one small voice

I’m deeply troubled by the thought
of people denied seats on planes
such injustice awakens a memory
of the many humans bound by chains

as an honourably discharged vet
who proudly served in the US Army
I’m appalled & aghast by the recent actions
of a ‘President’ immature & smarmy

this man has no compassion
he’s making a vile mockery
of the words of hope engraved
on the Statue of Liberty

my family & friends are in America
varied in their religions & races
& America was founded by immigrants
from vast & far-flung places

at uni I studied all kinds of subjects
falling in love with history
& the current ‘President’s’ rhetoric
smacks of Hitler to me

it’s totally unacceptable
this level of insanity
in what I always thought of as
the home of the brave & land of the free

now I watch that freedom threatened
by a man who would be king
a man who’d destroy Martin’s wish
that we let freedom ring

I’m just an ordinary person
so to you, my words may not matter
an American in Dundee
watching her homeland shatter

but if you’re as worried as I am
then this poem I ask you to share
for refugees & for immigrants
for the downtrodden everywhere

now’s the time to band together
before it is too late
we need to remember God is love
& love will always trump hate

copyright © 2017 KPM

one-small-voice

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a little walk

There’s a lot in the news just now about the events of January 20th, when a man many people in the US and worldwide regard as racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and even mentally unstable was sworn in as the President of the most powerful nation on earth. So I tried to write a poem about my feelings regarding what I personally view as not just a heart-breaking but frightening turn of events – but nothing would come. So I thought, “Fuck it…my voice can do no good. There’s enough anti-Trump articles out there, what difference will one more make….who will care about what one immigrant has to say?”

But I kept remembering.

I am an immigrant. A legal immigrant from the USA – which I say not to disparage illegal immigrants, cause I don’t know their stories or what caused them to flee their countries and therefore I have no right to judge – to the UK, who immigrated for love. And though the man I originally moved to the UK for dumped me, it turned out to be a good thing, because meeting him led me to my adopted country – Scotland – and it led me to my current partner of eight years, who is the best man I’ve ever known (father and grandfather excepted).

So on January 20th, the day Trump was inaugurated, I found myself walking down to Dundee’s City Centre, where I protested in a demonstration against the new US President.

I am not a person who protests as a rule, in spite of being voted Most Radical Senior in my high school newspaper my senior year (much to the dismay of my parents). I can recall protesting three times in my life: the year Lt Calley was being court-martialled for the deaths at My Lai: it was Easter 1969, I was 11 years old, and my ‘protest’ consisted of writing “Free Lt Calley” in that invisible crayon pen that showed the letters on the egg once the egg had been dipped in dye. My father – who had served during the Korean conflict – was livid.

My second protest was in 1975. I was in junior high school – the UK equivalent of middle school. Rat turds had been found in the school cafeteria, so I encouraged the students who ate there every day to protest by bringing bag lunches. By my recollection, perhaps 20 students joined me.

The last time I protested was in 1988, when I called in sick to work on Nelson Mandela’s birthday to attend a protest march against his continued imprisonment.

I tell you this to show that I am a person who cares. That said, in the almost 30 years since my last protest, life – as it does – intruded. I had friends who died: some by natural causes, some my misadventure, some who were sadly murdered. And I had my own personal problems to contend with.

But on 20th January 2017, I remembered.

I remembered watching on telly as the election results rolled in the night of President Obama’s first election back in 2008. That night – having wisely taken the next day as annual leave – I had four friends watching the election with me: Tutu, a female student at Dundee Uni from Namibia, Ayo, a male student from Abertay, Myriam, my Muslim friend from Pakistan (the first Pakistani I’ve ever known), and Grace, a woman my age on benefits from Lochee, who admitted that until meeting me at a bus stop, she’d never had any interest in people of other cultures.

We were up until 5am watching as the election results rolled in. I remember the hope and the joy and the gaiety of that night: Myriam’s insistence that the smokers and the drinkers need not go into my kitchen to have a fag or a drink even though I’d told them to do that out of respect for her as it was my house and she was a guest and I smoke and drink myself, Myriam was insistent that we not leave the room on her account. Ayo’s somewhat drunken delight at finding himself the only male in “this roomful of beautiful women!” The way all my friends hugged me when Hilary made her concession speech. Halfway through the night, Grace hugged everyone and proclaimed us “the Rainbow Tribe.”

Fast forward to 20th January 2017. And I’m walking to Dundee’s City Centre on a mild January evening to protest against the Trump presidency.

Were thousands in attendance? No. Perhaps 200-300 were people gathered. But they were all people who – like me – viewed this new President with alarm and distrust.

What right thinking person mocks the disabled? Who publicly disrespects women, stating “you can grab them by the p**** and they’ll let you when you’re a celebrity” – this from a man with a mother, and daughters. One can only wonder how he would react if someone were to sexually harass or assault his mother, his sister, his wife, his daughter. This is a man who boasts of his Scottish heritage when it suits him to do so for the purpose of advancing his hated golf-course in Aberdeen whilst bullying those people who have refused to sell their homes to him. A man who denigrates immigrants while promising to “Make America Great” again, apparently indifferent to the fact that America has always been known as the “great melting pot” – it is a country founded and built by immigrants, a country that was greatlong beforehis ascendance to the office of President and whose greatness lay in her diversity.

So I proudly protested on inauguration day. Before leaving to attend the protest, I turned my TV to the Comedy Channel and left it there in solidarity with the many people who protested by refusing to watch televised proceedings of the farce in Washington. When the organizers of the Dundee protest – upon hearing what was obviously not a Dundonian accent – thrust the mike in my face and asked me to say a few words about how I felt, I was more than happy to oblige.

“But why do you care?”some of my friends back in the US have asked me. “You don’t even live here anymore!”

To them I reply that I was born and raised in the US. And though I have made my home in Scotland for the past 14 years, it doesn’t mean I love the land of my birth any the less. Like many immigrants who have moved for whatever reason, I am constantly torn between my homeland and the country where I now happily make my home. My family is in the US. My dearest friends are in the US. Also, I’m an honourably discharged veteran of the US Army, who sadly learned whilst in the Army the reality of being black in America.

Where I live now, I don’t have to worry about WWB or DWB. I can wander around any shop I choose without having a security guard follow me around because I’m black because “black people steal”. When I am hired for a job, there are no whispered, spiteful remarks about Equal Opportunities and quotas. I can go anywhere with my white partner without fear or apprehension.

My fear is that all the things I currently enjoy will dissipate under a Trump administration. The rights of gays will be eroded. The right for a woman to choose what to do with her body will disappear. All the gains of the civil rights movement will be undone under the administration of a man who worships nothing but himself and mammon.

So for the next four years, I will protest whenever possible. Hopefully it won’t take four years.

I had a friend ask me the day before I posted a link on Facebook about the Dundee protest and my intention to attend it what good marches would do….what would a walk in Glasgow or Dundee accomplish? Too distraught at the time, thinking of what the new administration would mean to my family and friends back in the States, I was unable to respond to him clearly. But now, I would say to this friend:

Remember Gandhi and his followers – they marched.
Remember MLK and his followers – they marched.
Remember Mandela and his followers – they marched.
Remember the kid in Tiananmen Square and his followers – they marched.

But I won’t just protest. As a believer, I will pray for the land of my birth. And I will pray for those friends I have who are Trump supporters, that they are not too badly hurt when Trump lets them down.

usa-in-distress

groundwork

brain cells busy cooking
always she is looking
far beyond what her hopes might be
in search of golden opportunity

she’s not just idly dreaming
constantly she’s scheming
no time to be depressed or blue
doggedly doing all she can do

tomorrow’s horizon she is scanning
for her future she is planning
throwing caution to the wind
as she lays the foundation for starting again

copyright © 2017 KPM

groundwork

a word from your sponsor

We’re four days into this New Year. The sky outside my living room window is grey and heavy with clouds; behind me, outside my kitchen window, the sky above my wee garden is that shade of blue that can only be found in Dundee, with shafts of bright sunlight illuminating the cloud shapes.

The flat is still and clean. I have the TV on for company. My fish swim gaily in their watery home, indifferent to the outside world. In keeping with my love of order, I cleaned the flat thoroughly the day after New Year’s, taking down all the Christmas decorations and storing them in the loft for another year (the tree came down on 30th December in keeping with my culture’s superstition that it is bad luck to leave the tree up into the New Year – if you leave it up, you’ll drag all the bad shit from the old year into the new year with you). I did allow myself two small indulgences: I decided this year to leave the Christmas wreath on my door until Epiphany, and I kept the poinsettia plant my partner gave me, as it’s still perfectly healthy and anyone who knows me knows I love plants.

I feel calm and peaceful…even happy, though I am still unemployed. Somehow, all the angst and anxiety and stress I felt over that situation has magically vanished. I continue to submit applications online, and I have two interviews scheduled over the next two weeks. Most importantly, realising that I have a wealth of skills, I made a huge leap and went into business for myself as a free-lance writer and editor. I have registered the business with HMRC and am joyously looking forward to receiving my first client.

This profound change in attitude and general outlook has been going on for a fortnight now. I don’t know where it came from – perhaps God has granted me His strength and His favour. I only know that I feel an unexplainable joy – I am certain that everything will soon be resolved for the good and for the first time in well over a decade, I am at peace with everything.

I wish all the followers of my blog a Happy New Year. May you all enjoy good health, the absence of monetary worries and much love.

With affection,

kate58

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