It was nine in the morning that first year
JJ and I had tied one on, dancing with beautiful women
Deep into coastal night
(only after walking into that curious little store with many rooms)
I walked the Mile, flowers in hair, colors of the rainbow.
I loved all of us. The sea. CALL JOE blazing on the time and temperature sign.
And it was there in the bed of a truck.
It was slick and shiny, blazing rainbows in all directions.
I was new, but you wouldn’t know it. We all had a job.
Just unraveling it took an hour. Hundreds helped.
It covered the whole square and then some.
It smelled of coffee, revolution.
late-night fits of artistic frenzy.
The AIDS epidemic. Harvey Milk.
Brandon Teena. Matthew Shepard.
Backstreet Cafe. Otherside. Upstairs.
Augusta. Montreal. West Virginia. Moscow.
By touch you could feel Dale McCormick, Gia, Nancy.
Baldwin, Polis, Frank. Michaud. Maloney.
You could feel the tangent of hatred interwoven, turned to deep blues.
You could taste Portland rigor. The sweat of activism.
The nerve, the nerve of this tiny town in the whitest of states.
The Oddysean journey for voice and a patch of land.
40 blizzards, a kiss, the grace given by old white men to marry.
A child was cradled there too. Surrounded by love, and the purest of songs.
We carried it, danced under it, wept into it.
Let go of it for another year.
The second year there were different names.
Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
Amanda Alvear, 25
Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
Martin Benitez Torres, 33
Antonio D. Brown, 30
Darryl R. Burt II, 29
Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
Luis D. Conde, 39
Cory J. Connell, 21
Tevin E. Crosby, 25
Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
Deonka D. Drayton, 32
Mercedez M. Flores, 26
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
Juan R. Guerrero, 22
Paul T. Henry, 41
Frank Hernandez, 27
Miguel A. Honorato, 30
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
Jason B. Josaphat, 19
Eddie J. Justice, 30
Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
Kimberly Morris, 37
Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
Luis S. Vielma, 22
Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
Jerald A. Wright, 31
We carried that flag amidst SWAT teams.
We were not afraid, but really, we still looked.
Over shoulder, behind.
The police did too. We all were reminded of how
the carrying of this, this symbol
this mantra, this, this multitude
is a blessing, a gift, and act of extreme love
it’s so threatening, really.
All those rainbows and hearts, all the beautiful people,
screaming with pride and adoration for their bodies,
their beats, their bravado, their babies.
More terrifying than bombs, it seems. Scarier than the rapture itself, it seems.
This love is infectious, liberal, whole.
Run for the hills, they are coming. And they are probably well dressed.
A year more, and in Memphis I sit calmly, not knowing my town.
feeling smaller than before. Feeling subdued.
Without the invincibility of Portland.
Without the ocean, stripped of the joyful nights of that town.
But I know what it is to rebuild, by God I do know that.
But I do think I want to feel it in my fingers again.
That gorgeous emblem. My friend’s hand in mine.
The awe and majesty of it all. The many tears wept in vigil.
The candle of protest dripping wax onto my palm.
Well, at least we know there are people available for impeachment.
they wave another flag, wear different hoods in secrecy.
There are injustices that still appall,
and poverties beyond imagining.
Right in this 901 snatchy homeland of the blues.
So it’s time to get back to fucking work I guess,
and leave the pining for some other whiny freckled short girl.
Roll up the sleeves, and write some anthems.
No rest for the lonely, they say.
and for the wicked, it is only a matter of time.
There’s shit to do, and parks to clean.
Kids who don’t eat.
The action is all. It’s like molasses here,
but the guns are quick, the hunger quicker, the trafficking quickest,
the homicide meter running.
so, dignitaries, I’ll see you on the court.
make sure to bring a snack.