Sleepless in Chicago

Last eve, Clark Kent and I walked hand in hand a few blocks to have dinner with a friend of his. After arriving, people filled up the living room one by one and the TV in the far corner showed a group of people gathered. The screen’s lower third indicated it was a protest following the release of a video.

The video, naturally shown by the media, was the dash cam video from a cop’s car — a cop who sank 16 bullets into a young man who was walking AWAY from the police.

Which is some bullshit. The video also confirmed a nearly year-long cover-up of what has really gone on in that situation. If you’re inclined, you can read more here. It was an execution.

I fell asleep last night on the verge of a shitty sinus infection, dosed with enough homepathic pharmacopeia to take down an herbal elephant. Yet around 5AM this morning, I was up.

Completely up. And fed up. So I wrote and this is what came out. Take it, leave it, think about it, share it. Whatever you do…

refuse to be a part of the problem.


‘Twas the eve before turkey, and all through the nation
Eyelids were closing and heads, they were shakin’.
First Beirut, then Paris, then a downed Russian jet
Governors race to close borders, while our history – they forget.
White supremacy clenches airtime and there emerges “registry” chatter
While a black man’s choked and beaten by those crying, “All lives matter.”
In Chicago, a cry from masses to be set free
From the wagons circling ‘round a silent cult of police brutality.
And here I sit, in this fog of world-sweeping dismay
Drowning in messages about SALE! SALE! SALE! this Black Friday.


Has it really become truth that we care more about a deal
On shit we don’t need yet still holds some appeal?
The food and the excess and the doorbuster TV
Move us to action more than a Syrian child, dead, face-down by the sea.
No matter the direction the media spins – left or right –
I’m awake at 5AM pondering, “For what do I fight?”
Because from every news outlet, I’m pumped stories of fright
Xenophobia rules the airwaves and brown people are kept off flights (Southwest, you assholes).
Every pro-human message is intercepted by an ass
Clutching tightly to his fear, afraid to let it pass.
The quandary, good friends, isn’t in left or right.
It’s not in Christian versus Islam and which has more might and light.
The quandary, good friends, is in where the enemy lies
As I’ve become more afraid of what’s inside our borders than beyond in world’s terrorist franchise.
For what’s more destructive – a threat we can’t define
Or one that grows stronger – this American fault line?
Where neighbors we love(d) spout nonsensical crap
About where lies the threat and an imminent attack.
Yet all the while ignoring that their hate – that’s the threat –
A cancer inside our borders leaving our weary souls in debt.
We can’t look around and see neighbor and neighbor
Instead, it’s THEM and US – where US is always in favor.


For what do I fight when my nation’s already at war
With candidates and race and religion and more?
For what do I fight when those ONE DAY ONLY doorbuster deals
Can peel us away from friends and family with their schpiels?
For what do I fight when we already kill our own
Stuck in our own domestic hate-fueled grindstone?
For what do I fight when there are people I love
Spouting that Islam’s the problem, forgetting true Christian love?
For what do I fight when, regardless one’s bent,
Religion’s our nation’s weapon, used not for love but for torment?
For what do I fight, when each day I’m reminded
That I’m less of a person than Citizen United?


I wish that I knew. Hell, I’d publish a book.
I’d tell you we’re in for rainbows and a sunny outlook.
But what I do know is on this eve of thanks
I have an idea that’s worth a chance.
Why do I fight? Well, it’s because I can’t NOT.
I refuse to let love’s volume be lower than something that’s bought.
I refuse to let fear be my decision-making factor.
I refuse to let idiots be my greatest benefactor.
I refuse to stand idle while my country implodes.
I refuse to let our nation’s rich immigrant fiber erode.
I refuse to forget and I refuse to not learn.
I refuse to give in to the incessant political heartburn.


As today, I remember a woman on a bus
Who sat where she “shouldn’t” – come on, let’s discuss.
I remember ships filled with Jewish refugees
Turned back at our ports, deemed undesirable human debris.
Today, I remember that this wasn’t “our nation” to start
And Columbus, not worthy the hero title upon him we impart.
Today, I remember, before my hand goes up a bird’s ass,
That the house we each live in isn’t wood or steel, but rather…glass.
A delicate, most vulnerable place to keep not just our hearts
But the hearts of those we love safe, even when the world falls apart.
And all these glass houses – the ones we fill with doorbuster deals –
Might be warmer and safer if we first, remember the meal.


A meal many won’t have, for one reason or another.
A meal we’re lucky to share (yeah, even with your asshole uncle/mother-in-law/brother).
A meal powered by generations of recipes, all written by refugees
Those who dared to seek a better life in this Land of the Free.
Because how free are we really if we give up the fight?
(The fight for our fellow humans, not that bullshit left vs. right.)
This meal that awaits – perhaps you’ll serve, perhaps share –
Is colorblind, has no faith, and no political care.
So now, my eyes that were downcast and my head that was shaking
Look up to catch eyes with another human heart that is breaking.
We’ll share a meal, a laugh, a connection between hearts craving.
And it’s right there, in those eyes, I see something worth saving

2 replies
  1. AskAprilJ
    AskAprilJ says:

    We forget the truly important things, like our own history as refugees and immigrants. That love, not fear, *will* prevail. It’s the only thing that can. I don’t know that we’ve ever truly held compassion for our Native *human beings.* Fear makes us ugly, ugly humans. Us vs. Them is not working, nor will it ever. Thank you for this beautiful and appropriate reminder, Erika. Thank you for easing just a bit of the ugly hate residue with your love, gifts, and talents. Hope starts small.

  2. MightyCaseyMedia
    MightyCaseyMedia says:

    OMFG, grrl, you KILLED it on this. E.M. Forster’s “only connect” is the only thing that keeps me off the ledge most days. I use it as a mantra when shit gets too real/rough, and actually taking a 5-iron to something/one ain’t on because witnesses.

    You just made my Thanksgiving with that right there.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *