POEMS FOR THE PIGS

I jump into the fray again. This time unintentionally. When I show up to Santa Fe, I find out the republican governors from all over the country are meeting at the conference center to discuss conservative policy. Somehow I didn’t get the memo. There are protestors on every street corner. But it’s nothing like Philly in 2017 when the GOP showed up a week after the inauguration.

We protested for over a week, with snake marches leading to organized marches, leading to dance parties, leading to tens of thousands of people surrounding the hotel all those pigs were hiding in. Inside, the traitor in chief probably told everyone that his supporters had come to celebrate his victory, but outside the energy was livid. The marches didn’t really lead anywhere, but that was the beginning of so many activist groups finding alliances in the streets. It was a time to see each other and find hope in the multitudes that love was still possible even in tyranny.

In Santa Fe, things are a little more low key. Mostly Women’s Marchers sans pussy hats holding signs that outline that Santa Fe is a sanctuary city and accepts refugees. No action, but frankly, it’s just exciting to see so many signs walking through the streets, mixed in with the usual amount of summer tourists, heading towards relieving a group who’s held a corner for a few hours or stopping to take a bathroom break. The retired mothers of the city taking their time off to push through some progressive messages to the backwards Man, himself.

They stand outside the El Dorado hotel picketing the buses full of governors’ aides that pull in. They stand outside the Cathedral of St Francis de Assisi catching the evangelicals who want to see architectural history. Anywhere where the buses drive through, they are there to greet them.

I set up my typewriter in the plaza next to a group doing a silent vigil for the children at the border separated from their families. They hold signs with simple mantras like “Free The Children” and “Everyone Welcome”. In front of them there are a dozen or more baby shoes. The symbols there are heavy.

Meanwhile, I write poems for children about dreams of mermaids and family road trips. The dialogue being translated through poetry. It doesn’t escape me how there’s no difference between these children who get to live out their freedom and the ones currently locked up in cages, maybe never seeing their parents again.

An afternoon turns to evening and I change my location several times, till I find my prime spot for the late night dinner crowd, and that’s when it happens. I’m not quite paying attention because there’s so much going on. But out of the corner of my eye, I see one of those huge busses pull over and a dozen or more suits get off of it. They are surrounded by police and secret service, who seemingly appear out of nowhere. Suddenly, the streets around me have been cleared.

It’s Mike Pence who stops and reads my Dream Poet For Hire sign. He’s chatting to Susana Martinez, who I guess is giving them all a tour of her state’s capital.

“Write a poem about me and my wife,” he says.

Obviously, I’m boiling over with malice, but I’m the Dream Poet and with my mask on I put on a good show entertaining his midwestern interest.

The poem writes itself, keys mumbling away. It talks about how love can’t be defined by time or place, age or gender. It’s a spark that speaks beyond the limits of our patriarchal understanding. Love thy brother, love the human race in all of its manifestations, love thy mother, love this planet and all the ways she holds us in nurture. Love is love is love and hate for the love between two men or two women or two people who choose not to define themselves within a binary does not erase the divine essence within that love, something that is so magical it inspires all of us to keep living through the madness.

I fill the page and read it back to him. His icy eyes look at me with a smile that says he knows I gonzoed him, dropping the bill in my case anyway, and slipping the poem in the breast pocket of his suit jacket. He moves over for the next one, which happens to be Governor Martinez.

“Write a poem about immigrants,” she says.

Again, I smile and put on extra airs. The poem coming full throttle. I write about the state of New Mexico still being a foreign country. How families are just moving between their ancestral homes. I write about the Pueblos. How this is their land and our borders hold no power. I write about the railroads, about the white settlers, about the slave owners. I write how an elected official in a state that is still Mexico, and before that stolen land, better reflect on who she represents. Amnesty for all refugees, I write. Open the borders.

There’s a silence after I read the poem and I think I’ve gone too far. But again, there it is the bills dropped and the poem stowed away somewhere safe.

Next it’s one of their aides.

“Oh, you write haiku, I see. Write a haiku about Washington DC.”

Sinkholes everywhere
the swamp sinking as it drains
swamp things go kerplunk.

Someone asks, “Are you related to Brett Kavanaugh?”

“No relation. The Kavanaugh’s are a proud clan of peacemakers. No way he’s really one of them.”

And then that’s it. They get bored and move on. And I’m left there wondering if it really was even them, or perhaps just another tour group of Texans.

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POEMS FOR THE PIGS

SUMMER OF LOVE

I fall into the dream and don’t look back. The Muse is there. Her green eyes transfixed on the form my body takes between foolish leaps of inner revolution.

FALLING. Falling. falling.

The way two bodies merge in such tranquil motion. Atop mountain boulders. Beside the trickle of wet streams. Upon the shores of desert lakes resembling surrealist paintings from another century.

She the High Priestess. The Queen of Cups. A faerie springing from the leaf in the wind. The waterways that flow through us. Blood lines that brought us to this place together.

Funny how you can fall for someone in an hour and a half car ride where for the last half hour, half the car is asleep and the other half is saying to himself, “Well, at least she exists. I was starting to think I’d been holding too high expectations. But now I see she’s out there. I’m satisfied just to know she exists,” and not expecting anything beyond the crossing of their transits.

But two stars built of the same cosmic dust tend to find an alignment in their gravitation at least for a short bit.

“Wouldn’t it be interesting for two people to go on the road together traveling to national parks across the country, sleeping together underneath the stars, finding waterfalls to lay each other under, climbing trees to hang upon the view in one another’s arms, so that when finally they conceive a child they could say this starseed was conceived in a beautiful place,” she muses.

Warrior rambling between revolution and lovemaking. Her soft embrace a sacrament to boost both their life forces. Even in conflict, their conversation of peaceful resolve. Gaining a better understanding for communication that lies beyond the tongue. Eye gazing till the gold of the sun adds depth to their inner light. Magic that illuminates the path they both stand on.

“You’re such a romantic,” she says.

“I’m one of the last,” he replies.

Poetry read out loud during these long car rides. Roads blocked because of the forest fires, but with every orgasm another monsoon to douse the flames. Soon the earth is wet and fertile again. He, her humble Pan, pantomiming the flute as they climb the rocks and go swimming in the river. She, his Artemis, her beauty soaking up moonlight, soaking up river bends, bouncing upon forest undergrowth in tune to the beat of his heart rhythms.

Purple lupine line the roadway. Datura blooms on every city street corner.

“I love how you’re such a Dreamer,” he exclaims.

“What do you mean when you say that?” she asks.

“It’s something in your eyes.”

“Oh, you mean the madness?”

“Perhaps that’s what it is. But how I see it, you have one eye focused on this plane and the other sees deeply into the spirit world, beyond it.”

They talk of hallucinogenic trips they’ve took. Lessons they’ve learned. Ceremonies they’ve held. They eat mushrooms while sitting at the edge of a painting and examine the fractals that overlay their bodies.

Green chile and lime sauce. Enough to move a peyote button to skip across the roof of a purple adobe cavern.

Time melts. The sea splits in half. They move between worlds unseen by the general populace. But their motions are felt. Must be all the love. The look on each one’s face. A little glimmer of hope in this great wasteland of chaos.

The dreams they craft. Drifting out. Rippling out. Writhing from skin on skin contact. Everywhere they go, the rains follow. She commands him with her hands to grab her breasts and ride the infinite crescent moon she holds beneath her dress.

Both panting, but not exhausted, they connect the worlds and bridge their passions in a way that only lovers can.

SUMMER OF LOVE

COMPASSION IS CONTAGIOUS

COMPASSION IS CONTAGIOUS

I’m brought back to my time in North Dakota, holding space with the indigenous protectors of sacred waters. Another long drive through miles of agriculture to a point of interest in the middle of nowhere to meet as a clan of rainbow people and stand up against injustice.

This time we are calling for the protection of families and individual children. The corporations are not digging up death and employing the black snake to transport it beneath our feet under sacred waterways. No, they’ve decided to put death out in the open, this time utilizing the form of a tent city to detain hundreds of children in 100° desert temperatures.

A local representative comments on the audacity of this current administration using taxpayer dollars to build these concentration camps, doing so seemingly overnight. He goes further expressing how adequate aid still hasn’t been provided for our citizenry in Puerto Rico recovering from Hurricane Maria, and yet they build these “detention centers” so quickly. Saying we must look in the mirror as a nation. This presidency is conscious of the acts of genocide it is committing. It is continuing an American tradition.

“Open borders,” a sign reads.
“Abolish ICE.”
“Yes, we care,” in white painted on the back of a green silk coat.

“Si, se puede,” she chants. The audience goes wild and moves closer to get a better view. Bobby Kennedy’s daughter moves to the side after introducing the esteemed labor activist, Dolores Huerta.

“Si, se puede!”

Huerta encourages everyone in the crowd not to give up. She says we must keep marching. That this administration has already backed down after rising public pressure. We must keep the pressure on. She recants slogans from her days as a young labor activist saying a democracy fails without a strong middle class. We must empower the workers of the middle class. Goes on to say we must be marching every day. Says everything but “seize the means of production”. But she says that too, only in her own way.

The woman who coined the catchphrase, “Yes, we can” has no doubt that the people can unite and thwart their oppressors.

I am struck by how there is a difference in cadence between the politicians’ way of talking and the activists ability to rally. Politicians with their lines well-rehearsed and a controlled pattern of when and how to gauge a rise from the audience.

On the other hand, activists move straight from the heart. Their words are not always smooth and well-versed, but they move the audience deeper into feeling what’s right from the blood to the breath. Mothers and teachers talking about the issues from personal experience. And the more seasoned the activist, the more their heartspeak is a spell cast that wraps the audience up in a swirl of synergy between heart, mind, and spirit.

“Dreamers are not illegal.”
“No illegals, on stolen land.”
“Love Trumps Hate.”
“Impeach.”
*Persist.”

A few thousand feet away, behind several rows of chainlink fence, you can see the pointed tops of several canvas tents baking in the hot sun.

Speakers from the Border Network for Human Rights remind the audience that these children are refugees running from struggles that America’s foreign policy has created. They speak in terms of compassion pointing out that many of these families are not victims. They are strong people who stood up to the gangs and corrupt politicians of their homelands and as a result were pushed to flee.

They remind us that not all of these children are just from the American continents. ICE and border patrol have been going after dreamers from all different backgrounds. The policies that go after the most at risk are based in white supremacist ideology.

In this last group of activists, who have worked so closely with the refugees that are detained, I see how we have yet to hear from the actual refugees themselves in the mainstream media. In the coverage of this debacle, these very real people have been dehumanized to numbers and mere statistics.

All of their stories are yet to be told. We must use our own hearts to understand what they must be going through. To understand what it must be like to be separated from your child, and told by an ICE agent you’ll never see them again.

All of it feels unreal and because it is so real, we must continue to fight. We must unify under one banner. Many speakers during the rally emphasized voting in November. But it goes beyond that. It goes beyond calling your elected representatives. It goes beyond marching in the streets and planning direct actions. It’ll take a radical shift in every aspect of American life to curb the monstrosity we have empowered. But, Si, se puede! We are alive at this time to do exactly that.

Only apathy will hold us back.

COMPASSION IS CONTAGIOUS

South Kensington’s A War Zone

SOUTH KENSINGTON’S A WAR ZONE

Walking through South Kensington is like walking through a war zone. Rapid fire machine guns. Nail guns. Jackhammers. Industrial machinery. Tractor trailers beeping backwards. Dump trucks unfilling their refuse. Shouting so loudly the dust shakes off old concrete bricks and into a cloud of chaos. Eris rules supreme. The sound waves echoing off half-constructed shoddy plywood walls holding up these neo-futuristic monstrosities. Desolate warehouses collapsing under the severe pressure of the drum taps. Ash and smoke rising in the breeze from block to abandoned lot, where the bodies used to pile, now turned into yuppie condos.

Out west they are burning down whole forests, old redwood groves. Whole towns. The “carelessness” of the people in charge. A stray electric wire on a utility pole. Wonder what mini-mall they’ll build next in place of these historic sights.

Back east we’re building rich American Dreams for those who can’t dream on their own. The Manifest Destiny of filling every neighborhood corner and former urban garden and raw alley and even the cracks in the sidewalk with the travesty of supply and demand for a place where no one will know your name, even though you live right next to them, and there’s high black gates in front of every doorway in case someone gets the wrong impression seeking a neighbor.

How did I live through this as long as I did? With every step I step a little closer to this nervousness inside myself coming to the surface. Unconscious to it but feeling my heart racing nonetheless. This concrete jungle active and alive as whole neighborhoods are renovated to suit rich white folk interests from New York and the Jersey burbs squashing an identity that took decades, even generations to grow. Gentrification in a matter of moments.

Developers greedy rich with ideas for what they’ll call this “new” hood, sequestering google maps with murals and handmade road signs they hang from telephone poles, depicting a language of money.

One thing I forget until I return to Philly is the depression. What it feels like to have your hopes dashed in front of you by machines more powerful. Corruption and greed using the anarchy of bureaucracy against you. Creating new structures out of a world that you thought was shared. The exteriors built to crumble so the replacements aren’t even worth the amount of trauma they subjugate us with.

I find it interesting how as I cross over into Northern Liberties, an old hot bed for this type of displacement which has mostly settled down in recent years, except for the outer reaches, my mind and my heart come back into focus. I feel present with my surroundings. I experience the feeling of readjustment. Being one with the sun above.

I can actually hear myself think and the sound of my brother speak, telling a story he’s been saying all along but as we crossed into the war zone it became all jumbled, practically frantic, losing its focus, and becoming just more of the static as I try to make out his point but can’t even figure out what is happening in the present moment.

South Kensington’s A War Zone

Poets For Peace in Taos

POETS FOR PEACE
Tour no. 4
Day 4 – Taos: recap
on the road with Julia Daye and Anthony Carson

[Read the article in Taos News here.]

To return to the high desert. A community we’ve all grown in. Surrounded by our peers of peace. The night is full of ceremony.

Rose petals made love to are passed around and everyone is instructed to hold them throughout the night channeling peace into those red rosy petals to be buried in the earth later like a seed. Then Alexandra Grajeda shared the prayers of her ancestors to help us to be present for the exchange.

Her words come out slow and graceful. The audience relaxes brought into a space of community.

The Poets For Peace have already shared various emotions in their previous events. Punk rage. The inner clown. This night the tears begin to flow.

As I read essays on my experiences at Standing Rock, I can feel chills stir in the audience and those chills then run up my spine stirring me until I am uncontrollably weeping at each sentence, reliving the experiences as I read them.

Julia and Anthony feel this too. We are all on extra edge. The power of the night causing us to pay special attention to the spells we cast.

At the end of the evening we sit in a circle and everyone exchanges their thoughts and prayers. Hearing the diversity of voices, seeing the diversity of faces, I can’t help but think of an image of Peace that was common when I was a kid. All the people of the world holding hands while dancing around the circumference of the planet.

We sit and exchange.
Everyone listens.
Again I am weeping.
Hearing so much purity of heart.
Hearing the talents of this wild place.
The room feels cathartic.
We are all in this together.
Finding our way.

Poets For Peace in Taos

Poets For Peace in Boulder

POETS FOR PEACE
Tour no. 4
Day 3 – Boulder: recap
on the road with Julia Daye and Anthony Carson

The night in Boulder ends at a pizza place. The table filled with poets old and new. Poets For Pizza. It’s the history of the town that puts this in context. Here we are, the Allen Ginsberg’s, Jack Kerouac’s, Neal Cassidy’s of our generation hovering around our slices of pizza like coffee mugs, discussing the politics of the day.

I look around at my peers and am in awe of the power of these individuals around me. Journeyers and dreamers. Wordsmiths and musicians. Voicing the concerns of the oppressed. Creating a more intersectional reality. Serving their community inwards and outwards.

Earlier there was a poetry reading at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe, one of the only poetry-specific bookstores in the country. Full of beatnik and meta-beatnik flare, as well as so many other incredibly powerful voices.

The reading begins with the words of Jona Fine. Taking us back to the shooting at a night club in Orlando last year. The outcry of the LGBTQ+ community. The fear that beckons at our door again. The strength of those who have been through it before, coming together and raising each other up to face another day.

Matt Clifford follows. Honoring the inner clown. Espousing through satire, 2nd amendment laws and the way government polices us all. His truths that we all die, most of us relatively soon, are met with bursts of laughter. Jaws dropping. Turning over this bleak reality. And yet the joy inside a moment so fleeting.

More and more students and vagabonds begin marching in. Fellow peaceniks and curious townsfolk. Carrying signs and songs of the rêvelution. The room swells for the Poets For Peace.

It creates the space for two clowns and the voice of the mother earth to take to the microphone and shed applause and laughter on the atmosphere. The room evolving from poetry to vaudeville. The clowns laughing so hard, they’re not sure if others laugh with them, at them, or maybe are all silent, their own laughter being so loud it serves to seem like it’s everyone’s. The voice of the mother earth giving soothing, healing vibes with her groundedness.

A round robin of poetry from each one of them. Haikus that sing. Prayers to Mother Earth. Songs of enlightenment.

The one clown with a guitar makes faces that cause some clowns in the audience to burst out laughing. He says, “Oh, you like that? You like my face?” and continues with more eccentricity in his expressions and voice acting.

The voice of the mother earth blows wind into the two clowns’ fires. She speaks eloquently and passionately about the plague of toxic masculinity on her surface. On her terrestial body. It causes the clowns to settle down with their horseplay and focus on how they too are a part of the problem, but can also be part of the solution.

The other clown reads of the Hayukka. The Sacred Clowns of Lakota legend. He talks of direct action and nonviolent protest. Something of a skit like The Three Stooges that took place at Standing Rock, involving clowns in a canoe and police following along the shore in a professional golf cart.

The night almost lasts too long. But it’s just perfect. Short enough to be a dream. Long enough to leave everyone feeling complete.

To finish it off, one of the clowns pulls out a kaleidoscope and shares his psychedelic visions with the peaceniks who have amassed around him. One of them drops it and it shatters into a million pieces. Confetti for the breeze to take away into the infinite star dust above. When the clown picks it up and looks back through this kaleidoscope monacle, the vision is even more twisted and satisfying.

Everything in rainbows and ecstatic multi-colored light.

Poets For Peace in Boulder

A Visit to #TentCityATL

POETS FOR PEACE
Tour #2
Day 5 – Atlanta
photo by Heather Marie Laveau

On our last night of tour, as the Libra full moon rose over downtown Atlanta, Catherine Rush and I performed with the local leaders of #TentCityATL. It’s an occupation outside of the former Braves baseball stadium, which is being redeveloped by Georgia State University. The encampment is set up to protest the gentrification of the surrounding neighborhoods and make sure the Community Benefits Agreement agreed upon by thousands of members of the neighborhood is used for any future developments.

There was magic held in this moonlight to share words on the front lines in the urban center of a city, and call upon the bald eagles and many blessings I witnessed at Standing Rock to come here to this city of Atlantis. To hear the stories of neighbors and their experiences fighting the imperialistic war machine throughout their lives. To see community formed around a cause that will benefit the many, and take power away from the few.

This energy is rising. It has been for a while now. The floodgates have been released. In each city. In each neighborhood. In each residence. The people are coming together and fighting off the warmongers. Fighting off the profiteers. They’re fighting for the right to exist. They’re fighting for their identities. They’re fighting for PEACE.

One wisdom from the night shared by a sister activist and poet: “When we think of peace, we think of flowers. But, to get flowers you have to shake up the ground a little. You know, till the earth and such. To get peace, we’re going to have to shake things up a little. Overturn the ground. That’s how peace can grow.”

A Visit to #TentCityATL