Salinas Valley State Prison

Return to AIC CAC Proposals 2018

Tim Fitzmaurice

On collateral damage in war

We will have to carry them with us.
How can we ever gather?
I cannot tell you about
the burned soldier, our enemy.
How can we assemble?

If pluck what grew,
then fallen into scatter.
It is the seed of everything.
How can we ever gather?
How can we assemble?

The final whisper of a melting child.
How can I pick it up again?
How can we ever gather?
We will have to carry her with us.

If that is your mother dying
by the side of an everlasting road,
if that road is flagged with mothers,
how can we assemble?

The heaviness of my father and his dreams
How can we ever gather?
How can we assemble?
We will have to carry them with us.

We are not burdened with our dying
But with our murder. And who.
We will have to carry them with us.
How can we ever gather?

That harvest, our harvest.
How can we assemble?
We will fill you full of light.
We will have to carry them with us.


“Man is indeed that creature who, if he sees an object on the floor and wants to see it on the table, is obliged to lift it.” Simone Weil, “On Science, Necessity and the Love of God,” 1941.

Pick up your things

Love is not a destination
but a direction
and an exhausting climb.
To be human is to lift whatever has fallen:

To pick up your things,
like your mother said, your father said,
Pick up your things!

They were only saying:
Be everything.
Move everything.
Be everything humanly possible.

Love is a direction and the energy
to move everything in that loving direction
and not to be astonished, frozen
because you are not there yet.

Do not be paralyzed by fear.
Don’t be anesthetized
by the ordinary poisons of the world.

The world is full of those darts
that they use
to put tigers to sleep.

If you are stuck,
your feet buried
up to the ankles,
to your knees,

Then lift them

Love is a direction. So love yourself
and others and the world.
Forgive what you can.
And lift your feet.

And when you see something
or someone who has fallen—
lift them.

These are your things.
Pick up your things!

A letter to her Brother.
(on his sister’s death from
complications of anorexia)

I saw her
like an unfinished house.

There was a bird loose
in her ribs.
The wood was still green.

Along a street
An unexpected parade
Full of children

Who exploded their voices
through brass
and called it music.

I am sorry to have to be
the one to tell you this,
but some of that music

went through her frame.
It shook the wooden beams
and startled the bird.


Jaime Sánchez