personal political

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When you make a choice, you change the future.“–Deepak Chopra

“What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?“–Jim Butcher

In the next few weeks, we will examine the relationship, that is to say the direct link, between the political and the personal. This week, we used Jameson Fitzpatrick’s poem “I Woke Up” as an introduction. The poem guided through a method of walking  through both a day and a thought process that allowed us to be observant of our shared and individual experiences as well as reflect on how these experiences are political. That is to say that our every day lives are reflective of and inform the larger systems that guide our world. We used these ideas as a jumping off point to start our writing.

In our circle, we are very accustomed to sharing the personal. We even had a couple new members at the writing group who very quickly shared their personal experience. It is harder to recognize our lives as political and engage in that kind of thinking. We are walking towards it as we read and write together.

In the pieces below are the result of these reflections and discussions:

ASLEEP
It had been, this whole time I was asleep.

The scenes flashed by like those from a dream, but I wasn’t asleep. I say dream but we all called it a nightmare. Bittersweet memories is all they have become and there is nothing really more to say. I kept thinking that maybe I would wake up from the drug-induced stupor I put myself in. I mean it sounded good to say it but the reality was I never woke. I never slept. I never dreamed. I just faded, nodded and kept telling my heart that I was sorry. What do you even call that? Once again, no answers come to mind and even if they did, it would probably be another one of those really lame excuses that I am so good at concocting. You know you get so tired and exhausted from being in that kind of state. It becomes autopilot but sloppier and more off-kilter. People tend to know that something’s wrong and all I can manage to say is, “Oh sorry, I’ve been asleep. I’m just not awake yet.” Yeah, like I ever will be, but maybe nobody else knows yet. I don’t even trust myself enough to sleep it off, I might not wake up and if I don’t, how will I take these pills I have left? What if I can’t dream anymore? What will they say? I’m thinking too much, too hard and it takes the last bit of my strength. I have to lay down. I have to rest. I close my eyes to find that all of these nightmares are real. I want to wake up to get away from myself. I guess it just doesn’t work that way…somebody needs to wake me up when all of this is over.

AG

***

WHAT IS POLITICAL

I made coffee and the coffee was political. Isn’t everything, though? I suppose I find it most ridiculous that little things, little choices have become so politicized. If your new loveseat isn’t made from fair-trade, eco-friendly, compacted resin-coated bamboo from a country that pays living wages and organic, free-range naturally dyed hand-woven hemp, what kind of revolting, monstrous person are you? That’s leaving aside the politics of why you’re getting a loveseat! Are you too antisocial to buy seating for more than a guest or two? Are you, decadent American, hogging more square feet of living space than you really need? Worse, why are buying new and participating in a consumer-based and materialistic society? Did you at least buy it made in the U.S.A.? Did you pay your fair share of taxes on it? Why do you have disposable income to spend on new, fancy furniture when there are people who are homeless?? Did you check every part of the manufacturing process to make sure no child labor was used and no Trump profited? Exhausting, you say? Well, you just must not care very much about our planet if you don’t check these things! Don’t pretend any of that is even remotely ridiculous or unlikely to happen. It happens with everything. Try reading a book by Marion Zimmer Bradly and get treated to a lecture on how she was a child abuser. Try drinking a cup of Folgers coffee to the tune of rainforest deforestation and child labor. Wear a top you got at Goodwill and get a spiel on the sweatshops that brand of clothes uses and on where Goodwill’s profits “really” go. Buy a car – is it a hybrid? Don’t worry, you’ll get an earful either way. Does it ever occur to social justice warriors – or any of the rest of the modern moralists – that I do not care, don’t want to hear about it, and am completely disinterested in their free-range, fair trade, eco-friendly, sustainable, American-made, recycled, upcycled, organic, pesticide-free, GMO-free, gold-plated granola? I bet it hasn’t. Want to know a secret? I just want a cup of coffee that tastes good and doesn’t cost the earth – and I really don’t care about all the rest of it. Keep your politics out of my cup of coffee and off my loveset – it’s new…I’m not even letting the dog on it, and I like him.

MR

***

POLITICS/POETRY

I thought I was not a political poet and still my imagination was political.

Am I republican or a democrat? This is political.

Where do I begin to let go of my thoughts about Donald Trump? That is political.

Wonder if my opinion is and will political…

I must say, I’m not very political.

JR

safe harbor

Leonid Afremov

Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heart strings. It acts as medicine. – Macklemore

Music, at its essence, is what gives us memories. And the longer a song has existed in our lives, the more memories we have of it. – Stevie Wonder

Would you harbor me?

Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew
a heretic, convict or spy?
Would you harbor a run away woman, or child,
a poet, a prophet, a king?
Would you harbor an exile, or a refugee,
a person living with AIDS?
Would you harbor a Tubman, a Garrett, a Truth
a fugitive or a slave?
Would you harbor a Haitian Korean or Czech,
a lesbian or a gay?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
Would you harbor me?
Would I harbor you?
– 
song and lyrics by Ysaye Barnwell
Sung by Sweet Honey and the Rock on their album “Sacred Ground”

This week, we came together again to write songs. The song we studied is called, “Would you harbor me?” written by Ysaye Barnwell to be sung by gospel group Sweet Honey and the Rock. When I put the lyrics on the board, someone asked, “What is a harbor?” The group worked together to define harbor. We all gave our explanations and looked it up in a dictionary but ultimately, we said it was place that, in our culture, harbor has come to mean something more significant than its earliest definitions. A harbor is safe place to land in a storm. It is important remember that not all harbors are prepared to take us safely. We learn, over time, the signals that indicate that a harbor is safe and welcome.

There a sentiment shared by those in the group – that it is easy to answer the quetion, “Would I harbor you?” One writer said that as long as she had a couch and a cupboard, they are open to those in need. The harder question for our circle was, “Would you harbor me?” While most of us trust we would take in those in need, we do not believe we will be harbored with equal care and readiness by others. It is a practice in our circle to become fluent in the signals that indicate safety for others; that by listening and keeping each other’s stories Continue reading

remembering outside

Pinterest

I get my best ideas in a thunderstorm. I have the power and majesty of nature on my side. -Ralph Steadman

“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.”
― Andy Goldsworthy

The Horizon Leans
by Maya Angelou

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

There are some weeks where we bring in a prompt everyone writes to it. We say earth and write earth. We say school and write school. We say motherhood, parenthood, and write about kids and memories and caregiving. But there are other weeks when we offer prompts and writers can’t help but address their state of mind, that there is something serious they need to talk about and no prompt is going to reign that in.

In the space below, you will read the accounts of three writers remembering the time before their incarceration – relationship with others, with nature, and with themselves and all each are mutually transformed through contact with one another. These are the stories they needed to tell. Please hear them and the voices they came to the table with.

FOREVER CHANGING

Forever changing.
Forever changing, we all flow
Day one to 12 thousand.
Never staying the same.
Starting small evolve and grow.
Everything is always changing
from where I stand.
The moon affects everything,
including my ever changing moods.
I lay down.
I’ve found thunderstorms are soothing –
An ancient lullaby we’d forgotten,
The rain splashing against the earth,
replenishing what’s been lost.
I stand there, in the thunder and rain
Everything comes with a cost
Please wash away this pain
When will the clouds open?
Why won’t this storm stop?
How long must this song go on?
What was once soothing?
Now has been overdone.
When will the sunshine come?
The water is getting deep.
I’m in over my head, I try to swim to shore.
I only slam to the floor,
fell off my bed.
Scared and alone, I’ve become impermeable.
I look out the window to reassure my fears,
the sunrise is beautiful.
No need for tears.

DB

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