On intelligence is intuitive


what happens to a society
when mystery is labeled
as evil?

it yields an ever-connected chain
of false labels and misinterpretations

the indigenous are labeled
as savage terorists
and plotted against

the open-hearted
are manipulated into slavery

the vulnerable are penetrated
by force of law

where is your allegiance?

why do you pledge
with a covered heart
when it needs to be opened?

why do you bear arms
with balled fists
and closed palms?

why do you call yourself
a patriot (pater: fr. Latin.meaning father)
when your greatest love has always been
for your mother?

this loaded phallus
has becum
the prevailing metaphor
of the day

you’ve spent your chi
on cheap versions
of the virgin

you’ve worshipped
loopholes in a story
and war shipped
mythic men to glory

if in god’s image
then your god’s
a plastic surgeon

a tyrannic dictator

a coward behind a curtain
with a megaphone

an aging oil tycoon
on viagra
ramming his plow
into the earth
turning up disease
and disaster
out of an ever-drying womb

you will become her cyclical sacrament

menstrual minstrels
footing your own bill
of right left right
marching blindly
into a moonless night
another dimension
where children use chalk
on the sidewalk
tracing their bodies
for the precriminal investigation:
of their paternal inheritance:


men in uniform
take note

love refuses
to take cover

[excerpt from , said the shotgun to the head by saul williams]


On visiting the neighbors

Long time neighbor, first time visitor: I finally got to take a tour of the US Embassy today (..unsurprisingly, zero cameras or phones allowed) just before giving a briefing on refugee issues to D.C. and Oslo staff. The building is shaped like a triangle — stairwells included!

On Super Tuesday

A ways back, I was deeply involved in an American student anti-genocide campaign, specifically responsible for education programming. I eventually came to the belief that the organization’s time and energy was best spent educating Americans on global issues, certainly, but to also pay a large amount of attention to issues closer to home. I didn’t have the language at the time to express my feelings convincingly, but seeing the news about Trump’s dominance in the polls made me revisit those discussions once again —

On a Lost Boy in Louisville

Daniel Solomon’s piece, A Lost Boy in Louisville: One Refugee’s Story, is an important read — both to begin to tease out the intersections of identity that individuals resettled exist in, but also to remember how much work still needs to happen after arrival. (also: kudos to Solomon for articulating things I saw working in Memphis that defied my vocabulary at the time.)

[Deng] Manyoun’s life in Louisville—and in Nashville before that—cannot alone be explained by the discrimination he confronted as a person of color. Rather, his story illustrates the ways in which local racial and social inequalities can exacerbate the already complex and often difficult process of refugee resettlement. In Manyoun’s case, his continuous encounters with adversity, his homelessness, his unemployment, and his alcoholism point to one of the shortcomings of refugee resettlement programs in the United States: the limited and short-term public support that these programs provide are inadequate for supporting refugees’ protracted transition from countries in conflict to the American cities in which they are resettled.

Resettlement programs claim to help refugees fulfill the most ambitious of American dreams: of “self-reliance and individual responsibility,” as the U.S. State Department has put it. With hard work and a bit of perseverance, the logic goes, a better life is possible for those fleeing some of the world’s gravest atrocities. But for too many, this rhetoric of self-reliance obscures the harsh consequences of limited public assistance and inadequate long-term social support offered by resettlement programs. They are simply not enough to achieve the self-sufficiency that resettlement programs advertize, nor, as in Manyoun’s case, even survive. In time, many tens of thousands of refugees who are resettled in the United States each year do “make it”: they become citizens, find gainful employment, and actively contribute to their local communities. We have much to learn from the stories of those who do not.

Manyoun’s move to the United States may have brought him sanctuary from a life of war and impoverishment in southern Sudan. But the scant and temporary measures on which he subsisted were not enough to help him survive. The consequences of poverty were further compounded by the racism that people of color regularly confront in Louisville. Refugees from Syria that the United States has pledged to admit in greater numbers will no doubt encounter similar racism and xenophobia unless we confront the stigma that currently colors debates about their resettlement.

There is much the U.S. government can do to assist refugees fleeing from the world’s worst violence—starting with admitting its fair share. Regardless of the quality of our resettlement programs, the expansion of refugee admissions is a matter of unequivocal moral obligation. But that same moral obligation also requires that we think seriously about what happens after resettlement. Sustainable and robust resettlement assistance is every bit as crucial to the fulfillment of our moral duty of offering a true sanctuary for those fleeing war. Without it, the refuge we offer is little more than an empty promise.