Happy 100th Anniversary, 19th Amendment. May the Next 100 Years Make Patriarchy Even More Sorry that We Got the Vote.

Like most Witches, I celebrate eight high holy days — the Sabbats — that mark how the seasons shift from dark, to light, to more light, to equal, to dark, to more dark, to equal, to light.

But there are other days that I celebrate, as well.  I celebrate Arbor Day, April 26th, a day dedicated to trees.  It’s just a few days past another of my celebrations, Earth Day, April 22nd, a day dedicated to the planet that is the base of our existence.  I celebrate Clara  Barton’s birthday because she was an early hera of mine and I celebrate Labor Day, when we honor the contributions of America’s workers and unions.

And, no surprise, I celebrate May 21st, the day when the United States Congress passed the 19th Amendment , which, after almost an entire century of protest, and following the Amendment’s ratification by 36 states, gave women the right to vote.

The final state to ratify the Amendment was  Tennessee.

Minutes after Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment, essentially ending American women’s decades-long quest for the right to vote, a young man with a red rose [symbol of denying women the right to vote] pinned to his lapel fled to the attic of the state capitol and camped out there until the maddening crowds downstairs dispersed. Some say he crept onto a third-floor ledge to escape an angry mob of anti-suffragist lawmakers threatening to rough him up.

The date was August 18, 1920, and the man was Harry Burn, a 24-year-old representative from East Tennessee who two years earlier had become the youngest member of the state legislature. The red rose signified his opposition to the proposed 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which stated that “[t]he right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” By the summer of 1920, 35 states had ratified the measure, bringing it one vote short of the required 36. In Tennessee, it had sailed through the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives, prompting thousands of pro- and anti-suffrage activists to descend upon Nashville. If Burn and his colleagues voted in its favor, the 19th Amendment would pass the final hurdle on its way to adoption.

After weeks of intense lobbying and debate within the Tennessee legislature, a motion to table the amendment was defeated with a 48-48 tie. The speaker called the measure to a ratification vote. To the dismay of the many suffragists who had packed into the capitol with their yellow roses, sashes[,] and signs, it seemed certain that the final roll call would maintain the deadlock. But that morning, Harry Burn—who until that time had fallen squarely in the anti-suffrage camp—received a note from his mother, Phoebe Ensminger Burn, known to her family and friends as Miss Febb. In it, she had written, “Hurrah, and vote for suffrage! Don’t keep them in doubt. I notice some of the speeches against. They were bitter. I have been watching to see how you stood, but have not noticed anything yet.” She ended the missive with a rousing endorsement of the great suffragist leader Carrie Chapman Catt, imploring her son to “be a good boy and help Mrs. Catt put the ‘rat’ in ratification.”

Still sporting his red boutonniere but clutching his mother’s letter, Burn said “aye” so quickly that it took his fellow legislators a few moments to register his unexpected response. With that single syllable he extended the vote to the women of America and ended half a century of tireless campaigning by generations of suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and, of course, Mrs. Catt. (“To get the word ‘male’ in effect out of the Constitution cost the women of this country 52 years of pauseless campaign,” Catt wrote in her 1923 book, “Woman Suffrage and Politics.”) He also invoked the fury of his red rose-carrying peers while presumably avoiding that of his mother—which may very well have been the more daunting of the two.

The next day, Burn defended his last-minute reversal in a speech to the assembly. For the first time, he publicly expressed his personal support of universal suffrage, declaring, “I believe we had a moral and legal right to ratify.” But he also made no secret of Miss Febb’s influence—and her crucial role in the story of women’s rights in the United States. “I know that a mother’s advice is always safest for her boy to follow,” he explained, “and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.”

Voting is almost always a pretty emotional experience for me.

As woman who spends all day listening to her ancestors (oh, trust me, they’re a talkative bunch; I come from the tribe of People Who Cannot Ever Shut the Fuck Up and they have opinions on how to make the bed, how to weed the herb garden, whether to skip lines between entries in my checkbook register, how to brew nettle tea, and whether or not I am doing my morning meditation “right”), going to vote goes like this for me:  Great, great, many-times great grandmothers, aunties, cousins, distant cousins all show up at the door to the poll, perch on my shoulder, and expect to be noticed. “Hey, are you here to vote?  I never got to do that; can I do it this time?  Just step aside for a minute, Sweetie.”  “Me, me, I want to do it, me!”  “Hey, I am the one who knows what’s going on.  Give me that pencil thing, OK?  I’m totally going to vote this time.”  “I’ll just look over your shoulder, OK?  OK?  And, well, are you going to mark the ballot for that person?  Because she seems good.”  Sometimes, I get out with my “I Voted” sticker before I start to cry and sometimes not.  It won’t surprise you to learn that those stickers get saved for my most desperate rituals.

There’s a wonderful quote from Hebrews 12:1 (I know, right?) that says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

And that’s how it is for me when I go to vote, which, in Virginia, we do about twice a year.  There is this great cloud of witnesses — my female ancestors going back for thousands and thousands of years — demanding that I throw off everything that hinders and entangles women and that I, instead, “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

So here’s to the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, when women wrestled the right to vote away from the Patriarchy.

I will always be grateful to the women who were force-fed, beaten, intimidated, and imprisoned to win this right for me.

And, I will never forget my great-great-many-times-great descendants who demand of me that I vote every single time to make the Patriarchy desperately sorry that I ever wrested the right to vote from their knuckled hands.  I’m going to show up in your polling places, too.

You know I am.

(Belated) Monday at the Movies

This is a follow-up to the earlier very good retelling of the story.  I’ll be there.

The Magical Battle for America 5.19.19

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Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work.  (No, really.  You really need to do this.)  Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.  Maybe wrap up in a blanket or cloak and grasp an herb, stone, or talisman that matters to you.  Grow your roots, send them deep into the soil, let them intertwine and grow small hairs to attach to the mycelia in your own landbase.

Breathe.

Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase.  Does your landbase have anything to tell you today?  Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.

Ground and center.  Cast a circle.

Breathe.

As you move to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work.  You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky: Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty.  Do they seem more defined since we began our work? Do they have anything special to tell you this week?

For a few moments, just sit on your hillock and allow yourself to become comfortable.  This place should be feeling very real to you by now; we’ve been working together to create it for months and months.  What’s become familiar to you?  A tuft of prairie grass?  Buffalo off in the distance?  The scent of sand carried on the wind?  You’ve been involved in a months-long magical working here, joined with magic workers from across the globe.  Feel your connection to this place on the astral plane. It is always here for you, always a source of strength.

Walk from your hillock to the eagles’ nest.  You can see the powerful eagles, mother and father, sitting calmly, looking out over the prairie.  Ask the eagles to fly to your physical neighborhood and to spy out any local pockets of right-wing nastiness.  Do they let you see through their eyes?  Do they land and indicate a particular place?  Ae there locations where they circle carefully?  What do you learn from the eagles? Do you recognize this place?

For now, simply note what the eagles show you and be careful to ward yourself, your dwelling, and any places where you work magic.  Return to the prairie with the eagles and thank them for the information they have given you.  If you feel moved, you can leave them a gift.

Slowly, come down from your hillock and begin to walk back to your own landbase.

Open your eyes.  Rub your arms and face.  Notice the detail that you selected to call yourself back.  Drink something, maybe mint tea or cold buttermilk.  Have something to eat, maybe strawberries with yogurt or a handful of almonds.  Maybe you can set up a small altar dedicated to Eagle.  (If so, please post a picture!!)  You may want to repeat this working several times this week.  You may want to journal about it.  Are you inspired to make any art? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.

Picture found here.

Full Flower Moon Potpourri

Tonight is known as the Full Flower Moon.  (Goddess knows, I won’t sleep.  How many of you find it impossible to sleep on the night of a full moon?)  And, Full Flower is a good name for this moon.  My neighbors have roses and honeysuckle, peonies and late gardenias.  I have snow-white alliums just finishing up, deep purple foxgloves (my favorites) in full, magnificent, bloom, black irises woven through the cottage bed like spots of shade, yellow kale flowers waving in the breeze, and black hollyhocks in bud.  The broccoli is almost ready to pick and the magnolias are heavy with their pine-cone shaped buds.  I’ve got both kinds of parsley, chocolate mint, creasey greens, and sweet woodruff in pots on the deck and columbines the color of plums waving throughout the cottage beds. The garden shed is covered in wisteria.  I’m hopeful that the day lilies will bloom once more before I have to leave.  I am going to miss this Bit of Earth.  What’s blooming in your garden?

Here just past Beltane, my days shift between an increasing focus on my upcoming move — how am I going to get those heavy boxes of tiles from the hall to my car, can I find time to make the vegetable garden look cute for the new owners, when can I get the internet turned on at the new place, what should I pack to take to the new house before the move, where will I hang all the art, there’s too much art, I should get those other prints framed, maybe I should go look at that sculpture I saw the other day, why did I spend so much on blinds, was I crazy to do this, should I hire a student to help shelve all the books, how will I get the spices re-alphabetized, maybe I should throw away my old, chipped glassware and buy waterford or baccarat, or, no, I should wait until I move so I can have it delivered there and not here, this is the best thing I’ve ever done, can we speed things up — and increasing horror at what’s happening to America.  And, so, I take the day I’d planned to finally, definitively, completely, sort out the downstairs and, instead, I use it writing postcards for a candidate who has promised not to enforce any pro-coathanger laws that Virginia’s Republican majority is promising to pass.

I think, in the end, a large part of what I want out of this move is to slough off everything that’s extraneous (I seem over the years to have bought an awful lot of candles, and baskets, and business suits, and nice purses, and jars of fancy jelly and precious pickles) and to be left with just the important bits.  Not to be presumptuous, but I think that what I want is a bit like what Thoreau wanted when he said that he went to the woods:

because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

. . .

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and . . . if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Also, I don’t want the garage of the new house to turn into a box-filled storage container (Should I pitch the giant halloween candelabras?  Plan to store them on some shelves I purchase?  What about the black lace spider tablecloth that the cats would tear up?  How much of the yarn in my stash will I ever really use?  I have 22 framed diplomas and certificates of membership in the bars of various courts, including the Supreme Court, that used to hang in my office; should I keep them, pitch them, hang them along some hall?  Heaven knows, they meant a lot to me at the time, but now?????)  In the end, I don’t want Son and DiL to have too big a job cleaning up after me when I dance through the veils.

Which won’t be too soon, I hope.  I had my mammogram yesterday.  It will be 22 years this October since I had my first mammogram and they found breast cancer.  I did the whole dance: surgery, chemo, radiation, hormones.  It wasn’t fun, but here I am, all these long years later, and yesterday the lovely doctor read the results and came in and said, “Your results are perfect.  Wonderful.  Gorgeous.  No changes since last year.  Have a fun weekend.”  And, so, I will.  Please have your mammograms and do your breast exams.  Honestly, the exams have gotten easier and the treatments have gotten better in the almost quarter century since I had breast cancer.  Don’t let fear stop you.  Tell me in comments if you’ve had your exam and I’ll pull a Tarot card for you.

What are you cooking/eating these days?  I’m trying to clean out my freezer and cabinets and to not buy any food beyond the basics:  coffee, creamer, eggs, sausage, onions, apples, green tea, cheese.  I’m trying to use up the dried lentils, the barley, the black-eyed peas.  I’ve made several frittatas using spring veg — asparagus, spring onions, mushrooms, ramps, the spinach from my garden.  And I have a big crop of lovely red lettuce that I am going to use to make kilt lettuce  tomorrow.  But I’m also doing more eating out/getting delivery than I like and I’m afraid that will continue until I’m settled up in the mountains.  What are you cooking just now?  How do you cook when you’re on the move?

Meanwhile, of course, the garden has never looked so lovely, especially the woodland garden.  When Greenman and I first began to work on the garden, years and years and years ago, I was trying to describe what I wanted for the woodland garden and I said, “Have you ever stepped out of brilliant sunlight into the woods and the temperature drops several degrees and you are in dappled shade and the skin pricks on your arms and you know that you have stepped over a threshold?”  And he did and that was the effect we’ve worked for ever since in that bit of the yard.  And, this year, of course, we’ve finally got it.  I think of the three little boys who are moving here and wish them adventures in that magical space.  There’s a lot I will love about the mountains and there’s a lot I will miss about this Bit of Earth, but most of all, I will miss my woodland garden.

I moved here fifteen years ago and, the first winter that I was here, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a bright red fox dash across the snowy hill in the back yard.  It was such a hugely magical moment for me.  And since then, on and off, sometimes with long stretches in between, I’ve been blessed to be visited by foxes.  Foxes that magically appear in the fog and have long, staring, silent conversations with me when I’m in the hot tub.  Foxes that dash out in the rain and grab the bird showering beneath the downpour from the roof of the shed.  Foxes that prance out in a blizzard, stare, and ask me to go back inside so they can hunt (I do).  Last year, exactly on May 3rd, a mother fox and her three kits began visiting me, playing in the back yard and lounging in the woodland.  This year, again on May 3rd, a mother fox and her three kits showed up and have been visiting ever since.  My Beltane and welcome to it.  Suburban foxes generally live about five years or so and I imagine that the current Momma Fox is the great-granddaughter or great-great granddaughter of that first fox I saw all those snowy mornings ago.  Daughter foxes often stay around and help their mothers raise the next batch of kits.  I will miss this matriarchy when I’m gone.

No matter how hectic life gets, we all need beauty.  This week I took an afternoon to slip into the National Gallery of Art and see a gorgeous exhibit of paintings by members of the American Pre-Raphelites. Influenced by John Ruskin (about whom I have v. mixed feelings), this group of Civil War painters focused on making realistic (and so, supposedly, not so symbolic) pictures of what they observed.  I especially loved Milkweed, Winter Scene in Moonlight, and A Neglected Corner of the Wheatfield.  What are you doing these days to grab some beauty, art, culture, ideas?  My new home will be quite near to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, and I am thinking that maybe I can volunteer there.  They’re about to open a brilliant exhibit on Tiffany glass.   Are there places near you that showcase art even outside of major cities?

Climate Crisis

Yes, I am still totally pissed about what’s going on with women’s reproductive rights and rights to control our own bodies, and as I tweeted earlier this week: “If you were fully on board with boycotting Texas over their anti-trans bathroom bill, you can miss me with your “but we can’t boycott Georgia/Alabama/Ohio because reasons” takes right now.”

HOWEVER.

We are in the midst of a planet-wide crisis.

(Not “global warming” or “climate change.” Crisis. Framing matters, right Hecate?)

The UN reports that ONE MILLION species are at risk of extinction entirely due to human beings. (Funny, Elizabeth Kolbert published a book about this FIVE years ago. Am I the only one who read it?)

The latest issue of MIT’s Tech Review is entirely about the climate crisis. The conclusion they come to: It’s too late for mitigation. We waited too long. All that remains is adaptation and suffering, which is going to lead to a “new dark age,” a thirty year series of shocks (massively destructive hurricanes, famine, slowing of the Gulf Stream, political upheaval) that will “bring about the end of global fossil-fueled capitalist civilization. Revolution or collapse—in either case, the good life as we know it is no longer viable.” In fact, we are potentially facing the end of our species. Which, let me remind you, has happened before. “We burn some of them to drive our cars.”

That could – and probably will – lead to despair. We need to grieve what we’ve destroyed in our own carelessness, short-sightedness, and arrogance.

But we do still have power to act, and it’s incumbent on us to think carefully about what we do with that responsibility.

Individual action cannot prevent our climate crisis. In fact, nothing can at this point.

Individual action cannot significantly mitigate our climate crisis. In fact, nothing can at this point.

Individual action can help us adapt to a world with dramatically changed – and narrowed – operating boundaries. It falls to us to “save what can be saved.”

By doing what?

Well, I’ve written about this before. Twice. So I’m not going to list it all AGAIN.

But do SOMETHING.

Something small – plant some flowers in your yard or in a pot on your balcony that will feed your local pollinators. Tear up your lawn. Buy local, in-season produce – or grow it yourself.

Something big – if your local electrical utility offers source choice, choose 100% renewable power, even if it costs more. Or install solar panels on your roof. Or do both (since even with solar panels, you will still draw off the grid, at least sometimes).

Something bigger – dump your internal combustion engine car for an electric vehicle – or, if this is a possibility in your area, for a 100% reliance on public transportation, biking, and your feet to get around.

Something really big – run for office on a climate crisis platform, and support other candidates who do.

“We can let them kill this beautiful world— or we can get to work making space for a decent future.”

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

When They Go Low, We Blow It All Sky High.

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There’s a multi-decade history of Republican presidents (and others) breaking the law and getting away with it.  And that history has gotten us to where we are today.  The past, it turns out, actually is prolog.

[If you don’t care about the history, just scroll down to the end.  But I think knowing how we got here is important to understanding how we get the fuck out of here.]

We could go back to when Jerry Ford pardoned Richard Nixon for his Watergate crimes.  “Time to move on,” we were told and, honestly, at the time, naif that I was, I could see the point.  And, surely, being forced to resign in the face of certain impeachment was enough of a warning to future presidents who might imagine that they were above the law.  Right?

Or, we could go back to Ronald Reagan who committed a number of crimes and then was allowed to quietly retire to his ranch where Secret Service agents kept spreading around dead leaves for him to rake.  Well, the poor man had never been right after John Hinkley shot him and, as his performance made clear, his brain was riddled with Alzheimer’s.  What point would there have been in prosecuting him?  Better to be generous.  Right?

George H.W. Bush (Bush I) committed war crimes, but, well, hell, he got thrown out after one term and it would have looked petty for the Clinton administration to have gone after him.  Right?

Of course, Republicans didn’t worry about looking petty when they impeached and almost removed Bill Clinton from office simply because Bill Clinton told a rather technical lie about an extra-marital affair.  And, even once he was out of office, the Republicans kept after him, screaming about some of the people that he pardoned and lying that he took items from the White House and vandalized White House equipment.  If he so much as said hello to a friend, they screamed that he’d broken the law.  And we know that they’ve made a multi-year campaign of investigating every email that Hillary Clinton ever sent.  Trump is STILL demanding that the Dept. of Justice go after her so he can stand before his Nuremberg-style rallies and gloat the he did “LOCK HER UP!”

This point is important.  When the shoe is on the other foot, Republicans aren’t worried about seeming indecorous or vindictive.  They go after Democrats with everything they’ve got.

Then came George W. Bush (W or Bush II).  With Haliburton (maker of voting machines) in his pocket, his brother’s position as governor of the swing state of Florida, several traitors on the Supreme Court, and his daddy’s years as Director of the CIA — not to mention the Brooks Brothers rioters — W stole Florida.  If you remember those days, you can’t get over how shocking it all was.  But moving on was important.  Right?

The real mistake was made on election night when Al Gore, probably wanting to look fair and reasonable, conceded to W after the networks (and that was dodgy, too) called Florida for W.  A bit later, Gore realized his mistake and tried to take it back, but centuries of the “playing fields of Eaton” made Americans more upset at Gore for being a “poor loser” than they were at W for cheating to win.  Republicans showed up outside the Vice Presidential mansion and chanted for Gore to get out of Dick Cheney’s house.  “Get over it!” became the answer to any Democratic concerns with how the election had been handled.  And then Bush I’s appointment, Clarence Thomas, and other Republican appointments to SCOTUS (I will never forgive Sandra Day O’Connor), delivered the coup de gras.  The only people left to cry out for due process and to protest the destruction of our election system were the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, begging the very person least able to help them — Al Gore — to block W’s assent to power.

And, yes, I get it.  Gore likely believed that he had been cheated but that he was making some kind of supreme sacrifice on the altar of peaceful transfer of power or whatever.  His advisors were likely telling him that if he wanted a political future (in the end, he never got one) he needed to “respect the process” (in a way the Republicans don’t) and concede.  And, so, he did.  And, so, W, who had long planned to be a “war president” so that he could get his agenda of tax cuts and revoked consumer protections, waltzed into the White House and dragged the U.S. into unending war.

When W ran the second time, the race came down to Ohio, where Haliburton owned the voting machines.  In that campaign, the Republicans “swift boated” John Kerry, a decorated war hero.   Again, the Democrats would never have dared to question the service of a Republican veteran (if there were any Republicans who’d actually served), but the Republicans never worried about attacking Kerry and, indeed, the press rewarded them by amplyfing the swift boat lies.  No one, to this day, has made the Republicans pay for “disrespecting” Kerry’s service.  No one has made them the anti-patriotism party.  Veterans and service members continue to vote Republican,

People forget this, but, at the last minute, Kerry sought donations to pay for “planes full of lawyers” to fly wherever needed on election night to contest dodgy results.  (I do remember, because I donated quite a bit in response to that request from Kerry.  Well, it was paper before and it was paper afterwards, I guess.  But women and elephants never forget and, no, I don’t have fond thoughts for John Kerry or John Edwards.)  The results from Ohio were seriously dodgy, but Kerry quietly conceded.  (I’ve long believed, based upon nothing more than my gut and an evidence of absence, which is not an absence of evidence, that they called Kerry into a back room and “showed him the instruments of torture,” (i.e., showed him the kompromat they had on him, or his wife, or his daughters.))

But the end result was that, once again, W stole an election and the Democrats went gently into that good night.

Obama, to his credit (and to the credit of Hillary Clinton who, once Obama won the nomination, gave him her enthusiastic and unqualified support — don’t @ at me, I was at her concession speech) won by too many votes for the Republicans to steal the election.  But by then, the Republicans had learned the obvious lesson — if you CAN manage to steal the election, the Democrats will fold like wet cardboard.

And, then, of course, Putin and Trump’s stole the 2016 election,  And, under pressure from Obama, Hillary conceded,

What’s interesting to me is that, prior to the election, the media kept asking Trump, as if it were an option available to him, whether he’d concede the election.  Interestingly, that had never been asked of any other candidate, and, as noted, no one was asking Hillary if she’d concede the election if Trump won, despite huge evidence of voter suppression, Russian interference, and dodgy results in places such as Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.  It’s apparently an open question as to whether Republicans, but not Democrats, will agree to abide by the results of our elections.  The man gets asked if he’ll accept the results of the election, but it’s assumed that the woman will concede

Think about that for a bit.

And, sure enough, under pressure from Obama, Clinton showed up the next morning (criticized for waiting until then) and conceded the election to Trump despite the fact that there was, even then, massive evidence of vote tampering, voter suppression, hacking, etc.

We can’t keep doing this.  Dems MUST start showing up and contesting every fishy election.  What we taught the Republicans, over decades of allowing voter fraud, is that they will get away with it.  Dems will cave in deference to “peaceful transfer,” or “looking like the adults,” or putting country over party.  Fuck that shit.

There is NO reason why the results must be announced on election night.  And given what we now know about Republican/Russian vote tampering, we simply can’t continue to concede elections.

I will donate to any Dem who agrees to contest stolen/hacked elections.  You should, too.  The days when we conceded for the “greater good” are over.  If they want to go low, we will blow it all sky high.

Picture found here.

Words for Wednesday

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Who Said It Was Simple
~ Audre Lorde
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march
discussing the problematic girls
they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in colour
as well as sex
and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.
***
More found here.
Picture found here.