United We Stand



Photo by Zoe Zimmerman
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George Floyd and Us

Here is a candle,
a flagged token of light
and trespass
in the small hours
for a man who is
no longer with us,
who, for eight minutes and forty-six seconds,
desperately attempted to save his own life
through bated pleas and Mercy’s petition,
which, in the blindest seize
and theft of broad daylight
was violently denied,
and turned repeatedly over
to a long shadow
with too much black on its hands,
too much fear-based acid dripped from within,
and make no mistake, we the people,
upon this earth, sharing seasons and soul’s plights,
reap the corrosion and soiled bones,
whether we know it or not,
flyers to a raging pandemic of prejudice,
shame and debasement
that keeps us gagged
and bound to viruses of our own making,
and so, on this night,
a small measure of prayer-flung light
offered humbly,
a warm hand to join the hands
of those in mourning
not only for the man
whose blood now holds
false badges in true judgment,
but for a collective crisis
that is long overdue
for dawn’s promise
of a brave new day.
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Excerpt from a novel-in-progress:
It was in the year _______, that a maskless society had ceased to exist. A decision was made by people who made decisions of that nature (yes, the masks, the decision-making, the proper authorities, all this stuff was no longer part of delineated hierarchies—who did what and why—all had become part of a cryptic jumble wadded in bowels of electric red tape, society now a covert subset of gumballs.)
Everyone was issued a mask. All the masks were the same. A uniform anonymity, a sea of samefulness, or rather there was only one standard issue mask with three different colors. Red, blue and green. The colors you were assigned to wear was based on zoning. Your location dictated your color.
When a child was born they had to be registered with the M.O.D. (Masking Ordinance Department) and implants would be surgically implanted into the facial pores. If a child wasn’t registered, and the proper authorities found out, the child would be seized and enrolled in what was known as the Nursery. No one knew the location of the Nursery, or much of what happened there, but basically the Nursery children were wards of the government until they were old enough to be released back into society.
If you took your mask off, your facial pores would release an acidic chemical issued from the micro-pellets which had been implanted into your face, and you would burn. And keep burning. The scalding would be excruciating, intolerable, and it wouldn’t be long before you put your mask back on, which would defuse the acid. This temptation of mask-removal had been the cause of many disfigurements, which of course, remained hidden from public view. No one saw the wounds beneath the mask, no one played screaming mirror anymore to someone else’s unverified crises. Points of reflection had diminished in stature and vocabaulary.
Signs were posted everywhere, rectangular slabs of mildly glowing metal that warned in red lettering: Demasking is a Crime.
There were the fugitives. Those who refused the indoctrination of masking. Fugitives, unfortunately, didn’t have a very long shelf-life on the outside. The barefaced ones stuck out like sore thumbs and were easy to apprehend. Some did wear masks, of their own stylistic design and color. These masks might be modeled after indigenous masks from Africa, from the Lakota-Sioux, from Zuni, they might be modeled after Venetian or No masks, there were masks of colorful anarchy, masks with long Zucchini-hose noses, masks engraved with floral patterns and imprints, masks of sleepy revolt, attic masks, eyeless mouthless masks with swirling riots of cursive, masks abstracted into vowels, masks of whetted translucence, masks that radiated a funereal whiteness, masks of glaring hyperbole and exposed hypotheses, masks that had frozen the contorted muscles of screams into the mask’s texture, masks with quizzical half-smiles petrified into question marks.
There was an entire subculture of people who crafted and donned masks to assert their individualism, or to place a visual and symbolic wedge between themselves and the Anonymites (how they euphemistically referred to the uniformly masked members of society) and they flung themselves and their radical masks into the thick of it all, like bombs in a crowded marketplace, bombs with the kamikaze intent of exploding umbilicial strands of mucus and magma. Their time out in society usually didn’t last very long. Anonymites would turn against them, turn them in. Bad apples exhibited in a public cart was something that most people didn’t want to see, or to be made visually available to the world at large.
White vans would roll up and men dressed in white linen and white caps, looking very much like crosses between milkmen and painters, would seize the Radicals and wrangle them into the van and they would not be seen or heard from again. Rumors had it that they went to a place called the Repository, though, like the Nursery, not much save for the notion that it probably existed, was known about it. The men in the white linen outfits and white caps were referred to as the Dogcatchers. No one knew who first started calling them that, but it stuck and circulated, and as a result the Radicals then became known as Strays.
Dogcatchers, Strays, Anonymites.
The world had become quartered into agitated simplicities.


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The Jackdaw and the Doll

In what has been an inspired harmonizing of words and art, and a storyscape richly carved out of light, shadows and dream-stuff, The Jackdaw and the Doll has been completed. This fable, penned by yours truly, and illustrated by pen-and-ink sorceress of worlds within worlds, Miss Izumi Yokoyama, has reached the end of one phase, in what we we hope will be a charmed and magical journey into the hearts of readers.
We now embark on our next phase: finding the the right publisher to help our Jackdaw take flight.
And away we go!


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Taos Journal of Poetry and Art

I am honored to have two of my poems–“Anne Sexton” and “Sylvia Plath”–included in Issue #12 of the Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, which is now live.
From the Mission Statement, by editor Robin Shawver:
“This spring 2020, the world joins together now in a surreal landscape of pause.

Months before this moment, I took over as Editor of The Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, and so begun my journey with this issue and with the poets and artists featured here.

In Issue 12, New Mexico poets and artists continue to be highlighted as well as poets currently living or from varying Unites States and countries around the world. “Grey Day,” the collage created by artist Johanna DeBiasse is the image that introduces the current issue.

The journal was begun eight years ago by Catherine Strisik and Veronica Golos in Taos, New Mexico, U.S., amid astounding horizontal beauty of mesas and the vertical allure of mountains. I will continue to hold that splendor close as I gaze on new mountains in the city of Qingdao, China where I currently live.”


(“Grey Day,” mixed media collage by Johanna DeBiase)


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The Silence and Other Poems

“The Silence” and three other poems–“Into the Mystic,” “The New Romantics,” and “To the Lighthouse”–now appearing as a conceptual quartet in Riot Material.




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Metamorphosis makes demands on us all,
and imposes its necessary will,
but love, rooted in omnipresence,
is not subject to change.
It is a legend, limitless in freight and scope,
and famous for its radiant center.


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The difference between
I am here
I was here
is delicately slight,
and not really a matter of tense
but rather one of plaited tenor
and climate,
in which degrees,
separating our ghost from our dreams,
keeps us shivering warmly
between rippling sheets
of ephemera,
and the audacious
memory of longing.
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Icy Hot

Between worlds,
vying for merger,
the reigning glacial celibacy
of stars,
and the marvelous frisson
of pure mortal throb—
Where you are not,
find your ghost’s
bluest breath of want
upon a mirrored caste
of longing.
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By course of sheerness,
our fragilest bits exposed–
How the light gets in.



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