Resist

There’s a whisper growing louder
(Have you heard?) –
Voices lost now being found
Sweeping up the scattered words,

Whipped by robust winds –
They are landing in the streets.
Upon people of all walks of life
They’ve found a pulsing beat

The heartbeat of America
A promise to deliver
As immigrants and native souls
Create a human river.

Words splatter over painted signs,
And rise from voices strong
Of dedicated people
Who sing their country’s song –

They sing of lofty principles
Inscribed on fragile paper,
By men of foresight long ago
Lest they dissipate like vapor.

These words are seared upon the hearts
Of freedom loving folk,
We are all created equal
And won’t accept the yoke

Of stubborn inequality,
Of silencing our voices.
Remember soon the season comes
When we renew our choices.

Until then we claim these words,
We use them as our tools,
Of building our foundation
That precludes your silly rules.

We stand together strong and proud
And raise collective fists
Declaring our autonomy
And pledging to resist.


Join us. https://www.indivisibleguide.com/

A New Day

It’s a new day, America.

I watched our new president’s inauguration speech this morning on YouTube/PBS. Being the stubborn person I am, I refused to watch it live and increase any potential ratings. As I watched, and you must watch to get the full effect, I started hearing ominous background music in my head, the kind that comes at the start of The Hunger Games or any other movie where you know the politician in charge is up to no good and you’re all going to be screwed.

The gist? We’re going to make America great again, damn it. How are we going to do it? Well, with police and military, protectionism and patriotism (read nationalism). In this speech we found out that the blood of all patriots is the same color regardless of the color of their skin. (Do I need to add that the blood of everyone else in the world is also the same color? Such rhetoric.) We’re going to end the “carnage” of inner city drugs and gangs and make sure Americans are first.

I don’t know about you, but I found the use blood and carnage in an inauguration speech horrifying, especially given the tone. This is not your Obama hope and inclusion speech.

America, I fear there are dark days ahead. Women will march tomorrow in solidarity, sending a message that our voices count to a man who claims to be for us, the people, but has a penchant for sexual assault and misogyny. And it won’t just be women marching, but the men in our lives who support us. We won’t be silenced.

But I imagine they will try.

One part of the president’s speech rankled me.

At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.

I consider myself a patriotic person. I am not a flag-waver, singing “Proud to be and American” at the top of my lungs. I’m a quiet patriot. If you come after my country, I will be there to defend it through words or whatever implement I have on hand. But I understand that in our country, there is room for dissenting views. That’s the essence of the First Amendment. What will constitute a “total allegiance” to the USA, and who will decide what loyalty to our country means? For example, to me, loyalty to our country means honoring the free press and the constitutional amendments. It also means working with the system and not refusing to even hear a supreme court nomination. It means listening to our intelligence community and giving credence to the work they risk their lives to provide. I imagine under the Trump administration, “total allegiance” will take on a more sinister tone of agreement with the powers that be. I hope I’m wrong.

Our allegiance is to the United States of America, to its institutions and its Constitution, an ideal put to paper that we must defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Yet we must be very clear about what that threat is. Burning a flag is deplorable, but not a threat to the greatness of the United States. Clamping down free speech is.

It’s a new day, America, a day to ask yourself if you are willing to risk exposure and speak up against any and all attempts to destroy our freedoms? Stand up. Speak up. Don’t risk losing those rights.

Happy New Year

It’s New Year’s Day, or in the words of astronomer and Pluto-killer Neil deGrasse Tyson, “A day that’s not astronomically significant…in any way…at all…whatsoever.” (via Twitter) Our Gregorian calendar construct, however, gives us a restart button, a chance to change out the months of before to newer, more hopeful ones, ones in which we will finally lose weight and go to the gym, in which we will be kinder or read more books, and ones in which, by golly, we’ll get those projects finished. We party to ring in the new as we sweep out the old.  As we raise our glasses in toast and give hugs all around, we look to the future with optimism. Fresh starts are wonderful, hopeful occasions. May your New Year be everything you hope it to be!

They’re Here

Mercilessly they came,
Gnashing their teeth,
War whoops televised over broadcast news.

Slyly they came,
With a wink and a nod,
Manipulating words and ideas through the airwaves.

Smugly they came,
Tweeting their way into power,
Lambasting the good and worthy throughout the internet.

Slowly they rose,
Climbing on the willing backs
Of those already bent from daily pressures none of them would ever face.

And a chant rang out,
“Lock her up” and “Build that wall,”
Inoculations activating a hard shell of resistance…

To ideas…

To community…

To differences.

Joyfully they came,
Looting and pillaging their aim,
As the shining city on the hill sat vacuously waiting.


In response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Pillage

Table Talk

A table dressed
In Autumn red and gold,
Flickering tapers beckon –
Come,
Eat,
Share.

The feast awaits –
An amber bird, trussed and tied,
Overflowing with succulent stuffing,
Rests in a fragrant cloud of scent,
Next to humble mashed potatoes
And glistening candied yams,
Sensible salad and unassuming rolls.
A hush of appreciation falls
As the finely dressed are seated
Before the best china and crystal,
Spreading linen cloths across their laps.

Hand in hand,
A mumbled prayer of thanks
For goodness given,
Is all too soon
Drowned out by pungent words
As battle lines are drawn.

Just Do It

Determination set in steel.
Decision making – this is real.
The first step is to take the leap.
Your destiny is yours to keep.
In a world of opportunity
Sometimes the road is hard to see.
Second thoughts may hold you back;
Go ahead and choose a path;
You alone can make the choice.
Stake your claim.
Find your voice.
Enter the ring, though you may fail.
Have hope the wind will catch your sail.
Live your passion.
Find your bliss.
Shoot for the moon,
Though you may miss.
The stars are there to break your fall,
So go ahead, give it your all.

Fight or Flight

The creature peered out of the shadows, its coarse hair dripping with a viscous ooze. Its  ears were pricked and pointed forward. Predator ears, she thought involuntarily. It had a low forehead and its eyes glinted as it looked toward her, reflecting a streetlight that suddenly flickered. Her breath caught in her throat, panic rising. Adrenaline was taking effect. Keep it together, she told herself, thinking of her early days of studying the effects of the neurotransmitter on rabbits, many of which had died of shock.

The creature moved its head from side to side in a feral motion, eyes wide. She thought of all of the animal attack stories she’d ever heard. Dogs. Bears. Wolves. Should she run or stand her ground? She couldn’t remember the advice, and she didn’t know if it would apply to this unknown creature, this city dweller, this mutant. The prickling sensation was coursing through her body. All of her own hairs were alert and at attention.

Stay calm, she told herself as she eyed the creature. Think. Its gaze never left her. It exuded a coiled energy. Her own muscles were tensed, awaiting a split second command. The streetlight flickered again and then went out. She began to move ever so slowly backward down the empty street toward light. The creature rose, and she realized it had been crouched over something. It was large, larger than any dog she knew of. Could it smell her fear?

On this busy Halloween Monday, she’d been forced to park a block away and walk to the lab. She rued staying so late. Not one to believe in the supernatural, she knew even a quiet neighborhood held its very real dangers. There was no otherworldly creature who struck fear in her quite like her fellow humans. Not until now.

She stole a glance behind her, looking for a place to run. The sleepy brownstones were dark, their  Jack-O-Lantern candles long since extinguished. Any parties had succumbed to the weeknight; the costumed revelers going home to get a few hours sleep before work or school. Joyous trick-or-treaters slept in candy-induced comas, face paint staining their pillows. Not a single late-night light illuminated the building’s face.

She looked back at the creature. It had its full attention on her now, eyes trained in laser precision, ears forward. She recognized the posture from her days in the field. She had seen it in wolves, in lions. The predator on alert. She was the prey.

She knew her bipedal body was no match for the spring of four muscular legs. The human brain had adapted to use thought and reasoning to survive. To hide, to create barriers, was the hominid protection. All of the barriers were closed to her now. If she could just get to her car.

There was a sticky sloosh as the creature started moving slowly forward through the thick puddle of ooze, each foot carefully placed in front of the other. Its head was low, shoulder blades alternating a slow up and down motion with each step. Her heart pounded in her chest. Another streetlight flickered.

She could see her car now. It was halfway down the block. Still backing up slowly, she pushed the panic button on her keys. Nothing. She must still be out of range. She picked up her pace, still backing up, always keeping her eye on the creature. It moved with her, slinking in the shadows, dripping, stalking.

Suddenly it stopped, alert, its attention drawn away from her. A small black cat darted across the road and into the creature’s path. In a flurry of fur and teeth and yowls, the creature and the cat became a violent ball of primal fury.

Now was her chance. She ran.

Grabbing her keys, she fumbled for the unlock button to the Prius. No time to look back now. A sudden silence told her all she needed to know. Grabbing the door handle, she yanked it open. She was just about to slide into the seat when the creature slammed into her, knocking her to the ground. Dazed, she found herself staring up at two soulless eyes at the other end of a blood-stained muzzle. Before she could scream, she felt sharp fangs lock around her throat. She pushed the panic button again.

The horn and lights of the Prius pulsed a bored and regimented alarm. Lights flicked on in the sleepy brownstones. As the minutes ticked by, doors opened and robed, middle-aged men and women peered out into the street.

One by one, people gathered around the open-doored, beeping car. They gasped and pointed. As if a giant sumi brush had come down from above, a dark red swath of viscous blood pointed back down the road toward the lab where, if one knew what to look for, a dark shape burdened with its prey was slinking back into the shadows.


In response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Eerie

Happy Halloween!

The Art of Artifice


Photo credit: gato-gato-gato via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Carefully crafted,
Artfully arranged,
Smiling face selfies shower the internet –
A tilt of the head,
A coy look to the universe
Always showing our best side.

Sculpted backdrops, but no teardrops;
Paused family gatherings –
Artificial moments
Instantly posted,
A perfect photo for eternity,
Evidence of a life well lived.

Yet…
Stepping back into the darkness of our solitude,
Behind the closed doors,
We see the better,
Prettier,
More loving.
And we stash the smartphone in a pocket
As a silent teardrop falls.


Written in response to The Daily Post’s prompt: Artificial

Oblivious to the Obvious

Change the word obvious to oblivious and you have me. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I live inside my head most of the time. It’s a nice place to be, but really blinds me to the realities of the outside world. This becomes glaringly obvious when company comes calling.

Ordinarily I keep a clean house. It’s not magazine perfect, much to my husband’s disappointment, but the health department is not going to come calling any time soon. It’s picked up and the dishes are mostly clean and put away. The obvious things are done. Well, the things that are obvious to me. Therein lies the problem. What I’m oblivious to can stand out glaringly to others, and when they enter, I seem to all of a sudden see through their eyes what before I had no awareness of.

Once my mother-in-law came to visit. She noticed some cobwebs and I joked that they were there because we needed the spiders around to catch the flies. (I think my humor was lost on her.) Well, another time we were cleaning up the kitchen together and I swiped some cobwebs that I suddenly  noticed in the kitchen window. Her response? “I was going to get those, but you said you needed them to catch the flies.”

Oh, dear.

Another time one of my son’s friends wrote dust me in the thin layer of dust at the top of a bookshelf! Who looks at the top of bookshelves?

Fortunately for others, my obliviousness is all-encompassing. If I go to your house, don’t apologize for your messy kitchen. I would never have noticed otherwise. Don’t spoil the great conversation by pointing out the weeds in your garden. Trust me. I won’t see them. When I go home, I won’t be able to tell anyone the color of your house, let alone whether or not you have cobwebs or dust on top of your bookshelf. All I will remember is how much I enjoyed your company.

As for the rest, I am resigned to being forever oblivious to the obvious.

 

Jeu Parti

Jeopardize. What a strange word. To jeopardize something is to put it in danger. We can jeopardize our relationships through obsession or neglect. Politicians tell us we can jeopardize our country’s standing with one policy proposal or another. We jeopardize our health and sometimes even our lives with certain choices we make. Still, it’s a word that doesn’t roll off the tongue. In my writing, I would even go as far as making a different word choice, maybe risk.

The word itself is a back-formation of the word jeopardy, which again, to me, is a very awkward word. The only time I think of it is when considering law and trials and the idea of double jeopardy, of not prosecuting a person twice for the same offense. Alternatively, the word brings to mind the TV game show Jeopardy, a show I don’t watch often, but if it’s on, I’ll be the first one to shout out the answers.

The word itself comes from a French phrase jeu parti, which also means danger, but in its earlier formations meant “a cunning plan or stratagem.” Personally, I like the word so much more as a French phrase. I mean, French is so chic, so sophistiqué. Adding to the exotic nature of the phrase the whole idea of plans and strategies brings to my mind the political intrigue of the Middle Ages, though the word may never have been associated with politics. It is associated with a form of entertainment, a lovers’ debate in which each side was argued in front of a referee of sorts, a game performed for the amusement of the French nobility. It’s a phrase that is also associated with games like chess, referring to a point in the game where the player has an equal chance of winning or losing, where the game hangs in the balance.

So the next time your job is in jeopardy because you constantly punch in late or you put your health at risk by eating pizza or ice cream for breakfast every day, think of jeu parti and choose wisely, lest you tip the balance in this game we call life.