Crushable

Her heart, unsteeled
against sudden pain, broke
like the robin’s egg she found
in the street the next morning.

Still, she could not heed
the well-intentioned friend’s advice
to toughen up.

She knew it was a rough world out there,
but she wanted to keep offering
herself to it with tenderness.

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Voyager

Sailing home as I am,

My mind is full with the ocean-going life.

I think in port and starboard now.

Floors are decks and towns are ports.

I have learned how to read a book in a high wind,

And my body is acclimated to the roiling of the sea.

 

To extend the metaphor,

I long for you as an ancient sea captain longs

To see the mirage of land

That turns out to be real.

Home.

Terra firma.

 

Have you missed me while I’ve been at sea,

As I have missed you?

Is it cheap to talk of wanting to circumnavigate you?

To speak of you as my keel,

My rudder,

My anchor?

 

And if my worrisome fears turn out to be

As real as the sea captain’s apparition –

That you have made some decision I won’t like –

I will be sunk.

It will be Davy Jones locker for me,

And I will find a way to let you know

If it is true that there is water

At the bottom of the ocean.

Taking the Law

 

The concept of “a government of laws, and not of men” reflects a political Official_Presidential_portrait_of_John_Adams_(by_John_Trumbull,_circa_1792)philosophy that dates back to the ancient Greeks. It was John Adams who enshrined it into this nation’s lexicon, using it in one of his Letters of Novanglus, in which he argued in favor of revolution.

I agree that, especially in present times, this concept is central to the survival of our very civilization. Without it, we would surely descend into some sort of mayhem in short order. We do not understand one another. We are agitated.

We might not need much of a push to be at each other’s throats.

I am tired, however, of the deliberate, pragmatic pace of our government of laws. I’m sick of waiting for the kinds of positive political and social change that need to happen. I’m tired of being asked to play a game that is stacked against me, to be patient while accepting compromise and settling for less.

And let me point out that I live at the intersection of many privileges. I’m white and college-educated, for example, and I have resources. But there are many out here who simply cannot wait. Being asked to wait means more of us will go hungry. It means sub-standard schools and poorer nutrition and health care. It probably means more people will die, whether in a classroom at the hands of a deranged shooter, or for being in the streets while black, or in the event of strikes, uprisings, backlash or other revolt by those fed up with the inequality perpetuated by our corporation-loving leaders. We won’t take it forever.

Americans — and particularly young Americans – want to be able to afford safe housing, to live in a community with decent services (helpful police, a good school system, etc.) and to have a job that pays a living wage.

We would like a shot at the American Dream too. We want to see our tax dollars at work in our own neighborhoods, in improved schools and infrastructure, and in programs that benefit average Americans, rather than supporting pointless, devastating wars or bailing out enormous banks and corporations.

People are tired of being poor, and it’s going to get a lot harder to pacify us if things don’t change soon. At some point we are going to move beyond just posting angry, hateful things on our Facebook pages. If John Adams were alive today, I think he might be in favor of another revolution, but he would probably caution us to try and avoid it. Taking the law into our own hands is a course of action this country does not need.

Op-Ed

From submitted testimony to RI Senate Judiciary

In the last ten years or so, I have come to know many transgender individuals — people who understand deeply that they were assigned the wrong gender at birth — and I am both honored and humbled to say so. Beyond the friendships I now enjoy, knowing these folks has been a learning experience for me, broadening my understanding of the world and the ways people live their lives.

I’ve learned about the practical aspects: the ways people transition, the ways they get on with life afterwards. The stories are amazing, wonderful and terrifying, and my hat is off to anyone courageous enough to undertake such a profound journey. If this is not something you’ve ever thought of, you can scarcely imagine what it takes to change one’s gender.

Myths abound. The whole community is cloaked in a sexuality that makes many among us uncomfortable. But the reality is that this has very little to do with sexuality. It is much more basic — more fundamental — than that. Still, we think of drag queens, or we don’t think about it at all. We think of them as just that: Them.

The fact is, they are just like anyone else. My transgender friends and colleagues wish for nothing more than to be able to live their lives in peace, to be who they really are. But every day, so many transgender people face harassment the likes of which the rest of us cannot imagine, just for being who they are… for living their lives honestly. Op-Ed Art

For many, this has been a lifelong struggle, often keeping their true identity a secret to avoid being ridiculed, rejected, assaulted, or worse. And still they do it. They have to. More than one person has said to me, “It was either transition or kill myself.”

The first time I encountered someone whose gender was unclear to me, I wondered what to do or say, or even think. Truth is, I had never really given it much thought. But that was a long time ago, and I have learned a lot since then. Now I realize that, first of all, it doesn’t matter what I think – it is none of my business! Second, if I really want to know something, I can just ask. And because I am asking in a respectful way, coming from a desire to know who they are, no one has ever been offended by my inquiry. Just the opposite; I’m likely to encounter a warm, appreciative and welcoming response. So I am an ally, and proudly so.

My heart breaks to hear stories of hate crimes committed against transpeople. Personally, I think that if the world were made up of trans men and women, it would be a lovely place.

So who cares whether you understand it? It is entirely possible to respect someone or something even if you don’t completely understand it. And, if you were expected to go through life as the wrong gender, you might appreciate a little respect too. You’d probably also appreciate having the protection of the Hate Crimes bill behind you.

Please, Senate Judiciary Committee, extend this bill to include language that would protect transgender people.

Respectfully,

Kim Stowell Providence