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.

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№ 30: The Tell


i blink

and again

each one
lasting just a bit longer
than before

eyes open

eyes shut

repeat, repeat
over and over

the incandescent glow
of my laptop painting
sketchy images on the backs
of slowly drooping lids

eyes shut

and shut

and shut

still

… and still, all

№ 20: Layover


Less rigidity in composition and subject matter, and more flirtatious and experimental. In other words: fun and different.

I wonder if you’d noticed
                                    the subtle pass I’d made,
hinting at my interest
                            in getting past “Hello?”

And did you get my meaning
when I intoned a question
                                    where one should not exist?

                 You left me speechless.
And that’s that.

Next time, I’ll tell you
                                    exactly how I feel;
                                                                          I’ll make sure to pass
through SFO again.

№ 17: Horizons, Part 1


This is the first part of a (probably) two-part poem.

Setting suns are worlds
condemned to fading, to falling
far below the edges of waters
or mountains or tundras caught
in their twilight gazes
until nothing more can be seen
and the last lights of existence
dissolve into blackness;

condemned to running out of time,
another darkness for another night.

№ 15: They Go By Starlight


This isn’t the original version of this poem (which I was considering one of the best I think I’d ever written), because, for who knows what ridiculous reason, my original draft was erased upon trying to preview it. Needless to say, I’m not very happy with WordPress at the moment. Without losing my mind for the sixth or seventh time, here is an approximation of the original.

 

Heroic visages chiseled
in ancient light,

rendered from a void’s darkness
by moments long
and silent…
but passed,

made old by distance.

From nothing,
they emerge remorseless,
purposeful; known
by starlight, accorded
its attention.

Spanning time,
actions premeditated
before memory came to be,
came to make certain
they were part of the plan:

voyagers seeking a newer end,
farther than yesterday’s;
gazing beyond artificial horizons
too broad to be defended
in practice,

though some tried,
and were forgiven.

Hearts playing in fire,
engulfed in blazes
shown to chosen eyes,
receptors trained, destined
to sense the glow of Origin

– the Cosmic Latte variety.

Souls shorn from duality,
the fabric of existence
made tangible by our struggle;
driven to leap from ledges
on principle; to serve the sightless;

discovering another End,
another step,
another jump,
another….

№ 14: Ritual Encounters


Spectacles of qualified madness;
periods of hysteria broken by silent judgement
and a need to understand; rituals
performed for the sake of consistency,
the maintenance of the status quo.
And this is what I see,
what I’m not supposed to notice.

This enticing chaos
finds me vulnerable – whims and fancies,
those particular particulars that tell me
all about you,
distract me from the content, the point.
You always seem surprised,
like it’s your first time as well.

We’re just getting started:
“It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Excuse me, but what was your name again?”

№ 13: For Heidi


This is dedicated to my wonderful dog, Heidi, who did so much to bring joy to my life, especially when I couldn’t bring it to myself. She had a long and happy life, and she will be sorely missed.

Heidi, Queen of the Couch (4/21/2014)

Heidi, Queen of the Couch (4/21/2014)

My heart aches,
and I already feel
the weight of your absence
pressing on my chest
so firmly it’s hard to breathe.

My mind fails me now…
what is that separation
between past and present,
between your still-beating heart
as it watched the passing cars
and the awful silence
following our final act of love?

You were never a what to me,
but a who: my not-so-little girl
with a thousand names none can understand
but I can recite without hesitation;
my treasure who reminded me daily
of what true love is.

We found you, saved you,
but I think you knew
that you’d saved us
more times than I can count.

A boy’s best friend,
you watched me grow up
into the man I am today;
your whole life spent
making sure I was okay…
because of you, I always was;
because of you,
I always will be.

My happy little girl – so happy,
so loving.

Today, we said our goodbyes,
because we must – it was time
and you were ready; you’d told us so
– and we thanked you for everything,
told you how much we loved you,
and did our best to be strong.

We will always miss you.

We will always love you.

You will always be our Heidi,
my Heidi,
and we will always be your family.