the unexpected

I thought, only the suffering had died
that relief was on tap
peace flowing

I went on like this for a week, 
happy almost
(smug you might say)
she was so sick, and in so much pain
my god, if you saw her
she was starving


She was not starving
she was feasting

on every day
every hour
every minute

devouring seconds

the bread of life
(the cup of salvation)

I'd missed all that

until we came to the church
where people packed every bench
lined every wall 
with love in their hearts
and flowers in their hair

Because there were just so many of us,
they opened the choir loft 

And the people who knew you best
sang your praises
with stories and poetry, the places you went to meet God

And oh god (since we're on the subject)
the tears, 
my tears
those unruly bitches 
plummeting from my eyes and nose

(I read on the internet so it must be true
that the molecular structure of tears
changes based on what they're for

tears of grief are not pretty
like onion-chopping tears;
Grief tears under a microscope resemble reckless stick people 
drunk and flailing in an ice storm)

It was only when your past stood up to speak
that I saw with my big dumb eyes 
what our future had lost

Your middle name was Denise
denise, from nice (I thought)
but really the name is derived 
from Dionysus, Greek
God of wine and merriment

(So your middle name was mischief.
Of course it was.)

I wept for your middle name,
and all the things I never knew
And all the new things we'll never know 

Grief is a motherfucker.
Not at all the holy golden thing we imagine
But a lumbering oaf who stumbles into the kitchen
and grabs a fistful of cocktail nuts
and chews with its mouth open 
while you're at the stove 
attempting to prepare
a balanced meal

I was expecting death.
I was not expecting this.

But then
The unexpected reminds me of you.
It feels like you. 

So I'll take it. 


What if we saw only souls?
If bodies, the least of us,
the one unlasting piece of us
were windows, made of glass, sunlit
unfit for throwing stones

What if we saw only souls in hoodies
buying goodies in convenience stores
or behind the wheel,
we would know what they were reaching for,
who they love, and how they feel
these bodies, they’ll be damned
if they do, if they don’t,
we won’t change a thing
not one thing if we think that
these bodies aren’t walls
that separate, make it safe to hate one another
not one and other
brother, there is no other
no us, no them,
no damned liberals or republicans
no “thug life” or “blacks who act white”
Act right, and nothing bad will happen, right?
Because bodies.
They’re everywhere.
And they’re getting nowhere
I’m scared
And it’s not enough, I know, but still
I sing and write and repeat
Like it’s etched in gold
What if we saw only souls.

on striving

You do not have to do the thing that you do
on a national stage 
or, for that matter,
on any stage.

You are not —
because someone crowns you Very Good—
beholden to becoming
or better

Compared to what?

Your beauty 
is not a bond.

Your gifts are not debts you owe this world
so someone can say they knew you when
you were just 
the spectacular shining thing 
you. already. are.

How much they diminish you 
by building you

I really think you could be something.
Why has no one heard of you?
How do we make you happen?

Let me be clear

You are happening.
I hear you.

I really think you are something.