21 April 2017
18 April 2017
16 April 2017
How long and deeply I dreamed
of being a white lady. How distinctly I wanted
to be tall and blonde like a pageant winner
thin and rich and shiny at all my points.
And fathered, fathered by a father who wouldn't
let anyone mess with me. A father like a corporation
(they’re people too). And if I couldn't be fathered,
(and it was not to be) I needed to look like I was.
Enough jewelry to announce my pussy was valuable.
This was before you were even a twinkle in your father’s eye.
Kidding. His eyes are dead.
So. Wanted to be a white lady before you were born
and though I look white in pictures, I still wanted it
ached for it with all the energy that you invest
in being you. You probably don't even think it's energy,
but that’s between you and the women’s studies course
you didn’t take. (I took it, and it made me stop working
to be a beautiful doll.) (I mean a white woman.) (Not
right away.) (Such a rich tapestry of a dream.)
I don’t have energy to explain now.
Speaking of energy, how's mom?
No--didn't mean to scare you! I was referring to Mother Earth!
We’re all losers when compared to Mother Earth.
Guess I did mean it.
Dear Barbie, We want you to remember your mom.
A whole country needs you to recall her now.
Just a wee whisper of a memory –
barely here, hissing the old lyric—
don't worry, pop can't hear.
We need you to remember what she knows.
Because we know it, too, Barbie. And so do you.
Know what you know, Barbie.
01 April 2017
25 May 2016
My first revolutionary was Mario Savio. I was fifteen, it was 1977, and we met in a book that was lying around the house I grew up in in Houston.
[I met all my revolutionaries in books, which might hint that I’ve never been arrested.] [Never.]
Mario was dark and handsome and a leader of Berkeley’s FSM, or Free Speech Movement. A bright son of Italian immigrants, his first arrest was at a 1964 protest against the San Francisco Hotel Association, which only hired blacks for menial jobs. He spent that summer in the south registering black voters and returned to learn that his university was banning political speech on campus. It seems hard to believe now—or maybe not. (Though I’m not one to believe that trigger warnings are another kind of ban, they did come to mind.)
Anyway. On one December afternoon in 1964, Savio found himself in the middle of a protest about this speech ban, the ouster of a few students, and the disbanding of a few groups. So, after considerately imploring his listeners not to harass the union workers then painting the administration building and not joining their strike, he jumped on to a car and made a speech, a speech printed in that book in my mother’s house in 1977, a speech now featured on AP history tests. Today I found his words spliced into a Linkin Park song called “Wretches and Kings,” and some Bernie-or-busters are enjoying the video of the speech that’s here on YouTube, with a Marxist analogy that all can understand, claiming Berkeley’s board were the factory managers, its faculty were the employees, and the students were the raw materials being processed. Savio knew that no student wants to turn into a product, and he said so beautifully from the top of a car:
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
How can a sixteen year old gal not love a guy like that? I love him still. This semester, I assigned Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” as a text in a freshman comp class and saw what I’d never quite realized. You’ll see it for yourself:
If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go...perchance it will wear smooth - certainly the machine will wear out... If it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.
I guess Savio had been flipping through his Thoreau that semester.
Mario Savio ended up as a university “lecturer”—basically an adjunct, like me, and died at 53 in 1996.
02 April 2016
01 April 2016
Didn’t want any more surprises
on the couch
a three-word Moroccan spice
came today it was just a click like
the future’s snapped fingers
like how she does she does some years
like she didn’t want to miss poetry
month either party girl
meanwhile today’s code continues
shredding yesterday’s careful knit
someone has to be
be the last to know
decipher one long walk
city swanning until he stepped
on the trick door in the sidewalk
and dropped quick, scraped leg,
rust spot on the corduroys and
clambering up, brushing and
why did you laugh, he said
but I had waited and waited.