My Dog Died

Buffalo Bill ’s
defunct
               who used to
               ride a watersmooth-silver
                                                                  stallion
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
                                                                                                     Jesus

he was a handsome man 
                                                  and what i want to know is
how do you like your blue-eyed boy
Mister Death

e.e. cummings

—–

My dog died.

I was eight? Nine? Somewhere in there.

Actually, it was my mom’s dog. The family pet, though. A poodle mix. Old, nearly completely blind. Lovable. Sandy.

Sandy was hit by a car, and while I don’t really want to dwell on the details, I was arriving home with my mom and my younger sister when we saw her still body in the driveway.

I can clearly remember the grief and the anguish of the discovery, the hard hours that followed, and, again, I don’t want to dwell on those details.

What’s on my mind is how I slept that night.

I’m sure, earlier in my childhood — and later, for that matter — I had rough nights, but this is the first one I remember, and it is the one I clearly remember.

I never really slept, though I drifted, in and out, not quite waking, not quite dreaming, in that weird nether-place that Neil Gaiman probably has a name and a mythology for.

And in that nether-place, with its weird time dilation, I dwelled for long hours that might have felt like days but also those days followed one after another bangbangbang justlikethat and maybe, just maybe I dreamed I talked to God or Mister Death, or maybe I wasn’t dreaming at all but in that nether-place, the Gaiman Place, and it didn’t really matter because everything was real and nothing, too, and oh, so, all I had to do was time waking up for just after the dream when Sandy’s death was just dream.

Last night, post-election, I slept about two hours, all of them back there, and Jesus (who was not a handsome man) I could do without every visiting again.

Tomorrow

Here’s a story I’ve not told before.

Eight years ago, the day after Election Day, I walked alone down the stairs to the train platform at my local MARTA station. As I reached the bottom and walked toward the far end, I passed an older African-American man, maybe mid-60s.

Just the night before, our country had, by a respectable margin, elected Barack Obama president. As I passed this man, I could see aspects of wonder, disbelief, and joy mixed upon his face. I passed right by him, but I don’t think he noticed me.

He was in another world, a dream world that had just become his reality, and while I was certainly happy with the election outcome, I knew in that moment I could never appreciate it even remotely the same way this man could. As a young, white man I could certainly be happy for the outcome, for having done my small part to elect President Obama. I could rejoice that we shared policy priorities and visions for our nation’s future, yet I knew the election outcome could not come close to having the same significance for me that it had for this man, or millions like him, and tens of millions before, who fought, bled, and died, for just the right to vote, let alone see one of their own elected into our nation’s highest political office.

As I said, I haven’t told this story before.

I’ve thought about it a lot, though. At every election, certainly. And often at random, at that MARTA station, or elsewhere when my mind turned to thoughts of — paraphrasing Dr. King — the long arc of the moral universe and its journey toward justice.

It was a private moment, something I was not party of, but rather witness to.

As a middle class, hetero white male I can only begin to empathize. I can only try to understand. I can only be an ally, strive for change, hope for better, ply the few words left to me in service to progress for all.

I tell this story now so you will understand when I say I do not look forward to the expressions I expect to see upon any non-hetero, non-white, non-male faces I encounter at that same train station a few hours from now.

But I will look.

And if any of them can see through their pain, anguish, uncertainty, and fear to register my pale countenance, I hope they find there only a reflection of those same emotions.

The next four years do not bode well, and I don’t for a moment pretend they will be as hard on hetero white male me as they are on my allies.

They stand to lose so much, and I can only offer empathy, understanding, hope.

I can only promise to never look away, nor run.

The Eastwood Political Sequel

The angry old white man who four years ago gave us an exemplary piece of theater showcasing Republicans’ true views of Obama (an empty vessel into which they pour their rage) has done it again:

“Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.” — Clint Eastwood 

Sure they weren’t. When you grew up. Which was … the 1930s.

Gee. I wonder what’s changed since then. It’s almost like there has been an entire arc of history, social progress, advancement of civil rights …

But I digress.

Eastwood has once again put his finger on the fading pulse of the Republican spirit.

“… those things weren’t called racist.”

Make America Great Again, indeed.

Todd Akin, Paragon

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child ”

–Todd Akin
Republican
12-year member, House of Representatives, Missouri
Candidate for U.S. Senate, Missouri

In the aftermath of this statement, most Republicans have been stumbling over themselves to get away from Akin whilst calling for his withdrawal from the Senate race.

Cowards.

Republicans shouldn’t be running from Akin. They should be embracing him.

If you can get past the egregiously worded, scientifically-challenged, basely offensive words Akin selected, his point is simple: no abortions, no exceptions.

At no point in any of his several apologies has Akin retracted that point: no abortions, no exceptions.

Nor should he.

I understand Republicans — especially Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — trying to put distance between themselves and Akin’s clumsy, uneducated, ill-formed thoughts. You can’t expect to talk like that and appeal to anything approaching a majority of Americans.

Again I say: Cowards.

Akin is being portrayed, even by those within his party, as a member of the fringe.

Bullshit.

Akin isn’t some pioneer. He isn’t a fringe figure. He is part of the whole cloth

Aside from his apparent lack of understanding of basic human reproductive biology, and past the illogical words with which he expressed himself, Akin is just your average, regular Republican: no abortions, no exceptions.

Remember that November 6.