Sunday Morning West Oakland
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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