At Sixty

I know I could do this if things would just slow-the-fuck down,” he muttered. Head bowed, sitting at a dimly lit kitchen table, teetering on the edge of a midlife meltdown.

With more than 30 years in the industry, you think he’d be brimming with confidence. For most, that kind of experience leads naturally to calm assuredness. But with experience comes expectations, and those expectations smother him like a blanket of boulders.

He feels incapacitated by his experience, not buoyed by it.

He fixates momentarily on his wife’s furrowed brow and imagines himself tiny, wandering through those deep valleys of disappointment.

At work, he’s surrounded by the young and hungry. Buzzing with ambition, their bright voices float on currents of frenetic energy.

Was he ever that exuberant (about anything)? He struggles to remember his younger self, but it’s like painting with numbers without the numbers.

In his cubicle, yellow sticky notes pop off the edge of his monitor. A sleek uninviting flower, daring him to delve in – begging him to fail. Tossed to the corner of the desk, a coffee-stained and panic-scrawled legal pad.

His “to-do list.”

After a full day’s work, that list somehow gets longer, not shorter.

Early in his career, he’d slide into a work groove and rip through his “to-dos” effortlessly, like a sickle through the wheat. But nowadays, he’s easily and willingly distracted. His ability to focus comes in short bursts only, and the mental elasticity of youth is frustratingly absent.

His focus is hampered further by a barrage of instant messages and multiple meetings a day. As a result, he always feels two steps behind in a mad dash to a deadline.

He wears his age like an ill-fitting suit, and he struggles to keep pace with his profession.

He lifts his head and speaks again.

“Honestly, I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m sorry, because I know that puts us behind the eight-ball financially, but every day’s a struggle, and I’m barely keeping my head above water.”

He wasn’t being lazy. He was being honest.

He remembers when success was all the motivation he needed. He remembers plowing through whatever work stress he encountered, because on the backside of that stress were people who depended on him. For 25-plus years, that was all the motivation needed to keep at a job he never truly enjoyed.

Now that his kids are grown and on their own, he faces an increasingly stark scenario.  Deadlines approach, the work pace quickens, his ability to keep up wanes, and the desire and motivation needed to plow through it all has vanished.

He concludes that what’s required of him, and where he is philosophically (at sixty), have diverged irreconcilably. He feels this in his bones and in his gut every morning when he wakes.

And there’s a nagging sense of entitlement, that at this phase of life he’s earned the right to slow down — to take his foot off the gas — to smell the roses. He romanticizes about a job that doesn’t follow him home every night. A job that ends when the day ends and doesn’t occupy his mind ceaselessly.

At sixty, he has no interest in climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, he wants to set it ablaze, sit cross-legged on his cubicle floor, and watch it burn to ash.

At sixty, he has no illusions about discovering job satisfaction. That boat has sailed, and there’s no sense lamenting he never got on it. Instead, he’s looking for balance.

He’s looking for “just enough.”

Just enough to pay his bills and free up some time.

Just enough to sip coffee in solitude, and not worry about work.

At sixty, he sits at a dimly lit kitchen table, looking for a way out.

What Shining City?

When did it become Ok

In America

for snickering governors

to play politics

with the lives of tired

and desperate human beings?


When did the light

from that shining city

on the hill

become a trick candle?


When did America

erect its Darwinian dome

of indifference towards

the tired and the suffering?


When did we drift from the

Give me your tired and poor

to a cold and callous

Let me show you the door?


When did we

start to fear and hate

the huddled masses

detesting them

while casting a cold

and stony shoulder?


When the humane

treatment of others

takes a backseat to

cheap political stunts

it’s time to look at

the soul of our nation

Tangled up in Black

In the alleys of your heart

In the backstreets of your brain

from the constant buzzing beltway

under rusted lock and chain


In the pain inside your sternum

the boiled marrow in your bones

lurks an ever-growing darkness

over jagged rocks and stones


In dark valleys of depression

and the not so grand delusions

In a vice grip of obsession

In your manic-plagued illusions


With a never-ending stipend

of more than you can bear

an abundant over-ripened

softened fruit

of deep despair


An undefined sad solitude

that something is amiss

always on that taunting edge

of a welcoming abyss


an open-ended sadness

a journey never-ending

exhausted by the battle plan

of constantly pretending


You’re looking for an exit

a respite from the black

An offramp from the sadness

a train that jumps the track


“I can’t believe he did it

I can’t believe he’s gone

no one truly knew

the darkness of his dawn”

That Final Hug

She can still feel the imprint of that final hug.

She can still feel the weight of her son’s head on her chest and remembers how she cupped the back of his head and ran her fingers through his dark curls.

She still feels the final squeeze around her rib cage. She remembers her son loosening his embrace, his arms slipping from around her, before letting go and walking through the front doors of his elementary school.

She can still see that carefree smile as he looked over his shoulder back towards her before disappearing forever.

She can’t bear the thought of waking up one day and not feeling the remnants of that final hug.


She has not slept through the night since the incident and cannot forgive herself for letting her boy walk through those doors.

She just wants to close her eyes, stop feeling, and slip into eternal blackness.

Knowing that other mothers suffered before her, and still more mothers will suffer after her, with no substantial changes to gun laws, hollows her out.

Her son was murdered by an 18-year-old boy with an AR-15. His right to purchase that gun was protected by an antiquated and misused 233-year-old amendment to the constitution and a gun-loving governor.

Her son’s right live and grow up was not protected.

Over the last several days she has listened to cold intellectual and academic debates about that amendment and what it means. It doesn’t mean anything to her. It’s all just empty words and platitudes. After all is said and done, her boy is dead.

She walks into her bathroom, places two framed pictures of her son on the sink and runs a hot bath. She takes off her clothes and sits on the tub’s edge, staring at his smiling face.

She remembers the day these pictures were taken.

In one, her son is wearing his Houston Astros baseball cap and clutching his glove to his chest. His first baseball game with his father. His smile bursts through the glass picture frame and she feels a sudden pang in her heart.

Her husband took the other photo and gave it to her last Mother’s Day in a frame with brightly painted flowers. In it, her son is seen squatting in the flower bed on the side of the house, joyously pointing at a snail that he discovered. The sights and sounds of that day are still fresh in her memory. She can still see the mud from the freshly watered garden seeping from the holes in his spiderman crocks — and she still hears all of the questions about this newly discovered creature.

“Mama, does he live in that shell…. is that his home?”

“What happens if he gets too big for his shell? – where does he go then?”

She remembers telling him that the shell protects the snail and keeps him safe from harm. And that memory triggers a flood of emotions. She can’t stop thinking how vulnerable and scared he must have been in those final minutes, and how no one was able to protect him from harm.


She opens the medicine cabinet and takes out a razor blade. She picks up the framed pictures and kisses each one, tears running down her cheeks. Then she turns the pictures away from the tub to face the wall at the back of the sink.

She shuts off the water, slides into the tub, and carefully cuts open the veins running from her wrist up to her forearm. She does this on each arm. Then she drops the razor in the tub and feels it slide along the side of her hip before resting underneath her left buttock.

She takes a deep breath and then closes her eyes.

Prayer is Not the Solution

We often turn to prayer to help us heal from emotional or physical trauma. Prayers can help us achieve inner peace or resolution. Prayers can help us get to a place that allows us to get on with life. In that sense, prayer can be a valuable tool.

But prayer is never a solution to a problem. Prayer is never an agent of change. For example, do you know who was praying the most fervently during the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas? The teachers and the parents of the students trapped in the classroom – and the children themselves. They were desperately praying for God to intervene and save them.

By now, we’ve established a precedent: praying to enact change does not fucking work.

Republican senators and congressmen desperately want their constituents to believe that prayer is a solution. Because they know if people rely on prayer alone, nothing changes. And if nothing changes, these senators and congressmen will continue to fill their coffers with money from the gun lobby.

The only way to enact change is through action. By demanding those who represent us support meaningful and impactful gun legislation. And if they don’t, we must organize, march, campaign, and pressure both candidates and corporations in communities and states where representatives refuse to act.

From Classroom to Casket

Rose on tombstone. Red rose on grave. Love – loss. Flower on memorial stone close up. Tragedy and sorrow for the loss of a loved one. Memory. Gravestone with withered rose

From classroom to casket

an American journey

arrive on a school bus

depart on a gurney


As children lay dead

in Uvalde Texas

it’s hard to ignore

the obvious nexus

with unfettered access

to weapons of war

the number of dead

will continue to soar


We live in a land

of pierced hearts and sorrow

no shooting today?

just wait till tomorrow

In a fog of futility

explicably numb

we reach for our heartstrings

but there’s nothing to strum

Empty

I don’t know what to say anymore. I feel empty inside – bereft of hope – drowning in sorrow – swallowed in darkness.

My expectations of humanity obliterated – smashed into the ground under the butt of an AR-15 in the hands of apathetic, craven, and power-hungry lawmakers.

What does it say about our country that slaughtered elementary school children huddled in corners of classrooms, their bodies ripped open, their fragile bones splintered and shattered, their blood smeared on the floor and splattered on the walls, the final minutes of their lives filled with overwhelming fear and terror, and still US representatives refuse to even talk about gun legislation?

This happens over and over and over again. The next school shooting is right around the corner and yet we remain stuck, unable to do anything because the people we send to congress care more about their job than the safety of your children.

The river of apathy that runs through the halls of congress intensifies the futility and hopelessness we all feel for days after a school shooting.

Now we’ll go through the scripted responses from spineless and heartless Republican legislators – the lies about the threat to the second amendment, the outrageous claim that we need more guns to combat this violence, the blame it on mental illness argument.

We’ve heard these responses so many times that we can recite them almost word-for-word.

Dog Day Afternoon

It feels like the fabric that holds our society together gets more and more threadbare by the day.

Calamity fuels anxiety, and anxiety churns our ideas and emotions into a bitter black butter, clogging the arteries in our brain and preventing us from generating optimistic thoughts.

Hopelessness gathers on the horizon, settling in our collective consciousness.

War, disease, and apathy carry the day, leading humanity down a dark and twisting path, permanently away from light and hope.

But my dog doesn’t sense any of this.

My dog still greets me with smiling eyes and a wagging backside – the same way she did when life was good. She still strolls from the patio to the sun-warmed grass, shoulder-rolls onto the ground, and joyfully wiggles on her back.

Somedays, she’s the ray of light that sees me through tomorrow.

Religious Fanatics in Red Caps and Black Robes

Religious fanatics in red caps and black robes
Choice Appomattox and transvaginal probes
Beaten and raped, then told what to do
Stripped of your voice, no autonomous you


Back-alley midwives with buckets and hangers
Forced into action, like fierce Margret Sangers
Matt K and Sam A, don’t care what you think
Judge Thomas and Barrett drown Roe in the sink


Ejaculate holder, an object, a vessel
A fait accompli, with no room to wrestle
Your thoughts do not matter; just do what we say
Your handmaid’s dilemma, the American way


From pro-choice to no-voice, a Trump court of minions
Precedent killing abortion opinions
The fetus and soul are what matters the most
Your womanly role is to be a good host

Once Upon A Time, When The GOP Had Some Integrity

America has more than her fair share of fascists and white nationalists.

Some of them even serve in congress.

The vast majority, if not all, vote republican.

Donald Trump is a White Nationalist. That’s why White Nationalists supported his presidency.

When someone says they supported Trump’s policies but not his white nationalist and authoritarian views, its no less ludicrous than a German citizen in 1939 saying they support Hitler’s economic policies, not his views on the Jewish population.

In throwing your support behind a president, you have to look at the totality of the man – not just policy bits and pieces that you can align with and rationalize to yourself and your friends.

As we saw with President Trump, it’s the totality of the man (all of his views and values) that set the tone and attitude of his administration. Under Trump, the party’s platform was built on divisiveness, hate, mistrust, and anger, and that’s exactly what was reflected in most of Trump’s policies and actions.

It’s important to keep in mind that the anger, hate, and mistrust of government and institutions that Trump used to divide America and strengthen his position politically, are alive and well today. Those feelings and attitudes didn’t magically disappear when Trump was trounced in the 2020 election.

Many Americans who supported Trump are simply waiting for him, or the next Trump-wannabee to come along and validate those feelings, while cultivating and promoting policies that weaken our democracy and march us down the path to authoritarianism.

Colin Powel was a lifelong republican, military man, and honorable public servant who understood the danger of authoritarianism. When he saw fellow republicans refuse to stand against a dangerously authoritarian president, he called them out for their cowardice and left the party.

We need more republicans of stature to do what Colin Powell did – speak up and shine a light on the dangerous and dark influences taking hold of their party. And more importantly, we need strong and outspoken leaders in the GOP to provide a roadmap for getting the party back on track to decency, integrity, and basic American ideals. Without a roadmap, we’re going to see the GOP continue it’s downward spiral towards authoritarianism.

The four years of the Trump administration laid the groundwork for dismantling democracy in America. Colin Powel understood that and voiced his disdain for Trump and the political cowards who failed to stand up to him.

If democracy is to survive in America, we’ll need more voices like Colin Powel’s.