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Tuesday, July 03, 2018


by Pepper Trail

I was looking forward to this evening
After long hours of work
Sitting quietly in the upstairs room
Gazing out at the waning day
The sun bright on the eastern hills
At peace, a glass of wine, a book

But the news of the day has gutted me, again
I slump, hollowed out, unable to escape
Or, for this moment, to resist, the horror
The endless horrors, one following the other
The government-orphaned children, lost
Huddling in the white tents, torn from their mothers
The Supreme Court, that I somehow still believed
To be the last defender of the powerless, their last refuge
In a time when the weak are scorned and dehumanized
When justice is bought, the Supreme Court
Blesses the President’s power to demonize and exclude
(T***p v. Hawaii)
Upholds the racists’ right to disenfranchise
(Gill v. Whitford)
Allows religion the sanction to discriminate
(Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission)
Attacks unions while allowing corporations unlimited power
(Janus v. AFSCME)
And now, the last “moderate” justice gone
The last hope for balance lost

Night has fallen. Up and down the street, the cicadas
Begin to sing.  We call it singing, but it is not
It is a sound of drums, an urgent percussion, it rises
To an almost unbearable pitch and intensity
The shriek of an alarm, echoing against the shut-up houses
Will the doors open? Will my neighbors come out
To stand on their porches? Will we look at each other
Speechless in that din?  Will we come down our steps
Approach, shake hands, acknowledge this extremity?
Will we, at last, awake?

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry. In his spare time, he leads natural history tours around the world.