Me, you, & the illusion
I hate to write of anything
but hope on the holidays.
I know we’re eager for family
and resolutions, you have a new cookbook
and your niece was just born, she’s adorable
in her penguin jumpsuit, her grandparents do
adore her. I hate to tell you anything
except Congratulations, or Finally,
or Oh Look it’s Snowing.
But my God, it’s cold outside.
And not everyone can come to gorgeous Florida.
People are dying — so many
more already dead.
You can rinse your hands in warm water
before serving drinks, you can pull out another
three blankets, you can stop at the drugstore
for Kisses, or Advil, or a silly mug
you can give your glowing sister. A meal
is set, and a tree is lit, the list
goes on but you bought every item.
I’m getting darker on the coast, but …
I don’t know. The water comes
up to our ankles now. It just reminds me
of the floods. So what’d I get away from?
Still matted hair and trailer parks. Stamped out
cigarette butts and Coke bottles. Immigrants dead
on their feet, tripping over themselves to sell
what’s left of the inventory. Still
bodies on streets — would you rather have
heatstroke or frostbite? Resorts, subsidized housing,
I suppose everything is closer to home now.
It just reminds me of the garden state, of us,
trying to create a perfect bubble that their problems
can’t shatter. But I can
hear outside of it;
voices growing in warehouses, breaths fogging up the streets,
preparing to storm (after our packages are delivered).
I say go forth: Jersey will be fine, so will Florida —
all the same, anyway.
Just more flags out here,
just the biting heat of December.
Show me the dotted line.
Before I say anything else, the Amazon Labor Union has recently sprung up in NYC, sparked by the outrage over the firing of an employee who organized a walkout to protest unsafe working conditions. They are growing every day and working to unite Amazon workers across the country to respond to the corporation’s exploitative practices. You can learn more and support the ALU here. Let’s support the people that keep our lives going, especially during the holidays.
I think I can confidently say that the sentiment for this poem came “Winter Song” by Lindisfarne, whose cover by Sam Fender was released last winter. It quickly became my favorite holiday song. As I express in the poem, I know we all indulge in escapism and a bit of blissful ignorance during the holidays, but marginalized people still exist. I think the holidays should be for them, too.
As the song goes:
Do you spare a thought for the homeless tramp
Who wishes she was dead
Or pull up your bedclothes higher
Dream of summertime instead?
And since you’re already here, I’ll direct you to “Aye” off of Sam’s new album, too. It’s pure, cold-blooded, working class anti-establishment resentment in a three-minute build-up and explosion. Turns out there’s a lot of righteous anger to go around. I guess the song is framed as apolitical, but if you know me, you know that everything is political. Especially this delightful thing, with lyrics like “The poor hate the poor” and “I’m not a ****ing liberal anymore.” Edgy.
Oh, and: “I don’t have time for the very few — they never had time for me and you.”
Hope this meant something. Happy holidays.