In the four-year history of The BeZine, this is the most significant edition.All of our concerns – peace, environmental sustainability, human rights, freedom of expression – depend on a more equal distribution of wealth, on making sure no one goes hungry and on breaking-down barriers to employment, healthcare, education and racial and gender equity.
This pyramid (courtesy of Wikipedia) reveals that:
half of the world’s wealth belongs to the top 1%,
top 10% of adults hold 85%, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth,
top 30% of adults hold 97% of the total wealth.
We’re all cognizant of that profile, but if you feel you’re sitting pretty and you’re not at risk, you’re employed, educated and middle class after all, you’d be well-advised to reconsider. The middle class is now – and has been for some time – dramatically challenged to find work, to acquire jobs that are fairly paid, offer stability and reasonable hours, and in the U.S., enable them to send their children to college.
The implications of a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the oligarchs and mega-corporations, are horrendous. Not the least is the undermining of democracy. Those who vote for and support the oligarchs because they think that’s where their security lies are victims of propaganda and bound for disappointment. The shadow of catastrophe (not too strong a word) that hangs over us is not due to the poor or the “other” who doesn’t look like us, worship the same God, or speak the same language, but to the 1%. Huxley was disconcertingly prescient.
This month our core team and guest contributors create a picture that beckons and behoves us to abandon stereotypes and propaganda about the poor, to recognize slave labor in its most absolute terms (human trafficking and prison labor) and more subtly in the conditions faced by workers at almost all levels of the corporate pyramid. We are called to ethically source the products we buy, to study our history, to bravely speak out against injustice and stupidity and, by implication, to shine a light on best-practices, those programs, services and unofficial efforts in your city/town, region or country that are helping and that can easily be implemented anywhere in the world. (You can share these with everyone via our Facebook discussion group.)
Beginning with Juli’s impassioned editorial, The Exponential Demise of Our Well-being, and moving to our BeAttitudes: John Anstie’s powerful Dictators and Desperadoes … Delegation and Democracy; Corina Ravenscraft’s and Trace Lara Hentz’ thoughtful invitations to awareness; Phillip T. Stephens on prison injustice; Sue Dreamwalker’s encouragement to see the homeless as fully human (and she connects us with homeless poets and artists in England); and Joe Hesch’s honest exploration of self, we are called to responsibly participate in history.
We present two illustrative short-stories this month, one from Joe Hesch and another from Renee Espriu. These are followed by yet another stellar poetry collection from poets around the world, including work by core-team members: Charles W. Martin and John Anstie.
New to our pages, a warm welcome to: Juli [Juxtaposed], Sue Dreamwalker, Michael Odiah, Evelyn Augusto, Michele Riedele, Irene Emmanuel and bogpan. We welcome work from among our previous and regular contributors: Paul Brookes, Trace Lara Hentz, Renee Espriu, Sonja Benskin Mescher, Denise Fletcher, Phillip T. Stephens, R.S. Chappell, Rob Cullen and Mark Heathcote.
In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines, Jamie Dedes, Founding and Managing Editor, The BeZine
HUNGER, POVERTY and THE WORKING CLASS AS SLAVE LABOR
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.
Among Native American tribes, especially the Plains Indians, the bison is considered a sacred animal and regarded with reverence. Native Americans consider that all given to them by Nature was to be treated with great respect and the bison was used down to every last part to ensure survival of the tribes. How devastating the disappearance of the bison by the hand of the white man. That act itself alone could have destroyed the tribal nations on the plains because they depended upon the bison for their well being. How insulting to their beliefs. How could the senseless killing of almost all of these sacred animals be understood by the Native Americans…….or by we who look back at the senseless devastation.
LUKE PRATER‘s poetry is ever fascinating to me. He will tackle – as he has here – the same subject in more than one poetic form. Dedication, keen intellect and a singular irreverance are the hallmarks of this thirty-five year old English poet who took a degree in English lit with creative writing and performance and subsequently went to SOAS, London to study ethnomusicology at the master’s level. At twenty-seven he took up poetry, which he says saved his life – a thing it has done for many of us. More recently Luke added “iPhoneography” to his formidable list of accomplishments, shooting pictures and “editing the hell out of them.” Jamie Dedes
“They say a picture paints a thousand words; I’d argue the opposite.” Luke Prater
Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – villanelle
Factory-farm ‘em on rainforest land,
jab ‘em with jittery antibiotics, in
serving a hoodwinked world’s worst burger-stand.
Nutrient nadir damn should have you banned,
even when just drunken teens in your night-kitchen
sucking down scared meat from rainforest land.
Wretched obese bloat and roll at your hand;
farmers on statutory antidepressants been
plying, supplying world’s worst burger-stand.
Consciences slip through ringed fingers like sand.
Wallets are plump; I’m still wondering why? (you grin)
greenlighting greenfelling greenforest land.
Golden the arches, but ain’t worth a grand;
Ronald’s grave future sees past catching up with him –
homeless – McCuster’s last fastburger-stand.
Clown let the kids party Fat Neverland,
Tinkerbell grounded by chow she’s demolishing.
Cattle confused grazing rainforest land,
passed off as food at world’s worst burger-stand.
Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – Pushkin Sonnet
The cattle farmed where once was leafage,
force-fed with drugs unfit for us,
supplying world’s worst burger beefage
by farmers in disguised disgust.
Nutrition nadir should be outlawed,
to spare the trees the rasping chainsaw;
to spare the cattle cheap mince fate;
to close the flooding fast-food gate.
In wilful ignorance we swallow,
in sucking down scared meat with Coke.
Obese, they bloat in oily soak,
in lack of self-esteem they wallow.
Let kids carouse Fat Neverland,
at Ronald’s clowning, cloying hand.
Fat Neverland (I’m Loathin’ It) – free verse
Factory-farmed on rainforest land;
force-fed with antibiotics to serve a
hoodwinked world’s worst burger-stand.
A nutrient nadir that should have
them banned, even when just drunken
teens in their night-kitchen, sucking
down scared meat with cardboard and Coke.
Wretched obese bloat oily soak, in
triple chins of self-loathing they wallow;
farmers swallow disgust and
supplying mass substandard beef.
Consciences slip through
ringed fingers like sand.
LUKE PRATER is a seriously talented English poet and musician. Many of you may be familiar with his work. (And I believe his dad was a fairly well know and highly regarded musician in England.) Luke founded Facial Expression Poetry and Critique and WordSalad blog, both of which are gone now. He shared the piece above with readers several years ago. I present it as an example of his work for those of you who haven’t read him. He’s a very worthy man. If you are able to help a bit I hope you’ll consider doing so. / Jamie Dedes
I’ve been seriously unwell for a very, very long time. Fourteen years, in fact. Some of you know this, others don’t. For Facebook friends, and old friends I haven’t seen since school or my early/mid twenties, the truth is I have often made it seem like nothing is wrong. Which is possible on the internet, and with the crutch of a lot of medication. It almost feels like I’ve been living a lie for years, (when not completely absent), because I just wanted to snatch a few minutes of normal. To pretend everything’s okay. The point I’ve reached is this: I cannot continue — the years slipping away, existing rather than living, the continual pain, dis-ease and discomfort. Therefore my family (including sisters Susie Ro Prater and Joy Prater) are fundraising so I can go for treatment at a private clinic in Germany that specialises in chronic and degenerative diseases using stem-cell therapy and other protocols. We’re two thirds of the way there! Here is the link to the fundraising campaign –
Worthy projects that deserve attention … Featured: Evelyn Augusto’s “Guns Don’t Save Live, Poets Do,Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence;” Jazz singer Candice Hawley’s “Let’s Talk About it,” a free and open discussion of Anxiety and Depression; and, Rev. Terri Stewart’s Peacemaking Circles for Seattle’s incarcerated youth. Terri is the founder of The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again, and a member of the zine’s core team.
When I started The Bardo Group, now The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine), back in February 2011, I had in mind the human union in sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts and the sharing of work that is representative of universal human values however differently they might bloom in our varied religions and cultures. I feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” They also offer a means to get some other good things done.
I have written about:
English poet and musician, John Anstie and the Grass Roots Poetry Group, that was founded through Twitter friendships and that published a collection to raise funds for UNICEF;
Dorothy Yamamoto, a poet and editor who brought a group of A-list English poets together…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– 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
Posted in memory of Robert Rossell one of the three original Bardo Group members.
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!
” After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music ”
~ Aldous Huxley
Reading Michael Dickel’s introduction to last month’s edition of The BeZine, sowing the seeds of the mindset at the roots of the ethos of this publication – promoting peace, sustainability and social justice – but in particular, overcoming anger and harnessing it for good, he quotes a good deal of Audre Lorde’s laudable speech and essay The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism, perhaps a reflection on what divides the world, what creates so much anxiety, political division, protective greed and selfishness.
So, we have music.
I don’t know about you, but there are few times in my life when music has done anything other than have a life enhancing and positive effect on me – with the possible exception of a Moody Blues concert I went to in 1969, in my university days, when I was left with a ringing in my ears for several days. This was, along with competitive shooting of Lee-Enfield .303 bore rifles at school, without ear defenders, probably the root of my tinnitus! Subsequently, I carry ear plugs and try to avoid over amplified performances by groups of musicians, who employ sound engineers, who may be – shall we say – aurally challenged!
Music, particularly live and acoustic music has played and still does play an increasingly major part in most of my life; it provides a therapy against the rigours and stresses of everyday living. But it does more than this.
My personal perspective on the value of poetry has some relevance here. It is a belief that poetry should always be one step removed from the obvious, the logical and rational, in order for it to awaken the right brain, the creative side of our amazing abilities as humans; to stimulate the visceral (as opposed to the purely intellectual, rational, ‘logical’) response. In turn, this has the potential to stimulate a fresh approach to solving our challenges, be they personal or global. This hits on the core mission of The BeZine in a big way.
But if poetry has this potential power to stimulate a new way of thinking outside the framework imposed by a culture of consumerism, greed and material comfort, as opposed to our social well being, then music does so with a vengeance. It is truly visceral without the constraints of language. Of course, when the poetry of lyrics is introduced to create song, then there is the opportunity to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts; synergy. It can provide something that dwells in the conscious and even subconscious for a lifetime – whoever forgets the words and melody of a song that they heard at a very poignant moment in their lives, which continues to inhabit a special place in memory, resonate and invoke the most emotional response every time it is heard. There are a few who would argue this is ‘just an over-emotional response’, but it may well be the last resort to aid the development of a greater understanding and a clearer insight into the human need for compassion as well as passion in their lives.
“If music be the food of love, play on;” said Duke Orsino “give me excess of it”. The opening lines of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” speaks much for music, even though he goes on, cynically “that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken, and so die”. Can you get too much of a good thing, I ask?
Music is so often a catalyst for romance. We could not even begin to count the number of songs that have ever been written over the ages on the subject of romantic or divine and spiritual love … and its consequences. However, I wonder how often we may contemplate how many instrumental or orchestral compositions there are, which, without words, in a different way, on a very different level, are capable of promoting a feeling of love and, equally, a sense of calm, peace, remorse, sadness, melancholy, a whole gamut of emotional responses that can and very often do bring about a state of mind that is elevated above the daily grind of our lives, the trauma, the tragedies, the disasters and injustices we witness every day in the news, and above all, the ability it has to help us cry. In this way, music can act as a protest against injustice and, in a sense, be ‘angry’, but still it can act as a relief for that anger, just as poets can find simply by writing a ‘political’ poem, which can relieve the frustration and anxiety brought about by political injustice. It is this value that I attach to music that I hold highest in my personal esteem for this art of arts.
It is, in fact, an art that can, like no other, combine the poetry of good lyrics, the rhythms of our roots, the vast array of instrumental sounds and voices, and the spine tingling harmonies they can create, into one; that can team itself with other art forms, particularly in photography, film and dance, but also notably in storytelling. What broadcast programme, be it documentary, drama, comedy, film (movie) is made without serious thought for the addition of music, a song, an orchestral piece, which so often includes a main theme along with incidental ‘tracks’ throughout its production, which then, of course, naturally leads to the merchandising of a soundtrack album.
Even the latest generation of advertisers have realised the visceral value of music, sometimes combined with poetry (look at Apple’s poetic narration by the inimitable and dearly missed Robin Williams, who significantly quoted from Walt Whitman’s poem O Me, O Life to evoke the kind of emotional responses that are known to drive most human decisions … in this case, to buy!
As a test of how important a part music plays in teasing our wallets from our pockets, next time such an advert hits your screen, try turning off the sound. What are you left with … not a lot that is meaningful. Now here, I hope the photographers and cinematographers amongst us (Naomi Baltuck) will not take exception to this notion that still and moving pictures cannot move us, which of course they can and a similar thesis to this could be written for the visceral value of great pictures, but I know you will trust that my meaning, in this context, is well intended!
This month, as lead editor for the anniversary edition of The BeZine, the first of its fifth year, we feel quite frankly blessed with the quantity and quality of contributions we have received from our regular core contributors, and I take my hat off to our new guest contributors, including some very talented young writers and musicians. The sizeable response of quality submissions makes this, I believe, our largest issue yet; like a big fat magazine, but without any adverts, in itself, says something about the importance we attach to music.
We have poems galore, almost all of which touch the music theme or contain subtle references to it. Two fellow Brits are amongst the new contributors to The BeZine. From musician and composer, Joseph Alen Shaw, a piece that addresses the core of the Bardo Group Bequines mission, Music Beyond Belief, on the subject of faith and musical composition in the 20th Century. Joseph has also contributed another account of one of his recent compositions, the Wentworth Cantata. British newcomer, historian and musician, Emily Needle, has written an account of her research on her travels through Eastern USA in 2015, into the achievements of a remarkable and little known Charleston man, who had a surprisingly big influence on Jazz music in the early 20th Century.
Beside Joseph and Emily, other new contributors have all embraced the music theme in such creative ways, mostly poetry but also some lyrical prose, with very interesting results. Stephanie Williams’ Singing Man is a charming prose piece that evokes a child’s certain view of what they like. S.R. Chappell has written a couple of poems in praise of music. Kakali Das Ghosh, in her poem, presents us with some very mystical feelings. Andrew Scott gives us a story of a gritty performer with all the emotional baggage that can accompany that way of life, and JB Mulligan writes three deeply insightful and thought provoking poems.
All of our regular contributors have also given us a wealth of musical delight and I thank them all for their excellence that has made this a very special issue.
Thanks are due to Glen Armstrong (his deeply nostalgic plea for vinyl records that ‘once had purpose’), Naomi Baltuck (for your photo essay with a family musical conclusion), Sonja Benskin Mesher (her beautiful reflective on ageing, remembering, companionship ends with music), Paul Brookes (fine poems, particularly clever is his onomatopoeic on a Bodhrán), Miki Byrne (whose poems about performance are both clever and revealing), Bill Cushing (and his handful of poems with oh so subtle musical references), Jamie Dedes (whose Orchestra of Impossible Beauty relates the moving story of the British ‘ParaOrchestra’ comprised of people with a variety of disabled conditions), Renee Espriu (and who can resist the image of how a child can hear the recording in a seashell of the sound of the sea or how they can bring home from school a musical instrument that’s bigger than themselves!), Denise Fletcher (on a trip to a Country Music Festival or the intrusive quality of loud music), Priscilla Galasso (for her usual insightful qualities), Mike Gallagher (for his remarkable, lyrical prose piece), Mark Heathcote (and his Whispering Muse), Charles Martin (and his ekphrastic haiku / senryu triplet), Liliana Negoi (for super imaginative variety of expression), Phillip Stephens (with a further challenging ekphrastic poem), John Sullivan (whose poems include a conversation with his radio, deeply embedded with the blues and a call to the Tripitaka of Buddhism), Lynn White (for not allowing us to forget the importance in our lives of birdsong), and the artful collaboration of photograph Amy Bassin and poet Mark Blickley in Screaming Mime.
So much delight from each and every one of our writers, I can’t tell you what a pleasure this has been, to write about one of my favourite pastimes.
It seems somehow right that we dance into our fifth year on a musical note and John’s perceptive and passionate introduction to this month’s The BeZine. It is no exaggeration to say that the longevity of this 100% volunteer effort is the outgrowth of the stalwart support of readers and contributors and the work, creativity, vision and perspicacity of our core team: John Anstie, Naomi Baltuck, James R. Cowles, Michael Dickel, Priscilla Galasso, Chrysty Hendrick, Joseph Hesch, Ruth Jewel, Charlie Martin, Liliana Negoi, Lana Phillips, Corina Ravenscraft ,Terri Stewart (founder of Beguine Again, our sister site), and Michael Watson.
There are so many other ways readers, contributors and team could choose to spend valuable time, but you have all chosen to invest a portion in this small effort to build a community of others.
This site was founded in 2011 with three American Buddhist friends. Two have passed on. Since that time as both blog and zine we have published the works of like-minded representing all races, at least six religions, agnosticism and atheism and, I believe, nearly thirty countries. We have stood in solidarity for kindness and joy and raised our voices for peace, environmental sustainability and social justice.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to all of us. Thank you everyone and may peace and friendship prevail.
On behalf of the Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community, Jamie Dedes
MUSIC TO THE EYES
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.
One hundred thousand
Poets for change,
so many voices and
carefully chosen words,
at times decay into a void
of the anechoic chamber.
Earthly Fathers praying
for the Establishment,
that sets our stage,
and casts our values
in concrete, steel,
plastic … and carbon.
Leaders of the World,
whose balance sheets and
logical, numerate intellect
measure only a notion
of success. What is that?
Temper your ambition.
For aren’t we just that,
a wealth of rich and
maybe the only hope
for our universe
to understand itself?
Heavenly Mothers ask us
why digitise and monetise
and worship at the alter
of the great god, Thworg,
when we are in the face of
richness beyond measure.
Escape to the stars, if you will,
but answers will be found not
in the vanity of space-time travel,
but here, with this unaided vision
they lie in the green and blue,
right before your disbelieving eyes.
Permit your heart to rule
even if only one day a week, when
the visceral, and the common sense
will sit above logic and intellect, and
that subliminal noise in our head
will slowly rise to the conscious.
Maybe, one day we’ll be
Seven Thousand Million
Poets for Change!
Our time will come. Atonement beckons.
It’s in the wind, this beating heart,
a movement beyond the gaze of mortals …
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—todayto share your own creative work and to enjoy the work of others. All are welcome no matter where in the world you live.
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
Well, the Zine’s virtual “live” 100TPC Master of Ceremonies, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play), is doing the event from the Midwestern U.S. this year, not Israel, and I’m here in Northern California as back-up.
We have just a few hours to go before we begin The BeZine 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, 2017 (100TPC), our biggest event of The BeZine year. Do join us and bring your reading glasses and your work suggestive of peace, sustainability and social justice. Michael will get us started and I’ll be on hand to help put a wrap on things. We’ll run at least 24 hours to make it convenient for you to participate no matter where in the world you live.
You may have missed some of these posts that will clarify what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and how you can participate. Here are two posts that you’ll find helpful:
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.”
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.
” Musick has charms to soothe a savage breast “ ~ Playwright and Poet, William Congreve (1670-1729), in his 1697 play, ‘The Mourning Bride’.
A letter from John:
In asking for submissions of writing, poetry, art and even music itself for the Music themed October issue of The BeZine, I am conscious that the very subject of music leaves us with a huge scope. But if I am to offer any guidelines as to what you could think about in submitting work, it might be as follows.
My personal perspective on the value of poetry has some relevance here. It is a belief that poetry should always be one step removed from the obvious, the logical and rational, in order for it to awaken the right brain, the creative side of our amazing abilities as humans; to stimulate the visceral (as opposed to the purely intellectual, rational…
100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) founders, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, have “built” a Resistance Poetry Wall in response to calls from all over the world for a place to post poetry and art in reaction to January’s election here in the U.S.
You do not have to limit your poetry to the situation in the States. You can share work that is relative to your country or your specific concerns. As Michael and Terri state:
“The poetry and art posted on the WALL are not limited to the USA elections. There are many issues that concern us all and we welcome your contribution to this page.”
These efforts do have their place and power. So far 190 people have shared work on The Poetry Resistance Wall. I hope to see you there too.
We invite you to share your most passionate works expressing kindness and human connection and the ways that together we might heal the degradation and devastation of wars and genocides; the heartbreak of refugees living in limbo; the desolation of hunger and famine and environmental catastrophes; the insanity of extrajudicial murders; and the disappointing growth in the West of racial and religious tensions and efforts by various administrations to chill dissent.
Please take this opportunity to join hands and hearts in peace and love: TEAM WITH US for The BeZine100TPC online “live” event this September 30th (our 6th year) to address peace, sustainability, and social justice through poetry, music (videos), art and anything artistic that can be posted online and accessed through a url link or by responding in the comments section of the event post. The BeZine 100TPC is one of hundreds of events that will be held around the world on September 30 under the rubric of Global 100TPC founded by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.
WE ACKNOWLEDGE that there are enormous theological differences and historical resentments that carve wedges among and within the traditions and ethnic or national groups, but we believe that ultimately self-preservation, common sense, and human solidarity will empower connections and collaboration and overcome division and disorder.
100TPC is just one effort that illustrates the higher possibilities of the human heart.
Let us ply our art, meditations, and prayer toward that tipping point when compromise – an admittedly imperfect peace – will overcome war and respect for life will topple resentments and greed. That may not happen in our time, but it has to start somewhere and sometime. Together let this be our modest contribution toward an end for which diverse people the world over are working and praying.
HOW THE BeZINE “VIRTUAL” 100TPC WORKS … It’s easy and will be intuitively obvious, though we will provide instruction. A blog post will go up at The BeZine blog on September 30 with some introductory material and directions. As with any other blog post, you can respond by putting your poem or other work in the comments section. There will also be “Mister Linky” … a way to put in a link to relevant work on your site. It’s easy to use but if you don’t like it, you can just put your link in the comments section. That works!
American-Israeli poet,Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phore(e)/ Play), is an extraordinary – and at this point very experienced – Master of Ceremonies. He’ll maintain a rolling commentary in the comments section. I’ll be online to fill in for Michael when he takes a break and also to extend the length of the event.We’re in different time zones, though this year not half-a-day apart since he will be in the States. The idea is convenience and inclusively.
All types of artists and friends can participate no matter where they live in the world even if there is no event going on in their neighborhood and even if like me they are pretty much or completely home bound (which was the inspiration for the virtual event). You can participate in our virtual event even if you are at an off-line event. You can do both. We hope that you will not only share your artistry but also enjoy the artistry of others, which is what makes it like a live event. See you then … 🙂 We also hope that you’ll visit The BeZine to read our September edition, a prequel to the 100TPC event.
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine) and in the spirit of love (respect) and community, Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor The BeZine
Reflecting on anger
a sort of Introduction
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…
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.
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.
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.”
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…
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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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Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People
Raccoon is a lot of different things to a lot of people. Probably one thing that all would agree is that they ‘get into things.’ They are so curious and resourceful. Years ago I lived in a huge old house in the middle of downtown Mountain View California built in 1906. It was on a big piece of property with a full size barn in back of the house. Located on the large back porch was an enclosed single toilet and a laundry room. There were the resident raccoons and opossums who knew no boundaries and in the middle of the city. My family of raccoons used to periodically raid the bag of dog kibble stored in the laundry room. Then, as it is their habit to clean their food, they would wash the kibble off in the toilet. So resourceful. We coexisted….like I always do with the wild things. My…
HOW A “VIRTUAL” 100TPC WORKS … It’s easy and will be intuitively obvious, though we will provide instruction. A blog post will go up on September 30 with some introductory material and directions. As with any other blog post, you can respond by putting your poem or other work in the comments section. There will also be “Mister Linky” … a way to put in a link to relevant work on your site. It’s easy to use, but if you don’t like it, you can still just put your link in the comments section. It works! Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phore(e)/ Play) is an extradinary – and at this point very experienced – Master of Ceremonies. He’ll maintain a rolling commentary in the comments section. I’ll be online to fill in for Michael when he takes a break and also to extend the length of the event.We’re in different time zones, though this year not half-a-day apart since he will be in the States. The idea is convenience and inclusivity. People can participate no matter where they live in the world even if there is no event going on in their neighborhood and even if like me they are pretty much or competely home bound (which was the inspiration for the virtual event). You can participate in our virtual event even if you are at an off-line event. You can do both. We hope that you will not only share a poem or two or three but also read the work of others, which is what makes it like a live poetry reading. See you then … 🙂 We also hope that on the 15th you’ll visit thebezine.com to read our September edition, which is a prequel to the 100TPC event.
If you have something to submit for the 100TPC Prequel edition of The BeZine, the deadline is tonight at midnight P.S.T. Forward work for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org Themes: Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice. Don’t forget to mark your calendar to join us on September 30 for 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change.