Friday, May 31, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

So, the president is a crook, and some of y'all are OK with that because he hates the same people you hate. He has the same paranoid delusions that you have. He has been brainwashed by the same echo chambers. Those ugly feelings you have about other people? He says those are OK. He encourages them. 

I had to get a DOJ/FBI background check to be a teacher. There are standards I must live up to if I want to maintain my credential. I can't act the fool, spew hate, or indoctrinate people. Maybe we should hold the most powerful person in the country to the same standards. 

If I did what Trump has done, I would be in jail. If Trump were black, he'd be dead. That's fucked, but look around you and tell yourself it ain't the truth. 

Ten years now. Ten years of gritted teeth and frustration, watching the ideals of the country get shoved into a Christian Nationalist blender. Ten years now thinking, "what the fuck will Trump say next?" Ten years fearing violence in our communities. Ten years hoping that people will wake up, and things will get better. 

Ten years from now, he'll be dead, and I'll be fifty years older than I was ten years ago. What can you say about Trump? He tried to be a star, but he'll end up in stripes. Sounds patriotic to me. 


  1. Replies
    1. "He tried to be a star, but he'll end up in stripes. Sounds patriotic to me." Killer ending.

      I get it, brother.

      I wonder what the full toll of his directionless empty hatred will be, whether we'll ever be able to measure it. On our inner lives, our mental health, how we react to others, all of it.

    2. I loved that line, too. Man, how did we get into this timeline? I'm getting to the "if I don't laugh, I'll throw myself off the roof" part of the show.

    3. Right? It's awful. It began with what was ostensibly a fluke in 2016, and now he won't go away.

  2. “Good lord, Thomas,” John Adams said in his best New England scold. “Are you letting Franklin set the controls again? You remember what a kerfuffle we landed in last time.”

    “Oh, hush, John,” Ben Franklin said. “Where’s your spirit of adventure?”

    “It died during that previous trip, when I saw what our descendants had done to the republic,” Adams said. “This was exactly what we’d anticipated, that some populist cretin would get it into the public discourse that we should be governed by a king.”

    “As if that’s any way of governing,” Jefferson said with a sneer.

    “Hopefully, our little tweak took care of that orange fool,” Franklin said, squinting at the controls as he fiddled. Then he leaned back and smiled. “All right, gentlemen. Our conveyance which had been in abeyance is now ready for our…never mind. Let’s just be off then.”

    Franklin bowed low, with a sweep of his hand, for Thomas Jefferson to enter first, then went inside the capsule himself, with Adams stepping rather indignantly behind him.

    “You’ll do the honors, Mr. Adams,” Franklin said, motioning to the switch.

    “Well. I’m not sure if it’s an honor, depending on the results. But may I just say, may God protect us all.”

    “Amen,” said the others. And with that, their journey began. After a bit of noise and a flashing light and a soupcon of jostling, all went silent.

    Adams prayed.

    Finally the doors slid open. Before them sat a compound of sorts, behind a fencing of wire. On the other side of the fence was a scattering of brown-skinned people and array of square buildings, cheaply made and all bearing the same mark: ICE.

    “Ice harvesters?” Jefferson said. “All the way out here, where I daresay there isn’t a body of water for miles and it’s warm enough to melt their entire supply?”

    “I believe that’s an acronym,” Franklin offered. “Although for what I haven’t a clue.”

    “They don’t still keep slaves, do they?” Adams said with some disgust.

    Franklin held up his eyeglass. “Clearly not African. Unless the traders commandeered a new pipeline.”

    “I don’t like this,” Adams said. “I don’t like this one iota. I vote for further investigation, and then a plan to go back in time and prevent this from happening. Eliminate slavery once and for all, if the method is available to us.”

    “It’s a slippery slope, John,” Jefferson said. “We bumbled our way backward last time and managed not to cause too many unintended consequences. If we’re to do a thing at this juncture, it must be with the utmost of precision or not at all.”

    “Thomas is, as always, correct,” Franklin said. “For now, let’s get a closer look.”

    They maneuvered their way through some brush and took up a position behind the fence, close to a building where numerous people were entering and exiting. Close enough to hear them speak.

    “I don’t recognize the language,” Franklin said. “And I’m familiar with quite a few.”

    “We’re all aware of your knowledge of the French tongue,” John Adams said, at which Franklin smiled and doffed an imaginary hat.

    “But I’m hearing phrases I’ve heard before,” said Jefferson. “I believe that’s Spanish.”

    “Spanish slaves?” Adams said, cocking his head. “That our original thirteen colonies have devolved to a point where we’re now enslaving two peoples…that is something I would indeed agree to remedy. Consequences be damned.”

    1. (rest of story)

      “ATTENTION,” a loud voice boomed from above and all three men jumped.

      “We’ve been spotted,” Adams hissed. “Back to the craft. Now.”

      “I don’t think it’s talking to us,” Franklin said, as the scatter of people—men, women, and children—coalesced to form even lines.

      “GOOD MORNING TO ALL OF YOU WHO ARE NOT RAPISTS AND MURDERERS AND MENTAL PATIENTS,” the voice continued. Then lower, it said, “We got anyone knows Mexican? Maybe one of them could translate for the other. Oh, forget it.”

      “What in the name of…?” Adams said.


      A murmur of excitement mixed with fear wove through the crowd. “Si, El naranja!” a loud-voiced man said, which drew laughter, then a few others, mostly young men, called in unison, “EL NARANJA! EL NARANJA! EL NARANJA!”

      Franklin stepped closer to a young man standing by himself near the fence. “Perdon, señor,” Franklin said. “¿Hablas inglés?”

      “Si,” the man offered.

      “¿Como se dice ‘el naranja’ en inglés?”

      The man darted a gaze right, then left, then said, “It means ‘the orange one’ because his face, it is orange.” An older man from the crowd took a few steps in their direction. “Lo siento,” the man said to Franklin. “I must go now and start my job. Or I will be sent back.”

      “Sent back”? Jefferson said, after the crowd dispersed. “Wouldn’t that be a positive outcome?”

      “Are you two missing the lede? Franklin said. “The Orange One. He ascended to the throne. Whatever we did last time didn’t work. It will take more drastic changes to the Constitution, I’m afraid. Are you with me?”

      Both men nodded their assent.

      “Then, gentlemen,” Franklin said, “let’s motor.”

    2. You and Dan on the same wavelength. I know I've said this before, but I'd love to see this expanded.

    3. This has so many levels. I agree with DA. There is so much that could be played with in here.

  3. “The Green Unruly”

    La tristesse

    How this all came together, no idea, but I arrive at the place my love once lived, crossing the tracks that divide two parallel roads, into the heart of this small Pennsylvania town, while my ailing car radio works to stifle “Oh My Heart” by R.E.M.

    So little time to hunker down and wait till washed-out roads are cleared of floodwater and if necessary fixed. Waiting unaccompanied amid drear fall memories. The doom-tolling railroad crossings. A boxcar barroom in matte black punctuated by neon, and windowless. Standing water in stubbled fields reflecting only grays. The chrome yellow of a receding school bus the only daub of true color anywhere.

    Rubber and diesel, tires and fuel. Caught amid a squall of semi-trucks and the crawl of a combine. The green unruly. Belligerent.

    I pull onto the shoulder and tell you of the whispered voices in the twilit woods. You are silent, doubtful, which stings. I might not be hiding something; maybe you just aren’t looking.


    We pivot on an island, gasoline spraying, how green is my valley, the kneeling martyr flinching for the axe.

    Thinking we might go start a bar fight just to recall what it was like to feel something.

    We’re ocean-dwellers clinging to a washed-up buoy of apparent certainty—the sands shifting around us—while pretending the sea hasn’t sucked itself backward.

    The wide horizon. Anticipatory. A quivering knife edge.

    Phantoms of the forest scaling shredded trunks under the quarrels of ravens. Under yet darker things.


    Could there have been a moment of reconciliation? Was there a frail song on the wind, obscured by the flapping of laundry as the gusts arrived? Lost to the ravenous monster we call the past. Lost to the hungry, decadent ghosts.

    Long dark blues. We were here once—is that even enough?—and we think this is how it felt to be us.

    1. I might not be hiding something; maybe you just aren’t looking.

      Phantoms of the forest scaling shredded trunks under the quarrels of ravens.

      These two sentences are so powerful. They grabbed me hard. Also, the slight personification of the car radio - giving it an agenda really pulled me in.

      This is an amazing piece of ethereal writing. - JD

  4. One to ten


    all the sacred lists of the never done,
    the wished upon, bled, un-won.


    a struck filament, who knew?
    Seeping fire, sweeping through.


    in an instant he’s down on one knee,
    emoting for all the world to see.


    a pool of friends bleat at the door,
    full knowledge of the homeless poor.


    you get a full calendar to grieve,
    suppress your own joy to still live.


    he’s standing in line for another fix,
    missing, extinct, exiled from the mix.


    they’re all trying to make it leven,
    seeing signs full-sail from heaven.


    it’s a time to step inside your fate;
    only make sure it’s not too late.


    he said “I want it all to be mine”
    and yet he didn’t want to spend a dime.


    she lingered awhile beneath Big Ben,
    doused by rain, oblivious to all men.

    1. As with Dan's piece, the ending is what makes this, a sudden reality check, like something from a sixties kitchen sink drama.

    2. I agree. The ending is a punch for sure. I like the rhyme-scheme and rhythm of this. Definitely could be a dope song as well as a dope poem. :) JD

  5. I just went for a walk and this little butterfly kept landing on stones in front of me and as I got near it flew on. This happened about seven or eight times. It was awesome.

    My guide through the hedgerows

    It leads me, in flutter,
    til spread still on a moss-fed stone
    it sits, contemplates, flits upward
    to flicker in this slip of spilt sun,
    movements sluggish and kind.

    It is my spirit guide through giants,
    trunks sunk in this ditch deep-dug
    between hedgerows with their spill of purple
    velvet, lemon cups, horns of melting nectar,
    spun pearl-white daisies linking hands.

    Once more it perches, sienna-gold gilded,
    and in its unique timing it lifts again in game,
    shows me its childish side in secret,
    waiting for the human to play catch-up
    and understand nature’s way of speaking.

    1. Wow. I'll probably keep finding more in this with every read. What struck me initially was how you expressed the happiness, all those one- or two-syllable words with soft I's (still, sits, flits, flicker, slip, spilt, spill, gilded, lifts, etc) that you can't say without widening your mouth in a smile. And again, a last line that hits perfectly.

    2. This is beautiful. I agree that the alliteration and assonance are so deftly done. I love this concept as well and the language in general is so crisp and hypnotic. JD

  6. I enjoyed reading everyone's offerings this week even if I'm too tired to draft my own.


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