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)

Waging the Peace


In December 2015 world events led to a spontaneous eleventh hour special section – Waging the Peace –  in The BeZine.. This seems a propitious moment to bring to the fore once again those ideas, ideals and experiences shared by Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill, Rev. Ben Meyers, Father Daniel Sormani, C.S. Sp., Sophia Ali-Khan, Israeli-American poet Michael Dickel, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi. Thanks to all of them and to Carla Prater, the assistant director of Buddhist Global Relief for their contributions to this collection and their assistance. The links to the features in Waging Peace are included below the following introduction.

Rabbi SteinBerg-Caudill (the Interfaith Rabbi) is a Jewish teacher who espouses a Jewish Spirituality and Universalist teaching for the future brotherhood of all people. When I contacted him about this effort he reminded me of what surely should be foremost in our minds and hearts:

“The Hebrew word for PEACE – שלום – does not imply a lack of strife. It implies instead WHOLENESS, COMPLETION. If one is in a state of peace, he can still be whole in a time of chaos.”

Rev. Meyers of the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo also counsels inner peace with his You are the promise … the one … the hope. Rev. Meyers says:

“I understand and often share the ‘urge of urgency’ over the peacefulness of peace. But this I also know: We live at the intersection of action and reflection.”

Father Sormani, a Spiritan priest who has lived and worked in Algeria and Dubai and is now teaching theology at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, asks What Have We Done that People Can Pick-up Weapons and Kill. Father Dan says:

“We have become our own worst enemy. Whenever we separate the world into ‘them’ and ‘us’, whenever we accept blind generalizations and cease to see a unique individual before us, whenever we forget we are all victims of carefully orchestrated deceit and deception for wealth and power, the force of darkness wins. Bullets will never win this struggle, only the heart and mind will.”

Lest you missed Sofia Ali-Khan‘s letter, Dear Non-Muslim Allies, which made the rounds on Facebook and was also picked up by some mainstream media, we’ve included it here.

We’ve also included a video recitation of Tunisian poet Anis Chouchéne‘s profoundly moving poem against racism and fanaticism. Chouchène speaks directly to radical Islam  … but I think you’ll agree that he ultimately speaks to the fear in all of us.

“Peace we keep an eye on/while it packs its bags/to abandon our lands, little by little …”

Chouchène concludes as Father Dan does, that we must be able to see the individual.

Michael Dickel‘s poem Mosquitoes (excerpt from his chapbook, War Surrounds Us – Is a Rose Press 2015), is featured. The poem starts out with Israelis and Palestinians crossing the artificial lines that divide to offer one another condolences on the deaths of their children.  This is a favored poem of mine, especially so because when I initiated The Bardo Group (now The Bardo Group Beguines) in 2011, I had in mind virtual crossing of boarders through the arts. (Our mission statement is HERE.) Michael’s poem demonstrates how we are manipulated by the propaganda machine.

We’ve included a short video presentation on the seven steps to peace developed by peace activist, Rabbi Marc Gopin. Director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution (CRDC).

The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi is Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, an author and teacher. He is the founder of Buddhist Global Relief.  With permission, we offer the 2015 talk he gave at the New Year’s Interfaith Prayer Service, Chuang Yen Monastery. Bhikkhu Bodhi says:

“Real peace is not simply the absence of violent conflict but a state of harmony: harmony between people; harmony between humanity and nature; and harmony within ourselves. Without harmony, the seeds of conflict and violence will always be ready to sprout.

Bhikku Bodhi goes on to analyze the obstacles to achieving world peace, the prerequisites of peace, and the means to realizing these goals.

On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines and in the spirit of love and community,

Jamie Dedes,
Founding and Managing Editor of The BeZine.

Waging The Peace
An Interfaith Exploration

You are the promise . . . the one . . . the hope, Rev. Ben Meyers

What Have We Done That People Can Pick Up Weapons and Kill?, Fr. Daniel Sormani, C.S.Sp.

Dear Non-Muslim Allies,  Sofia Ali-Khan

Peace Be Upon You, شوشان – سلام عليكم, Anis Chouchène

Mosquitoes, American-Israeli poet, Michael Dickel, Jewish

Peace Steps: One Man’s Journey Into the Heart of His Enemies, Rabbi Mark Gopin

Waging Peace, Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddhist teacher

BREAKING NEWS ON THE JUSTICE FRONT: Fellow Americans, please join this national phone call today with Rev. Barber to address recent executive actions

800px-william_barber_at_moral_mondays_rallyJOIN REV. WILLIAM BARBER TODAY at 4 p.m. Eastern Time for immediate response to address the Executive Orders this week that threaten immigrants, refugees, and Muslims, along with new efforts to undermine voting rights and punish sanctuary cities must be met with a powerful and rapid response. TODAY, please join Rev. William Barber and Catherine Orsborn, and other faith leaders at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT for a national call on what we can all do to resist and move forward.

51qqbcpwhul-_sx332_bo1204203200_Call in to (319) 527-2731 Access Code: 150728. We also ask that you register here so that we can send you follow-up alerts, information, and toolkits.
In the meantime, we put together this Rapid Response Guide for People of Faith & Moral Conscience with resources from partners on how to prepare for moral resistance, call your representatives, post on social media, and more. Share it. We will continue to update this guide as events unfold.
In #MoralResistance and #RevolutionaryLove. (Go to those links on Facebook. They’re public so you don’t need to be on Facebook to see them.)

Photo of Rev. Barber leading a Moral Monday gather courtesy of twbuckner under CC BY SA 2.0 License

Some Kind of Hell to Pay

Breadline
Breadline

the unconscionable dance in the canyons of power,
lined with megalithic buildings, the edifice complex
of the spin-meister’s lie, that the demigods can do
anything – anything – walking this asphalt valley

a parade, flailing lemmings trussed and trusting their
die-cut dreams to the pitiless whim of the military/
industrial/medical alliance, whose war-cries are of
greed and arrogance, believing they’ll live forever,
today’s sovereignty, tomorrow’s guarantee. But it’s

all delusion – cultures die and the hope-crushing
architects of cuts and austerity measures are like
the rich man in the Lazarus story, there’ll be
some kind of backlash, some kind of hell to pay …

© Jamie Dedes

“Rich Lazarus! richer in those gems, thy tears,
Than Dives in the robes he wears:
He scorns them now, but oh they’ll suit full well
With the purple he must wear in hell”
Richard Crenshaw (c.1613-1649), English cleric, teacher, metaphysical poet, Steps to the Temple. Sacred Poems, Delights of the Muses (1646)

© photo credit,1930 breadine sculpture at the FDR memorial courtesy of Peter Griffin, Public Domain Pictures.net

SEATTLE-AREA Faith communities come together in support of restorative justice

16002861_1430086170356868_1174300382638625405_nFaith Communities for Peace: A gathering of churches interested in supporting restorative justice Peacemaking Circles for juvenile court cases in King County

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
6:30 PM
Ebenezer AME Zion Church: 1716 23rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

988562_10203219539324344_759173015253613179_n“Did you know that King County Juvenile Court is piloting Peacemaking Circles as an alternative and community-based way to resolve some of its juvenile felony cases? This reduces incarceration, fosters healing for both victims and offenders, and affords a profound opportunity for transformation. This is the Gospel in action and it’s unfolding right here in our own backyard. Church communities are needed to help expand our network of circle providers. Would your faith community like to be involved? Please join us to learn more.” Rev. Terri Stewart, Founder and Director of Youth Chaplaincy Coalition

Questions?
Contact for Protestant and Interfaith Communities: Rev. Terri Stewart (425) 531-1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org

Contact for Catholic Communities: Joe Cotton (206) 382-4847 or joe.cotton@seattlearch.org

© Photos, Terri Stewart

GLOBAL ACTION CALENDAR

Detail from Peace and Prosperity (1896), Elihu Vedder, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.
Detail from Peace and Prosperity (1896), Elihu Vedder, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C.

Since 2011, 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) has worked with poets, writers, artists, musicians and other creatives to help organize events around the world for peace, justice and sustainability.

Now, more than ever mobilization is crucial. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, cofounders of 100TPC, have created a GLOBAL ACTION CALENDAR open to EVERYONE to post Creative Actions around the world. Michael and Terri continue to emphasize the need for INCLUSIVITY and true DIVERSITY in our global network.

They hope this calendar will help people connect and give access to those who are often marginalized in our creative communities.

So many of you are doing so much. Thank you! and thanks to Michael and Terri.

Link HERE to post your event.

The photograph is in the public domain.

Honoring the true history of indigenous peoples

Eel River, Humboldt County, California
Eel River, Humboldt County, California

The Wiyot lived in the Humboldt Bay area of Northern California and they live in my dreams. For about a year-and-half we made our home in Humboldt County, an area about 200 miles north of San Francisco on the far North Coast. It’s a place dense with redwood forests, wild rivers, and creeks that run dry in the summer and overflow in the winter. If you live in a rural area or grew up in one, you might take such things for granted. Having lived in paved-over cities all my life, they seemed magical to me.

Our four acres were rich with sequoia, madrone, oak, and twenty-eight fruit trees. Blue jays flew in to feed in the morning. Quail families visited at night. They marched down our drive in orderly formation. Hawks and hummingbirds put on air shows. Rosemary thrived unattended. There was a beautiful lush 100-year-old rosebush. There were wild roses too. They gifted us hips for homemade cough syrup.

Scotch Broom
Scotch Broom

The colors there were brilliant and varied: smog-free blue skies (you could see the stars at night!), rich brown earth, a population of purple iris in a grove of California bay laurel, orange cosmos and red dahlias, yellow scotch broom lining our creek-side in the company of cascading Japanese quince. The Japanese quince provided ample housing for Rufus hummingbirds. Nearby, Queen Ann’s lace stood unbent by the wind. When it went to seed we collected the seeds for cooking. They have a taste somewhere between carrot and caraway.

The spread of blackberry bushes was both wonder and wealth. They seemed never to run out of fruit. I gathered some almost every morning for breakfast and every morning I thought of the women in buckskins who preceded me more than a century ago. Perhaps there was a mother who stood on this spot, picking blackberries for her son too.

I think the peace, quiet and simplicity of that place made it easy to imagine the first peoples as they might have lived there in other times. I could see them tending fires, boiling and drying acorns and then grinding them for flour, bathing in the river, raising their children, gathering wood, hunting and enjoying sacred ceremony. I knew the very same ancient sequoia that watched over us had watched over them.

Humboldt Bay near Eureka, traditional Wiyot lands
Qual-a-wa-loo (Humboldt Bay) near Eureka, traditional Wiyot lands, The 1860 Wiyot Massacre happened on Indian Island

Finally, I did some research. I was sad but not surprised to find that the area was once inhabited by an indigenous people –  the Wiyot people – who were decimated in a genocide ~

Wiyot Mother and Child
Wiyot Mother and Child

“Eureka newspapers of the time exulted at the night massacres conducted by the “good citizens of the area”. Good haul of Diggers and Tribe Exterminated! were 2 headlines from the Humboldt Times. Those who thought differently about it were shut up by force. Newspaper publisher and short story writer Bret Harte called it “cowardly butchery of sleeping women and children” — then had to flee ahead of a lynch mob that smashed his printing presses.” MORE [Wiyot Tribal Council Page]

Note: Originally written in 2012, I’ve posted this today as a an acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 12. More than 40 US jurisdictions celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day; the majority of these have replaced Columbus Day with this holiday, but some jurisdictions celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In addition to reading here, please also treat yourself to Michael Watson’s post Silence, Story, and Healing, a short and thoughtful piece.

© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ Eel River by Jan Kronsell and released into the worldwide public domain; Scotch Broom by Danny S. – 001 under CC BY-SA 3.0; Humboldt Bay near Eureka by Tony via Wikipedia and Licensed under CC A 2.0 Generic; Wiyot Mother and Child, Humboldt State University

WRITING PROMPT, Not for writers only

Perhaps you too grew up in a time and place where the history books taught a one-sided view of the land you live on and the people who originated there. Perhaps, like me, you had to get out of school and meet new people, read books that weren’t sanctioned by academic authority and do your own research to learn about the devastation that was  and is rained upon indigenous people all over the world … the violence, the slavery and the genocide. Perhaps you are a descendent of the original people who suffered so and know the truth from the stories of your elders. Perhaps your roots are in the nations of empire and you are saddened that they perpetrated or were complicit in such unimaginable injustice.

We can’t change what happened in the past but  we can make sure that lies aren’t propagated and that the truth is told and shared. Whether or not you are a writer, try this exercise: write a poem, short story, essay or article that illustrates some aspect of colonialism, racial bias and stereotype, or the modern complications of colonial history. Doing research and writing about our feelings are good ways to clarify circumstance and clear out unconscious bias. That’s one of the possible benefits of journaling, for example.  If you are a professional poet or writer, you have the tools to help set the record straight and win a small victory for the human race.

– Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

LIFTING THE VEIL: Art Event to Support Tahirih Justice Center

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The Tahirih Justice Center stands alone as the only national, multi-city organization providing a broad range of direct legal services, policy advocacy, and training and education to protect immigrant women and girls fleeing violence. Come out and support some of New York’s most powerful artists as they perform to raise money for a worth cause. $10 suggested donation all going to the center. Thanks to Terri Muuss for sharing this with us. Lifting the Veil Facebook Page is HERE.

August 7 at 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. EDT at BrickHouse Bewery & Restaurant 67 W. Main Street, Patchogue, New York 11772.  

*****

a man, a woman, a stick

(1921)

the stick stood in the corner of the kitchen
a constant threat; stoking, as it was meant to,
chronic intimidation

he had a man’s right to deliver his blows
to vent his anger and his self-contempt
to cause suffering for the insufferable

someone had to make it up to him,
his loss-of-face to race, creed and poverty

for her part, eve’s daughter was ripe,
shamed by her intrinsic sinfulness,
worn by her constant pregnancies

her femininity: tired and task-bound,
guilt flowing freely, as all-consuming as lava

[relief, only in death]

and the seventh child was born to die
and the man was demanding his bread

she wrapped the girl in swaddling cloth,
placed her gently by the stove, and
while the newborn made busy with dying,
the woman prepared him his meal

© 2015, Jamie Dedes

MAY 2016, Vol.2/Issue 8; Books That Changed Our Lives

May 15, 2016

Books are a uniquely portable magic.
Stephen King, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”

Books are a primary way we get to travel, meet new people, and learn about the world and the human condition outside the narrow confines of our personal concerns, our families and communities. They are indeed magic: they inform, heal, spur us to action, offer new perspectives, new ways of being in the world and – perhaps most important – they open us to the joys and suffering of others.

In this month’s lead feature, Algerian poet, writer, university student and frequent contributor to The BeZine, Imen Benyoub, tells how three important books that focus on war and genocide teach us about “courage, tolerance, love and sacrifice” and bear witness to “how generous and resilient a human spirit can be, even in the darkest times.”

Imen’s feature is suggestive of The BeZine‘s raison d’etre: to come together from different parts of the world, different cultures, races and creeds, to show our soft underbelly, our most human side in the interest of peace. We are here to quietly be ourselves, to share and in so doing to recognize one another as sister and brother, not “other.” If one of us bleeds, we all bleed. Let us not be silent in the face of daily brutalities. Pens, not swords, open minds and hearts and heal our world. This month – as always – our writers represent a diversity of nations, religions (or lack of), ethnicities and cultures. While this is an English language publication, not all of our writers have English as a first language.

Lilianna Negoi and Contributing Editor, Priscilla Galasso, get us started at the beginning, our early childhood reading. Lana Phillips tells the touching story of comfort in reading Red Shoes for Nancy about a girl older than she who was also living with disability. Corina Ravenscraft tells us how two books made a substantive difference in her life and way of being in the world. Michael Watson says in his essay:

Being an avid reader, I have developed a suspicion that, like the Great Weathers, almost any book can change one’s life for good or ill, and that timing has a lot to do with the outcome.

James R. Cowles’ essay, Escaping Into Reality, offers a lot to think about (as his essays always do) and Mendes Biondo (new to our pages) tells us of personal growth and changes in perspective fostered by an encounter with The Cannon of 20th Century Greek poet, Costantino Cavafy.

We move on to poetry by several of our core team members: John Anstie’s profound Looking South (looking back) with Frodo Baggins; Joe Hesch’s well-crafted and honest poems Schwund und Reue (Loss and Regret) and Confessions of Light-reading Poet; Naomi Baltuck combines a poem by Alice Lowe with her signature photo-storytelling; Charlie Martin loves too many books; Liliana Negoi writes movingly and vividly of reading.

We have several newcomers to our pages this month. We are delighted to introduce poets Joshua Medsker, whose poem is included with the themed pieces and, under the More Light section, Miki Byrne, Sakshi Chanana and Maggie Mackay. Please be sure to welcome them with “likes” and comments. Read their bios HERE.

Also under More Light are Naomi Baltuck’s always engaging photo-stories. We close with a charming art piece from Marlyn Exconde and her children.

Enjoy! … and be the peace …

Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor

LEAD FEATURE

Three books. Three cities: Sarajevo, Warsaw, and Lod … stories about music, war, friendship and survival…, Imen Benyoub

THEME FEATURES

Essays and Photo Stories

The First Book That Shaped Me, Lilianna Negoi
Books That Change Lives, Priscilla Galasso
Red Shoes for Nancy, Lana Phillips
Books That Changed My Life, Corina Ravenscraft
Books and Great Weather, Michael Watson
Escaping Into Reality, James R. Cowles
May there be many a summer morning …, Mendes Biondo

Poems

Looking South with Frodo Baggins, John Anstie (essay & poem)
A Merry Literary Christmas, Naomi Baltuck and Alice Lowe
Schwund und Reue, Joseph Hesch
Confessions of a Light-reading Poet, Joseph Hesch
too many loves, Charles W. Martin
The Poetic Books, Joshua Medsker
Night Light, Liliana Negoi

MORE LIGHT

Poetry

Tying Coats on Elephants, Miki Byrne
Drugs on the Street, Miki Byrne
Blood and Money, Miki Byrne
Transience, Sakshi Chanana
Silver and Gold, Maggie Mackay
Anosmia, Maggie Mackay

Photo Stories

A Peace of My Mind, Naomi Baltuck
The Mistery of Life, Naomi Baltick
Lullaby of Life, Naomi Baltick

Art

Magic Is Your Name, Marlyn Exconde and Children

IMG_9671CONNECT WITH US

Beguine Again, Spirtual Community and Practice

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 to your left along with archived issues of The BeZine, our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.

CHERISH HOME

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author and popularizer of natural and space science

CARL SAGAN was the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences and Director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. He played a leading role in the American space program since its inception. He was a consultant and adviser to NASA since the 1950’s, briefed the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon, and was an experimenter on the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo expeditions to the planets. He helped solve the mysteries of the high temperatures of Venus (answer: massive greenhouse effect), the seasonal changes on Mars (answer: windblown dust), and the reddish haze of Titan (answer: complex organic molecules). 

Here Sagan puts things into perspective for all human kind: As we celebrate our mothers and our mothering, may we also celebrate Mother Earth with right living and right stewardship.

Video posted to YouTube by CarlSaganPortal.

Earth as seen from Apollo 17.

“A mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam . . . ” Carl Sagan

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

FROM THE BARDO GROUP BEQUINES!

The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace

It cannot be forgotten why this piece of music was written at the turn of the millennium, at the end of a century dominated by the most destructive of wars. We are also in the midst of the centenary commemorating the first of those wars, WW1. Composer Karl Jenkins intention was to embrace all faiths and religions of the world. These aims are very much in keeping with those of the Bardo Group Bequines  … reminding us of our need to rise above the polarisation of politics and religion across the world.

This video is one of thirteen. You can access the other movements on YouTube.

– John Anstie

In Conversation: Poet/Musician Graffiti Bleu & Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of the global initiative, 100,000 Poets for Change

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You can listen to the two-hour podcast HERE. Recommended! This post is meant as an alert and also to share my two cents.

As I write, it’s just a few hours after listening to Just My Thoughts with Graffiti Bleu on BlogTalk Radio. The show started with an exploration of What does the revolution look like? with Graffiti Blue, Michael Rothenberg, and the show’s panel and callers comprised of poets involved in 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC).

Harkening back to Gil Scott-Heron and his poem, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,  part of the discussion was on technology and social networking and their roles in fostering peace, social justice and sustainability. When Heron wrote his poem in 1971, the means to formulate and distribute information and opinion were dominated by mainstream media and corporate interest, which were not in sympathy with the revolution Heron envisioned. Those interests are still dominant and still lack sympathy, but there’s something of a balance occurring – however imperfect – now that we plain folk have access to the tools of technology and social networking. Without social networking, we wouldn’t have 100TPC, which can happily be said to have gone viral since Michael Rothenberg put out a call on Facebook for poets to join in a global peace effort back in 2010. While each of us in the “100,000” has a relatively small “audience” together we touch many, many minds and hearts. We do have an agenda, but it doesn’t foment strife. We’re not in anyone’s pocket. That’s clean power. It’s power to …

On a personal level, one benefit of technology is that people who are homebound – as I sometimes am – can take part in change-making initiatives more actively than simply writing letters-to-the-editor or to our legislators, which is not to say we should give that up. I started a virtual 100TPC via The BeZine and with The Bardo Group Beguines so that disabled people and people who do not live near a 100TPC event would have the opportunity to have their say, to lend their support. Our 2015 commemorative page is HERE.

We need to do more than “talk.”  Agreed. And I think that one of things 100TPC gives us is hope … huge hope from seeing that there are people in every nook-and-cranny of the world who share our values and priorities. This helps us to keep on keeping on with our local grassroots initiatives as well as our broader advocacy. This serves to sustain our faith and commitment.

Ultimately for me, 100TPC is about breaking down barriers, crossing boarders. It leads the way in our evolutionary journey toward a sustainable peace. In the documentary film Ten Questions for the Dalai Lamathe Dalai Lama says “we need more festivals.”  In other words, if we get to know people, if we break bread with them or share a bowl of rice, we are less likely to think of them as “other.”  It will be more difficult to turn around the next day and do harm.  100TPC is our festival. Once we’ve shared hearts, souls and stories through poetry, how can we marginalize anyone? How can we abandon or abuse?

Can the revolution be bloodless? The question is really “will it be?” I don’t think so. I don’t think revolutions are by their very nature “bloodless.” The psychopaths will always be with us and until we stop marginalizing people and leaving them desperate and vulnerable to tyrants, we’ll never have bloodless reform. We’ll never achieve a sustainable peace. Peace is a state that takes awareness and awareness takes growth, which is an evolutionary process.  That doesn’t mean we should give up. It means that as poets we should continue to bear witness, to touch hearts, to raise consciousness and to nurture the process of growth. As poet Michael Dickel said in an interview on this site HERE: “. . . it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work.”

– Jamie Dedes

© 2016, words, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day), All rights reserved; photograph courtesy of Graffiti Bleu and Michael Rothenberg.

MLK’s Legacy … in his footsteps

2016015699419aee083by Rev. Ben Meyers, Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo (UUSM), CA

This past Saturday (January 16), in the North Central Neighborhood of San Mateo, the children in the county school system gathered at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center to listen and support the poets, essayists, and artists who participated in this year’s (the 31st annual) event. Afterward, everyone was invited to gather at UUSM, to celebrate the children and to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy with activities, music and buffet.

In most communities across the country, the practice of inviting school-age children to ponder King’s legacy and its impact on the American culture and society is fast becoming a standard practice and tradition. This year’s MLK contest topic encourages an exploration of other leaders who were influenced by King’s message of hope, unity, enfranchisement, and peace. It is right that the “next” generation engage in the continuance of King’s impact because we live in a time when those ideas are daily challenged by continued despair, disparity, and violence. We can yet ask, “Where do we go from here?”

FullSizeRender-1As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth today, let this be a time when, along with paying our respects to the memory of King’s life and his historic legacy, we raise our consciences from our “moments of comfort and convenience” and ask ourselves in ways never before, “Where are we standing among the current challenges and controversies that yet plague our communities, thwarting our dreams of equality and shredding the network of mutuality of which Dr. King spoke so eloquently?” It is time to know where, or even if, we stand for justice and equity and peace.

If we do not like the answer to our inquiry, let us have the courage and the audacity to move ourselves from our comfort and complacency to a place more inconveniently situated, and stand tall.

© Rev. Ben Meyers, all rights reserved

The Collapse of the Towers

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O God! O God! that it were possible
To undo things done; to call back yesterday
That Time could turn up his swift sandy glass,
To untell the days, and to redeem these hours.

— Thomas Heywood (1574?-1641), A Woman Killed with Kindness (Act 4, Sc. 6)

Photograph courtesy of Wally Gobetz under CC BY 2.0 license.

Sabbath and Syria

by Terri Stewart (Beguine Again)

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”
~Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Trevor Hudson, in his book A Mile in My Shoes, describes living daily life as living daily pilgrimage into the suffering of others. Life as a daily pilgrimage includes:

  • Being present,
  • Listening, and
  • Noticing

I was thinking of this as I was pondering the great tragedy that is taking place in Syria. Bodies are washing up on the shores of the Mediterranean of little children and families fleeing. It is simply horrifying. An excellent explanation of what is happening is here.

About 6 years ago, when I first started working at the juvenile detention center, I was playing cards with some boys in the detention center. As we played games, the boys were sharing their stories. One of the boys happened to be from Syria. He left Syria and moved to the states after seeing his parents murdered in front of him. He came here to live with his auntie. He could barely read or write. He was in detention for violent behavior. Imagine that. He had anger issues. I thought it was horrifying then. It seems it just keeps on getting worse.

Trevor Hudson would have us travel into the suffering as a pilgrim, not as a voyeur or as a consumer, but as a sacred journey. Being present to pain. Listening to their stories without imposing outside values. And noticing. Noticing who they are. Sometimes that is the most sacred gift of all. I think on that day years ago, for that young man from Syria, that is what he longed for. Simply to be noticed.

Maybe this Sabbath day we can take a moment and be present to those who suffer near us. Take a pilgrimage with them–a sacred journey into the heart.

Shalom,

terri

pilgrimage of the heart

100,000 TPC 2015, Event Posters from Around the World

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As of this writing, there are well over 500 events scheduled around the world. To find an event near you or to register an event that you are organizing go to 100TPC.

Our own (Beguine Again and The Bardo Group) virtual event is scheduled to be held here at The BeZine blog on 26 September 2015. You are invited to join us by linking in your relevant work on poverty  (our theme this year) through Mr. Linky (directions will be included in the post that day) or simply by adding your link or your work in the comments.  You retain your own copyright.  All the links and works will be collected and posted in a Page at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.  Think about and prepare something you’d like to share so you can have your say and feature your own work.

To “meet” our host for that event, American-Israeli Poet Michael Dickel, link HERE.

To “meet” the founders of 100TPC, link HERE.

100,000 Poets (and other artisits and friends) for Change, 2015: over 500 events scheduled around the globe

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These are busy days for Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion who founded 100,000 Poets for Change.  Michael announced yesterday that 500 events are now scheduled for September 26, 2015, the fifth anniversary of this global initiative for change; that is, for peace and sustainability.

For those who are just catching up with us100 Thousand Poets for Change, or 100TPC, is an international grassroots educational organization focusing on the arts, especially poetry, music, and the literary arts. It was founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion and is centered on a world-wide event each September. This past June the first World Conference on 100TPC was held in Salerno, Italy.

There are also several offshoots cropping up: 100,000 Photographers for Change, 100,000 Drummers for Change … and so on. A little searching on Facebook and you’ll find them, though the umbrella for all,  100TPC, does include a range of artistic specialties and friends of the arts and is not limited to poets and poetry.

We – that is The Bardo Group and Beguine Again, publishers of The BeZine are hosting a virtual event and you are all invited to attend and add links to your own relevent work.  The links will be collected and published in a Page on The BeZine site and also archived at 100TPC. Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) of The Bardo Group is the lead for this event. Michael is also the organizer of an event scheduled in Israel this October.  You can contact him via his blog or message him on Facebook if you have an interest in participating there.

Meanwhile, here is an introduction to the visionary founders of 100TPC, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion:

MICHAEL ROTHENBERG was born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, and has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 37 years. Currently Michael is living and creating among the redwoods.

Michael is co-founder of Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. He is a poet, painter, songwriter, and editor of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else.

In 2011 he and Terri Carrion co-founded the global poetry movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change. His songs have appeared in Hollywood Pictures’ Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night, and most recently, TriStar Pictures’ Outside Ozona. Other songs have been recorded on CDs including: Bob Malone’s The Darkest Part of The Night (Caught Up in Christmas) and Bob Malone (Raydaddy’s Blues), Difficult Woman by Renee Geyer, Global Blues Deficit by Cody Palance, The Woodys by The Woodys, and Schell Game by Johnny Lee Schell.

Michael’s poetry books and broadsides are archived at the University of Francisco, and are held in the Special Collection libraries of Brown University, Claremont Colleges, University of Kansas, the New York Public Library, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, and UC-Santa Cruz.

His most recent collection of poems is Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story (Ekstasis Editions 2013) and Murder (Paper Press, 2013) My Youth As A Train published by Foothills Publishing in September 2010.

TERRI CARRION was conceived in Venezuela and born in New York to a Galician mother and Cuban father. She grew up in Los Angeles where she spent her youth skateboarding and slam-dancing.

Terri Carrion earned her MFA at Florida International University in Miami, where she taught Freshman English and Creative Writing, edited and designed the graduate literary magazine Gulfstream, taught poetry to High School docents at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami and started a reading series at the local Luna Star Café. In her final semester at FIU, she was Program Director for the Study Abroad Program, Creative Writing in Dublin, Ireland.

Her poetry, fiction, non-fiction and photography has been published in many print magazines as well as online, including The Cream City Review, Hanging Loose, Pearl, Penumbra, Exquisite Corpse, Mangrove, Kick Ass Review, Jack, Mipoesia, Dead Drunk Dublin, and Physik Garden among others.

Her collaborative poem with Michael Rothenberg, Cartographic Anomaly was published in the anthology, Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry and her chapbook Lazy Tongue was published by D Press in the summer of 2007.

Terri’s most recent projects includes collaborating on a trilingual Galician Anthology, (from Galician to Spanish to English) and co-editing an online selection of the bi-lingual anthology of Venezuelan women writers, Profiles of Night, both to appear in late August, on BigBridge.org., for which she is assistant editor and art designer. Currently, she is learning how to play the accordion. Terri Carrion lives under the redwoods and above the Russian River in Guerneville, Ca. with her partner in crime Michael Rothenberg, and her dogs Chiqui and Ziggy.