Oblígate carnivores

For months now I have walked carefully, gingerly, with the rocking gait of the elderly, infirmed, or, in my case, feet surreptitiously lamenting for the loss of the whole–

broken heart

crepe-fine skin

Liver, spleen, lungs, and stomach all exposed

As the obligate carnivores we tended as children stalk the house now

Grown

Larger than life,

Pacing hungrily to and fro

As we eye them in dismay

Their pets now

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Justice is Love’s Surname

Survivors get to decide what they do with their story.

My daughter reminds me of this when I complain about a particular rape narrator who seems to be exonerating people who actively refused to value her need to be heard over points in a game.

What I would tell if she answered my email is:

  • Describing your rape in sexually explicit details obscures the message that rape is always about anger and power and objectifying the victim. Do not give potential felons a script for how to commit a crime.
  • Why exonerate anyone who has now or in the past facilitated rape culture? Anyone who actively compensated for rapists needs to be called out and fired, not hugged and beatified–no matter how many teams he or she has taken on to victory.
  • What happened to you has and will happen to a lot of other people–male, female, gender non-binary, old, young, non-consenting. Don’t sell all of them out by sanitizing or excusing deeply broken human systems.
  • Don’t unwittingly hand potential perpetrators a script for rape. Whether or not you realize it, when you tell a story where no one has enforced negative criminal or civil consequences for raping you, you are not changing rape culture.
  • No victim of rape should walk down the road you have. Every person deserves incisive rules for sexual safety. We need to change those rules.
  • Most victims chose or are pressured into silence. They should not have to fear the stigma of being a crime victim who speaks out..

…but they are, and as long as they are, your message is not enough, whether it is what you say or don’t say to a group of athletes, or what you tell the mother of a rape victim

By not answering her at all.

Locker Room Obscenities

Inside the camera frame men laugh about bartering girls as sex slaves.

Where are these men now?

Where are their victims?

Is there a Mendelian trait for “monster?”

It is easy to focus on the unfamiliarity of words

They use

For the blue or green eyes

of their victim

But locker rooms are locker rooms

everywhere because

the god of lust and violence has so many

F*cking clothes in his f*cking closet

Zoo Camp

It is just an email for something fun for the kids, but it reminds me of my former squalor, the way you might try to love someone who treats you like the bars, the cage, the meal set before them.

I could tell you all the symptoms and all the chaos, I could tell you the inadequate advice, the befuddlement of friends, the tragedies of children, or the strange calm caused by heavy psychotropic drugs, doctor’s office fish, surely unaware of the storm of a girl in this office by the sea.

I wake up from nightmares feeling that way again–mornings of dread, a low-grade fear of all our tomorrows.

What will become of them? Children without possessive pronouns

To guide them home.

Uncomfortable Sermons

I wonder, perhaps more often than I should, what would happen if we actually expected church sermons to be practical, actionable, real?

I wonder this because in the last 10 years I have worn my proverbial mendicant’s shirt to communities of faith, as has my whole family, only to find that the churchy probably don’t want us there.

They don’t want us because we talk about horrible things–rape, sexual assault, the abuse of children, sexual exploitation, the way the justice system fails victims, the way branded communities fail.

Not all at once, mind you.

But the truth remains so. If you tell a story about faith-minded adopting family neck-deep in ministry and family and community and then those people, especially their young children, are hurt, terribly hurt, by the people they were supposed to consider family.

Well, that is not a good sermon.

It is, however, very similar to many stories in the Bible, which is where I have gone for my uncomfortable sermons.

Where do you find yours? Where do you go to find the way through

The darkest, hardest places?

Broken Alabaster

The Calhoun County Courthouse is a mausoleal mid-century modernist confection, the juvenile detention courtroom then a windowless (Chinese) box on its second floor.

Perhaps I am biased. I remember envying the parents whose kid had gone on a wild joyride and the various parents of pot sellers and users.

I remember thinking the local Baptist pastor who was there for jury duty was a harbinger of God as I spilled out

The terrible story of why I was there.

Which had to be after the judge used the shade of our old oak tree for his big white truck. After his lawyer son stood across the street, bemused as Mary, on the roof, hurled her salty invectives at me.

After the juvenile probation chief told us they would not hold Charles forever and I thought to myself as I looked at him, (what do you have to do in the state of Texas to get yourself thrown in prison?!)

They say there is a library somewhere, an Ivy League kind of library, which has thin panels of white stone from floor to ceiling.

The light diffused through the thin white stone, perhaps to show-off or to shield the books.

I have searched for it for years, can’t find it

So much like a pearl, mother-of-pearl, an alabaster jar

Full of the most unmistakably broken

Perfume.

Anger at the heart of love

I don’t know why they came then, at the heart of the hardest season of our lives, but we took them to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. He sat in the back of the van with me and I made him do a Bible study about Jesus inhabiting hearts like they were houses, a Chinese box filled with simile and indelible pain. If I would write our story as a clever fiction I would insert a frumpy birdwatching stranger and I would accost her with my incoherent grief-

Anger is at the heart of love

overturning tables in the temple

In the house of God