Ashes

I can’t see the sun today.

Plumes of gray smoke seize the sky,

Robbing it of daylight.

I can’t think clearly today.

My chest pulls tight, my eyes sting,

Anger fumes,

Like the wildfires raging in the Pacific Northwest,

Leaving ash on my windowsills.

I can’t concentrate today.

Harvey fresh in my mind,

Irma coming up behind

Puerto Rico in a bind

No money set aside

To deal with this disaster.

I cannot breathe today,

And yet the EPA is understaffed,

Healthcare for all is under attack,

And the Grand Old Party just sits there and laughs

Thinking their policies include a few life rafts

Should they ever end up in deep water.

Meanwhile,

wildfires rage in the Pacific Northwest

And ash keeps filling my windowsills.

I can’t stomach the news today.

After floods ravaged Houston,

Our DREAMERS stepped up

Only to have their futures cut

By those who scorn facts and revel in gossip

Secretly worried there is a Russia cover-up.

Putting trust in a man who does nothing but tweet

About tapes, memos, emails

I mean, does POTUS not sleep?

Just lies there and dreams up

New ways to grab power

Like reducing Title IX protections

And pardoning Arpaio.

I wonder as I sit here,

As the ash keeps blowing in,

How we ever will find peace if it’s always us versus them?

They insist on keeping statues to commemorate the past,

Allow the KKK to march, white supremacy to cast,

Its shadow

On this nation

While black men cry out they cannot breathe

And our prisons fill with people with no hope of liberty,

Freedom, equality, nor pursuit of happiness,

Locked up for nothing more than the color of their skin.

Though we’re a nation built by immigrants and brave young refugees

They ignore these contributions to our democracy.

We are

so clearly

a nation in crisis

(after all, North Korea’s missiles are pointed right at us)

And climate science warns this is only the beginning

Warmer waters strengthen storms pummeling our cities

Yet, we left the Paris climate pact to focus more on ISIS,

Voter fraud,

and terrorism,

all part of this new dogmatism

Meanwhile “Charlottesville” and “Sandy Hook” are used now as colloquialisms

And I begin to wonder, as the smoke settles in

If they are really scared of ISIS,

Why we would not do all it takes to win?

Embrace people of all color, race, ethnicity

Recognize the strength of all LGBTQIA

Build an all-inclusive army like the world has never seen

Not with guns or bombs or nukes, but with diversity

For we share a common ancestor

We share a family tree

You cannot just ignore your phylogeny

Houston’s underwater

The West is up in flames

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,

Yearning to breathe free

Wildfires

Rage

In the Pacific Northwest

And ash

And ash

And ash

And ash

And ash

Keeps filling my windowsills.

***

Click here to view a performance of this piece on YouTube: https://youtu.be/QYkJmRnG-8Y

***

A view of the hazy sun seen in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle in late summer 2017. The sun is obscured by smoke from wildfires burning throughout the western continental U.S.