POETS FOR PEACE, TOUR NO. 8: DAY 2 – RECAP

POETS FOR PEACE

Tour no. 8

Day 2 – Blacksburg, VA: recap

on the road with Marian McLaughlin (@marianmclaughlin) and Erin White (@movedtomove)

Morning ceremonies at the James River in Richmond. Reflecting on all the generations present at the reading the previous evening. Everyone from Erin’s parents and her father’s bandmates to the youthful presence of a 6 month old, wailing along to the Appalachian chords of his father playing the banjo.

We offer several marigolds to the James. A decree of peace to meet these tidal waters’ flow. Spring warmth at our shoulders. The future ahead of us.

The drive to Blacksburg is long, but gorgeous. Blue mountains. Green gables. Magenta redbud blossoms. Gradients of ecology expressing ecstasy. Virginia is for lovers.

The Hahn Horticultural Garden offers a backdrop of tulips and crocus. Coy pond trickling by. Lights and magic as the sun begins to fall behind the horizon line. There’s a report from the front lines of a movement stewarding the land in opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline. We hear the statistics of climate change. There are natural made scents passed around to go along with the poems. Poems about personal experience and bouts of sadness. About maintaining the sovereignty of the body. About a love so passionate it makes all the woes of modern society go away. The birds singing to the sun’s retreat. Collaborations between poets and nature.

At a certain point, the midsummer night’s dream is awaking. Marian McLaughlin providing the chorus. This is the type of place where magic is upon the eve. We like sprites glow purple and pink, as the moon rises above to light the scene.

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POETS FOR PEACE, TOUR NO. 8: DAY 2 – RECAP

4/9-4/13: Poets For Peace on tour in VA/DC/MD

Hey all,

The next Poets For Peace tour begins today in Richmond and will travel around Virginia before finishing out in Washington DC. I’ll be accompanied by singer-songwriter Marian McLaughlin, whose recent album speaks to the impacts of climate change and the experience of living during the Anthropocene extinction of the majority of species on this planet, and dancer, Erin White, who uses movement to bring attention to the oppressive forces placed on the femme form in our current society. We will be on tour all week and hope to see you at one of our stops!

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Poets For Peace Tour with Marian McLaughlin & Erin White
APRIL 9: at Earth Folk Collective in Richmond, VA
with an open mic and community sharing
[RSVP on Facebook]

10: at Hahn Horticulture Garden in Blacksburg, VA
with Molly Zabeth Graham, Lauren Malhotra, Matt Dhillon, and Michael Giuseppi
[RSVP on Facebook]

11: DAY OFF in Charlottesville, VA

12: at 1605 Commune in Washington DC
[email me for details]

Poets For Peace is a collective movement of bringing hope and inspiration onto the road to combat the negative impacts of the Western war machine through dialogue and storytelling. This installment will be fronted by three performers: Marian McLaughlin, Erin White, and Marshall James Kavanaugh. Multi-instrumentalist Marian McLaughlin crafts lyrically-driven songs that stem from her stream-of-consciousness about humanity’s multifaceted relationship with our planet. With improvised movements, Erin White offers a grounded expression of the oppressive forces placed upon the femme form as it is forced to conform to roles outside its comfort. Together their poetic musings will direct the audience towards a sense of inner peace that will shine a beacon of light onto the darkness of the outer world.

upcoming solo performance:

APRIL 13: at The Holy Underground in Baltimore, MD
with Eva Aguila, Eric Barry Drasin, and New Age Video Aquarium
[RSVP on Facebook]

4/9-4/13: Poets For Peace on tour in VA/DC/MD

New Chapters About Yosemite Falls

20190224-yosemitefalls

 

https://www.patreon.com/marshalljameskavanaugh

One challenge I find myself encountering while I attempt to write these chapters about Marshall Deerfield’s first trek into Yosemite National Park is balancing layered poetic soliloquies declaring existential intangibilities with descriptions of the necessary action to take this wild-eyed protagonist through such sheer expansiveness of wilderness. The steps he takes to climb each boulder are in essence just as important as the infinite sound of his destination, the peak of a three thousand foot tall waterfall. The poetry of Yosemite is endless, and yet I’m trying to be a modern beatnik or zen lunatic as I write it and really capture its essence with as few words as possible narrowing in on the uncertain truths that make it such an unparalleled natural wonder.

I just uploaded two chapters that I think do a good job at taking on this balance between action and setting. Below is an excerpt from one of the chapters. You can read the rest of it by subscribing at the link above. Any support is greatly appreciated while I continue to trek deeper into this novel. For small amounts a month you’ll be able to preview it as I work on it, as well as read my other published works. Please take a look and thanks!

It’s a sound I hear long before I have completed the trek, a dull roar that replaces the sound of the raindrops giving stillness to the mind with all its immense power of movement so that I am lured closer by the way it cuts away at the air with all that potential.

A group of Japanese tourists stand at its base holding up binoculars to admire its grace and some of them pose for photographs while laughing wildly along to all its ripples. The falls sleek like a needle sewing two faces of rock into one and scattering a cloud of perspiration while the work is done. The tops of those peaks lost to the fog so that the illusion is set that maybe their heights are infinite and that waterfall comes straight from an overturned chalice of mother’s milk exposed to us temperate heathens.

There’s a bench perfectly placed and I have a seat while I try to take in the entire scene, a totally awesome one, tourists dancing by in red and yellow rain jackets like little swans, giggling when some increase in volume causes the whole waterfall to pause and then rupture sending a splash of condensation out into the crowds looking into it. Something strange about the experience even calls for the clown within to do something truly foolish and go swimming beneath that endless power as if a thousand foot drop of water wouldn’t be enough to paralyze even the most graceful of swimmers, but then again maybe that’s the point. This waterfall’s song is so much more than that of its smaller siblings, with each breath of renewed force it causes paralysis freezing the nerves and subduing the mind from thinking. A powerful nothing as big as anything could possibly be.

New Chapters About Yosemite Falls

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

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

March Forth, My Friends

​MARCH FORTH, MY FRIENDS
We assemble for a friend’s birthday party and it doesn’t take me long to realize all of these friends I’ve made over the years come from completely different backgrounds and schoolings with one main defining similarity. 

They are all farmers.

These friends I’ve connected with for all sorts of reasons, when it comes right down to it, enjoy nothing more than putting their hands in the dirt and making seeds come to life.

So here we are, sitting in a circle discussing a variety of tools from permaculture and the changing growing seasons, as well as what native seeds we got at the most recent seed trade and how owned land is hard to come by, so making due with squatting on abandoned land works just as well.
As the conversation moves into a reaction towards regressive politicians, the night begins to take on the look and feel of a general assembly. And as I look around me, I realize the free radicals around me are all regenerative agriculturalists. These guerilla warriors are planting corn where a rowhome burned down 20 years ago and garbage has been disposed of since.

They’re the people on the frontlines of every protest, dressed in all black, taking cracks from the policeman’s billy club. 

They’re the clowns in the background raising spirits.

In all of this, they’re the ones making moves when a lot of us feel frozen. Urban gardeners continuing to prepare for the apocalypse.
Their gardens are the next to be lost. In this city, like every city, that cares more about tax revenue than moderating development to make sure developers keep in tune with the identity of the neighborhood they rape and pillage, green space is running out.

These gardeners have already lawyered up, organized petitions, and cut locks to keep their gardens operating. Food For The People are words of revolution for them.

A day later, I’m in the streets of my old neighborhood. I’m playing trumpet in a New Orleans style death march for a cat that passed away only recently. We’re all dressed in shiny, psychedelic costumes from Mummers parades past. Some of us have drums, kazoos, fireworks and other noisemakers.

The march starts with somber notes. Slow and cold we fill the street, holding a walking vigil. I feel like I’m playing a melody that is for the death of my old home in East Kensington. We pass shoddily built condos. $450,000 4-story megahomes. They’re all ugly behemoths atop streets full of sinkholes and cracked concrete. I remember all the former lots, the former community gardens, the weird art sculptures, and the grounds we had pop up music shows in.

Some of us are weeping. A lot of us are feeling glad to feel this warmth of community. We bury the cat and our leader who is part Cherokee sings a song of returning the earth to its former glory. Encouraging the grass to grow where the burial mound now is.
A neighbor overhears one of us discussing how shitty her giant condo is. She yells, “Hey, I heard that. I heard you saying that about my house.” Drunk, the guy says he doesn’t care. He can’t wait till it falls down in three years.

There’s a lot of tension and I think to myself, “Welcome to Philly.”

Someone does eventually say, “Welcome to the neighborhood.”
At that we start marching again. This time the melodies are upbeat and raucous. “Oh when the saints…go marching in….oh when the saints go marching in.”
There are a lot of drum break downs and horn solos and the band starts singing as their followers join in dancing. 
Eventually we make it back to the house party for March Fourth.
“March Forth,” everyone yells.
A simple parade. Perhaps the beginning of new traditions.

March Forth, My Friends

Street Theater

STREET THEATER
(artwork by Dylan A.T. Miner)

I envision a mass demonstration. Folks coming into the heart of the city. Riding trains and bicycles. Assembling near City Hall. Tens of thousands. Maybe more. Each with their own sign rallying around the cause. A cause for the world and its children. A cause for Life. Love for us All.

They begin to march.

There are trumpets, sounding the alarm. Drum circles leading the charge. Movement in rhythmic motion forward.

They march onto the avenues. Hold traffic till tomorrow. Heading straight for the Liberty Bell inside Independence Hall.

Unnerved by routine, they only settle here for a while. Then they continue further. Marching north. And then west. And then south. Into the stars. Above the ground. Their souls’ chants echo against the concrete walls. Each footstep causes a groundswell.

Eventually the whole city is taken over. The working crowd leaving their offices and joining the march. Tourists and other pedestrians going along for the ride. People swept off their feet and into the current.

It all seems smooth and victorious, except for what awaits for them just beyond the next traffic light.

Near Rittenhouse, a tank is just around the corner. It’s a big tank. One of the largest and greatest tanks. A tank greater than any other made before. A tank made of cardboard and painted black. Recyclables turned into the war machine. Its motor singing the finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as it rolls forward. Its wheels at least twenty pairs of boots belonging to its drivers marching a synchronized beat.

Led by the tank is an army of clowns. Bum clowns. Circus clowns. Awkward and Weird clowns. Fascist clowns. Merry Pranksters dressed in Federalist regalia. Minstrels of mummery dressed in the cultures they’ve conquered. Clowns in White Face. Clowns in Black Face. The Blue Man Group wooping like car alarms. Scary clowns. Nasty clowns. Jerk clowns. Clowns of the sewers. Clowns of the pipelines. Clowns of the pulpit and the banks. Hundreds of clowns following the tank.

At their back is the main cheese. The King Clown himself surrounded by a dozen or more head honcho Court Jesters. A cabinet as insane as it can get. In turn, all of them holding onto multiple leads. Hundreds of strings attached to the army’s heads and legs and feet and arms and hearts. Puppet masters and their marionettes.

The two parades meet on Walnut Street. Outside the Barnes and Noble. Clowns and Lovers and a whole city of park sitters, random shoppers, and luxurious apartment residents watching the scene.

At first there is a standoff. Neither side so sure of the other. The Clowns glaring pure terror, while the Lovers can’t help but laugh. But then someone turns up Tchaikovsky’s overture and the tank starts firing shots. Large balls of confetti shoot into the air. The cannon balls synced up to the music, firing like the Russians against Napoleon did.

At first nothing. Then people start dropping. Then finally pure absolute terror and the people not already on the ground start running out of the way.

Soon, everyone has either been knocked down by the tank, or been completely scattered onto sidewalks and out of the street.

All except for a single child.
They stand there upright. Not much older than 7 or 8. A short pixie cut with rainbow streaks in their hair. A young girl holding a heart-shaped balloon in one hand, while the other is extended forward offering a rose.

Tiananmen Square. A stencil drawn by the street artist Banksy. Zuccotti Park. Tahrir Square and so many others. These images are all brought to mind in this single gesture.

The tank silences.
The clowns mime surprise and awe.
They begin to step forward, maybe to snatch the girl up, and then they stop.
The child starts whistling.
They step forward towards the cannon on top of the tank.
The gun lowers down just in arms reach.
The child places the rose into its barrel.

A GOP official from Michigan wants another Kent State? Well, this is how Love overcomes Hate.

The Clowns all fall to their knees. Even the King. They bow to this child and the girl giggles relief.
One of the clowns brings forward a bucket of paint.
The child takes the brush and walks forward to the tank to paint it.

Behind them, others begin to rise from the pavement. They too come forward and begin to paint. Soon folks are wandering back onto the street from the sidewalks and joining them from the park and surrounding store fronts. Each person is handed a paintbrush as more buckets are brought out. The once black tank, quickly turns to a canvas of peace signs and rainbows and pretty flowers and moonshine beneath golden rays.

The scene turns from one that is war torn to a community block party. Folks of all ages and nationalities and sexual identities and gender pluralities exploring what it means to rediscover their inner child on the public street.

Someone passes out chalk and they start turning the floor beneath them into a whole other ecology. City streets turned into abundant gardens. Seeds of harmony blossoming. A psychedelia of awakened heart permeates in the breeze. A true rêvelution like never seen anywhere else.
The creative mind united with the heart making communal art.
A band sets up on the band stand. They play punk choruses like it’s the 1980s and everyone begins to dance.

At this point, the King Clown has let go of the leads or even begun to cut the strings and the Clowns are suddenly allowed to be truly free.

It starts with the King Clown’s Head of Interior. Then the Department of Education soon follows. Soon it’s the Attorney General. And his self-declared Head of Intelligence. They each grab at the tank. The cardboard beginning to tear. Where it tears, they rip harder, until each piece breaks free.

The other Clowns get a hint and join in this disassembly. Each taking a piece and ripping the tank to shreds.
The painted pieces are lifted high in the air. Some of them are attached to long sticks to wave in the air. New protest signs. New messages. Simple in their color and slogans. Rainbows spreading. LOVE. PEACE.

The act is almost over.
Everyone is feeling real fine.
For most of them they’re not even sure what’s happening anymore the vibe is so fresh.

And at this brightest moment, it springs up.
Hidden beneath the leftover rubble of the former tank, the BLACK SNAKE.
He emerges.
Dark and stormy.
A hiss as his head pokes high into the air.
Another hiss as he looks downwards on the people suddenly entangled in his long winding and ever-present scales.
A tail so long, it grabs up the people down the street even a mile away.

No one can move. They’re all entranced in his hypnotizing stare.

Except for the King.
The King steps forward. He’s lost his yellow wig. His fat gut. His entire wardrobe, except for the crown. Except for the crown, he now looks less like a monarch, and more like a human. He’s become an old woman actually. He’s grown long hair and tied it back. His court robes have been replaced by a polka dotted dress that reaches down to high heels. His gestures are less oafish and more heart-centered, sensitive. He holds a tall staff in his hand. To some he looks like a mixture somewhere between a wizard, a hippy, and Alice in Wonderland.

He removes the crown. Tosses it into the snake’s mouth.
The snake swallows it whole.
The elder pulls out a tobacco pipe and begins smoking.
The snake slithers closer.
Unfazed, the elder kneels down and touches the earth. People close to him can hear him humming.
The snake hangs overhead and opens its mouth wide.
With the speed of lightning it lowers its head and snaps.
The elder even quicker, places his wooden staff between the roof of the snake’s mouth and its bottom teeth.
Open mouth, it hovers around him, trying to bite, but failing.
In the confusion of it all, the elder grabs the snake’s tongue and pulls.
The snake lurches back, but the elder holds strong and the tongue pulls out of the snake’s head, bringing with it the snake’s black and gooey insides.

The girl from before reemerges. Giggling they join the elder and hold onto the snake’s tongue.
Others wake up from their trance and join them too. Each grabbing a hold of the extending tongue.

The snake still tries to get free pulling back even further. Unraveling as it pulls further and further away, letting more and more of its insides be pulled out.

Its insides go all the way back into history. They go back in time to before then into herstory.
They continue to pull out and suddenly we’re seeing the birth of it all.
Through the snake’s death, we are seeing how it all started.
The rope turns from oil slick to wooden stick to lightning strikes to molten lava.
Everything one can think of that burns and more.
A long fuse leading back into the beginning.
Before time.
Something like the chicken and the egg, philosophically.

At the end of the string is an egg.
Inside the egg is water.
The water is clear and pure.

From one of his dress pockets the Elder pulls out a bag of seeds.
He takes a single seed from the bag and holds it high over his head.
It shimmers gold in the sunlight.
Then he tosses it to the withering shell of the black snake skin beneath him.
He opens the egg and dumps the water onto this fertile earth.

From the point, where he placed the seed, grows a giant rose.

Catharsis.

Street Theater