come one come all
step right up
have yourself a comfy seat
be quiet
(this is gonna be good)
listen to me
the rich white able-bodied cis dude
who passes for straight
listen to me talk
about justice

are you listening?
you are?

then can you teach me how to do that?
or can you show me who to listen to?
or even tell me what that word means…

like a fish attempting to analyze water
or philosophers elucidating metaphysics
i’ve been swimming in it all my life
so what do i know about justice?

i don’t know
but i hope

for people who have “justice” as their honorific
to affirm that love is not reserved only for some

for the story of one wealthy celebrity
to somehow translate into empathy
for the many far-less-privileged trans folks
fighting for their lives every day

for authorities and regular people
to find a way to break free
from our racist, brutal status quo
into something that will feel much more like

at the mount of autonomy

at the mount of autonomy, jennifer grinned
it was clear that this summit was where she belonged
she had put in her time in the valley of innocence
listening upward, she swore she heard song

with vitality born of insatiable thirst
she put flatness behind her and started to climb
and she needed no rest, for her power was vast
as her altitude rose she made excellent time

it was only when she’d attained high elevation
she noticed her path was not solely her own
and her fellow adventurers tossed aside garbage
the mountain was covered in waste that they’d thrown

and the trail was now crowded with putative grownups
whose seeds (sowed in folly) would bloom very soon
so jennifer wept, then walked on with new urgency
picking up trash and composing a tune

What’s Next? Insignificant Devils?

She said:
I want you to eliminate the unimportant details, see?
Distill it down and find the true and naked essence of the thing
The aqua vitae springing from Grandmother Maple’s deepest root
The kernel at the heart of the most grand and golden stalk of wheat

I said:
The unimportant details??

I’ll swear on stacks of truthful lies that I’m not trying to be dim
But how in ample earth am I supposed to tell what’s “unimportant”?
I don’t think I’m old enough (well maybe old, but sure not wise)
To just decide “you’re in! you’re out!” when verbalizing this, my story

The unimportant details.

I tell you what: I’ll trust you to discern the needles and the hay
I mean: they both can poke you, but the one makes much the better bed
(Er, wait…I guess I lost my metaphor. Which one’s disposable?)
I think that proves my point somehow, but I’ll be over here in search of
Unimportant details


when i was little sometimes i’d react
as if i had an allergy to life
which normally rolled smooth and dull and flat
until some spikey incident occurred
and prompted a stampede of panicked sobs
beyond proportion with the humble cause

(a comforting maneuver from my mom
would then restore my horizontal world)

since then i’ve grown to welcome rugged ground
extruding through the surface of our days
and breaking up the mirror-like monotony
that otherwise might be our lullaby

i’ve learned those barbs (as wicked as they are)
are rather like a needle pierced with thread
embroidering our time with colored strands
of pain and joy and ecstasy and fear
which we would miss if all our paths were low
and tranquil like a funeral parade

so here’s to plain and canyon, crag and pike
that make the mixed terrain beneath our feet
for every uphill climb and downward hike
meandering through flat and jagged lives

Hot Topic (Post-Apocalyptic!)

There’s no need to copy
Nor to try to top
The latest photoplay
Or to explore
The psychosocial pathos better
Than that graphic novel
(Oh so popular!)
They published last October

Rest assured that
Your escapist hoopla
Will seem chic and new
There must be
Forty thousand ways
For humankind
To pass away
And turn to ash

Did cityscapes get emptied
Due to natural catastrophe?
A comet plummets to our soil
Or puppies all turn hostile?
Did some humans write our epitaph
By spawning psycho zombies
With a taste for cops and socialites?
(Oh cool! I hope the blonde survives.)

Whatever caused our “Taps” to play
This is a hip diversion while
The polls assure us that our planet
Isn’t getting hotter…

Some Notes

It started on a springtime
When the world smelled clean
And bright and new

And anything seemed possible
So we pretended
That was true

We wandered over fences
As if they were only
Lines on maps

We ran and danced across the fields
As if they held no
Mines or traps

It didn’t work out like we hoped
(That’s not to say
It came out wrong)

But listening back from here I guess
We should just call the whole thing


one could argue
(and it may be that i will)
that we are nothing
but collections
of remembrance

of all the roles we have performed
and every deed that has been done
to us

and the people we have known
and loved
or used
or just steered clear of

all the places where we lived
way back before we were ourselves
that still envelope us when we’re asleep
as settings to our dreams

the recollection of these things
comprises everything we are
and also everything we have

if that’s the truth
it’s kind of sad
to realize
that memory
is no more permanent a thing
than any solid property
that we might reckon
we can grasp forever

and one by one
or all at once
and with
or without mercy
when their time comes
all our memories

the truth about humans

no, if i’m honest, i don’t
i don’t want to hear
about your feelings
i’m having enough trouble
keeping my own
above water
and i don’t know what
i would do with yours
i don’t know where
i would put them

i would want to say
something helpful
but the words
would only add
to the aggregate weight
of the stones in our guts
and we’d sink to the bottom
of this polluted

but sinking together
sounds better than
sinking alone
so ok
i’m listening