To Those Who Bomb Us

Our bodies are not steel,
            do not bend and mangle
            on impact.
Our bodies, bone,
            crumble, split, grind.
The silt of too many years
            among ruins.

What is this
            if not loss defined?

Would that our bodies were steel.
Would that they crawled into themselves,
            cradle curled
            around the bullet spray,


Bodies pressed clean
            between the thumbs
            of your machinery.

Is that not what you hoped
            your ammunition rain might bring?

Did you not wish
for hospital curtains drawn closed,
            around the small
            of a slippery cold
the return of organs,
            a ticking clock,
just one day of replacing batteries,
one day of reviving the orchestra,
            motors, gears, jaws,
that we might go home new,
            no worse for the wear
            of all this living
            under your madness?

When you shower
            gutted bombs
            into the sea glass green
            of fields,
when you spit
            blistering gas
            into our homes,
when you invent
            wars to defend
            your hatred,
            your wallets,
            your seething power,

do you not expect
            to become carcass,

            to ignite,


            to end?

For if you do,
            how do you keep
            living, knowing
            what your butcher hands
            have carved?



Throughout the “War on Terror,” Obama has defended bombings in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. During the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that these attacks often lead to more extremism, not less, especially when compounded with the constantly shifting alliances that the administration forges. In each case, there are countless civilian deaths. The recent decision to begin a new assault in Syria has been widely criticized especially given the lack of evidence regarding a true terror threat to the U.S. This poem is in no way a cry against political action in situations of human rights violations; it is a response to the continued violence perpetuated by President Obama and his administration.


“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: