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Never stop talking about the sun
Happy Aries season! Here's some long, insane sentences on spring, all the bullshit, unspeakable fury and the struggle to be whole, not just good. Also I won a poetry contest, which was nice.
Who gets to be angry?
I ask because I want to know, which is why I ask most of my questions.
Who gets to scream anywhere but into a pillow? Who gets to have all the big, ugly feelings and who gets to feel like that’s safe?
Probably you already know this and feel this—it’s been a mother fucker of a transitional season. Forgive me my cusses. You will. I’m counting on that. But here we go, for a moment, allow me to get messy:
This childish nation of weapons and money. It has stolen an hour from me, again. This death machine hurdling stupidly toward an intolerably cruel future. The fabric is fraying. The fabric is frayed. Mask off, here’s the game, as far as I can tell: they’re going to make everything unbearable. Make material existence unlivable unless you’ve got the money to pay for a better one.
We were born on the planet that brought us trees, and we’ve invented indestructible plastic. Every month, I’m notified about my credit score—a relatively recent and particularly nefarious invention—by no fewer than three apps on my phone, a glass rectangle I can barely function without. In exchange for my reliance, it sells my address to bigots who want me to buy more bullshit. I have never opened a Uline catalog in my life but that will not stop them from coming. I get at least three LIKELY SPAM calls a day and I worry about my grandmother. I worry about your grandmother. I worry about every mother I know, day in, day out, and wonder what exactly we're doing here, because some days it doesn't feel like a world designed for living.
I live in the flattest city in the galaxy and I’m afraid to ride my bicycle. I’ve been hit by a bus, a car, a rat and a man riding my bicycle in Chicago and I’m afraid that I’ll die if I do it again. I'm afraid to report that somewhere along this troubled timeline, a group of Experts in State-Sponsored Death workshopped the phrase Weapons of Mass Destruction. There is a room where that happened. There is a room where everything's happened. There are children who entered the prison system as children and they never got to leave. This country criminalizes poverty. We criminalize illness. We criminalize anything that isn’t nailed down and tethered to a bank, we do what has to be done to keep us well-stocked in a healthy store of desperation. Desperation makes cheap labor. Keeps us quiet and compliant. Artificial intelligence is neither artificial nor intelligence. I see me in the mirror but I know that it’s not me. We are meaning-making animals reduced to patterns and purchase decisions. I do not want to be an input in someone else’s algorithm. I want to be a whole person with big fucking feelings and enough time and space to experience and allow for them all.
I live with 332 million people in a childish nation of weapons and money that keeps trying to criminalize and terrorize my friends out of existence while taking away places to sit in public, and it’s lousy with guns and Loud News and large, wet, lying ex-presidents and it has so much money and places so little value on dignity, safety and collective care, and some weeks, some seasons, it all comes to the surface—everything everywhere all at once, all our wasted potential and casual disdain for each other, all our preposterously designed intersections and murderous crosswalks, everything we could be and could have if everything was just a little bit different and so were we—and I quite simply need to be just a little bit angry. I need to just feel it entirely, so it stops making me sick.
But I struggle to allow it.
“You do not have to be good does not apply to you,” the part of me that speaks that way to me says.
And you? Do you believe you can be something other than good? Do you readily let yourself be that? If so, how? How do you do it? I ask because I need to know.
It's nice to talk about wholeness, to say I want to feel whole. But wholeness means chaos, sometimes, and uncertainty. Complexity. Even anger. It does not mean good. Wholeness exists beyond “good” and "bad." Maybe sometimes wholeness means my better angels took a nap today. This is who's left at the wheel. Hello. I've been struggling a little bit, but I’m also okay.
The world is not good and neither am I. The world is not bad and neither am I. We are both of us some secret third thing, and you too. By the time I finish writing this sentence something will be different, whether it feels that way or not.
Anyway. I earned Honorable Mention in the Santa Fe Reporter’s Spring Poetry Contest for a poem about grief and love and the sun, and how hard it is sometimes to keep up a performance when all you want is to be real, and whole, and loved even still.
I hope the sun is shining where you are.
(Spoiler: It is! Even if you cannot see it.)
because the sun will die if we stop talking about it
at least one person, anywhere, at all times,
must have something to say about the sun.
because the world doesn't want us to trust
each other—or maybe it's just too big
a job for the kind of animal we are,
i mean, who would keep track of whose
turn it is, this second, to save us—
there are those of us who simply never
stop talking about the sun.
where, given the season, it's sloping through
the sky, how bright it is, how missed,
how it burns the clouds away. but there's only
so much you can say about the sun before
you miss asking your friends how is your heart,
or making plans to make soup and eat bread.
so we find new ways to speak to and of each other.
the other night while passing marigolds between us
you said look how it shines
tucked between a photo of my grandfather
and a prayer card for his daughter's son. later
i told you how the sun laid down the day
we drove into the desert, and i couldn't find
my breath. you asked if when i woke
did i first think of sunrise, how to dress
for the weather, where to plant a garden?
and i asked, in turn, if the sun didn't rise
would it bring me closer to you?
the animal eats is once again talking about the sun.