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Butterfly Migration

(As I watched the dying autumn leaves spiral downward against the sky- some of the orange ones never hit the ground, but opened their stained glass wings. They were not leaves but Monarch butterflies, migrating)

Gordene MacKenzie
(dedicated to all the volunteers at MTPC, Nov. 2006)

The Blonde Roar of the Media engine
That spread
The story of Christine Jorgenson
Wider than the Ocean
She crossed

hollered headlines of
"EX GI becomes blonde bombshell"
lifted postwar bodies
left dead by McCarthyism's
campaign of gender hate

Rosie the Riveter's ghost
chained in the suburbs
Alone in a starched shirtwaist dress

watched Televised Black bodies
Violently washed away
by fire hoses of fear
and Vietnamese children floating in vats of napalm
on the news
that shook middle class children
Out of their concrete cocoons
into the streets patrolled by angry men
who stalked feminine boys
And brave women

How many died
Or stood up like
Screaming Queens and butch Lesbians of color
Tired of police harassment and beatings
Who lit the night with fires of liberation and hope

Illuminating centuries of ancestral pain:
Of 50 million Africans
Who died
Before they were sold into slavery
stolen from their families and
marched 1,000 miles to the coast
In neck and leg chains
caged in the bottom of ships
For the long voyage across the Atlantic

Where captains poured hot tar into their wounds
To smooth out their appearance before selling them
We are still fighting back

Or the two Wounded Knees
Where 300 Lakota Indians were gunned down by the US military
for doing the Ghost Dance
that promised to remove their executioners, restore the earth
bring back the buffalo
and raise their dead
an infant was found nursing on the breast of her dead mother
80 years later back at Pine Ridge
the FBI killed 300 more Lakotas
while waging war against the American Indian Movement
We are still fighting back

And Gwen Araujo, a young transwoman
beaten with a skillet, a soup can,
pounded with a shovel, and strangled with a rope
At her burial site one of her killers said
he wished she was still alive so he could kick her again
Then her 4 murderers went to McDonald's for breakfast
The media said she asked for it
We are still fighting back

This time with hoes and not guns
We are planting the revolution

As we unravel the fabric of hate
embroidered deep in the soil
where the ghosts of our dead
are resurrected in young trans bodies transitioning
in elementary and middle school
in a new dawn of hope
where yellow velvet lilies crawl through the afternoon doors of Love

and some falling leaves we thought were dead
Sprout orange stained glass wings
As Monarch butterflies begin their migration
to a warmer climate

(please see Gordene's comments on the writing of this poem)