One Hundred Thousand Griefs | Robert Priest

For Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion
A hundred thousand stars
break over the world
Someone so forever
has gone

A hundred thousand tears
A hundred thousand medical documents burning
A hundred thousand winds bearing away useless smoke
but that voice lives
It leaps the flames 
transcends the page
Robert Priest listening intently
100 Thousand Poets for Change
World Conference, Salerno
©2015 Michael Dickel
Bad medicine didn't stop it
this voice that drew us in
brought us face to face
language to language
He and his beloved
centering a wheel
with a hundred thousand spokes
We came from all around the globe to you
Many threads pulled into one cloth
a garment for change
but now having organized the bards  
you are called
to align the stars
leaving at our centre
a beloved space
sacred with absence

But earth will not be silent
one hundred thousand memories
will guard will amplify what you have left
The shouts that shook Salerno
will shout even louder now 
against the deadlock the gridlocks
of injustice

How dare death take you so soon
How dare grief 
colonize so many throats
wring so many hands

Those lungs that took in life
and bellowed out poetry
that turned air into love
how dare they fail you
feeding aquifer and ocean
with tears
that should have been hallelujahs

©2022 Robert Priest
All rights reserved


Robert Priest…

…is literary poet in the tradition of Neruda and Mayakovsky, a composer of lush love poems, a singer-songwriter, a widely quoted aphorist, a children’s poet and novelist. He is a mainstay of the literary/spoken word/music circuit both in Canada and abroad. His words have been quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto’s transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.



Promise, Peace, Civilians | Robert Priest

The promise of peace

If I could just be the water
When peace is cracked and dry
If I could be a shelt’ring place
When peace is cast aside
Even when my table’s full
And I sit before the feast
May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace

If I could just be a feather
When peace is try,n to fly
If I could be a single step
When peace needs to climb high
Even when I’m locked in doubt
And I fear there’s no release   
May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace

O we must be the sunshine
When peace is lost and dark
And we must be the bread of love
When peace is cold and starved
Even in the threat of war
Though hopes shall fade or cease
May we always keep a place in our hearts
For the promise of peace

If i can be the smallest breeze
When peace is stalled at sea
If I must lay my anger down
Then let me take a knee
If i love this tired earth
And its child, humanity

May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace
May i always keep a place in my heart
For the promise of peace
Listen to The Promise of Peace
Song: Priest / Capek

Peace Be Upon You

Peace be upon you and under your feet
Peace be before you like the wind before the wheat
A peace of many pieces is a peace so sweet

Peace be upon you and peace be below
Peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
Peace upon the people living in the street 
It’s a peace of many pieces - let it be complete

Your peace and my peace they fit together
Your peace and my peace should get together
Your peace and my peace

Peace be upon you compassionate peace
Peace upon the anguished and the so called 'least'
Peace upon the children and the birds and beasts 
It’s a piece of many pieces - let it be complete

Your peace and my peace they fit together
Your peace and my peace should get together
Your peace and... not a friend is missing from the table
Not a child is missing from the play
Everyone everywhere is part of it 
That’s at the heart of it

Peace be upon you and peace be below
Peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
Peace upon the people living in the street 
It’s a peace of many pieces let it be complete
Your peace and my peace they’re good together
Your peace and my peace should get together 
your peace and my peace
Let it be complete
Listen to Peace Be Upon You
Song: Priest / Booth
Produced by Peter Lafferty

| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | C / / / | G / / / |
peace be upon you and under your feet
| C / / / | 
peace be before you like the wind before the wheat
| Em / D / | C / / / | 
a peace of many pieces it’s a peace so sweet
| G / / / | 
peace be upon you and peace be below
| C / / / | 
peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
| Em / D / |
peace upon the people living in the street. It’s a
| C / G / | F / C / |
peace of many pieces let it be complete
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace they fit together
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace should get together
| D / F / | C / / / |
your peace and my peace
| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | C / / / |
Na na na na na na na na na na na  Na na na na na na na na na na na
| G / / / |
peace be upon you compassionate peace
| C / / / |
peace upon the anguished and the so called 'least'
| Em / D / | 
peace upon the children and the birds and beasts. It’s a
| C / G / | F / C / |
a piece of many pieces let it be complete.]
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace they fit together
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace should get together
| D / F / | 
your peace and 
| Am / G / | C / / / |
not a friend is missing from the table
| Am / G / | C / / / |
not a child is missing from the play
| F / C / | G / / / | F / C / |
everyone everywhere is part of it. That’s at the heart of it
| G / / / | C / / / | G / / / | C / / / |
Na na na na na na na na na na na  Na na na na na na na na na na na
| G / / / | 
peace be upon you and peace be below
| C / / / | 
peace upon the mountains and the fields of snow
| Em / D / |
peace upon the people living in the street. It’s a
| C / G / | F / C / |
it’s a peace of many pieces let it be complete
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace they’re good together
| D / / / | Em / C / |
your peace and my peace should get together
| D / F / | C / / / |
 your peace and my peace

Ten Civilians

When I see that list of names upon that long black wall 
So many fallen in their prime it's hard to count them all 
Oh yes the soldiers die they fall in all their millions 
But for every one of them that dies say goodbye to 

Ten civilians - fathers and mothers
Ten civilians - sisters and brothers
Ten babies being born 
Ten lifetimes of tears for those who are left to mourn

When I see that line of monuments roll on out of sight 
So many names engraved in stone but something's not quite right 
Oh yes the soldiers died they stained the ground vermilion 
But for every one of them that fell ring the bell for

Ten civilians - dreamers and lovers
Ten civilians - grandfathers grandmothers
Ten children and their teacher too
They won't be coming home no matter what we do

No their names will not be written on that long black wall
And on the TV news they’re hardly there at all 
It's hard to think of them who knows how many millions 
So for every warrior who dies I multiply
By ten civilians - fathers and mothers
Ten civilians - sisters and brothers
Ten nurses and a doctor too
They won't be coming home no matter what we do

When I see that list of names upon that long black wall
Listen to Ten Civilians
Song: Priest / Booth
Produced by Bob Wiseman

Lyrics and Performances ©2022 Robert Priest
All rights reserved


Robert Priest…

…is literary poet in the tradition of Neruda and Mayakovsky, a composer of lush love poems, a singer-songwriter, a widely quoted aphorist, a children’s poet and novelist. He is a mainstay of the literary/spoken word/music circuit both in Canada and abroad. His words have been quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto’s transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.



Posted in Music, Musicians, Poems/Poetry

Progression of Buts, &c. | Robert Priest

Progression of Buts

I shouldn't be saying this but —
Typically the majority stand for it but —
They assumed we'd go on being quiet but —
They said that moral courage was at a minimum but —
They thought we'd go on stunned in the grey TV glow but — 
They thought we were flies on the screen forever but —
Even we believed we had no wings, no grandeur but —
They thought our outrage was dead but —
There’s supposed to be limits on how long you can push it
                                                        push it push it but but but —
We thought we'd lost each other but —
They believed that silence was assent forever but —
It looked like it was going to be World War III but —
They said that faith was not a well, not a flow, not a channel but —
I was telling everybody don't count on me
                                                        I can't be relied upon but —
They're going to tell us we're not brave but —
They’re going to push the negative but —
They said there was no buttress but —
No resistance but —
No insistence but —
No victory but —

Give Us a Floor

Give us a floor we can drag a chair over
And leave a mark
A hardwood floor that can take a lot of dancing
We want a floor that you leave your shoes on and tap when you like

A floor you can jump on
Give us a floor where a kid can bang a hammer for an hour
And no one cares
We want a good flat floor strong enough for a piano or two

A floor that can bear the weight of ten bass amps
Fifty stomping bikers on choppers
And still be fine for yoga in the morning
It is important to have a floor you can fall on

A floor good for trying risky positions
Tipsy calisthenics
Maybe one day we’ll want to invite
Multi-faith obesity groups intent on leaping and praying

A floor equipped to bear them all
And still take a child’s lightest footfall
With never the creak of any small floor complaint

A floor to hold up the elephants
And hippopotami

A floor, please, to take the great weight of human hearts
Held in thrall by mere matter
By love by stampede

We want a floor to bear seven generations
Each unfolded out of the other
All at once in a great hootenanny and holler

A floor to bear the greatest table ever made
For a feast where no one’s missing
We don’t want some poor flat excuse
We don’t want some bottom-line trapdoor
We want a floor to hold the world up when it’s exhausted

A floor to keep the sky on when it’s drained and dry
And ready to fall
It’s time we had the floor

Give us the floor

poem from Previously Feared Darkness


Spread the Word

Spread the word outward
From the centre
To the edges
 
Spread the word like the word
Was your wings
And you could fly
 
Spread the word
Like wind in all directions
Let the word be spread
Like a lover's legs
Like petals strewn upon a bed
Like the breath of life
On the land of the dead
 
Spread the word
Let nothing go unsaid
That must be said
 
Spread the word like breath
To the drowning
Like food to the unfed
 
Spread the word like medicine
To a child on a deathbed
Spread it like a wild fire
Of thought in some genius head
 
 
Spread the word to all and one
Alike
Refusing it to none
Like wealth like water
Like thirst
All over the earth
Let it never go unheard
 
Spread the word

Islam Means Surrender

There is a lot of Islam
In everything
 Those who surrender to Jesus
Are Islamic - 'Islam' means surrender
 
If you yearn to give up your essence
Into nirvana - isn't that a huge surrender?
 
Islam!
 
And Jews who seek to do the will of God
They surrender themselves to the teachings of the Torah
 
Very Islamic
 
Even lovers who bow to one another's pure forms
Or those who give in the needs of the moment — surrender
 
Islam
 
Is beautiful

—Robert Priest


Robert Priest Poet
Robert Priest

A literary poet in the tradition of Neruda and Mayakovsky, a composer of lush love poems, a singer-songwriter, a widely quoted aphorist, a children’s poet and novelist, Robert Priest is a mainstay of the literary/spoken word/music circuit both in Canada and abroad. His words have been quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto’s transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.


Robert Priest is the author of fourteen books of poetry. His book, Reading the Bible Backwards, rose to number two on the Toronto Globe and Mail’s poetry charts. He is a previous winner of the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry award. He co-wrote the hit, Song Instead of a Kiss, for Alannah Myles, which is still played all around the world and went to number one for two weeks in Canada and six weeks in Québec. His aphorisms show up frequently in Colombo’s Canadian Quotations and The Farmer’s Almanac.

His latest book of poetry for children, The Wolf is Back received a Gold Moonbeam award in the US and his previous volume for children, Rosa Rose, was a book of honour in the Lion and the Unicorn award for poetry in the North American category at John Hopkins University. His fantasy series, Spell Crossed, was described by Open Book as a ‘Modern Classic’. He is also a singer-songwriter and children’s singer-songwriter of note with songs on Sesame Street. For two years he was the resident topical songwriter on the CBC radio program Is Anybody Home and has contributed topical songs to CBC’s Sunday Night News. 


Robert Priest—Audio Video
Listen to BAAM! and Feeling the Pinch on Spotify.
Poem Video: What Ugly Is
Poem: In the next War
Song: The bomb in Reverse
Song/poetry album: BAAM!
Live version of Alannah Myles performing Robert Priest co-written,
Song Instead of a Kiss (four weeks at number one in Canada).
Some Links

Poetry books for purchase online
Previously Feared Darkness
Reading the Bible Backwards
Blue Pyramids: New and Selected Poems
How to Swallow a Pig

Selection of poems for reading
Robert Priest, Hand Poems

Robert Priest Retrospective in Big Bridge

Robert Priest’s Children’s Site

Children’s Books
The Paper Sword from Dundurn Books (on Amazon)
Spell Crossed—three book bundle from Dundurn Books
Rose Rose
The Secret Invasion of Bananas


All Contents ©2020 Robert Priest,
except where otherwise noted for recordings on YouTube.
All rights reserved

Winter 2020

Untitled IV
G Jamie Dedes

Introduction

What a year 2020 has been: global pandemic, international instabilities, U.S. election turmoil. So much. We here at The BeZine have suffered a personal loss, as well, with the passing of G Jamie Dedes, our Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief emerita. Jamie led us with light, gentleness, and love.

Jamie may be gone, but her light shines on in her influence and inspiration, which we at The BeZine honor and mark. John Anstie, one of our core team of contributors, has curated a collection of tributes, eulogies, and elegies for this issue, in a section “for Jamie…”, where writers and artists from all over the world have joined us in remembering Jamie. This section also includes some of her writing and artwork.

Some of her photographs are also sprinkled throughout the rest of the issue, as well, as we continue the project that is The BeZine in Jamie’s name and spirit. The theme for this month, Life of the Spirit, chosen for this issue by her over a year ago, was especially close to her heart. She wanted to be sure that each year The BeZine would focus on this important aspect of our lives, activism, and work. Spirituality is the linchpin that holds together the other three themes of the year: Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice.

So, read about and be inspired by Jamie and by Life of the Spirit as interpreted by artists and writers around the world.

Table of Contents

for Jamie…

Introduction

An Appreciation of G Jamie Dedes — John Anstie

The Voices of G Jamie Dedes

Unforgettable — Corina Ravenscraft
victory is mine by Jamie Dedes — Jamie Dedes
Her Light Continues — Corina Ravenscraft
Wanderer — Jamie Dedes
The View from My Place by Jamie Dedes — John Anstie
My Favorite Poem by Dear G Jamie Dedes — Anjum Wasim Dar

Additional Tributes

Tribute from Priscilla Galsso — Priscilla Galasso
Tribute from Irma Do — Irma Do
Tribute from Artist Peter Wilkin — Peter Wilkin

Elegies & Eulogies

Finding G Jamie Dedes — Anjum Wasim Dar
Unforgettable, Gifted, G Jamie Dedes ~ Yes, In Heaven — Anjum Wasim Dar
Grace — Brian Shirra
Mentor Never Met — Chrysty Hendrick
So What Do You Do? — Dewitt Clinton
Goodbye Jamie Dedes — Isadora delaVega
I Am Not Here — Jane Spokenword
Anti-Dystopoem — John Anstie
Eulogy for A Beautiful Soul — Mbizo Chirasha
For Jamie—a poem — Michael Dickel
Jamie by Mike Stone — Mike Stone
A Bulgarian Dedication to G Jamie Dedes — Miroslava Panayotova

Music

A Eulogy and a Song — John Anstie

Stories

The End of the World — Naomi Baltuck

Not The End

A Natural Continuum — Antoni Ooto


Life of the Spirit and Activism

Poetry

The Secret of Life — John Anstie
Dawn after Pandemic—4 poems — Obinna Chilekezi
After Toto—3 poems — Judy Decroce
Breathing — Michael Dickel
Wrestling the Guru of Divine Energy—3 poems — Milton P. Ehrlich
Among the angels—3 poems — Pat Leighton
Saturday Paper Pietà—3 poems — Kate Maxwell
Two Poems from TD Nelson — TD Nelson
Give Us New Hope—5 poems — Robert Priest
Gulls in an Hour Glass — Kathryn Sadakierski
The Truth Is and 4 Other Poems — Mike Stone

Essay

Do You Regret or Rejoice — Corina Ravenscraft

Web Inspirations

Arts, Activism, and Spirituality Inspirations Online — Bardo Group / Beguine Again

Coda

The Evanescent and Two Other Poem-Psalms — P. C. Moorehead

Posted in BeZine ToC, Life of the Spirit, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine December 2020, Vol. 7, Issue 4—Life of the Spirit and Activism

Untitled IV
G Jamie Dedes

Introduction

What a year 2020 has been: global pandemic, international instabilities, U.S. election turmoil. So much. We here at The BeZine have suffered a personal loss, as well, with the passing of G Jamie Dedes, our Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief emerita. Jamie led us with light, gentleness, and love.

Jamie may be gone, but her light shines on in her influence and inspiration, which we at The BeZine honor and mark. John Anstie, one of our core team of contributors, has curated a collection of tributes, eulogies, and elegies for this issue, in a section “for Jamie…”, where writers and artists from all over the world have joined us in remembering Jamie. This section also includes some of her writing and artwork.

Some of her photographs are also sprinkled throughout the rest of the issue, as well, as we continue the project that is The BeZine in Jamie’s name and spirit. The theme for this month, Life of the Spirit, chosen for this issue by her over a year ago, was especially close to her heart. She wanted to be sure that each year The BeZine would focus on this important aspect of our lives, activism, and work. Spirituality is the linchpin that holds together the other three themes of the year: Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice.

So, read about and be inspired by Jamie and by Life of the Spirit as interpreted by artists and writers around the world.

Table of Contents

for Jamie…

Introduction

An Appreciation of G Jamie Dedes — John Anstie

The Voices of G Jamie Dedes

Unforgettable — Corina Ravenscraft
victory is mine by Jamie Dedes — Jamie Dedes
Her Light Continues — Corina Ravenscraft
Wanderer — Jamie Dedes
The View from My Place by Jamie Dedes — John Anstie
My Favorite Poem by Dear G Jamie Dedes — Anjum Wasim Dar

Additional Tributes

Tribute from Priscilla Galsso — Priscilla Galasso
Tribute from Irma Do — Irma Do
Tribute from Artist Peter Wilkin — Peter Wilkin

Elegies & Eulogies

Finding G Jamie Dedes — Anjum Wasim Dar
Unforgettable, Gifted, G Jamie Dedes ~ Yes, In Heaven — Anjum Wasim Dar
Grace — Brian Shirra
Mentor Never Met — Chrysty Hendrick
So What Do You Do? — Dewitt Clinton
Goodbye Jamie Dedes — Isadora delaVega
I Am Not Here — Jane Spokenword
Anti-Dystopoem — John Anstie
Eulogy for A Beautiful Soul — Mbizo Chirasha
For Jamie—a poem — Michael Dickel
Jamie by Mike Stone — Mike Stone
A Bulgarian Dedication to G Jamie Dedes — Miroslava Panayotova

Music

A Eulogy and a Song — John Anstie

Stories

The End of the World — Naomi Baltuck

Not The End

A Natural Continuum — Antoni Ooto


Life of the Spirit and Activism

Poetry

The Secret of Life — John Anstie
Dawn after Pandemic—4 poems — Obinna Chilekezi
After Toto—3 poems — Judy Decroce
Breathing — Michael Dickel
Wrestling the Guru of Divine Energy—3 poems — Milton P. Ehrlich
Among the angels—3 poems — Pat Leighton
Saturday Paper Pietà—3 poems — Kate Maxwell
Two Poems from TD Nelson — TD Nelson
Give Us New Hope—5 poems — Robert Priest
Gulls in an Hour Glass — Kathryn Sadakierski
The Truth Is and 4 Other Poems — Mike Stone

Essay

Do You Regret or Rejoice — Corina Ravenscraft

Web Inspirations

Arts, Activism, and Spirituality Inspirations Online — Bardo Group / Beguine Again

Coda

The Evanescent and Two Other Poem-Psalms — P. C. Moorehead

Give Us New Hope—5 poems

Give Us a Floor

 Give us a floor we can drag a chair over
 And leave a mark
 A hardwood floor that can take a lot of dancing
 We want a floor that you leave your shoes on and tap when you like 
 A floor you can jump on
 Give us a floor where a kid can bang a hammer for an hour
 And no one cares
 We want a good flat floor strong enough for a piano or two
 A floor that can bear the weight of ten bass amps
 Fifty stomping bikers on choppers
 And still be fine for yoga in the morning
 It is important to have a floor you can fall on
 A floor good for trying risky positions
 Tipsy calisthenics
 Maybe one day we’ll want to invite
 Multi-faith obesity groups intent on leaping and praying
 A floor equipped to bear them all
 And still take a child’s lightest footfall
 With never the creak of any small floor complaint
 A floor to hold up the elephants
 And hippopotami
 A floor, please, to take the great weight of human hearts
 Held in thrall by mere matter
 By love by stampede
 We want a floor to bear seven generations
 Each unfolded out of the other
 All at once in a great hootenanny and holler
 A floor to bear the greatest table ever made
 For a feast where no one’s missing
 We don’t want some poor flat excuse
 We don’t want some bottom-line trapdoor
 We want a floor to hold the world up when it’s exhausted
 A floor to keep the sky on when it’s drained and dry
 And ready to fall
  
 It’s time we had the floor
 Give us the floor 

New Hope

for Martin Luther King, Jr.

 Whatever else words have done
 It is good they came together 
 In such a way from your soul that day
 And you said it for all time
 To all people
 A dream that won't be denied
 Not in this life
 Not in the next
  
 And here's to the imperfect
 Who marched anyway
 And here's to the protected
 Who left their safety
 To demonstrate
 And you Martin
 Brave, imperfect, practical and holy
 My favorite American
 The greatest orator of hope
 Ever captured on a camera
  
 I add once more to all the waters
 Wept at your words, my tears again
 Today
  
 Yes, but new hope too!
 In that way
 You are not gone—
  
 In that way 
 You are ever new—
 Every day people still get
 New hope from you 

Suffrage

 With a dark mark
 My intent is known
  
 All my power contracts
 Smaller than a pupil
  
 To provide one ink drop
 Of ocean
  
 More countable
 Than blessings
  
 And I may have to walk
 A mile for this
  
 I may have to stand in line
 With hundreds
  
 Fixing the bulls eye
 Firmly in mind
  
 Every mark for now 
 A sacred star compressed
  
 A massive black dot
 Telescoped 
  
 To a tiny circumference
 Of suffrage
  
 Secret
 Explosive or not
  
 I fold it in upon itself
 And slip my will into the slot 

More Than Never

  More than never
 Possibly as often
 As always
 If not, absolutely
 Somewhere
 In between
  
 But who's counting
 We happen
 We live
 More than never
 And less than always
  
 We learn
 Or not
 The quanta 
 Do not vary by fractions
 They double or halve
  
 We may not be 
 The same awareness
 But we share
 A hinge
 We all swing 
 Into one frame
 Doors
 To one interior
  
 How often with one touch
 Do we all open at once?
  
 More than never
 Possibly not enough 

One Day I Predict

 One day I predict
 We’ll be amazed
 At our strength
 We will look at one another
 Astonished and say
 We didn’t think we could do this
  
 One day the path will be so clear
 We will all say: it’s obvious
 And we will hardly believe
 We couldn’t see the way before
  
 One day I predict
 We’ll have this great true story to tell
 A kind of anti-Iliad
 For the coming age
 Involving all of us
 Who think we are not warriors
 And all of us who fear
 We are not brave 

Untitled
©2015 G Jamie Dedes, z”l

The poems One Day I Predict and Give us a Floor were first published in the book Previously Feared Darkness by Robert Priest (ECW Press).

Read more about Robert Priest and some other poems in The BeZine blog.


©2020 Robert Priest
All rights reserved