The week before Inauguration Day, I began a writing project as a means to combat the grim depression I was enduring. The forty-fifth presidency is emotionally crippling as it becomes increasingly confident in its hostility. As a means of escape but also as a kind of small protest or resistance, I began writing weekly prose poems.
I decided to play with astrology and tarot because witchiness felt like the best way to confront the ridiculous and hateful reality we find ourselves inhabiting. I assigned each of the major arcana tarot cards and their reverse a number then using a random number generator picked three cards to prompt the weekly horoscope. Each horoscope was in part a response to the actions of 45 the week prior, a kind of summation as well as a look forward.
Because my sign is Virgo, I chose to inhabit the mythology of Astraea crafting a response for others sharing the sign but also as the sign itself speaking. Astraea was the Greek goddess of innocence and purity, the inspiration for the constellation Virgo. She was the last of the gods to live among humanity but eventually abandoned it due to its wickedness. Often, Astraea is attached to the goddesses Dike of justice and Nemesis of moral indignation.
Each prose poem is a response to the actions of the 45th president over the course of his first 100 days. Recently, Slate ran a fairly good comparative review of the President’s successes and failures over this period. It is a good piece to read in parallel with the prose poems as well as those by NPR, The Guardian, and Politico.
These poems are accusatory. They are meant to shame myself and others, demand more of myself and others, and resist the hate of this kleptocratic administration. As a self-care maneuver, I think this project succeeded. It provided me a means to stay engaged with what was going on and not give in to the urge to bury my head in the sand as well as enough of a push to march and donate.
I may still revise the prose poem but here is ‘Astraea’:
I. January 8-14, The Hierophant/The Star/The Hermit
None of your actions are complete. There are always residual responsibilities. To leave anything in the past is a betrayal of the present. Contentment begins when you accept it as inevitable.
All of it will suddenly come over you in one crushing shock–the strangeness, the danger, the pain and worry in your body. You’ll fall to the ground, your body and mind crying out against this violence. This is how you’ll begin and end for needless reasons.
II. January 15-21, The Devil Reversed/The Moon/Fortitude
You knew from the outset the myriad ways you might fail. The enormity of it all goads others into believing it is some kind of extravagance. But you know better.
In a place you have never been speaking words you know but don’t understand, there are men of undeserved and unearned wealth scheming to deprive you of your livelihood.
You do not bend; you do not break. Endure with palm up and out, untrembling, certain in amity.
III. January 22-28, The Chariot Reversed/The Empress Reversed/Temperance Reversed
Allow the morning shower to burn you. Scald comes from control, pain is the lack of it pushing to act.
But upon whom? Towards what? Of course you owe everyone.
Impecunious & penurious. Gilted & guilty. At twilight is when we are most blind as the hours only promise less and less.
IV. January 29-February 4, Justice Reversed/The Fool/Death Reversed
There are, of course, reasons for everything yet there’s nothing to say you’re justified. In fact, you make it a point to stand willfully unaware. Myopia is never accidental and always looks to make the lie the fact of the matter.
How unlike the start when you genuinely believed heresy wasn’t mere bastardry.
Look at what you’ve done, where you are; you deserve what you get.
V. February 5-11, The Star Reversed/Death Reversed/The Emperor Reversed
Was there ever anywhere as green and dangerous as the mind of a failed comedian? We are the fools here.
Yet then there are brighter stars, distant voices whispering… Their timber isn’t audible any longer so are they even real? Say something. Say it aloud throughout the day. Who replies?
Hunched, the jowls of excessive men dictate. You take it. You will continue to take it. Cower, grouse, stay obdurate because you can afford to do so…for now.
VI. February 12-18. The Sun/The Hermit/The Hierophant Reversed
This one place, this one empyreal heart can be so much more than itself. Let it all rain upon you because it rains upon all.
So then when the quiet descends, the white noise of light in the stillness of just you, let it.
You are no fist, no palm, no cheek nor knife. More than, less so, let them all suspect you of being vicious and ordinary.
VII. February 19-25, The Emperor Reversed/The Moon/The Empress
A boy king whose soft, trifling hands never grasped any labor points at you in the midst of a ceaseless, slow-motion tantrum.
It is by this dark light upon snow we see what’s going on. What makes sense? The warmth you feel, the chill running down your spine? Awash, awrit, askew.
Take refuge in knowing there are wide-eyed women more familiar with discipline than any child, grown or innocent.
VIII. February 26-March 4, Death/The Hanged Man Reversed/The Tower
A string of mornings mimicking each other different just so bombard the everyday. Everything is the same; nothing is like it was. Once. Twice, several times, a few forgotten. Enmeshed, entwined you twist and turn knotting it all until it breaks free of you.
Above it all, the bannered hosts are more clearly seen. Give them names, have them be where you want to be. They care not for you.
Where to go from here? To pretend there isn’t elsewhere? To abandon? Set the house in order before you torch it. Never look back, you are Cortez with nothing to conquer.
IX. March 5-11, The Moon Reversed/Universe/Fortitude
Perhaps you had been quietly pushing it all out of your mind. Letting it exist in some far corner seen only out of the corner of your eye. That star that shone so long as you didn’t look directly at it. You’re a frighten animal sure that if you don’t move you’ll survive. Not so.
The day after a hurricane or tornado is a beautiful day–wide, clear, and bright. You see the wreckage of your life all in plain sight. Now you know where you belong, what you need to do, and what to do next.
There is no preparedness only ongoingness.
X. March 12-18, The Moon Reversed/The Chariot/The Tower
Of some nature, always. Wind, water, fierce and cold when no longer expected nor wanted. Not so much an ill-omen but a breath that’s ill-seasoned.
You emerge. Sour and soft in parts but above it all.
What they decide to steal from you, your own wellness, will make them sick.
XI. March 19-25, The Wheel of Fortune/The Chariot Reversed/The Emperor
Spring arises always whenever it cares to making no time for your concerns.
Efforts to push against what will is its own season.
A truant man-child refuses a woman who has always been his superior. This is your life now. You must excise this, grow around it not as a scar but as new flesh.
XII. March 26-April 1, The Moon/The Tower Reversed/The Devil Reversed
Take a moment, debate with friends the difference between hex and binding. Smile knowing that will do.
Our orange man cowering in our white house beats his small fists with impotent rage, then tosses it all aside consoled by his tantrum claiming he never wanted it in the first place. Even in defeat, he remains.
“I can’t say what I want, but I know it’s not this.” They all whisper, lips mumbling. Can you grasp this? Resist smiling at their exhausted, hateful gasps?
XIII. April 2-8, The Chariot/The Emperor Reversed/The Empress
What doesn’t, who isn’t? Fortunately, we can slough off our dismay in favor of new light, new life. Look around you, take in the ruddy light and brave air.
Our fool refuses to speak to you. He scuttles along, pouting in doorways until he has your attention so the slam is meaningful. It is. We are glad to be rid of him.
You spend better days tending to the land around us. What fine effort to expend. To be well-groomed for a moment, a day perhaps, then to do it again.
XIV. April 9-15, The Fool/The Universe Reversed/The Hierophant
Nothing makes sense until you decide it does. Whim is code for acquiescence & acquiescence is merely callowness.
There is nothing you can do. It’s that simple. This is your life now. You deserve what you get.
But you don’t, it isn’t, it’s not, and there is. Your eyes, your view can admit contrition, can embrace depth of field–distance vision–simply raise your eyes.
XV. April 16-22, Justice/Death/The Hermit
This is what was promised, this land. From a far, far distance a man stands puckering with power, mouth on ass and balls, he is an orange sphincter condemning again the Moabites. It is convenient; it is expedient; it is petulant.
The succor of sycophants is the lyricism of war. Listen, you are always enamored, la petite mort.
You know better. Reanimate yourself. Like your petty godling.
XVI. April 23-29, The Last Judgment/The Lovers Reversed/The Devil
Think about what you’ve done. Or failed to do. Where you’ve been. Or where you’ve failed to go to.
Repeal, ban, build. Deficiencies of thought, care, and act can only be brushed off so many times.
You know full well. Be better, do better.
XVII. April 30, The Hanged Man/The Last Judgment/The Wheel of Fortune
How will it end? A wide, white light suddenly wiping the slate clean or a thousand gentle cuts. Same result. You are only.
Yet you could be every, you could embrace, you could stand up palm out. You could will it so.
This is how it will be until you decide otherwise.