By Jeeni Criscenzo
I have not actually slept
since that long night when astonished reporters went off script,
as we watched one incomprehensible red piece after another
inserted into the puzzle
that was supposed to be mostly blue.
Hearing them stammer words that couldn’t possibly be true,
was when my subconscious determined
that if I never close my eyes
I won’t awaken to that same nightmare that millions woke to
in Germany, under Hitler,
and other fascist regimes…
the morning after the coup.
I can stand here,
hands perched on indignant hips,
head shaking in disbelief,
that such a thing could happen here.
But truth be told, this nightmare has been unfolding
every pre-Trump day,
for every state that got in capitalism’s way
for people of color,
and innocent bystanders
who had the audacity to be born
in a place not friendly to free trade,
in a place ripe with resources we want,
in a skin not white,
in a soul that prays in a head scarf,
in a mind capable of deciphering bullshit from truth.
Even under the leadership of the first African-American president.
the one who was supposed to usher in an era of hope and change,
the nightmare has been unfolding, unchecked.
The cancer was growing long before the election we’d hoped to forget.
With only weeks left to fulfill promises he’d made eight years prior,
the assault on Native American water protectors rages in Standing Rock,
the daily profiling and shootings of young men of color, by police, continues,
and there have been more deportations of undocumented Mexicans
than under any previous president.
This is what our first black president has done for American people of color!
Elsewhere, it’s been worse.
Ask the Palestinians, the Iraqi, the Afghanistanis, the Syrians, the Libyans…
Still, we fear Trumpworld, more so!
Why should the beast who brazenly snarls,
“I will attack the outcast, the other, the most vulnerable!”
be so much more frightening than the one with the gracious smile,
who reassures in wise tones, “I have your back,”
then quietly stabs you there?
With class of course.
Do we fear Trumpworld, more so
because he has normalized hate,
hearing the results of this election
was like getting punched in the gut,
or getting the results back from a biopsy
of a tumor that has been festering for years.
There’s no more denying that we are screwed.
Until that phone call where the voice says,
“I’m very sorry to tell you…”
and you brace for the worst…
until the very micro-second before you hear it,
you hope for the best.
But the results came back positive,
And they are positively the most negative thing you could imagine –
We have cancer!
Democracy has cancer!
You can pretend that annoying lump is benign.
And all the hate-filled racism that has suddenly
come crawling out of the walls.
Normalize that too.
This is just how it’s gonna be from now on.
Live with the cancer.
Fascism, like cancer,
doesn’t just pop up overnight.
It has been festering,
spreading like a covert operation,
for a long time.
Now it’s keeping me sleepless,
as if, by not falling asleep,
day won’t follow day,
and I can somehow stop the inevitable arrival of that day
when the American people,
who were never really great, by the way,
willingly, in a spirit of fair play,
in an inauguration replete with pomp and faux dignity,
inserts the entire clown car into our veins.
Like the moment I learned that lump in my breast
I am sleepless.
Weighing my options.
Do I just roll over and deal with whatever happens to me,
Ignore the rest of the inhabitants of earth,
normalize and deny
and let myself slowly die?
Not so easy,
even if I am bone-weary tired of fighting.
Have you ever watched someone die of breast cancer?
Your flesh rots before your eyes,
A sneak preview of what you will become after death,
while you’re still alive.
The pain is excruciating,
The stink repulsive,
and it all goes on for far longer than anyone can bear.
It’s a horrible way to die.
Were we ever so naïve to think,
Just because we were so fortunate
to be born into a system
that seemed to be working for most of us,
that it would last forever?
Generations long gone,
suffered and sacrificed
spilled real blood,
so we could couch surf, text and tweet,
go out for a beer,
take a vacation,
worry about our weight,
and indiscriminately consume
like good little patriots,
programmed to keep the economy oiled.
Generations after us,
might not even have a planet to sustain them,
because America has this damn CANCER.
And we have to do something now
Before we run out of time and options.
When you find out you have cancer,
you quickly realize
that you can’t fix it
by wearing pink ribbons and walking for a cure.
You have to pump poison into your veins
And resist death with every breath.
You hold your loved ones close.
You learn to let the little shit go.
It’s about to get real ugly for ALL of us now.
Democracy was so discerning about who suffers.
Fascism will be much less so.
I beat cancer
with the support of family and friends.
And together, we could beat this Trump thing.
If we can figure out how to work together before he pits us all apart.
And this insomnia,
It’s just part of my resistance.