Cherry Blossoms

Crane

She drew in a deep breath, held it, and released. The subtle movement of the autumn air had a quiet strength behind it – as if the potential energy of the day to come could be felt. How dark the night is before the sunrise! Akiko thought as she made her way along the path. The forest began to come alive with songbirds as she reached the end of the trail, where it opened up into a meadow. She traversed the border of the meadow and wood, moving with calm purpose toward the stately home on the other side. Nobody else seemed to be awake at this hour, and she basked in the moment of solitude.

Akiko paused at the koi pond in the gardens of the estate, the reflection of the rising sun mimicked the blaze of red, gold, and orange fish beneath the water surface. She was taken back to her childhood, when she spent time alone in the woods if her chores were complete and her father pretended not to noticed her slipping away. “When you are married, you will serve your husband from inside your home, not from inside the forest,” he would sometimes scold her when she did not return in a timely fashion. But she was drawn to the spot where she found turtles, fish, and countless other creatures. She recalled once watching a crane hunt on a morning not unlike the present one. It was waiting among the reeds – poised to strike – which it eventually did with a speed one could only hope to match. The water’s mirror-like surface parted in an instant and the bird’s head emerged, its beak piercing straight through a silver minnow lulled into complacence by the unseen hunter.

She slid the door open carefully and without a sound and entered the alcove. A jade buddha greeted her with a kind smile, and perhaps a knowing twinkle in its eye. Akiko gave a barely perceptible bow to the figure as she passed, and glided past the wood carved panels in the hallway depicting a hunting party cornering a boar, spears and arrows poised to make the kill, past the translucent shjoi doors of the now empty tea room. A most harmonious home, she noted to herself.

The daimyo, a landed nobleman who owned the country home, was snoring in his bedroom. This was the man she was sent for. Moving like a cat, Akiko slipped into the chamber without waking the occupant, who was fast asleep. His deep slumber was in spite of the fact that his samurai, on this morning, were poised to do battle with those of a rival lord. She unsheathed a curved dagger from its hidden pouch in her kimono. With one swift motion, the man’s throat was deeply slashed by the razor-sharp blade; crimson drops of blood spattered onto the bed like cherry blossoms against a spring snow.

Akiko then placed a black shuriken on the pillow beside her victim as a calling card, for soon all would know the deadly Kunoichi clan was responsible for carrying out this brazen assassination!

Victim Blaming And My Dear Mother-in-law

“I don’t understand these made up names, like LaWanda or D’Quisha. You’re not helping yourself out. When they send a resume or apply for a job, people aren’t going to take them seriously.”

Racism is at its most dangerous when it is couched in everyday actions, familiar statements and sentiments, and seemingly sensible statements. This is how it is passed along, how it becomes normalized. The above quote – paraphrased, as it was a while ago and I don’t recall the exact wording – comes from my mother-in-law. If pressed, I’m sure she would rationalize it with a perfectly valid explanation in her mind as to how it’s not racist, possibly twisting it into being helpful advice. (Aside: she can rationalize anything. An. Y. Thing.)

It struck a chord with me because it is pure victim blaming. She’s putting the burden of avoiding being a victim of racism squarely on the victims. “Don’t use those names if you don’t want to be judged by them.” It’s not far off from saying that women shouldn’t dress a certain way if they don’t want to be harassed or worse. But there’s no way she’d see it that way, sadly. The whole “made up names” idea is another thing. As opposed to what – those naturally forming names? All names are made up. What she really means is names we don’t use in white American culture (if that’s even a thing).

The difficult thing is that my wife and I just had a baby girl. My wife technically had her, all credit due, but I did hold a leg and offer words of encouragement. They both did great, but that’s another story. And of course my mother-in-law, or Babcia as grandma’s are called in Polish, has a right to get to know her granddaughter. So she’ll be around, but at the first sign of her spewing latent racist garbage there’s going to have to be a serious reassessment of the state of affairs.

She goes to church at least once a week, loves her family, and sees herself as a genuinely good and caring person. And in some ways she is right. And that’s one of the hard truths of life, that there are no pure heroes or villains. There are, however, subtle undercurrents that we must be aware of, lest we be doomed to repeat ourselves. I want better, not just for my baby daughter, but for her the entire generation. The status quo is unsustainable.

Dark Matter Lives

Dark matter lives

in the presence of

               the light

Oceans of time

curl and unfurl

in theory

alone

 

Meanwhile a wind

howls on the plains

               flickering

A spark from

a star falls

imploring

a pulse

 

Worlds bloom and wilt

while a weary star

               grows dim

and your life

collapses into

a singular

point

An Accident On-set at Sesame Street

it happened so fast

the moan of twisting steel,

a lighting rig tumbling

back to earth

lost one immediately –

that’s for sure –

poor fucker

probably didn’t feel a thing

the other left a trail

.

   .

      .

later we followed it

and found it

musta dragged itself, drunk with pain and panic

behind some cardboard boxes

blue fur matted with dark dry blood

not moving or breathing,

twisted up

ah the glamour of show biz

When It Hits

Pray that when it hits,

Your feathers turn to steel.

Your mind as smooth as glass,

Collected on a beach.

Pray that when it hits,

Your eyes are clear and bright.

Though it will be dark,

And shadows will deceive.

Pray that when it hits,

Resolve will not retreat.

The worst thing is regret,

You’ll end up just like me.