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.
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.