Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Mad Victim of Our Own Brainwashing


That was just a little chalk drawing on a path through a beautiful wood in a park somewhere in rural Washington State.

I wasn't going to write anything about it, but the Pacific Northwest certainly rivals the South (where I grew up and which, arguably, gets a whole lot more flak for its unsavory racists than other parts of the country) in evidence of racism and white supremacy. Yeah, I know the whole Pacific Northwest is one of the least diverse areas of the country, and I know that racism in overt and covert forms exists everywhere, in every part of the country, but as the white part of an interracial couple, I'm being educated in ways that I, in my privilege, have been -- let's be honest -- blind to for most of my adult life.

The Bird Photographer and I saw the evidence nearly everywhere we went, and given the general tenor of the times we live in -- well -- we didn't mess around when we saw it. We walked out of a steak house/diner/truck stop and toward our car one evening, passed a small group of older folks standing together at their pickup truck. One of the men was opening what looked like birthday presents, and they spoke openly of Trump, how much they agreed with him, how much they liked him. I know this because I walked right by them and rolled my eyes in my mind, and then I noticed that on the top of the present that the man was opening at the moment was a rolled up Confederate Flag.

I hear a lot of people crying out and writing how fucked we all are! and how this is so unbelievable! and I'm as stressed as the next privileged white liberal person, but let's face the facts. This great country -- and it is great in many ways -- has an ugly core, a rotten core, and the only way to get rid of it is to uncover and face that rotten core, to acknowledge that truth and to speak, own and face the truth relentlessly, no matter how uncomfortable it makes many of us. I think that might mean acknowledging and facing our own darkness, but it also might mean erasing swastikas chalked onto bucolic pathways or speaking up and often, even to those standing in a parking lot with an old, ugly flag. It means opening our eyes to see and using our ears to listen. I wish I'd done both, but I did neither, and I regret that.



“The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed the collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace, that Americans have always dealt honorably with Mexicans and Indians and all other neighbors or inferiors, that American men are the world's most direct and virile, that American women are pure. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that; it can almost be said, in fact, that they know about white Americans what parents—or, anyway, mothers—know about their children, and that they very often regard white Americans that way. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred. The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing.” 
James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time


 
#resist

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Writing, Respite and Denali



I'm still here in beautiful rural Washington. There's not much to do but relax and listen to the birds, putter around the beautiful house, wander outside and chat with the goats, read novels (Tommy Orange's There, There and Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen), read some poetry (Marie Howe's Magdalene), eat a plum, eat a peach, let a corner of a chocolate bar melt in my mouth, suck on a Tootsie Pop and gaze at the Bird Photographer.

I haven't written much, but I've arranged and re-arranged my hundreds of pages into a sort of order. It took hours and hours to do that much, but a structure is finally, literally, at the tip of my fingers. My plan is to finish up in the next day or so and then, when I get home, re-type the whole lot and send to the editor as a rough -- extremely rough -- draft.

The Pacific Northwest in the summer is perfection. It was here -- or up in Victoria -- where I spent a week by myself only four years ago, a recipient of the magnificent Heather McHugh's organization, Caregifted. That week changed my life and opened me to the possibility of and hope for more respite from the life of caregiving that, while enormously rewarding and filled with grace, has also drained me of myself or the essence that keeps me vital. I realized then how important it was to seek respite in whatever way I could, to open myself up to the possibility of replenishment and to work just as hard to get that as I do to take care of my daughter. While I am aware of the enormous privileges I've been granted that others just do not have, I also remember the nearly twenty years without significant respite. I remember what it was like to have no hope for it.

We caregivers must get back to ourselves as if our life depended on it because it does.



photographer: Carl Jackson




Listen to the latest Who Lives Like This podcast -- a rousing discussion of nurturing the self with Paige Figi, the director of Coalition for Access Now and the mother of Charlotte of the famous Charlotte's Web cannabis oil. Jason and I interviewed Paige just a week before she climbed Denali, the highest peak in North America. Here's the link:

Who Lives Like This?!




Yeah. I know. Not all of us will climb Denali, even if we desired to do so. Yet, still, there's joy to be had no matter how you choose to find yourself.

As my friend, writer Chris Rice said the other day, Your book is your Denali.


Onward.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Onalaska



I've traveled up to rural Washington to write for a week and wander around with the Bird Photographer. I was invited to this bucolic setting by a new friend, the artist and writer Mimi Feldman, who asked me over wine one night, What's up with your book? I probably sighed and rolled my eyes and made some sort of excuse or another, and she said, Why don't you come up to our house while my husband and I go on a road trip?

So I did.



Mimi and her husband Craig have created this incredible home in the middle of rural Washington. They have three goats, a cat, a barn with a studio that Craig built with his own hands, and views of rolling green and heather-flecked hills and regal pine trees. The home is filled with collections from their travels arranged artfully on beautiful, warm furniture. Their art hangs on the walls. Craig is an extraordinary abstract painter and carpenter. Mimi is an extraordinary painter as well, but I met her through writing and our shared experience of mothering and extreme parenting. She has written a magnificent book about her experience raising a son with schizophrenia. Until it's published, you can read her writing and see some of her art at her blog, The Asylum of the Universe. It will take your breath away. She's a badass.




Last night we talked about books and Bob Dylan and caregiving and men and women and children and life, the whole full catastrophe. This morning, Mimi and Craig drove off on their road trip adventure. Carl and I settled in and then wandered around a bit.




Now I've got to write.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Morning Three-Line Movie Review



I didn't know anything about this movie except that it looked very cool and very funny in the way that young people are very cool and very funny only some of the time, but this movie was very cool and very funny the entire time, not to mention wildly entertaining and perhaps even brilliant. Watching it was like taking a ride or, rather, being taken on a ride before which you've been given some perfect drug that enables colors to be brighter, music to be more rhythmical, and people's eyes to be like portals to their souls, and then it illustrates the world as it is now, in this moment, even more surreal than you might have already thought it to be. Boots Riley has made a movie that's both surrealist capitalist nightmare and comedy, and he does it in a way that makes white people squirm because, in the end, it's about that -- us.










More 3-Line Movie Reviews


RBG
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Learning to Drive
Love and Mercy
Not a Three Line Movie Review
While We're Young
Ida

Force Majeur 
Gone Girl
Saint Vincent

Get on Up
Begin Again
Chef
The Immigrant

Cesar Chavez

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gloria

Labor Day 
Philomena

Friday, July 6, 2018

Who Lives Like This?! Podcast (with no "f*^ks" given)

Ted Lyde

Something about the word fuck and Facebook and algorithms and something something something, but we had to change the name of the podcast to Who Lives Like This?!! which is, actually, the original question screamed by young Oliver back in the day. Since we took the word fuck out of the title, though, our Facebook visits have multiplied considerably, so I guess we've succumbed to hive mind/Big Brother Facebook or whatever epithets you want to hurl at social media. Social media. It can be immensely good, you know, connecting those who ordinarily couldn't connect. So spare me how much you hate Facebook -- it's provided an immense service to many people in the disability world.

Just don't say fuck.

This week's podcast is a conversation with comedian Ted Lyde. Ted is hilarious. Some of you might remember him recording a conversation with me on his own podcast which is, ironically, called Learning Not to Swear.  He's a sweet man, too, and a devoted father to his two children, one of whom has special healthcare needs. Fathers of children with disabilities are so rarely applauded or even discussed, but Jason and I intend to talk to many of them. Ted spoke of his devotion to his family and to what it means to sacrifice one's personal needs and or dreams. The conversation was so stimulating for me because it was two fathers talking. I was surprised -- to tell you the truth -- surprised by their candor and the ease they had in expressing their vulnerabilities. I'll wager that caregiving in general is the great equalizer as far as breaking you down and forcing you to come to terms with who you are and who you want to be.

It's good stuff, as the young ones say. Or maybe that's the old ones.

Please listen to the podcast, subscribe to it, read our blog, check out the growing list of resources, share the info, review us on iTunes and do your thing on social media. We're not making money (at least, yet) with this podcast, but we are building a community. We're talking, crying and laughing together. We need you to join us, whether you have a child with disability or not. You will probably become a caregiver one day or be cared for yourself --

Here's the link to the website. From there you can access the podcast either through iTunes or SoundCloud.

Thank you for helping us to share Who Lives Like This?!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

It's Not Who She Is



That's a spooky picture, isn't it? Sophie's the white-capped one in the background, lying in her bed. She was wired up today with an ambulatory EEG -- no reason in particular, although I'm interested in seeing whether she's had a return of the dreaded ESES. I think I wrote about ESES on this little blog back in the day -- Sophie had it when she was ten years old and again when she was fifteen. Yet, even as I type it out, I'm doubting that she's had a recurrence. It's not in my gut.

So, ye olde EEG. I remember when the EEG was ink on paper, the electrodes were glued on with an electric gun thing that made a horrible noise, and you needed the same gun and a foul-smelling ointment to get them off. The tech would fiddle with the dials as the ink jets clicked across the paper. It's all a blur, those early days -- a blur into darkness. They still use glue and colored wires that map the brain and record its activity (or fuckery, in Sophie's case) in a little box that you can sling over your shoulder. It's called an ambulatory EEG.

EEG is short for electroencephalogram, in case you're an initiate into The Great Mystery of the Brain. The EEG records brain activity in a moment of time, and in this case will record those moments of time overnight. If one occurs, it will "capture" a seizure.  It also shows the “background,” the non-epileptiform activity or changes, the slowing and spiking of brain waves. Whether Sophie has had a bazillion or no seizures clinically (to the eye), her background has always been abnormal. That’s it. 

Despite the technology, it’s not a complete picture of Sophie’s brain. 

It’s not who she is. 

Every now and then I get a feeling of what it feels like to be accepting. The other night I got Sophie out of her bed where she'd been lying most of the day having had some seizures. I fed her some mashed pinto beans and avocado, and her mouth worked eagerly to chew and swallow it. These are small things, true, but I knew what it was to count them as something less than momentous and more like flow.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

On "Civility"


Yesterday, I marched in downtown Los Angeles against the Trump administration's policy to separate immigrant children from their parents at our "border." I joined tens of thousands of other Los Angelenos on a beautiful southern California afternoon in protest of our government separating thousands of children in what appears to be a systematic form of child abuse and crime against humanity.


America is not a great country at this point, if it ever was, and anyone who's arguing for more civility is deluded and naive. My friend, the great writer Lidia Yuknavitch said the other day on her social media account that civility has always been determined by those in power. 

Civility has always been defined by those in power.

We have babies in cages on our "border" (not to mention the dismantling of environmental laws to protect the planet, the specter of women losing reproductive rights, the vilifying of the press, the collusion with world dictators, the Muslim ban, the racism that permeates literally every single directive from the POSPOTUS and his enablers) and are being told, even by those on our "side" (Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, etc.) that it isn't "American" to deny someone like the lying press secretary a peaceful dinner in your restaurant. This doesn't settle with me -- and not the so-called lack of civility.


What, exactly, does civility mean, and how has it been defined in this country from its very inception?


These aren't rhetorical questions but, rather, real ones that are if not tormenting me than at least filling up my mind to the extent that I feel near anguish. The anguish comes, I think, because the situation at hand calls for so much self-reflection -- so much probing of one's interior, one's ego, one's impulse to be right. I say one's because I imagine it's true for a lot of people, particularly those of us who are privileged (and I don't mean economically; I mean white). What does it even mean to be a good person, to act with civility when the very definition of the word has been determined and defined by those in power?

The center does not hold.



I feel the same way when I read arguments against what white men call "tribalism" or "polarization." Honestly?

I got into an argument on a friend's thread on Facebook -- not with the friend but with one of his "friends." I've sparred with this guy before, and while I'd like to make him irrelevant by not even engaging with him (his comments are nearly always dull and condescending with that overwhelming sarcasm and fake irony that marks the intellectually lazy), I'm learning through the engagement what it takes to be truly disobedient. Or maybe what it might take to be truly disobedient to the mores and definitions of civility that not only our ancestors but also our contemporaries demand.

Again, I'm just thinking about these things. I am certain of very little.

I'm a person who has trouble even uttering the word fuck, mainly because of the way I've been brought up, yet in uttering the word fuck I alienate even my own parents whom I love.



The person with whom I sparred on Facebook responded to my call for civil disobedience by asking whether I was prepared to be violent against my fellow citizens because being disobedient might cause a schism like we haven't seen since the Civil War. He asked, "Prepared to defend and even harm others if need be?"



I answered, "I will personally not commit acts of violence against any human beings, but I am prepared to stand against anything. That means anything. Absolutely. There are plenty of examples of peaceful and resolute civil disobedience across history. It's not a matter of "winning" or "losing." I align with those people. When and if my rights as a woman are compromised as they very well will or might be very soon, I will stand against that and for other women, minorities and the disabled."

I added, "The path to change is seldom polite. And the definition of civility is generally set by those in POWER."



The guy responded, "The definition of civility in this country was originally established when the first inhabitants began following the codes and mores of western civilization, along with the principles of the rule of law. Men opening doors for women, pulling their chairs out. You know that kind of demeaning, misogynistic behavior ya'll are so eager to abolish in favor of...I don't know what. Hip hop?"

If I had one, I'd rest my case. 

Mull on that, Reader.




 What Kind of Times Are These
By Adrienne Rich
There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary

to talk about trees.

 



Friday, June 29, 2018

Friday Evening Three-Line Movie Review



As I sat and watched the documentary RBJ about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I couldn't help but think about the dead journalists, the babies in cages, the piles of black bodies dead or in prison, the tainted water of Flint, Michigan, the taxes in the form of tariffs, and, of course, the reproductive rights of women, particularly those who are poor or minorities. The movie demonstrates with startling clarity how far "we've" come, because of this woman and her fight for equality, and it also underscores how much is at stake and how far backward we're moving with the despot on the throne and the same old white men calling the shots. The movie is worth going to, though, if you're in need of some galvanizing, if you want to see a fierce woman fight for everything that is good, partnered with a man who supported her every step of the way, and you wonder how the hell we're going to carry on her legacy with so much against us, because WE ARE, we have done it before and we will do so again, and we owe it to her for helping us.









More 3-Line Movie Reviews

Won't You Be My Neighbor?
Learning to Drive
Love and Mercy
Not a Three Line Movie Review
While We're Young
Ida

Force Majeur 
Gone Girl
Saint Vincent

Get on Up
Begin Again
Chef
The Immigrant

Cesar Chavez

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gloria

Labor Day 
Philomena

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rule Number One: DO NOT OBEY IN ADVANCE



Sophie got a new wheelchair yesterday, thanks to her private insurance which is governed by the Affordable Care Act's protection of pre-existing conditions and her qualification to receive Medi-Cal which helps to pay for any out-of-pocket expenses. I am filled with gratitude for these things and well aware of my immense privilege, particularly as these things are not afforded to everyone and are now under threat for everyone.

The week after Trump was inaugurated and became the POSPOTUS in 2017, my therapist (I know, LA, and all that stuff) gave me two pieces of paper stapled together, titled Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century.* Written by Tim Snyder, an American historian of Central and Eastern Europe and the Holocaust who is a professor at Yale, the list draws on the experience of those who lived before, during and after the rise of Fascism in Germany and Communism in the former Soviet Union. I think we're well past the rise part in Trump's America and into the fascist part, so I'm reviewing the lessons and was struck, especially this morning, by the first one:

Do Not Obey in Advance
Much of the power of authoritarianism is freely given. In times like these, individuals think ahead about what a more repressive government will want, and then start to do it without being asked. You've already done this, haven't you? Stop. Anticipatory obedience teaches authorities what is possible and accelerates unfreedom.

Despite the ease of it (for those who are privileged like myself), caving to despair or cries of how fucked we all are, we just can't. I know that I have "obeyed in advance" many times during my life, have handed power or agency over to not just institutions but to people in my family and even people that I love. Part of that is due to deep cultural influences, to patriarchal systems, to my own apathy or cynicism. It's a slow process toward acknowledgement of that anticipatory obedience, even in my privilege, yet having a child with severe disabilities has pushed me along that path of self-awareness and agency a bit further. 

When I heard yesterday that Justice Kennedy was retiring, handing the POSPOTUS the chance to ensure a draconian legacy of conservatism on the Supreme Court, I did feel despair, particularly about the threat to women's reproductive rights and the Affordable Care Act's protection of those with pre-existing conditions. My despair shows itself in biting humor which isn't funny at all. I imagine Sophie driving a car, proving her "worth" in lieu of getting "free hand-outs" through Medi-Cal, yet unable to get insurance to pay for the drugs and treatment of her life long epilepsy. I imagine her getting raped by some free enterprise private contractor in an institution for the handicapped and not able to have an abortion because it will be illegal. I crack sick jokes because it helps me to cope and perhaps jerks people out of their malaise and into action. 

Here's the thing.  I am thinking that we're entirely not fucked, that we're actually in a fight and that we have to stay in it. We have to stay awake. We can't succumb to despair. We can't obey in advance.

It will be me, maybe, actually driving that car with Sophie in it and any woman or women who needs to go to a state that still guarantees their reproductive freedom.** Sophie is very quiet and capable of holding great secrets. I am very loud.


























*  You can easily look up the lessons, but I typed them out on the blog HERE
**Here's a list of things you can do if or when Roe v Wade is overturned.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Elena Hung and Little Lobbyists on WhoTF Lives Like This?! Podcast




That's Elena Hung and her young daughter Xiomara. They are powerful women, and you have the chance to hear all about the work they are doing to improve the lives of children with complex medical needs. You'll also hear about how Elena does what she does -- she's an immigration lawyer, a mother, a caregiver and the founder of Little Lobbyists.

Please listen to our podcast wherever you listen to podcasts or click on the button on the accompanying blog by going here:



Check back on Mondays for new podcasts -- Jason and I have so many to share with you! I hope that you'll share the links with others, too.

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Tiny Little Mother MInd™ and the FDA and Epidiolex




Today, the FDA announced its approval of GW Pharmaceuticals' Epidiolex, a cannabis-based medicine for epilepsy. As I've written countless times here on this blog, I do not begrudge those who want to try this concoction a fair chance to try it. If it works, fantastic. If it doesn't, you know where to go and what to do. What is that? You will probably need to jiggle around your CBD and add THC or one or more of the other cannabinoids. You will embark on a twisty path to healing. I believe this with all of my heart, but it's not a religion. It's fact and science and experience-based.

The reason the tiny little mother mind™ is writing this update is because of the following announcement by the FDA that accompanied their approval:

FDA is deeply concerned about the proliferation of unapproved CBD drug products marketed using unproven medical claims to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent serious conditions and we’ll continue to take action against such products.

Cue the revolution. That's right. If the FDA or Big Pharma takes away our freedom to make, use, buy or otherwise give our cannabis medicine to our children or ourselves, there will be a revolution.

Epidiolex will cost between $2,000-$6,000 a month. If you have any experience with manufacturers and insurance companies and how drugs are priced, go figure that shit out. Contemplate that. Read my post from a few weeks ago where I discuss the difference between Epidiolex and the cannabis meds that many of us currently use.

My tiny little mother mind™has said it before over the five years that I and my compadres have been doing this, that there's a swimming pool here and plenty of lanes. Initially, we told the docs and anyone who would listen that they should get on the train because it was leaving the station. We were mocked and humiliated -- literally -- but we didn't give a flying foo and proceeded to save each other's children. We were told that we couldn't discuss cannabis medicine with our neurologists. We were reported to Child's Protective Services. We were obstructed over and over. That did not stop us.

Now, I'm telling you that Big Pharma should use their lane and not infringe on ours or take over the entire pool. 

I mean it.













*This has been a Public Service Announcement

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Grit and Grace of Caregiving




My friend and fellow caregiver, Jason Lehmbeck, and I have launched our passion project, a podcast about and for caregivers of children and young adults with special healthcare needs and disabilities. It's called WhoTF Lives Like This?! and is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. We've been working on this for more than six months, and I am just so excited to tell you about it. We'll be interviewing the most amazing people who do the most amazing things with their lives -- both publicly and privately. We'll be talking to men and women who care for their children with special healthcare needs and disabilities, to siblings and to those who support us -- the doctors, educators, therapists, etc. working to help and make our lives and the lives of our children better.

I hope you'll subscribe to the podcast, check in regularly at the website to learn about the guests, interact with us on our Facebook page and in the comment section or otherwise get in touch with your suggestions and ideas. If you'd like to be a guest, you know where to find me!

You can listen to the teaser which gives you a good idea of what we'll be doing on the podcast, and we've also launched the first episode where Jason and I interview one another in much the same format that we will be using going forward.

Please help us to share this resource with all those who might be interested. This is a podcast for everyone. While the podcast pays particular attention to the lives of caregivers, their grit and grace is relevant to all human beings, and just like we have found, our work with and love for these most vulnerable of our fellow humans will expand your own heart and view of the world.

You can access the podcast at our website HERE.


Please subscribe! Leave a review, too! Thank you!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

#FamiliesBelongTogether

Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, California
June 20, 2018


Do you remember as a child getting separated from your mother in a public place? I was with my mother shopping one day and probably in a world of my own, in my head, day-dreaming as she walked through aisles of clothes racks. I can't have been more than six or seven and perhaps even younger. At some point I grabbed the hand hanging in my view and looked up simultaneously, thinking it was my mother. Except it was not. It was a stranger. I remember that moment of terror -- only a moment because the woman whose hand I'd grabbed looked kindly at me, and my own mother was in sight -- like it was yesterday. A moment of terror. At being separated from my mother.


Is there anything else to do but think about, agitate about, write about and above all, ACT ABOUT these children separated from their parents at the United States border. Despite the POSPOTUS' rescinding of the policy he and his henchman initiated and the band of thugs who have carried it out, it's unclear whether hundreds, if not thousands of these babies and children will ever be reunited with their parents.

Babies in tents.

Where are the girls?

I'm making all the POS folks who supported this policy irrelevant in my mind. I'm not responding to their inane, inhumane arguments.  Those who believe America to be a Christian nation. The vile human who made a joke about a child with Down Syndrome being separated from parents. I'm brushing them away.  Those who compare the people of Mexico and Central America to vermin. Be gone.

And those who invoke the great peace leaders of the world and admonish us not to be angry, that it's all about love -- step aside. The great peace leaders were plenty angry, and they used their anger in constructive ways to bring peace. You step aside, too, or step up.

Here are some things we can do:


What You Can Do Right Now to Help Immigrant Families Separated at the Border


Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

Monday, June 18, 2018

When Home is the Mouth of a Shark

Artist: Eleazar Velazquez


Mary Moon at Bless Our Hearts has written a magnificent post about the current POSPOTUS' administration's draconian policy of separating children from their parents at our borders. She included this poem by Warsan Shire, a British poet born to Somali parents in Kenya, East Africa. Such is the power of poetry that I've included it in my own and hope that everyone will read it and pass it along. I know that many of you reading my blog deplore my politics, my language, my view of this country. I hope you read it, too, and think deeply about it and about your own complicity in supporting the man you've voted into office and what he's done to this country.



Home

no one leaves home unless

home is the mouth of a shark.

you only run for the border
when you see the whole city
running as well.

your neighbours running faster
than you, the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind
the old tin factory is
holding a gun bigger than his body,
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.

no one would leave home unless home
chased you, fire under feet,
hot blood in your belly.

it's not something you ever thought about
doing, and so when you did -
you carried the anthem under your breath,
waiting until the airport toilet
to tear up the passport and swallow,
each mouthful of paper making it clear that
you would not be going back.

you have to understand,
no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land.

who would choose to spend days
and nights in the stomach of a truck
unless the miles travelled
meant something more than journey.

no one would choose to crawl under fences,
be beaten until your shadow leaves you,
raped, then drowned, forced to the bottom of
the boat because you are darker, be sold,
starved, shot at the border like a sick animal,
be pitied, lose your name, lose your family,
make a refugee camp a home for a year or two or ten,
stripped and searched, find prison everywhere
and if you survive and you are greeted on the other side
with go home blacks, refugees
dirty immigrants, asylum seekers
sucking our country dry of milk,
dark, with their hands out
smell strange, savage -
look what they've done to their own countries,
what will they do to ours?

the dirty looks in the street
softer than a limb torn off,
the indignity of everyday life
more tender than fourteen men who
look like your father, between
your legs, insults easier to swallow
than rubble, than your child's body
in pieces - for now, forget about pride
your survival is more important.

i want to go home, but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home tells you to
leave what you could not behind,
even if it was human.

no one leaves home until home
is a damp voice in your ear saying
leave, run now, i don't know what
i've become.

Warsan Shire


I agree with Mary when she writes, 
wish that every ignorant, racist asshole who claims that "illegal immigrants" who try to enter our country to suck the tit of the Big American Eagle Good Life Without Earning It deserve whatever happens to them up to and including having their babies snatched from them (that'll teach 'em!) could be forced to read this poem over and over until they get a molecule of understanding and empathy. If that's even possible which I doubt. 

We the people need to stop this right now. If we don't, I imagine that we, too, the privileged of this country, will be leaving our own home -- that damp voice in our ear saying leave, run now, we don't know what Amerikkka has become.

CALL YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES AND DEMAND THAT THIS POLICY BE STOPPED. VOTE LIKE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIFE OF YOUR CHILDREN DEPENDS UPON IT.

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