“Shortly after noon on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas.” John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
Make a right on Houston from Main. Left on Elm Street. Past that big brick building. You know the one where crowds are gathering outside—waiting anxiously for the Boy King. A charming symbol of this here America.
I stack the heavy boxes of textbooks
moving them to the sixth-floor window
a hiding place.
The Dallas Morning News. The black border ad is like a death notice. Warning the Boy King. Don’t come. We mean it.
(Did they know something?)
This morning the bile
was slowly bubbling up
nerves pushing it down.
and promises made.
The 6.5×52mm Carcano Model 91/38 infantry rifle. Wrapped in brown paper. On the floor.
The cheers and boos rise high from below.
Washing over my ears.
My face darkens
my mind runs slowly
fear battling courage
searching for reasons
history over infamy.
The cavalcade of power. Drives forward through lunch hour crowds. Waves and hope. Cheers and jeers.
It will be simple
not to worry
over in seconds
12:30 p.m. CST
I rest the rifle
against the window frame
my hands shaking
my eyes squinting
for the first pop
On the eve of the one year anniversary of the inauguration of President Joe Biden, I repost this open letter to him that I wrote on Medium.com on January 16. 2021.
Whatever happens on January 20, 2021, or after, you will need to begin your administration with a clear vision, the vigor of spirit, and a powerful determination to take on the greatest challenge of this young century and possibly of our modern age. No, not the MAGA insurrection (I’ll address them later). Our nation cannot move forward until we work together to cure ourselves of the Pandemic. With millions of people worldwide affected by COVID-19, deaths and hospitalizations mounting daily, we cannot return to normalcy until we find the leadership necessary to show us a path forward. This crisis needs its own Marshall Plan.
The United States of America needs — no demands — a leader who commands respect, believes in science and medicine, makes reasoned decisions, and is willing to tap and trust the best minds to solve problems. You will need to call upon the best experts and leaders in politics, business, nonprofits, and education in the United States of America and the world. As President, you must harness the best resources available like no other time in our history. This effort cannot be some long-term (of say, ten years or more) project where studies are first prepared and submitted for consideration to the appropriate authorities for consent. We demand action by our government today.
No solution is possible unless you get everyone on board, and yes, that includes the opposing political parties. The goal of this current President and his allies is to delegitimize you and your administration. He and his sycophants want to cripple your ability to save this country so that they can cynically claim in two and four years that they must clean up your mess. We face a critical question, how do you break through the fog of misinformation and subservience to conspiracy theories? It will take a certain amount of courage to reach out to America’s moderate voices for help. I want to believe that political, business, and nonprofit leaders recognize that this will not end well if we continue to fall down the rabbit hole of evil accusations and retribution. For the past four years, only the most vitriolic voices have been the loudest. We must call upon all Americans who believe in this country’s ideal to raise their voices together to break through the toxic atmosphere enveloping our nation.
We must task the influencers in media, the arts, culture, advertising, and marketing to help create inspiring and proactive messages to revitalize our vision of shared social responsibility and dedication to a shared future. All of us must work together to fill with new hope and vision, the chasm created by dark forces over the past four years. Somehow, we must convince a large swath of Americans that, as a past President has described, “There are no red states or blue states, just the United States.”
I am too life experienced to believe that we will all join hands and sing Kumbaya by changing the messaging or legislative solutions. You only need to study American history to see that truth. However, we cannot forever be prisoners of our history. We must be ready to make our new future; one where every resident of this country receives the promises of our Constitution, “…in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” In 2021, after all that has gone on over the past four years, I believe it is time for all of us to step back from this precipice we find ourselves and stop and think about the challenges that are ahead for us as a country. We cannot survive if we only live in past conflicts and do not forge a better future.
Now, we must spare no effort to hold those responsible for the MAGA insurrection. I’m not just talking about those who invaded the people’s house. You can trace the roots of that insurrection to the Tea Party’s birth and the lie of Birtherism. Unfortunately, too many in politics and the media didn’t take this seriously enough. We called it fringe. It was dismissed as racist and not deserving of our time and attention. The current President and his enabling elected officials, religious leaders, right-wing groups, and media pushed that fringe, the white supremacy monster, out of the darkness into the White House and the halls of Congress. We must protect ourselves from their desperation, mindful that they will continuously attempt to disrupt a return to constitutional government.
I believe that this last dying gasp of an America cannot survive the cataclysmic demographic changes underway. I have an older son who is two-thirds Puerto Rican and one-third Dominican (Yes, there is a difference). His daughter, my granddaughter, is a four-year-old who is half-Puerto Rican and half-Anglo. My youngest son is twenty-eight years old and is one-quarter Puerto Rican, one-quarter Dominican, one-quarter Black, and one-quarter Japanese. They are all members of that demographic wave. The new United States of America frightens many. It is not only race and ethnicity that scares them; it is also urban versus rural, old versus young, progressive versus some forgotten or non-existent past of what America was. The America that is shrouded in flags and myths hides what we have been and who we are today. When we accept the whole truth of our history, we can then immerse ourselves in the glory of the great moments we all shared and move forward as the United States of America.
Mister President-elect, I know the burden on your shoulders, and that of the Vice President-elect is great. But you will not be carrying the load alone. All of us who care for the future will be here with both of you. Reach across the chasm to those who did not vote for you. Those who did are ready to do the hard work. Create new ways for all of us to see and hear each other so that we can rise together and defeat the Pandemic and build the America that we need for the twenty-first century. As another American leader, Abraham Lincoln said during the last great war between Americans on a bloodied battlefield at Gettysburg, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure — It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
We must soar above the worst in us to new heights and a new America. Don’t f*ck this up, Joe. We got your back.