“This morning at the Chinese bakery in midtown,
Off-duty drag queen (turban)
casually reading the newspaper.
She’s not in any rush.
Last night for dinner;
Frozen broccoli, Keith Haring.
For dessert I waited
until my roasted yams cooled,
to feed myself with computer noise, ground glass,
personhood or subjectivity.
Vertigo’s got an excuse
like everybody else
he’s just doing his job.”
On the morning after the verdict (which is to say no verdict, no indictment) I woke up to a text message from my friend. We had plans go to out drinking, to go to Karaoke on Tuesday night but she wonders if maybe we shouldn’t go out, after all, because there will be protests.
I’m thinking how will you talk to your kids about this. This time, in America
Meanwhile in New York I’ve had to start setting an alarm for 8:00am every morning, an hour or two after I wake up, to remind me to take my antidepressant. The alarm is the sound of windchimes. I had to set the alarm because I kept forgetting to take it, and would spend the day worrying that I wouldn’t be able to effectively treat my symptoms. My symptoms: feeling worthless, listless, powerless. Feeling emptied out. Feeling like nothing. But on Tuesday morning I take my pill after the reminder chimes
Is wanting to listen a feeling. Is listening a feeling. Is watching a feeling.
I was telling Daniel that is just sucks, so much. That thing of being human. Of having to watch the world turn to shit, NO MATTER what era you live in. It sucks. Of having to watch everyone you know get old and sick and die. Of having to, the indignity of having to live through it yourself. The fucked-up thing of bearing witness. It’s all you or I or anyone can do, right. Tell the world about what we did to them, what happened, so it’s not forgotten. It seems, I was saying to Daniel, it’s just so fucked up. So unfair. I mean I know it’s fair, of course, I know it’s the only really fair thing or whatever, but just that THAT’S the basic requirement of humanity—bearing witness. It’s just, like, ugh.
Is watching a feeling. Is paying attention a feeling. Is there a name for that emotion.
Yeah so I’m thinking how will you talk to your kids about this. This time in America. How will you explain it to them. We can’t say it just started happening because it didn’t just start. We can’t say it was new because it’s not new. What’s new about it. The videos? That we know the names, now? We could all have known the names all along if we’d tried. Is it that there’s actually such an incremental shift towards justice and empathy, such a SMALL step, that actually the slowness is what’s so freaky and painful? That’s a nice fantasy but that’s not true. We can’t tell that to the kids.
I don’t want to have children nor do I expect to but I do expect someday to have a conversation with a teenager and have them ask me: what did you think, what did you do, what happened. Why did it keep happening. What would we say.
When I was a kid I grew up in California and I remember Rodney Kind and the OJ Simpson trial and my parents sort of explaining things to me in the way they did because they had lived through the 1960s and 1970s in California but I wonder, will we tell the kids that we protested, that we wore signs that said BLACK LIVES MATTER. Of course black lives matter, right. It’s like insulting that that’s the slogan. Are we protesting ignorance or displaying our own.
Who gets to be a person. How’s subjectivity meted out. I mean. That’s what I want to see. It’s like some people don’t get to be human so they’re deaths don’t count. And other people don’t HAVE to be human, others of us get to shirk the responsibility of humanity. The responsibility of humanity being: bearing witness, empathy, being accountable. Does anyone get to be a human.
I’m not equating all experiences with one another. I want to point out, of course, that’s it’s not a two-way street. It doesn’t go both ways, obviously. It is like a road though, in the sense that we see where this is going. It’s like a bad movie. It’s so bad you can tell what’s going to happen before it happens. Does it make me a bad person if I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t indict Officer Wilson. I Wasn’t surprised. They planted a tree in Washington DC in memorial of Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955.