In Hebrew, the same word is used for song and poem. This song is a poem, or this poem is a song, in any language. Manouk, a student of mine at David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem, shared this with me. As we continue poetry month(s) into May, we at The BeZine want to share its message with you, our readers.
This past week has been one of loss and sorrow here in Israel, with the death of 45 people in a crushing crowd during a religious celebration last Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning. Lag B’Omer, the holiday, celebrates freedom and resistance to tyranny. The religious aspects go deeper, with Mystical Connections to an ancient rabbi believed to have handed down the Zohar, a principle text of Kabbalah.
This song is dedicated by its writer to Yonatan Zaken, who died too young. The BeZine dedicates it also to the 45 young and old Israelis who died last week, and to those we know and love we have lost in this past year.
—Michael Dickel, editor
There is a place
Where loved ones go
And never come back,
Where time is not counted.
Play in the dust of clouds.
And i am here empty handed…
It's been a long time now,
I've seen the contours
Of your face.
You have been brave.
They say you're better off now…
I look up high.
You promised me
You would be the brightest of all.
I know you will always be
Dancing in a field
Of memories so free.
No, I won't forget,
You remain a part of me.
הנקרא גן עדן
שלשם האהובים שלנו הולכים
ולעולם לא חוזרים
מקום בו הזמן לא נספר
נסיעות קסומות וכינורות
מתנגנים בעננים של אבק
ואני כאן בידיים ריקות
עבר המון זמן
ראיתי את צורת פניך
והם אמרו שיותר טוב לך עכשיו
אני מסתכלת למעלה גבוה
הבטחת לי שתהיה הכוכב המואר ביותר
אני יודעת שתמיד תהיה
של זכרונות חופשיים
לא, אני לא אשכח
אתה חלק ממני
What do you feel
when a rock of ages
tumbles into the the sea
when something you relied on
sat upon, learned from and
leaned on for good counsel
that you needed to be
reassured and feel secured
and rooted in your trials, to be
there regardless, even if you were
somewhere else entirely ... or not
a rock that’s been there for always
this life just entered the realms
of leavened legend and lore
knocking at the gates of Neverland.
What can you say
when someone asks you
“how do you feel?” about such a
controversial, yet conversational
challenging, yet charming
pragmatic, yet princely
daring and duke-it-out
yet dutiful and dashing
outspoken, yet outgoing
much loved, yet likeable rogue.
Why didn’t you expect it? Why
did it suddenly become
the least wanted wish
after all this time, taken
for granted, yet forgotten
in the background, yet difficult
to ignore. What else would we
impossibly say ... or want?
What do you do
when time freezes
into glacial slo-mo
a clip from an epic film
a moment when child-like
an innocent hope of
one more time, again
please, please, please
let’s go to sea once more
reflect, respect, deflect
the inevitable change
What did we learn
in the aftermath, if you spent
an incalculable time, not wasted
in the shadows, but replete with
so much energy, so much given
simply feted pre-modern man
as modern as tomorrow
as modest as any soul, with
a zest for knowledge, that
when least expected, rocked
the best brains, with a power
to convene the greatest minds
of Gods and Engineers, who
would change the World,
where it mattered not who
you are, as much as what
truly interests and moves you
to take what privilege you have
and use it to serve, continually
to learn so much, care so much
about advancing the causes
conserving of species of ... even
one less seemingly insignificant
precious life on Earth.
Written in the immediate aftermath of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, Consort of Queen Elizabeth II.
of your life after the fact as all
stories are we find those
thoughts enjambed racing
toward intolerance pages
unnumbered mixing tea bags
in hot water the repeated
inaccurate refrain they find a
small hope suddenly crystalizing
on artificial sweetener with snow
forecast in inches over night our
muscles begin to atrophy a kind
act among hundreds of other
assortments never worry about
prepositions repeating even
when swallowing hard a day
dream awakens unexpected
hunger you feel the press of
their attraction weighing down
opportunity events from a past
muddle through too many filters
until only pure illusion gathers
among the quiet introverted the
collection resonates internally
with few avenues of escape
then they the lies abundant built
upon those acceptable which
means leaving more than half
alive out our denial and refusal
the medicinal median you gave
in four days ago and more than
hearts break little fuss to make
out of no longer having to wait
for this event while others play
overhead on imaginary tight
ropes to choke the life out
pretending choice personal so
block out the porous windows
brick closed the two doors
escape prevented no longer an
advocate for certainty even when
in its midst blankets quartered
around the filleted body last night
a repetitious dream just before
waking a circle of colors blended
gray you will be missed had
already been solvent for years
there hope is hard to come by
so many alone in beds meant
for brief visits we want to
scream but instead live in our
head accede to the believed
in and deeply held reality not
as imagined or experienced
but folded under our skirts
and dresses those boots yet
to be waterproofed wet hands
glove covered in snow you
welcome the new adventure
never subverted by their kind
eyes and character flaws in
another score two sing out of
key join in uncomfortable
liaisons bodies lined weight
less prayerful savants gleaning
unnatural release belief held
only in what they are told
without question to read
the expiration date was missing
so you licked tentative the day
turning into evening amid the
constant choking we carefully
build out of their words to fortify
the fear embraced in isolation
refuse to answer phone voice
mail or text block all numbers
free ourself from pretense of
common clear pathway your
heart skips beat back aches the
body always up to this moment
our family knew nothing of our
propensity for dresses and
tubular vegetables pliable
though functional made up
swirls in their empty imagination
the silence is never deafening
rather an uproar of places things
and voices their volume once
again pliable the days resort
shuffle into new brackets of
darkness and light savings
yes once again over many
nights their twenty four hour
lip service wind awakens the
solitary walkers who shrug
off the litany of complaints
sounds used to hear ourself
at what expense those others
whose practice learned doing
the same while sources
evade detection cheat in the
rubble that remains of an
earlier rousing party of some
kind and the nonexistent
masks clog the plumbing
around town make for bad air
quality sneezes feel good
even when aimed at inside
elbow at least for another few
nights pretend you haven't
lost us altogether make this
look more like what it pretends
to be wash hands again repeat
a pleasure of those who have
the time and where with all
endings rapid fire up and down
the streets trees flutter their
communal dance of sharing
you enter into their enclosed
safety open windows through
out the apartment time how
long it takes for frost to form on
various edges those things
once so valuable now aflame
in frigid light we go in and out
without effort keep forestalling
reflection through computer
screen name begin to vanish
flies unseasonable dying on
horizontal flat lines little reason
left for italic moments of capitals
your state of mind ground down
only to worthless replace the c
with an x to disappear into what
can never be easily followed
passing by the noon bell an
hour ahead gray birds in the
starkly black black and white
domain of conjoined conflict
lies building upon lies push
you back to bed and the wail
of those usual broken love
songs while lyrically diverse
the message the same their
bodies magical hidden as we
will be by mirrored glass judged
inappropriate you have never
been prescient but understand
the absence hours compel out
of any context save wonder
rereading those memories to
ensure erasure the failure when
using language with a known
assumed listener reader in mind
scrambles forms of alliterative
translation forms of abstinence
don't worry the operation went
smoothly although what's
missing remains tactile faulty
having no one to keep us
company the days languish
late autumn grayness around
the base of the two new trees
leaves burrow for warmth a
smell of bread toasting a time
ago shots of brandy and
laughter talking power outages
and strange surroundings when
young you kept hidden beneath
surfaces a sense of safety
which was all along absent
gathering groups of memorized
thoughtless inarticulate truths
leaving out a consonant or
vowel feels as if we've pulled
away from each other unnoticed
by anyone builds to a crescendo
where opposites join force
restive in ourself never a melodic
introverted caffeine synthesized
dusk lock the off switch
Particularly speaking to this “Covid moment,” Eicha (איכה) comprises 5 videopoems which takes as its jumping off point, the Biblical Eicha, The Book of Lamentations, which laments the destruction of Jerusalem and through reflection, deflection, refraction and the fracturing of language, homophonically re-situates the original text to the horrors and hope of the present moment. Tracking through “the city” as a desolate weeping widow overcome with misery, and moving through desolation, ruin, prayer, and recovery, it explores ways that in rupture, there is rapture.
As transpoesis it acts not only (in General Semanticist terms) as a “time binder” but through a luminous, voluminous threading of light, it highlights how darkness is a form of light, how text itself is, in essence, black light on white light, and thus opens up new ways of seeing and the cyclic nature of meaning and being.
Text written and performed by Karasick and comprises the first section of her forthcoming book, Ærotomania: The Book of Lumenations. The music is composed and performed by world renowned Grammy Award winning composer, trumpet player and Klezmer giant, Frank London. Eicha I includes Vispo by Jim Andrews and Daniel f. Bradley with Titles by Italian filmmaker Igor Imhoff. Eicha II and III, music by Frank London and video by Igor Imhoff. Eicha IV and V are still under construction and will be launched for Tisha B’Av.
Text written and performed by Adeena Karasick Music Composed and performed by Frank London
Michael Dickel: Your theoretical frame for this work takes us from The Book of Lamentations to General Semantics developed in the 20th C. to the present moment of pandemic. What intrigues me about this is something I have thought about for some time. Before I heard of Alfred Korzybski, I had begun to think that cultural products—specifically but not only visual arts, music / dance, and writing—formed a sort of socio-cultural DNA. The “stories” or “meanings” they convey shape socio-cultural formations much as DNA shapes life forms, but outside of the body of course. And as such, they are apparently uniquely human. This is how I understand Korzybski’s “time-binding.”
In this framework-metaphor-analogy, would you agree that “reflection, deflection, refraction and the fracturing of language” could resemble RNA / DNA dividing and recombining? Perhaps I’m asking if your work introduces and “recombines” the DNA of light (luminosity, lumen) into the sorrow of loss and darkness (lamentation)? Or is the case completely different?
Adeena Karasick: So many interesting questions, Michael. First, if we think about “time binding as a kind of recognizing of pattern recognition—how cycles emerge in conjunction with the zeitgeist, aesthetic and political and social orders of the day and bound by semantic environments and spacetime contingencies to a past which is ever re-articulated in an ever contemporaneous present; as Korzybski might say, by abstracting nutrients, growing subsystems, which over time re-orient the narrative, language, “meaning” — in this way it is in a sense a recombination (or in Abulafian terms, a permutation and recombination), restaged into something new.
So, yes between the layering, the looming of the lament and the lumen i’m interested in illuminating the way the present re-presented through an ever-shifting past pinned to a future that is ever-fracturing; how darkness and light are always already embedded in one another – and we see this through our very rituals. For example, on Tish B’Av, when we read the Book of Lamentations which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem, it’s followed by the kinnot, the liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the 1st Temple, the 2nd Temple, reminded of all the other major calamities, the murder of the Ten Martyrs, medieval massacres, the Holocaust. Everything gets bound in these cycles of language of time of repetition and reproduction a simulacric spiraling that bleeds into the prescience of this very moment. A moment that itself (due in part to the weight of cultural memory) fractured and re-reflected, deflected, where limerence lamentation and lumenation emanate: When life gives you laments make limnade ; )
MD: A liminal moment. Your discussion of darkness being a form of light, or the light in the dark, reminds me of Carl Jüng and also of Robert Bly’s A Little Book of the Human Shadow. Both of course metaphorically could be seen as responses to the concept of yetzer hara (יצר הרע). However, the quantum optician Arthur Zajonc perhaps more literally addresses this light in the dark idea in his book, Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind.
Zajonc points out that the night on Earth is not an absence of light. The sun’s light is still in the sky, as can be seen by its reflection from the moon. He describes a demonstration he uses to show this of a box that has a vacuum inside—no dust, nothing. The inside is all painted flat black that is totally non-reflecting. There is an eyehole on one side to look into. There is also a light that shines from a side 90-degrees to that. And a mirror or flat object inside that is black on the back but can be rotated. The box looks “dark,” that is pitch-black, until the object is revolved and reflects the light. Then it is clear there was light in the box all along.
It seems that what you are doing is showing us that the dark / night / shadow always contains light. That darkness or shadow provide the contrast and form to reflected light. And that the light we see, as Zajonc points out, is only the reflected light. Even the sky reflects dust to become blue.
With this other, different framework-metaphor-analogy, does this seem a reasonable way to understand your hybrid title, “Lumenations”, which of course plays homophonically with illuminations…?
AK: So important particularly in these troubled times to shift the perspective, change the channel, shift the diorama, “peepholes, eyestreams” and recognize the light in the darkness; to revel in the white space, between the letters, the long silences, the emptiness, the shudders / shutters, suspensions and remember that as in the Zohar, the darkness contains the light. Or the absence contains the presence – thinking about maybe Heidegger’s translation of Heraclitus preserved by Hippolytus (which i quote in another section of The Book of Lumenations), that even in the presencing of all things present, itself remains concealed from being present, “not as presence presently absent or an absence absently present but as the absent present that continually withdraws in the spectacle of its present absence”[i] Acknowledging how it’s so important to complicate these dichotomies, uncover its fabrication, and analyze the violence this initiates and sustains.
And like the flash of primordial letters clothed in the nothingness of being enshrouded in the disquiet of dissembling – letters, like desire itself, embodies all that is to come; comes and keeps coming in an ever-arriving future. So yes, it’s both a reflection defection, deflection, confection ; ) playing with ways all is simulacric and thereby produces a kind of co-sanguinity mirroring how like in the 2nd C. Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), primordial creation is ever re-created through the articulation of each letter – which contains all the future within it[ii]
MD: Now, how does all of this fit in your thinking with the Time of Coronavirus / “Covid moment” we find ourselves living in?
AK: Well, we’re living in dark times. And in many ways like the word COVID itself which homophonically can be transliterated in Hebrew as Kavod כבוד, which (as you know), means glory, honor and respect; ie when we congratulate someone we say Kol HaKavod, ‘all the honour’ (Good job!), or close a letter with the word V’Kavod (‘with respect’) Yet — ironically, COVID kaved is also “heavy. And throughout Exodus, the presence of God in the tabernacle is symbolised by the word ‘Kavod’ ((which is also represented by a cloud!)) So, like The Book of Lamentations itself which is mired in darkness, heaviness and cloudiness – a masking of the light, like you mentioned earlier, with reference to Zajonc, it’s so important especially now to recalibrate how we see, what we see; displace our usual systems of spectrality. Through this homophonic translation, this transpoeisis, it displaces a sense of language belonging to a particular moment but marked by chasms, folds, paradoxes, turbulence and desire, highlights the Other in language, coveting and foregrounding its caveats.
[i]. Elliot R. Wolfson, Heidegger and Kabbalah: Hidden Gnosis and the Path of Poiesis, Indiana University Press, 2019, p.5.
[ii]. See Sefer Yetzirah, 2:2. Wesier Edition, Trans. Aryeh Kaplan, San Francisco, 1997.
(( wrote this after an extended blog conversation with another talented poet friend of mine about the limits of the written word and language. As good/succinct/clear as a writer strives to be, there always exists the possibility of misunderstanding, and that can be very frustrating! She inspired it (Thanks again, E!), and rather than use an image for this one, I think it's more appropriate to let the words do the talking this time...)
Thick as the speed of clotted thoughts,This language suffices;A cumbersome tool.Experience sought (and bought)The sacrificesThat made wiser menFrom ignorant fools.Words escape.You. Me.They cannot be caught,Yet aren’t quite free,For every one comes attached to a thought,And for every action,It was birthed in naught butElectrical energy --Brain waves of….what?Symbols understood, with meaning,But none can accurately catch the dreaming,Teeming shores of what it means to live.Sensation lingers in the mind’s mouth,Tasting phrases.Sifting variations of description,Through this medium’s sieve.It still lacksThe richness of the moment’s impact.In fact,It’s amazing communication takes place.Limited as we are,By our lackOf (understanding)The rigidity of moving backAnd forth,ThroughTimeandSpace.Seeking to capture a feeling,A sight,To explain human nature --Thus, stealing it, right?We take from experience,And categorize.We label our labors,And ceaselessly prize the “Hows“,And “Whys”,But Language,The bridge of the written word…*sighs*Though inadequate,Sometimes succeeds,And we’re “heard”.
I utter in clandestine code
Nasi lemak, mee rebus, mee siam
Paratha, mee pok, char kway teow,
Biryani, nasi padang, rojak, char siew pao,
Roti john, mee soto, popiah, putu piring
Embedded in my genetic soul
Ravenous for the familiarity of
a satiating sustenance
a childhood defined
a hungry rebellion usurped
a displaced gluttonous immigrant
lost in a gumbo of new worlds
a legacy of bewilderment
longingly relishing fuel
that coursed through my veins
I prattle my mindless mantra
Durian, satay, ice kacang, kaya, teh tarik
Ketupat, laksa, lontong, dosai, agar agar
Putu piring, wonton mee, chili crab
Bak kut teh, chendol, gado gado
sometimes it's arduous
in this white world
sometimes I stand out
in the forest of humanity
sometimes I fade
in the landscape of dirt and mud
sometimes I become invisible
in the shroud of possibilities
sometimes I crave to be
a shade of nothing
sometimes I yearn to be
Then you see me
For who I am
In that blind understanding
makes intricate connections
by our equal residency
on this universal concourse
and we all
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
before reaching my Spirit
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
police station waiting rooms
wherever people are
sludging through the mud
of rutted life
Strike with the word
On a ball court
in Barrio Edén
we set chairs around
we are laying
creating a different space
from the bar on the corner
blaring tropical rhythms,
from the traffic going
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
a now & then breeze
softly wiping away our
sweat, softly swaying palms
to our rhythms
in this different space
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.
“With this beginning, the unknown concealed one created
the palace. This palace is called אלוהים (Elohim), God.
The secret is: בראשית ברא אלוהים (Bereshit bara Elohim),
With beginning, _______created God (Genesis 1:1).”
— Zohar (I:15a)
“…She knows that her beloved is searching for her;
so what does she do? She opens the portal to her
hidden room [in the palace] slightly and reveals
her face for a moment, and then hides it again.”
— Zohar (II.99a)
Somewhere, a whirring fan
in an open window spins
possibilities into threads.
I heard a rumor that the
Oleander flowers shed
their pink and white grace
for poisonous reason.
A car slinks down traces
of a melted tar road.
You like to stand by the window,
and want him to see you there,
behind a curtain. He doesn’t
know you or you him. He walks
the span of street, infrequently
catching a glimpse of blue
eyes, a reflection in cracks
of the cotton-hued skies.
The crow calls from a tree.
Another day, green parrots
screech louder than the
traffic flees. The heat lays
like a corpse upon our city.
Bougainvillea bracts spot
gardens with false hope,
colorful arrays of forgotten
pain turned to sweet honey.
He forgets you, though you
never meet. And you, also,
the desire for a stranger's
glad glance. Someone wants
this to be autobiography, a
short recollection of moments
actually lived. That person never
dreamed, does not exist anymore.
And I never existed because I
don’t stop dreaming. Poetry, like
a god, provides code for an image,
keying it to suggest a revelation-lode
from your past. You want it to be
my past. Parrots screech.
A crow calls. A beautiful Other
by the window waits. This all
happens to you while I write
these scenes tangled in dreams,
whirring fans—the poem unable
to light any form, your reading,
this page; unable to discover more
than bare wisps of meaning in the
vibrations of words—your song longing
for someone in the infinite void. Wanting
a mortal to read you into this, to see you
alive, you seek a new beginning—genesis.
Note: Zohar refers to The Book of Splendor, one of the main texts of Kabbalah. Translations are from Daniel Matt’s work.
The resistance poet in Poetry Chef Michael Dickel wields his frying spoon with that amazing verve of a militant word-master and that astounding zeal of a chronicler cum griot cum protest poet. He fries and roasts the 6th January American political gaffe into a beautiful poetry gourmet ( fusion of visual arts , graphics and poetry) as perpetuated by the tyrant and autocratic regime of Donald Trump at Capitol Hill . Archaisms and political corruption that has since plunged the once all powerful America into the status of a Banana Republichovel , a war mongering nation and a military state on record as lecturing several countries across the globe on ethos of non-violent elections, freedom of expressions , human rights and democracy . Dr.Dickel uses powerful grim visual imagery , sorry historical allusions exposing the stark nudity of a system that have thrived on punishing other nations through perpetuation…
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.
We received this note November 8, 2020. We lost our beloved founding editor and editor-in-chief emerita on 06 November of this year. We all will miss her. She was a loving, caring, and creative person who gave everything to her art, to others, and to the causes of peace, social justice, and sustainability. Most of all, she loved her family and they loved her, caring for her gently to the very end.
— Michael Dickel, editor
Hello, everybody. I’m Richard, Jamie’s son. As you may know, Jamie entered hospice care on July 7. She wanted to be home for her remaining days. I honored this request and stayed with her and cared for her during this time. Though end of life is painful, she went through this period with characteristic resilience, thoughtfulness, and generosity. My being able to stay with her was just the latest gift in a lifetime of gifts she gave me. She passed at 10:00 PM Pacific last night (11/6). By grace, my wife Karen and I were at her side, holding her hands as she passed. Be comforted that it was an easy passing. I am only just starting to monitor her Facebook and email. Please be patient as I work through things. You will be hearing from me. Meanwhile, thank you again. She loved the Zine and the team. I have heard many great stories about you all and read many of your works. I like forward to connecting more soon. With love and gratitude to you all, Richard.
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
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
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
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
Refusing it to none
Like wealth like water
All over the earth
Let it never go unheard
Spread the word
Islam Means Surrender
There is a lot of Islam
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?
And Jews who seek to do the will of God
They surrender themselves to the teachings of the Torah
Even lovers who bow to one another's pure forms
Or those who give in the needs of the moment — surrender
Robert Priest Poet
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.
Aware that M.S. Evans paints and draws, as well as writing poetry, The BeZine invited her to submit artwork to accompany these poems when we accepted this blog post. We asked M.S. Evans for artwork to accompany and complement the words on the screen (we used to say “on the page”), not to “illustrate| the poems. The result is this blog post, which The BeZine presents here as separate yet interconnected works of art by M.S. Evans.
—Michael Dickel, Editor
Spare Guardian Floating
My eyes circle the rim of a crumpled
Puddles cooly stare up;
too sure of an answer.
Strangers offer me
My softness wrapped
in copper wire,
I learned to smoke.
Guardian of Keepsakes
The weight of boxes ease; released,
A guardian of keepsakes,
I carry the irreplaceable,
Not naive enough to trust
my home will last
They gave my room away
when I became pregnant
You’re welcome to pay for the basement;
First trimester: missed period, tender,
—Poetry and Art by M.S. Evans
“Floating Away” is an oil pastel piece I did in the early 2000s, when my housing was very unstable. There is a lot of yearning in this piece: for stability, but generally for a future.
“Bronx Botanical Garden” is a watercolor and ink piece from my time in NY, in the late ’90s. At that time I was doing a work-exchange for a room in the house of an elderly Yiddish poet and artist.
“Backdoor” is a watercolor and ink piece from my current living situation in Butte, Montana. There are signs of decay, but also of continuity and intent.
It is an undeniable fact now:
They have arisen from the bare ground
Like the phoenix flapping its wings out of its
Legendary ashes, where are they going?
Nowhere but high up into a virtual space, a world
That, like history book, is full of black headlines
Big names, & bold details. All transmitted
Into digital forms. Even the most unidentifiable
Has become a star above its dark caws.
Taken for an angel winged with the rainbows
Of tomorrow, while all cranes and swans are lost
In their dances to the tune of death
(R)evolution towards Dataism
More advanced in evolution than their human masters are chickens as they outnumber the stars in the whole universe, and occupy every corner of the entire planet, but as in-dividuals, no chicken can fly higher than a low fence, make love within its confinement or live together with its children. The only thing they do besides laying eggs and growing meat is standing there, day and night, as if meditating about the meaning of evolution:
It took hundreds…of thousands…of years for…homo erectus to evolve…into sapiens and longer…for chimpanzees to…erectus, but…engineering ourselves…by way of biochemistry…cyborg and…AI, we are upgrading…ourselves into…godlings—all it takes…will be just half a century…where science beats gods…and devils, saints and ghosts alike…at only…a fraction of second, when a whim…pops up for a human…to go back…to a wild animal, again…
Now given each organism as a biochemical algorithm, your life is a programmed process proving your consciousness is actually far less valuable than a fucking Frankenstein’s AI
As giant ants march ahead in nightly arrays
Demonstrating against the ruling humans
Along the main street of every major city
Hordes of hordes of vampires flood in, screaming
Aloud, riding on hyenas and
Octopuses, waving skeletons
In their hairy hands, whipping at old werewolves
Or all-eyed aliens standing by
With their blood-dripping tails
Gathering behind the masses are ghosts and spirits
Of all the dead, victims of fatal diseases
Murders, rapes, tortures, wars, starvation, plagues
Led by deformed devils and demons
As if in an uprising, to seek revenge
On every living victor in the human shape
Some smashing walls and fences, others
Barbecuing human hearts like inflated frogs
Still others biting at each other’s soul around black fires
All in a universal storm of ashes and blood
Up above in the sky is a red dragon flying by
With a heart infected by the human virus
Second Departure: for Yeats
Going, going away in an ever retreating bay
The ebb starts below a quickened sun setting
People swarm here, watching, picking, fighting
Over the fishes, shrimps, crabs, shells, weeds
All left stranded, struggling for waters on the beach
They do not care if darkness stalks right behind
Their shadows, rolling like a tide upon their souls
They care only about the benefits they can gather
The sea produce they can trade with one another
Surely some ignorance is still in proper place
Surely the second departing is taking place
The Second Departing! The very idea stirs in the minds
A huge flock of crows beating their darkening wings
Flapping into the narrow sky of the prolonged history
It’s these crows, these very unidentifiable black birds
That are driving the light beyond the horizon, inner or outer
(Where they have found God as a redundant re-creation
Where they believe they are the right gods for themselves)
Epilogue: A Parallel Poem
Just as both God and Devil are man’s incarnation, so are Heaven and Hell both man’s construction.
From the front yard of a melodious morning
From the busy road of a sweet Saturday
From the moist corner of a heavy march
From the back lane of pale winter
We have come, here and now, all gathering
In big crowds gathering in big crowds
Gathering in ever-bigger crowds gathering
For the boat to cross the wide wild waters
Before the fairy ferry is fated to fall
Under our feet too heavy with earthy mud
You may well hate Charon
But you cannot help feeling envious:
That business of carrying the diseased
Across the River Styx is ever so prosperous
The only monopoly in the entire universe
That has a market share
Larger than the market itself
Daydreaming, on this side
Of the river, how you might wish
To be an entrepreneur like him
A success American dreamer
Flying between sea and sky
Between day and night
Amid heavenly or oceanic blue
I lost all my references
To any timed space
Or a localized time
Except the non-stop snorting
Of a stranger neighbor
Then, beyond the snorts rising here
And more looming there
I see tigers, lions, leopards
And other kinds of hunger-throated predators
Darting out of every passenger’s heart
Running amuck around us
As if released from a huge cage
As if in a dreamland
Poetry, Music, Art for Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice
Welcome to the 2020 Virtual (Aschronous) Live Event
Dedicated to Jamie Dedes Editor Emerita
It is time once again for The BeZine live 100TPC event, this year in the midst of a global pandemic, racial tensions worldwide but particularly focused around the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, and raging wildfires related to Climate Change. Wars continue, as they always seem to do.
Our focus here is on positive change in the areas of Peace, Environmental and Economic Sustainability, and Social Justice. The BeZine approaches these issues in the context of spiritual practice and through the arts and humanities.
Today, under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC), on the 10th Anniversary of 100TPC, people the world over are gathering online to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE. There are over 800 100TPC mostly online events worldwide scheduled for 26 September 2020, and many others throughout the year.
This year will have a few differences, here at our Virtual 100TPC event. The largest change that we in the core team of writers and editors feel is that Jamie Dedes, our Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief emerita, has stepped down (read more here, Jamie in her own words). Jamie modestly called herself the Managing Editor, then eventually added Founding. She did more than “manage” us (like herding cats, trust me), she lead, inspired, supported, counseled, and loved us. And we love her back.
Jamie, I assume that you are reading this. We miss you. And we dedicate this 100TPC live event, and every issue and blog post, to you.We hope that you live and rest comfortably in the remainder of your time here surrounded by love and spiritual light.
When we started online, we were the only online event. Now, in the Time of Coronavirus, we are one of many. The others are streaming live, something we never did before. We have more of an asynchronous approach—writers, artists, musicians drop by the page and post something throughout the day. Others come, view, respond, perhaps add their own work.
Through the decade our 100TPC poet-activist numbers have grown. We’ve expanded to include allies. These creatives from around the world share the values of peace, sustainability, and social justice. They speak out against corruption, cruelty, tyranny, and suppression through poetry, story, music, mime, art and photography, sometimes at personal risk.
From last year, we again celebrate youth activists—our future:
these precious perceptive youth
“Providing food, shelter, clothing and education is not enough any more, because all of this would have no meaning in the end, if your children do not have a planet to live on with health and prosperity.” —Abhijit Naskar, The Constitution of The United Peoples of Earth
this perfect blue-green planet, her youth
dream among the strains of their hope,
dream of us like our sun and moon,
coordinating … if only we would,
sowing the rich soil with right-action,
cultivating a greening of our compassion,
acting on a commonsense vision
the fruits of our being-ness plant their
ideals, shared values, a call for accountability,
for a re-visioning unencumbered by insanity,
rich fields to harvest, color, sound, textures,
rough and smooth, the deep rootedness of
their stand and stand for, their wise demands
casting a spell that we might see with one eye,
splendor hidden behind our irresponsibility,
their effervescent call, blossoming unity, vision –
bright spinning planet gently graced with these
wildflowers, these precious perceptive youth.
Dedicated to the young people of the world who teach us many lessons as they reach across borders in their stand for climate action.
All Africa Poetry Symposium in Celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change 10th Anniversary
Saturday, 26 September 2020 at:
3 PM (Jerusalem, Kenya
2 PM (Botswana, Egypt, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
1 PM (Nigeria)
12 Noon (Sierra Leone)
8 AM (US-East Coast)
You are welcome to attend and we look forward to presenting an exciting, dynamic and vibrant Poetry Symposium, where Africa speaks of itself through poetry.
The 100 Thousand Poets for Change Movement was founded 10 years ago by Editors, Poets, and internationally acclaimed Artists Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion —in order to speak change, to speak truth—against racial injustice, wars, poverty, corruption, the demise of human rights and smothering of human freedoms. The movements speaks through literary arts activism and social change-activism arts.
The Poetry Fête is co-hosted by African Griots and The BeZine in coordination with 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Poets in this All Africa Poetry Celebration are from Sierra Leone, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Egypt, and Zimbabwe. Co-host and Emcee, Mbizo Chirasha, has worked tirelessly with 100 Thousand Poets for Change since its inception a decade ago, through literary arts projects GirlChildCreativity Project and the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign. Internationally renowned Jerusalem-based poet and The BeZine editor Michael Dickel will co-host the streaming events and attempt to wrangle the technology. This mega event will be streamed lived on several digital platforms.
—Mbizo CHIRASHA Co-Host and Coorinator for All Africa Poets
The All Africa Poetry Symposium was a great success earlier today! We had poets and registered audience from these countries:
The Zoom events was recorded, and will be made available online after processing and editing, date to be determined. Meanwhile, most of the event live-streamed and is available still on Facebook here.
We are trying something new this year!
To view the virtual, asynchronous poems, art, photography and music videos, scroll down to the comments (scroll down the page to see comments).
To share your poems, art, photography and music videos for our “live” virtual 100tpc today, please add your work or link to it in the comments section below (scroll to the bottom of the page to add to comments).
Remember the Themes Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice
one day, you’ll see, i’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia ~
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river …
i’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped ~
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings . . .
i’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
i’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow ~
you’ll see me sliding happily down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.
– Jamie Dedes
I was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease twenty-one years ago. I was given two years to live. Thanks to loving family support and excellent state-of-the-art medical care, I’m still alive and kicking. As the disease continues its progression, however, my activities have become increasing constrained. Over the past two years I’ve slowed down dramatically. I am holding the Zine back from fulfilling its wide promise. I find it hard to keep up with obligations and to honor my own ambitions and the prodigious talents and boundless ideas of my colleagues. The long-standing lung issues have evolved into respiratory and heart failure. Other challenges to productivity have popped their disconcerting heads. These include pulmonary hypertension and a rare blood cancer, uncurable but manageable. There is, however, good news.
I’ve had years none of us expected I’d have, years to enjoy my family, my friends, lots of music, reading and writing. I got to see my world-class son married. I’ve been able to spend time getting to know my beautiful multi-talented daughter-in-law and to visit with my cousin Dan when he came home to the States after years of living abroad. Daniel (now Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp) and I grew up together. He is more like a brother to me than a cousin. Ultimately, I had the pleasure of forming an arts for peace community.
I began blogging in 2008 (The Poet by Day) and in 2011 I founded Into the Bardo with San Francisco Bay Area Poet Ann Emerson and Rob Rossel, a therapist and nature writer. Ann had a rare bone cancer and Rob faced cardiovascular problems. Our intention was to chronical living with dying. My friends preceded me into the bardo after just three years. I had to ponder what to do next.
The Original Zine Team Partners
This post is dedicated to them.
I decided to broaden the scope of the blog, to create a platform for the global expression of peaceable minds, diverse perspectives and cultural understanding. This was a conscious effort to create a virtual space where we could find the commonalities across borders and learn that our differences are so often benign, not threatening. I found talented high-minded folks and a team slowly emerged. We grew from three members to twelve and a subscription base of a few hundred to one that is over 20,000.
We expanded our outreach joining with Washington State Methodist Minister, the Rev. Terri Stewart, and Beguine Again, our sister site. We became a larger presence via Twitter (thanks to Terri Stewart), a Facebook Page (The Bardo Group Bequines), and two Facebook Groups: The BeZine 100TPC (that is, 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change) and The BeZine Arts and Humanities Page. The idea behind the former is to share good news, the “best practices” that are happening all over the world and can be inspiration for initiatives in other areas. The idea behind the arts and humanities page is to give people a place to share the wide range of arts we all engage with or practice and to underscore the fact that “The BeZine” is not just or even primarily a poetry site. We welcome and encourage all types of creative expression.
I have led this effort since 2011 as manager, editor, and recruiter, but it is now time for me to bequeath this grace-filled platform into the hands of the rest of The Zine Team. Some of the support we get from team-members is quiet. You may not be aware of these stalwart and mostly behind-the-scene visionaries. Hence here is a list of the Zine team members.
Anjum Wasim Dar
Michael Dickel (Now Managing Editor, 100TPC Master of Ceremonies)
Priscilla Gallaso (has moved on but not until after making significant contributions)
Chrysty Darby Hendrick
Charles W. Martin
Terri Stewart (Cloaked Monk, Zine Canoness, Beguine Again founder)
Kella Hanna Wayne
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MY NEXT SUGGESTED BIG EFFORT?: The BeZine Educational Blog-Radio Shows:
Team-member Naomi Baltuck is our resident storyteller and also works for LBGTQ understanding and rights. She’d be the perfect person to do a show and introduce other storytellers to our audience and perhaps provide guidance and encouragement for those whose ambitions include this art.
Team-member and the Zine’s Canoness, the Rev. Terri Stewart, initiated and runs a program for incarcerated youth. She could bring more information to us on these children and perhaps encourage the start-up of other efforts elsewhere in the U.S. and wherever in the world youth incarceration needs addressing.
Team-member John Anstie is a singer and poet. Music is important to him. He works with the Sheffield Music Hub as a volunteer. He’s a bass singer in Fox Valley Voices and Hallmark of Harmony. If he was amenable to the idea, I’d like to see him bring together a small panel of musicians and composers to discuss the place of music in our lives.
Corina Ravenscraft works in several areas that engage, but animal rights is certainly of key importance as is art as avocation. If willing, she’d do beautifully with a couple such shows. (By the way, Corina’s running the Zine banner art contest this year. Check it out. Info HERE. Cash awards.)
Michael Dickel, a poet, writer, artist and educator teaches English and poetry. I’d love to see him do a show on poetry writing, especially one providing youth guidance.
There are so many people for whom English is not a first language but who love writing in English. Anjum Wasim Dar is the perfect person to interview and discuss the rewards and challenges of such should she choose to do so. Many of the Zine’s contributing writers have this in common with her.
Who better than Mbizo Chirasha to draw together other writers and poets for a discussion of the new colonialism of Africa?
And who better to handle a panel discussion on surviving life with disabilities and chronic illness than Kella Hanna-Wayne?
Many of our contributors run organizations that are working for the good in their communities: clothing closets, food banks, soup kitchens, after-school programs, boys-and-girls club activities and on and on. So much good is being done.
And how about a Zine anthology? The sales might help with the maintenance of this site and its activities as well as promoting and acknowledging our talented contributors.
I’d have loved to be involved in helping to bring such work to the fore. What do you think? Share your thoughts and preferences in the comments section below. Enthusiasm is encouragement. Maybe the team will decide to move forward on these ideas. It’s up to them, of course. They probably have some other and better ideas themselves. One way or another, whatever The Zine Team decides to do, it will be magnificent. Guaranteed.
With love from the edge of eternity, Jamie Dedes The BeZine Founding Editor, Editor Emerita
It’s our pleasure and privilege to announce the winners of the 2021 Banner Contest for The BeZine 100TPC! The competition was fierce and our outside judge had a difficult time deciding, as all of the entries we received showed talent and great merit.
The Grand Prize is awarded to Jane Grenier, of JaneSpokenWord.com. Her entry will be showcased as The BeZine 100TPC Banner Header for the next year.
The BeZine 100TPC Team came up with some extra prizes for the designs of four Honorable Mentions! They are, in alphabetical order:
Honorable Mention: Jazmine Cabaluna
Honorable Mention: Sasha Callaghan
Honorable Mention: Kella Hanna-Wayne
Honorable Mention: Peter Wilkin
All winning entrants will receive official certificates of merit that may be printed, as well as Amazon gift cards. Both certificates and gift cards will be e-mailed to the e-mail addresses associated with the submitted entries.
Thank you all for your wonderful submissions and special thanks to our judge, Mrs. Bettye Shely Holte, a University Professor Emeritus of Art and Gallery Director of two galleries for over twenty years!