Indian Summer

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.

© 2017, essay and photograph, Michael Watson (Dreaming the World), All rights reserved; Michael is a member of The BeZine core team

Far from Eyes Broken

San Francisco Bay Area poet, Ann Emerson, was one of the first two people I invited to join in the collaboration we now call The BeZine. It was originally named Into the Bardo, in reference to the Buddhist state of existence between death and rebirth; so named because of life-compromising illnesses.

Ann was a gifted poet, but she didn’t find that out until after she was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. She discovered her voice in a hospital poetry class. Ultimately she studied with Ellen Bass in Santa Cruz, California. 

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After diagnosis, Ann survived for an almost consistently tortured six years. Physical pain. Trauma. Fear. Chemo. Poverty. She had signs posted around her house that said, “Live!”

While Ann spent a lot of time in the hospital, her home was a cabin in the Redwoods of La Honda, a stone’s throw from the log cabin where Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters so famously partied in 1964. She lived with her cats. Originally there were six and they were all blind. No one would take them in, so Ann did.

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Ann was just a thesis away from her Ph.D. A few weeks before she died, four of Ann’s poems were published in American Poetry Review

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Two days before Ann died, she married the gentleman who was her sweetheart of thirty years. Ann’s wedding was held in her hospital room. Those of us in the attendance were required by the hospital to wear yellow gowns over our street clothes. The bride wore yellow too. The flowers and the ring were from the hospital gift shop. The founder and leader of our support group for people with catastrophic illness, a Buddhist chaplin, performed the ceremony. One of us took wedding photographs using a cell phone.  I created a virtual wedding album.The wedding was in its way lovely, but it was achingly sad.

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When Ann died, we sat with her for some time because Buddhists don’t believe the soul leaves the body right away. Ann’s Buddhist teacher – someone she held in high regard – came and lead us in meditation and blessing.

Here – are three of her poems – posted today in her memory. In closing, I added A Hunger for Bone, the poem I wrote the day her ashes were released to the sea near Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur. My poem in no way comes up to the gold standard Ann set, but it tells the story. 

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– Jamie Dedes


Elegy for Cat Five

Fuck the Glory that is Poetry,
fuck the smell of God in my hair,

The world is the color of driftwood,
this ordinary Wednesday in June.

Let’s have a moratorium on poems
about my shitty news from Stanford

and how I can’t tell heat from cold.
My blood dirty as brown sand in a museum,

and my cat, well, he has news too.
Death woman, skeleton cat,

I turned 57 yesterday when
the veterinarian said No.

I am taking us both to the ocean
for as long as we need:

red sand staining white fur.
I am smelling my cat’s iodine breath,

I am putting my hand in the wound
in my side. Dry brine stinking up

the air, seawater choking the
cawing gull in his throat.

And my face, he’d better
not fucking forget.

One more day leaving me
for a little peace of mind.

.
A Modern Poem (draft 1)

.
I am walking again through an American night,
past police stations with barred gates, windows
glazed warm with doughnuts, patrol cars in the lot.
I stand outdoors seeking coffee: someplace where
eyes will not wander through me when I sit in a red
booth filled with books as women fearing Altzeimer’s
hoard cats. I stay up until dawn, waiting for panic
to subside, to find the meaning in all things
in a city which says I am nothing.

..
I wake in my American forest, from a dream
of being shot: when one lives in a forest one cannot expect
the humane society always arriving in time. I walk through
the cabin and on down the path: moonlight blurs the redwoods,
wind blurs water. I feel like a girl safe in a picture book.
Indoors the television screen shines blue as topaz.
I am walking again through the forest aglow with
snowy owls and see-through salamanders.
Far from eyes broken like windows, and people
thinking they are nobodies, reading the paper
about life being rebuilt by night so that
no one notices it tumbling by day.

 

The Wrong Side of History

Fifty years ago, a house of
pale cinderblock. Sixty miles

north of here, Richmond
California, the poor

mending holes with colored thread.
I live in a house of

unnatural law, I am painting
landscapes in black: horses

and floating carpets of leaves.
When I am ten my father fills my mouth

with dirt for saying I want to die:
a ripped sheet twisted over my eyes,

my ankles hobbled in bed;
I summon the kingdom of horses

where lullabies murmur
brittle-legged ponies to sleep.

When I am twelve the city catches fire:
ruined faces of mares stretch for pages,

and when the tar roof seeps into
my room, I still do not run away.

Say nothing about the comfort of solitude,
stars crowded like sensations under the skin.

Say nothing about the morning blow of light,
the herd coughing on last night’s oily weed

– Ann Emerson


A Hunger for Bone

we scattered your relics, yours and your cats,
chared bone to be rocked by waves,
to be rocked into yourself, the rhythm
enchanting you with cool soothing spume
merging your poetry with the ether,
rending our hearts with desolation,
shattering the ocean floor with your dreams
lost in lapping lazuli tides, dependable ~
relief perhaps after pain-swollen years of
suckle on the shards of a capricious grace

those last weeks …
your restless sleeps disrupted by
medical monitors, their metallic pings
not unlike meditation bells calling to you,
bringing you to presence and contemplation,
while bags hung like prayer-flags on a zephyr
fusing blood, salt, water
into collapsing veins, bleeding-out
under skin, purple and puce-stained,
air heavy and rank; we came not with chant,
but on the breath of love, we tumbled in
one-by-one to stand by you

to stand by you
when death arrived
and it arrived in sound, not in stealth,
broadcasting its jaundiced entrance
i am here, death bellowed on morphine
in slow drip, i am here death shouted,
offering tape to secure tubing, handing
you a standard-issue gown, oversized –
in washed-out blue, for your last journey
under the cold pale of fluorescent light

far from the evergreen of your redwood forest,
eager and greedy, death snatched
your jazzy PJs, your bling and pedicures,
your journals and pens, your computer and
cats, death tried your dignity and identity –
not quickly, no … in a tedious hospital bed,
extending torment, its rough tongue salting
your wounds, death’s hungering, a hunger
for bones, your frail white bones – but you
in your last exercise of will, thwarted death,
bequeathing your bones to the living sea

– Jamie Dedes

© 2011, Ann’s poems, her photo and that of her cat, Ann Emerson estate; © A Hunger for Bone and the yellow flower photograph,  Jamie Dedes; photograph of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur courtesy of wordydave under CC BY SA 3.0

Rob’s Morning Glory …

 

“The harp at Nature’s advent strung

Has never ceased to play;

The song the stars of morning sung

Has never died away.”

The Worship of Nature by John Greenleaf Whittier

Posted in memory of Robert Rossell one of the three original Bardo Group members.

Nature’s Gifts

by

Robert Rossell, Ph.D.

This morning I had an amazing encounter.   After a sleepless night,  I woke up late and decided to go for my morning walk in the local nature preserve behind my house.   It was drizzling slightly— a very gentle spring rain.    I was deep in an intense internal reverie as I entered the park.  I looked up and found myself  looking at three deer slightly ahead of me on the trail.  I instinctively calmed myself and walked slowly forward.   They didn’t seem in any hurry to leave as they often do when I encounter deer in the preserve.  It may have helped that I caught one of them, a two year old buck, in the middle of “doing his business.”    He turned around and looked at me head-on but didn’t move because he wanted to finish.  The others, perhaps encouraged by his unwillingness to stop what he was doing, were in no hurry to leave either.  They just managed to  keep  themselves at a safe distance as I slowly moved forward.     Very slowly, I walked forward.  The buck kept me in his gaze but didn’t move.    I was able to get maybe within six or eight feet of him, almost within reach.   Finally he finished his business and slowly walked away from the trail, still keeping me in his gaze.

Then while walking further, I encountered a mother quail and ten teeny, teeny, babies  walking into the tall grass on the side of the trail.   It was like a cartoon, the last little straggler trying to negotiate and jump over strands of weed and grass, mother scolding/encouraging them all to come along.  The little chicks must have been no more than a day old, very small, very cute.

Then I arrived at a farm in the middle of the preserve.  The farm is for families with children—goats, pigs, chickens and ducks to enjoy, and a cow, named Luna.   I have become very fond of this cow over many trips to the farm–perhaps because of my bovine heart valve.   She knows me now and accepts my touch, and will occasionally give me a big affectionate lick. (I haven’t brought myself yet to lick her back).    Anyway, she has been away for a while so they can repair her paddock and I haven’t  been able to see her.    But to my great delight she was there this morning, nursing a  baby bull and calf.  Even while occupied with her nursing babies, she recognized me and let me give her a few scratches and nuzzles.

I felt so gifted this morning by Nature.   It was as if in the inscrutable wisdom of nature the Gods found a way of bringing me out of my funk and deep reverie and welcomed me into the world.   All of my efforts at self-care in a painful, sleepless, night had utterly failed me.   But somehow Nature’s magic managed to touch me and bring me out of my funk and  reverie.   It amazes me  that this happens over and over again in my life.  When I seem to most need it, Nature finds a way to touch me.    I am grateful. I am also grateful that I am still able to be touched!

© 2011, Rob Rossll, All rights reserved; photo credits – California Quail in Golden Gate Park courtesy of Mila Zinkova under GNU Free Documentation License; the duck is in public domain and courtesy of Arpingstone; cow courtesy of Mandie Lancaster, Public Domain Pictures.net.

 

100TPC, 2017 / Stand with us now for Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice

This year, the last Saturday of September, the regular day for the Global 100,000 Poets for Change Events around the world, falls on Yom Kippur, considered the Holiest day of the Jewish religion. Observant Jews around the world are fasting, having spent the Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur asking the people in their lives for forgiveness and inventorying their transgressions against Creation. Today, we Jews go to synagogue and ask Creation (G-d) for forgiveness. Another name for Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.

First, the order matters: We ask the people in our lives for forgiveness. Then we think how we have acted against the World. Then and only then do we turn to G-d for forgiveness.

Second, saying sorry is not enough, in our tradition. It is a start. In the Jewish tradition, people must also act differently, that is, they must enact the apology with a change in how they are in the world.

Third, human purpose can be understood—in how I have been taught—as working toward Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the repair or healing of Creation. While there is definitely a range of interpretations that could be made on what this healing entails, it certainly incorporates attention to the physical world as well as the spiritual. These two intertwine and interrelate in such a way as to be inseparable. Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace—and writing, the arts, music in service of activism for positive change—are very relevant issues to our human purpose, from this view.

And thus, on the Holiest Day of the Jewish Year, it is appropriate to work toward Tikkun Olam, asking G-d’s forgiveness for all we have done that harms our fellow humans, inventorying our own role, and moving forward with action that shows our genuine desire to change and make things right again.

And, further, as the spiritual and the physical are interrelated, so are all of the arts (literature, art, music, dance, stage, film…), so are all three of the themes: Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace.

So this year, on Yom Kippur, we ask you to join in with your contributions from any of the arts—share your efforts toward healing and repair of our World. As you do, remember this, paraphrased from the sages:

Do not despair at the iniquity and injustice of the world in which we live. For today, that is, in this period where injustice, racism, and greed seem to have risen to power, do not give up or give in.

It is not up to us to complete the work of Tikkun Olam, but this does not free us from working toward the healing and repair of Creation. That is, although we may not achieve our goals of a just, sustainable and peaceful world in our lifetime, we must continue to make progress, and in working toward them, the healing of Creation will occur, one poem, one essay, one novel, one painting, one sculpture, one song, one symphony, one performance at at a time…

By action, not words alone, will this be done. If ever there was a time when this action is more needed than others, certainly now is one—Resistance! Activism! Peace! Sustainability! Social Justice!

Instructions for how to participate follow below.

—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor


Thanks to Jamie Dedes for getting our virtual 100TPC underway. Travel issues left me in the lurch. My apologies. May this introduction partially atone for my tardiness in getting the event going! Instruction on how to participate in today’s event are included below:



“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [woman or] man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy South Africa, 1966

Today under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over are gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Here is a sampling of the posters announcing these gatherings.They give you a small idea of how far-reaching this annual global event is and for which we have the work and vision of  100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion to thank.

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

 

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Meanwhile our 100TPC host, Michael Dickel, was caught somewhere between Israel and the American Midwest, so we got off to a late start. Michael will be around during the day today.  He did especially want you to have the link to the 100TPC Resist Wall, where you can post activist and resistance poetry today or any day.


POST YOUR WORK HERE TODAY

To share your poems, art, photography and music videos for our “live” virtual 100TPC today, please use MisterLinky for url links. Just click on the icon below.  You can also simply paste your complete work or the url into the comments section.  Remember the themes are peace, sustainability and social justice.


To read shared work see the comments section and click on Mister Linky. Enjoy!

On behalf of Michael and the rest of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor,
The BeZine

Silence i — Warm Blanket of Silence

It was September in 1998 when I last visited this text, but I began writing it in 1988—an unlikely time for warm humid air in Minneapolis where I lived. Still, brought up by storm, bereft of beaches, warm ocean-born air covered me in that north-central city, the nearest seacoast thousands of miles away; I could smell that salt breeze left over from and carried here by hurricane Gilbert and his aftermath.And this is what I wrote in 1988 and revised (somewhat) 1998. Now, in 2016, I pulled it out, dusted it off, made some additional revisions and edits (including cutting about 15 pages out at the end) for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I read the version of the following at Verses Against Violence 3, organized by Rachel Stomel in Jerusalem, on 24 November, 2016. I have made some edits to the version I read and added a bit more, to more clearly state my position at the end. Both the edits and what I added arose from the discussion after the reading in November.

When you read this, the bombs may be falling still, or falling again; or a temporary lull may have been ordered, or a ceasefire may be in effect. This peace-around the corner, while children, invalids, and old people are blown into mass graves, has been the latest, most visible testimony to the power now handled by a few men—which begins to seem like the power of nature, to bring famine, plague, or cyclone and take it away again at will.

“The bombings, for example, if they have anything to teach us, must be understood in the light of something closer to home, both more private and painful, and more general and endemic, than institutions, class, racial oppression, the hubris of the Pentagon, or the ruthlessness of a right-wing administration: the bombings are so wholly sadistic, gratuitous and demonic that they can finally be seen, if we care to see them, for what they are: acts of concrete sexual violence, an expression of the congruence of violence and sex in the masculine psyche.”

—Adrienne Rich, “Vietnam and Sexual Violence,” a column for APR, first published in 1973

“…it’s time for men to start having programs about rape. It won’t stop until men learn that the victims aren’t responsible.”

—Irene Greene, director of the U of Minnesota Sexual Violence Program
in an interview with Doug Grow.]

 

The Warm Blanket of Silence

It is a comforting warm atmosphere, and that it should bear with it the responsibility for the death of hundreds and the devastation of fragile third world economies, responsibility for the spawning of floods and tornadoes, dumfounds me at this distance. The air around me is a comfortable blanket, secure and cozy, cuddling me into gentle submission, into ignoring the terrible violence that spawned it, that delivered it to my doorstep along with the bananas and the coffee and the economic well-being that are part of my privileged existence. How do I set my comfort aside and grapple with the need for others’ relief, for a fair-weather change? So easy to retreat, to retreat to the warm blanket, to snuggle against the supposed truth: I am not the perpetrator of those violent deeds. For I am not a violent man, myself.

So it is with the storm, the raging blast of destruction and domination that is U.S. foreign policy, especially in the what we once called the “Third World,” now (in 2016) also the Middle East. That storm accounts for the cozy climate of the privileged in the U.S. (and I own that I was, while living there, and still am, as an ex-pat, one of those privileged). Thousands of deaths, devastation of economies, the spawning of the floods of war and the tornadoes of insurrection and destabilization all account for the stolen ocean breezes. And if I feel as helpless against the hurricane of foreign policy as I do against Gilbert, that same comfortable blanket beckons me: I am not the perpetrator of these violent deeds. For I myself am not a violent man.

If not perpetrator, then collaborator, if not in the destruction wrought by the storm, then in the destructive forces let loose when men beat women, when parents beat children, when men beat other men, when men rape women, when men use violence, oppression and sexual power to coerce those around them into submission. And if it seems that I have leapt hugely into an abyss from foreign policy to domestic, personal, and sexual violence (are these different?), then it is because I am looking for the beginnings of our national imperialism in the place it seems to me things begin: at home. If acts of violence in foreign affairs are not acts of sexual violence, as Adrienne Rich suggests they are, and I by no means believe that they are not, then the same indifference and silence towards the raping, beating, and emotional violence that plagues our own sisters, mothers, lovers, colleagues, brothers, and ourselves allows for our silence and indifference about how our nation conducts its foreign affairs. We may not perpetrate the violence, but we collaborate with it when we remain silent: Even if we are not, ourselves, violent men.

Collaborate? With silence. Silence is collaboration, the great hushed whisper that approves by not calling out, by not naming the violence of person against person, by looking the other way. Too long men have ignored the violence, or viewed it as the victim’s problem, or, when forced to acknowledge the truth, tried to suppress the violence in patriarchal fashion with laws, jails, and punishments (more often than not punishment for other suppressed members of society more than for those in power), rather than treating the roots, looking to the core of the matter.

“Such inhumanity will not cease, I believe, until men, in groups of men, say “no more.” Until the Jaycees, Rotary, American Legion, male sports groups, and the like begin to discuss rape in their meetings and begin to give a loud prohibition to sexual abuse of women rape will not stop.”

—Ted Bowman
quoting himself from a letter to the editor
of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, December 30, 1983.

Part of the problem is that many men do not see wife and child beating as a men’s issue. Here I generalize, for some activist men indeed do (singer, songwriter, activist Geoff Morgan, for instance, or witness quotes above), and no sweeping statements should be made about men, women, or any group of people. Traditionally, however, men do not seem to have dealt with this issue except as an issue of the victim—a woman’s or child’s issue, or if a men’s issue, a men’s issue based on their own victimization, as in child abuse. Rarely have men confronted the issue as an issue of their own suppression of others, or of their own fears or inability to be whole. An issue of their own rage and explosiveness. We often ignore the fact that we can be violent men.

I know I have viewed this as a “women’s issue,” I know my friends have, I know that some of the concerned men I met with in Minneapolis have all ignored men’s responsibility, to greater and lesser extent, while wanting to acknowledge our “sensitivity.” In failing to acknowledge our potential for violence, we continue the oppression. It is when we deny our own anger, often at ourselves or other men, that we become most likely to blow up with rage at others, also.

But, I am not a violent man. And I do not beat or rape women. Why should I consider this my problem?

Because men are the most common perpetrators of this violence, and men ought to consider solutions that will stop other men from violating other human beings. (I speak hear of male abusers because I wish to arouse men to action to stop sanctioning this abuse with our silence—what I say may apply to women abusers as well.)

We should stop being silent and start taking responsibility, stop saying that this only effects the victims and recognize the effects throughout society and culture, stop subscribing to the patriarchal code of silence that allows the male, even requires the male, to dominate and control those around him, and start working with each other to end family and personal violence. If we want accusations like Rich’s to be untrue, (that violence and sexuality are one for men), we have to speak out and say that it is untrue for us and unacceptable in those around us. We have to act according to these words. We must disentangle them in our own psyches and lives and acts. We must, as men, face our own violence, turn our own sexuality from oppression to eroticism (not to be mistaken for pornography) and spirituality (not to be mistaken for patriarchal indoctrination), from desire for self-gratification to tenderness for the Other.

(skipping about 15 pages to coda at end of original essay)

The first step for any change in attitudes we have and perpetuate about gender, sexuality, and violence begins in the mirror. I must face up to my own capacity for abuse, my own tendency to authoritarianism: my own reluctance to feel, to trust, to be vulnerable, to love (and be loved). I must face myself in my worst aspect to create my best. If this has been, up to now, a social commentary and proposal, it is now a call to all men, and to myself, to begin the act of change within each of us. I ask no one to give up manhood. On the contrary, I ask each man reading this to embrace his own manhood, and to recognise that this manhood is not the violent, competitive, truncated beast that is so often reflected in our culture and our self-images.

I am not a storm, unleashed by nature, not a furious distemper whipping and whirling through the world. I am not corrosion, destruction, death and war. I am not powerless in the face of my actions, hopeless or helpless. Although I could be all of those things. I am not Hurricane Gilbert run amuck, nor Gilbert merely placated, worn down by feminism, politics, my mother, my lover, or my therapist. I am a man choosing to change that which I can. I have missed opportunities in the past, and these missed opportunities are scars that run deep into my psyche: I watched one man die violently where I might have made a difference had I not been silent. I experienced the sudden death of my father with an incomplete relationship because the silence between us—despite all of our words—had grown too big, was broached too late. I have attacked myself, despised myself at times, and lashed out at others.

I may be hunter, and warrior, which means I have the capacity for destructive and abusive violence, and also the capacity for sustaining power and strength. I am also lover and parent, which some may take to mean that I could control and possess a (male or female) vessel in an attempt to fill my needs, but for me means that I can form a tender, erotic, spiritual, and emotional alliance which truly satisfies. I am human, which means I have the power to repress and deny the reality of my emotions, and also that I have the power to experience, survive, and grow in the world by knowing my deepest feelings. I am parent, which means that I can continue the cycle of destruction and violence that I have inherited, and also that I can be open to growth and change. I live in the world, which means that I can strive for dominion, and also that I can strive to form a spiritual community not only with my fellow humans (male and female), but with nature itself. Change begins at home, the choices are mine.

If I do not wish to suffocate under a warm blanket of storm blown silence, I will have to own the destruction that the silence protects. If I own the destruction, I take responsibility for the violence, and then I can change. If I change, I empower myself. I can complete myself. I can choose life, spirit, love, nature. I am not, by inheritance from my father or otherwise, beast; but human being by inheritance of my mother and my father, together. And I will try to be.

“While I have yearned for leadership from persons and groups more influential than I, I also know that the burden of responsibility lies on my shoulders. Consciousness-raising doesn’t cut it! It is time to talk with my sons, brothers, and male friends and yours also. Will you join me in speaking to your male acquaintances? Can we make a difference? I think so! Let’s do it!”

Ted Bowman 1988

(This is as far as the reading went.)

I have brought this essay back for what I imagine are, to the readers of The BeZine, obvious reasons—an unrepentant “pussy-grabber” has been elected to the office of President of the United States. As a man, I renew my decades-long commitment to stand against such violence and abuse, to resist the “locker-room” excuses and all violence, but most certainly violence against women and children. One thing I take heart in, though, is that what I have witnessed at the Verses against Violence reading this year and in the past—people speaking out, women (mostly) and men resisting the violence embedded in our society and breaking silence. The outcry about the orange-man’s grabbing statement, while it did not stop him being elected, was loud and clear. In 1988, I suspect his comments would not have been a subject in the media. I suspect, but who can know for sure, that the media of that time would have shrugged their shoulders and themselves said, “locker-room talk.” In 1998… possibly not much better. Things are not where they should be, they are not where I want them to be, but at least there was a shout of “NO!”

So, let’s shake the blanket of silence off of our shoulders. Let’s do what we must, do what we can. Let’s not accept in complacency what this presidency likely will bring.

—Michael Dickel (Meta/Phor(e)/Play)

The BeZine, Vol. 3, Issue 12, 100TPC Prequel Edition

 

1901786_567349210045244_3055969219023926076_nSeptember 15, 2017


Fragments—
Reflecting on anger
a sort of Introduction


i

I am trying to write a social justice-sustainability-peace song. This is as far as I have gotten.

Where have all the flowers gone, since the election?
Where has the dialogue gone, now that we yell and scream?
You may say it’s social media, typing, and not raised voices,
But you know we’re all making some dissonant choices.

This divisiveness, it’s like some sort of infection,
All the medicine won’t do any good, not pill or cream,
You may say it’s someone else, spreading these angry voices,
But you know we’re all making these dissonant choices.

Take care of others now, it’s time to give a helping hand,
Find the empathy in your heart, spread it through the land,
Stand up for justice, peace, sustainability, while you can,
Find the common ground where all of us can stand…

ii

I am searching for interconnections and intersectionality between social justice, sustainability, and peace—how each affects the other. I don’t want to focus on the negative, but I do feel a need to say something that would get at the role of divisiveness and hate in our current anxieties and politics—not just in the November 2016 elections, not just between the camps, not just within the left. It is everywhere, infused with out morning hot drink.

iii

We must reach out our hands to each other. Yes, we can and should express our differences, speak our anger, listen to the anger of others. However, we cannot afford to weaponize that anger, to externalize it into missiles and nuclear warheads. Don’t let anger shoot, stab, run us over in an un-civil war of accusations and blame that wounds our souls. We cannot let this roiling rage keep us from joining together in common cause, which we all have—the need for peace, social justice, and environmentally-sustainable practices. We must use our real angers, somehow, as building tools, to join together to create more humane, just, sustainable, and peaceful structures in our world. We must harness the anger to make love, not war.

Even so, it will be an imperfect world.

But, if we find a way to work together, through our differences, it will be a better world, too.

iv

Audre Lorde had this to say, in her 1981 speech (later printed as an essay), The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism:

Every woman has a well-stocked arsenal of anger potentially useful against those oppressions, personal and institutional, which brought that anger into being. Focused with precision it can become a powerful source of energy serving progress and change. And when I speak of change, I do not mean a simple switch of positions or a temporary lessening of tensions, nor the ability to smile or feel good. I am speaking of a basic and radical alteration in those assumptions underlining our lives.

I have seen situations where white women hear a racist remark, resent what has been said, become filled with fury, and remain silent because they are afraid. That unexpressed anger lies within them like an undetonated device, usually to be hurled at the first woman of Color who talks about racism.

But anger expressed and translated into action in the service of our vision and our future is a liberating and strengthening act of clarification, for it is in the painful process of this translation that we identify who are our allies with whom we have grave differences, and who are our genuine enemies. 

Anger is loaded with information and energy. When I speak of women of Color, I do not only mean Black women. The woman of Color who is not Black and who charges me with rendering her invisible by assuming that her struggles with racism are identical with my own has something to tell me that I had better learn from, lest we both waste ourselves fighting the truths between us. If I participate, knowingly or otherwise, in my sister’s oppression and she calls me on it, to answer her anger with my own only blankets the substance of our exchange with reaction. It wastes energy. And yes, it is very difficult to stand still and to listen to another woman’s voice delineate an agony I do not share, or one to which I myself have contributed. 

Why has this passage come to mind? Besides the fact that it remains relevant about privilege, more than 35 years later, it also speaks to the in-fighting among people who want to change the world positively, who have shared goals in making change—activists, if you will. The need to share our “grave differences,” but at the same time to work together as allies to resist—and overcome—”our genuine enemies.”

Audre Lorde | Credit/Copyright: Dagmar Schultz
Audre Lorde
Photo: Dagmar Schultz

v

It seems to me that these are some of the tools and forces of our genuine enemies: greed, oppression, racism, ethnocentricity, genders-based bias, unfettered capitalism, and fascism. Also: war, famine, and destruction of resources. Also: hatred, division, rage. Also…

vi

Right now, my Facebook feed streams with angry posts between Clinton and Sanders supporters and third camp—fourth, fifth, sixth… camps—who attack both and each other, all arguing an election nearly a year old and few looking for ways to work together for the mid-term elections a little over a year away. People argue about the best way to resist, all the while they criticize and attack each other for not approaching a particular issue in the “correct” way.

What I don’t feel is a constructive analysis and dialogue emerging from this divisiveness. I don’t feel that the anger focuses on the genuine enemies. Instead, the angry posts shred our (potential) allies against those who would divide us on the way to grinding us up. At times, my paranoia rings its tocsin, suggesting that those who oppose positive, life-and-humanity affirming change—my genuine enemies—foment the pitched battles (especially those in social media). I feel that too many of us (yes, I would include myself) think we “understand” the problems we face, and that others “don’t get it.” We want to be correct. My way or the highway.

That path only leads to traffic jams.

vii

Lorde tells us, “Anger is loaded with information and energy.” Are we listening? I often bristle and respond with anger—I fire off a few well-aimed zingers, a few capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Or else, I turn away and don’t listen. I miss the opportunity to learn from the information in the anger.

I fight against the energy in the anger, draining us both, as I argue my point of righteousness. I don’t take in the energy in the “anger expressed” to help energize our (potential) alliance. I don’t look for ways to translate it “into action in the service of our vision and our future.”

Thus, by not listening and firing my “defensive” missiles, I miss opportunities for “a liberating and strengthening act of clarification.”

This is critical when listening across the social, racial, economic, regional, generational, religious, gendered, and so many other divides of the world. It is as critical when listening to the anger that appears ready to pull apart groups of people who want to make a positive difference. When we are torn apart from each other. Divided, we will fall.

Yet, to stand together, we will have to listen to each other, to engage in learning from each other, and to find ways to translate our anger, our pain, our fear for the future into “… the painful process” of this translation, so that we identify who are “our allies with whom we have grave differences,” and who are “our genuine enemies.”

viii

A storm hammers my brain—this tide of attacks without engaged dialogue hammers my brain—my brain hammers against the ways in which I fail to do all of the many right things that need doing. And in my frustration, I forget to try to do just some of those many right things as well as I can—even if not to the level of an ideal and perfect world.

And here is where I end up, stalled, frustrated, angry. But where I want to end up is caring for humanity with empathy at the intersections of social justice, sustainability, and peace. The writing, music, and photographs in this issue have at their heart, I believe, empathic caring for all of our fellow humans. This caring motivates the work you will find ahead. Yes, you will feel anger. Yes, you will hear anguish. But all of it comes from hearts full of a desire to create “liberating and strengthening act[s] of clarification.”

—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor


100TPC PREQUEL ISSUE: PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE

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.


Table of Contents

Poetry

Honeymoon’s Over, John Anstie
Refugee blues, W. H. Auden
The Hands Off, Paul Brookes
Prisoner, Paul Brookes
The Stricken, Paul Brookes
Three men,  Rob Cullen
Measuring the Weight of Clouds, Rob Cullen
I Didn’t Apologize to the Well, Mahmoud Darwish
gods of our making, Jamie Dedes
let us now praise the peace, Jamie Dedes
do not make war, Jamie Dedes
Pigeon dreams,  Jamie Dedes
Visions Then and Now / Again, Michael Dickel
Come on up folks,  Michael Dickel
High Technology Death, Michael Dickel
the game of war,  Iulia Gherghei
Peace in the Desert,  Joseph Hesch
genome for survival, Charles W Martin
:: submarine ::, Sonja Benskin Mesher
:: reimagine the world ::, Sonja Benskin Mesher
:: the burning ::, Sonja Benskin Mesher
Building Freedom, Carolyn O’Connell
Another Note in an Endless Melody, Phillip T. Stephens
the places between, Reuben Woolley
virginia’s move, Reuben Woolley
knucklebone excess, Reuben Woolley

Musings

Eclipsed, Naomi Baltuck
~ Gen X Musings ~, Corina Ravenscraft

Music

Waiting on the World to Change, John Clayton
Musical Interlude for Change, The Young Bloods and Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach


Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator


Around the World with 100TPC Posters

Some of them are—like ours—straight-forward with a simple and clear message, some are cluttered with messages, and others are true works of art. No matter which, together they demonstrate the strength of this movement, the passion and commitment.

 

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The BeZine 100TPC Virtual Event

The BeZine September issue previews the themes of the 100TPC BeZine online “live” event we will host 30th September, 2017: peace, sustainability, and social justice. We are particularly interested in a positive focus on the need for human connectedness, healthy human interrelations, and caring for our fellow humans as well as ourselves. Sometimes, it takes clarifying anger. More often, this connectedness comes from listening to and learning from the anger and anguish of our fellow humans.

From police killings of unarmed citizens to governments rejecting immigrants and refugees; from racism to anti-Islam and anti-Semitism; from state-sponsored violence to terrorism—the political and social landscape increasingly values some among humanity over others. Any de-valuing of one human devalues all of us.

Given the rise of anti-humanity activism in struggle for “power over”—militarization of police, white supremacism, NAZIism, KKK, and corporate greed, for examples— as part of the “mainstream” U.S. political landscape that culminated with the election of Donald Trump and in the recent violence in Virginia (among other white supremacist terrorist acts), the focus of this year’s 100TPC live event at The BeZine will be why caring for our fellow human beings is the prime desirable human value, and how social justice, sustainability, and peace arise from that caring and contribute to all of humanity.

Come to the event to browse, view, read, and listen; to contribute your own words, art, music, or links; to comment on what others have posted. Instructions will be available here, beginning at 12:01 AM, 30th September (West Coast U.S. Time). Check in throughout the day to see what new has been posted, to post something new yourself.


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The BeZine, August 2017, Vol. 3, Issue 11, Theatre

August 15, 2017

In the introduction to his translation of Beowulf, Seamus Haney comments that “as a work of art it lives in its own continuous present.” For me, theatre (whether in its broadest or narrowest sense) is very much the same. Theatre always encourages us to be in that continuous present. As an over-arching art form it can integrate every other form of human (and even animal) expression. It usually rewards our engagement and disdains our detachment. Even when a show runs for a thousand performances, it can never be quite as canned, as mass produced as many of our other entertainments. Human variability is on display every night.

More broadly, theatre tends to mean any place in which we think there is a scripted or specialized drama occurring. In that sense it often indicates that we’re seeing a performance driven by an agenda and perhaps designed to deceive. We criticize this as hypocrisy. In ancient Greece, a hypocrite was merely an actor, i.e. one who had made a judgment or assessment of a script when preparing to perform that script for others. At that time, it was also thought unworthy for actors to become politicians since actors were skilled at impersonation. We could not know their true selves.

In the context of our art, we would probably judge this as unfair. We’ve all had the experience of “donning the mask” or crafting a persona as a way of freeing ourselves. In expressing the lie, we hope to tell the truth.

I’m delighted to be Guest Editor this month. It coincides with a production that I’m currently in. This is an experimental production staged as immersive experience. We’re telling the story of a family in crisis (the passing of parents, dealing with aging and the end of life, and the break-up of relationships). We tell this story in a residence where small audience groups (a dozen to two dozen at a time) sit in the “living rooms” of the characters. This intimacy connects us with our audience. They do not participate in the sense of interacting with the actors. But, they are side-by-side with us as we make the journey, watching us, crying with us, laughing with us and even eating with us. Detachment is not an option. We join together in the continuous present.

This month’s pieces remind  us of these connections and touch on so many of the stages on which we act.

Priscilla Galasso speaks of her experience with theatre and its broad impact in her life. “Playing the muck of human behavior” as she says.

Charles W. Martin’s poetry talks passionately of life’s stage, reminding us that, yes, detachment is not an option.

Corina Ravenscraft gets to the root of why we should all spend time in “the seeing place.” It’s a broadside worth taking around when it comes time to fund arts in schools and communities.

Michael Watson recounts an early experience where his personal humiliation also reflected larger and deeper ones around him. He shows us how Playback Theatre is another powerful way to connect.

John Anstie recounts the life of his mother. In reading her story, I think on the many roles we are often forced to play and how we adopt certain personas to help us survive.

I feel that basic joy of theatre in Renee Espriu’s contribution. “The hills are alive…” means a little more to me now than it did before.

Jamie Dedes points us to theatrical entertainment with its golden moments and the theatre of life with it’s chaos and absurdity. [And, seriously, check out Fanny Brice’s physical comedy.]

John Sullivan’s four poems this month are, for me, intriguing and searching meditations on the self. They speak to who we are, the personas we have, the masks we wear, the music we sing. And, he’s allowed us to publish an excerpt from his new play, Hey Fritz, Looks Like You Lost It All Again in the Ghosting.

Naomi Baltuck’s discussion of Come From Away focuses right in on an essential aspect of our experiences both in life and in theatre. Specifically, I’m thinking about what it means to literally commune with strangers, whether it’s the characters in Come From Away or the audience who watches it.

Karen Fayeth shows how, no matter what size or shape the spectacle, there is something profound in the simplest of relationships. Say, between a boy and his horse. Because, whether we’re seeing animals at play or a play about animals we are moved.

In bringing together both her visual art and her poetry, Sonja Benskin Mesher has each explain the other. And, yet, each also enlarges the other and perhaps we see our own actions a little differently, too.

Of course, plays and poetics go hand-in-hand. Michael Dickel thoughtfully discusses how one arises from the other and the personal origins of both.

Paul Brookes’ poems read as very modern, but also touching on things quite old, such as shared rituals and the hypocrisy of actors (in the classical sense).

And, finally, there’s a last word from Denise Fletcher. I hope we’ve achieved a kind of success along the lines of what she describes.

Thank you to all who contributed this month and for letting me join the show. I’m having a wonderful time! I look forward to seeing where the story goes from here. And, to the last one who leaves the theatre, please turn on the ghost light.

Richard Lingua
Guest Editor

THEATRE

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 below.
  • To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
  • To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.

Photograph: Gargoyles as theatrical masks above a water basin. Mosaic, Roman artwork, 2nd century CE. The piece can be found at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, Palazzo dei Conservatori, first floor, hall of the Horti of Mæcenas. From the Baths of Decius on the Aventine Hill, Rome.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Priscilla Galasso

Charles W. Martin

Corina Ravenscraft

Michael Watson

John Anstie

Renee Espriu

Jamie Dedes

John Sullivan

Naomi Baltuck

Karen Fayeth

Sonja Benskin Mesher

Michael Dickel

Paul Brookes

Denise Fletcher


Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator

CONNECT WITH US

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The BeZine, July 2017, Vol 3, Issue 10, Prison Culture, Restorative Justice

July 15, 2017

This month’s publication focuses on Restorative Justice. This is a topic that is dear to me. I am the Director of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition. I have been working with incarcerated folks and those touched by incarceration since 2003. I have seen the ripples of harm that have come. There is harm to the victim, of course. But there is also harm to the person who committed the harmful act, harm to their families, and harm to the communities that encircle all of these people.

Restorative Justice is an en vogue term. Everyone wants it but we don’t know much about how to do it. Most of us look backwards at the ancient ways of first peoples such as the Māori people of New Zealand or the Tagish and Tlingit First Nation people of the Yukon. We lift their practices and bring it forward into a defined court case.

This somewhat misses the point.

The circling process that the first peoples used far pre-dates the term restorative justice. At the same time, restorative justice has become a term to be used by the justice system. And so we create another circling process that is set aside for the courts, jails, and prisons to use.

Circling or Peacemaking Circles, the process given to us by the ancients, is to be used everywhere and with anything: healing, sentencing, discernment. And it involves the entire community. The entire circle of ripples affected by an act. It is a big process. And that’s why we relegate it to the justice system.

Because if we don’t relegate it to the work of the justice system, that means we will have to change and do better. The first principle of the circle: You can only change yourself. As long as we make restorative justice the property of the courts, we don’t have to change. We don’t have to be more welcoming, giving, or inclusive. We don’t have to mentor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. But I have news! Great news of good tidings! Restorative justice, Peacemaking Circles, is, as the ancients say, the wisdom of the universe. It belongs to no one person and is there for all for the healing and transformation—not of the world, but of each one of us.

This issue about Restorative Justice and new forays into restoration is explored by our core team and guest writers. Each brings their own wisdom to the topic.

Writing on aspects of justice and restorative justice are: Myself, James Cowles, and Chris Hoke. Justice oriented creative writers are Lisa Ashley, Carolyn O’Connell, Paul Brookes, Rob Cullen, Charles W. Martin, Marieta Maglas, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Paul Brookes, Jamie Dedes and a short stories by Joseph Hesch, Lisa Ashley and Rachel Barton. Gail Stone offers a video that speaks to her faith and hope in restorative justice. I have also offered a moderated discussion that I led regarding zero incarceration for youth. Denise Fletcher teaches us how to put together Comfort Kit Baskets for the incarcerated.

We hope this issue will give you pleasure even as it provokes you. Leave your likes and comments behind. As readers you are as import to the The BeZine project, values and goals as are our contributors. Your commentary is welcome and encourages our writers. As always, we offer the work of emerging, mid-career and polished pros, all talented and all with ideas and ideals worth reading and thinking about.

In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,

Terri Stewart, Guest Editor

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 below.
  • To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.

BeAttitudes

Do You Hear What I Hear?, Terri Stewart
Justice the New Old Way, Terri Stewart
Hearing Voice Underground, Chris Hoke
Refuge, Reconciliation, Recidivism, James R. Cowles
Of Pirates and Emperors, Jamie Dedes
Comfort Kits, Denise Fletcher

Videos

Hope and Faith in Restorative Justice, Gail Stone
Zero Incarceration for Youth, Terri Stewart

Music

Room at the Table, Terri Stewart

Short Stories

I Can Trust You, A True Story, Lisa Ashley
Walking Along the Edge, Rachel Barton
Comin’, Joseph Hesch

Poetry

A Child’s Touch, Lisa Ashley
Full Buck Moon, Lisa Ashley

(ANGERONA) Sunstead, Paul Brookes
Prisoner, Paul Brookes

The Boy in the Park, Rob Cullen

Oscar Wilde in Prison, Marieta Maglas

Restorative Justice for Sale, Charles W. Martin
before it began … , Charles W. Martin
teach a man to fish …, Charles W. Martin

#what more do you expect, Sonja Benskin Mesher
.verdict., Sonja Benskin Mesher

Confrontation, Carolyn O’Conner
Sacrificial Lambs, Carolyn O’Conner


Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator


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Soil Isn’t Sexy …. Neither Is War

A dirty argument for sustainability, social justice, and peace

In the late 1980s, one of my guests on a community radio program I hosted came from a soil conservation group. She discussed the importance of soil—healthy, living soil, not chemically-supported but dead soil. She emphasized the importance of developing organic farming and turning back the trend of agribusiness mass farming that depleted soils and then added chemicals back to support the plants—but did nothing for the living soil.

She admitted that “talking about dirt isn’t sexy,” and that her group had a lot of work to do to get people’s attention. A friend of mine told me after the show, which he had listened to, that she was right. Dirt isn’t sexy.

Soil may not be sexy but treating it well could help solve climate change.

Ignoring it could lead to our extinction.

Do I have your attention?


Cracked soil by a village in Iran abandoned by farmers because water reserves ran dry due to overuse. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images
Cracked soil by a village in Iran abandoned by farmers because water reserves ran dry due to overuse. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Now, 30 years later, The Guardian has run an article about soil as “the best shot at cooling the planet.” In it, Jason Hickel discusses an overlooked, “… simpler, less glamorous solution…” to climate change:

“It has to do with soil…40% of agricultural soil is classed as ‘degraded’ or ‘seriously degraded.’ In fact, industrial farming has so damaged our soils that a third of the world’s farmland has been destroyed in the past four decades.”

Industrialized forestry and agricultural practices have largely depleted organic material from the soil. The organic materials give the soil life. They also lock in carbon dioxide—second only to the oceans in its ability to do so. Hickel writes that soil “holds four times more carbon than all the plants and trees in the world.”

While dirt is not sexy, it is incredibly important.

Hickel goes so far as to say the science about regenerating soil is exciting:

“Scientists and farmers around the world are pointing out that we can regenerate degraded soils by switching from intensive industrial farming to more ecological methods – not just organic fertiliser, but also no-tillage, composting, and crop rotation. Here’s the brilliant part: as the soils recover, they not only regain their capacity to hold CO2, they begin to actively pull additional CO2 out of the atmosphere.”


A few years after the radio show, the novelist Nurrudin Farrah and I listened to a National Public Radio program while driving somewhere in the Twin Cities. The man being interviewed spoke extensively about economic colonization of farming in “underdeveloped” countries. He argued that hunger and poverty in the “Third World” was not about a lack of capacity to produce food or other necessities, but about multi-national corporations paying for crops they could sell for maximum profits in the “Developed World” and a system that then sold the farmers food they could have grown instead.

Farrah, a “post-colonial” author exiled at the time from Somalia, turned to me and said, “This man knows what he’s talking about.” The “development” that the U.S. and Europe pushes is an economic colonization of the so-called “under-developed” countries, he explained. The process of “Globalization” serves to develop pipelines of resources to multinational corporations, to develop markets to sell back those resources in the form of those corporations’ products (the push for “open markets”)—and simultaneously to develop cheap-labor markets to do the processing.

It is all about profits, not about providing for the economic needs of the people living there. Or anywhere. It is not about developing the countries into stronger systems for their citizens. It is about taking. Depleting. Degrading. As we are doing with the soil.

Agribusinesses push large corporate farming (and de-forestation) in order to profit share-holders—they have little interest in food production or sustainability per se. Farmers around the world who could grow food for their families and neighbors are pushed to grow cash crops—sugar cane and pineapple are two prominent examples. Beef cattle are grown on deforested lands, with the meat going to developed countries’ groceries and restaurants, with the fast food industry a huge consumer. Cotton is a major crop in some Middle Eastern countries. Cotton fields do not produce food, and do not produce cotton for local clothing needs but for high-thread count sheets and other luxury items sold in other countries.

If the farmers want food and clothing, they need to buy it from other multinational corporations.

This story is well known. It is not unlike the trade triangle England set up between itself, its Caribbean colonies, and its North American colonies. It is run by capitalists now, not governments, but the capitalists often control the local governments. Increasingly, the capitalists influence and control the national governments globally, in both the “developed” and “developing” countries.

This influence includes fighting against environmental regulations.

The “regenerative” farming practices Hickel writes about will not be easy to implement, especially against the will of corporate interests. They could lead to more economic justice globally, deriving from local farmers producing agricultural products for local consumers. This change won’t come about without a fight, though.


That’s half the story. A major effect of the economic displacement that this “development” has on the citizens of the country has been displacement of people.

More and more people move to urban centers, seeking income with which to pay their way into the system. There are increasing social and economic pressures as people press into the cities, increased competition that often fractures along ethnic, racial, and religious division. And increased armed conflict.

The other half of the story of the degradation of healthy soils is war. War results from it. War causes it. And right now, the world is at war.


Last year, almost to the day as I write this, the Middle East and North Africa choked on dust from September 6th to the 9th. An “unusual” storm disrupted normal living, even shutting down the Syrian air force. “The influx of dust triggered a rash of canceled flights, closed ports, and a suspension of daily activities for many people,” according to “Dust Storm,” an article on NASA’s Earth Observatory website.

The street where I live, Sept. 8, 2015
The street where I live, Sept. 8, 2015

People died. The pollution count for Jerusalem was 173 times normal, and the Environmental Protection Ministry in Israel advised everybody to stay inside, according to an article in The Times of Israel. Temperatures also rose to higher than normal, over 100 in Jerusalem in September.

dust-1-web
Out my apartment window

If you don’t know the Middle East, you might imagine that dust storms like this occur daily, weekly, or at least monthly. They don’t. Not like this. I’ve lived in Jerusalem almost ten years now, and I have experienced dust storms. None was this intense. And dust storms are more common in the Spring.

This 2015 storm was unusual for many reasons—scale, intensity, timing, and accompanying heat.

sept-8-storm-map-web
NASA Satellite image Sept. 8, 2015

And, as it turns out, its roots likely were in degraded farming lands related to both climate change and war. And all of this is instigating not only dust storms, but quite possibly the humanitarian crisis of the displaced refugees.


Six month before this particular storm, in March 2015, Craig Welch wrote Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says, for the National Geographic website. It opens with this paragraph, which should give us all pause:

“A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to a new study published Monday.”

The authors of the study from The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recognize that many social and political factors contributed to the civil war, of course. However, they “compiled statistics showing that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria’s jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war,” according to Welch.

The severity of the drought and other weather conditions, according to their data, was outside the normal variability of weather in the region.

The social and economic pressures of the urban influx caused by soil degradation likely related to climate change, was probably a major contributing factor to the conflict that has been going on for years now, displacing millions of refugees.

While there are limits to the study, and perhaps the civil war would have erupted had there been no drought—the fact remains that the drought, at the least, increased tensions and the numbers of refugees.

This complicates the arguments about whether the refugees are economic, political, or war refugees. Depending where they come from, they could be all three.

And the three are interwoven—from the economic system that encourages farming practices that degrade the soil, to climate change-drive droughts, to the political climate in the region, there are many lines of connection and interconnection.

The need for sustainability, social justice, and peace weaves throughout this story of soil.


NASA Satellite image Sept. 7, 2015
NASA Satellite image Sept. 7, 2015

Some called the September 6–9, 2015, sandstorm “unprecedented.” It was.

A month after the storm, Zafrir Rinat reported in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, that “Israeli scientists this week confirmed that one factor behind the heavy dust storm that hit the Middle East recently is changes in the use of land in northern Iraq and Syria.”

Two factors were identified—a decrease in farming in Northern Syria, which had preceded even the recent drought, and “military activity, which has caused harm to the soil crust in Syria.” In other words, the already drought-hardened soil was further degraded by tanks, artillery, trucks, bombs pulverizing it.

Instruments recorded the largest dust particles for a storm in that twenty-year time period since they have been in use.

Winds picked up the violated soil. And as they moved along, a dust storm of unprecedented proportions hit the region.

The storm of soil degradation could wipe us all out.


This is not a sexy story. It is, though, an important one.

—Michael Dickel

The BeZine, June 2017, Vol. 3, Issue 9


June 15, 2017

The environmental  challenges are complex, an understatement I know.

  • Big Ag pollutes our waterways and groundwater, air and soil. Some wetlands, rivers and their tributaries can no longer sustain life. Much pastureland is befouled with pesticides, animal waste, phosphates and nitrates and other toxic residue from unsustainable farming practices.
  • Sudan Relief Fund, World Food Program, Oxfam, Catholic Relief Fund, Buddhist Global Relief, the World Food Program and many other organizations are working to mitigate widespread  hunger, which is a problem of economic injustice as well as environmental degradation and environmental injustice.
  • Drought and resulting famine are devastating the Sudan, the West Upper Nile and Yemen.
  • In many areas of the world, access to potable water is sorely lacking.
  • Lack of access to clean water is exacerbated by a want of toilets for some 4.2 billion people, which has a  huge impact on public health.  The result of poor hygiene and sanitation is Dysentery, Typhoid, Cholera, Hepatitis A and death-dealing Diarrhea. More people die of diarrhea in Third World counties than of AIDs.

Our problems are pressing and complex and are made the more difficult as we struggle under a cloud of skepticism and division and the discouraging weight of a Doomsday Clock that was moved forward in January to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight in response to Trump’s election.  That’s the closest we’ve been to midnight since 1953.

Access to potable water may be the most pressing of our challenges.

“The world runs on water. Clean, reliable water supplies are vital for industry, agriculture, and energy production. Every community and ecosystem on Earth depends on water for sanitation, hygiene, and daily survival.

“Yet the world’s water systems face formidable threats. More than a billion people currently live in water-scarce regions, and as many as 3.5 billion could experience water scarcity by 2025. Increasing pollution degrades freshwater and coastal aquatic ecosystems. And climate change is poised to shift precipitation patterns and speed glacial melt, altering water supplies and intensifying floods and drought.”  World Resources Institute

The good news is that there are many working conscientiously to raise awareness and funds. Some of our readers and contributors are among them. There are good people offering time and expertise, sometimes putting their own lives and livelihoods  in danger.

This month our core team and guest writers have chosen to focus largely on water, but they also address the need to respect science (Naomi Baltuck) and the need to acknowledge that war is a danger to the environment in general as well as a cause of human hunger. (Michael Dickel). If the Syrian Civil War were to stop right this second, one wonders how long – how many years, perhaps decades – it would take to make that country’s land farmable again.

Michael Watson, Carolyn O’Connell and Joe Hesch touch their experiences of farms before industrial farming.  Priscilla Galasso, John Anstie, Paul Brooks, Marieta Maglas and Rob Cullen speak to us of water.  Corina Ravenscraft and Sonja Benskin Mesher remind us of the element of greed – as does John – and Sonja points to gratitude.  Enough is truly enough.  Charlie Martin’s poems are poignant, making us think about how sad it would be if we lost it all.  Liliana Negoi brings a quiet and practical appreciation of nature.  Phillip Stevens paints the earth in all her delicacy and need for tender husbandry.

Thanks to our core team members for stellar, thoughtful work as always: John Anstie, Michael Watson and Michael Dickel, Priscilla Galasso and Corina Ravenscraft, Charles Martin, Liliana Negoi, Naomi Baltuck and Joe Hesch.

Welcome back to Paul Brooks, Phillip Stephens and Sonja Benskin Mesher and a warm welcome to Marieta Maglas and Rob Cullen, new to our pages.

We hope this issue will give you pleasure even as it provokes you. Leave your likes and comments behind. As readers you are as import to the The BeZine project, values and goals as are our contributors. Your commentary is welcome and encourages our writers. As always, we offer the work of emerging, mid-career and polished pros, all talented and all with ideas and ideals worth reading and thinking about.

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

Photo credit: A Mongolian Gazelle, victim of drought, Gobi Desert 2009 courtesy of Mark Heard under CC BY 2.0


TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to read this issue of THE BEZINE:

  • Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling (now includes this Intro), or
  • You can read each piece individually by clicking the links below.
  • To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.

SPECIAL

Children call on world leaders to save the ocean, World Oceans Day

BeATTITUDES

Walking With Water, Rob Cullen
Water Wishes, Priscilla Galasso
Our Albatross Is Greed, But We’re Not Sunk Yet, Corina Ravenscraft
Close to My Heart, Michael Watson

 POEMS

Let the Rains Fall, John Anstie

The Value of Water, Paul Brookes
WET KILL, Paul Brookes
What Use Poetry When It Floods, Paul Brookes

Hybrid: Warm Hunger, Michael Dickel

Water, Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t Blink, Joseph Hesch

The Desert, Marieta Maglas

Postponed Awareness, Charles W. Martin
off course evolution, Charles W. Martin
death by committee, Charles W. Martin

#what more do you expect, Sonja Benskin Mesher

prints, Liliana Negoi
growth, Liliana Negoi
what remains after the tree, Liliana Negoi

Remember the Farm, Carolyn O’Connell

Guerilla Gardening, Phillip Stephens
Resurrection Restoration, Phillip Stephens

PHOTO/ESSAY

That Was Then, This Is Now, Naomi Baltuck

MORE LIGHT

For My Children, Rob Cullen


Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator


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April 2017, Vol. 3, Issue 7, Celebrating interNational Poetry Month

April 15, 2017

Poetry Month means that we have arrived at

…the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain. (T. S. Eliot, The Wasteland)

One of the most famous poems “about” poetry, Marianne Moore‘s poem, “Poetry.” It famously begins with

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.

However, she goes on in the very next lines to say

Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers that there is in
it after all, a place for the genuine.

There is much that is genuine in this April issue of The BeZine, which celebrates Poetry Month globally with our celebration of interNational Poetry Month. We are proud to present a wide variety of poets and poetry from all over the world. We have 45 posts of poetry (many with more than one poem), an essay, and one short story. This issue of The BeZine is an anthology!

Over the years, questions of poetry’s health, suggestions of its “death,” and concerns over who, if anybody, might be reading it, continue to swirl around in various articles, essays, and round tables. While many of the debates one might encounter in this bubbling broth come from a perspective of poetry’s decline, it seems to me that the reasons that such questions arise come from two primary sources.

One is an anxiety about how society values what we do, as poets or readers of poetry. It seems that the writers from this vein often worry that, in fact, society does not value poetry—as recorded in statistics about readership or as suggested by some other perceived decline in attention to it. The other vein, in my view, is a more healthy concern with what poetry is and what we are doing when we “do” poetry (read, write, critique).

This past year, a lot of words spilled onto the screen and page regarding Bob Dylan receiving the Nobel Prize—is a song writer a poet? Of course, poetry comes from song, so a song writer is a poet. Is poetry still song, then, or has it gone “beyond”? These articles and essays seem to flow from both of the sources I’ve suggested: anxiety and reflection. If our modest zine is any indication, poetry thrives throughout the world.

While the anxieties and reflections continue—and they are not new, witness the 1919 date of Marianne Moore’s poem—poets continue to write, and readers continue to read. You are reading this, so you are evidence of readers who have an interest in poetry. Whether there are more or fewer readers in any year or decade might fluctuate, or the methods of measuring them might change. However, as there are poets, there are those who read poetry. And listen to it—as in spoken word and slam.

Billy Collins opens his essay, The Vehicle of Language, suggesting that a problem with the reception of poetry is how poetry is taught:

For any teacher of poetry with the slightest interest in reducing the often high-pitched level of student anxiety, one step would be to substitute for the nagging and ultimately pointless question, “What does this poem mean?” the more manageable question “Where does this poem go?” Tracking the ways a poem moves from beginning to end puts the emphasis on the poem’s tendency to travel imaginatively and thus to carry the reader in the vehicle of its language.

In principle, I agree that the emphasis should be on where poetry goes, how it plays with language—not on decoding “meaning.” The same approach could be applied to the concerns expressed about poetry. The concerns need not be about where poetry is as measured against expectations of its current quality, akin to the “meaning” anxiety of its teaching.

Although some express an anxiety about the “quality” of online poetry or spoken word or even “today’s” written word, we would do well to reflect instead on where poetry is going, for us as readers and writers—where we as writers of it want to go with our poetry, and where we as readers of it want poetry to go to be most satisfying.

Poetry invites us to take an imaginative journey: from the flatness of practical language into the rhythms and sound systems of poetic speech. (Billy Collins, The Vehicle of Language)

It is our hope that you will read the poetry here with an appreciation for poetry’s “place for the genuine,” and find satisfaction in the depth and breadth presented here. Whether or not you will have “a perfect contempt for it” as you read, we leave up to you…

Michael Dickel
Contributing Editor


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Celebrating interNational Poetry Month

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 below.
  • To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.

Poetry

April Fool, Iulia Gherghei
Barricades and Beds, Aditi Angiras
The Burgundy Madonna, Patricia Leighton
Common Ground, Dorothy Long Parma
dancing toward infinity, Jamie Dedes
Don’t Let Fall Go – sonnet, Liliana Negoi
Donatella D’Angelo | unpublished poems 2016
Dreaming of Children, Renee Espiru
A few from the vaults …, Corina Ravenscraft
Four Poems by Reuben Woolley
Full Buck Moon and other poems by Lisa Ashley
gary lundy’s poetics | 5 prose poems
A geography of memories | Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt
Grandmother, Dorothy Long Parma
having found a stone in my shoe …, Charles W Martin
healing hands …, Charles W Martin
Kali, Gayle Walters Rose
Kinga Fabó | 3 Hungarian Poems in Translation
Lead Boots, David Ratcliffe
levels, Liliana Negoi
luke 10:25-37…, Charles W Martin
Melissa Houghton | 3 Poems
Michael Rothenberg and Mitko Gogov
Ms. Weary’s Blues, Jamie Dedes
not with a bang but a whimper, three poems, Jamie Dedes,
One of My Tomorrows, John Anstie
patriarichal wounds…, Charles W Martin
Poetry and Prayer, Phillip T Stephens
PTSD Children, Charles W Martin
Rachel Heimowitz | Three Poems from Israel
the red coat, Sonja Benskin Mesher
Science Fiction, Phillip T. Stephens
Socks | Michael Dickel
Spring in my Sundays, Iulia Gherghei
Standing Post: Trees in Practice, Gayle Walters Rose
Teaching Poetry | Michael Dickel
Terri Muuss | and the word was
The Marks Remain, David Ratcliffe
Three Poems by Paul Brookes
Three Poems by Phillip Larrea
Three Poems from Albanian | Faruk Buzhala
To Our Broken Sandals, Mendes Biondo
To the Frog at the Door, Jamie Dedes
Two Poems by Denise Fletcher
Valérie Déus | 3 Poems

BeAttitude

Look Upon My Works, Ye Mighty, Naomi Baltuck

Short Story

Whispers on an April Morning Breeze, Joseph Hesch


Except where otherwise noted,
ALL works in The BeZine ©2017 by the author / creator


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Keeper of the Secrets, Gretchen wisdom

‘Raven’s lesson is to walk without fear even if the way is not clear…trust your intuition to guide you.’ As it is with all original people history is recorded through verbal stories. I love the tales from Native American culture because they add to the spirit and mystery of the animals that I […]

via keeper of the secrets — Gretchen Del Rio’s Art Blog

The BeZine, Vol. 3, Issue 5, February 2017, Overcoming Hate

think how wonderful when all the registries are
…..thrown out with the trash
so that the children of the poor come out ahead
some half-pint future president
on the street the man who stopped you with his
…..pockets inside out
is loading you with fruits & sweets is kissing you
a hero who can send a message into every little head
…..the thought of some enchanted evening
the reciprocal tyranny of fathers & of sons is over
& the need or love grows always stronger makes the
…..master builder stretch the promenades into the
…..farthest outskirts
which is freedom yes & which is love

excerpt from Tyranny or Love by Vítêzlav Nezval in Atilyrik & Other Poems

Love can be a kind of tyranny but hate tyrannizes the hated and the hateful and everyone around them. My godmother used to say that it is harder to hold onto hate than to let go in love.  How do we overcome the hate in ourselves?

Michael Dickel comes to the subject by exploring the biblical story of Yaakov (Jacob) wrestling with himself and God.

“To overcome hate, we must wrestle with our own soul (tendencies toward harsh judgments, anger, hate—that is, wrestle with our own fears and demons) and with God …” Michael Dickel

Naomi explores all the “H” words, some positive and some not so much, including hate and arriving at like-Hearted. She gives us balance. Corina Ravenscraft explores how hate manifests and Priscilla Galasso comes to it from the position of personal growth. She says:

“The more I work with my own feelings and come to understand myself, the more I can begin to understand others. When I see someone who is angry and hateful, I understand that he is suffering.”

The times are challenging us to explore our emotions and how we react to the encroachment by some elements into the domain of compassion, freedom and justice. We see this expressed in Mark Heathcote’s poem, which reminds us that strong emotion needs fuel, and in Michael Dickel’s Hate Is Not the Opposite of Love and my own Time for the Temple Whores To Sleep With Insanity.

“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

The core issues it turns out are indifference and fear. George Orwell reminds us of what we have to fear if we are not vigilant and proactive. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out fear: only love can do that.”  Love is freedom, the absence of tyranny, and the more we love, the more we are able to love.

In the spirit of Peace, Love and Community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor


To read this issue of TheBeZine

  • Click HERE to scroll through and read the entire magazine.
  • Or, you can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents below.  Enjoy!

Table of Contents

BeAttitude

“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” George Orwell, 1984

The Animals Are Running the Farm, Jamie Dedes

Overcoming Hate

Lead Features

Your Attention, Please, Corina Ravenscraft
The “H” Word, Naomi Baltuck
Transcending Anger, Power and Fear, Priscilla Galasso
Hate Is Not the Opposite of Love, Michael Dickel

Poetry

Silencing the Lambs, John Anstie
Time for the Temple Whores to Sleep with Insanity, Jamie Dedes
Wrestling with God, two poems, Michael Dickel
Five Glosses from Imaginary Exegesis, Michael Dickel
Deconstruction, Michael Dickel
Flying without dice, Michael Dickel
I remember dreaming, Michael Dickel
Hate, it is a termite mound, Mark Heathcote

– End – 

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DECEMBER 15, 2016, VOL. 3, ISSUE 3, THE HEALING POWER OF THE ARTS

“Poetry finds you when you are broken, insists on taking you into its fold, puts your pieces together and then you never leave.” Reena Prasad

Long before we had libraries teeming with medical and psychiatric tomes, we had cave paintings, carved images, storytelling, song, musical instruments and dance. The power of artistic expression to transform both creator and consumer was assumed.

The arts bear witness to sacred space, to the spontaneous dance between the conscious and the unconscious, to the existence of a symbolic realm. It is from these liminal places that our truest art and our healing words, visions, sounds and movement are born. Through art we experience a shamanic-like world that is beyond the consensual one, a world where each spirit is free to find its own core truth.

Hence, this month, we have: a poet (Reena Prasad) finding sanctuary and rebirth by reading and writing poetry: a singer/musician/poet (John Anstie) connecting with his own joy and the people with whom he collaborates; and Corina Ravenscraft’s interview with a soldier suffering from PTSD and finding relief in building and painting hundreds of miniature figurines.

Italian journalist, Mendes Biondo, brings us an interview with and three poems by Poemedic Deborah Alma, who prescribes “emergency poetry.” Our resident storyteller Naomi Baltuck offers us a PhotoStory that suggests just how empowering it is to tell our own stories. It is an excerpt from her book Apples From Heaven: Multicultural Folk Tales About Stories and Storytellers.  Michael Watson takes us for an intriguing peek into toy theatre/object theatre performance as therapy.

Our BeAttitude this month is by Priscilla Galasso, who tells it like it is, as she always does, a critical must-read.

You’ll find the poetry ranges from catharsis to confirmation. We feature the work of three emerging poets: M. Zane McClellan, new to our pages; Inger Morgan, who shares her poem, the splendor of blue, in Swedish and English and debuted last month; and Mark Heathcote, whose work has graced several issues.  Be sure to encourage them your “Likes” and comments.

The accomplished Reena Prasad who debuted with us last month is back with two poems.  Her stunningly beautiful essay Sanctuary is written from the perspective of the poet, but I’m sure other art forms offer the same potential for comfort and transformation to their own devotees.

We’re pleased to treat you to the work of regular favorites:  contributing writers Charlie Martin and Lily Negoi and guest writers Renee Espiru and Carolyn O’Connell.

We have a special guest poet this month, Myra Schneider, who has been featured in these pages before.  Myra is most well-known in the UK where – on turning 70 this year – she celebrated both her birthday and the publication of her fourteenth collection, Persephone in Finsbury Park. She teaches at Poetry School and is a consultant to Second Light Network.

THE JANUARY ISSUE

In January, our topic is Resist. We are piggy-backing on Michael Rothenberg’s and Alan Kaufman’s call to American poets to resist the incoming president.  Our effort is not restricted to poetry or to the United States. We’re doing a global call for submissions that counter policies – no matter what country – which undermine equity, foster poverty, encourage elitism, hate and scapegoating … all those things that pit people against people, putting many people at risk of disease, homelessness, starvation and murder. Please read the submission guidelines first. Send your work to bardogroup@gmail.com. American-Isreali poet and contributing editor to The BeZine,  Michael Dickel, and I will collaborate on the production of the January issue.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT THE BeZINE!

We represent the beautiful and great wealth of the world’s wisdom traditions, nationalities, races, disabled and LBGTQ.

The historic experience of our Jewish friends, the plight of our Palestinian friends, the suffering of our Syrian brothers and sisters and others who are or have been victims of social and economic injustice and human rights violations informs our effort. We know that lines must be drawn, that silence is not an option, and that scapegoating can only lead to pain. Having said that, we are  “prisoners of hope*,” and our hope is founded on our faith in you and on the foundation of those values we hold in common.

14720398_1514186551925651_1821171829511947280_n

In the spirit of community and
on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor

* Rev. Doctor William J. Barber
Illustration source unknown: if it’s yours, please let me know. I’ll take it down or credit as you prefer.

Bios of Contributing Editors and Writers

Bios of Guest Contributors

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Link HERE to read The BeZine My apologies: I had some technical challenges and the Zine lays out in reverse order. I know what the problem is and the next issue will be fine. I recommend that you scoot to the end and move forward to read it in the correct order. Thank you! J.D.

THE HEALING POWER OF THE ARTS

BeAttitude

Armageddon and The Art of French Cooking, Priscilla Galasso

Essay

Sanctuary, Reena Prasad

Feature Articles

Power of the Word, Carolyn OConnell
Aftermath, Michael Watson
Piece by Painted Piece, Corina Ravenscraft
The Healing Adventures of Deborah Alma, Poemedic, Mendes Biondo
Singing for the Love of It, John Anstie
Don’t Confuse Hunger for Greed, the poems of Ruth Stone, Jamie Dedes

PhotoStory

Telling It To the Walls, Naomi Baltuck

Poetry

Special Guest Poet

Mahler’s Ninth, Myra Schneider

Poems

Dark over Light Earth / Violet and Yellow in Rose,Laura Braverman
Wabi Sabi, Jamie Dedes
More Than a Gift, Renee Espiru
The Artist’s Restorative, Mark Heathcote
a poet’s prescription, Charles W. Martin
Laying on of Hands, M. Zane McClellan
Birthing to Earthing, M. Zane McClellan
Writing to Stay Alive, Reena Prasad
The World in the Cracks, Reena Prasad

MORE LIGHT

Poetry

Special Guest Poet

The Silence in the Garden, Myra Schneider

Poems

the splendor in blue, Inger Morgan
december mail, Liliana Negoi
the was of the will be, Liliana Negoi
water, Liliana Negoi

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THE BeZINE, October 2016, Vol. 3, Issue 1, Rituals for Peace, Healing, Unity

October 15, 2016

I am honored to take the lead for this issue of Rituals for Peace, Healing and Unity. Lately, I have not felt very peaceful. In large part, it is due to the election cycle in the United States. It fills me with incredible anxiety. At the same time, I am actively part of a movement called Peacemaking Circles. Peacemaking Circles came to me via Saroeum Phoung who was taught by the Tagish Tlingit First Nation Peoples. Peacemaking is an ancient process that has been traditionally used in all forms of communal and family decision-making. The first principle of Peacemaking Circles is: The only change you can make is within yourself.

As painful as that reality is, it is true. If you change yourself to become peaceful, to be healed, to be one with the greater cosmic community, that will be enough. Because as you are settled and grounded in peace, it will ripple out towards others.

In some ways, I think that we are seeing the rippling of a great many people that have a cosmic concern for the ways of peace. As it ripples towards others, it does, unfortunately, lead to an increase in violence, intolerance, and ickiness. But it will be overcome. Love will win in the end. But the journey can be an anxious one. Staying grounded in peace while the world loses its collective mind is a challenge. Being a non-anxious listening presence in the midst of overwhelming anxiety is hard. And so, we offer you this issue focusing on expressions of rituals for peace, healing, and unity.

You will find an exploration of the ritual of writing as a spiritual practice from Jamie Dedes, a dharma talk from Gil Fronsdale, a reminder from Ram Dass on how to see others, a beautiful poem on healing from Carolyn O’Connell, a folk tale and illustrative photograph from Naomi Baltuck, a calming video and poem from Bridget Cameron, a poem from Renee Espriu that aligns with Ram Dass and how we see, Michael Watson offers an essay on ritual that is spot on, Corina Ravenscraft offers her daily ritual as does John Anstie, and I am offering five rituals that I have written that focus on gratitude, naming and releasing negative feelings, decision-making, a ritual for touch, and a ritual for release.

I’m sure I’ve missed someone. It is not intentional! We have such a generous community.

So, I offer you this issue. Get your warm cup of tea or coffee or water, take a deep breath, sit back and read. Enter into the spirit of peace, pax, shalom, salaam, and pace.

Table of Contents

Editorial Contributions on Rituals by Terri Stewart

A Ritual for Gratitude
A Ritual for Naming Difficult Emotions
A Ritual for Touch
A Ritual for Decision Making
A Ritual for Release

Rituals, Tales, and Poems of Peace and Healing from The BeZine Community

Breathless Between Language and Myth, Jamie Dedes
A Ritual for Peace, John Anstie
Convergence of Healing, Carolyn O’Connell
Ritual, Hélène Cardona
Holding Up the Sky, Naomi Baltuck
Visualize the Raindrops Falling, Renee Espriu
Falling into Ritual, Michael Watson
The Day Begins with You, Corina Ravenscraft
Waiting, Lynn White
A Rose for Gaza, Lynn White
Separate Development, Lynn White
Looking for Poland, Naomi Baltuck

Rituals, Tales, and Poems of Peace and Healing from the Wider Community

A Meditation for Peace, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche (video)
Starting Where You Are At, Gil Fronsdale
I Practice Turning People Into Trees, Ram Dass
Grace, Bridget Cameron

When you are done, take five deep cleansing breaths, slowly, in and out. Then go, carrying peace and healing in your heart.

Shalom,

Terri

2016-sequim-0631
Photo by Terri Stewart

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Access to the biographies of our core team, contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll where you can also find links to archived issues of The BeZine.

THE BeZINE, Vol.2, Issue 12, Environment/Environmental Justice

September 15, 2016

The Environment is a complex array of interconnections and interbeing (as Thich Nhat Hahn would say). Steve & I have various metaphors for this. He likes to refer to “his bowling pins”. He imagines setting up a toy set of pins on a lawn and bowling at them. When they scatter, you set them back up exactly where they landed and bowl again. This takes you all over the neighborhood in endless permutations. I think of “trophic cascades”, changes in an ecosystem that originate at an extinction or other dramatic altering of balance, similar perhaps to “the domino effect” but less linear. However you try to wrap your brain around it, the nature of Life on this planet is intricate and incomprehensible. We are wise to approach it with the utmost humility. Because we are intrinsically involved, however, we must not fear to engage. We are already immersed. We might as well learn to float, swim or drown with awareness. With that understanding, we invited our contributors to share their perspectives from where they are. And there are many other currents besides. Let me just mention a few for further research:

Environmental Law – there are some exciting changes emerging in the championing of the Rights of Nature in legal systems. Corporations have legal protection and rights as individuals in many countries, while communities and natural entities (bodies of water, land, animals, etc.) do not. The ability to stand up against the interests of a Corporation and say, “We don’t care if you want this resource. You can’t have it!” is an idea that can be incorporated into law. Thomas Linzey of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is working to make that happen. Watch his keynote address to the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) HERE.

Deep Ecology/Environmental Philosophy – Deep ecologists are a group of philosophers who question the anthropocentrism embedded in the logic and ethics of Western culture. Arne Naess is the “Father of Deep Ecology”. Peter Singer is another important philosopher who spearheaded the discussion about the ethical treatment of animals in the early 70s. These philosophers are everything from temperate reformers (Aldo Leopold and Wendell Berry) to anti-civilizationists (Derrick Jensen).

Habitat/Wildlife/Green Corridors – where human interference has fragmented the landscape, other species suffer huge losses. Establishing connected corridors of undisturbed terrain help to shift the paradigm from domination to coexistence. The American Prairie Reserve has a habitat base of more than 353,000 acres. Read the story of this amazing management project HERE.

Organic Farming – the proliferation of large factory farms that employ pesticides, herbicides, hormones and other chemicals while dumping huge amounts of toxic waste on the land has significantly impacted the health of the planet. Soil health, human health, pollinator health – so many things are involved here. Returning to methods of food production that are more locally-scaled and less dependent on chemicals is a natural remedy, but must be radically and quickly implemented to turn degradation around. Support organic farming in your area!

And now, we proudly introduce our Table of Contents,
Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) with Steve Wiencek

Editorial Notes

How Will I Behave Here?, Priscilla Galasso, Contributing Editor
Nature…Place…Community, Steve Wiencek, Guest Editor
Cruel Legacy, Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor

Environment/Environmental Injustice

Awareness

All Things Are Connected,  Naomi Baltuck
The Power of Place, Michael Watson
The Hoopoes Are Back, Lynn White
Dawn Chorus, Lynn White
Another Kind of Beauty, Jamie Dedes
Cloud Watching, Jamie Dedes
Meditating on Ancient Oak, Carolyn O’Connell
The Wordless Mystery, Jamie Dedes
There Is Pleasure in the Pathless Wood, Gordon George Byron, Lord Byron

Action

The Victories Are Important!, Corina Ravenscraft
Regicide, Joe Hesch
Trespass, Terri Stewart
Naturally Devoted, Priscilla Galasso
Environmental Injustice,  Mark Heathcote
Soil Isn’t Sexy – Neither is War, Michael Dickel
Climate Change (poem), Michael Dickel

Extinction

Rounded With a Sleep, Part 1, James Cowles
Rounded With a Sleep, Part 2, James Cowles
For the Last Wolverine, video reading, James Dickey
Last Call, Corina Ravenscraft
Eden Revisited, Charles Martin
Black Honey Fare, Renee Espriu
Hoping It Regenerates – Again (artwork), Jerry Ingeman

CONNECT WITH US

succulents
Daily Spiritual Practice, Beguine Again

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

Access to the biographies of our core team, contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll where you can also find links to archived issues of The BeZine.

grandmother wolf

A thought for our times from Getchen Del Rio …

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

original watercolor aceo 9/2016 original watercolor aceo 9/2016

If you talk to the animals they will talk to you, and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear. What one fears, one destroys……Chief Dan George

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sahara

Uplift from Gretchen Del Rio and Thich Nhat Hanh.

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor aceo 5/2016 watercolor aceo 5/2016

“Your foot touches the earth mindfully, and you arrive firmly in the here and the now. And suddenly you are free – free from all projects, all worries, all expectations. You are fully present, fully alive, & you are touching the earth.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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August 2016 . Vol.2/Issue 11 ~ Hope: Great Expectations and Quiet Desires

August 15, 2016

“to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.”
© Ellen Bass

In this issue our writers touch on many aspects of hope and its flip-side grief, sometimes head on and sometimes by a thread. In our lead features, Corina Ravenscraft urges us to act without expectation, to take life as it comes and Priscilla Galasso encourages us to do the work so that our hopes and dreams honor our true selves. In “You Just Never Know,” Naomi Baltuck gives us a fable about hope, perseverance and the unexpected.

Life, love, hope and dreams are explored from different perspectives by our poets, often from the perspective of the hopes we cling to despite wars and abuse. For the later see especially the Landays of Pashtun women in “I will die with a heart full of hope” and the poems of Imen Benyoub and Jenean Gilstrap. In “Ashen” k. writes about the quiet desire of a husband to stay connected to his wife who has died. In Hollie McNish’s poem, “Embarrassed,” she hopes – argues for – a society that gets past its nonsensical and puritanical attitudes toward breastfeeding. Renee Espriu speaks simply of hope and family in her poem “Eucalyptus Trees.” With Hélène Cardona’s “Life in Suspension” she trusts “the ripeness of the moment.”  No stress. No strain. Luke Prater writes about the sacred moments and …

“When I knew mine was the life needed saving,
however seemingly insurmountable: this
is not an easy fade-to-black halfway home.”

With all our advice and encouragement, it’s never easy and we all need saving.

Jenean Gilstap and Hélène Cardona are new to our pages, and we are proud to introduce their work to you. Please be sure to check out their bios and Renee’s and Luke’s. This is not Renee’s or Luke’s first time here, but its been a while and we are delighted to welcome them back.

Terri Muuss is featured this month with her editorial, “For or Against,” wherein she clarifies the misconceptions and misunderstandings that arise from our communications in social media.

Enjoy!

In the spirit of peace, love and community,
for The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor

BeATTITUDES
(Editorial)

For or Against, Terri Muss

HOPE: Great Expectations and Quiet Desires

Lead Features

Life on Life’s Terms, Corina Ravenscraft
Dream What You Will and Will What You Dream, Priscilla Galasso
You Just Never Know, Naomi Baltuck

Special Feature

I will die with a heartful of hope, the Landays of Pashtun women

Poetry

This Peaceful Morning in Wartime, Imen Benyoub

Life in Suspension, Hélène Cardona
Ouranoupolis Pantoum, Hélène Cardona
To Kitty, Who Loved the Sea and Somerset Maugham, Hélène Cardona

from their prison of lost hope, Jamie Dedes
after the injera, the wat, the niter kibby, Jamie Dedes

Eucalyptus Trees, Renee Espriu

my name is huda, Jenean Gilstrap

Sacred Moments, Luke Prater

CONNECT WITH US

succulents

Daily Spiritual Practice, Beguine Again

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

Access to the biographies of our core team, contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll where you can also find links to archived issues of The BeZine (currently in the process of updating), our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.