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Sunday Morning West Oakland

Photo by Carbon NYC

As the birds make their noises I ask myself questions.

Why do we feel most alive when at war?

The church sings hallelujah over and over

across the empty street. A small blond child

is playing harmonica to a cat when I find

a scrap of paper on my floor with an invitation

to discuss a quote downtown

in the plaza that has become the center

of the local occupation. In bold it reads

“the role of the police is not to serve and protect the people.

It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.”

I realize that this is the first morning

without helicopters circling the sky

like giant angry pterodactyls. Now that the cops

have taken a break from firing tear gas

into veterans’ brains on 14th and Broadway

Oakland is finally out of the news.


The voices across the street rise louder in unison now

“only love will save us, thank you Lord, thank you Lord.”

I wonder if we can save ourselves. I try

to dedicate Sunday mornings

to my version of the sacred. Today that is the memory

of strangers repeating each other’s words, phrase by phrase,

to a crowd of 3000 people assembled

under streetlights and stars. Today

it is unicorns smashing border walls, queers

confronting racism, the electric blue

atmosphere after work, where Oakland’s finest tree

is untouched in the middle of the tent city

where people hold a public forum

on a miraculously warm Friday night

to discuss the words “occupy, de-colonize, liberate.”


Is it possible we could win

this war against capital?

The birds in the strangled palm tree out front

don’t know. They make nests. They raise young things.

They don’t have trouble remembering to sleep

when they hear that Cairo is marching

on the US Embassy in solidarity

with our erupting town. Do they  notice

the kids in golden capes

hoping to save the world? The marching bands

outside the city jail? Do they worry

that we live on stolen land? Do they know

most of us cannot say who our ancestors were?

Do they spend time thinking about how to fly

in formation? My mission this morning will be to make us wings

out of words, out of cardboard and duct tape

because we were not born with pairs of our own.

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