The Time Has Come (a poem dedicated to antifascist fighters!)

The time has come,

The end of generational ignorance is near.

Revolution.

There is no more denying,

No more procrastination,

For procrastination is the rebel’s enemy.

There is no more time to waste,

Revolution

Is a formula.

A formula of transcendence,

A guide to peace,

To march,

To victory.

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What good is a broken man?

What an era to be alive.

Yet how can one call living with no dignity living?

Crawling on knees to get to a safe place to release your bowels,

Begging from mercy from an overweight class traitor with shit aim

Only to get 6 bullets in the back.

For a cell phone.

Can it be called it living to beg for help?

Only to be denied it?

Only to be killed for it?

Only to be mocked for it?

Can it be called living?

So many men,

And even more hurt women,

All because therapy is either too expensive,

So we put the burden on the femmes.

Therapy,

Too expensive,

Or not manly enough.

Wouldn’t want weakness, or tenderness to show,

No,

That’s how you end up with six bullets in the back apparently,

And lose your ability to walk,

Think,

Or breath.

That and skin of deeper tint which will act as hate’s magnet,

For what good is a broken man?

What good is fear?

What good is pain?

What good is a broken man?

And who can love something that is broken.

My Recent Car Wreck; Trauma Will Not Win

Like many young writers who play the professional game I picked up a part time job for some extra cash and experience to keep my resume flowing while I still look for the door to kick in and put my foot. I started canvassing for rent control in the city of Sacramento and felt wonderful about it. The hours were flexible, I was working with friends from the DSA, BLM and the other organizations as a part of a cause I whole heartedly believe in. I was getting a work out from walking door to door, it was everything a young writer needed.

Then, on Wednesday March 21, 2018 at approximately 945pm, as I drove home from a normal shift, it all happened.

A sedan in front of me was going 30 mph in a 40mph zone, both of us were in the right hand lane. I merged into the left lane and raised my speed to somewhere between 40-50 mph to pass the car, who I see in my mirror has slowed down because they were texting. I merge back into the right lane, then within ten seconds my windshield shatters, my airbags explode, and a loud series of thuds batters my car into a circle off the road like the Hell’s Angles stomping a narc.

Somehow I had lost control, spun out, and hit a tree on the side of the road. Within ten seconds, my leisurely drive home was to turn into one of the most traumatic ordeals of my life. Within ten seconds my right hand was full of glass, my neck throbbing with whiplash, and my legs trapped under the dash.

Yet I never hit my head, I never lost consciousness, I never went into a panic, at least not until I realized I was trapped and my door would not open.

The impact had shattered my drivers side window, when I realized I was stuck and that the smoke from the engine was growing I bellowed out onto the street. “Help! I was just in a major car accident and I’m trapped! Can somebody help me, please!?”

Within seconds, a man in a blue sweatshirt caring the mascot of a sports team, I cannot remember if it was pro or college, was by my window.

“Hey, are you okay?” he said.

“I think so.” I knew it was only because of the shock, but at this point I felt no pain, and could not think about anything else except getting out of that car.

He proceeded to ask me what happened and while trying to suppress my panic I told him the details as I told you. He assured me I was okay, and he also assured me that I seem pretty cognizant so he didn’t think I was drunk, which I wasn’t. He kept me calm, and called the paramedics, and stayed with me until they arrived.

While we waited he introduced himself to me, “What is your name?”

“James,” I told him, my voice cracking because I felt like a frightened child who just needed an adult, any adult.

“Hi James, I’m Philipe, you’re going to be okay, I’m right here and the paramedics are on their way.”

Philipe, you are a total stranger and you might have saved my life. If you are reading this, contact me. Needless to say I owe you one.

Soon after three cars had stopped and pulled over. One stayed on the corner by the street with flashers on to keep other cars from hitting me. The two other people stayed by me to keep me calm. I never screamed in agony or hyperventilated, I never did anything accept breath and trust my life to these strangers, I felt there was no other way I could survive the situation.

The paramedics and fire department arrived. They shattered the glass on the passenger side to get the car unlocked, but still the jaws of life were needed to pry open the door to get me out.

Once out, I realized I could put no weight on my ankle, so I was immediately put on the gurney and taken to UC Davis Trauma Center. Of course once your on the gurney they could be taking you to Mexico for all you know.

Once you are on the gurney, all you can do is look up, you can see nothing from side to side or even your own feet. I have no idea what roads they took to get me to the trauma center and once there I had no idea where I was going when escorted from room to room. The blood on my hands had dried to a horror film prop crust. The neck brace was chaffing to say the least. I had no control over anything, I do not like that.

The intake nurse made an insulting joke about how I was lucky I only had one beer, and next time I should “use uber.” The paramedics reassured me that I was fine, that they knew I wasn’t drunk, and that nurse was an asshole. I do not want to obsess over it, but I will say that I hope this nurse gets fired, you do not make jokes to patients in the trauma intake center.

I do not want to relive the rest of that night, I do not want to go into all the details because the details are the hell that traumatized me and I just don’t want to relive it, not now or ever again. I will say that all the other staff at UC Davis trauma center were very kind, very understanding, very tender, all of which I needed at the time.

The night was a series of tests, and waiting, and tests, and waiting. Waiting, alone in cold sterile rooms warmed only by a set of blankets haphazardly stacked on me. Waiting. Locked in a position unable to sit up because you aren’t allowed. Waiting, stuck looking only at the lights and ceiling tile because of a neck brace, then more x-rays and tests. All getting wheeled to an from, never knowing exactly where or for what test. Waiting.

When I first arrived and the doctors started their first tests, just after stripping me of my clothes, a social worker asked who they should call. I gave them my mother’s name and both phone numbers. I did everything I could to share every detail I could whenever I was asked a question, no matter what the question was.

I went into detail with the paramedics about Sacramento’s Rent Control Movement that I had been working on when they asked about my job in the ambulance. I told the nurses about the Irish Socialist themed birthday party I had on St. Patrick’s day when they asked me about what I did on St Patty’s, and when it came to the important stuff, my name my address and phone number I made sure to give as stringently and calmly as I could. I think I was doing that to prove that I was still cognizant, still aware of the situation, still myself. I do not know if it was to prove it to them or myself, but I think maybe I just wanted to prove to myself that I was still here, as if knowing that I was conscious would remind me that I can get better. That I will get better.

My parents arrived after my first x-rays, all I could do was cry when I saw my mother. A cry like a child cries when he wants his mom to make all the pain go away. “I just want to go home.” I told her as she took my hand with tears flooding my face, “I just want to go home.”

I was not released until 5am. My poor mother had to call in a substitute teacher for her class that morning and my father was passed out until 10am the next morning. My poor father, a disabled person himself and he compensates his nerves with humor, he is the kind of person to laugh when he is anxious. The whole time in the ER where he had a lot of time just waiting he was fidgety, making comments he should not have, but he knew no other way to process the situation. He has a bad history with car wrecks, at my age he was in a similar situation, he was hit on his motorcycle by a drunk driver near Torrance, CA. He almost lost his leg and because it was poor working class hippie versus rich Cadillac drunk driving estate agent, CHP wanted to cite my dad for being in his way. Not twenty years later, my father lost his own father in an auto accident that is shrouded in mystery. My grandfather had issues, so many issues that some of us wonder if this death was actually an accident. The point is between my grandpa, my dad, and myself we are three for three for car wrecks. I do not think that was an easy thing to process and a legacy I hope ends with me.

My mother has been in Mom-mode ever since. Like when I was sick as a boy, she has been doing everything to make me comfortable, but not only that, she is keeping my father grounded because I know this traumatizes him in a way the rest of the family just will never get.

Then there was my sister, my poor sister. She loves and supports me so dearly, for her to see me in that state in the ER, for her to think she might have lost me that night, I cannot imagine what she felt. My sister is an Empath, yes like in Star Trek, she can just look at someone and feel what they are feeling, I know she felt my pain that night and I wish I wasn’t in pain, because then she wouldn’t be either. Later, she was not pleased because the day after the accident I made a point of showing up to city hall and the outskirts of the Golden 1 arena for the Stephon Clark protest. Yes, I was there even with a broken ankle, a bruised lung, and whiplash. We all have our own ways to heal, mine is to keep going. My wounds will heal, Stephon Clark won’t.

My road to recovery could be long or short, I am still not sure. All I know is that in a matter of seconds everything about who I was was taken from me, and that I never realized how dependent on being an able bodied person I was for my identity. I know I will recover, be it weeks or months I will walk again and march again. I did not get the word “Invictus” tattooed on my arm just because it looks cool, I got it to remind myself that I am strong, that I am unconquerable. Yes, I am traumatized. When I am alone for too long I have flashbacks to the accident, to the total loss of control and the moment that the thuds came thundering onto my van. But I will not let this trauma define me. I know this passage has been mostly about pain, fear, and a loss of control that I had never experienced before, but I am not despairing over a few boo boos. I will not let a simple twist of sad and painful fate rob me of who I am. I will recover, I will be fine. But what I will never understand is the how, or the why I survived.

All the paramedics said I was lucky. That when they saw the car they “expected the worst,” and were amazed I was conscious. The doctors and nurses all said the same thing. I do feel lucky. I don’t when the cast on my ankle itches or when the pain meds where off and it throbs but I do feel lucky, and curious.

How the hell did I survive that? How the hell did I not hit my head on the air bag? And why? Is there a why to my survival? Is the God that I do not believe in telling me my life really does have a purpose? Do I just have enough good karma that when the bad things happen to me they aren’t as bad as they could be? Or am I just so lucky that I ought to take a road trip to Reno or Vegas when I recover? I do not know, and to be honest I do not want to care. I do not want to care about the, “Why did I survive?” but I do. Every time I close my eyes and relive the crash, whether I want to think about it or not, I always come back to that question, “Why the hell did I live? Is there even a why?”

I firmly believe in Occam’s razor, that the simplest solution is probably the correct one. What is the simplest answer to my question, “Why did I survive?” Well in my opinion it’s “Because you still have work to do.” I will not trifle myself with questions about meaning or God, the way I see it I survived. Yes, I need to slow down, to recover, but I survived, so I can keep going, because like I said I have work to do.

Those Eyes

The mantra of the American upstarts,

Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.

The eyes belong to someones child.

Those eye once cried over a scraped knee.

Those eyes once looked at someone and loved them.

Those eyes once had a soul behind them.

Those eye look down at hands that hold a gun now.

Those eyes look down at hands that hold a pill in one hand

and $700 dollars in the other.

Those eyes will soon close forever,

for when I see them clearly enough 

I have no choice but to pull a trigger.

Forbaren Soul and Love not Lost, but Changed.

Forbaren soul,

lost again insight unseen,

yet not,

merely changed,

unforeseen.

The stars tell me nothing but my date of birth,

and the direction slaves did walk.

Soiled old souls,

now bitter, with hate, forgotten of the parental struggle.

The trial of every generation

are the lessons learned from each one’s prior.

A balance of failures and victories,

and always, it is the people who die.

Ah yes, the old return,

the repeated theme and cliche,

it is her beauty,

and I am her folly,

her wanton regret and trial of choice.

Yet I do not concede my love,

I merely forfeit to change, 

for I love her,

I will forfeit to change.

8/26/15

Dear Fellow Progressives, Remember It’s Not About You

The chains of hatred are always present where there is disenfranchisement.  Whether it is perceived or real, there are always seeds of bigotry in places where the people have a long history of subjectification for the use of those in power.  

Despite being oppressed by the same forces, the people in these groups play into the game of oppression by division.  There is homophobia in the inter cities of Los Angeles’s to a point it can only be described as an epidemic.  In the gay community there is frequent misogyny.  The same white men who are used to keep the status quo blame their fellow victims for perceived advantages in their existence within other oppressed groups, when instead they should be blaming the very people manipulating them into doing their bidding.  There are women who blame all men instead of the few who are fucking things up for everyone, and within all of these groups there are negative attitudes towards women and transpeople even within groups of women themselves.

We always like to believe these people are the minorities misrepresenting the majority of the people within their group, who even if they demonstrate ignorance will usually demonstrate tolerance.

I have always considered myself “intolerant of intolerance,” and as such I brought on a sense of self confidence thanks to the fact I would not let racist, sexist, or homophobic actions be tolerated in my presence.  In other words, I felt like I confirmed myself as a good person because of my reactions to external stimuli.

This was a mistake.  Instead of looking within myself, instead of finding the roots and causes of my own sexism, racism, or generally intolerant ideas.  While I have always considered myself a progressive, as you can see from the general tone of this essay, I had confirmed this identity through confirmation of my reaction and the reactions of others of intolerant acts.  Again, this is a mistake.  We cannot make any real progress so long as we don’t channel and navigate the hate and negativity within ourselves.  The reason I sought confirmation from the external in these situations was because I failed to do exactly as I mention above, I had not navigated and answered the questions of my own negative thoughts.

I have had racist, sexist, and even homophobic thoughts in my past.  But I felt as long as I had people around me, seeing me resist intolerance with intolerance, congratulating me on being so adamant, I felt confirmed that I was in-fact the opposite of the person I had just humiliated and established as a good human being.

The error in this is not only seeking my confirmation of my self from the external instead from the internal, but it also prevents any true progress from being made to unite all oppressed peoples against this seemingly invisible enemy that tricks us into division.  It is simple to see that keeping the people divided amongst themselves allows the rich and powerful to go to the bank with minimal interference.  But the falsehood of establishing confirmed identities always prevents any true progress.  

It is all well and good to be vocal about feminism, gay rights, or the new Jim Crow and anti immigration use of our prison system.  It is important to be vocal about inequality, but when you do it for the sake of establishing yourself with the identity of someone who stands against inequality, you are robbing us all of true progress.  To remove the hypocrisy of this we must remove the idea of the self from the equation of inequality.  When you attempt to act against inequality for the sake of the valor you are benefiting from the inequality as the oppressors are.  

Do not do things for the sake of establishing an identity as a rebel or as a tolerant being, just be a tolerant being.  It’s okay to be vocal and stand up to acts of hatred but don’t do so for selfish means, and only do it when it will actually accomplish quenching the hatred.  We cannot begot the hate with our own hatred of hatred itself.  My hatred of hatred did nothing to stop hatred itself but only inflated my own ego of being someone who stands against hatred.  I shouldn’t add the needs of my own identity to a place where the issue is not fixing my identity as a white straight male but the fact that my fellow beings are suffering, being robbed of something that is a privilege to me but instead should be no one’s privilege but the right of every single human being.  I am writing this with the hope that I will hold myself accountable by not holding myself to anything at all.  I will not do things to establish my identity as a white man who stands against hatred.  I will simply stand against hatred and will always welcome a dialogue and perspective from those most effected by these issues with the hopes I can come to an understanding with myself and my own hurtful and hateful thoughts and actions.

This must be the goal of everyone who has this privilege, do not buy into our masters game and use the privilege you do have blame those who have no privilege for the few things your privilege lacks.  Dialogue and an absence of hatred and attempts to abandon prejudice coming into these dialogues is the start, but where we cannot abandon our prejudices we must at least acknowledge them and ask ourselves how do we transcend these conditionings.  That is the beginning, that is where we finally stop seeking confirmation from the external and find our answers internally.  It is only here, when we navigate the negativity from within us can we find answers to the negativity outside of us that effect all of us as a whole, and not just individually.

That is the ultimate goal, that is the ultimate message of these words.  While epidemics of hatred are more inclusive than the acts of hatred themselves plague our society, blinding us to the intersectionality of all our oppression, we cannot forget we perpetuate this oppression when we use the oppression to create our own identity.  We are literally doing exactly that, exactly what the enemy does, we are USING OPPRESSION for our own means.  Do the right thing because it’s the right thing, if you know and are comfortable with who you are you don’t need the confirmation of self that comes from acting progressively.  Just be, channel the negativity within ourselves, answer your own questions before stomping out answers for others, and then and only then can we as a planet of beings make any kind of progress as a whole.