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.

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COMPASSION IS CONTAGIOUS

In The Taos News

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“A Poem Is Where The Heart Is…” in the Taos News this morning. Read the full article here: https://taosnews.com/stories/art-for-arts-sake,48089

Come see Taos hum!
Saturday, May 12 at 7pm at Parse Seco
with live music by Daughter Dear and Esmé Olivia
and an interactive sound installation designed by Jamin Reyes, Sam Fischer, Brett Tomadin, and myself.

Don’t miss it!

In The Taos News

When I first started talking about building “A Poem Is Where The Heart Is…”, my installation at Parse Seco in Taos, NM for National Poetry Month, multiple folks responded saying, “Wow, what you’re building really captures what it’s like inside the Poet’s mind”. That’s certainly the aesthetic I’ve always chosen, where the more senses that are stimulated the merrier.

With projections flying across the page, sounds humming from every direction, readings that challenge the hierarchial norms of poesis, music and movement, dishes to dine upon, and as many people as possible stuffed into the room speaking beautiful verse all at the same time, the dream exhibition is just beginning to take form.

My favorite part about this past month has been all of the unenvisioned collaborations that have manifested through the act of creating a space where anything can be born. I’ve seen so many connect and so many more find their voice. I’ve sat as audience and had all of my heart strings pulled, so that the tears and the laughs come out on all fronts. I’ve felt elation just piecing together all of the ideas and working to keep the space in constant flux through multiple transformations.

A few people have said, “Why don’t you leave it up all summer? I’m going to be sad to see it go.” But all dreams are temporal. And as they pass, it is our memories of them that guide us forth.

Fortunately, this last piece: the closing reception taking place tomorrow night at 7pm, will be a final sonic blast of pure bliss that reflects all that has transpired throughout the exhibit over the past few weeks. I am filled with both excitement and a sense of awe just thinking about all the working parts that’ll come together and make tomorrow night a dream not to be forgotten! From soulful music performed by Mary Arose in her new project Daughter Dear and the sacred harmonies performed by Esmé Olivia with her guitar and loop station and hand drum, to the dozens of poets reading from that infinite scroll everyone has spilled the ink of their heart upon, to the cacophonous sound installation built by myself, Jamin Reyes, Sam Fischer, and Brett Tomadin turning the short staccatos of a typewriter orchestra into the thick depths of a cosmic swirl.

We will hear Taos hum.
It’ll begin as a gentle purr that’ll quickly work its way through our core before beginning to roar.

Some may dance to its melody. Others will spread their wings and begin to soar. We will all be living in poetry, the words the things that craft our reality. This is a launching point into the community we have always known. I can’t wait to share this experience with you. To be a guest in it, myself.

At some point in the night, someone way down in town or maybe as far away as the Mesa will hear the echos of the ruckus we make above, and say to their lover, “My dear, I think that mountain is alive. I think we made it home.”

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

Water Is The New Precedent – 2nd printing

WATER IS THE NEW PRECEDENT – UPDATE

Grab a copy here: http://bit.ly/TheNewPrecedent

In preparation for the upcoming Poets For Peace tour embarking next week through New Mexico and Colorado, a second edition of Water Is The New Precedent has been printed. This edition includes updated information about where the energy has spread since the eviction of the camps at Standing Rock. Tens of thousands have returned home from North Dakota and invested the lessons they learned from the First Nations of the world into their local communities around the country. The fight against the Black Snake is ongoing.

The essays contained within this collection hold some of these lessons. They are my attempt to share the sacred truths and collective peace that I found in the ancestral prayeries of the Dakota people. All proceeds after production costs will be donated to indigenous organizations continuing the fight around the country.

You can read excerpts, watch video, and grab a copy here: http://bit.ly/TheNewPrecedent

Water Is The New Precedent – 2nd printing

“MAHWAH” MEANS “MEETING GROUND” IN LENNI LENAPE

A pleasant mist hangs in the trees. There are bright colored faces carved into the wood. Ancestors reaching through the bark to the present. Half asleep in their awakened stare.

We circle around the open fire as the Peace Walkers march in. Peace Walkers from Okinawa and elsewhere. Buddhist in Faith, but all of us connected in prayers for the Water.

We face the East and welcome the Sun. We face the West and watch it go. We face the North and welcome the Wind. As we turn South, Red-Tailed Hawk soars over us in a patch of sky between the trees.

I’m reminded of my time spent in Standing Rock, from the songs that are sung. From the drums that are played. Native flutes and sage smoke. Tobacco and prayer.

We stand near the water and hold it in our hand. Prayers of Love and Hope. We blow on these Prayers with our Breath and sprinkle them into the Ramapo River.

I watch as the Tobacco drifts downstream. It swirls with renewed energy. It feeds the Waters with Life. A Life to Protect.

“MAHWAH” MEANS “MEETING GROUND” IN LENNI LENAPE