May our hearts be wider than any open grave that threatens to swallow us whole. May serenity’s nurse find the warring vein on the first try. May the devil offer back all the souls he stole at the crossroads. May bullets never find their way to our doorstep. May the matters that grieve and deceive us leave us by sunrise. May winds through distant mountains hymn hopes that keep us moving forward. May the road always show us the way home.
Just a shot of Lady Day in your morning coffee and you’ll be jazzed up on the song of sweet resistance. An old blues transformed into a new tune for our times. A battle-scarred and velvety melody tempered by inner wars, outer cruelties, and a voice that’s tasted life’s strange fruit. Tempo and phrasing sparked by defiance and dread. A spirit courted by moonlight, wooed by muses, and unchained from the mundane. Just a shot of Lady Day in your morning coffee and you’ll taste a song that knows the distance from lynching trees to emancipation is measured in the souls lifted from the hearse ride to the freedom ride.
I refuse to make hate my national flag. I refuse to allow humans to suffer under the banner of the bled, maligned, and abused. I believe there is a calm we can all fit into, but it’s so damn hard to find right now. I believe there’s a song that longs to set us free, but its voice is trapped in shackles of atrophy. Who will be the first to undo the nooses tied into Mother Liberty’s tongue? How long will it take us to clear the warring air of this deathly smell of ash, human ash?
If you fear evil, evil wins. If you pull scabs from wounds so they bleed again, wounds win. Sirens light the night sky, but not in the way the moon does. Good can guide us home, but only if we heed its call. How else can I say this? Winter is coming. The freeze, yes, but also the flame.
Everyone wants to live free of ghosts serenading their souls in the key of Be Lonely. No one wants to lose their bones in a game of poker while on the way to redemption. Don’t curse your hands if they contain a second lifeline leading you towards ashes and executions. They sometimes lose their way when working overtime to carve a luminous future from a rocky past.
Gratitude bombs exploding with bountiful booms of thank-yous to those who make life beautiful: family & friends. Teachers & healers, pets & car mechanics. Songbirds that reshape the ingrown toenail of the troubled mind into a wondrous hum. Writers, artists, musicians, dancers & photographers. Books, home cooking & the occasional kind look from a passing stranger. Grateful for my health & the health of those around me. Drinking water & ocean water. War vets & animal vets. Firefighters & first responders rescuing people from wildfires, floods & other disasters. The sun, moon, stars & trees. Bruce Lee, Steve McQueen, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart & every other badass braveheart. Jukeboxes & raindrops. Comedians & philosophers. Those who bear compassion & wisdom in these dark days of hate & ignorance. Grocery clerks & factory workers, paychecks & chubby, dimpled baby cheeks. Also, a shoutout for those random K’BOOMS of kindness exploding all around the world.
I will take all the pages from my books and build trees—abundant trees, robust trees, indomitable trees. No winds can move these trees because they’ve been made mightier by Corso, Vollmann, and Joyce Carol Oates. When birds build nests in these trees their young will be well nourished by Neruda, Audre Lorde, and Langston Hughes. And when axemen try chopping down these trees, they’ll be obliterated by Burroughs, Bukowski, and Zora Neale Hurston before they can even swing their axes and yell: “Timber!”
Lately it feels like I have the words Kick Me tattooed across my forehead in 60-pt. Wingdings type. One might say it’s all a matter of perspective. Like how everything happens for a reason. Or how one’s obstructions can be hammered into jewels if they’ve got the right tools. Often, inner peace shows up for work on time and gets the job done right. Other days, pessimism gets its foot in the door first and builds those obstructions into Mt. Rushmores of worry. Some mistakes last longer than others. Some good deeds ripple across generations. As for the tattoo across my forehead, last time I checked it’s still there. Though I have altered the words to read, Kiss Me.
I’m waiting for a menopause to afflict those men all paws and half-cocked assumptions that a woman’s rump should be their trophy for groping just ‘cause they feel they’ve won first place in the human race. Those cretinous creatures lost in a lust of testosterone or bust, lighting up stogies of old-schools stories—how men are rightfully the dominators and abominators of the fairer sex. That’s just caveman speak wrapped in 21st century sleaze. Those gerrymanderers of what it means to be a real man should tuck their panting tongues in their pants, take a trip from the dark side of their minds, get on the bright side of civility.
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.