The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.
The door resembled a strawberry,
a scraped bloody red nontheatrical access.
We paused, checked for cameras
recordings or real dogs barking nothing new.
My wife is a nurse and burdened,
determined to help if such a thing is classifiable.
Her client, Rosa, was happy to see us.
She smelled of lavender,
an air freshener stuck to her bathrobe.
My wife checked Rosa’s blood pressure.
Medications taken daily and duly checked off.
Rosa interpretatively made us a cup of tea,
half dancing her way to the kitchenette.
Her son would occasionally visit
to look in and sleep on the couch.
He wasn’t well himself and couldn’t help.
We ran a bath and Rosa was soon cleaner by a week.
Rosa didn’t know the day or the date,
but she could pronounce Ricardo Montalban
then enthusiastically rise to her feet.
“So, you might ask, “What’s the big deal? Why is poetry so important?” Poetry is essential for children because it is “the best words in the best order.” The rhythm and rhymes can help children develop a love a language—and a love of reading. Once kids begin flexing their writing muscles, poetry can spark their creativity and let their imaginations soar!” Sharing the Power of Poetry with Your Child, J. Patrick Lewis, PBS Parents
Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, has created a special initiative this year, “Read a Poem to a Child.”
Readers have asked for suggestions: Toward that end, I’m putting out this call for your recommendations of children’s collections, specific poems or the poems you’ve written for children. I’ll create a post with everything to be shared at The Poet by Day and on The Bezine blog and include a link to your website, blog or Amazon page. So, let us know your recommendations and give us your link in the comments section below. Thank you!
Don’t forget to join us at The BeZine for our virtual 100TPC, September 29th.
The Zeitgeist of Resistance—a Historical River Flowing
Justice is a historical river flowing to us, around us, and through us, toward freedom. The river’s current, like our current Zeitgeist, is one of resistance. In times of extreme injustice(s), people rise. This issue of The BeZine dedicated to Social Justice brings you some of the history and much of our Zeitgeist of resistance.
You will read about the current White House occupant, the state of race and gender relations, economic disparity, oppression, and more that disturbs us in our time. However, coming to The BeZine from unrelated directions—some invited, some offered, some come across by seeming chance—history has sent reminders to us that we are not alone. Others have lived in times of extreme injustice(s). And people rose up to defy and resist injustice, in the name of freedom. This river of historical struggle for justice can help sustain us in our resistance to the flood of today’s injustice(s).
The ongoing history of resistance certainly underlies the choices of music in a new album by New York guitarist Marc Ribot—Songs of Resistance 1942–2018. Ribot brings together songs from the Italian resistance, the Civil Right Movement, and new songs protesting Donald Trump—reminding us that movements need songs, and that fascism has been defeated in the past. Yes, also that we are in its shadow once again, and we have yet to get our race relations straightened out. In this issue, you can read more about the record, officially released Friday (September 14, 2018), and hear a cut from that album, with Tom Waits vocalizing Bella Ciao, an anthem of the Italian partisans.
While Marc Ribot chronicles this recent stream of freedom songs, Tamar Tracy Moncur’s poem in this issue sings of the problems facing the U.S. (and the world, I hasten to add), but reminds us that “America Still Sings of Freedom,” its title and chorus. Two poets, Michael C. Odiah and Joseph Hesch, sing to us about slavery. Odiah marks the continued echoes and reverberations of slavery today. Hesch touches on those, but in light of the Civil War—asking us if we don’t risk seeing the sacrifice of life during that bloody conflict negated as we witness democracy evaporating around us and a rise of white nationalism. Linda E. Chown sings about the mid-Twentieth Century fight against fascism in a poem about Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, aka “La Pasionaria,” a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War. In another poem by Chown, the speaker returns to Spain in 1988, after Franco’s death. Chown’s third poem in this issue shows McCarthyism, the tactics of which continually float up in the flood of our time.
Word War II comes up in this historical river, also, in two essays in our Be the Peace section. A British Officer from World War I had a spiritual experience, so the story goes, that led him to propose during the Second World War that people in the U.K. take a minute of silence for prayer or meditation to help end—and win—the war, but more broadly, for a lasting peace. His effort was quite successful, gaining the support of the King of England and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. You can read about the Silent Minute’s history in John Anstie’s recounting, and about a recent movement to bring it back for the resistance in Lynne Salomon Miceli’s account of her own efforts.
These historical streams come together for our issue in what I have been calling a historical river at a time when the present overwhelms us and floods our sensibilities. How can we resist? How can we find peace and social justice while preserving the environment in the face of an administration that seems bent on shredding all of those apart like a level-5 hurricane stalled out just offshore? How can we protect children torn from their parents, denied health care, and deprived of a reasonable future (theirs being stolen from them in the present)? These questions help to define the Zeitgeist. The historical river perhaps offers some answers in its rushing water.
Slaves survived, rose up (see the history of Haiti), and while they often got beaten down, eventually others joined in a movement that abolished slavery. Yes, we have a long way to go to heal from that terrible injustice and to resolve the racist legacy of colonialist slave-holding mentality institutionalized throughout the West, but people continue to rise to the challenge and struggle toward equality and justice. Yes, Black Lives Matter!
The partisans fought the fascists, lost many battles (and the Spanish Civil War), but also won—Hitler and Mussolini fell, defeated. Stalin may have continued, Western Imperialism may have shifted into Capitalist Imperialism, its center moving from Western empires to a global military-industrial complex held up by the remnants of those empires—but the tide went against the fascists. Democracy—real democracy, not “open markets”—still has a chance.
And yes, we now stand with fascist flood-waters rising again, using anti-immigrant, nationalistic rhetoric throughout the world to once more inflame conflict and division. Yet, people are calling it by name, and many are saying: “No.” Despite the bleakness of the picture, people are rising up—more than ever, louder than ever, on social media, and in protests on the streets. We are filling the sandbags against the flood.
Most importantly, in the U.S., women and people of color are standing for election as progressives and winning elections. Incumbents who have not stood up to the current U.S. administration’s anti-democratic policies have fallen to new-comers / outsiders who proudly project progressive values and propose progressive policies in opposition to that administration. We don’t yet know where this will lead for the mid-terms, but the weather vanes seem to be pointed toward hope. Change can’t wait!
I hope, we at The BeZine hope, that the forces of social justice, peace, and (economic and environmental) sustainability will win and lead to freedom for all. And to get there, deb y felio reminds us that community action is the collective action of individuals. Each one of us must act, personally, for the community to function. Corina Ravenscraft opens the Be the Peace section on a similar theme, with some helpful hints for how to maintain our own peacefulness in these times.
The writers in this issue call out injustice, but they also offer us reasons to believe that we who believe in democracy and equality, who focus on humanity and our living planet, can prevail. The words we bring you with this issue come as songs along a river of resistance history, with concern for social justice, peace, and sustainability, tuned to melodies that harmonize with the song(s) of freedom.
—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor
Jerusalem, 14 September 2018
I’ve observed in the spiritual practice of various Indian traditions that “shanti”—the Sanskrit word for peace—is invoked three times in prayer and chant.
I learned from a friend that the first invocation is about making peace with ourselves. The thought is that we cannot make peace with and in the world without inner peace.
The second invocation is about making peace with – embracing – the human community, from our family, friends, neighbors and our smaller communities to the greater global family.
The third invocation is about making peace with nature.
Thus we have three spheres of peace action: personal, social, and the natural world.
For the personal, Corina Ravenscraft offers suggestions for balance, Miki Byrne gives insight into mental anguish, and Changming Yuan’s brilliant metaphysical gift to us presents the complex interplay of elements in the search for self and truth. Kerry Darbishire and Miki Byrne call our attention to forgiveness, letting go, and accepting the gift of love. Tricia Knoll and Joseph Hesch suggest healing, the former through love and the latter through art.
The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and Paul Fullmer beautifully and wisely address our pathway to peace in the context of the social sphere. John Anstie and Lynne Salomon Miceli propose shared silent moment as a means to unify in a profound way, especially with the Silent Minute, borrowed from WWII England.
Our connection to nature is featured in Wabi Sabi, and in Anne Myers’ The Other World.
Yes to Blue
The work on this issue has been thoroughly enjoyable and made the more so by Michael Dickel’s genius, commitment, and hard work. This issue would not be half as good without him. His dedication each year to taking the lead on the September issue and on our virtual 100,000 Poets for Change on the fourth Saturday of September is the more remarkable because these always coincide with Jewish holy days, a busy time for him.
For my part, our editorial collaborations are fun and a delightful change of pace from the solitary endeavors of writing and poetry. I am in California and Michael is in Israel, so the back-and-forth of things is probably not as fluid and detailed as it might be under other circumstances, but there is an editorial flow, a sorting, strategizing, tossing, absorbing, updating, and always struggling with tech challenges (I struggle, Michael saves). Jim Haba‘s poem, Yes to Blue, rather captures the feel of it all…
Yes to blue after trying to separate green from yellow and hoping that everything will get simpler each time you bring an idea closer to the light which is always changing always being born day after day again and again now
I had hoped to not find death again,
Until it was my turn.
Perhaps the music will one day
Fall on my deaf ears.
I had played that tune before,
When I danced to a different song.
I dreamed of donuts
And falling through the middle
Of a donut, floating in hot coffee
Into the twilight zone.
Light filters in and the darkness disappears
As I inhale the decadent smells of morning,
I Saw Death
I saw death,
It lay there, not moving.
There was no blinking.
Inwardly, I screamed.
I saw death with its paleness,
Frozen in my memory.
Donut Food Fight Delight
On Friday nights,
Donuts fly, in my kitchen.
Boston Cream, jelly filled
And powdered donuts are lined up
On the table.
Our mouths are covered in powdered sugar.
Jelly sprinkles are everywhere.
Our faces are stuffed
With creamy goodness.
MARY BONE has been writing poetry since the age of twelve. She has had two books of poetry published and is working on a third book. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including Oklahoma Today Magazine, Our Poetry Archive, Literary Yard, Spillwords, Poet’sGig, The Homestead Review, The New Ink Review,Whispers in the Wind, Poetry Pacific, The BeZine and numerous other places.
Behind the scenes people all over the world – including those of us here at The BeZine – are getting ready to promote poetry and other arts as game changers. Words can have legs after all and 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) puts “act” into activism and community involvement. Under the direction of Cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, the focus for 2018 Global is on reading poetry to children. From all over the world 2,000 individuals and groups have committed to participate in this initiative from March 24 – 29.
Dear Poets and Poetry Lovers,
Will you read a poem to a child on September 29 as part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Global initiative “Read A Poem To A Child?”
This seems to be an important year to highlight the significance of children in the world. We are increasingly aware of their fragility.It is time to take a moment in this busy, crazy life we live, and share something we cherish.
Poetry is our gift.If you will read a poem or poems to a child or children from September 24 – 29, please let us know your city name via the 100TPC communication hub.
Here at the Zine, we’ll celebrate 100TPC with a focus on Social Justice for our upcoming issue, September 15. Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play) is heading our peaceful charge for that edition and also for our virtual 100TPC event on Saturday, September 29. This has become a tradition here and Michael is skilled in handling both these responsibilities. We hope you’ll join us at the Zine on the 15th and for 100TPC on the 29th to help us support this global effort and its ideals.
“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.”Bryan Stevenson
The world is rife with injustices that call for our attention and there are many social justice initiatives that bring people together to raise awareness, right wrongs, and offer sucor to the torn and weary.
PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE
While the daily news feeds our sadness, fears and hopelessness, you and I are a reason for joy. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are one of the millions of old souls whose natural instinct is for justice and respect.
There is joy in the fact that so many of us live in a time and place were we can put out a call for solidarity, a call to move on to right and just action. Therein lies our hope and grace and our ability to keep on keeping on.
What an extraordinary thing it is that we have the means, the inner sight, the backbone, and passion for this good work. My hope and strength comes from the poets, writers, artists, clerics, and readers of every type and from every corner of the world who come together virtually for each edition of the The BeZine, for the yearly 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, Global, for those who will join in Rev. Terri Stewart’s (Beguine Again and The BeZine) Unite with Might initiative, for the Abuelas (Grandmothers) caravaning to the Mexican Border to support the families crossing into the U.S., and for the many peace and social justice efforts that go on all over the world, even in the darkest places where preaching justice to power invites imprisonment, torture and death.
– Jamie Dedes
UNITE WITH MIGHT
“We are uniting together to stand against hate and to promote hope, love, and inclusion for all of our neighbors.
“Sometimes it seems that there is so much hatred in the world that it is impossible to know what to do next. But changing hate to hope, loneliness to love, paranoia to peace, isolation to inclusion, starts with us. The beloved community. We are mighty when united for causes that uplift the values of hope, love, and inclusion. Hence the name, Unite with Might.
“On August 11 and 12, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement (Unite the Right) that marched in Charlottesville, VA, are having a rally in Washington, D.C. and hope to also rally again in Charlottesville, VA, where a young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by alt-right marchers.”
Washington, D.C., National Parks Service has approved the alt-right’s permit to gather.
In my faith tradition, the table is where everyone is welcome, included, and finds connection to the ineffable mystery beyond our understanding. And so we propose gathering around food. This is a different kind of gathering. A gathering in each of our communities and each of our homes that opens our doors and hearts to everyone.
Churches, Synagogues, Masjids, and other Religious & Cultural Communities!! Hold picnics and BBQ’s! Read prayers of inclusion!
Cities, towns, and counties! Make statements of inclusion for all citizens!
Schools! Ensure that your students know that hate speech is unwelcome and teach them the hard parts of history!
Families! Discuss the history of white supremacy with your children!
Bloggers! Splash the world with a voice that proclaims that this is a new day!
Make a public stand that the alt-right will not win the day. Love always wins.
Please sign on and let us know if you will be holding an event or making a public statement or declaration where the values of hope, love, and inclusion will be uplifted. We must let the world know that hate will not win! And that our numbers are much stronger than the puny amount they expect to rally. We are strong together! Mighty! #UniteWithMight !
Note: We are hosting a virtual Unite with Might event at The BeZine on August 11 and 12. You’ll be able to post thoughts, activies, videos, art, poetry – whatever can go into a comment. This will enable your support and participation even if there is no event accessible near you. It will also allow you to share what you are doing with others in Unite with Might. / Jamie Dedes
ORGANIZING AROUND PEACE, JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY
“100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around something other than our literary careers, something more than our recent publications. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around peace, justice and sustainability, and we have set our priorities. Immigration, gender inequality, global warming, police brutality, censorship, homelessness, war are among those priorities. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we know it is essential to build a global community that will work together to make a better world, a global community which will exchange information to make us smarter and more informed about the needs that exist beyond our own bubble, and to learn new strategies from our friends around the world, to make us better organizers who can build that better world. We write, we demonstrate, we rally, we create, we raise funds for homeless and assist food banks, we are engaged… [because so many] are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to make good things happen. Will you join us? If so, connect with us on our Facebook Page and register at 100tcp.org.” Michael Rothenberg
Note: Don’t forget that on September 29, Saturday, we’ll host a virtual 100tpc at The BeZine. American Israeli poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play and The BeZine) will officiate. / J.D.
In 2011, Michael Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change [100tpc], a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education.
100tpc assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations.
100 Thousand Poets for Change is an annual event but 100 Thousand Poets for Change activities take place year round.
ABUELAS RESPONDEN / GRANNIES RESPOND
The abuelas are asking what you are willing to sacrifice now that the most vulnerable are threatened by violence, separation, and hate. They are calling on women and men to come out and caravan with them to the Mexican Border to protest the abuses there. Details HERE.
If you are viewing this post from an email subscription you’ll likely have to link through to the site to see this video.
When I die, bury my body
amid a pile of leaves,
then go home.
Plant clematis vines along fences,
fill the rest of your yard
with only native flowers
that will desire compost—
tend them lovingly,
as though you had cared for me.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” Elie Wiesel
In 2011, The Bardo Group Beguines (The BeZine and Beguine Again) collected poems and other works that addressed the need for, the desire for, and prospective paths toward peace. We were inspired by a global movement that was founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion called 100,000 Poets for Change.
The following year we connected with that global movement and hosted a virtual 100,000 Poets for Change so that folks from anywhere in the world could participate in this extraordinary event even if they were homebound or if there was no event being hosted in their area. It wasn’t long before drummers, mimes, musicians, artists and clergy joined this global initiative. Followers and supporters included people who aren’t in the arts but appreciate the power of the arts to raise the collective consciousness and to foster sensible and compassionate action and policy.
SAVE THE DATES
This year The BeZine September issue (September 15) will be devoted to social justice and on Saturday, September 29, we’ll host 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change on The BeZine site in concert with off-line efforts to be sponsored by communities all over the world.
Today I share a message Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion asked me to post for you:
“100 Thousand Poets for Change began in 2011. It was an initiative that spread by word of mouth across the globe.
“Poets in nearly 100 countries around the world expressed their outrage at war, ecocide, gender inequality, police brutality and a slew of other issues that were not being addressed. Up to then, poets as a community had been fragmented and silenced by the corporatization of the arts and peer pressure that insisted poetry should not be political, that poetry and art did not matter in changing the world.
“Now, 8 years later, it has been regularly demonstrated that poetry and the rest of the arts are a powerful resource in broadcasting the need for positive change. This could be in a very small part because of the effect of 100 Thousand Poets for Change.
“However, I believe that, mostly, there was a paradigm shift in regard to the need for protest and engagement in the world. Many individuals and organizations came to the realization that silence is complicity.
“Today you can hear voices raised against injustice everywhere. It has become part of the curriculum. But sadly, it seems that these voices are not loud enough or strong enough, that although the poetry community has unified in many ways and pushed forward in expressing opposition to injustice, situations have gotten worse.
“War continues and expands, militarization continues and expands, children are gunned down in schools, neo-nazis and white supremacists are emboldened, gender inequality is still the norm, and at this very moment we are witnessing a country that professes to be the most democratic and freest country in the world, the USA, tearing children out of the arms of their parents and putting them in cages as part of their immigration policy.
“My heart is broken.
“Some days, I feel like disconnecting entirely from the horrifying news. I can hardly stand to hear it any longer. But then there are the poets and artists who keep up the fight, who continue to speak out, the beautiful souls who refuse to be broken, and go on against all odds.
“So I go on.
“September 29 is the next global 100 Thousand Poets for Change Day. I am convinced this is an initiative worth continuing. Poets and artists must continue to rally and bond, connect, create and speak out in unison against the daily horrors. For each other and for our very own sanity, we must continue and grow.
“The 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative saves me and keeps me focused and sane.
“I invite you to join hundreds, maybe hundreds of thousands, of other poets globally on this day, September 29, to gather and unify. If you can’t organize on September 29, pick any other day in September or October and let me know where and when you will organize.
“I will spread word of your event to the global poetry community for change, and together we can be empowered to re-write the narrative of civilization to a sustainable alternative. There is strength in numbers. Together we can raise our voices for peace.
Over oceans of ideas, cultures, countries
raised hands rise to support, supplant
the rulers whether democrats, dictators
oligarchs they face each other for a time
then time rolls on fading them into
sepia images rattling history.
They leave a thread of wounds and horror
littering the globe with tears, mourning hands
uplifted, pleading for justice, return of lands
even from long forgotten graves they rise:
but the hands unnoticed rise to comfort
from hearts torn in silent breasts
calling in deeds of kindness to the outcast
defying the power of the tyrant unopposed.
CAROLYN O’CONNELL lives in Ham, Richmond, Surrey in South London and started to write poetry after working in the Civil Service and the RNIB. She is a member of the Ormond Poetry Group and also a member of her local W.I. She works with Richmond Libraries to promote poetry and has lead workshops, hosted at The Tea Box in Richmond and been a Guest Read at Rhythm & Muse. Having worked on the poetry pRO project her poems have been translated into Romanian and broadcast on Romania radio via the Translation Café of the University of Bucharest.Her work has been published in America. Publications: Envoi, Interpreter’s House. Poetry Space, Snare’s Nest, I am Not a Silent Poet. Her collection “Timelines,” is published by Indigo Dreams (2014, ISBN 978-1-9093575-3-2) Carolyn lives in Richmond, Surrey, on the outskirts of London. Collection Timelines waspublished by Indigo Dreams www.indigodreams/co.UK/bookshop in 2014.ISBN 978-1-9093575-3-2) She works with local groups and libraries. Further information and website http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/carolynoconnellpage.shtml
‘A warrior’s strength is measured by the size of her heart. She is respectfully humble. She will stand with honor. She will fight with love. In the face of adversity and for the ones she loves, she will be a voice and a shield. She will be a beacon to light the way home for the old. she will gently make way for the young. She is a sister, mother, daughter, grandmother……….she is a warrior.’
“We carry the world in our hearts: the oppression of all peoples, the suffering of our friends, the burdens of our enemies, the raping of the Earth, the hunger of the starving, the joy of every laughing child.”
—Sister Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B (b. 1936), Benedictine nun, author, and speaker
As we wage peace in this quarter’s The BeZine you’ll find exquisitely confirmed what you already know: that while the psychopaths and sociopaths will always be with us, so will the sane and sensible who are able to sit in contemplation, to recognize insanity and injustice, to frame the questions and outline issues, to open dialog and take action that will help to keep or generate the calm and rational, all first steps to a more peaceable H. sapiens kingdom.
Thank you to the contributors to this edition of The BeZine and to the twelve-member Bardo Group Beguines core team. Special thanks also to Mike Stone and Terri Stewart for writing introductions to this quarter’s two subsections: Migration (Mike) and March on Guns (Terri). Much much appreciation to Michael Dickel for his technical assistance and innovation. And always, thanks to readers for their time, energy, comments and shares. You are an important part of this peace-loving collective.
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
—Author and counselor, L.R. Knost
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Founding and Managing Editor The BeZine
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:
Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.
I’m both a third-generation American and a first-generation Israeli. My immediate roots are English-Scotch-Irish and Russian. That said, except those born in a narrow region of Africa, we are all immigrants who came from Africa (and most Africans probably are immigrants within Africa), our motherland, and we come from all men (and women) and our descendants will go to all men and women.
We have all tasted the double-edged sword of fear and hope upon entering a new land, a new life, carrying our hungry children and our infirm parents on our backs, only some of us have forgotten or cannot see through the thick mists of time. When we think about it, we must realize just how lucky we are to be immigrants and to be able to contemplate our roots.
Being an immigrant confers on us huge advantages, like those of being able to speak two or more languages or to be able to consider two or more points of view. I’m reminded of the well-known lines of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” Immigrants carry their homes on their backs. They never quite leave the homes of their old country but, as soon as they set foot on new shores, they must build new homes and new lives, because they can no longer live in the old ones.
When an immigrant walks alone in a strange new land, he walks with the ghosts of friends and loved ones he left behind. If you came to this land before the newly arrived immigrant, it’s not enough to welcome him. You should also show him empathy by listening to the stories and the ghosts he carries on his back. Yes, an immigrant might need your help, especially in the beginning when everything is brand spanking new to him. Yes, in an attempt to provide for his family and be less dependent on your charity, he may be willing to work for less than you’d be willing to work for, just to get out from under the guillotine of abject poverty. Yes, if he works beside you, he may work longer hours or do better work than you, but consider whether you would rather pull him down or have him lift you up, which he would gladly do to return your generosity.
It’s been said that new immigrants, like new religious converts, see their new country through rose-colored glasses. That’s not completely true. They see through eyes of hope. They want to see the good. The not-so-good frightens and pains them, but being an immigrant doesn’t mean they see their adopted motherland only through rose-colored glasses, as though all is great when it isn’t so great. Sometimes, when you love something so much and you see it coming to harm, you lash out at the thing harming it and want to protect what is innocent and good in your new country with your body and soul. If you want to feel what it’s like to be an immigrant in a new country like yours, to be a stranger in a strange land, read the poems and a story by Anjum Wasim Dar (links below, in the Table of Contents).
Gun violence is at the center of our attention for the current moment. The shooting in Parkland, Florida where seventeen people were killed by a mass shooting. [I am intentionally leaving the shooter’s name out of the conversation.] We have been riveted by this moment since 2013, that is in the last five years, 291 times. 291 times. And we have not taken meaningful action. Granted, some shootings are more grandiose than other school shootings. But does the number of people killed make a difference? Is there a magical tipping point of the number of folks murdered that will suddenly create a call to action?
I don’t think so. The United States embodies a culture of violence that is rooted in our inability to create meaningful reform. What may be different this time is that the youth are rising up with a clear and steady message:
Sensible reform now.
Republican or Democrat, if you take money from the NRA, we will hold you accountable.
We are registering to vote.
This is #NotJustParkland.
This has spread across the United States. Here, in Washington state, nearly as far away from Parkland as possible, students are organizing. Adults are joining in. There is a forming March For Our Lives (or March on Guns) movement. The dates of marches are:
It is not enough that we sit in our safety and support others to do the hard work of creating change. It is time for action.
I teach Bystander Intervention Training. In that training, I talk about discernment as part of the process of knowing what to do. What to risk. Can you put your body on the line? Do it! Can you risk arrest? Do it! Can you write persuasive testimony? Do it! Can you talk to your neighbor about common sense gun reform? Do it! Do what you can do. Risk what you can risk.
In many ways, there are two things that I think are very important. Showing up and being thoughtful. If you can show up to one of the walkouts or marches, then please do. The more our bodies are counted as standing against the culture of violence, the better. Numbers matter.
Second, have that difficult conversation. Do not descend into a shouting match. Here’s your task before you have a real dialogue with that person in your life who is wedded to the idea of no need for gun reform.
1-Reflect on your position. Become informed. Know what a bump stock is. Use the internet to help you.
2-Encounter the skeptic and ask some questions. Be curious not judgmental. Listen to their story.
3-Here’s the hard part. Find a place in their story to connect. Relate a personal story that connects in some way to their story. Maybe it is a concern about safety – For example, “I understand that protecting your family is important. My house was burglarized. I lived with fear of other people for a while after that happened.” Empathy is important.
4-Find a way to expand their thinking. Finish the story. Use different language – this isn’t about gun control but about gun reform. We put limits on most of our rights, such as limits on a free press, limits on free speech.
We definitely need mental health reform in the United States. Currently our best mental health treatment is prisons. That is unhelpful for all of us!
We know that there is a correlation between domestic violence and mass shooters. Tightening up access to guns for known domestic violence offenders would be a big step.
We know that people start out with a regular gun and buy bits and pieces, like bump stocks, that enable them to be created into killing machines. We can regulate bump stocks.
We need to study violence with guns in order to really know what the problem is. We can fund the CDC doing research rather than blindly shooting at unknown targets. (see what I did there?!)
We need to make sure our databases that do background checks are fully operational and work at capacity.
And we need to make sure every person that buys a gun should have a gun. Keeping guns in the hands of legal, careful gun owners.
If you can get one person to move towards one of these positions, you will have succeeded. But you must keep calm and keep curious and not take up too much space in your own opinion.
I hope that you are successful in creating a space where you can move into doing what is right for you as we march together in response to violence with guns.
PS: I want to recognize Dr. David Campt for the outline of the method of communication above.
Eds. Note: Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, founders of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) organization, have been working with poet-activists to organize 100TPC anti-gun / memorial readings throughout Florida for March and April. More information here.
Please scroll down for features and poems on this topic.
Note: Martins is one of several young writers featured in the next issue of The BeZine to be published on March 15th.
My name is Martins Tomisin Olusola. I’m currently studying at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State where I have earned awards and recognition. Some of my poems have been published in numerous literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. I love painting colourful rainbows-of-thoughts on paper. I vehemently believe that, “life without poetry is like a soup without condiments; without it, life will be flavourless, distasteful and unrhythmic.”
This is just one of so many Native American tales about Raven as well as other animals. I love to read them.
When Raven was killed
Raven had played so many tricks on mankind for so long that one day a great chief decided to kill him. The chief caught Raven unaware and threw him into a large skin bag. Then he began to climb to the top of a steep mountain. Raven asked from inside the bag “what are you doing, where are we going.” The chief ignored Raven. Raven told the chief that bad things would happen if he hurt Raven. But the chief did not listen and finally on top of the mountain, he threw Raven off the mountain. Raven was torn to pieces falling. The chief had killed Raven.
Everyone in the village was happy and they celebrated for days. Then…
What I like about Evelyn Augusto’s effort to help stop gun violence is that she combines poetry with action. She visits high schools to offer students tools that are not self-distructive. Evelyn’s contact info is at the bottom of the poster. Contact her if you’d like her to speak to your local high school.
At this writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive there have been 6,975 incidents, 1,922 deaths, 3,330 injuries, 71 children killed or injured, 377 teens killed or injured, 32 mass shootings, 41 officers shot or killed, 312 subject or suspect killed, 235 home invasions, 192 defensive use of guns 229 unintentional shootings.
If you agree that we need to share this info – get the word out – please feel free to reblog using the WordPress reblog feature or to cut and paste this into a post on your own site. Thank you!
Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.
Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.
Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.
We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.
MICHAEL DICKEL a poet, fiction writer, and photographer, has taught at various colleges and universities in Israel and the United States. Dickel’s writing, art, and photographs appear in print and online. His poetry has won international awards and been translated into several languages. His chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism came out from Locofo Chaps in 2017. Is a Rose Press released his most recent full-length book (flash fiction), The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us, Midwest / Mid-East, and The World Behind It, Chaos…He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36(2010). He was managing editor for arc-23 and arc-24. With producer / director David Fisher, he received an NEH grant to write a film script about Yiddish theatre. He is the former chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. Meta/ Phor(e) /Play is Michael’s blogZine Michael on Social Media: Twitter | FaceBook Page | Instagram | Academia Michael is also an a member of The BeZine core team.
On the crest of your voice,
the great hawk hovers for twelve seconds,
and enters the next world.
My mortality this morning was a white dove on my shoulder,
singing to the colour of the waves, singing, singing, its eyes turquoise.
Fleeting life, smooth filigree waves.
When I understood that I had a deathless soul,
and that it did not need me to keep on,
your voice was cresting, cresting, never breaking.
Singing are the jackals.
The other side is here.
The rocks, the ship ropes and the anchors
have found each other, and have become sirens,
and are singing a song about departure in arrival.
at the water fountain,
how the birds are singing!
MARGARITA SERAFIMOVA (Facebook Page) was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize 2017. She has two collections in the Bulgarian: Animals and Other Gods (2016) and Demons and World (2017). Her work is forthcoming in Agenda, Trafika Europe, Waxwing, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Poetic Diversity, TAYO, Transnational, Pocket Change, SurVision, Poetry Super Highway, and appears in London Grip New Poetry, The Journal, A-Minor, Minor Literatures, Noble/ Gas, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Obra/ Artifact, Writing Disorder,The Punch Magazine, Futures Trading, Ginosko, Dark Matter, Window Quarterly/ Patient Sounds, Peacock Journal, Anti-Heroin Chic, Wild Word,Plum Tree Tavern, Oddball Magazine, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Sea Foam Mag, Aaduna, MOON, In Between Hangovers, MockingHeart Review, Renegade Rant and Rave, Tales From The Forest, Misty Mountain Review, The Voices Project, Cent, Heavy Athletics, Outsider Poetry, Outlaw Poetry.
by Howard Thurman (1899-1981), African-American poet, theologian, and civil rights leader
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.
After the frost, warmth returns. We are now in Indian Summer, that period between first frost and the true onset of winter. The name “Indian Summer” seems to be of contested origins. I was always told that the name came from the colonists’ observation that Native people intensified hunting and gathering during the quiet time leading up to winter. Subsistence practices in colder temperate climates require that as much food and wood be put away as possible before the freeze sets in, yet the simple fact that much food is perishable means that food must be stored as late in the season as possible. Indian summer is, therefore, one of the few uses of the term “Indian” that refers to our perseverance and foresight, rather than being derogatory.
As climate change accelerates, Indigenous people around the globe are speaking to the dramatic shifts in the seasonal round, and insisting that these changes portend hard times to come. Perhaps it is simple racism, or greed, or both, that stops so many from hearing the truth in the lived experience, and the vision, of those who live close to the land. Perhaps it is just the human condition to ignore that which threatens us but is not yet dramatically altering our lives.
In the Autumn, traditional people, and people of many cultures who live on and with the land, have traditionally worked together to secure the harvest and assure the well-being of one another and the community. We are indeed in Indian Summer, both here in New England, and around the planet. This time, rather than raging winter, we face an unprecedented time of climate upheaval for which there is, for many, no way to prepare. May we yet find a sense of community and work together to bring ourselves, and the world, back to balance.