Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 149

Hi.

Coffee: Pike Place, Apartment Lounge Blend

When I was a kid, it was hard to imagine violence happening overseas. There were buzzwords like ‘Nepal’ and ‘North Korea,’ but they didn’t mean anything. They were unseen threats. They were happening to someone else. The worst vipers in the deepest sea.

Then, after Iraq, it got a little easier. I didn’t know anyone who was a soldier but I knew people who knew them. American men and women were cutting up other people with automatic guns (and getting cut up themselves). It was closer to home, and the news even showed you pictures: that GI standing on the naked Iraqi men they’d taken prisoner. Horror knew my name now, and was occasionally sending postcards.

I read a piece about the Nazi’s. It was a series of photos of Auschwitz workers on their off days. Men and women eating ice-cream, posing for pictures. All smiles. It said: “These people don’t think they’re evil.” And it went on to catalogue the many years it took them to get there, to where you could be smiling after a day working gas chambers.

These days, the horror’s my closest neighbor. It lives beside me, two floors down. We walk across the lawn and wave at each other most mornings. Sometimes, we run into each other at the pool.

I don’t know how long it takes to go from taking children from their families or forcing men to share such crowded spaces they have to stand on toilets, to removing their humanity with a more literal force. On our Southern border, all of us condone an organized violence on migrants trying hard to be free. We tell ourselves we don’t like it. We still cringe when we look at the pictures. But how long does that last? How long before the horror moves in?

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experience, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. It can happen, and it can happen everywhere.

Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved

Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 120

Hi.

Coffee: Large Americano, Caribou Coffee; there was a time in my life when espresso drinks were a daily thing; a cafe on campus at Duke, a cappuccino between classes; or the days I worked for a bookstore, buying Americano’s on break; now, I drink espresso rarely; it’s never close by, like the city on the other side of the hills; today, it tasted like listening to old records bought at a yardsale, or giving your ex a call on a long drive

The older I get, the less I understand violence. Maybe it’s the youth drained out of me, a testosterone spigot, drip drip the golden years of fighting for a chance at fertility. Or maybe I’ve just clued into something I should have seen all along.

I heard a radio program about Baltimore cops who were running a crime ring. They’d stop people in their plainclothes and pat them down, taking cash from their wallets, roughing them up, pressing no charges. They targeted drug dealers and the poor, people no-one would listen to, and they got away with it for a long time.

I saw a video a few weeks ago filmed from inside a Cleveland prison. There’s an old man in a face mask strapped to a chair. Three officers enter the room, check his vitals, then two of them walk out. The last officer punches the man over and over, and when this causes a commotion, another cop walks in and starts punching the man too. He suffered a concussion, so goes the article. He was mentally handicapped, black, and beaten by two white guards.

I woke up this morning to reports of a juvenile detention center in Texas where kids are sleeping on the floor. They’re migrants, seeking asylum, separated from parents, and held in hundred-degree weather without air-conditioning, no diapers for the babies, 300 per cell, little food and water, insufficient blankets, no toothbrushes or toothpaste because that’s ‘not necessary.’ It was a concentration camp, of course, ongoing. To their credit, the Border Patrol agents (at least the ones that were interviewed) seemed just as horrified at what they were doing as me.

I sat outside today and found a small red and black bug. It was attached to the chair and not moving. I tried blowing on it, nudging it off, but it stuck there. It was alive, because its legs moved, and it was committed to sharing a space with me. I sat in the chair with the red and black bug for a long time. I was worried it might bite me. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt it, because one pin prick of my skin isn’t worth the price of a life snuffed away.

Currently Reading: Queen, Suzanne Crain Miller

Support Relief for Family Suffering at the Border  – RAICES DONATION CAMPAIGN

I wish only that my spirit and fury would drive me
to hack your meat away and eat it raw for the things that
you have done to me

Achilles to Hector, Homer, The Iliad