I have a bird in my head and a pig in my stomach
And a flower in my genitals and a tiger in my genitals
And a lion in my genitals and I am after you but I have a song in my heart
And my song is a dove
I have a man in my hands I have a woman in my shoes
I have a landmark decision in my reason
I have a death rattle in my nose I have summer in my brain water
I have dreams in my toes
This is the matter with me and the hammer of my mother and father
Who created me with everything
But I lack calm I lack rose
Though I do not lack extreme delicacy of rose petal
Who is it that I wish to astonish?
In the birdcall I found a reminder of you
But it was thin and brittle and gone in an instant
Has nature set out to be a great entertainer?
Obviously not A great reproducer? A great Nothing?
Well I will leave that up to you
I have a knocking woodpecker in my heart and I think I have three souls
One for love one for poetry and one for acting out my insane self
Not insane but boring but perpendicular but untrue but true
The three rarely sing together take my hand it’s active
The active ingredient in it is a touch
I am Lord Byron I am Percy Shelley I am Ariosto
I eat the bacon I went down the slide I have a thunderstorm in
my inside I will never hate you
But how can this maelstrom be appealing? do you like menageries? my god
Most people want a man! So here I am
I have a pheasant in my reminders I have a goshawk in my clouds
Whatever is it which has led all these animals to you?
A resurrection? or maybe an insurrection? an inspiration?
I have a baby in my landscape and I have a wild rat in my secrets from you.
ALIVE FOR AN INSTANT Kenneth Koch
This town is rural and populated by lifers except for the Habitat employees. Coworkers in my program are from Chicago, Denver, Boston, Houston, Iowa, and Sri Lanka, so we’re easy to pick out in the Walmart aisle. Local-outsider relations in New Haven were tense, as if the university community was usurping the locals’ space, but I’m not sure if that’s the case here. Maybe the locals are happy we’re here.
Last night we went to an authentic country bar. A guy in his 30s who was handsome but rough around the edges overheard that we work at Habitat and, because lots of people associate us with Jimmy Carter, called out, “My daddy whooped Jimmy Carter’s ass on the courthouse steps,” and those were the words he used, I wouldn’t play up some country caricature, “because Jimmy stole a hog from my grandaddy.” He wasn’t telling it to be funny. “You ask Jimmy if he remembers the Wilfords, he’ll tell you he does.” It also wasn’t a moment to get technical and explain that we don’t work for or with Jimmy Carter. A coworker who’s a local said, “He’ll remember it if the whoopin’ was good enough,” which was the perfect endcap to the exchange, and if you’re not charmed by that, then I don’t recommend you come to visit me in south Georgia.
When I left town recent friends and acquaintances said, “You should start a blog.” Today I realized why it felt mismatched to tell them about this one: they want a narrative blog, the kind that college students write on trips to Europe, so that they can hear about new weird Americus. I would not know how to write that kind of blog. I rarely think to take photos. They would be disappointed to find posts about George Jones.
Justice is love correcting that which would work against love. The Almighty God is not just standing out saying, “Behold thee, I love you, Negro.” He’s also the God that standeth before the nations and says: “Be still and know that I am God, that if you don’t obey me I’m gonna break the backbone of your power.”
Standing beside love is always justice. And we are only using the tools of justice. Not only are we using the tools of persuasion but we’ve got to use the tools of coercion.
The tools of coercion! I’m gonna break the backbone of your motherfucking power, you miserable fuckers! I am reading about the Florida tomato pickers/slaves and getting riled up.
The first person I saw this morning at the homeless outreach center was a 52-y-o guy who had been beaten up by four dudes in their 20s. They took his wallet, which had his ID and Soc. Sec. card in it. They knocked the shit out of him, too; it happened two weeks ago, but he still has scrapes on his arms, bruises all over, one eye is all yellow and red. He said he told them, “I’m old enough to be y’all’s dad, why are you gonna do that.” What’s more fucked up is that without ID, he can be arrested by any cop who stops him on the street—locked up for weeks, potentially—and without ID he is not allowed into any decent overnight shelters.
Tuesday I talked to a woman who’s 27, and she’s been living in an abandoned building for three months because (for complicated reasons) she can’t get state ID. IHOP has a job waiting for her, but without ID she can’t cash a paycheck, so there’s no point in starting the job. There are so many obstacles to her being officially recognized as a person that she is stuck.
We feel unknown, we need to be known, and it is difficult to become known.