“There is going to be a fight.”

News
 
This declaration came from Michele Dauber, a Stanford University Law School professor. She’s right.
 
The fight will be against Education Secretary Betsy Devos, and it will be hard won. Devos’s July 12 statements, after a string of meetings about title IX, infuriate many.
 
She’s suggesting loosening federal enforcement of campus rape statutes, strengthened by President Obama. Sexual assault victims and their advocates are expressing their outrage at this suggestion.
 
The shape of the meetings themselves caused a stir. Candice E. Jackson, the top civil rights official at DOE, was “haunted” by the plight of an accused rapist.
 
Jackson and Devos heard out the complaints of the so-called “falsely accused.” The two positioned themselves as concerned with civil rights. They implied that the Obama Administration’s measures of accountability had destroyed innocent lives.
 
Little mention of the justice brought by such enforcement surfaced.

White Ode to THEM.

Free writing
Over and over, the question we ask is “What happened to them?”, not “to us.”
We no longer speak to each other. No real conversations. The stubborn father who will never listen, never ever budge. Oh, woe is him. He doesn’t know he can shift.
We analyze his mindset, rarely question it. When we do, we keep an anthropological distance. We weigh the importance of his statement by the gravity of each syllable. Compartmentalizing cadence and a penchant for a strategic pause.
We refuse the words, the truth they hold. Not held by you or me, yet an immovable truth to them.
 
Understanding their truths, their stories is the sole way to expand and correct them. Some of their truths are vile and need correcting.
It’s difficult for me not to feel vindictive in my approach. I’m not alone in using such tactics, I am part of a genuine American legacy. Correctional facilities in my country correct very little.
 
It’s not easy to uproot your worldview. It’s not easy for your “highlyeducated” ass, how in the hell would it come easily to most everyone else? You betray your privilege with your frustration with them.
Every time I’m baffled, it is an honor. A privilege not to see it coming from a mile away. I begin to realize how ghastly the whole centuries-old experiment looks in the periphery.
 
Ever-gobsmacked, I remain a soul without obvious burden. I do not carry my traumas in my coat pocket any longer. I’ve packed them away with 7-year-old crumpled pages of the Times for safe-keeping in my attic. I’m aware of them. I do not wear them.
 
My burdens are psychological in nature. All my physiological needs met daily, I am still haunted. However, I am fortunate enough to realize how sturdy I am, standing above a proliferation of safety nets.
 
Polls are best employed with the worthy endeavor of bearing street signs. Public opinion is not something you carry around in your pocket. You discover your opinion the moment someone asks it of you.
 
I will not presume to understand the story of them. After they speak their piece, I vow to take a breath. I concede that every breath I take is something taken. I will respond, acknowledging the memory of who I’ve taken it from.
 
I may think them sick to think what they think. I must remember the vile path my genes have forged. Evil sunk deep into the creases of my two white palms.
It was someone’s downfall that lifted me onto this high horse. Those vital books that continue to shape me, printed on the corpse of someone else’s sacred tree.
 
I am them. I do not get to push the rural white man I despise to the margins and forsake him. I am a white woman raised in suburban comfort. He is my father, grandfather, great-great-grandfather.
He’s got layers upon layers of dried blood on his hands. I will never wash his sin off mine.
Thanks to him, I am left with a choice.
I could fold these two revolting white palms together in my lap with a sigh without accountability. I should (and will) put them to work in the service of us instead.

Seagram’s Gin, $22.99

Poetry
 
I don’t drink gin
anymore.
I once drank gin
and nearly drowned
in the hedges, not again
my guts, in the hedges, swimming
pools are floating bodies
living, digesting bodies, but in me
nothing stays down.
If I could
swim to the bottom and stay down
dig up these hedges’ roots and take their bed
or at least keep these aggressive flies
from nesting in my ears, no thanks
I haven’t touched the stuff in years.
 

 
2012

Newsflash: Bees

Free writing, Poetry
They hide it well.
Poised, their apocalypse arrives on time as promised.
We all know the real story is far more sinister than collusion or Russian hackers (or hookers). Our collapse revolves around the bees.
And while I may scurry to a corner of my balcony upon their approach, I revere them.
Yesterday’s news brought wind of pesticides that trickle into bee colonies. It gets inside them and makes them forget to clear out their dead from the hive.
Is that laziness or reverence? Human beings, before we buried our dead, kept their bones in our living rooms.
Your father’s skull dry-rotting into a smile on the Terre Cotta mantle. Summer brings a smell about him. Insects praise his complex structures with moving mandibles.
We had reached a point of sentimental animation. The machine doesn’t move anymore but the component parts still recall uncanny movement. Something’s gone, but something remains alive and working.
It’s hard to underline the moment the light goes out. That’s because, as you feared, it doesn’t. Not all at once. We imagined that the spirit ascends. Out of proximity, we had begun to learn it’s dispersed.

Chunk of Ice the Size of Delaware

Poetry
Experts now advise
I catapult my computer screen through the ice-
shelf of the endangered Larsen Sea, study all cracks
mostly underwater, at depths of 600 feet
I could signal collapse
steady droplets ascend into safer solids, my apocalypse
frozen, speechless at the poles as if
we put it there on purpose
and left it there to think over its destruction
ages ago, kept far at bay. Well,
in about two weeks,
we’re set to un-shelve it like we once would a dictionary
Thumbed open to “ACC–ACE,” too late
we locate and better identify
synonyms for acceleration.

May I please recuse myself?

Free writing, Poetry
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony before the Senate Intel Committee revealed one thing. Well-rehearsed anger is less effective than genuine disgust.
 
With the proper training, Mr. Sessions would have been an effective extra in a cop movie. Some wide-eyed rendition of an officer bewildered by the scene.
 
One imagines a Russian spy thriller like a Tolstoy story, cold and overcast with a metallic sheen. Names are less important than looks.
 
I see our current predicament more like a movie by Fritz Lang. Blunt and nauseating at times, but always skipping along as if the world is big enough for everyone to speak.
 
Our narrative’s characters have started talking. The impending arc begins assuming real shape. When does our omniscient author intervene to tie things up? Unknowable still as of today.
 
The storm gathers to a point and swallows itself. The last page is missing, torn from the annals of history like a ruptured appendix. The quiet is numbing. The connections, maddening.
 
I had to shut it off. Despising shallow waters.
 
How obvious is all this? How predictable? Inevitable? This world should enjoy a shake-up of its senior writing staff. It’s the least we could hope for. Some grace note to tether us to someplace we can call home.
 
The United States of America is remiss by definition. What becomes of the derelict with self-denial encoded in its genetic fingerprint? I do not recall. I didn’t keep notes for most of these things.
 
As appropriate, I will disclose the documents. I’m not able to make an opinion of that without clear approval from the president.
 
Canyons may crumble without prior notice. Department of Justice will not be open on federal holidays, and why not? It’s not wrong. Even if it was wrong it still wouldn’t be.
 
The irritated General waves down a helicopter on the roof of the U.S. capital building. It’s his dear friend Sergey Kislyak, and he’s brought a thoughtful basket of warm biscuits!
 
Underneath these biscuits lies the key to this whole puzzle. It is warm and sterile, solving all our inquiries like an unnamed bank teller in the last scene. He smiles as the culprits withdraw their allowance before closing the bulletproof slider.
 
All comes together without a single speck of dust. We’re in on it. Not everyone is. This brings us into the fold in a way that the subject will never understand. Why should he? He’s lucky the series is still on the air. The coming film promises the end of his career.

Under Oath

Free writing

In the wake of Mr. Comey’s testimony on Thursday, my political-awareness-barometer hit an all time spike. The night before, I read and reread his prepared remarks in their original PDF format, crafting various haikus to highlight the more absurdist moments. It’s nice to envision Comey sitting with his laptop open on his lap, facing a Word document with the potential to topple a precarious, quite clearly vicarious administration. Maybe he fixed himself a nice, stiff drink or a hot pot of coffee.

When he first sat down before the committee, I thought maybe he would cry. Certainly not out of fear, but something immense percolated underneath his sternness. His eyes darted rapidly in a barely perceivable way.

“They will be back,” he told us. He was sure of it.

Of all the bombshells, one stood out like a dead bird of paradise in a reopened coal mine. In all their discussions, Trump didn’t bother to ask Comey about the Russian cyber attack against the country he is currently leading. He was far too concerned with the hooker-laced dossier to notice. This omission goes beyond neglect. The only viable conclusions remain that the President did not care that the U.S. had been attacked because (1) such things generally fail to concern him, or (2) he was an active participant in said attack, thus needed no breakdown of events from intelligence officials. Either of these options is dismal at best.

Whatever the outcome, at least we can derive a little peace from the persistent nature of truth, and the good will of some, resisting burial. I do still firmly believe in an impending uncovering of a grand truth. Maybe not the whole truth, but enough truth. Nixon later expressed regret that he didn’t destroy the tapes. Perhaps Trump has already taken the initiative that Nixon did not.

The scope of this upheaval, however, stands alone in the annals of American political tradition. There should certainly be sufficient evidence soon to move beyond political theater into the realm of prosecution and impeachment. I’m almost sure of it.