Never

Several people have pointed out that I seem to dislike our current president and I want to clear up a few things: I do not simply dislike him or merely think he has an unpleasant personality. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I hate that our president is an abuser and that this fact did not disqualify him in the minds of so many.

Regardless of what you may want to be true, someone who so willingly violates another person and shows no remorse, but rather brags about it, is not a fit leader. Such a person will willingly violate other moral standards and not lose any sleep over doing so. And when he does violate all manner of other principles of decency and ethics with impunity, the response should not be to fall back on conspiracies, but rather to deal with reality.

His administration’s cruel treatment of immigrant children, poor and homeless children, protesters, and families struggling due to the pandemic should show you that he does not care about your children or some hypothetical trafficked children or unborn babies. All he cares about are his own polls and ratings and advantage.

Regardless of what television shows tell you to trust him or what other public figures of questionable standards you invoke to support him, I will not betray myself by taking up his cause. If you support him, I will probably be able to find it in my heart to give you the benefit of the doubt and see you as someone whose conditioning and life experience have made it difficult for you to see him as he really is, but I will never willingly accept the authority of an abuser.

And as for his farcical attempt to convince evangelical Christians that he is one of them, I remind you that actions speak louder than words. A wise friend once told me that if I’m struggling to discern if something or someone is of God, I should look for the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. The president displays none of these.

I assure you that what you may perceive in me as partisan dislike for the man or an embrace of liberal media rhetoric, is nothing of the sort. It is anger that an abuser has been given such a platform and grief that so many people who identify as Christian have convinced themselves that he is someone they should support and follow. And, admittedly, I struggle with how many of his supporters would rather tell me “Fuck your feelings, libtard!” than care at all about the women he has abused and violated and what this says about the kind of person he really is. Comparing him to other people who have also done things that are wrong in no way absolves him of his own behavior.

I, too, hate the division politics are causing these days. I hate that I do not feel comfortable or safe engaging with many people who I consider friends. I hate that I have lost friends over expressing my views of the president or my support for people suffering injustice. But I spent too many years betraying myself by accepting abusive behavior in leaders because I was taught falsities about grace and forgiveness and my own worth as a woman. And I have put way too much time into unlearning and healing and dealing with what I survived. I cannot and will not go backward.

Other Possibilities

[Image description: Large, colorful sycamore leaf held in the sunlight with a forest in the background]

All or nothing.
Take it or leave.
Of course, only
all and take it
earn me keys.

It’s clear-cut,
cut and dried,
cutting, cutting crosswise
across my nature.
Close your eyes,
swallow ideology
wholesale.

Conform
and consume
and follow the lead.
Choke back questions.
Ignore contradictions.
Come as you are
if you’re like us.

Such slow exhaustion
living perpetually outside the fold.
Or in it,
but outside myself.

I once was trying,
but now I see

I would never be shaped
into that vessel
or any vessel
at all.
I am not clay,
it turns out.

I am wind
and sunlight

And leaves
budding
unfurling
changing
falling,
nourishing new roots.

I am space for unknowing
and uncertainty.

I am choosing nothing
and leaving
and astonishment at
what blooms.

I am myself and
my questions and
seeing all the contradictions.

I am other possibilities
beyond either/or.

Signs

Content warning: Language

“Same Guy
2020
Fuck Your Feelings”

Helpfully nailed to both sides of the driveway utility pole
so the words hit coming and going.

Appropriate.

Lives don’t matter
Equality doesn’t matter
Fairness doesn’t matter
Ethics don’t matter
Laws don’t matter
unless they benefit his side
and disadvantage yours.

Fuck your feelings
Fuck your compassion
Fuck your heartbreak at injustice
Fuck your insistence on equality
Fuck you.

Grab her pussy
Mock his difference
Criminalize their religion
Call her bitch
Belittle his oppression
Disparrage their country
Revile her womanhood
Scorn his protest
Disdain their heritage
Objectify her body
Insult his service
Reject their rights

You, your feelings,
mean nothing
in the shadow of this
false greatness, this
calcified disregard.

Fuck your feelings.
Fuck you.

Fuck.

Prescribed Burn

[image description: tiny green plant growing through ashes and cinders]

Moored too long
in patrimonial shroud
to one-size-all,
monoculture wasteland.

Groping, gasping,
I caught a spark–
“Love is kind”–
and fanned it into flame.

Flame, turned roaring fire,
burned it all to ashes.

What is God?
Or who?
Can I still want God to be?
If God is love and love is kind,
perhaps.
If God is man’s image,
guns and flags,
domination,
subjugation,
exploitation,
then

No.

I cannot want that.

Now I wait,
lying fallow,
losing track of seasons.
Scorched foundation,
Nothing

nothing was mine to give.

Sifting ash through fingers,
asking

can sooty remnants grow something true?