ABC’s For Roger

My mother was not an American when she crossed the border for the first time, headed south from Quebec as part of a migration of thousands of farmers and workers seeking manufacturing jobs in the industrial Northeast but her skin was white and her father had citizenship so they didn’t have to deal with racist Minute Men vigilantes at the border, private for profit detention centers for undocumented Americans, or violent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids at home, work, or school. They were allowed to pass in relative safety and peace, many years later she gave birth to two children and taught me my ABC’s in this language watching Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, and although I am choosing not to have children of my own, the ones that I adopt will learn the same through symbols like these…

A is for Adoption, for every boy and girl in need
even when it seems that legal guardian angels only come to free
those that are healthy, white, and younger than age three.

A is Also for AGRICULTURE, which is Better than Cattle, Corn, Soy, or Deforestation;
It takes 12 million metric tons of grain
to feed and raise 3 million metric tons of edible beef,
take that same fuel and give it to human bellies?
you could feed 4 times the people,
prevent the slashing and burning of nearly 80% the forest,
and conserve almost 40% the drinkable water.

E is for Economics, Energy, and Evolution;
Fail to see how these things relate and our Globe
will choke on the Gaggles of Genomes
we are Greedy enough to make.

Huge Industrial Juggernauts Kill!
there are over 900 billionaires in existence;
(double the number there was when I first wrote this poem)
total their wealth, and you’ve got more money
than the combined assetof every working class person on Earth.
Billionaires- what socialists and anarchists have been referring to
for over a hundred years as the Ruling Class.
All colors, cultures, and skin tones
from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia,
Nigeria, China, and New American Rome.
Blue blooded, white collared, with apathy colored eyes
now go back and hold onto “I,”
It’s Important,
like Conservation, Contraceptives, Recycling and Research.

L is not for Love of poetry or Hip Hop, but for Logic:
If the population of this world doubles in size
50 times over the next 200 years,
there will be no room to build, farm, or breathe;
that may not be enough to scare some into changing their daily routine
but as for me? I am terrified.

P is for Police Officers;
over worked, underpaid, and under-trained.
If the only people applying at the police academy are
football players who weren’t good enough to make it in college
and ex-military men with a propensity for violence,
then the only people holding guns in the name of the law will be…
football players who weren’t good enough to make in college
and ex-military men with a propensity for violence.

“P” is also for Petroleum OIL Plastics
in Practically every Product and Package within consumer reach or access.
It’s the same substance over which wars are fought only in a different chemical form.
Corporations and governments to send soldiers off to kill and die for more than just gas;
P is for Petrol but also for Polymers and Privileged control over Power sources.
When international bankers and the Industrial Military Complex Partner
Perpetual War quickly becomes the most Profitable endeavor Possible.

So let’s Question our goods
who makes them, where they come from, and how they are distributed;
we have a relationship with all of these things!
If some one or some piece of earth
is being destroyed in the process by which our goods get to us
then WE are Responsible for any harm done.
That’s why…
Responsible consumers
paper, plastic and glass.
V is for Vegan, and that’s where it’s at.
Actually, V is Vegetarian, Vegan, and omni-Vore
as long as we are doing everything that we can
to keep our money out of an earth destroying, worker exploiting,
animal torturing, factory farm corporation’s hands.

Which one of the following
is a figment of America’s fucking imagination?
is it:
a.) super man has X-ray vision.
where servants are subjected to several layers of X-ray radiation
every single day just to make certain that no one is stealing;
a decade after the story already broke in mainstream U.S. media.
Without very many slam poets or emcees writing very many letters
to their legislators or editors and Hip Hop and R&B
have become some of the most consistent investors in a venture destined
to keep conflict diamond mines alive and bleeding.
You and I can make a difference by NOT purchasing slave diamonds
to symbolize our love and the ring of its meaning.

Now they say that at poetry slams, protests, and highly acclaimed liberal arts colleges,
that we are preaching to the choir,
that our real goal should be to get the ideas presented Here
to the outside world, but we are not the choir.
I don’t believe that we’re working as hard as possible,
I don’t see us doing everything that we can,
and Evolution has to move faster than this.

Z is not for Zion or Zachariah but for Zenith,
if you and I sacrifice our surplus
till everyone has food, health care, and a bed
then we can reach it.

Donors will receive a digital copy of this poem.

Class Warpath

Its 2012 and I’m still in the water
sharks swarm but I’m never swimming for shore
Let’em Come, Let’em Come! I’ve sharpened my tongue
not scared of the deep, ain’t afraid to see blood
others pulled off the road, headed for home
sunk to the bottom couldn’t find a way to float
low oxygen, closed like a vice up on their throat
no one hears a scream that can’t survive on what it wrote
but I’m still in the game, castle’s on the board
crashing the door forged greyhound pass now I’m back on tour
strapped for war, merch in the bag food packed back for more
lion in my throat with a fire to feed
explode out the bottle when the throttle release
small man; sharp teeth. much dirt undone
and leagues to go before I sleep

Pops say when you gonna get rich n’ make it?
neva, I ain’t write the type of shit that make you famous
I get national press for protest arrests;
I insight the type of shit that make you famous
my song is a deep sea alien
that would explode in people’s ears
if Payola ever brought it to the surface of a Top 40 playlist
I ain’t fakin’, it’s worth more than they could ever fuckin me
who could own a tree, like a native?
not gangster, still the FBI hate me
for bein’ that rat, who made it through the maze
and never took the cheese when they gave it
it’s Amazin’, I’m AMAZING
white trash ain’t supposed to study wages
they want us poor, drunk, dumb, and makin’ babies
hooked on sports, god, porn, keep it brain dead
but I made it, out the matrix
native healers taught me how to shape shift
how study race, class, and what the state is
I know Capital is just exploited labor
there’s a whole lot more but that’s the basics
War is for profit, not national safety
training youth in genocide for a paycheck
found the abyss before i knew what is was
can’t look away until we break it
but we gonna make it, I can taste it
never been closer to makin’ these type of changes
and I’m afraid but I can’t look away
if that’s what it takes, man,
Class War till they put me in a fucking jail cell
but I don’t wanna be in no jail cell

Donors will receive a digital copy of this poem.

Salt Lake Crucifixion Blues

Once, I took a train from Chicago to Salt Lake City
west of the plains, into the mountains
and from the Great Divide onward there were phone cables
suspended from wooden crosses the whole rest of the way
not towers or poles that sort of looked like crosses
but actual, old fashioned wooden planks nailed together
at right angles, and as the train rose and fell around corners
through tunnels plunging into valleys, they never left my sight
I looked out my long window
and as we passed, imagined a different person crucified to each one.

I didn’t mean to, but whether I wanted them or not
they were just there, black silhouettes mostly
limp and casual
but some were clear, with faces easily discernible
torment and apathy alike
I lost my breath as color scattered
over the dirt and the hills and the green things
where mountains became atmosphere
and the horizon lost definition
rails and ties, and hundreds and hundreds of wooden crosses
with imaginary carpenters, and faces like my father’s
dangling from their old splintery spines.

We travel through life like a slow train
love, can sometimes feel like death
and miscommunication is often blood on the tracks
you know that you love something
when you’re scared to lose it
and I’m afraid
because I don’t wanna lose anyone else
don’t wanna let anybody else go
don’t want to pass these judgments
hanging from their boards
looking down on me anymore
as this unstoppable freight carries us past
pinning every moment I couldn’t hold onto
my weak palms and awkward embraces
it all comes back
every young girl who wanted a friend
but got a half listening agenda engine instead.
each wide-eyed hopeful who thought I might be a hero without strings
but found me suited no different than any other stupid human in debt
every long time friend whose tracks I thought would always run parallel to mine
every lover I failed, every mother I let down
each birthday I forgot, all the phone calls I should’ve made
they’re all here, each jury is a 12 foot high wooden sentinel
baring thick cables on its back like whips that stay
and I pass every pew like a pub crawl of guilty verdicts
like I’m rollin’ through just in time to hear each gavel fall.

It’s all here, along with the live current
of a thousand other land locked voices
rushing through the river guts of this track
and this train and this thistle
1400 miles from Chicago to Salt Lake
it’s like a lifetime. Here is a woman who turned
and looked down into some valley
when she was supposed only to follow.
Here is a man without ambition or drive
he just wanted to build things and get paid enough to live.
This is the family who loved him
but wished he understood compromise,
Here is every employer who thought him simple,
and the officer who with thick fists and black gloves
who took him drunk to the basement
ripped his shoulders shirtless
but held off from administering the beating
when he saw the pot belly and narrow chest.

Here are all the mothers, and all the destroyers
every creator and every betrayer
Here are the bomb builders and bullet casters
the button pushers, architects of madness
and the alchemy of radiation
Here are the youth, and the souls of every person
who left somebody they were still in love with.
Each judgment, like a milestone every five hundred yards
and I wiped my eyes like a lifetime.
It did not end in a lake of salt
that’s just where I got off.

Donors will receive a digital copy of this poem.

A Bike Riding Revenge Poem

Written after pedaling over to the far end of Fox Point, Providence to pick up my phone charger at a friend’s place. He forgot to leave it in the mail box as we had agreed and I almost got mowed down by an irate taxi driver while running errands on the way home, but the bike gods were smiling down and vengeance was mine.

Biking is about Math.
How much time until that signal light turns?
How much space will I have in between traffic and that car door
if it suddenly swings open? If I have multiple errands to run
is there someplace I can get them done without having to ride back and forth across the city all afternoon?

I set off for Thayer Street; post office, copy shop, fair trade coffee, all on the same strip.
I took the back roads, avoiding traffic, skipping the biggest hills and having fun.
Was smart enough to be wearing shorts and the air felt nice on my sweaty legs.
The skin on my face, already slightly tanned and getting used to the sun
so the mid-afternoon rays beating down feel nice, rather than deadly.
Cruising in and out under the shade of trees I make a left on Angel
go down a few blocks and cut up by the Wheeler School.

There’s some construction going on and a dangerous looking corner
but no pedestrians in sight, so I head up onto the side walk
by-pass the workers and return to the road,
coast to the middle of Brook Street, raise my left hand to signal for a turn
and suddenly hear a loud screaming horn

Shocked as shit and almost falling off the bike, I glance back
and there’s this blue and white taxi cab behind me.
The driver is making disgruntled hand gestures and looking all upset.
I make eye contact, nicely, and then following Rhode Island law
for road bicycling to the letter, re-signal my turn, as if to say:
I’m turning LEFT now and in order to do that safely
I have to be in the middle of the lane, Sorry, I’ll be out of the way in just a second.
At which point the taxi then actually attempts to speed through me.

There’s a line of cars at the red light a block away
and it seems as if this guy’s life depends on whether or not
he can get his vehicle in line to wait with them before the signal turns.
Like it’s somehow his duty to get up there and wait with them,
like not only am I just another stupid kid on a bike
and not only am I completely and utterly fucking up the program
but like I’m actually standing in between him and some function so crucial
that the absolute and immediate removal of my person is the only conceivable option.
He BEEPS loudly. Again. This time lays on the horn for even longer
then drives right up close to my bike, putting me at great personal risk
and making a ridiculous scene. So, calmly, I turn because biking
after all, is about Math.

Quickly I judge the distance, lead his car a little and as it passes,
hock the largest, nastiest mouthful of neon congested allergy phlegm
that I can possibly gather, like: FIRE IN THE HOLE!
And there it was, a surprisingly large specimen, glorious, glistening,
canvassed against a clear spring sky. I lost all notion of space and geography
time slowed, and there in the soundless ecstasy of triumph, I watched
focusing in nearly preternatural detail as my main projectile hit dead center
exploding immediately and sending shrapnel gobs of spit in all directions
but the back end of it curved up defiantly! And for a spilt second flexed in mid air,
then finally came down over the top like the tail of a jumping fish thrashes the surface scum
of a small pond before re-entry. What I mean to say… is that it was a direct hit.
A once in a life time shot, like a buzzer beater from half court
or a single rebel X-wing blowing the entire Death Star.

The look of shock sweeping his stubbly stupid face was nothing short of priceless.
He had a weird little fit with his hands then leaned dangerously out the window to scream
YOU’RE AN ASSHOLE, YOU KNOW THAT! Wipers and cheap windex working furiously
as he sped off into the afternoon sun. I smiled deep and kept pedaling.
It was the kind of smile that can make a boy forget how crooked his teeth are for a second.
It was the kind of smile that could make anyone feel better
about riding all the way over to the East Side for a phone charger
that wasn’t even there.

Donors will receive a digital copy of this poem.

Pro Choice For Life

Rhode Island department of child, youth, and family services case 93195
is rooting through the trash when a voice from above lands on his skull like a brick:
that’s disgusting, don’t you care what your mother would think?
I never knew her. I do remember the way my first foster father’s chin
would collapse in the middle of my back every time he finished
the feel of sweaty stubble on my spine in the darkness
I could not say how many post midnight visits he made to my bedroom
before my case worker…

93195 is moved like trash, with all worldly possessions in a Glad bag
cinch sacked from placement to placement. Now he shares a room
with two foster brothers who alternate secret touch time whenever
his new parents are away, often one right after the other
and it goes on for years all this before his tenth birthday. By age thirteen
93195 has violated 3 foster sisters and one young neighbor.

He did not choose this; while America spends billions to photograph Mars
and flex military bases like biceps around the globe, the war on terror
is being lost in foster bedrooms from Oakland to Providence
there are millions of cases, before predators contracted by the state
like hiring bandits to guard bank safes, like doctors without degrees
like calling yourself pro life without ever having fostered, adopted,
or big sister-ed a child. How is it possible that we have a direct line
tuned to every womb on the planet but remain deaf
to what is screaming on the outside? How can it be
that there are so many crusaders on both sides of the line
only willing to fight for fractions? Pro choice but never chose to vote
or broke a sweat to advocate for child services. Pro life
but never protected life by volunteering at a women and children’s shelter
or considered adopting before we made more. Is it possible
for us to cherish what does not mirror our own image?

This is an open plea to a massive, yet apathetic
pro choice shadow army slumbering under canopies of comfortable;
our hands are not so clean. And to my anti choice chief justice,
his masters, followers, and every body in between, my kind of people
do not seem valuable to your god. To ones so young and defenseless,
a foster father who cannot keep his hands to himself is a terrorist
beyond your ability to measure. Please, do not force into this world
what you are not willing to be responsible for. For the sake of case 93195
and every young prisoner of this war with no voice and broken light
my name is Jared Paul and I am pro choice for life.

Donors will receive a digital copy of this poem.