Category: Poetry (page 2 of 2)

#Cancelled

Being born Catholic is like being born cancelled
I heard someone once say
From your earliest days you are taught to apologize
For your fallen state
To beg mercy from an authority both benevolent
And capable of a terrifying rage

I realize now, though my faith has changed,
There is wisdom in the saying
To err is human, to forgive divine
For as a human I have erred
And forgiveness is hard to find
Even from myself
My life is like a bookshelf
Filled with volumes, filled with stages
I have lived—and how I’ve aged!

30 year old me cringes reading 20 year old me
And 40 year old me will cringe reading 30 year old me
And 60 year old me will cringe reading 50 year old me
And 80 year old me will cringe reading 70 year old me
And beyond the veil, Dead me
Will cringe while reading Living me

I’m sure that I’ve walked darker ways
Within my mind and heart
While searching for the light
Than within the world at large
And in another kind of life
Someday, perhaps, I’ll have to pay

Yet every moment, every day
I shed my skin—it's a new life that I live
I want to scream that I have changed
And learned the value of Forgive

I’m sorry for the times I’ve laughed
At someone else’s cost
For the judgments that I’ve passed
Gone unsaid, they’re still not lost
Upon my psyche—who I’ve been
And who I still fight, to this day

The ignorance, inherited
A debt which I cannot repay
Change happens from within so
Looking back, it’s hard to see
Who you have been in wild pursuit
Of who you hoped to be
Until you realize that who you are
Is not yet all the you that you could be

And age has made me feel
For those who’ve seen the error of their ways
Born ignorant of everything
We’ve had to learn along the way

And even in a life that’s mean
Some love may be alive
May find a way to grow and change
Some goodness yet may thrive

Separate the wheat from chaff
In both ourselves and others
Saint or sinner? What a laugh!
We’re sisters here, and brothers

Just people stumbling and faltering
Though words and deeds are right or wrong
No life is worth discarding  
For in this world we all belong
So without patronizing
And whether curse or blessing has befallen
Me—I’ll live my life apologizing
For my state of being fallen

I originally shared this over at Phoenix Fire Press on June 09, 2020.

June 04, 2020 in Buffalo, NY

Not a single heart 
among a nameless, faceless, uniformed mob
 Informed by a system intent to do more harm 
than good
 Uninformed of the way in which they wear a uniform 
that makes them see monsters 
beneath every hood
 And every mask—don’t bother to ask questions
 Answers don’t matter now 
as long as you stand 
with Black Lives Matter, man
 Knock an old man to the ground 
and walk away 
while his ears bleed
 Shoved him down without need, 
without cause built
 To offer help 
is to offer an admission of guilt
 That’s how you’re trained to see things 
instead of how to think 
things through 
in order to do the right thing
 Then claim he tripped and fell 
like how JFK’s brains just fell 
out of his head, too
 Whose law is at work in this disorder? 
And are there any borders you’re unwilling to cross 
to establish the right order?
 And what good could ever come of this, 
the way it is and the way it’s been, 
for anyone
—including you—
who isn’t sat atop the pyramid?
 It’s a scheme 
where they sell dreams 
to everyone who stands beneath 
their privilege 
 Because it seems 
as though there’s something 
more important for you to do 
 Than to be a brother or a sister 
to your fellow citizens
 Who you now see as merely wOkE denizens
 Of a world that’s rightfully yours, 
the lawfully good
 I would laugh if I could 
but it’s an awfully bad joke

This poem was originally shared over at Phoenix Fire Press on June 05, 2020.

A Matter of Lives

All lives matter 
 But do they matter equally?
 In theory, sure they do 
 But not so in reality
 The cry itself to uphold All
 Drowns out the strangled voices
 When they do finally rise just to fall
 By being pushed into the background
 Made to fade into the black ground
 Charred and scarred
 From the centuries of flaming hostility
 And their mere existence barred
 All lives matter
 Does not mean the same
 As Black Lives Matter
 Only you don’t feel the pain
 When you duly repeat the refrain
 A choir of casual ignorance—or hate
 With a belly full of blame
 To drown out the shame
 Of your default position
 On this board of life game
 A game for you, maybe
 But it's just not the same
 When your skin means you lose by default
 And only few gains are made
 All lives matter
 Is an empty phrase
 Meant to erase race
 While racism plays
 The same role it has always played
 white only means race, a color
 Black means that plus a unique American culture
 Your people can trace their ancestry
 To the time and the place
 When your surnames became
 And your music, religion—your culture remains
 But Black people  cannot say the same
 In America, the land of some free
 And the home of the brave
 Enough to keep fighting in spite of the pain
 Forced to become a new culture of people
 And Black was the name that your ancestors gave
 To a diverse group of peoples
 When only hints of their cultures remained
 Because the rest were murdered and buried
 Carelessly in unmarked graves
 All lives matter
 But the system won’t care
 If the people who uphold and defend it
 Refuse to prepare
 Their minds and their hearts to accept
 This was rigged from the start
 And it’s rigged to this day
 When non-white skinned people 
 Must a higher price pay
 Just to be here at all
 Don't celebrate whiteness
 Celebrate culture, the customs and ways
 Of the nation you're in
 And the ones whence you came
 But always recall
 When Black Americans look backwards
 Seeking roots for their culture
 Their vision is clear up to, not beyond
 The plantation—ancestral origins erased
 As par for the course of Manifest Destiny
 And white European supremacy, of course
 And it’s plain if you care to see it at all
 That looking forward looks too much the same
 Struggle, restriction, harm, deprivation—injustice
 The lives that they’ve lived since they came
 To this land against their will
 Yet you cry out still
 That saying “All”
 Includes Black people
 Who’ve never been included in justice at all
 Keep your heads buried in the sand at your own risk
 If you’re willing to risk it all
 On denial
 But remember
 Pride always goeth before a fall

This poem was originally shared on Phoenix Fire Press on June 01, 2020.

Somewhere

 Somewhere, Mozart is playing
With dirt under his nails
And leaves in his hair
The sounds of his world want to leap out of him
And he wants to keep them
Inside
Outside
And share them
He wants everyone to hear the songs
Of the wind, of the rain
Of the rustling of the trees
Of the clock ticking in the hallway
And the dishes clanging in the sink
But, he’s tired
It’s a long ride to school
On a single dirt road
And who is going to teach him 
Music
With no way to pay

 Somewhere, Jane Austen is writing
Notes on some loose leaf paper
From a tattered text
Under a dim light
And the scent of something fried
Clings to her clothes
Ideas she wants told foment in her mind
And just within her grasp
The thoughts begin to structure
Sentences
Stories
Flashing so fast behind her eyes
She struggles to take hold
And shape them with her pen
But her mother needs her help
With the other kids
And there’s just no time for
Writing
And other frivolous things

 Somewhere, Picasso is working with oils
In his father’s gray metal shop
A full afternoon
Red and warm
After a long, blue day
He takes in the hues all around him
Vivid
Muted
Saying the things for which he has no words
Wishing he could find a way
To make the world
See what he sees
And feel what he feels
But there’s so much to do
To get by
The sounds of the shop are numbing
And there’s just no use in drawing
When his hands are always dirty or in
Art
When he’s hungry 

Somewhere was originally shared on May 30, 2020 at Phoenix Fire Press.

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