BIPOC hands putting ballots in a ballot box.

I see people dying

hear brothers calling for their mothers

smell the flyblown excrement of bureaucratic justifications

feel planetary cylinders misfiring

taste dwindling ice in my oceanic drink

know it’s almost too late

If it rhymes with duck

looks like a

& the people who do it just don’t give a

you can add

I see a new world order

hear cries of injured Asian amahs

smell politically-orphaned children at the border

feel violated like Stone Mountains and Black Hills

taste bitterness

know nothing but my name

Cause’ If it looks like a

acts like a

& the…

Piece of sandpaper with “where’s your line” printed on it in black.

Sometimes people live too close to one another

their smelly lines overlapping lives

psyches stepping on toes

& problems bleeding in through doors & windows.

Neighbors crying, remonstrating, manipulating, and copulating

demonstrating the need for soundproofing or renovating

yet we wave the next day our smiles ingratiating

because at their expense our needs we’ve been satiating

and the building goes on.

Some stress “urban sprawl” others cry “urban blight.”

Developers rub hands with piggish delight.

Smart animals follow the birds taking flight

while poor confused deer become targets at night.

Yet the building goes on.

Big boxes, small boxes, strip…

PhD. Comic strip about to-do lists and how we never finish them.

I’ve discovered a cure for writer’s block!

All the other things I have to do.

Oh how prolific I seem to become when grading a paper or two

Or cooking the family stew

Or cleaning up pots from my roux

Or trying to write my class syllabi two days past the date they were due

(Not just for one class but two)

The doggerel I make up in lieu of my work should be up for judicial review

While I just sit here and stew

work’s abducted my brain like a coup

Then poetry told me to stop washing dishes…

(a haiku suite)

A flight of different wines.

Racism Chardonnay

flesh-eating fungi

gorged upon humanity

never to be healed?

Capitalism Merlot

symbiant becomes

neoliberal parasite

none for all for one

Xenophobia Sangria

bring your tired toward wall

who like living in cages

got somthin’ forum

Democracy Moscato

glitch in the matrix


i want a do-over

Patriotism Chenin Blanc

grand experiment

do what founders’ ideals said

unlike what they do

That old white dog keeps comin’ around
with his fur moldy beige & his tail on the ground.

His eyes muddy red, his gait shaggy & slow,
smellin’ like old newspapers dragged through the snow.

With his voice real hoarse & his bark real mean
most inconsiderate bastard that’s ever been seen.

Never asks for permission or considers your time
moves in your bedroom — don’t pay a damn dime.

He’ll pass gas on your pillow & pee in your shoe
and that’s just the start of the things he will do.

He leaves fleas in the bathtub and hair…

“Never piss a teacher off . . .” (Homage to Taylor Mali)

They smugly asked about my job — just the other day

and at first, I found my words amiss — I had very little to say.

But it wasn’t that I wasn’t pissed, or didn’t know how to commence,

it’s just that to work where I do — it’s hard to make that make sense.

these fools said, “Those that can — do. Those that can’t . . .” (Well, you know the rest).

So I really tried to explain things to them (without kicking them…

Mari Ann Banks

Teacher, reader, writer, eater.

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