An Affair Never-Ending | Lorraine Caputo

I have spent many hours studying the hatched lines to see where the railroads go. © Lorraine Caputo

Imagine, if you will, that I found a new passion after I left my mate of many years.  I was not looking for a new love. Nay – you could say, it found me.

It was 1988 and I struck out to learn, face to face, mouth to ear — about Mexico and Central America. Twenty-nine years old and I reclaimed my self, my independence. And during that ten-week sojourn, I took the first honest-to-goodness train of my life. We ain’t talking ‘bout no rapid from the east side to the west. We’re talking ‘bout El Oaxaqueño, 12 hours from Mexico City to Oaxaca. Ay, how I relished the mystery of traveling through the night, awakening in the morning amidst hamlets nestled in the folds of rock, cliffs so close I could study their formations.  The slow reach of the sun over one and another range of the Sierra Madre del Sur. Wood smoke scenting the crisp air. The food offered by the women who boarded, the conversations with other passengers and the workers. The squeal of wheel upon rail as we hairpinned through those mountains, finally descending to our destination.

 I then knew that riding the rails is a perfect way to learn about a country. Many times the train goes where no road goes. You travel slow enough to be able to see wildlife from those smoke-hazed and cracked windows, critters scared by the traffic of highways. You can catch glimpses into homes set close to the tracks.  And beyond passing through pueblocitos, within the train itself forms a community. You can talk, share lives and food, walk about. Face it, you can’t even begin to do that on a bus.

If I could, through my poetry and stories, share these experiences, put a human face on the names of pueblos from Alaska to Patagonia through these rides. I decided to devote every cent, every opportunity to travel by train.

But come 1997, the raison d’être of these journeys changed. No, it deepened.

With the signing of NAFTA, Mexico had to agree to privatize its national holdings, including the railroad. In five sectors it was sold off to consortia, made up by Mexican capitalists and — in larger part — by US cargo train companies: Union Pacific, Santa Fe-Burlington Northern and others. By early 1996 freight services were in their hands.  Then 1 October 1997 — I came to discover — marked the official turnover of the passenger services.

I didn’t know this when I crossed the border on an October day, planning to again to ride the rails. I wanted to go to a friend’s family’s village in the Sierra of northern Durango State.  I could make it totally by trains.

Or so I thought.

14 October 1997 / Matamoros, Mexico

Just after dawn I cross the bridge from Brownsville and arrive at Mexican immigration.

“How will you be traveling?” the official asks.

“By train.”

“Well, you’ve missed today’s train.  It left at seven this morning.”  He turns to a co-worker. “Isn’t that right?”

The other man raises his eyebrows and shrugs his shoulders.

My information says the Tamaulipeco leaves at 9:20 a.m.  I head off for the station, through the streets of this awakening city, in hopes of catching it.

I stop at a stand where a brazier and pots of coffee steam in the cool of morning. “Which way is the train station?”

The man replies, “There are no trains, no hay.”

Further down the main road, I find a tourist information booth. Two men are inside, one behind a desk. “The train station? It’s up about four more blocks. Pero no hay.”

Next door is the government tourist office. The young woman shrugs. “I don’t know. It’s best to go to the station and ask.”

Once more I make my way up the now-busier street. At the next corner, near the tracks, a tourist officer and several taxi drivers sit on a bench. They all say, No, there is no service from here because of privatization by the government. Pero sí hay from Reynosa.  It leaves at 4 p.m.

A loud train horn disturbs our conversation. We all cover our ears. A long chain of Northwestern and other cars come rumbling along. It stops. Security men begin searching between the cars for stowaways, pulling them off. A few jump and escape.

I turn back from my quest and catch a bus for Reynosa.

Reynosa

Out front of the bus terminal, I ask a man where the train station is. He responds, “No hay trenes.”

I walk up to a taxi driver (they always know). Yes, he agrees, at 4 p.m. there is a train. He gives me directions.

Later I stop by a man selling roasted corn at the curb. “No,” he answers, “there are no trains.”

“But in Matamoros they told me there is, and a taxi driver here said so, too.”

“Look,” he says adamantly, “you can believe me or you can waste your time. But there is no train.”

“Since when?”

“Oh, at least six months now.”

Another man comes. “For Monterrey? Yes, there is. My sister took it Sunday. It runs every other day. So, yes, today there will be.”

With this hope I follow the tracks to the blue and white station.

It is boarded up, the doors locked with heavy chains. Some of the windows are broken. Through their white paint peeling away, I see the schedule blackboard still hanging by the ticket window. The blue seats in the waiting room remain.

Between the old station and the abandoned restaurant next door, a man sells gum and candies. “Excuse me, sir. Why is there no passenger service?”

“It’s because of a company del otro lado, from the other side. It bought it and decided there will be no service.”

“Since when?”

“Oh, since three or four months ago.”

Right at that moment, a lengthy string of US freight cars halts, brakes clanking. Black-coated men begin searching among the cars for stowaways.

I return to the bus terminal and stay until night to go to Monterrey. In the women’s bathroom, I recount to Socorro, the attendant, my fruitless search for the train to Monterrey. She is surprised to hear the news.

15 October 1997 / Monterrey

I grew bored in Reynosa and finally took a bus here, arriving at 1 a.m.

At about three, I wander outside and ask two taxistas there. They conclude, “With the change of owners, no-one knows the present schedules. It’s best to go inquire there.”

“Who are the new owners?”

“Some are Mexicans, others are from the US.”

I wait until the light of day begins washing the city streets and I walk as fast as I can with this forty-pound knapsack to the train station. A man sits behind the ticket window.

“Is there still a train for Durango?” I shift the pack on my back.

“Yes. It leaves in fifteen minutes. For only one? Ninety pesos.”

Ay, I tell him of my misadventures with the Tamaulipeco. “Since when doesn’t it run?”

“Since January.”

We leave behind those saw-tooth mountains of Monterrey, swirled with white rock. The chilled dust of early morning blows through my shattered window. Our train of hard foam cushioned seats, of dirty floors and dirty floors rocks and sways past a hamlet of rubble of once-homes destroyed.  From the ruins of one flies a zopilote. Forests of ages-old yucca trees. A hawk soars over the green desert thicket. Encrusted sand dunes sculpt the earth. I snuggle into the warmth of the sun as we pass by a village of old-fashioned adobes.

And I awaken at Paredón. In those hazes of sleep, I expect this car to be full of Mexican Revolutionaries.

The train winds through low mountains, then horseshoe-curves around a flatland. Once more it begins to corkscrew through mountains. A hawk sits up on the rise of ancient basalt boulders. The desert sand is laced with dry streambeds and footprints, horse trails, coyote tracks.

We zoom past cornfields and jolt past a sky-blue circus big top as we enter Concordia. There, a black-hatted, sun-glassed man boards. He strolls up the aisle and back down, playing a beat-up guitar and singing a corrida. He gathers his tips, then goes to the back of the car. He performs a few ballads, a fellow passenger joining in.

As we pull into the next town, a new voice and masterful strumming is heard. All women’s eyes turn to that man, black hair pulled back into a curly ponytail.  They nod, smiling, whispering to one another.

Near the tracks, nine students stand. Their brass coronets gleam in the now-afternoon sun. A few practice notes, and as we pull away, they play a clarion call.

The strolling musician is gone.

We fast clip upon these old rails. The diesel engine hums deep. Vineyards and orchards neatly crisscross this wide valley.

Over a soccer field in Gómez Palacios bobs a blue and yellow kite. Children gather in the stands, watching its dance. A colorful clothesline flaps its laundry in the cool sun.

At Torreón, an elderly woman boards. Her silver hair is covered by a black lace scarf. She holds one corner of it in her mouth, hiding the right side of her face. It falls away for a second, revealing a misshapened nose, a cheek deeply incised with wrinkles, a sunken eye, a sneering mouth.

A little girl’s dark eyes peer over the seat in front of me, then dart away as I grin. Next they appear around the side of the seat and retreat with a shy smile.

As we ride into the sunset, we hug mountains of folded rock.  Shadows fall deep and long. The red soil is shaped into irrigation ditches and plowed rows of golden maize. The bright-yellow sun nears a blanket of gilt-edged periwinkle clouds touched with peach. I listen to the music of this train and wish I could write its symphony.

        Dá-da-da
                Dah        Dah
        counterpointed by squeaking springs.

Just before the sun sinks beyond, the bottoms of the clouds are etched in magenta. Then the landscape falls into greys. The pastel sky drains. Out there, to the north, a long spume of white smoke blows from an orange bundle of flames.

I turn my eyes to where the moon has risen above the sierra. The rest of our way to Durango, I gaze upon her fullness.

17 October 1997 / Durango

Sunrise is beginning to wash the eastern sky. The once-full moon disappears in the western. The chill of this semi-desert morning hovers around and within this caboose. In the warmth of a diesel stove, the conductor, an old farmer and I huddle.

“Come Monday,” the conductor says, “there will be no more passenger service — only cargo. The day before yesterday there was a passenger car. Now they ride in the caboose.”

“Why will there be no more passenger service?” I lean towards the stove, holding my hands out.

“The new owners have decided the tracks are in too bad of shape.”

“Who are the new owners?”

“Union Pacific here, Santa Fe elsewhere. They own the tracks, stations, everything. And they’re ending a lot of services.”

Así pues, I wanted to take the train from Matamoros to Monterrey, but there is none now. But there is from Reynosa, they told me. So I went there by bus. Pero no hay.”

The farmer shakes his head. The conductor nods his, “But we believe some will return once repairs are done — like that one.”

“Well, the story is much the same up north. Before, all the passenger trains were run by the freight companies — Union Pacific, Santa Fe and others. But during the 60s and 70s they decided to do away with them. Then in 1976 the government said we needed them again. But AMTRAK, as the passenger service is now called, doesn’t own many lines. It has to pay the freight companies to use theirs. So AMTRAK can’t make much money, and fares are high.”

The conductor checks the fire.  “, money is more important than the people.”

The old man nods.

The conductor falls silent as several other workers enter. He hands me a cigarette and lights it, hands cupping the flame.

Once they leave, he continues. “One has to be careful of what one says. There are many animalillos.” He draws a finger across his throat.

“Even on el otro lado,” I respond, “people are afraid to speak up. For fear of losing their jobs, their homes, their cars and all else.”

We talk about our pueblos, our people on either side of the Great River. Of how US corporations are robbing the people of the trains, the farmers of their lands.

Soon the day is lighter and more passengers board.  Our conversation ends. I take a perch in the cupola. The old man stays at the table, near the stove. The conductor begins his work.

At about 8:30 a.m. we leave, with two locomotives, seven open hoppers, this caboose, a car with barred windows for security guards and a payroll car behind.  Over two dozen passengers are crowded in here.

Past shantytowns of wood and cardboard homes and into the desert, its edges and mountains hazed. The rocky land rises, studded with fruiting nopales, and it falls away to dry stream beds.  Through forests of mesquite, the ashy soil beneath carpeted with sage. Campos of maize sprinkled with sunflowers, fields of frijol. Cows graze near the tracks. One’s breath steams the morning. Another, chewing its cud, slowly moves off to a quieter place, away from our clicking train.

We stop at a village. The sun strokes my face through this open cupola window. The farmer looks up at me writing these words. With a slight laugh I wave my pen, writing in air. He nods and smiles. I lean out a bit and notice in the third hopper up front rides a white-jacketed, white cowboy-hatted man.

A herd of seven bulls begins stampeding, one by one, across a high field of grain. Above them flies a flock of low-swooping black birds. And just as suddenly the bulls stop.

In the yard of a blue and turquoise house, a young boy runs. He pauses to watch our train go by.

On the stove the workers heat some chiles rellenos and water for coffee. One of them warms his hands.

We arrive at another village.  On the gravel road traversing the tracks a bicyclist stops to look. Before we depart with nine new passengers aboard, he pedals off.

A yellow-sweatered boy climbs up to sit on the cupola floor.  He calls to his nervous brother to join him. I squeeze myself closer to the window to share my seat with him.

Lucia — a pueblo of raw adobe walls. A woman with her young daughter runs alongside us. The conductor leans out the vestibule.  “Where are you going?”

“To Canatlán.”

“Get in the caboose.”

En serio?  They told us there was no passenger car!”

And more pots appear on the stove. Their smells waft up to my hungry nose. The conductor motions me down to share lunch with them.

As we slow for the next stop, Los Pinos, the old farmer waves good-bye before darting out the back door.

The conductor rummages through his black sports bag. His ball cap comes flying, landing at my feet, as he puts on a gnarl-faced mask and turns to us at the table. He tosses that aside and digs out a cassette player. Between stops he listens to music through the headphones.

A woman sits upon the bed platform in the rear section. Her young fingers skillfully crochet a doll’s dress. Her son Josué puts on the Halloween mask. Papa reads today’s paper. Over his shoulder, her green eyes study an article he shows her.

At this workers’ dining table sits Mary with her four-year-old niece. Next to me is Rosario. Rosario, now 18, yes, has finished her studies. “A ver – we’ll see,” she says with a shrug when asked about her future. Mary, 23, finished only secondary school. She has no job. “No, I’m too old to finish my studies,” she says with a tilt of the head, a lift of the shoulders.

We ignore, then parry, and ignore again the chiding of men.

Through the partly opened window, I catch glimpses of countryside and villages, of children waving, of workers in the fields. Lakes glitter in the noon-day sun.

Esfuerzos Unidos, Alisos, Nuevo Ideal. Family by family, person by person, the caboose begins to empty. Angelita, Las Flores, Chinacates. A wagon drawn by two horses trots across a field.

The wooden crucifix and rosary beads above this table sway with the train’s rocking. We begin winding our way down through the heights of the Sierra Madre. Rock walls hug this train.

The conductor goes atop. Another worker hops out a cupola window to join him. There I see them standing, coated against the wind, speaking into walkie-talkies. One leans through my window and begs some matches.

At Kilometer 157 we make a short stop. A sow leads three piglets across the dirt road. The conductor climbs down to talk with some fellow workers there about when their paychecks will come. “We have the payroll car here.”

“No,” one states, “I got my letter.”

“Well, after Monday, no hay tren.”

No me digas — Don’t tell me,” another says surprised.

A lone zopilote soars over a land of bleached bones. Two yellow butterflies dance above a yucca. Beneath the shade of mesquite a burro lies. He lazily turns his head to these clapping cars. We still creep through this mountain chain, metal screeching against metal. Not far from a swift river sits a lone adobe house. In the front patio grazes a tethered horse. A small waterfall tumbles. A black bull wanders to the shallows to drink from the clear waters.

At Santiago Papasquiaro we wait. The locomotive pulls away. A dust devil picks up trash & egrets in its whirlwind. We finally depart here. Three young boys jump on a trampoline in a yard. The man with the white sombrero is gone. A dog on a rooftop barks as we gain speed.

Rosario, now in the cupola, squeals as one of the brakemen walks through with the mask on.

Within the cloudless sky a hawk dips and rises above the scrublands. A roadrunner darts among the brush. Above a pool of steaming sulfur springs hovers an orange and white dragonfly.

The conductor sits at the table reading the news. After a while he falls asleep. Rosario and Josué sit across from me up here, singing corridas. A six-pack of Modelo goes around the caboose. One by one, the cans of beer are popped open.

A pair of blue and black butterflies appears alongside us. But just as quickly, we leave them behind.

At Presidio Rosario gets off, a bit tipsy from one beer. A family of four women and a boy come on with hand-made ribbon wreaths protected by clear plastic bags.

We journey along a river that occasionally cuts cliffs and other times winds through the plain. At Corrales the new women and boy depart. They walk across the wood-plank bridge, across the river, into town.

We arrive at Tepehuanes, only seven passengers left, the end of this line. The adobe station is pink-painted bricks. The train goes a bit further to begin loading timber for the paper mills down south.

Next door to the station is a hotel. My room is large, with thick adobe walls. I open the shutters of the window and begin spreading my work on the table beneath it. Before sunset I head for dinner, crossing the bridge over a brook, climbing the hill into town. After I return, Magdalena invites me to join them in the kitchen. An adobe stove in the corner warms the interior dimly lit by one bulb. On tomorrow’s south-bound train, she will be leaving on a “trip.” Later, she confides she is going to el otro lado. Since the train will no longer be arriving, there will be no guests for their hotel — and so to make a living? She will leave her 113-year-old mother in the care of a young Lola. Lola’s mate, José still doesn’t believe the train will end come Monday, that this was indeed the last train to Tepehuanes.

I spend evenings in that kitchen, seeking the heat of that stove, chatting with Lola and José. Doña Julia dips gingerbread cookies into her glass of warm milk, gumming her words. One night of chilled stars and the sierra silhouetted against the waning moon, she tells me of when she met Pancho Villa. She was down by the river washing clothes with other women. No, she laughs, she rejected his invitation to join the revolutionary forces. I ask her if it were true he had many women. She only gives me a demure, silent look.

My plan is to spend a month here, then travel down to Durango. From there I will take the train to Felipe Pescador, to make the connection with the south-bound Ciudad Juárez-Mexico City train.

I spend the days writing, and talking with the local people about the end of this train, and of those to Aserraderos and Regocijo. One late afternoon several women and I drink coffee in an eatery. Candy, who works for the village, shakes her head. “I had heard such, but…” The waitress is shocked. “There is no train for Regocijo? But, but I was going to go visit my sister there in a few weeks! How will I be able to afford it now?

The Day of the Dead comes and goes. And every other day, when the cargo train is due in, I go down to greet the workers.

7 November 1997 / Tepehuanes

I go to dinner about 4:30 p.m. Afterwards I decide to walk down to the station to see if the cargo train had come in. Several workers and I sit on the platforms.

“Today is National Railroad Day,” says one.

“Ay, there used to be bands greeting us here and elsewhere,” another reminisces.

“But now there is just silence.  All is mute.”

The conductor turns to me. “Since two or three days ago, there’s no train from Durango to Felipe Pescador.”

“What?  How are people going to get there?  There’s no road!” I interject.

The workers dejectedly nod.

“There’s talk, too,” he continues, “that there won’t be one for Torreón nor from Mexico City for Juárez come the 13th or 14th of this month.”

“When I was in Durango, I asked about those trains, and I was told that they would continue to exist!”

“Well, that of the Felipe Pescador line was a bit abrupt. The jefe de patio got a telegram saying, ‘As of tomorrow, service is cancelled.’ What could he do?”

I look at the shadowing ground. “How is it now without passengers?”

Triste, sad.”

I arrive in Mexico City 15 November and go to the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México. A woman in a 12th floor office shows me the official schedule as of 29 September 1997. She has received reports that between 40 and 50 routes have been cancelled since then. No, she didn’t know about Tepehuanes, nor Aserraderos, nor Regocijo.

In the next few months in Mexico, I madly dash after disappearing trains.

A copy of the rail map the FFCC de México used to give away, with most of the rides I’d taken marked.
©Lorraine Caputo

I look at my map of Mexico, noticing those black rail lines that go where no road passes, a web covering the nation from Baja to the Yucatán. I think of the routes I have taken over this decade of traveling. I think of the rides I will never get a chance to experience.

I shall miss the awakening from dreams, to see the full moon shining upon a sleeping home. Hushed voices in unlit cars of passengers coming, passengers going. The golden mesh of lights filling the valley as we’d come into Mexico City at night. I shall miss seeing the morning sun reach its fingers into the crevices, range by range, of the southern Sierra Madre mountains, morning mists over jungle cerros of Tabasco. I shall miss storm clouds mounding, then bursting upon the afternoon desert, sand imprinted by coyote, correcaminos running for shelter. Sunsets painting the western horizon.

I shall miss leaning upon the vestibule half-door, the wind blowing loose strands of my hair about, listening to the clickety-clack over wooden ties, the softer rhythm over concrete ones. I shall miss the smells of those women offering me gorditas de nopales con queso and atole in Chihuahua mornings, volovanes de cangrejo and coffee come Veracruz evenings. The bite of wood fires in crisp darkness. Of burning fields of sugar cane in the zafra.

I shall miss the children looking over their seats at this loca writing, or playing with their toy cars in the aisle, or sitting with me and this map, seeing where we had been and where we were going. Of sharing my sleeping bag with families migrating north, dressed in nothing more than thin cotton clothes.

I shall miss the stories of a doña Juana telling me of her childhood during the Mexican Revolution, before roads cut the Durango deserts. I miss sitting next to a doña Teresa embracing sweet azucenas to her Tehuantepec-huipil breast, like a Diego Rivera painting. I shall miss the conductor’s wife offering me a croissant, a banana and coffee, the workers offering me fish tacos or chiles rellenos.

I shall miss the sharing of lives and hopes, food and love with others, whiling away the time on those endless, timeless journeys.

Traveling by train no longer became a way to enjoy the country, to learn of its culture and life, to share community. No, riding became much more than that. I had to face deeper realities of the importance of these trains.

What will happen to those people who supported their families by selling to us passengers? On ebon nights, awaiting in the lights of the station, boarding with their baskets and kettles steaming in the chill air, stepping over bodies wrapped in thin blankets, sleeping in the aisles. The voices of mothers and their children quietly calling

                           Arroz con leche

                                    Café       Atole

                           Tamalitos       Enchiladas

                                    Gorditas…

How shall campesinos get their cheeses and fruits to market? How will they feed their families tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow?

What will happen to those villages whose lifelines were the silver rails?

Will abandonment beat the dirt roads, melt adobe homes into the earth? Will wooden doors bang in winter winds sweeping down from the north? No longer will laundry sway in a blue-white sun. No longer will small circuses pitch their ragged big tops for a few day’s pesos before moving on to some other pueblo. How many of these families have had to pack their trunks and bundles, migrate to a city in hopes of survival? How many of these communities are now rent by these winds of thoughtless change?

How will folks visit one another? How many will be able to afford a bus ticket for everyone in the family, to see abuelito, to celebrate Tía Rosa’s birthday, to take a holiday? Before, the bus was up to three times more expensive than the train. Who will be able to afford those bus fares spiraling, spiraling upward, now that there is no competition?

How many lines might continue to because these new owners deem they can jack the prices up, rake in the big bucks from the foreign tourists? Or because of protest by the people?

For now the vestiges of the Mexican Revolution continue to fray in the northern winds. Perhaps those days of train travel are gone. Or perhaps not. Maybe someday a new government shall come to power that recognizes the importance of the trains to communities, to the families, to the economies of these pueblocitos — as is happening in other countries.

Or perhaps a new Revolution is brewing in the Sierra Madre. Maybe one day former workers and a village will take up “arms” of máquinas and carros, appropriate the tracks, and with no funds from anyone keep the lines alive and gleaming silver to the ejidos, giving campesinos a way to get their products to market, for the ill to receive medical attention, for kinfolk to visit.

It may seem this affair has ended, but I still study my map, tracing those black lines. This is a love that has deepened with the years. I still search, every time I am in Mexico, for whatever visage of those train adventures. And, ay, when we meet once more, what a ride we have!

Sí pues, as long as there is a train upon which to journey, this shall be an affair never-ending.


This originally appeared on Latin American Wanderer. Republished by permission.

©2016 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved


Lorraine Caputo…

…is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 20 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019), Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022) and Fire and Rain (Red Mare #18, 2019), a collection of eco-feminist poetry. She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. 

Follow her travels at: Latin American Wanderer

Earth Sunset Healing | Lorraine Caputo

This Earth

The Earth has a memory

Dawn fog lays low
where rivers once flowed
now forced underground
by the city growing
over centuries

The Earth has her secrets

Long-disappeared species
emerge from scarred forests
scarred landscapes
Fernandina giant tortoise, Wallace’s
giant bee, Formosa clouded leopard …

This Earth lives

Watercolors from Zimbabwe 2
©2022 George Terziev

In the Sunset Sea

Bands of rose ripple
            across the deep blue water
As I lift my arms above
            the golden sun reflects off
                        the droplets
The gentle waves bathe my Spirit
            soothing her
            carrying away all the fatigue
                        all the sorrows
 
I sink into the sea’s warmth
            floating on its salty breadth
watching the now-orange sun
                        sink deeper behind the hills
Its colors spread wide
            across the broken clouds
                        like an opal
 
I turn over & over in this iridescent water
            just to feel my muscles move
                        to feel their pull with each stroke
            just to know that
                        I’m still, I am still
                                   alive

Earthly Lamentations…& Healing

Who will…
Why?!?
Who will answer?
WHEN??
Why?
Why?

Amid lies and denials
the earth is dying
A million deaths per minute
of all our relations
When will Homo sapiens species-centralism end?
When will the pain end?

~       ~       ~       

I hear shouts in the night
echoing down deserted streets
echoing through the valley,
down its slopes

Sirens wail and beep
announcing— as if— the end
of this world… the urgency

Sometimes I believe
(I wish)
it would be best
if the end just come
to wipe out this
human plague

~       

I hear the wind ripping
at tin rooves
as if to lay bare
the lives of humankind
to lay bare their
denials and deceits 

When will it all stop?
Why can’t humans just
STOP
what they are mindlessly
doing… become mindful 
of this planet… of all other
being here— live
and not dominate

Life will go on…
Perhaps not what
we have known…
But it shall go on…
Mother shall heal—
she needs to be cleansed
of the human plague…

~       ~       ~       

Then the long, slow, peaceful process of healing shall begin…


~       ~       ~       

Then the long, slow, peaceful process of healing shall begin…
Earthly Lamentations
©2018 Lorraine Caputo

©2022 Lorena Caputo
All rights reserved


Lorraine Caputo…

…is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 20 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019), Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022) and Fire and Rain (Red Mare #18, 2019), a collection of eco-feminist poetry. She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. 

Follow her travels at: Latin American Wanderer

Silence and Solitude | Lorraine Caputo

The Universe’s Call to Disconnect

One of the greatest necessities…is to discover creative solitude.

Carl Sandberg

Sometimes one needs the silence, the solitude – if for nothing else than to meditate on where one has been, where one is now … and ponder where the road may lead to wander in the future.

Sometimes that silence, that solitude is chosen. A few weeks in a beach hut in Zorritos is always a wonderful tonic for me. To spend long hours soaking in the hot springs up in the desert hills. Hours wandering the beach. Hours swimming in the Pacific Ocean, feeling my muscles stretch with each stroke. Hours sitting on the bamboo porch, writing poetry – or swaying in the hammock reading.

Or anyplace along the Caribbean. That warm sea serenades my spirit. A home for meditating, creating poetry, exploring nature.

Sunset at Zorritos.
Photo ©2016 Lorraine Caputo

Sometimes, though, we are called from without to be in silence and solitude … called to re-learn the old ways, before internet and cell phones (which I don’t have anyways).

And such is my place in this present. A thousand kilometers at sea, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. At night I hear its thunderous voice with the incoming tide. The wind rises, banging my door ajar wide open or closing it with a bang – a ghostly message to open my self to what is happening at that moment. Or a ghostly message to release my self of it.

Such is my place in this present.
Photo ©2016 Lorraine Caputo

Although the village is just a few kilometers away and its multi-colored lights serpentine across the night bay, here it is another world.

My few neighbors are scientists or students working to preserve these islands’ unique environment, and their flora and fauna. (Me – I’m here to preserve their work for future generations of investigators.)

Like the tourists, though, that flock here to gawk at nature’s bounty, we are here only for a while. We see specimens of that species Homo sapiens turiensis every day. Many colleagues walk or bike those several kilometers to interact with that world, only to return late at night on a dark road.

I prefer to be here at night. I prefer to sit out on the porch, watching the violently colored sunset over in that direction where the town lay. Venus is bright against that pallet. Then I watch the full moon rise above the long-extinct volcano’s slopes, now covered with wild vegetation. To wonder at the multitudes of stars dusted by the Milky Way, Mars bright red near Scorpio’s curling tail.

I listen to the sea, to the call of some night bird, the rustle of something unseen in the heavy growth of saltbush and espino.

Until the clouds begin to drift in off the bay. It is now time to repose, to drift away on that spirit serenade ….

Only to awaken with the dawning of a new day misted by the seasonal garúa and mockingbird melodies.

A golden dawn, assuring more garúa mist top fall this morn.
Photo ©2016 Lorraine Caputo

After a day of measurements and studies, of translations and writing reports, I often head to the beach near my temporary home.

At the gate, village youth park their bikes and head off, surfboards under arms. In these garúa months, the wind comes from the south, causing the bay’s waters to swell into curving waves.

I sit on the time-worn lava rock, watching those young folk bobbing in the platinum-blue waters. When a wave begins to rise, one paddles and catches it, riding the curl until it breaks into white froth.

Overhead fly blue-footed boobies. A yellow warbler hops amidst the purslane, pecking at the coarse soil. Behind me, an iguana sprawls, resting after his algae feast.

Life within a tidal pool.
Photo ©2016 Lorraine Caputo

Or perhaps when I arrive, it is low tide (like it was today). Now it is a solitary beach, with only a few errant Homo sapiens turiensis taking photos of a pelican atop a mound of rocks, hunched against the chill breeze.

There is a silence broken by the shriek of an ashen-colored gull. A ruddy turnstone steps across these black fields, as does a whimbrel and over yonder, a dusky heron. Overhead, a boobie passes. A frigatebird circles over the shallows.

Carefully I step across the tumbled, fractured lava and peer into the tidal pools, at the life that is within. How many will find safe haven until the waters once more rise? A yellow warbler bathes in a small pool captured between algae-greened stones.

Yellow warbler bathing in a tidal pool.
Photo ©2016 Lorraine Caputo

I take off my shoes. Feeling the rough sands of broken coral, shells and sea urchin spines beneath my bare feet, I begin to meld with the energy of this enchanted place. I merge my energy with its during qi chi chuan.

Doing Standing Five Elements, I feel the isles’ volcanic fire and the cool waters that wash this shore. Earth that slowly breaks down into soil, to accept the mangrove woods that take root. And finally the metal of minerals belched from the planet’s soul. Bringing all these energies into me, to balance me.

Then I Yang-dance more than a hundred postures across this coarse strand, shutting doors, grasping a grass sparrow’s tail, my hands waving like the clouds passing through this heaven, waving to Buddha …

Meditatively I close the session. The western sky over the village is awash with golden fuchsia. I gather my shoes in hand and walk barefoot to my temporary home to eat dinner under starlight, to the tidal music.

The full moon veiled by clouds coming in, promising another garúa-misted dawn.
Photo ©2016 Lorraine Caputo

Silence and solitude is what this place gifts to me every moment.

Yet sometimes the silence deepens … the electricity may go out, plunging all in lava-black darkness. Not even those multi-color tourist hotel lights paint the bay.

Sometimes the internet fades away, cutting all ties with the outside world that lies beyond those clouds that bear garúa.

This is when I am reminded to return, to re-learn the old ways. To sit at the table on my porch, listening to the mockingbird song and the high tide, writing these words to share with you, to let you know that indeed I am still here.

Hope, I do, to be able to send this meditation to you from this island a thousand miles out at sea.

The earth has its music for those who will listen …

George Santayana

This originally appeared on Latin American Wanderer. Republished by permission.

©2016 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved


Lorraine Caputo…

…is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 20 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019), Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022) and Fire and Rain (Red Mare #18, 2019), a collection of eco-feminist poetry. She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. 

Follow her travels at: Latin American Wanderer

Mother Peace Meditation | Lorraine Caputo

Show Me Our Future, Sisters

I. Our Past Pours from Nine Cups

From our pasts
     we gather our pooled 
          waters of
Sweat       & tears
Into our communal fountain
     we have poured
          our labors       for work       & children
               our joys & our sorrows
We dance      & sing
     jump & dive
          into this gathering
               of Life

II. Daughters of Discs Holds Out Our Hopes & Fears

& here we stand
          solitary
     in a circle of protection
Giving thanks
     for another day of life
Gathering energy
     within our vessel
Clasping a sacred pipe
Naked
     unashamed of who we are
Always knowing
     our village awaits
          to welcome us home

III. The Strength of Eight Discs

Miroslava Panayotava
memories, digital
©2021
Our strength
     is the many blankets we weave
Blankets to warm & protect
Blankets of the many 
     designs of our 
          individual beings
We shall share these
     huddled together
          laughing & storytelling
               during the cold winters
                    to come
     huddled together
          singing & praying
               spread out upon
                    verdant meadows

IV. A Two-Cupped Challenge

The challenge       the challenge
     of a siren singing to
          our male part
     a siren calming       taming
          our patriarchal world
The challenge
     to sing       & swim free
          as our peaceful
               dolphin sisters
The challenge       of remembering
     we all nourish one another
          water to earth to sky
          male to female
Under a crescent grandmother moon
     we shall
          meet our challenge
               drinking from one another’s cup

V. Our Future Is Justice

& there       & here
     our future
We have gathered the forces
     water       & earth
     female       & male
     human       & animal       & plant
Beneath the mighty
     Tree of Life
          Yggdrasil       the Ceiba
Roots deep into our Mother
     into our past
Growing upward
     spreading our limbs

Previously published in Woman Scream (Dominican Republic: Editorial Rosado Fucsia, 2020). 


Poetry ©2020 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved

Posted in interNational Poetry Month, poetry

Guerrilla Poetry plus 2 more from Lorraine Caputo

A poetry reading
Digital art from photographs, ©2021 Michael Dickel

Comments on a Reading

You create images
	with words you’ve carefully chosen
		& modeled into verse
But in your droning monotone
	they fall lifeless
		before my ears     my mind

Breathe the fire you felt
	when you wrote that poem
Let the words escape from your mouth
	the way they escaped from your imagination
Let me hear the laughter       the groans
	the serenity       the anger

Your words sputter out in a constant stream
	to stop
			dead
		before reaching my Spirit


GUERRILLA POETRY

The idea ….

Take the poetry out of the coffeehouses & classrooms
	Take the voice to the streets

Small groups       3 or 4 voices united
Guerrilla strikes       poetry readings
Hit with the power of poems
		& disappear, then
	into the mundane life

		laundromats
	speaker’s circle
shopping malls
	convenience stores
		police station waiting rooms

		wherever people are
	sludging through the mud
of rutted life

Strike       with the word

Then       vanish

DO IT!

BANQUETE CULTURAL

On a ball court
in Barrio Edén
we set chairs around
the stage-buffet
we are laying

creating a different space
from the bar on the corner
blaring tropical rhythms,
from the traffic going
some place
some place else
this Saturday night

Families & neighbors
take a seat, their hungering
souls, hungering minds
feasting on the songs & stories,
poetry & mime—the visions
we serve at this 
Cultural Banquet,

a now & then breeze
softly wiping away our
sweat, softly swaying palms
to our rhythms
in this different space

©2021 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved


Lorraine Caputo

Wandering troubadour Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 250 journals on six continents; and 14 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She travels through Latin America with her faithful companion Rocinante (that is, her knapsack), listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.


The BeZine Spring

Lanterns and Other Poems

—Lorraine Caputo

When We Grew Up

Walking down the aisles, aimlessly … 
glancing at the jacks, plastic soldiers, cap guns … 
Remembering when I was young,  
boys had their toys and girls had theirs 
 
I picked up a rubber ball, rainbow on white, 
bounced it on the concrete floor,  
caught it with senseless fingers …  
      Bounce      Catch 
            Bounce      Catch 
Flex the wrist, sing a song 
      When we grew up, we were at war 
      When we grew up, we were at war 
 
My hand went limp, dropped the rubber ball  
into its bin … the rainbow dimmed …  
my senseless fingers rubbing tired eyes. 
      When we grew up, we were at war 
      When we grew up, we were at war 
That senseless war of our childhood ended as our youth ended. 
The embers of senseless wars, smoldering as our youth smolders. 
      … When we were grown up, we were at war 
             When we were grown up, we were at war … 

Spring Storm

In my deep sleep 
      I hear another storm 
Thunder rumbles my bed 
      lightning shimmers through 
            the window-blind slats ajar 
Raining hail pings off the roof 
 
In my deep sleep 
      I hear another Stealth 
The jet rumbles my bed 
      its blackness blankets my mind 
            suffocating deep dreams 
Raining bombs ping off distant lands 
 
 
Water rises in the streams 
      in low lanes       in ceramic  
            bowls left beneath  
                  the leaking skylight 
Above       its stained glass is dull 
      in the blackness       it rattles 
            with the rumbles 
 
 
I awaken from another 
      long rumble reaching 
            deep within my being 
To water rising across 
      the wooden floor beneath 
            that stained glass 

Lanterns

Across this lightly
               wind-rippled pond
                               lanterns float
Their candles flicker
               struggling to keep alight
                               souls floating
                                              to the Spirit World
Struggling against a white-cap wake
               of another one
                               of our steps
                                              from the marshy shore
 
Lanterns for the souls
               let loose       to soar
                               on our nuclear winds
                                              above Hiroshima
                                                             & Nagasaki
Our steps
               into that New Age
                               of Kali
Our step
               letting loose
                               a hundred thousand souls
                                              of Japan
Our step
               like the multi-legged
                               Indian deity
In to the waters of this pond
               into the Sea of Japan
 
Hundreds of thousands
                               millions more
               into many other seas
A million more lanterns
               candles flickering       struggling
                               against this evening breeze
               of Vietnamese souls
& those of Laotians
                               more for the Kampucheans
& those of Filipinos       of Indonesians
               Timorese . . . .
 
How many lanterns shall we
               send adrift for
                               Native American souls?
Will we ever know?
Souls caked with
               coal dust & homeland dirt
                               glowing with uranium
Floating off across
               with our step
                               our push
 
Like a multi-handed
               Indian deity
We push these lanterns
               across this pond
One hundred twenty thousand
               Guatemalan souls
                               we push
Over a hundred thousand
               Salvadoran souls
Thirty thousand Argentinean
               perhaps an equal number
                               of Chilean
How many souls
               Panamanian       Colombian
                               Nicaraguan
How many souls
               of Latin Americans
                               have we sent afloat
                                              across these waters?
 
& how many African souls?
               Will we ever know?
Souls dipped in cobalt & platinum
               glittering with diamonds
A million more lanterns
               candles flickering     struggling
                               against the breeze
               of Chockwe       Bantu       Yoruba
& those of South Africa
               more for the Angolans
& more for . . .
 
Ay--& the nuclear rains of munitions
               & the twice, thrice weekly
                               rains of bombs
                                              over Iraq
Like the multi-handed deity
               they fall from the palms
                               sift through the fingers
                                              of our many hands
Our many hands strangling
               a million & a half
                               & more Iraqis
Squeezing every drop we can
               to fuel these candles lit
                               in these lanterns we
                                              push across this pond
Squeezing       pushing
               to give ourselves dignity
 
Our many hands strangling
               North Koreans       Cubans       Libyans
Our 285 million pairs of hands
               strangling so many millions
                               & pushing their souls across
               for all this around us
                               & perhaps
                                              a bit
                                                             of dignity
 
 
Like Kali
               we hand the world death
Gathering skull garlands
               around our fattened necks
 
But like Kali
               can we also
                               create life? 

©2020 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved


Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 180 journals on six continents; and 12 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017) and On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.


Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, The BeZine, The BeZine Table of Contents, TheBeZine

The BeZine September 2020, Vol. 7, Issue 3 — Social Justice

September is an extra special month over here at the BeZine. This year, our theme for September is “Social Justice,” in an effort to call awareness to global poverty, homelessness, and inequality. And we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC). The BeZine will hold a virtual 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) Reading / Music / Art Event on September 26th, 2020 and co-host a live-streaming All Africa Symposium of Poetry Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of 100TPC. In the words of one of the Co-founders for 100TPC—

The need for positive change is greater than ever and we must not let our spirits diminish in the task of speaking up for change.

Michael Rothenberg, 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Below is my humble offering to the movement. Please come share with us and check out some of the others as we dare to make a real difference for those in need.

—Corina Ravenscraft, core team member


Matthew 25:40 by Cameron John Robbins

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” ~ Matthew 25:40 KJV Bible


~ Under ~

Homeless Joe, has nowhere
to go. He lives under a bridge;
not a troll, just poor.
(Not in some third-world country, no).
Crazy Jane lives under
a delusion—from voices
of people not here anymore.
(In the land of the free and the home of the brave).
Carmen, a single mother of five,
lives under the stigma
of using food stamps to eat.
(In America, the poor are victimized, you know).
Speed-freak Charlie lives under
the influence of the drugs
which keep him wandering the streets.
(How many poor would that daily latte save?)
All of them, under poverty’s yoke.
Under society’s up-turned nose.
Homeless, hungry and in many ways “broke,”
Do you really think this is the life that they chose?
(How about walking a mile in their…feet?)
What they truly need is understanding,
To help them get back to dignity’s door.
Out from under all the senseless branding,
Back to being visible people once more.
(Please help the less fortunate people you meet!)

C.L.R. © 2015


Photo © 2013 Corina L. Ravenscraft Quote by Ram Dass

100 Thousand Poets for Change—10 Years

In September 2011, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion saw their idea and month of work come to fruition—the first 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) worldwide poetry events, held on the last Saturday in September. Little could they imagine back then that it would continue and grow for the next ten years!

The organization has over the years focused on three general areas globally: Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice. Around the world, organizers and groups focus on these issues as they fit in local contexts plus other local issues that require attention to bring about positive change. In 2015, Michael and Terri worked with 100TPC organizers in Italy to put together the first 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy.

100TPC World Conference Banner
100TPC World Conference Banner

Save the Date for this Year!

We will hold our annual online 100TPC at The BeZine again this year, on the “official” date for 100TPC: 26 September, 2020. So, save that date! In addition, we will be co-sponsoring All Africa Poetry Symposium in Celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change 10-Year Anniversary at 8 AM US East Coast, early afternoon in the Africa time zones. Read more here (including times in Africa). With this new mix of live-stream poetry, we hope to provide an exciting 100TPC virtual BeZine event. We plan to live-stream in The BeZine Facebook groups and on YouTube…stay tuned for more information.

Saturday, 26 September, 2020!

—Michael Dickel, managing editor


Table of Contents

New BeZine Banner — Corina Ravenscraft

Social Justice

Anti-dystopoem — John Anstie
Hundreds and Thousands — John Anstie
Sisi’s Song — Jessica Bordelon
Two Poems — Kat Brodie — Kat Brodie
Lanterns and Other Poems — Lorraine Caputo
My Country and Other Poems — Mbizo Chirasha
Bigots—poems from Linda Chown — Linda Chown
Self-Analysis by a Moth — Anjum Wasim Dar
Anticipation — Judy DeCroce
The Little Goat — Andrew Grant
OMG — Callista Mark
Breath of Fresh Air — Robert Schoelkopf
Cicadas for Change — poems by Mike Stone — Mike Stone

Voting

The 19th Amendment — Surina Venkat

Refugees / Homeless

Snow Dog — John Anstie
Tonight it could be you — John Anstie
Water from the Moon—poems by Mahnaz Badihian — Mahnaz Badihian
Displaced Homeless — Anjum Wasim Dar
Homeless Without — Anjum Wasim Dar
Oh! To Be Homeless… — Anjum Wasim Dar
The Lost Children — poems by Nancy Huxtable Mohr — Nancy Huxtable Mohr
Christopher Woods — Photographs and Words — Christopher Woods

Time of Coronavirus

Corona Dogs and How Noble—poems by Karen Alkalay-Gut — Karen Alkalay-Gut
Alive in the Moment — Naomi Baltuck
Wuhan Meditation 武汉沉思 — Wang Ping

Fall 2020

September is an extra special month over here at the BeZine. This year, our theme for September is “Social Justice,” in an effort to call awareness to global poverty, homelessness, and inequality. And we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC). The BeZine will hold a virtual 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) Reading / Music / Art Event on September 26th, 2020 and co-host a live-streaming All Africa Symposium of Poetry Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of 100TPC. In the words of one of the Co-founders for 100TPC—

The need for positive change is greater than ever and we must not let our spirits diminish in the task of speaking up for change.

Michael Rothenberg, 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Below is my humble offering to the movement. Please come share with us and check out some of the others as we dare to make a real difference for those in need.

—Corina Ravenscraft, core team member


Matthew 25:40 by Cameron John Robbins

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” ~ Matthew 25:40 KJV Bible


~ Under ~

Homeless Joe, has nowhere
to go. He lives under a bridge;
not a troll, just poor.
(Not in some third-world country, no).
Crazy Jane lives under
a delusion—from voices
of people not here anymore.
(In the land of the free and the home of the brave).
Carmen, a single mother of five,
lives under the stigma
of using food stamps to eat.
(In America, the poor are victimized, you know).
Speed-freak Charlie lives under
the influence of the drugs
which keep him wandering the streets.
(How many poor would that daily latte save?)
All of them, under poverty’s yoke.
Under society’s up-turned nose.
Homeless, hungry and in many ways “broke,”
Do you really think this is the life that they chose?
(How about walking a mile in their…feet?)
What they truly need is understanding,
To help them get back to dignity’s door.
Out from under all the senseless branding,
Back to being visible people once more.
(Please help the less fortunate people you meet!)

C.L.R. © 2015


Photo © 2013 Corina L. Ravenscraft Quote by Ram Dass

100 Thousand Poets for Change—10 Years

In September 2011, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion saw their idea and month of work come to fruition—the first 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) worldwide poetry events, held on the last Saturday in September. Little could they imagine back then that it would continue and grow for the next ten years!

The organization has over the years focused on three general areas globally: Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice. Around the world, organizers and groups focus on these issues as they fit in local contexts plus other local issues that require attention to bring about positive change. In 2015, Michael and Terri worked with 100TPC organizers in Italy to put together the first 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy.

100TPC World Conference Banner
100TPC World Conference Banner

Save the Date for this Year!

We will hold our annual online 100TPC at The BeZine again this year, on the “official” date for 100TPC: 26 September, 2020. So, save that date! In addition, we will be co-sponsoring All Africa Poetry Symposium in Celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change 10-Year Anniversary at 8 AM US East Coast, early afternoon in the Africa time zones. Read more here (including times in Africa). With this new mix of live-stream poetry, we hope to provide an exciting 100TPC virtual BeZine event. We plan to live-stream in The BeZine Facebook groups and on YouTube…stay tuned for more information.

Saturday, 26 September, 2020!

—Michael Dickel, managing editor


Table of Contents

New BeZine Banner — Corina Ravenscraft

Social Justice

Anti-dystopoem — John Anstie
Hundreds and Thousands — John Anstie
Sisi’s Song — Jessica Bordelon
Two Poems — Kat Brodie — Kat Brodie
Lanterns and Other Poems — Lorraine Caputo
My Country and Other Poems — Mbizo Chirasha
Bigots—poems from Linda Chown — Linda Chown
Self-Analysis by a Moth — Anjum Wasim Dar
Anticipation — Judy DeCroce
The Little Goat — Andrew Grant
OMG — Callista Mark
Breath of Fresh Air — Robert Schoelkopf
Cicadas for Change — poems by Mike Stone — Mike Stone

Voting

The 19th Amendment — Surina Venkat

Refugees / Homeless

Snow Dog — John Anstie
Tonight it could be you — John Anstie
Water from the Moon—poems by Mahnaz Badihian — Mahnaz Badihian
Displaced Homeless — Anjum Wasim Dar
Homeless Without — Anjum Wasim Dar
Oh! To Be Homeless… — Anjum Wasim Dar
The Lost Children — poems by Nancy Huxtable Mohr — Nancy Huxtable Mohr
Christopher Woods — Photographs and Words — Christopher Woods

Time of Coronavirus

Corona Dogs and How Noble—poems by Karen Alkalay-Gut — Karen Alkalay-Gut
Alive in the Moment — Naomi Baltuck
Wuhan Meditation 武汉沉思 — Wang Ping

Posted in The BeZine, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine, Vol. 6, Issue 3, September 2019, Social Justice

September 28, 2019 The BeZine Virtual 100TPC Event is LIVE!

Social Justice
as the world burns and wars rage

Global protest actions on the Climate Crisis have been scheduled for September, as fires rage from the Arctic to the Amazon [1]. Potential conflicts in the Middle East seem on the verge of flaring into their own wildfires, most prominently as I write this: Taliban-US, Iran-US, Israel-Hamas-(Hezbollah-Iran), and Pakistan-India-Kashmir. Underlying and entwined with these huge, tangled problems, the pressing need to address injustice, inequality, and huge economic disparity, which smolder or burn throughout the world. Big words cover what we wish for in place of these problems: Sustainability, Peace, and Social Justice. In order to understand the complex dimensions of each of these pressing global problems, The BeZine has focused in our first two issues of 2019 on Peace and Sustainability—and now, the Fall Issue of The BeZine focuses on Social Justice.

As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.

—Martin Luther King, Jr.
(Source: “The Most Durable Power,” Excerpt from Sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on 6 November 1956
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford)

In this time of Orwellian language-logic and fake news (aka propaganda and lies), science denial (aka lies and distortions), nationalistic-populism, vitriolic debate, and self-serving and greedy leadership in the financial and governmental towers of power unmoored from ethics or morality (aka high crimes and misdemeanors)—with all of this, I ask you to reflect on these words of Martin Luther King, Jr.—”Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence.”

I find myself at times of despair drawn to the idea of violence as the only solution, but each time remind myself of the repulsiveness of that solution. We must find a way to bring justice into the world, to immediately address the climate crisis, and to foster peace, without contributing to the bitterness, pain, and murder so rampant now, fueled as it is by the rhetoric and actions of government and corporate powers. If we stoop to the level of those men (and women) in power, we will end up only fanning the destructive fires they have lit and spread.

As the Reverend King goes on to say: “If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.”

Sometimes I feel that we already are reaping that legacy with this reign of chaos surrounding us today. I fervently hope that, if so, it is not an endless inferno.

Glimmers of hope emerge—Greta Thunberg and her activism shines like a bright light. Her language makes clear that the climate crisis is an issue of social justice for our children and grandchildren. It is also a social justice issue for indigenous peoples, migrants, the poor, and less “developed” countries. The climate crisis and wars contribute to the issue of justice for migrants, creating a flow of refugees that other countries refuse to shelter. Racism, unfettered capitalism, gender biases all create injustice, and those oppressed in the system that produce hate are most likely to suffer in war and the climate crisis. Our contributors touch on these intersections while exploring social justice in their work.

In the end, the hope has to come from us—from our acting, responding, striking if necessary. Yes, avoiding violence. But also, demanding change now. We need to seek the abstract “social justice” through social ACTION. And we need to see and act on the links between issues, rather than dividing ourselves and fighting over which issue is more important. They are all important, and they all need to be addressed holistically.

We all need to work together, because there are no jobs on a dead planet; there is no equity without rights to decent work and social protection, no social justice without a shift in governance and ambition, and, ultimately, no peace for the peoples of the world without the guarantees of sustainability.

—Sharan Burrow
(Cited in: “To transform the world, we need a revolution in our priorities and values.”
The Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies. Aug. 24, 2019.

Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor


 With this issue of the Zine, Global 100,000 Poets and Others for Change (100TPC), Read A Poem To A Child week, and The BeZine Virtual 100TPC we share our passions and concerns across borders, we explore differences without violence or vindictiveness, and we sustain one another.  These activities endow us with hope, strength, and connection.

Our thanks to and gratitude for the members of The Bardo Group Beguines (our core team), to our contributors, and to our readers and supporters who come from every corner of the world. You are the light and the hope. You are valued.

Special thanks to Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion for the gift of 100TPC and Read A Poem To A Child week, to our resident artist Corina Ravenscraft for our beautiful 100TPC banner, and to Michael Dickel for pulling the Zine together this month, moderating Virtual 100TPC on September 28, and for his technical support and innovations.  And to Terri Stewart, much appreciation for our stellar logo, and for our ultra-fabulous name: The BeZineBe inspired … Be creative … Be peace. … Be …

Our theme for the December 15 issue is “A Life of the Spirit.”  John Anstie will take the lead and submissions will open on October 1 and close on November 15.  Look for revised submission guidelines soon.

In the spirit of love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor


The BeZine 100TPC Virtual—Live Online 28 September 2019

The global 100TPC initiative on Saturday, September 28, 2019, puts forward poetry, music, art, and more, that promote Peace, Sustainability, an Social Justice. The BeZine will again offer a virtual, online event on that date. Please stop by, leave links to your own writing, art, or music, leave comments… We welcome your participation. Click here to join on 28 September 2019.


Table of contents

How to read this issue of THE BeZINE: You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents or you can click HERE and scroll through the entire Zine.

TRANFORMATION

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” ― bell hooks, Killing Rage: Ending Racism

Poetry
Peace, Benedicta Boamah
Five from Faruk Buzhala, Faruk Buzhala
Pushing through Utopia, Linda Chown
TimeInWar, Linda Chown
Don’t Be Stupid, DeWitt Clinton
Rising Up, You Poets, Jamie Dedes
One Dark Stand, Mark Heathcote
request…, Charles W. Martin
The Long Dark Night, Tamam Tracy Moncur
Ju$t d1$$1m1l@r, Sunayna Pal
Don’t Hang the Poets, Mike Stone

Art and Photography
Social Justice, Anjum Wasim Dar
In solidarity, documentary photographs, Christopher Woods

Essay
Using Social Interactions to Create Change, Kella Hanna-Wayne

RE-MEMBERING THE PAIN

“There are times when so much talk or writing, so many ideas seem to stand in the way, to block the awareness that for the oppressed, the exploited, the dominated, domination is not just a subject for radical discourse, for books. It is about pain–the pain of hunger, the pain of over-work, the pain of degradation and dehumanization, the pain of loneliness, the pain of loss, the pain of isolation, the pain of exile… Even before the words, we remember the pain.” ― bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black

Poetry
Sounding Bugles, Sheikha A.
Silent Courage, Lorraine Caputo
“Nights with Ghosts,” a poem from a child in Zimbabwe, Jamie Dedes
Change, Michael Dickel
After the 2016 Election, Rachel Landrum Crumble
The Poor, Rachel Landrum Crumble
Substituting Life, Sunayna Pal
Flow Gathering Springs, Linda Shoemaker
War and Peace (Rime Royal), Clarissa Simmens
Women in Woad, Clarissa Simmens
I Never Knew I Was So Numb, Anjum Wasim Dar

Fiction
Boots, DC Diamondopolous
The Dogs of Midnight, Mike Scallan
Time Never Waits, Anjum Wasim Dar

INEQUALITY

“We live in a system that espouses merit, equality, and a level playing field, but exalts those with wealth, power, and celebrity, however gained.” ― Derrick Bell, Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth

Poetry
Control, Elvis Alves
The Long History of Genocides, Elvis Alves
dissecting the Geneva Convention, mm brazfield
Scary People and Madmen, Bill Gainer
Humanity is often a place of forgetfulness, Mark Heathcote
Chicken Little to Testify Before Congress, Rachel Landrum Crumble
Logging-Out of Bullying School, Marta Pombo Sallés
False Economy, Mantz Yorke

Essay
Dictators, Desperados, and Democracy Revisited, John Anstie
Radicals Are In Charge, Rob Moitoz

SEEKING

“In the unceasing ebb and flow of justice and oppression we must all dig channels as best we may, that at the propitious moment somewhat of the swelling tide may be conducted to the barren places of life.” ― Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House

Poetry
Embrace, Lorraine Caputo
Epistle, Lorraine Caputo
Our Evolving, Jamie Dedes
Silent Life, Jamie Dedes
How I Park My Car, Bill Gainer
Awake at Night, Leela Soma
Places I Have Never Been, Ellen Wood

 


Notes:

[1] In support of these, The BeZine blog has been posting about the Climate Crisis, and will continue to do so throughout September (2019), in addition to our Sustainability Issue this past Summer [back].


The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be (the subscription feature is below and to your left.)

Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

SUBMISSIONS:

Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted on the Zine blog and The Poet by Day.

Silent Courage

 

Santiago Atitlán

Three o’clock
The Catholic bells begin ringing
Women in their red huipiles
& ribbon-wrapped hair
wound ‘round their heads
enter the church

I quietly slip in & see
Father Stanley Rother’s heart
buried in the right wall
This Maya village wished it so
after his assassination in 1981
Variously colored crosses surround it,
each one with a name, a date

I reenter the sunlit afternoon
& aimlessly wander the market streets

Five o’clock
The village echoes with the
hand-clapping & tambourines
the singing & hallelujahs
from the seven or more evangelical temples

I am haunted by the horror of that memorial
I am haunted by the testimony of a volunteer
who investigated a massacre in this village
just over a year ago

As dusk falls
I once more climb those round steps
& enter the white-washed church

I sit in a pew near the priest’s heart
meditating upon those lives embracing him

Green paper crosses for the 209 killed here
22 yellow ones for the wounded
68 pink, the kidnapped

I walk back into the twilight
thinking of that December night massacre
not so very long ago
& how these villagers marched to the
military base & ordered them
to leave, to end the murderings
of their pueblo that had gone on
for too, too many years

The two nearest volcanoes are capped
by towering grey clouds
Thunder rumbles the empty streets

©2019, Lorraine Caputo

Embrace

Within the village church
	white-vestmented priests
		say a novena mass
In the doorway stand a trinity
	of jungle-camouflaged soldiers
		arms ready in arms

Forgive us our sins
	as we forgive those
		who have sinned against us
echoes through the nave

To the right of the door
	in the damp twilight
		under a wool blanket
An indigenous couple huddles
	a baby wrapped
		to mother’s side
The ribbon-decorated sleeves
of her yellow bodice bright
		as she pours a cloudy drink

May the peace of the Lord
	be with you
And also with you

The soldiers still, silent
	staring towards
		that altar

You may give each other
	the embrace of brotherhood *

One soldier
	head shorn bare
		looks away
Away from the embraces
	away from the couple
		towards a mural

In this evening complete
	can he see that family, that rainbow
		those words?

With social justice, peace is possible
	peace is possible because
		love is possible

©2019, Lorraine Caputo

*Normally it is said: the embrace of peace

Epistle

 

Monseñor Oscar Romero—
Today I visited the church
	of La Divina Providencia
	where the escuadrón de muerte
	murdered you.
A simple, plain 
	modern church,
across from a hospital.
On the wall
	near the front doors,
	a picture of you
	marching with the people.
Near the altar,
	a plaque from the Carmelite sisters
	for the 7th anniversary of your death.

That’s all there was of you there…


I knelt at a pew
	to talk with you—
I, a Spirit captured in this body, on this earth

	I do not know 
if you could hear 
my thoughts, my words

I wanted you to know
	how your death inspired,
 	provoked so many of us.
How there is a Central America Week
at the time of your death-anniversary
so that we learn about
the people, history, culture
of here, El Salvador
& of other countries,
so that we can learn about
the actions here of our government,
of our country.
I wanted you to know
	that such external investigation
	also provoked us to look internally
at the poverty & repression
in our own country.

I told you
	I wish I had the faith you had
	& the love
	Many times I find it lacking in my self
My self-doubts of all that work
all those years
But my inner knowledge says
As long as 
the heart, the mind, the soul
of one United Statian
was touched, provoked,
As long as 
one Salvadoran, Nicaraguan
Guatemalan, Diné
received a meal, medicine,
clothes against the mountain night cold,
then the work, 
then your death
had value…


After I left,
eyes rimmed with
the moistness of risen tears,
soul quieted with
my confessions to you, Monseñor
I thought about this poem…


As you said mass that day
the sacrificial wine became,
your blood became
the blood of Christ.

Your wound—your wound
the gun shot …
How many were there?
How many times were you shot?
Where were you shot?
You a servant of God,
a messenger of the word of Christ,
a teacher, an example of love for humanity,
became Christ on that 24 March
Were the wounds
the crown of thorns?
Were your wounds
the lance pierced
through Christ’s side?

The blood—the blood
your blood
that fell upon the altar.
Your blood became sanctified
in your martyrdom,
another martyr for the truth
of Christ’s teachings.

Monseñor Romero—
What were your dying words?
Or did the Spirit dove
fly swiftly from your Earth-bound body
to the heavens?


Your body—your bloody body
your dying body…
behind the altar,
before the bloodied
crucified Christ…

©2019, Lorraine Caputo