If I roamed in speech like Mark Twain, Making sure of my woods, river, sea, I'd wander in a circle, find an old goat, A grandfather, a porch, gold, river pirates. A wooden rocker and an audience, newsprint. Of innocents abroad, of jaded women here. If I enlisted like Mark Twain, casually, Caustic humor, avoiding combat, dinner. Serving for two, yes two, weeks And late for dinner. Tents and shovels. Tour of duty, the South, Rising late For breakfast, late home for dinner, Lectures from well meaning adult fools Who don't understand that war means blood. If I prayed like Mark Twain, for he did, It would be short, sweet, to the point, An argument of reason, intellect, An avoidance of familiarity, a face, questions. He prayed for salvation for his absurd truths. He never even got a letter in return. I am not Mark Twain, although I ramble in A concrete jungle, a zoo of originality, Of pauses and starts, hesitation, then Galloping on two feet with little hands. Children are my joy, his too. I enlisted, found a hole with my name, Foxlike I waited for the big dog, But all he wanted was sex. Sex, with me! Fraternizing with peers, I said no, and no, I found the door to file papers of abuse. Learned men are a grouping of Rotten apples, grapes on a vine. I have no time for old boys. Networks, bah. I don't pray. No, never got an answer, Not even a no. I figure God will Send me a postcard, or an email Asking for money, when God gets around. Everyone wants money. I have a hole in my pocket. Leaking. I am an emotional clamp, holding together A family of squirrels. Who knew? Mother always knew best, then I, Me, became the All Knowing Mother To mine own be true. Schools and crossbows Peeking from Concrete towers of sand. Sand stolen from the river. Free. Wait, there's a charge? Grumpy black bear, Moose Feet, It's something Twain saw, In the City of Gold at sunset In San Francisco, My dream city. Twain and I would have whiskey Talking politics, reading Dickens. Laughing at the words lost On a system of learning. Unlearning. Creeping, shadowing, loathing. We'd chat, sympathize, reconnoiter The political landscapes with Enough comedy for years of shows. Appalled that thinking people still hate. Appalled at the randomness of the bible Applied at a voting booth. Politics And religion rarely join joist to hinge. Mankind at its best, condemning sky, water, Others because they can, do, lust after. He'd shake his head, write a book, Find Adam in the park. Discuss with disdain, And I would listen, rapt, filing for later All of the similarities through time, A century of time, of things he thought Would mend, but haven't. So I write.
Pace your hate, as you line up for the cause Of suppression. Homogenous populations, all the same, in tacky Red hats that Support a change to control the liberal masses And their ideology Of helpful compassion. They give to others what We don't have. Betrayed by life, we blame all of you who want to Continue Roosevelt's policy. Heard on Fox news, conflicted and wounded, Unmade in their beds. Giving a face globally of self-centered anger, A movement thought dead. Those who hate, have buried seed, seed from Eons hidden from light. Majority voters, liberal thinkers, compassionate Lovers of all, Who are these new oppressed? Your mother, father, sister, Brother, uncle, niece, aunt. All liberals want is a chance to be happy, to share, To be kind and considerate. This is a crime, signed by a swirly pen, by a old man With tangerine skin, gibbonlike,jumping up and down, Red hair dyed so that he cannot be old. A screamer, A bully wishing to be King of the swamp, the dark underbelly, anti-regulations Of protection. Our new leader, a sociopath, a leader of sociopaths, Of spies and lies. This is what the haters wanted. A chance to burn with Fire and fist. To force back into the box the godless, the "fairy", The rebel child. Force back into the box the librarian who allows that Filth on her shelf. Force back into the haze, our global responsibilities, The cost we should not Bear, and bare the back without brother, the bible Thumper in bunny clothes. Beware your hate, for you are a candle in the dark, Beware your match. Reason is a dangerous opponent on the battlefield, Where compassion Equals hope, hospitals, schools, wells, medical care, Where a bridge Is not too far, it pulls, tugs, pushes our knowledge Of others, like a kite. Beware the actor, the captain, the ship, who find Lie after lie And tattle to the world. Pace your hate, because I Will extinguish it.
Overwhelming, the number of letters Your soul can handle, Before it all comes crashing done. Twelve letters, rolled off the tongue, Held in abeyance only by the off switch. How? Why? And the answers pull me Into a world I do not know. Positions on humanity that spout And sputter into being based On a nameless fear of something... Political parties spare for the news Broadcasting a descent from known facts Until even the broadcasters must turn away. Limits on being human, kind, mindful, Actions based on color, mindset, empty empathy. "Don't let them in." No, not out either, For a four year old refugee might Play games of war as youth becomes teen. It's a ridiculous argument, Holding that a sixty-five year old... Change all that was good, helpful, given As a gift from government. Make it void of Color or charm and let me scream My frustration at the overwhelming hatred Of bigots, fanatics, tv viewers... They sing a song of hatred, without A single why. One hundred thousand visas, Cancelling hope. Banks cheering, burdens given, Regulations falling, Morality redefined Millions of mothers standing, fist raised to the morn. Overwhelming, twelve letters becoming twenty-four. Discourse to hold off the helplessness Of being Disabled, a woman, unable, wished able, To make the world step back into sanity. Not the globe, My world, my resolve, my liberty. You threaten me at your peril, for I think. I write. I protest and resolve. I turn, I hide nothing, I am...and being I must Prevent this overwhelming sense of doom. Overwhelmed as we rise, surrounded by void. By Twelve letters that roll off the tongue. Easy letters. Ts and Ls, Es, O, a G. Government stating that there are none of the above. Twelve letters that hold us back. W, V, R, H, M Twelve letters to define the abject despair, Actively adding the ing to the pile We face now, with limits on rights, hopes, dreams, loves, friends, health, Overwhelming. And continuing...
I'm too old to sit in the corner, Too old to twist and turn To find my heart and mind Torn asunder over the Future of the past, the once and future, Over hatred and bigotry. I'm too young to concede The world won't change Its clothes for the better. Won't go to a Humanity-R-Us Establishment for a refit. Overthrow the twenties and big brother's uniform. Can't see the colors for the black and white, like TV when It started, with removable tubes You could change out tubes, glowing bright, at The drugstore, right past the cashier While Dubois sits writing in the corner still. Your still produces the elixir Of rebellion, energizing, Thought provoking, intoxicating, At a forgotten power of protest, Of knowing right from wrong As you swing your placard proudly. School taught me to be nice. A fatal character flaw, unreasonable, Being nice, compassionate, sweet, helpful, All words that buzz and bee. Liberal. I'm too young to join AARP Too old to swing from a Constitutional noose. My email sings the need for money, Donations, signatures, and one, Oh, blessed one, that asks for a tip. A tip for taking my money Because I must be old enough To be rich, to have, to hold, to keep. I'm too old to sit silent, Chevy waiting, To drive with fist shaking, gun toting Road rage. Oh yes, I'll yield, sometimes, But not about my politics. Compromise, act. My caution light gleams yellow, But the red light fails. I run as I take action. I'm too young to hand over hope, tethered to My heart, forever to a cause. So many, Change causes change. I change. Voices cluster. Liberal changes are on sale, bargain prices, On cheap fabric imported that Feeds a family overseas, but saying, "Buy American." Too old to wear a flag upon my two piece, My jeans, jacket, elbow patches. Burn my flag, I'll cheer your voice, Serve my flag, I did that. Embroider my flag on a globe, Don't use my flag to beat and bludgeon Those in need. I'll use it for your shroud. We came, my ancestors came, arrived Found a place, to grow, manipulate Become human, chase their tails with Their tales of how we became great. It was 1624. We started it. The movement. Blame us. We advocated freedom, compassion, hope, education. Don't tell me I'm too old, too young, To tell you to resist the crazy. Crazy Worse than the flu, poverty, student loans, Worse than children dying, drowning, starving. I'll resist your overly patriarchal ambiguities, Attempts to cow and control. My body, my life Too Old, Too Young, not to care To not open my heart to others, to welcome. To litigate with my head. Policy maker. Too proud of being a resistance. For when they first banned intelligence, They hurt us all. Stole from us. . Grow old, grow energized, Hit with words, but true ones, Turn your television to truth. Read a book, French philosophy, Grow young, stand and turn to the light, Like a sunflower, follow the judicial glow. I'm too old to find my seat On the bus, train, plane, without First asking to pre-board. I'm too young to have my dreams dashed As they play pingpong with my future. Let me land, resist, fight. Let me...
Ranger Percy took her duties seriously. She followed a routine that began with first light and ended well into the dark. It was a routine that most new mothers are accustomed to having:
Change the babies,
Feed the babies,
Out the dog,
In the dog,
Feed the dog,
Prepare for the charge of the babysitter,
Out the door,
She loved her job, creating a safe haven for those who needed to touch nature. Everyday, she followed the park’s trails looking for the beauty she could point out to others. Somedays the park was quiet, and those quiet days were filled with the sights of fawns, ground hogs, bald eagles, osprey. Other days were filled with activity, crowds surging to the river with their churches, earnestly baptizing rogue elements and bringing them back under the banner of the church, praying for the devil to be gone, and sharing an open barbecue with any who wandered near. Or perhaps it was the weddings that were held under the white picnic shelter where everything was new and clean, that fit into her fancy. Somedays the park was filled with rain and wind or snow that caused the gates to stay locked. On those days she poured extra coffee into herself and watched the antics of the deer under the picnic shelters. Safety first, she would think at the deer. Then she would smile at the idea that the deer were so well-trained they avoided the drifts and acted like tourists.
Logs washed up on the riverbank with the changing tides. Ranger Percy would wander among them along the beach selecting interesting driftwood from the boring logs. She saved them for a local woman who wandered through the park, talking to herself, who would paint them with scenes of fish underwater or goblins lurking and then leave them like a sacrifice to the wild. Percy would load them into her vehicle and put them on display at the Visitor’s Center.
Second equipment check,
Drive the parking lots,
Return to office,
The windows of the Visitor Center filled with steam as the class on batiking for teenagers flowed on. She wandered over to the gift counter and rubbed the steam from the window, only to move rapidly out of the center to the walkway that led up and away from the building. Her homeless woman, the one she left the driftwood out for, knelt on the ground mumbling to herself. She had knife in one hand which she raised over her head and then plunged into a bundle of flannel.
“This for your heart.
This for your hands.
This for your feet
To travel to different lands.”
“Come, my dear, for
where you bleed, is here
in the present and a gift
To succeed. Travel through the smoke…”
Then she lifted the knife and held it over her head saluting the sky. A bag lay on sidewalk, close but not touching her.
“Are you okay, lady? I haven’t seen you around much. Is something wrong?” Slowly Percy moved toward the lady. She kept her handgun in its holster, preferring instead to calm her and keep her from injuring herself or another.
The lady looked at her blankly for a moment, then shook her head. “No, I’m not okay. I will never be okay. I am not sure I will make it through the day, let alone the night. Nothing will be the same.”
“Would you like to have some tea with me? We could go to my office in the Visitor’s Center, it is a lot warmer there too.”
“Why should you care? The world left me long ago. No one will remember me.”
“Come with me. I’ll show you something. I’ll make us some tea.”
They rose together.
“Thank you, but this is only tea. Nothing can leave my place filled when I’m gone, and I will be gone.”
“This is the room I made for you. You left these behind you. I was so surprised to see how they all went together, a mural. Is the display all right with you?”
The bag was opened. The flannel set to one side, with the knife now out of view, and the before the ranger’s eyes was a small wooden figure carved so carefully that it seemed alive. With a sudden intake of air, the figure opened its eyes and reached out to her.
The lonely old lady was gone.
Your base accusations thrown Up into the light, then fired Off one by one where others Out of the loop mock and destroy. You should have called, asked While listening, looked again For the rainbow's wraps between us Where we had left them, uninterpreted. Instead, you rose, phoenix-like voice Raised, accusing me of stealing Your opinions, inflating your ego, Stealing away your personality. Baseless, I thought, until I couldn't Find a way between us with a flashlight. I couldn't find the boxes of photos I Had left in hiding, the photos of pain. I looked for the boxes of joy, missing The ominous spaces, the boxes of sorrow Which had been sealed by us both. What dark Adjustments were made by you without me? Now we step like opposing forces armed To the teeth, with no base to function from As the war begins. Why? Some blame time Which was never my friend. Is it over?
on a field of honor.
not have been