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.

Rituals

30 in 30 is a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (perhaps 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 on how Peru is cremating the dead instead of burying them, as is custom.

I said goodbye
to my papaw
my last living grandparent
on Zoom
and a week later watched
his funeral
livestreamed
(the irony is not lost on me)

Ten mourners permitted
lost behind masks
Our shared emotions
stolen too

In other times
before times
after times
(ojalá)
we would gather together
and hold each other
in sorry
in memory
the rituals of death
our healing

In the now times
we have only
wounds

Looking Up

30 in 30 is a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (maybe even in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing comes from an article about the surge in kite sales in India during the pandemic.

A flutter
of paper wings
glides over
the hot summer sky

The kite carries
all of its family’s
yearning,
a life line tethered
to their balcony

Children chase
each other

Lovers tangle
their strings

Adventurers reach
higher
higher
higher
until
the kite escapes
its bounds
to explore the world
newly lost

Oh, what joy
to set your heart free
again

They Sold It All

30 in 30 is a series of writing challenges. Over the course of 30 days (hopefully, in a row!), I will draft a post within 30 minutes. This 30-day theme is: News Stories. Today’s writing comes from an article in the LA Times about a councilman’s efforts for a developer and payments into a PAC connected to his reelection campaign.

What do they tell themselves as the funds flow
to prop up their campaign?
Do they whisper or shout
that it’s for the best?

Compromise
for the greater good
to build a better world
for the little guy?

But the little guy can’t sleep
with the warning lights flashing in his eyes
and the rent coming due
Higher
HIGHER
The landlord eyeing his house
a commodity
a profit
Where the little guy sees
Memory
Home

Did they tell themselves they’ll make it better?
But only if they stay in office
“The other guy, he’ll burn your house down;
I’ll only sell it out from under you.”

Uncork the hole in the dam
that keeps back the flood
and promise the little guy a lifeboat
…tomorrow

Did they notice when all their good intentions
turned to dusty rhetoric?
Did they notice when they bought into the system
and its silent sins?
Did they notice when they started to say, to believe
That’s just the way things are
You gotta play the game to get anything done

But who do they play for?
Because the little guy?
He can’t afford the ticket.