A Californian Vote

In a world swollen with issues to take up and make one’s own, I wonder and wait, as many writers do, to see which injustices, which insults upon humanity will scale the walls of deafening popular media and make themselves known. November 4th offered gads of reasons for press, many being hopeful while at least a few, it turns out, startlingly backwards. Barack Obama’s move into President-Elect reflected a promise, for many millions around the world, that the rebirth of equality and the pursuit of discrimination’s extinction had once again come to the forefront of American intention – a beautiful promise indeed. But for couples in one of Barack’s most supportive states, anticipating the legal and familial expression of their love through marriage, November 4th was a giant backwards bound toward emphatic primitivity. Gay couples across the United States watched as “Proposition 8” – California’s constitutional amendment which declares the State definition of marriage as between one man and one woman – passed with a 52% majority and removed one of few legislative allies the gay and lesbian communities own in the United States. In early October, the then Vice Presidential hopefuls took a St. Louis stage and elucidated for the rest of us every imperfection of one another. In a rare moment of relative peace, they agreed on Darfur – thank god. They also agreed that marriage cannot happen between a man and another man, nor a woman and another woman – also thanks to god. But in their temporary camaraderie, they did manage to say that this civil union thing, this separate but still equal institution, sure is swell. Almost one month later, three days before these candidates would be awarded their future place in American politics, resident theists of San Diego and southern California flocked to Qualcomm stadium. Tossing themselves on the astroturf, they beseeched their god, an avid sports fan, that the institution of marriage be kept from the hands of unenlightened lovers. With the clarity of time’s forgiveness, and the genius of empathy in retrospect, one era’s target of hate and slanderous exclusion accepts the Presidency of the most powerful nation on earth. And on the opposite coast, the decidedly inferior of the 21st century begin to understand that they have yet to mature to the honor of marriage. Any thinker, regardless of creed or lack thereof, should look at such a morally dichotomous nation with some scathing incredulity. The freedom of religion authored in our constitution was as much a demand for the freedom to religion, as it was a promise for freedom from religion. In a sad manipulation of a holy book written to liberate and radically inspire, Christianity’s sacred scripture has become the wand of damnation for those homosexuals still caught in the grips of the Great Deceiver, and a baton which conducts the masses. An empty bubble filled by hundreds of thousands of hands in Californian polling booths has spoken the will of a nation, and perpetuated a dark history it so laboriously clings to.

True Democracy Our Thirst

Night’s black is broken open,
with a gun blast,
death’s decree is spoken, and an officer dies in the street.

Its an august night in the American south,
Ms. McPhail lies weeping on the floor of her house.

Two marshals and a reverend leave a widow in their wake,
who can explain to this wife what hot steel did to her lover today?

Her husband lost to reckless violence,
his blood skirts on concrete, it’s Mother Earth’s defiance.

Why do we pull triggers in the direction of our own,
not our family and not our friends but simply the humanity that is home.

This night, the shooter has many faces,
and the darkness shrowds his guilt,
yet if a white man is shot,
then the courts can’t hold still.

So justice is lost in pursuit of revenge,
and the life of a suspect becomes the means to an end.

The people adopt a melody for the welfare of a man,
who’s to be strapped to a leather table and sent to converse with God in eden’s hand.

But their song’s unrecognizable against the persuasions of tradition,
that dismiss suggestions of a racist process as a black man’s ammunition.

So reminiscent of a time, when his life was worth three fifths of mine,
Troy Davis is killed by an incomplete process.

And America is ill.

A sickness we claim not to contract,
for we fortify our borders with the audacity of a pact.

We’ve handed that promise to the hands of a running wind,
which bears our rhetoric over oceans and invites diversity in.

That truly is the native tongue,
of the world’s wise both old and young

But we’ve forgotten what’s been written in Earth’s volumes of holy texts,
that you should love your brother in this world so you might better know the next.

But foremost in our disease is the day we concede to blindness,
and in looking at the world forget-the-humanity that binds us.

It simply is our choice when we torture and make excuse,
suspending freedom for precious sovereignty it’s the innocent that lose.

So where, I ask, are the letters to our enemies saying, “for the sake of both are children..”
“can we find something but war and resentment and division with which to fill them?”

In what form will the proverbs of this day be recorded,
in which men rise above their nations and say, “blood and ruin on my family, I can no longer afford this”?

What is that rumor that tiptoes in our streets,
that evades the eyes of the hopeless yet comes to the aid of the weak?

When kids scribble name tags they should read svetlana or raul or roger,
we can't let kids grow up thinking their name's pronounced "impoverished".

Darfur, Guantanamo, the School of the Americas,
we’re not evil people, but we can’t let evil bury us.

In my country, despite its flaws we make beautiful music,
the kind where babies sleep, women smile and men weep ‘cause it’s finally the hate that loses.

If you listen, you can hear the voices tremble as they murmur,
the song of a movement built on the pulse of rebel fervor.

“Come all you weary, to the place where we speak,
of democracy and dignity and the liberties of the free,
rest your broken spirits in the promises of hope,
close your eyes ‘cause change is coming, in our hands we hold the vote”.

23 October, 2008

Thoughts Worse Than Violence

I have thoughts worse than violence.

I asked myself today how the girl in front of me could ever be loved. In not so many words, I refuted the unspoken claim that this girl could be intimate, that she would ever be kissed, that she would ever make love. My thoughts are ugly like violence. To question a person's beauty, any person, taking the judges gown upon oneself, makes the insult of violence infantile in my mind. To exist violently degrades the soul and perpetuates the unconscious inhumanity that rage so passionately begets. But it is exactly that, unconscious, mindless, impersonal. A more virulent shadow of assault befalls a woman or a man when instead of receiving careles fists or generic bullets about their body, their person is picked from its anchors in the flesh and hung on society's rafters for the crowds to weigh and grade. Their jeers are for no one else; their attempts at repression toward the spirit of their target were formed and folded to fit exactly the imperfections so sophisticatedly detected there. You could not be loved. Could there be uttered a more detestable affront? Your lips, your hands, your body could not kiss and embrace and respond the way mine can, the way the rest of ours can. I fantasize and gather up and solicit the affections of the worthy but yours are to be spat out as disgust takes me back. Violence is the child's dagger; to know love and to understand its nature and its tendency to so profoundly move its holders, and then to say, "you can never know it as I do", is to morph the immaturity of a fighting adolescent into the scathing recklessness of adulthood. And for it I should author your praises on the parchments of my world, scribbling apologies in words that sound more like love letters. You are and will be loved, despite my ignorance, and my fruitless apologies abound silently now.