Saturday, July 22, 2017

Big Data

Big Data

Cheers to the lost words and sadness’s loss and to losing loves.
Cheers to amnesia and memories uncorked and swirling here.

Speaking with the data manager, his logic’d
            Query: “Can you send me a screenshot
Of what you don’t see that you claim now
            Was there yesterday? Or data dump?”

Was it ever really there or was it imagined: self-made?
Was it a dreamy concoction: a sugar-rimmed cocktail?

First I looked at the database, SQL’d for
            Timestamps against blanks, then nulls.
Without returns, without results, neither
            Zeroes nor ones nor bread crumbs even.

Of course it was there. I saw it, used it, for Crissakes.
I tasted it, imbibed. I swallowed every solid drop of it.

So I went to the server manager, asking anew,
            “May we restore from the backup, back to
The last time the data was present and usable?”
            “We can, but that wipes out everything since.”

What about others’ memories, their solid interactions?
Their sobrieties and drunkenness, intervening cravings?

“Go back to the source, rebuild it, re-enter it.”
            “But those transactions are partial-purged.”
“Go back to the master data. To the constants.”
            “But do we have tolerances for inexactness?”         

But I want it here now, like yesterday, without the pain.
But I want it here tomorrow, without the tedious work.

So, I found it, hard copies, ink on paper, tales
            Retold in the warehouse, on picking slips,
On work orders, invoices and cleared checks.
            I found it, alongside misprints and short-pays.

It was here, and never left, an unfolding story still told.
It is here in heart and soul: indelible and poetic: lovely.

“What did it cost? To hunt down that lost data?”
            The CFO asked, “Was the data even material?”
“Relevant, yes. The auditors can decide that.”
            “I had a reason for losing it, so you know.”

Drink up this moment, us together: sullen, inebriated, heavy.

Cheers to the found and finding, to the mysteries made clear.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bastille Day, 2017

Bastille Day, 2017

Seven years in, give or take,
As the prison of indecision
Crumbled behind the  rush of
Circumstance, we quietly
Made history, taking love by storm.

Revolution, again.

Unceremoniously, special in
The urge toward ceremony,
We donned comfy clothes:
Boutonnières for gym shorts,
Veils and corsages for sneakers.

Let them have crust-crumbs.

Proof of commitment codified:
Built on the affection of daily
Realities, un-shackled, upon the
World’s postured guillotine,
Without bakers’ unbaked cakes.

Now-freed, simply us.

All our favorite things in one day:
Steaks and gin martinis,
Our best friend as present witness,
Publix, of course, to get
Necessities for us and the child-cats:
Chips and frozen pizzas,
Cleaning supplies and toothpaste:
Liberty and brotherhood and
Public displays of affection.

Construed collusion.

Digital, copious congratulations:
Overwhelming co-conspiracy,
Declaration of Rights of Man,
Rights of men-made evolution,
Toward righteousness, unleashed

Constitutioned: trued.

Read more of my poetry, essays, and stories at

Monday, July 3, 2017

What Grampa Knew

What Grampa Knew

From what I’ve been able to piece together, 
Grampa saw things that a sensitive boy—
I cried way too easily even as an
Adolescent, when Babe, his aged doberman,
Was put down (and squirrels that ate from
The bird feeder, and bunnies that ate the 
Carrots we planted each spring)—
Like me could never reconcile
With the complexities of life and 
Death and their makings and takings.

Bullets of battle amongst buckshots of mercy.

He never talked about the War itself,
He just nodded, as Gram did tell, from her
Perspective: how it affected her
And how it affected them, and how she 
Presumed it affected him in light of her.
They moved, shortly after marrying,
When he was in flight school; he almost 
Made her a widow before leaving the states.
She went without nylons and butter
And without the man she adored.

Redacted locations amongst love letters.

I could never know what Grampa knew, and 
Would never presume to. I could never
See what Grampa saw, and would 
Never want to. I could never give what Grampa
Gave, to his wife and daughters—my mother
And aunt—because I could never have
As much to lose. And this he did before
He even knew us: even as he already 
Loved us. Even as he loved things he’d 
Never know: drones, microchips and Twitter.

Safety for democracy amongst complexes. 

I know, through deductive listening, that
Grampa was stationed in the Aleutian 
Islands, and that he survived a chlorine
Gas incident that stole his lungs and 
Haunted him into his final years. I know that 
He was incredibly handsome and brave,
And that he loved his family more than 
Anything and he loved America just as much.
I know that he never complained about, or
Regretted, his sacrifices or his pain.

Liberty confirmed for an unpromised progeny.

Grampa knew an America I can’t ever know, 
Imperfect though it may have been. 
He knew a world I should never know, 
Because of what he gave for ideas much 
Larger than him, for a wife who buttered
Bread with oleo, who painted lines on the 
Backs of her legs to simulate panty hose,
For daughters who’d come soon enough,
For his friends’ kids, for me, and for people
He’d never know: for an America

He could never recognize: 
He’d never know:
But that he’d love:
I know he loves. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017



Over the past year, we’ve tread the intersection of Kaley and S. Orange as it’s become a crossroads swollen with mourners: with meaning. It meets the intersection of Christopher and Seventh. It meets the intersection of Pride and unity, where the Rainbow Flag meets an ongoing aggregation of initials. It meets the intersection of politics and partisanship and guns and economic equity. Then, we’ve stumbled onto the perplexing three-way intersection—between love, hate, and anger—that’s emerged—like Seventeenth and Market and Castro—where an uncomplicated city’s grids are disrupted by geography or happenstance and become engorged with blood and kisses—and martyred spirits.

Even as we make these intersections into hallowed spaces, each carrying the foot traffic of omnipresent ghosts, we are obliged to recognize that history is a gift from the past to the present—another intersection where the crosswalks are overwhelmed by facts and their pedestrian interpretations. The past lives alongside the present:  history, more than merely a series of events leading up to the now, recollects and reanimates in the context of myriad intersections. Today’s history is palpably different than yesterday’s. That same history, based upon where we’ve stood—or danced—further complicates our understanding of all the swirling interpretations available to us.

To believe that history is set in stone, we might also believe in a flat Earth, a vengeance-riddled-Jesus-less Bible, and an un-amended Constitution. Indeed, the setting in stone of history—memorialization—is tantamount to crucifying it. Bronze and marble statues are sinister constructs along the pathways to the future. And yet, memorials become their own events, reflective pools of both their subjects and the reflectors who erect them. Witness the decades that intervened between the Stonewall riots and the dedication of a National park to memorialize them. We are called to understand the historical events that link them, that fill their meanings: castigation, oppression, resistance, visibility, pride, equality. The challenge, as we stand in the square today in that building’s cool shadow, is to simultaneously feel the full morning sun. We are called in these places and moments to bathe in the ultraviolent light of history. Further, we are called to share this space and the history of the now with those for whom the narrative is different.

We are also called to do the difficult work of understanding those for whom memorials, in spite of their originalism, have become engorged with discomfort: even as alt-narratives intersect with events like London terrorist attacks, domestic assassination attempts, elementary school shootings and Jim Crow lynchings. With each passing moment, a stone monument—or a hallowed space like the 9-11 museum or the Pulse building—is touched and transformed by new spirits, intervening events, and new narratives. Likewise, we must negotiate the traffic around icons whose original intent was hateful and for which decades of spite and apologism attempt to recast their meanings into something not so hateful and not so spiteful.

And so it is with flags and monuments (and even words, ultimately re-appropriated, like “Queer” and the “n-word”) that salute a meaning-engorged past. Andrew Jackson was a war hero and populist who fought valiantly to preserve American freedom. He was also a slaveholder and responsible for atrocities against America’s first people. Robert E. Lee was a decent man and military genius whose ideals forced him to fight against a nation he loved—ideals like states’ rights and, yes, the institution of slavery. The confederate flag is at once a symbol to some of freedom from tyranny, to others of perpetual black oppression, and still others of remembrance for ancestors whose blood was spilled in a losing war for rundown homesteads and meager existences.

Each individual brings the totality of their own experience to memorials; to expect that a single narrative could possibly underwrite a memorial is to misunderstand what memorials are. To assert a single narrative is to disrespect, not only the intersectionality of history, the souls and ghosts that enliven the history of the now. Further, it casts a long shadow on the trajectory of history’s future. When the value of the individuals for whom a memorial imbued with painful narratives is minimized, when the valid read by a disempowered minority of a horrible legacy is cast aside—when the statue of a confederate soldier, for instance, is given a place in the public square where all members of a community should feel valued and respected—the “owners” of the dominant narrative have overstepped their bounds.

When a single narrative comes to dominate to the exclusion or to the disempowerment of individuals, the value of the memorial requires revisiting. Does the memorial foster meaningful, constructive, and engaging discourse? Does the memorial stand as a current assertion of the power that actively—historically—worked to prevent the less-empowered from participation in meaningful, constructive, and engaging discourse?

At some point, discomfort—a fair and vital raison d’etre for a memorial—stumbles into oppression and alienation. In these cases, however popular it may be among the (implicitly) tyrannical majority, a memorial may need re-location to a more appropriate contextual space—or removal from the public square entirely. Such a litmus test—discomfort versus oppression—should stave off “slippery slope” rhetorical rage.

We, as an American people, know how to do the right thing: to respect and honor the best among us while also recognizing and lamenting the imperfection of the best among us while also respecting and honoring the least empowered individuals among us while also recognizing and lamenting the imperfection of ourselves in light of how we fail to respect and honor the least empowered among us. This encapsulates the inner and external discourse that should accompany a visit to any memorial.

We know that, at least for now, Pulse is a valid and valuable memorial to all of us. We also know, deep in our collective, pulsing American heart, that memorials to slavery—if slavery is the oppressive narrative celebrated by a single neighbor—must go. We know that, perhaps, even Stonewall and the MLK and the Vietnam and the Rainbow Flag may overstay their welcomes in the public square. We must commit to ensuring that our memorials maintain their value, that they—like our Constitution and our DNA—are allowed to continue evolving lest they dead-end alongside the divoted stone intersections that we paved over long ago. The road to a better tomorrow runs through the prism of the now, coloring the past with a usable and empowering—sometimes discomfiting—memorial to us all.