When those originally thought to be freaks of nature are really the most loving ones with a ten-ton crush on living life in a clamor of glamorous grace. Or how those who’ve been bullied and berated, elongated into halftones of broken-down blues, can still manage to patch themselves up with bandages of strike up the band. How they can kick their inner beat into overdrive. Sail down the highway—under overpasses, past the undertakers, refusing to take anything that means being passed over.
It’s hollow prayers and hollow-point bullets. Semi lucidity and semiautomatic rifles. A war on democracy and a lovefest with hypocrisy. Sexist catcalls and racist dogwhistling. Justice pummeled and peace of mind troubled. Russian bots flaming and rats crawling outta the swamp that never got drained. This current political climate is a global warming of the worst order.
Calling out for more poets and songbirds. Those that pray, not prey. More shopaholics at the mall of mercy. A Congress that actually engages in friendly congress. For the homeless to become homeful. For wildfires to take a chill pill. Gun muzzles to nuzzle with love. More artists, fewer assassins. More dancers, fewer damagers. For war to take up watercolors. Nazis to take up needlepoint. Red and blue states to find more complimentary color combinations. For citizens to be trained in the acrobatics of affability. For lynching ropes to be repurposed as glittery ribbons on presents of presence.
In honor of all Veterans—those at home, those at rest, and those living on the streets: Your courage and honor sing the hallelujah of hellyeah. Your readiness to defend your homeland, more powerful than any gun. You’ve come armed with flesh, breath, and strength. Prepared to write with blood across any battlefield—words of commitment, security, and freedom. In one hand you bear the ashes of your fallen brothers and sisters. In the other hand, a weapon inscribed with an address: home is wherever I must be to defend life and liberty.
Divisions in America deepening. Red against blue, white against black. Compassion beaten beyond recognition. Social media, a battleground where tongues slingshot lightning bolts of psychic jolts. We’re all waiting for a punch line at the end of this madness, but all we get is still another punch. Feels like we’re being led on blindfolded sojourns through downpours of pain. What we need right now is a mighty bebop of good. A song to teach us how to get along. A durable melody we can hum as we do the backstroke up the River Styx.
Bullets romance the blood, but not in the way we want. Bullets touch hearts, but not in the way we want. They steal breath, sweat, and dreams. Bring on waves of tears, screams, and protest. Bullets rip enormous holes in the family patchwork. They remain lockstepped in their deadly sway. Offer blood money to those who aid and abet their lethal aim. Bullets may have the first and last word written beneath the skin. But they will not body bag the voices of those who live on to stop bullets dead in their tracks.
This is about the beauty of kindred spirits, not the rancidness of fresh roadkill. This is about hotwiring jukeboxes of celebration, not remaining enslaved in chains of resignation. This asks, what happens when I have a dream and you have a dream, but that ain’t society’s shared dream? This answers the question, what happens when white supremacist fists dare to beat the beauty of black power into a black eye? That’s society true-blue colors gone blind.
Got a canary in my heart’s coal mine. Even when I’m down and out, even when I’m on fire, even when I’m filled with the parched breath of a divided country, I still hear that bird sing. Of righteousness and redemption. Of promise and protection. Today is a new song to help us get along.
Vote with ballots not bullets. Vote so democracy doesn’t become a slave to autocracy. Vote so the front-page news doesn’t continue feeling like road-rage blues. Vote so Mother Liberty doesn’t become like poor Emmett Till—beaten beyond recognition. Vote to usher in a second coming of compassion and intelligence. Vote so you don’t have to look back at these days and say, “What if…?” Vote to send hate packing for the nearest Trump hotel. Vote so Rosa Parks can sit proudly in the front seat of your soul’s bus. Vote like your life depends on it. Vote because your life DOES depend on it.
Dark undertows of racism creeping into the mainstream. Decent people drowning in swells of hate speech and violence. Political dog whistling so loud it’s no wonder the White House is overrun with wolves. For our survival, seems we need a protein encoded into our DNA to make us all more empathetic. Either that or figure out a way to make everyone’s skin a little thicker. But how thick must one’s skin be to prevent hateful words from piercing the heart, or a bullet from ceasing the breath?