On Water

On Water

My mouth is sandstorm
            dry, my hands
            caked in callouses,
            lines deep
            like the emptying river
            beds. Can you sleep
            without the lullaby drum
            of rain? They say
            the ocean is rising,
            say the snow has become salted
            tears, and here, I cannot
            cry, my eyes
            the crusted red of steel.

What have we done?

Where will we stand
            in the Atlantis
            that will become us all?



Today in New York and in cities around the US, thousands of people will march for Climate Justice. By protecting and preserving the earth, we protect and preserve lives. This is a human struggle as much as any other social justice cause. This poem is reflection of the changing climate that leads to both floods and droughts. “To change everything, we need everyone.” http://peoplesclimate.org


“The Message is, take the stairs.”

“The message is, take the stairs.”

When your partner threatens to kill you,
take the stairs.
When the sting of their fist throbs against your cheek,
take the stairs.
When they tear at your belt, and you say stop, and their mouth leaves scars along your chest,
take the stairs.
When you fear that leaving will take more life from you than staying,
take the stairs.
At least here,
in this stairwell,
there are no cameras,
no one to witness and throw your body across TV screens,
no one to argue over games and suspensions,
no one to tell you to leave.
As if your voice has not been caged and twisted,
has not been scrutinized by a million eyes.
Would your answer even be heard?
At least here,
when your body lies limp at the bottom of the stairs,
when your love looks down at all they have done,
you will hold the choice in your hands,
and the news anchor cannot tell you the lesson
is to never
get caught.




When the video of Ray Rice attacking Janay Palmer was found, every news outlet found it necessary to give their take, offer advice and opinions, and publicize her abuse again and again. Fox & Friends treated the issue almost as a joke, and one host commented, “The message is, take the stairs.” This poem is a response to the callousness with which people have treated domestic violence and particularly violence against women in light of this situation.

Ode to Urban Shield

Ode to Urban Shield

Your t-shirts read
            keep calm and return fire.
Keep calm
and return fire.
Keep calm and return fire,
            under a picture of the American flag.
A mask and the words,
            destruction cometh
            and they shall seek peace
            and there shall be none.

This is your America.
White vans and surveillance,
machine guns and tear gas,
armored cars to protect the streets
from the people.
Homeland Security
whose homes are you securing?

When the mayor of Oakland said
            this is the last time
            her streets flood
            with swat teams
            making games of death,
your spokesperson declared,
            she has no right.

Which side of the guns are your sons on?
Do they face down the nose of a lifted barrel and hold their breaths,
do they keep fingers steady on warm triggers,
do they trust the blood of slain bodies to be darker than their own?

is not natural disaster,
your war on drugs
is bombs in cradles,
but thank God
your surplus tanks
keep the sidewalk safe,
that patted smooth cement
that blood thirsty
bullet hungry

Urban Shield,
why is castration
still in your vocabulary?

is the use of violence
in pursuit of political gain.

If you hold the guns
while they hold the signs,
who are the terrorists really?




Urban Shield is a trade show for law enforcement and emergency crews that is funded by the federal government. It has taken place in Oakland for the past 8 years. This year, the event also drew hundreds of protestors angered by the militarization of the police. For more information, please refer to: http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/09/14/podcast-urban-shield-the-ramping-up-of-police-militarization-in-the-united-states/