praise and worship center

she opens the door as if emerging from sleep
she tried to vote early but her ride never showed

my eyes drift to her hand
resting on a pregnant belly
behind her I see her husband
laying on the floor
with their little son

a new citizen
this is her first election
only voter in the house

we call
a union member
Local 11

someone to open the door
extend a hand to her
when she steps out of the car

someone to walk with her
to the polling center
and drive her home

we wait together on the steps
her son plays with my shield
and widens his ludic orbit

he jumps
bounces
springs

and then her chariot pulls up
a young man smiles 
and takes her to vote

 







teenage voter

I find him, tall and lanky, 
unloading a truck with his Dad
who looks at me sideways
I am hoping to talk to —

He's on our books as a Democrat.
But the father is not.

To talk to the teenage voter
I have to get around this man

I make myself small
Just following up to make sure—

the son comes closer 
I give him the rap

turns out he's already dropped
his ballot off

Oh that's great!

I run down
our list of candidates and ask: 

Can we count on your support?

No. 

I can see his Dad's eyes on him
he can feel them on his back.
I can't tell— is he proud 
or ashamed?




Kamela

The Libertarian asks
what I think of Kamela

and what she said about Biden
in the debate

I do not believe you 
are a racist, she said

before taking him apart
for cozying up with segregationists

I say 
I am behind the criticism of his policies—
 
how can I support Biden,
he interjects, if he's a racist?

I've been down this road before
with the guy energized by the discovery

that people on the left vote
for racists

as if that makes me and him
the same

there are moments in history, she said 
when states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people

I forget to pivot
to the story of the racism we share

I return to local candidates 
running on conviction and compassion 

but he prefers to crow over
my hypocrisy 

for a few minutes, sitting with him on his porch,
I am lost

he has an energy
a low menace, its own thrill

I take him in, bearded 
motorcycle lover with a good belly

living in a comfortable suburban home
in an all-but-gated community

an answer to a question that was lingering
in my head

Kamela
and that little girl was me. 



working class voter

I don't know about politics. Are we Democrats?
                                 Yes! says her brother, from inside the house, loud.
He can't vote, she explains, with his felony convictions.

This is the best yard, I say. 

The parking lot in front of her building licks the desert foothills. It will be so beautiful in the winter. Today it is hot and brown.

Her sons play around us. A football arcs over her head. 

                                 I don't know what a Democrat is, she says. Whoever is on the side of poor people has my vote!

I say the choice is clear, and it is. But no one running for anything in this race looks like her — they do not have her smile, her shape or her style. 

Silky curls, thick energy. 

She's wearing a deep yellow t-shirt with black letters:

QUEEN.


dry heat

weatherbeaten house 
perched 
on a mound of rock and dirt
curtains pulled tight
against the sun 
Chrysler 
gathering dust
shirtless 
with a belly full of rage
he moves his body
into the light
gives me an earful
about taxes 
he's never earned enough 
to pay

arizona

she is the one I am looking for
but he opens the door
 
I see her behind him
a long arm’s length
 
a smile on her lips
I ask the question
 
and it’s a trigger
 
he hates them all
dems and libs
 
riots in Seattle
child molesters
 
hunter biden
china china china
 
molotov cocktail
 
she slips into shadow
before I learn

which way
she leans