118


there is so much joy
in that smile, so much hope
in those expectant,
unknowing eyes — his eyes
lost in the moment, too busy
swimming in hers
to see, to recognize
what’s right in front of him.

he is exposed — consumed
by fire, by the certainty
of her hand
reaching firmly for his,
by the rhythm of her pulse
beating in time
with his own.

but he can never know
the heart he seeks, yearns
for, wants to hold
close… the distance,
he cannot overcome.

he can never touch
her love
the way his love
desires,

and he can never hear
the words
her lips
cannot utter.

but his heart, so ready
to love
and to be loved,
smiles,
mistaking her loneliness
for fire.

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108


a little fire
to save this day
and the next,
if we’re lucky

ash,
charcoal black
and brittle,
from which might spring
once again
a life,
a life worth saving

through fire,
a life worth loving

106


we’re getting close now…

another year,
and another,
and another…

it’ll be ten before we know it.

so much time,
so many empty hours
and nights like this…

running circles in my head
with no end in sight.

it’s been so long,
and there have been so many faces.
bright, smiling…
none of them mine.

why do i need permission
to be happy?
where is my peace?

An Open Letter, A Promise


To those who most need to hear this right now,

The last twenty-four hours have been jarring on a number of levels, both personally and politically. To say that I am shocked would be an understatement.

As a CIS white male living in the state of California, having the privilege to attend a university that seeks to exemplify those qualities that we would find in a just, compassionate, and equal-voiced and ubiquitously enfranchised society, and having the privilege of privilege itself I believed that the world and my country were not capable of doing what they did last night. That is to say, I believed that we were making progress as a society.

It is both infuriating and heart-breaking to know that the values that I have are shared by a majority of the people of this country, but not by an electorate that has used fear of the Other and hatred of the innocent and voiceless to push an agenda that will undermine all we have accomplished.

As a country, we have lost something precious — a piece of ourselves, of our identity — that we cannot yet fully comprehend or appreciate; as individuals, we have lost what little moral credibility we have. As a society, we are no longer allowed to claim that we stand for freedom and justice and equality, that we welcome the poor and huddled masses with open arms and compassion in our hearts. As a society, we must now accept that we have learned nothing, that we have chosen to abandon our friends and families, our neighbors and those who would be our fellow citizens, our identity as a nation of immigrants and the Others who made us into the power that we are. We may no longer ignorantly claim our embrace of minorities or our respect for those who are not like me, and we are morally obliged to renounce our claims of freedom to be whoever you are. We must accept that (too) many citizens of this country believe in the values that America ostensibly stands for only insofar as they are benefitted by them. We must accept that they believe those values to be merely suggestions, open to interpretation given the whims they may feel right now, and that the apparent respect they hold for their country — their patriotism and love for America — is no more than a proxy of their love for themselves.

I was not raised this way. I did not grow up in a family that put individual members or even the family unit before the good of the society within which we lived. I was raised to give everything I have to anyone who needed my help. No limit was placed on the degree to which that help might be engendered, and it was understood and actively embraced that our community — with all of its beautiful, wonderful, perspective-altering diversity — was more important than we were.

I have spent the last twenty-six years learning from and embracing all around me, and I am so fortunate and privileged to be able to say that many of my closest friends are minorities, women, POC, LGBTQ-identifying, and citizens of other nations. They have taught me more than I can ever possibly describe here, and they are my family, my community, my moral compass. These are not our enemies; these are people like you and me. They have dreams, fears, desires, rich cultural traditions, and stories that make us stop and say, “wow, I never thought about it that way before.” They are our best friends, our relatives, our coworkers, our countrymen, and members of our society. America is them. America is us.

This letter was written and rewritten a hundred times since the news broke late last night. I have struggled with what I might say, what I might be able to add to the narrative that is sweeping our social media sites and news outlets. And I must admit, I do not know if even this will do what I am hoping it will do: help those who need hope know they are loved and not alone.

To all of my fellow human beings, no matter what color you are, who you love, what gender you identify with, what you believe in, who you worship, or what country you call home I want you to know that I will do everything I can as human being to help you, love you, and make you feel welcome in my community. I want you to know that I will listen to what you have to say, that I will defend you if you want or need me to, and that I will not allow fear or ignorance to keep you from being a part of my country and from having a voice equal to my own. In what capacities I have, I will do my best to follow these ideals each and every day.

You are loved for all of your diversity and uniqueness. No matter what is said or done by the political machine over these next several years, we will never stop fighting for you. We will never stop.

96


although i understand
why we play
this waiting game

why we share but snippets
at open or close of day

i can’t seem to manage
my heart or head
or soul.

sleeping nights away,
hoping to read a message
sent sometime before dawn

yearning for something,
anything…
just to know this is real.

just to know this is real,
i’ll poke and prod
and make a nuisance of myself

just to know this is real,
i’ll probably do more harm
than good.

but i have to know.

i really need to know.

you see,
my heart and soul agree,
but my head begins to wonder.

95


i saw a bit of Fate
resting on your shoulder
just the other day

and when you noticed
the subject of my gaze,
you smiled

deciding not to brush it away;
you smiled, and that little bit of Fate
blossomed

shining like a thousand suns,
and your eyes glistened and glittered
against the backdrop of our lives

you smiled,
and i saw it all,
all that Fate could offer

you smiled,
decided this Fate should be,
and it shone

like a thousand suns,
it shone

A Peace Unknown


Simple words in silent shadow-spaces
Breathe the fire of horrors we could not bury deep enough…
Turn over, fire… char and dust.
So sad, the tiny voices
Creeping in and out of darkness,
Looking for a light
That might guide them home

And angry, angry
Angry at the world, at life and love
And all that makes this special…
Angry because they cannot hear the others.

Voices rising, blurring, building hearts of darkness…
Towers and walls and thick steel gates,
Protecting an empty throne,
A lost people… still building, still listening…
But all they hear are echoes