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Past struggles

Past struggles, feeling othered,
looked at differently—treated
unfairly, unequal, disregarded
Under a veneer of shallow reasonableness
they set an unreasonable agenda,
their power unregulated, abhorrent
You refused to accept my gifts

A long metal spoon prevents
the glass from cracking
Full of hot coffee, some milk
she takes it Russian style
with a lump of sugar on her
tongue as she sips
It’s pleasant to be the best

You who have so much,
why do you crave even more?
“The existence of the gods
explains nothing because they
are a part of our natural world
and can’t exist without it”
Her ritual love is barbarous

Some say the Kohen priests
are forbidden to look upon
or be in the same room with
dead people because the sight of
death would incite a bitterness
against God, a relentless anger
and so as priests they wouldn’t be

able to lead us in prayer
with sweet hearts full of  
innocence and God’s love
Our silence is inevitable
Life’s tenacious but vulnerable
like the thirst for power, like
the vile desire to oppress

I thought those trees were
going to fall over as though
they were leaning towards me
like the little apple tree torn
from its roots in a freak tornado
Justice, truth, and health in ancient
Greek are all feminine nouns that

point us to nobility, worthiness,
life’s tenaciousness, in good temper
The bigger the task, the more your
mistakes matter—Said the slave
“I could run away but my mom
could not—Her young children
tied her to this place”

The tenuous veneer of civilization,
sometimes barely discernable like
a bland sheath that covers rage
Dad had only 40 years
When 40 I was far more
clueless than him—That
generation grew up faster

Contingent, provisional, subjective
glaring prejudice, long unemployment
lines, overfilled morgues, badly
germ ridden, soaked in disease
Sometimes when we seek a real
connection we just graze each other
Others say that isn’t it at all—

that the prohibition on gazing
upon the dead, is because God
is life and that a priest who
witnesses death is ungodly
I think of her a lot because she’s
beautiful and also because
she’s just as sad as I am 

-August 22, 2020-