It Would Be Cheaper

Let’s build a wall
of brick and mortar
that comes full circle
to meet itself
in a dark alley.

Make it wide enough
to stuff him in.
Slap a manhole cover
over it, so we can’t
see or hear him.

Seal it shut
without air holes.
Not just Mexico,
but the whole world
would pay for that.

No Pall-Mall

When winter and construction
cover the mall
with unlaid pipe
embedded in frozen accidental lakes,
it’s time
to wrap the temporary fences
in stenciled word collisions:

BLUE / CITY | GOOD / STREETS
BURNING / NIGHTS | BARREN / WHISPER
FIRST / STORM | SWEET / JUNGLE
HARD / LAND | EASY / POEMS
SECOND / SNOW | DARK / ART
TALL / WALLS | VIBRANT / DAWN

It’s time
this time.

This Machine Kills Fascists*

“There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me.
The sign was painted, said ‘Private Property.’
But on the backside it didn’t say nothin.
This land was made for you and me.”
—Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land”

She never had deep pockets. Tries
to lift her jaw off the ground.

Millions march with signs
In different cities around the world.

Not marking time. No
goose step. Limbs do bend.

Her body has always been
her body

even when she was determined
to destroy her before her time.

Her “No Means No”
sign abuts
“Judith Shakespeare LIVES
in you and in me.”

What has happened to the other signs
is none of her business.

Another alternative fact
slaps her with its curly tail

and broken glass fangs.

If she were a cat,
she would see

the man who clipped the whiskers
on her left cheek

knew what he was doing.
She gets stuck

trying to escape
through an abandoned milk chute.

But not judgment impaired,
not what she was wearing.

It’s not the anxiety
of visualizing how she might

rearrange the furniture. Not the cold
or thickened patches of ice outside.

It’s how to become the dry ice
his hot breath can’t sublimate.

On the bus that morning,
they sing protest songs.

No one remembers that lost verse
to “This Land Is Your Land.”

If she were a cat,
she would jump on the wall

to get a better look
at the backside of that sign.

* Written on Woody Guthrie’s guitar.

Inauguration Day 2017

What would Adrienne do,
what would Virginia do,
with this peculiar January 20th?
What will I do without them?

Without Barack and Michelle?
Let’s all be on a first name basis
as we step forward
despite the inflamed angry tempest

trying to knock us down.
Let Judith Shakespeare reclaim her body
to live in you and in me.
Let words to action

bend and flex
in the wind without breaking.

Assignment 

addicted to black coffee
she never gets a heart-shaped
swirl in the foam

never thinks to take
a photo of what
she’s drinking

it’s no longer a blur

the hot dark liquid
to be poured

the solid ceramic vessel
to be lifted

the reflection of a face
to be worn

11

parallel lines
quotation mark
rabbit ears
buck teeth
peace sign
twin towers
double toothpick
virgin islands
divided highway
eleventh hour
always prime

Thinly Veiled

what if my love
for you
could never compete
with the ardor
I feel for this place

this compact
urban breath

not where it began
for me

where it continues
to come full circle

and you really did
dare to wear
my dress
on stage
the next night