black august haikus, week 4

here is my last batch of #blackaugust575 haikus, haiku clusters. i’m so grateful for this month of practice in community. these are dedicated to the 31 prisoners i wrote letters to this month, to their lives and sacrifices.

I don’t want to see
sand eyes, blood pounding my head
we are all mirrors

I leap but don’t fly
close my eyes sipping lakeside
dancing the red light

you are a whole lie
you made of bricks and iron
I am a vapor

I am a rainbow
I’m a fucking miracle
I’m a tomorrow

we’re blocking the sun
small and so holy, magic

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #charlottesville

I have all I need
My freedom runs all through me
Pounding out my heart

I have all I need
I’m the answer to a dream
That slipped through shackles

I have all I need
In the love of my people
And my solitude

I have all I need
Deep sleep, hard work, these love notes
And this gratitude

– #blackaugust575, #blackaugust #generatingabundance

most humans are trash
most of our long precious lives
faulty miracles

bars don’t mean a thing
the worst of us don’t get caught
never get punished

shit don’t work no way
what we deny of ourselves
becomes our prison

we must see ourselves
beyond the stench, shame and guilt:
the small beautiful

the sliver of good
the seed dropped in the garbage
that calls it compost

the bud that opens
bursts through the treacherous dirt
to stunt for one day

or the breathless kiss
that reaches through the madness
one taste of true love

or the crescent moon
of black people, surviving
knowing we are light

in this big strange world
where even trash has beauty
nothing is wasted

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #watchinghumansandhurricanes

I have no children
just scars across my belly
where spirit tried it

I love children tho
whichever womb they spring from
I make worlds for them

in each prisoner
a small child, a beloved
still yearns to be held

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #scars

there are no answers
there is only mystery
only tomorrow

we made it this far
for the entire future
we’ll show up again

love is this table
wrapped around with black women
who keep showing up

love’s a movement child
passed from auntie lap to lap
face soft with laughter

we pick up our load
carry it all our lifetimes
blessing in the heft

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #m4bl

cast protection spells
all around our broken hearts
the journey is long

call on the river
move between us, move through us
take these tears to sea

and when the flood comes
let’s make islands of ourselves
somewhere there’s a shore

cast protection spells
our fire is still so young
living on our prayers

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust #ants #interdependence #spellsforanewamerica

I miss your poems
comrades warriors my loves
I need your poems

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

sweetest beloveds
thank you for all your poems
black August for life

we do not forget
our comrades behind the wall
we’ll never forget

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

checking in on four agreements

“don’t take anything personally.
don’t make assumptions.
be impeccable with your word.
always do your best.”

the four agreements, don miguel ruiz. learning these things. still.

also, lead with love.
surrender what you can’t carry to the universe.
focus on the good in yourself and others, because what you pay attention to grows.
God is change.
today’s heartbreak, grief, overwhelm and frustration is the detritus and measure of love and longing.
tomorrow’s healing, liberation and love will burst from each composted experience.
everything is changing, and I am changing how I am in all of it.

heart split between flooded Texas/gulf, indigenous women being killed, the fear we intelligently feel on a shifting landscape, white walkers in the flesh, and worry for those I love going through it. praying we can keep looking to each other with forgiving eyes, it’s real out here.

these four agreements still get me through some days.

“don’t take anything personally.
don’t make assumptions.
be impeccable with your word.
always do your best.”

centering saves lives

I want that.
I want something.
something wants me.
someone wants me.
I was told that would never happen.
that I was unwanted and unwantable.
she wants me with a sharp tongue.
he wants me but with bruising hands, with such speed.
she wants me if I change.
I want to be wanted.
this is not tender, this is not what I wanted.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

I know this.
I know something but it’s small.
I’m always learning.
everything I know slips from under my feet.
I know nothing.
I am an inbreath and a question.
I know what I want.
I knew this before I existed, I’ll know it forever.
I know from cell and from marrow, from dream and from whisper.
I love this feeling of knowing.
I love not knowing.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

I need you.
I need to be better than this.
I need my species to grow.
I need these babies to continue.
I need to taste my own life.
I need to feel unsettled.
I need to fly, to look down on the clouds.
I need help sometimes.
I need to help, to be needed.
I need forgiveness.
I need all this love and even more.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.


we have completed the first transformation in action course in Detroit. somatics is intentionally remembering what we know about love and dignity, safety and belonging, the long and beautiful life in each of us that predates any trauma.

doing this work with people who have given their lives to community, to justice, it’s the greatest honor.

I think centering, organizing ourselves towards what we long for (vs what we’re against), saves lives. I think it will change our collective existence. one small room at a time.

I want that.
I know this.
I need you.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

black august week 3

if you not hunted
you better go stand between
those racists and me.


everything changed
when I learned to turn inward
to become quiet


I am salt water
blood and bone and healing touch
just let me hold you


I learn the hard way
alive inside my mistakes
loving each moment


I must be myself:
black unicorn emoji
before the update


I feel so weary
generating our freedom
is forever work

I feel so ready
I am a moon out walking
made for all this light

I feel so clear now
I deserve all of this love
I am done asking

we feel so clear now
we deserve each of these breaths
we will replace hate


you hate our orbit?
watch how we block out the sun
don’t you look away


do we need dragons?
are we majestic in flight
or felled by the ice?

(GoT haiku)


Crickets sing sun down.
Sirens, babies wailin out,
Life is borderless.

You have no way out
once the mind walks in the cage.
Forget that ego.

Cosmos can’t be caged
And it flutters out my chest,
it flutters out yours.

Contemplating scale –
We that light, we that shadow.
That precious. That rare.

black august haikus: week 2

Black folks raise pit bulls
Swan dive, two step on cruise ships
Pray swathed in cotton

We place seed in dirt
Stand in lines for lesser harm
Write English poems

Turn insult to song
Gather currency not us
Bow down to white god

We carry the scars
Transform the horror to life
This is survival

– in response to the proximity of slavery, noticing what we’ve already begun to reclaim (while listening to Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad) #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

we magic makers
casting spells from dragon’s breath
blessing insurgents

fighting all our days
laughter in a moment’s pause
we give our whole selves

and the children ask
what are you doing? why? where?
we gather freedom

we magic makers
we endure our own brilliance
we break our own chains

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust between GOT and nibblings

lightning brights up sky
the child quivers beside me
i promise safety

it’s the outside world
where I make no promises
where I can’t protect

sky does not hate you
thunder doesn’t feed on fear
that’s the worst of us

you are vast as sky
laying here or in the street
sacred black boy child

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust
on the anniversary of Mike Brown’s death

I do my life’s work
I dream out loud in the dark
and then I thank God

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

I write these letters
knowing that we are strangers
and yet I owe you

deepest gratitude
the miracle of your life
spent inside cages

we don’t forget you
we love you across space, time,
know your sacrifice

we honor your years
your wisdom, dedication
I honor your lives

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

I’ve written 11 letters now, and am starting to include these haikus. keep thinking of Charlene Carruthers saying she was struck speechless visiting Mumia, and how I feel that each time I bring my pen to the page. so much to say, so impossible to say it. ?

don’t lie on your heart
you are broken and it hurts
it has always hurt

we can’t live in hate
we don’t live without delight
anger leaves hunger

beat the softest thing
scream at the walls, the ceilings
release – you will heal

– somatics working. #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

when hate fills your heart
everything is a weapon
every day a war

my heart is my own
I fill my life with fierce love
rooted in justice

I feel no regret
I offer up my whole life
in the long battle

I never forget
you hold torches for whiteness
but I love the dark

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust
honoring sacrifice and freedom fighting in Charlottesville

on Charlottesville and the ACLU and stuff

Saturday: just seeing the news from VA, tears in my eyes.

we know history repeats itself. right now, multiple phases of our very worst history as a species are repeating and colliding with each other – civil war, nazis, slavery, nuclear attacks, witch trials, all of it.

we must face what is right now.

believe these hate filled people telling us who they are and acting on it – our surprise and shock won’t protect us. there are no rules right now.

we have to grieve and feel and strategize while in motion.

we are being hunted. we must protect each other and move together. keep our hands locked together, cover each other’s backs, and let go of any beef that isn’t at this scale of life and death.

love y’all, each and every one of y’all.

Later Saturday: this moment in aclu choices is a great way to highlight the difference between theory and praxis. in theory the first amendment exists to protect free speech, but praxis (how we embody and apply that amendment) matters. aclu is choosing {not for the first time, by far} to use money they earned from people who actually want to protect freedom of speech (for all people) to protect people whose every speech, assembly, and action is intended to return the majority of the country to slavery and incite the violent elimination of free speech.

nuance and long term thinking is crucial for our survival right now.

aclu won’t be getting another dime from me.

in response to that post on the ACLU, a few white men came into my comments to explain how the constitution works and why it just has to be this way.

I have two responses.

One is from Malkia Cyril, who I look to for leadership around all things communication and free speech related:

“I wish white progressives would stop talking about the ‘right’ of White Supremacists to speak. This has never been about free speech.

As if speech and the constitution were flat in a flat world, devoid of power relations.

As if those power relations don’t explicitly and systematically criminalize the dissenting speech of people of color and other oppressed groups on a daily basis.

As if those power relations would remotely allow a protest of Black, migrant or Muslim/Arab bodies to march with riot shields, torches, mace and assault rifles.

As if there has been high profile litigation supporting the rights of the thousands of Black protesters arrested.

As if property destruction hasn’t been responded to with the fullest extent of the law, while bodily harm by white supremacists and police officers was flat out encouraged.

Hate speech is one thing, violence is another. The context of power means when it comes to white supremacy – even I as a free speech advocate knows one is a powerful predictor and driver of the other.

Bottom line: if you litigate on behalf of White Supremacists, our contact will be limited at best. Dollars? Never.

my second response poured out of me late last night. I felt myself shaking, and realized my love for my people and those who we need as our allies includes sharing these thoughts.

so here they are:

when I lived in Oakland I was directly across a courtyard from a physically violent domestic abuse situation. what I and my neighbors heard, often, was an escalation from yelling to beating.

I never wanted to call the cops on the abuser – because he was a black man, because the cops shoot first and make alibis later, because I believed they would make the situation worse.

my neighbors and I tried other things – calling out to her, banging on the door, trying to talk to the woman. eventually, when the sounds were too terrifying, the cops were called. she sometimes let them in, sometimes sent them away.

eventually she broke up with him and got a restraining order.

a short while later, he kidnapped and killed her, left her by the side of the road.

he hated her, and no law was going to stop him. each incident of hateful speech and behavior had been leading up to this. it was in his voice, in the veins popping out his neck when he opened the door to tell us to mind our fucking business.

these memories haunt me often. what could I have done? the reality of the situation was more complex than the options I felt I had, we the neighbors were liberal-to-radical people who wanted to do the right thing when there wasn’t a right thing. it felt like the laws weren’t actually designed to protect this black woman living right at the poverty line. the mix of police racism, toxic masculinity, violence and this woman’s privacy and agency – it was so complex.

but what I keep returning to is that his intentions were always clear. there was always death on his breath. over the long term I have thought that only community could have intervened. community willing to be bodies that upheld the restraining order, might, maybe, have helped.

the increasing white supremacist violence in this country has me feeling echoes of this trauma. especially as the Charlottesville story unfolds and the perpetrators of violence and murder have histories of domestic violence in their backgrounds.

people who yell that they want to kill me and everyone who looks remotely like me, that we are slaves, niggers, children of Satan, whores, sluts, abominations, thieves of their land/power/jobs/power/women/power – and then follow that up by hurting and killing members of my community every chance they get, using whatever weapon is available…whatever laws protect those folks cannot actually also protect me.

this is why I identify as a visionary American revolutionary and a post-nationalist.

the country of my birth must experience a fundamental change to be worthy of the miracle of my life, our lives. we should never have to argue that we matter, whether we are black, trans, women, immigrants, or anything else.

borders are constructed to make clear what is within and what is without. what is within u.s. borders right now is toxic and viral, rooted in an ancient hatred, an ancient contorted destiny, and invited, encouraged from the highest office in this country at this moment.

and as long as I look around and don’t see a majority of people committed to fundamental self-examination and growth, I must remain committed to people, not borders.

I would rather “start all over, make a new beginning”*, where we are not catering to the potential of those so broken that the only action they know to take is to break others.

I am openly building a society of justice in the crumbling shell of an America rooted in hate.

I will not sit quietly on my bed, listening to the destruction across the way, hoping it doesn’t come knocking at my door.

I will not pretend the playing ground is equal, and that everyone should have a right to practice their violence in words, to incite race war on the internet, not checked until they have successfully built up their arsenal and come for me and my loved ones.

I will not pretend killers ever arm themselves with torches and assault rifles and sign poles and white hoods and then peacefully assemble just to talk.

my love is deep, my faith is deep, my willingness to work with a lot of people working in a lot of different ways is deep. I rarely draw lines in the sand, I rarely close a door.

so I say this with all the love and all the respect I can muster: if you think you’re on the right side of history, and you are not one of the people they are hunting, then you better go stand between those armed Confederates/nazis/racist police and me. stand before me and mine, stand there and receive that free speech from those armed bodies several times before you open your mouth or fix your fingers to tell me about the constitution.

*Tracy Chapman, New Beginning

TTSD (Shrump* Traumatic Stress Disorder)

are you in a deep malaise because you live in a country ruled by, or impacted by, leaders and politics rooted in racism, militarism, capitalism and other systemic forms of hatred, all espoused and encouraged from the highest office in the u.s.?

to be precise, do you live in a country run by a megalomaniac inserted into power by some combination of insecure haters and Russia?

are you finding it hard to disconnect from the 24 hour news/commentary/wild assertion cycle?

are you endlessly frustrated by trying to sort out if the “president” is a bumbling idiot puppet or a nefarious mastermind, then realizing it doesn’t matter because he’s destroying everything good either way?

do you scroll through Twitter and other social media to see how world leaders are relating? and then feel disappointed in yourself and social media and society for giving any attention to leaders who operate this way?

do you have sudden aversion to (or new viscous way of consuming) oranges?

do you find yourself repeatedly pointing out obvious shit, like “no president has ever really been for the people or planet” or “we must remember clinton and obama aren’t radical” as a way of either comforting yourself or another person mid-meltdown, or denying the post-legal fuckery masquerading as politics?

do you have whiplash from trying to return your attention to things you can actually impact in the onslaught of divisive, distraction based headlines and decisions?

are you noticing an increase in smoking, drinking, eating highly processed foods, having irresponsible sex, isolation, and overwhelm? or a decrease in exercise, sleep, joy, hope, relationship functionality, desire to continue organizing, magic, or willingness to procreate?

do you often feel the heavy weight of a species-deep depression, an impending doom based in a rudimentary understanding of cause and effect, a planetary sense of dread and apocalypse?

if you said yes to any of these questions, you are likely suffering from Shrump* Traumatic Stress Disorder (TTSD)


TTSD is nothing to be ashamed of. this administration is unveiling the very worst of our species and giving it/them platforms.

we are concurrently in the midst of global conflicts in which the u.s. government (with our tax dollars) is regularly the most agitating, immature force, egging other nations into their worst behavior, while at home we are at minimum in a civil war, the attacks on black, brown, poor and living people by the state continue, larger than our current capacity to check and balance.

the first step to ‘reclaiming your time***’ from TTSD is noticing it exists and you most likely have it and are surrounded by others who have it.

become aware that you are not alone in being overwhelmed by the pace of negative change and terrifying news that accompanies president 45. acknowledge what is true, what is currently, viscerally true. be with what is, and the reality that it’s impacting you.

the second step is getting clear on how this might also be impacting your health, work, familial, social and emotional life. dissociation, depression, hyperwork, numbing, sex fiendishness, arguing with/about lesser evils, fighting with random trolls on the internet – what are your mechanisms of feeling and coping?

the third step is finding the most effective coping mechanisms for your system. no one should pretend we can survive this without coping mechanisms. our Sister of the Righteous Elevator Intervention, Solange Knowles, has accurately accounted for a multitude of potential strategies for dealing with trauma in her hit song Cranes in the Sky.


do not relinquish those strategies which help you get through the day.

and do not mistake coping for living. your life, your body, is still the most precious resource you have. be as good as you can to yourself.

which brings us to the fourth step. find and invest your energy into the things which you can change, the places where you can experiment with your best ideas for justice, liberation, equality, humanity, right relationship with the planet and each other.

we must grow our capacity to govern. we are learning all the time, from experiences that center our values and challenge our ideas, that include accountability in leadership, emergent strategies for reaching our visions, and moving through conflict without dominance and destruction.

your life’s work is needed more than ever – do not become part of a reactive mass that is easily distracted into powerlessness! create, generate, move as visionaries! move in authentic and deepening solidarity and community**!

name the intersectional impacts.
care about, and work on, something generative.

*even for the sake of this piece, i’m not saying his fatherfucking name.

** but what about stopping the madness, you might ask? there are people for whom targeted, strategic, visionary reaction IS their life’s work. trust them, give 10-25 minutes a day to actions they recommend. i support/follow the leadership of the movement for black lives, color of change, indigenous environmental network, aroc, rebecca solnit and other entities which are paying attention and calling for action where it can make a difference.

*** repeating Maxine Waters mantra “reclaiming my time” 108 times every morning is good medicine.

under the influence of lightning

laying here in the heart of a storm. thunder is rolling overhead and when lightning strikes it’s as bright as day in the whole sky. midwestern storms are extravagant.

today is the anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder, a day that holds its own distinct horror and grief, a day that changed many of our lives, grew us up in ways we never wished for. i pray in my way for his family and his community today.

i spent the day mostly offline, playing with my nibblings, noticing the ways in which they listen to authority and the ways they don’t. i have respect for the latter and try to only demand the former when their safety is concerned. today one nibbling said i was the bestest auntie, except…’you do get mad sometimes.’ i told them to notice why i get mad, and if it’s ever not about their safety, they should tell me and I’ll let it go. i don’t want to participate in getting them to listen to me ‘just because’. doesn’t work anyway. and what do i know, really?

i can’t remember if i should start counting when the lightning strikes or when i hear thunder, to measure the miles between the storm and my body. i like the idea that this is a crucial survival skill. and like most crucial survival skills, i only kind of know it.

i’m learning to trust myself under pressure, learning that i string together my random bits of survival knowledge when i need it, apologize and adapt when i fuck up. and anyway, perhaps the best contribution i can make is staying calm under pressure, which i inherited from the women in both sides of my family. calm allows me to discern who to trust when no one is quite right.

the biggest dangers my people face right now come from our government, and we don’t yet know how to survive it, not en masse. but we’re learning. as quickly as we can, messes and humanity in our wake.

it’s eight miles away now, the storm, counting from lightning to thunder.

watching the kids learn the subtle survival skills of being 4, and 7, and three days til 9, i see how we learn on yes. in somatics we know that, the body learns on yes. but we live in a punitive authoritative society. we conform in response to no, we try to control the base urges and wild instincts that make us unsociable as we are told to stop, quiet, take it elsewhere. but when we are invited into the world as whole complex creative beings, invited to contribute our truths and ideas, held through our disappointment and confusion – i am amazed at how kind the children can be, and prolific, and fun.

that’s true of every child i meet. i’m learning to hold this possibly for every adult, too.

the lightning is right out the window now, two miles away. but also maybe it’s just everywhere these days. it’s terrifying to be alive these days. it’s also beautiful.

high watching moana

i have a theory that to make children’s movies these days, those doing the animation/visuals just get high and draw. to test this theory i will, without urgency, occasionally watch kids movies while high. here are notes from a recent high watching of moana. on a plane. enjoy this research:

*two minutes into a movie called silence*

I hate this movie. unless it radically improves and people stop doing weird accents I’m not going to watch past five more minutes.

*two minutes later after peeping familiar ocean landscape on a neighbor’s screen*

Ooh they have Moana on here!

I feel like I never really tuned into the first couple minutes of grandma’s story. maui is basically a rapist. this movie is so deep.

they need to keep an eye on this child. thank goodness ocean is playing nice.

yes crazy grandma! I live to be that free.

I basically feel like on first dates I should say – I’m basically me what you see is what you get. but also, I am moana. I might leave at any moment to adventure in the open sea – she calls me!

“That voice inside you, that’s who you are.”

I wish my grandma had given me a quest instead of bitterness about her homophobia.

but even still, if my grandma told me to go in a dark cave and bang a drum I might not do that. why destiny always on the other side of terror?

how old is moana? when I’m thinking as her I’m like ‘you go girl!’…but if she was my nibblings’ age I would say ‘timeout forever!’

this screaming chicken part is funny.

I might have eaten this chicken. for sure. except I probably wouldn’t cause the idea of meat coming off bones turn my stomach. I should be a vegan. cheese. bacon.

damn I forgot how she asked for help and the ocean was like ‘ok fine but fuck you its gonna feel like mercury retrograde during Saturn returns’.

I love how she repeats herself like ennigo montoya in the princess bride. is that how it’s spelled? prepare to die! basically same thing here.

Maui with the titles! instantly charming us to forget his horrific past. demigod is the internal narrative of white/male/hetero supremacy.

did I mention I’ve been talking to my new tattoos? they are like this – stories to tell and guidance for me, a roll of the dice, perspectives to balance. they’re all patient, slow creatures. the turtle is like – making decisions takes time. the cow and the elephant are like…stand still. the octopus is like…you can never be stuck. they don’t move in my skin though, in case that needed clarifying.

Maui is basically killing her now, leaving her in that cave! what the f killer!

demigod is how humans act to the rest of the plant.

I never noticed he has a statue of himself in there!! Kanye de Flump.

a belly flop like that would be fatal, right?

every time I say ‘smote’ I second guess myself. I want to use it so much more.

I started this whole blog post to ask what accent her dad is speaking in. just remembered that.

who thought of these coconut pirates? so cute.

wait but is Maui running for president after Flump? do I have to think about that yet? no. no you don’t self. identifying viable candidates for president isn’t your skill set. plus you already have a list for when you need an imagination pick-me-up. pick-you-up?

just got distracted by the moon. so pretty and getting bigger by the second. I am bound to the moon, it moves me.

look how Maui critiques to avoid what he’s scared of, takes deft writing to show that common trait of bullies. and on the Lin-Manuel rhythm.

“Maui Maui Maui, you’re so amazing!” how many of you have manipulated egotistical people with a move like this?

wayfaring: seeing where you’re going by knowing where you’ve been. I really love this. claiming it!

ew he pees on her. hahaha. ew.

I would totally wait with the boat while Maui goes to the realm of monsters. I’m disappointed to know that about myself. cause moana is like 8 and she jumps right in.

it’s so air conditioned on this plane that their outfits look cold in the movie.

the ocean really is cookiedook. kookydook.

I also wouldn’t have jumped into the endless hole. took me 45 minutes once to jump 20 feet into perfect dreamy warm clear water. not jumping into bottomless pit from top of mountain. sowwy.

the realm of monsters is so cool to observe. from afar. if I was there I would have already opted out of my mission.

keep your hair shiny! fancy crab! more shade for self centered people. I would take it to heart but then I’d be self perpetuating.

“I was a drab little crab one” – where Ursula meets the Beatles.

when Maui can’t become a hawk, I point at the screen scream laughing. neighbor gives an appreciative nod.

the neon shell part is so trippy.

“its time to kick your hiney” is the only line my nibbling knows. and she delivers it!

ok my plane landed. this movie is perfect even though I didn’t reach the end.

ooh its still going. I just want to see when she faces tafiti and says “you know who you are”. aka the best transformative justice moment in film in years.

this movie really challenges my ageism. part of me is like: she never listens! the other part is like: she gets free.

excited to finish this with nibblings next week.