2017: The Year of The Clown

I’m calling it now. 2017 is set to be the Year of The Clown. 

Day 1 and you already have some junior tricksters turning the whole state of California and part of the internet upside down with a simple prank of turning “Hollywood” into “Hollyweed”.

More importantly you have two brave Water Protectors climbing into the rafters of the US Bank Stadium in Minnesota, a thousand feet above the audience, in order to drop a huge banner saying “DIVEST / #NoDAPL” calling on the city and state to pull their money out of US Bank who is invested hugely in the DAPL pipeline. My favorite part is these brave warriors don’t pull out after the banner drop. They begin twirling around upside down and smiling for pictures like a bunch of circus clown acrobats. Adding extra drama to entertain the audience with something more empowering than the game of football happening on the field below.

Then there’s this class clown bully who a bunch of people elected to be king, and who has got together a whole insane clown posse to fill his cabinet with chaos and destruction. These clowns remind us not all clowning is fun and games. Sometimes The Clown can be the court’s worst enemy. Sometimes he can throw the whole world into a state of anarchy. But only if we give power to his antics and let him get away with his insanity. 

Clown tyrants are easily tamed and put back in their place. It requires the people sticking together and healing his tirades with hearts full of love. It requires unity.

In all of these cases, it’s important to see The Clown as merely a reflection to our own state of being. Their comedy often reveals the underlayers of our own humanity and brings light to all those traumas that may not otherwise be brought to attention. They do this through tactics that often go outside the box or approach an idea completely backwards. 

Their arguments are poignant and yet sometimes so simple. The Clown gives us a good laugh where maybe we really need to cry. Both emotions tug at our hearts and both can be incredibly healing, but only one is still full of light as the spirit goes through a cathartic shift, leaving the mind even more ready for action. 

This is the gift of The Clown.

Everyone needs a little motivation in their life. The Clown is the first step towards taking that Fool’s leap into a higher realm of consciousness. 

No looking back now. It’s 2017. The Year of The Clown. The only place to go is forward. 

Take that leap and learn to fly like a Golden Eagle.

2017: The Year of The Clown

Fighting For A Bloodline

Ever since I traveled to Ireland in July, I haven’t stopped thinking about my bloodline. It was maybe a couple weeks after I got back to the States, when the bulldozers started rolling through sacred sites including burial mounds, cairns, and other humanmade formations in North Dakota.
The pain this gave me is indescribable.
I had just been to a tiny island of a country filled with similar cairns and ring forts and burial mounds and druid rock circles preserved for thousands of years, some since 5000 BC, initially out of fear and then out of reverence for a people’s past. Some of these were registered as world heritage sites with UNESCO, but most of these sites were in people’s backyards or on a farming family’s land and no one touched them for that entire period.

Not with a tractor. Not with a shovel. None of the stones were displaced or removed in all this time.

Yes, the Irish are a superstitious lot. If any of them had come and removed a stone they would have had a penance to pay with the fairies that would’ve struck them down.
But this “fear” eventually translated into a sort of respect.
In a few days, I will finally be traveling to North Dakota to pay my respects to a people that have been so disrespected in the last 500 or so years since the European invasion of 1492.

I consider these folks family in so many different ways. I am not a First Nation person. But I relate more to the roots of this continent and the roots of my own tribal heritage than anything that has come since then in the way of thought.

Western society is cruel and sadistic. I have always found a separate peace in the Earth and the Moon. The Sacred Mother and her Luminous Sister. The way the trees grow tall and the wind brings simple wisdoms.

It is 2016 and it is about time the people of this current nation make a stand. No to industrialization. No to petty jobs for petty wages. No to digging up death to stunt the growth of cleaner and safer technologies. No to genocide.

On Monday, I will leave the Tiwa land to go support the Dakota land. I will find folks from all over the world there. Together we will be rising up, but really we will be supporting each other to get there. We will be friends… allies…friendly. Our hearts, which are all made of the same earth, will guide us.

On the surface, we will be defending the Earth against sadistic tyrants who seek to ruin us all for profit. In a much more radical way, we will be ending a centuries long war against a people that were here since the dawn of time. We will be defending their culture, their heritage against invasion, so that they can again walk upon this land and teach us all how to celebrate this existence.

We will be fighting for the bloodline. Theirs. Ours. The Earth’s. Everyone’s. In the end, this old-new way, this dying way…will have to listen.

Fighting For A Bloodline

Working on the Novel

(photo by Ras Jiro)

I’ve been writing poetry for 3-12 hours a day for the last week and a half. Sometimes working on a novel. Sometimes just working. Not always for myself. Sometimes behind a typewriter in the plaza and getting paid. Other times at home and in the backyard at my writer’s desk and drinking tea.

When I’m in the middle of writing the novel, I fill with envy for my future self who can say he is almost done and has less to write than he has written. Sometimes my head spins with how much I have left to write. Other times my head spins with all of the other novels I have left to start writing.

When I’m in the street, my mind taps into something outside of myself and I see the words typed in front of me come out cleaner and clearer each day, giving me this sense of pride for the poems people walk away with.

When I’m at home, I’m filled with this desire to share with someone what I’m writing. To just have it done and published already.

Sometimes I wonder how Kerouac did it. I wonder how Miller did it. I wonder how Thompson did it. No one ever taught me how to do any of this. I feel like I’m past the point of making it up for myself, and almost at the point of finding the things that actually work.

Today I bought 4 poems worth of groceries. It’s enough for the week. I’ve been thinking about upping the rate I suggest. People really value spontaneous poetry. I see the romance it inspires. I see the hope it gives. I feel first hand the connections to the earth it creates. I’ve written birthday poems to people’s grandmothers. I’ve written love poems to people’s wives. I’ve written surrealist poems to old beatniks who tell me about the time they saw Gary Snyder walking a purple poodle. One guy asked me to write a poem to his enemy and I wrote an apology. None of this can be translated to dollar signs.

Someone has been leaving pennies underneath the rosebush where I write in downtown Taos. The first time I thought it was odd enough. The penny was old and dirty. It looked like it had been sitting there for a while. But I’m there 3 to 4 days a week, so I would’ve noticed it before. Oddly, this was the first or second penny I’ve found in months.

The second and third time, the pennies were even older and dirtier, as if they had sprouted from the ground and were young seedlings. And there were more of them. 

They weren’t there when I first sat down.

I found the pennies after writing a poem that really struck a chord. A poem about heart consciousness. A poem about spreading abundance.

Perhaps the rosebush has been tipping me. 

I believe in magnetism. I believe in abundance. I feel absolute gratitude. I wish there was more time in the day. I wish I had more energy. I wish my focus was stronger. I wish I had the words to describe everything I dream.

Some days I realize this is the life I lead. I realize it is leading to something greater. I realize if this is all I have at the end of it, I’m okay with that.

My words continue to give smiles. These smiles continue to give me what I need to continue. 

My dream is to finish writing these stories I’ve lived, so that I can again be an open slate and experience new ones. Until then, I write endlessly.

Working on the Novel

The American Dream Is Trending…

“The American Dream is trending…”
Hunter S. is rolling out of his grave
“We almost found it,” he says
“The American Dream. It’s not dead.”

But look at all those 
who have died to claim it.
Alton Sterling. Philando Castille.
Sandra Bland. 
The people of Nice. 
The people of Orlando.
The people of Beirut.
The people of Manbij.
and for more than two decades
the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The American Dream is not peaceful
it is not something you bring home
to your wife and kids
the American Dream is all the hate
and greed we read in a RNC speech
it’s the leader that gives our children guns
it’s the media that turns us against ourselves.

The American Dream is an abusive relationship
it’s rape, 
it’s pillage, 
it’s psychic vampirism for the cash-strapped and homeless,
it’s shoot a man and leave him for dead
then give itself a paid vacation.

The American Dream says, “All lives matter!” then fears and kills those that don’t look like himself.
The American Dream says, “I love the Blacks. I love the Gays. The Hispanics love me.” then throws them and everyone under a bus, or behind bars, or deports them to drown in the ocean.

The American Dream does not know how to love.
The American Dream does not know how to live.
The American Dream is one of the worst episodes of reality TV on television.
We shouldn’t allow it to be our waking reality.

The American Dream is trending…
The American Dream is dead
and we can kill it
if we stop feeding it,
if we don’t let it consume us,
if we hear it shout those last desperate cries as it hangs onto the edge of a cliff, 
and we let it go free and fall.

The American Dream is dead.
It’s time we wake up from this nightmare
and dream of something else.

The American Dream Is Trending…

A Fool Kisses The Blarney Stone

I follow the Blarney witch to the top of Blarney castle. I can’t help but be arrested by that coy smile beneath soft silver-pink curls. A smiled flash of freckles, with stories recounted of travels abroad: The Great Pyramids, Mayan ruins, Vietnam. I follow those long golden legs shouting kicks of bliss at eye level in front of me as they climb ever higher up narrow staircases, forcing my pursuit into even steeper passageways. 

I feel adrift. Perhaps from the height and elevated heart. But intuition tells me this witch has cast a spell. Perhaps not consciously. Perhaps it is the magnetism of inner lights. Or maybe I’m just crazy for some girl again. 

I run through the paralells of each of our realities. Different travels bringing us to the same place at the same time. A magnetism, where though she caught my eye much earlier in the gardens below, I soon forgot her until ending up in line behind her, as if it was perhaps a requisite test to earn Blarney’s gift of eloquence. Well, do I talk to her and if so, what do I say? 

Before the Blarney stone, we stand. The beautiful witch and a bumbling fool. And I wonder what the clown poet could ever receive from the gift of gab. Perhaps an award winning novel. Or the royalties from a subsequent film. Or maybe just the delight of a kiss with this gorgeous lass. 

But alas, she passes just out of reach. Up and over and under the brick wall to kiss the stone, and then back on her nimble feet rushing towards the exit. I lay down and do the same, and disoriented with my eyes closed, I start to kiss the wall.

“You’ve got the wrong stone,” the man holding my legs calls down. “No, not that one either. A little lower now. Yes, there you go. That’s the Blarney stone.”

So what does it mean, when a clown kisses the wrong Blarney stone and with his eyes closed. I start to wonder. I taste a mixture of earth and salt lick in my mouth. I’m still pondering this when I end up in line again behind the witch and her stepfather, this time heading down. 

“They should bring David Mitchell up here,” the step father says, making conversation.

“Oh, I think I read some of him. Not writing, so well lately?” I respond, still daft from my head upside down and letting the gab sink in.

“He’s a great writer. I got to see him speak in Houston once. I found his first few books a real treat. But the last two, he kind of lost it.”

Slowly, I recognize the subtle gift of the conversation. Minutes after kissing the Blarney stone, some one is telling me to read David Mitchell. A book by him with “Dreams” in the title. I have the foresight to write it down. But the girl is pulling him onwards, with that usual embarassment children hold for their parents striking up unusual conversations.

It takes me the whole flight down the stairs, still lost in a revelry, to realize that by being in line behind her and kissing the stone after her, I indirectly had my first kiss with the Blarney witch.

I go seeking her in the Druid ruins somewhere west in the castle gardens. There’s rock circles, rock piles, and all sorts of places to make wishes. I climb through a cave and out a hedge maze. Eventually, I find the Witch’s Stone. Here she’s represented more in her faery tale form. A stone formed to look like a much older witch with a long nose and severe eyes. The pink-silver hair has turned completely white. Upon her head is a pile of change, so there is where I leave my tithe. 

The blarney is still rushing through me, so there’s no wish I find to recite. I merely think “abundance” and go walking on into a garden labelled “The Faery Realm”. Through twists and turns I wander. Past golden flowers and fluttering streams. Eventually the maze has surrounded me. 

I come to a bend in the path and there lies upon a rock, the full wing of a magpie. The rest of the bird nowhere to be found. The blue, black, and white of the wing shining up under the sun. In my fingertips the feathers fall away naturally and I gather them up for a future dream catcher or some other craft. The witch sure has blessed me.

A kiss and some feathers. The gold in these Irish castles has my type of charm. I look back on my day of wonderment and laugh at the eloquence.

A Fool Kisses The Blarney Stone

The Ruins of Ireland

As I walk in the ruins of Vikings, Druids, Celts, and early Christians, my mind is in bits at how frequent this green land was attacked and often conquered. Yet all of this history still remains perfectly intact. A little worn by the weather, but otherwise mostly untouched. 

It seems surreal that so many folks came after this emerald jewel in the sea. A country with no physical borders, no unfriendly neighbors except for the clans within. No real resources beyond rocks, potatoes, rain, and abundance of green grass. And far away from all the action going on back in Europe. It’s hard to see what the practical attraction must’ve been all the way back then.

And yet, there’s a special magic that floats free in the rolling green hills of Ireland. Maybe that’s what those ancient conquerors were after all along. A spell cast by the goddess or the kiss of some ancient fairy maiden. And the new that came and replaced the old, often carried with them even more radical superstitions than those that had preceded them.

We can thank this type of superstition for the preservation of ancient ring forts from 3000 or 5000 BC and the old Druid faerie rings teaming with the human sacrifices of prehistoric times and the early celtic burial mounds complete with the head stone still standing where a shaman once stood and conducted the sun to rise and even the thousand year old Celtic crosses and earlier Celtic grave markers spread all across the land with no special distinction, sometimes penned in with a farmer’s sheep, or other times left at the center of an expansive castle garden, or other times in a well-cared for grove of Willow trees just on the edge of town, or perhaps the whole town just laid out later to surround these ruins in an effort to leave them undisturbed.

Even at the medieval cathedrals you’ll often find the ruins of the early Christian church that preceded it, and sometimes, you’ll even find a beehive monastery built by early Celtic monks that preceded that. All of them the most insane rock balances you’ve ever even imagined.
It’s interesting to think what the US would look like today if its first settlers had paid heed to a similar kind of special attention deserved by an indigineous burial ground or the ancient monuments and natural formations that must’ve dominated the landscape before we were there. If only those early invaders had actually paid attention to the curses cast by disruption suggested by the tribes who spent millenia cultivating these sacred places. 

Instead of fearing faeries or a witch’s spell as the Irish often did, these first Puritans used whatever was in their capacity to bulldoze through history. The same has stayed true in the country as it has planned its cities and engaged in suburban development, for the better part of the last four centuries.

The US is a young country, as a result, and the idea of preservation there is less than a hundred years old. “Historical societies” have only started gaining a buzz in the last half century. Sure, we hold onto a bell that’s got a crack in it from 1812 and a yellowed piece of paper that supposedly signed our freedom from a little while longer, but otherwise for some reason we’ve decided it’s smarter to tear things down before building new ones. That lack of respect for time and growth ripples on down through the rest of our society.

I mean, what’s the oldest thing you’ve ever seen in the states? I’ve been to cave dwellings that were built sometime around 1000 AD. The only reason they’re still there is they’re in the middle of the desert and hard to get to. Meanwhile since they’ve become more accessible, folks started right away with the graffiti and defacement of a child with a crayon and a clean white wall. 

I don’t understand the type of mind that would carve their name directly into a thousands year old petroglyph of a bear chased by a hunter, but I’ve seen it. Didn’t that idiot think about how by carving directly into an ancient image, their stupidity is on display for all to see for the rest of time, and with their name, no less! Thanks Mark of 1996.

I’ve been to the mountains and rivers and forests and plains that surround these sacred places and they face no greater a fate. Places that have taken eons to form are completely deforested and strip-mined for the sake of a quick “profit”. Things going to hell, thanks to the bastards in a matter of years long before I lived. All of these hills and mountains and southwestern deserts and temperate rain forests are scarred with a ghost town industry. 

As soon as coal, oil, precious metals, or lumber is found, whatever corporation steps right in with no regard for the land or the people that have lived there almost as long as the land, leaving toxic sludge and other refuse in their wake. And what’s not taken by the corporate interests is nicked later by random visitors. Folks who like pretty stones or petrified wood or artifacts from prehistoric times. I can only guess how shortly lived a ring fort discovered in the suburbs of New Jersey would be. Folks would be showing up at all hours of the night removing each and every stone for their private collection.

All of this is clearly obvious to everyone, and yet it continues. A nation of useless waste and self involvement.

Based on this I wouldn’t say it’s a long shot, that we got the current political predicament. The current social strife. We’re a nation that can’t even keep track of what short history we have. We bulldoze right over it every time. Of course, it’s going to repeat itself. We don’t have anything concrete to use to teach our youth about which paths have already been tried and been proven not beneficial to anyone. Racism, financial collapse, and Donald Trump are still a thing because no one alive seems to remember the civil rights movement, the Great Depression, or World War 2. Most folks don’t even understand that we’re all immigrants there. They forget that we all sailed in on a boat not long ago.

The Celts and Native Americans were able to remember their entire origins to this day through an oral tradition and ritualization of their ancestors, and yet we can’t even remember that racists, bankers, and Nazis are not only bastards, but they were already defeated, only a few decades ago.

All of it is just really full of perspective out here in this land of revelry. 10,000 years or more of invaders and yet the things from then that have disappeared went away mostly on their own accord. 
Rock does eventually erode. Wood disintegrates.

There’s a big difference there compared to a corporation bulldozing it all to make way for a parking lot or mini mall or a highway. Here in Ireland, they mostly just build around it or add to it. Or if it’s a ring fort they might just build a castle garden on top of it, where the rock circles become the foundation for flower beds.

The old Celts buried below must be rolling in their graves tickled with floral jubilee.

I’m not going to say it’s better here (though the grass IS greener). It’s still the Western world. There’s war. There’s poverty. There’s even a stronger Christian right wing here than in the US, successfully stripping away a woman’s right to choose. But shite, at least they have their roots.

The Ruins of Ireland

Vote for Bernie; Tomorrow, June 7th

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Get out and vote!
Tomorrow, June 7 is an extremely important day for our country and for the world around us. California, New Jersey, and New Mexico all have their primaries (as well SD, ND, and MT). Voters have a chance to change the course of our country’s history.

Please friends, go out and vote! Even if you’re like me and have a complete distrust of our “democracy”, this is about the best chance we got to save the world, beyond getting in the streets and protesting every single damn tragedy our capitalist regime has created in it’s 200+ years on this planet.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate set to hold the crooks on Wall Street accountable. He’s the only one talking to the leaders of our continent’s native nations. He’s the only one who cares about black lives and has demonstrated this by actually getting in the streets and getting arrested for protesting for civil rights, not to mention hiring BLM activists to work to expand the message of his campaign. He’s the only candidate who marched with MLK, or marched at all, ever, on that note. He’s the only candidate who is anti-fracking and will fight for our environment. He’s the only one standing up for immigrants and refugees from foreign, war-torn countries. He’ll fight for women’s lives. He’ll fight for trans lives. I believe unless he’s completely brain-tapped on his first day in office, he’ll fight for activists, since he is one.

On every level the man has been on the right side of history and demonstrated integrity in staying true to his core values. To my friends, he is the better candidate and I believe we can all agree that the world will be a better place with him as president. To my parents and fellow members of an older generation, who have already been let down before by party politics, don’t vote for yourselves…..vote for the next generation and their future. This is the world we have inherited. Let’s work together to make it a better one.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate carrying a message of Love so strong and connecting so many diverse folks together that it will trump Hate. The polls show this. The rallies show this. His message shows this.

We all need this to happen. I don’t believe the political revolution ends with Bernie Sanders. I believe it starts with us.

Vote for Bernie; Tomorrow, June 7th

The Voice of Marshall

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I don’t usually share these memories, but 6 years ago today I read at my first poetry reading. It was the beginning of my 3rd year in Philadelphia. I had just moved to VWVOFFKA, a house gallery my friends had started a few months before. My friend Jenna Wilchinsky hosted VWVOFFKA’s first ever Word Exchange, with some featured poets from Temple University. I think both Masha Badinter and Jenna had collaborated on the name for this event which would eventually become a series at the house, and I would eventually carry into describing any reading I would host around town (recently I noticed Little Berlin, another gallery I put a few years into, started using the same phrase to describe a monthly reading series they’ve been hosting in the Annex Space. Ha! It’s a good phrase!).

I was 23. The writing I was putting to paper was part of a novel called The Voice of Wye Gnough, a story about a lonely, angsty twenty-something named Michael Cavendish and this sage-like, acid-wine drinking, bum savant that he keeps seeing at Le Bar named Wye Gnough. The story wasn’t very good and mostly about a recent short-lived relationship, I was still dealing with the fall out from. I was young (or well, I was younger).

The other poets were well-versed, maybe a little bit rehearsed and generally inside the same crit class together, so all pretty aware of each other’s writing and all the inside jokes / meta language they were using. I don’t remember what they read, but I remember they smoked cigarettes while they read and as they finished each poem, they threw the page to the ground.

I had never read my work out loud before and I didn’t really know what I was doing. WHY-NO, a performance art act I did that involved drinking wine and banging on the emptying jugs of it and singing angst-ridden songs of desolation, was still fresh in my mind so I brought my omnichord. I strummed chords to keep the words rolling off my tongue. This is kind of funny looking back at because one idea I had for this last tour of reading haikus was to bring a casio keyboard along (the same one I used during WHY-NO days) and play tunes between each haiku. Obviously WHY-NO still has a hold on my imagination.

This was pre-erotica (I didn’t start writing that till the following year after traveling to Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona while reading Delta of Venus by Anais Nin). It was pre-travel fiction (I had traveled some, but not found my voice in the road just yet). I think people received my short stories alright. I think I might’ve been the only one who read short stories. But the most interesting thing was that I heard my own voice for the very first time.

I have written since I was 16 or 17, with actively thinking myself a writer, and even longer without. But this was the first time I heard the words outside my own head. I heard how the sentences didn’t flow exactly the way I predicted them too. I listened to how some droned on as huge mouthfuls where I would run out of breath. And others didn’t get the reaction I desired. A laugh. Or a sigh of awe.

I think I had what I thought was a poetry voice to make things sound more intricate. Really it was to cover up my nervousness. I think it involved several gin n’ tonics. It was the beginning of a few year period where I slurred my words and thought there was magic in how garbled they rolled.

This was the reading where I met Willow Zef (then Jozef Maguire). He had passed by our store front window and seen what he correctly thought was a poetry reading, though I probably corrected him at some point and said, “Nah, man. It’s a word exchange.” Disagreement has always been an interesting part of our friendship. It’s helped me explore new parts of myself I didn’t know were there to have this other contrasting perspective in one of my close friends. 6 years ago, he stepped up and read and he taught me the value of beat and recitation, through these almost hip hop inspired, magically real verses he would rattle off his chest without any verse in front of him.

A month or two later, I would meet Augustus Depenbrock at one of these word exchanges, a week or so before the first ever Plato’s Porno Cave (a surreal gala that we eventually collaborated on for several years) held in his warehouse loft space, and Gus would perform the most interesting, off the cuff recitation of a Bukowski poem about a radio thrown through a window, I’ve ever heard. From him I would learn repetition and the value of controlling the tone of voice.

I would meet other folks like Scott Bickmore and Cipro that year at further Word Exchanges. And folks like Keri Hansen, in who I would find a friend to share inspiration with. She’d share with me writers that I should read, and in that way constantly push my expression. She’d also be the final voice to complete the group that would write a literary blog, Top 5 Fingers, which involved me, Gus, Zef, and a friend from college, Alana Franasiak. That year I would even host the writer of the La La Theory and White Elephants zines, who I’d admired for a long time, Katie Haegale. And in somewhat a different direction, that would be the year I would lose the first person to ever call me “brother”, Mike Hall. His death still carrying it’s weight for me every November, leaving me lost and longing, but also giving me a better sense of the value of life and how fragile it can sometimes be.

I read The Voice of Wye Gnough several more times over the year. Each time I’d read, I’d find new things I liked and many more I disliked. I started to write new chapters and rewrite old ones with the sound of my voice in mind. Back then I mostly wrote on a typewriter I bought for 10 dollars on the side of the road in North Philly. Each time I read, I paid more attention to the sound of the words. But The Voice of Wye Gnough wasn’t quite right yet. Some of it was unsalvageable to this new style I was finding. This new voice that was increasingly my own.

Eventually, I would scrap the novel because of its jumbled sentences and lack of true development. One of the last times I would read from it, Gus would actually light some of the pages on fire. It was New Years. A celebration in the second house for VWVOFFKA to pop up in, two blocks north on the road. The same building where Little Baby’s Ice Cream now resides. In the basement, was the first home of the Dream Oven. I watched and admired the flames, but then I realized I had no idea which pages Gus was reading from and whether they were any good or not.

I yelled out, “Gus! That’s typewritten. I don’t have any copies!”

The pages turned to smoke and ash and went out on the floor and I had to accept they were gone. Part of me accepted it was better that way. The remaining pages I put in a box somewhere and taped shut, maybe a month or two later.

If I had never read poetry that year, I would’ve never found my voice. Even more importantly, I would have never found my writing community.

Now six years later, I’ve just completed my second poetry tour across the country. I’ve found and been reinvigorated in the magic that spoken words hold. They can be healing. They inspire others. They create a sense of connection that maybe some other forms of expression can’t quite match. There’s a vulnerability in them. There’s definitely a catharsis.

It’s interesting to perceive how short a time six years are, relatively, between then and now. It’s interesting to examine how much growth, I’ve had personally and where I’m at as a writer today. And even more so to see all the growth in my peers. To see all of the many good vibes we’ve brought ourselves through. It’s amazing to think of all the things we’ve created together.

The creative life is a beautiful one. The Voice of Wye Gnough was an attempt at telling a story of it. Of our generation. Even back then I was calling us all Dream Punks. But it came up short. It failed miserably.

One day, hopefully soon, I’ll finish that first novel, though, and tell the story of the incredible scene I’ve been brought up in.

The Voice of Marshall

A FIERY JOURNEY THROUGH BERNSVILLE

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I’ve driven through almost ten states in the last two months, all on the east coast, and the only bumper sticker I’ve seen on the backs of cars is a “Vote for Bernie” sticker. This is with driving both through cities and rural areas and everywhere in between.

I swear, I haven’t seen a single HRC sticker or Donald Drumpf sticker in all that time. I know their supporters exist amongst the same geographic areas, but as far as I can tell they’re not as excited.

It’s a wild observation.

I mean, even with the road signs in front of people’s yards, the only non-Bernie one I’ve seen was in DC and it was for HRC. At almost every venue I’ve played along these two tours, the exterior of the house had a Bernie Sanders sign or a sticker. I even stayed at a farm in Flemington, NJ where the residents had painted a huge Bernie Sanders sign outside along their gravel farm road. I can’t think of any other candidate who has murals painted by street artists in so many cities, at least not one’s where they happened completely independently from the direct prompting of any campaign official but instead happened solely because of inspired citizens.

I mean, I have to admit the fervor has made me feel safer in my travels. It’s like being surrounded by the warm hearts of family. Just yesterday a woman at a gas station said, “Nice Bernie Sanders sticker!” to me (I’m a part of this vote for peace as well) from across the lot.

I laughed at first, hoping to dodge a political debate, hearing her voice and reacting to the compliment as if it were sarcastic. But then I looked up and saw she was entirely sincere. So I smiled and said, “Thank you. Let’s hope he gets in there.” We waved and then both drove off in our seperate journeys. Then I went to Bernsville, NC (a local joke, actually spelled Burnsville) and saw what felt like the epicenter of what could be possible for us all, if he really were elected. A communal effort full of art and creativity living off the land and worshipping the moon and the stars.

I don’t understand what’s so foul about those ideas to others. For instance, I found a comic zine in the bathroom at a McDonalds in Blacksburg, VA that basically said something like “Beware of all hippies and punks. They collect crystals and don’t beleve in God but worship a goddess named Gaia instead”.

My response to that was, “So fuckin’ what?”

I mean, where the heck does that part of the human condition come from? What in our DNA causes us to judge others and decide what’s the best for them? Why can’t people just let go and let others do what they want? Why can’t they just mellow out some? It’s like the people that created that zine are absolutely insane with hate. They’re deluded by it.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Bernie Sanders fervor is something really interesting. It’s surprising to me the mainstream’s response thus far has been mostly radio silence and scathing reviews of disbelief. It’s surprising they haven’t just co-opted the whole thing yet. Or that seemingly they haven’t been able to.

And now everyone’s saying they’re doing their best in blocking our abilities to vote. The optimist in me doesn’t see this as purposeful manipulation. Instead it registers it as an example of how our civilization or at least our country is truly crumbling into ineffective bureaucracy. Like, wow! We’ve gotten this far and our voting system is still 13 steps in the opposite direction of where it should be. The cynic in me says there’s purpose in this complete incompetence.

But yet, Bernie Sanders is still winning hearts and minds. And I’ve seen him speak. He also sounds sincere. Like so sincere, he’s showing how exhausted he is that he’s 74 and he’s seen how this whole country works (or rather doesn’t) and he’s flabberghasted that he has to work through that entirely broken system to attempt a win in order to fix it.

Obama had fervor. But not this early. And not ever this much. Has any candidate that anyone can remember ever touched this many hearts?

I mean, hot damn. It’s a wonder to watch so much of the world so engaged and enthralled by the intention of Love. Have we made it across the threshold into a new era of heart-centered individuals just in the nick of time? Just before we destroy ourselves and everything around us?

Or is this just another way that the natural cycle of the way things are, continues to laugh at us, all on its own volition?

A FIERY JOURNEY THROUGH BERNSVILLE

The Lessons of the Crow

For the last year, The Crow has been telling me our planet is into its last stage of suffering. It’s only a moment before we pass the point of no return and the whole thing tosses us off of it. In many ways we’re already there.

I’ve seen it across the country in the form of waste. From landfill along the highways to deforestation and strip mining in our national parks. In East Texas, they hand you an over-cooked hamburger in a styrofoam container 5 times a normal size, with a plastic bag and a handful of bleached white napkins. On the Oregon and Californian coastlines there are the dead bodies of seals and sea birds decaying slowly, their guts full of plastics and no one notices. Back home in Philly, I’ve watched folks unload an entire car trunk’s worth of garbage bags in the abandoned lots of East Kensington only to have them open up days later scattering tons of plastic and paper product into the wind and across the sidewalks into the local ecosystem.

I’ve seen it everywhere and I’m no saint. I propel my poetry tours upon the ignited fumes of a fossil record that reaches back eons. And I, a storyteller, know nothing of its history. I, like everyone, have been taught to fill the tank without asking questions about where the fuel comes from. Right now each gallon comes cheap and I know it’s at the expense of some sacred waterway in North Dakota or a child’s life in the Middle East.

Yet, I keep going. We all keep contributing. This endless cycle has no end in sight.

That’s the reality.

The Fool in me sees the other side to this blunt truth. He sees that dreams can be manifested. He believes in The Artist and The Poet, and their abilities to create new realities. He sees The Crow, and says, “Well, there must be some reason The Crow is talking to me specifically, and not only that…He’s talking to other folks in my tribe as well. There must be some reason all of us in particular are even noticing.”

And then it clicks, and it’s pretty simple. It’s that we are the solutions that we seek, and all of this can be remedied if people like us continue to wake up to it.

I’m all about social activism. But the Earth is my number one bae. She doesn’t get enough attention in this current hierarchy of things that need to be fixed. I wish that were differrent. The warning signs are all there and it’s up to us whether or not to use them to empower ourselves and our home planet into a brighter future.

The industrial revolution is over, it’s time for a rêvolution of heart.

Anyway, Happy Earth Day, friends!

The Lessons of the Crow