Free Us All

Reading Ta-nehisi Coates doesn’t make me less racist.

And as much as I try, neither will noticing my own way of thinking.

How can a white person grow up in America and not absorb the nasty status quo, the assumptions, the dreamy lie of church and baseball and We are Better Than Them just Be as Nice as Possible and Don’t Really Talk About It.

People say, have self-awareness. Seeing your own tendencies is the first step. I see my living manifestation of our country’s insane, violent, twisted history like lichen growing all over my legs.

Yes of course I’ll raise my kid well and of course I’ll try to think less insanely.

But I have lichen all over me. I am dirty and malformed. Ashamed of myself, ashamed of my legs, trying to be better, trying to raise one who will inherit the world by no merit of his mind or skill but just through the legacy of his vicious and sick ancestors.

If I could scrape it off, I would use a chisel and free us all.






Someone is Dying

Someone is dying. In the fields. In the farmhouse.

Past the town line.

Out where the sky is wide and billowing clouds stack up to Heaven.

Someone’s wife sits in a chair next to the bed, worried.

Someone’s husband stands in the kitchen.

Someone is dying and folks are up all night

tending, wiping, soothing, administering.


Like those first few days the baby’s home from the hospital,

No one sleeps. Neighbors bring food.

Family members take shifts sitting close by, holding a hand.

The work of leaving this world and the work of entering it is tiring and relentless.

Someone is dying. In the fields. In the farmhouse.

A season ending. A big sky open.

I pray 

My walls are enough. Put down the pictures.

My laugh is enough. Turn off the movie.

My child is perfect. Look away from the others.

My life is mine. Turn my eyes inward. Spend time attending to the dishes and the laundry. Clean the acorns off the driveway.  

Plants thrive when spoken to. So too inner peace. Spend time being in my life, molding it, spinning on a potter’s wheel, wet clay in my hands. 

Make the beds and sweep the floors. If a storm comes, I’ll be ready.

Pesto and nazis and nuclear war

I can feel my chapstick drying on my lips as I lay in bed trying not to worry about how my son will return to school with a broken arm and how will I be there for us enough working the night shift I can’t even go to Meet the Teacher evening but someone has to pay for the cast and his dad’s emergency appendectomy these are not sexy thoughts these are 42 yr old thoughts.

I breathe in and out and suddenly it’s tomorrow.

Nazis wave Confederate flags and some lunatic says his nuclear missiles can reach us making my face break out.

Those two white butterflies chase each other outside the kitchen window where the smell of pesto beckons us all to dinner.

The Hole Inside My Heart (a love letter to Chris Cornell)

When your voice leapt out of my car radio wailing Black Hole Sun and Outshined, I heard my heart outside my body, felt my young soul pushed tightly against a wall.

You were angry. I was angry.

Then I went on. And so did you.

Years later I went to a James Bond movie. I heard this warm cathedral of vocals that sounded thrilling, familiar. I turned to my boyfriend in the theater, “Who IS this?” 

“It’s Chris Cornell,” he said. And I was like, “The guy from Soundgarden??”

I never expected to see you again. To bump into you in this vast world of art and inspiration. But there you were, your insane voice leaping and caressing and exploding on the big screen along with those James Bond intro cartoon visuals. 

I could hear the age in your voice. I could hear the years I spent in Colorado and you with Audioslave. Your voice, while always gymnastic, had become expansive. I bathed in it like it was the one thing I’d been missing.

Then I went on. And so did you.

Years later at my son’s piano lesson, I picked up a guitar magazine in the waiting room. There you were on the cover in a jacket and boots with your curly hair. But softer, chiller. And in the article you spoke of your experience with loving music outside of the type that you became famous within. You spoke of admiring musicians like Cat Stevens and how sometimes your friends didn’t think that was cool. You made solo music anyway, you said. You toured with it. And, much to your surprise, people liked it.

How brave, I thought. How fucking courageous. I admired you more in that moment than any time you swirled your dark locks around like a rock n roll sex god.

So I bought some of your music. Finally. After 27 years. And I couldn’t stop listening to it. The soulful, delicate, approachable fairy tale of it.

I remember when River Phoenix died and people lit candles on the sidewalk. I remember the vigils for Kurt Cobain, Jerry Garcia, Prince. I’ve never wanted to attend one until now.

I fell in love with you once, a long time ago. And then I fell in love with you again, just last year. You spoke to me in two different voices but one and the same. At 15 you said it’s okay to be angry. At 41 you said it’s okay to get older. Actually, you said, it’s good and can be done gracefully. Watch.

You don’t owe me anything, but I wish you had not left.

I miss you like family. 

There will always be a hole shaped like you inside my heart.

All my love and respect,



Can one day pass without vilifying each other?

I can’t breathe through the blame.

I don’t give a shit if you agree with each other. Just get on with your work and leave the other guy alone.

I can’t let my child watch regular channels. If not the guns it’s the hatred, snark and obnoxiousness.

I feel like him. Soft skin, wide eyes.

Why would anyone want to behave this way?