Singing into Chihuahua Nights

for my Chinese-American godson

Chihuahuan Desert - DesertUSA

she was foreign
called a foreigner
Shanghai to El Paso
small town compared
to China counterpart
she came with old husband
53 and she 27
father and mother left
on mainland, she traveled
like billions have
seeking something, an idea

one day a family
safety, her life of healing
small business, son
and daughter
they had a son
the light in the air was
warm, he was a prize
bundle, tears in her eyes
the granny in China
father on old piano
blasting away at Foucault
playing the tired blues
as boy comes into gravity

the flip of a coin
is destiny played out
how can we know the color
of our brains, how to coax
out words, ideas, conjuring up
creativity, our own special
way, all of it is a crapshoot
life interrupted a thousand
times toward the horizon
of our dreams, hopes
life like a wooden barrel
falling over waterfalls
we as individuals
trapped inside
guessing at the drop
waiting for the crash
endless turning
and turning, just
fragments of light
in the wooden seams

there are no easy
answers but love
when family loves
when friendships
define love
when communities love
even nation states
love, and that is
the only truth
no matter how violent
how many deaths
from the other end
of a gun, all the suffering
sadness and suicides
it is love holding humanity
together, broken, sewn up
tattered, fearful, but love
is a place inside

hold to it, young
man, drive it into
your soul, for love
combats the nastiness
of people, bullies
everywhere, the love
of a mother is like
cobalt, like titanium
even when a son
or daughter rejects it
love is the thing
keeping you from
falling over the edge
without a barrel

“Sightseeing in Xian: The Terracotta Warriors: Flashpacking Travel Blog”

Paul Haeder's new bio is about suspending all those credentials, all those titles, all those in-the-trench experiences he's acquired and worked hard on in his 64 years (2021): Novelist, essayist, journalist, social worker, college and K12 educator, environmental warrior. Terms and avocations more meaningless as cancel culture rises and rises from left and right insanity. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 16 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.