Hate. Arousing and affirming hate is not a policy.
This past week 45 held a rally at an arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a mere 50 minutes from this desk, where for over an hour he roused and affirmed the hate carried by his base base.
The President, our elected officials, and all of us are to work toward helping those who are helpless when it comes to housing, food, health, economic fairness, toward combating climate change, to enhance education, to uphold freedom of loving cultures, to secure everyone’s rights and safety, to establish equal pay for equal work, to create fair taxation practices, to work on whatever problem we, our families, and friends are struggling with.
But hate. Hate is not subject to debate.
Kindness can and must withstand it.
“It is only kindness that makes sense anymore.” from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Kindness”
Last night at practice
when my man slipped by me
for a lay-up, Coach threw down
his clipboard, ran right up into my face,
slapped me behind the head,
and yelled, “What the hell
are you doing? Get in front.
Take a charge. You
on this team or not! How
are we gonna be ready if you
don’t play tough defense!”
Some mornings I wake up
wondering about wind sprints,
and tough defense, and running
up the bleachers twenty times.
Two hours every night
at practice I’m the other team.
I’ve heard it a thousand times: “You’re
necessary. You’re an integral part.
Without you, we’d never be ready.”
But I know I do what you do
when you’re never good enough.
Some day I’ll come back
and point at that place on the bench.
Some day I’m gonna sit back,
watch t.v., take a vacation
every summer, have a dog,
and never miss a game.
“You get in tonight?” my father asks
when I come in after a game.
I knock the snow from my boots, “No.”
“What?” “No.” “Close game?”
“No, we lost by twenty-three.” I listen
to the empty air, the slow shake
of my father’s head, know he’s been sitting
with a beer watching one show roll into
another, sneering at the ads and laugh tracks,
waiting for the news, sports, and weather, bed.
I go to the refrigerator, look at the line
of Budweiser cans, take out the milk,
pour a glass, go in with him
to watch the scores.
Sometimes, after practice,
I walk home
and I think about
letting the ball
bounce away. Then
I would sit down,
let my mind open up wider
and wider, so wide
the sky would
would light it all.
Last week, on the bus for school,
my seven year old sister said,
I’m scared the sun will go out.
That’s ridiculous. Can’t happen, and I
took her hand, looked out the window, up
into the sky, watched snow clouds
cross. But it’s fire, she said.
Fire goes out.
Four wind sprints to go.
“Let’s see what you have left.
Run. Run like I’m after you.
Run. Run now, or after the next
game, I’ll run you till you drop.
Run, god dammit, run.”
Once last summer I lay in bed
wondering if somewhere hidden
in my cells was something good enough
that I could do. But
the cells were mute. The days
since then have been the same, even
their names dissolving
like the host upon my tongue.
Mark Hiskes’s long-awaited collection Standing with Alyosha (Dos Madres Press) has been released. Lorna Cook, author of Outside Wonderland among other novels, says “Mark Hiskes writes with the wisdom of a teacher humbled and seasoned, yet lit by an unfailing love of literature and the incandescence of adolescence. Each poem in the lovely collection is drawn with honesty, grit, and a constant thread of grace.”
Don Cellini’s latest collection of translation is Solar History by Jair Cortés.
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Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.