If sole has never touched soil,
then these shifting grounds might as well
be ocean waves lost at sea.
In high school, I dated the geography bee state champion – a girl who’d earned her accolades by studying the topographies and histories of countries she’d never seen.
If I have not climbed your mountains, have not swum your depths,
have not tasted of your bazaar, then how can I be trusted
to trust myself to love you from afar?
She could recite a random nation’s capital, square mileage, and population, but ask her how the pineapples taste in Belize, and when she would say “the same as they do in America,” she would be wrong, and state champions are rarely wrong.
If I have not known you, then it’s hard to love you,
to find your face on the map, finger tracing your ridges,
to stumble over your rigid limits, remembering your imaginary lines –
as made up and irrational as nationalism.
But I, too, have been wrong like a champion – too content to sit on stone walls and point fingers at foreigners, eyes wide and watching as my small existence meant nothing to her, another lost grain of sand on the seafloor.
If there is a gap in my love, and my knowledge of it,
then remind me how to walk again, show me
what broken steps to place where so I may behold you
like you were always meant to be held.
I thought I’d love her, like them, for being other, but I’ve always been stoic and silent as they crumbled – never able to point out where in the world, and how far, they had fallen.
Hey folks, remember that time I dipped my toe (for 24 hours) into the wonderful waters of playwriting for the Atlanta 24 Hour Play Fest? Welp, glorious video has surfaced at last!
And now, all of you who were unable to make it can laugh at the heartfelt absurdity that Curt Shannon and I wrote; Dre Camacho directed; and Parris Sarter, Matt Mercurio, and Mark Owen starred in. And for those of you who were able to make it night of, thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy watching it here once again.
(While our play runs from 1:04:28 to 1:14:40 in the video below, feel free to watch the rest of the plays that the 24-hour crew concocted this year. They’re good stuff, y’all.)
Bend back the tent flap and slide into your assigned seat.
The elephants and donkeys and puppets are all here.
They’re waiting for you
with readied entertainment dressed in sharp suits,
shooting half-baked facts from musty mouths
surrounded by white-hot lights and caked-on makeup.
They want you.
They want you to be enraptured
by their selective outrage and flapping arms,
by the heat still steaming from their animal snouts.
They want you to be comfortable,
only, ever, and always comfortable
inside their delicate echo chamber.
But you’ve come here on your own,
so it’s safe to assume
that you’ve already bought into this,
and that you want it too.
When you leave in an hour,
you will take the circus home with you –
another parrot of a bird-brained flock
designed to be ruffled and to squawk
louder on the leader’s behalf –
ignoring and hiding the fact
that a simple change of the wind
will blow the whole show sky high.
Stuff me with your fallacies.
Dress me in the costume of the other.
Paint on me a face in caricature
of your enemies. I am easiest to destroy
when my humanity is post-impressionism.
Send me out into the world, a world,
some world that has never been mine –
some structure that I have never claimed
to long for, to change, or even inhabit.
Make me representative
of your hates. Allow me
to take fire for you. Hold me
as your shield against ignorance.
When the time proves convenient,
flick a match at my chest
and disappear in silence
as I slowly smoke away.