Posted in John Anstie, Poems/Poetry

New Year

Same Rivers, New Waters …

Last year passed the golden glove
You know, the one with a fist of iron.
She wanted no more of it. Nor I.
Those glossy, glittering, glistening,
shining products of a golden age
had lost their sheen and the age of
growth and worshipping at the alter of
God. Demands. Profit. … is so last year.

Meanwhile, in the town, at Star Books,
reading over our tax-free coffee,
batting ideas on who could pay the bill
and how you make your money work,
if only we had some …

Consumption was her daily bread
and the disease that strangled
generations, who died of terminal debt.

The improper death of innocents,
but where is their misplaced virtue.
Are they free of blame … still free?
May be no more, and yet we must
pay due heed to plant the seed of hope.
To fight for nourishment forgone.
It might have been the will of the people,
but, for folk who step into the same rivers,

ever newer waters flow …

© 2019 John Anstie

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described, at various times as a ” Husband, Family man, Grandfather, Father, Son, Brother, sort of Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, AppleMac user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has (variously) participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and as a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011.

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, The B Zine

Call to register and prepare for 100TPC global event & Last call for submissions to the June issue of “The BeZine”



Notice from founders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carion ~

Dear Friends of 100 Thousand Poets for Change,

It is that time of year again when we begin to sign up organizers and events for the next Global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day–September 30, 2017. Please let me know if you will be organizing in your town.

Also, as you know, 100 Thousand Poets for Change is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 and we need your donations to keep this movement going strong.

We would be grateful if you would take a moment to make a donation through Paypal at 100 Thousand Poets for Change Donation Link at http://100tpc.org/?page_id=14104 or send a check donation to 100 TPC, Box 2724, Tallahassee, FL 32304, USA.

We need your support so that we can continue to provide a global platform for poets and artists to speak about peace, justice, sustainability, and community.

Now more than ever! Show your support!

Sincerely,

Michael and Terri

100 Thousand Poets for Change

100TPC.org

The BeZine will host a 100,000 Poets for Change virtual event. Poets are welcome to contribute from anywhere in the world and we encourage disabled poets to participate, especially those who are homebound.  Michael Dickel (Meta / Phor(e) / Play) takes the lead.



Deadline for the June issue is tomorrow (June 10th) at midnight PST.

THE BeZINE submissions for the June 2017 issues (theme: Environmental Justice/Climate Change: Farming and Access to Water) should be in by June 10th latest.  Publication date is June 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration. Please check out a few issues first and the Intro./Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. No demographic restrictions.

The theme for the July issue is Prison Culture, Restorative Justice. The deadline is July 10th at midnight PST. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) takes the lead.

Posted in poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

1967 (17 years old) , My First Published Poem “Make of Me a Tree”

Dan and I as kids and probably the last time he was shorter than I. He stands 6'5' and I stand 5'2
My cousin Dan and me as kids and probably the last time he was shorter than I am. He stands 6’5′ and I stand around 5’2″ – give or take a bit depending on my shoes.

I was definitely the product you’d expect from the odd and awkward situation in which I grew up and surely I showed little talent, no free thinking and no genius or particular promise. The poem is not good – some youth write profoundly beautiful and wise poetry and young people today are far more savvy than I ever was  –  but it does illustrate that after fifty years or so writing will improve. We writers often have our doubts, but we are an unrelenting bunch. We write, write, write. We enrich, reform and reframe as if every word of ours will spark more Light in the collective unconscious, which I rather think they do.

Make of Me a Tree

I am young, Lord,
but my heart is true,
Make of me a tree

Make me strong and supple
That when tempests blow,
I shall stand unyielding.

Let me be humble in the
Praise of Your Majesty
And testify to Your greatness.

When rains besiege
Let me be shelter
To those who have not found Your Son,

For

Yes! I am young
but my heart is true:
Make of me a tree.

Amen.

– Jamie Dedes

That’s my cousin Dan in the photograph, six years younger than me, so about 8 in this photo to my 13,. Dan was inspired by the poem to paint a lovely “portrait” of a tree. These days it’s Father Dan – Rev. Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp. – a theologian and professor at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Dan always showed real promise. Like my son, Richard, and Dan’s brother, Christopher, even as a toddler he was smart and funny.  So many of you appreciated Dan’s piece What Have We Done That People Can Pick Up Weapons and Kill?  Come March, Dan will be back in the United States. We will get to visit for the first time in forty years.

And, yes! I did want to become a nun. I was told there would be family background checks and I feared rightly that there were things in my parent’s history that would embarrass my mom. I became a now-and-again wife, a mother, a writer, a poet. No regrets. The life mission is essentially the same though the vehicle of service differs and the actions are grounded in ethics not creed, which is not to imply that the two are necessarily exclusive.

RELATED:

DANIEL S. SORMANI C.S. Sp.
DANIEL S. SORMANI C.S. Sp.

The Blessed Mother: She reminds me of who I am and who I should be, Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp., The BeZine, July 2016

Note: The photograph of the two of us together was taken at a fundraiser our mothers were helping with for the Guild for Exceptional Children in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York. This remains a worthy effort and worth your time if you happen to live in that area and are looking for a place at which to volunteer or are in a position to make a donation.

©  photographs (Daniel Sormani Family Album) and text and poem (Gigi “Jamie” Dedes), All rights reserved

Posted in General Interest, religious practice, Spiritual Practice

Happy New Year 2016, Part III – Gratitudes not Resolutions

O LORD my God, I will give thanks to thee forever.
— Psalm 30:12b

card-with-new-year

It used to be that every year I would make out a list of New Year’s resolutions just like everyone else. The reality of those resolutions was I put the list in safe place and promptly forgot all about them, just like everyone else I know. A couple of years back I changed practice for New Year’s, instead of resolutions I started listing what I was grateful for from the Old Year.

I no longer feel guilty about not keeping promises to myself and speaking gratitude helps me to see the past year in a positive perspective. So here are my top 10 gratitude’s for New Years day 2016:

First of all I am grateful for John my beloved husband, best friend, and all around good company.

I am grateful for the presence of my furry and feathered friends. They have helped me to laugh when I least wanted to and they are a calming presence each day of the year.

I am grateful for my family; John’s 3 sons; our beautiful grandchildren Shannon and Amelia, Alex and Liam; my cousins who have made me laugh and so grateful that we have reconnected. Each and every one of you has brought joy into my life in so many ways.

I am also grateful for the Skype calls from Mark, Laura, Liam, and Amelia, who live in Boston. Amelia and Liam I love all of your antics and learning what you are up as you are growing up. Liam practice hard on those drums so that when we come the next time you can show us your progress. Amelia send me some of your dress designs, I would love to see what you are thinking of. Each of you are talented and amazing.

I am especially grateful for the Laura’s presence in my life. You my dear daughter-in-law are a treasure.

I am grateful for the kindness of strangers from all over the world. Their help when I needed it on our South Pacific adventure last year made the trip just that much more enjoyable.

I am grateful for caring and skillful medical professionals: Dr. Alberts who operated on my back, the Nursing staff at Stevens Hospital who made a difficult time easier, Physical therapists who encouraged me to work harder so that I would successfully recover from surgery.

I am grateful for the Faith community at Queen Anne Christian Church who have show me and John so much love and friendship.

I am grateful for my In-Care-Committee who encouraged me to search deep within myself and who helped me to see myself as I am instead of how everyone see me.

I am grateful for the friendship of so many people that if I were to name them I would certainly forget someone, so from the bottom of my heart I love you all.

So those are my top 10 gratitude, of course I have many more. The listing of them will take all day on New Year’s Day but these are the most important ones. If you were to list your gratitude’s for 2015 what would they be? How would remembering them change your how you view the past year and how you anticipate the next?

My prayer for each of you is a year full of grace so that next New Year’s day it takes you 2 days to recite them. Have a Happy, Grace Filled New Year!

© 2015, words, Ruth Jewel, All rights reserved; illustration courtesy of Larisa Koshkina, Public Domain Pictures.net

Editor’s note: Ruth is a member of The Bardo Group Beguines core team.  Her personal blog is A Quiet Walk.  She also posts once a week on spiritual practice at our sister site, Beguine Again.

Last Cast of the Day

I wonder what would happen if we just
ran into one another someday.
It’s not going to happen, but what if?
Would your chest jump a little,
gassed on adrenalin or maybe bile?
Would you get all prickly around
your ears and face as blood
pushed all the elevator buttons?

Would you turn and cross the street,
like you meant to do that all along,
never looking at me, rather than
present your face to mine in a guarded
“Hi, old friend” moment?
Would we even recognize one another,
after age and life and lies have made like
locusts or glaciers on our my faces?

Would you be okay with an every-five-years
reunion of our class of two? I’d be the one
with the sticker on my chest that said
“Hi, my name is …” since I seldom know
who I am anymore other than old.
I don’t know why I wonder these things
from time to time. Maybe it’s the hopeful,
unworthy masochist in me.

You know, the one who each day
casts lines of memory and imagination
into the dark ocean of time,
never knowing what I’ll haul in.
Today it’s been muddy, writhing
questions and wonders. That’s how it goes
when you fish for words and hope.
There’s always another chance tomorrow.

– Joseph Hesch

© 2015, poem, Joseph Hesch, All rights reserved

The Year Turns

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Ice-Storm The year has turned. This evening, weather permitting, we will gather with others to celebrate the changing seasons and honor Grandfather Fire without whom we could not live. We will mark the Sun’s return, remembering the change of seasons is also within us. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the days will now lengthen as the sun begins His slow drift northward. That is the future; this morning the dark lingers. Jennie has moved through the house; lit candles mark her passage.

After a night of sleet, we have freezing rain. The snow plow just came through, potentially a mixed blessing as the coating of sleet protected the road’s surface from icing. A neighbor, out early, calls over through the darkness to ask whether she might bring us anything from the grocery.

Yesterday we braved the storm and the crowds and went shopping. One of our purchases was a second bird feeder. We have squirrels and have wagged a long competition with them regarding the feeders. This time of year flocks of birds come to our back yard feeding station a couple of times a day. Often they also find their way to our front porch where they watch our comings and goings at close range, often greeting us. Perhaps we will place one of the feeders near there.

As Saint Francis knew, the animals and birds are within us. This is ancient knowledge that awakens and reawakens in persons and cultures across the generations. We know their longings and hungers intimately.

Last night as the sleet and freezing rain fell I drummed and journeyed. I wanted to meet the storm directly, to feel the push and pull of warmth and cold and the tricky point of balance between them. As I journeyed I felt the deep antipathy we humans know in relationship to harsh cold and deep darkness. I wondered whether our failure to address climate change reflects that ageless fear of winter.

We warm bloodeds seem drawn to the South and to Grandfather Fire. Father Sun burns brightly within our mitochondria. There is a mysterious power attached to the hearth; there we meet Grandfather, hopefully safely contained. We press in, close to the radiating heart of the flames. Once upon a time we cooked our meals there, witnessing the wondrous transformation of raw into cooked. Grandfather brought us the gift of readily absorbed nutrients and energy, setting us free to explore the world. Mother Earth, Grandmother Moon, and Grandfather Fire also live within us, creating the seasons of the soul and body. Grandmother water shapes our very being.

In a few days those of us who celebrate Christmas will leave cookies and milk, or something stronger, by the warm hearth, gifts of memory and affection for the spirits and the Ancestors, the Ancient Ones. They live with and within us, and willingly or not, we follow the trajectory of their desires and needs. Even from the spirit realms they follow our lives. Some seek the high emotion of drama and suffering, others wish us well, hoping we can find our way to joy, happiness, and connection with one another, all creation, and the Creator.

Yet, Christmas is in the future. Tonight we will remember and express gratitude to the host of beings with whom we share our lives, and to the Creator who gives us awareness and the immeasurable gift of Life. As the year turns, we will remember that we are also changing, that each life holds many lives, and that we are continually reborn. We are the great turning that is the year.

– Michael Watson, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC

© 2014, essay and photograph Michael Watson, All rights reserved

Posted in Bardo News, General Interest

BARDO NEWS: Argentine poet Juan Gelman, Creative Collectives, Year-End Report, Terri Stewart’s work on behalf of homeless and youth

Juan Gelman (1930-2014) Argentine poet, jounalist and activist
Juan Gelman (1930-2014) Argentine poet, journalist and activist

WE SALUTE THE ARGENTINE POET and SOCIAL ACTIVIST, JUAN GELMAN, who died on the 14th in Mexico City where he moved after his exile and lived for the last twenty years.

A bird lived in me.
A flower traveled in my blood.
My heart was a violin.

Gelman was revered in Latin America and in Spain for his work against the junta of Argentina, his subject matter largely addressing injustice and oppression, but he was renowned the world over for his excellence and his ethic. He became a symbol of the “disappeared,” when he began a search for his granddaughter after his son and daughter-in-law were disappeared and killed. If you don’t know his story, you can read it HERE.

Shelley wrote that poets are the protectors of moral and civil laws, “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” Gelman certainly wrote in just such a spirit.

Professor Ilan Stavens (Amherst College) reads Juan Gelman’s poem End.

 

Photo credit ~ Presidencia de la Nación Argentina under CC A 2.0 Generic license.

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OUR YEAR-END REPORT FROM WORDPRESS: The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed over 38,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. In 2013 there were 354 new posts. There were 412 pictures uploaded, which is about a picture per day. The busiest day of the year was January 18th with 524 views. [LAUNCH AT LAST! … Rhineo & Juliet, Love & Tragedy in Africa – unfortunately the two videos that were included in that post are no longer available for review.]

MORE ON CREATIVE COLLECTIVES: In another Bardo News post we wrote:

We are nurturing a growth that goes beyond the simple idea of “connectivity” to a more productive virtual “proximity” … think in terms of artistic gatherings  – not always formally organized – that you’ve read about and perhaps loved –  Bloomsbury in England or the cafe gatherings of the so-called Lost Generation in Paris of the 1920s or even the Algonquin Round Table in New York, also the 1920s, though we will forego the pranks and practical jokes of the latter.

We received a response to that from a Bardo friend who wishes to remain anonymous: “I had developed some additional thoughts or elaborations I’m passing on to you.

“Prior creative and intellectual movements benefited greatly from geographic proximity. It wasn’t enough to be part of community, but that the community shared and debated some essential values and were in constant contact. The idea is that fervency, serendipity and discovery arise out of actual physical proximity.

“This is why artists still flock to cities. Despite the Internet, we still go to Mecca.

“Connecting technologies have always strengthened the bonds between people with like-minded interests (letter-writing, magazine letter columns, BBS, chatrooms, message boards, social networking, etc), fostering community. But, in the last 40 years, I haven’t seen technology yet truly replicate the creative synergy that occurs with physical proximity.

“Which led to my conclusion: any creative person who is working via connected technologies (Internet, etc), needs to focus on how they can go beyond mere community and replicate the qualities caused by physical, geographical proximity.

“I think those qualities, include:

1. regularly scheduled contact
2. opportunities for random contact
3. an agreement on the values under discussion (not necessarily in agreement on the rightness or wrongness of the values themselves).
4. diversity of interest and perspective on those values.

“Several recent groups are decent examples (these are not necessarily endorsements), including:

• The Beats (rather amorphous really, but SF, NY, and Tangiers at various times)
• The Objectivists (in NY, prior to the broader expansion)
• Maybe, the “Fog City Mavericks” in film; Lucas, Spielberg, Eastwood, Coppola, Kaufman, Zaentz.
• The Inklings
• The Futurians

“Of course, as I read this, I also recognize that the ultimate failure of these groups and collectives was often caused by a descent into orthodoxy that stifled creativity and diversity.”

Hesch ProfileINTRODUCING JOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words): Joe joined us as a member of the core team late last year. He is a writer and poet from Albany, New York. Many of his poems and stories are inspired by his almost 400-year-old hometown, but most spring from his many travels between his right ear and his left ear. A former journalist, he’s written for a living more than thirty years, but only recently convinced himself to rediscover the writer he once thought he was. Five years ago, he began to write short fiction. Two years later, in a serendipitous response to a blinding case of writer’s block, he wrote his first poem…ever. He hasn’t looked back.  

Since then his work has been published in journals and anthologies coast to coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words (http://athingforwordsjahesch.wordpress.com/).  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, he was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.”

Gather AB -1INTRODUCING LIZ RICE-SOSONE a.k.a. RAVEN SPIRIT (Noh Where): Liz is probably the most long-standing friend of Bardo. She guested here on several occasions and late last year joined us as a core team member and as the point person for our Voices of Peace Project. Liz began writing when older and housebound due to illness. HIV/AIDS work was the most rewarding work of her lifetime.  Her animals are the loves of her life.  Her husband is her best friend and also the love of her life.  She received a master’s degree in 2008 in gerontology and creative writing at the age of 62.  She started her second blog Noh Where in 2012.  She has a deep connection to all things Corvid.

terriIF YOU ARE IN THE SEATTLE AREA, TERRI STEWART (Begin Again) is co-hosting “Exploring Spiritual Identity with heART.” It is a mandala exercise facilitated with Julia Weaver at mandalaweaver.com. You can find more about the event athttp://beguineagain.com/events/ .
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Additionally, let’s celebrate with Terri as she was invited to provide testimony at her state legislature on January 29th. She will provide witness regarding the effect of having confidential juvenile records. Her state does not consider juvenile records confidential and any court proceedings are subject to the open records act. Additionally, the state she lives in sells juvenile records before the youth is even an adult and able to follow the steps to sealing their record. Making the records confidential is a huge step forward in providing peace and justice in the youth’s lives.
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CHARLIE MARTIN’S BOOK: Bea In Your Bonnet: First Sting is now available through Lulu and Amazon. We all love Aunt Bea and this is a long-awaited volume. Charlie (Read Between the Minds) says:
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product_thumbnail-4.phpBea In Your Bonnet: First Sting is a collection of germinal poems featuring Aunt Bea. Aunt Bea’s voice is one I’ve heard almost every day of my life. Family observations, lessons, and advice given to me and every other family member who had the good sense to listen. Her homespun philosophy most likely will not be found in any collegiate textbooks or for that matter in any local town crier newspaper catering to city dwellers. Indeed, she has a different way of viewing the world; a bit old fashion, sassy, and steely at times but a viewpoint which has engaged my imagination and heart. I sincerely hope you too will find some morsel of wisdom in her personal observations and interpretations of life’s events, but do watch out for her stingers.”
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FEBRUARY BLOG EVENTS: Please join us on February 14 for Bloggers in Planet Love. Mr. Linky will be open for 72 hours begining on the 14th. We hope you’ll share your post on nature, environment and environmental protection, food and farming, climate change and any other earthy subject. We welcome all forms of artistic expression: poems and photography, visual and video art, music, fiction, creative nonfiction and essay. We hope that you will also visit the other participants so that we can support one another while we all encourage appreciation and care of this beautiful planet of ours. The next Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt with Victoria Slotto (Victoria C. Slotto, Author/Fictionn, Poetry and Writing Prompts) is on February 26th. Thanks to those who joined with us last week. We look forward to seeing your participation again.
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JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day) posted three short stories as Pages on her blog:
  1. The City of Ultimate Bliss, one girl’s faith in the magic of her city to bring her a singular precious bliss.
  2. The Time of Orphaning, “It’s tough when your’e orphaned at seventy,” says the narrator.
  3. Señora Ortega’s Frijoles, a woman shares the dichos (sayings) of her foremothers with her daughter.
JOHN NOONEY’S (Johnbalaya) post, Some Thoughts on Adoption, drew considerable – if quiet -traffic and garnered fifty Facebook “Likes.” We’re thinking maybe there’s potential for a book in the expanded version of the story, John. Just sayiing!
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GOT NEWS? Please feel free to leave any news you may have in the comments section today. The next Bardo News is scheduled for Sunday, February 23 at 7 p.m. and the deadline for submitting your news is Friday, February 21. If you have news you’d like shared in that post, please leave a message in the comments section of any post between now and then and someone will get back to you. Thank you!
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Thank you for your readings, writings, sharing, “Likes,” and comments. All valued, as are you.
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With loving kindness,
– The Bardo Group
Posted in Nelson Mandela, Video

celebrating the intention of Nelson Mandela as a new year’s resolution

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Last year saw the loss of a great man and a widening of the world-wide gap between the few haves and the many have-nots, an injustice and a certain recipe for unrest. As we celebrate the birth of a fresh new year today, we also celebrate the man, Nelson Mandela, and his ideas. Poverty creates its own apartheid.

Over the course of the few next days, The Bardo Group will deliver posts that honor the man and second his ideals as a reminder of the need to be resolute, to continue Nelson Mandela’s fight for balance, justice and equality of opportunity.

Nelson Mandela’s Speech on Poverty (2005) 9 min.

May all mothers and their children have
 food, housing, healthcare, education, freedom of spiritual practice, peace and safety.

May open hands and open hearts reign. 

MAY GREATNESS BLOSSOM IN 2014

The Bardo Group Core Team

John Anstie

Naomi Baltuck

Terri Stewart

Corina Ravenscraft

Jamie Dedes

Josepth Hesch

Karen Fayeth

Victoria C. Slotto

Liz Rice-Sosne

Michael Watson

Niamh Clune

Priscilla Galasso

Lily Negoi

Charlie Martin

Posted in Essay, Guest Writer

LAUNCHED AT LAST! … Rhineo & Juliet, Love & Tragedy in Africa

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LAUNCHED AT LAST!

by

Naomi Estment (Naomi’s Notes)

It’s been a wild and woolly year, since my husband, Dave, and I embarked on an unforgettable journey in the creation of two short rhino films and an accompanying photographic book. They have been launched at last by Africa Cries. This Mauritian-based film production company was founded by Roland Vincent, whose vision inspired this phenomenal project.

Shot in South Africa and created in response to the escalating threat of extinction facing Earth’s remaining rhinos, the first film, Rhineo & Juliet – Love and Tragedy in Africa, addresses this crisis, while the second, The Ark – Rhino Survival Sanctuary, shares a far-reaching, sustainable solution, integral to saving this irreplaceable member of Africa’s Big Five.

Our heart-felt thanks goes out to all the amazing people who have given generously of their time, energy and expertise in contributing to the making of the films, as listed in the credits, as well as to the translation of both scripts into multiple languages. Special mention also to Wayne Nicholson and his team for their valued contribution and for sharing this in his post,Love & Tragedy in Africa.

Here are the films, with a word of warning to sensitive viewers: the first one contains a few brief but extremely hard-hitting scenes, which we have been repeatedly advised are critical to convey the extent of the rhino poaching horror. These were contributed by witnesses, who care deeply about the importance and urgency of the message. While the first is a sweeping story that tugs at the heart by humanizing rhino, the second film is documentary in nature, sharing a beautiful, tranquil overview of a solution.

Rhineo & Juliet – Love and Tragedy in Africa

The Ark – Rhino Survival Sanctuary

PLEASE VISIT THE AFRICA CRIES WEBSITE IF YOU’RE MOVED TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION. WE WOULD ALSO REALLY APPRECIATE YOUR SHARING THESE VIDEOS FOR THE SAKE OF THE RHINO. SINCERE THANKS FROM US ALL!

I leave you with the words of Tony Frost, CEO of Sirocco Strategy Management, former CEO of WWF and board member of the South African National Biodiversity Institute: “I must say you are embarking on a terrifically exciting journey.  . . . the rhino is a massive and incredibly important symbol of a much bigger malaise attacking this planet and therefore it is a magnificent opportunity to do something much bigger than only saving the rhino. You have the vehicle, we have to help you to drive it hard!”

© 2013, essay and photographs, Naomi Estment, All rights reserved
This feature is presented here with the permission of the author
The videos were uploaded to YouTube by AfricaCries

537866_2655020590484_1671114272_aNAOMI ESTMONT is a South African writer, photographer, blogger (Naomi’s Notes), and contributing writer to Into the Bardo. She reports, “Dave and I have been extremely dedicated to conservation this past year, including creating these and other videos, establishing the Wild Imaging Trust and launching an epic project called Rock ‘n Ride 4 Rhino, which entails a five-month motorcycle tour of Southern Africa next year, in partnership with Jason Hartman (2009 SA Idol and passionate conservationist) and Damien Mander (founding director of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation).”

Posted in Fiction

ONE LAST CHRISTMAS POST, lest we forget the lessons of 1914

I’m preparing to get ready today for business as usual and there’s lots to share from Ann and Rob and other contributors. I decided to visit some blogs first. One of our contributors, Gayle Walters (Bodhirose’s Blog) had posted this historical fiction on her blog. It’s by children’s author, Aaron Shepard, and he allows it to be reblogged. It’s a short story based on the true events of the famous Christmas Eve truce of 1914 that Arthur Conan Doyle wrote of as “one human episode amid all the atrocities.” We do have moments of truce in our personal, spiritual, and political lives. If we could only make such moments a regular thing, our preferred m.o., if you will … Jamie Dedes

Parents and educators will find good stories and scripts for children’s plays at Mr. Shepard’s website HERE.

Copyright © 2001, 2003 by Aaron Shepard. May be freely copied and shared for any noncommercial purpose.

The story is formated as a letter ….

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE
by
Aaron Shepard
Christmas Day, 1914

My dear sister Janet,

It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve. In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it. Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!

As I wrote before, there has been little serious fighting of late. The first battles of the war left so many dead that both sides have held back until replacements could come from home. So we have mostly stayed in our trenches and waited.

But what a terrible waiting it has been! Knowing that any moment an artillery shell might land and explode beside us in the trench, killing or maiming several men. And in daylight not daring to lift our heads above ground, for fear of a sniper’s bullet.

And the rain—it has fallen almost daily. Of course, it collects right in our trenches, where we must bail it out with pots and pans. And with the rain has come mud—a good foot or more deep. It splatters and cakes everything, and constantly sucks at our boots. One new recruit got his feet stuck in it, and then his hands too when he tried to get out—just like in that American story of the tar baby!

Through all this, we couldn’t help feeling curious about the German soldiers across the way. After all, they faced the same dangers we did, and slogged about in the same muck. What’s more, their first trench was only 50 yards from ours. Between us lay No Man’s Land, bordered on both sides by barbed wire—yet they were close enough we sometimes heard their voices.

Of course, we hated them when they killed our friends. But other times, we joked about them and almost felt we had something in common. And now it seems they felt the same.

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze. Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid. Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all. Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side. And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely. Our first complete silence in months! We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it. We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

I went to the dugout to rest, and lying on my cot, I must have drifted asleep. All at once my friend John was shaking me awake, saying, “Come and see! See what the Germans are doing!” I grabbed my rifle, stumbled out into the trench, and stuck my head cautiously above the sandbags.

I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern like beacons of good will.

And then we heard their voices raised in song.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht . . . .

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent night, holy night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier—or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its dark softened by a first-quarter moon.

When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauding Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Nowell, the angel did say . . . .

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum . . . .

Then we replied.

O come all ye faithful . . . .

But this time they joined in, singing the same words in Latin.

Adeste fideles . . . .

British and German harmonizing across No Man’s Land! I would have thought nothing could be more amazing—but what came next was more so.

“English, come over!” we heard one of them shout. “You no shoot, we no shoot.”

There in the trenches, we looked at each other in bewilderment. Then one of us shouted jokingly, “You come over here.”

To our astonishment, we saw two figures rise from the trench, climb over their barbed wire, and advance unprotected across No Man’s Land. One of them called, “Send officer to talk.”

I saw one of our men lift his rifle to the ready, and no doubt others did the same—but our captain called out, “Hold your fire.” Then he climbed out and went to meet the Germans halfway. We heard them talking, and a few minutes later, the captain came back with a German cigar in his mouth!

“We’ve agreed there will be no shooting before midnight tomorrow,” he announced. “But sentries are to remain on duty, and the rest of you, stay alert.”

Across the way, we could make out groups of two or three men starting out of trenches and coming toward us. Then some of us were climbing out too, and in minutes more, there we were in No Man’s Land, over a hundred soldiers and officers of each side, shaking hands with men we’d been trying to kill just hours earlier!

Before long a bonfire was built, and around it we mingled—British khaki and German grey. I must say, the Germans were the better dressed, with fresh uniforms for the holiday.

Only a couple of our men knew German, but more of the Germans knew English. I asked one of them why that was.

“Because many have worked in England!” he said. “Before all this, I was a waiter at the Hotel Cecil. Perhaps I waited on your table!”

“Perhaps you did!” I said, laughing.

He told me he had a girlfriend in London and that the war had interrupted their plans for marriage. I told him, “Don’t worry. We’ll have you beat by Easter, then you can come back and marry the girl.”

He laughed at that. Then he asked if I’d send her a postcard he’d give me later, and I promised I would.

Another German had been a porter at Victoria Station. He showed me a picture of his family back in Munich. His eldest sister was so lovely, I said I should like to meet her someday. He beamed and said he would like that very much and gave me his family’s address.

Even those who could not converse could still exchange gifts—our cigarettes for their cigars, our tea for their coffee, our corned beef for their sausage. Badges and buttons from uniforms changed owners, and one of our lads walked off with the infamous spiked helmet! I myself traded a jackknife for a leather equipment belt—a fine souvenir to show when I get home.

Newspapers too changed hands, and the Germans howled with laughter at ours. They assured us that France was finished and Russia nearly beaten too. We told them that was nonsense, and one of them said, “Well, you believe your newspapers and we’ll believe ours.”

Clearly they are lied to—yet after meeting these men, I wonder how truthful our own newspapers have been. These are not the “savage barbarians” we’ve read so much about. They are men with homes and families, hopes and fears, principles and, yes, love of country. In other words, men like ourselves. Why are we led to believe otherwise?

As it grew late, a few more songs were traded around the fire, and then all joined in for—I am not lying to you—“Auld Lang Syne.” Then we parted with promises to meet again tomorrow, and even some talk of a football match.

I was just starting back to the trenches when an older German clutched my arm. “My God,” he said, “why cannot we have peace and all go home?”

I told him gently, “That you must ask your emperor.”

He looked at me then, searchingly. “Perhaps, my friend. But also we must ask our hearts.”

And so, dear sister, tell me, has there ever been such a Christmas Eve in all history? And what does it all mean, this impossible befriending of enemies?

For the fighting here, of course, it means regrettably little. Decent fellows those soldiers may be, but they follow orders and we do the same. Besides, we are here to stop their army and send it home, and never could we shirk that duty.

Still, one cannot help imagine what would happen if the spirit shown here were caught by the nations of the world. Of course, disputes must always arise. But what if our leaders were to offer well wishes in place of warnings? Songs in place of slurs? Presents in place of reprisals? Would not all war end at once?

All nations say they want peace. Yet on this Christmas morning, I wonder if we want it quite enough.

Your loving brother,
Tom
The photograph (via Wikipedia) is in the public domain: A cross, left near Ypres in Belgium in 1999, to commemorate the site of the Christmas Truce in 1914. The text reads:
1914 – The Khaki Chum’s Christmas Truce – 1999 – 85 Years – Lest We Forget.


Posted in Film/Documentaries/Reviews, Guest Writer

THE LAST PASSENGER PIGEON

“This is a fundraising promo video for The Last Passenger PigeonSpecies Extinction and Survival in the 21st Century. This documentary will recount the total destruction by humans of the most abundant bird species in North America, and possibly the world.

2014 will mark the centennial of the birds’ extinction. The film will explore how this event occurred and put it in context of today’s conservation challenges and accelerated species extinctions. We are planning a multi-media event: a television documentary broadcast, the publishing of a book, River of Shadows: The Life and Times of the Passenger Pigeon, by Joel Greenberg, and a national educational outreach campaign known as Project Passenger Pigeon. The outreach component is led by Greenberg and David Blockstein, Senior Scientist at the National Council for Science and the Environment, and a diverse consortium of over 20 American and Canadian institutions, scientists, scholars and authors, with the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum/Chicago Academy of Sciences as the lead sponsoring institution.

The promo includes roughed out scenes such as a storyboard for a live action and computer animation depiction of the pigeons as experienced by John Audubon, preliminary interviews and scenes that begin to tell the story of the pigeon.

For more information contact: dmrazek@sbcglobal.net”  video and narrative courtesy of David Mrazek 

MARTHA

The Last Passenger Pigeon

“In 1857, a bill was brought forth to the Ohio State Legislature seeking protection for the Passenger Pigeon. A Select Committee of the Senate filed a report stating “The passenger pigeon needs no protection. Wonderfully prolific, having the vast forests of the North as its breeding grounds, traveling hundreds of miles in search of food, it is here today and elsewhere tomorrow, and no ordinary destruction can lessen them, or be missed from the myriads that are yearly produced.”[28]

Fifty-seven years later, on September 1, 1914, Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in the Cincinnati Zoo,Cincinnati, Ohio. Her body was frozen into a block of ice and sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it was skinned and mounted. Currently, Martha (named after Martha Washington) is in the museum’s archived collection, and not on display.A memorial statue of Martha stands on the grounds of the Cincinnati Zoo.” Wikipedia

Photo credit ~ Public domain photograph (1914)  via Wikipedia

Progress

Last year, a wheelchair and sessions of hydrotherapy –
the water supporting your crumbling back
as you strode, slo-mo,
across the pool.

These days, no wheelchair. Exercise and calcium pills
have strengthened your muscles and bones,
but the pain still nags you
for Cocodamol.

A wheeled walker eases the stress on your back,
so you’ve stretched your walks ‘just round the block’
to half a mile
and the local shops.

Now you’re taking lengthier walks from the holiday let
down to the beach and to the restaurants in town.
No faster than you were,
but what great strides!

© 2019, Mantz Yorke

MANTZ YORKE is a former science teacher and researcher living in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia and Hong Kong. His collection ‘Voyager’ will be published in February 2020.

A Shower of Roses

“I will let fall from Heaven a shower of roses.” St. Therese of Lisieux 1873-1897

I didn’t ask for roses
when I whispered Pray for me, Therese,
but it’s the way you often answer.
A blush of winter buds.
A single bloom at my feet.

Now, in this humid,
dog-eared June,
I see roses white as breast milk
on the bush I pruned last year,
abandoned to frost.

Regrown, it tempts me outside.
I forget aches and pains
and weariness of soul.
I sweep dust from the path
and peg clothes on the washing line.

Some theologians say roses
doesn’t mean roses, just blessings.
But you loved the flower, Therese;
watched roses sway in the courtyard
as you lay dying.

Handed one, you crumbled it
over the crucifix
on your bedsheet and smiled
as petals fragranced
His wounds and holy face.

© 2019, Sheila Jacob

SHEILA JACOB was born and raised in Birmingham, England and lives with her husband in Wrexham, on the Welsh border. Her poetry has been published in several U.K. magazines and webzines. She recently self-published her short collection of poems that form a memoir to her father who died in 1965. Sheila finds her 1950s childhood and family background a source of inspiration for many of her poems. You can connect with Sheila by email: she1jac@yahoo.com

 

Three poems on A Life of the Spirit

Poems from
Nothing Remembers
on A Life of the Spirit


Called to faith

A man stands over the culvert on the gravel road onto the farm.
The stone he hefts in his hand—igneous remnants from before time,
bits of crystal cooled across history mingled with impurities beyond memory.
He lofts this shard of the past in a slow arc that ends in the dark pool of standing water.

Sometimes he wishes he could follow, down through the water as surface tension
erases faint traces; he wishes sometimes that he could fall through the cold numbness
to sink into the soft, welcoming mud—to sleep among layers of last year’s rotting leaves
and the year’s before and the year’s before and years’ before—layers of organic memory that,

still,

do not reach the stone’s most recent memory. The stone takes no notice.
And the man does not sink with the stone into murkiness. The morning calls
him to his desire, so he chooses to return to the work at hand. There is a garden
to plow and disk. There is corn to plant and tend. There are nettles to uproot and remove.

Despite the threat of frost or hail or rabbit or deer, he trusts
that in August there will be sweet corn and tomatoes and beans.
He will gather some in and eat. He will gather some in to store. And
he will gather and save the best for next year’s seeds. These make up his act of love.


Napping in a chair

Yesterday seagulls laughed
under the storm clouds caught
in mountains behind the sea.

As I ambled through a plaza,
I heard someone playing piano
stop and start the music over.

People ate lunch, drank coffee.
The rain did not fall on them or
anyone. The ships slid slowly by.

I noticed these things. I did not
notice other things. I thought of
you, I am not sure why. I walked.

I heard sea gulls, a piano, the sea.
I listened for echoes of your voice.
I remembered something you said.

As I neared the wharf, fish swam near me.
Only faint shadows revealed them.
Two lovers sat under trees conversing.

I thought of someone. I don’t recall who.


Somewhere, a whirring fan

“With this beginning, the unknown concealed one created the palace. This palace is called אלוהים (Elohim), God. The secret is: בראשית ברא אלוהים (Bereshit bara Elohim), With beginning, _______ created God (Genesis 1:1).”     — Zohar (I:15a)

“…She knows that her beloved is searching for her; so what does she do? She opens the portal to her hidden room [in the palace] slightly and reveals her face for a moment, and then hides it again.”     — Zohar (II.99a)

Somewhere, a whirring fan
in an open window spins
possibilities into threads.
I heard a rumor that the
Oleander flowers shed
their pink and white grace
for poisonous reason.
A car slinks down traces
of a melted tar road.

You like to stand by the window,
and want him to see you there,
behind a curtain. He doesn’t
know you or you him. He walks
the span of street, infrequently
catching a glimpse of blue
eyes, a reflection in cracks
of the cotton-hued skies.

The crow calls from a tree.
Another day, green parrots
screech louder than the
traffic flees. The heat lays
like a corpse upon our city.
Bougainvillea bracts spot
gardens with false hope,
colorful arrays of forgotten
pain turned to sweet honey.

He forgets you, though you
never meet. And you, also,
forget—window, curtains,
the desire for a stranger’s
glad glance. Someone wants
this to be autobiography, a
short recollection of moments
actually lived. That person never
dreamed, does not exist anymore.

And I never existed because I
don’t stop dreaming. Poetry, like
a god, provides code for an image,
keying it to suggest a revelation-lode
from your past. You want it to be
my past. Parrots screech.
A crow calls. A beautiful Other
by the window waits. This all
happens to you while I write

these scenes tangled in dreams,
whirring fans—the poem unable
to light any form, your reading,
this page; unable to discover more
than bare wisps of meaning in the
vibrations of words—your song longing
for someone in the infinite void. Wanting
a mortal to read you into this, to see you
alive, you seek a new beginning—genesis.

Note: Zohar refers to The Book of Splendor, one of the main texts of Kabbalah. Translations from the Hebrew are from the work of Daniel Matt.


©2019 Michael Dickel

These three poems come from Nothing Remembers, by Michael Dickel, released September 2019 from Finishing Line Press.


Michael Dickel—Digital Self-Portrait from Photograph
Michael Dickel
Digital Self-Portrait from Photograph
©2019

Michael Dickel is a contributing editor for The BeZine. He writes, creates art, and teaches in Jerusalem, Israel, where he lives with his wife and two young children. The World Behind It, Chaos… (WV? eBookPress, 2009), one of his first books, includes photographs and digital artwork from photos in a free PDF eBook format. His resistance chapbook of poetry, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism (locofo chaps, 2017) can also be downloaded for free as a PDF (or purchased in paper). His latest collection of poetry, Nothing Remembers, came out from Finishing Line Press in September, 2019. Other books include The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, a collection of Flash Fiction (art by Ayelet Cohen), and War Surrounds Us, a collection of poetry, both from Is a Rose Press.

 

 


 

Posted in General Interest

Draconian Rules cut food benefits to poor families/disabled/elderly including 1.4 Million U.S. Veterans

USDA logo for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program / Public Domain

“Almost 1.4 million veterans live in households that participate in SNAP (formerly food stamps), CBPP analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey finds. In every state, thousands of low-income veterans use SNAP to help put food on the table. Florida has the largest number of veterans participating in SNAP (120,000), followed by California and Texas (97,000 apiece). In Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., at least 10 percent of veterans live in households that received SNAP in the last year. SNAP Helps Almost 1.4 Million Low-Income Veterans, Including Thousands in Every State MORE, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, by BRYNNE KEITH-JENNINGS and LEXIN CAI



the unconscionable dance in the canyons of power,
lined with megalithic buildings, the edifice complex
of the spin-meister’s lie, that the demigods can do
anything – anything – walking this asphalt valley

a parade, flailing lemmings trussed and trusting their
die-cut dreams to the pitiless whim of the military/
industrial/medical alliance, whose war-cries are of
greed and arrogance, believing they’ll live forever,
today’s sovereignty, tomorrow’s guarantee. But it’s

all delusion – cultures die and the hope-crushing
architects of cuts and austerity measures are like
the rich man in the Lazarus story, there’ll be
some kind of backlash, some kind of hell to pay …

Rich Lazarus! richer in those gems, thy tears, Than Dives in the robes he wears: He scorns them now, but oh they’ll suit full well With the purple he must wear in hell” Richard Crenshaw (c.1613-1649), English cleric, teacher, metaphysical poet, Steps to the Temple. Sacred Poems, Delights of the Muses (1646)

© 2010, poem, Jamie Dedes



New SNAP Rule Would Cost Many of Nation’s Poorest Their Food Aid

by Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Statement

The emphases are mine. / J.D.

On December 4, the Trump Administration issued a draconian rule in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) that will cut off basic food assistance for nearly 700,000 of the nation’s poorest and most destitute people. Those affected — SNAP participants ages 18 through 49 who aren’t raising minor children in their homes — are among the poorest of the poor, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Their average income is just 18 percent of the poverty line. Their average monthly SNAP benefits are about $165 per month.

A longstanding, harsh provision of SNAP limits these 18- through 49-year-olds to just three months of benefits, while not employed for at least 20 hours a week, out of every three years. Because of its severe nature, this provision of law also allows states to seek, and USDA to grant, waivers of this three-month cut-off for areas where insufficient jobs are available for these individuals, such as when unemployment is elevated.

From the provision’s enactment in 1996 until now, both Democratic and Republican presidents alike have operated under a common set of criteria in granting waivers from the three-month cut-off. And Democratic and Republican governors alike have sought and secured these waivers. Thirty-six states currently have waivers for parts of their state where unemployment is highest.

Now, the Trump Administration is abandoning this longstanding, bipartisan practice, however, and replacing it with a much more restrictive rule that will increase hunger and destitution. The new rule sharply restricts states’ ability to protect unemployed adults from the harsh time limit. It does so by substantially narrowing the criteria that states have most commonly used to qualify for waivers, thereby greatly shrinking the number of areas that can qualify for relief. As a result, the Trump Administration itself estimates that the rule will cut off basic food aid to nearly 700,000 unemployed or underemployed individuals.

Most of these individuals are ineligible for any other form of government financial assistance because they aren’t elderly, severely disabled, or raising minor children. For many of them, SNAP is the only assistance they can receive to help make ends meet.

What’s more, the final rule is more severe than the proposed rule, which itself was very harsh. States currently can request waivers when they experience rapidly rising unemployment, as typically occurs at the onset of economic downturns based on the Department of Labor’s determination that the state qualifies for extra federal unemployment benefits. But under the final rule, states must rely on historical data that would not reflect the onset of economic downturns until many months later. Moreover, far fewer areas will qualify for waivers during a widespread, national recession. A state with spiking unemployment reaching levels as high as 9 percent would not qualify for a waiver if national unemployment were also high, such as at 8 percent. This will limit a core strength of SNAP — its responsiveness to changes in economic conditions so that individuals who lose their source of income can quickly qualify for temporary food assistance. Instead of mitigating a recession’s harm, the new rule will exacerbate it.

Another Flawed “Work Requirement” Proposal

Adding to these concerns, although participation in a work or training program counts toward fulfilling the 20-hours-a-week requirement, states are not required to provide work or training slots to these individuals — and most states don’t. Furthermore, pounding the pavement and searching hard for a job does not count toward meeting the requirement. If you can’t find a 20-hour-a-week job on your own, you’re cut off SNAP anyway.

The Administration’s portrayal of the new rule as a reasonable “work requirement” thus is misleading — as noted, most states don’t offer any job, training opportunity, or slot in a work program to most people subject to the three-month limit. And people who are “playing by the rules” and looking hard for a job are cut off nonetheless.

In addition, the history of the three-month cut-off shows that some people who should qualify for an exemption from it because they suffer from a significant health condition often don’t get an exemption — and lose their SNAP benefits anyway, because they can’t satisfy the paperwork and other bureaucratic hurdles involved in securing an exemption. That’s especially troubling now, because the Administration is giving states little time to prepare for this sweeping change. Properly identifying which destitute individuals in formerly waived areas should be subject to the three-month time limit and which should be exempt (due to conditions that affect their ability to work) can require both training staff and allocating additional administrative resources.

Rule Hits People of Color, Those With Limited Education and in Rural Areas Hardest

Cutting off basic assistance doesn’t appear to help individuals get jobs, as research into the SNAP time limit, and similar rules in Medicaid, demonstrates. The rule will hit hardest those with the greatest difficulties in the labor market. That includes adults with no more than a high school education, whose unemployment rate is much higher than the overall unemployment rate; people living in rural areas where jobs are often harder to find; and people who are between jobs or whose employers have cut their hours to less than 20 hours a week, which is common in the very-low-wage labor market even when the economy is strong.

People of color are likely to lose benefits disproportionately under the rule, given their much higher unemployment rates and continued racial discrimination in labor markets. The African American unemployment rate has long been roughly double the non-Hispanic white unemployment rate. Studies have found that white job applicants are much likelier to receive callbacks after job applications or interviews than equally qualified Black applicants.

Here’s how the new rule will harm these groups. Under the new rule, an area can qualify for a waiver only if its average unemployment rate over a recent 24-month period has been 20 percent higher than the national average for the same time period and was 6 percent or higher. But a local area with an overall 5.8 percent unemployment rate can have an African American unemployment rate closer to 10 percent, as well as an unemployment rate around 10 percent for people of all races who are age 25 or over who lack a high school diploma or GED.

The Administration and House Republican leaders sought, but failed, to secure these policy changes as part of the farm bill that Congress passed on a bipartisan basis last year. The Administration is now implementing through executive action what it failed to secure through legislation.

Robert Greenstein, UDSA photograph / Public Domain

Instead of punishing those facing destitution and other difficult circumstances, the Administration should seek to assist them by pursuing policies such as more and better job training and employment programs, a higher minimum wage, and a strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit. Denying them basic food and nutrition is not the route that a fair and compassionate administration of either party should take.

Note: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a progressive American think tank that analyzes the impact of federal and state government budget policies founded by Robert Greenstein, the author of this feature. CBPP is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Center’s stated mission is to “conduct research and analysis to help shape public debates over proposed budget and tax policies and to help ensure that policymakers consider the needs of low-income families and individuals in these debates.

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change

THE BeZINE’S Virtual 2019 100TPC Event…Poetry, Music, Art for Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The BeZine’s Live 100TPC

Poetry, Music, Art
for
Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice


Poetry. It’s better than war!Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change


It is time once again for The BeZine live 100TPC event, this year at the end of a week when over 7 million people around the world participated in various climate crisis strikes to demand action now, according to 350.org.

Today, under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC), for the 9th year, people the world over are gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE. There are over 700 100TPC events worldwide scheduled for 28 September 2019, and many others throughout the year. This year, a large number of these events focus on the climate crisis, the urgency of which has been well expressed by Greta Thunberg:

When our house is burning we cannot just leave it to the children to pour water on the flames – we need the grownups to take responsibility for sparking the blaze in the first place. So for once, we’re asking grownups to follow our lead: we can’t wait any longer. Greta Thunberg, 15 March 2019 (age 16, Swedish)

Our themes for your contributions, as every year, are Peace, Social Justice, and Sustainability. As I wrote in the introduction to the September 2019 issue of The BeZine, these three issues intertwine with each other. With a month of climate actions, this week just past of focused action through 350.org, and Greta Thunberg’s #ClimateStrike, #FridaysForFuture, and #schoolstrike4climate efforts, the climate crisis has been a central focus of many this month. The BeZine blog has been running daily posts related to the climate crisis throughout September.

Even so, we welcome your work on any of the three themes. We need action and change in all of these areas, we need it now, and we need to keep calling for action and deep, cultural change, every day.

Right now, the youth are urgently calling on adults and governments to act, and especially on issues of sustainability. Thunberg boldly told the gathered world leaders at the UN:

People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!Great Thunberg, 23 September 2019

While Thunberg may be the most well-known youth on the issue of the climate crisis, other youth have worked on related issues, especially clean water. Clean water should be a human right—it is an issue of social justice, wars are fought over water, and sustainable practices are needed to clean our waters and keep them clean.

Autumn Peltier (age 14), an Anishinaabe living in Canada, is one of those other youth, who, as did her aunt before her, lives her life as a water protector:

No one should have to worry if the water is clean or if they will run out of water. No child should grow up not knowing what clean water is, or never know what running water is.Autumn Peltier, 22 March 2018 (age 13 at the time, Canadian Anishinaabe)

Seventeen year-old Xiye Bastida, a Mexican American living in New York, speaks to the need for deep-rooted change:

We need to change our culture and change our narrative. For too long, the narrative has been that this is some big distant thing that will happen in the year 2100. But pollution is here. Heatwaves are here. Wildfires are here. Melting ice caps are here. Floods are here. Category 5 hurricanes are here. It’s here already.Xiye Bastida, 19 September 2019 (age 17, Mexican-American from New York City)

Mari Copeny, a 12 y.o. African American also known as “Little Miss Flint,” at the age of 8 brought attention to (and grant money for) the water crisis in Flint, MI, by writing to then President Barack Obama. Now aged 12, she calls on us to not just act today, nor this week, nor this month:

No, our fight to save the planet didn’t start today with the #ClimateStrike and it doesn’t end today either. Many of us have been putting in the work for years to save our planet. Don’t just amplify our voices today, but every day and support our solutions to save us.Mari Copeny on Twitter, 20 September 2019 (age 12, African-American from Flint, MI, also known as “Little Miss Flint”)

I return to Thunberg, who proclaims “change is coming”:

You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.Greta Thunberg, 23 September 2019

Last year on our 2018 Live 100TPC page, Jamie Dedes, our managing editor, wrote about 100TPC:

Think on this when you are tempted to lose all hope for our species. Remember that—not just today, but everyday—there are ripples and waves and tsunamis of faith and courage crossing borders in the form of poetry, stories, art, music, friendships and other acts of heroism. Hang tough. And do join with us—The Bardo Group Beguines—today to share your own creative work and to enjoy the work of others. All are welcome no matter where in the world you live.

I say, think of these youth, their messages, and their leadership—”ripples and waves and tsunamis of faith and courage.” Think of these precious, perceptive youth—

—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor


these precious perceptive youth, a poem

“Providing food, shelter, clothing and education is not enough any more, because all of this would have no meaning in the end, if your children do not have a planet to live on with health and prosperity.” —Abhijit Naskar, The Constitution of The United Peoples of Earth


this perfect blue-green planet, her youth
dream among the strains of their hope,
dream of us like our sun and moon,
coordinating  … if only we would,
sowing the rich soil with right-action,
cultivating a greening of our compassion,
acting on a commonsense vision

the fruits of our being-ness plant their
ideals, shared values, a call for accountability,
for a re-visioning unencumbered by insanity,
rich fields to harvest, color, sound, textures,
rough and smooth, the deep rootedness of
their stand and stand for, their wise demands
casting a spell that we might see with one eye,
splendor hidden behind our irresponsibility,
their effervescent call, blossoming unity, vision –
bright spinning planet gently graced with these
wildflowers, these precious perceptive youth.

Dedicated to the young people of the world who teach us many lessons as they reach across borders in their stand for climate action. 

© 2019, Jamie Dedes


Jamie Dedes’ poem originally appeared on her blog, The Poet by Day.

Read more about Autumn Peltier, Mari Copeny, and Xiye Bastida here.


POST YOUR WORK HERE TODAY

TO SHARE YOUR POEMS, ART, PHOTOGRAPHY AND MUSIC VIDEOS FOR OUR “LIVE” VIRTUAL 100TPC TODAY, PLEASE USE MISTERLINKY FOR URL LINKS. JUST CLICK ON THE ICON BELOW.  YOU CAN ALSO SIMPLY PASTE YOUR COMPLETE WORK OR THE URL TO IT INTO THE COMMENTS SECTION.

REMEMBER THE THEMES ARE PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY, AND SOCIAL JUSTICE.

as of OCTOBER 2, 2019, this event is closed for sharing

YOU CAN STILL READ

thank you everyone who participated

we’ll open an all-new virtual event next year, Sept. 28, 2010

Mister Linky meme: The BeZine Live 2019 100TPC
Click on Mister Linky above to add a link to your work!


 

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, General Interest, Poems/Poetry

Freely Accessible Sound-Cloud Playlist for 100TPC Read a Poem to a Child Week Initiative, courtesy Michael Dickel and Randy Thomas

READ A POEM TO A CHILD WEEK

Sep 23 at 12 PM – Sep 28 at 11 PM EDT

August 26, 2019: THANKS to Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) for putting together this post for us on behalf of The BeZine  and for his interview of Randy Thomas. This post was originally done for last year’s event, but the SoundCloud playlist is still up and has grown a bit. I’m posting it today to remind you of this charming resource. / Jamie Dedes



A SoundCloud playlist!

August 2018: Thanks to 100 Thousand Poets for Change co-founders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, and especially to our 100TPC friend, Voice-Over legend Randy Thomas, we have the honor of presenting a compilation of children’s poems read by master Voice Artists and created for the 100TPC community in support of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Read A Poem To A Child initiative. / Michael Dickel


Randy Thomas and the other voice actors / voice over artists in the playlist (further down) volunteered their talent and time to Read a Poem to a Child!

Thomas started her career as a radio personality and DJ in New York, LA, Detroit, and Miami. She’s announced for the Oscars, Emmy Awards, Tony Awards, Entertainment Tonight, The Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, The Kennedy Center Honors, and much more. You likely have heard her announce:

“You’re watching Entertainment Tonight!”

or

“Live from Hollywood, it’s the Academy Awards!”

Voice Announcer Randy Thomas
Source


The BeZine asked Randy Thomas a couple of questions about how this came to be:

The BeZineWhat inspired you to organize these wonderful readings by VO artists for Read a Poem for a Child?

Randy ThomasI am always intrigued when invited to use my voice in a positive way that gives back to the community. My dear friend Michael Rothenberg, a world-renown poet told me about his effort to share a poem with a child during one specific week. He found interest from all over the world. It’s wonderful.

The BeZine: You have inspired a number of voice artists to contribute their voices—how did that happen?

Randy ThomasThe Facebook community of voice actors and friends that I have seemed to rally behind this idea. We all have our own audio booths to record quality audio in, and they are all being so generous with their time and Voice sharing these poems. I am proud to have played a small part in this beautiful effort.

You can hear the amazing results below, in the embedded SoundCloud playlist.


Please feel free to play these recordings
for children around the world!

These may be played right here from this post or go HERE.



Thank you Randy Thomas
and brilliant VO artists
for sharing your talent for the children!



All audio ©2018 by the individual Voice Artists.
Poetry copyright belongs to the poet
or other current copyright holder.

Post text ©2018 TheBeZine.com and 100TPC.org
Link-sharing of the SoundCloud playlist is allowed.
Link-sharing or credited re-blogging of this post is allowed.
Readings in the playlist are provided for free personal use,
not for commercial purposes or paid events.
The audio may not be recorded or redistributed in any form
other than a link to SoundCloud without permission of the voice artist(s).

Posted in Culture/History, Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, Naomi Baltuck, Nature, ocean bliss, Peace & Justice, Photo Story, Photography/Photographer, Spiritual Practice, story, Story Telling, Photo Story, Sustainability, Teachers, TheBeZine, trees, Writing

Hope Floats

 

On my last visit to Juneau, my Alaskan sister Constance, told me a story. It began over fifteen hundred years ago, when a small band of Pacific Islanders, plagued by overpopulation and the depletion of natural resources, set sail across the Pacific in outrigger canoes to seek new islands to call home.

 

They were the ancestors of the people of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and other Polynesian islands.  Their only guidance was gleaned from the stars, the wind, ocean currents, the swell of the waves, the birds and the fish, the movement of the clouds. This ancient system of navigation, known as ‘wayfinding,’ enabled them to travel thousands of miles across vast stretches of ocean to remote tiny islands.

My sister told me she had volunteered at an event in honor of native Hawai’ian, Nainoa Thompson, who had come to Juneau to tell his story, and to celebrate the strong bond between the First Peoples of Alaska and Hawai’i.  It began in 1976, when Nainoa wanted to follow in his ancestors’ wake by sailing from Hawai’i to Tahiti with only traditional navigation as guidance.  He had a double-hulled outrigger canoe named Hokule’a, ‘Our Star of Gladness’.  At that time, ‘wayfinding’ was in danger of being forever lost.  Hawaii’s wayfinders had all died, and only a few elderly wayfinders remained in Micronesia. One of them, Mau Piailug, barely spoke English, and the trip from Hawaii to Tahiti longer than any voyage Mau had ever made.  But Mau’s children, like the children of so many Native Americans, had been taken away to boarding schools, robbed of their culture, and any interest in learning the ancient art.  He agreed to mentor Nainoa.

Under Mau’s tutelage Nainoa completed the trip, and became a master wayfinder, helping to preserve Hawai’ian culture.  But the Hokule’a was built from modern materials, and Nainoa wanted to build a ship of traditional Hawai’ian materials.  For almost a year, Nainoa searched throughout the Hawai’ian Islands for two koa trees to use as hulls.

Between the devastation of ranching and logging, he couldn’t find a single koa tree tall or thick enough to serve.

It was noted in Captain George Vancouvers journals in 1793–that some Hawai’ian canoes had hulls of Sitka Spruce.  The logs had been carried three thousand miles from Alaska by ocean currents, tossed up on Hawaiian beaches, and were considered gifts from the gods.

Nainoa asked Alaskan tribal elders for two Sitka Spruce trees to build an outrigger canoe.  He was told that he could have the trees “so you can build the canoe to carry your culture.  But we won’t take their lives until you come see that they are what you need.”

The Sitka Spruce trees were beautiful; 200-feet tall, eight feet in diameter, over 400 years old.  But Nainoa realized that he couldn’t take the life of those trees before dealing with the destruction of his native Hawaiian forests.

Nainoa returned to Hawai’i to launch a restoration program. People worked together, old and young–some traveled from Alaska–to plant thousands of koa tree seedlings, creating forests that will one day have tree big enough to make canoes.

Only then did Nainoa feel he could return to Alaska to accept the gift of the Sitka Spruce trees.

Nainoa called the new canoe ‘Hawai’iloa’, after the ancient wayfinder who first discovered the Hawai’ian Islands.

Those first Polynesian voyagers coped with overpopulation and depletion of resources by migrating to other uninhabited islands, but that’s no longer an option on our crowded planet.  Nainoa’s expanded mission has become ‘Malama Honua’, which means ‘caring for the Earth.’  Last year the Hokule’a completed a three year tour that circled the planet, building global community, and promoting earth care and sustainability as well as Polynesian culture.

I believe we have strayed, and lost sight of the world we want and need to live in.  But, as Nainoa discovered, and now teaches, if one is willing to listen and learn, there are wayfinders who can show us the way home.

All images ©2019 Naomi Baltuck


NAOMI BALTUCK (Writing Between the Lines)~ is Resident Storyteller at The BeZine. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer. Her works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE.

Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV (her personal blog) as well as on The BeZine.

Naomi conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.

Naomi says, “When not actually writing, I am researching the world with my long-suffering husband and our two kids, or outside editing my garden. My novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring (Viking Penguin), can be read in English, German, Spanish, and Italian. My storytelling anthology, Apples From Heaven, garnered four national awards, including the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice. I am currently working on a contemporary women’s novel.”

Insecurity

Hoar Frosted Trees (photo: John N Anstie)

As clouds gather and human progress seems to be freezing, it’s been worth spending some time pondering this word, its meaning, its consequences. I’ve come to the conclusion that it says everything about the human condition; it explains everything you may observe about the human race; and, in our efforts at The BeZine this month to wage the peace, it occurred to me that, if we are to achieve anything in this quest, we may have to do some ‘reverse engineering’, taking us back from war, division, angry and defensive retaliation, anxiety, fear, disagreement and disengagement to a place where we could begin to engineer the means of peaceful co-existence, true acceptance of difference, diversity and gender equality with renewed focus on how we can divert all the energy we wasted in destructive conflict to seeking some kind of new order.

We have the intellectual ability to achieve this, but do we have the strength of will to control our defensive-aggressive tendencies, our propensity when times are tough to withdraw behind the lines into our tribes where we are inclined to reinforce our insecurities, rattle sabres, beat chests and make our battle cries?

What is it that drives us to do anything? Is it just to preserve our livelihood, to ensure we are warm and dry at night, to feed and protect ourselves, our families, our children. I think in the twenty-first century Western World it has become so much more than that.

Almost everything we do is driven by our insecurity, but it doesn’t need to be. Safeguarding our livelihoods may be a positive effect, but there are far too many negatives. Insecurity can lead to discomfort, fear and anxiety. In turn, anger will follow, aggression, irrational and compulsive behaviours that lead us on to desperate measures to ward off perceived threats to our local or national territories, our place in the World and to our very being, our race. So much so that we are prepared to go to war with those whom we perceive to be posing threats, or with whom we are led to believe pose threats to our national security … enter stage right (or left) the spectre of political propaganda.

At its most basic, our insecurity is merely an expression of our frailty, the fragility of our existence on Earth. From the most insignificant to the most catastrophic consequences, it will lead us on to do stuff we really don’t need to do; to do and say things to other people that neither need to be done nor said. It even drives us to dream of leaving Earth and going into space to discover ‘life’ on other planets. At best this is vanity; delusion. At worst it is a distraction from the reality of having to solve our worldly problems here on Earth and a denial that we have the ability to do so.

In the Western World, the shopaholic, fashionista, obsessive pursuer of status all fear being inadequate, being seen to be inadequate, being seen to be less than well healed, being ineffectual, unable to afford the deemed desirable symbols of status … job title, house, exotic holiday, digital gadget, posh car. The car behind me, that fills my rear view mirror: is the driver really in a hurry, or filled with such insecurity, anxious thoughts that makes them feel they have to overtake me, even if the consequences of doing so will be dire. Is it an expression of their own status, that their car is better than mine and they should therefore be in front and not behind me? Are they thinking clearly, or are they just so agitated that they have lost their ability to be rational about what is truly important in their life?

In the Third World, insecurities are real even though, amongst some, there increasingly exists the enticing lure of a rich materialistic life, there are far to many impoverished people, who cannot fend for themselves for whom the water well is just too far to walk, for whom there is little hope of any kind of life, let alone a materialistic one.

The root of it all is insecurity. Why? Why do we have this emotional, testosterone driven response in a world full of resources; a world that, in spite of the fear mongers, is patently capable of supporting all its peoples, but for greed. Greed by a minority of individuals to have more than their fair share of those resources, tends to lead us on to want the same. So we all in turn aspire to become ‘wealthy’, which for most of us means ‘appearing’ to be well off, to a greater or lesser extent. And we are encouraged to do so by those who will benefit most from our consequent indebtedness. Giving up even a little of what we have is hard to do, maybe because we have had to give so much blood, sweat and tears to acquire it or maybe because we have inherited it and feel we have a right to possess it; that we are entitled? Each of us has our own reason for feeling insecure.

In ‘Waging Peace’ this month, I think The BeZine is asking us the question: how can we change the way we are? How can we stop ourselves from being greedy? How can we stop the rot, this dangerous cycle of grab as grab can, the fundamental fear that if we do give up a bit of what we have, if we give something of ourselves away, if we sublimate our ego, our personal desires, it will weaken us, make us vulnerable to being ‘taken over’ by those who would not give credence to any kind of altruism or philanthropy; moreover there’s an underlying resentment that by giving something away, some unworthy person may exploit you and benefit from it. Above all we may lose control of our lives.

And there we go again, into that vicious cycle! I feel myself getting angry at the thought of being ripped off by some greedy sociopathic personality, incapable of contrition, incapable, maybe by virtue of their genetic coding, their upbringing, the environment in which they grew up, that caused them grief, unhappiness, a feeling of disenfranchisement, a sense of desperation to do more than survive, be just ‘ok’. They want more, and more, and more until, maybe, there will be no more to have.

Side-lit Trees on Whitwell Moor (photo: John N Anstie)

I have thought, I have talked and written these words, but I still don’t truly have a solution, other than to try and learn the lessons taught to us by those rare human spirits and saintly beings, who have from time to time inhabited this Earth; who have been so humane, so selfless, so utterly giving of all they ever had to others. Somewhere deep in the spirit of all of us, there is this potential, this possibility that must be worth fighting for; that must be worth making conflict ‘so last year’, to see some light shining through the forest and make a new resolution to wage the peace.

© 2019 John Anstie

.. wouldst thou be pm, an abbreviation..

archaic or dialect question, in appropriate. a lowly start

with slight misgivings, i come arrived from the country, an immigrant

here.

if the task came to me unlikely, i should sew profusely. a safe bet in that

something grows decently.

do you know how to stitch a lie, when all about grow honesty? mine was

white last year,

now nothing germinates.

the question is irreverent, no disrespect meant. forgive me, this is the second

time. this time,

i shall stay.

despite my nationality.

© 2018, Sonja Benskin Mesher