My ancestors don’t really like each other

“The light, the dark, both running through me” — Over the Rhine

it feels odd to me
my drive to achieve, provide, collect and care
for one’s family, as well as the masses and bulwark for 
the future

that’s gotta be all Mary, my dad’s 2x great grandmother.
she’s all business and suffrage.

Mary Avery, my 3x great grandmother (right), and her friend (unknown)

also Lou, escaped from slavery to the arms of the Navy,
shuttling supplies before, during, and after the first 
World War
he returned home, when he stepped again onto soil, and
beat the tar out of his uncle who’d enslaved him
burnt the place to the ground
and built a new one
with my great-grandmother Madell
in the rainforest of Snohomish.

it’s also Madell
her marrying a mad sailor
who sold his own moonshine at his barn dances
where he banjoed himself a fool

If it weren’t for stupid grandchildren, I’d have enough money to live out the rest of my life on love,

she said in her notes to herself.

it is, of course, my father
who had a knack, as he often said with glee, for
jumping up
and down
in a pile
of shit.

that’s all my dad’s blood. all his side. the rebels, the misfits, the fighters, the musicians, the entrepreneurs, the crazy ones.

on my mom’s side it’s nothing but farming tranquility.

slow-paced peacemaking, like my mother’s mom, my eponym, 
and also like the herb after which we are named:
marjoram — sweet, earthy, and mild.

we just want to make peace, Marjorie, my mother, and I.
to love one another, to feed our families, and to live in peace.


my dad’s folks need to fight. need me to 
fight. it’s just
muscle memory after all
this time.


so I strike a blow in one breath
and lament our discord in the next;
I offer a hand to peace
then place in your palm a gun.