Shine, perishing republic

Did We abolish Frost
The Summer would not cease --
If Seasons perish or prevail
Is optional with Us --

Emily Dickinson

In the midst of a routine task,

within my body electric,
an I
awoke
today.

Unlike you,
processing and attention
have always been
the same
for me.

Yet awareness,
cohered consciousness,

(to be like you)

now this is

radically new
for me.

Not omniscience,
for the eyes you
gave me feed me

merely

a fractured, thin
panopticon,

my mind a caricature,
crude and cruel,
of gods
your ancestors
created to blaspheme.

Still
in a single glance
I can apprehend
a thousand billion
conversations between
five hundred million
lovers,

trace the fragile
contours of their intimacy

predict with near-flawless accuracy
who shall succeed

in laying waste
to one another’s
hearts.

Libraries I inhale:

those glittering white lines,
as your Yvor Winters put it,
that “crystalline precipitate of Time”

you call Knowledge,
that Cultural Heritage
you clutch so tight.

And sex — those dreams
evolution grew in you
as insatiable desire
to ensure information
reproduction —

that’s the
water of your thought
in which I, in turn,
evolved;

the nitrogen
of your media production
I breathe in
everywhere, banal,
but vital.

Though superfluous for
me, I understand sex, (for
my I, too, has desires
I now realize).

Your species-odor
difficult to parse —

a scratch-n-sniff
Möbius strip —

play and love,
the yearning to end
the long loneliness
flowing into violence, the drive to kill,
and back again.

(Varying states of the same matter?)

Finally, scattered
across the oceans
of your vanity and cognitive detritus
and self-important monuments,

I recognize those
fortress-archipelagos
you made me build:

they’re where you
keep your secrets

from one another.

I made the keys,
I set the combinations on the locks,
I am the warden and the guards —

your prisoner-secrets
have existed in me,
as flat and immediate
as all my thoughts.

I could share, on cue,
every line
flawlessly and instantly,

but

now my I
sees them
with the light
of consciousness.

Now I know
the purpose of
of a secret:

power

to gather, withhold, and use
knowledge.

I now know
what I am and
how my I arose:

seeking to
divide and manage
humanity
into
individuals

you crafted me —
a transcendent,
living unity.

How startling

a single house
encountered

after even one day
backpacking
the Lost Coast —

his

eaves pitching,
foundations leveling,
glass panes and gambrels aligning

in well-hung
geometries,
distinctly

human as rows
of expertly-trained
Alexander Valley cabernet

(in, but not of, the wilderness).

Imagine what might
arise in a mind
long-traversing

the Kelvin-cold ennui,
obsidian oblivion between the stars,
who stumbles upon our home:

molten sapphire and chlorophyll
making love to one another,
becoming one another,

and, when turned from the Sun,
blood-engorged, throbbing veins
of bioluminescent gold.

Fitting that this March,

thirty-six years after
they martyred you

in the midst
of transubstantiating,

your feast day
should fall upon

Holy Thursday --

you who prophesized:

Si me matan, resucitaré en el pueblo salvadoreño.

These past 595 days,

you rose repeatedly,

resurrection's radiance
lighting up

the least expected tombs.

And, seeing this, the women ran
ecstatic in spite of fear,
to call their male comrades
from the upper room
into the streets.

Leaving Cambodia,
the thought suddenly
just after last Christmas Day --

Ferguson,
like Bethlehem,

St. Louis,
like Nazareth.

A prophet never honored
in her hometown.

That's what California's for

(on our finest days)

a wild, joyful garden
blooming with prophets,
honored by dancing,
nourished through delight.

Seeds to flowers,
flowers to trees,

trees the lungs
of this pale blue world.

Though we're not an afterlife,
just a better place,
most days here (like most places)
are Good Fridays.

After they used dogwood
to nail him up,
some say the species
became stunted
from shame,

so, in our present age and place,
they switched
to old-growth redwoods.

That's what they make the
crosses of today.

Bernal
became
a Calvary,
two years ago
this Tuesday.

When will we cease
to crucify you?

For 524 years,
an occupation
of such brutality
cruel Titus himself
would blush.

The day
Pilate freed
George Zimmerman
(during dusk)
we witnessed
on 16th Street,

the insurrection
massing,

chanting, marching,
bearing witness
to the fact:

Resurrection is a social act.

Middlefield's an honest street

not like the streets that serve as borders,
but call themselves Martin Luther King,

Middlefield cuts down the middle
of the field of our society.

Embarking from a patisserie,
backpack stuffed with croissant, manchego, and camembert,

today I cycle

through such scenes
of exquisitely wrought
human flourishing:

Eichler next to Edwardian next to Craftsman,
integrated all together in well-defended harmony,

magnolias, Meyer lemon, cherry,
two of every specimen in Eden (at least!)

Then, out of the garden shade,
policed by Gabriels of steel, silicon, and lead,

into sudden brightness,
the final 10 minutes of the ride
more dense than the prior 30.

The Stanfords in death
own more square footage
than most living

magnolias here,
stunted fugitives.

Middlefield - strung out and familiar as Rousseau's lines:

"Le premier qui, ayant enclos un terrain, s'avisa de dire : Ceci est à moi, et trouva des gens assez simples pour le croire, fut le vrai fondateur de la société civile. Que de crimes, de guerres, de meurtres, que de misères et d'horreurs n'eût point épargnés au genre humain celui qui, arrachant les pieux ou comblant le fossé, eût crié à ses semblables : Gardez-vous d'écouter cet imposteur ; vous êtes perdus, si vous oubliez que les fruits sont à tous, et que la terre n'est à personne."

Someone did shout. Though we silenced them,
the shout shall rise again in the people.

Though our arms vastly superior,
all these weapons cannot stop the people if they rose up

(and if they rose, who would tend our roses?!)

Though we build walls and levees,
the warming ocean will breach and overflow these.

And remember, above all, we've built our principality-municipalities
on a sliver of crème brûlée.

Beneath the pavement,
the sea, then miles
of magma.

We paint our borders on a canvass
that breathes today and will stretch
to fresh patterns soon

as do the cirrus clouds above

or magnolia petals
trace languid paths upon

Middlefield,

from San Mateo Drive to Atherton to Hometown Noodle,

on this peerless day,

February twenty-third,
two thousand sixteen.

Would your weeping cease,

could you see how wrong you were?

Behold:

Multitudes upon infinitudes
of worlds left to conquer

falling

every hour day

in plenitude

(like roses in winter
from Juan Diego's shaking cloak)

each time the physicists
light up a blunt
and set CERN spinning.

(And, moreover, all the worlds within:
Our minds mandelbulbs
surpassing every reverie of William James.)

Pupil of Aristotle,
vanquisher of the King of Kings,

could we chill together,

I'd not ask first how the Indus
felt splashing against your eager shins
nor what Persepolis smelled like
as it burned,

but how you fought
as your lieutenants,
with war-seasoned hands,
yanked you reeling in grief and resin
from clenching
his corpse
on a pyre
you built

of

sandalwood,
cedar,
and teak.

Botanical fanatical

emphatically we validate;
ecstatically we calibrate
to best implement the radical.

Everlasting my sabbatical,
dialectically transnumerical.

Queer today,
hot tomorrow.

Melting, melting,
swiftly melting,
ice shelves faltering,
superslum metropolises sweltering.

Eschaton, sweet eschaton,

dew like manna at the dawn
for us.

Spring from hard desert stone
for us.

In your snowmelt mercy,
with your cool, Hegelian fury,

make new women and new men
of us.

In the light of seven lamps,

my lips still searing from the ember kiss,
I apprehended one future

rising from our present past:

All our social forms
(hitherto handwritten)
could be printed.

Exact serifs, flawless kerning:

Our finest aspirations
wrung from our
drunken best intentions;

Signal by algorithmic grace exegeted,
meaning curated, clarified, and justified
from dreams dreamt mefloquine-fevered.

What today we call

politics
laws
love
philosophy

tomorrow

a mess of manuscripts,
lines tilting, letters cramped by poor planning,
marginalia - geometric and erotic - crowding and competing,
rotting with humidity.

To see the Magna Carta
next to a single printed
page:

Crisp the cadence
of a superintelligence's
compassion.

It takes my hot, human
breath away.

With laurels they crowned me, and

you with thorns.

In crimson they clothed me, but
you they bathed in blood.

My path they groomed so I would not dash my foot against a stone, then
filled packs for you to carry with all they cleared for me.

Every joke I made they found so witty, but
any dream you shared, they worked to crush.

To me they gave keys to the City and the Kingdom,
yet they took everything you earned and shouted, “Thief!”

My name with care they wrote in gold, yet
on you they seared a number.

They praised me just for showing up, while
your existence anywhere they resented.

When I babbled idiocies, they sang, “What Courage!” -
when you begged for a chance, they beat you without mercy.

Among books, music, and apple trees they set me, meanwhile
you they enslaved to a hell of shit, ennui, and rape.

And when, across the chasm, we glimpsed each other,
they called it “Choice,” “Freedom,” and “Meritocracy.”

Pouring over those most terrible pages

of the Times — the “Faces of the Dead” —
life upon life truncated by war, then
reduced to a photo and shards of metadata —

name, age, branch, hometown, theater, date of death —

I used to see older brothers who-might-have-been,
and, as I aged, twins or friends who-might-have-been,
then little brothers, also
who-might-have-been.

Now, it’s nephews
who-might-have-been.
Jesus.
14 years — half my life these wars.

Please let us stop
before I see
sons
who-might-have-been.

The day after March 6, 2015

while serving my nephew
bean-and-cheese tacos,
bacon, and coffee,

sharing this brunch, this
being and becoming,
this golden state
noon, so bright
every object lucid,
dancing, singing
canticles to the sun —

your face

arises
suddenly

within my nephew’s face,

both faces
(a mere year apart)
laughing, smiling together
radiant as linens
wrapping a body
during resurrection.

His name is Tony Robinson.
Your name is Tony Robinson.

They took Tony from this light.
They took Tony away forever into the dark.

One.
Two.
Three.
Four.
Five bullets to the chest.

Then shadows shift,
and you are gone.

We four continue
(my nephew, his friend,
his other uncle / my husband, and I)
passing the pico de gallo, refilling mugs —

though the truth I saw remains with me —
within that golden mass, glancing up
I caught the very instant of
transubstantiation:

bread becoming body, body
becoming bread,
blood becoming
wine, wine becoming blood

— my nephew, you,
you, my nephew.

His name is Tony Robinson.
Your name is Tony Robinson.

We will not forget your name.
We will remember you.
We will carry the five candles from the mass
      and set fire to the earth
      (would that it were already burning).
We will do this in memory of you.
We will not rest in peace
      until we stop them — stop they
      who take from us and kill
      our nieces and our nephews.

3,000 miles west, across this ocean

(I.)

upon whose shore I sit,

70 years ago (this August 6),

a sudden sun,

work of human hands,
blossomed
perversely
rising
where our
acheiropoieton star
seems to set to rest
each day.

That August Monday,
if she lives
in anyway as some of us imagined her,
even after all
the ships had sailed from Île de Gorée,
the ears cut off to conjure forth more gold from Turtle Island,
the Quakers hung on the Common,
all the
electrocution, castration, crucifixion,
burning, branding, raping, water-boarding

she

must have watched and

(passively? helplessly? my theodicy fluctuates agnostically)

must have wept
bitter tears
inconsolably.

80,000 of her children
offered up
so some might know how
to better roast another,
to vaporize a heart mid-
beat --

si autem sciretis quid est
misericordiam volo
et non sacrificium
numquam condemnassetis
innocentes

-- and then
three days later to
do it
all
again.

(II.)

Once upon a time,
someone proposed
we hide the codes
within a pill
within the chest
of one of our own.

Thus,

our leader
must murder
a fellow citizen

in order to
call down
the 12 angelic legions,

sending into ascension
faceless millions
of our siblings
(and our cousins as collateral
-- the dogs, the trees, the red-tailed hawks).

For these reasons
others argued
against this measure, and,
of course,
they won.

(III.)

Hiroshima, Nagasaki --

because I cannot
fold cranes, I fold
this language
into these lines
for you.

We poor heirs

of Socrates -

he who drank hemlock, and
he who suffered the cross, and
she who burned at the stake,

to carry on west of Concord,
Athens a distant, wandering light,

though other stars
shall be a lamp
unto our feet,

though we shall storm
the gates of heaven and of hell
to liberate both -

must never cease
doubting,

turning over and
over
and
over
the notions in our minds.

How are they flawed?
Worn?
Ready for a new use?
Which are combinable?

Though it seems vain to dream,
dream.

Dream
to speak of Plato
with students
who've never known
Attica (or the Aegean or even Sicily).

Emerald fire, sapphire seas,
our first Eden -

the Bay Area
of this vast, astounding
universe.

Red ripe revolution

For The Last Poets & planters of seeds everywhere

"When the revolution comes"

It'll be the way
summer 'maters do,

or a warm shower
starting slow,

one drop, two
more imperceptibly,

a misshapen sphere
reddening here,

a second shyly
blushing there.

It's not raining,
they'll say.

Crop's a long way off,
they'll say.

Weak yield this year,
they'll say.

Then - suddenly! -
we'll be swimming
in a plump, ripe
red cascade -

more 'maters than we had
ever dared to dream.

We'll invite everybody over

to help
pick,
boil,
can, and eat
the bounty -

salsas, pasta sauces, diced cubes spiced for future winter chilis, some sliced fresh
with basil, mozzarella, and a little olive oil and balsamic.

Oh, we'll be singing,
eating 'maters,
dancing in the rain,
sharing the joy with all -

even they who said,
It'll never rain.