Fistful of Self

We
Are turned inside out
Not by a thread
But by the fabric itself
The subversion of identity
Submersion of self
Into a system of pieces
That may box us in if reassembled
Or attach to our insecurities
Before scattering to the wind
Carrying us away
In a fragmenting
Vomiting up the questions
Of whatever defines
Or destroys
Us

We shine at our most fractured
The edge-sharp pieces
Catch the eye
To be dulled or reshaped
At every turn on display

Did you see me unraveling?
I saw you look but I could not tell
If recognition there
Was yours
Or reflecting
Mine

I’m holding all of my threads
Fistful of self

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The Toast of the Mime

The toast of the mime is silent, resounding
Broken clock ticking for life ever bounding
Eulogy, requiem grounding and pounding
The binding of eloquence finally confounding

Most of the time.

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God bless the grass.

Grey sky met grey concrete like a business meeting of androgynous folk in grey suits, and the trees were perfectly still like they had been caught in a photograph against their will and were now too demoralized to try to escape. 

The atmosphere smelled like industry and efficiency, and people didn’t look up when they passed one another. If they had, of course, they would have seen themselves, or quite a close approximation. Nothing had changed and nothing was changing and nothing would change.

But then, quite suddenly, a single blade of grass poked up through a sidewalk, and

everything changed.

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Infantryman

Yonder breaks the news, and you soldier on as

War echoes in your denial of pain.

I wish you would stop and draw beauty in your eyes, and

Be like the flight until the fire stops, and

Hold your grace deeply and tightly and neverletgoingly.

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The Inside

This ceiling fan spins with such shaky vigor

that I can’t help but imagine the dropping of a single blade –

dropping out with no reduction in horizontal speed.

It would cut a person wide open

so that all may see

what he or she was made of.

In my mind, the blood is dark like wine

and it spreads to cover the floor

in a shiny coat of the most expensive polish

as all the people around stare in dismay

at their newly soaked socks.

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Entranced enthusiastic

I guess it’s like Christmas morning or the building crescendo of strands of the best music or walking outside into the embrace of a perfect day or maybe like a reunion with the person you love best. That feeling always lives curled up in the crevices of the heart, ready to leap up at the right moment. It’s there even when it has dissipated, so that when you imagine it you feel its echoes there in the place where joy is kept. It’s a fullness that demands outward focus, that pours its energy and life into finding the wonder in the world and magnifying it.

And though it’s a state that denies the entrance of fearful apprehension, it’s the most vulnerable moment in the world – a profound openness that risks everything. It’s not safe.

But it’s good.

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There’s a tiny colonialist inside me.

I have no right to write about Africa, for her children

have done so with a poignancy I couldn’t begin to touch

(even if my skin were brown and I knew the secrets of perfect ugali).

But from my beginnings as a tiny, naked-footed, white kid, I hoped,

always hoped to be adopted by this land

whose beauty and diversity have been exploited and cast aside like

so many whores in a brothel (if you’ll forgive the rough image for rough actions).

Creativity stuffed into tourist shops, languages reluctantly accepting new words

(I heard tell that people gamble in English).

If I thought I could right any of these wrongs, I would, but

I have no right to be paternalistic, not even any

right to write about Africa.

 

Compassion means “to suffer with,” I remind myself as I watch

the mango trees and mountains and huts and travesties

of NGOs and development work carry on from the window of car as I ride

along the swath of red dirt that reads like a wound

through and upon the surface of this place I’ve dared to call my home.

 

Kipling, believe me when I tell you that the White Man’s Burden is that of a folly so great that its seduction lives in the hearts of even the most well-meaning among us.

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