What We Gotta Prove

These days we gotta prove we can still breathe as bigotry and police brutality weigh heavy on society’s chest,

that we can turn our tombstone blues into bright and boisterous rallying cries,

that we can still think on our feet even with half our instincts handcuffed behind our backs.

These days we gotta prove we can still put on our best dancing shoes,

rise footloose above the racist-tinged, unhinge bossanova of second-rate third reich dystopia.

These days what we gotta prove is in the proof:

so many good cooks in equality’s kitchen working that hot skillet, doing their best to fry up a sunnier side of life.

Past Life Re-Do’s

In a past life, I wore flip-flops to puberty’s sock hop and got tossed out for being too clunky on my feet.

I flunked carnal knowledge in 10th grade but had much better luck in summer school.

I scavenged all the smoke on the water and used it to create a fog machine for rock concerts.

I constructed a statue of Christopher Columbus so that I could promptly hurl it into a river.

I created a psychic laundromat where one could cleanse themselves of their deepest regrets.

I invented a duct tape that could heal love-lost heartbreak.

I believed the T-Rex would’ve been a much happier creature if he’d had bigger arms to hug other animals.

the pound of flesh we must pay

for an ounce of sanity and serenity as graveyards become far too fertile with tombstones in this post-atomic, pre-apocalyptic playground of paradise lost.

the bright future we strive to build while climbing outta the deep and ragged pocket of society’s worn-down blues, where countless citizens dance to the up-tempo of the down-low.

the sleep we struggle to find as insomnia robs our senses of well-being, nightmares of democracy torn to shreds, mother liberty the second-hand love of alice in asunderland.

hear the voices on all sides of every argument pump up the volume, pump up the volume.

if our words are weapons, let them one day be stoned on peace.

It’s All in the Way the Words are Arranged

protest hate / love peace—

this battle waged on bloodied american soil / countless bodies converging in cities all across the country / human spirit refusing to become collateral damage amidst systemic brutality and oppression / see the courageous display what happens to equality long-deferred / it doesn’t go quietly to the back of the bus / it explodes out onto the streets / enduring bullets, brawls & pepper-spray halos to get its message heard—

do not / protest love / hate peace

Beating, Not Beating

These days, I put an ear to America’s chest to make sure democracy’s heart is still beating.

I share my breath with others ‘cause the air is so choked with tear gas and political propaganda.

I rearrange our collective spirit into a beatbox offering solid, uplifting rhythms as we witness secret police wandering the streets, bashing bruise tattoos into the flesh of peaceful protestors.

In my higher conscience, I’ve started an Etsy store selling necklaces made from the words and songs of Gandhi, MLK, and Billie Holiday.

I’ve created see-through face masks where we can view one another’s lips as we speak words like, “Peace,” “Love,” and “ Dream.”

Verb the Noun for Better Societal Sounds

Cathedral our chaos. Butterfly our gravity. Hurdy-gurdy our worries. Pop-Tart our heavy hearts. Elegy our police baton’ed knees. Funny bone our tombstones. Megaphone our quiet hopes. Matlock our padlocks. Keyhole our blind spots. Emily Dickinson our pandemic. French kiss our peaceful protests. Mistletoe our every woe. Candy cane our soured grace. Lucky penny our failing democracy. Dog park Barr’s nameless army. Cheetah our entropy. Maserati our anti-racist engine. Cardamom our curfew’ed streets. Mozart our every breath.

From Then On, Fire

Amidst the voices of peaceful protesters calling for justice, looters roam the streets; gun-toting Boogaloo bois call for another civil war; MAGA-minds scream, let freedom grieve.

As our cities burn to ash, one wonders what has driven our bodies to become the fire bringing it all down. When hope goes to smoke, so begins the destruction of optimism.

When the White House becomes the home for white supremacy, so exists our greatest domestic terrorist.

The powers that bleed have taken the American spirit born from a melting pot, try to stuff it into a grave plot.

In response, we gotta rise, strive for a brighter tomorrow. Can’t allow the future to become a long-gone time never lived.

Valley of the Choked-Out Breath

When cities burn, they produce ash. Yet if you try to burn the spirit of a people, you only fuel their fire and fury.

Witness these countless people unable to abide by laws that claim they have the right to remain silent for a lifetime.

Witness the palpable rage and worry these good people have carried since childhood, after being born into an ongoing nightmare of racism.

Some men lynch with a rope, others do it with a knee lodged against another man’s throat.

Yea, as we walk through the valley of the choked-out breath, we have sadly witnessed yet another way bigotry and hate can lurk behind a gun and badge.

A Struggle in the Bones

It’s difficult to remain calm when the only seat you’re being offered is in the back of a hearse.

It’s a sin when the color of one’s skin presumes automatic guilt, or that black bodies have hung like strange fruit from southern trees.

It’s impossible to stand idly by when history continually repeats itself—a broken record stuck in an ugly groove of racial brutality.

Imagine, if you will, spending a lifetime believing you have the right to remain silent. That you’ve been born only to feel the struggle in your bones, that you’re not worth your very next breath.

When people are continually forced to close their souls into a fist, expect some kind of fight, be it a peaceful protest or riot.

Color Me / Color You

Some love their coffee black while others vie for a black belt.

Some live in brownstones and go brownbagging to work.

Some are keen on golden handshakes that provide golden opportunities.

Some love the silver screen. Some were born with a silver spoon in their mouth.

Some grow white as a ghost when receiving a scarlet letter. Some are tickled pink by purple prose.

Others roll out the red carpet for those with a Purple Heart. Some exist in gray areas. Others dwell in greener pastures.

Some are yellowbellied. Others succeed with flying colors.

But pretty much all of us, at some point, suffer from the blues.