Yes, we are repeating ourselves, in light of repetitious events.
I don’t really care what her tox screen shows or whether she had prior suicidal ideation, or even so much what the local coroner finds. I want a federal investigation, congressional hearings, international human rights oversight. To hold the civil servant paid by our tax dollars accountable, who told Sandra Bland he would “light [her] up” with his taser, who put her in harm’s way for absolutely no defensible reason. I would like our public officials to stop hiding behind “rare event” and “most cops are good cops” and address the pressing lack of safety, of black folks in this country, in 2015. I would like us to take a rational lens, for a change, to the drug laws, our Incarceration Nation, the corporations that profit off the habit of jailing poor folks and people of color and utilizing them for what amounts to slave labor.
Ta-Nehisi Coates on asking the right questions about race.
There is a special terror to feeling unsafe at the hands of uniformed, armed civil servants. I still choke up when I see photos of the twin towers on fire, photos of first responders running towards that inferno on behalf of endangered civilians, working on the pile for weeks to recover remains. The best way to honor these and all the other honorable first responders is to clean house, and we can do that only as a people, as one nation, refusing to any longer permit the use of our civil servants or our civil authorities to enforce the oppression of any of our fellow citizens. Our police must be retrained. Our national politic must be turned. The pattern of reckless disregard for the black body, the black soul, must be ended at last.
When you don’t see me here for awhile it might be because I am writing, or traveling, or sucked under various obligations. But mostly it’s because I have reached one of those vast silent impasses where I simply cannot formulate a response to the latest human stupidities and the unutterable suffering they render. These are hard times to keep spirits up. Hard times to cling to art for comfort, or vision.
A couple weeks ago, Annie Won and I went to an event at the Pine Manor MFA program. Iain Haley Pollock (Spit Back a Boy) had read there the night before. Reading between Meg Kearney and Anne-Marie Oomen the night we went, Randall Horton blew us out of the water with excerpts from his forthcoming memoir, Hook, from which Randall’s wompus chap Roxbury was excerpted. “A powerhouse” is what Annie called Randall.
More good things: from New Pages’ review of Noel Sloboda’s hilarious chapbook:
“Risk Management Studies is a very reasonable riot. Noel Sloboda is playful through and through, and it is refreshing to read an entire chapbook that stays consistently hilarious.”
In Poetry Magazine’s online reviews, a thoughtful and lovely commentary on Zack Rogow’s Talking With the Radio (click on Joan Gelfand, Summer 2015 to read her full review):
“Music and poetry have been lovers ever since the first Renaissance troubadour sang his poetic love song accompanied by a lute. Music lives in poetry’s bones and poetry informs the rhythmic motion of song.”
Read the poem “Birthday Party” from Ronnie Hess’s A Woman in Vegetable on A Year of Being Here.
Today I received a box of a dozen books by a friend who took her own life two years ago this summer, sent by her literary executor, who has been struggling to put to rights our friend’s legacy even as she pushes through her own grief. Seeing the books was both pleasure and pain. I can’t read them right now, only hold them in my hands. They make me ache for her voice. Then I struggle with how to continue my day, my work. We carry our burdens through this life, and it’s hardly ever easy. I don’t have an answer to the question of how we survive certain losses, other than, the best way to honor the lost is to live as well as we can manage, in their wake.
Rain forests. Elephants. Potable water. The dignity and the very bodies of American citizens. The list of what calls for our heartfelt energies could fill pages. So much entrusted to our care. Can we love each other, and this planet we inhabit, enough? Can we face the onslaught and somehow stay sane, stay grounded, keep the faith? Can we muster the strength to raise our voices?
wishing you peace and solace, a good shade tree and a little birdsong,