this massive rage (poem)

(read on adult ISH podcast)

as we move closer to the elections
again we have to contend with
how much we will play the game
showing up and waiting in lines
people of faith as we have had to be
and always been
and really what other option is there
we come in droves
we speak amongst ourselves
if we love ourselves we know
which of these men has less tulsa in their blood
which of these men doesn’t long to see us
below deck, below branches, below the unbearable weight of them
their egos, their desire for us to just take it
the violation of polite conversation
after the abuse
but before the overdue apology
and anyway
so much has been taken that justice is impossible
some days it chills my blood
how will we ever know peace
will we have to forget everything?
will we have to burn the books and make the history fiction?
how can we breathe near you
sleep near you
dream with you
when we remember
when we can be living our lives and be reminded
by griot, thoughtful essay, scathing expose, image kept fresh across years,
by threat, or bullet, or lie, or law
how, when you haven’t stopped murdering us in our beds
gleefully taking our blessings
killing our children
counting us collateral damage as you choose money over masks, over safety, over adaptation, over earth
shooting first and asking no questions, ever
all the while acting as if it were us
trying to take anything from you but our own lives
our own labor
our own right to grieve all that you’ve claimed
beyond your portion of miracle
you lost soul, you greedy, greedy, i lose words
I choke on the anger, even I,
all the time cultivating joy in my heart
even I, seeing beyond the constructs
still
when I come across the artifact
or the present moment
or the border in my dream that says how far I can go
we can go
we can be
I remember we are not yet free
and will not be, cannot be
until you choose to be free
who designed it this way
how will we ever get beyond bitterness
how will we ever get beyond heartbreak
how will we ever be able to tell our stories in any genre but horror
how I wonder
as we barrel towards another battle
that we have no wish to fight
as we want to hold each other
but you’ve made it dangerous
we want to lick each other’s wounds until the scars spell new names
make different promises
fly but not like angels, not like birds, not like anything that has ever moved through the sky before
fly beyond your touch
that’s all we need
and it seems to be the only thing we cannot do, cannot get to, cannot run for
you wait around each corner of history
belly gaping with hunger, eyes pulsing with hate
demonic, vapid, wasting the precious
and only
life you will get
and you even tell your children these lies
to shape into them a foolish worldview in which
we cannot rest and they cannot feel their blessing
I have been casting spells and speaking dreams
my whole adult life
but even I feel the ways you are making me into your nightmare
without my consent
making me your enemy
when I bear no arms
making me your prey
wherever I graze with my children
it has been so long
so long I have to remind myself it isn’t forever
it is so constant
I have to remind myself it cannot last
it is so small
to be a part of the sacred
it is so heavy
this massive rage
I am only able to sleep
dreaming of volcanoes
which peel away the surface and explode and melt down what is
which decimate and steal and swallow and change
which become glass and then green island
which become breeze and beach and whale watching
and song and fruit and dance
and children and children and children
when I feel it inside me
this raging molten flow of the truth
I can only rest remembering
life comes from the eruptions
and nothing you’ve made will last
and my rage fills up my mouth
and our rage fills up the earth
and we can darken the whole sky
and if we can’t breathe then you won’t either
and our destinies are intertwined
you fools, you fools, you flesh and bone
suckle and moan
terrified to be alone
you, there, hiding behind your telephone
you will heal, or your line will end
we will heal, or we will die praying and dancing
surrendering to the joy still beating in our chests
we will find a way to live here on this earth
or she will blow us to the sky
melt away our flaws
leave only a perfect stone
full of story

strategy and kamala feels

“we are fighting over which employee will best suit the needs of an important job. it isn’t political home – we both have those outside of the electoral process, places and people to whom we feel accountable. this is for mass strategy, mass protection, high level policy protection of the communities we love.

purist debate is important, honing how you feel and having a place to practice it fully is important. make sure you have a political home. don’t get that confused with the American experiment, with shaping the conditions of this experiment such that the most vulnerable stand a chance of surviving and changing it themselves. do not make poor people and immigrants and women” (and trans people and disabled people and students and teachers and essential workers) “and our babies the collateral damage of purist ideologies. your theoretical happiness is not more important than the earth’s and species’ tangible survival.”

one of my favorite things about being a writer is how sometimes my words come back to comfort me. yesterday i was not feeling much about the nomination of kamala harris as vp – watching other people have strong emotions one way or the other, and just feeling like, ok.

then i was reminded of how i feel about electoral politics! electoral politics isn’t and shouldn’t be our political home. it is a commons of service, meant to be accountable to informed people who direct the values and policies of those we elect to deliver and construct service provisions like home, health, water, education.

maybe you’re more excited about the dem ticket today. maybe you’re appalled. but either way don’t get confused: electoral strategy = placing human beings we can hold accountable into representative offices.

electoral strategy doesn’t include identifying ideological doppelgangers who will lose, or aren’t on the ticket, but assuage our sense of imperial complicity (yes, here i mean that american practice of paying taxes each year and then trying to distance ourselves from what we invested-in/didn’t-stop by not taking responsibility for who manages the money thru nonvoting or emo-voting). it does include assigning our paid representatives to positions where they are hired to govern, which includes synthesizing amongst many possible distinctions and directions to find paths that allow the majority of people to survive and grow.

political home, on the other hand, is a place where we ideate, practice and build futures we believe in, finding alignment with those we are in accountable relationships with, and growing that alignment through organizing and education.

political home is where we solidify our critiques and generate solutions for human and planetary futures that, with practice and time and a functional government, become viable enough to scale (deepen, normalize), or, faced with resistance and dysfunctional government, divergent enough to move for secession or battle.

the current occupants of highest federal office are opposed to all forms of life and evolution outside of power and pussy grabs. our current available move is voting them out, as no one has a viable secession plan (really open to being surprised/wrong on this) and their side is armed and militarised. our strategic option right now is to fight on an electoral battleground riddled with corruption and confusion. biden and kamala are the viable ticket opposing those in office. recognizing the available strategy doesn’t always equal endorsement.

and it’s OK to feel excited if you see yourself in kamala, to be excited about representation, or even to feel amused by uncle joe.

and it’s OK to feel the flood of critique, the way this ticket runs the faultlines of race and power. it’s OK to feel disappointed and/or bamboozled by the closing off of significantly more thrilling alternative futures (like an abrams/warren/knowles ticket).

either way, the strategic next move is to vote on november 3 and now you know the other name on the ballot.

feel all your feelings along the way, but don’t let those feelings keep you from seeing the biggest picture, the one that includes those more vulnerable than you.

let those feelings clarify and grow your political home, even as you create the external conditions in which having a political home can and will matter.