Poems for Leonard

February 3, 2022

Your body is away from me

But there is window open

From my heart to yours.

From this window,

Like the moon,

I keep sending news.



To live in this world

You must be able to do three things:

To love what is mortal

To hold it against your bones knowing

Your own life depends on it

And, when the time comes

To let it go

To let it go

Mary Oliver

I sing to use the waiting

My bonnet but to tie

And close the door unto my house

No more to do have I

Til his best step approaches

We journey to the day

And tell each other how we sang

To keep the dark away

Emily Dickenson

February 3, 2022

A poem about the unthinkable

Such sadness must surely generate one poem,

two poems or three. Saturday morning, 9 am, silent.

Touchdown at La Guardia and Hell’s Gate bridge out the window.

Walking from Ditmars Station to 27th Street. Cease to pierce?

Turn into a dull ache?

Walks together to the Astoria Blvd Station, dinners at Taverna

Arrival tea and scones–the feel of an arm on subway rides.

Lose strength? Fade from memory? Or follow me always,

Like a lost dog looking for home.

Sarah Kendzior on This Time

October 7, 2018

What I hope people grasp is that the fight is not only about the win. You fight because it’s the right thing to do. You fight because if it alleviates suffering for just one person, it’s worth it. You fight because if you don’t, if you let them define you, you will lose yourself.

bell hooks Wisdom

April 12, 2018

Superiority Crimes

Solutions to patriarchy:  If you have a great deal of power, you need to listen as much as you talk. If you have little power, you need to talk as much as you listen.

Men become whole people by raising children as much as women do; women become whole people by being in the world.

Systems of oppression do not work unless they are internalized.

My father was a patriarchal terrorist.

Jason Johnson on Trump Folk

November 13, 2017

Do they believe he’ll build that wall? Do they believe he’ll bring back jobs? Do they believe he’ll really “Make America great again”? Of course not. Trump voters don’t believe in what Trump says. They don’t care, and they don’t have to. Trump voters already think that America is done, finished, final, a fatality; they figured that out a long time ago. They didn’t elect Donald Trump to fix America; they elected Donald Trump to make sure that as America falls, white folks go down swinging.

One Year Ago

September 1, 2017

Within two days of each other, momentous events. First, I become a geezer with no more questions, no dodging possible. Seventy. And then, two days later, my son and daughter-in-love–with pain, persistence and mutual caring–turn me into a grandmother, an experience I never thought to have. Tonight, one day shy of two weeks since her birth, I sit in my study and think back on meeting this wee beauty. Tiny, beautiful baby head, long elegant arms and legs, breathtaking fingers and toes and most of all indigo eyes as deep as the sea. All the cliches apply: watching her sleep becomes magic, watching her take a bottle from her mother, her father, her newly met grandpa becomes thrilling, feeling her slight body on my own chest and listening to the noises she makes as she eats takes me to a new place. Have you fallen in love, Meg asks. Oh yes.


Brittany Packnett on Twitter

April 16, 2017

Last night in my UW Badgers keynote, I discussed the social justice buzzwords. We so often use words we don’t mean, or worse yet, say words we aren’t willing to or don’t know how to live. I’ve been thinking a lot about what resistance means. We have an archetype of resistance: Loud. Brash. Confrontational. Those things matter. But resistance is so much more. Resistance requires that we confound the status quo—challenge acceptable norms though our actions. Joy is resistance. Oppression doesn’t actually have room for your happiness. You resist it when you find joy anyhow. Love is resistance. Think about the need to protect trans kids. In a world that too often shows them hate, love pushes that status quo. Living unapologetically is resistance. Oppression doesn’t give marginalized people our full humanity. Being fully human flies in its face. Hope is resistance. If you let it, this fight will destroy the hope you had in our ability to change things. But change is fueled by hope. Rest is resistance. Music is resistance. Culture is resistance. Language is resistance. For marginalized folk, existence is resistance. We are not supposed to be here. Loving , laughing, working, loving. But we’re still here. And if you are wondering how to stop up, get involved and push forward to a just and equitable world….Your role in social change starts two steps past where you’re comfortable. Find that place. Take two steps past there. And begin. We have to give our words meaning through our action, not through our rhetoric.

Election Trilogy

March 28, 2017

Mid-November on a bike ride to Towners with

Leaves clinging still: golden maples, red-brown oaks,

Bright yellow beeches quaking like aspen.

They bring me joy, a respite from each morning’s

Waking into the ground-hog day horror.

On Wednesday at the Women’s Center, white women in tears.

Denise, black warrior woman, tells us “Suck it up! This isn’t new for us, it’s the same old shit.

Get to work—fight harder, and smarter.”

I’ll get there, I will. I will. But first, some sunshine, one last bike ride,

The deep vermillion eyes of a new granddaughter.


March morning, windy. Gobbets of snow hit the window, making brown

pocks on the branches they jump from. Tea room peace descends as I watch,

A peace that eludes me most days as the orange shit-gibbon stalks the land and

The vampires suck it dry. A jay out my window decries the lot, calling us to the fight.


A winter where March becomes the coldest, darkest month.And we, tempered by life in Ohio,

put on gloves and scarves and hat  And carry on. The chickadees and titmice, happy for the

sunflower seeds in the front yard feeder, sing and mate and nest as though it were true spring,

while the frogs keep their council and sleep a bit longer. My mother’s funeral was today, long

ago now and me older than she was then. I’d like to call her today, complain Together at short-

fingered cheeto’s latest outrages, mourn with her how crass,mean-spirited and ugly we’ve


Sound Familiar?

March 1, 2017

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

John Ehrlichman, 1999

James Baldwin explains the Present Moment

February 19, 2017

The question the white population’s got to ask itself is why is it necessary to have a nigger in the first place.  I’m not a nigger; I’m a man. But if you think I’m a nigger it means you need it, and you’ve got to find out why.  The future of the country depends on that.