I had to go pay my fine for my last arrest in DC during the first day of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings, one of perhaps a dozen such trips over the last four years.
Actions and arrests continued during the whole first week of the hearings.
The police swept us up in no time the week prior.
Charles King and company followed over the next few days, joining members of the Center for Popular Democracy for multiple rounds of actions.
Not enough heat, none of it was not drawing attention it did during the Kavanaugh hearings.
COVID seemed to diminish the turnout, although the no-mask crowd was out in force.
Our people just didn’t’ believe it could be stopped.
Jennifer Flynn said the Judiciary Committee was voting on the 22nd of October.
I’d go down for the actions and hopefully something would work.
Brian, my friend from the Church Ladies for Choice, an ACT UP spinoff, joined me for the ride, the two of us chatting away at 530 AM on the way from Brooklyn to DC.
How were we going to catch the conscience of the king, I asked, talking about past trips, countless marches on Washington.
How would we change history?
Is history inevitable or insurmountable?
At the Walt Whitman rest stop in New Jersey, we snap a selfie.
Peter M Nardi, my old college advisor replied,
And to quote the poet whose name is behind you: "so far, justice is always in jeopardy."
As the bard puts it:
“...the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”
What was our play going to be in DC?
What was our verse?
Chuck Schumer and the Democrats are boycotting the Judiciary hearings as we arrive.
We could hear Chuck and Corey Booker speaking at the Capital.
The anti’s were there.
So were the Resist Fascism activists, in their Handmaiden red gowns.
A man without a mask is screaming Jesus Saves, over and over again.
Jesus loves you.
Jesus worked with leapers without masks.
Why should we wear one, he asks me.
“Jesus loves the white male fetus,” Brian sings, the old Church Lady, hymn aimed at distracting and drawing attention away from anti choicers who used to converge to harass women outside abortion clinics.
I go to pay my fine for my last arrest and walk back for the 11 AM rally.
Charles King, of Housing Works, is carrying a sign declaring, “we dissent.”
Not enough people had come to try to stop this.
Planned Parenthood had not mobilized.
We are witnessing history, said Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut.
We are asking for democracy.
A woman starts screaming at him.
King and I talk about the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Case, decided by a 4 to 4 decision.
Walking back to the Supreme Court, we see opponents lining up with Amy Coney Barrett signs.
“Hey Delores,” Brian screams.
“Whose that?” I ask.
The mean teacher in Harry Potter, he tells me.
“ You know, I really hate children,” she used to taunt the kids.
”Deep down, you know that you deserve to be punished. ...”
An ominous dark character.
I look at the Coney Barret supporters.
They seem to think we all should be.
Like bullies, the anti’s taunt and jeer.
“We’ve got the votes,” they cheer. “We’ve got the votes.”
Might doesn’t always make right.
Their jerrymandered majority has rewarded them.
Trump, like the last Republican President, George Bush, did not win the popular vote.
They are responsible for a conservervative majority on the court.
Still history is hard to corral.
We need to make the senate, congress fairer.
Abolish the electoral college.
Add Senate seats from Washington and Puerto Rico.
This play is becoming predictable.
Laurie Arbeiter is standing at the court with her stark black and white signs, impeding their images.
Save the ACA, says the sign I’m carrying.
Brian stands at the court with his sign, chatting with a few of the Barret supporters.
One woman begins yelling:
“You’re just like all men! You just want abortion as a get out of jail free card!”
“Maam, I’m a cocksucker,” Brian replies. “I’m a faggot. I’m gay!”
“See, you hate women!” she follows.
A few other women thank him.
“You are pathetic!” she tells him.
At this point, they are screaming.
Brian is jeering back.
Repeating what they are saying.
The anti’s start shouting that they are the majority.
We stand with the majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to choose, says Brian, to no avail.
Hillary Clinton actually won the majority of votes, I think to myself, uninterested in being drawn into a fight.
“Have fun when Trump wins in November,” they scream.
That’s what they want, a fight, a conflict.
There is already one here, dating back to the 1860’s.
No need for more shouting.
There’s got to be a different play.
“This was really a huge futile endeavor except that I think I pissed off an number of pro-Barrett people in front of the Supreme Court,” says Brian, walking to the car. “Me and my mouth... ·”
Driving back, we talk about the moment in DC.
The court is tilting right.
The consequences are many, far more than around reproductive autonomy.
Voting rights and democracy are very much on the line.
Courts interpret laws.
But we can’t live in Gilead forever, says Brian, referring to cult in the Handmaid’s Tale.
Can New York just join Canada?
Two senators from California, representing the population of some 22 other states, with 44 senators?
McConnell blocked the court, keeping it at eight.
Dems should make it fairer, adding terms limits and new judges.
Music is playing, Billy H is singing, red and yellow, green and purple, the majestic fall leaves in the trees on the road, reminders of our impermanence.
“I exist as I am, that is enough,” says Walt.
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”
I’m looking at the trees changing, our lives evolving, clues appearing.
Reading Postures 6
“When walking in the park we find a book
laid out as if to take a little sun, and in
an explosion of leafy ink, spread green
over a page of photosynthesis.”
Between naps and sips of coffee, Brian and I gab away about theater and friendship, where we’ve been, unpacking an ever-evolving theology of narrative, abundant stories everywhere.
I didn’t want to go back to DC, that was until Ruth died.
I didn’t want to go back.
Hopefully we don’t go back for a long time.
That plays not funny anymore.
Later we watch Biden and Trump debate.
“I know more about winds than you do....” jeers our fearless leader. “They kill birds...” he insists reminding everyone he should be considered a civil rights champion, without a word of remorse about the kids in cages on the border.
Lincoln and Trump, who knew?
There are too many other stories.
Walt, our bard of democracy, reminds us:
“And your very flesh shall be a great poem.”
Hopefully we all can be.