Threnody for a Leap Year: An American Story


Before 2020 even arrives

I claim for all to hear that it will be an auspicious year

One for the books

This is my modern habit

Claim it and it becomes truth

Or as the proponents of this idea say

It’s already truth and is simply awaiting your agreement

Clever that one

Whenever I am at the end of my tether

I cling to clever mystical ideas

One-One-Twenty-Twenty

A milestone birthday

I am now the same age as the year I was born

And a leap year to boot

known in many spiritual communities as a year   always

of awakening and spiritual enlightenment

A virtual bonanza of numerological magic in my very palms

Too luscious not to play with

Life has felt stifled for so long

I make ridiculous claims

Not even certain I believe

But more than willing to be loud

A coming move

A new town

Resuscitation

Breathing room to be artful

To recover health and spirit

Say it loud and the world is yours

An unapologetic child’s belief in magic

Where not much else matters but my own contentment

And then an entire planet folds in on itself

A dying star in the midst of my own self-indulgently forced intersection of stars

I find myself positing with spit that the only use for a Klan hood

Is to operate as a medical mask

A snark not nearly so cutting once I read of

A man in San Diego who did just that

For years I felt alien to my own race

A terrible affliction

Today I thrust fist into air and shout about Black Lives

Can’t NOT see my siblings’ necks under that knee

Blood seeping from tear ducts like plastic Jesus tchotchkes

On the corner for $1.89 but you can always bargain

The threat of extinction nearer than the sun bleeding through

Raggy human-stained ozone threads

When the phalanx of law enforcement swarms protestors

And I watch from the safety of my flat screen

And am more fixated on who is social distancing

than on the power of protest

My brain seizes the way a computer freezes and needs a moment to untangle

When death comes and keeps coming

A party crasher who will not leave

breaking the furniture and pissing on the carpets

When the pulverized bones of Black Lives

By lynch mobs and those enlisted To Protect and To Serve

When the pulverized bones of those who did not survive ventilators

Because a new war lives: “to mask or not to mask”

Are blown by a restless wind

And the powder gusts and gathers

As airborne as this virus

Dusting like topsoil the heads of a system committed to its status quo

Because we’ve led with privilege and hubris

A ghost town will be erected in the place where

Equitable society tried in futility to exist

And as pandemic-age babies are born

From mothers who risk safety to be in hospitals

And fathers not even allowed in delivery rooms

As they are born into the collective terror of a country

Now pariah to the rest of the world

They will possess the ancestral coding to one day thrust

Arms wide and take hold this earth

Wresting it from a generation that did not deserve it

Wild hearts that will make whole again soil and sky and oxygen and humanity

They will claim it audaciously

An unapologetic child’s belief in magic

I skim back over the words of this hope

But cannot find its pulse without losing breath

And the very thought feels an insult to the memory of

George and Breonna and Elijah

I gear up     strap on     start my way through an untilled jungle

Ready to be one in the revolution

Even leaning in just a bit for the rending of thorns against bare arms

The tiniest symbol of atonement for all my self-absorbed days

2020

Auspicious indeed

And a new daily prayer

May I never go back to sleep








Poet’s Note: The year isn’t even over, yet I’ve been compelled to write a thought anyway; not so much a year-end review, as I’ve tended to do in the past, but a nagging expression that needed to find some paper quick. 2020 was/is a Leap Year. From a numerological standpoint, Leap Day, February 29, is known in many spiritual communities as being one of awakening and spiritual enlightenment. My own awakening is still in the yawning and stretching stage, but a shift has most definitely occurred. My very last public singing performance (I do/did this for a living) was on Leap Day, before the world went and got itself into a bit of a pandemic. And — perhaps poetically — I sang the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with the Metropolitan Master Chorale. The whole year so far feels nearly impossible to express what I find painful and inexpressible. But poetry is healing. And healing, poetry.

3 thoughts on “Threnody for a Leap Year: An American Story

  1. Yes, my friend. Yes to all of it. So very well articulated. Wish it didn’t need to be said. But it does. Wish it wasn’t all happening. But, it is. And you laid it down beautifully here.

    Liked by 1 person

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