τοῦ λόγου δὲ ἐόντος ξυνοῦ ζώουσιν οἱ πολλοί
ὡς ἰδίαν ἔχοντες φρόνησιν
I. Burnt Sage
The abandoned car wash shelters the ecumenical assembly
orange vests become beacons of anarchist coordination
and as the drums drum and the chants chant
the righteous anger of a people proud of who they are
cries out, “You want to send us back but our back was always here.”
Back here is here, on the far side of an interstate
inhospitable to anything but trucks with climate control
and unrestrained rage over ten minutes of slow traffic
just never about cages, no rage about cages
And so sprouts a small revolution, the kind with matching t-shirts
and unwashed sweat, and cold fruit juice in bottles
distributed by masked medics anticipating what’s really true
that old men, and ailing women, will still walk for truth
While a lone loony with flag and camera
violates first amendment rights exercising second amendment rights
and the antifa guy with a belly, and another skinny teen
interpose their bodies between him and crowd
a meta-discourse of the present salient moment
II. East Ochre
Fort Sill held Japanese-American bodies during the Second World War
out there in red dirt country we detained our own in cages
Their descendants (Tsuru) arrive to march and chant
dressed monastic, monastic black, many ages, mostly agéd
I watch them. I’m in clerics too, though of my much more Western line.
I can’t help but feel deep solidarity with each liturgy
(the tribal chant, the Buddhist prayer, the marcher’s slogans)
but when I watch the prayers and don’t know Japanese
my mind wanders and invents the prayer, wishful thinking…
Some monks make their way back to the underpass,
seeking shelter from the sun. Even while wilting they smile.
The equanimity of their protest storms the gates.
ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή
III. The Dry Salvages
Three days earlier our little group sat in the Fellowship Hall
discussing the effectiveness of milk to counter-act tear gas.
There’s this strength, this strength, this strength,
this inner strength that comes across in awkward vulnerability
Perhaps that’s just me projecting, the pastor in his church
comparing the organizational strategies of a protest caravan
to worship arts committees and Spit & Shine come Monday morning
or the typical settled scripts of the ecclesia before secularization
First aid kits, ACLU legal observer training, 5 a.m. departure,
how many charging ports, who rides with who
who is paying for gas, oh my there are generous people paying for gas
and maybe a little left over for coffee and Vietnamese soup in Fort Smith
IV. Little Victory
Three days later we learn Fort Sill will no longer house detainees.
This is the good news we’d hoped for even while we hear the
bad news we’d anticipated: somebody probably bought the contract.
Pressure is good, but pressure relieved somewhere increases pressure
elsewhere, and the pressure of bodies up against a nation
that was never Christian and only sometimes democratic…
Well it’s a little victory. It might mean there’s still burning to do
under more mid-day suns because the changing climate means
white bodies need even more lotion than previous.
Maybe the sheriff will come down off the over-pass and join us.
Maybe the fortresses will turn inside out in peace.
Maybe we’ll greet migrants with hugs and water at the border.
Maybe there won’t be borders anymore.
Maybe the victories will stop
because no one will need to win.