As I write this, Representative Kevin McCarthy is poised to lose his 7th attempt at being Speaker of the House. These last three days it’s been a shitshow in American politics. And that’s saying something.
There’s a sense of dread of what comes next as the detractors continually vote against McCarthy, keeping him from taking the reins. Reins that he assumed he already had since he moved into the Speaker’s office over the winter break.
While this isn’t even the most ballots cast for Speaker (that record goes to the 34th Congress (1855-1857) which had 133 ballots), it has shed some light that something’s gotta give.
While I have no illusions that McCarthy will not be the next Speaker, it’s insane that we are watching the center collapse. That the in-fighting of the so-called “party of Lincoln” is being aired before the country and all countries across the world.
It shows a weakness. Not just in the Republican party in the aftermath of Donald J. Trump, but as the country as a whole. In seven ballots, Hakeem Jeffries earned 212 each time while McCarthy has only earned 202 (for the first three) and 201 (for the last four). They need 218 to win. And it would be political suicide if six Republican centrists or seventeen Democratic centrists would vote for the other team.
If this doesn’t scream that a change needs to be made, I don’t know what will.
He spends too much time watching TV. Staring at the screen of his cell phone. Sometimes, he does both at the same time. Wasting hours that he’ll never get back watching media he won’t remember the next day.
Remember that one TikTok video you watched while taking a shit? You sat there for at least five videos before you wiped and got back to whatever you were doing before nature called. Five videos worth of time after your final push. You sat on that toilet for five more videos breathing in shit particles exhumed from your shitty ass. And you saw that one video—not a thirst trap, but you do tend to like those as soon as they start—and it made you laugh?
Of course, you don’t. Nobody remembers what they watched.
Getting back into the groove of things isn’t easy. Especially after taking a long hiatus. A hiatus that I figured would last indefinitely. Last Thursday, I participated in the Latine Heritage Month reading at the library. Yes, that library. The one I used to work at.
And two weeks before that, I participated at an open mic at Moonbeans. Though, if I’m honest, I wasn’t going to partake in that reading (more on that later, possibly another post).
At both readings, I read something I had written with V in mind. (This poem, actually.) As you can see, the poem didn’t age well. Which is a problem with adding pop culture references in your works. (Note: This isn’t always the case, however. There are plenty of beautifully, wittily written poems that drop random references that have aged wonderfully. Well, I’m sure there are, anyway.)
During the Moonbeans reading, I noted what wasn’t working with the poem. Keep in mind, this version is a Frankensteined creation of two poems smashed together. Something I had composed for a Love & Chocolate reading held a few years ago.
For the reading at Sekula, I omitted most of the first point. And noted that my father had passed a few months after writing the piece.
While doing so, I remembered something a creative writing professor told me. How the editing process is never truly done, even after publishing. Writers always think of new ways their works could have been better. And maybe that’s what I’ll do. Sit down and read my “best of” poems and contemplate how to “correct” them.
Because outside of that one poem, I haven’t written poetry in a long while. And outside of these rough-draft, journal-entry type blog posts, I haven’t really written anything either.
Once a fixture—a staple—within the local poetry scene, I bowed out and took a seat. While the conflict that led to the decision was only partially to blame, things had changed by then. I’d become a father, took down a real job, and began focusing my attention on them. Coupled with the fact that my relationship with Jeanna began, poetry readings didn’t seem as important.
But performance is a drug not easily shaken. Standing at the mic, reading to a roomful of strangers or friends, just felt right. Like a missing limb or an old confidante.
You once told me about the cactus you kept in the bed of your truck. How’d you drive, parading it through the city. You told me people would give you looks. Maybe even a quizzical lift of the brow.
I wish I saved those emails so that I can paint a better picture – the one who painted with your words. Because all I imagine is a bed of sand with your cactus planted in the middle. I don’t imagine the nopal, but the saguaro as it is the most referenced in popular culture.
I can’t remember the color of your truck, or if you ever told me the model and brand. But I think of an old red pickup, the sort abuelos drive.
We reconnected when I was in college. You found a review I made on Amazon and that led you down the rabbit hole to whatever social network I was using back then. Probably MySpace. We emailed each other, old friends catching up. You were always pushing me to share my work, find my voice.
And I eventually did, though I’m sad you never got to see me recite one of my poems on stage. Never heard me voice my characters.
I still wear the rings you gave me. These biker rings that appeared on Facebook. Rings that became the bane of my former employer’s existence. Rings I wore to push the limits one October and never took off until my weight got away from me.
And the moment my fingers allowed me to put them back on, it brought me so much peace. I can’t explain to you how exposed I felt without them. Every time I forget to wear them, a part of me is missing. And I’m sure you’d have loved to know that.
In some small way, I always felt that I carry you with me when I wear them. When I thought of buying new ones, I second guessed because these rings were from you.
Among other gifts you sent me, a Harley Quinn tee shirt, copies of your sister’s books, a book I never read, and several inappropriate birthday cards. How I loved those inappropriate cards.
I’m sorry that I stopped making that effort. Sorry I never held my word in writing those things for you. It’s easy to say that life gets in the way. That I was raising a child when I still didn’t feel like much of an adult. Sorry for never writing or reaching out when that illness began to take you. You were a better friend than I ever deserved.
It’s just that I scare easily, and I make it a habit to keep people I love at an arm’s length. I always think this will make the pain easier to take, but all it does is leave room for regret.
And there is a lot I regret these days.
As you know, I don’t have much faith on what lies beyond this life. Whether we simply stop existing or go into a higher plane of existence – be it Heaven or whatever. But I do hope that I see you again.
You once sent me this song and told me that you were the pretty girl. You didn’t care if I was Dr. Dre or Eminem.
My desk is a mess. There are printouts of articles, research for my RGV LGBTQIA+ timeline – and all of them written by Gabriel Sanchez, someone I am hoping to meet in the future. My bullet journal is open to today’s spread, indicated what needs working on and what can possibly wait. A legal pad with pencil-written notes on the Minnie Gilbert collection vies for my attention. Raphael Bob-Waksberg short story collection, Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory waits for me to pick it up.
But my mind is distracted. Not with the subject of queer botany a friend shared with me this morning. (Though, I will admit I did fall into that rabbit hole for a while.) Not with the ruckus caused by the visiting elementary or middle school students in the library lobby.
I’m distracted because one year ago I ventured into a new job. It wasn’t easy starting in a place of uncertainty, not knowing if I could handle it or learn new tricks. Or work in my old ones.
In the year, I have assisted in founding a bring-your-own-book-club for the university community, update our holdings for digital content, research local LGBTQIA+ history, pushed for inclusion of poetry, and learn quite a bit of local history in the process.
It’s been a long journey from storytime wizard to managing our digital content. It’s a journey worth its while, and I’m glad I took the opportunity.