Dance to the Edges of Your Longing

I have nothing important to say.
My car is getting inspected,
later I’m getting my eyebrows threaded
for the first time.

It’s Monday. The world spins madly on.

Starbucks. A woman at her laptop
who looks like a writer I know
but I don’t know if it’s her
so I don’t say anything.
A guy who might have been
Springsteen in the 70s.

Right now, someone’s learning to read,
A man is sobbing in his car, can’t let
his wife see how frightened he really is.
The appointment is this afternoon.
A woman is nursing her baby
while a toddler pulls on her pant leg.
The phone is ringing.

Where does poetry live
in the most ordinary of moments
against a backdrop of strip malls
and abandoned lots
and so much machinery
and day laborers who rose at dawn
and songs that remind you of lifetimes ago?

You already know how this will end,
with a parting that seems like the others,
nothing big, see you in a few hours.
But anything can happen
between here and there,
the first cry, the last breath.

You may think you have nothing
important to say, nothing important
to give — it’s a lie. Stop trying so hard.
Anyone lucky enough to love you
better know it.

And if they try to own you
like a pair of shoes
or use you like a gym membership
that starts out with gusto than fizzles
into the background of habitual excuses —
just no.

Just for today, dance yourself
to the edges of your longing.
See what you find there
and how it changes something in you
you thought you wouldn’t find

It never left you.

The Most Wonderful Time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
piping through the speakers at Trader Joe’s
as I imagine the many parts of the world
where holidays are not tied to capitalism,
where children don’t grow up on diets
of images of what and who they should be
or of what or who they should never deign
to dream of.

An evening walk in the darkest dark
on the longest night in this corner
of the spinning planet that is a speck,
a whirl in the print of some unfathomable
palm holding us but not holding us
reveals so many windows, lights,
leaving me to wonder what it’s really like
on the inside.

Divorce, death, disability —
these interfere with the fantasy of ease
and joy we are supposed to eat
like the fruitcake that one batty aunt
always brings and everyone kind of wonders
is it the same cake from last year
then says, good, good, we’re all fine, great.

It’s worth trying, you might argue,
at least put on a happy face
if you find this time of year oppressive
with its bottomless expectations of giving
and showing up and receiving and making
things pretty. Maybe. Maybe not, like the old
Buddhist story about the boy and the horse
or something like that.

To you without family, to you whose ex
has the kids this year, to you whose adult
children have other plans, to you who wake
every single morning with the ache
of missing, to you who fills the house
with cheer then disappears into the dark,
what can I say? Let’s blow this joint,
get a room, order in, watch old movies,
and burn nostalgia in the fireplace along
with all the wrapping paper.

Or better yet, here. Let me make us some tea.
We can sit here at the table as the solstice
slips by, reminding each other
the light always returns.

Women, Come: a Poem

They said build a wall
when what they meant was
let’s rip off the additions
to this building
so that it stands erect
and makes us feel like men

Strip away the protections
for the poor
kick the same-sex sinners
to the curb
sequester the accented
and the abortion lovers
to the alleyways

Let those lame suckers duke it out
while we remake
the world
in our image
as it was
in the

They said we will stop
at nothing
we will rip off your dress
we will rip off your elders
we will rip off the unborn
we claim
to care so much about

And in these halls
we will fill our back pockets
with back room deals
slip out the back door
while you bitches bang
on the two front doors
about bodies
wah wah wah

We will take with us
the money
the food
the car
make your life a living hell

What they forgot:
their mothers
the wombs that fed them
the canals they traveled
into the light of day
that greeted them like
pale princes
for the throne

What they forgot:
in the beginning
before there was Adam
there was a great void
darkness before light
and a woman
who said, Nah
and flew away

What they forgot:
we hold the keys
we are up in the night
making maps and plans
sharpening our knives
no longer caring
how we look
in the mirror

listen to me closely
it is not your fault
it is not your fault
it is not your fault

listen to your sister
whose cells remember
chains and darkness

listen to your daughter
who was born singing
a new song

A Roaring Wind Through an Old Heart

Morning after night
never stops being
a miracle

ask anyone
who knew survival
wasn’t a given
and thought
this darkness
was the last
they’d see

To hold steady
in the deepest dark
any god knows
will feel
(at least
at times)

This is why
so many
and prayers
cry out oh wondrous one
don’t abandon us here

This is why
so many
question the existence
of the unseeable
who doesn’t always comfort
or appear when called

A roaring wind
through an old heart
ache that begins in the belly
and rushes through limbs
of trees finally bare
takes the wind
out of you
when you least expected it

Morning comes
eyes open
hand over face
as you slowly recount
all the ways
in which

When time rushes over itself
and recedes
you can’t remember
if your children
are babies
or grown
or whose footsteps are those
who carried you through
those nights
and washed over your remorse
like a high tide, ever forgiving

Love that weighs enough
to keep us tethered
to this life
and each other
is the only kind
I ever meant to give them

And when I pray
maybe what I am really doing
is saying
let this be known
let this be true
let this be

A Columbus Day Poem by Donald Trump

“Columbus Day”

A Very Special Poem by Donald Trump

Pilgrims and Indians, that’s what we learned.
The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. A big rock
In Massachusetts where schoolchildren flock
to learn the History of their Great Country.
But the Indians were already here! Oh no!
That’s ok! The Pilgrims were really nice.
They asked the Indians, can you help us
learn about the local food to eat, and then
we can make a big feast and sit together
to celebrate? The Indians, naturally, agreed.
A great idea! A great idea from a Great People!
And so the Indians opened their hearts
and gladly shared their knowledge of the land.
The Pilgrims expressed their gratitude
by inviting the Indians to their big long table.
Some of them even put feathers in their hair
so the Indians would feel respected and flattered.
They were great friends! They ate cranberries
and bread made from corn. Later, a few Indians
might have died, but it wasn’t so bad,
and after all, the Pilgrims were trying to get free.
They had been badly treated back in England.
They were Very Brave. The Indians had to make room
for them to make little towns. Sometimes,
after they slaughtered the men and raped the women
they would name the little town after the Indians,
as a nod. Because remember, the Pilgrims weren’t bad.
They were fleeing persecution themselves.
They were making freedom! Sometimes freedom
requires sacrifices. Sorry, Indians!
Then the Pilgrims proliferated and moved west
and guess what? More Indians! Indians everywhere.
This was terribly inconvenient for these Brave Pioneers.
They really had no choice. After all, the Indians
were Really Dangerous! They had sharp weapons
and savage ways. It was a terrible influence
on the innocent children. They had to be taken care of.
Some of the settlers were really Nice and they gave
the Indians their very own land on their very own land.
The Indians really should have been grateful
for this kindness. Why couldn’t they just cooperate
like they had at Plymouth Rock? Those were the days.
Poor little American children being told Columbus was a Bad Guy. Sad.
So much is wrong with America. Let’s make it Great Again

p.s. Columbus. Tremendous Guy! We’re having lunch this week!


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A note from Jena: Now, dear reader, read this and donate to these campaigns.