“lost promises” and “usually”

lost promises

imagine you’re in a class, a class with
no instructor, only a syllabus, only one
assignment; describe these troublesome
times, explain our collective cruelty, untangle
our web of deception, describe – us – to a
stranger, a stranger as close as a twin also
in a class with no instructor but on a distant
plain, in a parallel universe far away.
what words would you press into service?
what simile would sum up our broken parts?

if you found words capable to capture
the essence of this fierce urgency of now
would those words scream like bloody murder?
be resigned to our fate? be a call to action?
be in the language of the resistance? would
they cry their eyes out?

imagine you’re assigned the task of
describing a time that will be our future
as if you were making promises to your
children – a future that in relation to these
times could be better or worse. would
you write your promises on a napkin with
great urgency? on parchment with certain
resolve? in the sky for all to see? in stone
so your children will always remember
what might have been?


this may or may not be a tipping point. for sure, 
it is a ‘then came the locust’ moment scratched
deep into the hard surface of time halfway through
a year like no other in my lifetime including the year
the earthquake came just before the server brought
the check for brunch while Sue was still in the
restroom and Larry’s calm voice told us to get 
under the table if it happened again.

usually we move through the world and the world
stands still. that day we stood still and the world
moved for less than a minute that seemed like a week.
usually a virus doesn’t shake the whole world. usually
100 thousand Americans don’t die in three months.

usually a cop killing a Black man with his knee
doesn’t make taking a knee on TV look suddenly
OK to Roger Goodell even as the owners he
represents continue to press their knee on
Kaepernick’s employment prospects. usually
white folks give police the benefit of the doubt.
usually a tipping point means something’s going
to change. usually, nothing does change.

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