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pieces of fiction we’re pretty sure are actually real (like happening now)

the other night i was watching the Walking Dead season 7, which has the most devious, charming, terrifying bad guy. it felt disturbingly current, including the zombies. i asked the ever generous facebook what fiction feels like it’s happening right now and generated this amazing list, an abundance of work to read or watch.

or, you know, just look around.

Books

the Kate Daniels books, Ilona Andrews

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Maddadam Trilogy (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, Maddadam) Margaret Atwood
(Elena says: “extreme genetic modification, separation of corporate-compound and pleebland communities (extreme economic imbalance). Also new beings, new ways of living and of communicating (even between different species).”

Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, Malcolm Azania (pen name Minister Faust)

Wind Up Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi

Blues for Mister Charlie, James Baldwin

Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler
(Enei says: “make America great again”, Karissa says: “keep trying to convince people to go in on some property further North cause Octavia told us to go North.” Anne’s partner thinks we’re in the prequel.)
also everything else she wrote.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline

Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
(Judy pulls out this opening quote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”)

Makers, Cory Doctorow
Walkaway, Cory Doctorow
(Dan says: “It’s maybe the only anarchist-ish future that I’ve read that didn’t sound like it would suck. Still not the future I’m trying to build, but if things do go that way, at least there’s been some good thinking on how to build good lives in it.”)

The Circle, Dave Eggers

American War, Omar El Akkad

Solitaire, Kelley Eskridge
(Vanissar says: “Because citizens vs people living on the margins, because technology + incarceration. Because our imaginations will save us.”)

Slow River, Nicola Griffith
(Vanissar says: “because water, technology. because desperation.”)

Journey to the East, Herman Hesse

Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson

Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neal Hurston
(Supriya says: “As Irma was about to hit and Houston was reeling and Katrina was in my heart: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston.”)

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Redwall and Mossflower series, Brian Jacques
(Jessica says: “animals have rich and amazing lives.”)

In the Heart of the Valley of Love, Cynthia Kadohata

It, Stephen King

The Telling, and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, Ursula le Guin

the Wizard of Earthsea series, particularly The Other Wind, Ursula le Guin
(Morrigan says: “We’re finding lost languages, understanding our misguided limitations on magic, undoing the suppression of the wind. restoring the pattern.”)

California, Eden Lepucki

That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis
(Teika says: “I haven’t read it for years and don’t really remember a lot of the plot details, but the one element that really sucks with me is something about being governed by an embalmed head connect to a machine, and that 1984-style autocracy and the effed up psychology of state domination / oppression / greed.”)

It Can’t Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis

The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

The Girl Who Owned A City, OT Nelson

Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O’Brian

Who Fears Death?, Nnedi Okorafor
(Leah says: “bc Black femmes using spirit to destroy white medical industrial capital fuckery and climate chaos, Black survivors using witchcraft to defeat rapists, and spirits are present and walking with us.”)

Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older

1984, George Orwell

The Turner Diaries, William Luther Pierce (pseudonym Andrew Macdonald)
(Minaj says: “White supremacist utopian novel written in the 70s that has been downloaded millions of times and is their blueprint for the revolution. It starts with the police. They’re trying to make it happen. Also I should add major trigger warnings for racism, sexism, every kind of ism, n word usage, etc. Read it to know their game plan, not for literary insight.”)

Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy
(Mistinguette says: “Parallel utopia and oblivion, and making conscious choices about them.”)

Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield
(Amber says: “I feel like just as much as destruction occurs around us, humans are waking up to spiritual guidance en masse. More and more people are focusing on listening, balance, centering ourselves, opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to signs, etc. it’s easy to not see it when so much negative is happening, but we vibrating higher. I can feel it.”)

The Mars Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson
Three Californias Trilogy, Kim Stanley Robinson

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
(Supriya says: “When I think of my beloved India and wretched nationalism, xenophobia, anti Muslim terror… the crack on the fissure of his face in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, or Mahdhweti Devi’s “Draupadi.”)

Almanac of the Dead, Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo)
(Sophia says: “Silko says she wrote it almost channeling the anger of the Earth herself. There’s also a lot in the book about amplified spiritual activation of Native & African ancestors as we fulfill prophecy (in this case, Mayan prophecy) by resisting corruption, chaos and white supremacist colonial greed- with some specific focus on the desecration of sacred Native sites. Her writing also gives a big fuck off to respectability politics, cuz many of the most significant characters have substance dependencies, are houseless, non-neurotypical, former sex workers or current drug smugglers…all that feels familiar in this moment too. Damn… *goes to reread it*”)

The Fifth Sacred Thing, Starhawk

The Book of Joan, Lidia Yuknovitch
(Marika says: Crazy dystopian novel. Can’t say I either enjoyed it or hated it, but it was poignant and sadly prescient:
“We are what happens when the seemingly unthinkable celebrity rises to power.
Our existence makes my eyes hurt.
People are forever thinking that the unthinkable can’t happen. If it doesn’t exist in thought, then it can’t exist in life. And then, in the blink of an eye, in a moment of danger, a figure who takes power from our weak desires and failures emerges like a rib from sand. Jean de Men. Some strange combination of a military dictator and a spiritual charlatan. A war-hungry mountebank. How stupidly we believe in our petty evolutions. Yet another case of something shiny that entertained us and then devoured us. We consume and become exactly what we create.”)

TV/Movies

Alien
American Gods
Black Mirror
God’s and Monsters
House of Cards
Idiocracy
Insecure
Mad Max
Mary Poppins
Matrix
Rats of NIMH
The Simpsons
Sleepdealer
Underground
X-Files (Gabriel says: “The alien / government coverup storyline is actually somewhat based on a book that says it’s nonfiction – ‘behold a pale horse’.”)

i love the sky

IMG_7327

i love the sky
most of the time i do
.
when everything is too full and it seems we will not be able to do
what it is we are here to do
that victory is impossible
that cruelty and greed and dominance will slowly tear us apart with ravenous teeth and swallow us
broken and whole
when everyone and everything is more than i can handle or hold
and i need no one to need any more of me, when there’s only a sliver left
that is pulsing, and still longing
then, if i can remember
i look up
.
and this sky full of wonders and terrors
keeps humbling me
.
every heart in my lineage lived and died under this sky
it has always been impossible
but they lived the small lives that led to mine
.
and if it is impossible for me, for my people, for my species, to go on
i know this sky will watch us come apart
will watch the earth rest over us
will watch, someday,
our bones come to light, to startle some future stranger
like dinosaur bones
perhaps we will feed that future industry until the sun goes cold
and perhaps that will feel like justice
or liberation
.
or this sky will welcome us
to go beyond atmosphere and ideology
survival and constant war
and the accumulation of belongings
that never add up to enough
to take only what we can lift beyond the reach of gravity
to take only the truth
and use it to seed a new home
.
or perhaps
this sky
will watch us become small and smaller
slower, to fall into her rhythm and sustenance
to submit to this heaven,
to be satisfied with knowing so little
and feeling so much
.
these big thoughts
make me feel small enough to breathe again
to laugh and argue and plan and look forward
these big thoughts
somedays
are the only peace I know

a wondrous life

it all became better when i relinquished the perfect. it was never me, never made me happy, it never worked out the way i’d planned, it crashed flat shattered into the nearest wall. in the wreckage, there was no room for love.

it all became better when i centered on what is, the right now – the nothing-totally-wrong of right now. i am so selfish, so much more than i knew – i mean, i want to live so fully, right now. nothing in me wants to settle, even now.

it all became better when i learned about prayer, the offering up of burdens, the bright light of knowing what you cannot (now and never even want to try to) do. to instead say: life, protect life. extend yourself into her living body, give her more time.

it all became better when i accepted, surrendered, withdrew, got still, stopped playing for victory. i move more and more each day with the universe, spirals, waves. i cannot stop learning, faster and faster i say, welcome, welcome in/home.

it all became better when i understood how human i am after the womb, after the heartache in the womb. your hero knows nothing, your queen is a fool. no one is at ease here, we long for it. once i found ease, i made it my purpose. i am a student, forever, of this, my long and wondrous life.

39 things i learned by mistake

1. i’m good at facilitating. and i love it. which means i can make a living doing what i love. focusing on black liberation has made this the most rewarding period of facilitation in my life.

2. i am of my mother. i use exclamation marks because i am genuinely excited. i play scrabble every day. where love is concerned, i know no rules.

3. very hot things will burn – fingers, tongue, heart. but no one believes this when they’re reaching. (burning myself is my most common injury.)

4. i love unveiling my truth.

5. i love love. falling in love, seeing people through eyes of love, loving against all logic, time spent on loving.

6. grief is gratitude.

7. i’m really funny. not always on purpose.

8. i rarely enjoy famous people in real life.

9. i’m gullible and trusting.

10. pleasure makes me feel powerful.

11. fear is a story i can change.

12. i am of my sisters. i know laughter is a path forward. and i know what it is to be flanked when i’m being brave.

13. emergent strategy.

14. my body is incredible.

15. i’m a writer. and i love every part of writing.

16. one at a time. one step at a time, word at a time, being-present-with-another at a time, book at a time, change at a time. one step toward liberation. one day at a time.

17. if i’m not meditating and centering, then my life is pure reaction to others. so i focus on my breath. i center. i live on purpose.

18. time is everything. time is sometimes the only thing i have.

19. i like marijuana. i really like it.

20. people who are bad for my health will most likely not experience me as being good for theirs, not in the long run.

21. i learn and work things out in my dreams.

22. i am a tarot reader, a healer and a witch.

23. i feel alive inside complexity. and i feel alive inside the simplicity of having no plans. my life needs a balance of these two extremes.

24. i am of my father. i am charming. i love to work, to be challenged, to be of use, to serve. and i am gifted with blackness.

25. auntie is a sacred, wondrous task. i just want to be excellent at this task.

26. i am practicing and learning and growing, even when i make mistakes. this is why i have no regrets.

27. i am not enough for some people – they want more. but not all people.

28. i am too much for some people – they want me to shrink. but not all people.

29. i love being alone, my company and freedom is precious to me.

30. i have two ancestors in particular who roll with me so hard that i rarely feel lonely.

31. i can’t control anything outside myself. not anything.

32. the worst things in the world will happen, day after day. i survive by putting my attention on what nourishes me and my loves.

33. i must practice the way i want to be. all the time.

34. the universe will help me, but only if i move towards what i truly want. (and not always in obvious ways.)

35. i’m beautiful, in my own way.

36. asking for support/collaboration from capable people makes my life worth living.

37. i need boundaries to feel free.

38. i doula, birth and parent so much. and it’s enough.

39. i’m magic. magic multiplies.

black august haikus, week 4

here is my last batch of #blackaugust575 haikus, haiku clusters. i’m so grateful for this month of practice in community. these are dedicated to the 31 prisoners i wrote letters to this month, to their lives and sacrifices.

I don’t want to see
sand eyes, blood pounding my head
we are all mirrors

I leap but don’t fly
close my eyes sipping lakeside
dancing the red light

you are a whole lie
you made of bricks and iron
I am a vapor

I am a rainbow
I’m a fucking miracle
I’m a tomorrow

we’re blocking the sun
small and so holy, magic
irresistible

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #charlottesville

I have all I need
My freedom runs all through me
Pounding out my heart

I have all I need
I’m the answer to a dream
That slipped through shackles

I have all I need
In the love of my people
And my solitude

I have all I need
Deep sleep, hard work, these love notes
And this gratitude

– #blackaugust575, #blackaugust #generatingabundance

most humans are trash
most of our long precious lives
faulty miracles

bars don’t mean a thing
the worst of us don’t get caught
never get punished

shit don’t work no way
what we deny of ourselves
becomes our prison

we must see ourselves
beyond the stench, shame and guilt:
the small beautiful

the sliver of good
the seed dropped in the garbage
that calls it compost

the bud that opens
bursts through the treacherous dirt
to stunt for one day

or the breathless kiss
that reaches through the madness
one taste of true love

or the crescent moon
of black people, surviving
knowing we are light

in this big strange world
where even trash has beauty
nothing is wasted

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #watchinghumansandhurricanes

I have no children
just scars across my belly
where spirit tried it

I love children tho
whichever womb they spring from
I make worlds for them

in each prisoner
a small child, a beloved
still yearns to be held

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #scars

there are no answers
there is only mystery
only tomorrow

we made it this far
for the entire future
we’ll show up again

love is this table
wrapped around with black women
who keep showing up

love’s a movement child
passed from auntie lap to lap
face soft with laughter

we pick up our load
carry it all our lifetimes
blessing in the heft

– #blackaugust #blackaugust575 #m4bl

cast protection spells
all around our broken hearts
the journey is long

call on the river
move between us, move through us
take these tears to sea

and when the flood comes
let’s make islands of ourselves
somewhere there’s a shore

cast protection spells
our fire is still so young
living on our prayers

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust #ants #interdependence #spellsforanewamerica

I miss your poems
comrades warriors my loves
I need your poems

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

sweetest beloveds
thank you for all your poems
black August for life

we do not forget
our comrades behind the wall
we’ll never forget

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

the black game of thrones cast

we all need this right now, right?

these are my top choices, either matched by me or contributed from Kayla, Mervyn, Ben, Nick, Kenyetta. you might have other ideas, i welcome your brilliance in the form of matched photos (put #blackGOTcast so we can all see it).

274B9DC5-F5B7-45CA-87DC-09F9A25CDFDB

E8C70443-6E25-4474-B5D2-AB62A0F0F500

F96820C3-5633-431E-A8C1-70F1516C65C1

C64FBCE2-F41A-4786-8DAE-F9FA72282588

5396D07D-D934-4DD8-8C22-444871E33DE2

DCA770C9-9AA5-4B21-A8FC-F1EB028C839D

D754D6DF-3575-489B-AB13-4D4CEC88E034

22A4D695-624B-4DA0-BB1C-4BE07272DEB3

212C797A-111B-4D9D-9299-41D8FF39A9BA

CCD04C38-D4DB-4DB8-9A68-5111194BB266

C1613607-A3DD-4D1F-AA06-E2947631D08C

BD7E14AC-C503-419B-92BC-3DCF08B11F1F

FB4A1942-4BDA-47DE-855A-4087A961463A

85078191-EE98-48A8-8E60-FACA75DD29A7

C48C1949-0A5C-4A8D-B2CC-DD8F3F0CEC92

6E9FA4AD-36BC-4A27-8D36-CDFBA229C44B

12BBAAB9-4B1A-4B83-95F7-BBAC60356C69

7219EF39-29B8-4F38-AC38-7599435B3B61

7F0FFB11-9986-47B0-9E03-CB7CCDCC8B7F

21F7FE34-B278-40FE-9AF1-35F9FF13BA80

6E7A8BCB-E60C-4725-A5C5-B6B6633B192E

5AF80AA3-240F-47D0-88F9-7A8EB7778A57

8AC8785E-4AC2-45BE-AB38-0528771D97B8

1CB533B5-48FA-41EC-8850-F2755E751253

685463EA-5467-42DD-9827-4AD47F4E3C45

5D5806F9-4787-45F1-BA50-39FD3B3DD604

9143509F-A952-4179-B14C-DAE4428D845B

1E1D7FA3-6813-477A-8FB1-0DB8EF9D966C

checking in on four agreements

“don’t take anything personally.
don’t make assumptions.
be impeccable with your word.
always do your best.”

the four agreements, don miguel ruiz. learning these things. still.

also, lead with love.
surrender what you can’t carry to the universe.
focus on the good in yourself and others, because what you pay attention to grows.
God is change.
today’s heartbreak, grief, overwhelm and frustration is the detritus and measure of love and longing.
tomorrow’s healing, liberation and love will burst from each composted experience.
everything is changing, and I am changing how I am in all of it.

heart split between flooded Texas/gulf, indigenous women being killed, the fear we intelligently feel on a shifting landscape, white walkers in the flesh, and worry for those I love going through it. praying we can keep looking to each other with forgiving eyes, it’s real out here.

these four agreements still get me through some days.

“don’t take anything personally.
don’t make assumptions.
be impeccable with your word.
always do your best.”

centering saves lives

I want that.
I want something.
something wants me.
someone wants me.
I was told that would never happen.
that I was unwanted and unwantable.
she wants me with a sharp tongue.
he wants me but with bruising hands, with such speed.
she wants me if I change.
I want to be wanted.
this is not tender, this is not what I wanted.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

I know this.
I know something but it’s small.
I’m always learning.
everything I know slips from under my feet.
I know nothing.
I am an inbreath and a question.
I know what I want.
I knew this before I existed, I’ll know it forever.
I know from cell and from marrow, from dream and from whisper.
I love this feeling of knowing.
I love not knowing.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

I need you.
I need to be better than this.
I need my species to grow.
I need these babies to continue.
I need to taste my own life.
I need to feel unsettled.
I need to fly, to look down on the clouds.
I need help sometimes.
I need to help, to be needed.
I need forgiveness.
I need all this love and even more.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

..

we have completed the first transformation in action course in Detroit. somatics is intentionally remembering what we know about love and dignity, safety and belonging, the long and beautiful life in each of us that predates any trauma.

doing this work with people who have given their lives to community, to justice, it’s the greatest honor.

I think centering, organizing ourselves towards what we long for (vs what we’re against), saves lives. I think it will change our collective existence. one small room at a time.

I want that.
I know this.
I need you.
even now I am in my dignity, I belong, I exist in real time, and I want something.

black august week 3

if you not hunted
you better go stand between
those racists and me.

…..

everything changed
when I learned to turn inward
to become quiet

…..

I am salt water
blood and bone and healing touch
just let me hold you

…..

I learn the hard way
alive inside my mistakes
loving each moment

…..

I must be myself:
black unicorn emoji
before the update

…..

I feel so weary
generating our freedom
is forever work

I feel so ready
I am a moon out walking
made for all this light

I feel so clear now
I deserve all of this love
I am done asking

we feel so clear now
we deserve each of these breaths
we will replace hate

…..

you hate our orbit?
watch how we block out the sun
don’t you look away

…..

do we need dragons?
are we majestic in flight
or felled by the ice?

(GoT haiku)

…..

Crickets sing sun down.
Sirens, babies wailin out,
Life is borderless.

You have no way out
once the mind walks in the cage.
Forget that ego.

Cosmos can’t be caged
And it flutters out my chest,
it flutters out yours.

Contemplating scale –
We that light, we that shadow.
That precious. That rare.

black august haikus: week 2

Black folks raise pit bulls
Swan dive, two step on cruise ships
Pray swathed in cotton

We place seed in dirt
Stand in lines for lesser harm
Write English poems

Turn insult to song
Gather currency not us
Bow down to white god

We carry the scars
Transform the horror to life
This is survival

– in response to the proximity of slavery, noticing what we’ve already begun to reclaim (while listening to Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad) #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

we magic makers
casting spells from dragon’s breath
blessing insurgents

fighting all our days
laughter in a moment’s pause
we give our whole selves

and the children ask
what are you doing? why? where?
we gather freedom

we magic makers
we endure our own brilliance
we break our own chains

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust between GOT and nibblings

lightning brights up sky
the child quivers beside me
i promise safety

it’s the outside world
where I make no promises
where I can’t protect

sky does not hate you
thunder doesn’t feed on fear
that’s the worst of us

you are vast as sky
laying here or in the street
sacred black boy child

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust
on the anniversary of Mike Brown’s death

I do my life’s work
I dream out loud in the dark
and then I thank God

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

I write these letters
knowing that we are strangers
and yet I owe you

deepest gratitude
the miracle of your life
spent inside cages

we don’t forget you
we love you across space, time,
know your sacrifice

we honor your years
your wisdom, dedication
I honor your lives

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

I’ve written 11 letters now, and am starting to include these haikus. keep thinking of Charlene Carruthers saying she was struck speechless visiting Mumia, and how I feel that each time I bring my pen to the page. so much to say, so impossible to say it. ?

don’t lie on your heart
you are broken and it hurts
it has always hurt

we can’t live in hate
we don’t live without delight
anger leaves hunger

beat the softest thing
scream at the walls, the ceilings
release – you will heal

– somatics working. #blackaugust575 #blackaugust

when hate fills your heart
everything is a weapon
every day a war

my heart is my own
I fill my life with fierce love
rooted in justice

I feel no regret
I offer up my whole life
in the long battle

I never forget
you hold torches for whiteness
but I love the dark

– #blackaugust575 #blackaugust
honoring sacrifice and freedom fighting in Charlottesville