Repost: Katrina, Kennedy, King of Pop (word to alliteration)
by pronounced "ahhh" like a sigh
I’m not sure if I have more than a haiku or two in me for MyPoWriMo. I’m feeling too heavy for too many reasons this morning and I’m tired of writing the same things to no end. I won’t stop it if it starts but I won’t push it if it’s not there.
A few years ago, I was packing to leave Brooklyn for the first time. On my way to surgery in DC. In the mist of the packing and the shifting, I neglected to watch the news. This was before 99% of all my information came to me via Twitter. I was sad at leaving my BK (I would return less than a year later) so I cocooned and concentrated on the crying and the packing, oblivious to anything going on outside my borough. I took a break one evening and checked my email. I saw message after message “Where is New Orleans?” and “I haven’t been able to locate my sister.” The messages seemed to fall out of my computer screen and fall at my feet. I clicked email after email. Read news report after news report. Saw postings on Crooksandliars.com. Video of brown folks trapped on roof tops and wading through water. And all I could think was, “Where was the government?” Where were these people who were supposed to make it their business to save these lives and to rescue these people? Where was the humanity? Why could people who look like me and the collection of family and friends I own be left to drown and die like dogs in the street? And my heart fell open. I am an empath by nature so the packing had to wait, I had to do something… I had no idea what. I turned to my fellow poets to read what they were writing about and all I got were poems about how fucked up Bush was and how fucked up FEMA is and how fucked up this country is and all I could think was, “Yes… but what about the people? Who is telling their specific stories?” I want to a poetry reading benefit a few days later and the poetry was the same. Take out 911; insert Katrina. I decided to start a series of poems about the stories I’d read and heard about the people who were displaced. I wrote 6 poems. Four of which were lost when my laptop crashed. I have no idea where they are. I never sent them to anyone because I didn’t think they were finished. This is why, I write everything on Google Documents now. But anyway, I will post the two poems I still own in a few minutes.
For 2 months, I’ve been mourning Michael. The man he became. The boy he was. I have yet to settle into this, “okay. He’s gone.” because he still exists the way he’s always existed. This butterfly excitement in the pit of my stomach. I watched his memorial service again the other night. I don’t know why. I needed my tears to have a new direction and I was struck by how many times I expected him to pop out of the shadows. A perfectly executed spin and an elegant glide across the stage. And every time, I was disappointed. Every time, I fooled myself into believing that this was just some cruel hoax. Some forgivable need for attention. Despite the coroner’s report. Despite the doctor who enabled him to death. Despite the truth. He still lives somewhere. I’m sure of it. I will never mock a Tupac or Elvis sighting again. Sometimes you just need to believe.
And then, Senator Kennedy. I fell in love with the Kennedy’s when I was too young to know the truth about what glitters. At the time, it was just gold. I was always so sad for Ted. Thought often of how he lost his big brothers. How he was the one who had to stand for them. I thought despite his faults and mistakes, he did the absolute best he could. He rose above the doubt and the shame and became the man most in politics claim to be. He fought for us all. Despite his privilege or because of it. He was the champion of the underdog. His passing was expected given his battle with brain cancer but he will still be sorely missed.
I want to use this space to reflect on love. The need to hold it and own it and push it through at all cost. We fear it. We want to push it from us while complaining and moaning that we don’t have it. We do have it. It may not look like what we expected. It might be a little shorter. It might talk too much. It might want to hold you when you just want to be left alone but it’s there. Today. 8/29. We are missing Michael. We are missing Ted Kennedy. We are missing the countless lives destroyed and displaced by a raging wind and water. We are missing this ability to remember that through it all at the darkest, the wettest, the most mournful, it is our innate and infinite capacity to give and receive love that keeps us moving. Keeps us mourning within the confines of “this too shall pass” and it will and it does. I don’t know a lot about a lot but I know this to be true. There is a sadness pulling at me right now, thinking of all that’s lost but I am forcing myself to focus on the things and the people that give and receive love freely. And the people who give and receive love reluctantly. And the spaces and places and faces on this planet that need it the most.
I’m riffing and this free-write has too much freedom. I know I say it every day and it’s taken on this perverse one-woman cliche affect but I’ve never in my life meant it more. Love someone and mean it. Love a bunch of “someones” and mean it. It’s just that simple. Just that necessary. Just that “enough” to get you past what’s missing and into what’s there. Start with yourself and work the edges.
Love someone and mean it.
PS. This was longer than I intended so I will wait a few hours before I post the poems. I’m still hoping a Michael poem shows up. I can’t believe how difficult it’s been to write about him.