i texted V and said what if trump is our death drive.
they texted me back a picture of a flag cut in half. and a screenshot of someone saying the words “integrity”. i stared in the mirror. i had a face. everything was red on the screen and his voice was a slick lizard worming. i needed to be outside.
down Broadway there were puddles of garbage burning in a long line. cops in rows looking bored, visors at half-mast. shards of blue glass like pebbles ringing between tar and concrete. swastikas inked into the T of Fuck Trump.
i was looking for the bodies but couldn’t find them. all i had were the signs that they had once been there, but had since moved on. i turned corners and found more swastikas. then i heard it: lightly, the rushing of anger vibrating in a slow increase. i turned onto Telegraph and fell into into a deep swell of legs and hair and fists and faces that looked no older than 19. i knew no one. i linked arms when they shouted “link arms” and i screamed “not our president” when they shouted “not our president”. i was and was not a person, was and was not in a sea of people. the pixelated image of an american flag was shivering in a loop to our left. someone was projecting it out their window from the opposing side of the street, onto the long face of the soon-to-be-Uber building, which was now a mammoth wrapped in white construction plastic. everything baudrillard flooded in me. i could see the blue beams of light dancing from where the small lens was hitting the glass. i could see the rectangles of phone screens recording what i also could see with my own eyes as real. the battle for representation in full force as we each pieced together what it meant for own individual lives now that this potentially genocidal rapist would be running our country.
we yelled “our streets” and i didn’t know if i believed us.
and then the cops appeared, jogging alongside until they broke into speed and spread out in front of us in a long double line. it was a power play — a blocked intersection, the backdrop a dank overpass. everything in capitalism hopeless and in perfect order.
i sat down when someone yelled “everyone sit down!”. i stood back up when someone else yelled “get the fuck up”.
as time passed their linen pants didn’t crease to show it. people spread around like little bugs on a grapefruit and there was less and less and there was more and more and people were getting angry and people were getting sad and some people yelled “move bitch get out the way” while others yelled “please let us keep walking”. chants sparked and fizzled, everything on livestream, waiting. a car was trying to pass through and someone wanted to steal the wheel and ram it into the cops. someone else told them not to be stupid. this is only the first night. we don’t need your ass getting arrested yet.
and then it was past three in the morning even though the pink light of the freeway made everything feel like sunset, even though the long block of navy hadn’t shifted. there are no minutes in a police line, it’s only always now as time slips over and sheds. i turned and walked to the corner and dialed a Lyft request into my phone, feeling both totally inappropriate and unaware how else to proceed. i was miles from home and completely alone. the Lyft driver appeared and i noticed for the first time how i was standing on a block filled with trees wrapped in christmas lights. in the car he laughed and said at least he only knows like a hundred words. makes him easy to understand.
Originally published in Issue 5 Poets In Unity: Responses to the Election of Donald Trump.
Hannah Rubin is a writer, theorist, and artist who goes by a handful of names. Today they are this. Work has appeared in some publications, bicycle routes map themselves around the bends in Oakland, CA.