The Only Antidote Is Truth

In America, this story goes,

cowboys vanquished pesky Indians.

Pilgrims bravely crossed the Atlantic,

found religious freedom, and served turkey.

Workers, imported from Africa, made jazz,

great background music for parties.

Railroads were built by industrious Asians

so we learned to use chopsticks.

Smart men became rich drilling holes,

harnessing rivers, creating code.

Coming home to delicious suppers,

compliant wives, dutiful children,

they donated their extra cash

to libraries, museums, and universities.

Anyone could become president, right?


This story leaves out

the scars of the whip

slashing through families, tearing apart

self-esteem and hope.

This story neglects the part

about mass graves, lynchings, vicious prisons.

About women killed for wearing the wrong dress

or sold for an hour of another man’s pleasure.

It is deaf to the cries of children,

screams of anger,

moans of despair.

It leaves out

the snuffing of entire cultures,

denigration of ancient knowledge

and denial of dignity.


In America, this story is an essay

formed of lies

steeped in blood.

Blood seeps from between the pages of its book.

It drips from fingers as pages are turned.

It spews from the mouths of those who tell it.


Tellers and listeners

are both sickened.

Slick with blood

they slip farther apart,

away, distant, opposed.


The only antidote is truth.


Tell the true stories

of America’s holocausts.

Admit the sins of

supremacy and profit.

Embrace in love those once




Only then

can the blood be staunched

and the wings of our people

made free to fly.

Be on the Watch

In March in this exotic place,

The songbird trills in the pecan tree,

The calico cat lies curled in the fountain.

Jasmine and honeysuckle perfume each inhalation,

And the wind blesses my hair.


Back home the snow has landed again,

The wind not gentle but fierce.

It’s white all around.

I’ll go back there and bring this warmth,

My mind calmed and rested.


Back home I’ll be on the watch

For the crystalline glitter of the snow,

The comforting scent of fresh coffee,

And the chatter of chickadees and nuthatches.

I’ll shovel a path to the car

And rush to meet and talk and make music.

I’ll be on the watch for warmth.


I spoke that story.

Stood before the crowd.

Read the words.

Watched heads nod, eyebrows rise, eyes lower.

Heard sighs at the end.

Wiped that story out of my mind.

And embedded it into theirs.