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every moment is a once in a lifetime
not because tomorrow’s not promised
but because even if it was
right now is exactly what tomorrow could never be:
this very moment.

but instead of living life like we own it
we’ve lived life like we’ve been loaned it –
like we’re seat-fillers at the Oscars
only to shine after commercial breaks,
or anxious temporary cardholders
awaiting an expiration date –
we trudged through the motions
as if soon it would all be over
and we’d see the other side.

we’ve lived in the tiniest corners of our minds
unable to share close encounters of the human kind
figuring any extra terrestrial
must be an extra-terrestrial
and that no body on Earth
could be as heavenly as the celestials…
but we’re all stars in the dopest show in the universe,
so why do we act like understudies?

we’re all headliners
and though the only act we know
is in these costumes,
the only stage we’re on is this one
and though we can’t guarantee an encore performance next week
when the only future we can grab belongs to yesterday,
why do we hold on for dear life
like living’s worth not wanting more?

and when we do get a glimpse of tomorrow,
why do we assume it’s beyond our control?
like on the right hand of God sits Jesus
and on the left sits a deistic puppet master
whose strings hide from sight
as imitation silver linings in clouds,
strings that guide us
to waltz through years like ballrooms,
light on our feet
mid-dance, anxious of our judge’s scores;
we get caught up
assuming destinies
awaiting hand-me-down fates…

but when we assume that we’re only,
that we’re second, that we’re barely
we assert selfish superstition upon malleable experience;
like when the politics of hope are broken into fantasy
and the pieces show their cracks
jagged and unseemly;
or when the power of our faith,
one a god could never have,
is traded in for short-term gains
and our souls sugar-crash.

yet with our power to assume
comes power to engage –
to move from cleaning off the table
to eating off the plates,
from being victims of the law
to deciding how it’s made,
from meaning “dark,” “feared” and “unknown”
to shining on the brightest stage.

we won’t be kings like kings once were
we won’t be queens, or even dukes;
we won’t get rich off reparations
it’s 2008, we don’t need mules;
our homes will still be measured in feet
not in acres, not draped in jewels;
we won’t strike back with vengeful hearts
’cause we know what it’s like to lose.

what we will be is the promise
that our parents made to us:
finally embraced
with more than arms-length transactional hugs.

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to Oman with love

an apology (postdated 01.24.09).

We are really, really sorry.

It’s not you; it’s us. See, it all started early in 2000. We fell asleep, let our system of government be appropriated and yadda, yadda, yadda, we woke up bruised and confused. It wasn’t until about a year ago that we realized what we’d done. We had a plan; we really did. We were going to elect a dream ticket to the White House. Barack and Hillary were going to change the world!

But then it all went so wrong. Hillary started crying. Then she campaigned in a state she shouldn’t have. Her husband channeled Dick Cheney (which, here, means subversively attacking those who only want to trust you). Then she campaigned in a state she shouldn’t have. She started publicly calling Barack less than a republican (which, believe it or not, in this country is almost an ethnic slur to a lot of people). Then one of Hillary’s advisers channeled Dick Cheney. Then her husband questioned Barack’s patriotism… Barack tried to rise above it all. He really did. But his associates were less than competent and lead him headfirst into quicksand. In the end, our dream convention was a brokered nightmare and Barack emerged too politically drained to win the general election. In fact, John McCain, his VP Steve Forbes, and a slew of 512 agencies (they are like the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz) used many of Hillary’s remarks about Barack to tear him down.

So we gave the world John McCain. And just as John McCain thought Iran was adopting and training al-Qaeda operatives from Iraq, he also mistook your country for Iran and bombed you preemptively. He’s 72. It was late at night. Even you admit your names sound similar (*Oman* – *Iran*). Your people have the same brownness. And on the White House map of Asia, both of your countries are the same color. And we’re sure at one time, someone, somewhere mistook you for a nation encouraging US-targeted terrorism. So there’s that.

We will try to impeach him, but we’re about as influential here as you are. And without a Republican Congress and a president who’s a democrat, impeachments happen about as often as same-sexed conception around here. So the best we can offer is that if you consider changing your name to something more American, like that Georgia over there (maybe you could try “Rhode Island”), we will work on heeding the words of Chuck Norris the next time he speaks.

Our condolences.
Rationally Liberal Citizens of the United States of America. (RLCUSA)

P.S. Tell Azerbaijan to duck. Thanks.

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Talk Down to Me:

Dedicated to Dick Cheney and that sales associate from Banana Republic.

Ooh I love it when you call me Big Sloppy. Forgive me for my
indiscretions like you actually know what they are. Tell me again how
stupid I look with this brain. You make me feel like a natural moron.

Dumb it down. Make it good sense to me. Better yet, don’t waste your
time. Prey on me like I’m at the bottom of your food chain. I feel
unsafe when I’m important. I don’t like to think. It makes my tummy
hurt. I’m short on food for thought.

You are so wise you see problems that don’t exist. I am too slow to
invent such cause for alarm. And I could certainly never keep up if
reason is a moving target. But you… You have eyes in the back of
your head. You are like a surveillance camera.

Remind me to thank you for your service. For I may not appreciate the
true gift it has been to make your acquaintance without being coached.

Sent via iPhone.

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Second Comes Love

Late tonight, huddled at my computer screen, I met Barack Obama. I liked him. We still have a lot to talk about before we’re pushing a baby in a baby carriage, but at least we’re finally sitting in a tree.

He seems different exposed. Maybe we all do. Maybe our truest moments come only when we’re naked, moments at which we reveal the difference between being honest and being candid. Why do we roll up our pant leg to show you that scar we got when we were 6? Probably because it makes the story we tell about it more real.

Now, before you chastise me for having multiple personalities, and choosing today’s persona because it has a shiny new convertible bandwagon…

I’m still not in love with Barack. So much of me wants to be. I want him to wear the air of my aspirations and a suit whose lapel is cut to the style of my conviction. Not because I am what he should be, but because I want what he is to include me. I want my words to resound in his voice. I want my ideals to shape his endeavors. Most of all, I want my passion to drive his spirit.

Today he made it possible to love him. But we still have work to do in this relationship. I can forget Rev. Wright’s name by tomorrow. The name of his church already escapes me. I was never supposed to commit to Rev. Wright. No 2008 election outcome put the stability of the world, the fate of our economy, or the dreams of my parents in his hands. But I’m supposed to trust Barack with at least that, if not more.

And so we should be greatly excited at the opportunity Barack reminds us is waiting to be actualized. But we can still ask why it took so long. He has been the candidate of hope, change, dreams, faith, and everything between. We’ve crowned him the facilitator, if not the bringer, of the cure for what ails us. But listen to what he said today: we cannot move forward infected by anger. Yet until today, he never bothered to fearlessly identify what is arguably our most viral disease. Until there was a crisis, he offered no management.

It is critical that you understand I do not consider him an opportunist. What we witnessed was not mere political calculation. He was knocked down. He stood up. He brushed his shoulders off. He took huge strides. He was impressive. He was complete. And I thank him.

He was aware this morning. But my calendar shows more than just today. Today, Barack admitted what we all at least suspected he knew. Race is more than an issue in America. It is its own institution. I know Barack didn’t learn this by watching the pundits last week. I know he’s lived it. I know he and Michelle have told their children allegories, if not stories, about it. He had to know this was a speech he’d have to give, even if he imagined it never included his pastor’s name. JFK had to. Romney tried to. Barack has more vision than he previously displayed. He should not have been surprised here.

I know he walks a fine line. Forget thin ice. It must be more like he’s skating on a meniscus, in a glass half-full. He has to convince a nation that Cornell is as right as he is wrong: that his race matters as much as it doesn’t. Don’t tell me it has been unfair to expect that he found a way to deliver that message flawlessly, though. He did it today. And you should’ve expected it before now at least as much I did. We owe that sense of inquiry to ourselves.

And we owe both our ancestors and our children more than static reincarnations of the past. That’s the subtext of Barack’s speech today. That obviously means answering a call to arms to erase inequality. I understand your point: that perhaps the issue wasn’t ripe, that we weren’t yet ready to receive until controversy arose. It’s frightening how true that may be (we too often ignore leaks until they’re floods). You might even say that I had no reason to have doubts in the first place. You may be right, but only because calling my hesitation “doubt” misses the mark. You’ve seen it: two black men pass each other on the street, make eye contact, and nod. True, maybe neither one of them has lived anything like the life of the other. But they nod silently anyway. They believe there’s a great chance they share something. They have to believe it. It soothes. All I’ve ever said is that the man who will be president has to do more than nod. He has to open his mouth. He has to speak.

And so my anger in my posts about Barack should be measured not as blame, but as the weight of great expectations. I want him to be great because we simply cannot survive any less. I want him to be great because he can be. And I am not afraid to ask it of him.

I am a bundle of all of the contradictions he acknowledged today. It’s comforting to know he is, too.

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Somebody should tell Barack Obama that it’s ok that he’s black.

It’s ok that he went to a primarily black church, with a black pastor, who often spoke to issues specific to the black community. It’s not a validly categorized “political liability.”

But by aggressively distancing himself from a man who was willing to acknowledge this, it makes me wonder if despite all of the energy and passion this campaign season holds, Tupac is still right: we’re not ready to see a black president.

I don’t know what Wright is about. Most of me doesn’t care. The issue here isn’t about Wright as he was en toto, but Wright as he offered the critique of “God damn America.” Because that’s what all the fallout is about. Truth is, his – perhaps poorly articulated – notion that global politics are integrated and we are a contributing member is neither original nor outlandish and isn’t getting press. The idea that the anger we face is in part due to the disdain and ignorance we present and share, isn’t offensive to me as long as it doesn’t forgive other players their blame for, at best, being led to a river of poison and choosing to drink.

That said, I’ve written too many dissertations in the last several days, so let me be brief. Some of us are not just black, but black in America. We have parents who had their school buses stoned on integration day; we have grandparents who weren’t allowed to have more than a fifth grade education; we have great-grandparents who were slaves. More frighteningly, we have siblings and children who are profiled, denied jobs and denied education.

So we have days where America isn’t that great. We have days when we remember what America has done to us. And we have nights on which we go to sleep, praying America doesn’t do it all over again in the morning. We will not apologize for our view of America. It’s been imputed and it’s empirical. Every day we walk out of our homes, we are on stage for America. We are told to behave and not react to micro-aggressions. We are told we’ve had long enough to assimilate and blend. We are told America is working for us better than it is for others and as well as it ever will. We are told to forget what we are.

We’re not ready to see a black president. Because if we were, we’d be ready to see him or her as representative of what so many of us are. Instead, America is rallying behind a black candidate who has chosen not to believe our truth or to only silently embody it.

I’m aware of the risk of essentialism here. I really am. But at one point, it was ok to think there was supposed to be something special about a black presidential candidate. And that “something” was allowed to be more than his audacity to hope. We’re not all the same. We don’t all have the same history. But for a lot of us, I hope, a black president unwilling to publicly admit that America has given us as black Americans both the best and worst of times, doesn’t have whatever that special something we dreamed about is.

I like to think I too have the audacity to hope. And what I hope is that a President Obama understands what gets lost in translation when “God damn America” is uttered.

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Still A Bachelor…

I’ve been silent for a long time. From the beginning, actually. I didn’t vote in my primary. There were a lot of concerns to balance: my ego over a thoroughly deluded ex-dream of being the first black president; a hearty distrust of a vote approving “the use of force…”

The sum of those parts: I am mortified that I might not vote for the first black president.

But if I’m buying disingenuousness, maybe I want it to at least be predictable? Doesn’t that smooth the edge of misleading rhetoric — the “comfort” in knowing what the speaker really means? And isn’t that especially true if the meaning between the lines, or behind the scenes, is really the best option anyway?

All Barack has to do is just be impenetrably straight forward. He’s more charming, has a wider base, is more responsive and welcomely less salty. But, via his advisers, he has made it quite clear that he may mean little of what he says. His online “Plan for Ending the War in Iraq” never mentions the realism a recently-former senior adviser offered this week. And his current senior foreign policy adviser doesn’t think he’s ready to answer that infamous 3am call. Not to mention, there’s that non-vote Barack never made. He constantly reminds us that he didn’t vote for the use of force when he couldn’t have even if he had a constituency asking him to. I guess that means that if, in the future, there’s an issue he’s constitutionally-prohibited from voting on, trust that his judgment won’t let him vote the wrong way. I have no idea what solace that’s supposed to offer. So if that’s the case, why shouldn’t I choose the candidate with the b-side I know? Our country’s future should not be left to the element of surprise better reserved for albums with hidden tracks. Not all secrets are bonuses.

Though, of course, not all Old Faithfuls live up to their namesake. And so I don’t buy nearly enough of what Hillary spews to fall head over heels for her either. She escaped way too readily from her husband’s overhanded indiscretions in South Carolina. She’s been given a flat-out pass for her adviser’s Obama-Ken Starr comparison. And why would I ever walk into a relationship with someone who I knew couldn’t admit she was wrong? Since when was it flirtatious to say you cling to mistakes like static to a fleece?

And so here I am. I’m in the place I said I hoped I wouldn’t be: sandwiched between options that feel scarily incomplete. I’m tired of canvassing singles’ bars. Wasn’t this supposed to be the election where I found Mr. or Ms. Right? I want to be on the right side of history, but I want history to meet me in the middle. And I want you to stop telling me I’m asking for too much.

When do I get to love America? It’s almost like I’ve been molested. I don’t claim to understand or be able to relate to the lived severity of being raped or touched by your mom’s boyfriend. But there’s something at least remotely similar here figuratively. During my most vulnerable political years (the dating years) — 18-25 — George W. Bush is the only president I’ve seen. I’ve watched him “win” despite Florida and repeat despite Ohio. I’ve watched us let him. During my critically formative stage, I have lived and witnessed perhaps the most mismanaged and morally bankrupt administration in this nation’s history. So yeah, I hope. But in a land where it takes “more than coupons to get us saved / like it takes a lot more than du-rags to get you waves,” it’s gonna take a lot more than promise to make me praise.

I don’t want to do the best thing “given the circumstances.” I want to do the right thing. At all times when it comes to politics. Because it defines struggle, achievement, life and death. And I want someone to explain to me why there is seemingly no right thing to be found and only compromise. I don’t want to settle. Our system of politics is one where a nation of imperfect persons are told to make the best with what they’ve got because, after all, even the best of us are little more than the rest of us. But if I told you today that the law says you have to marry someone you knew but didn’t love, even though you knew you’d have the option of divorce, hopefully at least some of you would tell me no one should dictate your private choices; that you’re not making a serious commitment to an acquaintance, or that who you bring children into the world with matters. So why do you take handouts at their face value when in this relationship your partner is a leading decider in whether you can decide to have children, whether those kids go to war, what taxes you pay, and whether or not your job supports the very family you insist must be preserved? Is it really just because you hate being single? That the other fish in the sea are rotten?

There’s no coming back from this. Am I really the only citizen who wants a soulmate?

Blogged with Flock

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Reporting live from the basement auditorium at the National Archives as a panel discusses primary reform.

I don’t know that there’s much of a story here. I suppose I just thought you should know. There are, of course, the tell-tale signs of grassroots political theater: old men asleep, middle-aged men in fanny packs, men of all ages in beards and overalls, rants via mic abductions (rants without mics for that matter), blind assertions, seemingly wilful blind assertions… Standard operating procedure. Oh right: and scattered laughter at “jokes” for no other discernable reason than to have the room acknowledge you were cool enough to show up at an event (aka the rat-bastard-masturgiggle).

And so, somewhat sadly, nothing new here. Politics as usual, in some ways.

Sent via iPhone.

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