It’s two a.m.
The emergency room psychiatrist looks up from his clipboard
with eyes paid to care
and asks me if I see people who aren’t really there.
I say, “I see people
how the hell am I supposed to know
if they’re real or not?”
He doesn’t laugh
neither do I.
The math’s not on my side
ten stitches and one lie.
I swear I wasn’t trying to die.
I just wanted to see what my pulse looked like from the inside.
Fast forward one year.
I’m standing in an auditorium behind a microphone
reading a poem to four hundred latino high school kids
who live with the breath of the INS
crawling up their mother’s backbones
and I am frantically hiding my scars
‘cause the last thing I want these kids to know
is that I ever thought that my life was too hard.
I’ve never seen a bomb drop.
I’ve never felt hunger.
I’ve also never seen lightning strike
but we’ve all heard thunder
and it doesn’t take a genius to tell something’s burning.
The smoke rises between us,
forming walls so high
they split the sky like slit wrists
and then the stars fall like blood.
We’re all left with nothing, but a death wish.
He said, “call me by my true name
I am the child in uganda all skin and bone”
Do you remember the rest?
how about this one…
America, Jesus wept
but look at your eyes
dry as the desert sand
dusting the edges of your soldier’s wedding bans.
Look at your soul playing dead
because your ribcage is abu ghraib
is san quintin
is guantanamo bay
and your heart had beaten them so many times
they bleed the moon.
Do you know children in Palestine fly kites to prove that they are still free?
Can you imagine how that string must feel between their fingers
as they kneel in the cinders of our missile heads
I wonder what the dead in warsaw would say about the taxes we pay without thought
of funding another holocaust.
The bough is breaking.
The cradle is falling.
Right now a six-year old girl is crutched in a ditch in Lebanon
wishing on falling bombs.
Right now our government is recording the test scores of black and Latino 4th graders
to see how many prison beds will be needed in the year 2015.
Right now there’s a man on the street outside that door
with outstretched hands full of heart beats no one can hear.
He has cheeks like torn sheet music,
Every tear a broken crescendo falling on deaf ears.
At his side there’s a girl with eyes like an anthem
that no one stands up for.
Doctor, our insanity is not that we see people who aren’t there.
It’s that we ignore the ones who are.
Till we find ourselves scarred and ashamed
walking into emergency rooms at two a.m.
flooded with a pain we cannot name or explain
because we are bleeding from the outside in.
Skin is not impervious.
Cultures built on greed and war do not pick and choose who they kill.
We all fill the graves.
Do we really believe our need for Prozac
has nothing to do with Baghdad,
with Kabul, with the Mexican border
with the thousands of US school kids
bleeding through budget cuts that will never heal
to fuel war tanks?
Thank god for denial.
Thank god we can afford the makeup
to pile upon the face of it all.
Look at the pretty world.
Look at all the pretty people
and the sky with a missile between her teeth
and a steeple through her heart
and not a single star left to hold her
And the voices of a thousand broken nations saying
“wake me, wake me, when the American dream is over”