American wars

American wars

In my life I have seen a war launched on a lie
watched a sovereign nation dismantled in my name

I have watched from a distance a sniper and his assistant
shoot up, wound and kill men, women and children
at bus stops, schools and parking lots
across the roads, streets and neighborhoods of the community
where I grew up

Now, this did not make me rise up and declare myself a black man
even if I learned the hard way what it means to have my home turf
turned into a shooting gallery with too many innocents taken
I didn’t try to say that it was war against me or my kind
on account of bad shit befalling me (actually, it was befalling
the wounded and killed, their family and friends)
I didn’t go and make what was happening any more about me than it was
since it really wasn’t about me at all

In my life I have a seen a war launched on a lie
call it “culture” but that does not make it any less of a war
for as we have seen, there are plenty of casualties
even if not all of them bleed their blood to the same degree

My aunt recently told me that when her European brother
came over to our shores
he was struck by the loneliness, despair and anomie
in the gas stations, trailer parks and diners
he seemed to be experiencing what dear Gil Scott called
“Winter in America”
with the delicious irony that everything in our American winter
simply gets hotter.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

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Timid -Kallan Simms

Timid

Outrage. Disgust. Hostility. Silence. At my core, I am very different than my family. I know- vividly- what they think of where I live, who I’ve dated, what tattoos I’ve gotten, how I’ve voted, my independence, what I eat. Open discussions with them are impossible. I have never seen my grandparents so deeply offended as when they found out I voted for President Obama. My grandfather thought it was a personal attack; I was such a good kid, how could I?

This is not my grandfather’s America. We are no longer carefully divided into perfectly compact boxes. We are no longer purely male or female, Republican or Democrat, “good ole farm boys” or “them others,” this or that. My American experience had been one of conversation, open mindedness, fluidity, acceptance. I had bet my education, my life, my income, on this opening of the old-school mindset. Yes to fulfilling the need to belong. Yes to acceptance of the different. Yes, love everyone.

Until recently. What was once a fluid, evolving creature has returned to the boxes we all fooled ourselves into thinking were thrown out. Misogyny is once again dictating what is acceptable. I am hopeful that this a localized problem; one I have placed myself in. I no longer have the capacity to lie and say “everything will be fine, it’s someone else’s problem, I’m insulated and well protected.” It’s simply not true. It’s made me timid.

This attitude is a direct result of the political climate. Living in a homogeneous bubble makes it too easy to be small, go unnoticed. To let someone tell you to be quiet, don’t be different. It’s too easy to ignore the news, let ignorance be bliss. Too easy to laugh at offensive jokes, be polite and demure. Be seen and not heard.

This is not the time to be timid. This is the time to be selfish. Don’t let anyone tell you the things that affect your family, grabs your interest, keeps you connected to other like-minded humans, keeps you plugged into society, isn’t worthwhile. My stance today has to be bold, it has to make an effort. I do not owe anyone, anything that comes at the expense of my safety, of my opinions, my well being. Whatever my own life circumstances may be, whatever may be invading my own opinions and thoughts cannot be ignored.

We must continually fight the distraction of someone telling us to be common.

Kallan Simms

Kallan Simms has been a satellite technician, project manager and is currently an IT professional. Among those dull things, she also workers with raptors, dabbles in fiction writing, poorly maintains a DIY blog and dreams of living off the land. She lives in Wyoming with her husband, greyhound puppy (child), and ever-growing supply of books.

Needed repose

Needed repose

‘And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.’ -T.S. Eliot (“Burnt Coker”)

On December 31st, 1999 I entered my home
and didn’t come out again until January 1st, 2010.

The Millennium’s just a trick of time.
9-11? I read the book.
Subprime meltdown?
Looked out onto my block.
First black president-elect?
Still recall several first mayors
one governor
and a great deal of debt.

A neighbourhood kid cut my grass
trimmed my hedges and raked
the leaves
then when he graduated
he hired his brother for me.

Of this I’m most proud:
through it all I barely touched
an electrical switch.
Detroit Edison presumed me deceased.
They called up one night after fourteen months
a call that was like taking a pulse

It still beats.

Speaking.

Was I the man who stopped paying his bills?
Never stopped, I said
I just don’t get any juice from you I can use.

In 2006,
a man from the News learned all this
and he, too, phoned one night
asking was it true I hadn’t stepped outside
in (then) six years?
What motivated me to withdraw from the world like that?

Well,
George Harrison once wrote
and I quote:
‘Without going out of my door
I can know all things on Earth.’

I never actually withdrew;
things just came into hyper focus.
I saw much within one quarter mile
to allow myself this needed repose.

Jeremy Nathan Marks

The new thing -by Susan Daniels

The new thing

The new thing’s not cloth so beautiful
only the 1% can see its shimmer
and its not cake sweet in one slice
while the rest is cardboard construct
its everything

not in absolute but swing.
We have different sets of fact
instead of simple opinion
like plain plates for family suppers
and Royal Daulton for company
but all the edges are gilt
skimmed over relativity,
our flexibility bending jointlessly
and against anatomy

The emperor
simply faked a set of clothes.
we’re doing so much more than that.
Pulling prosperity from air,
renaming success from bankruptcy
and we’re doing it with ideas
too large for our small heads.

If we speak it, it is so.
If we stay silent, it never was.

Susan Daniels

Susan Daniels is a poet, activist and mother to cats and children who lives in Western New York. Follow Susan here: https://susandanielspoetry.com