asheville

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That Was a Long Time Ago

Published April 6, 2016 by April Fox

We were all

disembodied

captured behind glass

eyes, red-rimmed and leaking

fluids

in our creased, cupped palms

sliding through our fingers

to the floor

where they bathed

in retribution.

We were all

glass-eyed, blinded, captured

by our wrists, bound

with the long and strangling

cords

of their self-loathing, we were

hunched over ovens, burning flesh

off our cheeks, exposing bone

the skull determined

to protect

what wasn’t there, we were

flowers

in cheap vases, we were

torn and stitched together

and together

and together until the fibers

meshed and the threads

locked tight together and the glass

behind us, now

reflected fire

and exploded.

After Life

Published October 20, 2015 by April Fox

Someday, it will be the end.

It will be over

and if you believe in Heaven,

I will rip you from your mother’s warm embrace

pull out the thick umbilicus and strangle you

with the only thing you ever

truly wanted

watch you fight the blackness that creeps into your eyes,

bursts of light, the sound

of rushing water

in your ears

the silence that welcomes you

home

bring you back

and start again.

I Don’t Care About Kim Davis’s Sordid Past

Published September 3, 2015 by April Fox

Kim DavisThe big news this afternoon is that Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk of court who was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has been arrested. Leading up to her arrest, the Internet was a constant flood of information and memes calling her out for her sordid past. Davis has reportedly been married several times, bore children by one man while married to another, had them adopted by a third man (did I get that right?) and then divorced the one guy and remarried one of the first guys. It’s pretty confusing, and it certainly makes it easy to poke fun at a woman who claims to be standing firm in defense of “Biblical marriage.” But does it matter? Not in the least.

Is Kim Davis a hypocrite? No doubt. But a large majority of Christians are in one way or another, and–news flash–it’s not a big deal.

It doesn’t make sense to cry foul because Davis is using her religion to condemn others, and then condemn her by the same standard. I get that she’s the last person in the world who should be talking about the sanctity of marriage, and she’s kind of an evil cunt, and she has really bad hair and looks like she could use a long nap and some strong coffee, and maybe a Xanax or 12. This is not a happy woman, and she is determined to take it out on someone. And bless her heart, she’s gotten herself in pretty deep now, hasn’t she? But we’re all kind of missing the point here:

Separation of church and state.

That means us too. If we’re going to be grown-ups about this and make a compelling argument for what is right, we have to judge Davis by the same standards we expect her to use. The problem is not that Kim Davis seems to be really bad at making wise relationship decisions. It isn’t that she went through a series of divorces and then found religion; it’s fairly common, I think, for people to find religion later in life and go a bit overboard with it. (Don’t believe me? Come visit Asheville and see how many middle-aged women you meet in flowy skirts with constant prayer hands and stream-of-consciousness rambling about the Universe and the Spirit and Manifesting all manner of shit like rent money and a man who can rock a beard and a purse at the same time. We embrace new ideas with a passion, and that’s totally normal.) The problem is that she’s using religion to break a secular law and to deny service to people who are entitled to it under that secular law.

Her religion DOES NOT MATTER.

It needs to be taken out of the equation. I don’t care if she’s Miley Cyrus or the Virgin Mary during her off hours. What matters is what she’s doing on the clock. She’s becoming a martyr for the cause, and while we can all agree that she’s a pretty nasty human being for doing what she’s doing, the attention she’s getting for it is bolstering the confidence of other bigots, giving them the [lily-white Good Christian] balls to spout off the same shit she’s spewing.

Our stance should not be, “She’s not even a good Christian herself!” but “It doesn’t matter her religion, she isn’t doing her job.” Get her out of there, give the job to someone who is capable of fulfilling the responsibilities thereof, and let her see that really, truly, her religious beliefs don’t matter to anyone but her. This isn’t a matter of “She can’t do this because she broke Biblical law too,” it’s a matter of “She can’t do this because she’s breaking a federal law and ignoring the requirements of her job.” That’s all.

Claws

Published August 26, 2015 by April Fox

There’s something out there 

trying to get in. 

I can feel it scratching, metal claws

against the walls

torn away at the quick and still

the fingers keep on coming. 

There’s something out there 

trying to

let go

Spidersilk arms and legs and

black graffiti hair tangled up

around the pages

of the burning calendar. 

There’s something out there

trying

to say no. 

Lost Dogs

Published August 6, 2015 by April Fox

This feels empty

as if the dogs have all gone home

and left us to our own devices,

on our own to deal with the

monsters and the maniacs

hiding in the shadows

and even with the lights all on,

the television blaring comedy and news into our deconstructed brains,

there is a silence and a darkness

that the hounds have left behind.

And in the stillness, after locking all the doors

and silencing the ringers and clicking off the TV

and shuttering the windows, and pulling down the blinds

in the air we’re left to breathe

we find our solace

and remorse.

A Love Letter to Pat Robertson

Published August 1, 2015 by April Fox

The lights are on in your great glass house
but there’s nothing there to see.

Your eyes are glued to the man next door,
face pressed against his window in a gruesome caricature,
bulging against the panes, lashes wet with lust and your palms
nailed tight
to the cross
you wear like a brace
to straighten out
your prejudice

and the holes bleed out, slick sweat and muddy feet and the ones below
are drinking
from the filthy wounds
like turning vomit
into wine.

You are the keeper of everything;
you are the arbiter of every
sinful thrust

and your disciples gather close and wait
for the baptism to start.

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On Being Open-Minded, and the Freedom of Belief

Published July 17, 2015 by April Fox

If you’ve been here before, you probably know that I have some pretty strong feelings about equal rights, and people attempting to hide their hate behind their religion, and people using their beliefs as some kind of free pass to treat people as horribly as they want to without repercussion. Any time I try to make a valid, logical point about those things, I get hit with the intolerance spiel: “I thought you were supposed to be open-minded. What happened to not judging other people? You need to respect everyone’s beliefs.”

We are tangled up in here: confusing the idea of being open-minded with the act of being complacent, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron in itself.

Fact: action and belief are two very different things, and being open-minded doesn’t preclude you from finding fault in things that are harmful.

Your right to believe in something does not negate others’ right to exist with the same rights and standard of living that you have. If you act in a negative manner based on your beliefs, there is nothing closed-minded about those who tell you to stop it.

It doesn’t matter what you believe; if you are doing something that hurts someone, you need to be told to stop.

When a person who identifies as Christian is molesting children, and people say that it’s wrong, when we are horrified and angry at his actions, we are not attacking his beliefs. We are not persecuting him for being Christian. We are not even vilifying him for believing that his victims look more like sex toys than human beings. We are observing his actions and we are judging him for them. That’s okay. That’s how society works, in theory. We protect those among us who can’t protect themselves. We don’t protect those who are doing the hurting because of the internal dialogue that drives their motivation, whether that be the voice of God or Jesus or the son of Sam. We judge: we make the determination about whether what someone is doing is right or wrong.

When your beliefs tell you that someone is less than you are because of their color or race or sexuality, their gender or their eye color or their socioeconomic status or anything else that they cannot control, you are allowed to hold that belief. Belief is an internal thing. You can believe anything you want. You can believe that the world is flat, or that the moon is made of dank goat cheese, or that the ghost of Bea Arthur* wants you to paint your cat’s toenails chartreuse every other Thursday after giving him a bubble bath in the sink. But see, if you put your cat in the bath and then try to get anywhere near him with that nail polish, chances are–unless you have a really strange cat, which is totally cool–that you are going to come out of that situation with quite a bit less blood inside your body than you had before you started, and your cat will be quite traumatized. That’s a consequence of your action. If you just believe that your cat would look fine in chartreuse but realize that your taste is probably not the same as his, and that he likely doesn’t share your affinity for bubble baths no matter how fresh and clean he might smell afterwards, and you realize that washing and painting your cat would be a total dick move, you are likely to stay intact and your cat will continue to do his cat things happily and at peace.

That is what tolerance is about. That is what defines the difference between action and belief. Being open-minded isn’t going “Hell yes, let’s bathe the cat and paint his toes!” just because someone else believes it’s a good idea. Being open-minded is going, “Hey, let’s see how this belief might play out… yeah, you keep on believing that, but let’s not actually act on that, okay?” Being open-minded is accepting that other people believe that cats should be bathed and polished. It’s not going along with feline spa day just because it corresponds with someone’s belief.

And when you have two conflicting beliefs that have led to two conflicting paths of action, it is up to us as civilized human beings to look at those two paths with open minds, and to judge each one based on a very simple criterion: Is this action harmful to someone else? And if the answer to that is yes, then that is the wrong path. Not based on belief, or religion, but on compassion for our fellow human beings, and what should be a collective desire to do less harm than good. When you are causing damage to someone’s person, their ability to feel happiness, their ability to enjoy life, or their ability to embrace the same civil privileges you have, and you are doing so based on your personal belief, you are harming them, and that is wrong.

*Bea Arthur would never really do that, I don’t think.

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