat of poverty

and the illusion of hierarchy,

until there is no fight left,

and we pass a prison to our children

in this so-called land of the free.

Looking through the ages,

we see slavery is an inside job,

perpetrated on ourselves, on each other, on the Mother,

passing along our debts and our pain

until there is nothing left but miles of chains

and the broken world we have built on other people’s backs.

There is no living being more equal than any other.

These ideas are created in the monstrous minds of oppressors 

who are already, themselves, oppressed.

There is no true prosperity for one unless there is prosperity for all.

It is time for a new song.

To compost this strange fruit, this strange and bitter crop.

To educate, to inspire, to remember each other.

To lift one another, so we can all rise to the top.

The responsibility of the information age,

is that now is when we can make slavery stop.

Becoming an us.

So long held in the strength of self,

warrior, mystic

all lone things.

Tempered with age.

Swan takes long in her becoming,

and wolf, after an era as lone, mates for life,

and births a pack, a tribe

from the union of two fiercely independent beings 

willing to practice togetherness.

 

Boar tusks interlock with goat horns 

and worlds are ripped apart in our stubbornness.

Then hooves move in tandem

stirring the compost,

aligning the rocks,

preparing the bed.

Learning how to hold the obsidian mirror,

to shine on each other’s darkness;

and the crystal,

to magnify each other’s light,

How to not lose one another

in the long shadows 

we ourselves cast.

How to build a love that lasts

through storms of fire

and the falling of empires,

the poisoning of oak

and the raging of what is broken, 

sweetbitter, 

the tender tinder 

within us

that would fuel a phoenix flame.

 

Your body perfectly fits mine.

Inner sanctum of my heart 

unlocks to the impression of your hand on my breastbone.

Harmony is born of very different voices

coming together in one song,

and though the tune at first seems strange,

our souls have known it all along.

Our crowns forged in the fire

we feed every time we turn towards each other:

the journey from co-dependence to independence to interdependence.

 

Unique pillars hold the temple roof

but they are hewn of the same stone;

the story of us written on every shared breath,

lips lost to the illusion of separateness;

the trees’ roots and branches intertwine,

two trunk hearts carved with one name:

mine, yet also yours,

alone, all one, together.

 

Please reload

© 2018 by Medicinal Poetry