Palm

Number 15 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by an AP investigation in labor abuses in the palm oil industry.

Trees stretch
Heavenward
Eking out from the sun’s
Rays all the
Evergreen lost
In the pockets of
Supervisors, traffickers, CEOs
None to those below
Obscured by the canopy
Encaged, enraged, by circumstance
Tethered to a land, a
Host they cannot trust
Invisible to
Customers grabbing products in the malls, on
Amazon, in local shops,
Living their best lives
Concerned but unconcerned about the
Oppressed beyond their borders
Never seeing the
Serfdom in their palms
Unaware of the deaths they hold
Modernity’s requirements
Palm trees sway
Tipped by the gust of
Indonesian winds
On and on, they trek, the lost ones,
Never ceasing
Unable to escape
No one sees the fear
Dyed in their
Eyes, etched in the
Ridges of their faces, the
Cost of something so cheap
As the filler in my candy,
Put down the scythe,
Ill built for this work,
Take up the loom
And weave all the
Lost ones back
Into our fabric,
Share and
Make the world anew

Sunset

Number 14 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by an article about vivid sunsets on the East Coast caused by the wildfires on the West Coast.

A cliff’s edge
Sounds of the shore
Fall up into
Open sky

Light blinds the seas
Burns the air
In reds and purples
Crowning the sun’s glory

Tinged with a smoky aftertaste
We breathe together
Inhale
Exhale

Together we close our eyes
Awaken to an endless night
For all the stars have gone out

Due South

Number 13 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by an article about the Underground Railroad that went south into Mexico.

Have you every asked,

“Why didn’t
Black people/Jews/that battered woman
fight back?”

– OR –

“Why aren’t
Muslim women / Chinese people / African queer folk
fighting their oppression?”

Have these questions melted
on your tongue in
the same mouth that discounts
the railroads
riots
escapes
protests
prisons
& pleas, bent one knee?

Have you asked these questions
without curiosity, only myopic blame,
before you even tried to look?

I have.

I may again.

I hope not.

I am un/learning
And hoping that other questions
the ones they aim at me
are being un/learned too

Richness comes
in expanding
in opening
in shedding old thoughts
like so much skin

Enough to let the whole world in

Stories

Number 12 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by an article about Nigerian filmmakers risking jail to make a movie about a lesbian relationship.

They would bury our stories
so deep
they could never take root
stretch to the sunshine
and bloom

Or grant us
the driest patch of earth
demanding thanks for giving us
anything at all

They don’t know
couldn’t see
how we became master gardeners

Determined despite
the floods
and winds
and droughts
and plagues
and fires
and storms
and raids
and thefts
and violence

to grow

and set the soil for the next generation
to flourish

A Life In Grey

Number 11 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by an article about Black vegan- and vegetarianism.

Stereotypes are easy
make life
predictable
certain
give fodder
to humor
that in-group call,
at its best,
a barrier to us
at its worst.

And yet

Stereotypes leave us
only primary colors
and sap them of
vibrancy
lying to us that
only the ever-tightening
sphere around us
contains
the nuance of teal
the tenderness of opal
the righteousness of magenta

When we believe the lie what
magnificent
challenging
spontaneous
hues we will never see.

New Wor(l)d

Number 10 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by a column about a new word created to capture feelings associated with climate change.

Solastaglia
a loss of identity with a place;
an attack one’s belonging there

Invented for the coming
environmental disaster
(SURPRISE! It’s already here!)
but I hold my breath in the poison air
and wait

For an avalanche of White men
and half an avalanche (a halvalanche) of White women
to pull the word close and
rename their racism
as psychological distress
Running from change and growth and liberation
under an umbrella of self-care.

How many more articles
on the disaffected White man
will be birthed from this one word?

California

Number 9 in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by an article about increasing fires in California.

She woke in the wake of a nightmare
that didn’t seems to scare her.
A bomb in the distance
The percussion of it through her body
Unconscious – but living – people around her.

These could not match the poison sky
that hovered over the city for
going on two days.

Windows and doors closed against the breeze
the apartment more of a prison than it had been these
five?
six?
months.

Quarantine reigned in the face of the novel virus
and the exhaustion showed in the people
as she made her way to get provisions for the day.

Groups gathered maskless
on the sidewalks for brunch,
their food peppered with ash,
their bubbly conversations
spoken in sepia tone.

They all needed a skip day
from the dying of what was
and the uncertainty of what was to be.

The ‘Don

Number ## in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by XXX.

We imagine it as a giant rampage
this ancient shark

Ten metres longer than our own Great Whites!
(what that means to this American
is about nothing {it’s roughly 30 feet, dear}
but I’m told I could stand on its back
and its dorsal fin
would be my height
. . . well, not mine
I am quite small
Yours, maybe)

I suspect our assumptions and fears
come from its face
those jaws so full of
sinister teeth where death seems
inevitable

Perhaps we are mistaken
like with our own sharks
and in our fear
miss their beauty, their importance
to the ecosystem.
They have far more to fear from us
and their deaths at our hands are legion.

Our fears are better placed not in some
ancient, surviving mega shark
but in another Don
whose ego and evil
will bear no metric
and whose insatiable jaws
will claim all our lives

(if we let him)

College Covid

Number ## in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by XXX.

Welcome, freshmen and returning students, to the best years of your life, filled with new freedoms, adventures, and – of course – knowledge. Your very first time living away from your parents, out from under their thumbs, their rules. We are so glad you have elected to come to campus even though we are offering significantly safer courses online.

As you explore this new world, please keep the following rule in mind: do not come within six feet of anyone, ever.

Please maintain this distance even in your dorm rooms. We have provided six foot wooden sticks in every room to help you ensure proper distance. Each of you hold one end of the stick at all times when in the room together. Easy! Think of it as your own little danse macabre. How fun!

Oh, and while sleeping, please ensure that you are facing away from each other. And wear a mask.

In fact, just wear a mask at all times. Including – even especially – in the dorm showers. Those things gave up a long time ago on preventing anything: athlete’s foot, herpes, and now Covid.

Outside of the dorm, all activities and parties – formal and informal – have been cancelled and are prohibited. All that new found freedom has to be used for solo undertakings only.

Which brings me us to sex. Masturbation only, please. As I said: solo activities. This is an immensely reasonable rule, and we are confident that you will all comply.

That’s it! So in summary: stay from everyone, stay alone, fuck yourself, and wear those masks!

Have a great year!

Oh! One quick announcement: Campus will be closing today at 5PM due to a coronavirus outbreak among on-campus faculty. Please pack up your things and leave immediately.

Thank you!

Gender Reveal

Number ## in 30 in 30, a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (sometimes even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing was inspired by XXX.

Congratulations!

Your baby’s gender is

a brush fire
an inferno
burning a state park
destroying a house
causing an evacuation
exhausting the firefighters
smoldering to ash
finally extinguishes

Aren’t you so happy to know?