My grief is not phony

she has wings and pen and paper.

She is alive, bleeding like a sacred heart

leaving drops for me to follow

sticky footprints toward hope.


My grief, a matroyshka, one painted face inside another inside another

sings songs of choking rivers plastic oceans children in cages pre-existing existences.

My grief

first broken apart when I watched you shark-circle your opponent

just after the pussy tape told us exactly who you are

but still

it didn’t matter.


My grief slicing open for my own complicity, my own dance in privileged skin

broken with Pulse and Parkland and Treyvon and too many more

whose souls now find passage in my living marching grief

that revealed my own #metoo year hidden away in my body

caged in an even larger grief

my father, dead too young, dead naturally

but still

I yearn for him thirty years later


I cry for him and the children on foil blankets reaching


they are mine. they are ours. they are yours.


One month after your inauguration they found my cancer

and I knew my body had turned toward self-destruction

that could not be healed with more destruction,

walls, firepower or poisons

could only be healed with integration

with asking hey, what is up, what do you need, how can I help

you find home?


Our nation, yes your nation too, our nation, my nation

consumed by its own cancer now

not the cancer of one person or party

but the cancer of belief that some are saved and some are sinners

some are chosen some are forsaken

some are us and some are them

this cancer also cannot be cured with guns and poisons

no wall will contain this cancer

we must open to it

find its voice beneath its fence of fear and separation.


Let us follow the bleeding heart of grief

with tender steps

with open arms

with me with you.


My grief, she is not phony, dressed in feathers and silk

she has feet and lungs and fingers

her task is not to hide behind a wall, a gated community, a mask of skin

her task is to remain broken, bleeding, open



while the world is shouting close




each image cutting deeper, each crying child our own yearning

for mama

for papa

for home.


My grief is not yours to claim

she is mine and she sings my spine awake

dances my fingers forward toward the torch of hope

that grieving bloody hearts will hold high

illuminating the quivering cancer until it has nowhere to rest

and then, my grief can smile and wipe her lips and whisper

“Look, my love, the raccoon has climbed the building; *

the children have all come home.”

  • for 45 in response to his claim that liberals’ grief is phony 6/22/18

* reference to the raccoon who scaled the UBS building in Minnesota 6/13/18