Our Babies Too

How do I grind coffee, spoon heaping scoops into the basket, fill the reservoir with crystal clear water, press the red button green?

While the babies cry.

Brene Brown said her pediatrician husband knows every kind of baby cry. He recognizes these cries as terror and trauma. She implores. I cry.

How can I clear breakfast plates, dress for work, answer calls?

While the babies cry.

How do we sleep when tears flow and helpless anguish rings from every grandmother I know?

While the babies cry.

Today an aching heart and pounding head is my morning routine.

My family’s babies are healthy and happy and held tight in their mothers’ heartsick empathy.

The baby girl is already six months old and today is the day she could crawl.

The three year old big sister hides in a sofa tent with her favorite book, teetering in the precipice of reading.

Our constant motion 6 year old charges through life with vigor, determination and astounding beauty.

The three year old spider man knows the civilian name for every superhero. He sleeps each night in his spider man pjs.

This four year old floats in goggles and water wings in the new summer sun.

Our eight year old loves necklaces and shiny jewel boxes.

My family’s babies are safe in loving homes with parents who watch them sleep and cry for the infants in baby jails.

We all sob for the wailing infants in baby jails. How can we even say those words? Baby jails.

So we’ll call and march and write and rail against the hate and tyranny.

Beautiful brown babies are our babies too.

These babies crawl, read, run, dream, float, and dress up too.

The suffering of their mothers’ empty arms is ours.

We must save our babies.

Dear Jerk

Dear jerk-off guy,

I was the person stopped at the red light behind you Saturday morning, headed for a weekend at the beach with my family, waiting for green in the burgundy SUV. You sat in the driver’s seat of a dirty, open, military style Jeep, with another beefy young guy in the passenger seat. While we waited, you (surprisingly, horrifyingly) heaved a grocery bag filled with fast food containers toward the bed of the large red dump truck that waited ahead of you. Physics guaranteed that you’d miss the truck bed, and the bag of trash fell to the road and scattered in the breeze. I honked. Not a quick, friendly “hey the light is green, stop looking at your phone” honk. Not an “I’m laying on my horn because you almost killed me” honk. But an in-between “I can’t believe you just threw trash on the street, get out of your car and pick that up” honk. Your reaction to my honk was shocking; you raised your hand into the air and flashed the rarely seen outside of middle school “jerk-off” simulation. The jerk-off move was followed by a “gangsta” style pointing move that said “come up here and say that to me”. My family felt the wave of your arrogant, angry aggression crash into our safe hybrid haven. As the light turned green and we made the left to head south, I hung back from you and your continued gesticulations. Who knew if you had a gun.

“If I were a cop I’d have a hard time not beating that guy up” I mused.  “But I think that’s the kind of guy who becomes one…”

After a long pause, from the back seat our daughter added “part of me wants to chase after that guy and follow him to wherever he is going”

“There is nothing you can say to a person like that to convince him he’s wrong” said her mother.

“And someone like that would have no qualms about hitting me” I piped in. “Don’t ever chase after someone like that” I admonished, looking back to make sure she heard.

Our conversation continued on from there, for two hours until we were at our Rehoboth door. So, thank you, jerk-off guy. You were the catalyst for a thoughtful conversation about misogyny, feminism, stupid arrogance, road rage, police brutality… also the recommendation from my loved ones not to call this poem “the jerk-off guy”.

I hope we never meet again.


Where is protect and serve?

The unforgettable images of Walter Scott being shot down dead, eight hate-filled shots in the back, play in a loop in my head. Unconsciously, my face contorts with the pain I feel in my heart. Where was protect and serve when handcuffs were placed on dying wrists? Where was protect and serve when the killer, to damn the dead, dropped the stun gun? Where was protect and serve when aid was withheld from the dying? How does a broken taillight become a murder? How does a walk to buy candy end with a boy shot dead? How does selling cigarettes end in a death choke on a city sidewalk? Drop the blinders America. BLACK LIVES MATTER must be the refrain of our time until it’s no longer perilous to be a black man in our country.