The Thing With Freedom

Okay–serious piece here.

Serious alert (typed good-naturedly even after eating caramelized apple cake so don’t worry too much).


Also here’s a little pic of my boy– scroll back up anytime for a look at this cutie pie.

Now I get all “Letters of Independence” on you meets “evening news”. Yeah, I know.


Freedom is a distinguishing factor of any place’s geography, right? Living abroad in Japan, I happen to be the most patriotic I have ever been in my life. I feel like America often takes hits. We are the ones often hated–the overweight, the cowboys marching in and trying to fix countries and cultures, trying to right wrongs. We are the ones I hear are both uptight and uneducated–silly, even.

But we have freedom, I say! We have the right to make movies about dictators, write to the editor, be the editor, stand on a corner with a jumbo sign. We are taught to raise our voice, to use our life even when it is uncomfortable for others—to stand-up for freedom and buck any system that presses its thumb on a people. There are countries where you cannot study if you are a woman, cannot go to a soccer game if you are a woman, cannot vote, cannot raise your voice in song, cannot be seen with hair down. Freedom, freedom, is America’s song. 

I so value the way America values the individual making the whole strong. We talk about things. Get to voice concern. Get to voice love and hate and stand-up to big wig corporations & the way things stay the same.

I am visiting home, visiting America now. I can breathe. Everything is bigger even if you’re not standing in a wide open space field shooting a country song. It’s good. It’s a wonderful feeling steering your monster cart all over a monstrous grocery store where two major aisles ask you what you want for breakfast cereal. It’s all wonderful, but below I write about a little five minutes where possibilities of violence—the friction of difference can rub together and maybe start a fire. 


The thing with freedom is

it is public, handing out a flyer, singing from a loudspeaker

It lights a menorah of PVC from a crane,

alright, a cherry picker.


It incites

It calls out, requests

openness to hear

a time to witness

“Freedom is joy, no”?


Figure shouldering past

all black Afghan burqa

eyes on women I cannot see

black to the floor

crossing the road

when my mom doesn’t have that great peripheral vision.



I’ll be honest; freedom these days can scare me.

It is so alive, running alongside major news networks

even when power is down.


Freedom is you don’t have to look back

when you speak your mind

or plan your dress, right?


The orthodox boy two rows up

nothing yet to shave

great hat box picked-up in the Bronx.

He is visible to hate.


He is visible, is the thing, for anything

like even a pat

on the shoulder,

even a “Zei gazunt!” or an, “O, hey!”


Freedom places the expectation

livewire mics

livewire actions

In everyone’s hands

Al Sharpton

Mayor De Blasio

Boys crying black white latino rage unfair not freedom blast that

and everyone on their Twitter feed.


Freedom is that–

you can walk through or around

a gathering or spectacle

and you can maybe speak back


or in private


as you look


and wonder




your hat?

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