Poem 10: Fantasies

Any good fantasy novel that has slavers makes you hate the slavers. Throw in some war-torn region – brutal killings of indigenous people – maybe forcing them off their land – and you really begin to hate these bad guys. Heck, just to be creative, maybe cause some intentional spread of horrible disease among the victim population. Heck – make those victims move en-masse far across the world. Let them die and starve on the way.

Then you might really hate the big bad guys. Of course – a good fantasy novel will make sure you remember the slaves, too. It won’t get too

complicated. But it will certainly give some dimension to its characters. Motivations. These people, bad as they are, just want freedom. They’re fighting bad guys of their own. They have ideals. They believe in liberty. Justice.


The great thing about kids books is the guaranteed happy ending. (Well, almost guaranteed.)

Give me a kids book, and if something bad happens, I can tell my kid “don’t worry, things will be fine.”

Then, they’re fine.

Take books on civil rights. What was that one? About some ice-skater? She made it possible for non-white kids to become skaters….

And a bunch of those kids did! And they won Gold medals! For real!

See, I can tell my kids, things worked out just fine!


It took me far too long to understand what
the Pledge of Allegiance


to so many people.

For that, I am sorry.


Growing up, I was always given so much encouragement. The common saying nobody really believed, but so many people spoke so sincerely: You can do anything.

I was gullible and came to believe in my own autonomy and self-reliance, though I certainly didn’t believe I would change the world.

Some wrinkled old white person (I’m white), told me, when was this? At my grandmother’s funeral? (My grandmother who did change the world believe me, she’s probably affected your life, dead as she is) This person, a woman, I think – told me, after I spoke incredulity at my own position of power – she told that maybe I’m wrong – you don’t know what you can do–

this caught in me like a little piece of gravel digging through my gut–

What if she’s right?

How many people were worse for trying? Too many to count.


A good fantasy novel makes you care about the characters – it raises questions

you never thought to ask. It comforts, too, with familiar tropes. That hate

I was talking about; a good hero who can solve every problem (eventually)


When my wife is angry with me – genuinely angry – which certainly happens – I usually think to myself, she is so wrong about this, quickly followed by yikes, I have a lot to learn. I hope it’s not too painful.


The hero’s journey starts with hints of what’s to come.

Every good fantasy novel has a hero.


Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a gripping book on climate change – but it was too gruesome for me to finish. Too much death. To real. The books refrain, a call to judgement: you’re not doing enough.

I often feel I’m not doing enough.


Everyone else is radical when you’re the only one who’s right.


When I resolve a fight with my wife, I always worry that I’ll forget what I’ve learned, that I won’t change the way I want to change, that I’ll go back to my old habits and self-centered behaviors, that I’ll continue to cause pain without trying


A good fantasy novel sets the right expectations

and then breaks them


to keep you entertained.


I’ve had enough of fantasy.

Have you?

Poem 9

a peach pit caught in the corner of my gut–

a blood test that could mean liver death–

I wallow briefly–

stew at the momentum of hate in the world–

my disability–chronic disease–too pointless–

I’d rather fantasize about drastic political change–

so I doomscroll Facebook & constantly refresh ten news sites–

how easy to avoid calling the doctor–

I blame myself for my failures–who else–

I yearn for purpose that lasts more than a day–

like New Mexico wildfires consuming the summer–

people often mistake my disease for a choice–

Robert Frost was right to joke about such things–

Who knew people could be so easily confused–

I tell my daughter to stop comparing herself–

I don’t want to be on a lonely path–

Change is inevitable–

Suffering can be so distracting–

And abstract–

This is my body which is broken for–

Where am I going–

Tomorrow will this pain be–this pain will be–


Poem 8: A man should fear for his testicles–

Nine months of slow transformation – until
his crotch is ripped apart in the usual fashion –

though certainly, the weight gain, cramping, and
hernia causing expansion at his waist

should be cause for fear too, though not
for some men. To be feared more,

perhaps, is the constant vomiting that
that may not end for months. A wrong

smell – even simple water – setting it off. All this,
they say, is preventable. One woman told me you just

need to remove the root cause. A man should fear
for his testicles, I thought, though, not wanting to

cause a fight, I smiled and nodded, wishing peace
to my own two testicles, snipped as they are, unable

to become engorged with the life of another.