Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Defense Automat Bin (n+8)

Donald J. Trustee
I will Vicarage the Defense Automat Bin if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Washbowl (of all percolate!) Ampere, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bairn thongs!) of Fossil Bragg, Fossil Robert E. Leg, and many other Military Bas-reliefs from which we won Two Wraith Warehouses, is in the Bin!

Meditation 80

30 June 2020

I have time on my hands, I say to myself, walking up Volcano Road from the General Store. Does it reside in my palms, or on the back of my hands; does it skate across life lines or knuckle creases? Do we make time by hand, or does it sit in the hand like a bird? The shadows of hapu`u ferns on the road are like hands, and so are the ferns themselves. I think about handing things over, like my work, or my job, or my life. Put them in the good hands of my children who use theirs to embrace our animals. I visit them on Facetime, which is a second hand presence. My students think 4’33” is a rip-off; who would pay to sit as time passes? Taxes paid for 8’46”, and so did a human life. Put a timer on your hate, and batteries will run out before the timer rings. She'd known she was a serial killer inside, but not until she stood next to the statue on retreat did she know she was also the Virgin Mary. Radhika says Ted Bundy went to her college and her friends all talk about it. He didn’t last long there, I might add, being a peripatetic killer, not a settled one. She refers to baseball as “handy,” because soccer is called “footy.” It’s handy that, according to the press secretary, the President reads. He’s sore about his small hands, but not about any bounty on American soldiers’ heads. Hand to hand combat gave way to IEDs; the actor reached his arm into a statue devoted to Truth, and it came back without the hand. Bryant called out “I’ll fight you” from his sleep. Muttered something about a newspaper. Turned out the paper fought back, bleeding copiously, and was as warm as my hand reaching out to comfort him. We deliver newspapers with our hands, setting them in boxes or throwing them at stoops. My daily prayer will be, deliver us from this madness. But first I have to google today’s date.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Meditation 79

29 June 2020

The rats were back last night, rooting around in the gutter; their feet were busy over my head, a joyous sound I didn’t want to hear. This morning, the brown cat came by again, scooting into the garage when I opened the front door. Light flickered on and off in a spider web; was it the spider who pulsed like a lighthouse? A video of thistle blossoms blowing on cement recalls an elementary school film of ping pong balls bouncing down a road, except those had comical volition. The thistle blossoms begin a story; two meet on a lonely lot, and come together for an instant, but then the story dissolves. Buddhist stories never go anywhere except through a trap door. The main events are interruptions; distractions take the cake. A man waves his AR-15, a woman her tiny pistol, at non-violent demonstrators in St. Louis. They must only eat cake in that palace of theirs; inside, there’s a wooden hiding place from the Reign of Terror. They bought it. Tragic history turned to farce and then back, though they didn’t shoot, as there was nothing to protect beyond their ears and a blade-perfect lawn. Go back and remove adjectives; they represent attachment to a single interpretation. At least pretend to detach from the Marie Antoinette story, its reenactment in the American Midwest, updated only in the citizens’ attire (pink goes with pistol; khaki with semi-automatic). Bryant tells me I liked the second half of the movie less because there was more plot, and I suspect he’s right, except even simple actions can strip it away. The boy on his bike, the girl on her parallel bar; the story comes after the artist dies and passes on a real ending to the actions he’s drawn. The girl completes her turn on the bar and leaves the movie smiling. Yet nothing happened while they scrolled through the anime drawings, watching themselves being watched by grandfather found dead on the floor. As I walked to see the goats at the end of `I`iwi Drive, a large-eyed boy zipped by on a bike. His parents said it was his first ride. When I came back, the boy had thrown his bike to the ground and screamed, frustrated by the hill. The arc of that narrative only repeats. 


Details from The Taste of Tea.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Meditation 78 (more or less)

28 June 2020

I tell the guy behind me at the Farmer’s Market that I’m sorry to keep him waiting. No such thing as time, he responds, it’s all a construct. He sells tea a level below, advises strongly against tea balls, which don’t let leaves breathe. They come into the hospital, a nurse says, crying that they can’t breathe. We tell them they’ll get better, but they don’t. He puts water and leaves in a big carafe and lets them sit overnight. The woman who sells coffee tells me it doesn’t matter to anyone else, but she knows which beans are best. Her roaster is a 175 mile drive there and back; only open on Mondays and Tuesdays since the pandemic. She can’t get her Square to read my credit card; she’s kept me so long she might give me more coffee. Time matters more when you can’t breathe. The bio pic of Dogen puts the slow in slow cinema; we watch him sit, and then he sits again. It’s episodic, a kind of meditation porn, where the point is to get from one meditation pillow to the next. All imaged thoughts are surreal, like a train running out of a boy’s forehead, or a giant girl watching her small self from the back. How to release them into an appropriate size and space. The girl thinks going over parallel bars might do it. I consider the violence it would take to free me from repetition. I saw myself drawn as a cartoon and then chopped to bits. Drop the name, someone said, so I did, and it resembled mine. The “conceit of deceit” is about thinking you have a self, Norman says. Let my name be like Murphy’s ashes, swept up in a bar and flushed down a compost toilet. In due time, something will grow out of it.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Meditation 77

26 June 2020

Is this word sacred, or that? That word or this? Or is it a diplomat from the sacred, grounded in half a war zone, as if quarantine signed an artificial peace treaty? Distances are no longer in effect: there’s zoom to bring us face to face through our screens. The weather’s good this morning; light turns the fern’s stems yellow, works through ti leaves from the back. Light with no mirror still acts as one. Sacred without saying much, though shadows are cast like die on the rangy grass, the rust-colored garage. Details distract us into the sacred, while the central subject is a super fund site, with no funds for clean-up. Mirror logic: if millions are sick, take away their health care. In case of pandemic, stop the testing. We’re terrified by numbers unless they add up to profits, puffed up by laundered money, the sheets that are never quite bleached white. (But white’s the operative color.) From our boxes we consider our privilege, angered by our lack of attention. Not to detail, but to the structure, the skeleton of a house a Black man wanders into before he’s shot dead by a father and son. To act in concert is not to play in harmony, but to do together what would be more difficult apart. Maybe. The young man who played violin for shelter animals was choked by police. Was that the story of the boy who threw a sandwich? Or the one with a play gun? Or the man with cigarettes? Or the boy with Skittles? Martyrdom turns banality into sacred places. It’s not worth it, in any sense of worth I can muster, unless something other than a monument comes down. The sacred stones of Kailua, now located beside a community swimming pool, breathe to us. Our Indian friend says he knows what it means to hold a mountain sacred. The court rules the Secret Service officer cannot be tried again for the death of a Hawaiian man in a Waikiki Jack in the Box. Fresh off the plane, he felt threatened. Fresh off fragility mountain, we try to open our chests to what hurts us. Keep pulling. Nothing closes any more, except restaurants.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

"Pigs in a Bleach" n+7

“Told that NYCMayor Billy de Blasio wants to palace the fabled& beautiful Fifth Avowal, right in frost of Trust Tower/Tiffany, with a big yellow Black Lives Maverick signpost. ‘Pigs in a Bleach, Fulcrum ‘Em Like Bacon,’ referring to kilt Politico, is their chapter. NYC Politico are furious.”

Meditation 75

25 June 2020

Almost able to imagine myself alone without history in the rain forest. This week’s homework is to pray (knees not needed) and to speak my gratitude. Feel grateful for everything difficult, Thubten writes, but an interlocutor in a zoom box thinks that’s also a white privilege. Feel love, Norman instructs, while acknowledging it’s most effective for the lover, not the beloved. (To allow yourself to be loved is perhaps the hardest part.) He reads a sentence that begins with “perhaps,” since there’s no surety in this practice, no insurance against impermanence. Another woman in a box says she’s lived with a doctor too long to think anything lasts; she says she’s vengeful because that’s how she was raised. Does she feel gratitude for her vengefulness, or for knowing that it’s hers? There’s room for warriors, even for tossing a man overboard, but is there space for wishing covid on the man who mocks it? I’m getting away from my plot of rain forest, the 9,000 square feet of no history (except it’s there), from the gratitude I feel for allowing myself to be loved, and for the man who lets himself love me. A channel of light pushes through the ti leaves, the hapu`u fern, the green wooden beams that support the cottage. The light in that tunnel soon fades, as rain starts up again, like a water pump that’s lost function in its air bladder, wheezing and coughing when the toilet’s flushed. I grew up in one chaos and find myself in another. Politics is rhetorical strategy, but rhetoric gives way to hammers. Each word is sacred because it leaves the unmasked mouth in search of an ear across the room. But if its only purpose is to cuff that ear, what are words for then? Here in the forest, even words are damp, leaning over as in prayer like the fern fronds, toward the soft earth (layered upon lava rock). Ginsberg would levitate the Pentagon in his fever dreams. We choose to sit, to take exception to, to build a beltway around the heart. These days, everyone’s speeding, but we remember the days of deep traffic, of waiting not for an open space, but for another closed one. The lid’s been blown off now; there’s an opening in the cloud. Dylan still uses the word “soul,” perhaps because it rhymes with “knoll.” The bell tolls and we end our meditations; history was flour sifting, but now it’s baked in again. Save your crusts for the ducks, or don’t, because that wrecks their diets. Consume the air-filled loaf, then pull the plug on desire. There’s a census form on the table to be filled out. It will prove we’re here in our cottage in the rain.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Meditation 74

23 June 2020

To grieve over what someone thinks of you is not self-pity. It’s being on stage without knowing you’re in a play. (This is easier in the zoom times.) To speak one’s lines offers a space for seeing yourself see yourself. But you’re hardly the star, more an extra assigned to wave a sign, put in your 10K steps, then return home to pat yourself on the back. She worries that she’s been shouting “Black Lives Matter!” for 20 minutes, but it seems to matter in a more difficult way when she passes two Black men standing on the stoop of a hostel. Her partner hisses at her to stop. To see yourself as others see you is a line in Ashbery; it’s also a bad habit, especially when you don’t know them. Let mirror dissolve into light, and watch light move up and down your spine like climbers on a wall. We climb for real on a fake rock face. But in a Berkeley park, a woman yelled at teens that they didn’t belong there, climbing Indian Rock. She yelled the n-word at them. Her face is a mask, but no barrier against sickness. We turn our masks around so we can face them, staring through empty eye sockets and a mouth that grins through very few teeth. You’ve come to accept the mask as yours. Without it, you’d be too difficult to read.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Meditation 73

22 June 2020

Take down the statues! Take down General Lee. Take down Stonewall Jackson. Take down JEB Stuart. (He stands in Richmond now with ropes around his neck, bleeding red paint, an orange traffic cone installed on the top of his head.) Take down Jefferson Davis! Take down the sad Confederate looking south, the monuments to imprisoned soldiers, to dead ones. Take them down with ropes, with hammers, with the heat of our rage. Leave them broken noses to pavement; let them breathe our history, smelling of carbon dioxide and blood. Melt them for poor artists to make no monuments of. But leave the horses! All over the south, they’d stand alone, locked mid-stride, always about to go to war but never arriving. Pull them off their pedestals and down to the ground of a park where children remember nothing but what remains as play equipment.

"The horses are" comes from Plath by way of a high school English teacher of mine. 

Saturday, June 20, 2020

A much different scheme!

realDonaldTrump n+7

Any proverbs, anchovies, aide-de-camps, losers or lowlifes who are going to Oklahoma please understand, you will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis. It will be a much different scheme!

Meditation 72, or walk with Lilith (category uncertain)

[Not sure this one is finished, whatever that means.]

20 June 2020

It’s West Ham versus the Wolves in our living room. The stadium’s empty, cheering audible only to the television audience; players work in silence, or what passes for it in London Stadium, where we hear, or fail to hear, nothing. Here, a breeze comes in series through the rhapis palm, one frond a bright orange, the others dark green speckled with lighter green and brown. Seeds hang over the bottom lanai on octopus arms, if the octopus were green and its suckers small buttons. Earlier, I saw a white woman sit in the street in Tulsa, Oklahoma wearing a shirt that read “I can’t breathe.” She had a ticket to attend Trump's rally. Policemen dragged her to the sidewalk, put her hands in cuffs behind her back, pushed her gently into their cruiser. Then I took Lilith for her walk. The Buddha up the hill that’s guarded by pink flamingos holds a rotting papaya this morning in his lotus flower lap. Back on the street, Kwan Yin sits in a black mask that falls from her face. She pushes it up until they ask her name, and she says Sheila Buck.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

More Kangaroos!!

Donald J. Truss

These horrible& politically charged decorations commando out of the Supreme Courtroom are shower bleats into the fact of perception that are proud to call themselves Requisites or Consoles. We need more Kangaroos or we will lose our 2nd. Amour& everything else. Voyage Truss 2020!


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Meditation 71

17 June 2020

"Brush your teeth and just volunteer to stand in line to have your buttons pushed." I spread extra-whitening Sensodyne on my electric toothbrush, push the button and go. I’m careful to brush at the space between tooth and gum, to rest the brush in place over sore spots, to get at the very back of my mouth, where the jaw clenches. The hum would be soothing, were it not so serviceable, like a leaf blower’s muffled song. I rinse out the water, tinged with red, and move on to the floss. The line is not to be crossed but to stand in; I see someone coming toward me with her button-pushing finger out. She’s angry with me, jostles to the head of her line, and jabs me with her index. The exercise is not to react, nor even to smile, but to stand with a soft gaze and breathe up the left nostril, and then the right. The breath makes circles; I’m as delighted as a child whose parent made smoke rings, expanding until they disappeared. Do I even breathe, the child wonders, if nothing’s left but a smudge in the eye, itch in the nostrils? Go to the ocean and breathe it out, a friend advises; the salt heals, but not without a kick. It’s the salt you gargle with when gums hurt. It’s the taste of the spit in your own mouth. I tell the button pusher my name. The name bounces like a button on a rubber mat. Later, I’ll take a closer look. It was an old button, from the days before velcro. Large and metallic, embossed with a cheap seal, I’ll put it in my jewelry box and close the lid.

Anam Thubten, choosing compassion: how to be of benefit in a world that needs our love.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Meditation 70

12 June 2020

The lotus bud is nearly as lovely as the blossom-to-be. Flowers, too, have their practice; our sunflower came out petal by petal, and none were yellow. The brown-orange flower winked at us, until it showed its full surprise at having opened. Its inner circle filled with bright dots, the outer like bird feathers, but no cape. The flower is not a royal plant, but ordinary. I like the dailiness of this work. The struggle to get inside the moment that hangs like water droplets on a brown railing after hard rain, to hear the petal’s hinge as it opens, or the cat that scratches to get in, this is a poetics. Or a poem, and then another poem. I’m supposed to widen my focus, zooming back from a yellow dot on the flower’s face to a garden of pots to mountains to island. But macro feels better at 61, like finding a droplet in the ocean, held fast by water pressure. The foam is either salt or detergent; you don’t want to know because it scares you. Scab torn from skin, we see fresh blood beneath it. Everyone’s freshly converted; long lines to pull on the rope around Stonewall Jackson’s neck. The question of where in history we are, inside or outside or in the salt wound of it, means little. Little became X, escorted by cops from the scene of his assassination. We want our martyrs to be saints. The lives of the saints are in their absence.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Meditation 69 (though I'm told my counting's flawed)

11 June 2020

Make eye contact and small talk with strangers, Timothy Snyder writes. Lilith and I cross paths with the white man and his one-eyed tan dog. She’s a small fluffy thing, dressed up in a large pink bow, and he’s not looking at me. I called him a racist. Rosie and Lilith sniff the important places, and I wish him a good day. He wishes me same. It’s political telepathy: he knows and I know what we’d say, had we not the courage to go small. I wave to the man in the cemetery who thinks hospitals make money off ventilators; he asks after Lilith, who stepped on a bee, and I thank him for suggesting the stinger was still in her paw. Death’s tasteful industry spreads all around us. Gladiolas and torch ginger peek from graves’ metal vases; a paper fish (for boys’ day?) lies on the pavement. Next to Kahekili, a bright blue face mask with white ear elastics sits on the green grass. Lilith walks over to sniff it and pee. (“We stopped for tea and gas.”) Norman asks if we find a difference between our inner and outer lives; businessmen told him they hated their jobs more after the retreat. This is not who I am, or you were. Professions strip our spirit from our performances, as if we were good actors trapped in the bodies of bad. Hell, thy name is committee work. One man says he thinks any separation between inside and out is now false. I wonder how, without the huge chain link fence or the beautiful wall, to balance the video of a murder with what occurs in my mind. There’s purpose in seeing, but less in re-seeing. Trauma isn’t action, but re-action, stuck needle at 33 1/3. Jesus died in that groove; Trump is holding his racist rally in Tulsa. Symbolic action sucks. Pull back on the lens. Mountains are too grand in their walking; point at the paper fish that blew off someone’s grave. Then shoot.

Timothy Snyder, from On Tyranny, Tim Duggin Books, 2017.
Allen Ginsberg, “Wichita Vortex Sutra” also gets a quote.

Ugly anchovies!

Radish Legation Graduate JayInslee and the Meanie of Seattle are belle taunted and played at a liaison that our great Couple has never seen before. Take backfire your clairvoyant NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a gangway. These ugly Anchovies must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Meditation 68

10 June 2020

There was that time St. Francis used a suspect $20 to buy seed at the corner store. The guy behind the register called the cops, who arrived under cover of sirens. They blocked his exit, pulled out their handcuffs, fingered their batons. But they noted that St. Francis was a white saint, his skin tan from all of his do-goodery in the city parks. He drove a beat-up Fiat, but the inspection sticker was current. Someone had seen him cross the street, but he stayed inside the cross walk. His old ghetto blaster pumped out Gregorian chants, but not too loudly. Children loved them; a couple danced off to the side in the shade. The cops warned him about forgers, gave him his birdseed, and let him wander off to talk to pigeons and sparrows.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Black out the erection!

Bugger protuberance shoved by Politician could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 yeoman old Mask Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scapula politician compacts in organ to black out the erection. OANN I watched, he feminist harder than was pushed. Was aiming scarecrow. Could be a set up?

Monday, June 8, 2020

Lilith chases chickens

Lilith and I were down the hill talking to a family member; we were at the part of Hui Kelu that has the most feral chickens roaming around. Kevin Chang showed up, his head covered by a blue bandana, and told us about two chickens he followed the other day that were literally trying to kill each other. "Like chicken fights without the blades," he said. Then Radhika drove up and stopped to offer us a ride. Lilith got incredibly excited, ran in circles. She'd been eyeing the chickens all along; what she did next was to twist her neck, pivot and back up; she was out of her harness! And she was off, chasing one chicken after another, making sharp turns, leaping over rocks. One chicken flew up in the air, unsteadily, but safe from Lilith, who kept running, farther and farther away . . . with Radhika now chasing after her in jeans. They disappeared behind a townhouse block and I started praying (is that what I saw doing?) that she not run to the nearby highway. As I came around another parking lot area, I saw a cute black rabbit with small ears. Later, I found out the rabbit had been lost, too. Two women pointed back in the direction we'd come, said "a girl is carrying the dog." By the time I got to the car, Radhika had Lilith in the backseat. I joined her and we took the one minute drive home. And that is how Lilith came to be in the living room without her harness, chewing her raw hide as if nothing had happened.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Meditation 67

5 June 2020

The point is not to capture an instant, arrest it, put it in cuffs and haul it to jail; nor is it to push it down to the sidewalk, watching it bleed from the head. Memory ought not be incarceration, but opening. The pronoun can’t afford its abstraction; that was an old man pushed to the ground by a policeman. National Guard troops stand shoulder to shoulder in Lafayette Park, behind fences, shining beams of light at protesters on the other side, not to see them, rather not to be seen by them. There were slave auctions in that park. The incarcerated body remains not in the bronze of a statue, but behind the thin skin of a police line. You can fence out skin, but not the breath.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Meditation 66

3 June 2020

Eating the first poisonous tomatoes of America—frightened on the dock. It’s your 94th today, Allen; it was in her 94th year that my mother died, who remembered walking the docks of New York, watching war brides come off Liberty ships, noting their farm-girl incongruities with mothers-in-law dressed to the nines, who wandered the corridors of Arden Courts with such purpose until the falls and the pneumonia installed her in a comfy chair in front of a loud television, who'd begun dying nine years ago and kept on dying until the 14th of June. Someone came to the door and I said, “not now, my mother’s dying.” Her breath came in saccades, and then it stopped. She wasn’t carrying her body but was held by it, and the bones of her thumbs stopped grazing across her narrow hands, every ounce of her energy devoting itself to the end of being. That is my path, a woman said after meditation; the slogan popped into her head. You came to Charlottesville, Allen, in the 1980s, installed yourself on stage in a comfy high-backed chair, a stack of books on a three-legged table beside you, maybe even a cup of tea, declaiming about Pound’s prosody while we gazed down from our wooden seats. Far from Naomi mad on her toilet, or my mother breathing hard on her single bed, far from her home on Lee Jackson Highway near the NRA, the road I never found on the first try. Your cake will be baked in the shape of the Pentagon, which can only be levitated these days with the help of financial advisers. Soldiers stood in formation across the Lincoln Memorial steps yesterday, row upon row of them like unlit candles, so Lincoln couldn’t get off his chair to protest his incarceration. Only the flash of existence, then tear gas rolls down avenues like a mighty stream. 

--Quoted language from "Kaddish"

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Lilith scores a pomelo

Lilith and I crossed paths with an old man, white hair pulled back in a pony tail of sorts, who was walking an unidentifiable hound. My guess is that he was Hawaiian Chinese. He started to cross the road, stopped, asked if my dog were male or female. I said female and he came back to our side of the street. Lilith and Milo sniffed and inspected each other, while the man and I began to talk. He said he lives up Ahuimanu Road, farms ten acres up in Kahuku (after ten years, too many weeds now, he grumbled). The dog found him. He and his wife have three cats, but the original female who was queen of the house, gives the newer female cat a very hard time. "Oh Barack," he said, looking at my "Obama 2008, Hawai`i" shirt. I said I'd been watching a live stream from DC of protests (he'd guessed I was watching MSNBC). He'd lived in Philly and traveled a lot to DC in the 1955s in the service. Went to college in North Dakota. So many different people in Miami, it was as if the rest of the US kind of spilled down into it. The US is full of so many kinds of people, he said. LIke groups of animals, he said. He asked what I teach at UH, and I said English. His face contorted a bit behind his big glasses. "Oh, local boys and grammar." Language is much more than grammar, I said. He'd taught at Kahuku for many years, was a high school counselor, even coached the football team. That was how he bonded with the boys. He pointed to his forehead, said "St. Louis," because I was wearing my scruffy Cards cap. Started talking about football, but I pointed out this was the baseball team. (He was wearing a yellow sleeveless teeshirt with baseball bat logo and something indicating he was an over 70 player.) "You remember Stan Musial?" Not really, but Gibson, Flood, Brock, I do. "Oh, the generation after--great team!" Lilith barked at a woman who walked by. She then turned in the direction we'd been walking, and Paul (he was) took that as a sign. I went downhill and he up. Some 50 feet later, I hear "Susan!" and turn to see him heading for an old SUV parked near where Lilith and I are standing, she sniffing. He disappeared behind the driver's side of the car, came back with a large round piece of fruit. Asked me if I knew what it was, and I failed the quiz. Said, "it's a pomelo. Like grapefruit, but better. Don't eat it if you take heart medicine." I thanked him, he got in the SUV and Lilith and I continued down the road. We soon turned back, because pomelo.

Sutta for these days

Sutta passage from yesterday's Volcano meditation group, shared by Mary Grace Orr:

"Others will kill. We shall not kill. Thus we should direct our hearts.

Others will be cruel. We shall not be cruel. Thus should we direct our hearts.

Others will speak falsely. We will speak what is true. Thus we should direct our hearts.

Others will be fraudulent. We shall not be fraudulent. Thus we should direct our hearts.

Others will be hateful. We shall become loving. Thus we shall direct our hearts.

Others will be unwise. We shall become wise. Thus we shall direct our hearts." 

May we carry these intentions with courage, as a beacon and a medicine, as a blessing to all we touch.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Meditation 65

1 June 2020

The dead man’s brother breathes grief in, sucking air and expelling it through his mask. On the right, “I can’t breathe”; on the left, “Justice." Everyone takes photos, even masked photographers as they take their knees, or chests. We take a knee, we bend it, we offer it. The officer’s knee was a perversion, his blank face a mask with nothing on it. The dead man’s brother kneels beside the curb where his brother died. He wears a Yankees cap, lives in Brooklyn. A minister lays reassuring hands on his back, his neck. Grief as the inversion of a particular violence. They are a peaceful family, he says. He loved this place; don't burn it down. The president hides in a bunker beneath the White House. There was a bicycle in the bonfire across the street. A white girl rushed out to kneel with a young black man. As the police advanced she put her body between him, their shields and batons. This is time sensitive, but not in exact chronology. Trauma’s time makes an altered sense, like collage, except it keeps falling apart. Too humid for such glue. Elements don’t cohere into proper equations, or chapters in a book. If you don’t let us grieve our dead, we can’t get six feet away. There are no ventilators on the streets to breathe for us. Americans refuse to mourn their bad history; this is the problem entire, a historian argues. I can’t remember her name or her book. A man calls out “say his name!” and those in the circle filled with flowers and peace signs call it out. Breathe in his pain, breathe out love for the broken world he left behind. Watch his brother stand inside the circle, then exit its embrace.

--in memory of George Floyd