Tamiko Beyer

COVID-19 TRIPTYCH

One
I spray 91-percent alcohol
across the kitchen counter
and remember

a chemist at Standard Oil first
discovered isopropyl alcohol.
Petroleum byproduct, killer of virus.

The crust of the earth
shakes less now, a month
into quiet. Less stabbing

less driving, less extraction.
I put my hand on the cold
earth. Feel how it exhales.

Two
My pantry stuffed
with bags of rice.
I gave in: ancestral instinct

to gather the polished
grains close to my body. But
here, let me cook for you.

I am deliberate with fire,
generous with salt. I sing
into the gills of mushrooms.

Three
Teeth clank words
into place. A lock.
We are dying

and growing. All of us.
Virus, racism, fear.
What more to be incubated?

My body hot and messy, all
creatures, all the functions
of lung, gut, liver. My vast

landscape, a system of sweep
and innolucation. The world outside
waits. Each fingernail makes

a solid house. Each eyelash
an earthquake,
each skin cell a spaceship.

 

SAY IT AGAIN
March 2020

I am deliberate,
each finger
slicked
with soap, each nail
scrubbed, both
palms pressed
together
—a prayer—

and afraid
of no isolation
that cannot be bridged
by a word, of no
moment that asks
us to fight
harder for the world
and each other—we
poets and cooks
knowing how to stir
a pot full

of nothing
and ladle out bowls
brimming with garlic
and ginger
soup to nourish
and protect
anyone
who needs it.

Note: The lines “I am deliberate / and afraid / of nothing” are by Audre Lorde and the theme for Poetry Coalition’s March 2020 “Poetry and Protest” project.

 

HEXING THE CAPITALISTS

No money for corporations. No money
for the oil industry. No bailout for the airlines. No money
for hotels. No bailout for banks, no money
to build new highways, no money
for the rich to get richer. No money
to the men destroying the earth, imprisoning people and getting rich
off it. No money
for the capitalists.

All the money to the people.

All the money to single parents with no jobs. All
the money to the grandmas raising grandkids. All
the money to nurses and home-care givers, bus and subway drivers. All
the money to teachers and cleaners and nannies, dishwashers and bar-backs. All
the money singers and dancers and actors and musicians. All
the money to healers and organizers. All

the money to Black folks and Indigenous people of this land. All
the money to the folks in detention and jail who all
need to be freed. All
the money to Asian Americans spit on and knifed, assaulted and acid-scarred, our faces foreign, now and always. All
the money to queer, trans, and nonbianary folks holding rituals of dancing and fucking and hugging to shape a different world. All
the money to disabled folks who have spent their lives navigating a world not built for them and showing just what care looks like. All
the money to the people.

All the money everywhere, flowing.

All the money filling up bank accounts of the people with student loans and mortgages and credit card debt they can’t pay.

Flowing out of the hedge funds and the venture capitalists’ accounts, flowing out of the tax shelters of transnational corporations,

flowing into the wallets of the people who need to buy food, pay rent, turn on the water.

Flowing and flowing and flowing until all the money overflows out of all bank accounts and purses, bills fluttering, coins tumbling, stocks flying in the wind, soaking into the river, rotting back into compost and humus, becoming, finally, what it is: dirt and light, irrelevant.

All the money
a relic we will laugh about
one day as we dance
across a landscape so green,
greener than money
could ever grow.


0-9TAMIKO BEYER has two decades of experience in writing, editing, and communications strategy—and a passion for harnessing the power of language for social justice. She writes to shape change: thought-provoking essays, poetry that pushes boundaries, and hard-hitting articles that challenge the status quo. She is the author of the forthcoming Last Days (Alice James Books),  the award-winning poetry collection We Come Elemental (Alice James Books) and two chapbooks: bough breaks (Meritage Press), and Dovetail (Slapering Hol Press), with Kimiko Hahn. Publishing credits include Lit Hub, the Rumpus, the Georgia Review, Black Warrior Review and many more.

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