Let Us

For the Poets of January 15th and the Women of January 21st

Let us
take ourselves aboard a bus
and travel to the dispossessed
And let us praise their dreamless eyes and hardened smiles
with rogue words of truth
to the killing fields of their hopes
The slum wards and ragged towns and stolen farms
Let us take to them the carnival of our mad and scattered lives
Let us bring them the mountain, let us give them the vision
of an open window, an unlocked door, a bed to sleep in, a plate of food
Let us give them the keys to the house of our love
Let us bare our throats tattooed with roses, our breasts sequenced with diamonds
our loins hot with dragons, our hands and feet pierced with beauty
Let us come to their dusty squares and drinking holes with canticles of magnificent defeat
Let us deliver to their mangers
of pollution and penitentiaries, shopping malls and tenements
the hard beautiful birth of the heart
Let us bring renewal, let us declare the death of despondency and tyrants
For I have seen our campfires beside the roads, like fallen still-burning miraculous stars
I have seen our bus voyaging to innocence
I have seen us tossed this century like a bone
after decades of science and war reason and corporation
art and Auschwitz
I have seen my vocation descend like a pen to a page
that can never be filled with enough truth
I have crossed a continent of despair and I swear to you, Poets,
I live for greater than myself
You, street-Latin Elizabethan hustlers, I tell you time has come to deal
death’s passionate kiss to kings
Time has come to bare our asses in Paradise
Time has come to write the Constitution with poetry and flesh
Time has come to costume up and ride
with words like steel-tipped whips
into the soul of American
and rage there and sing
till the mouth of every hungry child
is fed.

– Alan Kaufman

Thanks to Alan Kaufman, citizen poet for sharing his poem.  Please feel free to share it as well. He has gifted it to the people.

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letting my freak flag fly

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i was talking
with aunt bea
about
a demonstration
on
the
illegitimate presidency
of trump
how a group
of us
were headed
downtown
next week
to stand in solidarity
against
washington criminals
aunt bea
said
it’s
so easy
to resist
and
rebel
when others
walk beside you
but
the real resistance
is
when you
stand alone
either
in the voting booth
or
in your
personal decisions
to
defy
and
address
the wrongs
that stand
before
you

© Charles W. Martin

~ Scraggly Dandelion in a Concrete Crack ~

Image from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License Source author: Kleuske
Image from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License Source author: Kleuske

It begins, with one brave enough to appear.
One idea, one voice in an asphalt void.
Oligarchs try to crush all dissension with fear.
Undaunted, the idea will not be destroyed,
Shares roots with others; reassures, “I’m still here.”

One soft heartbeat, then two, then ten.
It becomes a thrumming pulse of multitudes.
Hundreds turn to thousands, to millions and then
It can’t be paved over with false platitudes.
Like defiant dandelions, reaffirm, “We’re still here.”

While those in power, on their golden thrones,
Bloated and squinty-eyed from swallowing so much hate,
Full of flatulent, hot air and pompous-pride groans,
Fail to recognize that their hour groweth late.
The masses are gathering; reassert, “No more fear!”

History paints rebels and martyrs the same:
Trading their lives for belief in their causes.
The greater the oppression, the brighter the flame
Of kindled resistance in lieu of such losses.
The full bloom of awakening, “We won’t disappear!”

To the tyrants, the haters, the xenophobes, too,
The racists, misogynists, who spew toxic bile:
No matter your claims for your self-righteous views,
You must understand: our resistance is fertile.
Love conquers hate, and it will always persevere.

© Corina Ravenscraft

The Art of “Survivance”

SurvivanceAfter a couple of days of warmth and rain, today is seasonably cold. Next week is forecast to be very warm again, an unnerving scenario as we rely on the snow pack for our summer water supply.

Climate change is a complex issue, not so much because there is doubt that it is human caused and accelerating, but because it affects people unevenly. Here in Vermont folks are divided about the issue. Many are appreciative of our much briefer and milder winters. Others lament the loss of tourism jobs, the declining maple forests, and the increasing number of failed drinking water wells.

Much of the divide in opinion can be linked to whether a person lives their life inside or outside. City folk tend to lament cold, snowy, inconvenient weather. Those who spend most of their days outside are more likely to have a keen sense of the problems and losses that come with global climate change.

Those about to assume leadership of the United States deny climate change. They also reject ideas of diversity,  stewardship, and mutual responsibility and community. But you already know this. What you may not know is that many idolize Andrew Jackson. Jackson defied the Supreme Court and stole the lands and farms of Native people in the Southeast, sending The People on a Trail of Tears. He is so hated in Indian Country that many Native people refuse to use twenty-dollar bills.

Somehow, a few families managed to avoid deportation. I like to imagine they lived up in distant hollows or in the dense forested swamps of the river bottoms.

My father’s family identified as Native, although they refused to tell us younger ones what tribes we hail from. (They did instill in us a deep sense that governments can’t be trusted.) They grew up in Indiana at a time when being Native could cost you your farm, or your life. My understanding is that after my grandfather left the family, my grandmother moved the farm to a rocky, inhospitable, spectacularly beautiful location overlooking the Ohio River. She correctly assumed they would be safe there. My dad and his siblings walked downhill to school, then back up to home. Once, dad took me to see the homestead, in what is now a state park. It took us almost two hours to hike up. (No doubt my Polio body slowed us down.)

A few years ago I was introduce to the idea of “survivance.” The term was apparently a legal term in the Eighteenth Century,  but was adapted for Native use by Jerald Vizenor, a much venerated Native Studies scholar who is no longer here in physical form. The term refers to active survival, a continued presence even as we are supposed to have been erased from the land.

I like to think of survivance as the task of refusing erasure. Beyond that, it is the art of living well in the face of hatred and genocide. I imagine the concept of continuing to live well while under threat might be applicable to the situation of many of us in 2017. (My wife, Jennie, a Jewess, contends that the term applies perfectly to folks who resisted the Holocaust, and I suspect she is right.) Survivance implies asking important questions and making difficult choices. When does one openly resist? When does one hide or, if possible, pass? How do we find and nurture joy, family, and community in the face of hatred?

For me, there is an even more fundamental definition of survivance: the task of nurturing and protecting the soul in the face of those who would obliterate it. We need to save our souls, (individual, cultural, and collective) from those who would destroy them, for soul loss is excruciatingly painful and may impact many generations. (Make no mistake, Jackson and his ilk wanted nothing less than the destruction of the Native soul; those who idealize him now want nothing less than the destruction of all that is “Other”.)

Perhaps we can learn something about survivance from those who came before us. There is much to be said for living on land no one else desires, holding ceremony in the deep night, and pretending to be one of the majority. There is much to gain from building coalitions, going to court, and telling our stories to a larger audience. There is much to be won from making, and sharing, art, music, and literature. My guess is that we will need to draw from all these, and more, during the years to come.

© Michael Watson

 

Practising Freedom of Choice

To The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;

Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty.”   —Walt Whitman

James Hepworth and Gregory McNamee chose these imperative words from Whitman’s writing for the title of a book they put together on writer and radical environmental activist Ed Abbey. I think of Ed in the desert wilderness of Utah’s Canyonlands. He is choosing to explore without roads, without a vehicle, without expensive equipment. He is on foot. He has matches, a knife, and boots. He drinks from the river. He walks in the cool of the night. He gathers sticks and makes a fire. He cooks a fish from the river. He is free. He is central to his existence, no other. I met some of his friends at the Wilderness 50 Conference in Albuquerque in 2014. They were a spirited bunch and passionate about the value of wild places, places without systems, where humans are visitors only and do not dominate the landscape. These wilderness advocates represent a resistance movement that truly inspires me.

wildernessThe freedom to choose how you will act is basic autonomy. To relinquish that choice is enslavement. However, exercising that choice need not be violent or ego-driven. I believe it is possible to act freely while maintaining a posture of love and openness. I admire the practice of Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk who engages in political activism in a peaceful and mindful manner. The first step to acting in freedom is awareness. Being aware of the present moment includes being aware of the suffering inherent in a situation, of the emotions that all parties bring to bear. It also includes being aware of the values you wish to embody. The Eight-Fold Path describes values to consider: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.  Determining to walk this path while resisting temptation and influence in other directions is indeed a form of activism.

I am wary of the pressures that systems in this country employ to urge compliance.  I don’t want to see my freedom of choice reduced to “paper or plastic?”, as George Carlin suggests.  At the same time, I recognize that freedom requires responsibility. If I make my choices, I must abide by the consequences. Again, I think of Ed in the wilderness, happily accepting the dangers along with the adventure, feeling completely alive. There is risk involved in living in freedom and an opportunity to respond in community to the outcomes of those risks. That I will be wise enough to respond with compassion and not restriction is my hope. I cannot say that I practiced that as a parent raising four children, though!  I do know the urge to stifle the free exploration of a youngster. I am not convinced that it is the best practice for the spirit of either parent or child.

May we all have the courage to resist enslavement, the compassion to encourage freedom, the awareness to recognize the choices before us, and the will to act in love.  

© Priscilla Galasso

Boots on the Ground

Last month concerned citizens rallied in Olympia in solidarity with protestors in fifty state capitals.  We had hoped to convince electors to vote their conscience. In light of all that has passed since then, it seems naïve to have hoped they might step out of the party line.

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Those who lived through the rise of Hitler see history repeating itself. As a student of history, I looked back even further. When Trump bragged, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” I thought of the Latin phrase, agere et pati, ‘to act and to endure,’ a perfect description of medieval society.

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Bodiam Castle, East Sussex.

There’s a striking parallel between our current social order and that of the Middle Ages, in which the wealthy ruling class acted and peasants endured. Peasants made up ninety percent of the population. Lords squeezed serfs for taxes plus three days of unpaid work per week. The church exacted two more unpaid workdays, and a compulsory tithe, 10% of their income, forcing peasants to live hand to mouth. Nobility had the power of life and death over them, while the church tortured and executed dissenters.  Protest was not an option.

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Traitors Gate, Tower of London. They go in, but they don’t come out.

Like Trump and the GOP, the nobility and the church had their snits, but mostly they scratched each other’s back. Nobles gave financial support to the church, and the church justified the social order by declaring it God’s will that nobles should possess all the wealth and power, and God’s will that peasants and serfs should live to serve them.

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To cement the pact, the church placed highborn second sons into powerful positions in its own hierarchy. This artful deal resulted in feudal nobility with an iron grip on peasants, and peasants who were taught from birth to endure their sorry lot and wait obediently for their reward in Heaven. Nothing changed for centuries.

Burying plague victims.

It took the Black Death to upset the fruit basket. The plague hit Europe in 1347, killing half the population over the next five years.  With the workforce so reduced, nobles hadn’t the manpower to till their fields or chase down runaway serfs. Surviving peasants finally had some choice about whom to work for, and could demand decent wages or leave, maybe even to learn a trade in the city. At last upward mobility was possible, and the middle class got a toehold in society.

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Thirty-five years later, in 1381, to pay for its pricey Hundred Years War with France, the English government imposed its fourth Poll (per head) Tax in four years. It was a regressive tax, hardest on peasants, who shouldered as much of the Poll Tax burden as the wealthiest landowners.  Just when the peasants thought it couldn’t get worse…

King Richard II

…King Richard II issued The Statute of Laborers, capping wages and forcing workers to accept the same miserable conditions they had labored under before the plague struck. The new law threatened severe punishment to serfs and peasants who dared seek better conditions or higher wages.  It also forbad merchants and tradesmen to charge the market price for goods and services, and ordered a return to pre-plague prices. King Richard even tried to cut the only social security the poor had by forbidding beggars to beg.  In other words, he wanted to make England great again.

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In an unprecedented protest, 60,000 peasants marched to London to demand an audience with the king. 2000 protestors died in the ensuing violence, and others did too, including the archbishop, the king’s treasurer, and a number of tax collectors. The peasants dispersed after the king made promises, which he broke, and granted pardons for the rebels, which he revoked. Rebels were hunted down and executed.

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Richard II meets with rebels by Jean Froissant.

After the dust settled, it might’ve seemed like nothing had changed, but historian Michael Postan says the revolt made history, “as a landmark in social development and a typical instance of working-class revolt against oppression.” If only for fear of another uprising, peasants were treated with more respect, the hated Poll Tax was never again raised, and it marked the end of feudalism. Most importantly, peasants set their sights on astonishing new, if distant goals; freedom, equality, and democracy.

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We face difficult days ahead. Our hard won democracy has deteriorated into an oligarchy—a nation ruled by a small elite group of the obscenely wealthy. Any power or constitutional rights we lose to Trump and the Republicans will be difficult to recover. In D.C., the House, the Senate, and the White House are controlled by Republicans. Trump hasn’t assumed office yet and they’re already ripping apart safeguards.

We can’t afford to surrender to despair or even resignation. We must resist. Since the Peasants’ Revolt, we’ve had shining examples of nonviolent civil disobedience from heroines and heroes like Harriet Tubman, Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, Lech Walesa, and the Standing Rock Lakota. Nonviolent movements like the Underground Railroad, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, United Farm Workers, and the Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance have brought change that makes a difference in all our lives. Not without sacrifice, but with hope, courage, and determination.

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Harriet Tubman, civil rights activist, abolitionist, humanitarian.

Solidarity in Communist Poland began with strikes to demand a free trade union, and resulted in freedom and democracy for the Polish people. There was the Velvet Revolution of Czechoslovakia. The Singing Revolution in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania began with people gathering to sing national songs forbidden by the Communists. Four years later they were independent nations, free of Soviet rule.

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Every protest matters. It’s an act of faith, almost a prayer. Not the kind in which you petition for a miracle or  just a quick win.  The kind that lends you strength to endure however long it takes, but also transforms you from silent sufferer to person of action. You’ll be there for those who have no voice, or who need help finding their own voice. You’ll be there to inform the public and to lift each other up, to remind yourself that you are not alone.

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Each act of resistance repays a debt to those who fought and sacrificed on a battlefield, in a courtroom, or on a picket line to make our lives better. And each act of resistance is a gift to our children and grandchildren.  One day this will all be history. When people look back, and they always do, I hope to be remembered for fighting for what’s right. It’s time to call out the lies, write our congress, gather those signatures, and save our nation from a shameful demise.  It’s time to put our boots on the ground.

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Copyright 2017 Naomi Baltuck

Werewolves—The Hounds of Hate

One wonders if a group of people who have a fetish-obsession with alpha males overpowering beta males are really werewolves (werwolf, in German, a fort, a plan, an insurgency, ever a human?) rather than human beings. Perhaps they are devolved to pack animals easily confused by a gilded chair and spotlight glare. They seem to have failed to realize that the beta males fight over hierarchy, the lone alpha in each pack standing aloof and indifferent to their struggle.


by Michael Dickel

The followers packed in the hall raise their hands in a familiar, evil salute.

The one in front mentions alpha males, before saluting his leader’s election.

In their poorly learned algebra: Power equals everything; morality, ethics, community equal nothing. They worship the square root of negative 3. No one, not even I, know what that means.

Some reject all leaders other than themselves. Even the one elected remains insufficiently aggrieved and enraged to take the reins. Wild horses run through them, disordering their imaginations with fantasies of powerful stallions. The stallions laugh at their inadequacies.

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It begins with wordsthe werewolf singing the song of cancer cells—unlimited growth, spreading out, destroying all else, leaving nothing but toxic waste behind. When he howls “greatness,” he sings to spread deadly cancer in our midst. Unchecked growth. We must resist the cancer, gather our antibodies, strengthen our collective body of love and wisdom.

Whiteflies invade the green leaves and suck the plant dry. They excrete a honeydew of hate. They believe that they grew the plant. They want to be in charge of the plant, even as they kill it.

The werewolves will make Wolfland great again.

Afraid and weak, these werewolves bark, bite, howl, yip. If they didn’t run in packs, they would be nothing. That is why the alpha obsession raised to the power of fetish. They use terms from pornography. They are pornography.

What is pornography? Is it human? Am I / pornography / human?

The hounds of hate have been unleashed to the sound of trumpets. They turn against learning and research. The rich and powerful control them by remote signal. The rich and the powerful laugh and laugh. The hounds fight over the scraps. They get trumped.

Then the hounds turn on the rest of us, licking their sagging, blood-spattered jowls.


If you haven’t already, place your mouse cursor over the links and wait. You will see an excerpt pop up from that linked page. The excerpt inter-plays with this text. I’m not sure how / if this works in mobile platforms.


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I ain’t no millionaire’s son

I grew up through the 1960s, when resistance was to the draft, the war in Vietnam, and capitalism. While the fronts may have changed, the war of resistance against greed-driven government and the military-industrial complex (now the military-industrial-technological-communication complex?) continues on. Here are a few old protest songs from those times and others, for your resistance sound-track of today.

Michael Dickel

Have suggestions to add to this soundtrack? Leave links in the comments!

Creedence Clearwater Revival—Fortunate Son (the title for this article comes from the lyrics)

Richie Havens—Handsome Johnny

Peter, Paul, and Mary—Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan)

John Lennon—Imagine

Bob Dylan and Joan Baez—Singing together at the 1963 March on Washington

Joan Baez leading the crowd singing We Shall Overcome at the 1963 March on Washington

Woody Guthrie—This Land is Your Land (listen to all of the verses)

The Freedom Singers—Woke Up This Morning

Lakota—To Walk the Red Road

Seal—A Change is Gonna Come

Bob Marley—One Love

Tracy Chapman—Talking About a Revolution

Tracy Chapman—Bang Bang Bang

Bob Dylan—With God on Our Side

And, because it is so needed to counter the pussy-grabber-in-chief…

Women’s Honoring Song

“Anagehya- women of all the Nations – you are the strength, you are the force, you are the healing of the Nations.”

Pete Seeger—Which Side Are You On? (Union song)

Keep the music playing, keep the resistance strong, sing out, sing loud!

See “Democracy is Coming to the USA” and “Silence ii—Sound of Silence” in this issue for more music related to the Resist! theme! For more songs of protest, including more contemporary songs, try this YouTube list of Protest Songs curated by Amnesty International, UK. Missing Peace Art Space curates the Peace Museum YouTube Channel.

HAVE SUGGESTIONS TO ADD TO THIS SOUNDTRACK? LEAVE LINKS IN THE COMMENTS!

I leave you with an anthem from my high school, anti-war days, a song from Woodstock.

The Jefferson Airplane—Volunteers!

Democracy Is Coming To the U.S.A.

While Leonard Cohen’s work is hardly “protest music” of the sort we might associate with the 1960s, his powerful poetry in song at times evokes a sense of resistance for me. Here, perhaps an obvious example—Democracy.

Another song that for me foreshadows our current state of affairs is First We Take Manhattan

These will be some of the background music for me in the coming years, much as they have been since they came out. However, now, with a renewed sense of urgency.

Michael Dickel

See “I ain’t no millionaire’s son” and “Silence ii—Sound of Silence” in this issue for more music related to the Resist! theme.

ONE WOBBLIE’S LIFE … Joe Hill, labor activist and songwriter

Joe Hill (1879-1915), born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, Swedish-American labor activist, song writer, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the "Wobblies")
Joe Hill (1879-1915), born Joel Emmanuel Hägglund, Swedish-American labor activist, song writer, and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the “Wobblies”)

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Hill wrote "The Rebel Girl," which was inspired by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn , founder of the American Civil Liberties Union
Hill wrote “The Rebel Girl,” which was inspired by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn , founder of the American Civil Liberties Union

Music—the sister art to poetry—is always an engaging subject and labor rights and history are—or should be—of serious interest for those of us in the 99%. Hence what a delight to learn that HamiltonSeen, a Canadian film production company, is in the process of exploring the life, work and relevance of Swedish-American labor activist and songwriter, Joe Hill.  In this interview, Zena Hagerty, producer and musician, explains…

JAMIE: How did the project Who Was Joe Hill get started?

ZENA: After finishing our film Harperman: A Dissident Serenade (releasing online in September), we felt  strongly about showcasing the strength that music has in protest and in political movements. There is a power in voices that rise together. Joe Hill was an early American musical hero who brought about real change in the Union Movement and who died under terrible and strange circumstances in front of a firing squad.

JAMIE: How many shows and what kind of content? Why should people be interested and how is Joe Hill’s life and work relevant to our times?

ZENA: We’re going to be creating twelve episodes that explore who Joe was, what shines forward to today from his life, his music, and his legacy, and we’re going to take a hard look at whether many of the same battles for freedom that were being fought in his time are still being fought today. The plan is to speak to the musicians who carry forward his spirit and use their thoughts and words to draw a picture of now through the lens of Joe Hill.

JAMIE: What do you hope to accomplish?

ZENA: Our mission (yes, it’s that important) with every film or series is to shed illumination from a new perspective on a topic that points to the very heart of who we are as human beings. Now, that sounds intense, but what it really means is that in our work we seek to find the emotional core, to enable viewers to connect to the importance of the subject matter.

JAMIE: When is the release scheduled?

ZENA: Our release schedule is very dependent on budget at this point, with a goal of series’ completion by second quarter of 2017. It should be sold for television by that point. We’d love to see it as a weekly series over three months with an online or Netflix release to follow.

If you are reading this post from email and want to view this trailer, you’ll probably have to link through to the site to do so.

HamiltonSeen:
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Producer Zena Hagerty
has a long history of community engagement and involvement in the arts scenes of Hamilton and San Francisco and seeks to further strengthen the human spirit with her work. Zena has broad experience in media, including recording albums, performing her own music, radio broadcasting, graphic design, and many others. As director of Sublimatus as a band, an art gallery, and an entity that inspires the creative spirit within all, Zena honed a skillset that includes the ability to drive and complete large projects with expansive intentions.

Director Cody Lanktree is most inspired by dialogue created by the connection between time, beauty, and our personal truths. In the six years since HamiltonSeen’s inception, Cody has guided the company from small commercial production to white-boxing partnerships with major marketing firms, and finally to the creation of documentaries focused on community and social issues. His vision is one that will not stop at less than fundamentally changing and challenging perspectives and the world.

Jessica Sovie is a journalism student at Mohawk College and intern with HamiltonSeen. As the project lead for The Soapbox, Jessica provides direction, insight, camera operation, and editing skills that are creating a platform for the voice of the public. She is a purebred eccentric, supporter of music and of the arts, and aims to be a champion of the underdog and underrepresented through the use and continuous growth of her skill set.

Photo credits: Joe Hill’s photograph,”The Rebel Girl,” Joe Hill’s signature and death certificate are in public domain; Zena Hagerty’s photograph is hers and under copyright.

“The Push” or how the eleventh largest city in Canada is pushing back

thepushcityhall-joeycolemanLast fall, at the Hamilton Film Festival, we [HamiltonSeen] debuted a film about our city hall, journalism, the abuse of a journalist, and free speech, called The Push. Raise the Hammer described it as a “far-ranging examination of Hamilton’s toxic political culture.” The headline in The Spectator read, “New film raises bothersome questions about city hall culture.” The debut of the film was an important goal for us. We were proud to raise issues of vital concern to our community. It was some time, however, after we completed The Push before we actually debuted it. We kept setting it aside.

We found the release of two films (the other was Soapbox) in August 2016 (particularly The Push and the hubbub surrounding it) hugely stressful, so we set the film aside for a bit.

When the death threats came, we set the film aside for a bit.

The making of a film that only a few hundred people had seen was interfering with our ability to work with community organizations in Hamilton and to volunteer our time and skills as we often do, so we set the film aside for a bit.

We realized having made the film was messing with a bunch of jobs we’d normally have gotten, so we set the film aside for a bit.

We discovered that just being in the film could mess with people’s working lives and that even eight months later there were weird machinations of vengeance happening that needed time and space to sort out, so we set the film aside for a bit.

A year had gone by.

Then we realized that people who had never seen the film and should not have power over it were dictating what we did with it. So, we decided at last to release it.

We like to look at making The Push as a good case study of two things: the importance of independent journalism and how screwed up things are within City Hall in Hamilton.

This has never been a film about any particular councillor. Our intention in releasing it isn’t rooted in re-raising an issue from the past. We believed that people who hadn’t seen the film had a mistaken impression about it and our intentions.

Looking at how our city, nation, and world function, it strikes us that any in-depth analysis of the machinations of those in power illuminates the same basic issues. The film is an example of such,  not at all created to attack so much as reveal.

It’s a film about how institutions don’t keep up and about how much those enmeshed in the political processes avoid transparency and accountability. It’s an important look into how things still function in Hamilton.

Ultimately, we made this film so that we could understand why one of our local journalists felt the need to leave the city after what seemed a straightforward incident that should have resolved itself. In producing the documentary, we discovered that our local bureaucracy is more of a mess than we ever imagined.

The Push is a civic offering.

A moment with journalist, Joey Coleman. (If you are reading this feature from an email subscription, you will have to link through directly to the Zine to view the two short videos included here.)

Trailer:

© words and illustration, Zena Hagerty and Cody Lanktree, all rights reserved
Originally published in Raise the Hammer and published here with the permission of the authors.

In Defense of Activist Poetry

51pv4fg0wpl-_sx329_bo1204203200_By now, those who pay attention to poetry and in particular the poetries of witness and activist poetries, know well that it follows from a long tradition. Yet others, especially cultural and political conservatives, argue “protest” poetry or “political” poetry both do not constitute “Literature,” and that such poetry cannot help but be time-bound little more than contemporaneous commentary. I have been told that some of my poetry is “journalistic,” and that I am caught in a “fashionable” trend from the mid-1950s that has no literary roots beyond, possibly, the Beats. Such arguments simply are nonsense.

unknownCarolyn Forché’s volumes Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English 1500–2001 and Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness demonstrate, with excellent examples, a long history of social and political engagement in English poetry. In fact, one might claim just the opposite of the (usually disguised political) claims that the tradition began in the middle of the 20th C. could be made, that solipsistic confessional poetry that is more autobiography than engaged in the world emerges from that time, in counter-balance to a history of poetry engaged in the outside world.

For this post, I provide two examples of poets from the first half of the 20th Century who engaged in the world.

*****

The first, two poems come from the well-known poet William Butler Yeats: Easter, 1916, written in response to a political protest forcefully broken up by the British, who executed 16 of the protesters. The poem, written in September 1916 and published in 1928, ends with a powerful commentary on the protest, the execution-martyrdom that resulted, and, prophetically, the continuation of the Irish struggle: “A terrible beauty is born.”

Easter, 1916

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good-will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When, young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our wingèd horse;
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vainglorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road,
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it;
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call;
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse—
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

– William Butler Yeats

Yeats’ poem, Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen, comments powerfully and bitterly on violence, war, oppression, and the loss of our own humanity in modern times. The poem, in six parts, has a history of difficult critical reception—critics had a hard time reconciling it with others of Yeats’ works. However, since the later part of the 20th Century, his poem has had a more thoughtful reading by the critics, possibly giving weight to saying he was “ahead of his time.”

Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen

I.
Many ingenious lovely things are gone
That seemed sheer miracle to the multitude,
protected from the circle of the moon
That pitches common things about. There stood
Amid the ornamental bronze and stone
An ancient image made of olive wood —
And gone are Phidias’ famous ivories
And all the golden grasshoppers and bees.

We too had many pretty toys when young:
A law indifferent to blame or praise,
To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong
Melt down, as it were wax in the sun’s rays;
Public opinion ripening for so long
We thought it would outlive all future days.
O what fine thought we had because we thought
That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.

All teeth were drawn, all ancient tricks unlearned,
And a great army but a showy thing;
What matter that no cannon had been turned
Into a ploughshare? Parliament and king
Thought that unless a little powder burned
The trumpeters might burst with trumpeting
And yet it lack all glory; and perchance
The guardsmen’s drowsy chargers would not prance.

Now days are dragon-ridden, the nightmare
Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery
Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,
To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;
The night can sweat with terror as before
We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,
And planned to bring the world under a rule,
Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

He who can read the signs nor sink unmanned
Into the half-deceit of some intoxicant
From shallow wits; who knows no work can stand,
Whether health, wealth or peace of mind were spent
On master-work of intellect or hand,
No honour leave its mighty monument,
Has but one comfort left: all triumph would
But break upon his ghostly solitude.

But is there any comfort to be found?
Man is in love and loves what vanishes,
What more is there to say? That country round
None dared admit, if Such a thought were his,
Incendiary or bigot could be found
To burn that stump on the Acropolis,
Or break in bits the famous ivories
Or traffic in the grasshoppers or bees.

II.
When Loie Fuller’s Chinese dancers enwound
A shining web, a floating ribbon of cloth,
It seemed that a dragon of air
Had fallen among dancers, had whirled them round
Or hurried them off on its own furious path;
So the platonic Year
Whirls out new right and wrong,
Whirls in the old instead;
All men are dancers and their tread
Goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong.

III
Some moralist or mythological poet
Compares the solitary soul to a swan;
I am satisfied with that,
Satisfied if a troubled mirror show it,
Before that brief gleam of its life be gone,
An image of its state;
The wings half spread for flight,
The breast thrust out in pride
Whether to play, or to ride
Those winds that clamour of approaching night.

A man in his own secret meditation
Is lost amid the labyrinth that he has made
In art or politics;
Some Platonist affirms that in the station
Where we should cast off body and trade
The ancient habit sticks,
And that if our works could
But vanish with our breath
That were a lucky death,
For triumph can but mar our solitude.

The swan has leaped into the desolate heaven:
That image can bring wildness, bring a rage
To end all things, to end
What my laborious life imagined, even
The half-imagined, the half-written page;
O but we dreamed to mend
Whatever mischief seemed
To afflict mankind, but now
That winds of winter blow
Learn that we were crack-pated when we dreamed.

IV.
We, who seven years ago
Talked of honour and of truth,
Shriek with pleasure if we show
The weasel’s twist, the weasel’s tooth.

V.
Come let us mock at the great
That had such burdens on the mind
And toiled so hard and late
To leave some monument behind,
Nor thought of the levelling wind.

Come let us mock at the wise;
With all those calendars whereon
They fixed old aching eyes,
They never saw how seasons run,
And now but gape at the sun.

Come let us mock at the good
That fancied goodness might be gay,
And sick of solitude
Might proclaim a holiday:
Wind shrieked — and where are they?

Mock mockers after that
That would not lift a hand maybe
To help good, wise or great
To bar that foul storm out, for we
Traffic in mockery.

VI.
Violence upon the roads: violence of horses;
Some few have handsome riders, are garlanded
On delicate sensitive ear or tossing mane,
But wearied running round and round in their courses
All break and vanish, and evil gathers head:
Herodias’ daughters have returned again,
A sudden blast of dusty wind and after
Thunder of feet, tumult of images,
Their purpose in the labyrinth of the wind;
And should some crazy hand dare touch a daughter
All turn with amorous cries, or angry cries,
According to the wind, for all are blind.
But now wind drops, dust settles; thereupon
There lurches past, his great eyes without thought
Under the shadow of stupid straw-pale locks,
That insolent fiend Robert Artisson
To whom the love-lorn Lady Kyteler brought
Bronzed peacock feathers, red combs of her cocks.

– William Butler Yeats

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to this site to view the video here of Yeats reading Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen.

*****

unknown-1For the second example, I move to a lesser-known writer. John Cornford, the great-grandson of Charles Darwin, died during the Spanish Civil War under “uncertain circumstances at Lopera, near Córdoba in 1936.” We have no idea how much he might have contributed to poetry, had he survived. However, his poems written during the Spanish Civil War did survive, and were published posthumously. Born in 1915 in Cambridge, England, he was a committed communist. “Though his life was tragically brief, he documented his experiences of the conflict through poetry, letters to family and his lover, and political and critical prose which spoke out against the fascist regime and its ideologies.”

Sandra Mendez, a niece of John Cornford who also holds the copyright to his work, created a song from his poem “To Margot Heinemann.” The YouTube below is her performing that song.

If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to this site to view the video here of Yeats reading Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen.

These are just two of many examples that could be drawn from the long history of English letters. Engaged poetry, poetry of witness, activist poetry, political poetry—all comprise an important aspect, perhaps the most important aspect, of what we call “Poetry.”

– Michael Dickel

Select Resources and Links
Burt, Stephen. The Weasel’s Tooth: On W. B. Yeats. The Nation.
Dickel, Michael. Curator / Editor. Poet Activists: Poets Speak Out. The Woven Tale Press.
Rumens, Carol. Poem of the Week: Poem by John Cornford. The Guardian.

THE POET AS WITNESS, an interview by Jamie Dedes with Michael Dickel

© 2016, essay, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved

Originally published as Activist Poetry—a longer view in Michael Dickel’s blog, Fragmentarily/ Meta-Phor(e) /Play

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 just 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)

WRITER’S BLOCK: doubt, fear and heartbreak . . .

img_2030 For good or ill, I seem always to have something to say.  In retrospect I may find I didn’t say it well, it wasn’t worth saying, or I didn’t really know what I was talking about.  Is it a gift or a curse? I don’t know. I just know that even in despair, I never have writer’s block. Having said that, I don’t blame or judge those who do. Especially right now. The world’s gone mad.

In reaction some of my friends are writing up a storm—almost literally. Others are so overwhelmed with emotion—fear, anger, hopelessness—that they can’t work. It wouldn’t matter if their jobs weren’t creative. They just can’t work.  No romance about it. No calling it “writer’s block.”  We should call it—in this case—what it really is: heartbreak. 

Normally, I would say block comes from trying to write and edit at the same time. That doesn’t work. Or, I’d ask “Are you self-conscious? Are you afraid of being judged, of revealing yourself, of just not being good enough?”  Write about those feelings then. Write just for yourself. Dabbler or journaler, amateur or professional, one of the best ways to get to the root of a problem is to put it down on paper, to explore the feelings, fears and trepidation.

Or, I’d wonder: Is it a matter of perfectionism? That can be a steel wall.

“You know, the whole thing about perfectionism. The perfectionism is very dangerous. Because of course if your fidelity to perfectionism is too high, you never do anything. Because doing anything results in…it’s actually kind of tragic because you sacrifice how gorgeous and perfect it is in your head for what it really is. And there were a couple of years where I really struggled with that.”  —David Foster Wallace

These days though, I’m feeling sad too…and insecure…and this may be one of those times when I should still my pen and hold my tongue, but I find I have to ask myself what can we do when we feel that our hearts are breaking? See a therapist? That might not be a bad idea, especially if the feeling goes on and on and we can’t pull ourselves out from under. Or, we could just sit with the sadness.

Periods of heartbreak and disappointment often turn out to be a sort of liminal time…a transitional stage…Most of us have experienced this in our creative lives: when events are overwhelming and our inner lives seem the most sterile but turn out to be silently rich in process and promise and demand of us patience as our becoming works itself out.  During such periods, when our inner lives are dark, maybe we need to simply live in the darkness, not try to avoid it or suppress it.

For creative people—for everyone perhaps—these times can be valuable; in the sense of our becoming, a gestational period, a personal advent waiting for the birth of a truer self. Difficult as these times are, as creatives, as citizens, perhaps they are simply times to pause until the pieces come together and our intuitive sight clears. Don’t be surprised if you wake up one day to find your creative spirit is a phoenix rising from the ashes of despair, no longer haunted and ready to take on the insanity. History, personal and shared, shows us that – however trite it sounds – out of the darkness comes light. We may have a long haul ahead of us. It might not be tomorrow or the day after, but the light will come. Hold fast. We can’t afford to believe otherwise.

© 2016, words and photograph, Jamie Dedes, all rights reserved

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The Nature of the Beast

coyote-howling-800x475

My stepfather thought he’d make a man of me by shipping me West one summer to work on his ranch in Southwest Colorado. He told me I needed to learn the way of the world, the natural order of things in which Man, or least my stepfather, sat at the top of the mountain.

And so I was sent to help Waini Muatagoci, who the other ranch hands called Luke Two Moon, which is what his Ute name translated to. Two Moon was from the Weeminuche Band of the Southern Ute tribe who once ruled this part of the Four Corners before the whites “subdued” them and, in turn showed them the way up that mountain my stepfather talked about. Just nowhere near the top.

Yog’yuvitc, brother coyote, he’s been here since before my people arrived in the before times, young Ben. Coyotes would take deer and elk and the calves of kutc-um, the buffalo. But it wasn’t until the white ranchers came that coyote has been hunted like this, just to be rid of him on the ranches,” Two Moon said as we rode the trap line set out to take down the coyotes that had been killing calves of my stepfather’s prized Herefords during the calving season.

“I guess Hal’s barbed wire fence is only good at keeping the cattle in and not the coyotes out,” I said, half-joking. Hal was my stepfather, Harold King.

“No. Mr. King thought he could scare them off the ranch by making big noises. Coyote ran away, laughed at him and then came back for more calves. He sent us on hunts, but there are more of them than there are of us and this is a big spread. So now we set traps and kill coyote without even seeing him. It’s a dirty and cowardly thing,” Two Moon said.

Up ahead we saw a thin gray form lying on the ground. It was my first view of a coyote and later I wished it was my last.

The animal’s bloody leg was in a hole, its mouth open as if in a silent scream of protest and it’s eyes were open in defiance, fear…maybe even accusation. I couldn’t look at its face long enough to tell.

“So now you see Mr. King’s ‘enemy,’ this scrawny thing lying here in a pile of skin, fur and bones. Help me get him out of the hole so I can reset the trap, young Ben,” Two Moon said.

I put on my gloves, pulled down my hat and jumped off my buckskin and tried to put aside my disgust. I understood the problem of the coyotes coming through the wire and taking calves, but I wished there was better way to keep them under control besides killing them in such an inhumane manner.

“This is just wrong,” I said.

“As far as the ranch goes, you’re wrong, young Ben. But you’re also so very right.”

In the next hour we found four more dead coyotes, their legs caught in traps set in holes and hidden from them, save for the bait that drew them to their abrupt capture and slow, agonizing deaths.

“As long as there are so many cattle here, breeding and calving so often, there will be coyote hunting and taking the babies,” Two Moon said. “It is as it has always been. Mr King is just providing many more opportunities for coyote to prove his rightful place in our Mother Nature’s order.”

At the next trap in the line, which sat at the top of little rise near the southern boundary fence of Hal’s spread, we didn’t find a coyote carcass. No, what we found was even more grotesque than the twisted form of a now-dead animal once wild with pain and fear.

Two Moon asked me to check on the trap set and bait, so I jumped off my buckskin and carefully reached into the hole. Two Moon must have thought I got bitten or the trap snapped and my hand barely escaped its vicious jaws, but he’d be wrong on both counts.

I looked at my glove and showed the blood to Two Moon.

“You all right, boy? Trap catch you?”

“No. Come on down and take a look in here,” I said.

Two Moon’s feet hit the ground in a silent puff of dust and he walked to the hole, kneeled next to me, peered into it and withdrew the bloody trap. In its jaws was the severed leg of a coyote. Actually the lower leg that had been gnawed off by the trapped coyote. Two Moon’s face took on an expression both resigned and disgusted.

“You’ll see this happen from time to time, young Ben, when brother coyote will not wait to die on the Man’s terms. He would rather die free, no matter the cost in pain and suffering. My people were the same way., fighting the whites, even though we knew we were whipped, all the way ’til 1923, when Chief Posey took on the Mormons one more time up in Blanding. They killed him,” Two Moon said matter-of-factly as he opened the trap and let the grotesque talisman of a perverted sense of freedom fall to the ground.

“May I have that, Two Moon?” I asked.

The old Ute shrugged and said, “Why not? It’s not doing coyote any good now and the dead ones on the pack-horse don’t need it, either.”

He reset this trap just as he had the previous ones and the seven more in which we found coyotes of both genders and all ages until we came to the end of the trap line.

“If Hal wants me to check the line tomorrow, do you think I should check the sets on the way back to the house, Two Moon? Just so’s I can remember their location and order?” I said.

“Ya know, that’s probably not a bad idea, young Ben. I’ll leave you to it while I bring these back to the big house for burning,” Two Moon said. “I think your idea’s a right good one.”

As Two Moon road back to the big house he sang, in what I assumed was Ute, a tune that swayed in the wind behind him.

I tripped every trap on the way back. I knew the calving season was still months away and I’d be back East by then. No more coyotes would die like that while I played cowboy. They’d have to find another way to control the coyotes.

My real Dad had been a conscientious objector and Draft protester back in ’67-‘68. Yet he went on to win a Silver Star in Vietnam as a life-saving medic and came back to protest the war and racism and whatever other injustice he saw in American society right up until he died in ’86.

Hal wanted me to be a man by his definition, if not in his image. I’d already decided to be the man Dad would want me to be.

As I tripped the last trap, I heard a coyote howl in the distance, saw it in silhouette against the moon as both rose over the ridge south of the big house. I yip-yip-yeowed right back at it and it echoed my call. I’m sure it had no idea what I was doing, but liked to think it understood my eastern accented message we were in solidarity against the Man.

I hope…no, I know Dad would be proud of me.

First draft of a story I wrote based on the theme of “resistance.” I’m not one to write political protests or satire, and I’m pretty sure I’ve buried my take on the subject much too deeply beneath the allegory of keeping el coyote from ruining the ranch. But, I don’t have the answers when one beast wants in, while the other will do anything to keep him out.

© 2017 Joseph Hesch

natural killers

we are sufficient for any genocide.we
do it

global

& all the lying

rush forgotten

here

things are thinner

where i

fall

through air / through water

i bring

memory                           in fragments

a turn of skin.are
times
it stops

& i can scatter
vacant seeds
in the wind

© 2017 Reuben Woolley

the uncertaintly of bright maps

looking for ways

to see this

is gold

a word

hanging

just here in
time.it doesn’t

shine

in dark
chance

so easy a
loss.i’ll walk
in straight
footprints

tight

laces &

keep my eyes well
open.it’s not
a game
a hide

go seek

let me

string them all together

give names unordered

© Reuben Woolley

shade talking

timely
the ghosts in this
real world

can you hear

whispers
silent.the future days

coming

quickly like
kings
with useless
gifts

are no

defence system / no
last red line

bleeding

their honour over
blank iris

those distant fields
in back gardens

our arms
in rickety sheds

© Reuben Woolley

venus of coventry

st george
in the front
window.this
is my
white house

& red

across a toy
globe.is what
we own.picture

this

a palette
a broken artist

there are people
who think in colour

very separate

they do not paint the changes

© Reuben Woolley

darker applications

not always                      the words
have any meaning.they
fill the slots as long
as all the numbers
are not counted

they just                          complete
the hours / the days
go on
& die.they have
their mobile connections

the touch of a voice

i watch your screened
conversation                    ticking.your

simple
pictures

hanging
now

this glass is made of ice
a cold
intonation.cut
deep i do not bleed

© Reuben Woolley

Deconstruction

I’ll take your hyper-inflated
phallus, ego-distended balloon,
id-fueled hot-air engine
that fills super-ego daydreams
to dizzying-heights of power—
and throw your craven, carved
wind on the fire of this year’s
revolution. Such a useless
log, poorly fit for fuel, and
barely at that, must burn
to ash before this dawn

comes, must rise in smoke
signals to call poets and
painters from themselves.
Then you can raise your
indistinguishable flags,
try to wave the smoke
from your eyes. We
will not be deceived—
we know who feeds
this all-consuming blaze.
And we will have

already come for you.
As you crawl out of your
wrecked ship of state,
we come for you.
As your cracked currency
drops from you, we come
for you. As you fall,
we come for you.
We come, not as you
imagine. With arms open,
we welcome you back to humanity.

—Michael Dickel

Deconstruction-1-WEB.jpg

So Thirsty —poem

I am almost back perhaps. The long summer ordeal
of stress, rockets, war, death, killing has moved off
into Syria and Iraq and left us barren for a moment.
A bit of rain falling today hints at winter being
wet. We need water. We always need water. So thirsty.

The brown hills will green again, and the dry beds
recently run with blood water will wash thoroughly
so flowers may wave their red-yellow-white-purple
cacophony of emotions in winter’s permissive grace.
We need the water. We always need water. So thirsty.

Since between last-summer’s war and the next,
whenever it might fall upon us, this brief moment
flickers—a satellite-pretense of being a star gliding
across black night—a mere reflection of sunlight.
We want water, we always need more water. So thirsty.

The desert will preserve these battles, mummify
the narratives, and wait as scorpions and seeds wait.
And to this I return. Almost. Maybe. Turned back
from the sea and step-by-step making my way to sweet
water. Always water. Like the night sky, I am so thirsty.

—Michael Dickel

warsurrounds-web
The Evolution of Music by Jerry Ingeman

This poem will be read at Baltimore’s Writers Resist event (Jan 15 2017) by Maryland poet Laura Shovan, author of  The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, a novel in poem form. Michael wrote this poem a while after the 2014 Hamas-Israel War—other poems, from the war, appear in his book War Surrounds Us.

Circulating Language Manifesto

 

the New Economy as convention is language itself, language as means of production and circulation of goods.
—Christian Marazzi, qtd. by Joshua Clover

An unrealized hunger chews against ribcages of ravens in flight
as flash floods erode history in the Wadi, flushing it to the Salt Sea.
There is no food on the table and the poet goes unpaid.
These words fill an empty plate, overflowing commerce,
an exchange rated for evaporation and condensation, loss
and replacement. This moment transforms nothing into labor.
Rising water drives thirstiness to drought even as it races forward
to parched bitterness that holds ordered tourists on its surfaces.
Order falls away with things, things lost in dreams, dreams
foretelling futures past. Electrons drove the Philosopher’s Stone,
golden silicone in bits and bytes flying past geographies of object,
flowing with subject, absent verb. What is it we pay for in this life?

impressionistic-flowers-tw

 

Red anemones contradict drenched grasses. A small blue iris sways.
Hot dust storms coat the machinery that has frozen to our city streets
as the poet peels potatoes and pauses to reevaluate golden hues.
Sentences collapse under the weight of real prisons, unfolding
the crusty earth’s constant over-turning—geological composting
as surfaces rise up and bury themselves back into the hot mantel.
Potato skins skim vodka from decay; hungers twist into shadows.
Too many dimensions in set space reduce everything again.
Orbits drop toward gravity, the strength of the iron fist clamping
down on tomorrow. Poets remain unpaid; still words overflow
into nothingness with no value placed upon added desire or its
lack. Well-written banknotes are not poems;
poems are not without a price.

“Rather, there is before us the flight to a new capital, the brutal work of tearing apart and reassembling the great gears of accumulation and setting them in motion once again—if such a thing is still possible…Or there is the flight to something else entirely.”
—Joshua Clover

—Michael Dickel


Quotes from: Clover, Joshua. “Value | Theory | Crisis.” Publication of the Modern Language Association of America. 127.1 (January 2012). 107-114.


First appeared: Dickel, M. (2013). Circulation Language Manifesto. Diogen pro kultura magazin / pro culture magazine. No. 32 (February). Print and Online. p. 96.


 

Dovetailed

Uncover the striated complexity
Of the ethnically diverse
Like compressed layers
Of sediment

Accumulated by every person
Over the vast expanse
Of time carrying
Us forward

Where there is, no playing field
But only discovering
Dovetailed links
One beginning

Do not espouse your perfection
But embrace all hearts
Open all doors
To differences

Skin colors bright as rainbows
Lifestyle only as life
All disabilities
Works of art

To those who hold disease
As angels upholding us
Giving us strength
To carry on

Strength is only in creation
Of those understanding
acceptance as grace
with eyes open

do not eschew sameness of all
but uniqueness of design
remembering beauty
of complex diversity

these are the coalesced wonders
bringing all life together
increments of being
pinpoints of light

© January 2017 Renee Espriu

Firesong

Fire in the belly of a one-man relief army
in Gatlinburg. Fire in the wounds of the locals
who fled the burning hills and hollers
of those Tennessee towns. Fire won’t ask you
who you voted for before it consumes
everything you knew.

Fire in the words of the digital
battleground. Civility and friendships charred
among the remains. Fire on the tongue
of a construction worker singing folk
songs in Detroit while nobody knew

but for the whole country of South Africa
and they turned him into an Anti-Apartheid
icon. Fire in the sheets of a bed-in
lasting two weeks. Fire in every syllable of a civil
rights savior—come to Memphis to stand

with the sanitation workers. Fire in the thin bones
of a liberator making his own salt from the sea,
in the restless hands of a nun in Calcutta, in the
fire dancer’s visions of co-mingling
cultures. Creating a world without collisions.

Fire in the feat of the marching protestors
on Fifth Avenue, building their tower
of song for the South Shore social
workers and teachers, singers and Salutatorians.
Marine Biologists too late to save

the washed up whale. Chants for the word
mavens telling it slant. Fire in the third chakra
on a yoga mat in Killington
channeling the chi, the life force—balancing
the breath into hope.

© Russ Green

Fear Poem

Joy Harjo (b 1951), Mvskoke (Creek) Poet, Musician, author and key player in the second wave of the Native Merican Renaissance (literary efflorescence)
Joy Harjo (b 1951), Mvskoke (Creek) Poet, Musician, author and key player in the second wave of the Native Merican Renaissance (literary efflorescence)

“Because of the fear monster infecting this country, I have been asked for this poem, this song. Feel free to use it, record it, and share. Please give credit. This poem came when I absolutely needed it. I was young and nearly destroyed by fear. I almost didn’t make it to twenty-three. This poem was given to me to share.”  —Joy Harjo

Fear Poem, or I Give You Back

I release you, my beautiful and terrible
fear. I release you. You were my beloved
and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you
as myself. I release you with all the
pain I would know at the death of
my children.
You are not my blood anymore.
I give you back to the soldiers
who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole the
food from our plates when we were starving.
I release you, fear, because you hold
these scenes in front of me and I was born
with eyes that can never close.
I release you
I release you
I release you
I release you
I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full.
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved.
to be loved, to be loved, fear.
Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice
my belly, or in my heart my heart
my heart my heart
But come here, fear
I am alive and you are so afraid
of dying.

c Joy Harjo and W.W. Norton, from She Had Some Horses

41x7o+EX8VL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_

“…With a double shot of heart, beauty, freedom, peace and grace that blends traditional Native rhythms and singing with jazz, rock, blues and hip-hip,
Harjo is right at the top of the best contemporary American poetry and music artists.”
—Thomas Rain Crow, The Bloomsbury Review

On her Facebook page, Joy invited us to share this work on our sites (thanks, Michael Dickel) and we’ve taken her up on it, a poem for our times. Let us all give back the fear.

RELATED:

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (18): Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave

The Taste of Cyanide

What can he “resist” he’s just a feeble man
Who leers at all the ladies, big & small?
Tall or short, a scoundrel he likes them all.
—He quit smoking, but like a boomerang
He returns again and again because,
Because he enjoys each long pungent, kiss
The taste of cyanide burning his lips
That gamble of not pulling the short straws.

What can he “resist” he’s just a feeble man
Down the pub, necks as many as he can
He’s what many might call a journeyman,
Downloads his mug all over Instagram
Thinks he’s the bee’s knees from a bygone age.
A likeable chap some mothers might say
But won’t settle down, gone too far astray
His looks are fading, longings disengage.

What can he “resist”, on the homeless list?
Not those free soup kitchen meals, a blanket
Not those coins tossed aside on his jacket
Nor the knife at his throat, where men subsist.
What can he “resist” he’s just an ex-serviceman
Done his best for queen & country, one time!
—Now praying to survive the wintertime
Find a warm bed, quit smoking, drink his last Dram.

© Mark Heathcote

The Oak, the Man and the Mighty Weed

38bf612e7842ba596fb4cd751e8b8675

Even the regal oak,
the mightiest tree
in this forest,
can be felled
by a man,
if he has enough friends or
he’s resolute or arrogant enough
to keep hacking away
until the erstwhile acorn
cries out in its wrenching
death song and,
like its

autumn

leaf,

drops.

But the simple weed
bent by wind,
starved for food and water,
cut off at its knees,
pulled from its home,
even poisoned, still
manages to come back
to stand up to
he who can best
the majestic oak,
vexing Man until
he might drop
like the

autumn

leaf.

Be the weed.

A bit of verse that reminds us to always question authority, always stand up for your rights, always, as the Quakers say, speak truth to power. As individuals or group, we have more dominion and strength than you might think.

© 2017 Joseph Hesch

Into the Unknown Flee

Hovering above
the aft balcony
flocks of seabirds
pillage leftovers
from buffets
of excess.
Bobbing in the
cruise ship’s wake,
brown against
the blue-green Aegean,
Greeks fish them out.
Out of hailing distance
out of time,
brown turns to purple
in the setting sun,
leaving a bruise
on the night sea.
Makes me wonder
how bad life
must have been
to risk life and limb,
and into the unknown,
flee.

– M. Zane McClellan

Copyright © 2016, All rights reserved

War Lore

Games turn into
battles
evils we mean to end
wars
Shell shocked children
wonder what all
the fighting’s for

Stressed out combatants
suffering from PTSD
can’t stop being
afraid of every
bend in the road
potentially paved with
IEDs.

Our tongue thick with
violence
subliminal conquest
Imperialism
far less vestigial
than we care to admit
Video games groom
young minds with
decimation
just for
the fun of it

Subjugation
the flip side
of liberation’s
coin
obliterated histories
assimilated refugees
cultures
natural resources
purloined

Change
we manage to
take to the
World Bank
bargain basement
Real Estate
at favorable
interest rates
Denial
Willful Amnesia
when propaganda
and national interests
conflate

Developing markets
courtesy of munitions
spent
at the cost of
lives
populations displaced
a global economy
A worldwide
disgrace.

– M. Zane McClellan

Copyright © 2016, All rights reserved

This Is Not a Lullaby

This is not a lullaby,
a song to soothe you
when you can’t help
but cry.
This is a dirge,
background music
for when your worst nightmares
and reality merge.
This is the quickening
of your pulse
when you watch
all your dreams crumble
into dust.
Your bedrock fall beneath you,
ironclad agreements,
in time-lapse suddenness,
rust.
Because you put
your faith,
not in man,
but in the care of
the faithless,
a vulpine trickster
talking out of
both sides of his mouth,
bombastic claims
that are baseless.
Completely ignorant of
Chivalric code,
a Knight Errant
chasing windmills
in Berserker mode.
This is the answer
to the unasked question,
“WHY?”
Having no one
but yourself to blame,
don’t know,
don’t care.
This is not a Lullaby.

– M. Zane McClellen

Copyright 2016, All rights reserved

On seas, bicycles and whiskey

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

These words belong to Rabindranath Tagore, and they came to my mind while I was actually looking at an over-water bridge that is currently being consolidated in the area where I live. I looked at the bridge this early morning, seeing it for what it is – a connection between the two shores of the river, meant to ease people’s access from one side to the other. And then I realized that the important aspect of Tagore’s quote was not what was said in it, but what it implied: the idea of moving, of doing something. The idea of not waiting for things to come to you, but of trying to reach those things somehow, whether by building bridges towards them, or by getting around the obstructions.

Man learned to cross seas and mountains because of his need for exploring, for moving, for trying to obtain the “better”. Up until now, evolution was not done only by staying still and admiring the circumstances – although, if sitting still means learning and evaluating the pros and cons of an action, it is also called “moving”, in my opinion.

Seas, waters, obstacles, are always in our paths. Sometimes we see them from a distance, thus having time to prepare for them, other times we wake up right in front of them, and we have to make a decision. And most of the time the decision implies moving – either towards our goal, or away from it. Sitting there and not doing anything about it, although a valid choice, is the worst, because you willingly confine yourself into a dead end. And life is not – or at least it should not be – about dead ends.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

The one who said that was Einstein – and the main word in that quote is the last one, because no matter what happens at a certain point in time, in a specific place, no matter how big the pain, the horror, the joy or whatever the experienced feeling, time, as we, humans, perceive it, continues to flow. Things change. Life goes on – with or without us.

And related to that, I’ll end my today’s pondering with one of the shortest quotes that apply here – Johnny Walker’s “Keep walking”.

© Liliana Negoi

no rain

blades of onyx
sharp
cut the umbilical cord
of sounds and tears
flooding the sea of sorrow
with dryness

the eyes of drought
measure with pride
the parched souls
lined up at the gates of the sun

“no water!”

the sponge drips only sour blood
on the lips of light

“no roots!”

echoes of salt
whirl within voices
and sand stays still

“unworthy!”

the earth screams
muddy with guilt and regrets

someone
somewhere
will carve hieroglyphs
in the stones we become
today…

© Liliana Negoi

congregating war

chippy charmed blade in Moira’s hand
cries for blood,
begs for blood,
slashing carmine canopies
for the sake of the flow,
grinning its ivory fang
at the lavish crimson gush
drenching sands and drowning wills.
on the red river
crucified Jesus floats,
watching clouds on skies in flames
twinning the boulders of coagulated sins
crawling along the muddy shores,
wondering if those were the sins
for which he drank the cup.
in the meantime carnivorous swords
keep fueling the flood,
making sure that the river’s level stays always high
enough,
as if that would get the floating cross closer to the skies.
not that it mattered anyway –
after all, there’s plenty of that bloody slime
smelling like putrid faith
to fuel a thousand more crusades…

© Liliana Negoi

faulty darwinism

chopped and chewed and swallowed—
down we go
on eternity’s throat,
one bite of salty clay after another
to be recycled
and become the burnt sienna skies
of some obscure tomorrow.

fate chimes its’ eyelashes
like some odalisque its’ coin belt—
the boatman’s pockets are always full
with tradition’s eye seals.

we are but stairs
for humanity’s pretended
e-volution,
we circle meanings
like eagles circle unseen angels
up-above,
without ever touching them,
we live to ignore
and ignore to learn
the reason why history is repeating—
and talking tall
we show our real essence—

the spoiled mud flowing in our veins
keeps bringing bitter smiles
on god’s resigned mouth:
ever non-grown-ups, these earthlings…

© Liliana Negoi

Noblesse Oblige

As the planet rages we cry for peace
a river of tears falls from confused hearts
currents of longing swirl craving a past
when sureties ruled both Earth and Hearth.

Men rose slowly on merit and women bloomed
respect was the mantra of man and boy
noblesse oblige the refrain of the high
blessed by success, status among his peers,

he dreamed of helping those who suffered
sought peace in workplace or governance
spoke with discernment, sensitivity, insight
standing between Wisdom’s open hand.

As war rages, regimes rise and break
mirroring breakers crashing on shores
leaders rattle sabres of spleen or silence
or echo the calls of confused birds;

while the people follow the loudest call
they long for the leader who offers acumen
respect, care, judgement, in word and deed
a taste to the Earth of peace and serenity.

Where is the Arthur heading his brave table
or Minerva dispensing her wisdom wide
will they rise to rule and dry tears that drown
both the planet and peoples who suffer now?

© Carolyn O’Connell

Now That Anything Can Happen

Now that anything can happen

While the moon looms closer than it’s been since my birth

Shall I be the lunatic to them, or they to me?

Now that anything an happen

While we bicker about who’s fault it is

Shall I be able to listen to the heart that beats inside those I could despise?

Now that anything can happen

While we act or don’t act at preventing another Reichstag, this time in this country.

Shall I be visible with slogans, or invisible, while speaking our words of hope

In secret places, safe from harm?

© Greg Ruud 11/11/16

Righteous Anger

You’re mulling over the word “indignation” in your mind.

Stop asking yourself whose fault it is

What difference is yours or theirs indignation going to make

Stop all the repeated speeches the DJ in your mind wants to put on next.

Just listen, you know the truth is in there

A current running deep beneath the thin ice of your mutual retorts

Listen to that flow!

Leave your victimhood skating on the surface

The comings and goings of this silence leaves you speechless

When you imagine that you have stopped caring

You will hear the skater wanting you to hear him clinging to

The thin ice of his point of view

Is this you or another arguing with you?

It makes no matter.

For you are streaming now beyond your own depths

With a caring and listening you have never known.

It is as if a dear friend has just corrected you and in your “embarrassed

anger”, you are redeemed.

You still have righteous anger towards the outright lies that less friendly people

volunteer compulsively.

But you are free now to listen deeply

With a caring and listening you have never known.

Greg Ruud 11/21/16

Goat Herders

dsc_0192Two redheads selling white male privilege

bestsellers in the United States and Oz

hitting number one toiling hatred

orators of propaganda and loathing

pinning their fear on the lapels of the vulnerable

bit like yellow stars of old

patches of fabric with no starry night beauty

no promise of kindness on the mistral

just bitter cold of a stone floor

heart whipped with icy stares from redhead believers

believers who struck a match on misogyny and racism

schoolyard bullies who never grew up in search of parents

believers afraid of change, too selfish for humanity

it’s easier to hate than love

easier to blame than accept responsibility

easier to deny the truth in reality’s eyes

easier to wallow in mud puddles of self loathing

and search for scapegoats

© poem and illustration, Dianne Turner

Waiting

I’m not waiting for ageing or changing,
for growing,
restoring, or
recreating
the mask.

I’m not waiting for structures to collapse
and reform
and reshape
and remake
themselves
from the ruins.

I’m not waiting for the revolution
in thinking,
in acting,
in feeling,
to happen
when the walls finally fall.

No.
I’ll dig the tunnels.

Then I’ll wait.
Wait for you
to scramble through
to greet me
then we’ll be away,
through
with our waiting.

© Lynn White
First published in Fragments of Chiaroscuro, July 2016

Separate Development

We must develop separately, you and I,
you on your side, me on mine.
The wall between us
unscalable,
impenetrable,
unfathomable.

They built it so.

We must undermine it, you and I,
you on your side, me on mine,
Burrow beneath
the rocky foundation,
scratch away,
one stone at a time.

Wall fall down.

©Lynn White

First published in Art Of Peace Tyler Poetry Anthology – ‘Intertwined, Poems of Shared Endeavor, September, 2015

Leaving Aleppo

The first clutch lands on al-Ajami street,
flattens the whole souq.
We cling to each other beneath the table.
Her nails pierce my skin.

When the bombs stop we emerge
like hatchlings. She watches her belly,
rocks it, bids it quicken.
In the street people lie broken.

We do what we can: lug stones,
keep the dogs away.
The sun dips. We light oil lamps,
make love quietly, talk of the best way out.

In Benghazi, militiamen beat us,
take our money. We reach a fishing village
near Al Nakheel, hide behind tamarisks.
The boat is late.

At sea the engine judders, misses beats.
Lights on the shoreline die.
The moon whispers. We dare not move,
a crewman’s boot the edge of our world.

© peter wilkin

Here and Hereafter

img_3638i’ll have none of that, you see
none of the exclusivity of clubs
with their business of foundations,
divisions and the self-satisfied
whole-hearted embrace of conceits,
moth-eaten and self-righteous,
the mythopoeic and parabolic
spelled by men into stone and dogma,
the collision of sacred language with
parochialism and that left-over tribalism
exploding into disdain and violence . . .
how is it that vision ends and lunacy begins?

lead me instead to that inchoate space,
between saint and sanctity, soul and spirit
bequeath me into the great yawning
where my mother thrives as Khoas unquelled
where my father shines dressed in anarchy and
my sister sips tears from the wan cheeks of sages,
 . . . . . let us begin again

© Jamie Dedes