Welcome to Week 28 of Be the Change!

I haven't written in a few weeks. Between being sick (not COVID, thankfully, just standard cold-caught-from-child-at-daycare); the disappointing election results, particularly in Virginia; and the even-more disappointing goings-on at the COP 26 climate talks, I haven't had the energy or desire. So this week I've decided to share a few poems. The first, written this morning, explores the daily grind, the beauty and horror of the world, and how essential love is to keeping us going. The second, written just before the November 2020 presidential election, is about what it means to vote in an election where everything is at stake--our freedom, our lives. And the third, which I wrote immediately after the 2020 election, is about what happens when you figuratively dodge a bullet--but the gun is still cocked and pointed at you.

Please forward this to your friends and ask them to sign up too.
Saturday Morning

Saturday Morning

A week of coughing and fitful sleep.
Pigeons at war over the allocation
of crumbs. Irretrievable hours spent
before a screen, shades drawn tight
to keep out the glare—and still my eyes
are sore, my back. I step outside, take
a bite of November fog, press it between
my tongue and teeth. There is a taste of
acorns, coffee, jasmine sweat, gunpowder.
I spit into a pot, set the world to slow
boil: I’ll just lie down in the meantime,
trust you to wake me before it’s too late.
I see alleys of discarded mattresses, sagging
and soaked in piss and semen, resurrected,
pristine. Our bodies touch, dissolve as sugar
into heat. We are ash falling from the sky
like a puzzle; our blood once savagely carved
the rivers we float on at night, dreaming of
peace. Only in love do we arrange ourselves—
limbs here, ambitions there. Only in love do
we have strength to break this embrace: to each
battle, alone, what now rages out of control.

Election Day

Power is not what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” – Saul Alinsky

Elections have consequences.
So say the victors to justify
their ends and means.

Perhaps the American Dream
is to live without consequence:
no mistakes, only cheapness

we are free to later discard.
Why deliberate honestly?
Abundance is our temptation,

prosperity the lie we tell to
expiate our original sin.
Elections have consequences.

Had Lincoln lost, how many
would we still count as slaves?

Who voted for mass incarceration,
child detention, soaring inequality?

In America anything is possible.
A Black president. Rags-to-riches.
Our poets, scientists, entrepreneurs

have proven their greatness—
the full flower of individualism—
Yet something blights the soil.

We are good people but not a
Good People. We welcome the Iraqi
refugee, ignore the crime that made him one.

Who voted for the War on Terror?
Who paid for the lies that launched it?

How much is too much to spend on
defense? On political ads?

Alinsky argued that what matters
is a particular means for a particular
end. Democracy not in the abstract

but in the flesh, the messy world
of action and reaction. I'm ready to commit
murder at the ballot box. I hope it’s not

too late to stop the carnage. America
forgives itself so easily, as though
we weren’t forgiving but forgetting.

If we knew the difference between
poll numbers and corpses, budgets
and starvation, we might have avoided

this moment. A pandemic. A fraud.
I cast my vote uncertain it will count.
That is, be counted. That is, matter.

When my blood is on the ballot,
there is only one outcome I can accept.
Elections have consequences.
Bullet Casing

Life After Dodging a Bullet

I try on a suit to look handsome for the moon,
ask the mirror what I've gained and what I've lost.

I mourn the death of those yet to die,
seek an urn to hold the ashes of what might have been.

I rake leaves as though they fell naturally,
say the quiet part out loud and feel no shame, only sadness.

I sip an evening breeze and admire a robin’s body,
dance to birdsong no one else can hear.

I shake my head to dislodge the ringing in my ear,
dream of Chekhov’s Gun—flinch at the evening news.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed, but the more important Build Back Better Act--which includes $550 billion for climate action and funds for childcare, universal pre-k, and more--has yet to be voted on. Call your elected officials and pressure them to pass the bill! Take action here:

- Andy