A seal on a document

Desire is a drive
to a fast dead-end.
Sex is an act
that should never happen.

I was a kid
and dad saw me shakin
Go on then and do it,
there’s no sense in waitin.

Was it a sin?
Was it a signature?
What am I now
that I am a father?
What is she now
that she is my daughter?
Just another whore,
a cow for the slaughter.

Texas Horror Story

At first, it was a pointed finger;
pale and shaking, shaming.
Then a condescending shoulder pat
and a booming voice proclaiming:

“We know what is best for you,
though we haven’t heard your story,
we are sure you’ll change your mind
when you see the photos. So gory.”

Then the hand traveled upward,
it was on the neck for years,
squeezing more every election,
just enough to draw tears.

It is creeping to the mouth now,
where it will cover bitten lips,
and quiet the voice of women
with its sharpened fingertips.

Texas eliminates funding to Planned Parenthood — Oct. 19, 2015

For three days

Painting: ‘Youth Mourning’ by Sir George Clausen, 1916

For three days, I felt him move.
I named him Fox,
for one of the lost boys.
They tried to keep him in,
but I was unable.
Which isn’t to say that I didn’t want to.
I wanted to hold him
forever. I could have.
This isn’t one of those things
they let you do.
I tried to hold him,
I wanted to.
It wasn’t meant to be.
I’ve had some time to think about it.
I won’t be able
to do anything else.

Abortion limits create nightmare for parents of stillborn baby — April 3, 2016

Twenty weeks. It’s a seemingly arbitrary measure that recently shattered the lives of Daniel and Taylor Mahaffey as the Austin couple was happily preparing for the birth of a son.

Late on a Wednesday, Taylor Mahaffey, 23 — who had been previously diagnosed with a condition known as incompetent cervix — felt something was off. Having suffered through a miscarriage during a previous pregnancy, the couple rushed to St. David’s North Austin Medical Center only to discover that Taylor’s cervix had prematurely dilated and their son’s legs were already emerging.

Hospital doctors attempted several emergency procedures to keep the developing baby inside the womb, said Daniel Mahaffey, 29. But nothing worked.

“We just wanted him out,” Mahaffey said. “We didn’t want him to suffer.”

But the couple ran into the state’s ban on abortions at or after 20 weeks of gestation, included in strict anti-abortion legislation known as House Bill 2 passed by state lawmakers in 2013. Because the baby and mother were technically healthy, doctors told the Mahaffeys they could not induce labor even though their son would not survive out of the womb.

Angry American Men

An epidemic of angry men —
their hot breaths melting 
our final winters —
report daily to their small boxes to vent.

Hot rage, white.

Wearing paranoia like house dresses — 
furfuraceous bodies
throbbing underneath —
their duty to their country
to point and make points
from their gray cells,
to “well, actually” themselves
deep into the ground,
to harass birds
for bothering to sing in the morning.

The only cure:
a mother to bend their molten limbs
around cool, steel braces,
to say: “I didn’t create you
to lose you to the dark like this.”

Speaking in tongues

A woman is a foreign language
to the stodgy men of state,
her curling complex insides
a class they skipped most days.

Her furrowed brow a homonym
for something less severe,
her breasts an easy adjective
they overuse in fear.

Genitals a fraught conjunction,
a path to joining untamed pairs,
her open mouth a sentence fragment
needing closed in prayer.

In their time they flew straight through,
their teachers tired of teaching
boys refusing to learn a tongue
they pretended to know while preaching.

GOP Senator Jeff Sessions says grabbing a woman’s genitals is not sexual assault — Oct. 10, 2016

Pat Robertson calls lewd video ‘macho talk’ — Oct. 10, 2016

The burial

The men dig holes
like packs of wild dogs
bored and hungry
searching for bones

The men dig holes
fill them with blood
top them with mud
call them homes

The men dig holes
bury their seeds
charge all the mourners
a ransom fee

The men dig holes
leave rubble pyramids
the future tombs
of stopped periods

The men dig holes
deeper each year
we await the day
that they all fall in

Texas to implement rules requiring burial or cremation of fetal remains — Nov. 28, 2016

Texas’ proposed rules requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains will take effect Dec. 19, according to state health officials.

Despite intense outcry from the medical community and reproductive rights advocates, the state will prohibit hospitals, abortion clinics and other health care facilities from disposing of fetal remains in sanitary landfills, instead allowing only cremation or burial of all remains — regardless of the period of gestation.

It’s a state issue

Pass the buck down to the lowliest cuck
who will scramble to keep the country together,
a bag of marbles let loose on a hill.

What is the will of the scrabbling people
if not to install the middle-est of managers?

Boundaries are fading like a spreading cancer,
the error trickles down and down and down
to a red-state pond filling with bilge.

The locals fish it, say it’s good, call it dinner,
everyone goes to sleep full and ready to die.

“You, sir, shut up!” Republican congressman shouts down a constituent at tense Texas town hall — March 15, 2017

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) was speaking at a town hall event in Frost, a small town not far from Arlington, when he said he opposed federal legislation protecting women from violence, because it is a state issue. The crowd erupted over Barton’s remarks, and the moment was captured on video.

“Violence against women — that’s a national issue!” an attendee shouted. “That is an issue that impacts everyone, everywhere — not only in this country but everywhere.”

Back to basics

Man who uses the downtown Houston skyline in his Twitter profile insinuates that
Houston’s black teachers are the cause of a big city’s school dropout rate

I am but a humble civil servant
begging to take us back —
I don’t care which color teaches,
but it must be reading and math!

Data with a political agenda
asks how many teachers are black?
I’m sorry, but, I must inquire:
is this a proper use of stats?

Also, who has asked my children to parse
the nightmares of this nation?
What if they read instead
a kindly approximation?

I believe we can successfully
teach our future generations
by softening each simple lesson
with a basic, understood vision:

Public schools exist to soothe
lower classes’ nature for division.
Sorry if you don’t feel that way,
I won the last election.

Cy-Fair ISD trustee’s comments on Black teachers spark accusations of racism — Jan. 12, 2022

“Cy-Fair has, what, 13 percent Black teachers,” Scott Henry said.

“Do you know what the statewide percent is for Black teachers? 10 percent. Houston ISD, which I’ll use to shine an example, you know what their average percentage of Black teachers is? 36 percent. I looked that up. You know what their dropout rate is? 4 percent. I don’t want to be 4 percent. I don’t want to be HISD. I want to be a shining example. I want to be the district standard. I want to be the premium place where people go to be.”

Scott Henry’s statement:


Soft power

A mineral-rich nectar
drips from our history —
not a tart, targeted trickle,
but a steady, syrupy stew
of exhausted limbs
stories upon stories upon sugar —
a pile of screaming colors,
poking and pointing,
straining for meaning,
evolving a scene:
a new kind of strength was growing.

Shelley Luther, GOP candidate for Texas House District 62, said Chinese students should be banned from Texas universities — Jan. 7, 2022

Asian-American Texas Rep. Gene Wu responds — Jan. 10, 2022

Wind storm

The trees bake
in a six-month summer,
resolute as soldiers
enduring without twitch,
trained over decades
to survive stillness.

Winds are rare.
The warm Gulf air
a thick coat of arms
that preserves energy,
a precious commodity
in a relentless battle.

Without warning,
the gusts arrive.
Limbs unable to obey
shake with a wilderness
buried deep
in their marrow.

Force from all sides
like a tide every minute;
weaker leaves plummet,
sapped branches snap
until the storm subsides
and the trees relent.