why isn’t greed taboo?
why don’t we shun those who flaunt extravagant wealth
the way we shun convicts and felons?
why isn’t lying taboo?
why don’t we cast out those who tell untruths
the way we cast out the poor, the disabled, the elderly?
why isn’t failure to serve the public a taboo?
why don’t we ruin the lives of crooked cops and politicians
the way we ruin the lives of sex workers and immigrants?
why doesn’t society stand up for itself?
why don’t we the people have enough empathy
to stand up and say “that’s wrong”?
where did we lose ourselves?
where did we send our hopes and futures and dreams
with barely a whisper of dissension?
what do we do now?
what we’ve always done: remember that the power is ours
we merely have to reach out
and take it
how does anyone perceive the world
with its painfully vivid colors
neons and primaries
acres of wildflowers
auroras and galaxies
a blistering explosion of the spectrum of light
how does anyone see such glory
and not collapse
under the weight of it?
i am choking on nothing but air
it fills my lungs and settles in
dense and coarse
like a towel left too long on the bathroom floor
i can’t cough it up
or swallow it down
it just lingers
everything is wound up tight
my heart my chest my mind my voice
my guts are tangled, knotted, frayed
there’s fire in my lungs
and ice in my veins
there’s no hope of rescue
there’s only one thought:
just remember to breathe
the daily onslaught of bad news
permeates our hardened skin
it settles into our hearts
and makes the ache inescapable
on occasion there is a good thing,
a nice thing,
a ray of light
that diffuses the pain
but can’t take it away
some days we get through just fine
but other days
is not enough.
Like water through a sieve
your thoughts trickle out,
leaving nothing as the hot summer heat
fills your head and your mouth.
Sweat drips down your back,
eyes glassed over-
stuck in place-
the world almost goes black,
then the tight whine of a mosquito rings in your ear,
the present snaps into focus,
raucous cicadas and oppressive heat,
the day’s beginning
at your feet.
Have you ever plucked out your own heart
and felt it still beating
and taken a bite?
As your own blood cascades from your lips
you realize that despite this
you are still living.
It’s a pocket of sunlight
through an old, weathered window,
dappling warm and inviting on the bedspread,
an easy place to spend a waking dream.
It’s a storm at night,
rumbling thunder singing low and captivating,
as the pitter patter of the rain
echoes in the dancing shadows on the wall.
It’s a warm winter morning
with glittering snow between the trees,
the dusting of white lustrous and fresh
burying the secrets
of all the days before it.
I was buried.
Trapped in my own darkness,
watching slivers of light come and go,
too disoriented and tired to chase them.
the dirt fell away from my eyes;
realizations became understanding
and the light didn’t seem so far away.
For the first time,
it was easy to stand up
and reach toward the sun.
The house I grew up in and the swing set in the yard, the lid of the sandbox colored with marker to look like a giant pumpkin
in the town I attended college and the nature preserve behind it, the walking trails bursting with the smell of green life under the light of a full moon
the beach near my apartment in Los Angeles, the smell of sunscreen and salt, and the bluffs of Palos Verdes overlooking a sparkling ocean
the crowded, bustling streets of New York City, decorated with lamplight, no stars in sight, and soft snowfall melting in my hair
on Gramma’s porch, where she would tell me about chickadees and sing A Bushel and a Peck, feeding me chocolate covered graham crackers or popsicles
the theater in LA where I spent hours in rehearsal, selling tickets, and partying until the early hours of the morning, the smells of cigarette smoke and sweat hovering in the doorway
a house my aunt no longer owns, where we had dozens of Thanksgivings and Christmases, carving our names in the foam exterior of the air return in the basement
the house my Pépé built, with its glass doorknobs and pine paneled walls, and late summers picking blueberries from the bushes around the pond
in the heart of a friend I haven’t seen in half a decade, who lives in a city I’ve never been to, without whom life hasn’t been the same-
Pieces of my heart lie in memories and loves, lost feelings and burning hopes,
they are the sum of my scattered soul.